Solidarity 042, 3 December 2003

Marx and Trotsky T-shirts

An ideal Xmas gift

Marx: with quote 'The emancipation of the working class must be the act of the workers themselves.'
In khaki, grey, aqua

Trotsky: with 'Third Camp' quote
In aqua and white

Sizes: medium, large and extra large

£11 including post and packing, from AWL, PO Box 823, London, SE15 4NA.

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Behind the news: Deadlock in Belfast

In the Northern Irish elections, Sinn Fein has emerged as the biggest party on the Catholic-Nationalist side and their political polar opposites, Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionist Party, as the biggest party on the Protestant-Unionist side.

The Good Friday Agreement stipulates majority consent in each of the two communities as a condition without which no Northern Irish government can be set up. The Democratic Unionist Party opposed the Good Friday Agreement and now demands that it be "renegotiated". What seems to follow is that restoration of Belfast government - which has been suspended for more than a year - is now an impossibility.

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Press gang: A Little Less Conversation

By Lucy Clement

The writer Somerset Maugham once described in rather disparaging terms how the Americans managed to converse without thinking. It was no doubt unfair at the time, and remains unfair to most Americans, at least those outside the current administration. But Maugham's description of a conversation consisting of "pithy and hackneyed phrases" which leave the mind "free to consider the more important matters of big business and fornication" gives a rather good summary of Tony Blair's all-new scaled-up focus group initiative: The Big Conversation.

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Workers and students unite

Between 17-21 November protests against the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) negotiations took place in Miami, with thousands traveling to the city to join local activists in demonstrating against the agreement and the consequences of free trade.

Environmentalists, anarchists, animal liberationists, trade unionists and students were among those making up the many demonstrations and teach-ins that took place.

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Haiti: Workers abused at uniform-making factory

By Labour Behind the Label

"They lock the gates on us and sometimes put security guards out in front with rifles to prevent us from leaving," said Jacqueline, as she described the method her employer uses to force workers to work over 10 hours a day without compensation. "The supervisors would yell and curse at us to finish our quota. My daily quota is sewing 90 dozen zippers on pants for 80 gourds [$2 US]."

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Revolution without politics: Georgian overthrow after US switches sides

By Stan Crooke

Three weeks of popular protest in the Caucasian republic of Georgia culminated in the resignation of its president, Eduard Shevardnadze, on 23 November.

Shevardnadze was a Communist Party bureaucrat turned "democrat". He had joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1948 and rose steadily through its ranks. By 1972 he had become head of the CPSU in Georgia.

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Stop the repression in Argentina!

Argentine police attacked the workers and their supporters on 25 November in scenes reminiscent of the military dictatorship. The assault took place in Neuquén, where members of the Unemployed Workers Movement (MTD) and the local neighbourhood assembly in San Lorenzo barrio were trying to meet.

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A Trotskyist in Israel writes

I am a 23 year old Israeli Trotskyist. It is good to read your reports and analyses, including the ones on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I must say it is refreshing to find out that there is a revolutionary left in Britain that does not seek to "destroy" the state of Israel and establish a "secular and democratic state of Palestine". As a revolutionary socialist, this is certainly not my political aim. Thus many socialists in Israel define themselves as "Zionists"; but there is genuine gap between their definition of Zionism and the practice of the Zionist movement headed by its official political parties.

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Afghanistan: "constitutionalising" the warlords' rule?

By Cathy Nugent

On 10 December a "loya jirga", a 500-strong assembly of regional and other delegates, will meet in Afghanistan to discuss a new constitution for the country.

The draft constitution is a sketchy document which seems to propose a hybrid state, incorporating a model of an Islamic Republic - "there will be no laws contrary to Islam" - alongside a bourgeois democracy, with a bourgeois rule of law. There will be a bicameral legislature with enormous powers for the President. Nowhere in the document are explicit equal rights for women written down. Once (or perhaps, if) the constitution is agreed, elections to a National Assembly and for a new President will take place. These are scheduled for mid-2004.

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