Solidarity 179, 19 August 2010

Women's experience and socialism


Pat Longman

The following article is Pat’s polemic, which is still very relevant, against Sheila Rowbotham’s 1979 article “The Women’s Movement and Organising for Socialism”, published in the well-known collection, Beyond the Fragments.

A working-class feminist on Islington Council

In 1982, Pat successfully stood in St. George’s ward for election to Islington borough council. Socialist Organiser, the predecessor of Workers’ Liberty, was active in the Labour Party at the time. The following extract is taken from an interview with Pat from Socialist Organiser No. 83, May 6 1982. As workers again face a Tory government seeking to make savage cuts, our class will need councillors like Pat who will argue for councils to refuse to pass on the cuts that Tory central government wants them to make.

Can we promote a different kind of education for workers?


Sheila Cohen

Sheila Cohen (NUJ/UCU) discusses the sorry state of trade union studies (courses accredited by the TUC and available at a variety of further education institutions) and what can be done to promote independent working-class education.

Oxford University and working-class education


Colin Waugh

Under the pressure of rising working-class self assertion across the country, the University extension movement accepted Albert Mansbridge’s scheme for tutorial classes and committed study (as opposed to more “popular” bigger lecture classes). This acceptance was spearheaded by a group of young, socialistic Oxford tutors. Supported by prominent figures in the church, civil service and ruling class generally, members of this group worked with Mansbridge himself and the other main Workers’ Educational Association activist, J MacTavish, to produce a report, Oxford and Working-Class Education.

Useful idiots


Dan Katz

The question that John Sweeney’s programme posed was interesting: why have so many seemingly intelligent people turned themselves into apologists for terrible, brutal, murderous regimes?

Harold Pinter defended Slobodan Milosevic. Noam Chomsky sided with Pol Pot’s Cambodian regime. Tony Benn doubted Solidarnosc’s trade union credentials. Jean-Paul Sartre refused to back an investigation into Russian slave labour camps. Vanessa Redgrave’s WRP took Libyan money. The SWP explained away the Taleban’s policy on women. George Galloway prostrated himself in front of Saddam.

New York subway workers: lessons in winning "reform from below"


Becky Crocker

London Underground RMT activist Becky Crocker reviews Hell on Wheels: the Success and Failure of Reform in Transport Workers Union Local 100, by Steve Downs.

This pamphlet tells the story of New Directions (ND), a rank and file group within Union Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents transport workers in New York, including on the subway system.

Written by Steve Downs of the socialist group Solidarity, it focuses on the problem of how to achieve reform within unions.

Jimmy Reid and his one great achievement


Jim Denham

Union leader Jimmy Reid, who led the long-running occupation of Upper Clyde shipyards in 1971-72, has died. Jim Denham comments on his political career.

Whatever his faults — and they were many — Jimmy Reid embodied the truth that workers, when united, can force serious concessions out of capitalism.

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