“The crisis of capitalist political representation signalled by continuing Tory divisions”, we wrote then, “the uncertainties surrounding the Brexit negotiations; the battle around a new Scottish independence referendum… almost all the conceivable electoral scenarios will bring them into sharper relief”.
Two-and-a-half years later the underlying
contradictions have only intensified and the political consequences are, if
anything, even more unpredictable.
But, while there are a range of possible outcomes from the 12 December election, the
most immediately important for the workers’ movement is the prospect of a Jeremy
Corbyn-led government, with either a Labour parliamentary majority or in
another ‘hung parliament’, and the consequent question: how could a prime
minister Corbyn deliver the reforms he has promised the working class?
The Green Party often present themselves as a radical alternative
to the capitalist establishment parties. However, their actions repeatedly
undermine that image. In this general election they have reached an agreement with
the decidedly pro-establishment Liberal Democrats in order to promote remaining
in the establishment’s EU club. This follows a record of voting for austerity
measures when the party has held positions in local government.
protests, including the worldwide youth strikes, have seen environmental issues
rise rapidly in public consciousness. A YouGov poll earlier this year showed
more than a quarter of people in Britain now consider the environment to be
among the top three issues facing the country. This rises to 45% among 18-24
million workers, youth and students, took to the streets throughout Chile on 12
November, in yet another mass protest and strike, sparked initially by a price
hike in metro fares in the capital, Santiago, in October.
After nearly one month of protests and brutal state repression,
this magnificent movement has refused to accept concession after concession by
the regime of President Sebastián Piñera. Prior to the strike, Piñera undertook
yet another u-turn and announced that the constitution would be revised and
submitted to a referendum.
widely-reviewed recent book by David Wallace-Wells presents a grim picture of
the future consequences of continuing global warming. But the real story of the
future, argues JUDY BEISHON, is that socialist change can stop catastrophic
The Uninhabitable Earth – A story of the future
By David Wallace-Wells
Published by Penguin Random House, 2019, £9-99
David Wallace-Wells isn’t
an environmentalist or scientist, but a New-York based journalist who has drawn
from hundreds of sources to warn about the future impact of global warming on
human lives. He made his book grim reading, opening with: “It is worse, much
worse, than you think”. From there the message gets worse still, until about
two-thirds of the way through he comments: “If you have made it this far you
are a brave reader”.
chapter hammers home the estimated environmental effects of each half point
rise in planet temperature. The extent of heatwaves, floods, storms, deaths and
migration. Already the planet has warmed by about 1.1 degrees celsius above the
pre-industrial level and the effects so far are summarised, including that
since 1980 there has been a 50-fold increase in dangerous heatwaves and a quadrupling
of flooding. A study last year revealed that the melt rate of the Antarctic ice
sheet has tripled in just a decade, indicating an increased pace of sea level
A recent book by left-wing author Aaron Bastani is
the latest to proclaim that new technology has the power to transform society,
offering up fixes for global warming, poverty and much more. But how could such
a change take place when the world economic and political system is in the
hands of a rich, capitalist elite? HANNAH SELL writes.
Fully Automated Luxury Communism: a manifesto
By Aaron Bastani
Published by Verso, 2019, £16.99
Aaron Bastani is a Jeremy Corbyn supporter and one
of the central figures in Novara Media, the left-wing social media platform.
Fully Automated Luxury Communism outlines his vision for the future. Its
publication is a symptom of the growing interest in socialist ideas. Unlike
many anti-capitalist books it does not focus on the misery capitalism offers
today but on the potential for new technology to lay the basis for a new
society “as distinct from our own as that of the twentieth century to
feudalism, or urban civilisation from the life of the hunter gatherer”.
lists the seemingly insurmountable problems of this society – including climate
change and mass underemployment – and points to technological solutions. In a
world where we are constantly told we have no choice but to accept the status
quo his confidence in the possibility of change is refreshing.
A meeting of
European sections and supporters of the Committee for a Workers’ International
held in early November, which also included visitors from the USA and Nigeria,
agreed a statement on the current world situation, an abridged version of which
is printed below. The full statement is
available on the CWI website at https://www.socialistworld.net
The world situation
is marked by explosive social upheavals and turmoil. The eruption of revolutionary
and semi-revolutionary movements by the masses, especially the working class
and youth, in Ecuador, Chile, Haiti, Catalonia, Hong Kong, and extremely
significantly, Egypt, Iraq and the Lebanon, have features of the revolutions
which swept Europe in 1848 and also some features of the stormy upheavals in
1917-18. These events have come hot on the heels of the renewed revolutionary
upsurges which have previously shaken Algeria and Sudan.
Dramatic, moody and otherworldly. Just a few words
to describe the work of William Blake, the subject of a major exhibition at
Tate Britain. It is chronological, tracing Blake’s footsteps from his birth in 1757
to his death in 1827. Those were decades of revolution, war, disaster and
plague, while the forces of the industrial revolution were being unleashed in capitalist
Britain. It was a time of colossal change and upheaval.
The legacy of the romantic poet Robert Burns has been contested
since his death in 1796. BRENT KENNEDY explains why the socialist movement has
the greatest claim to celebrate him.
On Burns Night, January 25, we will celebrate the life of a man who
opposed bigotry, racism and slavery, a revolutionary democrat, a republican
opponent of the Hannoverian monarchy, a patriot to the common people, and an
internationalist who supported the American and French revolutions against
British imperialism. This, when an utterly corrupt parliament of rotten
boroughs elected only by the richest two per cent of the population used oppression
to prevent democracy, with Burke, the father of the Tory party, calling the
people the “swinish multitude”.
In the end Boris Johnson’s Brexit ‘do or die’ bluster was just that. Rather than be blamed for a no-deal crash-out on 31 October, after MPs voted on ‘super Saturday’ not to approve his withdrawal treaty until it had completed its legislative journey – and be open, therefore, to amendment – Johnson sullenly applied to the European Union for an extension to the Brexit deadline.
And so, at the time of writing (October 22), all possible outcomes to the protracted negotiations to agree a withdrawal treaty between Britain and the remaining EU27 member states are still in play. This was supposed to be the easy part of Brexit, before talks begin on the future relationship including a trade deal.
A comprehensive report published in September by
the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) provides a
devastating evaluation of the current state of world capitalism. The 174 pages
are infused with pessimism about whether the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable
Goals, agreed in 2015 by the 193 member states represented in the General
Assembly, can be reached. At the same time, the authors appeal to governments
and private investors in ever more desperate passages to take the urgent and
necessary steps to coordinate their actions around delivering a global green new
is accompanied by mountains of statistics that strip bare the illusion that
capitalism has learned fundamental lessons from the causes that triggered the great
recession of 2007-08. Nevertheless, it abstains from any overt disapproval of
the reckless geopolitical and economic policies currently pursued by capitalist