Solidarity 058, 23 September 2004

France's lost youth?

The latest issue of Critique communiste, magazine of the French Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, has an interview in which researcher Michel Pialoux discusses his findings on the “disorganisation of the working class” being generated by long-term mass unemployment and casualisation in France.

“60 years ago, the bac [the French equivalent of A levels] was the passport to the bourgeoisie. Today it still has a symbolic significance even though 80% of an age group get it.”

Tariq Ramadan is not our ally

The Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan is a top-billed speaker at the ESF in London in October.

The following text gives some information on the debate in France about Tariq Ramadan and his politics.

It was originally published (in French) as a leaflet and distributed at the European Social Forum in Paris on 12–16 November 2003 by the “Feminist Collective for a Secular Alternative Globalisation”. We translate it in the interests of informing activists.

New student campaign launched

Education not for sale!

On September 21, a Guardian survey of English universities showed that two-thirds are preparing to charge the maximum possible top-up fee in order to maintain their image against competitors. This information, while not unpredicted, should be ringing alarm bells for the student movement — yet despite the election of a new president, Kat Fletcher, on a left-wing platform, the National Union of Students appears to be continuing on the same course that has meant defeat after defeat for the student movement throughout the last 20 years.

Defend NUS democracy

At a tiny, unrepresentative “special conference” in June, the right-wing leadership of the National Union of Students (NUS) moved a step closer to its long-cherished goal of completely banishing ordinary students from involvement in the national union by passing a raft of anti-democratic “reforms”.

These measures, which include limiting the size and length of NUS National Conference, were successful only because they received the support of Kat Fletcher, the new NUS president elected on a platform of… defending democracy!

The History of Irish Republicanism: Prelude to the Provos

Thomas Carolan continues his series about the history of Irish Republicanism

We have seen that there was more than a little in the IRA attacks on Northern Ireland in the 1950s of Catholic zealots putting themselves against a corrupt Protestant civilisation — or against the British-spawned Irish part of what Yeats, in the grip of his own romantic obsessions, had stigmatised as “the filthy modern tide”.

In defence of multiculturalism

I agree with Paul Flewers that socialists should subject multiculturalism to a thoroughgoing critique. He has started us off with an ugly caricature showing the pitfalls of implementing multiculturalism in a corrupt world of decaying political standards and working class demoralisation.

To get a real critique, however, we must look also at the positive PR for multiculturalism. Is there anything laudable in the multiculturalism ambition? I say there is. Then additionally we might measure how the reality lives up to the ideal.

No Sweat at the ESF

No Sweat is bringing two main speakers to intervene at the ESF, with its own meetings and official seminars (time, date, place on the No Sweat website as soon as we know them).

They are: Yannick Etienne of the Bataye Ouvriye union federation of Haiti who will speak about the fight against sweatshops and how to make international solidarity; and Abdel Mabrouki of Stop Précarité, France, author of Génération Précaire, who will speak about the fight against casualisation and his experience organising fast food workers.

What sort of solidarity campaign?

By Colin Foster

The TUC congress on 13–16 September passed a motion from the lecturers’ union NATFHE committing it to “maintain and strengthen contact with Iraqi trade unionists, in particular the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) [and] initiate, together with affiliated trade unions, a solidarity committee to liaise with, and give practical support to, the trade union movement in Iraq”.

Balance sheet on James P Cannon (2004)

James P Cannon still has a lot to teach Marxists today and the balance sheet on his life and politics is largely positive (Solidarity 3/56 and 3/57). There is no doubt his decision to support Trotsky in 1928 was of enormous significance in creating the international tendency opposed to Stalinism, on whose shoulders we stand today.

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