Solidarity 144, 15 January 2009

Self-determination for the Sahrawi people!


Dan Katz

Following the 1884 Berlin conference where the big powers carved up much of Africa and distributed the parts among themselves, the Spanish state claimed a protectorate over a large part of what is now known as the Western Sahara.

The French grabbed most of the rest of Morocco, together with a vast chunk of north West Africa. Later the Spanish extended and amalgamated areas to form the “Spanish Sahara”.

William Morris - Towards a socialist ecology


Paul Hampton

William Morris made a distinctive contribution to the development of Marxist ideas, for example on the nature of work and on the vision of a classless, communist society. But arguably his most significant contribution — and certainly one with great contemporary relevance - was his conception of a socialist ecology.

In this respect Morris was a pioneer and an innovator – he evolved from conservationism to integrate ecology within a Marxist framework. His views have much to teach us today in our age of climactic convulsion.

The Working Class Self-Education Movement: The League of the "Plebs"


Colin Waugh

In October 1908 industrial workers who were union-sponsored students at Ruskin College in Oxford founded what they called the League of the “Plebs”. Former students who had returned to their jobs as miners, railwayworkers, textile workers and engineers, supported them.

From January 1909 they began to organise socialist classes in South Wales, the North East, Lancashire and other working-class areas. Under the umbrella of the National Council of Labour Colleges (NCLC), there were, by 1926-27, 1,201 classes like this across Britain, with 31,635 students.

Standing against Harriet Harman


Mark Osborn

The Alliance for Workers’ Liberty plans to stand against the Labour Party’s deputy leader, Harriet Harman, in the next general election. Harman is MP for the working-class constituency of Camberwell and Peckham in south east London.

As Secretary of State for Social Security, Harman fronted-up New Labour’s attacks on the welfare state following the 1997 election. She has slavishly followed Blair and then Brown, and voted for the Iraq war.

Workers need a political voice today!


Vicki Morris

120 people attended the RMT-organised meeting ‘to discuss the crisis in working-class political representation’, held in London on 10 January. The meeting agreed unanimously that workers need a new political voice, but could not agree on when — or, at least, on the next steps to create one.

Debate centred on 1. whether we should stand working-class candidates in elections soon; 2. the role of a charter in organising working-class representation – alternative to standing candidates, or a way to support them?

The sad fate of Tommy Sheridan


Amina Saddiq

Former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan’s appearance on Celebrity Big Brother is a pretty depressing business.

I only had to watch for a few minutes (doubling my total Big Brother viewing history) to feel queasy about a middle-aged man trying hard to sound interesting for the viewers while flirting with much younger women on the show. But that wasn’t the really depressing bit.

Nor was it the large amount of money Sheridan is being paid for his appearance — rumoured at £100,000 — violating his old worker’s wage principle, though he hasn’t disclosed the figure.

Crisis: the impact on women. The pressures and the fightback


Rebecca Galbraith

Beyond boob jobs — how might the credit crunch affect women? is a recent article on The F-word (a feminist blog) by Carolyn Roberts. The writer makes an observation that I found true when researching this topic — that there is pretty much nothing written on the potential impact of the crisis on women.

At the time of writing the London socialist feminist reading group on this topic came up first on an entire google search — great, but pretty depressing.

Stop the BNP!


Heather Shaw

The financial crisis, offering nothing in the way of hope for working class people in Britain, also gives the British National Party dangerously big opportunities. Predictably the far-right party have been very vocal about what they can gain out of the thousands of job losses and financial insecurity of workers.

International student movement: free education for all


Gemma Short

Recently I took part in an international webchat conference organised by activists, mainly in continental Europe, under the banner of the “international students movement — emancipating education for all”.

Despite the massive obstacles of organising with students from across the world, the core activists are somehow managing — with students from Australia, USA, Italy, Germany, Spain, Holland and the UK attending the web chat.

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