Donny Gluckstein

FE: not just a one day wonder

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Further Education lecturers in Scotland won a stunning victory in March after just one day of planned all-out strike action. Lecturers' union activists Donny Gluckstein and Penny Gower draw out the lessons we can all learn from their methods of organising.

In October 2014 the Further Education Lecturers’ Association (FELA), a semi-autonomous section of the EIS teachers’ union in Scotland, called for national bargaining to bring equal pay to the level of the highest paid college. In March 2016 strike action began and after just one day these demands were won, along with a pay rise for all and no deduction for striking. By 2019 wages will have risen by 11 percent on average, with the lowest paid lecturers seeing an increase of at least 33 percent. We need to learn the lessons.

The fog machine of war

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Workers fought the fascists in the Spanish Civil War

Hilary Benn's much lauded speech for war on Syria needs to be challenged, not just for promoting imperialism, but for using anti-fascist rhetoric to sow confusion on the left.

Hilary Benn proclaimed, “We are faced by fascists — not just their calculated brutality, but their belief that they are superior to every single one of us… They hold our democracy — the means by which we will make our decision tonight — in contempt.” He continued, “they need to be defeated. It is why, as we have heard tonight, socialists, trade unionists and others joined the International Brigade in the 1930s to fight against Franco. It is why this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini. It is why our party [has] always been defined by our internationalism.”

The Left Side of History

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The Left Side of History: World War II and the Unfulfilled Promise of Communism in Eastern Europe is a moving book, though initially it appears composed of disparate elements that do not comprise a whole.

There is the story of Frank Thompson, brother of historian EP Thompson. A Communist and British army officer, Frank was parachuted into Bulgaria and died as a partisan fighting its pro-Axis government.

How about a life in politics?

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Donny Gluckstein asks what the relationship is between “politics”, the state and radical social change, looking at reformist and revolutionary strategies as well as the rejection of it all in the form of anti-politics.

The foundations of mainstream politics are crumbling and the results are both exhilarating and troubling. Alongside the recent election victory of Syriza, and with Podemos topping Spanish polls, there is the frightening growth of the far-right in many European countries.

Learnt lessons

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The April edition of Socialist Review reported on a dispute by lecturers in the EIS union at Edinburgh College. A bullying management, led by an intransigent principal, wanted a major increase in class contact hours that would cost jobs and increase already chronic levels of stress. Through an all-out unlimited strike we won a pay increase of 7 percent for most, 22 percent for the lowest paid, plus a reduction in workload. Your readers might like to know what has happened since.

4 August: The great betrayal

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The decision by mass socialist parties in the Second International to support the war cast a long shadow over the continent.

The enormous coverage given to the centenary of the First World War does occasionally recognise the tragedy of the conflict and the horrendous loss of life it engendered. Recent imperialist wars have been so disastrous that treating the First World War with unashamed jingoism would not be convincing.

Anatomy of a strike victory

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The current spate of local disputes provides a glimpse of the potential for a fightback. Donny Gluckstein reports on the successful strike at Edinburgh College.

The strike of further education lecturers at Edinburgh College has been described as "a classic example of how to conduct a strike" by the executive of the EIS, the Scottish education union. The bare outlines of what happened make impressive reading.

Final Solutions by Sabby Sagall

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Published by Pluto, £22.99

The conventional view of genocide is that such events are the product of pure evil, or of the collective insanity of individuals or entire peoples.

Sabby Sagall's Final Solutions: Human Nature, Capitalism and Genocide is an ambitious book which challenges this simplistic approach.

It looks at four examples of genocide (native Americans, Armenians, the Jews and Rwandan Tutsis) and seeks to explain them in a novel way.

Lessons of defeat: German communists and the rise of Hitler

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Eighty years ago Hitler came to power, crushing the strongest workers' movement in the world. Donny Gluckstein, author of A People's History of the Second World War, looks at the fatal mistakes the German left made in response to the rise of Nazis and draws lessons for today

This year, 2013, marks a tragic anniversary. It is 80 years since Hitler established his dictatorship over Germany. On 27 February 1933, shortly after his appointment as chancellor, the parliament (Reichstag) burned down in a fire which was probably started by the Nazis. This was the excuse needed to ban the Communist Party and begin mass repression. On 22 March the first concentration camp opened at Dachau near Munich.

Their democracy or ours?

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Donny Gluckstein looks at what democracy means under capitalism - and our alternative

Democracy is today's all-popular buzzword, beloved alike of mainstream politicians, the Arab revolutionaires, and young people protesting in Spain. For people like David Cameron democracy means a parliament which gives rein to the tyranny of market forces, and the grotesque inequalities that brings. Those facing poverty and unemployment expect the opposite of this democracy - freedom from want, and a just society.

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