Solidarity 288, 5 June 2013

Big powers and smaller oligarchies

Published on: Fri, 07/06/2013 - 22:00

Pandelis Pouliopoulos died 70 years ago, on 6 June 1943, shot by Italian occupation forces in Greece during World War Two. In his final moments he delivered an internationalist speech to his executioners, so that the firing squad rebelled and the officers had to shoot instead.

In this extract from his pamphlet What the Veterans and Army Victims Demand (1924), Pouliopoulos indicted the economic and diplomatic subjugation of Greece to the big powers; and explained clearly a nationalist response was inadequate for the working class. The plutocrats of second-rank capitalist powers like Greece also

Balls to keep Tory plans

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:44

George Osborne is due to announce his latest spending review on 26 June, the day before the first regional strike in teachers’ industrial action over pay, pensions, and workload.

Osborne says he hopes to make £11.5 billion cuts in the new review, which would cover the 2015-2016 financial year. A general election is due to take place in May 2015, just after the financial year begins, which Labour is expected to win. Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls said on 4 June that, if elected, Labour would maintain the basic framework of Osborne’s spending plans. Leading figures in the GMB union accused him of

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:41

Tube cleaners working for ISS suspended a planned strike after management backed down on use of the “Bradford Factor” sickness management system (which allows bosses to sack workers for missing as few as three days) to discipline staff.

Cleaners are also demanding an end to biometric fingerprinting, and want ISS to pay the arrears of a pay rise from November 2012 to bring wages in line with the London Living Wage. ISS cleaners on new contracts have also seen their working day increase with no extra pay.

As in the past, ISS bosses have used immigration controls as a weapon of class warfare and

Spaces for working-class politics

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:35

Val Graham, a trade union and Labour activist in Chesterfield, spoke to Solidarity about the “alternatives to austerity” discussions she has been organising in the town.

The first few meetings had about 30 people at them. Reflecting a general issue on the left, most of the people attending are older. There have been some young people, but not as many as I would wish.
Most of those who come are active trade unionists and involved in other campaigns.
The first meeting we had was on welfare — including what kind of welfare system we wanted.
The second meeting discussed the issue of councillors

Sectarian surge in Iraq

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:32

Sectarian attacks have reached a new high in Iraq. Most are bombings by Sunni-sectarian militias aimed at Shias.

The link with the civil war in Syria is not tight. The driving force seems to be frustration among the Sunni Arab minority (15 to 20% of the population, but politically dominant for centuries before 2003, including under the Ottoman Empire) against the Shia-Islamist-dominated regime of Nouri al-Maliki.
Maliki’s support for Assad (he lived in Syria, then Iran, when in exile from the Saddam Hussein regime), is a subordinate element. Iraqi oil production has increased 50% above its

Syria and the embargo

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:29

On 28 May the European Union ended its arms embargo on Syria. The move was driven by the UK and France. They say that they don’t intend to send arms, but instead to use the threat of sending arms to apply pressure for a deal at the Geneva conference convened by the US and Russia, which is pencilled in for 15-16 June, but may be postponed.

The US welcomed the EU decision, while still saying that the US itself would not send arms. Geneva probably won’t yield a deal. The main external opposition front, the Syrian National Council, says it won’t attend, in protest against the siege of the Syrian

The next five months

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:26

This is an abridged version of a report on plans for the next five months adopted by the AWL National Committee on 1 June.

The working class is on the back foot. Working-class struggle is low. There is no big, exuberant rush to the left.

But the work done by a revolutionary socialist organisation, and only by a revolutionary organisation, has a greater relative importance in such quiet times than in many times of high struggle.
In a revolutionary onrush, no special organising methods are necessary to sustain socialists in consistent activity. Activity surges beyond all plans. If socialists are

Politics, sexism and Facebook culture

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:21

It’s fair to say that Facebook and Twitter have changed the face and shape of left-wing organising in Britain, particularly organising young people and students.

As well as posting about the music you like, what you’re eating, and what colour you’ve dyed your hair, you can post about your views: either on your profile, or in numerous groups.

Sometimes political discussion on social networking is fruitful and enlightening. Sometimes it descends into personal, sectarian, and boring fights that are had over and over again and are of little use to socialists except those who think they will build

The True Prison

Published on: Tue, 04/06/2013 - 21:15

Ken Saro-Wiwa was a writer and activist. He was one of the leaders of the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, a community-rights and environmental movement which challenged the power of oil companies and the Nigerian government.

In 1994, the Nigerian government launched a concerted offensive against the Ogoni people to make the region safe for oil multinationals. 3,000 people were killed. In 1995, Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian government.

His poem The True Prison bases itself on a recurring and striking anti-capitalist trope —that actual prisons are merely reflections

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