Solidarity 179, 19 August 2010

Why is socialism in disarray? 1

Published on: Sat, 21/08/2010 - 17:11

Sean Matgamna

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The economic crisis has shaken the tremendous mystique which the world capitalist system had built in the two decades since the collapse of European and Russian Stalinism. They had been decades of globalisation; of enormous capitalist expansion

Women's experience and socialism

Published on: Sat, 21/08/2010 - 12:14

Pat Longman

The following article is Pat’s polemic, which is still very relevant, against Sheila Rowbotham’s 1979 article “The Women’s Movement and Organising for Socialism”, published in the well-known collection, Beyond the Fragments.

A noticeable feature of the last few years has been the number of people who have rejected the Leninist conception of the party and looked for other forms of organisation. This rejection has been particularly prevalent within the women’s movement where such ideas were able to gain acceptance partly because of the left’s initial hostility to the movement.

The socialist

A working-class feminist on Islington Council

Published on: Sat, 21/08/2010 - 11:49

In 1982, Pat successfully stood in St. George’s ward for election to Islington borough council. Socialist Organiser, the predecessor of Workers’ Liberty, was active in the Labour Party at the time. The following extract is taken from an interview with Pat from Socialist Organiser No. 83, May 6 1982. As workers again face a Tory government seeking to make savage cuts, our class will need councillors like Pat who will argue for councils to refuse to pass on the cuts that Tory central government wants them to make.

We need Labour councillors prepared to stand up to [the Tories] — to refuse to

Can we promote a different kind of education for workers?

Published on: Thu, 19/08/2010 - 17:15

Sheila Cohen

Sheila Cohen (NUJ/UCU) discusses the sorry state of trade union studies (courses accredited by the TUC and available at a variety of further education institutions) and what can be done to promote independent working-class education.

Like so many other things during the long New Labour years, trade union studies has become wrapped in an incomprehensible coating of jargon and bureaucratese. The structure and content of Stage One Reps’ courses and others is now dictated almost entirely by something called “accreditation”, ie criteria for awarding the qualification, which itself sits meanly in

Oxford University and working-class education

Published on: Thu, 19/08/2010 - 16:56

Colin Waugh

Under the pressure of rising working-class self assertion across the country, the University extension movement accepted Albert Mansbridge’s scheme for tutorial classes and committed study (as opposed to more “popular” bigger lecture classes). This acceptance was spearheaded by a group of young, socialistic Oxford tutors. Supported by prominent figures in the church, civil service and ruling class generally, members of this group worked with Mansbridge himself and the other main Workers’ Educational Association activist, J MacTavish, to produce a report, Oxford and Working-Class Education.


Useful idiots

Published on: Thu, 19/08/2010 - 16:44

Dan Katz

The question that John Sweeney’s programme posed was interesting: why have so many seemingly intelligent people turned themselves into apologists for terrible, brutal, murderous regimes?

Harold Pinter defended Slobodan Milosevic. Noam Chomsky sided with Pol Pot’s Cambodian regime. Tony Benn doubted Solidarnosc’s trade union credentials. Jean-Paul Sartre refused to back an investigation into Russian slave labour camps. Vanessa Redgrave’s WRP took Libyan money. The SWP explained away the Taleban’s policy on women. George Galloway prostrated himself in front of Saddam.

There is a long list of

New York subway workers: lessons in winning "reform from below"

Published on: Thu, 19/08/2010 - 16:33

Becky Crocker

London Underground RMT activist Becky Crocker reviews Hell on Wheels: the Success and Failure of Reform in Transport Workers Union Local 100, by Steve Downs.

This pamphlet tells the story of New Directions (ND), a rank and file group within Union Local 100 of the Transport Workers Union, which represents transport workers in New York, including on the subway system.

Written by Steve Downs of the socialist group Solidarity, it focuses on the problem of how to achieve reform within unions.

After nearly 15 years in opposition, ND fell apart very shortly after its people got elected to run the

The Gay Liberation Front, 40 years on: no revolution without us!

Published on: Thu, 19/08/2010 - 16:16

Katherine McMahon

“No revolution without us! An army of lovers cannot lose! All power to the people!” (Statement from the Male Homosexual Workshop at the Black Panthers' Revolutionary People’s Constitutional Convention)

The Gay Liberation Front (GLF) was set up forty years ago. For a group that lasted only three years in Britain, it is remembered with an impressive amount of respect and admiration. It was around almost twenty years before I was born, yet it is still inspiring and important to LGBT and Queer activists today, who still deal with many of the same issues — assimilation, liberation and revolution —

Jimmy Reid and his one great achievement

Published on: Thu, 19/08/2010 - 16:05

Jim Denham

Union leader Jimmy Reid, who led the long-running occupation of Upper Clyde shipyards in 1971-72, has died. Jim Denham comments on his political career.

Whatever his faults — and they were many — Jimmy Reid embodied the truth that workers, when united, can force serious concessions out of capitalism.

He was a member of the Communist Party of Britain during his finest hours in the early 1970s, but then left them to back Neil Kinnock’s campaign to ”modernise” the Labour Party in the 1980s. Despite his betraying them, the Morning Star gave him a good send-off. And rightly so: we should, in

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