USA/Canada

Labour's martyrs: the story of Sacco and Vanzetti

Workers' Liberty 3/53, published as a pull-out in Solidarity 397. The story of the Sacco and Vanzetti case, told by James P Cannon and Max Shachtman, who were leading activists in the defence campaign. Click to download as pdf

Resonances from the 70s

Mrs America is a mini-series charting the battles in the 1970s between the rising feminist movement in the United States and its enemies over the Equal Rights Amendment (an amendment to the Constitution which still hasn’t been ratified by enough states to become law). It shows us well-known figures from the American women’s movement at that time, like Gloria Steinem (played by Rose Byrne) and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), but focuses also on the woman who set out to defeat them, Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett). Steinem herself, and others, have criticised the series for overstating this...

Some see 45%, others 3%

As workers were furloughed and schools closed, confining families to the home, housework and childcare increased. Articles and blog posts told of pressure on women to take on more and more. Research coming out of USA, Canada, Germany, Turkey and the Netherlands has found men doing more domestic work during the pandemic than they did before it. But they haven’t closed the gap with women, “Across the board, whether it’s dishwashing, laundry, childcare, reading to kids, physical care, we’re seeing a universal movement toward more egalitarian sharing,” says Dan Carlson, a sociologist at the...

"Black youths were able to bring along the rest"

Robert Cuffy (above) is a member of the Socialist Workers Alliance of Guyana, currently based in New York, where he is a public sector worker, trade unionist, and member of the Democratic Socialists of America. He spoke to Daniel Randall from Solidarity. DR: What’s your assessment of where the Black Lives Matter movement is at, and what perspectives and ideas class-struggle socialists involved in it should be advocating and building for? RC: This iteration of the black liberation struggle, which is the second uprising happening under the hashtag or label “Black Lives Matter”, comes at a...

Protest vote or independent political action?

Above: Howie Hawkins, longstanding socialist activist, is running on the Green Party ticket alongside Angela Walker Re-posted, with thanks, from the New Politics magazine website. A bumper sticker displayed with increasing resonance these days reads: “2020, any responsible adult.” This is undoubtedly the mood of Democratic Party voters as was made abundantly clear by the abrupt collapse of the Sanders momentum. The US is in free fall under a regime that represents an exceptional threat not only to democratic life but to human life itself. The need for an American socialist answer has rarely...

The politics of some statues

Statues all across America have been pulled down and graffitied recently, as anti-racist protestors have sought to grapple with American history. Many of these statues depict straight-forwardly racist individuals, and were erected by racists for the purposes of defending racism. Confederate monuments were largely built in the early 1900s and then in the 1960s, by white supremacists fighting against upsurges in black struggle (1). However, there are two particular monuments which have come under attack that are particularly interesting, as they were intended to glorify black emancipation: the...

Unionising black workers in the USA

African Americans who maintained train engines had to sue the Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen to gain admission to the union in 1944. Outside the court. The Memphis, Tennessee, bin workers’ strike of 1968 is now mainly remembered as an event that provided the backdrop for the assassination of Martin Luther King. King had made a turn, with his Poor People’s Campaign, towards fighting against poverty. 1300 black workers in Memphis struck against poverty pay rates that were so low many of the men wore dirty old clothes and needed social security payments to feed their children...

"American Carnage"

When Donald Trump gave his inaugural speech to a poorly attended crowd in January 2017, he spoke of ending “the American carnage”. Carnage isn’t a strong enough word for the three-pronged crisis the country now faces. The Covid pandemic rages — 150,000 deaths and rising. Expect half a million virus fatalities come election time in November. Trump’s behaviour continues to make a dreadful situation far worse as he undermines the advice of his own public health experts and continues to promote quack remedies, disinformation, and conspiracy theories. Trump no longer recommends swallowing...

"Active class struggle is central to anti-racist struggle"

The Repeat Beat Poet is a hip hop and spoken word artist, broadcaster and activist. He talked with Janine Booth from Solidarity; the whole conversation is online here. On recent events in the USA: There are shamefully still regularly extrajudicial killings of Black people in the US and across the world, but because of lockdown, the killing [of George Floyd] is a moment of vindication for a lot of activists. The protests are vital in achieving concessions from the oppressive system we’re living in, and show mobilised oppressed peoples how they can bring themselves together and collectivise...

The New Jim Crow

Police violence in the USA is only a shore of a whole continent of racial oppression and marginalisation, so Michelle Alexander argues in her 2010 book, now a “classic”, The New Jim Crow. Alexander is a civil rights lawyer by trade. Chunks of the book are lawyerly, dissecting a string of Supreme Court rulings. She says herself that she wouldn’t have got to a “fancy law school” without affirmative action rules. Her punchline, though, is that racial oppression is knitted into a larger system of social inequality, and measures which create a bigger black middle class aren’t enough. “Piecemeal...

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