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left unity

United States: Victory in Seattle inspires Chicago Socialist Campaign

Nearly 100 people met at the Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22 for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign. Photo by Isaac Silver.

By Andrew Mortazavi

January 24, 2014 -- In These Times -- If a socialist can win an election in Seattle, why not Chicago? That was the spirit at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Jane Addams Hull House Museum on January 22, where close to 100 Chicagoans gathered for the founding meeting of the Chicago Socialist Campaign.

Drawing on the example of Seattle’s Kshama Sawant—who in November became the first socialist in recent memory elected to a city council—the campaign seeks to run a socialist candidate for alderman in Chicago’s 2015 city council race. Activists also plan to use the electoral effort to amplify the demands of popular movements in Chicago, such as the call for a $15 minimum wage.

Britain: Creation of new ex-SWP group welcomed

[For more on the crisis in the SWP, click HERE. For more on the Left Unity project, click HERE.]

By the Socialist Resistance executive committee

January 17, 2014 -- Socialist Resistance -- Socialist Resistance welcomes the news that the comrades who left the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in December as a consequence of the ongoing crisis over the abuse of women in that organisation have launched Revolutionary Socialism in the 21st century group (RS21). We recognise that they have done this in order to continue the struggle for revolutionary politics and we look forward to establishing both practical and political collaboration with them.

We welcome the openness of the statement they have posted on their website and the basic principles around which it is framed.

It is never a time for celebration when an important organisation of the revolutionary left goes into crisis and decline because, ultimately, the whole movement suffers. The question it poses, however, is how to build something new and better out of this experience and how to move on in a positive direction.

Britain: After the SWP -- a moment for revolutionary ambition

Former members of the SWP are discussing what's next?

January 9, 2014 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Britain's Socialist Workers Party (SWP) has been in crisis for over a year after the central committee's handling of a rape allegation against one of the party's leaders sparked a huge opposition. Now the last of this opposition, those who chose to stay and take the fight to a second annual conference in December 2013, have resigned as a bloc and are discussing what to do next.

Below, Tom Walker, part of an earlier wave of resignations, lays out a way forward based on what he's learned since leaving the SWP. It first appeared on the web site of the International Socialist Network and has been submitted to Links by the author.

For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE.

* * *

By Tom Walker

Belgium: Left parties to form united electoral ticket

[For more on Belgium, click HERE.]

Statement by the LCR-SAP secretariat

December 31, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The end of the tunnel is far from being in sight. We are only at the beginning of a gigantic offensive by European capitalism against the world of labour, youth and women. Since 2008, in the European Union (EU), more than 2 billion private bank debts have been transformed into public debts, and these debts serve as the pretext for a ferocious austerity.

The sacrifices imposed on the majority of the population aggravate deficits and recession. But the dominant class continues to pursue them. Why? Because its objective is not purely economic but strategic: it wishes to break social resistance, dismantle what remains of the “welfare state”, reduce the public sector to its simplest expression and structurally weaken the trade unions. The drift of the employers’ discourse on competitiveness is revealing: for the bosses, it is no longer enough that “labour costs” are aligned with other European countries — it is henceforth in the context of the world market, faced with the “emergent” capitalism of China and elsewhere, that workers on the old continent should be “competitive”.

The EU, capitalist war machine

France: ‘Third pillar’ established in Front de Gauche

On December 1, 2013, 100,000 people joined a march organised by the Front de Gauche to demand a "fiscal revolution" -- tax the rich -- and to oppose a January 1, 2014, increase in the regressive indirect value-added tax.

By Dick Nichols

December 5, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The formation of a “third pillar” in the Front de Gauche (Left Front) was finalised at a November 23-24 conference in Saint-Denis of delegates from four of the Left Front’s smaller affiliates: Alternatives (Les Alternatifs), Convergence and Alternatives (Convergence et Alternatives), the Federation for a Social and Ecological Alternative (Fédération pour une Alternative Sociale et Ecologique) and the Anti-Capitalist Left (Gauche Anticapitaliste).

The 200-strong conference, which gave the name Together! (Ensemble!) to the new formation, also involved unaffiliated activists from the social movements and trade unions, all members or supporters of the Left Front.

In defence of Socialist Alliance’s strategy of mass action: a response to Socialist Alternative

For more on the transitional method, click HERE.

By Dave Holmes

[Text of a talk given to the Geelong branch of Socialist Alliance on December 3, 2013.]

December 4, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The unity discussions between Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative have come to an end. In a November 3, 2013, letter on behalf of the Socialist Alternative national executive, Mick Armstrong wrote: “The overall political projects of both organisations are not sufficiently similar to carry through a sustained and productive unity that could advance the cause of the revolutionary left in Australia and the broader class struggle.”[1]

Britain: Successful conference forms Left Unity party; Richard Seymour reports

Around 400 members attended the founding conference of Left Unity.

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal will carry more reports of the founding conference of Left Unity.]

By Liam Mac Uaid

December 1, 2013 -- Socialist Resistance --  The first indication that Left Unity is different from most other left-wing organisations came very early in its November 30 founding conference. Ken Loach, the person who is seen as having given the inspiration for the launch of the new party, proposed that we shouldn’t take a decision on which of the political platforms to endorse. Ken lost the vote and conference moved on to next business. There was no dramatic tension, no sense of impending crisis. It would have been hard to imagine a similar scene at a Respect conference. It was a very promising omen.

Alexis Tsipras: Left can unite to build a better Europe

"Europe needs an anti-austerity and anti-recession front, a solidarity movement for its working people, north and south" -- Alexis Tsipras.

Alexis Tsipras, leader of Greece's Syriza, the Coalition of the Radical Left, has announced he is standing presidency of the European Commission on behalf of the European Left Party. This article appeared in the November 28, 2013, Guardian.

* * *

More than 1000 young people a day are joining the ranks of Europe's unemployed. In the past four years the army of jobless people across the continent has grown by more than 10 million.

In Greece, despite the government's claim that austerity has been a success, the 2014 budget imposes new public spending cuts and more job losses. The economic and humanitarian catastrophe is unprecedented in peacetime: 27% unemployment, 60% youth unemployment, a 25% shrinking of GDP, 40% reduction in family income. And, even after relentless pain, the debt-to-GDP ratio is almost 180%. It was only 120% in 2010 when the first austerity measures were imposed.

Scottish socialists debate trade union links with the Labour Party

November 22, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialst Renewal -- The Scottish Left Review (issue 79) published this roundtable of the relationship of the trade unions and the British Labour Party.

* * *

Gregor Gall reviews Len McCluskey’s Jimmy Reid Memorial Lecture and concludes that the Unite leader is perhaps too generous in identifying signs of real change in the Labour Party leader Ed Milliband’s Labour Party.

At the second annual Reid Foundation lecture, Len McCluskey, general secretary of the largest union in Britain, Unite, proclaimed that at the September 2013 British Labour Party conference Ed Miliband had delivered the most radical party conference speech for 30 years. The reason for this, McCluskey argued, was that Miliband had broken with neoliberal dogma of "New" Labour.

Dave Holmes: Strengthening the socialist movement today

Building effective campaigns and coalitions is extremely important. Socialist Alliance members at the Sydney national day of action on climate change, November 17. Photo by Peter Boyle.

By Dave Holmes

[The following talk was presented at the Socialist Ideas Conference held in Melbourne, November 2, 2013, organised by the Socialist Alliance.]

November 18, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Arguing for Socialism -- In Australia, as in all the imperialist countries, the capitalist class is carrying out a massive assault on all the gains won by working people in more than 150 years. Every TV news bulletin these days features reports of cutbacks, selloffs and outsourcing, attacks on workers' rights and attacks on civil liberties — as well as wars and massive misery abroad.

With social democracy firmly in the neoliberal camp and the left marginalised, the capitalist class sees its chance and is pressing home the attack as vigorously as possible.

Climate disaster

'Left reformism' and socialist strategy

Syriza supporters march. "Left reformists"?

By Ed Rooksby

October 7, 2013 -- International Socialism -- There has been a significant revival of interest among the radical left in “big picture” questions of socialist strategy that, as Mark L. Thomas has pointed out, represents a return to “important debates of the left largely absent over the last three decades”.1

It is not difficult to identify the major factors driving this. Several years of deep capitalist crisis together with the almost total capitulation of social-democratic parties across Europe to the austerity agenda have opened up a clear space to the left of these organisations—a development that has reinvigorated the radical left, but which has also forced it to confront fundamental questions of strategic orientation.

Britain: Mike Marqusee on Left Unity -- 'A party to dream of'

Mike Marqusee.

For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE. For more by Mike Marqusee, click HERE.

By Mike Marqusee

September 27, 2013 -- Red Pepper, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I’m one of the thousands who signed up to the Left Unity appeal issued by Ken Loach in March to discuss the formation of a new party of the left. I did so because I believe the continued absence of an effective left alternative to the Labour Party hampers our resistance to austerity, racism, war and environmental degradation.

Left Unity has no shortage of doubters. There are many who reject electoral politics altogether and others who remain committed to working in the Labour Party. And not a few who simply doubt the left’s capacity to measure up to the challenge.

Britain: Left Unity discusses what politics for a new left party?

By Felicity Dowling

August 11, 2013 -- Left Unity -- We face the probability of a terrible decline in the social wealth of the working people in the UK, a critical change in the life experience of working-class people. Hunger, want and fear are coming back to this and other countries. Thousands have signed petitions supporting the call for a new political formation under the banner of Left Unity. On November 30, hundreds of founding members of this new party will inaugurate it, determine our political direction, our priorities and the nature of the organisation itself.

Three different political platforms have been published in the run-up to this founding conference of Left Unity to try to put forward the best way for us to move forward. A platform is a set of ideas that a group wants to put forward to be considered at the founding conference. Political discussion helps us all understand the tasks facing Left Unity, and the range of political opinion within the organisation. Solidarity and inclusiveness will help us all make the most of these discussions. Each member has a right to comment and any group of ten can produce an alternative platform.
What are the differences between the platforms? This post will, I hope, lay the positions of the three platforms side by side so that people can compare them directly.

Greece: Political resolution of the first congress of SYRIZA

Over July 10-15, 2013, congress delegates of SYRIZA, the coalition of radical left parties in Greece, voted to form itself into a unitary party. This is the political resolution from the congress. Translation by Left.gr. For more coverage of the congress, click HERE. Read Alexis Tsipras' speeches to the the congress HERE..

1. The conference of the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) is a continuity and a breakthrough in its course, which started in 2000, continued with its official founding in 2004, and was sealed when it took on the historic responsibility to deliver the Greek people from the catastrophic neoliberal memoranda policies that have turned our country into a debt colony and led its creative, social, and productive forces to marginalization.

How should socialists organise? Paul Le Blanc, Gilbert Achcar discuss Leninism, left unity, revolutionary parties

July 31, 2013 -- SwpTvUK -- The following panel discussion -- involving Paul Le Blanc, a speaker from the SWP and Gilbert Achcar -- took place at Marxism 2013, organised by the British Socialist Workers Party. Questions addressed included Lenism today, "left reformism", the left unity process underway in Britain today and the crisis in the SWP. It is followed by a vigorous discussion from the floor.

For more by Paul Le Blanc click HERE. For Le Blanc's thoughts on Marxism 2013, click HERE. For more on the left unity process in Britain, click HERE. For more on Leninism, click HERE. For more on the crisis in the UK SWP, click HERE.

Grecia: El congreso de Syriza une sus fuerzas para un gobierno de izquierda

Alexis Tsipras.

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3446 and http://links.org.au/node/3448.]

Un Congreso que ha transformado a la izquierda griega Durante el fin de semana del 10-14 de julio, en el primer congreso de Syriza (Coalición de la Izquierda Radical), era obvio que la historia se estaba escribiendo continta indeleble. Este ha sido el congreso que cambió a la izquierda griega.

Ante el reto de sus perspectivas de crecimiento, que le abren la puerta de un futuro gobierno, la coalición de izquierda tomó la decisión de convertirse en un partido. Y ello explica la dinámica de este primer congreso, en el que todo se ha puesto sobre la mesa: desde los principios fundacionales hasta la orientación política y los estatutos. Y, por su puesto, en el que todo se ha discutido y clarificado las diferentes posiciones, siempre con una pasión típicamente griega.

Des secteurs révolutionnaires à Londres – « Marxism 2013 » et son contexte

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3451.]

Militant trotskyste aux Etats-Unis, historien marxiste renommé, l’auteur avait été invité à intervenir dans le cadre du cycle de conférences publiques, intitulé Marxism, que le SWP de Grande-Bretagne organise chaque année au début de l’été. C’est de cet événement et des échanges qu’il a eus à cette occasion, dans le contexte particulier de la crise que ce parti traverse en 2013, que Paul Le Blanc rend compte ici.

Comme il le rappelle dans son texte, l’auteur est désormais membre de l’ISO (International Socialist Organization, la principale formation de la gauche révolutionnaire aux Etats-Unis, exclue en 2001 de l’IST, le courant international du SWP britannique), alors qu’il provient et continue de se réclamer d’une tradition politique différente, celle de la section états-unienne de la IV° Internationale (l’ancien et défunt SWP de James P. Cannon et Joseph Hansen – à ne pas confondre avec son homonyme insulaire). -- Jean-Philippe Divès

Paul Le Blanc: Revolutionary elements in London -- Marxism 2013 and its context

By Paul Le Blanc

July 20, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The Socialist Workers Party (SWP) is an important “far left” organisation in Britain which, among other things, organises an annual educational conference -- Marxism -- in London. The SWP is undergoing a crisis which is only one aspect of a much larger phenomenon, taking place on a global scale within the revolutionary left. This involves a recomposition of the revolutionary socialist movement as a political force, in tandem with the struggles of the multi-faceted working class struggling against the effects of the present world crisis of capitalism.

In what follows, I want to offer a report on what I was able to observe while attending Marxism 2013 (July 11-15, 2013). I will also take up various issues having to do with discussions and debates having to do with the Leninist tradition and how it relates to realities and struggles of our time.

Greece: Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras' call for a united left party (+ intro speech)

Alexis Tsipras addresses the congress.

The following speech was presented by party leader Alexis Tsipras to the Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) first national congress on July 13, 2013. One of the major decisions to be made at the congress was the question of forming a single united left party from the many left organisations that to that point operated as part of the coalition. Click HERE for a report on the congress.

* * *

Comrades,

Do you know what the message from the outside is? The message from an agonising and fighting society, with all the things that are going on in it?

The message is: get done or we’re done for.

We’re watching you, we’re waiting for you, but we’re running out of time.

We’re sinking; we’re drowning.

The message is: it’s now or never.

The message is not just political: SYRIZA or memoranda.

The message is: SYRIZA or humanitarian catastrophe.

Because those shameless appointees of the lenders, those executors of the memoranda implementation, they have no shame at all.

They have no respect or pity for anything or anybody.

England and Wales: Reconquer the Labour Party or build a new left party?

By Phil Hearse

July 12, 2013 -- Socialist Resistance -- A supporter of the Morning Star/Communist Party of Britain (CPB), under the pseudonym "Michael Ford", has written the most substantial rebuttal of the proposal to found a new left party in Britain – “Left Unity’s Modest Flutter”, posted on the Left Unity site.

Weighing in at more than 9000 words Ford’s article assesses almost every conceivable objection, from the weighty to the absurd. By analysing his critique in depth we can be more precise about what the case for a new party actually is and on what basis it can be built.

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