Solidarity 061, 4 November 2004

Pluto-democracy in America (2004)

In ancient Athens the citizens gathered in the agora, the market place, to debate the affairs of the city state and vote on them. They did that with every issue that arose, including the appointment of military commanders. It has been called the “classic” democracy. In fact, only a fraction of those living in Athens could debate and vote.

Slaves, women and foreigners had neither voice nor vote. Those citizens who made up the Athenian democracy were therefore a narrow, privileged caste, consisting of, maybe, a fifth of the population, or less.

104,500 jobs threatened in civil service: After the strike, where now?

On 5 November civil service workers in the PCS union will be taking part in the first civil service-wide strike since 1993. They will strike against the Government’s proposal to axe 104,500 civil service jobs — one in five of all civil service jobs. Members of the union voted two to one on a 42 % turnout for the strike.

By a Civil Servant

The first Irish left


Sean Matgamna

Identifiable left-wing politics first emerged in Ireland at the end of the 18th century.
It was the result of three revolutions.

The American revolution, which broke out in 1776. The French revolution, which started in 1789. And the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 in which the English Parliament kicked out the would-be absolutist Catholic King James and put William of Orange and James’s Protestant daughter, Mary, jointly on the throne, under the control of Parliament.

Low-wage Britain

The government’s paltry minimum wage — £4.50 per hour for workers over 21 and just £3.80 per hour for workers between 18 and 21 — has been the cause of a great deal of discontent in the labour movement, particularly over the apparent assumption that under-21s need less to eat.

By Mike Rowley

However, this is not the only problem with the system. The new Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings has revealed that 272,000 workers in Britain are paid less than the minimum wage.

The anatomy of the Stalin-made left

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Party Line,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Party Line.

Leon Trotsky was a Nazi,
And I know it for a fact.
First I read, then I said it,
Before the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

(Anti-Stalinist song of the 1940s, to the tune of “My Darling Clementine”)

Fenner Brockway, the leader in the 1930s and 40s of the anti-war Independent Labour Party, tells a story from 1939 in his second volume of memoirs, Outside the Right (1963).

The third camp

On 26 October, AWL took part in a meeting to plan action against the USA’s projected blitz on Fallujah. Initiatives coming out of the meeting include a demonstration on Sunday 7 November, 2pm at Parliament Square, which we urge all readers to support.

Those like the SWP and Respect who shout about “supporting the resistance” in Iraq, and who seem positively to look forward to new battles in Fallujah as a great chance to see a blow against imperialism, were not at the meeting.

It's Dolly

Bruce Robinson looks at the life of Dolly Rathebe

The South African jazz singer and actor Dolly Rathebe died on 16 September, aged 76. She was a major figure in the flourishing of South African urban black culture in the 1950s before it was suppressed by the apartheid regime. She made a come-back after its end in the 90s.

The man who listened

Matt Cooper applauds the legacy of JOHN PEEL

John Peel’s death at 65 on 25 October doesn’t mark an end of an era in at Radio One — Peel always was an outsider at Radio One, and the wonder is that the people in suits who run the BBC allowed such a maverick, motivated by love of music, not love of his own celebrity, to grace the airwaves for so long. To say that with Peel Radio One loses its last shred of credibility ignores Peel’s long time status as its only shred of credibility.

Why I'm leaving Respect

Kath Owen was a candidate on the Respect list for Yorkshire and Humberside in the Euro-elections. She has now left Respect, and explained why to Lesley Smallwood.

Despite sharing some of the AWL’s criticisms you decided to join Respect at its launch. What did you hope it would achieve?

I thought it would be the electoral representative of the anti-war movement, that it would build that movement into a political force which would link together other wider political issues such as racism and the backlash against civil liberties. I expected it to have a socialist direction.

Respect says: "Secularism is Islamophobic."

The conference of the Galloway/SWP coalition Respect (30-31 October, in London) voted down a motion to “declare that Respect is a secular organisation”. The motion, drafted by the longstanding and well-respected anti-racist activist Dave Landau, was very moderately worded.

However, Socialist Worker editor Chris Bambery declared that it was “Islamophobic”.

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