Neo-Stalinism

Stalinist in-jokes won’t build a healthy union

The RMT Young Members Committee has designed a new badge. Nothing wrong with that. But the slogan on the badge, "Always vigilant", has a meaning that is less than edifying. While “vigilance committees” in the unions under the influence of the Communist Party of the 1920s are worthy of study, if not...

Video: What is left antisemitism, and how can it be confronted? With Daniel Randall

Introductory speech by Daniel Randall from a meeting of the same name: video and audio. The publication of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report, as well as the ongoing fallout from the Panorama documentary and subsequent legal wranglings, have kept the issue of antisemitism in the Labour Party in the news and political discussion. But the “debates” so far have tended to generate more heat than light, by keeping the focus on the factional implications rather than the underlying political issues. This discussion seeks to get back to the fundamental questions: what does antisemitism on the left consist of, where does it come from, and how can it be confronted?

Video: Remembering the Bosnian War, with Sarah Correia and Martin Thomas

Audio and video Introductory speeches from a meeting of the same name, which outline the complex events that led up to the war, left responses and legacies of the war. Sarah Correia is a researcher at LSE, researching memories of the Bosnian war. Martin Thomas talks about the response of much of the left at the time. December 2020 marks 15 years since the end of the Bosnian war. In 1992 after Bosnia and Herzegovina declared independence, a Serb-backed military assault took place, bringing ethnic cleansing, rape and destruction of mosques. Under the banner of “peace” and opposing Western intervention many on the left sided with, or failed to oppose, the Serb nationalists. Workers' Liberty argued an international arms embargo should be lifted so that the Bosnians could defend themselves. This meeting will outline the complex events that led up to the war, the left responses and the legacies of that war.

The left and Bosnia

The wars in Croatia (1991-5), Bosnia (1992-5), and Kosova (1999), all part of the break-up of Yugoslavia, were among the first wars of the new era following the fall of Stalinism in Eastern Europe (1989) and the USSR (1991). And the different attitudes then of different trends on the left were among the first markers of how the left would differentiate in the new era. Workers’ Liberty backed the peoples of Croatia, Bosnia, and Kosova in their struggle for self-determination against what we saw as Serbian proto-imperialism, quasi-imperialism, or sub-imperialism. Leading figures of the...

"Pathetic clowns, lousy Trotskyists": The Left responds to a solidarity campaign with Belarus

In late August, at the request of independent trade unions in Belarus and supported by global union federations, LabourStart launched a campaign demanding an end to state repression in that country. The campaign title was “Stop the violence — defend democracy and human rights”. In a mass mailing to trade union activists, we summarised what had happened in Belarus, noting that “a wave of spontaneous work stoppages swept across the country. Workers started to form strike committees to prepare for a nationwide general strike in support of democratic change.” Our message quoted from some of the...

Murray goes, but who instead?

Andrew Murray, former Communist Party leader and prominent Stalinist, has resigned from his job in the Labour Party Leader’s Office. His associate Karie Murphy has already been lined up to go to the House of Lords. What will happen to their associate Seamus Milne we don’t yet know. Good riddance. The 3Ms axis played a big part in: • Labour’s fumbling and evasive policy on Brexit. Murray and Milne were keen Brexiters well before 2016, and retreated only step-by-step before the overwhelming rank-and-file Labour push against Brexit. • Labour’s antisemitism fiasco: Murray and Milne are long-time...

Poor choices for Labour leader

Labour’s National Executive Committee has set a short timetable for the leadership election. MPs and MEPs have one week to nominate candidates (7-13 January). Constituency Labour Party [CLPs] and affiliates have one month (15 January-14 February). Voting will run a month and a bit (21 February-4 April). New members can vote if they join by 20 January. There will be a registered supporters system, in addition to affiliate supporters (eg people registered through their unions). To get on the ballot, candidates need 10% of Labour MPs and MEPs (22), and then either 5% of constituency parties (33)...

Push out the Tories, sort out Labour

To respond to Orthodox chief rabbi Ephraim Mirvis’ attack on Labour over antisemitism by pointing out that it is exaggerated only gets you so far. The reality is that since Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader, Seamus Milne took over the Leader’s Office, and some thousands of “returners” from the 1980s became newly vocal, a culture of antisemitism has flourished on the margins of the party and, in somewhat less virulent forms, deeper inside it too. A significant strand in Labour antisemitism is connected to a particular view of Israel and “Zionism”. While the party’s formal policy on Israel...

The message from Andrew Murray

Ever the Stalinist nostalgic, in his new book The Fall and Rise of the British Left, Murray laments the passing away of “a largely vanished world of working-class power” and the fact that “none of the scenarios which gripped the left I grew up with in the twentieth century appear fully plausible any more.” What is to fill the vacuum? Murray’s answer is not: Slough off the dead weight of Stalinism, re-assert the centrality of independent working-class politics, and reforge a labour movement fit for the overthrow of capitalism. Instead, and this is his explanation for Corbyn’s election as Labour...

Rearguard fight by Labour’s Brexiters

The wretched Skwawkbox blog, as ever representing the most craven and regressive forces within the apolitical Corbyn fan club, is presently promoting an open letter to Tom Watson, penned by one Chelley Ryan: “One of the likely reasons we have lost support over Brexit, is because many MPs like yourself, refuse to put the case for our sensible compromise position” bleats Chelley. Skwawkbox’s editor, the businessman Steve Walker, can scarcely contain his enthusiasm: “An open letter to Tom Watson about his behaviour regarding Brexit – condemning it, detailing the damage it is causing and reminding...

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