Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Socialist Worker Jan 22nd 2005

Must say something about last week's Socialist Worker (# 1935) before this week's comes out. Front cover story on a Territorial Army soldier (and healthworker) George Solomou who has resigned from the TA because of his objections to the war. The meeting at the Houses of Parliament organised by Military Families Against the War made a decent little stir last week.

But the most intriguing thing in this issue of SW is the little Diary entry saying that Marxism 2005 is going to be held from Thursday July 7th until the 11th: a long weekend. Aah, no longer the torment of the whole long week; but this is quite a shift. Friends are already hinting that this is a sign of the SWP's financial crises, dwindling membership, etc., etc.; but I have a much more positive view of this. The SWP's perspective is clearly to emphasize the anti-war movement and March 19th demo (but are they still saying it's going to be as big as Feb 15th 2003?), Respect and the General Election, and then the G8 meeting in Scotland in July. Makes sense to me to prioritise events in Gleneagles, try to get as many people as possible there - and then try to get them to London for a week. Now did they consider running Marxism in Edinburgh (no, course not, wouldn't have worked on SSP turf!).

Otherwise this SW also contains much else of interest. Alexander Cockburn writing about the crisis of the Iraq occupation is typically good on emerging splits among US state-managers about whether to get out.. a good advert for Cockburn's Counterpunch site. Also a report about a Labour MP, Harry Cohen, speaking at a STW meeting in Waltham Forest and praising STW. Makes a nice change from those who are giving de facto support to the occupation via Labour Friends of Iraq, which is why, I guess, it's here.

The Fifth WSF, back in Porto Allegre, is greeted with a trio of pieces. Alex Callinicos speaks of the importance of this gathering and runs through the achievements of the movement. I still quibble at his confident assertion that this movement of movements can be simply and clearly labeled an 'anti-capitalist movement'. I still snort at the idea that it all started in Seattle in November 1999, so that the 'first anti-capitalist protest in Europe' was the protest in Prague, September 2000. Alex also says that the 'surge, not of charity, but of global solidarity that greeted the Indian Ocean tsunami' is in 'some degree' attribute to the change in language and consciousness produced by the movement. I think this is typically exaggerated wishful-thinking. Thirdly Alex refers to the 'tide of resisitance to neoliberalism in Latin America'. But at the same time Bush's victory 'underlines that we have a long way to go' and has created 'a sense of crisis' among certain (unspecified) European activists (and in the US I think Alex should have added). And Alex says this reflects the initial Seattle euphoria dispersing, and that political disagreements are emerging - for Europe he talks about a reformist right that wants a return to a more regulated capitalism, most importantly ATTAC; secondly there are the autonomists influenced by Holloway and Negri concerned with 'Life Despite Capitalism', and thirdly the 'radical left' who want to achieve 'Life After Capitalism' (this is a neat but basically shoddy rhetorical trick by Callinicos). Divergences between the three are sharpest over the war in Iraq, with ATTAC denying 'any connection between neo-liberalism and war' and see campaigning against war as a diversion from the 'social question'; while the autonomists are 'hostile to mass demonstrations' (I think this must count as a heinous misrepresentation by the Prof!). Autonomists and reformists share the idea of 'autonomous social movement', are suspicious of the radical left and are now in a 'remarkable alliance' to reshape the ESF process (this counts as a grand example of the 'amlagam' technique of rhetoric) - which Alex thinks is 'very dangerous diversion'. And Alex goes on to contrast the small numbers involved in the process with the large numbers of people debating and discussing in the forums. And politics - and Alex gives the examples of Brazil, Uruguay and even Venezuela, and the turn back to the Olive Tree coalition in Italy by Rifondazione Comunista to show that politics can't be kept out of the movement. Which is why Alex urges the importance on Respect and P-SOL and the global anti-war protests of March 19-20th. Hmmm, annoying.

Nicola Bullard from the excellent Focus on the Global South provides an impressionistic balance-sheet for the movement and asks questions about the strategy for the movement and how this relates to the organisation of the WSF itself. and a Uruguayan IST comrade, Javier Carlos gives more background about various Latin American struggles.

There's also a page devoted to Neil Faulkner writing about the Spartacus slave revolt. Excellent. Faulkner is controversial and a couple of years ago someone told me his meeting about the Roman Empire and the debate it inspired was more-or-less the best ever thing at Marxism - sadly when I tried to get the tape it wasn't available. Come to think of it, I've still got the return voucher intact somewhere.

And finally there's a 4-page supplement on pensions as preparation for the TUC Day of Action on Feb 18th, including discussion about various European fightbacks.


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