Solidarity 061, 4 November 2004

Pluto-democracy in America (2004)

Published on: Thu, 09/11/2006 - 21:34

In ancient Athens the citizens gathered in the agora, the market place, to debate the affairs of the city state and vote on them. They did that with every issue that arose, including the appointment of military commanders. It has been called the “classic” democracy. In fact, only a fraction of those living in Athens could debate and vote.

Slaves, women and foreigners had neither voice nor vote. Those citizens who made up the Athenian democracy were therefore a narrow, privileged caste, consisting of, maybe, a fifth of the population, or less.

Those who voted in the 2 November US elections have

104,500 jobs threatened in civil service: After the strike, where now?

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:27

On 5 November civil service workers in the PCS union will be taking part in the first civil service-wide strike since 1993. They will strike against the Government’s proposal to axe 104,500 civil service jobs — one in five of all civil service jobs. Members of the union voted two to one on a 42 % turnout for the strike.

By a Civil Servant

At the end of October 3,000 non-union members have joined PCS as a result of the planned strike. Every time the union fights on key issues existing members are enthused, new reps come forward, and non-members join by the wagon load. What is the background to

The first Irish left

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:20

Sean Matgamna

Identifiable left-wing politics first emerged in Ireland at the end of the 18th century.
It was the result of three revolutions.

The American revolution, which broke out in 1776. The French revolution, which started in 1789. And the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 in which the English Parliament kicked out the would-be absolutist Catholic King James and put William of Orange and James’s Protestant daughter, Mary, jointly on the throne, under the control of Parliament.

In England and Scotland 1688 was a peaceful, liberating consolidation of the bourgeois revolution of the 1640s. For Ireland’s

Low-wage Britain

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:18

The government’s paltry minimum wage — £4.50 per hour for workers over 21 and just £3.80 per hour for workers between 18 and 21 — has been the cause of a great deal of discontent in the labour movement, particularly over the apparent assumption that under-21s need less to eat.

By Mike Rowley

However, this is not the only problem with the system. The new Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings has revealed that 272,000 workers in Britain are paid less than the minimum wage.

This represents 1.1% of all jobs in Britain, rising to 2.3% of part-time workers and 1.4% of women workers — a statistic

The anatomy of the Stalin-made left

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:11

Oh my darling, oh my darling,
Oh my darling Party Line,
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Party Line.

Leon Trotsky was a Nazi,
And I know it for a fact.
First I read, then I said it,
Before the Hitler-Stalin Pact.

(Anti-Stalinist song of the 1940s, to the tune of “My Darling Clementine”)

Fenner Brockway, the leader in the 1930s and 40s of the anti-war Independent Labour Party, tells a story from 1939 in his second volume of memoirs, Outside the Right (1963).

“From the beginning of the [Second World] war, Communist Party policy twisted and turned according to Russian interests,

The third camp

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:08

On 26 October, AWL took part in a meeting to plan action against the USA’s projected blitz on Fallujah. Initiatives coming out of the meeting include a demonstration on Sunday 7 November, 2pm at Parliament Square, which we urge all readers to support.

Those like the SWP and Respect who shout about “supporting the resistance” in Iraq, and who seem positively to look forward to new battles in Fallujah as a great chance to see a blow against imperialism, were not at the meeting.

AWL’s efforts on Iraq are focused on helping the new labour movement there to become a powerful Third Camp capable of

It's Dolly

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:07

Bruce Robinson looks at the life of Dolly Rathebe

The South African jazz singer and actor Dolly Rathebe died on 16 September, aged 76. She was a major figure in the flourishing of South African urban black culture in the 1950s before it was suppressed by the apartheid regime. She made a come-back after its end in the 90s.

Dolly Rathebe became well-known when, aged 19, she starred in the film “Jim comes to Jo’burg”, the first commercial film to deal with urban black lives. She had moved to the Sophiatown district of Johannesburg, one of the only areas where blacks could own property, and blacks

The man who listened

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:04

Matt Cooper applauds the legacy of JOHN PEEL

John Peel’s death at 65 on 25 October doesn’t mark an end of an era in at Radio One — Peel always was an outsider at Radio One, and the wonder is that the people in suits who run the BBC allowed such a maverick, motivated by love of music, not love of his own celebrity, to grace the airwaves for so long. To say that with Peel Radio One loses its last shred of credibility ignores Peel’s long time status as its only shred of credibility.

Peel’s first British radio programme, broadcast in 1967 for the pirate station Radio London, was called the

Why I'm leaving Respect

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:03

Kath Owen was a candidate on the Respect list for Yorkshire and Humberside in the Euro-elections. She has now left Respect, and explained why to Lesley Smallwood.

Despite sharing some of the AWL’s criticisms you decided to join Respect at its launch. What did you hope it would achieve?

I thought it would be the electoral representative of the anti-war movement, that it would build that movement into a political force which would link together other wider political issues such as racism and the backlash against civil liberties. I expected it to have a socialist direction.

The emergence of New

Respect says: "Secularism is Islamophobic."

Published on: Wed, 10/11/2004 - 21:00

The conference of the Galloway/SWP coalition Respect (30-31 October, in London) voted down a motion to “declare that Respect is a secular organisation”. The motion, drafted by the longstanding and well-respected anti-racist activist Dave Landau, was very moderately worded.

However, Socialist Worker editor Chris Bambery declared that it was “Islamophobic”.

The motion’s only specific expression of hostility to a particular religion was its call for disestablishment of the Church of England. But Bambery said that in 30-odd years of activity he had never before seen a motion to a left organisation

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