Solidarity 058, 23 September 2004

France's lost youth?

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

The latest issue of Critique communiste, magazine of the French Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire, has an interview in which researcher Michel Pialoux discusses his findings on the “disorganisation of the working class” being generated by long-term mass unemployment and casualisation in France.

“60 years ago, the bac [the French equivalent of A levels] was the passport to the bourgeoisie. Today it still has a symbolic significance even though 80% of an age group get it.”

Those who don’t get it suffer worse than working-class kids who left school without qualifications in past decades: “Getting

Tariq Ramadan is not our ally

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

The Islamist writer Tariq Ramadan is a top-billed speaker at the ESF in London in October.

The following text gives some information on the debate in France about Tariq Ramadan and his politics.

It was originally published (in French) as a leaflet and distributed at the European Social Forum in Paris on 12–16 November 2003 by the “Feminist Collective for a Secular Alternative Globalisation”. We translate it in the interests of informing activists.

Tariq Ramadan is dangerous not because he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood and originator of a political

The origins of Bolshevism: Plekhanov's "The Tasks of the Social-Democrats in the Famine"

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

George Plekhanov

Click here for the series on The Roots of Bolshevism of which this article is part
Introduction, by Sean Matgamna: How “many ideas to few people” serves mass agitation.

Earlier articles have recounted the pre-history of the Russian Marxist movement in revolutionary populism. Before we go on to describe the work of the first Russian Marxist groups, the Group for the Emancipation of Labour and later its offshoot, the Iskra/Zarya group, we will first ask, with George Plekhanov: what is the socialist movement, and what do socialists do? Plekhanov, the pioneer of the Russian Marxist movement,

New student campaign launched

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

Education not for sale!

On September 21, a Guardian survey of English universities showed that two-thirds are preparing to charge the maximum possible top-up fee in order to maintain their image against competitors. This information, while not unpredicted, should be ringing alarm bells for the student movement — yet despite the election of a new president, Kat Fletcher, on a left-wing platform, the National Union of Students appears to be continuing on the same course that has meant defeat after defeat for the student movement throughout the last 20 years.

To rally the forces necessary for a

Defend NUS democracy

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

At a tiny, unrepresentative “special conference” in June, the right-wing leadership of the National Union of Students (NUS) moved a step closer to its long-cherished goal of completely banishing ordinary students from involvement in the national union by passing a raft of anti-democratic “reforms”.

These measures, which include limiting the size and length of NUS National Conference, were successful only because they received the support of Kat Fletcher, the new NUS president elected on a platform of… defending democracy!

The leadership has justified its cuts by reference to NUS’s £500,000

The History of Irish Republicanism: Prelude to the Provos

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

Thomas Carolan continues his series about the history of Irish Republicanism

We have seen that there was more than a little in the IRA attacks on Northern Ireland in the 1950s of Catholic zealots putting themselves against a corrupt Protestant civilisation — or against the British-spawned Irish part of what Yeats, in the grip of his own romantic obsessions, had stigmatised as “the filthy modern tide”.

They were young men from a still heavily agrarian and very right-wing society which, with “Home Rule”, had achieved “Rome Rule”, priest-rule; young men who conceived of their own identity in

In defence of multiculturalism

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

I agree with Paul Flewers that socialists should subject multiculturalism to a thoroughgoing critique. He has started us off with an ugly caricature showing the pitfalls of implementing multiculturalism in a corrupt world of decaying political standards and working class demoralisation.

To get a real critique, however, we must look also at the positive PR for multiculturalism. Is there anything laudable in the multiculturalism ambition? I say there is. Then additionally we might measure how the reality lives up to the ideal.

From the internet I have put together the bare bones of a history of

No Sweat at the ESF

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

No Sweat is bringing two main speakers to intervene at the ESF, with its own meetings and official seminars (time, date, place on the No Sweat website as soon as we know them).

They are: Yannick Etienne of the Bataye Ouvriye union federation of Haiti who will speak about the fight against sweatshops and how to make international solidarity; and Abdel Mabrouki of Stop Précarité, France, author of Génération Précaire, who will speak about the fight against casualisation and his experience organising fast food workers.

Events on our calendar include:
Friday 15 October, No Sweat fundraising

What sort of solidarity campaign?

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

By Colin Foster

The TUC congress on 13–16 September passed a motion from the lecturers’ union NATFHE committing it to “maintain and strengthen contact with Iraqi trade unionists, in particular the Iraqi Federation of Trade Unions (IFTU) [and] initiate, together with affiliated trade unions, a solidarity committee to liaise with, and give practical support to, the trade union movement in Iraq”.

It is a welcome move. Independent rank and file activity and organisation to support the new Iraqi movement will still be necessary — initiatives, for example, like the network of rank-and-file activists

Balance sheet on James P Cannon (2004)

Published on: Fri, 24/09/2004 - 00:00

James P Cannon still has a lot to teach Marxists today and the balance sheet on his life and politics is largely positive (Solidarity 3/56 and 3/57). There is no doubt his decision to support Trotsky in 1928 was of enormous significance in creating the international tendency opposed to Stalinism, on whose shoulders we stand today.

However, we know quite a lot more about Cannon today than at the time of his death in 1974, and not all the material available casts him in a positive light. A number of collections of his writings from the early years have been published, and although these volumes

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