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

Karen Lewis lit the spark

Karen Lewis, leader of the 2012 Chicago teachers’ strike, died of cancer on 7 February 2021. An obituary in Labor Notes here describes her role in building a rank-and-file caucus in the Chicago Teachers’ Union and then leading the CTU.

Letters: Jumping the vaccination queue; A 0.32% swing

Jumping the vaccination queue I thought the call for school workers to be bumped up the vaccination queue had faded, because it was originally advocated as vaccination in half-term (mostly week 15-19 Feb). Not so. My local Labour Party passed a motion on 17 Feb for bumping up the queue. It was motivated by sympathy and appreciation for school workers, but as a teacher myself I argued against it. We’re for requisitioning Big Pharma to speed vaccine supplies. Even then vaccination will take time. Not everyone can be first. The vaccines drastically reduce death and severe illness from Covid. The...

US politics and Trump: a discussion document

Developments in US politics over the past year have been the subject to lengthy debate in the labour movement, within the AWL and in our paper Solidarity. Those discussions have been useful and should continue. Our AGM should make an initial assessment and draw some political conclusions. Trump Donald Trump was the most right-wing, authoritarian, nationalist, president in recent US history, as well as a racist, sexist, transphobic narcissist. For workers of the world, and in particular for black, brown, and immigrant working-class people in the US, it is a relief that he is no longer president...

The dynamics of bureaucratism

Left Oppositionists in Siberian exile, late 1920s The Fate of the Russian Revolution: Lost Texts of Critical Marxism Volume One is a significant contribution to the literature of the anti-Stalinist left. Long buried in the archives the polemics and analyses of those socialists who refused to accept the definition of Stalin’s barbaric regime as a “workers’ state” simply because property was nationalised and private property, large and small, was obliterated, deserve to see the light. My criticism of this anthology should in no way detract from the valuable contribution made and, in view of the...

Gun clubs, churches, unions

As Matt Cooper describes (Solidarity 579 and 580), social media has been a prime vehicle for the far right. So much so that mainstream bourgeois institutions want curbs. How do we find an answer from the left? I don’t know. A further bit of diagnosis may help us along the way, though. Why do so many people believe such off-the-wall ideas? As Matt reports, false conspiracy theories and “secret scandal” stories spread faster on social media than truth because they are more emotive and more adhesive to “continuous partial attention”. But why are they then believed enough to motivate people to...

Crisis? What crisis?

Unite the Right far-right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, 2017 Diamonds are apparently forever, yet the same can’t be said of political systems. Lenin said he’d never see the end of Tsarism mere weeks before the Russian Revolution broke out. Similarly few imagined at the start of 1989 that the USSR would collapse so swiftly, though some supposed leftists still haven’t come to terms with it. Likewise the political project known as the United States of America won’t be around forever. Though close to being finished off during the Civil War, the USA emerged in the 20th century as the world’s...

Democrats will only tinker

In his letter to Solidarity 581, Barrie Hardy delves a little further into some of the wider differences that have been discussed in Solidarity in the run-up to the 2020 US Presidential election. I want to pick up one in particular. Barrie says that I make a wrong-headed claim by dismissing Biden’s or the Democrats’ desire for democratic reform. I think what Biden has said and the record of the Democrats is proof that any such commitment is cynical rather than real. As Howie Hawkins said in his interview in Solidarity 567, the US election process is entirely in the hands of the Democrats and...

The USA in the light of the impeachment hearing

To an outsider, or to this outsider, anyway, the most striking thing about American political life is the saturation-level, all-pervasive, complacent chauvinism. It’s almost innocent-seeming, almost endearing, like the boasting of a five year old. The Stars and Stripes everywhere. The custom of always, in public life, referring to any state that has to be mentioned as “the great state of Wyoming”, or whatever. And the ancestor worship! Everything about the creaking, labyrinthine, 230-year-old constitution is as sacred as it is perfect. It is the best in the world. It is not a real democracy at...

USA: not the greatest crisis

Thomas Carolan begins his latest article on the Trump phenomenon with these words, “US democracy is in its greatest crisis since the civil war of the 1860s.” Is it really? So the crisis is worse than the ending of Reconstruction after the 1876 election, which allowed the imposition of Jim Crow and white terror? Worse than the repression used against the labour movement in the period after the US entered the First World War, the rebuilding of the KKK and widespread lynch-law and racist violence? Worse than McCarthyism? This election was worse than the run up to 1968, with the assassination of...

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