Sunday, August 13, 2006

Socialist Worker August 12th 2006

Socialist Worker (#2013, Aug 12th) continues it strong and impressive coverage of Lebanon. Front page is a picture of children on the August 5th demo (they say 100,000, but I don't really believe their counts, propaganda by exaggeration to my mind) and headline 'Get Israel Out of Lebanon'. The focus is on criticism of Israel and international attempts to find a ceasefire that benefits them. An interesting inside story has a diary by a photographer, Guy Smallman, in Lebanon. Bassem Chit ('a democracy activist in Lebanon') has a very good column asking Can Hizbollah unite Lebanon? He points out that Israel's talk of turning the country back 20 years is a direct reference to the horrendous Lebanese civil war, but that the result has been an extraordinary unification of Lebanese opinion behind Hizbollah. Chit provides some background: Hizbollah emerged out of the 'religious sectarian system' and is based among the poor Shia of the Lebanon; but also has some middle-class support. Its ideas are embedded in Shia religious beliefs, but it has to cope with the faultlines of class as well as religion. Support for Hizbollah shows a revulsion against religious sectarianism and a growing movement against neo-liberalism. No mention of Iran though, not even to deal with accusations that Hizbollah is an Iranian proxy. John Rees answers some questions which places the war as a proxy war by the US's imperial agent on a political movement sympathetic to Iran and a second front in the Iraq War, a preparatory war to war on Iran - as Afghanistan was for the war on Iraq [so Afghanistan not a war about oil pipelines then?]. Rees also argues why socialists should take sides with Hizbollah, but that support for resistance isn't a precondition of support for the STW Coalition - turns out that the NUS isn't supporting the Manchester demo because of support for Hizbollah. So STW needs to work with and include those who are against war, but aren't anti-imperialist. Phil Marfleet asks What can bring change for the Arab world? and starts with Robert Fisk asking 'How long before there's a revolution?', noting the gap between the absent Arab states (including Lebanon) and both Hizbollah and feeling in the 'Arab street', pointing to the level of protests in Egypt and the connections between solidairty with Lebanon and repression and inequality at home. Phil asks questions about the strategy of the movements, and poses the lessons of the Iranian revolution and the relationship with Islamist organisations; but without offering anything like an answer. Simon Assaf gives some background - comparing today's radicalism with the late 50s.

Other things:
Dave Sherry starts a series on industrial struggles in the early 1970s.

Esme Choonara gives the SWP line on Tommy Sheridan. Just to note that the paper didn't seem to have much to say during the course of the trial, but with the verdict backing Tommy against the News of the World, SW is in full suport of Tommy, emphasing the importance of his victory and Tommy's attacks on those who gave evidence against him as poliitcal scabs. In this version there is a 'groundswell' of support for Tommy in the SSP, backed up by quotes from a variety of members who see the possibility of a rebirth for the party. There's an editorial statement further aligning SW against his SSP opponents and seeing it as a victory for that majority who want to build a movement against poverty and war. There's a link to the SW Platform statement that came out immediately after the verdict was announced.

Alex Callinicos takes up a debate with Rifondazione about supporting Italian troops being sent to Afghanistan (including a Fourth Internationalist) and participating in Prodi's coalition, instead pointing to Liebknecht's example. Yep, he's right.

A special treat: China Mieville on international law, eloquently and adequately making the argument that international law isn't the way forward.

There's a centrepage spread marking 30 Years since the Grunwick Strike.

Wim Windisch and Pepjin Brandon have a piece about Brecht: good background and very solid, maybe too solid, in his defence over his later relationship with the East German state.


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