Solidarity 503, 17 April 2019

Rebellion and politics

Author

Mike Zubrowski

Extinction Rebellion (XR) started their “International Rebellion” on Monday 15 April, with thousands of people participating in road blocks across central London: Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Piccadilly Circus, and Parliament Square.

There were hundreds in each location, with festival-like atmospheres, and people staying overnight in some. At the time of writing, Tuesday lunchtime 16 April, there are still some active blockades with hundreds of people.

Different “lefts” at NUS conference

Author

Maisie Sanders

The National Union of Student (NUS) Conference, 9-11 April in Glasgow, overwhelmingly voted through the biggest ever cuts to its democracy with the vocal support of the newly elected “left” leadership.

The reforms gut student control and entrench a right-wing vision of NUS as little more than a toothless lobby group.

But the Student Left Network produced a daily bulletin (picture is of it being given out!) and held regular left caucuses to campaign against the reforms and discuss the next steps in building a national, campaigning student movement and transforming NUS.

Israeli right plans to annex West Bank

Author

Ira Berkovic

Israel's right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to secure a fifth term, after his Likud party won 36 seats in the country's 9 April election.

Likud's nearest rival, the centre-right Kahol Lavan (Blue and White) coalition, won 35, but in Israel's coalition-based system, Netanyahu can rely on smaller right-wing parties to support him.

True, but never mind that...

Author

Jim Denham

"These things really happened, that is the thing to keep one's eye on. They happened even though Lord Halifax said they happened ... and they did not happen any the less because the Daily Telegraph has suddenly found out about them when it is five years too late" - George Orwell, Looking Back on the Spanish War (1942)

On April 7, the Sunday Times carried a front page lead story claiming that the Labour party has failed to take action against hundreds of members accused of antisemitism. The story was apparently based upon leaked emails and a database from Labour’s HQ.

Letters

We should advocate the revoking of Article 50 by Parliament. A second referendum was a tactic that has outlived its usefulness.

The point of a second referendum was that it was thought a more acceptable, less divisive way of stopping Brexit than revoking Article 50; and that since both parties are officially for Brexit, it took it out of Parliament’s hands.

But now the second referendum is less popular in many polls then stopping Brexit. People are tired of the division and focus on this issue. A referendum will sharpen the divisions and suck up all politics and news.

A “Remain and Transform” voice in Euro-election

Author

Editorial

Hundreds of Labour and trade union activists have signed a statement put out by Labour for a Socialist Europe demanding a radical, left-wing, anti-Brexit platform for Labour in the Euro-elections due on 23 May.

The signatories include Julie Ward, Labour MEP for the North West, and Jude Kirton-Darling, Labour MEP for the North East.

Capital rules by exploitation not by nudging

Author

Matt Cooper

A review of Shoshana Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for the Future at the New Frontier of Power (Profile Books, 2019)

In 2014, a new toy hit the shops, My Friend Cayla. This doll was unlike other dolls: responding to its playmate’s voice; programmable with the names of family and pets; and, through its Bluetooth internet connection, giving spoken responses to questions.

Amritsar, a hundred years on

Author

Len Glover

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.

The Good Soldier Schwejk

Author

Jill Mountford

Jill Mountford reviews The Good Soldier Schwejk (and His Fortunes in the World War) - written by Jaroslav Hasek, published 1923, adapted and directed by Christine Edzard, Sands Films, 2017. Currently being shown in Rotherhithe, London, and soon to be released on DVD.

Christine Edzard has made it her mission to revive interest in what was possibly the first satirical comedy about the absurdity of war. She adapted The Good Soldier Schwejk (sometimes spelt Svejk, pronounced Shvake) to mark the centenary of World War I.

Equalise civil service pay!

Author

John Moloney

John Moloney is standing for the Assistant General Secretary position in the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS), as part of an Independent Left slate for the union's National Executive Committee. He spoke to Solidarity about his election campaign, and PCS's current ballot for industrial action over pay in the civil service.

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