Solidarity 603, 11 August 2021

Climate: break the rule of profit

Amid a summer of worldwide climate breakdown, the report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) - described as “a code red for humanity” by the head of the UN – lays out unequivocally how greenhouse gas emissions are driving increasingly dire climate crises, and a range of “possible climate futures”. How do we win the future we need? Banks and the rich fund oil, gas, coal development, and polluting businesses, pouring rivers of money into enterprises destroying the planet – simply to make money. The wealth produced by workers but controlled by bosses needs to be seized back...

HSBC profits and bonuses soar while it vandalises society. Expropriate the banks!

UK-based international banking and finance giant HSBC has increased the “bonus pool” for its bankers by 50%, to £650m, after its profits grew more than fourfold in the second quarter of 2021. It says it may increase it further before pay-outs early next year. Last year HSBC paid 324 of its bankers more than £850,000 in salaries and bonuses, while eight received more than £4m and one more than £8m. This comes hot on the heels of HSBC being embroiled in a major international money-laundering scandal; the revelation that it was the second biggest UK financial backer of companies in the coal...

Come with us to the XR action and COP26

In major environmental events coming up, Workers’ Liberty activists will be fighting to fuse the socialist and environmental movements, and for socialist environmental politics. Come and help us! XR’s “Impossible Rebellion” in London, after a Kill The Bill demonstration on 21 August, London, runs for two weeks from 23 August. The themes will be “Crisis talks”, and tackling the financing of fossil fuels. The high point will be a “climate carnival” on Sunday 29. We are working with others to organise workshops on workplace organising and the anti-union laws, and public ownership of banks, on...

Bank workers and transforming finance

Sam Myerson, until recently a worker at one of the big banks, spoke to Solidarity. Until a few months ago I worked in IT, for one of the big six in the UK. We were a ‘global team’, working with colleagues in many countries in Europe and Asia. I did that job for six years and different jobs in the same organisation before that. I don’t think the issues we faced were unique to my company. From working with others I have the impression it is similar across the sector. A lot of the changes we had to manage were driven fundamentally by cost-cutting, by attempts to eliminate human labour from...

Letter: Gagarin, space and Stalinism

Eric Lee’s article (Solidarity 602) about Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, and the stark contrast of his great achievement with the charlatans Branson pickle and Jeff Bozo, is spot on. When I was a schoolboy, I diligently collected the Weetabix “Conquest of Space” cards until I had the full set. This had two effects: a life-long interest in rockets and space travel and an equally life-long loathing for Weetabix. Once, in Bulgaria, I bought a photo-postcard of Yuri Gagarin at a flea-market in Sofia and framed it. To this day it still hangs in the garage. Also, at the same time, I bought...

The pioneer right-wing BAME MP

In the last year Workers’ Liberty has published material about both Shapurji Sakatvala and Dadabhai Naoroji – two opponents of British rule in India and, in their different ways, socialists elected to the UK Parliament a century ago (Naoroji was MP for Central Finsbury 1892-5 and Saklatvala MP for Battersea North 1922-3 and 1924-9). Saklatvala was very much part of the Marxist tradition and Naoroji part of our tradition in a broader sense. Naoroji was the first person from one of the Empire’s subject peoples beyond the British Isles to be elected to Parliament; Saklatvala the third. The second...

Letter: British Gas outcome still a defeat

The report on the settlement in British Gas in Solidarity 602 was right to acknowledge that the concessions in the new deal are real. However, this is not some last-minute victory, nor even a score-draw, but an outcome that blunts some of the employer’s worst attacks within an overall context that is still very much a defeat for the workers. The new settlement does not return engineers to the terms they were on before new contracts were imposed. British Gas has ultimately succeeded in imposing worse conditions. Hundreds of engineers remain sacked for refusing to accept the new contracts, and...

The BBC, Barry the Owl and the death of a union leader

Last Friday (8 August), the BBC News website ran a story with this headline: “A beloved owl who became a well-known resident in New York’s Central Park has died.” The story went on to say that “Barry the barred owl was flying low in search of a meal when it collided with one of the park’s maintenance trucks on Friday morning.” On the previous evening, it was announced by the majority leader in the US Senate, Democrat Charles Schumer of New York, that Richard Trumka had suddenly passed away at the age of 72. Trumka was the president of the AFL-CIO, the main national trade union centre in the...

Women's Fightback: Support Afghan women against the Taliban

The Taliban continues to make rapid territorial gains in Afghanistan following the announcement that almost all foreign troops will leave by September. The Taliban has captured half of the territory of Afghanistan, particularly the rural areas, and several provincial capitals. Fighting has increased around the major cities of Herat, Lashkar Gah and Kandahar. Tens of thousands of Afghans have applied for visas to leave the country, fearing Taliban reprisals. The US and Afghan government have responded by airstrikes and bombing of Taliban positions. Workers’ Liberty has never supported the US...

Beyond growth or beyond capitalism?

There’s more to Tim Jackson’s new book, Post Growth: Life after Capitalism than I’m going to deal with in this review. I’d note especially his call for investment in the caring economy, changing the nature of work and the need for new definitions of prosperity. The Guardian review has a broader treatment but I’m just going to concentrate on two points. How to legislate for reduced consumption - he doesn’t square the circle. And whether or not socialist societies need to grow in the same sense as capitalist ones - he gets it wrong. Jackson is a proponent of degrowth, defined as “… a phase of...

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