april 2012 issue of the commune – out now!

Issue 29 of The Commune is now available. It features articles on the Sparks electricians’ strike, Tory workfare programmes, left nostalgia for Old Labour, casualisation and much more.

The paper is free: click the image above to see a PDF and see below for a list of articles as they are posted online.

International

more liberal wars for democracy? – This month’s editorial looks at the rising threat of war in Syria and Iran

communists and scotland’s referendum – Bob Goupillot and Allan Armstrong of the Republican Communist Network continue our debate on Scottish independence

the fight against NATO and their taliban friends – the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan marked International Women’s Day with a condemnation of the Karzai-NATO régime

Work

sparks’ strike rolls back bosses’ attack – Adam Ford reflects on electricians’ successful fight against pay cuts of up to 35%

flying low: grad opportunities working lates – Philip Stott continues our series on casual work with an essay on his experience as an airport baggage-handler and aircraft cleaner

love nor money: unpaid work at tesco – Sharon Borthwick looks at the absurd ideology behind workfare schemes

Anti-cuts

sheffield council targets workers, vulnerable – David Huckerby reports on an all-too familiar case of Labour Party cuts in jobs and services

time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns? – Sheila Cohen argues for a strategic focus in organising against austerity

Theory

from kicking off to revolution: avoiding the same old defeats – Mark Kosman reviews Paul Mason’s Why It’s Kicking off Everywhere

‘chavs’: nostalgia for old labour – Clifford Biddulph punctures the myths presented in Owen Jones’s book Chavs

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the cat that got the cream (and avoided the ginger beer)

David Broder remembers one of George Galloway’s less glorious moments

In the aftermath of the ‘Bradford Spring’, I thought I’d share a brief recollection of one of my few face-to-face encounters with George Galloway.* It took place amidst a controversy pretty typical of Galloway’s career, where in the face of a straightforward case of socialist principle he instead jumped to defend the Iranian régime.

Four years ago, Galloway was in choppy waters. Having stretched the SWP’s loyalty to him to breaking point with his ‘outspoken’ views on sexual morality and his bizarre Big Brother appearance, in November 2007 he split their Respect venture as to still further exert his authority over it. Nonetheless standing in the May 2008 London elections (though still an MP), he was keen to stay in the media spotlight and thus made an appearance on Channel 5’s The Wright Stuff. Continue reading “the cat that got the cream (and avoided the ginger beer)”

flying low: grad opportunities working lates

Philip Stott continues our series on casual work with an essay on his experience as an airport baggage-handler and aircraft cleaner

After graduating from university, I immediately started working for an agency who specialise in providing workers for the aviation industry. I thought I would write about two of my ‘assignments’.

Servisair are imposing redundancies on Liverpool baggage handlers, as the job becomes increasingly casualised

The first of these was as an aircraft cleaner for Derichebourg Multiservices at Liverpool Airport. I was part of a group of people in our twenties, some of whom travelled from as far away as Bury, who were taken on in order to work through the busy summer period. We worked a shift pattern, 10pm-6am; four days on, two days off and were paid an agency rate of £6.68 an hour (pretty bad for night work). Refuelling operators were the best paid and worked shifts, 8pm–8am, four days on, four off. There had been no pay rise at all for five years. Continue reading “flying low: grad opportunities working lates”

time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?

In the lead-up to the latest national strike day on 28 March, Sheila Cohen asks whether the anti-cuts campaigns are working

I have been asked to write an article about anti-cuts campaigns, and said I don’t know much about them. I don’t know much about them because I don’t think they work. I don’t think they work because the government and ruling-class generally are rabid hyenas without an iota of inclination to give a flying **** about the needs and wishes of so-called “ordinary people” – if they did give such a thing they wouldn’t be, well, ruling. But I was asked to write nonetheless.

The several large demonstrations against the cuts programme have presented a confident outward image, mocking the Coalition: but what power do we actually have to stop Cameron and co.?

As a dutiful writer, I began preparing for this piece by doing (admittedly, a very small modicum of) research. One dedicated anti-cuts organisation I turned up which shall be nameless, but describes itself on its website as “a diverse collation of…groups and individuals that have come together to challenge social exclusion and promote social justice” includes as part of its many activities a project to unite unemployed workers, a “celebration” of its locality with a “one day community event” and, of course, intransigent opposition to racism – and quite right too. The community event was warmly received, with one participant commenting that it had, indeed, given “a real sense of community”. So what’s not to like? Continue reading “time to cut the anti-cuts campaigns?”

strikes and solidarity

If this year’s strikes are to have power, we must take our lead from the electricians, bypassing union attempts at defusion by offering each other solidarity in new ways and across artificial divides, writes Deb Harris.

Solidarity is illegal. Thatcher said so. She only permits us to strike if we have a specific and identifiable common complaint – we are not allowed to strike together in recognition of the general horror. In 2011, submissive as ever, the unions found the only thing that the public sector can legally unite around – pensions – and conveniently forgot that everyone is angry about a lot more than that. Their speeches, placards and leaflets were all about pensions. As if we had given up on anything but retirement. Continue reading “strikes and solidarity”

self-managed socialism: possible, urgent, necessary

Writing for Passa Palavra, Brazilian teacher Henrique T. Novaes looks at advantages and limitations of the Latin American experience of workers trying to overcome capitalist work relations through their control of their workplaces 

The destruction of the welfare state in Europe and the continuation of the state of social ills in the rest of the world are the consequences of an irrational society. In Spain, Portugal and Greece 40% of young people are unemployed and the state has unpayable debts. After riots in England’s capital city the Government insisted on calling the youth “vandals without a cause”, dismissing out of hand the obvious social causes of the revolt. Stratospheric public debts, neo-fascism, unemployment, underemployment, the return of hunger and poverty to Europe: words which keep appearing in a region which managed to create a restrained, partly nationalised – but capitalist nonetheless – capitalism in the 1945-73 period.

Capitalism under the hegemony of finance, turbo-marketisation and the return of primitive accumulation can only survive with increasing repression and the criminalisation of social movements. To cite a Latin-American example, Argentinian society reacted to the process of financialisation of its economy in 2001, a financialisation which gained strength after the military coup of 1976, throwing the country’s popular movements into the dust. In 2001 they did fight back, saying “Enough! Out with the lot of you!”: it was a symptom of the tiredness of neoliberal reforms and the neocolonisation of Argentinian society. However, the popular revolt of 2001 rapidly transformed into a new politics of ‘development’ under President Kirchner. Continue reading “self-managed socialism: possible, urgent, necessary”

death by a thousand (paper) cuts

Taimour Lay reports on the crisis in the print-media from a journalist’s perspective 

Most of you reading this article won’t be regular buyers of a newspaper. You might not have the time or the inclination. You might be rightly hacked off with the tabloids or fed up with the ideological biases of the broadsheets. You might think most papers most of the time won’t cover what you want in the way you want it. That’s probably why you picked up The Commune (plus, like Metro, we’re free.) Or you’re reading all you need online, including this paragraph…

In a spin: newspaper circulation is falling rapidly

For those of us who work in newspapers, it’s obvious we’re part of an industry in crisis. And it’s not just a slump, it’s an existential panic, a growing realisation that we’re the last generation who will have worked in print. A whole language and culture of work will go – the backbench, downtable, going off stone, the four-star, the slip, the runner, top and tailing – it will all be history, along with the final edition. Continue reading “death by a thousand (paper) cuts”