Solidarity 453, 8 November 2017

Madrid tries to bludgeon Catalonia

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 13:22

Martin Thomas

The people of Catalonia are caught up in a macabre game of bluff and who-blinks-first.

The democratic way out is for the people of Catalonia to be able to vote in a fair referendum on independence. Previous polls have indicated no majority for secession, and many on the left in Catalonia (for good reasons, we think) oppose creating a new border; but if there is now a majority for separation, then Madrid, and the EU, should respect it.

Over a hundred years ago, in a classic statement of Marxist and democratic ideas on disputes between nations, Lenin described the procedures in the secession of

Crack six big eggs to make climate omelette

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 13:17

Neil Laker

To limit the devastation of climate change, we need a rapid move to end dependence on fossil fuels. But what the Labour Party is currently advocating on this question is insufficient in urgency, scale and ambition.

Its present policy fails the working class employed in carbon-intensive jobs, as well as the millions from whom energy companies draw their scandalous profits. We need democratic control of energy as a measure both to fulfil our obligations to minimise climate change and as a positive step towards full socialist ecological planning.

During this year’s election, Labour said it

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 12:56

Charlotte Zalens, Gemma Short, Dale Street and Peggy Carter

Picturehouse workers at the Ritzy cinema in Brixton, and East Dulwich, Crouch End, Hackney and Central Picturehouses struck on Sunday 5 and Monday 6 November for the start of Living wage week.

On 6 November the new Living Wage was announced, and in London it rose from £9.75 an hour to £10.20 an hour.

Striking on the day of this announcement meant the strike gained national press coverage, including on ITV news, as the press covered the raise in the Living Wage.

Strikes completely closed the Ritzy cinema in Brixton and partly closed other sites. The Mayor of Hackney joined picket lines at

Democracy review details emerge

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 12:28

Labour has officially launched a democracy review. Jeremy Corbyn says he wants the party to become a “movement” and to boost the involvement of previously marginalised groups.

The first deadline of the review is 12 January. At this point it will consider the roles of BAME Labour, Young Labour, and the National Women’s conference.

The second phase covers the governance of Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs), the role of socialist societies, improving diversity and gender representation, strengthening participation, recruitment and social media.

The third phase covers elections of the leader,

Why the 70s shop stewards lost

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 11:00

Jim Denham

For a brief period in the 1970s, Derek Robinson (who has died, aged 90) was widely regarded as the most powerful trade unionist in Britain.

The so-called “Red Robbo” wasn’t a full-time official. He was a shop steward (albeit a senior steward, allowed time off by management, to devote himself full-time, to union duties).

I was a shop steward at the same car plant as Robinson (Longbridge, Birmingham) in the 1970s, and was one of those who went on the picket line when he was sacked in 1979. If some of what I say about Derek seems harsh, it’s because it’s essential we learn the political lessons

Gramsci and unpleasant truths

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 10:51

Martin Thomas

“During the lifetime of great revolutionaries”, wrote Lenin at the start of his pamphlet State and Revolution, “the oppressing classes constantly hounded them, received their theories with the most savage malice, the most furious hatred and the most unscrupulous campaigns of lies and slander.

“After their death, attempts are made to convert them into harmless icons, to canonise them, so to say, and to hallow their names to a certain extent for the ‘consolation’ of the oppressed classes and with the object of duping the latter, while at the same time robbing the revolutionary theory of its

No straight line from Balfour to today

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 10:43

Paul Hampton

This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Balfour declaration, the promise made by the British government to support a Jewish “homeland” in Palestine. Paul Hampton argues there was never an inexorable, linear development from the Balfour declaration to the creation of Israel, or indeed, to the current injustice towards the Palestinians.

On 2 November 1917, British foreign secretary Arthur Balfour sent a letter to Lord Rothschild, one of the leaders of the British Jews, which stated:

“I have much pleasure in conveying to you, on behalf of His Majesty’s Government [the favourable view for]

An alternative to the Bolsheviks?

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 10:38

Paul Vernadsky

Paul Vernadsky reviews The Experiment: Georgia’s Forgotten Revolution 1918-21 by Eric Lee.

Eric Lee’s mischievous new book, argues that the Georgian Menshevik republic was an alternative to the Bolshevik-led workers’ government, which came to power in October 1917.

This is absolute fantasy, which confuses discussion of working-class politics at the time and the importance of the Russian revolution for today’s class struggles.

Russia annexed Georgia in 1798 and the Transcaucasia region remained a largely underdeveloped part of the tsarist empire until the discovery of oil in the late

The day of the revolution

Published on: Wed, 08/11/2017 - 10:32

At the dawn of November 7th the men and women employed at the party’s printing works came to the Smolny and informed us that the Government had stopped our chief party paper and also the new organ of the Petrograd Soviet.

The printing works had had their doors sealed up by some Government agents. The Military Revolutionary Committee at once countermanded the order, took both papers under its protection, and placed the high honour of protecting the freedom of the Socialist Press from counter-revolutionary attempts on the valiant Volhynian Regiment. After this, work was resumed and went on

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