Solidarity 422, 2 November 2016

Industrial news in brief

Author: 

Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens, Peggy Carter and Gemma Short

Station staff on London Underground are balloting for strikes, and industrial action short of strikes, against job cuts.

The ballot begins on 1 November and closes a fortnight later. Both the RMT and TSSA unions are balloting their members. London Underground’s “Fit for the Future” restructure programme on stations has seen nearly 1,000 jobs axed and thousands of workers forcibly regraded and displaced.

Strikes ahead on Tube; Ritzy workers give bosses a fright; Durham teaching assistants plan strikes; Southern workers protest at Parliament; IDS not a friend of workers or claimants; Post Office strike; Uber loses in court.

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Right-wing Labour MPs show their stripes

Author: 

Martin Thomas

According to right-wing Labour MP John Woodcock, “the support we [the UK] are giving [to Saudi Arabia, over the war in Yemen] is largely to help train pilots in targeting practices that reduce civilian casualties, trying to influence the Saudis into unambiguous compliance with humanitarian law”.

And so Woodcock and about 100 Labour MPs abstained or were absent on 18 October when the Labour front bench moved that Britain stop supporting Saudi Arabia in the war. The UN estimates that over 7,000 people have now been killed in the conflict, two-thirds in Saudi airstrikes.

To back the Saudi war In Yemen, with the bland excuse that support might inflect it towards less brutality, is sickening.

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Momentum: what sort of democracy?

Author: 

Sacha Ismail

The row in Momentum is being “spun” as one between those who want a workable broad movement, and those who want a sectarian bearpit. This is false.

Momentum groups are not being torn apart by different socialists tearing strips off each other about political programme. The acrimony and division comes from the people at the top whose fear of political discussion and debate is leading them to suppress democracy in the organisation, and generating predictable outrage.

Momentum groups are not being torn apart by different socialists tearing strips off each other about political programme. The acrimony and division comes from the people at the top whose fear of political discussion and debate is leading them to suppress democracy in the organisation, and generating predictable outrage.

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Polish women’s movement grows

Author: 

Anastazja Oppenheim

Polish abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in Europe. Abortion is completely banned apart from in a few exceptional circumstances. It is allowed on grounds of rape, incest, if there is a severe health risk to the pregnant woman, or if the foetus is severely deformed and has no chance of survival.

Anastazja Oppenheim, a student activist and member of the Polish left party Razem, explains the background to the recent women’s strike for abortion rights.

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Rezso Kasztner and Zionism

Author: 

Dale Street

Was Rezso Kasztner, leader of the Budapest-based Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, a hero who saved the lives of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust? Or was he a collaborator who knowingly played an indispensable role in assisting the Nazis in the deportation and murder of nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews in a matter of weeks?

A review of Kasztner’s Crime by Paul Bogdanor (Transaction Publishers 2016).

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The ABCs of Socialism

Author: 

Simon Nelson

The team behind Jacobin magazine have produced a great set of short simple essays tackling questions often asked about the politics of the socialist left titled The ABCs of Socialism. As with any book with multiple authors — this has 13 in total — there are differences in style, emphasis and political conclusions (which I will address later). Nonetheless the book is remarkably consistent and reads well.

The team behind Jacobin magazine have produced a great set of short simple essays tackling questions often asked about the politics of the socialist left titled The ABCs of Socialism.

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Is socialism against human nature?

Author: 

Sean Matgamna

Our recently published book Can Socialism Make Sense? takes on the arguments against socialism. In this abridged excerpt a critic of socialism (B) is answered by a socialist (A) on the question of human nature.

B: You can’t change human nature. Humanity remains an animal. Human nature — competition, individualism, selfishness, predatoriness — produces, protects, and preserves capitalism.

In a world of material well-being, of democratic collectivism, individualism would flower in a way it can never flower under capitalism.

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Bankers’ greed brings us down

Author: 

Editorial

“For questions about the survival of big European banks to be swirling almost ten years after the financial crisis started is utterly damning”, writes the big business magazine The Economist.

Questions are indeed swirling. On 26 October, the Bank of England asked British banks to say how much they are owed by Germany’s huge Deutsche Bank and Italy’s oldest bank, MPS, in case those banks prove unable to pay. Deutsche Bank’s share price has fallen by over 50% this year.

In today’s global-markets capitalism, the financial piping is central. Banks are not quiet enterprises, doing backroom work in a steady and cautious fashion, but the leaders in general capitalist speculation, corner-cutting, and reckless greed. If banks go down, as they did in 2008, they bring everything else down.

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Socialist Worker drops “stop the bombing”

Author: 

Will Sefton

In Socialist Worker (18 October) Charlie Kimber says Mosul will be “the next city to be razed by imperialism”. He does not, however, make a direct call on the US or UK to end their bombing in support of Iraqi government forces.

The recognition that to shout “stop the bombing” is not an automatic “anti-imperialist” duty, when the alternative is like Daesh, marks a real shift. But where is the accounting?

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