italy reading group: class struggle during the second world war

The next of the London Commune’s reading group meetings on the class struggle in Italy takes place on Monday 30th May. This week we will be looking at the wave of class struggle unleashed by the events of World War II; the collapse of Benito Mussolini’s fascist regime; and the struggle over the post-Liberation social order.

The recommended reading is just two articles, even though each is fairly long. We have prepared a reading pack, including a timeline of events. Click here to download. Continue reading “italy reading group: class struggle during the second world war”

feminism, organisation and class struggle

a day of mutual learning and exchange hosted by The Commune, 20th February, London

We believe that most of the left has a pretty poor record on gender. Even if overt sexism is less common than in the past, informal hierarchies and alienated, gendered relations run rampant. But this practice can –  and must – change if we are ever going to revolutionise society.

As against swallowing the old left traditions, we believe it is important that the left critically reappraise our theory, practice and organisation in the light of socialist feminist politics, as well as the experience of working women’s struggles more broadly.

This is not a day for The Commune to lay down any ‘party line’, but rather to create a space for discussion of the insights of anti-capitalist feminism and the inter-relation between class and gender struggles. We hope to exchange ideas in a participatory, un-dogmatic and inclusive manner. We have planned three workshops.  Continue reading “feminism, organisation and class struggle”

the commune issue 17

The September issue of The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see PDF or use the list of individual articles as they are posted online.

Contact us at if you would like to buy a printed copy (£1 + 50p postage) or set up a subscription. (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international.


spectre of communism haunts china’s rulers – Adam Ford on the recent strike wave

solidarity with the miners’ strike in ukraine – by Chris Kane

demo to support berns salonger cleaners – an IWW member writes on recent solidarity initiatives with migrant workers in sweden

is UNISON ready to fight the cuts? – a UNISON branch official looks at the state of the union as it gears up for major confrontations with the government

Life at work

a “zero hours” contract… for thousands of hours – Jack Staunton writes on his work in a government market research call centre

‘the security is to keep us in!’ – Sharon Borthwick reviews Rivethead, a ‘book of tales from the assembly line’

Strategies for fighting the cuts

building a movement against cuts – by Steve Ryan

nothing will be like it was before – Tom Denning writes on strategies we need and strategies we don’t

no escape from theory – Oleg Resin revisits the 1970s ‘state debate’ and questions the nature of public services

the ‘social wage’ and the hackney nurseries campaign – Camille Barbagallo and Nic Beuret look at how the cuts axe is falling, and why

proposed principles for anti-cuts movements – a motion by Dave Spencer to The Commune’s upcoming conference


from meltdown to upheaval – an assembly on the crisis and how we organise hosted by The Commune, 11th September

the commune around britain – details of local groups and forums

women at the cutting edge – Feminist Fightback meeting on the crisis, 30th October

Our network, the left and theory

potere operaio: the last firebrands – Martine Bourne reports on one of the recent London forums on communist organisations past and present

a syndicalism for the 21st century? – Sheila Cohen draws the lessons of the 1910-14 Great Unrest for a modern understanding of workers’ democracy

for creative and critical thinking on the left – Permanent Revolution’s Eleanor Davies calls for joint forums and a culture of openness

the commune issue 13

The April issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF or see individual articles as they are posted online in the list below

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact

‘we are fighting for now and for our future’ – speeches by Jerry Hicks, Steve Kelly, Juan Carlos Piedra

striking against labour’s budget – by Steve Ryan

recession and solidarity in france – by Ramate Keita

anarcha-fems meet – by Bahar Mustafa

royal mail deal: a post mortem – by ‘Postman Pat’

BA strike: against the race to the bottom – by Gregor Gall

obamacare: the nuns strike back – by Ernie Haberkern

ESOL students and staff defend childcare – by Sally Haywill

20 years of namibian independence – by Jade McClune

terre’blanche, ‘black boers’ and the class war – by Adam Ford

gender, nation, class and the first intifada – by Aitemad Muhannah

the deficit! the deficit! but what about unemployment? – by Oisín Mac Giollamóir

‘blair plus’: a future fair for all? – by David Broder

flying the flag for socialism in scotland – by Ewan Robertson and Angela Gorrie

anna walentynowicz: an inspiring class fighter – by Chris Ford

questions of communist recomposition – by Ed Griffiths

for a league of communists – by Allan Armstrong

political platform of our communist network

upcoming events

the state of the struggle: london forum, 2nd february

The next of The Commune’s series of London public forums will explore the themes raised by the coming general election campaign. The first such meeting will review the class struggle in the era of the New Labour government. What were the successes, what opportunities were missed, and how will we resist the post-election ruling class onslaught?

The meeting takes place from 7pm on Tuesday 2nd February at the Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, near Old Street (map below). Speakers confirmed so far include participants in last year’s Royal Mail, Visteon and Tower Hamlets College strikes. Continue reading “the state of the struggle: london forum, 2nd february”

issue 10 of the commune

The January issue of our monthly paper The Commune is now available. Click the image below to see the PDF, or see articles as they are posted online in the list below.

To purchase a printed copy for £1 + 50p postage, use the ‘donate’ feature here. You can also subscribe (£12 a year UK/£16 EU/£20 international) or order 5 copies a month to sell (£4) online here. If you want to pay by cheque, contact Continue reading “issue 10 of the commune”

a workers’ movement for communism

by Steve Ryan

So it’s 2010 and the media is full of reflections on the last decade. Looking at it from the point of view of the Left it’s an interesting one. Massive marches against war, the rise of the BNP, the collapse of pretty well all initiatives to build an alternative to Labour. The rise and fall of left led unions alongside occupations and wildcat strikes, climate camps and environmental protests, the list goes on and in many respects shows the Left on the defensive.

Depressing? Actually no. Looking at the areas of hope in the last 10 years is a lesson for the future. Continue reading “a workers’ movement for communism”

21st december london forum: we won’t pay for their christmas

The Monday 21st December London ‘uncaptive minds’ public forum will be a review of the year’s class struggles, followed by Xmas drinks.

This open discussion meeting addressing the successes and weaknesses of our movement in 2009 will include participants involved in the Royal Mail, London Underground and Tower Hamlets College strikes as well as the Visteon occupation. Continue reading “21st december london forum: we won’t pay for their christmas”

are we ready for a winter of discontent?

by Sheila Cohen, NUJ Book Branch

Rulers are often more afraid of the political implications of worker activity than workers are aware of them. To take an extreme example, when the police went on strike in 1919 Lloyd George famously intoned, “The country was nearer to Bolshevism that day than any time since”. How many of the high-helmeted bobbies packing Whitehall would have seen it like that?


So, coming down to earth a bit, when the Financial Times once again evokes that tired old phrase “Winter of Discontent”, perhaps we should take it seriously. Continue reading “are we ready for a winter of discontent?”

‘schools for communism’? reading group on trade unionism and workplace organising

“The Trade union is not a predetermined phenomenon … becomes a determinate institution , i.e. takes on definite historical form  to the extent that the strength and will of the workers who are its members impress a policy and propose an aim that defines it.” (Antonio Gramsci)


The next of The Commune’s reading group series in London will be on the topic of workplace struggle and the theory of trade unionism. Following our recent series on ‘communism from below’, this series will look more closely at how the working class organises and the strengths and limitations of different means of struggle.

The autumn 2009 sessions’ details appear below – the appropriate texts will be uploaded shortly as well as venue details. We encourage free discussion and do not set down a ‘party line’ – the discussion is roughly based on the given questions and the reading material, but also its practical implications in the context of today. Indeed, the second part of the series, in early 2010, will look at the changed shape of the working class and such themes as casualisation, globalisation, migrant workers, gender division of the workforce and anti-union laws. Email for more details. Continue reading “‘schools for communism’? reading group on trade unionism and workplace organising”

where next for the unions?

by Steve Ryan

Recent events covered by The Commune such as the wild cat strikes and Visteon would indicate a surge in militancy amongst workers. However, look a bit deeper and there are real problems emerging in the trade union movement.

Both the wild cats and Visteon took the unions by surprise, but more telling was the lack of concrete support given by the union leaders and general union movement.

Also, as we sink into the deepest recession since the 30s the reaction of the TUC was to produce a booklet on how to spread your debts and write CVs! Continue reading “where next for the unions?”

a workers’ guide to bureaucracy

…or anyone in a movement which should be fighting but isnt

By Joe Thorne

You might have noticed that though trade unions are supposed to be workers’ organisations, they don’t always act like it.  You’ve probably noticed this first in a contrast between the energy, bravery and camaraderie of a campaigning organisation of grassroots union members at your place of work, and the general apathy, cowardice, inertia, incompetence and paternalism of higher levels of the union.  The point of this guide is to explain why something that should be so good got messed up, and what to do about it. (Also available as as a PDF.)

Continue reading “a workers’ guide to bureaucracy”

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”

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