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The united front in theory and practice

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Capitalism continually forces workers to fight — whether to defend conditions, challenge racism or take on the whole system. But how do revolutionaries ensure that they mobilise the widest possible forces, without compromising their politics? Tom Kay looks at the historical lessons for today.

The Tories’ onslaught continues. Whether the war in Syria, the attempted imposition of an unsafe contract on junior doctors, vicious racism towards refugees and Muslims or the many other attacks, it’s clear that the need for a broad, united fight back could barely be greater. Yet the question remains — how can we build a movement, both in the streets and the workplaces, which can halt, beat back and break this government?

Stand up and be counted

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As activists mobilise for UN Anti Racism Day, Brian Richardson assesses the state of racism in Britain and across Europe, and asks what anti-racists' priorities should be in the coming period.

The late Labour prime minister Harold Wilson is widely reported to have declared that “a week is a long time in politics” during a period of economic crisis in the 1960s. Literally speaking this well-worn cliché is, of course, wrong. There is, however, some truth in the dictum that sudden and unexpected events can dramatically transform the political landscape. Such has been the case both in Britain and across Europe over the past 12 months.

A change in society and in our art

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In a follow-up to his piece on the radical theatre of the 1930s, David Gilchrist examines how the events of 1968 kick-started a new theatre of the people. The 7:84 company took popular forms of culture - from TV to the ceilidh - and utilised them to reach new, working class audiences.

John McGrath and Elizabeth McLennan set up the socialist 7:84 Theatre Company in 1971. McLennan was a successful actor both in the theatre and on television. McGrath had had a successful career, scriptwriting the early episodes of a ground breaking TV cop show, Z Cars. They were both disillusioned with commercial theatre and excited by the political events of 1968.

Coming face to face with hate

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Author Hsiao-Hung Pai set out to understand where bigots learn their behaviour. She talks to Socialist Review about the results of her research, her new book, Angry White People.

Could you say something about the approach you take in the book? Why did you decide to interview and spend time with the likes of the EDL’s Tommy Robinson, and give their words space?

Marxism loses a passionate champion

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Alex Callinicos looks back with warm memories, not only at the life of Ellen Meiksins Wood, who died last month, but on her early identification of, and critique of, 'Post Marxism' and her critical contribution to the development of the controversial analysis of 'Political Marxism'.

Ellen Meiksins Wood, who died in January at the age of 73, was one of the outstanding Marxist intellectuals of the past generation. She combined a rigorous commitment to theoretical clarity with a profound political passion. These qualities were very evident in the intervention that first brought her to broader attention, The Retreat from Class, first published in 1986.

Bringing politics into the union movement

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The low level of industrial struggle in Britain today is frustratingly at odds with the political radicalisation represented by the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. Michael Bradley sets out a strategy to rebuild workers' confidence using our strengths to overcome our weaknesses

Bitterness against years of Tory austerity and the failure of the Labour Party to lead any effective opposition has laid the ground for the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader. This political earthquake has opened up exciting possibilities for the left.

For Corbyn to join a mass protest in defence of refugees within minutes of being elected and to make his first visit abroad as leader to refugee camps in Calais and Dunkirk is pretty incredible by previous standards.

Marxism and psychology

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Continuing a strand of debate, Canadian socialist Susan Rosenthal argues that we must look to social rather than individual solutions to mental ill health.

Marx and Engels described capital as a relationship and capitalism as a system of relationships. Did they mean that every aspect of our relations with ourselves, others, and society is shaped by capitalism, so that a socialist revolution would transform all of these relationships? Or were they being too general? Are some aspects of human experience unaffected by society, so that we need something other than Marxism to understand them and something more than socialism to transform them? This is the core of the conflict between Marxism and psychology.

The queer and unusual life of Roger Casement

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Knighted by the British crown for his work in Africa and later executed for high treason for his work in Ireland, Roger Casement was a unique figure. Noel Halifax tells the story of this pioneer of human rights, a gay man at the time of the creation of modern homophobia.

Roger Casement had an extraordinary life. He was born in Dublin from an Anglo-Irish background in 1864. Lauded by the establishment for his work in Africa and knighted in 1911, he became one of the most famous men of his age.

In 1913 he resigned from the Foreign Office. In 1916 he was hanged in Pentonville prison for high treason for his part in the Dublin Easter Rising. Though central to the Irish freedom movement he was largely overlooked by the Irish Republicans because, to their great embarrassment, he was also gay.

Germany after Cologne

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The refugee crisis continues, and so does our rulers' racist offensive. Christine Buchholz explains the situation in Germany since the Cologne attacks.

The sexual assaults that took place in Cologne at New Year were terrible. They sent a shockwave across society. We still don’t have definite details of the backgrounds of the perpetrators, but it is clear that many of the men who were arrested or identified had Moroccan, Algerian or other backgrounds — although some of them have lived in Germany for many years.

A spirit that can never be killed

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In January activists from anti-racist group We Are Wakefield travelled to Dunkirk on the north coast of France to take solidarity to the refugee camp. Raya Ziyaei tells the story of their journey.

We chose Dunkirk, 30 miles east of Calais, because it had been hit by the recent floods, and the camp had doubled in size in the previous few weeks. Calais has an organised volunteer structure which means it is easier for the refugees at “The Jungle” to get what they need. Dunkirk doesn’t have this, with only a handful of volunteers coping with a huge amount of work.

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