Solidarity 601, 21 July 2021

Get socialists organised!

What do we mean by socialism? More here The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), a right-wing think tank, is mildly alarmed. It takes its new research indicating that young people are mostly sympathetic to socialism seriously, and urges supporters of capitalism not to dismiss it as “social media hype”, temporary “student radicalism” or a “passing fad which ended with Jeremy Corbyn’s resignation”. It calls its findings a “wake-up call” and a “challenge”. They are also, and even more, a challenge for socialists. The research commissioned by the IEA involved polling just under 2,000 people in the...

What is socialism?

In our editorial this week we argue to “get socialists organised”. What do we mean by socialism? We fight for emergency policies, like taxing the wealth of the super-rich and public ownership of key industries and corporations, to allow action to halt and reverse ever-greater inequality and to slow down climate change. We fight to build a stronger workers’ movement, including trade unions, to win these steps. But the wealth of the super-rich and their power to increase it are deep-rooted in the fact that they own and control the main systems for producing wealth, giving them control over the...

NHS: beat the 3%, beat new privatising plans!

It looks like the government’s pay “award” for NHS workers will be 3%. Maybe only 1.5% will be a basic ongoing increase, and the other 1.5% a one-off payment. This falls way below all the claims the unions put into the Pay Review Body. Three per cent does nothing to address the real-terms pay cuts faced by NHS workers over the last 10 years, or the 100,000 vacancies that are taking many workers to breaking point and crippling NHS services. After a more than a year of extraordinary effort and current escalating pressures NHS workers will feel this as a body blow. The government are confirming...

The Morning Star and the “culture war”

Everyone who takes even a passing interest in politics knows that Johnson’s government is waging a “culture war” or “war on woke” against so-called “liberals” who oppose racism and other forms of prejudice. It is also well known that this is a worked out strategy, developed by Johnson’s advisers Dougie Smith and Munira Mirza — a couple who have close links with the “libertarian”-right Spiked outfit. This strategy began over five years ago in an anti-EU campaign based upon hostility towards other European countries and the demonisation of immigrants. Every politically aware person in Britain...

The science of brains

InSolidarity 597 John Cunningham wrote that a materialist understanding of thought requires a deep understanding of the brain and its functioning at the physical level. Matt Cooper in Solidarity 598 called this a reductionist approach “which attempts to reduce the social-psychological to only a biological level”, arguing instead for psychology as “the study of observable behaviour… [and] the ideas, feelings or mental structures on which it is based”. I think both of these are true and both are partial. How can they both be true? The brain is an extremely complex entity and must be understood...

Debating the "Progressive Alliance"

A theme of debate in more than one session at our summer school Ideas for Freedom, 10-11 July, was the “Progressive Alliance”. I debated Frances Foley from Compass on the issue. The key argument for the “alliance”, I think, is that such strategies are needed because the working class and the unions in the UK are so weak. Allying with other parties is the only way we can get rid of the Tories and get proportional representation. In reality the “Progressive Alliance” would be less democratic and less pluralistic. In constituencies which Labour had agreed to cede to the Lib-Dems, for example, it...

It's time for Georgia to choose

Two weeks ago, far-right thugs attacked the LGBTI community’s “March for Dignity” in Tblisi, Georgia. Dozens of people, mostly journalists, were badly beaten. It was a tragedy that could easily have been foreseen — and prevented. And it has triggered a historic fight led by the journalists’ union with the full support of journalists’ unions around the world. The attacks were orchestrated by supporters of the ruling party in Georgia, whose leaders bear some responsibility for what happened. Prior to the march, Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said it was “not reasonable” to organise such an...

Women's Fightback: Your assistant may not be female

If you’ve updated the operating system on your iPhone recently you’ll notice Siri is no longer defaulting to a female voice. This is Apple’s response to criticism of the gender bias in virtual assistance. Digital sociologists Yolande Strengers and Jenny Kennedy argue that Siri, and other voice assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, have been developed in order to “carry out ‘wifework’ — domestic duties that have traditionally fallen on (human) wives.” They accuse tech companies of designing feminised digital assistants who are “friendly and sometimes flirty, occasionally glitchy but...

GMB: more to the big picture

Solidarity 600 carried a eulogy, by “a group of GMB activists and officers”, for newly elected GMB General Secretary Gary Smith. According to the article: “Dale Street describes Giovanna Holt as the only candidate (in the election contest) with a proven track record of taking on bullying and misogyny in the GMB. Unfortunately, he provides no evidence for this claim, which is a problem as we don’t know of any evidence for it either. So until Dale puts his evidence on the table, we’re just left with an assertion.” The evidence already on the table was the first online hustings in the recent...

Myanmar solidarity protests from 24 July

In Myanmar, the workers’ movement is continuing the struggle against the military dictatorship which was installed by a coup in February this year. Moe Sandar Myint and Khaing Zar Aung, leaders of Myanmar trade unions, spoke at Ideas for Freedom on 10-11 July to report that military repression against trade union activist in cities like Yangon is extremely harsh. Trade unions have issued a united call for all international brands to cease procuring any products from factories in the country, in order to strike a blow against the military Tatmadaw regime. In the week beginning 24 July...

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