Democracy, monarchy, republicanism

"A prop for privilege": Tony Benn on why we must abolish the monarchy

The death of Prince Philip has revealed how strong the ideological pressure against republicanism is even on the left. The TUC has put out a statement saluting the monarchy - as have a number of left-wing Labour MPs who are known to oppose it, at least privately. When republicans refuse to speak out for their views, or worse pretend to hold opposing ones (however vaguely), they strengthen not only monarchism but the climate of fear about dissenting from or even discussing the dominant consensus. Our criticisms of him notwithstanding, Tony Benn was not afraid to attack and oppose the monarchy...

Myanmar's workers appeal for solidarity

On 3 April Myanmar’s Assistance Association for Political Prisoners said that the Burmese security forces have killed 550 people, including 46 children, since the 1 February military coup. In parts of the country inhabited mainly by the minority Karen people, the coup regime has begun carrying out airstrikes, killing dozens and displacing tens of thousands. Still, many thousands, including striking workers, continue to protest in the streets across Myanmar. Corporations with suppliers producing garments in Myanmar have refused to accede to workers’ demands for protection if they continue to...

Stand with Myanmar's workers

“One cannot overstate the heroism of the Myanmar union movement right now in the fight against the military dictatorship, nor the horror of the military’s ongoing crimes against humanity.” So wrote Andrew Tillett-Saks, a US union organiser working in Myanmar, on 19 March. (See Tillett-Saks' Twitter for regular English-language updates.) There is now a steady flow of killings by the regime. Current estimates in the international media, which Burmese activists say are too low, are around 250. 14 March saw almost a hundred killings, two thirds in the Yangon factory suburb of Hlaing Tharyar. The...

Myanmar: "We need international solidarity"

Khaing Zar Aung, President of the Industrial Workers Federation of Myanmar and a member of the executive of the Confederation of Trade Unions Myanmar, spoke to us about the situation there.

Abolish the monarchy - fight for democracy

The issues in the controversy surrounding the UK’s royal family require proper comment in themselves. We hope to publish more soon. Immediately, we welcome the fact that the controversy has caused a noticeable surge of publicly-expressed scepticism about the institution of the monarchy. The republican left should seek to sustain that surge and develop a real debate. Since the turn of the century, the monarchy has managed to "rebrand" itself and actually increase its popularity. "Harry and Meghan" were of course an important part of that. If the unpleasant realities of the institution and the...

Burmese junta declares labour movement illegal

Since this article was written on 1 March the military has escalated its crackdown, killing and injuring dozens of protesters. More soon. See here for regular updates. In the last days of February Myanmar’s military regime killed at least 18 people and injured dozens more, using live bullets, stun grenades and tear gas against striking workers and protesters. On 26 February the regime’s spokesman read out a list of sixteen trade unions and working-class organisations, declaring them illegal and promising persecution if they and their members continue to mobilise against the coup. The...

Myanmar: general strike against the coup!

At least two people were killed by Myanmar’s military over the weekend of 20 February, as it was confronted by fresh mass protests to overturn the coup it launched on 1 February. There is now a steady flow of confirmed killings, as well as unconfirmed reports of significantly larger numbers of deaths. The army’s claims that it is only using rubber bullets have been categorically disproved. The two latest dead are a young man and a teenage boy. Half of Myanmar’s population are under 25 (three quarters under 40) and the protests seem dominated by young people. The regime’s attitude is surely...

Myanmar: solidarity against the coup

The Burmese military is stepping up repression to secure the coup it launched on 1 February, but facing strong resistance – mass street protests (in their eleventh consecutive day as we go to press) plus widespread strikes and workers’ actions. (See here for our report last week, with some photos, and here for the week before.) In the last three days armoured military vehicles have appeared on the streets of some cities. Water cannons, rubber bullets and perhaps live rounds have been used against protesters. There is an intermittent internet blackout, prominent social media activists have been...

The USA in the light of the impeachment hearing

Part of an ongoing debate: see here for all the contributions To an outsider, or to this outsider, anyway, the most striking thing about American political life is the saturation-level, all-pervasive, complacent chauvinism. It’s almost innocent-seeming, almost endearing, like the boasting of a five year old. The Stars and Stripes everywhere. The custom of always, in public life, referring to any state that has to be mentioned as “the great state of Wyoming”, or whatever. And the ancestor worship! Everything about the creaking, labyrinthine, 230-year-old constitution is as sacred as it is...

Demonstrations and strikes confront Burmese military

Demonstrations and strikes have spread across Myanmar to overturn the military military coup which began on 1 February. Events are developing fast as we prepare to go to press. For more information and updates, see the website Frontline Myanmar and these Twitter accounts: twitter.com/AndrewTSaks and twitter.com/Rgnhardliner (the former in particular for worker-focused reports, with many photos and videos of strikers). The military regime has responded with demands to disperse, arrests, snatching people off the streets, water cannons and more extreme violence. At least three people have died...

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