Opinion

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.

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.”

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.

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.

Caitlyn Jenner: muddle on the left

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Just possibly readers of Socialist Review may not be acquainted with the Kardashians and so may also be unaware that one of the show’s participants, 1976 Olympic gold decathlete Bruce Jenner, now Caitlyn, has recently come out as transgender.

Millions have watched interviews and read articles about her transition and social media has been buzzing. Much reaction has been supportive, but some has been hostile.

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.

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.

Neighbourhood predators

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Gentrification is often described as a tale of David and Goliath where local residents and local businesses struggle to keep their heads above water against a rising tide of global corporate chain stores and heartless property developers.

It is the ground offensive in capitalism’s war on the poor, a street by street up-marketisation of shop fronts, housing, public space, goods and services. It is market speculation and commodity trading in culture and community that drives inequality and class segregation.

Bloodbath at Waterloo

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The Tories' commemoration of the bicentenary of Waterloo is another example of their wish to boost the image of the armed forces today. John Newsinger relates the real reasons for the battle in June 1815.

The Conservative right was determined to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Waterloo bloodbath in style.

After all, the centenary in 1915 had been spoiled by the fact that, at the time, the British were allied with the French against the Germans who had been Britain’s allies in 1815.

Indeed, there had been more German troops in the field that year fighting the French than there were British.

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