Solidarity 227, 1 December 2011

Egypt: protests continue as elections begin

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 14:00

By Clive Bradley

Voting has started — in a process which will take four months — in Egyptian elections, the first since the fall of Hosni Mubarak in February.

Polling stations in some areas had to stay open late to accommodate the huge numbers of Egyptians wanting to cast their vote.

This is despite a call for a boycott from some of the protestors who have reoccupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square and the centres of other cities. Does this reveal a gulf between the protestors and the mass of Egyptians?

A distance, but probably not a gulf. The protests have been spurred by continued repression meted

Riots backlash shows racism and class hatred

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 13:53

A YouGov poll for the Sun showed 33% apparently favouring the use of live ammunition against rioters in defence of their property rights.

In the same poll, three-quarters said troops should be called in, curfews were backed by 82 per cent, using tear gas got 78 per cent and Tasers 72 per cent.

The longer-term response to the rioting has also seen a number of authoritarian measures introduced, with a large number of draconian sentences handed down to those whose involvement in the trouble in many cases involved only minor infractions of the law.

Danielle Corns was sentenced to 10 months in

Unilever workers take pensions fight to private sector

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 13:50

A strike by thousands of workers at Unilever (which manufactures well-known food products including Marmite and other household goods) could be the first major set-piece pensions battle in the private sector, after Unite, GMB and USDAW all returned massive majorities for strike action.

Workers are attempting to prevent the abolition of their final-salary pension schemes, for both new and existing members. Existing scheme members will retain accrued benefits, but will not receive their full final-salary pensions and will instead be transferred onto career-average pensions on 1 January 2012.

Sparks vote to strike

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 13:43

Electricians working for Balfour Beatty Engineering Services have voted by 81% to take strike action in their battle against their employer’s attempt to unilaterally withdraw from the Joint Industry Board (JIB), the body which oversees union-negotiated pay and conditions.

Balfour Beatty, along with six other major mechanical and electrical construction contractors, are proposing to replace the JIB with a new agreement, the “Building Engineering Services National Agreement” (BESNA), which is not union-negotiated. Workers currently employed by the seven contractors have been told they have until

Teachers fight strike-breaking

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 13:25

Management at an East London school have turned to old-fashioned strike-breaking tactics as teachers continue their battle against excessive workloads.

Teachers at the Langdon School in Newham, who are members of the National Union of Teachers, struck for the fourth time on Thursday 24 November and plan to strike again on Tuesday 29 November and Thursday 1 December, as well as on Wednesday 30 November as part of the pension strike. 70 teachers took part in the last round of strike action, but the school’s intransigent headteacher insisted on keeping the school open despite the low staffing

Cameron “answers” his critics

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 12:50

David Cameron seems to think that child poverty is something one might act against only in order to keep Polly Toynbee happy.

In the Guardian magazine on 26 November, he answered questions from selected celebrities, and was asked about child poverty by Polly Toynbee. His response concluded: “There are many things I can do in life, but making Polly happy is not one of them…”, mocking her for making a fuss about the issue.

On another question, he said: “Once students are paying the bills [for their university educations], they will be keener on really good courses…”. By that rationale, primary

Varieties of dialectics

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 12:43

By Martin Thomas

In one of the crazy autobiographical fragments he wrote in his last years, the famous French Stalinist philosopher Louis Althusser claimed that his father, a bank manager, ran his branch on the following lines:

“It was his custom not to say anything, or to make absolutely unintelligible remarks. His subordinates dared not admit they had understood nothing, but went off and usually managed very well on their own, though they still wondered if they might not be mistaken and this kept them on their toes”.

“Karl Marx, the philosopher” is presented by many exegetists as

Anarchism without trade unions: fresh wave or utopianism?

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 12:34

By Ira Berkovic

Yves Coleman’s article in Solidarity 224 Five things Trotskyists Should Know About Today’s Young ‘Anarchists’ is a little difficult to get to grips with, much like the politics of the people — “today’s young ‘anarchists’” — whose corner Yves has chosen to fight. The mirroring of content and form is a neat trick, but it doesn’t make a fruitful exchange particularly easy.

Yves objects to a recent series of articles (presumably Martin Thomas’s review of Lucien Van Der Walt and Michael Schmidt’s book Black Flame: The Revolutionary Class Politics of Anarchism and Syndicalism),

Euro is botched, but the root of the crisis is in global capital

Published on: Thu, 01/12/2011 - 12:20

The euro, as the new Research on Money and Finance (RMF) report shows, was mismanaged from the start because of political constraints.

“The euro is not simply a common currency devised to facilitate trade and financial flows among member countries... it is an international reserve currency... a form of world money”.

It was shaped in the 1990s, amidst the wave of capitalist triumphalism which followed the collapse of Stalinism in Eastern Europe and the USSR in 1989-91, and the subsequent strutting of the USA as hyperpower. The euro-leaders pushed it through fast, skating over difficulties and

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