Keynesianism and COVID-19

With every major crisis capitalism has faced since the Second World War, we have seen Keynesianism rear its head. Either in the form of actual policy enacted or in the realm of ideas that come to the fore at these times. Our current situation with COVID-19 is no different. It is as the American monetarist economist Robert Lucas Jr. succinctly put it: “I guess everyone’s a Keynesian in a foxhole”, when capital sees itself in major crisis, Keynesianism reemerges in order to offer a solution. However, there is a widespread ignorance about what Keynesianism actually means.

Don't let Tories push through anti-migrant law

The Conservative government’s new Immigration Bill would grant sweeping “Henry VIII” powers to the Home Secretary to make up immigration rules with limited oversight or accountability to Parliament.

The Johnson government’s new post-Brexit border policy ends free movement with the EU. It extends to EU migrants the brutal anti-migrant regime that is already imposed on non-EU migrants, while also changing that regime in new ways.

The virus (diary of an engineering apprentice)

“You know that Corona sales have plummeted? They’ve lost millions.”
“Yeah you can get a crate on special offer in Morrisons – we should throw a barbecue.”
“The beer! You plant-pot...”

For the last few weeks the conversations at work have been about trivialising:
“It’s only old people and sick people who’re at risk; and they die of the flu every year anyway but no-one cares – everyone here will be fine”
(“Except you D, you’re basically at death’s door.”)

NHS England policy says full pay for all if off for Covid-19: make managers comply!

A document from NHS England dated 4/3/20 says all workers on NHS premises should be fully paid to comply with public health advice.

Yet mostly it hasn't been made public or used by workers and unions. Managers are keeping it quiet or don't know about it.

Each day that passes that workers don't know about this provision puts the NHS workforce and NHS patients under greater risk of infection.

Spread the news:!

Workers' rights in the pandemic

A “joint statement”, published in the name of the Department for Transport (DfT), eight individual unions organising in the transport sector, and the TUC, appeared online on Wednesday 19 March.

It reports the “first in a series of Ministerial calls” between the DfT and transport unions, and ends with an affirmation that “Transport Ministers have pledged to work tirelessly with the unions to support staff in the transport industry through not only the immediate challenges but also the issues that will affect the sector once the country has overcome this pandemic.”

Covid-19 and capitalism

Despite many predictions over the years by the World Health Organisation that a new pandemic was fairly certain, fairly soon, capitalist governments and businesses failed to do the research and development in advance that could have provided us with medical capacity to limit its effect, or environmental measures which might even have prevented the outbreak.

Sanders' socialist plan for the pandemic

The mainstream media has already written off Bernie Sanders and crowned Joe Biden as the Democratic candidate to challenge Donald Trump (despite the primaries being far from over). But that hasn’t silenced the Vermont senator.

Sanders has long seen himself as more than just a conventional politician and acts as the voice for a movement. This last week, he laid out a socialist programme for the pandemic.

C-19: override private profit! Fight for workers' control!

In this epidemic, Workers’ Liberty fights for the labour movement to make itself an essential service.

The labour movement, as yet, lacks the capacity to take over society and reshape it so as better to minimise and control epidemics. Neither we as Workers’ Liberty, nor the labour movement generally, has the depth of expertise to qualify us to second-guess the established bourgeois public health experts.

In praise of Mega2

The Marx-Engels-Gesamtausgabe (Mega) is a project to publish a complete critical edition of the publications, manuscripts and correspondence of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The project is still incomplete after almost a century. However as more materials are published, we get a far deeper understanding of the origins and development of Marxism. For anyone interested in working class self-emancipation, the Mega should be an irreplaceable referent.

Sanders, Biden, and the movement

The movement around Bernie Sanders' bid for the US presidency represents an opportunity to advance socialist politics in that country in a way not seen for a generation or more. The ongoing detoxification of the word and idea of “socialism” in American political life, to the extent that one 2019 poll showed that 61% of Americans aged between 18-24 preferred “socialism” to “capitalism” [], is both a consequence of, and a catalyst for, the Sanders phenomenon.

Expand public transport, not the airport

A serious campaign is picking up momentum against the expansion of Leeds Bradford Airport (LBA).

The private owners of LBA want to build a new passenger terminal that will increase the number of passengers from 4 million a year to 7.1 million a year by 2030, and 9 million by 2050.

In March 2019, in response to pressure from youth climate strikers and XR, Leeds City Council declared a “Climate Emergency” – committing Leeds to carbon neutrality by 2030.

Profit drive has stalled vaccines

In capitalist society we are encouraged to believe that our health and wealth depend on individual endeavour. The market can meet all of society’s needs.

Society is set up so that the only organisations capable of producing vaccines for Covid19 are privately-owned and run pharmaceutical companies.

In fact, with more public investment and research there might have been at least partially effective treatments already available when Covid-19 was identified.

McCoy Tyner, 1938-2020

The jazz pianist, composer and bandleader McCoy Tyner has died aged 81. Best known as a member of the “classic” John Coltrane Quartet between 1960 and 1965, in a career of over 50 years Tyner developed one of the most influential styles of modern jazz piano and produced a wide range of varied yet distinctive music.

Tyner grew up in Philadelphia where there was a thriving jazz scene in the 50s. He started learning piano when he was 13 and had some classical training.

Israel poll impasse gives a little more time

The bad news from Israel’s election on 2 March is that Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s right-wing prime minister since 2009, increased his score slightly in this third poll since Israel hit electoral deadlock in April 2019.

Netanyahu openly trades on hostility to Israel’s 20% Palestinian minority, and, in line with Donald Trump’s “plan”, pledges to formally annex to Israel much of the 80%-Palestinian West Bank. He also talks of “transferring” some Palestinian-majority areas of Israel into the patchwork quasi-semi-demi-autonomous “Palestinian state” which the Trump plan promises.

A left opposition to Starmer

Barring a surprise, Keir Starmer will be elected Labour leader on 2 April by a big margin.

How will the left respond? The signs are that Starmer will want to not marginalise left MPs, but rather “incorporate” them, as Harold Wilson “incorporated” the left MPs in his day.

Although the 2019 Labour Party conference showed that at constituency level the Labour Party is much more left-wing, in a general way, than it was before 2015, the actual organised Labour left is weak. Momentum has a big membership, but does not even aspire to discuss and campaign for left-wing policies.

Clive Lewis on the left after Corbyn

Clive Lewis talked with Sacha Ismail

What Corbynism started to talk about in 2015 was an end to austerity, and trying to return to a sort of 1945 moment, trying to recapture a Keynesian economic approach — redistribution of wealth, trying to use social democracy to move us towards a more socialist economy in stages.

But also at the beginning it was about democratising the party, which I think is what attracted so many of us. The idea of democracy and membership engagement and members having a real say over policy really resonated.

Political revolution in the age of pandemics

The decision by the AFL-CIO to cancel the planned candidates’ forum in Florida this week is bad news for Bernie Sanders.

This would have been the perfect opportunity for Sanders to challenge his sole remaining rival for the Democratic nomination, former Vice President Joe Biden, on the issues which divide them. On all those issues – social security, Medicare for all, trade deals like NAFTA and TPP – Sanders’ views are much closer to those of the unions. Biden’s neo-liberal agenda would have been exposed.

For Two States and Equal Rights

On Thursday 27 February, activists responding to a call "For Two States and Equal Rights" protested near the Israeli Embassy in London against the Trump Plan and the threats by Israeli political leaders to annex large areas of the 80%-Palestinian West Bank.

The planned annexations would reduce the residual autonomy of the Palestinian cities, towns, and villages to that of disjointed patches of land surrounded by and completely dominated by areas claimed permanently for Israel.

Green New Deal, not airport expansion!

Existing plans for Heathrow airport to be expanded with a new third runway have been ruled unlawful by the Court of Appeal, in the latest move in a battle stretching back the best part of two decades.

On 27 February the court ruled that in June 2018 Chris Grayling, then the transport secretary, was acting unlawfully by not taking into account the government's commitment - under the Paris agreements - to tackle the climate crisis. The Government said it would not appeal, though Heathrow airport itself will.

Open the borders for Syrian refugees!

For a long time, Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been "threatening" to open Turkey’s western borders, and allow the millions of refugees to travel to Europe.

Now he is upping the threats and raising the stakes. His aim is not to get better conditions for the refugees. It is to force Europe into greater support of Turkey.

Yet, with the renewed attacks on migrants, it is the responsibility of socialists all across Europe to challenge the racist anti-immigration laws being put forward by our governments.

Covid-19: the case for public spending and public ownership

Covid-19 is spreading. Spreading even faster, in the last week of February, was financial panic.

The Dow Jones share-price index in the USA went down 12% in the week ending 27 February, its biggest drop since 2008.

The first economic effects from a pandemic are in some ways the opposite of the usual beginning of a capitalist slump.

That usually begins with "overproduction" - when capitalists, vying each to outstrip the other in a boom, find they've increased capacity way beyond available market demand, and suddenly cut back on new investment.

Build unions, not borders

The Tories have threatened to abandon talks with the European Union in June and spend the second half of the year preparing for a No Deal Brexit.

No expert thought it would be easy to get a UK-EU trade agreement even by the end of the year, when the transition period is due to end and Brexit really kicks in. Getting an agreement largely sorted by June will be that much more difficult. It looks like the Tories are trying to bluff the EU into concessions by a game of brinkmanship which could easily end in No Deal anyway.

Class struggle environmentalism

A day of workshops on how capitalism is the driver of environmental crises and what we can do to fight it.

Workshops on Marxist ecology for beginners; building local, changing the global; how to fight the fossil fuel industry; climate struggles in Australia; socialist strategies; food, forests, fighting climate catastrophe.

Tickets: £15 waged, £8 low waged/full time students, £3 unwaged. £1 for school students from Eventbrite and on the door.

Wuhan: a new coronavirus


People visiting a seafood and wild animal market a few weeks ago almost certainly picked up a species of virus from live wild animals on sale. This virus, a member of the Coronavirus family, causes fever, a cough and sometimes pneumonia.

It seems to be relatively easy to transmit between people and identified cases have risen sharply to well over 10,000 in a few weeks, most in the city of Wuhan with a few (so far) in other towns and countries.

Labour leadership: challenge the candidates

Rebecca Long-Bailey has challenged the other candidates to support the commitments to public ownership in the 2019 manifesto. Richard Burgon has argued for a new pro-public ownership Clause IV in the party constitution.

Keir Starmer has backed the 2019 manifesto’s plans for higher taxes on the rich and come out for re-establishing UK-EU free movement. Dawn Butler has written in the Guardian about scrapping anti-trade union laws, though on inspection what she means is pretty fuzzy.

Health workers strike in Hong Kong

Today, 3 February, over 2,000 health workers went on strike, after an overwhelming ballot held over the weekend in favour of action to press their two demands, and after the Government refused to meet with them:

1) The HKSAR Government must close its border with China to prevent more and more people infected with the Wuhan novel-coronavirus from coming in.
2) The HKSAR Government must secure sufficient masks, clothing and other equipment to enable hospital staff to carry out their work with sufficient protection against the virus.

We're still for a united Europe

The socialist left should vocally oppose the Tories’ Brexit plans. It should argue for a united Europe, and for the UK to rejoin the EU. It should fight for the broad labour movement, including the Labour Party, to argue and campaign for this too.

Almost all the Labour-leader candidates say that we have no choice but to “move on” while the Tories “get Brexit done”. Even Emily Thornberry, the most vocally anti-Brexit candidate, says only that Labour should have been more anti-Brexit.

Stop West Bank annexation!

On Saturday 1 February, some 2,000 Israelis, Jews and Arabs, demonstrated in Tel Aviv against the “Trump plan” for Israel-Palestine, and the threats by leading Israeli politicians Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz to use the “plan” as licence to move quickly to annex large areas of the West Bank.

According to the Israeli press, the other opposition to annexation (this one behind closed doors) comes from the top brass of Israel’s armed forces, who calculate that it would create reverberating problems for them.

Sanders and the unions

Bernie Sanders has introduced a new phrase into American politics: “working class.”

For decades, hardly anyone has used those two words together. It was far more common to speak of the “middle class” or, more recently, “working families”. By employing the language of class, Sanders has staked out his claim to be the candidate of the trade unions.

Against Trump's plan! For "Two States"!

Donald Trump, side-by-side with Israel’s right-wing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is announcing his long-touted “plan” for Israel-Palestine as Solidarity goes to press on Tuesday 28th.

Trump talked of it as a “two states” plan, but his pointed dissociation, in the run-up to the announcement, from the USA’s long-standing formal commitment to “two states”, was more apt.

Israel’s left-wing Jewish-Arab social movement Standing Together tweeted: “The ‘deal of the century’ is not a peace deal, and there is no good news or hope in it. What’s in it then? Lies”.

The uprising in Iraq

Iraq is in a constitutional limbo. Adil Abdul-Mahdi has resigned as prime minister, but he is still in office, as a caretaker. On 26 December Barham Salih, the president, refused to accept the nominee of the ruling bloc of Islamist parties. Salih threatened to resign himself.

There is deadlock, and both Abdul-Mahdi and Salih are still in office.

The Washington No Show Trial

For all Trump’s talk of witch hunts and show trials, impeachment proceedings against him in the US Congress have turned into one big noshow trial.

No new evidence allowed. No witnesses permitted. No documents released.

The suggestion that if they were to hear witnesses it would have to be behind closed doors, for fear of what the American public might otherwise learn, reeks of the kind of behaviour expected in Putin’s Russia or Saudi Arabia rather than the USA’s supposed beacon of democracy.

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