Battle of Ideas

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.

Shapurji Saklatvala: Labour's first "BAME" MP

This is part one of a series. For the other articles, see here.

In 1922, sixty-five years before before Diane Abbott and three other Labour MPs of colour entered Parliament, Indian-born Shapurji Saklatvala was elected MP for Battersea North in South West London.

Like some other Labour candidates more recently, Saklatvala was a bourgeois figure standing in a working-class constituency which was not his home. There the similarity ends.

Anti-racism: different approaches

Introducing the 2002 edition of his 1987 book There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack, Paul Gilroy was pessimistic about how curbs on immigration were entrenching racism, and about the potential of the working class. Yet he wrote: "The convivial metropolitan cultures of the country's young people are still a bulwark against the machinations of racial politics".

Black people have been living in Britain for centuries, but in small numbers, maybe 0.2% of the population in 1951. The much bigger "minorities", since the 19th century, were Jewish and Irish immigrants.

Karl Marx and Uyghur solidarity

On Tuesday 5 May the Uyghur Solidarity Campaign will coordinate a second wave of online protests against high-street companies whose suppliers used forced Uyghur labour in China. For those who don’t know, the Uyghurs are an ethnic group whose nation, East Turkestan, is held under Chinese control and ruled as ‘Xinjiang’ province (literally ‘New Frontier’).

Last time the target of the protests was Apple – this time, Gap.

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