Democracy, monarchy, republicanism

Myanmar: solidarity against the coup

The Burmese military is stepping up repression to secure the coup it launched on 1 February, but facing strong resistance – mass street protests (in their eleventh consecutive day as we go to press) plus widespread strikes and workers’ actions. (See here for our report last week, with some photos, and here for the week before.) In the last three days armoured military vehicles have appeared on the streets of some cities. Water cannons, rubber bullets and perhaps live rounds have been used against protesters. There is an intermittent internet blackout, prominent social media activists have been...

The USA in the light of the impeachment hearing

To an outsider, or to this outsider, anyway, the most striking thing about American political life is the saturation-level, all-pervasive, complacent chauvinism. It’s almost innocent-seeming, almost endearing, like the boasting of a five year old. The Stars and Stripes everywhere. The custom of always, in public life, referring to any state that has to be mentioned as “the great state of Wyoming”, or whatever. And the ancestor worship! Everything about the creaking, labyrinthine, 230-year-old constitution is as sacred as it is perfect. It is the best in the world. It is not a real democracy at...

Demonstrations and strikes confront Burmese military

Demonstrations and strikes have spread across Myanmar to overturn the military military coup which began on 1 February. Events are developing fast as we prepare to go to press. For more information and updates, see the website Frontline Myanmar and these Twitter accounts: twitter.com/AndrewTSaks and twitter.com/Rgnhardliner (the former in particular for worker-focused reports, with many photos and videos of strikers). The military regime has responded with demands to disperse, arrests, snatching people off the streets, water cannons and more extreme violence. At least three people have died...

The USA needs to be made a proper democracy

The woman, in her late 20s, has been maced. Recovering slowly, she looks a bit sorry for herself, and complains indignantly. “As soon as I went into the Capitol, they maced me, right in my face.” Interviewer: “Yes, but why did you go in?” “Go in? For the revolution, of course.” Not since fascists wielding cut-throat razors tried to invade the French Chamber of Deputies in February 1934 has there been, in a functioning bourgeois democracy, anything like the occupation of the Senate and Representatives chambers in Washington on 6 January. A large crowd rampaged through the building looking for...

"We believe in the power of the people - the multi-racial working class"

The following statement has been issued by eight Chicago-area unions, including the famous Chicago Teachers Union, which has a recent history of mobilising mass strikes and struggles in pursuit of not just its members' immediate interests but wider questions of social justice. For more see the CTU website. For more on discussions about workers' action to block a Trump coup, see here. Joint Statement of Chicago-area Labor on Protecting Our Democracy As the elected leaders of eight Chicago-area unions, we call for every single vote to be counted and for the final results of the 2020 Presidential...

No "referees above politics"!

A piece of recent history made its way into the British press on 14 July. On 11 November 1975, the Governor-General of Australia, John Kerr, dismissed the elected Labour Prime Minister Gough Whitlam and installed Liberal Party leader Malcolm Fraser in his place. The Governor-General acts as representative for the monarch and is appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. In the run up to the coup Kerr was in frequent written communication with the Queen’s personal secretary, Baron Charteris. The letters were released on 14 July after a long campaign and legal challenge by...

Nationalism or class solidarity?

Fire Brigades Union activist and National Officer Riccardo la Torre spoke to Sacha Ismail. *** Yesterday we had “Victory in Europe” day, and a lot of nationalism. What are your thoughts on it? Well, first off I’m angry that workers are dying because they’re at work and aren’t given proper protection, and yet the same “leaders” responsible want us waving Union Jacks. There’s immediate reasons to be angry too, because the day itself created a lot of unsafe conditions. I’ve seen blokes out selling Union Jacks and pictures of the Queen – which makes the political agenda of it all pretty clear, but...

Robert Fine's "Cosmopolitanism"

The sociologist Robert Fine, who was a long-time sympathiser and sometime activist with Workers’ Liberty, passed away on 9 June 2018 at the age of 72. As our series of book reviews to commemorate his life illustrates, Fine dedicated his scholarship to many far-reaching topics in social and political theory. These topics include the rule of law, the anti-apartheid movement and independent trade unions in South Africa, racism and antisemitism, and the political thought of GWF Hegel, Karl Marx, and Hannah Arendt. Since Dale Street’s review in Solidarity #432 and Dan Davison’s tribute article in...

Letters

Exactly four years ago, you published my article on homeopathy, provocatively titled “Homeopathy: the one NHS cut we should support”. In it, I examined the evidence provided by the Faculty of Homeopathy itself for the efficacy of homeopathic treatments and found it to be unconvincing and inconclusive. The latest version of the FoH’s evidence, written by its then President, the late Dr Peter Fisher, cites the same reviews and claims these are conclusive evidence of benefit. However, “gold standard”systematic reviews of homeopathy can find almost no convincing evidence of benefit (the terms...

Landslide election in Hong Kong

The pan-democratic camp won control of 17 out of 18 District Councils in Hong Kong’s 24 November elections, almost wiping out the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). The only council held by the pro-establishment camp was the Islands district, where 8 out of 18 seats were automatically assigned to pro-establishment village heads. 2.94 million (71.2% of eligible voters) voted in the Pan-Democrats and other independent democrats in nearly 400 out of 452 seats, with the DAB winning only 58 seats. Four years ago, the pan-democrats failed to win...

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