Solidarity 494, 6 February 2019

Marxists and science

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 12:52

Les Hearn

“Marxism does not provide a ready-made key for making judgements about scientific ideas. It cannot substitute for a detailed knowledge of the appropriate scientific material.”1

Marx and Engels saw themselves applying a scientific method to economics and the dynamics of class societies. Their philosophical approach was derived from that of Hegel who used dialectics, a discussion between opposing points of view, to arrive at truths. Marx and Engels applied Hegel’s methods to the real world, in particular showing that the capitalist mode of production gave rise to a class whose interests lay in

Neurodiversity, capitalism, and socialism

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 12:43

Janine Booth

Autistic, dyspraxic, dyslexic and other people with atypical brain wiring have particular experiences under capitalism – with positive and negative aspects, but for many people including distress and disadvantage. This article looks at the experience of neurodivergent people under capitalism, how socialism might remove distress and discrimination, and how we can achieve that.

Capitalism and neurodiversity

Capitalism developed society’s productive capacity, enabling it to provide people with goods and services that no previous society had been able to. But it placed productive resources with

Venezuela: risk of invasion

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 12:39

Eduardo Tovar

Over the weekend 2-3 February, thousands of protestors gathered in rival demonstrations on the streets of Venezuela’s capital, Caracas.

Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim President on 23 January, remains committed to forcing out Nicolás Maduro. Guaidó has announced further opposition rallies for Wednesday 6 February and Saturday 9 February. The latter date is the last day of the ultimatum to Maduro set by several leading European states, including France.

On 31 January, Guaidó gave a speech outlining his “national plan” for Venezuela, in which he prioritised coordinating humanitarian

Deliveroo: next strikes 14 February?

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 12:31

Zack, a Bristol Courier and treasurer of Bristol Couriers Network

Strike action by Deliveroo couriers has spread across the country, with simultaneous strikes having been held in various locations over pay, on 1 February. These strikes were inspired by an energetic and visible strike that took place in Bristol on the 18 January, and precipitated by steadily decreasing pay.

Bristol, Cheltenham, Horsham, London, Nottingham and Worthing all saw strikes by couriers, mostly starting 6pm. Birmingham struck earlier that week. Couriers in those six places are all, it seems, discussing or planning further strike action and protests. Couriers in Bournemouth, Cardiff,

Students vote “no confidence”

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 12:16

Natalia Cassidy

The National Union of Student (NUS) Trans Students’ Conference, on 30-31 January in Manchester, unanimously passed the Student Left Network motion of no confidence in NUS President Shakira Martin. Earlier in January, an NUS UK board meeting had voted to scrap the trans students’ campaign, budget, officer and committee.

The motion condemned the NUS leadership’s “deeply undemocratic” handling of NUS’s financial deficit. It called for NUS to open the books and to call an extraordinary conference of delegates elected on cross-campus ballots from affiliated student unions to give members, not an


Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 11:50

Martin Thomas

For January 2019, 4.2 million people said they would join “Dry January”, a pledge to drop alcohol for the month. The Alcohol Change UK group, which organised “Dry January”, says that (even if some of those 4.2 million had lapses) this year’s response was the biggest ever, and hugely up on January 2013, when the project started with just 4,000 signing up.

“Veganuary” had 250,000 people adopting a vegan diet for the month, more than its total for all its previous Januarys combined, 2014 to 2018. 84% of January-vegans and maybe 70% of all vegans are female (2018 stats), although vegetarians are

Schools should teach LGBT rights

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 11:43

Simon Nelson

In protests by some parents at the Parkfield Community School in Birmingham against the “No Outsiders” project, a number of parents say their religious freedom is threatened by the commitment of the Assistant Headteacher to teach LGBT rights.

The 400 parents, predominantly Muslims, who have signed the petition say that “No Outsiders” goes beyond the idea of treating LGBT people with respect and is not appropriate for young children. Andrew Moffat, the teacher in question, has long been an advocate of LGBT education in schools. He has written a book, Challenging Homophobia in Primary Schools.

Working week gets longer

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 11:35

Rhodri Evans

Average work hours per week are now increasing, for almost the first time since the early 19th century.

A research report from the Resolution Foundation finds: “Since the early 19th century there has been, at least outside of wartime, a pretty steady decline in average hours worked. From the Second World War until the financial crisis average hours worked declined by an average of 12 minutes a year.

“In the decade since they have been flat, and average hours have actually risen recently”.

The decline was more like 20 minutes per year from 1945 to the early 1980s. That was the period when it

More rail, less carbon

Published on: Wed, 06/02/2019 - 11:27

Mike Zubrowski

New evidence backs up the need for a socialist, environmentalist transport policy. Meanwhile, Transport For London (TfL) and London Mayor Sadiq Khan continue to pursue regressive market-based “environmental” policies, which will likely make no reduction in emissions.

A report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) released at the end of January makes the case for “aggressive” expansion of railways across the world, to reduce net transport emissions. Rail is the most efficient motorised method for passengers to travel, and much more so than cars and planes. In freight, it comes second only

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