Solidarity 227, 1 December 2011

Egypt: protests continue as elections begin

By Clive Bradley

Voting has started — in a process which will take four months — in Egyptian elections, the first since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February.

Polling stations in some areas had to stay open late to accommodate the huge numbers of Egyptians wanting to cast their vote.

This is despite a call for a boycott from some of the protestors who have reoccupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the centres of other cities. Does this reveal a gulf between the protestors and the mass of Egyptians?

Riots backlash shows racism and class hatred

A YouGov poll for the Sun showed 33% apparently favouring the use of live ammunition against rioters in defence of their property rights.

In the same poll, three-quarters said troops should be called in, curfews were backed by 82 per cent, using tear gas got 78 per cent and Tasers 72 per cent.

The longer-term response to the rioting has also seen a number of authoritarian measures introduced, with a large number of draconian sentences handed down to those whose involvement in the trouble in many cases involved only minor infractions of the law.

Unilever workers take pensions fight to private sector

A strike by thousands of workers at Unilever (which manufactures well-known food products including Marmite and other household goods) could be the first major set-piece pensions battle in the private sector, after Unite, GMB and USDAW all returned massive majorities for strike action.

Sparks vote to strike

Electricians working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services have voted by 81% to take strike action in their battle against their employer’s attempt to unilaterally withdraw from the Joint Industry Board (JIB), the body which oversees union-negotiated pay and conditions.

Teachers fight strike-breaking

Management at an East London school have turned to old-fashioned strike-breaking tactics as teachers continue their battle against excessive workloads.

Cameron “answers” his critics

David Cameron seems to think that child poverty is something one might act against only in order to keep Polly Toynbee happy.

In the Guardian magazine on 26 November, he answered questions from selected celebrities, and was asked about child poverty by Polly Toynbee. His response concluded: “There are many things I can do in life, but making Polly happy is not one of them…”, mocking her for making a fuss about the issue.

Varieties of dialectics

By Martin Thomas

In one of the crazy autobiographical fragments he wrote in his last years, the famous French Stalinist philosopher Louis Althusser claimed that his father, a bank manager, ran his branch on the following lines:

“It was his custom not to say anything, or to make absolutely unintelligible remarks. His subordinates dared not admit they had understood nothing, but went off and usually managed very well on their own, though they still wondered if they might not be mistaken and this kept them on their toes”.

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