Solidarity 060, 21 October 2004

The “reactionary anti-imperialists”

“Reactionary socialism… half lamentation, half lampoon; half echo of the past, half menace of the future.” Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto We had fed the heart on fantasies, The heart’s grown brutal from the fare; More substance in our enmities Than in our love… W B Yeats The left is defined, grouped and regrouped, and redefined again and again, by responses to major events — for example, to the October Revolution of 1917. The left is now undergoing another redefinition, around its responses to the series of wars that began with the Kosova war of 1999 and continued...

As you were saying - Tony Cliff against the Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) was prominent on the platforms at the European Social Forum on 15–17 October, and as a joint sponsor of the demonstration which closed the ESF, on 17 October 2004. The 17 October demonstration saw the first return for a while of the sort of message from MAB which it promoted on its first big public appearance, a demonstration in April 2002 on the themes Zionism = Nazism, Sharon = Hitler, Star of David = Swastika, the Israeli brutalities in the Occupied Territories are the “real” Holocaust. MAB placards on 17 October had — faintly, in the background,...

Haiti: “We are workers, not slaves”

Yannick Etienne is a member of Batay Ouvriye (Workers’ Fight), a militant trade union federation in Haiti. Yannick is on a speaking tour of Britain organised by No Sweat and the Haiti Support Group. Solidarity spoke to Yannick about the situation in Haiti today and about the work of Batay Ouvriye, particularly in the new Free Trade Zone that is being built at Ouanaminthe, on the border with the Dominican Republic Haiti is in the midst of a long-term social, economic and political crisis. After ten years in power, Aristide [Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haitian president overthrown by a military coup...

We saved our school!

By Mathew Bailey Parents, teachers and students of Northcliffe School, serving Conisbrough and Denaby near Doncaster, have recently stopped their school from being turned into an academy run by a religious organisation, the Emmanuel Schools Foundation (ESF). This is the first time proposals for an academy have been overturned. It is, as the Yorkshire Post put it, a “huge blow to Blair”. New Labour’s academies are a way of bringing the market into education. Only 12 currently exist but the Government wants 200. Academies are directly funded by central government with private sponsors running...

The Other America: 27% of US workers fall below poverty line

More than a quarter of all working families in the United States, including 20 million children, are considered low-income or poor, an independent report has found. Citing 2002 Census data, the report found that 9.2 million families with at least one working adult and one child under 18 — or 27.4% of such families — fall into the government’s measure of low income. This means they earn less than the federal poverty threshold, or less than $36,784 in 2002. Of those 9.2 million families, 2.5 million are officially living in poverty, earning less than $18,392 for a family of four. The median US...

Banning Monty Python?

By Dan Katz The Home Secretary, David Blunkett, is considering abolishing Britain’s absurd blasphemy laws when legislating for a new offence of incitement to religious hatred. By so doing Blunkett hopes to split those opposed to the new incitement law. But Blunkett’ concession is relatively unimportant — any blasphemy prosecutions would probably now be overridden by EU law. Besides the new offence is in effect an extension of the old blasphemy law — it will be a new “all religions” blasphemy law. Blasphemy prosecutions run foul of the European Convention on Human Rights Act because blasphemy...

ESF 2004: downpours and debate

Nearly 25,000 people in London for two and a half days of debate, and tens of thousands on a Sunday afternoon closing demonstration — the European Social Forum 2004, on 15-17 October, was well worth attending, despite the rain! It was more fractious than the previous ESFs, Florence 2002 and Paris 2003, in part because of choices by the organisers and in part because of a build-up of activist frustration at the domination of the big Forum platforms by not-very-radical speakers. On Saturday evening, a session due to be addressed by Ken Livingstone was taken over by anarchists. The biggest...

How activists were turned against the Iraqi unions

By Martin Thomas The Socialist Workers Party, a major force in the organisation both of the European Social Forum and of the Stop The War Coalition, has condemned the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani, general secretary of the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions, at the ESF on 15 October. According to Socialist Worker (16 October): “A couple of dozen people, with no connection to the anti-war movement, broke up the meeting through barracking and intimidation. They ignored appeals from, and a vote by, over 2,000 people in the audience for the meeting to take place”. But SWP members should look...

Mick Rix leaves STWC committee

Former ASLEF general secretary Mick Rix has withdrawn from the Stop the War Coalition committee after its statement denouncing the IFTU. Excerpts from a statement he has circulated: I cannot be associated with remarks that attack decent trade unionists and their unions… very much in the same way that George Galloway’s article did in the Morning Star… These statements that have supposedly been put out in the name of STW have not been debated, nor views invited before publication. Although the statement from STW is a little less personalised than George’s rant in the Morning Star… I still feel...

IFTU: a genuine workers’ organisation

Alex Gordon, a member of the RMT rail union who visited Iraq in October 2003 and has been active in building support for the Iraqi unions, talked to Solidarity about the shouting-down of Subhi al Mashadani. “…One must of course refute the lies put about by the SWP and George Galloway that the IFTU is a stooge organisation. That’s why they didn’t want Subhi al Mashadani to speak — because they would have refuted those lies by talking about disputes the IFTU is engaged in with employers, and problems it is having with the occupation authorities. “The basis of my trade union’s support for the...

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