Feature

The challenge for the unions

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One of the pillars of the Tory government's agenda is the Trade Union Bill. This is an ideological attack aimed primarily at the public sector, and it must be resisted, writes Ralph Darlington.

The Tories’ Trade Union Bill threatens the most sweeping and radical tightening of the rules on industrial action and trade union representation since the Thatcher era of the 1980s. The restrictive measures could potentially rebalance power in the workplace, reduce the capacity of unions to represent their members at work and undermine the basic right to strike.

All eyes on Paris

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The protests before the UN climate talks in Paris this winter can be a crucial staging post for our movement, writes Suzanne Jeffery.

We have a tendency to talk about climate change as something that will affect future generations. But think how old you will be by the end of this century, or how old your children or grandchildren will be. How old will you be in 30 years when we will have reached an irreversible tipping point in global warming?

The problem is not one for future generations but for our generation. And it will require a huge challenge to the system in order to bring about the kind of changes necessary to organise society sustainably.

Argentina's 2001 crisis: The lessons for Greece

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The debt crisis that is tearing Greece apart has echoes in Argentina at the beginning of this century. Heike Schaumberg draws out lessons from the workers' response to neoliberal strangulation.

The similarity of the debt problem, the revolts, social movements, and pending default have all tempted comparisons between Greece today and Argentina’s crisis and popular uprising at the turn of this century. In December 2001 media and activist attention centred on Argentina like it does on Greece today for more or less the same reasons.

In defence of Freud's innovation

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In last month's Socialist Review Susan Rosenthal argued that Marxists have nothing to gain from Sigmund Freud's theories, which simply justify the bourgeois status quo. Sabby Sagall begs to differ, seeing in Freud, and crucially his theoretical successors, a revolutionary potential.

There is much in Freud’s writings that Marxists should criticise, but there is also much of value in the Freudian tradition that needs to be incorporated into a wider revolutionary vision. Susan Rosenthal risks throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

Strategies to defend our unions

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The Tories' election victory has provoked moves towards 'doing politics differently'. Shaun Doherty stresses how workers' confidence to fight back lies in industrial struggle.

In April 1974 I attended my first union meeting at a north London comprehensive school. The NUT rep, a member of the Communist Party, read out a request for support for a demonstration in work time protesting at the jailing of Ricky Tomlinson and Des Warren — the Shrewsbury Two building workers. More in hope than expectation I suggested we support it. To my surprise there was a near unanimous vote to take unofficial solidarity strike action in support of the demonstration. I thought, “Yes, this is what unions are about.”

EU referendum: Should we stay or should we go?

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As the debate over European Union membership heats up, Joseph Choonara argues that socialists should argue for a left wing No vote, despite the right wing dominating the campaign for a "Brexit".

Referendums are often awkward terrain for socialists, because the terms of the debate are set by establishment politicians. The referendum on British membership of the European Union (EU) is a particularly tricky specimen. The mainstream arguments on both sides will be unpalatable.

The Yes campaign, to retain Britain’s EU membership, will be dominated by the Conservative and Labour leaderships, along with what’s left of the Liberal Democrats.

When gays and Panthers were united

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In the late 1960s the Black Panthers and the early gay liberation movement fought against different forms of oppression. But, as Noel Halifax explains, they could find common ground.

In August 1970 in the Black Panthers’ paper Huey Newton wrote “A letter to the Revolutionary Brothers and Sisters about Women’s Liberation and Gay Liberation” arguing that they were fellow revolutionary movements and pledging the Panthers to support gay liberation.

This was unusual for the time as in the 1970s Stalinism and Maoism dominated the left, especially in the US, and they both viewed homosexuality as a bourgeois deviancy — a pastime for the decadent upper classes. So how did this come about?

What's wrong with Sigmund Freud?

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The pioneer of psychiatry began as an advocate of the oppressed, documenting the effects of trauma on mental health. But he soon switched sides to justify the status quo, writes Susan Rosenthal.

Sigmund Freud was a creative thinker and a prolific writer who continues to shape our views of human behaviour. While academics debate Freud’s ideas in the abstract, with no regard for the consequences, socialists consider everything in its social context. Does Freud’s influence benefit or block the cause of the working class and the progress of humanity?

Why did the Tories win?

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The shock of the Tory majority win in May's general election threw up lots of questions for socialists. Sally Campbell looks beneath the results to understand the dynamics at play in british politics.

The immediate response of most people remotely on the left to the election of the Tory majority government last month was despondency. This was not what we had expected; not what the polls had predicted — until that exit poll, which was largely met by disbelief.

Elections and the death of Labour in Scotland

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The political earthquake of the SNP's general election result proves that the anti-austerity message wins. But the lesson is lost on Scottish Labour.

The bemused look on the face of Jim Murphy, then leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, the day after the general election summed up the fate of Scottish Labour. His explanation for what had happened was an object lesson in delusion and denial. According to Murphy the almost total wipe-out of Labour at the hands of the Scottish National Party (SNP) was as a consequence of “two nationalisms — Scottish and English”.

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