Solidarity 422, 2 November 2016

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 13:41

Ollie Moore, Charlotte Zalens, Peggy Carter and Gemma Short

Station staff on London Underground are balloting for strikes, and industrial action short of strikes, against job cuts.

The ballot begins on 1 November and closes a fortnight later. Both the RMT and TSSA unions are balloting their members. London Underground’s “Fit for the Future” restructure programme on stations has seen nearly 1,000 jobs axed and thousands of workers forcibly regraded and displaced.

Workers say that new rosters are unworkable, and recent incidents at North Greenwich and Canning Town stations have highlighted the risks of de-staffing. Unions are demanding a reversal of

Right-wing Labour MPs show their stripes

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 13:03

Martin Thomas

According to right-wing Labour MP John Woodcock, “the support we [the UK] are giving [to Saudi Arabia, over the war in Yemen] is largely to help train pilots in targeting practices that reduce civilian casualties, trying to influence the Saudis into unambiguous compliance with humanitarian law”.

And so Woodcock and about 100 Labour MPs abstained or were absent on 18 October when the Labour front bench moved that Britain stop supporting Saudi Arabia in the war. The UN estimates that over 7,000 people have now been killed in the conflict, two-thirds in Saudi airstrikes.

The Saudi military

Momentum: what sort of democracy?

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:57

Sacha Ismail

The row in Momentum is being “spun” as one between those who want a workable broad movement, and those who want a sectarian bearpit. This is false.

Momentum groups are not being torn apart by different socialists tearing strips off each other about political programme. The acrimony and division comes from the people at the top whose fear of political discussion and debate is leading them to suppress democracy in the organisation, and generating predictable outrage.

In the first half of 2016 some argued that it would be too divisive for Momentum to take a position on the EU referendum. In

Polish women’s movement grows

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:47

Anastazja Oppenheim

Polish abortion laws are some of the most restrictive in Europe. Abortion is completely banned apart from in a few exceptional circumstances. It is allowed on grounds of rape, incest, if there is a severe health risk to the pregnant woman, or if the foetus is severely deformed and has no chance of survival.

Doctors also have a conscience clause; they can sign an agreement saying they will not perform an abortion, but they have to direct women to another doctor who will do the procedure. There are also many cases of women being directed from one hospital to another because doctors who do not

Rezso Kasztner and Zionism

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:35

Dale Street

Was Rezso Kasztner, leader of the Budapest-based Jewish Relief and Rescue Committee during the Nazi occupation of Hungary, a hero who saved the lives of tens or even hundreds of thousands of Jews from the Holocaust? Or was he a collaborator who knowingly played an indispensable role in assisting the Nazis in the deportation and murder of nearly 500,000 Hungarian Jews in a matter of weeks?

To answer that question Paul Bogdanor has examined previously unused documentation, including Kasztner’s private papers, and evidence provided by Kasztner himself in two libel trials held in Israel in the

The ABCs of Socialism

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:21

Simon Nelson

The team behind Jacobin magazine have produced a great set of short simple essays tackling questions often asked about the politics of the socialist left titled The ABCs of Socialism. As with any book with multiple authors — this has 13 in total — there are differences in style, emphasis and political conclusions (which I will address later). Nonetheless the book is remarkably consistent and reads well.

The whole book, despite its incomprehensibly ridiculous (tall, thin) shape, could easily be read in a couple of hours. I enjoyed two chapters in particular. ‘Will socialists take my Kenny

Is socialism against human nature?

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 12:09

Sean Matgamna

Our recently published book Can Socialism Make Sense? takes on the arguments against socialism. In this abridged excerpt a critic of socialism (B) is answered by a socialist (A) on the question of human nature.

B: You can’t change human nature. Humanity remains an animal. Human nature — competition, individualism, selfishness, predatoriness — produces, protects, and preserves capitalism.

A. If that were true, then why did we not have capitalism all back through history? We have had slave societies, feudal societies, “oriental-despotic” societies (ancient India and China, Inca Peru). The

Bankers’ greed brings us down

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 11:53


“For questions about the survival of big European banks to be swirling almost ten years after the financial crisis started is utterly damning”, writes the big business magazine The Economist.

Questions are indeed swirling. On 26 October, the Bank of England asked British banks to say how much they are owed by Germany’s huge Deutsche Bank and Italy’s oldest bank, MPS, in case those banks prove unable to pay. Deutsche Bank’s share price has fallen by over 50% this year.

The stock markets value this giant of international banking at less than Snapchat, a social-media business with a few hundred

Socialist Worker drops “stop the bombing”

Published on: Wed, 02/11/2016 - 11:43

Will Sefton

In Socialist Worker (18 October) Charlie Kimber says Mosul will be “the next city to be razed by imperialism”. He does not, however, make a direct call on the US or UK to end their bombing in support of Iraqi government forces.

In the past, the SWP would have said “stop the bombing”, while (mildly) criticising Daesh’s rule. Kimber says “Isis’s rule has been appalling”. He adds that fighting “civilians are now terrified of the air and artillery assaults and the gun battles in the streets” — but plainly shies away from any “Hands off Daesh” line. He does not call for an end to the assaults.

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