Wednesday, 13 July 2011

International Socialism 131

The latest issue of the International Socialism Journal is largely taken up with the current situation in the class struggle both in Britain and on the wider world arena.

Alex Callinicos, in his introduction, gives an overview of the state of the world economy and discusses some of its unresolved problems. He also examines the aftermath of the recent May local elections in Britain.

The balance of the class struggle in Britain today is looked at in detail by Martin Smith. He first sets the scene with a recap of how trade unionism was eroded with the defeats of the Thatcher government and subsequent downturn under the Tories and Labour administrations. He then goes on to look at how the rank and file movements can start being rebuilt during the current onslaught by Cameron and the coalition. One key aspect of this is how the working class can overcome the weakness of the trade union bureaucracy as well as take advantage those trade union leaders who suggest – but often fail to organise – some kind of fightback.

Knowing what your class enemy is thinking and planning is important in knowing how to respond to their attacks. Richard Seymour dissects the current state of the Tories and updates his book The Meaning of David Cameron written just before the election.

It's a century since the “Great Unrest” of 1910 to 1914. These workers rebellions and riots were much influenced by syndicalist ideas. Tim Evans looks again at this period and in particular the at 1911 Llanelli mass picketing and riots in Wales. It is a useful reminder of one of the high points of workers struggle in Britain.

Multiculturalism is under attack. It is attacked by those who want to stoke up bigotry but dare not explicitly expose their prejudices. So, for example, those who want to encourage racism or Islamophobia may not want to directly state their objectives; instead they talk of multiculturalism going too far or point to problems – sometimes real but more often imagined – within multiculturalism.

There is an absolute need to defend the gains made with multiculturalism; however that does not mean you have to accept all its limits, rather seek ways of extending its advantages. Here Gareth Jenkins gives a useful account of some of the ways multiculturalism is defined. Above all he explains how multiculturalism grew out of a more campaigning approach to anti-racism. To some extent multiculturalism has become stuck in state funded organisations and become soft and safe. In order to really extend its reach it needs to return to those more robust, campaigning ways.

One aspect of the attack on Multiculturalism is the growth of Islamophobia. Maina van der Zwan's detailed account of the rise of the Islamophobic Geert Wilders in the Netherlands discusses this response in the context of the crisis of neoliberalism. One that combines the worst excesses of the neoliberal economic and social agendas with horrifying and extreme racism. This article will help all those who want to organise a fightback.

The Arab revolutions ars a key response to the crisis and economic vindictiveness of neoliberalism. Anne Alexander provides a detailed and engaging account of the ongoing struggles in Egypt. Also Trotsky's theory of Permanent Revolution is an essential ingredient both for understanding these Arab revolutions as well as providing a toolkit for their success. Joseph Choonara defence of this theory is conventional and, it has to be said, lacklustre. There's nothing wrong with the politics expressed as such, and I probably agree with his point of view, just... yawn. I had to have a quiet doze after reading this.

With the advent of UK Uncut and the recent student demonstrations against tuition fees the question of the nature of anarchism is again on the agenda. And as with terms like Marxism, Socialism and Trotskyism there are also a bewildering number of varieties or interpretations of anarchism. Paul Blackledge continues the debate with Lucien van der Walt from the previous ISJ issue with a robust and, hopefully, fraternal reply.

One of the highlights in this edition was the interview with Ian Birchall where he introduces his new biography of Tony Cliff. (One piece of trivia: the first question is hardly 'subjective' rather it's 'factual'.)

You can read the ISJ for free:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.