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Can the left shape Brexit?

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Now that Britain’s exit from the European Union has been triggered, there will be a battle over terms. Joseph Choonara assesses the strengths of the different forces at play.

Theresa May has enacted Article 50. Her letter has been despatched, and so the two-year process of Britain leaving the European Union has begun. Where does British politics stand on this occasion? Not quite, perhaps, where some had expected. A few days before the referendum, one left-wing blogger spoke of a Leave vote paving the way for an “incoming government headed by Johnson, Gove, IDS [Iain Duncan Smith], and Farage”. Such claims were commonplace in the run-up to the vote.

'Women could feel their power'

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The Russian Revolution brought huge transformations for some of the most oppressed. Socialist Review spoke to Emma Davis about how women began to take control of their lives and lead in the struggle.

What was life like for women in Russia before the revolution?

Peasant women and women workers had virtually no rights in Tsarist Russia. They couldn’t get divorced; they had extremely limited property rights. It was only middle class women who could even consider leaving their husbands.

The beating of women by their husbands and fathers was actively encouraged — the more your husband beat you the more he was said to love you. It was customary for the father of the husband to have sex with his daughter in law.

Striking back after the Trade Union Act

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With the Tories’ latest anti-union attacks set to become law,
Mark L Thomas argues that there are ways to initiate struggle that can help stregthen workplace organisation, and prepare for clashes to come.

The Tories’ new Trade Union Act, which passed through parliament last year, is due to come into legal effect this month. The new restrictions it contains, above all thresholds for strike ballots, will further curtail the legal space for strikes.

If robots took our jobs, could they do them?

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The Science Museum’s major new Robots exhibition is hailed as the ‘greatest collection of humanoids ever assembled’, but it fails to take up the question everyone is asking: will a robot take my job? Joseph Choonara looks at the reality of automation under capitalism.

Robots are taking over. At least that is the impression given by the mainstream media. Headlines in recent weeks include: “Robots Could Replace 250,000 Public Sector Workers” (Independent), “Amazon To Open A Giant ROBOT-Run Supermarket Staffed By Just Three Humans” (Daily Mail) and “Give Robots ‘Personhood’ Status, EU Committee Argues” (Guardian).

New mood grips Basque struggle

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A mass movement is back on the streets in support of Basque political prisoners’ rights. But arguments for independence have been abandoned by the radical left, writes Héctor Sierra.

On 14 January 78,000 people took to the streets of Bilbao in the Basque Country to demand “human rights, peace, and a solution to the conflict”. The Basque Country stretches from the north of the Spanish state to the south of France and has a population of barely 3 million. Previous similar demonstrations peaked in 2014 with 130,000 people.

Rage against police racism rocks France

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The racist assault of a young man by Paris police has provoked angry protests. Jad Bouharoun looks at the prospects for a nationwide anti-racist movement.

The assault and rape by the police of Théo L, a young black man from the Paris suburb of Aulnay-sous-Bois, has sparked angry demonstrations throughout the country. They come in the wake of a sustained grassroots movement demanding justice for Adama Traore, another black youth killed in police custody in the Paris suburb of Beaumont-sur-Oise in July 2016.

Fighting racism today

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The rise of Donald Trump is symbolic of a growing confidence on the populist right. With elections approaching in Europe and Theresa May heading into the Brexit negotiations with the aim of restricting migration, Michael Bradley lays out a plan for the kind of anti-racist movement we need.

The election of Donald Trump has sent shockwaves across the world. For many, Trump’s victory is part of a seamless growth in support for the populist right. His demagogic rants about “building a wall” and protecting US workers by “putting America first” have been reflected by similar figures in country after country.

October 1917: an echo from the future

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The Russian Revolution, when it is talked about at all, is generally dismissed as a failure with little to say to us today. Sally Campbell argues that this is far from the truth — as long as people are willing to fight oppression and exploitation there are lessons we can learn from Russia.

Having received reports of one student’s recent experience of learning about the Russian Revolution in GCSE History, it seems surprisingly little has changed in the 25 years since I studied it. Students still hear rather too much about Rasputin’s dubious influence over the Romanovs, and far too little about the role of workers and the broader masses in the events of 1917.

Pay: the cap doesn't fit

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Labour’s stunning result in the general election has changed the mood in Britain, writes Mark L Thomas. The new found confidence of workers to challenge Tory rule needs to translate into action.

Public sector pay has moved to the centre of political debate. This poses a pivotal question — will the new confidence inside the left and the wider labour movement move beyond the ballot box and the Labour Party and into an increased level of struggle in the workplace?

How Russia inspired the world

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The Cook Islands in the South Pacific were annexed by the British Empire. On 11 March 1919 the colonial authorities on the main island of Rarotonga sent a telegram to New Zealand: “Serious disturbances by returned soldiers who are taking charge of settlement. Require armed assistance. Can you send warship or other assistance? Fifty armed men at least required.”

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