twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: forum this thursday

The Commune’s 25th June London forum: click here for leaflet

Polish Poster 2

Twenty years ago a revolutionary wave on the scale of 1848 and 1919 swept across Eastern Europe and the USSR. It brought down the state-socialist regimes which called themselves “communist”. Western capitalism declared the “collapse of communism” and some spoke of the “end of history” with a new era of liberal democracy. Instead the era of neo-liberal globalisation brought a new phase of war and recessions: in Eastern Europe the optimism of 1989 gave way to economic shock-therapy and widespread impoverishment, while in the former USSR the old elite has been replaced by the rule of exploitative oligarchs. Continue reading “twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: forum this thursday”

twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: june 25th forum

click here for leaflet

Twenty years ago a revolutionary wave on the scale of 1848 and 1919 swept across Eastern Europe and the USSR. It brought down the state-socialist regimes which called themselves “communist”. Western capitalism declared the “collapse of communism” and some spoke of the “end of history” with a new era of liberal democracy. Instead the era of neo-liberal globalisation brought a new phase of war and recessions: in Eastern Europe the optimism of 1989 gave way to economic shock-therapy and widespread impoverishment, while in the former USSR the old elite has been replaced by the rule of exploitative oligarchs.

What happened to the radical ideals of the freedom movements of workers and intellectuals which challenged the old regimes, which called for workers self-management, and end to all forms of oppression and alienation, which opposed the ruling bureaucracy and the restoration of capitalism? The legacy of totalitarian “communism” still hangs over us all; amidst the worse crisis of capitalism in decades there remains a real crisis of confidence in a viable alternative to this system.

Did communism really collapse? Can we develop a vision of an emancipatory communism in the 21st century? On Thursday June 25th The Commune is hosting a forum in London to address these questions. Continue reading “twenty years after the ‘collapse of communism’: june 25th forum”

‘do we live in a democracy?’ the commune debates compass

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds’ public forums takes place in London on the evening of Monday June 8th, and is on the question of ‘do we live in a democracy?’. We will be debating a speaker from centre-left Labour pressure group COMPASS.

The recent MPs’ expenses scandal has brought renewed attention to the checks and balances of the House of Commons, from right and left alike. There is widespread anger at the excesses of the worst offenders, with the Speaker of the Commons axed, some arguing for more ‘regulation’ of the system and others calling for a clearout of the current MPs in favour of more ‘responsible’ MPs and more ‘independents’.

But few are questioning the Parliamentary system itself (see our recent editorial): although in recent months the mainstream press has been happy to use Marx’s economics to explain the economic crisis, they don’t dare to touch communists’ radical critique of the state, the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’.

At the meeting we will not only be looking at the current scandal and the response, but also the state of our democratic rights in general and its implications for our struggle for a different kind of society. The speakers leading off the debate will be The Commune’s Nathan Coombs and COMPASS’s Andy Howell.

The meeting takes place from 7pm on the 8th at the Artillery Arms, near Old Street. All are welcome – get in touch with us at uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you would like more information. Map of the venue below. Continue reading “‘do we live in a democracy?’ the commune debates compass”

8th june london forum: do we live in a democracy?

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds’ public forums takes place in London on the evening of Monday June 8th, and is on the question of ‘do we live in a democracy?’.

The recent MPs’ expenses scandal has brought renewed attention to the checks and balances of the House of Commons, from right and left alike. There is widespread anger at the excesses of the worst offenders, with the Speaker of the Commons axed, some arguing for more ‘regulation’ of the system and others calling for a clearout of the current MPs in favour of more ‘responsible’ MPs and more ‘independents’.

But few are questioning the Parliamentary system itself (see our recent editorial): although in recent months the mainstream press has been happy to use Marx’s economics to explain the economic crisis, they don’t dare to touch communists’ radical critique of the state, the ‘executive committee of the ruling class’.

At the meeting we will not only be looking at the current scandal and the response, but also the state of our democratic rights in general and its implications for our struggle for a different kind of society. The speakers leading off the debate will be The Commune’s Nathan Coombs and Labour left MP John McDonnell.

The meeting takes place from 7pm on the 8th at the Artillery Arms, near Old Street. All are welcome – get in touch with us at uncaptiveminds@gmail.com if you would like more information. Map of the venue below. Continue reading “8th june london forum: do we live in a democracy?”

imperialism today and the anti-war movement we need: may 11th

The next of The Commune’s London ‘uncaptive minds’ forums will take place on Monday May 11th.

As well as characterising modern-day imperialism and specific struggles, we will be discussing  such questions as – why do we prioritise campaigning about certain national oppressions over others?; why are the tactics of the Stop the War Coalition so conservative, and how can we overcome them?; what is the relationship between international solidarity and our critical distance from particular national movements?

Speakers include the Israeli socialist Moshé Machover, a speaker from the Tamil cause and an activist involved in an anti-capitalist caucus in the Gaza solidarity movement.

The meeting will take place from 7pm on the 11th at the Plough, on Museum St, near Tottenham Court Road tube. Continue reading “imperialism today and the anti-war movement we need: may 11th”

update on the commune’s activities around britain

Communards in Wrexham have been busy pushing a May day march and rally through the local trade council. The theme will be around May day as a workers movement day as oppossed to the racism and hate of the BNP, who are active in the area.

After the march a series of meetings are being arranged around the title “Storming the heavens – alternatives to capitalism”.

Paper sales will also be launched in and around the town centre. Contact Steve Ryan via uncaptiveminds@gmail.com

In the West Midlands we take part in the Coventry Radical Network, whose  next meeting is on Monday April 27th from 7.30pm at Friends’ Meeting House, Hill Street, Coventry. 

The topic of the meeting is Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs), with Dave Green (Northampton Save Our Services) on the fight against Schools PFIs in Northampton – the largest scheme in Europe and a speaker from Coventry Friends of the Earth arguing against the £1 billion PFI Incinerator scheme in Coventry. More info: call Dave Spencer on 02476-450027 Continue reading “update on the commune’s activities around britain”

another speaker confirmed for 20th april european elections meeting

We are pleased to announce another speaker for our upcoming London forum on ‘European elections: where should we turn our fire?’. RMT activist Andy Littlechild will be speaking alongside Mick Dooley (rank-and-file candidate for general secretary of the builders’ union UCATT) and Peter Gowan (Professor of International Relations at London Metropolitan University and a member of the editorial board of New Left Review)

The public meeting takes place from 7pm at the Lucas Arms, near King’s Cross on Monday 20th April.

We will be looking at the European Union’s response to the recession and its proposed constitution; whether there is any worth in contesting elections and whether they have any relevance to today’s workplace struggles; and the politics of the No2EU election campaign backed by the RMT, Morning Star and Socialist Party.

All are welcome. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for further details or to register your interest. See below for map of the venue. Continue reading “another speaker confirmed for 20th april european elections meeting”

the struggle for women’s emancipation today

Liz Leicester, chair of Camden UNISON, spoke to our 9th March London forum on the meaning of International Women’s Day:

First of all, as a socialist I would always say that the struggles of women and the self-activity of women is very much a part of the struggle for the self-emancipation of the whole working class, and I’ve always seen it in that context. That’s where we have to place the issues that are called ‘women’s issues’.

A small quote I think is good, which I think The Commune has published on its website, by Francois Chesnais is “Inequalities and oppression do not exist separately from each other. They translate into concrete realities the way in which this mode of production, capitalism, functions.” For me that’s at the centre of this discussion about women’s issues.

There are some very real and concrete things. There is an estimate, for instance, that women internationally do twice as much unpaid work in the home than they do paid work. That is not unimportant. But women in paid work are still dominated by a patriarchal system as well as class domination, even in countries where some progress has been made, such as this one, in reducing women’s dependence on men. Continue reading “the struggle for women’s emancipation today”

the commune’s 20th april forum ‘euro elections: where should we turn our fire?’

The next of The Commune’s London ‘uncaptive minds’ forums on capitalism and the working class today will be on the subject of ‘European elections: where should we turn our fire?’

The public meeting takes place from 7pm at the Lucas Arms, near King’s Cross on Monday 20th April.

We will be looking at the European Union’s response to the recession and its proposed constitution; whether there is any worth in contesting elections and whether they have any relevance to today’s workplace struggles; and the politics of the No2EU election campaign backed by the RMT, Morning Star and Socialist Party.

Speakers confirmed so far include Mick Dooley (rank-and-file candidate for general secretary of the builders’ union UCATT) and Peter Gowan (Professor of International Relations at London Metropolitan University and a member of the editorial board of New Left Review)

All are welcome. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for further details or to register your interest. See below for map of the venue. Continue reading “the commune’s 20th april forum ‘euro elections: where should we turn our fire?’”

videos of ‘uncaptive minds’ forum on women in the class struggle today

On 9th March The Commune hosted a London forum on the subject of “women in the class struggle today”. The speakers were Liz Leicester (chair, Camden Unison); Sheila Cohen (author, Ramparts of Resistance), Mary Partington (Left Women’s Network) and Clara Osagiede (RMT cleaners’ grade rep). 21 people attended.

Seven videos of the introductory speeches are below. The end of the speeches and the ensuing discussion will appear shortly, and we aim to make such video recordings of our meetings a more regular feature of this website.

Continue reading “videos of ‘uncaptive minds’ forum on women in the class struggle today”

update on 30th march forum

We are pleased to announce an addition to the line-up of speakers for The Commune’s 30th March London forum on “what unions do we have, and what unions do we need?”.

Fabien Liberski is the Convenor and Health & Safety Officer in Southwark Council, and was victimised by his employer with the collusion of UNISON bureaucrats.

He will be speaking alongside Alberto Einstein Durango, a cleaner activist involved in disputes at Schroders and Willis in the City of London, in the face of resistance by the Unite union; and John Moloney, a PCS activist in the Department for Work and Pensions.

The meeting is from 7pm on Monday 30th March at the Lucas Arms, near King’s Cross. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more info, and see here for a map.

30th march london forum: what unions do we have, and what do we need?

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums on “capitalism and the working class today” is on the subject of “what unions do we have, and what do we need?

The meeting, taking place at the Lucas Arms near London’s King’s Cross from 7pm on Monday 30th, will be looking at the decomposition of the official labour movement in recent decades; the signs of revival of class struggle and the new forms of activism taking place among the casual workforce;  and the dynamics of rank and file and bureaucracy, and how we can empower self-organisation.

The speakers leading off the discussion will be John Moloney, a PCS activist in the Department for Work and Pensions; Fabien Liberski, Convenor and Health & Safety Officer in Southwark Council, who was victimised by his employer with the collusion of UNISON bureaucrats; and Alberto Einstein Durango, a cleaner activist who played an important role in the victory of cleaners at Schroders in the City of London and is now helping with the Mitie/Willis campaign in the face of resistance by the Unite union.

All are welcome to come and take part in the debate. Email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to register your interest or to find out more information. A map appears below.

forum monday 9th march: women in the class struggle today

The next of The Commune’s ‘uncaptive minds‘ forums takes place in London the day after International Women’s Day, and is on the subject of women in the class struggle today.

Women workers have been struck particularly hard by the economic crisis, and are also a significant majority of the low-paid and casual workforce. So what are the ties between gender and class oppression? How can we fight back? What are the lessons of the movements of the past? All are welcome to join the debate.

Speakers include:

Clara Osagiede (RMT cleaners’ grade rep)

Liz Leicester (chair, Camden UNISON)

Sheila Cohen (author, Ramparts of Resistance)

Mary Partington (Left Women’s Network)

The meeting takes place from 6:30pm on Monday 9th March at the Old Red Lion theatre, near Angel tube station (click for map).

16th february forum: the storm in the world economy

The last winter has seen the biggest breakdown in the world financial system since the Great Depression, and the opening-up of what promises to be a deep and prolonged recession.

Banks have collapsed. Household names from Woolworths to Wedgwood have gone to the wall. The ideological dominance of the free-marketers and neoliberals has been swept away.

And yet few are challenging the real cause of the crisis – capitalism itself. The broadsheets write acres about Karl Marx, but in most Western countries the workers’ movement is not even fit to take a punch at the ruling class.

We will be discussing the composition of the global working class today, its relation
to the economic crisis and the prospects of uprooting this system. Speakers:

Kim Moody (leading figure in the American rank-and-file trade union publication
Labor Notes)

Andrew Fisher (Left Economics Advisory Panel)

7pm, Monday 16th February, Lucas Arms, nr. King’s Cross, London