Histomat: Adventures in Historical Materialism

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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Take on the Tories in Manchester 4 October


The TUC demonstration on 4 October in Manchester outside Tory Party conference looks set to be huge - Join Jeremy Corbyn and thousands of others in Manchester this weekend to say no to austerity - and no to racism.  We say open the borders now - Tories out, refugees in.


Monday, September 28, 2015

The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution trailer

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Defend Corbyn's anti-austerity policies


Please add your name to this statement initiated by Unite the Resistance

The overwhelming election of Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party is a hugely welcome development for everyone who opposes austerity, racism and war.
The thousands who packed into halls across Britain to hear Jeremy are clearly looking for a new kind of politics that breaks with the pro-austerity consensus. Some were established activists but many were young people from a generation that have faced the assault on EMA, spiralling tuition fees and the rise of zero hours contracts.
They have been inspired by the campaign’s message. After years where the Labour leadership often aped Tory policies the party now has a leader who is a socialist with a proven track record of standing in solidarity with those fighting against injustice and for peace.
His first act on being elected was to join the demonstration in support of refugees in London and to speak out in defence of the trade union movement and against the Tory Trade Union Bill.
He won in an election where over 400,000 voted and he won almost 60 percent of the vote. This gives him a clear democratic mandate to carry out the polices that he put forward during the leadership contest.
Any attempt by the media, or politicians from either inside or outside Labour Party to undermine Jeremy Corbyn and the policies he represents flies in the face of what is clearly an overwhelming democratic mandate.
Jeremy Corbyn’s victory has already sent shock waves through an establishment that for years has had the luxury of a political leadership on both sides of the House of Commons prepared to back austerity.
In Corbyn they see someone who stands for resistance to year after year of privatisation, cuts, and war. In short – policies that make the 99 percent pay for a crisis created by the 1 percent.
We call on all those both inside and outside the Labour Party who support the pro-union, anti-austerity, anti-racist and anti-war policies that Jeremy Corbyn has put forward to stand up to any attempts to undermine his democratic right to lead the Labour Party and the programme he has supported.

Currently supported by:
Sean Vernell & Jane Aitchison (Joint Secretaries Unite the Resistance)
Len McCluskey (General Secretary Unite)
Mark Serwotka (General Secretary PCS)
Ronnie Draper (General Secretary BFAWU)
Matt Wrack (General Secretary FBU)
Christine Blower (General Secretary NUT)
Dave Prentis (General Secretary Unison)
Michelle Stanistreet (General Secretary NUJ)
Dave Ward (General Secretary CWU)
Sally Hunt (General Secretary UCU)
Mary Bousted (General Secretary ATL)
Kevin Courtney (Deputy General Secretary NUT)
Tony Kearns (Deputy General Secretary CWU)
Ian Hodson (National President BFAWU)
Liz Lawrence (President UCU)
Peter Pinkney (President RMT)
Andy Smith (President NUJ)
Rob Goodfellow (UCU President elect)
Kevin McHugh (Deputy President PCS)
Janice Godrich (President PCS)
Cheryl Gedling (Acting Vice President PCS)
Martin Kavanagh (PCS DWP Vice President)
Zita Holbourne (PCS exec & BARAC)
Ian Gawther (PCS RAC Group branch chair)
Gordon Rowntree (PCS Assistant group Secretary HMRC)
Mary Ferguson (PCS NEC & Northern Region Chair)
Sarah Wooley (BFAWU NEC)
Zita Holbourne (PCS exec & BARAC)
Kevin McHugh (Deputy President PCS)
Ian Gawther (PCS RAC Group branch chair)
Gordon Rowntree (PCS HMRC Assistant Group Secretary)
Mary Ferguson (PCS NEC & Northern Regional Chair)
Dave Muritu (UCU NEC & Chair Black members' standing committee)
Richard McEwan (UCU NEC & FEC vice chair)
George Atwell (BFAWU full time officer)
Sharon Holder (National Officer GMB)

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Monday, September 14, 2015

I love the smell of Blairites crying in the morning...

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Friday, September 04, 2015

Refugees are welcome here day of action Saturday 12 September

Refugees are welcome here - National Day of Action Saturday 12 September 2015,

London details - assemble 12pm, Assembly point Marble Arch 2pm Rally,Downing Street
National day of action, Called by Stand up to Racism, BARAC, Stop the War Coalition, Migrant Rights Network  War on Want, Peoples Assembly Against Austerity, Unite Against Fascism, Movement Against Xenophobia, Love Music Hate Racism and Black Out London

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Revolutionaries and the Labour Party

 Phil Evans on the Labour Party and socialism

In 1982, at the height of 'Bennism', the late, great Marxist Duncan Hallas (1925-2002) - author of among other things a pamphlet on The Labour Party: Myth and Reality, wrote an important article for International Socialism on 'Revolutionaries and the Labour Party'.  As Hallas put it, 'the aim of this article is a modest one. It is to clarify the attitudes revolutionaries have taken towards the Labour Party, to review the experience and to assess the situation of today. In particular, the problem of what is called entrism – revolutionary organisations operating inside the Labour Party – is considered in some detail'.  Amidst the exciting rise of 'Corbynism', it may well repay re-reading by revolutionaries again today, not least as his conclusion retains its relevance:  'The task of revolutionary socialists is to face reality, to recognise things as they are, to fight very hard in support of all the struggles that do occur, to seek to increase their numbers and influence on that basis, to apply the united-front approach systematically and untiringly. It is also to patiently explain, to clarify what is and what is not revolutionary work. Both these tasks require a revolutionary party, operating openly under its own banner...'

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Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Leon Trotsky's relevance today

Leon Trotsky speaking in Copenhagen in 1932 (photo: Robert Capa)

As the Jeremy Corbyn campaign continues to strike fear into the hearts of the Labour Party grandees and bureaucracy, who have in characteristic Stalinist fashion prosecuted what has been dubbed 'Operation Icepick' to purge the lists of those eligible to vote in the Labour Party leadership election of 'Trotskyists', it is perhaps worth revisiting the political thought of the original victim of 'Operation Icepick', Leon Trotsky himself, given this week marks the 75th anniversary of his murder at the hands of a Stalinist agent. Sue Caldwell, who incidentally once wrote a wonderful introductory guide to chess which taught me the little I know about strategy and tactics in that game, has written a timely short piece - online here in this week's Socialist Worker which does just that.  It is important to pay tribute to Trotsky, who was not only the heroic sword of the Russian Revolution and the shield against the Stalinist counter-revolution until his tragic murder, but also a revolutionary whose political and intellectual thought as a Marxist was so original and outstanding it retains relevance in the 21st century.  And as Caldwell rightly notes,
'It’s never easy to get the correct balance right between working with and against reformists and their leaders.
Revolutionaries have to stand with them to defend working class organisation against the bosses and fascists. But it’s also crucial that revolutionaries argue against them sowing illusions in reformism and build a revolutionary alternative. For example, we welcome left reformist parties such as Syriza, Podemos and the momentum around the Jeremy Corbyn campaign.  These can push politics to the left. But only the working class has the power to transform society. '

Some suggested further reading on Trotsky:

A Rebel's Guide to Trotsky - Esme Choonara

Trotsky's Marxism - Duncan Hallas

Tony Cliff's four volume biography of Trotsky is also now online - see here.

Edited to add: Speaking of Trotsky and today, what would he have made of the contemporary Black Lives Matter' in the US?  Well, we know he was a more profound thinker about race in the US than he is often given credit for, but Paul Buhle (for a recent interview with Buhle by the way, see here) has also recently suggested that, via the writings of the then Trotskyist C.L.R. James and with the help of the Harlem lawyer and also then a Trotskyist Conrade Lynn Malcolm X read and studied 'The Revolutionary Answer to the Negro Problem in the United States' (1948) which represented the best analysis of the American Trotskyist movement on race at that time,while Malcolm was in prison in the early 1950s.  So not only would Trotsky have welcomed the new Black Lives Matter movement, but perhaps the intellectual origins of the Black Lives Matter movement - via Malcolm X and C.L.R. James - may owe something to the inspiring life and work of Trotsky...

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