Solidarity 140, 16 October 2008

We need a workers' government!

“The markets rule the world. Maybe that’s why your conspiracy theorists make up all those crazy things. Because the truth is so much more frightening...”

So a top US businessman told the journalist Jon Ronson for his book Adventures with Extremists. It was a frightening truth like death is frightening — something scary that was, however, the way the world had to be.

Anything less than free-fire for “the markets”, would spell stagnation and collapse. So they said.

We need social regulation — but by a workers’ government, based on, loyal to, and accountable to the working-class majority.

Marxist Theory and History: 

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Government cops out on smacking

Author: 

Cathy Nugent

“A smack is parents trying to hit you, [but] instead of calling [it] a hit they call it a smack.” — A seven year old (from It Hurts You Inside, Children’s Rights Alliance)

A proposed amendment to the Children and Young Person’s Bill, which would have outlawed the physical punishment of children, will not now be discussed or voted on in Parliament.

A proposed amendment to the Children and Young Person’s Bill, which would have outlawed the physical punishment of children, will not now be discussed or voted on in Parliament.

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Sex work: Government clampdown will endanger women

Author: 

Feminist Fightback

Last month Jacqui Smith announced at the Labour Party Conference that from October the government will be taking steps to clamp down on the sex industry in the UK.

The new measures will give police new powers to prosecute those paying for sex, to shut down “brothels” and force sex workers into compulsory rehabilitation.

She announced that the government would “start work to outlaw paying for sex with someone forced into prostitution at another’s will, or controlled for another’s gain”.

A new government "clampdown" on the sex industry is likely to make things worse, not better, for sex workers.

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De Menezes inquest: Why no accountability?

Author: 

Darren Bedford

Anyone who has ever taken part in direct action will have some first-hand experience of why the police force exists. Liberals and right-wingers may argue that battering Climate Camp activists or striking miners over the head with truncheons are unfortunate anomalies; stopping old people from being mugged is the real essence of the role of the police.

The reality is precisely the other way around; the police force fundamentally exists to defend, violently if necessary, the interests of the ruling-class; and any useful community defence function it may play is almost a by-product.

Why isn’t Ian Blair, for instance, elected, or appointed by an elected, accountable authority, and why can he sacked by that same democratic control at any time?

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Short industrial reports

LOCAL GOVERNMENT: On 20 August and 24 September Scottish local government workers staged two successful 24-hour strikes demanding a 5% pay-rise or £1,000, whichever is the greater. The employers’ improved offer was 2.5% rise this year.

The strikes were to have been followed up by longer selective action.

Scottish local government workers; Scottish rail signallers; Nottingham Trent University; Unite left

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SATS: Time to end "teaching to the test"

On 14 October the Government abolished SATS exams for 14 year olds. The decision seems to have been prompted by the fact that the private contractor (of course) which ran the SATS this year fouled it up and had to be sacked, and the Government had trouble finding a replacement in time for 2009.

But it is good that the 14 year old SATS are gone. The National Union of Teachers responded with a call for the suspension pending review (why not the abolition?) of 11-year old SATS too.

On 14 October the Government abolished SATS exams for 14 year olds.

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Striking on different days in November

Author: 

Gerry Bates

Civil servants (PCS) and teachers (NUT) are set to strike in November against the Government’s two-and-a-bit per cent limit on pay rises — but on different days.

How the foul-up happened is a mystery. Both unions now have avowedly left-wing Executive majorities and top full-time officials. Both union leaderships make a big deal of wanting united action by public sector workers against the Government's wage-cut plans.

Civil servants (PCS) and teachers (NUT) are set to strike in November against the Government’s two-and-a-bit per cent limit on pay rises — but on different days.

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Free education: demonstrate in 2009!

A coalition of student activists, in a campaign initiated by Education Not for Sale, is planning to organise a demonstration at the start of 2009 against all fees and for a living grant.

The demands are:

* No raising of the cap on top-up fees; halt and reverse the growth in international students’ fees; abolish all fees in higher education and further education – free education for all;

* A living grant for every student over 16 — at least £150 a week; and a living wage for nursing and other students who have to work as part of their course;

A coalition of student activists, in a campaign initiated by Education Not for Sale, is planning to organise a demonstration at the start of 2009 against all fees and for a living grant.

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No deportations to war zones!

Refugee rights and anti racist campaigners took to the streets of Sheffield on Saturday 3 October to protest against the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by the authorities in Britain.

In particular they wanted to highlight the policy of locking up asylum seekers, sometimes for long periods, in detention centres — in some cases along with their young children. Over 100 people marched from Sheffield City Hall to the Peace Gardens to call for asylum seekers to be given the right to work and for an end to deportations to war zones.

Amongst those on the protest were:

Demonstrators marched in Sheffield on 3 October to demand no deportations to war zones.

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No deportations to war zones!

Refugee rights and anti racist campaigners took to the streets of Sheffield on Saturday 3 October to protest against the inhuman treatment of asylum seekers by the authorities in Britain.

In particular they wanted to highlight the policy of locking up asylum seekers, sometimes for long periods, in detention centres — in some cases along with their young children. Over 100 people marched from Sheffield City Hall to the Peace Gardens to call for asylum seekers to be given the right to work and for an end to deportations to war zones.

Amongst those on the protest were:

Demonstrators marched in Sheffield on 3 October to demand no deportations to war zones.

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Extend abortion rights to Northern Ireland!

Author: 

Feminist Fightback

On 22 October, MPs will vote on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. As well as several anti-choice, anti-women amendments, there are real opportunities to extend abortion rights — including access to abortion for women in Northern Ireland, an end to the two doctor rule, increasing the pool of abortion practitioners, allowing more local abortion services and banning misleading advertising.

Feminist Fightback is focusing on the possibility of extending abortion rights to Northern Ireland through amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

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Stop fascists on streets of Leeds!

Author: 

David Kirk

On Saturday 18 October the fascist British People’s Party are planning a racist march to HMV, Leeds, against rap music. As with the BNP leader Nick Griffin’s recent rally in Stoke this is a test to see if fascists can once again openly organise on the streets of Britain.

On 18 October the fascist British People's Party is planning to march through Leeds city centre. Anti-fascists are mobilising.

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New Zealand: Left hopes to score in election

Author: 

Mike Kyriazopoulos

The eyes of the world may be transfixed by the spectacle of the race for the White House, but there’s another election in November that deserves some attention. New Zealand is going to the polls.

There are a few similarities with Britain: Labour has been in office for long time, and there is widespread disillusionment; National (the Tories) has a new, young leader aggressively pursuing the political centre ground…

The Workers' Party is contesting New Zealand's November elections with the slogan “Workers should be running the country”.

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International solidarity shorts

IRAQ: A leading gay activist in Iraq has been assassinated.
Last month, 27 year old Bashar the coordinator of Iraqi LGBT in Baghdad and a university student, was assassinated in a barber shop.

While homosexuality is not illegal in Iraq, several laws are used to persecute gay people.

Laws against loitering, indecent exposure, spreading "dangerous diseases," committing an “indecent” act in public and making "indecent" advances are all used.

But the main danger remains the threat of the militias groups.

Gay activist killed in Iraq; Iranian workers jailed and whipped for taking part in May Day demonstration.

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Austria: where fascists won 30%

Author: 

Jack Yates

The timely death of the Austrian far right “guru” Jörg Haider is a cause for a double celebration.

First and foremost because the demise of Europe’s most prominent and successful fascist warms the hearts of all those committed to democracy and freedom. But also because, at last, he can perform some useful social function: fertilising the soil.

In the recent Austrian elections close to thirty percent of the votes were cast for one of the two major fascist organisations.

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Comments on the crisis

John McDonnell MP: we have no say in this deal

The government have come out with their statement, possibly the worst deal you could have, you shove in up to £50 billion... you get non-executive directors... we have no say whatsoever... this idea that they’ll control bonuses on executive pay for a limited period of time; they’re going to set up an arms-length body to monitor their investments... it’s laughable.

John McDonnell MP, and Mark Serwotka of PCS, on the crisis.

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Teamsters against the Silver Shirts

Author: 

By Charlie Salmon

The history, politics and struggles of the rank-and-file Minnesota Teamsters in the 1930s provides countless examples of how effective socialist leadership can transform the working class movement.

The Minnesota Teamsters in the 1930s provide examples of how effective socialist leadership can transform the working class movement.

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New party to be founded in January

Author: 

Rhodri Evans

At its congress in January this year, the Ligue Communiste Revolutionnaire, one of the main revolutionary socialist groups in France, decided on a drive to reach out and build “a new anti-capitalist party” (French initials NPA) from below. (See www.workersliberty.org/lcr-npa).

The decision was based on the electoral and opinion-poll successes of the LCR, and especially its presidential candidate Olivier Besancenot, since 2002; and partly also on the relatively rapid growth of the LCR since then.

30 and 31 January, and 1 February, will be the founding congress of a "new anti-capitalist party" in France.

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Whadda Ya Want to Break Your Back for The Boss For?

Author: 

IWW Songbook

(Tune: “What Do You Want to Make Those Eyes at Me For?”)

Toiling along in light from morn ‘til night,

Wearin’ away your all for the Parasite;

Workin’ like a mule with a number two,

Puffin’ like a bellow when the day is through;

Steering a load of gravel through the muck and slop

Packing a hod o’ mustard ‘til you damn near flop;

Trying to bust a gut for two twenty-five,

Pluggin’ like a sucker ‘til five.

Chorus

So whadda ya want to break your back for the boss for,

When it don't mean life to you?

"So whadda ya want to break your back for the boss for/ When it don't mean life to you?..."

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Asperger’s, autism, and special talent

Author: 

Janine Booth

On Sunday 5 October, my son Joe and his dad went to the “Autism and Music” concert at the Savoy Theatre in London. It was promoted by the Autism Research Centre, which is based at Cambridge University and headed up by Professor Simon Baron Cohen.

Unlike illnesses, such as cancer, our approach to autism is not about finding a cure, but about working out interventions that can help overcome the difficulties without diminishing the strengths.

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The sub-prime scam

Author: 

Rosalind Robson

Still trying to get your head round “sub-prime”, “structured finance” and “deleveraging”? You could have done worse than Robert Peston’s guide to how the Super Rich Fucked up all Our Lives. Here the basic mechanics of the financial crash were told quite well.

Peston was following up his book Who Runs Britain? How the Super Rich are Changing our Lives [review: www.workersliberty.org/node/10214]. But he brought us right up to date with how the system which produced a proliferation of junk (and not so junk) financial goods eventually seized up.

Review of The Super Rich, BBC4

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Round-up from the left

Author: 

Sacha Ismail

Rent-an-SWPer... at a price

Crestfallen though the SWP is these days, it still seems to be trying to pull something pretty outrageous in Stoke.

SWP charges anti-fascists for the "services" of its full-timers; Galloway on the "taxpayer in the boardroom"

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The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

Al-Quds march 2008: Third Camp at Piccadilly Circus

Author: 

Sacha Ismail

On September 28, supporters of the “Islamic Human Rights Commission” — actually an Islamist group with links to Islamic Republic of Iran — marched through London to mark “Al Quds day”.

The day of action is supposedly in solidarity with the Palestinians, but in fact was launched by Ayatollah Khomeini in 1979 to strengthen international support for his Islamist counter-revolution. About 300 people took part, similar to last year.

On 28 September, Workers' Liberty, the Worker-communist Party of Iran, and others demonstrated against an Islamist, pro-Iranian-regime "Al Quds" march.

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Minimax and transitional demands

Author: 

Cathy Nugent

Before the First World War most socialist groups and many individuals from around the world were grouped together in an organisation called the Second International (set up in 1889).

There were many different types of socialist organisation at that time, and often more than one in the larger countries. The most important and the biggest organisation was the German Social Democratic Party. Socialist activity tended to be organised around two different kinds of demands.

Beginning a series on basic Marxist political ideas.

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John Bridge: ‘Drive AWL social imperialists out of the labour movement’

Listening to Sean, it felt like he was living on a different planet... I heard a caricature description of the left. I felt “is he talking to the SWP or is he talking to the CPGB, is he talking to people in this room or is he talking to people in his imagination?”

Quite clearly he’s talking to people in his own fertile imagination, because he wasn’t talking to anybody who’s his opponent in this room.

John Bridge's speech at the 12 October Machover-Matgamna debate.

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Mike McNair: political dominance in the world

There is a basic thing missing the arguments of the comrades of the AWL... The world is not composed of a flat system of states which are all equal to one another. The... inequality between these states is not purely economic...

There is politically constituted exploitation in the modern world. There are systematic hierarchical links between states... the dominance of one state over another state, dependency of one state on another state.

Speech by Mike McNair at the 12 October Machover-Matgamna debate.

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Peter Manson: ‘we do not tell lies’

I’m the editor of the Weekly Worker... The Weekly Worker does not publish lies... It’s counter-productive to tell lies, especially when you’re engaged in polemics against another organisation. It’s counterproductive to misrepresent them knowingly.

Sometimes we make mistakes as all people do but we do not tell lies, not while I’m editor we don’t.

Speech by Peter Manson at the 12 October Machover-Matgamna debate.

Around the world: 

The AWL, Labour and the Left: 

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Irene Bruegel

Author: 

Martin Thomas

Irene Bruegel, a founder of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, died on 6 October, at the age of 62, as the result of a liver disease.

We in AWL knew her mainly through our various efforts to construct a “two states” pole for solidarity with the Palestinians since 2000, when events in Israel-Palestine started spiralling into mutual reinforcement of Hamas and the Israeli right.

Irene Bruegel, a founder of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, died on 6 October, at the age of 62, as the result of a liver disease.

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