Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Geoff Ellen on the Attlee Government and strike-breaking

'The principles of our policy are based on the brotherhood of man.'
Clement Attlee, July 26, 1945.

 2015 marks among other things the 70th anniversary of the election of the 1945 Labour Government under Clement Attlee - considered the high point of British socialism by many in the Labour Party - and even by socialists outside the Labour Party - the zeitgeist of collectivism which led to the victory of the 1945 election for example was celebrated recently in the documentary 'The Spirit of '45' by the socialist film-director Ken Loach.  Yet as Geoff Ellen showed in a classic 1984 article in International Socialism journal, Labour and strike-breaking 1945-51, the 'socialism' of this Labour government was highly questionable, to put it mildly:

At the hands of what many workers believed to be ‘their’ government, striking dockers, gas workers, miners and lorry drivers were denounced, spied upon and prosecuted. Two States of Emergency were proclaimed against them and two more were narrowly averted. Above all, the government used blacklegs against these strikes, often with the connivance of the strikers’ own trade union leaders. On 18 different occasions between 1945 and 1951, the government sent troops, sometimes 20,000 of them, across picket lines to take over strikers’ jobs. By 1948 ... ‘strike-breaking had become almost second nature to the Cabinet’...

This year there are lots of conferences and events being held to discuss the legacy of the Attlee Government, such as the one being organised by the London Socialist Historians Group on 28 February - and Ellen's article remains relevant and repays re-reading today. As Ellen concluded,

Attlee’s government has left its mark ... Nuclear weapons, NATO, American bases such as Greenham Common, peace-time wage controls, even attacks on the National Health Service – most of our current nightmares, in fact – can be traced back to the 1945 Labour government. Are these the legacies of a socialist government? Even its record of full employment, a Welfare State, improving standards of living and nationalisation, on which its claim to socialism rested, continued throughout the 1950s under the Tories. No-one has yet claimed that Winston Churchill and Harold Macmillan were socialists! 

 Attlee’s Cabinet did what all Labour governments have done – it managed capitalism while using the rhetoric in a way that made reforms both possible and even desirable. But once the post-war boom petered out, the bottom fell out of this strategy. Under the Wilson and Callaghan governments, the carrot gave way to the stick: theirs was reformism without reforms. 

 In other words, the difference between the Labour Party in Attlee’s day and in the 1980s is not one of policies but of circumstances. Capitalism’s greatest boom had given way to its present, protracted slump, but Labour’s commitment to managing the capitalist system is as strong as ever. So is its commitment to parliament, and its hostility to working class struggle as a means of change. The strikebreaking record of the 1945 Labour government shows what Labour’s politics meant when capitalism was relatively healthy. With recession making working class struggle more crucial than ever, we can imagine what it will mean in the future.

 Incidentally, who was Geoff Ellen, one might ask? Well, in the preface to what was to be his last work, The Vote: How it was won and how it was undermined (2005) Paul Foot gave us some sense of this socialist activist:

 In 1972, I joined the staff of Socialist Worker and worked there full-time until 1978. It was, and is, sold as widely as possible by a small handful of agitators. The few full-time journalists on the paper were all my friends, all exceptionally able and engaging people. 

The gentlest and most dedicated of them was a professional sub-editor called Geoff Ellen. He came from Chelmsford in Essex and was, among other things, an absurdly devoted West Ham supporter. He spent pretty well all his spare time organising for socialism. There was not a trade unionist in Essex he had not tried to push or pull into some form of revolt. On Tuesday nights we were kept late at work by the printing of the last few pages, and indulged ourselves in takeaway kebabs and long, heart-searching conversations. 

As the great industrial climax of the early 1970s, to our astonishment, fell back, I began privately to worry that the entire revolutionary project, and the ideas that gave rise to it, were misconceived. One evening, as we waited for the proofs, I blurted out my apprehensions to Geoff. I had joined the staff in the autumn of 1972, at a time of huge convulsions and great hope for the future. If anyone had asked me, I would have said at once that I was hoping for, and confidently expecting, a revolution. By late 1975, however, I complained to Geoff, that change had not come. It was obviously not going to come from Harold Wilson or Dennis Healey, but we had always known that. In the decline of the movement, the issue seemed to have changed. Was the revolution going to come at all? And if not, what was to become of us if our grand aim in life was to be frustrated and even ridiculed? 

 To my enormous relief, Geoff cheered me up with his speciality: a huge all-enveloping grin. "If the revolution doesn't come," he said, "there is nothing much we can do about that. Whether it comes or not, there is nothing for us to do but what we are doing now: fight for it, fight for the workers and the poor." 

 Some years later, Geoff, still a young man, went to bed one night with a headache and died from a brain haemorrhage. All his adult life, he stuck firmly by his advice to me that dark winter evening in 1975. And so, I hope, have I.

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C.L.R. James on Winston Churchill - Tory War-dog

Winston Churchill - a reactionary prize-fighter for the British ruling class

...Long before 1939, when the outbreak of war saved his career, Winston Churchill had established himself as the most discredited, the most untrustworthy, and the most irresponsible of all the senior politicians in England. The rulers of Britain did not take him seriously on the politics of war because, except for his capabilities as a war minister, they did not take him seriously on anything except his capacity to make a serious nuisance of himself.

Churchill was born the son of Lord Randolph Churchill, a brilliant young nobleman who reached the post of Chancellor of the Exchequer and seemed headed for the premiership but wrecked his career by his erratic political behavior. His character was adequately summed up in the phrase “the boy who would not grow up.” It was the kind of heritage that a careful politician would take care to live down. It is characteristic of Winston Churchill that he lived up to it.

He joined the army as a cavalry officer and thus began his lifelong and passionate interest in war. He became a war correspondent, was captured by the Boers and escaped. When he lectured in New York in 1906, at the age of twenty-six, he was billed as “the hero of five wars.” He was already actively interested in politics. In the early years of the century, liberalism seemed in the ascendancy in Britain. Churchill made a spectacular break with the Tory Party and joined the Liberals.

He became Home Secretary and distinguished himself by what is derisively known as the Battle of Sidney Street.  A group of foreign anarchists well supplied with arms refused to give themselves up to the police. Churchill converted a police operation into a battle. He went down himself to take charge of the “struggle” (or as privileged observer), was nearly killed and created a scandal among his colleagues and the sober-minded British people. In 1911 he went over to the Admiralty and there did his best work, preparing the fleet for 1914.

But the war of 1914 had no sooner begun than Churchill was at it again. A critical situation at Antwerp found Churchill, still head of the Admiralty, persuading the reluctant Sir Edward Grey to let him go to Belgium in person. He found himself as usual under fire. The battle stimulated him to offer, from Antwerp, his resignation from the Admiralty to take command of the British land forces at Antwerp. The transfer was not made but as one of his biographers (Philip Guedalla) says of the unsatisfactory outcome: “There was a vague feeling that Mr. Churchill’s restlessness might be to blame ... that it was Sidney Street over again ...”

By 1915, despite his competence, he had lost his post at the Admiralty. He held other posts, but it is related of him that at one time while a minister in London he did most of the work in a chateau in France so as to be near the firing line. After World War I he was the moving spirit in the military intervention against Russia. It is known that in 1944 to keep Churchill from joining the cross-channel expedition the present king had to threaten that he would also join it if Churchill insisted on going; baffled here, nevertheless Churchill turned up with the invading army in the last stages of the victory against Germany.

That is the man. Every British politician knew him and his Napoleonic complex, his preoccupation with war and war preparations, his extraordinary capacity for making a fool of himself on critical occasions. Asquith, Prime Minister in 1914, wrote of him “Winston, who has got on all his war-paint, is longing for a sea-fight in the early hours of the morning to result in the sinking of the Goeben.” Someone who saw him at the beginning of the 1914 war remarked on his “happy face”...

In the cabinet reshuffle of 1936, everyone expected him to be included because of his audacity as a war minister. Baldwin left him out. Churchill writes: "He thought no doubt, that he had given me a politically fatal stroke, and I felt he might well be right.” He says too, “There was much mockery in the press about my exclusion.” Exactly. His career was always in danger. His adventures were the subject of perpetual mockery. We can now judge with a little more sense of proportion Churchill’s claim that on a question vital to the world he was the purveyor of wisdom to fatuous idiots and fouls. If the words idiot and fatuity, etc., were to be applied up to 1936, the chief candidate would have been Churchill himself.

Never at any time did he behave like a man who had a serious point of view, knew what was at stake and fought seriously for it. These erratic habits of his were intimately connected with the failure of his supposedly correct policy on the war. It was precisely during the time that he was supposed to be fighting this life-and-death struggle to prevent the unnecessary war, that Churchill showed that age had not withered nor custom staled the infinite variety of what the novelist, Arnold Bennett, called his “incurable foolishness” ... it is clear that to this day he is not fully aware of the folly of his procedure in relation to his war policy...

In 1931, British imperialism began the colossal, and as it has proved, the impossible task of reconciling India to British rule by binding the Indian bourgeoisie and the feudal lords to the British system. After Hitler’s accession to power in Germany this was an urgent task precisely because of the uncertain world situation. Churchill, however, for years rallied the worst of the Daily Mail type of Conservatives and led a struggle against Baldwin which for intemperance and unscrupulousness even he has rarely surpassed. He was ignominiously defeated as he was bound to be ... any level-headed capitalist politician could not but see that some sort of settlement and pacification of India was necessary for any British government that contemplated war.

 By the end of his battle of India, the Conservative Party had no use whatever for him. However by 1936 he had built around himself a little group around a policy he called “Arms and the Covenant,” the Covenant being the League of Nations. The sharpening international situation was giving weight to their attacks upon the policy of the Baldwin government. Nothing is more illuminating of what Britain’s rulers thought of Churchill than his account of how, all through his years of political exile, every British Prime Minister saw to it that he was well informed of the latest military and scientific developments; he was even placed on some of the most secret war committees. This explains his place in British politics. He was a kind of national strong-arm man who was kept well trained and in shape, for the day when blows were needed. Until then nobody wanted to have anything to do with him. And this book shows that no one had worked more assiduously to build this reputation than himself.

But perhaps, it may be said, that despite all his follies Churchill was right in his consistent opposition on the war issue. His book explodes that fable. Churchill’s opposition on the actual issue of the war was no different from his shrill opposition on other issues. He spoke with more authority perhaps on this, and he certainly impressed outsiders and the general public. But he did not impress the politicians and for one very good reason. They knew that they could have shut up his mouth at any time by giving him office. The measure of their contempt for him can be judged by the fact that eloquent and active as he was they refused to do this.

History is full of men who felt that a certain policy was essential to the life of their country or their class and fought for it to the end, reckless of victory, defeat or their personal fate. Such for instance was the uncompromising struggle of Clemenceau for leadership of France in the days of 1914-18 when the government was in such a crisis that at one lime his attacks upon the government sounded like treason to the bourgeoisie. No such mantle can be hung on Winston Churchill despite all the assiduous tailoring of Henry Luce. Churchill knows better than to make any great claims for himself on this matter. There are too many men alive who could tear him to bits if he tried to do this. It was not principled opposition which kept him out of the ministry in 1936 and thus saved him from getting himself as thoroughly compromised as Baldwin and Chamberlain. It was his bad reputation and habits...

Until the war came Churchill was nobody, played no heroic role, opposed the government but was always ready to enter it...But maybe Churchill did have the correct policy, if even he did not make any heroic battle for it. Now this is precisely what was in dispute all the time and is still in dispute. And here, above all, Churchill’s policy, in so far as he had a policy, seemed to his colleagues the quintessence and crown of his irresponsibility.

Let us try to get clear exactly what Churchill’s policy was not. First of all Churchill was not and today is no enemy of either dictatorship or fascism. He is an enemy of all who threaten the British Empire and the “pleasant life” he leads and refers to so often. That is all.

On January 30, 1939, this stern opponent of Chamberlain’s policy of appeasing the dictators wrote as follows:

“Up till a few years ago many people in Britain admired the work which the extraordinary man Signor Mussolini had done for his country. He had brought it out of incipient anarchy into a position of dignity and order which was admired even by those who regretted the suspension of Italian freedom.” (Step by Step, 1936-1939, by Winston Churchill, p. 285.)

On February 23, 1939 he wrote of Franco:

 “He now has the opportunity of becoming a great Spaniard of whom it may be written a hundred years hence: ‘He united his country and rebuilt its greatness. Apart from that he reconciled the past with the present, and broadened the life of the working people while preserving the faith and structure of the Spanish nation.’ Such an achievement would rank in history with the work of Ferdinand and Isabella and the glories of Charles V.”(Ibid, p.285.)

As far as the record goes in this book he makes an extraordinarily good case for himself on the question of the air-race with Germany. But that is not enough to build the pedestal for his statue. And beyond this it is difficult to find out exactly what at any precise moment, he concretely stood for....

From all this it must not be considered that Churchill is a negligible person. That would be stupidity. Put him in a war department, or give him a war to lead, and from all the evidence he is far above his colleagues, in energy, in knowledge, in attention to business and curiously enough, in tempering his audacity with sobriety of judgment. He has also developed another valuable gift. His famous sense of history is famous nonsense. He has none, as I shall show in a moment. What he does have in his head is the writings of the great British historians and the speeches of the great British orators. This and his single-mindedness, his operatic consciousness of playing a great role in historic conflicts, enable him at times to rise to great heights of rhetoric.

At times his words can be singularly effective, especially when people are frightened and bewildered by the complex class, national and international currents of modern war. Churchill has no doubts, as a bull in a China shop has no doubts. He has a great gift of phrase, and long training as a journalist gives him an eye for the salient facts in a military or political situation. At all points he is equipped for war, to shout for war, to glamorize past wars, to explain a war that is going on, to make new ones look like a defense of civilization.

Politically he is as stupid a reactionary as ever. The war was no sooner over than he aroused universal execration in Britain by saying on the radio that the victory of the Labour Party would mean a Gestapo for Britain. He himself lost thousands of votes in his own constituency.... It is a measure of the degeneration of our society that such a man should be its most notable spokesman; above all it is a scandal that he should be represented ... as a defender of democracy and civilization. In reality the evidence is thick ... that Churchill is not merely a conservative, but is today as ever a vicious reactionary.

A few examples will suffice... writing about Hitler in 1932 he uses these sentences: “I admire men who stand up for their country in defeat, even though I am on the other side. He had a perfect right, to be a patriotic German if he chose. I always wanted England, Germany, and France to be friends.” Hitler attacked Britain. That is all that concerned Churchill. But for that he would have admired him to this day... 

Admiration for dictatorship and military and feudal elements, racial arrogance, anti-Semitism, these and much more stare you in the face as soon as you shake yourself free of bourgeois propaganda ... It is one of the urgent tasks of the struggle against war to expose ... the pretensions of this reactionary prize-fighter to be a defender of democracy and civilization.

C.L.R. James, 'Winston Churchill - Tory war-dog', Fourth International, 10, no. 2 (February 1949), pp.41-46

See also this poem, Great Britain's Greatest Beast by Heathcote Williams and this piece - Winston Churchill: The Imperial Monster  

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Monday, January 26, 2015

No to Fascist Le Pen in Oxford

The Oxford Union have chosen to mark Holocaust Memorial Day in a particularly insulting fashion - inviting Marine Le Pen, leader of the fascist Front National - whose father Jean-Marie Le Pen once described the Holocaust as 'a point of detail' in the history of the Second World War, to speak on 5 February - Oxford Unite Against Fascism are organising against Le Pen's visit - see here for more.

See also this Unite Against Fascism Public meeting:
After France: Unity - No to fascism, anti-semitism, Islamophobia - Defend civil liberties. 7-9pm Thursday 29 January, Committee Room 11, House of Commons (via main entrance for Parliament on Cromwell Green). Nearest tube: Westminster Speakers include Diane Abbott MP, Talha Ahmad Muslim Council of Britain, Rabbi Sylvia Rothschild, Maz Saleem Daughter of the late Mohammed Saleem, David Rosenburg, Sabby Dhalu & Weyman Bennett UAF.

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Revolutionaries and 'workers' governments'

The very nature of bourgeois government excludes the possibility of socialist class struggle. It’s not that we fear for socialists the dangers and the difficulties of ministerial activity; we must not back away from any danger or difficulty attached to the post in which the interests of the proletariat place us. But a ministry is not, in general, a field of action for a party of the struggle of the proletarian classes. 
 The character of a bourgeois government isn’t determined by the personal character of its members, but by its organic function in bourgeois society. The government of the modern state is essentially an organisation of class domination, the regular functioning of which is one of the conditions of existence of the class state. With the entry of a socialist into the government, and class domination continuing to exist, the bourgeois government doesn’t transform itself into a socialist government, but a socialist transforms himself into a bourgeois minister. 
 The social reforms that a minister who is a friend of the workers can realise have nothing, in themselves, of socialism; they are socialist only insofar as they are obtained through class struggle. But coming from a minister, social reforms can’t have the character of the proletarian class, but solely the character of the bourgeois class, for the minister, by the post he occupies, attaches himself to that class by all the functions of a bourgeois, militarist government. 
 While in parliament, or on the municipal council, we obtain useful reforms by combating the bourgeois government; while occupying a ministerial post we arrive at the same reforms by supporting the bourgeois state. The entry of a socialist into a bourgeois government is not, as is thought, a partial conquest of the bourgeois state by the socialists, but a partial conquest of the socialist party by the bourgeois state... 
 Within bourgeois society the role of social democracy [the socialist movement] as an opposition party is prescribed by its very essence. It can come forward as a ruling party only on the ruins of the bourgeois state
Rosa Luxemburg, 1899.

Although a left government cannot steer a path to socialism, revolutionaries are not indifferent as to whether such a government comes to power. Even though the bourgeoisie has only retreated from the front-line positions and still retains control of the economy and the state, immense possibilities can be opened up.

In both France and Italy, the entry into government of both communists and socialists for the first time since the late 1940s would lead to increased confidence and perhaps, militancy of the workers movement. To this extent the election of a left government provides the possibility of a major advance of the workers’ movement; if the masses take advantage of the temporary confusion of the bourgeoisie. But the advance is not inevitable, the government will be attempting to stabilise the situation, and the bourgeoisie will be regrouping. If the workers fall into the delusion that they have taken power, rather than crossed the first barrier, if, in other words, they rely on the government rather than their own activity, then their advance will be limited to reforms which can be clawed back by a resurgent bourgeoisie.
Hence the all-important paradox: the advent of a left government will only strengthen the workers’ movement inasmuch as the class, or at least its vanguard, do not have illusions in this government. The more independent and strong the workers’ movement is, the more reforms it will force from the government. The more it relies on its own forms of organisation, the more the way is open to a fundamental change in the balance of power between the workers and their allies and the bourgeoisie. But the more it is tied to the structures of state power, the greater is the possibility of bourgeois reaction.
This means that the role of revolutionaries is not to enter such a government ‘in order to accentuate the contradictions within it’, for to do this is to precisely tie the workers to the bourgeoisie.
Rather the job of revolutionaries is to break the illusions that the workers have in a ‘left’ government— and that means taking up all the partial limited struggles of workers, generalising them and leading them even if they conflict with the strategy of the government. In short, it is to organise a left opposition to the government, seeking to replace the reliance on the state with the self-organisation of workers.
Of course, tactically there are times when the revolutionary left defends the left government or perhaps particular measures; when it is open to attack from the right and the bourgeoisie trying to regain positions it has lost. But this should never obscure the fundamental positions that the revolutionary party has to adopt: the strategy of developing working class forms of power, which by definition will conflict with the bourgeois state power still in existence, in order to overthrow the government from the left and replace it with a workers state.
Otherwise, revolutionaries can find themselves in the same situation the Chilean left found itself in occasionally-appearing to defend unpopular governmental decisions against movements of the workers and petty bourgeoisie, so allowing the forces of the right to manipulate those movements.
Chris Harman and Tim Potter, 'The workers' government', SWP International Discussion Bulletin, No.4, 1977 - see also  Paul Blackledge, 'Left Reformism, the state and the problem of socialist politics today', International Socialism, 139 (2013)

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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Stathis Kouvelakis on international solidarity with Greece

Greece has a very rich tradition of social struggle. What differentiates solidarity with Greece from previous forms of solidarity is that now it is not about expressing solidarity with countries that are geographically very far away and have major differences in terms of social structure and level of development...Greece is a periphery, if you like, but it is the periphery of Europe. Political processes happening in Greece have an expansive capacity, which is far superior and more direct in this part of world than the Latin American ones, because the Greek crisis is part of the bigger crisis of European capitalism. And Europe, despite its current position — which is very different from the position it held in the past — is still one of the major centers of the world capitalist system... What we need is some form of a new international, something more solid in terms of an international network. Without being megalomaniac, or hellenocentric, I think that with a Syriza government, Athens can become a center for political processes at a European and international level. What is needed in the case of a Syriza government would be a major political gathering in Athens — not just to support Syriza but to seriously discuss and to go beyond what we have now in terms of political tools, which is not much ...essentially what is necessary is to connect the fragmented forces of the radical left in each country and make progress on strategic and programmatic issues...
Read the full interview with Kouvelakis - a leading Syriza member - here, see also this eyewitness piece from Greece in the run up to the elections which features interviews with members of Antarsya

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Friday, January 23, 2015

Appeal for solidarity by Austrian anti-fascists

Freedom Party leader Heinz-Christian Strache and his team of lawyers are trying to silence the anti-fascist movement by pressing charges against the socialist paper Linkswende in several law suits.

Read more here

Friday, January 16, 2015

France: The Republic of Islamophobia

The persistent targeting of Muslims is preventing the effective management of diversity in French society. It is exacerbating tensions and obscuring the fundamental social and economic problems besetting France. It is encouraging the growth of the Front National. The only way to escape this vicious circle is to target and isolate the very real threat posed by the FN. The principal obstacle to this remains Islamophobia, in all its guises.
Jim Wolfreys, 'The Republic of Islamophobia', Critical Muslim, 13.

Edited to add: Tariq Ali on Charlie Hebdo, see also this and this - two good responses to an unconvincing attempt to defend the publication from the charge of racism.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

International Socialism # 145 out now

Cover of issue 145
In the latest issue of International Socialism, Anne Alexander puts forward a Marxist analysis of ISIS, Philip Marfleet surveys the Palestinian movement in an era of neoliberalism and revolution in the Middle East, Ron Margulies looks at the Kurdish struggle in Turkey and we carry an article on sectarianism and nationalism by Lebanese Marxist Bassem Chit who died tragically young in October. 

Simon Joyce asks why there are so few strikes in Britain today and Chris Fuller looks back at the mass strikes during the First World War. Plus analysis by Alex Callinicos on the crisis of the political system in Britain and by Spanish activists on Podemos, feedback on anti-politics and on the dialectics of nature and book reviews on the Haitian Revolution, the Comintern and the African Atlantic, climate change, Leninism and more.  People can subscribe to the journal at www.isj.org.uk or email isj@swp.org.uk for more information. 

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Terence Ranger and Mike Marqusee

I was very sorry to read of the recent passing of both the English historian of colonial Africa Terence Ranger and also the American socialist journalist Mike Marqusee. There is a fascinating interview with Ranger about his life and work here while I once engaged with some of Marqusee's ideas on cricket on my blog here.  Both of them were thoughtful democrats and humanist thinkers who made important contributions to the fight against racism and imperialism over the course of their lives - and who could be counted on to side with the oppressed and exploited.  They will be missed - and my condolences to their friends and comrades.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Resist the racist offensive against Muslims

As well as Hassan Mahamdallie on levels of Islamophobia before the horrific Paris attacks (in this month's Socialist Review), see this week's  Socialist Worker for the anti-racist arguments more necessary now than ever to challenge the rising racist backlash underway - while there is also some useful commentary on Charlie Hebdo itself here, here and for some essential historical background see Robert Fisk - while on a related point Jim House and Neil MacMaster's work, Paris 1961: Algerians, State Terror and Memory recovers some of hidden history of another Paris massacre - one which saw 200 Algerian protesters killed by the police in Paris.

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Sunday, January 04, 2015

Conference - Unite against racism and fascism

9.30 – 4pm Saturday 21 Feb 2014, TUC Congress House, Great Russell St, London
Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road
Speakers announced:
Diane Abbott MP,
Emily Thornberry MP,
Ken Livingstone,
Shahrar Ali Deputy Leader Green Party,
Lutfur Rahman, Mayor of Tower Hamlets
Dr. Shuja Shafi Secretary General MCB,
Billy Hayes General Secretary CWU,
Mark Serwotka General Secretary PCS
Sabby Dhalu and Weyman Bennett, Joint National Secretaries, Unite Against Fascism (UAF)
This year far right and fascist groups advanced across Europe. The whipping up of racism against immigrants, black communities, increased Islamophobia and Antisemitism has been its cutting edge. The racism of UKIP has been mainstreamed and looks set to worsen with major parties launching a war to outbid each other on attacking immigrant rights. The recent cuts to search and rescue operations for refugees in the Mediteranean epitomise how chilling this agenda has become. The revelations of spying on families of those murdered in racist attacks correlates with the injustice felt around the world following the deaths at the hands of the police of Mike Brown, Tamir Rice, Eric Garner and other black people in the US.
UAF played a leading role in electorally defeating Nick Griffin in his MEP seat this year but we cannot be complacent. The far right violent EDL continue to target the Muslim community and are mobilising around the country. This conference is a timely opportunity to discuss the way forward for challenging racism and fascism, bringing together the trade unions, faith and black communities, anti-racist and anti-fascist activists, LGBT representatives, students and young people for this major anti racist and anti fascist annual conference.
There will also be a workshop organised by Stand Up to UKIP at this conference, while see also the national Stand Up to Racism and Fascism demonstrations on UN Anti-Racism Day, Saturday 21 March  - in London, Cardiff and Glasgow.

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Panos Garganas on the looming struggles in Greece

As the Greek government falls, how can workers win?

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Conference: The Arab Uprisings Four Years On

The Arab Uprisings Four Years On
A conference organised by MENA Solidarity, Egypt Solidarity Initiative and BahrainWatch
6-9pm Friday 13 February – 10-5pm Saturday 14 February
School of African & Oriental Studies, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1H 0XG 
£5 student or unwaged / £10 waged
Four years after uprisings swept the Middle East millions of people still struggle for freedom and social justice. In 2011 dictators fell and new movements emerged in countries from North Africa to the Gulf. Their demands won support worldwide and inspired a host of campaigns for radical change.
Challenged by the prospect of democracy, regimes have since attempted counter-revolution. Some have used extreme violence; some have encouraged sectarian division or attempted to co-opt and control organisations of the mass movement. Activists across the Middle East nonetheless continue to work for change.

This conference addresses achievements of the revolutions and the challenges that now confront them:
  • what can we learn about struggles from below and the responses of the state?
  • have attempts at counter-revolution been successful?
  • how are activist networks sustained – and how can we support them?
The conference will draw on experiences in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya and Morocco – and other countries in which activists have attempted to launch movements for change. It will consider the centrality of Palestine for movements across the region – and the impact of the uprisings within Palestine. Speakers will include activists from the front line, with assessments from academics, human rights experts and media analysts.

Speakers include: Ali Abdulemam – Gilbert Achcar – Anne Alexander – Miriyam Aouragh – Joseph Daher – Kamil Mahdi – Nadine Marroushi – Sameh Naguib – Ala’a Shehabi and others.

Sessions include:
  • Revolution and counter-revolution: the people and the state
  • Neo-liberalism and struggles for change
  • Sectarianism
  • Gender matters: women and the movements
  • The workers’ movement and social justice
  • Democratic agendas
  • Solidarity and regional links
  • Palestine and the struggle for liberation in the Arab world

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