Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

'Historical materialism is the theory of the proletarian revolution.' Georg Lukács

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Stand Up to UKIP's racist populism

After Tory MP Douglas Carswell defects to UKIP, the need for a mass anti-racist Stand Up to UKIP campaign could not be greater: 

The United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) made a  breakthrough in the European Parliamentary Elections in May 2014. It came first in the election, polling 28 percent of the vote. UKIP  are not the only right wing, racist, populist party to make gains in the European elections. Across Europe we have seen a rise of these type of parties and further gains for the fascists such as Marine Le Pen’s Front National in France.

The economic crisis, a rise in racism and Islamophobia, and the failure of mainstream parties to relate to ordinary voters has allowed the growth of the right. We will end up in a dangerous situation if mainstream parties do not challenge UKIP’s racism and scapegoating of immigrants but get pulled behind them.
UKIP is neither anti-establishment or of the people. Alongside its racism towards immigrants and its blatant homophobia are a raft of policies the benefit those in power. UKIP is funded by millionaires and has backed calls for even more cuts than the Tories are putting through, for tax cuts for the super-rich, and for full privatisation of the NHS.

UKIP likes to say it is the “people’s army” in opposition to the political elite in the mainstream parties. But it is a racist party that blames migrant workers for the problems in society it is acting as a shield for the bankers who are really responsible for the economic crisis.

Don’t be fooled by Farage’s racist populism, demonstrate outside UKIP’s policy conference.
Assemble: 12pm, Saturday 27 September 
Sir Nigel Gresley Square, Doncaster, Yorkshire.

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Anti-racism is not to blame in Rotherham

The real factors behind the sex abuse scandal

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hands Up! Don't Shoot! Justice for Michael Brown!

No more racist police killings!
Assemble: 5:30pm, Wednesday 27 August.
US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ

Called by: Stand Up to Racism.
Supported by: Unite Against Fascism, Love Music Hate Racism, Stand Up to UKIP, United Friends and Family Campaign, Justice Campaigns, Marcia Rigg, 

On Saturday 9 August, unarmed, black teenager, Michael Brown<á> was shot dead by police in Ferguson, Missouri.
People in the United States and around the world have rightly been outraged. Brown’s murder is the latest in a long line of killings by US police of black men. Five have been murdered in the past month alone. Protestors have taken to the streets of Ferguson, Missouri every night since the incident demanding justice for Michael and an end to police killings. The Police response to the demonstrations has harked back to the days prior to the Civil Rights Movement. They have used tear gas, dogs, automatic weapons and armoured cars on demonstrators. Michael’s murder highlights the deeply racist nature of US society today, however, deaths in police custody are not limited to America. As we have seen in the cases of Mark Duggan, Smiley Culture, Sean Rigg, and Christopher Alder to name but a few.

Show solidarity with the family of Michael Brown, and the Ferguson demonstrators.
Join the demonstration outside the US Embassy in London to demand an end to racist, police killings.
Assemble: 5:30pm, Wednesday 27 August. US Embassy, 24 Grosvenor Square, London W1A 2LQ

Also: Join us at Notting Hill Carnival to raise the issue of racist police killings! 11am - 2pm, Monday 25 August, Westbourne Park tube station (look for our Hands Up! Don’t Shoot! signs)

#JusticeforMikeBrown #Ferguson #DontShootLDN

www.standuptoracism.org.uk  @AntiRacismDay tel: 0208 9717 426

Judith Orr reports for Socialist Worker at Michael Brown's funeral 

Ferguson Movement website

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Marxism and Trade Union Struggle


Marxism and Trade Union Struggle: The General Strike of 1926 (1986)by Tony Cliff and Donny Gluckstein is now online...

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

British solidarity with Palestinians

Gaza demonstration
150,000 rally for Gaza in London on 9 August 

London sees its biggest ever demonstration in support of Palestinians - on solidarity in Egypt, see also this piece 'The road to Jerusalem goes through the Arab capitals - and it's a two-way street' by Hossam El-Hamalawy in Cairo.  Even today in Leeds, amidst torrential weather conditions, despite the fact that the planned demonstration had been postponed to next week, I was able to take this picture of a few brave souls who had turned up anyway to say 'Free Palestine!' 

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Thursday, August 07, 2014

Frank Rosengarten



I was very sorry to learn of the passing of Frank Rosengarten, a respected American scholar of Antonio Gramsci and C.L.R. James (he once wrote a great article exploring the similarities and differences between the two of them) , who I only had the good fortune to meet with twice.  I remember best my first meeting with him back in 2009 at a conference in Canada, and this was in the aftermath of my recently publishing a rather critical review of his latest book.  I was therefore in a bit of trepidation about us meeting, as why would a highly respected professor even want to meet a lowly PhD student who had just critiqued a book he had spent years researching and writing?  Yet after meeting and discussing my review of his book over a coffee, I was struck by his lack of rancour with me, which might well have been justified, and his complete lack of any arrogance or egotism whatsoever (sadly something sometimes in short supply among academic Marxists) and we were able to have a very fraternal and friendly discussion, even if the different Marxist political traditions we came from meant there was never exactly going to be any complete meeting of minds.  As others who knew him better have all attested, there was just something very warm and gentlemanly about him, and my sincere condolences to his family, friends, comrades.

Edited to add:  Details of Frank Rosengarten's memoir, Through Partisan Eyes: My Friendships, Literary Education, and Political Encounters in Italy (1956-2013). With Sidelights on My Experiences in the United States, France, and the Soviet Union:

Frank Rosengarten’s Through Partisan Eyes is a remarkably powerful antidote to the pervasive view of Italy as a museum. His memoir brings poignantly into relief a vibrant scene of intellectuals (in the capacious definition of the term that encompasses scholars, artists, and many others who help shape a society’s self-representation and its broader world view) grappling with urgent social and political issues of national and international import. From as far back as his graduate student years at Columbia University, through the decades he spent as a university professor, to his current activities as a remarkably productive independent scholar, Rosengarten’s thinking, research, and writing have always been ineluctably intertwined with a deep concern for social justice and what in today’s parlance one would term the plight of the subalterns. He has never adopted the stance of the scholar gazing at his/her object of study with aesthetic detachment or moral indifference — nor has he ever tried to. It is, precisely and paradoxically, because he views and engages the world around him “through partisan eyes” that Rosengarten’s recollections of and reflections on his life, career, friendships and encounters differ refreshingly and, often, strikingly from what one normally expects to find and frequently encounters in memoirs of scholars and academics. Whereas most Americans are drawn to Italy as a museum of past glories and masterpieces, for Rosengarten, the museum, the archive, the literary canon stimulate meditations on the living material situations and conditions of people hankering for social justice and equity.
Joseph A. Buttigieg, University of Notre Dame

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Tuesday, August 05, 2014

The Eugene V Debs Reader



THE EUGENE V DEBS READER:Socialism and the Class Struggle
Edited by William A Pelz
With an introduction by Mark A Lause and an original introduction by Howard Zinn

 A collection of writings and speeches by one of the most radical of America's early 20th century labour leader which brings to life a once powerful Socialist movement. Eugene Victor Debs (1855-1926), one of America's most famous socialists, was an important political figure on the American political landscape in the early 20th century. He ran as the Socialist Party's (SP) presidential candidate five times and obtained nearly a million votes in 1912 and 1920. Debs was born into a family from Alsace and started on work on the railways. He was an elegant and fiery writer and orator. His literature is a pleasure to read. Throughout the book, Debs rails against the injustices of capitalism, arguing for a socialist system based on political and industrial democracy. He defends workers and trade unions that are being assaulted by employers while advocating the formation of industrial unions and rejecting craft unions that only included skilled workers. At a time when Blacks faced segregation and hostility from whites, Debs, in several speeches and articles, makes it clear that class and not skin colour was the only important factor. "Foolish and vain is the working man who makes the colour of his skin the stepping stone to his imaginary superiority," laments Debs. His writings witness to a broad and tolerant socialism. In "Sound Socialist Tactics" he opposes the SP leadership's attempts to limit debate. In "A Plea for Solidarity" Debs believed that the anarchist-led Industrial Workers of the World (for whom he had great respect) and their campaign of direct action and industrial sabotage alienated workers. The book is biographical in the sense that the speeches and articles paint a broader canvass of Debs' life. He writes that it was during his first time in jail, in 1894 for leading a strike of railroad workers, that he was led to become a socialist.

Eugene V Debs on War

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Monday, August 04, 2014

Megan Trudell on the real legacy of WWI

Understanding WWI - How revolutions ended the war

Understanding WWI - Why did the world go to war?

Empire and revolution: A socialist history of the First World War - Dave...

No More War

‘War is organised murder and nothing else....politicians who took us to war should have been given the guns and told to settle their differences themselves, instead of organising nothing better than legalised mass murder’
Harry Patch, last surviving British soldier from the First World War (who passed away in 2009, aged 111)
Harry-Patch-in-Ypres-in-2-009
Harry Patch (left) in 2004 shaking hand with Charles Kuentz (right), last remaining German soldier from the First World War at Ypres

‘It means an awful lot to me, these small gestures are the things that encourage friendship between peoples, so that we will never again fight wars against each other.’
Charles Kuentz, after meeting Patch, 2004

No Glory in War, 1914-2014
John Newsinger on the First World War - just war or imperial conflict?

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