the occupations at uc berkeley – mini documentary

We present here a short documentary about one of the student-worker occupations in California, at the University of California campus at Berkeley.

Some of us who participated in university occupations earlier in 2009, particularly over the summer at SOAS, will easily see the contrast between the attitude of student militants in this film, and members of the SWP who were an organised force in occupations in Britain.  In this film, occupiers stick unrelentingly to their demands, including those in solidarity with sacked workers.  They are not afraid to make police break down the doors as the price for the university’s unwillingness to meet those demands.  They understand that the power of the movement is not in a careful retreat at every stage (and there are always avenues and opportunities for careful retreats for those who want to find them).  Rather, the power of the movement is in its dedication to solidarity, its militancy, in the “ever expanding union” to which it gives birth.  The solidarity with workers shown by the UC Berkeley occupiers puts the SOAS occupation in the shade.

In the future we must raise the slogan, better to be dragged out for something you believe in, than walk out willingly for something you do not!

(brief commentary by Joe Thorne)

support the postal strikes!

Tens of thousands of Royal Mail workers will be staging 24 hour strikes over the next two days.  We would encourage anyone who is able to visit picket lines, and talk to workers, as well as looking to set up local strike support groups.

First, from midnight tonight, workers will begin strikes in Mail Centres – the fifty or so large sorting and distribution depots around the country.  Then, from early Friday morning workers in Delivery Offices will be on strike (except where Delivery Offices are based in Mail Centres, in which case they will be out at the same time as Mail Centre staff).  Your local delivery office is where you may have been to pick up a parcel if it could not be delivered.  If you do not know where it is, Royal Mail provides a service you can use to find out: call 08457 740 740.


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the cuban revolution – raya dunayevskaya (1960)

Introduction by Chris Kane

Many on the Left consider Cuba a socialist country, its defiant stand against U.S. imperialism is widely admired, and the idea that there is at least one country in the world where a classless society is being built has a powerful appeal to wishful thinking. Indeed, for those who consider that the essence of socialism consists of state planning, Cuba does meet their concept of socialism.

What this ignores are the actual power relations in Cuban society. Power to decide upon economic strategy or foreign policy – or to repress dissent – is tightly held by the bureaucracy of this single party state. Capital is accumulated as state property. The mass organisations that exist are controlled from above; they do not express the free opinions of the workers, still less do they enable the workers to control production.

Here we reprint an article written by Raya Dunayevskaya in 1960, just one year after Castro’s guerrilla movement swept to power. Dunayevskaya reveals the new forms of class domination that were already being established in that unfinished revolution, and sharply criticises the “old radicals” who (then as now) cast themselves as cheerleaders for state-capitalism in Cuba. This article was originally published in the U.S. Marxist-Humanist paper, News & Letters, in December 1960. Continue reading “the cuban revolution – raya dunayevskaya (1960)”

vestas – the struggle on the horizon

By Joe Thorne

An important struggle is brewing on the Isle of Wight: we all need to take note, both of what has happened so far (and the lessons we can learn from it); and the possibilities in the coming weeks.

A factory, the only remaining manufacturer of wind-farm turbines in the UK, is due to be closed by its owners, Vestas, who are making all 500 workers redundant.   The company, like so many of those making redundancies at the moment, is using the recession as cover for cuts which are motivated by nothing other than ordinary cost cutting.  Jobs are being moved to the USA.

But this is not only about jobs.   News of the planned closure has also ignited outrage in the movement against climate change.  When we should be converting to an economy based on renewable, low-carbon energy, the closure of the Vestas factory is just what doesn’t need to happen.  So Vestas is not just a class fight – though it is that.  It is a class fight which raises issues of climate change, and the tension between capitalist production, and social production.

Workers are now discussing occupying one of the two sites on the Isle of Wight, and need the support of workers and climate change campaigners everywhere. Continue reading “vestas – the struggle on the horizon”

an unfinished revolution in ukraine

We present here a translation of an article by a member of the Alliance of Revolutionary Socialists, a group based in Russia.  The article describes the political content of the Orange Revolution and its meaning today, in the context of economic crisis and the decline of the imperial power of the United States.

The 4th anniversary of the Orange Revolution has been marked by yet another clash within the camp of its victors, and presents a good opportunity to debate the merits of this “revolution”.  Its most noteworthy aspect is its dismal confinement to bourgeois character in a time of degenerating capitalism, when a bourgeois revolution has no capacity to solve any social problems.

taras_mazyar1 Continue reading “an unfinished revolution in ukraine”

presentation of the commune to the midlands discussion forum, 25 april

The Midlands Discussion Forum was held on April 25th in Birmingham, bringing together delegates from a number of ‘left communist’ groupings, as well the commune and a number of unaffilated individuals.  (See here for an interview, which provides an accessible introduction to the ideas of the left communists.)  Comrades have been asked to circulate notes from their various presentations, which were to focus on the theme of How can the working class respond to the economic crisis? Presentations are also available from the Communist Workers Organisation, former Communist Bulletin Group and International Communist Current.  Notes used for the presentation by the delegate from the commune follow. Continue reading “presentation of the commune to the midlands discussion forum, 25 april”

the lewisham bridge primary school occupation

by Joe Thorne

Parents of pupils at Lewisham Bridge Primary School, together with supporters, have been in occupation of the school roof since 23rd April, in opposition to Lewisham Council’s plans to demolish the school building, and replace it with a school run by a shadowy guild of wealthy businessmen known as the Worshipful Company of Leather Sellers, which dates back to the beginning of mercantile capitalism in the 14th Century.

Lewisham Bridge Occupation

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