Every now and then we add a new site to our Links section.  We usually announce this and sometimes we even get around to saying something about the site/publication and why we’ve linked to it.

Today we are adding a link to Notes from Below, a new online journal.  Rather than saying something about it ourselves, here is the text of their ‘About’ section.  Do take a good look across their site, but a good place to start might be issue #3, “The Worker and the Union”, which contains articles examining how working class self-organisation is changing today, the possibilities for a revival of rank-and-file organising and struggle, and the need to advance anti-capitalist politics in the workplace and workplace organisation rather than merely trade union politics.

Anyway, here is their About section:

Notes from Below is a publication that is committed to socialism, by which we mean the self-emancipation of the working class from capitalism and the state. To this end we use the method of workers’ inquiry. We draw our methods and theory from the class composition tradition, which seeks to understand and change the world from the worker’s point of view. We want to ground revolutionary politics in the perspective of the working class, help circulate and develop struggles, and build workers’ confidence to take action by and for themselves.

We argue that an understanding of ‘class composition’, that is to say, how the classes within society are formed and operate, is an Read the rest of this entry »

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by Michael Roberts

Sweden has long been the poster child of the ‘mixed economy’, the social democrat state – where capitalism is ‘moulded’ to provide a welfare state, equality and decent working and living conditions for the majority. The 2018 general election result has put that story to bed.

In yesterday’s election, the Social Democrats, the supposed standard-bearer of the ‘mixed economy’, remained the largest party with just over 28% of the vote.  But this was its lowest share in an election since 1908.  The main pro-business party, the so-called Moderates, also lost votes, coming in with 19.7%.  Cutting through both these parties, who have alternated for decades in controlling government, was the rise of Sweden’s so-called Democrats (an oxymoron), an anti-immigrant party with neo-Nazi roots, which polled 17.7%.  The smaller parties of the centre-right and the left also gained – the Left party jumping to 8%.  The middle-of the road Green party was run over and nearly failed to gain the 4% necessary to enter parliament.  The two alliances of the social democracy and the pro-business parties are virtually tied with 40% of the vote each – leaving the Democrats with the balance of power in the new parliament.  Such is the impasse.

It was an illusion anyway about Sweden being the ‘third way’ between untrammelled free market capitalism and command economy autocratic Communism.  The great gains of the Swedish labour movement in the early 20th century have slowly been reversed.  And the post-war diversion to public services of some of the profits of the Swedish engineering and manufacturing (owned by a handful of families) Read the rest of this entry »

Pic: Cyprus Mail

by Paul Severin

When an American sociologist conducted a study of Delta Airlines cabin crew in the early 1980s her interviewees were on average 35 years old and 40 percent were married. The contrast to the Ryanair workforce could hardly be greater. The employees are young, inexperienced, mostly single and almost without exception from Southern or Eastern Europe.

The job at Ryanair has little to do with the jet-set aura that once clung to the industry. It’s a precarious occupation because the job hardly enables a person to establish a sustainable existence. Accordingly, the turnover within the workforce is enormous. Those recruited by Ryanair usually work there for a few years, either on a temporary basis or on an Irish employment contract that grants hardly any rights. A regime of repression and fear has so far been able to keep workers submissive.

Ryanair cuts every corner

There is a world of difference between the work of a stewardess in the 1980s and the situation of the cabin crew at Ryanair today. The downgrading of this group of workers is the result of Read the rest of this entry »

by The Spark

September 20 marked one year since Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico. President Trump referred back to that storm, and the death count on the island, when he was warning people in North and South Carolina to flee Hurricane Florence.

He said that the death count in Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria – reported in recent studies to be over 3,000 people – was fake.

Trump defiantly excluded any number larger than the handful originally reported, including all the people who died after the storm as a result of the failure of the US government, backed by Wall Street, to provide the massive federal emergency aid required to stop the death toll from rising.

Puerto Rico is an island about the size of Connecticut with a population of about 3 million people. It is a territory of the US, acquired through US military occupation. While citizens of the US, Puerto Ricans have no representatives in Congress. Since the US invasion, the island has been used by U.S. corporations as a source of cheap labor.

Working class people have a far lower standard of living there than in any state in the US. The poverty imposed on the Puerto Rican population by US imperialism means that Read the rest of this entry »

by Robert Clough

As the Zionist campaign against Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party reached fever pitch in July, the passage of the racist Nation-State of the Jewish People Bill through the Israeli Knesset exposes the fundamental truth that Israel is a racist, apartheid state. Yet to say this, according to the Zionist press and the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs, is to be anti-Semitic, and they want to enshrine this in the Labour Party’s anti-Semitism code of conduct. Outrageously, Corbyn has not publicly condemned this censorship attempt at a time when the Palestinian people are suffering accelerated ethnic cleansing on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem. By his silence, Corbyn has allowed the Zionists both inside and outside the Labour Party to get away with their lies, and has hung the Palestinian people out to dry.

The latest round of the Zionist campaign started with the presentation of a draft code of conduct on anti-Semitism to a meeting of Labour’s National Executive Committee (NEC) on 3 July. The document used the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of anti-Semitism, but excluded four IHRA-defined examples of anti-Semitism, of which the important ones for the Zionists are ‘denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, eg by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavour’ and ‘applying double standards by requiring of it a behaviour not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation’. These are the basis for attempts to ban events associated with Israeli Apartheid Week, or suppress description of Israel as a colonial-settler state. Yet until recently, the Zionists never specifically mentioned them since it would lay bare their real intention – to censor opposition to the Israeli state.

Zionists mobilise

The exclusions aroused virulent opposition from Zionist organisations such as the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and, within the Labour Party, from the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) and the Jewish Labour Movement (JLM), whose director is a former official in the Israeli London embassy. When on 17 July, the NEC formally adopted the code of conduct, the Zionists went into overdrive to denounce both the NEC decision and Corbyn. LFI chair Joan Ryan tweeted that: ‘the NEC has decided to prioritise the rights of those who seek to demonise and delegitimise the state of Israel…’ This is the LFI which issued a statement blaming the Palestinians for the massacre of 14 May when Israeli snipers shot down over 1,200 Palestinian protesters, killing 62.

LFI MP Margaret Hodge took the Zionist campaign to a new level when on the evening of the NEC meeting she confronted Corbyn in parliament and shouted that he was a ‘fucking anti-Semite and racist’. Even though this was an obvious lie, her fellow MPs rallied around her and denounced any attempt to discipline her for using abusive language; the overwhelming majority had already condemned the code of conduct at a meeting prior to the NEC decision. The Guardian gave over a column to Hodge to justify her aggression. Throughout the piece, she did what all Zionists do: conflate Zionism with Judaism so that condemnation of Zionism becomes anti-Jewish and therefore anti-Semitic. She concluded by saying that ‘I stand by my action as well as my words’.

Israel: an apartheid state

On 19 July, the Israeli Knesset approved the Nation-State of the Jewish People Bill, which not only formally relegates the legal status of Palestinian people living in Israel to that of second-class citizens, but also endorses ethnic cleansing by stating: Read the rest of this entry »

by Daphna Whitmore

Maori language week has just concluded and it felt like there was a lot more buzz around it this year. From media commentators, to friends, family and workmates more people are talking about learning Maori and plenty are brushing up on pronunciation. There are still debates in the media about whether to have Maori as a compulsory subject in schools or to keep it optional; either way a lot more teachers and resources are needed.

The Maori Language Commission called on people to support the revitalisation of the language: “Strength for an endangered language comes from its status, people being aware of and actively supporting its revitalisation, and through people learning and using the language. The language also grows by developing new words so that people have the right words and terms to use, for today and for future generations.”

What I haven’t seen is discussion of what the prognosis is when a language is no longer the mother tongue. No amount of funding and resource can transform the fact that Maori is the first language of a shrinking elderly population. The new generation of Maori speakers have English as their first language. Statistics NZ in 2013 estimates there were approximately 50,000 (11 %) Māori adults who could speak Māori well or very well. Many of the very fluent speakers were over 65 years old.   Read the rest of this entry »