Solidarity 059 ESF Extra, 7 October 2004

Solidarity with Iraqi workers!

By Martin Thomas

Iraq has a growing new labour movement — independent trade unions, unemployed movements, women’s organisations, and working-class political parties.

In oilfields, oil refineries, the railways, factories, and elsewhere, workers have organised trade unions and sometimes won victories by removing Ba’thist managers or improving wages.

Different strands in the Iraqi labour movement have sharp political differences between themselves. But all the main groups agree on two points:

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Against the Europhobes, against the Euro-capitalists: For a workers’ united Europe

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Sean Matgamna

There are two basic lines of possible working class policy in relation to the European Union.

The first advocates building on what the bourgeoisie has created and uniting the working class across the EU to fight the bourgeoisie for democratic and social reform and, in the course of doing that, building towards socialist transformation by working-class revolution on a European scale.

Such an approach does not imply backing what the dominant capitalists and their servants do, or the way that they do it.

Working-class socialist policy and Europe.

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Help build No Sweat!

By Mick Duncan

No Sweat, the British anti-sweatshop campaign, began life as a national network a little under three years ago. During those three years the organisation has extended the breadth and scale of its work, which has included drives against sweatshop bosses abroad and in the UK.

Five national trade unions and the National Union of Students are now affiliated and No Sweat continues to grow, week by week.

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The Blairite Ken

The Greater London Authority and Ken Livingstone are supporting the London ESF. A demonstration of the progressive politics of the London Mayor perhaps? Not quite. John Bloxam examines his record.

In June this year Livingstone intervened into a pay dispute on the London Underground to say that members of the RMT union should cross picket lines. He was urging people to scab. This is a disgrace, but one that comes on top of many other disgraces.

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ESF rogues' gallery - Tariq Ramadan: not our ally

Tariq Ramadan is one of the top-billed speakers at the European Social Forum, appearing on a panel to present “Voices of resistance and alternatives from the global South”.

In fact Tariq Ramadan is not from “the global South”, but a professor in Switzerland. His Islamism, presumably, is supposed to authorise him to speak for “the South”.

This choice by the ESF organisers is a betrayal of Muslim socialists and democrats, and secular and non-religious people in mainly-Muslim countries and communities.

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ESF rogues' gallery - The SWP and George Galloway

The Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) is the biggest left group in Britain. Earlier this year the SWP and some other socialists put a big effort into a Respect election campaign for the European Parliament (held on 10 June). The election campaign was organised around the politics and personality of George Galloway MP, a figure who will be prominent at the ESF. But was it left-wing? Does George Galloway deserve to be a hero of the left? Does the SWP’s self-submergence in Respect help socialist and anti-capitalist politics? Colin Foster says no.

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Stop Islamist violence against women!

From the Organisation of Women’s Freedom in Iraq

In one of the public health sectors in the city of Mosul, the Islamists have committed several misogynist crimes, in their thirst for blood and hatred for women.

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An A-Z of the “global justice” movement

A is for ATTAC

The biggest “movement for another globalisation” in France, which has a large international network. It has a considerable overlap with official politics, for example in the French Socialist Party. But some revolutionaries are active within it.

ATTAC France was launched in June 1998, following a call for an “Association for the Tobin Tax for Aid to Citizens” in the December 1997 issue of the magazine Le Monde Diplomatique. It now has more than 30,000 members, and other national ATTAC groups tens of thousands. For Tobin Tax, see T, below.

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Change the world without taking power?

Can we change the world without taking power? Without organising ongoing, structured, political movements (parties)? John Holloway, in a much-read book (Change the World Without Taking Power, Pluto 2002) says we can.

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A socialist world is possible

By Colin Foster

Socialism means democratic control by the producers — the workers — over what is produced and distributed.

That’s how it will end poverty, class inequality, exploitation, boom-slump cycles and the trashing of the environment. That is how it will ensure good social provision for all, in place of the chaos and inhumanity of the free market.

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