Solidarity 516, 11 September 2019

When Tories threatened civil war

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”.

Rosa Luxemburg on 1905

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”.

Convergence on the right

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.

Werner Scholem: Trotskyism, Zinovievism, antisemitism

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.

Last stand for Bolshevism

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.

Immanuel Wallerstein 1930-2019

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”.

Mugabe and the left

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.

Sweden in the 1930s: a “shithole country”

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.

Lessons from McStrike

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.

Anger over mail workload

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.

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