Solidarity 516, 11 September 2019

When Tories threatened civil war

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:34
Author

Rhodri Evans

“There are things stronger than parliamentary majorities”, said the Tory party leader.

That was Andrew Bonar Law, leader of the Tory opposition, speaking about Irish Home Rule in July 1912.

He added: “We shall not be guided by the considerations or bound by the restraints which would influence us in a normal constitutional struggle…

“I can imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster can go in which I should not be prepared to support them”.

He accused the Liberal government of “lighting the fires of civil war”, or, in other words, declared himself ready to use the fires of civil war

Rosa Luxemburg on 1905

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:19
Author

Martin Thomas

“The extent to which the party rises to the occasion [of a revolutionary upsurge] — that depends in the greatest degree on how widely [the Marxists have] known how to make their influence felt among the masses in the pre-revolutionary period...”

It depends on “the extent to which [they were] already successful in putting together a solid central core of politically well-trained worker activists with clear goals, how large the sum of all their political and organisational work has been”.

Volume 3 of the new Complete Works of Rosa Luxemburg, published this year, shows how false the idea is that

Convergence on the right

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 10:09
Author

Cathy Nugent

″The right has changed; it has embraced the ideas of its outliers″, argues Dave Renton at the start of The New Authoritarians, Convergence on the Right. By embracing the outliers, Renton says, Trump and others have ″radicalised″ their conservative message.

At the same time Renton says, the left has failed to reassess the shape of the new right spectrum and have been weak on challenging its central ideas. The most important of these, for Renton, is its particular form of racism, how the ″right seeks to restrict welfare benefits to members of the [invented] national community, excluding migrants

Werner Scholem: Trotskyism, Zinovievism, antisemitism

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:58
Author

Paul Hampton

The socialist life of Werner Scholem deserves to be better known. The publication of Ralf Hoffrogge’s exhaustive biography, A Jewish Communist in Weimar Germany (Haymarket 2018), means that English readers now have the opportunity to appreciate his contribution.

Werner Scholem was born in Germany in December 1895. He joined the Socialist Workers’ Youth group as a teenager in 1912 and then the Social Democratic Party (SPD) on turning 18.

Scholem opposed the First World War but was conscripted, wounded on the Eastern front and then imprisoned for anti-war activities. He was sent to the Western

Last stand for Bolshevism

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:14
Author

Donal Rayner O’Connor Lysaght

A review of In Defence of Bolshevism, a collection of writings by Max Shachtman edited by Sean Matgamna

There is little that is new here, good or bad.

The most provocative stuff is contained in Sean Matgamna’s introduction, and this is a rehash of themes that he has presented better elsewhere, the unrelieved badness of the Soviet Union, the equation of antisemitism with anti-Zionism, as well as his failure to provide even a skeleton of a programme for the semi-colonial world, and, of course, more justifiably (and enjoyably) his attacks on the leaders of rival organisations to his Alliance for

Immanuel Wallerstein 1930-2019

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:10
Author

Martin Thomas

Immanuel Wallerstein died at the age of 88 on 31 August. He was one of the last great exponents of the 1950s-60s theory of imperialism known as “dependency theory”, and continued to write until only a few years ago.

He was born in New York, the son of Polish Jews fleeing antisemitism, and worked almost all his life in US universities. He named Marx first among those to whom he “acknowledged a continuing intellectual debt”.

He described himself as one of a “gang of four” with Samir Amin, Giovanni Arrighi, and Andre Gunder Frank, all also now dead. Gunder Frank was the most prolific and

Mugabe and the left

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 09:01

Peter Tatchell spoke on Zimbabwe at a Workers’ Liberty meeting in 2005. What he said about Robert Mugabe has remained true for the following 14 years, up to Mugabe’s death on 6 September at the age of 95.

On a number of issues sections of the left have abandoned the principles of universal human rights and social justice.

Over a number of years I have done solidarity work with Zimbabweans struggling for democracy, socialism and human rights. They have not had much support from the mainstream left.

Why Zimbabwe? I have a copy of ZANU’s 1970s political programme: its goals were a socialist

Sweden in the 1930s: a “shithole country”

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 08:54
Author

Barrie Hardy

“It’ll be a pleasure to leave this impoverished shithole of a country behind,” says the main character Harry Kvist in the Stockholm Trilogy of historical crime novels by Martin Holmen.

Sweden is now reckoned one of the top ten of countries in the world for quality of life, but eighty years ago much of the population lived in abject poverty.

Holmen’s three novels — Clinch, Out For The Count and Slugger — paint a grim picture of the life of the urban poor in 1930s Stockholm. Most of them suffer flea bites, their bedsheets doused in strong vinegar to keep the pests away.

Summer months bring

Lessons from McStrike

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 08:36
Author

Justine Canady

Last year the “McStrike” campaign got an enthusiastic response from many labour movement left and labour movement activists.

But now, for a long time, there haven’t been any local branch meetings for fast food workers, any meetings for workers in the “McStrike” campaign, or meetings with organisers about the direction of the campaign. What went wrong?

Over the last year or so I’ve worked in Wetherspoons, and before that in Brixton McDonalds. Another worker previously involved in cinema worker organising was already working at Brixton when I started there.

From the start we were told by the

Anger over mail workload

Published on: Wed, 11/09/2019 - 08:32
Author

Gerry Bates

Postal workers’ union CWU is preparing to ballot its members in Royal Mail for strikes.

The dispute is over a range of issues arising from what the union says is Royal Mail bosses’ failure to implement an agreement reached in 2017, for which strikes planned then were suspended. A key plank of the agreement was a commitment to reduce the working week, which has been reneged upon.

The union is also in dispute over Royal Mail’s plans to restructure parcel delivery work, with its Parcelforce arm possibly being separated off. The CWU says this restructure could threaten thousands of jobs.

The

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