Solidarity 422, 2 November 2016

Industrial news in brief

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 1:41 Author: Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens, Peggy Carter and Gemma Short

Station staff on London Underground are balloting for strikes, and industrial action short of strikes, against job cuts.

The ballot begins on 1 November and closes a fortnight later. Both the RMT and TSSA unions are balloting their members. London Underground’s “Fit for the Future” restructure programme on stations has seen nearly 1,000 jobs axed and thousands of workers forcibly regraded and displaced.

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Right-wing Labour MPs show their stripes

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 1:03 Author: Martin Thomas

According to right-wing Labour MP John Woodcock, “the support we [the UK] are giving [to Saudi Arabia, over the war in Yemen] is largely to help train pilots in targeting practices that reduce civilian casualties, trying to influence the Saudis into unambiguous compliance with humanitarian law”.

And so Woodcock and about 100 Labour MPs abstained or were absent on 18 October when the Labour front bench moved that Britain stop supporting Saudi Arabia in the war. The UN estimates that over 7,000 people have now been killed in the conflict, two-thirds in Saudi airstrikes.

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Momentum: what sort of democracy?

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 12:57 Author: Sacha Ismail

The row in Momentum is being “spun” as one between those who want a workable broad movement, and those who want a sectarian bearpit. This is false.

Momentum groups are not being torn apart by different socialists tearing strips off each other about political programme. The acrimony and division comes from the people at the top whose fear of political discussion and debate is leading them to suppress democracy in the organisation, and generating predictable outrage.

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Polish women’s movement grows

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 12:47 Author: Anastazja Oppenheim

Polish abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in Europe. Abortion is completely banned apart from in a few exceptional circumstances. It is allowed on grounds of rape, incest, if there is a severe health risk to the pregnant woman, or if the foetus is severely deformed and has no chance of survival.

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Rezso Kasztner and Zionism

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 12:35 Author: Dale Street

Was Rezso Kasztner, leader of the Budapest-based Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, a hero who saved the lives of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust? Or was he a collaborator who knowingly played an indispensable role in assisting the Nazis in the deportation and murder of nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews in a matter of weeks?

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The ABCs of Socialism

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 12:21 Author: Simon Nelson

The team behind Jacobin magazine have produced a great set of short simple essays tackling questions often asked about the politics of the socialist left titled The ABCs of Socialism. As with any book with multiple authors — this has 13 in total — there are differences in style, emphasis and political conclusions (which I will address later). Nonetheless the book is remarkably consistent and reads well.

Comments

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:59

Joseph Schwartz writes that "Revolutionaries such as Rosa Luxemburg and Victor Serge criticized early Soviet rule for banning opposition parties, eliminating experiments in workplace democracy, and failing to embrace political pluralism and civil liberties. If the state owns the means of production, the question remains: how democratic is the state?"

They both did this, no? Serge's criticisms were later than Rosa's of course. But they both made such criticism even as they defended the Bolshevik revolution itself and remained opponents of right-wing social democrats and the anti-Bolshevik Kautskyist "center."

Submitted by AWL on Wed, 02/11/2016 - 20:04

Luxemburg and Serge's criticisms of some of the Bolsheviks' tactical choices in the maelstrom of an unprecedented situation cannot be extrapolated into criticisms either of the 1917 revolution in totality or the idea of revolution itself.

I haven't read the Jacobin book, but if social-democrats (is that what Schwartz is? I don't know) are instrumentalising Luxemburg and Serge in the service of a reformist critique of revolution, even if they recognise that Luxemburg and Serge were themselves unambiguously "revolutionaries", that is very disingenuous indeed.

Also, to read that the book hails Mao as someone who should be acknowledged as a representative of any type of legitimately "socialist" politics is disappointing. Why not Stalin too, then?

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DR

Submitted by Jason Schulman on Thu, 03/11/2016 - 04:01

So I can't speak to that. I've known Joe Schwartz a long time. His intent wasn't to make a reformist critique of revolution but of what he sees as unnecessary authoritarianism. One could legitimately argue about that.

DSA as a whole is somewhere between the leftmost wing of social democracy and what "Draperite" Christopher Phelps once called (in a different context) "the rational wing of revolutionary socialism." In a country with no mass socialist movement, not even a pathetic reformist social-democratic party, this not-wholly-desirable broadness is probably inevitable if one wants to have an organization of more than 1,500 people. (DSA has 8,000 or so and is growing. Of course, the US has 315+ million people so it's a drop in the ocean.)

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Is socialism against human nature?

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 12:09 Author: Sean Matgamna

Our recently published book Can Socialism Make Sense? takes on the arguments against socialism. In this abridged excerpt a critic of socialism (B) is answered by a socialist (A) on the question of human nature.

B: You can’t change human nature. Humanity remains an animal. Human nature — competition, individualism, selfishness, predatoriness — produces, protects, and preserves capitalism.

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Bankers’ greed brings us down

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 11:53 Author: Editorial

“For questions about the survival of big European banks to be swirling almost ten years after the financial crisis started is utterly damning”, writes the big business magazine The Economist.

Questions are indeed swirling. On 26 October, the Bank of England asked British banks to say how much they are owed by Germany’s huge Deutsche Bank and Italy’s oldest bank, MPS, in case those banks prove unable to pay. Deutsche Bank’s share price has fallen by over 50% this year.

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Socialist Worker drops “stop the bombing”

Submitted by Matthew on 2 November, 2016 - 11:43 Author: Will Sefton

In Socialist Worker (18 October) Charlie Kimber says Mosul will be “the next city to be razed by imperialism”. He does not, however, make a direct call on the US or UK to end their bombing in support of Iraqi government forces.

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