Battle of Ideas

Transforming the labour movement: a reply to our critics

Submitted by cathy n on Tue, 07/05/2019 - 14:21
mass strike

One of the strangest organisations on the British left is the Socialist Party of Great Britain (no relation to the similarly named Socialist Party of England and Wales). Founded in 1904, they are the oldest organisation on the British Left and yet unless you happened to walk past their shopfront on Clapham High Street, South London, you would not know they existed. Like their stuffy little shop, the SPGB is inert.

The roots of Lexitism

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 16/01/2019 - 11:17
Lexit square

The Brexit crisis at Westminster is also rippling across the left in Britain. Although the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) remains committed to its pro¬Brexit position, its report of its conference on 29¬30 December show that at least some of its members are uneasy.

How left "anti-Zionism" fed an antisemitic ferment

Submitted by martin on Mon, 01/04/2019 - 21:50
Brenner

In the mid-1980s, Socialist Organiser, a forerunner of Solidarity, ran a long debate - discussion articles, letters, rejoinders, from a wide variety of views - on Israel-Palestine.

One of the contributions then was from Lenni Brenner, author of two books very influential on the "absolute anti-Zionist" left (Zionism in the Age of the Dictators and The Iron Wall). The following reply to it by Sean Matgamna was written at the time but never published, except in a small-circulation pamphlet collecting the debate with unpublished additions.

Amritsar, a hundred years on

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 17/04/2019 - 10:29
amritsar

On 13 April 1919, in Amritsar in the Punjab, India, 50 soldiers under the command of the British General Dyer opened fire on a crowd gathering in the Jallainwala Bagh – a garden-cum-open area popular for meetings and social or religious gatherings.

Many of the crowd were there to celebrate Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year. No one was armed, there were no disturbances, it was peaceful.

The British authorities put the number of dead at 379, with more than a thousand injured. The actual number of fatalities will never be known.

Introducing: social reproduction theory

Submitted by cathy n on Mon, 25/03/2019 - 10:40
domestic work

One of the key texts of early social reproduction theory was Lise Vogel’s Marxism and the Oppression of Women, published in 1983. Vogel’s aim in the book was to criticise the ‘dual systems theory’ that emerged from the 1970s, which saw (a) Marxism as an explanation for class exploitation, and (b) patriarchy as an explanation for women’s oppression: two linked but fundamentally separate systems.

George Orwell, Spain, and revolution

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 20/03/2019 - 11:19
orwell in spain

In his 1947 essay, “Why I Write”, George Orwell explained:

“The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it…”

Homage to Catalonia, in which Orwell bore witness to the murder of the Spanish Revolution, was the product of this defining period of Orwell’s life, at least the literary and political equal of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

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