Solidarity 135, 10 July 2008

Rank and file participation and political representation

Published on: Tue, 22/07/2008 - 18:57

At the union conferences held this summer, anger at the Brown administration gave the the left the opportunity to pose serious questions about working-class political representation. Everyone agreed that there is a gaping hole in the political landscape that the organised working class need to fill with socialist politics. However, the solutions that organised socialists are proposing fall short of what is necessary. This was made eminently clear by the left’s failure to make any change to the unions organisational and political links with the Labour Party.
The Socialist Party’s Campaign for a

Anti-semitism in Venezuela

Published on: Sat, 19/07/2008 - 09:06

By Jack Yates

The insects that swarm around decaying human bodies reveal a great deal about the cause and timing of death. Stomach contents are even more informative. Pathologists drain the fluid, conduct biological and chemical tests, look carefully at samples under the microscope. In this way they can pinpoint the exact cause of death, or at least discern the last meal of a murder victim. Analogous methods can be applied in politics. You can tell something about a regime by the vermin it attracts. But to get some sense of the real cause of political illness, a peek inside the guts is

Independent workers' party to stand up to Chavez

Published on: Sat, 19/07/2008 - 09:04

By Paul Hampton
Two reasons to cheer in Venezuela recently, as socialists restarted the task of building an independent workers’ party, separate from Chávez’s ruling bourgeois PSUV.
In April supporters of Orlando Chirino within the C-CURA trade union left organised a conference to establish a new workers’ party. Chirino has a socialist and trade union history predating Chávez’s time in power, and is a leader of the UNT trade union federation. In recent years he was also a leader of the PRS socialist party. He opposed Chávez’s constitutional referendum and was victimised for trade union

Strike against Mugabe once and for all!

Published on: Fri, 18/07/2008 - 13:51

David Broder spoke to Mike Sambo from the International Socialist Organisation Zimbabwe

What is the current state of the ISO Zimbabwe and the labour movement?
Over the last two years the ISO Zimbabwe grew but this year we have faced more significant challenges. We are trying to stay relevant to the working class, but it is hard to operate. We work around the trade unions but not with the bureaucrats. Most unions support the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, but there are also rank-and-file groups within many of the unions. Furthermore, in the case of the Zimbabwe Graphical Workers' Union, the

Test marking fiasco: scrap SATs

Published on: Fri, 18/07/2008 - 13:48

Pat Yarker

In May, 11 and 14 year olds in England’s state schools faced the tedious annual round of public tests in English, Maths and Science. All results of those tests were supposed to be with schools this week. They won’t be.
At the last moment the government acknowledged that such was the incompetence of the private company newly-charged with administration for this year’s testing-programme that a delay in the return of all results to schools was unavoidable. The Education Secretary, Ed Balls, promised an inquiry. ETS Europe, the hapless company who won the £157M testing-contract for the next three

What's in a minimum?

Published on: Fri, 18/07/2008 - 13:46

Recent research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation estimates that around £13,400 a year is required to maintain a minimum standard of living. The Treasury currently estimates the minimum acceptable income as no less then 60% of the median wage. The question is "what is a minimum standard of living?"
For Brown and Darling it may just mean being able to house, feed and get yourself to work every day but for those surveyed it means more than this. We live in a world where the basic measure of 'liveability' is set at the level of 'reproduction' - that is, the ability to 'reproduce' a work force

Brown and Picasso

Published on: Fri, 18/07/2008 - 13:45

Colin Foster

By Colin Foster

Gordon Brown dreads union demands for legal rights for workers to take industrial action beyond the most parcellised and regulated because, he says, that would clash with “modernisation”.
I read about that the same day that I went to see an exhibition, “Picasso and his collection”, about one of the great modernist painters and the artworks he kept in his house and his studio and took inspiration from.
For Brown, “modernising” means servility towards the “modern” wishes of the “modern” ruling classes. Since the 1980s, capitalist governments have redefined their role as “selling”

Around the unions: in brief

Published on: Fri, 18/07/2008 - 13:41

•RMT: The RMT has called a ballot of Charing Cross Group Tube workers for action in solidarity with Jerome Bowes, a member of station staff at Elephant and Castle unjustly sacked after an incident on New Year’s Eve.
Jerome was subject to verbal abuse after witnessing a fight between two passengers, and manhandled by a drunken passenger. When this passenger punched him, Jerome swung round in self defence and caught him, breaking a small bone in his own wrist. No managers were present, even at one of the busiest stations on one of the busiest nights of the year.
Although he was himself on the

Fight poverty pay

Published on: Mon, 14/07/2008 - 15:26

By a Unison member

Hundreds of thousand of local government workers are due out on strike on 16 and 17 July in a dispute over pay. Both Unison, the largest local government union, and Unite are taking action. Members of PCS (civil servants) from the Driving Standards Agency, Home Office and Passport Agency will also be taking action on the same day. Unfortunately the other large union, the GMB, have accepted the deal currently on offer of 2.45% not because they think it’s a good deal, they say, but because members cannot afford to take strike action.
But the current offer is just over half the

What is Marxism For?

Published on: Mon, 14/07/2008 - 15:22

Leon Trotsky

Marxism and Lenin's "State and Revolution"
“Why does everything come down to Trotsky — what Trotsky said, what he did…?” A comment not long ago from a renegade socialist, one of those free-spirited, “clever”, emancipated ex-Marxists who thought up the “Euston Manifesto”. The truth of course is that nothing at all “comes down” to Trotsky — or Marx, or Lenin, or Rosa Luxemburg, or anyone else.
For Marxists, what everything “comes down to” is reality, the analysis of reality, the working out of what socialists should do and say in order to change the reality of exploitative class

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