Left groups and people

DSA tries to adjust to the Biden era

The 2021 Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) Convention was held online from 30 July to 8 August. With 94,000 members — it has grown fast since 2015 — the DSA is the largest socialist organisation in the USA since the Socialist Party led by Eugene Debs at the beginning of the 20th century. We covered the 2019 Convention at bit.ly/dsa-2019. Since the organisation was effectively refounded in 2016, DSA members are now typically in their twenties or thirties rather than fifties and sixties. Around 10,000 DSA members belong to a union, with a concentration in education and public sector unions...

Dave Chapple: postal worker, trade unionist, socialist

It was my great pleasure to read and now comment on the three part autobiography of Dave Chapple, someone I have known for over thirty years. Dave is one of a small band of activists I met during my time as a postal workers' representative (initially in the UCW and then, following the merger with the telecoms union NCU, the CWU) whose record as a fighter for the members is exemplary. He stands alongside the likes of Judy Griffiths, Maria Exall and Phil Waker as trade unionists who in my experience always stood for a fighting union despite the immense pressure to conform. I knew Dave before I...

Vale Rod Webb, 1943-2020

Without Rod Webb, there may not have been a consistent group of supporters of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty in Australia, advocating the ideas and principles of third-camp Trotskyism. It was because of Rod that I became a Trotskyist, and because of people he put me in touch with, even after he became less active himself, that I discovered the literature of the forerunners of the AWL, made contact with Martin Thomas, and helped to establish Socialist Fight, as a group of co-thinkers of the now AWL. This is part obituary, and part story of how Rod’s ideas and connections contributed to the...

Do revolutionary socialists have a place in Labour?

Although the Labour leadership's new bans on four organisations have been justified mainly in terms of the issue of antisemitism, the question of Marxist and Trotskyist politics has also been raised. We republish this article written by one of our comrades for socialist Labour Party magazine The Clarion in February 2017, which discusses the issues in the form of a reply to Labour right-winger Luke Akehurst. At the time dozens of Workers' Liberty people had recently been expelled from the Labour Party. Do revolutionary socialists have a place in Labour? By Sacha Ismail Some activists on the...

What is the purpose of socialist organisation?

India Walton, prospective mayor of Buffalo, New York Two news stories from the USA this week grabbed my attention. The first was the astonishing victory of a woman named India Walton in a Democratic Party primary in the city of Buffalo. With no Republican opponent anywhere in sight, Walton is almost certainly going to win the general election in November and become the mayor of New York’s second largest city. As the Guardian reported, she would be “the first self-declared socialist to lead a major US city … since 1960, when Frank Zeidler stepped down as Milwaukee’s mayor.” A day later, the BBC...

John Ross: from Trotskyism to power-worship

The Morning Star’s most prolific and enthusiastic apologist for the Chinese ruling class, Carlos Martinez (who also considers North Korea to be “socialist”), likes the book China’s Great Road: Lessons for Marxist Theory and Socialist Practices. He praises the author, John Ross, for making it “very clear that China’s successes are those of socialism”. The Morning Star website puffs Ross’s book as its no.1 must-read. What makes China socialist? Martinez, paraphrasing Ross, explains: “Even with the huge quantities of private capital and the presence of foreign investment and the existence of...

Left politics in Singapore

Jamie Teo, a food courier and socialist activist in Singapore, spoke to Sara Lee, a Workers’ Liberty activist. When did you start being politically active? I came across Marx around the age of 16 or 17 and started to awaken politically. I didn’t start doing political activity until I went to Perth, Australia, for university and came across Socialist Alternative. I met them at an orientation event and was invited to attend their protest against Trump in the Central Business District. I went to their branch meetings and reading groups. I felt they were good politically, but what made me a little...

Might-have-been-man: Cliff Slaughter

Memories of Cliff Slaughter, who has died at the age of 93: 1: A school of the Socialist Labour League (SLL), Manchester, 1961 or 62. Slaughter is a leading writer of the SLL. He has written a couple of articles on the theory of the revolutionary party, which many people (me included) think very highly of. He has been talking about the iniquities of the Stalinist movement, in which he had spent over a decade of his youth. Someone asks him how he could have failed for so long to see through Stalinism. He explains it as his failure to think through his sometimes critical ideas to the necessary...

The enemy is capital, not London

The Northern Independence Party, now promoting a candidate in the 6 May Hartlepool by-election, looks to me like all the worst traits in Corbynism solidified into a bad joke. It even has a whippet in its party logo. There is no real call for “Northern Independence”, but there is an increasing rise, at least where I live in Yorkshire, of regional identity and calls for Yorkshire “home rule”. You see way more Yorkshire flags than you used to. Yorkshire Day has become an actual thing observed by councils and companies rather then a joke involving Yorkshire puddings. Much of this cultural...

Stan Newens, 1930-2021

Former Labour MP and MEP Stan Newens died on 2 March, at the age of 91. Newens got a jaundiced obituary in the Guardian, warmer ones elsewhere, and a tribute from Jeremy Corbyn which airbrushed out Newens' revolutionary Marxist activity in his 20s. In old age Newens wrote an autobiography, which I have not read, but is reviewed here by Ian Birchall. In February 1995 Newens gave an account, in Workers' Liberty magazine, vol.1 no.18, of his earlier political days and what he then made of them, which we republish below. Below that are recollections by me from when we worked with him, including my...

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