Solidarity 310, 22 January 2014

Should socialists call religion “primitive’’?

Published on: Sun, 26/01/2014 - 13:52

While the origins of religious belief are "primitive" in the sense of being pre-modern (Mark Sandell, "Resurgent religion threatens gains of struggle", Solidarity 308) the same can be said of many other things - music, mathematics, science.

What I think we need to do is distinguish both between religion and science and between different kinds of religion.

Religion in the pre-modern, "primitive" era tended to be almost exclusively polytheistic. The major monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are all comparatively modern (a few thousand years old at most) and their political

The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire

Published on: Sun, 26/01/2014 - 13:40

The Making of Global Capitalism: The Political Economy of American Empire by Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin is one of the best Marxist analyses of the modern epoch published in a long time. The book (Panitch and Gindin 2012: vii) is devoted to understanding “how it came to be that the American state developed the interest and capacity to superintend the making of global capitalism”. It deserves to be widely read and discussed on the international left both for the coherence of its arguments and because it challenges a series of shibboleths – particularly on imperialism – that have hampered the

Take the bankers' wealth!

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 10:54

Just 85 of the world’s richest people have as much wealth as the 3.5 billion people in the poorer half of the world’s population.

Within Britain inequality is not quite as wide as that world-scale gap calculated by Oxfam. But inequality is huge even within Britain. It has been rising ever since the Thatcher days. And the Government is using the economic crisis as a lever to increase it further.

Under pressure on the issue, chancellor George Osborne has recommended to the Low Pay Commission that the minimum wage be raised by a grand 69p per hour, from £6.31 to £7, from October 2014. (For over

Mobilising workers in Bangladesh

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 10:52

Badrul Alam, a member of the Communist Party of Bangladesh (Marxist-Leninist), an observer section of the Fourth International, spoke to Solidarity about the political crisis in that country and its implications for working-class politics.

The Awami League and the Bangladeshi Nationalist Party (BNP), the two main bourgeois parties in Bangladesh, are fighting each other for power. There are no real ideological differences between them. Both parties belong to the bourgeoisie.

The Awami League, the ruling party, wants to cling to power. The opposition parties called for it to dissolve parliament

Ukrainians resist Russian imperialism

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 10:35

Anti-government protests have continued in Ukraine with tens of thousands gathering in defiance of anti-protest laws rushed through Parliament by President Viktor Yanukovych.

The protesters oppose the government’s plans to tie the country into closer relations with Russia, and many want Ukraine to develop closer relations with western Europe and join the EU. This article, by Stephen Velychenko of the University of Toronto, appeared on various left-wing websites, including New Left Project, in December 2013.

Workers’ Liberty does not share the author’s precise take on the situation, but we

Iraqi labour under fire as sectarianism grows

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 10:27

Sectarian violence continues in Iraq, with 21 people killed in bombings in Baghdad on 20 January. The central government, dominated by Shi’ite Muslim parties and led by Nouri al-Maliki, recently launched a military counteroffensive against Sunni-Islamist militias which have taken control of areas in the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah in western Iraq.

Falah Alwan, President of the Federation of Workers’ Councils and Unions in Iraq (FWCUI, one of Iraq’s main labour federations), spoke to Solidarity about the situation in the country.

There is enormous wastage on government salaries and other

South African metalworkers take new course

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 10:24

Rumour has it that in 1994 some leading trade union organisers in the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) gave the African National Congress (ANC) a ten year deadline to introduce serious social democratic reforms.

Ten years passed a decade ago, but now it seems the deadline may have passed politically as well. One of the largest and best organised unions in South Africa, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) has dissociated itself from the ANC-South African Communist Party (SACP)-COSATU alliance.

In December 2013 at a special national congress (attended by 1

Italy: Renzi woos Berlusconi

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 09:17

Twenty years ago, after the collapse of Italy’s first postwar republic, a fanfare greeted media mogul Silvio Berlusconi’s accession to power as the new beginning for the perilously unstable economy and the fortunes of its chronically corrupt rulers.

Last weekend in Rome, we saw a rerun of the same pantomime.

Matteo Renzi, the newly-elected Blairite secretary of the Democratic Party in government, in a two-hour meeting with Berlusconi, not only legitimated the ex-con (and formally banished) tax crook as prospective founding father of a new Third Republic, but also connived with him in a new

Solidarity with LGBT people in Nigeria!

Published on: Wed, 22/01/2014 - 09:14

On 7 January 2014, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan signed a law that makes gay marriage in Nigeria punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

Already, LGBT rights activists are reporting mass arrests and beatings of gay people, and people perceived to be gay, all over Nigeria.

Dorothy Aken’Ova, executive director of Nigeria’s International Centre for Reproductive Health and Sexual Rights, gave the BBC a detailed account of how police seized and held four gay men over Christmas and beat them until they named people allegedly belonging to LGBT organisations.  Dozens of gay men have already

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