The danger of the far right

With right-wing politicians like Hungarian premier Viktor Orbán not slow to blame ‘foreigners’ for the coronavirus crisis, the looming world downturn could provide new opportunities for the far right to develop. PETER TAAFFE reviews a recent book that charts the growing threat.

The Far Right Today

By Cas Mudde

Published by Polity Press, 2019, £14-99

The continuing murderous activity in Europe and further afield, largely by small right-wing groups and even individuals – ‘lone wolves’ – has drawn increased attention of writers and commentators about the far right, how they are confronted, and what are the perspectives for these organisations. Cas Mudde’s small book is packed with vital, necessary information on the far right today in general and the different types of organisations to be found in their camp. The writer provides not just an explanation of the different far right organisations but a glossary of these organisations. Moreover he correctly insists on accurate terminology in describing their political physiognomy as well as the differences between them.

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Lessons from Chile for a new era of struggle

TONY SAUNOIS examines what type of demands Marxists need to advance in this era to help develop workers’ and young people’s consciousness towards the programme and the organisational forms necessary to decisively overturn capitalism and begin the construction of a new, socialist society.

The explosive mass movements which have rocked Latin America, Haiti, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and some other countries in the recent period all have their particularly unique characteristics but also many common features. They are an expression of the mass anger and opposition to the ruling classes, neo-liberalism, nepotism and corruption which has accumulated over decades. These heroic movements have generally assumed a class character, uniting workers and the oppressed across ethnic, religious and gender divides in a common struggle. A generation of new young workers and students has been at the forefront.

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Global Warning: Pricing out greenhouse gases

Current events have brought out starkly the question: is society fit to deal with global threats, from coronavirus to climate change? For over two decades, the UN, IMF, numerous governments and businesses have tried to agree on market-based solutions to global warming, like carbon pricing. But, asks MARTIN POWELL-DAVIES, can the capitalist system really solve the climate crisis?

In 1997, the Kyoto protocol established the setting of a price for carbon as capitalism’s solution for reducing atmospheric greenhouse gases, chiefly carbon dioxide, in order to prevent a critical increase in global temperatures. The treaty was meant to establish a global market for trading carbon permits that, through the magic of the market, would incentivise individual nations and companies to cut their greenhouse gas emissions and invest in low-carbon alternatives.

The preferred market model at the outset was an international cap-and-trade system. The idea was that countries would be set a limit on emissions totalling an overall global cap. If one nation – or a business given its own limit by a government – wanted to exceed its cap, it would have to buy additional emission rights from the carbon market. If it managed to reduce emissions beneath the cap, it could sell the unused allocations on the market as well.

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A new world disorder

The Rise and Fall of Peace on Earth

By Michael Mandelbaum

Published by Oxford University Press, 2019, £18-99

Reviewed by Robin Clapp

The last two decades have witnessed an intensification of economic and military rivalries across the globe with US armed forces intervening in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The legitimacy of the established capitalist order is questioned by millions for whom thirty years of rampant neo-liberal globalisation have yielded only the bitter fruits of privatisation, poverty and a continually widening wealth-gap between the oligarchs and the rest that is greater than at any time in human history.

Serious representatives of capitalism question where this rampant inequality may lead, while conceding that the stability of their system is increasingly susceptible to unsustainable mountains of dangerous debt and the potentially catastrophic impacts of climate change. Some openly warn that world capitalism has entered a great stagnation and in some regions is beginning to unravel backwards. The next world recession will exacerbate all the pre-existing political tensions between nation states and imperialist power blocs.

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Editorial: Preparing for the post-Corbyn era

Just two months after the general election the simmering divisions within the Tory party that were quieted by the outcome of the December contest, bubbled back to the surface with Sajid Javid’s dramatic resignation as chancellor on February 13.

The immediate cause was Boris Johnson’s ultimatum that Javid’s advisors be sacked, echoing the conflict between Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson, who resigned as chancellor in October 1989 just a year before her own mortal wounding by the mass anti-poll tax non-payment movement (in which the Socialist Party’s predecessor, Militant, played a critical role).

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Establishment parties hammered in Ireland election

The general election in Ireland saw a seismic change in the electoral landscape, with a big surge in support for Sinn Féin. Presenting itself as a radical, anti-establishment alternative, Sinn Féin was able to channel much of the voters’ anger, especially among the youth.

The party, which had its first TD (a member of the Dáil – the Irish parliament) elected in 1997, took 24.5% of the vote, winning 37 seats out of 160. Prime minister Leo Varadkar’s right-wing Fine Gael was pushed into third place on 20.9% (35 seats).

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Is the BBC worth saving?

At the end of January, the British Broadcasting Corporation announced the latest redundancies in its drive to ‘save’ £800 million between 2016 and 2022, following reductions to its licence fee income. Fresh lay-offs in news will exceed 500 as the division works towards its allotted £80 million share of the cuts. Michelle Stanistreet, general secretary of the National Union of Journalists, called it “part of an existential threat to the BBC”.

The need to defend these jobs is not in question. Trade unions organising in the BBC must urgently discuss with members and propose industrial action to stop the cuts. But what of the institution itself? What is the real role of the Beeb – and the media under capitalism?

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Global Warning: Preparing for Glasgow’s COP26 jamboree

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, is to take place in Glasgow in November. This conference is seen by climate scientists and activists as critical to cutting carbon emissions and increasing investment in green renewable energy. These measures are essential if there is to be any chance of reversing catastrophic global warming.

But already it has blown up in political controversy. Former Tory energy minister Claire O’Neill, appointed to lead the summit, was sacked by Boris Johnson for questioning his commitment to tackling the climate crisis. She was punished for stating that the UK was way off target in cutting carbon emissions to zero by 2050.

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Rebuilding fighting trade unionism

PETER TAAFFE reviews an important contribution by Britain’s most prominent trade union leader to the vital task of building a new generation of conscious class fighters for union rights and socialism.

Why You Should be a Trade Unionist

By Len McCluskey

Published by Verso, 2020, £7-99

It says everything about the current weakened state of the trade unions in Britain and worldwide that Len McCluskey in this powerful book argues effectively for workers today to join a trade union and use their collective power to carry through further victories. It is in part a history of working class endurance and tenacity, and also his own experience in fighting for trade unions. This was achieved through the many battles of the British working class in the never-ending struggles against capitalism for democratic and trade union rights.

He is the most prominent and influential left trade union leader in Britain today. It is a fascinating and instructive account of his own trade union and political journey in Liverpool and later as national leader of Britain’s biggest, and strongly militant, union Unite.

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Socialists debate identity politics

The relationship between fighting women’s oppression, identity politics, and the struggle for socialism is a feature of many debates in the workers’ movement internationally. Mistakes made on this question by the Irish Socialist Party were central to the division that took place in the Committee for a Workers’ International in 2019. In the wake of the Irish general election HANNAH SELL draws up a balance sheet.

In 2019 a major debate took place in the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), the international organisation to which the Socialist Party is affiliated. The debate resulted in a split in the CWI with some of its former supporters moving in a rightward opportunist direction.

One of the main triggers for the debate was the mistaken approach of the leadership of the Irish Socialist Party (then the CWI’s affiliate in Ireland) towards the fight against women’s oppression, and its relationship to the struggle for socialism. The debate on these issues has important lessons for the workers’ movement internationally, particularly in this period where identity, rather than class, is frequently put forward as the central divide in society by individuals and forces who claim to be on the left.

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