Solidarity 311, 29 January 2014

Revolt in Ukraine

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:46

As we write on 27 January, the political flux in Ukraine has reached a level where a wide range of dramatic outcomes look possible.

Town halls in many areas in the west of the country, and some central ministries in Kiev, have been seized by anti-government protesters and barricaded. According to the BBC, the protests have now spread to the east of the country, previously thought to be the government’s main base of support.

On 22 January President Yanukovych introduced drastic laws to suppress the street protests. Then he offered to appoint opposition leaders as prime minister and deputy prime

Turkish trade unionists on trial

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:42

On a chilly Thursday morning in late January I found myself standing at the entrance to an ultra-modern building that looked exactly like a shopping centre or hotel. An immense atrium, mirror-like glass everywhere, it was certainly designed by architects with ambitions. The building was the main courthouse in downtown Istanbul — the largest courthouse, we were told, in all of Europe.

I was there in order to attend the opening of the trial of 56 members of KESK, the Turkish trade union for public sector workers. The KESK members are accused of membership in an illegal organisation, and making

Can we make Unite a fighting union?

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:38

Unite is the UK’s largest trade union, with approximately 1.5 million members in industries as diverse as cabin crew, speech therapy, power stations, and car production. It has 100 full-time organisers, organising workers in mainly unorganised workplaces and industries. Its General Secretary Len McCluskey boasts that he has never blocked or repudiated a strike during his tenure and its “leverage” campaigns have seen noisy protests and intense lobbying beating the likes of Honda, London Buses, and major contractors and firms in the construction industry.

Yet Unite still suffers from the same

Revolutionary socialists and black struggle in America

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:25

Click here for more info and to buy the book online.

The AWL’s new book, In an era of wars and revolutions, brings together cartoons published by revolutionary socialists in the US between the 1920s and 1950s.

Below Sacha Ismail discusses the cartoons that deal with the oppression of African Americans and black liberation struggle. Here are a few of them.

Equal rights for some
Fighting school segregation
Filibusters
Claiming rights as Americans
Way of life

Some of the book’s most powerful images are indictments of black oppression in the United States. The period covered by the book ends just as the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s was beginning to stir.

In the “Reconstruction” of

The Tube, 1863 to 1979

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:19

Janine Booth’s new book, Plundering London Underground: New Labour, private capital and public service 1997-2010 examines the Public-Private Partnership (PPP), which was dreamed up, and imposed, but also faltered and collapsed, within the term of Blair and Brown’s Labour government.

One key “justification” for the PPP was that London Underground was is such a poor condition that it required a massive cash injection. The argument went (wrongly) that only the private sector could deliver that investment. But how did London Underground get into such a woeful state? The first section of

Take back the wealth, tax the rich!

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:12

The top ten per cent in Britain pocket over £300 billion a year. Just a ten per cent tax bite from that flow would be enough to offset all the cuts that the Government is making.

Yet shadow chancellor’s Ed Balls’s minimal proposal to tax fewer of the rich, and more lightly — to raise the top income tax rate from 45% to 50% — has brought an outcry.

Digby Jones, former chief of the bosses’ federation the CBI, and briefly a minister in the last Labour government, squealed that it meant “kicking” those who “create wealth and jobs”.

Stock exchange boss Xavier Rolet said it would stop new enterprise

Tact and science

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:07

As Matthew Thompson suggests (Solidarity 310) most religious people today in Britain have retreated from the claims which, historically, all major religions made to explain the world and the cosmos.

But they try to keep the cherry orchards for themselves. Science can deal with astronomy and building bridges and treating cancer, but religion still claims to rule on what is right and wrong.

I think Molly Thomas demolished that claim for religion in her article in Solidarity 228: “Faith is invalid as a way of knowing, and unsound as a basis for belief, because of its desire for exclusivity.”

Of

The meaning of outrage

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 11:04

After Liberal Democrat Maajid Nawaz tweeted a cartoon from the satirical web comic ‘Jesus and Mo’, along with words outlining how he, as a Muslim, did not find it offensive, the response was disappointing, but predictable.

Dozens of people (including liberals and of course, that great champion of freedom so long as it isn’t in Iran, Cuba or Syria, George Galloway) expressed outrage at Nawaz’s actions, many of whom are demanding that he be recalled as Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Hampstead and Kilburn.

Nawaz, a Muslim and former Islamist turned head of “counter-extremism” think-tank

Ukraine: not an anti-imperialist struggle

Published on: Wed, 29/01/2014 - 10:54

Stephen Velychenko’s analysis of events in Ukraine (Solidarity 310) is selective, simplistic and kitsch. It writes large national minorities and the working class of Ukraine out of existence.

Ukraine is a vast area with no “natural” borders. It has always had a diversity of identities and languages. The industrial Donets Baisin (Donbas) region in the east of Ukraine has had a mixed Russian and Ukrainian working class going back to the 19th century.

As a Ukrainian historian from the region says, “The fact that you came from the Donbas was more important than that you were Russian or Ukrainian;

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