Solidarity 567, 14 October 2020

Keeping schools as safe as possible

Schools are large institutions which are fully open. In most there is little possibility of social distancing and the wearing of face-coverings is impossible during lessons and difficult at other times. The virus is being spread in schools, albeit at possibly a lower rate than other institutions. Last week in my London borough there were around 15-20 schools where Year Group bubbles had been closed, the majority with more than one Year Group closed. We have had already had two schools in the borough closing entirely for two weeks. The situation is far worse in other parts of the country. It is...

The history of anti-vaxxism

In recent weeks there have been protests denying that Covid-19 is a problem. Many of these people are also against vaccinations. Why? Nowadays, vaccinations are very safe. Like all medications they do have side effects, but the chances of a vaccine causing significant harm are many times smaller than the harm that would be caused by the disease that they are vaccinating against. Yet some parents do not vaccinate their children because of a belief that they cause harm. In 1998 Andrew Wakefield published falsified research claiming there was a link between the MMR vaccine and autism. His...

Democracy in the labour movement

On 12 October Keir Starmer told Labour MPs he intended not to vote against the Tories’ “spycops” Bill, authorising MI5 and other police to commit criminal offences without limit while working undercover. He will do that even if Labour amendments are defeated. Nine trade union leaders and 18 Labour MPs have come out against the Bill. The Labour Party needs to gain democratic control over the leadership. The ballot for Labour’s National Executive opens 19 October and runs to 12 November. Solidarity has had many criticisms of the “official” left slate, but voting for it against the right will...

Rosie Duffield and trans backlash

It is a common misconception that the proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act threatened “single-sex spaces”, toilets, changing rooms, and meant that men just pretending to be women could access them. These fears are unfounded. The GRA has nothing to say about the use of toilets. The Equality Act 2010 already gives trans people the right to access services appropriate to their lived gender at any stage of their transition. Single sex services are only allowed to exclude trans people under exceptional circumstances, where there is a justifiable reason for doing so. Trans women have...

Howie Hawkins interview: "A stronger vote against Trump"

Howie Hawkins is a socialist running in the US presidential election on the ticket of the Green Party. On 12 October he talked with Stephen Wood from Solidarity. Workers’ Liberty backs Hawkins in the election. The invective of Trump is what is worse than previous incumbents. Egging on the vigilante militias. Calling the election as being fraudulent before it is even run. People get scared and they think Hitler is on the horizon. But it is quite different. These rag tag militias aren’t going to be able to change the government. I don’t think Trump is more right-wing than some previous...

Democrats: no space for radicals

The main impression I get from Thomas Carolan’s article ( Solidarity 565, Trump is a fascist) is that Carolan has belatedly woken up to the threat posed by Trump and is now panicking. Most of those who have labelled Trump a fascist have done so demagogically to advocate for the right wing and lamentable Democrat, Joe Biden. But Carolan is at least coming from the other direction, declaring Trump a fascist first before, last week ( Solidarity 566), following the drift of his first article, and declaring support of Biden’s candidacy. Then, in a third article (also Solidarity 566), Carolan went...

Democrats: the danger of co-option

Thomas Carolan (“A socialist vote for Biden”, Solidarity 566, 7 October 2020) is right that a “tradition” should not be allowed to become “superstition”. He is also right that “making an absolute principle of never working in or voting for a bourgeois party” would be mechanical and dogmatic. Standing aside from the Sanders movements in 2016 and 2020 because he was running in the primary of a “bourgeois party” would have been hopelessly sectarian; refusing to campaign or vote for him if he had won still more so. But Carolan goes way beyond that basic point to conclude that socialists should be...

Different in two ways

This US presidential election is different in two ways. It narrows down to a contest between a fascistic demagogue with a militant and part-militarised mass base, and a standard-issue neoliberal. And recent years have seen a sizeable though diffuse new US socialist current round Sanders’ campaigns and the Democratic Socialists of America. At the same time, the International Socialist Organization has wound itself up, and Solidarity sees itself more as an “educational centre” than an activist group. Conclusion: the most active, interventionist step on 3 November towards building an independent...

Is US democracy under threat?

A very healthy debate has been taking place in the pages of Solidarity on how socialists should relate to the forthcoming US presidential election. Having written a number of articles on the subject recently, I think it necessary for me to give my take on things. I was taken aback by one reader who found it “objectionable” for me to say that bourgeois democracy was under threat in the US. Trump’s gang have done their utmost to trash its institutions, codes and conventions. He’s gone out of his way to capture the Supreme Court for the reactionary right and also thanks to his henchman, Attorney...

Wave of wildcats

Since the start of March there have been over 1,000 strikes in the US, many related to the Covid-19 crisis and some to the Black Lives Matter struggle. Most are wildcat strikes, without formal vote or official union endorsement. In some cases they have taken place in workplaces where there is no union. The crowd-funded website Payday Report has put together a map tracking these strike. It argues that its tracker probably underestimates the actual numbers. The strikes, concentrated in the Eastern half of the US and on the West Coast, have taken place in industries and workplaces as diverse as...

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