Malcolm X famously said, ‘you can’t have capitalism without
racism’. Assessing the new upsurge in the #Black Lives Matter movement, HANNAH
SELL argues that fighting racism does mean a fight to replace capitalism with a
new society, socialism.
The brutal police murder of George Floyd has ignited a massive #Black
Lives Matter movement, first in the US and now globally. This is not the first
global wave of demonstrations in recent years – #BLM first spread worldwide in
2014, as did the women’s marches after Trump’s election. We have also seen a
huge global wave of protests on climate change.
current movement, however, has important characteristics that mark it out as
being on a different level than what came before. It has a broader reach. The
Washington Post, for example, reports that there have been far more
demonstrations in the US than the previously unprecedented 650 women’s marches
that took place in 2016. In addition to the big cities, protests have taken
place in even the smallest towns, including in places in the south with recent
histories of white supremacist activity.
The following article
was first published in 1994 in the August-September edition, No.58, of Militant
International Review, the predecessor magazine of Socialism Today. The author
was ANDREA ENISUOH, who in 1989 had become the first black woman elected to the
National Union of Students national executive committee – as a proud Militant
supporter. Andrea sadly died in February this year, at the far too early age of
The early 1990s have
seen the issue of race and nationality to the fore in both political and social
life. The last few years have been marked by the growth of racism, the
re-emergence of fascist parties on a Europe-wide scale, and the development of
Equally significant, however, has been the development
of a fightback against racism and fascism. Many young people in particular,
repulsed by increasing racial attacks and murders, are joining the anti-fascist
Yet while the far-right have provided some focus for
anti-racist activity they remain a small factor in the development of racism in
society. The racist sentiments that the fascists and far-right have been able
to play on have to varying extents already existed in many white communities.
Far more than any of their more overtly anti-working class policies it is
racist rhetoric that has provided them with a platform. While not being the
direct cause of racism in society they have used the growth of racism to their
TONY SAUNOIS, secretary of the Committee for a Workers’ International
(CWI), argues that the covid pandemic has inaugurated a new historical period
of capitalist crises and class struggle.
The words of WB Yeats in his poem Easter1916 sum up the current world
situation: “All is changed, changed utterly”. Fundamental changes are taking
place in the world economy, geo-political relations, and in the colossal polarisation
between the classes on a global scale, opening up a new era.
All of the trends we see developing today were
present prior to the onset of the Covid-19 crisis. However, they have been
razor-sharpened and accelerated at lightning speed. All of the consequences of
the dramatic upheavals taking place are not yet fully clear. However, it is
certain that capitalism will not be able to go back to the pre-corona situation,
much less the situation which existed before the financial crisis of 2007-08.
DOYLE reviews a comprehensive account of China’s Belt and Road Initiative and
argues that the project is another form of imperialist expansionism.
Belt and Road: A Chinese World Order
By Bruno Maçães
Published by C Hurst & Co, 2020 (pbk), £11-99
“China’s Belt and Road strategy is
acknowledged to be the most important geopolitical initiative of the age”,
write the publishers of this fascinating book by Bruno Maçães. “It symbolises a
new phase in China’s ambitions as a superpower: to remake the world economy and
crown Beijing as the new centre of capitalism and globalisation”.
In page after page of detail, the
author leaves the reader in no doubt that China is in effect attempting to
carry out a massive and meticulously calculated, high-speed, planned form of
imperialist expansion that indeed rivals the growth of US, European and
Japanese imperialisms over past centuries.
The covid crisis has once again revealed the incapacity of
capitalism to meet society’s needs. The former assistant general secretary of
the PCS civil servants’ union, CHRIS BAUGH, who during his term of office held
responsibility for developing the union’s policies for combating climate change,
draws some lessons for the climate struggle.
The Covid-19 pandemic has taken hold at a point in human history when
we face the existential threat of climate change. The scientific evidence
available tells us we are in a race against time in limiting the impact and without
decisive action this could have incalculable consequences for human life on the
shutdown of production in all the major economies due to the coronavirus pandemic
has led to an estimated 20 percent reduction in global greenhouse emissions. As
the lockdown is ended, however, it is expected that greenhouse emissions will
return to their previous dangerous levels, showing that simply reducing
production is not a solution. This article argues the potential for developing alternative
socially useful forms of production. To avert climactic disaster, this will
need to form part of a political struggle for system change based on socialist planning
using the latest smart technology with new and democratic forms of workers’ and
community control and self-management.
Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America
By Chris Arnade
Published by Sentinel, 2019, £25
Reviewed by Peter Taaffe
This book is a stunning achievement by US photojournalist Chris Arnade.
It was written and published in advance of the outbreak of the coronavirus
pandemic and the recent magnificent movement ignited by the racist brutality of
the US police. However, to a great extent this book anticipated the devastating
fallout from Covid-19, particularly in the US, because of the rotting of US
capitalism which it records in detail.
HANNAH SELL introduces this special edition of Socialism Today,
which draws together a selection of articles from 2015 on Jeremy Corbyn’s
Labour Party leadership and the lessons from it for the ongoing struggle to achieve
mass, working class socialist political representation.
The lives of billions around the globe have been turned upside down
by the coronavirus crisis with, for many, no prospect of a return to how it was
before. The pandemic and resulting lockdowns have enormously exacerbated and
deepened the economic crisis that was already on the horizon. Working class
people face a new era of mass unemployment, pay cuts and attacks on working
conditions as capitalism enters its steepest slowdown since the 1930s.
immediate response to this prospect trade union membership has soared in
Britain, as many workers look to collective organisation as a means to defend
their interests. There has not as yet, however, been any equivalent turn to a
collective political alternative. The Labour Party has not seen any noticeable
surge of new members. On the contrary, a significant layer have torn up their
party cards, angry at the triumph of the preferred candidate of the capitalist
class, Keir Starmer, in the 2020 contest to replace Corbyn. Clearly Labour
under Starmer is not seen as a potential bulwark against the coming storms. Nor
is there any other party in the running to play that role on a mass scale. Does
this leave workers fatally unprepared for what lies ahead?
2015 Labour Party leadership election ballot ran from August 14 to September
10, with the result declared at a special conference on September 12. The
following article is the editorial carried in the September 2015 edition of
Socialism Today, issue No.191.
This edition of Socialism Today goes to press three
weeks before the result of the Labour Party leadership election is announced. But
whatever the outcome of the contest, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has already transformed
the political situation in Britain. Public ownership, a free education system,
trade union rights, councils resisting the cuts and not implementing them, all are
once again up for discussion. And although explicit references to it have been
muted in the campaign, even the S-word itself – socialism – is now back in ‘mainstream’
after Jeremy Corbyn’s victory the right began to organise to unseat him. In an
article first published in Socialism Today No.193, November 2015, CLIVE
HEEMSKERK argued that the likelihood the coming struggle could pose the need
for a new party would have to be discussed.
Inherent in a revolution is
the prospect of counter-revolution developing in its aftermath, as the forces
of the old order test out the possibilities of regaining power. And the blow at
the capitalist establishment that was Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership insurgency is
no different. A systematic campaign is under way to restore what can be
salvaged of the status quo ante by the pro-capitalist forces – ‘establishment
Labour’ – which still dominate the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), council
Labour Groups, and the Labour Party officialdom, both nationally and, in most
cases, locally too.
December 2015 Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell issued a circular letter to council
Labour groups. In an article first published in The Socialist, issue No.883, 6
January 2016, CLIVE HEEMSKERK warned against any hint of colluding in new rounds
of cuts to local council services and jobs.
A week before Christmas, on the last day of
parliamentary business in 2015, the Communities and Local Government Secretary
Greg Clark announced the 2016-17 local finance settlement, listing the exact
amount of national funding each council will receive for the next financial
year. This filled out the details, at least for the coming year, of George
Osborne’s plan revealed in the November comprehensive spending review for a
further four years of draconian austerity for local public services.