Solidarity 060, 21 October 2004

The “reactionary anti-imperialists”

Author: 

A Solidarity Editorial

“Reactionary socialism… half lamentation, half lampoon; half echo of the past, half menace of the future.”
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare;
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love…

W B Yeats

Just as there were "Reactionary Socialists" for Marx and Engels to denounce in the Communist Manifesto, so, today, there are Reactionary Anti-Imperialists

Publications: 

Marxist Theory and History: 

Trade Unions: 

Around the world: 

As you were saying - Tony Cliff against the Muslim Brotherhood

Author: 

Tony Cliff

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) was prominent on the platforms at the European Social Forum on 15–17 October, and as a joint sponsor of the demonstration which closed the ESF, on 17 October 2004.

The 17 October demonstration saw the first return for a while of the sort of message from MAB which it promoted on its first big public appearance, a demonstration in April 2002 on the themes Zionism = Nazism, Sharon = Hitler, Star of David = Swastika, the Israeli brutalities in the Occupied Territories are the “real” Holocaust.

When Tony Cliff described Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood as "clerical fascist".

Issues and Campaigns: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Haiti: “We are workers, not slaves”

Yannick Etienne is a member of Batay Ouvriye (Workers’ Fight), a militant trade union federation in Haiti. Yannick is on a speaking tour of Britain organised by No Sweat and the Haiti Support Group. Solidarity spoke to Yannick about the situation in Haiti today and about the work of Batay Ouvriye, particularly in the new Free Trade Zone that is being built at Ouanaminthe, on the border with the Dominican Republic

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

We saved our school!

By Mathew Bailey

Parents, teachers and students of Northcliffe School, serving Conisbrough and Denaby near Doncaster, have recently stopped their school from being turned into an academy run by a religious organisation, the Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF). This is the first time proposals for an academy have been overturned. It is, as the Yorkshire Post put it, a “huge blow to Blair”.

New Labour’s academies are a way of bringing the market into education. Only 12 currently exist but the Government wants 200.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

The Other America: 27% of US workers fall below poverty line

More than a quarter of all working families in the United States, including 20 million children, are considered low-income or poor, an independent report has found.

Citing 2002 Census data, the report found that 9.2 million families with at least one working adult and one child under 18 — or 27.4% of such families — fall into the government’s measure of low income. This means they earn less than the federal poverty threshold, or less than $36,784 in 2002.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

The writing on the wall

Prisoners committing suicide and pensioners left to freeze.

Locked up and forgotten

In August this year 14 male prisoners — a record number — committed suicide. There were no words of horror or regret from David Blunkett. But then rising numbers of prison suicides are not news to the Home Office. It is a trend that has been going on for 10 years — the inevitable result of New Labour’s policy, following on from the Tories, to lock more people up for longer.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Banning Monty Python?

By Dan Katz

The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, is considering abolishing Britain’s absurd blasphemy laws when legislating for a new offence of incitement to religious hatred. By so doing Blunkett hopes to split those opposed to the new incitement law.

But Blunkett’ concession is relatively unimportant — any blasphemy prosecutions would probably now be overridden by EU law. Besides the new offence is in effect an extension of the old blasphemy law — it will be a new “all religions” blasphemy law.

Culture and Reviews: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

ESF 2004: downpours and debate

Nearly 25,000 people in London for two and a half days of debate, and tens of thousands on a Sunday afternoon closing demonstration — the European Social Forum 2004, on 15-17 October, was well worth attending, despite the rain!

It was more fractious than the previous ESFs, Florence 2002 and Paris 2003, in part because of choices by the organisers and in part because of a build-up of activist frustration at the domination of the big Forum platforms by not-very-radical speakers.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

How activists were turned against the Iraqi unions

By Martin Thomas

The Socialist Workers Party, a major force in the organisation both of the European Social Forum and of the Stop The War Coalition, has condemned the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, at the ESF on 15 October.

According to Socialist Worker (16 October): “A couple of dozen people, with no connection to the anti-war movement, broke up the meeting through barracking and intimidation. They ignored appeals from, and a vote by, over 2,000 people in the audience for the meeting to take place”.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Trade Unions: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Mick Rix leaves STWC committee

Former ASLEF general secretary Mick Rix has withdrawn from the Stop the War Coalition committee after its statement denouncing the IFTU. Excerpts from a statement he has circulated:

I cannot be associated with remarks that attack decent trade unionists and their unions… very much in the same way that George Galloway’s article did in the Morning Star…

Trade Unions: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

IFTU: a genuine workers’ organisation

Alex Gordon, a member of the RMT rail union who visited Iraq in October 2003 and has been active in building support for the Iraqi unions, talked to Solidarity about the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani.

“…One must of course refute the lies put about by the SWP and George Galloway that the IFTU is a stooge organisation. That’s why they didn’t want Subhi al Mashadani to speak — because they would have refuted those lies by talking about disputes the IFTU is engaged in with employers, and problems it is having with the occupation authorities.

Trade Unions: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Not the workers’ tradition, nor the workers’ flag

By Colin Foster

At the Respect fringe meeting at the European Social Forum (Saturday 16 October), George Galloway set out to define for Respect “the traditions in which we stand... the flag we seek to carry”.

Starting with Wat Tyler and John Ball and going up to Antonio Gramsci, his references were distant enough to be shared by almost any left-winger. But already he had noticeably omitted Lenin, Trotsky, and any reference to the Russian Revolution.

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

US hotel workers’ fight continues

Last week thousands of hotel workers and their allies flooded Union Square in San Francisco for a unity rally. Workers at four San Francisco hotels went on strike two weeks ago and hotel operators responded by locking out employees at 10 other locations last Friday. The lockout has been extended to the other four hotels. The union, Unite Here Local 2, represents about 8,000 workers at 60 San Francisco hotels. Some 4,000 cooks, room cleaners, dishwashers, bellmen, servers and switchboard operators are affected by the strike and lockout involving the 14 hotels.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

General strike in Nigeria

Nigerian trade unions organised a four-day general strike against fuel price rises in October, and have vowed to call an indefinite stoppage if the government fails to lower the price of petrol.

The strike shut down banks, businesses, shops and public services.

Fuel costs have been rising — petrol by 25% — since President Obasanjo deregulated the sector a year ago and removed government subsidies.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Briefing: How to solve the pensions crisis

Earlier this month the government’s Pensions Commission reported on the state of Britain’s pension provision.

Its main finding was that 11.3 million workers were not making any pension contributions, and that those who are making pension contributions are saving “too little”.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Open letter from Jo Wilding to British troops serving in Iraq

The US has asked the British government to send you north to free up forces for another offensive against Falluja. I’m writing to ask you to refuse any orders to deploy to Baghdad or other areas currently under US control.

I was an ambulance volunteer in Falluja during the April siege. I went because my friend Salam, a doctor, said US troops were stopping medical supplies getting in, cut off water, food, electricity, and had closed down the main hospital and controlled the road to the smaller one with snipers.

Around the world: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Korean union federations prepare for general strike

The two major union federations in Korea — the Federation of Korean Trade Unions (FKTU) and the more militant Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) — have formed joint headquarters for a proposed general strike.

The joint industrial action is to:
- stop revision of labour laws concerning temporary workers,
- stop Korea-Japan free trade negotiations; and
- fight for basic union rights of civil servants.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Appeals

Support the Basra oil union and a Workers' Conference

Support the Basra Oil Union!

The Southern Oil Company Trade Union stresses its autonomy and independence from any political parties and agendas.

The Basra Oil Union represents more than 30,000 oil and gas sector workers in the British-occupied south.

Trade Unions: 

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Debate & discussion: A step towards equal rights?

Government proposals on the Civil Partnership Bill were amended in the House of Lords recently, ostensibly to extend the rights that the legislation will give to same-sex couples to other domestic arrangements, such as carers. The amendments were, according to the Government, wrecking tactics. Below Outrage gives a response and Maria Exall puts forward an alternative view.

One law for all

The Lords amendments to the Civil Partnership Bill has not wrecked it or rendered it unworkable, as the government has claimed.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Debate & discussion: Solidarity?

Jane Ashworth (letters, Solidarity 3/59) complains about my comment on the “tilt... towards pro-war and pro-occupation elements in the labour movement” of the new and still somewhat mysterious “Labour Friends of Iraq” group.

But check out its website. A speech by Jack Straw gets pride of place.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Debate & discussion: What future for the Socialist Alliance?

The Socialist Alliance Democracy Platform (SADP) emailed and posted a letter to the National Committee of the SWP on 27 September concerning the future of the Socialist Alliance (SA).

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Publications: 

Making refusal an option to win peace

Adam Maor and Matan Kaminer were among five young Israelis sentenced to two years in jail for refusing to serve in the Israeli army in the Occupied Territories — and possible further jail time if they continued to refuse.

An international campaign — as part of which Solidarity and Workers’ Liberty members in London picketed the Israeli Embassy regularly for a period of months — won early release for the five, on 15 September, and then, on 20 September, exemption for them from all further army service.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Don’t despair of a just solution

On 15 October the Israeli army began to wind up its latest incursion into Gaza — 16 days of military assaults against the Hamas militias who use home-made, but often lethal, rockets. The operation has killed around 100 Palestinians including civilians and some children.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Debate & discussion: The meaning of multiculturalism

Of course it is good if schools teach children about a wide variety of cultures. But, contrary to Vicki Morris’s “defence of multiculturalism”, that is not what multiculturalism is about.

Multiculturalism means organising the population by “cultures”, each individual being supposed to belong to a “culture” to which is stuck a religion and usually a country or region of origin. It is the opposite of developing a broad, internationalist, global culture.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

No Sweat at the ESF

By Mark Osborn

On 15 October, at the same time as the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions leader, Subhi al Mashadani was being shouted down at Alexandra Palace, Conway Hall was packed for a benefit night with comedians Mark Thomas and Simon Munnery, to raise money for the Basra Unemployed Workers’ Centre, linked to the Union of the Unemployed of Iraq.

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Debate & discussion: “Good” and “bad” genocides

The media’s exclusive focus on the crisis on Sudan is no accident. When it’s an “Arab” militia involved it’s a bad genocide, when it’s puppet governments doing the genocide for the benefit of western corporations, no-one gets to know about it.

Since 1997 the population of the Kalahari region of Botswana have been forcefully removed from their homes by the government and the remaining people have had their water supplies turned off. The eviction sites are known as “Places of Death”, alcoholism and AIDS is rife.

Around the world: 

Publications: 

Irish Republicans part 6: Republicanism and the left

By Thomas Carolan

In our survey of the history of Irish Republicanism we have reached the point beyond which the story is that of the emergence of the Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein in the last month of the 1960s and the first month of the 1970s — of the Catholic revolt in Northern Ireland which preceded that emergence and gave the Provisional IRA a mass base of support and sustenance for a war that would last 23 years (1971-94) and end with something like a deferred victory for the Provisional IRA.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

The Stalin-made “Trotskyist left”

In The Climate of Treason Andrew Boyle recounts a conversation which took place amongst a group of young communists in the summer of 1933, in Cambridge. Some of them would become the famous traitors who would be exposed in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, after having served the USSR as double agents within the British secret services for decades.

Marxist Theory and History: 

Publications: 

Ramadan’s Islam

Rhodri Evans reviews To be a European Muslim, by Tariq Ramadan. (The Islamic Foundation, Leicester.)

If you read this book by Tariq Ramadan, the Swiss Muslim professor top-billed at the European Social Forum, from a certain angle, it is easy to convince yourself that he is a progressive thinker.

Culture and Reviews: 

Issues and Campaigns: 

Publications: 

Royal blockbuster

Dan Nichols reviews The Monarchy, Channel Four

David Starkey’s history of kings and queens of the British Isles has been built up as a TV “event”. The story will unfold over the a four year period. Wow! It’s certainly an ambitious piece of programming — but will Monarchy tell us anything that we don’t already know about this assorted bunch of tyrants, cowards and neurotics?

Culture and Reviews: 

Publications: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Solidarity 060, 21 October 2004