The Americas

Barbados ditches the monarchy. So should we!

On 30 November-1 December, the Caribbean nation of Barbados became a republic, removing the UK monarch as its head of state. The English monarchy took control of Barbados from 1625, wiping out the island’s indigenous population and creating a society based on slavery. The forced labour of black Barbadians played a crucial role in the rise of the first capitalist empire: by 1660 Barbados generated more trade than all other English colonies combined. Enslaved Barbadians resisted fiercely, including through a major uprising in 1816, an important precursor to the abolition of slavery in the...

Chile: how to build on two years of left-wing revolt to defeat the far right?

Boric and Kast In the days after the first round of Chile’s presidential election (21 November), the mood amongst left activists in Santiago is bleak. José Antonio Kast, candidate for the far-right Christian Social Front received the largest share of the vote on Sunday, with almost 28%, while Gabriel Boric, candidate for the left coalition Apruebro Dignidad, received almost 26%. They will face each other in a second round run-off on 19 December. Polls predict a knife-edge result. It’s not 30 pesos, it’s 30 years Arriving in Santiago a fortnight ago, one thing quickly became clear. This is a...

The World Transformed: scratching the surface

A lot of radical things were said at this year’s The World Transformed festival. As one participant said, many speeches only scratched the surface. Clear political conclusions or concrete demands weren’t always drawn out. For example, at a panel on “Kill The Bill,” speakers said that we cannot support police reform and that we must instead “abolish the police” – all the while talking about the negative implications of the police bill. Occasional jibes were made at “white people talking about Trotsky or whatever, telling us how to do a revolution.” Nevertheless, TWT was an informal, accessible...

Letters: Cronyism and capitalism; Chilean democracy and political parties

Cronyism and capitalism Jim Denham’s criticisms in Solidarity 572 of the No Holding Back report produced by Ian Lavery, Laura Smith and Jon Trickett were on point, particularly in terms of its nationalism and lack of a coherent understanding of what the working class is. There’s one aspect which I think deserves to be drawn out further. The report proposes a “cronyism watchdog” as a way of “challenging the Tories’ economic priorities”. It fails to define what they mean by cronyism or what this “watchdog” would do. It’s hard to see how it would have the significance and cutting edge even plenty...

Chile votes for new constitution

On 25 October in Chile, around 7.5 million people voted in a historic referendum on whether to write a new constitution to replace the current one — enacted in 1980 during the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet — and on the democratic mechanism to write this new constitution. The option of crafting a new constitution won, with an overwhelming majority of nearly 80%. A similar percentage supported a constitutional convention — a group completely composed of citizens democratically elected for this purpose — as the mechanism to write the new constitution. This new scenario brings chances to change...

The Black Jacobins: the Haitian revolution against slavery

This is a speech by Dan Davison, a labour activist and sociology PhD student at the University of Cambridge, for a talk on C.L.R. James and the Haitian Revolution held in July 2020. All page references are to C.L.R. James, The Black Jacobins: Toussaint L'Ouverture and the San Domingo Revolution (London: New edn., Penguin 2001). Video, text, and audio.

International news: Iran, Kuwait, Singapore, Qatar, Ecuador, New York

Iran’s official figures show new Covid-19 cases peaking there about 30 March and deaths peaking about 4 April, and 5,118 deaths so far. An Iranian activist told Solidarity: “The official figures are rubbish! What the true number is nobody can tell. Some people are saying there is going to be a second wave. Lots of workers have died.” Mohammad-Hossein Sepehri, a teacher jailed in Mashhad’s Vakilabad prison, has contracted coronavirus. He has been denied medical care. There are many teachers and hundreds of other labour and social rights activists languishing in the Iranian regime’s prisons and...

The split in SDS

Across the world large and radical student movements came into prominence in the 1960s, fighting on their campus and against university administrators but raising wider political questions: opposition to the Vietnam War, opposition to the police, and opposition to capitalism. Their politics were often muddled and contradictory. In America, students organised themselves on a national level into Students for a Democratic Society. This was a serious organisation, which had 30,000 supporters by the time of its collapse, and along with the black civil rights movement became a feared bogeyman for...

Candlelit solidarity with the Chilean uprising

Photos: Rocío Almuna Morales On Wednesday October 30, "Chilean students, academics and workers in Bristol" held a "Candelight gathering" in support of the general strike in Chile, on the same day. Around fifty people, mostly left-wingers of Chilean origin, gathered and chanted to show support for the strike's demands. This followed a similar sized demo a week prior. Three demands that the Bristol demo was raising of the Chilean government were: 1. Against the military on the streets, the "state of constitutional exception" (martial law) and the restriction of civil, political and social...

Chile: 29 years on from Pinochet

In Chile, heavily armed troops and police are out on streets again, exerting brutal repression against those demonstrating peacefully against one of the more brutal neoliberal policies, similar to those of Margaret Thatcher. Chile is the richest country in Latin America, but equally suffers from one of the worst income distributions in the region or beyond. However, carrying out these brutal economic measures forcing the population into a continuing impoverishment, has been only possible under the current Political Constitution, drafted – in a hurry, in 1980 – by two individuals, ideological...

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