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Britain

Ska: the pulse that doesn't die; Reggae: evolution of a rebel music

Foundation Ska
The Skatalites
Heartbeat/Rounder through Festival

Review by Norm Dixon

March 25, 1998 -- Green Left Weekly -- Viewers of late night music television will have noticed a revival of the unmistakable "ba-ba-ba" ska pulse in some of the clips emanating from the US. Punk/thrash bands like Rancid and No Doubt, as well as longer established new-wave ska outfits like the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and the Toasters, are leading what is dubbed the "ska-core" or "third wave ska" movement.

This revival is simply the latest example of how western pop music repeatedly rejuvenates itself (via often circuitous and complex paths) from the music of the African diaspora.

Ska appeared in Jamaica around the time of independence in 1962. It reflected the pride and assertiveness of the Jamaican people as they threw off the shackles of formal British rule. Ska was Jamaica's first indigenous popular music, and its influence has spread far and wide.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Jamaican musicians made their living playing in "society bands" — big bands which played very restrained swing music for the colonial upper crust and their local imitators in swank hotels and nightclubs. Poor Jamaicans, in the countryside and the ghettos, played and listened to traditional, African-derived mento music.

Britain: Reflections on the crisis in the Socialist Workers Party

"As an important part of the English-speaking left, the SWP over the years has influenced many individuals and groups. Without correction, the actions by the current leadership, along with the errors regarding women’s oppression and left organising, risk damaging the project of building a new left for the 21st century." 

[For more on the British SWP, click HERE. For more on revolutionary organisation, click HERE.]

By Paul Kellogg

January 13, 2013 – PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with author's permission

Forgotten legacies of Bolshevism on revolutionary organisation

"Iskra. It is often argued that the early period of the organisation of Iskra resembled the small, highly homogenous and monolithic cadre grouping that today is promoted as the sine qua non of revolutionary organisation, but if one looks at the original concept of the Iskra editorial board, we can see it promoted debate among a plurality of tendencies."

[Click HERE for more discussion on revolutionary organisation.]

Britain: ‘To fight austerity we need a united left’ -- Anticapitalist Initiative

By Simon Hardy, Anticapitalist Initiative (Britain)

October 9, 2012 –  Submitted to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The urgent need for unity on the radical left is something that has been eloquently put forward by Dan Hind on the Al-Jazeera website. Asking a very pertinent question as to whether there can be a SYRIZA-type organisation in Britain, Hind draws out some of the most important lessons of the Greek struggle and poses a challenge to the British left -- can we break out of the ghetto as well?[1]

Scotland: Why socialists support independence

Scottish Socialist Party spokersperson Colin Fox addresses the Edinburgh rally for independence, September 22, 2012.

By Colin Fox

September 20, 2012 -- Colin Fox's blog -- Tommy Docherty, the legendary wit and manager of Manchester United, once quipped after his team had suffered a humiliating defeat, "We lost 4-0 and frankly we were lucky to get the nil." The Tories [Conservative Party] in Scotland know just how he felt, for they are so hated that out of 56 MPs they have just one, and they were lucky to get that!

And yet, as incredible as it may seem, their coalition partners [in the British government] are despised even more. The Liberal Democrats now have no constituency members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) in mainland Scotland and were "mauled" in last year’s local elections for "joining" the hated Tories at Westminster.

Venezuela's election: Participatory, passionate democracy vs. Western democratic decline; Eyewitness reports

October 3, 2012 -- Green Left TV -- Australia-Venezuela Solidarity Network (AVSN) "brigadista" Ryan Mallett-Outrim reports on a Chavista rally which the brigade members attended in Maracay, Aragua, on October 3, just four days before the 2012 Venezuelan presidential election. The Australian solidarity activists were warmly welcomed in the massive crowd. For more eyewitness reports, photos and videos from the AVSN brigade visit the AVSN Facebook page and the AVSN website.

Click HERE for more coverage and analysis of the Venezuelan revolutionary process. 

By Ewan Robertson, Venezuela

September 28, 2012 -- Venezuelanalysis.com -- I’ve witnessed the self-assured superiority of Paris, the imperial arrogance of Washington, the capitalist decadence of New York’s Manhattan, parliamentary elections in Germany and my fair share of elections in Britain. In none of them have I encountered a democratic political culture as profound as Venezuela’s.

La campaña contra Wikileaks debilita las campañas contra violaciones

[In English at http://links.org.au/node/3000.]

Por Ash Pemberton, traducido del inglés para Rebelión por Germán Leyens

29-08-2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- La odisea personal del jefe de WikiLeaks Julian Assange se ha utilizado para eclipsar el innovador periodismo de WikiLeaks que sacó a la luz los secretos de gobiernos y corporaciones de todo el mundo.

Unos cables diplomáticos australianos obtenidos por el Sydney Morning Herald en diciembre revelaron: “WikiLeaks es objetivo de una investigación criminal ‘sin precedentes’ por parte del gobierno de EE.UU.” A pesar de esto, el gobierno australiano sigue argumentando públicamente que no tiene conocimiento de una campaña estadounidense contra Assange –editor y fundador del sitio– e incluso argumentó que era muy improbable.

No es sorprendente que el mayor incriminado por las publicaciones de WikiLeaks –el gobierno de EE.UU.– se proponga estatuir un ejemplo con los involucrados. Uno de los miles de correos electrónicos hackeados de la firma de espionaje privada Stratfor publicados por WikiLeaks en febrero dice que EE.UU. tiene una acusación en firme contra Assange.

Richard Seymour: The problem of left unity

By Richard Seymour

August 28, 2012 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Richard Seymour's permission -- Dan Hind, enlivened by the Hellenic tumult, calls for a Coalition of the Radical Left in Britain. I love it. Of course I do. But isn’t it, to any rational observer, a perfectly silly idea?

Anyone who has spent much time listening to the British radical left these days would no more expect them to coalesce than they would expect grace, humility and talent from Gary Barlow. The latest rumble has been over Julian Assange, Wikileaks, US imperialism and the rape allegations, which has produced more mutual distrust and resentment on the left than I have seen for at least weeks. The disagreement seems to be between those who think the rape accusations against Assange have been politicised in order to facilitate his forward extradition to the US, and those who think Assange’s supporters have greatly exaggerated this risk in order to justify his refusal to go and face these allegations in Sweden.

Anti-Wikileaks crusade undermines anti-rape campaigns; George Galloway wrong on rape

By Ash Pemberton

August 24, 2012 -- Green Left Weekly -- The personal saga of Wikileaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange has been used to overshadow the ground-breaking journalism of Wikileaks in exposing the secrets of governments and corporations around the world.

Australian diplomatic cables obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald in December revealed, “WikiLeaks is the target of an 'unprecedented' US government criminal investigation.” Despite this, the Australian government continues to argue publicly that it has no knowledge of a US campaign against Assange — the site's editor in chief and founder — and even argued it was highly unlikely.

It is unsurprising that the main party incriminated by Wikileaks' releases — the United States government — is out to make an example of those involved. One of thousands of hacked emails from private spy firm Stratfor released by Wikileaks in February said the US had a sealed indictment against Assange.

Assange was granted political asylum by Ecuador on August 16 after staying in Ecuador's British embassy since June to avoid extradition to Sweden. He remains in the embassy in a stand-off with British police who have backed down on their threat to raid the embassy.

Ricardo Patiño Aroca: Why Ecuador granted Julian Assange political asylum

Telesur English, August 16, 2012 -- The Ecuadorian community in London gathered outside their embassy in London to join Assange's supporters.

By Ricardo Patiño Aroca, Ecuador's foreign minister; translated from the Spanish by WikiLeaks Press

August 16, 2012 -- On June 19, 2012, the Australian national Mr. Julian Assange appeared at the premises of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to request that the Ecuadorean State provide him with diplomatic protection, thus invoking the existing Diplomatic Asylum rules.

The applicant had made his asylum request based on his fear of eventual political persecution by a third country, the same country whom could use his extradition to the Kingdom of Sweden to enable an expedited subsequent extradition.

Mike Marqusee at the Olympics: 'Individual excellence at the service of the nation-state and multinational capital'

"The Tommie Smith/John Carlos 'black power' salute of 1968 – two medal winners overturning the symbolism, refusing to let their individual excellence serve the forces that degraded them and their people." 

For more discussion of issues surrounding sport and politics, click HERE. For more on the Olympics, click HERE.

By Mike Marqusee, London

August 4, 2012 -- Mike Marqusee.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I enjoyed my afternoon at the Olympics, sitting in my public lottery assigned £50 seat at the ExCel, with a fine view of the men’s boxing. And I enjoyed it not least because I was finally able to watch the sport itself without the surrounding hype, the layers of commentary. For a moment there was only that pleasure special to sport: the spontaneity of a story being fashioned in front of your own eyes, once and once only (despite digital repeats), robustly itself and not pretending to be anything else.

Britain: Coalition government parties battered in local elections

Respect's Alyas Karmani defeated the Labour Party leader on the Bradford council. Respect won five seats.

May 6, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- The British Labour Party was clearly the big winner in the May 3 local council elections. Although in London celebrity politics, along with a nasty personalised campaign by the Evening Standard, and divisions within the Labour Party, created a win for Conservative Party's Boris Johnson, both the Conservative (Tory) and the Liberal Democrat (Lib Dems) parties took a drubbing across the country giving the Lib Dems the worst result in its history. This is clearly a part of shift to the left and towards an anti-austerity stance, which is evident elsewhere in Europe. This is the case in Greece, France and Spain in particular – though in Greece there is also the rise of the far right.

One million climate jobs now! The video

May 4, 2012 -- Links international Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Campaign Against Climate Change Trade Union Group  is organising a Climate Jobs Caravan in England and Scotland in May 2012.

Based on the Million Climate Jobs report, produced with the assistance of Public and Commercial Services Union, the University and College Union, the Communication Workers Union and the Transport Salaried Staffs' Association, the caravan will highlight how creating climate jobs can help tackle the twin crises of the ecomony and climate change.

This inspiring video sets out the caravan’s message. The full 33-minute version, along with eight other videos about the struggle for justice, can be purchased on a DVD from Reel News.

You can read the One Million Climate Jobs pamphlet HERE.

Britain: The space to the left of the Labour Party just got huge

 

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

"An opportunity has opened up, in the teeth of a worsening economic crisis, for the left to offer a real alternative. This demonstrates, as with Mélenchon in France, that the left can make the running even at a time of severe economic crisis. The opening of such a space raises, once again, the issue of a new broad, pluralist, party to the left of Labour ..."

April 15, 2012 -- Socialist Resistance -- George Galloway’s Bradford West victory, like the student revolt in December 2010, the inner city riots of August 2011 and the Occupy movement in October was an event that no one predicted. Yet, as Galloway said in his acceptance speech, his election was the most sensational result in by-election history involving a left candidate. He polled 18,341 votes (55.9%) with a 10,140 majority. His Labour Party opponent Imran Hussain won a humiliating 8201 votes (25%), although this was a triumph compared to the Liberal Democrats' (Lib Dems) 1505 votes (4.6%).

Britain: A simple proposal for a new anti-capitalist left

By Simon Hardy

April 15, 2012 -- Posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission, in the interests of left discussion in the wake of George Galloway's success in Bradford West -- I along with a number of other members of Workers Power in Britain, Austria and the Czech Republic have resigned from the organisation. The global capitalist crisis has posed tremendous questions for the radical left about how to go forward. We have increasingly drawn the conclusion that the historical legacy of the post-war left, in particular the Leninist-Trotskyist left, needs to be subjected to far-reaching critique and re-evaluation in light of the contemporary challenges.

The organised left is dogged by sectarianism and opportunism. There are quite literally hundreds of competing orthodoxies, with each sect promoting and defending its own, typically very narrow, conception of revolutionary theory and practice without subjecting their ideas to the critical re-evaluation which we believe is necessary if Marxism is to reach out to far wider layers.

Britain: `Now is the time to seize the opportunity' of George Galloway's win in Bradford

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

By Andrew Burgin

April 4, 2012 -- Socialist Unity -- The victory of the Respect Party in the Bradford West by-election opens up politics in Britain in a way not seen for many decades. The scale of the victory was remarkable. George Galloway’s vote surpassed that of all the three main parties added together. This was a new development and entirely unpredicted even by those close to the campaign itself.

When a young campaigner working for Respect in Bradford rang her mother a few days before the vote and told her that she felt there was a real chance that George would win, her mother, a seasoned political activist herself, thought her daughter had lost all political direction. The truth is that nobody saw this juggernaut coming not least the left itself.

And because it is a new and unexpected development it demands that we re-examine long-held and well-established understandings of political life and draw the necessary tactical and strategic conclusions.

Britain: Why I resigned from the Green Party of England and Wales

Joseph Healy.

By Joseph Healy

April 2012 -- Red Pepper -- I joined the Green Party 10 years ago as I believed that it had something new and radical to say in British politics. I was also a founder member of Green Left, which was formed in 2006, and I helped draft the Headcorn Declaration, the group’s mission statement. One of my aims in doing so was to ensure that there was a radical left faction in the party constantly pushing it in a progressive direction -- and providing a counterbalance to those in the party for whom pragmatism and "lifestyle environmentalism" were the driving forces.

Ireland: Former hunger striker: 'The IRA should have embraced socialism'

Updated April 17, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Tommy McKearney was a senior member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA)  from the early 1970s until his arrest in 1977. Sentenced to life in jail, he served 16 years, during which he took part in the 1980 hunger strike in the Maze prison. Now a freelance journalist and an organiser with the Independent Workers Union, he has published a book, The Provisional IRA, From Insurrection to Parliament (Pluto Press 2011), that argues the Provisional IRA should have embraced socialism. Mat Ward spoke to him.

Can you sum up for our readers why the Provisional IRA should have embraced socialism?

I am assuming that [your] readers accept the value of socialism as a system. What we’re talking about here is why the Provisional IRA should have -- and could have -- adopted an explicitly socialist agenda. During the early years of the Provisional IRA’s development, the movement was “pro-socialist” in an unscientific sense. The membership was working class, empathised with the less well-off and had a “democratic socialist republic” as its headline demand. What it didn’t have was a tangible socialist program as distinct from socialistic aspirations.

Britain: The challenge of George Galloway’s ‘Bradford Spring’

George Galloway campaigns in Bradford West.

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

By Paul Kellogg

April 4, 2012 -- PolEcon.net, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission by the author -- In the end, it wasn’t even close. Britain’s most prominent anti-war politician, George Galloway, is back as a member of parliament for his Respect Party, after receiving support so overwhelming that he had, in the words of a reporter for The Guardian, “annihilated the Labour vote”.

Britain: (Updated April 4) Tariq Ali, British left on George Galloway's surprise re-election


George Galloway explains why we won the by-election.

[For more discussion around George Galloway's re-election and the left's response, click HERE.]

On March 29, 2012, the left-wing Respect party's George Galloway was swept into the British parliament in a by-election few expected him to win. He was elected with an absolute majority of the votes cast, in a multiracial working-class seat. Below, Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal publishes a number of reactions to this important victory from British left.

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