Battle of Ideas

Amritsar, a hundred years on

On 13 April 1919, in Amritsar in the Punjab, India, 50 soldiers under the command of the British General Dyer opened fire on a crowd gathering in the Jallainwala Bagh – a garden-cum-open area popular for meetings and social or religious gatherings.

Many of the crowd were there to celebrate Vaisakhi, the Sikh New Year. No one was armed, there were no disturbances, it was peaceful.

The British authorities put the number of dead at 379, with more than a thousand injured. The actual number of fatalities will never be known.

Introducing: social reproduction theory

One of the key texts of early social reproduction theory was Lise Vogel’s Marxism and the Oppression of Women, published in 1983. Vogel’s aim in the book was to criticise the ‘dual systems theory’ that emerged from the 1970s, which saw (a) Marxism as an explanation for class exploitation, and (b) patriarchy as an explanation for women’s oppression: two linked but fundamentally separate systems.

George Orwell, Spain, and revolution

In his 1947 essay, “Why I Write”, George Orwell explained:

“The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism, as I understand it…”

Homage to Catalonia, in which Orwell bore witness to the murder of the Spanish Revolution, was the product of this defining period of Orwell’s life, at least the literary and political equal of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Why Jews wanted Israel

These are the concluding sections of an article on “The Jewish Problem After Hitler”, by Albert Glotzer (writing as Albert Gates), in the “Third Camp” Trotskyist journal The New International of September 1947 (eight months before the creation of Israel). The article was written in response to an article on the same subject of July 1946 by Ernest Mandel, who would become the main writer of “Orthodox Trotskyism” over decades until his death in 1995. Picture is of people grieving for those killed in 1946 pogrom against Jews in Kielce, Poland.

The Russian civil war, 1917-22

A discussion of Jean-Jacques Marie's book La guerre civile russe, 1917-22

Notice the dates: 1917-22. Jean-Jacques Marie, in his history, establishes that the conventional account, according to which the civil war was over by the start of 1921, and all the “emergency” measures by the Bolsheviks after that stemmed only from the Bolsheviks’ supposed lack of democratic understanding, is false.

Unions and the Inland Empire

Pic: The Warehouse Workers' Resource Centre marches with the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights on May Day 2018 in Southern California

Review of "Choke Points: Logistics Workers Disrupting the Global Supply Chain", edited by Jake Alimahomed-Wilson and Immanuel Ness

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach employ about 14,000 dockworkers, with the number fairly static as throughput has risen. The whole logistics industry around those ports employs over 500,000, with the number increasing.

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