Solidarity 104 10 January 2007

Hal Draper: An Eye-Witness Account of the Russian Revolution

Author: 

Hal Draper

The Russian revolution was the most important event of the 20th century.

It was the most important event in the entire history of the working class. The working class took and held power in territory that covered one sixth of the globe.

That working class power was overthrown in the early-mid 1920s by the Stalinist counter-revolution, which though continuing to call itself "communist" and "working class" put in a brutal and savage state bureaucracy as a new ruling class over the working people.

An account by I N Steinberg, a political opponent of the Bolsheviks, here summarised by Draper, shows that the 1917 upheaval was not a conspiracy but a real people’s revolution.

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Marxist Theory and History: 

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After the Ipswich murders

The murder of five prostitutes in Ipswich at the end of last year prompted some discussion about how to improve the lives and safety of sex workers. A 400 strong Reclaim the Night march was held in the city at which Teresa McKay, chair of the trades council, spoke. Here are some of the points of view that were written on this issue at the time.

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An open letter to Gilad Atzmon

Gilad Atzmon, the jazz musician who is prone to anti-semitic conspiracy theory rants played — not for the first time — for the Socialist Workers’ Party in December. The group’s invitation to Atzmon prompted a few words of protest by SWP apologist and children’s author Michael Rosen, writing as Isokotsky in the letters of page of Socialist Worker (7 January). Jazz fan Jim Denham has written this open letter to Atzmon.

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Left: Ken Livingstone, Respect, SSP

By Amina Saddiq

Ken Livingstone’s wonderful world

Ken Livingstone, god bless ’im, is holding a conference on 20 January under the title “A World Civilisation or a Clash of Civilisations”.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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Industrial news: post, TGWU-Amicus merger, ESOL cuts, London buses, JJB

Defend Mark O’Reilly

STOP press: North/ Northwest London CWU branch has perpetrated a bureaucratic stitch-up against Mark O’Reilly, a postal worker at Finsbury Park depot. Mark decided to challenge the incumbent union rep who has colluded with management over job cuts for over two years. Mark distributed a leaflet to workmates that referred to high work levels over the last Xmas period and demanded to know what the rep had done to alleviate the burden on staff.

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Defend Antony Czubkowski

Shop steward and long-standing union activist Antony Czubkowski has been sacked by energy firm E.ON, in reaction to his complaint about being subjected to a verbal attack by his boss.

Antony has for the last 18 years been a leading Amicus activist, and in July 2006 convened a meeting for the five unions operating in E.ON. The manager, with a long record of anti-union and bullying behaviour, tried to sneak into the back of the meeting — Antony politely asked him to leave.

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Unanswered questions from the M25 crash

By Jack Haslam

Two people were killed and up to 60 injured when a National Express coach crashed on a slip road linking the M4 and M25 last Wednesday night (January 3).

Our sympathies go out to the families and friends of the dead and injured.

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A child for life?

By Chris Leary

The case of the severely disabled girl, known only as Ashley, who has undergone surgery to remove her womb and breasts, and will receive other treatments to keep her anatomically at a stage before puberty raised profound questions, not just for socialists, but for all people who care about human society. Those question — about consent, personal autonomy and medical interventions with profoundly disabled people — cannot be done justice within a single article. But some immediately stand out.

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City cleaners win!

As we reported on the front page of the last Solidarity, the T&G’s Justice for Cleaners campaign, seeking to organise and mobilise cleaners working in the City of London, has won substantial gains. After several weeks of demonstrations and direct action, including a sit in at the offices of Goldman Sachs and the threat of a hunger strike by five workers to put pressure on the Royal Bank of Scotland, three major companies — ISS, Lancaster and Mite — have conceded the union's main demands. These include collective bargaining to determine a uniform system for the whole of the City of London and the “fare share” system by which non-members pay a contribution to union negotiating costs. The latter will help obviously extend and maintain union membership massively.

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Ethiopian teachers union fights to survive

By Sacha Ismail based on a longer article by Wondimu Mekonnen, former lecturer at Addis Abba University and Ethiopian Teachers’ Association

On 14 December, Ethiopian Teachers’ Association (ETA) activist Ayalew was detained without a warrant by the Ethiopian government. Ayalew has reportedly been tortured and denied medical treatment while in police custody. His relatives and fellow ETA members are now extremely worried, as they have not known either his health condition nor his whereabouts since 18 December. Another activist, Mengistu, disappeared on 15 December.

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Around the world: 

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Stop the repression in Oaxaca

By Gerry Bates

In the aftermath of the titantic struggle in Oaxaca last year, the repression of militants continues.

Narconews website reported at the end of December that three prominent leaders from the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO) were kidnapped at gunpoint, taken to a private home, beaten and tortured and then dumped behind a shopping mall area after two hours.

Around the world: 

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Union action can save the NHS

By Mike Fenwick, Kate Ahrens and Nick Holden

The holiday season was used by the government to announce further redundancies and cuts. Redundancies in the Yorkshire Ambulance Service, delays in operations until the new financial year and more penny-pinching and potentially dangerous cost savings — such as reusing disposable clinical equipment, increasing the risk of infections.

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The global epidemic of AIDS: preventable and treatable…. but not if you are poor

By Dan Jakopovich

“The same conditions have governed the emergence of epidemics for thousands of years. Epidemics are preceeded by rapid population growth that tails into famine and malnutrition, urban crowding, poverty, and lack of sanitation and fresh water.” Susan Hunter, Who cares? AIDS in Africa1

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PCS: gear up for pay and jobs fight

By a civil servant

Two hundred and eighty thousand members of the civil service union PCS are being balloted for national strike action over job losses and pay. Activists in the PCS Socialist Caucus are working flat out to deliver the biggest possible "Yes", "Yes".

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New Labour and special needs education

By a Tower Hamlets teaching assistant

Ruth Kelly’s government has been instrumental in closing down, wholesale, special schools in line with a policy called “inclusion”. The idea was that students with special needs would do better if included in mainstream schools.

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Death of a tyrant

Saddam Hussein was hanged in Baghdad on 30 December. The first thing that needs to be said about it, and said clearly and unambiguously, is that he should have been hanged a long time ago!

The second is that it is a great pity it was not the Iraqi workers, but the invaders and the Shia-dominated government of Iraq, that, 40 years too late, put a hangman’s rope around Saddam’s wretched neck.

Around the world: 

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The way forward for Iran solidarity?

We reprint here the founding statement of “Hands Off the People of Iran!”, a campaign currently in the process of being launched by a number of Iranian socialist groups and individuals in and around “Workers’ Left Unity”, as well as the CPGB/Weekly Worker group here.

Around the world: 

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Bush blunders towards more bloodshed in Iraq

By Martin Thomas

George W Bush's "new policy" in Iraq is a recipe for more bloodshed on the lines of the assault on Fallujah in November 2004 - but also, so it seems more and more, a botched compromise which makes no sense from any angle at all.

Bush's basic line - a "surge" of 20,000 more US troops into Iraq, raising the numbers there to the highest level since 2003 - comes from right-wing wonks Jack Keane and Fred Kagan, the sort of people who believe that the USA could have won the Vietnam war with "one more push".

Around the world: 

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Debate: Amicus-TGWU merger: the creation of a fighting union?

Debate: Amicus-TGWU merger: the creation of a fighting union?

Early in 2007, members of the TGWU and Amicus will ballot on proposed terms for a merger. The TGWU has approved the terms at a special delegate conference on 19 December 2006, and Amicus, in a postal ballot of its Executive. TGWU members of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty believe we should vote in favour of that merger, a decision endorsed by the AWL’s national committee. Some comrades remained unconvinced and therefore we will continue to debate the terms of the merger. Below Peter Baker argues the case for the merger and Martin Thomas the case against.

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Parables for Socialists 4: Walking on the moon: Wernher von Braun

By Paddy Dollard

NEIL Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took humanity’s first extra-terrestrial baby-steps in July 1969, when they walked on the moon. Clumsy, uncertain, stumbling, there on the surface of the moon, they might have been mimicking the weary, clumsy, sometimes half-dead footsteps of the slave labourers who, at the end of World War Two, worked on the Nazi V2 rocket sites in France. And, in a sense, they were.

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