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Orwell and the struggle for socialism

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John Newsinger, author of a new book on George Orwell’s politics, looks at how his stance as an independent socialist led him to great radicalism and terrible betrayal.

On 8 October 1945 the BBC broadcast a talk on Jack London by George Orwell. It was part of the Corporation’s educational talks for members of the armed forces. Here Orwell praised London and in particular his novel, The Iron Heel, for his understanding of the nature of the capitalist class. London, he told his listeners, recognised that the capitalists would never give up their wealth and power without a fight not a fight on the floor of the House of Commons, but on the streets.

New sinews of working class power

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Much has been written about how globalisation has rendered workers powerless. American socialist Kim Moody’s important new book on the restructuring of capital in the past four decades argues that the working class, far from disappearing, has renewed potential power, writes Mark L Thomas.

The defeats suffered by the working class movement from the late 1970s onwards created a new common sense that saw the increased internationalisation of the world economy as having fragmented and dissolved the working class. It might still show up in statistics but its collective power had been undermined, perhaps fatally.

China: A labour movement in the making

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Chinese workers are on the move, often provoked by unpaid wages, long hours and rotten, dangerous working conditions. Simon Gilbert looks at whether there is potential for the host of seperate disputes to coalesce into a national workers’ movement, with enormous power.

Behind China’s much vaunted economic miracle lies a tale of exploitation and resistance. The wealth of the country’s new billionaires was created by the labour of millions of migrant workers, working exhaustingly long hours for little pay, if they ever got paid at all, in some of the most dangerous conditions in the world. But the bosses, including those of the multinational corporations who often reap the biggest profits, haven’t had it all their own way. In the face of government repression workers have learnt to organise and fight for their rights.

Brexit: limited options

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The process of negotiating Britain’s exit from the European Union is getting no easier for the Tories as time goes on. Alan Gibson looks at the perpetual backing-down Theresa May and her ministers are being forced into, as well as the considerable pressures bearing down on Corbyn.

The government’s Brexit secretary David Davis hailed the transition deal signed with the EU’s Michel Barnier in March as a major breakthrough. But it didn’t come without the Tories backing down from a series of positions and promises it had made about what would be acceptable.

As the Financial Time said, “Monday’s announcement showed that the EU, without a great deal of cunning, had managed to call multiple bluffs from Brexiters about the transition period.”

UCU: this is a dispute we can win

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The remarkable strike by university staff in the UCU union has involved whole new layers of workers in struggle and raised much wider political issues than the pension scheme dispute that is driving it. Socialist Review spoke to three strikers from different universities about their experiences.

Who could have imagined that university lecturers and other staff would have engaged in a 14-day strike to defend their pensions, still less imagined that after 10 days of the strike they would wholeheartedly reject an attempt to impose a settlement that would have sold short the principle of defined benefits?

The union is now faced with the option of activating a further 14 days of strike, possibly during the crucial period of exams, as well as Action Short of Strike (ASOS), working to contract, to ensure that the status quo is maintained.

How Marx discovered the working class

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Workers need to free themselves. Joseph Choonara argues that as we celebrate the bicentenary of Marx’s birth, we should emphasise this hard won and most original contribution to radical politics.

Back in 1999, as the World Trade Organisation meeting in Seattle was shut down in a cloud of teargas, a global anti-capitalist movement was born. The best of the socialist left sought to engage with this movement, while also showing that it had something to contribute.

The Bolsheviks, Islam and the women of the east

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Many believe that religion and socialism cannot coexist — that in order to be a socialist you have to be an atheist — yet, as Naima Omar shows, the magnificent example of the Bolsheviks’ relationship with Russia’s Muslim population following the 1917 revolutions is rooted in a different tradition.

Growing up I always held socialist views, but believed you could not be a socialist and a Muslim, nor could you advocate women’s liberation and wear the hijab. This belief is common among Muslims, based on the assumption that in order to be a socialist you must be an atheist, as all socialists hate religion.

Trouble ahead in Putin’s Russia?

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This month’s election will likely see Putin returned to office for another term. Robert Behan looks at the prospects of genuine opposition — from right and left.

The presidential elections in Russia this month will see the continuation of Putin’s rule in Russia for another six years. Such has been Putin’s grip over the Russian political institutions and the media throughout his reign that any other result would be unthinkable.

A decisive triumph for anti-racists everywhere

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The Rotherham 12 are vindicated in their fight against charges of violent disorder on an anti-Nazi demo in 2015. Campaigners Phil Turner, Abrar Javid and Matt Foot draw out the lessons.

The acquittal last month of the last two defendants in the group of Asian men known as the Rotherham 12 is probably the most important victory in the fight against racism and fascism in Britain for decades. The impact of such a decisive triumph for anti-racists has not been felt since Southall in the late 1970s or the Bradford 12 in the early 1980s. It is a victory for the whole of the working class.

How institutional racism survives

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A quarter of a century has passed since the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence led to greater recognition of institutional racism. But how much has really changed since, asks Brian Richardson.

"What, what nigger?” Those were probably the very last words that 18 year old black student Stephen Lawrence heard as he waited for a bus with his friend Duwayne Brooks in Well Hall Road, Eltham, on 22 April 1993. Seconds later he was attacked by a knife wielding gang of racists. He tried to escape and managed to run some distance before collapsing in a pool of his own blood.

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