Just Stop Oil look to the electoral arena?

Over the last two years, the environmental activist group Just Stop Oil (JSO) has engaged in various forms of direct action to try and raise public awareness of the climate crisis. JSO actions have included disrupting sports events, blocking roads, and protest stunts in art galleries. Hundreds of arrests have been made with some protestors facing long prison sentences.

But capitalist politicians haven’t shifted. In Britain, Sunak’s Tory government has pushed ahead with granting new licences for North Sea oil and gas exploration. Starmer’s Labour has dropped much of its promised ‘green investment’ plans, saying that ‘fiscal responsibility’ has to come first. Meanwhile, in 2023 global temperatures have already exceeded the critical threshold of 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.

Read more

NATO and the world order

As the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ‘celebrates’ its 75th anniversary this year, CHRISTINE THOMAS looks at the conditions that led to the formation of this capitalist military alliance and how NATO’s role has evolved as the global economic and political order itself has changed.

The signing of the North Atlantic Treaty, between the US, Canada and Western European powers in April 1949, can only be understood as one more brick being laid in the overall construction, in the post-war capitalist world, of a US-dominated economic and geopolitical architecture.

US imperialism had emerged as an economic colossus from the ravages of the second world war, with more than 50% of the world’s manufacturing production, holding two-thirds of gold internationally, and boasting a GDP three times that of the Soviet Union, and five times greater than Britain. As the war was drawing to an end, debates began to take place within the US ruling class about how best it could take advantage of its overwhelming economic supremacy amongst the capitalist powers to secure stability and maximum access for US corporations to markets and raw materials globally. Economic reconstruction of a devastated Europe was not initially a post-war aim, and aid was limited, mainly through loans with stringent conditions. But from 1947 US policy shifted towards a massive injection of economic assistance, beginning with the Marshall Plan, alongside of the utilisation of multilateral US-dominated institutions like the Organisation for European Economic Co-operation (OEEC), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the World Bank etc, to promote international free trade and the interests of US capitalism and the global capitalist order.

Read more

Fifty years of the CWI

This year the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) – the socialist international which the Socialist Party is affiliated to – celebrates its fiftieth year. TONY SAUNOIS, CWI secretary, looks at the organisation’s development since its founding half a century ago.

Over the weekend of 20-21 April 1974, a small but crucial international meeting took place in a room at the Old Mother Redcap pub in Camden, London. This meeting decided to launch a new revolutionary Trotskyist international organisation – the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI). The new international was to be wedded to the ideas and methods of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky.

Present at the meeting were supporters of the Militant newspaper in Britain and very small groups which had been established in Ireland, Germany and Sweden, together with individuals from Sri Lanka, Jamaica and some other countries. Although tiny in number at that stage, the CWI was to take important strides forward in the second half of the 1970s, and have a significant impact internationally in the 1980s. For fifty years the CWI has been involved in a political struggle for a revolutionary socialist programme for the working class, participating, and in some situations playing a leading role, in the struggles of the working class and oppressed.

Read more

Another theory of everything

End Times: Elites, Counter-Elites, and the Path of Political Disintegration

By Peter Turchin

Published by Allen Lane, 2023, £25

Reviewed by Dave Murray

You don’t have to be an Einstein to have worked out that the world is in a difficult place at the moment, and there are plenty of people writing about it. On the far right we have people like Douglas Murray (Magdelen College, Oxford, reading English) writing books like The Strange Death of Europe and on the liberal end we have people like Nouriel Roubini (Harvard, International Economics) with Megathreats, and if you ask it nicely there’s an AI that will write you a volume entitled Yes, You Are All Screwed. What, then, makes Peter Turchin (NYU, biology; Duke University, Zoology) and his book End Times worth a read?

Read more

Fiction and reality in Putin’s Russia

The Wizard of the Kremlin

By Giuliano da Empoli

Published by Pushkin Press, 2024, £16.99

Reviewed by Clare Doyle

On April 5 Vladimir Putin was ‘elected’ as president of Russia for a fifth six-year term. One or two other candidates were on the list, but by the time the election was held, Putin’s nearest rival, Alexei Navalny, was dead and an anti-war candidate, Boris Nadezhdin, had been disqualified for allegedly being nominated by ‘dead souls’, like those in the famous Gogol novel of that name.

All other expressions of opposition to the war, let alone for genuine democracy and socialist change, are ruthlessly crushed. In an atmosphere where even the moderate left academic, Boris Kagarlitsky, has been locked up in prison for five years, the prospect of another two terms for Vladimir Putin looms large. If he survives, he will have lasted longer even than the dictator, Stalin. Such is Putin’s authoritarianism that he has come to be known in some circles as ‘The Tsar’.

Read more

Building on Rochdale

“Beyond alarming” is how Tory prime minister Rishi Sunak declared George Galloway’s victory in the Rochdale by-election, at a specially convened press conference on the steps of Downing Street. Labour leader Keir Starmer appeared equally alarmed as he apologised for having to withdraw support for the Labour candidate in the by-election, giving Galloway an easier path to victory.

Clearly, George Galloway and the Workers’ Party’s campaign in Rochdale succeeded in shaking the establishment. Labour, Tories and the Lib Dems were only able to muster a combined 26.7% of the vote. The by-election was a graphic illustration of bone-deep disillusionment with all the mainstream pro-capitalist parties. Galloway was victorious with almost 40% of the vote, and the second place candidate, with 21%, was an independent campaigning to reopen maternity and A&E services in the town.

Read more

Unite and the anti-war movement

Representatives attending the March Unite national executive council, the first quarterly meeting of the union’s governing body of 2024, were met with a small number of trade unionists, mainly from Unite, protesting at the union’s alleged lack of action against the catastrophe unfolding in Gaza. The executive had before it three motions, including a critical one from the London and Eastern Regional Committee, which is under the leadership of the United Left (LU), an organised group within the union.

The United Left was set up after Unite was formed and played an important role in the election of Len McCluskey as general secretary in the first leadership election of the newly merged union in 2010. At that stage, the Socialist Party was part of the UL. However, after Len’s retirement and in the wake of the defeat of Corbynism within the structures of the Labour Party, the UL has developed into a conservative wing of Unite and opposes the industrially militant ‘transformation’ agenda of Len’s successor as general secretary, Sharon Graham.

Read more

Militant Mick: Drawing up a balance sheet

The RMT transport workers’ union general secretary Mick Lynch has been a central figure as the working class has re-established its central position in society over the past twenty months or so in the most extensive strike movement for over 30 years. Midlands supporters of The Red Line, the bulletin of Socialist Party members in the RMT, examine a new biography of Mick and assess his role.

Mick Lynch – The Making of a Working-Class Hero

By Gregor Gall

Published by Manchester University Press, 2024, £20

Mick Lynch – The Making of a Working-Class Hero is a new biography of the general secretary of our union by the left academic Gregor Gall. Bob Crow – Socialist, Leader, Fighter, published in 2017, was Gall’s previous venture into analysing the RMT. Superficially the two general secretaries are of a type. Both Londoners from working-class backgrounds. Both seen as among the most combative union leaders of their generations. However, this second volume, published a decade after Bob’s untimely death, elaborates some of the important differences between them.

Read more

Galloway’s credo

George Galloway’s spectacular victory in Rochdale has sparked discussion about what role he could potentially play in the building of a new mass party that can provide a political alternative to Keir Starmer’s Labour Party. In a contribution to that debate we reprint a review by JIM HORTON of Galloway’s 2004 book, I’m Not the Only One, first published in Socialism Today No.86, September 2004, which asks, what does George Galloway stand for?

I’m Not the Only One

By George Galloway

Published by Allen Lane, 2004, £10

George Galloway’s book presents a seething indictment of the war and continuing occupation of Iraq, and he is scathing towards all those New Labour MPs who sheepishly voted for the conflict. But his criticisms are not restricted to Iraq. He rightly condemns New Labour’s attacks on trade unionists, especially the despicable assault on the firefighters, and the government’s policies on pensions, tuition fees and the privatisation of public services. He scorns New Labour’s big business links and the cultural politics of spin, and mocks Tony Blair’s prostration at the feet of George W Bush.

Read more

Introducing Marxism: The causes of the post-war boom

The post-war economic upswing in the countries of ‘the West’ was an unprecedented era of capitalist development rooted in a unique combination of economic and geopolitical factors that cannot be repeated, argues ROBIN CLAPP, in our latest instalment in the Introducing Marxism series.

In this era, convulsed with economic, social, political and environmental crises, capitalism is not able to play even a relatively progressive role in advancing the needs of humankind and, indeed, the planet itself. Increasingly sclerotic, it can neither take full advantage of the marvels of Artificial Intelligence (AI) nor implement multilateral action programmes that alone can effectively begin to counteract potential risks from future pandemics or catastrophic climate change.

Read more