Solidarity 391, 27 January 2016

Tory housing scandal

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 12:59 Author: Miles Kerin

On Tuesday 12 January, a Labour amendment to the Housing Bill, which would have ensured that all rented accommodation was suitable for living in, was defeated in the House of Commons by 312 votes to 219.

Local Government Minister, Marcus Jones, said the amendment would cause “unnecessary regulation and cost to landlords”. Tories don’t think landlords should be obliged to repair mouldy, damaged, unsafe or otherwise unsuitable housing.

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Industrial news in brief

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 12:54 Author: Peggy Carter, Gemma Short, Harry Davies, Gareth Davenport and Ollie Moore

Workers at the UK′s train operating companies are facing a huge attack on their pensions due to government legislation that ends the contracting-out of the Second State Pension. The legislation means higher National Insurance contributions for both employees (1.4%) and employers (3.4%).

The government has also passed legislation to help employers out with this — by allowing them to carry out annual raids on occupational pensions schemes, without even having to consult with scheme trustees.

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Social media group Red Labour sabotaged

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 12:35 Author: Ralph Peters

The left-wing group Red Labour, which specialises in use of social media, Facebook and Twitter, has been sabotaged in an astonishingly undemocratic way.

Red Labour began in 2011 as a modest Facebook page. Over the following years it demonstrated the way that social media might be used to get out news to those on the left of the Labour Party.

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This book is really about now

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 12:26 Author: Ed Strauss

Ed Strauss reviews The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism

The book is an amazing textbook. As a young student in the 1950s, I was reading some of the documents which are in the collection, I was coming in at the tail-end of some of these debates; but we had nothing like this.

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Labour activists support junior doctors

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 12:22 Author: Pete Radcliff

Normally when we do a Labour Party stall for my branch, we get on average half a dozen people over an hour or two. If we have a petition, and do well, we might get a hundred signatures.

We had a stall on Saturday 23 January in support of the junior doctors, for about two and half hours. We had on average 20 people there, about 30 involved in total. We got 700 signatures! Our local Tory MP [Broxtowe is a marginal seat], cabinet minister Anna Soubry, refused to meet a delegation in advance that would have been led by one of our doctors.

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Orthodox Trotskyism reshaped Trotsky's ideas

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 12:14 Author: Ed Maltby

Paul Le Blanc’s review of The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism: Fate of the Russian Revolution volume 2 (Solidarity 388) is a thoughtful and detailed piece.

Le Blanc defends The Two Trotskyisms against some on the left who deride the book as pointless obsessing over long-ago spats. He is right to do it: such complaints remind one of Homer Simpson, who, warned that he’s late for English class, sneers “Pff! English, who needs that? I’m never going to England!”

Comments

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Fri, 10/06/2016 - 18:33

Trotsky's comment that Stalinism differed from fascism -- even German fascism -- "only in its more unbridled savagery" came before the implementation of the Final Solution. By that point I think the "more unbridled" idea lost its truth.

Secondly, slavery in the USSR. This was certainly true in the 1930s. But far less so in later decades. For most of the years of the USSR's existence the relationship of the worker to the Soviet firm was analogous to the serf industrial production of 18th century Russia. Russian workers were "state serfs," not usually slaves (and not wage-workers selling their labor power, either, as "state capitalist" theorists would have it).

Thirdly, while Joseph Carter's theory of bureaucratic collectivism led heterodox Trotskyists to abandon the economism of the orthodox, and to abandon the illusion that the USSR was a "strategic gain" for the global working class, it should be obvious by now that the Stalinist societies did NOT represent a new mode of production which might supplant capitalism and that the ruling elites of these societies were not a "new class." The collapse of the USSR and Eastern European Stalinism discredited ALL of the theories that emerged from the Trotskyist groups (degenerated/deformed workers' states, state capitalism, bureaucratic collectivism).

Was Stalinism -- or at least "late Stalinism" -- more reactionary than capitalism? In some ways yes -- because while capitalism "automatically" leads workers to form unions and political associations, even clandestine ones, Stalinism completely atomizes its workers (which is why socialist revolutions in such societies was never a real possibility). But there were certain material gains for workers in the USSR and Eastern Europe (and China) that have been completely lost in those societies' transitions to capitalism (particularly in Russia, where the transition resulted in utter chaos, a decline in the total population, etc.).

I think the Third Camp position was broadly correct but we should recognize all of these realities.

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Capitalism vs human lifeAWLWed, 27/01/2016 - 11:34

Capitalism has created life-enhancing possibilities. It has even realised some of them. My older daughter has epilepsy. In pre-capitalist times, if she’d had medication at all, it would have had no, or harmful, effects, and the seizures would probably have become more severe until they disabled and killed her. Today, she has been able to end the seizures with just a few pills, without side-effects.

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Defend the Heathrow 13

Submitted by AWL on 27 January, 2016 - 11:21

Thirteen climate activists from the campaigning organisation Plane Stupid, who shut down a runway at Heathrow Airport in July 2015, have been found guilty of aggravated trespass. They have been told that it is “almost inevitable” that they will be given prison sentences.

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