Solidarity 400, 13 April 2016

Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 10:54 Author: Gareth Davenport and Peggy Carter

The UK rail industry, supported by the Department for Transport, plans to move most or all passenger trains to Driver Only Operation (DOO) — meaning trains operate with only the driver on board, no guards or other staff. This method of working is already in place across London Underground and on some parts of the main line (National Rail).

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Labour excludes another socialist

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 10:47 Author: Janine Booth

I joined Labour as a teenager in the 1980s and was expelled in 2003 for standing against Labour when the local Labour council was privatising housing and closing nurseries and other services.

I applied to rejoin last year. My CLP (Hackney South and Shoreditch) objected on the grounds that (a) I (allegedly) support TUSC and (b) I’m a member of Workers’ Liberty. I appealed, and had a hearing in late March in front of a panel of three members of the Regional Board. Thank you to David Osler for giving evidence in support of my application.

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Momentum launches membership

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 10:39 Author: Jill Mountford

The third meeting of Momentum’s Steering Committee took place on 5 April. Things are taking shape around the membership structure and drive. This will not only firm up the supporter base for Momentum but will also generate a much needed income for staff wages and campaigning. As I write thousands of people have already signed up to become full members.

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Railworkers and students mobilise against French "Labour Law"

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 10:24 Author: Charlotte Zalens and Marine Dageville

In France, public service workers (“fonctionnaires”, 21% of the country’s whole workforce) have since 1946 had work conditions protected by special laws, for example giving them some job security. Although the French rail industry (SNCF) is still publicly-owned, rail workers are not “fonctionnaires”. However, they too have a special legal regime.

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France: fighting to win

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 10:11 Author: Martin Thomas and Michael Elms

The Paris demonstration on 9 April against the “Socialist” government’s new “Labour Law” was livelier, noisier, and more colourful than official trade union marches are in Britain.

The nine friends of Workers’ Liberty who went to Paris were near a truck from SUD, the most radical of France’s nine or so trade union confederations (equivalents of the TUC). Its slogans included: “Share more, work less”; “A society of sharing”; “Not amendable, not negotiable: trash the ‘Labour Law’”; and “General Strike!”


Submitted by Jason Schulman on Sat, 16/04/2016 - 21:00

What is its political center of gravity today? It must be to the left of the PS, but that's not so difficult. Would "left social-democratic" be an accurate label? A party of Jeremy Corbyns, so to speak?

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Get the Tories out!

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 9:26 Author: Editorial

Back in 2012, the Daily Telegraph, a Tory paper, reported research which had found that two-thirds of the then Tory/Lib-Dem Cabinet were millionaires. It reckoned the total wealth of 29 Cabinet members at £70 million, and David Cameron’s at £3.8 million.

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Letter: Proud to be a Zionist

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 9:22 Author: Eric Lee

Jeremy Corbyn’s brother recently made headlines by tweeting that “#Zionists can’t cope with anyone supporting rights for #Palestine”. That the tweet took place in the context of a heated discussion about how the Labour Party is coping with increasing allegations of anti-Semitism is not the point.


Submitted by david kirk on Thu, 14/04/2016 - 18:04

Eric Lee argued in his letter that
"a Zionist is a person who supports the Jewish people’s right to a national homeland."
It's seems like under that generous definition then everyone is a Zionists apart from anti Semites would be Zionists.
Eric's definition of Zionism is actually the same as many "absolute anti Zionists" on the british left who would label anyone who concedes that Israeli jews as a people should have the right to self determination alongside the Palestinians as Zionists.

Both positions are nullifying Zionism of its political content and its context and they deny the possibility of a consistent international socialist position of defending the right of the Israeli people to their own state but at the same time also opposing Israeli nationalism (as we oppose all nationalism's) in its Labour Zionist as well as its more conservative and religious variations.

The Zionist movement in its political form rose out of a reaction to the discrimination and persecution faced by Jews during the 19th Century. It was a movement away from demanding civil rights and equality for jews everywhere to setting up a separate Jewish homeland. Eventually their grew to be two wings of the Zionist movement 'politcal Zionism' that looked at a deal with great powers, religious institutions and bourgeois settlement agencies to bring this state about. Labour Zionism was a form of utopian socialism that argued for the setting up of kibbutz and co'operatives to create a secular socialist Jewish homeland.

Both forms of Zionism were opposed by the socialists of the second international and later by the Bolsheviks and the early third international that argued that the agency for Jewish liberation is working class struggle. It was the Holocaust and Stalinism that practically killed off the international socialist movement many Jews had been involved in.

As more and more Jewish refugees headed for Palestine it obviously boosted the political prestige of Zionism but socialists should have being raising the democratic rights of Jews in Palestine to self determination alongside Palestinians who were also ruled by the British.

Once the Israeli state had been set up both wings of Zionism developed into the patriotic chauvinistic ideologies of the two wings of the Israeli ruling class.

Now I am guessing most Jews wherever they live in the world probably think of themselves as Zionists, just as the Irish diaspora probably think of themselves as Irish nationalists or the Kurdish diaspora as Kurdish nationalists.
Yet even among those diaspora's whilst socialists should always argue for national rights we should not see nationalism as anything but a block to the development of the cause of socialism world wide.

We are for two states because its the Palestinians peoples right to self determination that is currently being denied.
But this self determination cannot nullify the Israeli peoples national rights.

Zionism (which today should be more accurately called Israeli Nationalism) is not uniquely evil as some on the left whose anti zionism flirts with anti semitism would have us believe. Yet neither should it be exempt from our ruthless criticism of all nationalisms and chauvinisms as the enemies of the international workers movement

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Sat, 16/04/2016 - 21:17

If Zionism means anything, it means:

1) the belief that all the world's Jews, religious or secular, constitute a nation, and
2) therefore, the state of Israel is the homeland/lifeboat state of that nation, and any Jew living anywhere in the world has more of a right to live in Israel than any of the Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 or 1967, or their descendants.

I reject (1) and therefore (2). Shlomo Sand and various others have demonstrated that world Jewry is not a nation, nor have they been a nation in any contemporary meaningful sense for well over 2,000 years. (2) is obviously the basis of an ethno-religious chauvinist ideology, incompatible not only with socialist internationalism but with any principled liberal-democratic understanding that Israel must become a state where all who live there are "first-class" citizens.

I do, however, acknowledge that self-identified Jews born in Israel are part of a regionally-specific "Hebrew nation." This is very different from the argument that they are part of an international nation of Jews. Zionists deny that this Hebrew nation exists. But it is a fact -- an anti-Zionist fact, if you will.

Both the Hebrew nation and Palestinian nation have the right to national self-determination. This could take either the form of "two states for two peoples" or a bi-national state. The former is more likely, though it will take great effort to ensure that the Palestinian state is a real state and not, in Moshé Machover's words, "one powerful Israeli state dominating a disjointed set of Palestinian enclaves similar to Indian Reservations, policed by corrupt elites acting as Israel’s proxies."

Submitted by John D on Sun, 17/04/2016 - 13:34

I am not a proud Zionist, nor proud that I can walk, get wet in the rain, enjoy flowers and trees in springtime. These are simple responses to the world in which I find myself. I was (and am) offered the same age-old choices: convert to the dominant religion, adopt the dominant culture, stick it out as I see myself with whatever consequences, walk away from it - get the hell out before the sh*t hits the fan, be an activist to strive for an ideal world. Or some weighted mixture of all the above and other choices, with weighting adjusted by current experience.

Jason Schulman's timing is exquisitly appropriate. Wherever Jews are found, this week they celebrate one of their most dominant, influential ceremonies: the Passover. No matter that factually it is all a myth. It is tradition. And intended to be very, very formative - especially to young, impressionable minds.

A tradition that for hundreds of years has recognized the Schulman view: Of the four sons, the wicked one asks "What mean you by this service?" By "you" (l'chem) he does not include himself. He excludes himself from the body of the Jewish people.

Every Jewish document, statement or reading that I know of repeatedly uses one or more of the expressions "Am Yisrael" (the people of Israel) , "Klal" or "Klal Yisrael" (the collective community of Israel), "Bet Yisrael" (the House of Israel), "Goy Yisrael" (the nation of Israel), "B'nei Yisrael" (the children/followers of Israel) or similar. Also the plural collective verb construct "u" or "nu" meaning "every one of us who are of the people".
That's solid evidence. And in the light of that evidence Jason Schulman is, to be excessively generous, somewhat misleading.

It is also well-established historical tradition that a highly popular time to attack Jews is at the important festival times. Especially Passover. It's not difficult to see where he is coming from:

Submitted by Jason Schulman on 16 April, 2016 - 21:17
If Zionism means anything, it means:
1) the belief that all the world's Jews, religious or secular, constitute a nation, and
2) therefore, the state of Israel is the homeland/lifeboat state of that nation, and any Jew living anywhere in the world has more of a right to live in Israel than any of the Palestinian refugees expelled in 1948 or 1967, or their descendants.
I reject (1) and therefore (2). Shlomo Sand and various others have demonstrated that world Jewry is not a nation, nor have they been a nation in any contemporary meaningful sense for well over 2,000 years.
Jason Schulman Retweeted: In These Times ‏@inthesetimesmag Apr 15
Bernie Sanders Must Defy the Pro-Israel Lobby & Reinstate His Anti-Occupation Jewish Advisor

Jason Schulman ‏@PartyOfANewType Apr 15
.Tell @PENamerican not to accept money from a government that restricts the movement of Palestinian writers! #Israel

1) Nothing to do with being based on Zionism. Has been common for over a thousand years.
"2) therefore . . . ?". Eh? What? And this from an academic! I do hope he doesn't teach logic.

With whom will he sit this Thursday? And in what spirit?

This is the fourth article in as many weeks in AWL on some mosaic topic. Mostly focus on anti-semitic history and theory. Not one of them proposes a current plan of action, nor addresses the Israeli/Palestinian/Jewish/Muslim/Christian/Athiest worker's needs from a class point of view.
So kudos to Eric Lee. Fine article. Now I'll start reading his site.

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Sun, 17/04/2016 - 17:55

Is that what you're saying, John D?

Really, if I thought there was a hell I might bother to tell you to go there.

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Sun, 17/04/2016 - 18:02

I don't see how anyone who isn't an ideologue with an axe to grind could argue with his explanation.…

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Kick out the Blairites?

Submitted by Matthew on 13 April, 2016 - 9:17 Author: Sacha Ismail

On the 9 April demonstration against library closures in Lambeth on 9 April, the Socialist Party had placards saying “Kick out the Blairites”. This is a classic example of a slogan being a dishonest, pseudo-militant self-advertising.


Submitted by Vahvistus on Sat, 16/04/2016 - 18:13

The Socialist Party doesn't discourage people from joining Labour. It wont join itself as a secret entrist group but wants full rights to put views without fear of expulsion. The FBU is wasting money by affiliating to Labour without getting any influence. The left in Labour should organise through Momentum to kick the Blairites out.
Here's a link that confirms what I am saying:

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