Opinion

The American Corbyn?

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Self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders has gathered unprecedented support in the US presidential primaries. Lewis Nielsen looks at how significant a shift Sanders' success represents.

Is Bernie Sanders the American Jeremy Corbyn? Both are grey haired political veterans, until recently unheard of outside the left circles of their respective parties, who have taken mainstream politics by storm with their election campaigns.

Most importantly Sanders, like Corbyn, represents a rejection of the neoliberal consensus.

Joe Hill ain't never died

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On 19 November 1915 Joe Hill was executed by the State of Utah on trumped up charges. Dave Gibson reminds us of the power of Hill's organising and songwriting skills at a time of upheaval in US politics.

When Alfred Hayes wrote the words “Joe Hill Ain’t Never Died” in a poem about Joe Hill’s murder, he could never have imagined that this would still be true a century later.

Paul Robeson popularised Hayes’s poem, now set to music. So did Joan Baez and Pete Seeger. Other writers have celebrated Hill’s life and exposed the injustice of his judicial murder through historical accounts, novels, plays and film.

No jobs on a dead planet?

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In 2009 a group of British trade unionists involved in the Campaign against Climate Change won the backing of four unions — CWU, PCS, TSSA and UCU — to publish a pamphlet, One Million Climate Jobs NOW!

Using information from supportive academics, the pamphlet argued the case for a single solution to the two great crises facing us today.

More space for a left No

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The debate continues on how best to be an internationalist in the run up to the EU referendum.

Last month’s Socialist Review contained James Anderson’s rather intemperate response to an article I wrote calling for an “internationalist No” in the forthcoming referendum to retain British membership of the European Union.

He writes, “The main argument for voting Yes is that in practice internationalism would be greatly facilitated and given credibility and focus by taking full advantage of the common political framework provided by the EU — by sharing the common membership and institutions and also the common enemies it provides.”

Letter from Germany

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Christine Buchholz, socialist MP and member of die Linke, reports on the refugee "crisis" in Germany.

As new refugees have reached Germany over the past few weeks there has been a very positive response from many ordinary people. The government did not provide the support refugees needed, so people mobilised to fill the gap.

Members of die Linke have been part of this — greeting refugees, supporting the initiatives in different cities to give them a proper welcome, decent housing and a supply of food.

Revolts after slavery

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Colonial oppression continued after the abolition of slavery - and so did the struggles against it. Brian Richardson commemorates the 150th anniversary of the Morant Bay Rebellion in Jamaica.

We are encouraged to believe that history is made by Great White Men. It is they who are responsible for the rise and fall of civilisations, for technological advances and the development of art and culture. Black people are generally restricted to walk on parts.

That was quite literally the case in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar winning biopic Lincoln. At the outset two black soldiers are seen pleading with their leader to abolish slavery. There is no sense of them fighting for their own emancipation.

Kick over the statues

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“Theory is grey my friend but the tree of life blooms forever green”, as Lenin put it quoting Goethe. It means that society, class struggle and politics do not develop in simple linear ways but in surprising and unforeseeable forms requiring new tactics and analysis.

History does not move at a uniform pace and in direct ways: it jumps, stops and doubles back on itself. At times it feels less like a tree and more like a bramble patch. Not only that but new movements and social developments do not express themselves directly but often in old forms and languages.

Airports study misses the point

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The run-up to the international climate talks in Paris coincides with the period in which the government will make its decision on new airport capacity.

When it came to power in 2010 the Tory/Lib Dem coalition ruled out any new runways but just two years later, under pressure from big business, it set up the Airports Commission. Chaired by the financier Sir Howard Davies, it was tasked to look again at whether new runways would be needed and, if so, where they should be.

Them and us in history

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Today when the working class is under sustained attack from the Tories, John Newsinger's new book on the class war in Britain is timely. Here he picks out the lessons from the explosive year of 1911.

The year 1911 is one of the most important in British history. It is not remembered as such because there were no royal babies, no great military conquests or massacres, no notable parliamentary occasions.

Instead it is important because the mass action of hundreds of thousands of British working class men and women shifted the balance of class forces in their own favour.

Living standards were falling, work was intensifying and management tyranny was becoming increasingly oppressive. A fightback was inevitable.

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