Thursday, April 13, 2006

Socialist Worker 1996 April 15th

Socialist Worker (#1996 April 15th) leads on the French government's retreat from its CPE employment law, symbol of it's neo-liberal offensive. The headline 'Message from the French strike movement 'We Have Won and So Can You'' is kind of exciting, although the link to the now suspended 3 days of strikes by British public sector workers over pensions has dated badly. There's also an appeal from Respect candidates in Newham and Tower Hamlets for support, sensibly saying that 'there's nothing automatic about Respect breaking through' and mobilising for a march from Liverpool Station to Bethnal Green offices before campaigning. The front page also has a set of un-named photos, linked to a George Galloway article about his expose of 'fake shiekh' Mazher Mahmood.

Charlie Kimber has an article about the regional pensions strikes promised for April 25-27th, which have now been called-off, and the May 3rd-4th strike, which could be joined by FE lecturers and DWP civil servants in separate disputes. SW is urging a groundswell of feeling for action and victory. There's a web only follow up by Kimber: 'Anger as unions call off pensions strike', pointing out what a bad decision this was, in the week of the French victory, and what a bad deal the negotiating framework is. There's another update by UNISON NEC member giving an account of the meeting that voted to call the action off.

Mike Gonzalez provides a good piece on Peru and Ollanto Humala against the background of other developments in Latin America. Gonzalez presents Humala as a dodgy populist, lacking Morales' roots in struggle, but symbolising popular anger about neo-liberalism. If he wins on May 7th [last I heard Humala came first in the first round with just over 30% of the vote, not a huge way ahead of either the neo-liberal candidate or the rather discredited Alan Garcia] there won't be a popular movement to hold him to acount or take independent action, a symptom of the failure of the divided left in Peru.

There's a good inside story by Nick Barrett (from the IST strand in the LCR) giving the story of the French movement against the CPE, emphasising the role of students and a rank and file based co-ordinating committee. This is clearly a major victory against the now paralysed government and neo-liberalism with potential repercussions across Europe. There still remains a struggle against the CNE in small businesses and the CGT has announced that it is starting a battle against it on May Day. Further political analysis by Nick Barrett points out the extent of the problems for the Right politicians, but no mention of Le Pen) and the numbers looking for a political alternative to neo-liberalism. The SP candidate for presidential elections in 2007 is Blairite Segolene Royal and Barrett raises the possibility of both the SP splitting and being the main beneficiary of the movement. The PC will be be caught between its alliance with the SP and its more militant members. The LCR has responded to the movement the best and Besancenot is ahead of Marie-GeorgeBuffet of the PC in opinion polls. What the LCR does now is crucial. An interview with a railworker (interviewed before, so I guess a political activist as well) talks about this as the beginning or resumption of struggles since defeat over pension reform in 2003. Eight weeks of university strikes, two general strikes.
And there's a letter from Sebastien Budgen taking issue with SW for ignoring the 'significant minority of lumpen thugs who disrupted the demonstrations'.

Pat Stack contributes a centre-spread on the Easter Rising.

Alex Callinicos takes up the enormous protest movement against new immigration legislation in the US. Callinicos backgrounds this in terms of globalization: hah, goes against the analysis just a short while ago.
But this is interesting:
"... the powerful flows that bind together the US and its Latin American neighbours
in a single political economy. I got an insight into this when I attended a conference
on globalisation and empire in Mexico City a few months ago.
"The issue that most engaged the Mexican participants was migration. One participant
described how, since the North American Free Trade Agreement opened up Mexican
farmers to competition from US agribusiness, an enormous exodus has developed from
rural Mexico.
"Whole villages, their livelihoods destroyed, are heading north in search of jobs. No
wonder US border controls are buckling under the pressure. But migrant labour is in
great demand from US capitalism.
"The Financial Times had a fascinating piece last week about Dalton, Georgia. The
population of this southern town grew from 22,000 in 1990 to 28,000 in 2000. In
the same period the racial mix has changed from 83 percent white to 40 percent
"The migrants have come to work in Dalton’s carpet mills, which are responsible for
one third of global carpet output. This picture is not an isolated one. One paper at the
Mexico City conference traced the impact Mexican farm workers are having in Valle Cruci,
in rural North Carolina."

There's more on Respect with Turkish and Kurdish candidates in Hackney and Haringey. Sait Akgul says "It is natural for immigrant communities to support Respect." Good stuff.

Paul Blackledge completes his trilogy of columns on the New Left, headlined 'A Stark choice between Lenin and liberalism', which is a tad starker than I think necessary! Paul makes a lot of good points, based on his book on Perry Anderson and the New Left and pointing again to his recent work on Alasadair MacIntyre, but doesn't have the space to provide more than a capsule history.

David Keen presents an argument based on Hannah Arendt's concept of 'Action as propaganda' to analyse how action takes precedent over argument. His book, Endless War? sounds very interesting.

There's also an interview with the Palestinian director of Paradise Now.

It's a good issue.


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