Solidarity 268, 12 December 2012

Keep Lewisham A&E and maternity open!

The campaign to stop the closure of the A&E and maternity departments at Lewisham hospital continues.

The threat stems from problems at the South London Healthcare Trust and these are entirely due to PFI debt.

Back in the 1990s PFI consortia built two hospitals in Woolwich and Bromley at a cost of £210 million. The annual repayment is £69million and over the course of 30 years the total bill will come to over £2 billion.

Against the "Ikhwani state"

Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in Egypt in the first week of December, with further mass protests against President Mohamed Mursi’s cold coup, which includes plans for a new constitution that would give him exceptional powers.

The protests forced Mursi to backtrack on some emergency powers. He is pressing ahead with the referendum on the constitution.

Flag-gate reveals working-class divisions

On Monday 3 December, Belfast City council resolved by 29 votes to 21 to remove the Union Flag from the top of City Hall on all but 15 designated days a year.

The motion, a compromise from the liberal Alliance Party, was passed in preference to a nationalist-supported proposal to remove the flag completely.

Violence ensued, with loyalists breaking into the building.

The Greek left and Plan B

The Greek working class has made its choice: against the sectarian isolationism of the Communist Party (KKE) and in favour of Syriza’s proposal for left cooperation and a government of the Left as the political means to escape the catastrophic quagmire in which we find ourselves.

Yet the leadership of Syriza is failing to face up to the issues, arguing that “there is no risk of Greece being thrown out the euro, because that would have huge negative consequences, financial and political, for the eurozone”.

Nobody Knew She Was There

Ewan MacColl is best known as a working-class balladeer, and the architect of Britain’s “folk song revival” of the 1950s and 60s.

His political and artistic legacy is complex and contradictory – he wrote and sung stirringly on many working-class struggles, but he was also a dyed-in-the-wool Stalinist and a cultural conservative with a narrow and dogmatic view of what represented “real” and “authentic” art.

SWP: Egypt, Croydon

The attack on the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists member Taha Magdy poses in a most brutal fashion the failure of the strategic orientation over many years of the SWP, which has influenced the Revolutionary Socialists.

In The Prophet and the Proletariat (1994) the late SWP leader Chris Harman argued: “The left has made two mistakes in relation to the Islamists in the past. The first has been to write them off as fascists, with whom we have nothing in common. The second has been to see them as ‘progressives’ who must not be criticised...”

One nation celebrates?

The late Ralph Miliband made his name as a Marxist theoretician through detailed elaboration of the proposition that the Labour Party can do absolutely nothing for the working class.

His two boys, or so the lefty joke has it, have very loyally done their best to prove the old man right.

Now it looks as if Ed is trying to vindicate his father’s analysis of Britain’s royal family as well. On p.189 of his 1973 book, The State in Capitalist Society, Ralph displayed a sophisticated understanding of how the bourgeoisie utilises the House of Windsor for its own ideological ends:

A forgotten newspaper of critical Trotskyism

Socialists will have unprecedented access to a largely-forgotten but incredibly valuable body of literature, following the Marxist Internet Archive’s digitisation of the entire run of Labor Action.

Gramsci and the party

Although only 70 pages long, Martin Thomas’ Antonio Gramsci: Working-Class Revolutionary is remarkable in containing more insights than many a full length book on Gramsci.

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