Solidarity 065, 20 January 2005

Get religion out of our schools!

Religious indoctrination and religious segregation has no place in schools. Children should be able to learn and work out their ideas without officially imposed or sponsored indoctrination from priests, imams, or rabbis. There should be no faith schools. Schools should deal in inquiry and reason, not faith.

That is the basic issue highlighted by the outcry against the mild comments on faith schools made by the Chief Inspector of Schools, David Bell, in a speech on 17 January. Trevor Phillips, the head of the Commission for Racial Equality, has endorsed the comments.

Religious indoctrination and religious segregation has no place in schools.

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Why we do not support the US/UK in Iraq

A postscript to the discussion in Solidarity of the politics of our former comrades who now purvey a stupid right-wing caricature, a reductio ad absurdum, of AWL politics on Iraq.

The difference between wanting a democratic Republic in Iraq and politically supporting the occupation forces.

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Labour's election manifesto: Profit, Profit, Profit

In the Guardian on 15 January, Alan Milburn, Tony Blair’s chosen general election coordinator, set out New Labour’s prospectus for the general election likely in May.

Through the fog of buzzwords and spin-jargon in Milburn’s article, the message emerged: more privatisation, more marketisation.

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Iraq’s missing oil billions

The effective economic policy of the US occupation in Iraq has been: confiscate Iraq’s oil revenues; hand out the cash to the US administration’s American and Iraqi cronies, with minimal supervision; justify this in the name of the virtues of privatisation; and impose decrees mandating privatisation as the only way Iraq’s economy can develop in future.

A United Nations audit published on 14 December, though cautiously worded, paints a devastating picture.

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The 1905 Revolution

On Sunday 9 January 1905 — according to the calendar that was then in use in Russia, which was 13 days behind that in use in Europe — troops in St Petersburg opened fire on a peaceful procession of workers, led by a priest, Father Gapon. The demonstration was marching to deliver a humble petition to the Russian aristocratic ruler, the Tsar.

Hundreds were killed.

This massacre and the reaction to it triggered the Russian Revolution of 1905. It has been described as the “dress rehearsal” for the October 1917 revolution.

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An appeal by the Federation of Workers' Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI)

Since November we have witnessed a marked increase in activities and the formation of a number of branches of FWCUI in many workplaces and factories.

Such developments have attracted the attention of the authorities in the cities of Baghdad, Basra and Saharaban. Labour activists have been threatened by the authorities and prevented from joining FWCUI.

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Just say "yes"?

Cathy Nugent reviews “Cocaine”, Channel Four, and “If… drugs were legal”, 12 January, BBC2

In the Peruvian Andes, a young woman dances in a seedy night club. Little by little she is slipping towards becoming a sex worker. Her father is a coca farmer, but lately his precious leaves have been damaged by US-financed crop-sprayers. He can no longer afford to pay for his daughter’s education. She must find money where she can.

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Reactions to Racism

Dan Nichols reviews “Yasmine”, Channel 4

Channel Four’s drama, Yasmine, was an intelligent look at the tensions that exist among today’s British Muslims. The programme followed a young Asian Muslim woman from Yorkshire as she struggles to fit in to both the conservative world of her family and the very different world of her workplace.

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Challenging consensus on Islamophobia

Sacha Ismail reviews “Are Muslims hated?”, Channel 4, 8 January

In the 1980s, writer and broadcaster Kenan Malik was a member of a peculiar left group called the Revolutionary Communist Party, which always, for reasons one could not trust, took up what they would have called “iconoclastic” views. Perhaps it should be no surprise how sharply the ideas he develops on racism, religion and the idea of “multiculturalism” are in conflict with the conventional wisdom of much of today’s left. But that does not necessarily mean he is wrong.

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The future of the Socialist Alliance

An AGM for the Socialist Alliance has been called for Saturday 5 February, 2pm, at ULU, Malet Street, London. If the SWP have their way it will be the last ever conference of the Socialist Alliance. They are proposing resolutions to wind up the Socialist Alliance and donate its remaining funds to Respect. Nine current or former members of the SA Executive have written a letter of protest.

Open letter to the Executive Committee of the Socialist Alliance.

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