Solidarity 081, 6 October 2005

Lenin and the Iraqi “resistance”

The SWP isn’t keen on systematic discussion of ideas — but on the few occasions when its publications do make a nod towards theory, they tend to rely on a small number of well-worn quotations. Among SWP favourites at the moment is this, written by Lenin in July 1916, and now used to justify support for the so-called resistance in Iraq:

Don’t let markets kill the NHS!

by rhodri evans

The Government is on the road to converting the Health Service from a provider of health care into an insurance system. In the future, according to Blair and Brown, health care will be “bought in”, more and more of it from private hospitals and clinics, and the NHS will just be an insurance policy, providing cover for health care costs in return for our tax contributions.

On anti-war slogans: lessons from two wars

American socialist Barry Finger argues the case for calling for “troops out now” in iraq

The AWL position on Iraq is difficult to understand, and — it would seem, at least from a distance — to be fraught with genuine ideological insights intimately entangled with equally real and no less disturbing political frailties.

Marxist dayschools: Why workplace activism?

The Workers’ Liberty dayschools on “Marxists and the trade unions”, on Saturday 1 October were held simultaneously in Sheffield and London. Most of the schools’ time was given over to small workshop session. We started by considering why socialists should focus effort on workplaces and trade unions, rather than on other areas of activism which may be more easily accessible and sometimes more lively.

One reason is the potential power of strikes and other workplace action to shake society. But that’s not all.

Socialist electoral unity

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty met with representatives of the Socialist Party, the Alliance for Green Socialism, and the Socialist Alliance (Provisional) for a Socialist Green Unity Coalition committee meeting on 2 October.

We agreed that we will run a common SGUC campaign for the 2006 local elections as for the 2005 general election. A discussion will be opened on additions especially relevant to local government for the current agreed SGUC common political platform.

Romanticising violence

Ruben Lomas reviews Green Street

What do you get when you mix brutal violence, a bit of impressive camerawork and some absolutely appalling politics? You get the ultra-reactionary mess, but still bizarrely entertaining film, that is Lexi Alexander’s Green Street.

The Green Street Elite are a West Ham United football firm. Its members are all working-class men. Their portrayal in this film owes debts to Fight Club and Taxi Driver, both of which which looked at how alienation can lead to senseless and brutal violence.

After the Zombie plague

Michael Wood reviews Land of the living Dead

In his fourth zombie film, George Romero — who started the genre with Night of the Living Dead in the late 1960s — uses the backdrop of a zombie plague to look at the way people interact, their motivations and their flaws. In this he is more upfront than his earlier, still pretty bold, films.

When Dylan changed direction

Laura Schwartz reviews Martin Scorsese’s film about Bob Dylan, No Direction Home, BBC2

No Direction Home was not about Dylan the man or Dylan the musician, but Dylan the icon. In telling the story of how Bob Dylan came to acquire and ultimately to reject the title of “voice of a generation”, Scorsese also treats him as a symbol — as an embodiment of the tension between art and politics.

The British left failed the internationalist test

Many British labour movement activists and leaders were hostile to Solidarnosc — most prominently miners’ leader Arthur Scargill. Scargill was — and still is — a Stalinist who believed that police-state Poland was a genuine socialist country. Like many militants, Scargill’s views were reinforced because the Cold War leaders of the Eastern Bloc were in a head-to-head stand off with his own immediate enemies — Margaret Thatcher and the hated US president Ronald Reagan.

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