Solidarity 307, 11 December 2013

Giant protests rock Ukraine

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 14:05

Mass demonstrations in Ukraine have demanded closer links with Europe, and an end to the government’s pursuit of a “strategic partnership” with Russia.

Ukraine president, Viktor Yanukovich, wants the country to enter a Moscow-led “Customs Union” — a reversal of his previous support for political and free trade agreements with the EU. Ukrainians fear Russian domination, arguing that it evokes the domination of the country during the Stalinist era. Demonstrations on Sunday 8 December toppled a statue of Lenin, still regarded by Ukrainians, unfortunately but in many ways understandably, as a

Put MP's on a workers' wage

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 14:02

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority has recommended a pay rise of 11% for MPs.

Embarrassed, and keenly aware about how their position looks to a public reeling from job losses and wage cuts, many MPs have declared that their proposed pay rise is wrong.

However, business leaders have loudly supported the pay rise. “If we are to attract talent into parliament, MPs should be paid a comparable amount to other professionals,” said Ocado chairman Sir Stuart Rose.

Socialists should continue raising the historic demands of our movement: annual parliaments, instant recall, and MPs to

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 13:44

The RMT is planning an extensive political campaign to accompany its industrial battle to stop job cuts and ticket office closures on London Underground.

The University of London Union (ULU), which represents students at a number of London colleges, hosted a public planning meeting for supporters of the “Every Job Matters” campaign on Tuesday 10 December.

The ballot for strikes and action-short-of-strikes closes on January 10, with action due the following week if the ballot returns the expected yes vote.

Workers and passengers face the closure of every ticket office on the London Underground

Marxism at work

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 13:35

Over 50 trade union activists attended Workers’ Liberty “Marxism at Work” dayschool on Saturday 7 December.

The school, featuring both discussion-focused and more interactive workshops, was based on a six-part AWL educational series about Marxism and trade unionism, and included sessions on “our fantasy trade union”, the Marxist critique of current trade unions, understanding the bureaucracy, historical examples of the rank and file in action, and the role of Marxists in the workplace.

The aim of the day was to give participants a solid grounding in fundamental ideas about what a trade

After Mao and the Tiananmen Uprising

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 13:32

“It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, as long as it catches mice.” (Deng Xiaoping)

In the second of three articles overviewing a recent history of China, I review the era of Deng Xiaoping.

That the successor to Mao Zedong as head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was to be both a pragmatist and a loyal Party official, who had been there right from the start of the CCP’s rule, is telling in terms of China’s modern political economy. Deng Xiaoping launched the era known as ‘opening and reform’, which in the 1980s laid the foundations for what was to become a phenomenal pace and

The history of Britain's anti-apartheid movement

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 13:23

If you grew up in radical politics in the 1980s, anti-apartheid activism was ubiquitous — a reference point, an inspiration, and an accessible vehicle for campaigning.

Demonstrating outside the South African embassy, attending cultural and political meetings and demanding freedom for Nelson Mandela were rites of passage across the spectrum of the left.

The lessons of the anti-apartheid movement retain their contemporary relevance. Some within climate and anti-war campaigns have looked to it as a model. More widely, the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign has

Can re-wilding help the planet?

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 12:57

Dig down a few metres beneath the fountains in Trafalgar Square and you will find the remains of elephants, lions and hippopotami.

These giant beasts grazed, stalked and wallowed through British rainforests just over 100,000 years ago. In evolutionary time this is the blink of an eye and George Monbiot, in his new book Feral, makes a powerful argument for their (eventual) reintroduction.

Monbiot’s call for “rewilding”, the restoration of biodiversity through reintroducing large predators and allowing nature to run its course, is a hopeful vision for the future. At a time when

After 11 December "Cops off campus" protests, what next for the student fightback?

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 12:50

About 3,000 students demonstrated in London on 11 December as part of the "Cops off campus" national day of action, and many more around the country. Students at Manchester and Aberdeen universities went into occupation. (For reports and pictures from across the country, see the National Campaign Against Fees and Cuts website.)

I think the day was a success. We reclaimed the University of London campus, effectively violating the injunction against occupations by occupying the SOAS campus, and breaking into the Senate House compound. Whereas last week the police harassed and beat students, on

Athens and Berkeley

Published on: Wed, 11/12/2013 - 12:34

Policing has inevitably been an issue whenever student struggles have reached a certain pitch of struggle. In many cases, heavy-handed policing has provided a spark to the movement.

At the University of California in Berkeley, the Free Speech Movement (FSM) was kick-started when civil rights activist and alumnus Jack Weinberg was arrested 1 October 1964 for defying a campus ban on soliciting support for “off campus political and social action.”

According to participant and veteran civil rights and feminist activist Jo Freeman: “The police brought a car onto Sproul plaza and after he went limp

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