Solidarity 452, 25 October 2017

Catalonia: oppose Rajoy’s repression!

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 16:06
Author

Tony Holmes

Around 450,000 took to the streets of Barcelona on 22 October to protest against Madrid’s threat to impose direct rule and the arrests of activists.

The CUP — the left-separatist party that props up Puigdemont’s coalition of right-wing and left-wing nationalists — has called for a mass mobilisation and resistance to prevent direct rule from going ahead. Catalan civil servants are likely to refuse to administer Madrid rule, and the Madrid government has threatened to remove from post all employees who fail to follow the instructions of a directly-administered regime. A potentially explosive

Industrial news in brief

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 15:55
Author

Gemma Short, Peggy Carter, Charlotte Zalens and Neil Laker

PCS members at Eastern Avenue Jobcentre in Sheffield started a continuous month long strike on 23 October in opposition to the closure of the site. On the same day it was announced that members at Plymouth Processing Centre, another site marked for closure had voted 76% in favour of strikes to defend that site and would begin their strikes on the 6 November.

Members at Eastern Avenue have already struck for 27 days since the proposal to close the Jobcentre was announces earlier in the year. The closure of both sites is part of the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) estates

Where next for Momentum groups?

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 15:49
Author

Simon Nelson

Since the general election, Momentum has grown substantially, and is, reportedly, now approaching 30,000 members. But are Momentum groups revitalising? Are the new structures — the constitution with its promises of online votes and oversight of the National Coordinating Group — producing fruitful results?

A survey across the country would suggest that the functioning of groups is very mixed. A handful of groups have found themselves de-recognised by the national Momentum office for apparently not having an assigned Data Manager, or for retaining their own lists of members and supporters.

Profiting from the movement

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 15:45
Author

Will Sefton

A report by the Certification Officer (a government body responsible for the conduct of trade unions) has shown Ian Lavery, the chair of the Labour Party, received £165,000 from the Northumberland area National Union of Mineworkers which had just 10 members, four years ago, before he entered Parliament in 2010. This makes sadly familiar reading.

Although Lavery has broken no laws, he should not be defended by the left. Lavery’s own statement is incredibly weasely: “Under my stewardship, the union always complied with the rules and the certification officer signed off every year’s

Abortion rights: learning from the mobilisations of the past

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 15:30

Thirty years ago, twenty years after the passing of the 1967 Abortion Act, there was a serious attempt to restrict the terms of that law. Liberal MP David Alton wanted to lower the upper limit for abortions from 28 weeks to 18.

That attempt failed but in 1990 the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act was used as a means to lower the legal limit to 24 weeks. This article from 1987 describes the campaign to stop Alton.

It was the last major mobilisation to defend abortion rights, which involved local groups of women activists, the left and the labour movement. The Fight Alton’s Bill (FAB)

When Britain invaded Russia

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 15:26
Author

Keith Road

When Britain invaded Russia’ was one of the more interesting of the BBCs output about the Russian Revolution. It covers the allied invasion of Russia during the Civil War. Not just Britain but 14 nations invaded joining the counter-revolution.

Two things struck me about the programme, both the utter desperation that seemed to fill the imperialist powers as they rushed to get war-weary troops to take up positions across Russian territory. The British advanced from Arkhangelsk alongside French troops. Their equipment was severely lacking, they weren’t able to light fires to stop them drawing

History as tragedy and farce

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 11:16
Author

Jim Denham

Jim Denham reviews The Death of Stalin, released 20 October.


Stalinism, that murderous negation of Marx’s humanism and the emancipatory ideals of October 1917, seems to be making a minor comeback in British politics. It’s no secret that at least two of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest advisers are dyed-in-the-wool Stalinists. Since most present-day Stalinists and would-be Stalinists are (in my experience) not particularly interested in either Marxist theory or serious history, perhaps farce is the best way to begin to educate them.

The Death of Stalin bills itself as “loosely based on a true story”

Scrap GCSE. Reform assessment in schools

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 10:56
Author

Patrick Yarker

This summer students in England sat the new-style “closed book” English Literature GCSE exam. This exam prohibits candidates from having the set texts with them to refer to. They cannot look in the book for material to illustrate, support and develop their thinking.

Instead, in their answers they must rely on what they remember, and on what they have predetermined to say (or been primed to say) to questions whose nature has been predicted by them or their teachers. The exam is thus set up to reward question-spotting and the fluent regurgitation of received or rehearsed ideas, while actively

Trotskyism, Stalinism and the Second World War

Published on: Wed, 25/10/2017 - 10:42
Author

Barry Finger

Barry Finger reviews The Two Trotskyisms Confront Stalinism: the Fate of the Russian Revolution volume two, edited by Sean Matgamna (Workers’ Liberty, 2015).


­Revolutionary socialism at its liveliest is always a vast theatre of ideological battlegrounds, a Permanent War of Questions, as Julius Jacobson — a one-time follower of Max Shachtman — so aptly put it.

For those, and there were precious few, who still valiantly retained the capacity, the sitzfleisch as well as the activists’ militant vigour, in the years leading up to and through the Second World War, to think through and refine

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