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left unity

Britain's days of hope -- Ken Loach's 'The Spirit of ’45' reviewed

Ken Loach discusses The Spirit of '45.

Left-wing film director Ken Loach is at the centre of a movement for a new left party in Britain that is committed to defending and extending the welfare state and uncompromisingly fighting austerity. More than 8000 people have signed his appeal for such a party. A vital component of this campaign has been the success of his new documentary, The Spirit of '45.

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April 2013 -- Red Pepper -- Ken Loach’s The Spirit of ’45 is not just an exercise in nostalgia but a compelling intervention into the politics of the present, writes Alex Nunns.

It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when Britain responded to crippling debts and chronic daily hardship with a decisive move to the left: nationalising industry, building council houses and creating brand new public services from scratch.

North America: Ecosocialist Conference shows potential for a united green left

Introduction by Ian Angus

April 23, 2013 -- Climate & Capitalism, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- I was unable to attend the Ecosocialist Conference in New York City on April 20, 2013, and it is clear from all reports that I missed an important and inspiring event. The meeting was organised by the Ecosocialist Contingent, the alliance that participated as a united anti-capitalist voice in the demonstration against the Keystone XL Pipeline in Washington on February 17.

Initiated by members of Solidarity and the International Socialist Organization, the Ecosocialist Contingent quickly expanded to include the broadest range of left organisations and individuals yet seen in the US environmental movement.

See the list of conference endorsers, which includes Climate & Capitalism, here.

Socialist Resistance (Britain): 'Build a broad left party, fight for Marxist unity'

April 21, 2013 -- Socialist Resistance -- Phil Hearse made this submission to the April 2013 Socialist Resistance conference. The position it sets out was accepted by the organisation. A number of videos can be found here, including greetings from the Anti-Capitalist Initiative (ACI), Green Left, the International Socialist Network (ISN) and Left Unity.

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Comrades, we face major opportunities in the next period to help work towards a new broad left party and a refounded Marxist regroupment in this country. The left – and its far-left component in particular – is undergoing a profound shake up, the precise contours of which none of us can yet see. The left that comes out of the next two years in England and Wales will look very different to the way its looks now. Our task is to grab that opportunity with both hands.

France: Parti de Gauche vows to build ‘citizens’ revolution’ for ecosocialism

Down with austerity!

By Dick Nichols

April 12, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At the third national congress of the Left Party (Parti de Gauche) held in Bordeaux from March 22 to 24, France’s newest and fastest-growing socialist group seemed to come of age.

Only four years old, the Left Party was born after its leading figure, Jean-Luc Melenchon, a long-time leader of left currents in the Socialist Party (PS), abandoned it after the tendencies in the PS opposing neoliberal austerity mustered only 19% support at its 2008 congress.

(Updated April 14) Thatcher and Thatcherism: Don’t let them re-write history!

By Dave Kellaway

April 9, 2013 -- Socialist Resistance -- If we need yet another argument about why we must put our political energies into building a fighting alternative to [the Labour Party] then compare and contrast these statements on the death of Margaret Thatcher:

Ed Miliband MP, Labour leader of the opposition, said:

I send my deep condolences to Lady Thatcher’s family, in particular Mark and Carol Thatcher. She will be remembered as a unique figure. She reshaped the politics of a whole generation. She was Britain’s first woman prime minister. She moved the centre ground of British politics and was a huge figure on the world stage.

The Labour Party disagreed with much of what she did and she will always remain a controversial figure. But we can disagree and also greatly respect her political achievements and her personal strength.

Richard Seymour: The British left badly 'needs to change course'

The following are excerpts from a much longer article, "The actuality of a successful capitalist offensive", that appeared on Richard Seymour's website, Lenin's Tomb. Seymour is a leading member of the new IS Network, which is one of a number of developments on the British left that may encourage progress towards a regroupment of the left. The full article is available HERE.

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By Richard Seymour

Alexis Tsipras in London: Q & A on lessons from Hugo Chavez, a left government, the euro, stopping Golden Dawn ...

March 15, 2013 -- Irish Left Review -- The following questions [in bold] and answers took place after a talk SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras gave to SYRIZA’s London branch in Friend’s House in Euston on March 15. The speech itself can be found here. Some of the questions have been condensed to remove lengthy preambles and/or tangents but they remain an accurate reflection of the query posed by the audience member.

Could you give us a few reflections on what we can learn from the left in Latin America and particularly the legacy of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela?

Britain: Encouraging left regroupment/left unity initiatives

Ken Loach has called for a new left party in Britain.

March 25, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the recent period a number of left unity/left regroupment initiatives have been launched on Britain's far left. They include the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, Left Unity and radical film director Ken Loach's call for a new left party in Britain.

Another important development has been the formation of the International Socialist Network out the hundreds of revolutionary socialists who have resigned from the Socialist Workers Party during its recent crisis.

And in June 2013 a People's Assembly Against Austerity organised by the Coalition of Resistance is to be held, already having gathered the support of more than 1600 activists from all sections of the left.

Below are a number articles from the British left that introduce and survey some of these developments.

Quebec and Quebec solidaire: Linking sovereignty, equality and anti-neoliberalism

Part 1.

By Richard Fidler

March 18, 2013 -- Left Streamed/Life on the Left -- Amir Khadir, one of Québec solidaire’s two deputies in Quebec’s National Assembly, was guest speaker at this year’s Phyllis Clarke Memorial Lecture in Toronto. It was a rare opportunity for an Anglophone audience to hear a presentation by a leader of Quebec’s pro-independence party of the left.

Khadir’s lecture was addressed primarily to outlining QS’s approach to international solidarity in the face of neoliberalism and capitalist globalisation. In the wide-ranging discussion period that followed, he spoke about the Quebec student movement, the relation between class and national questions, the aboriginal movement, the environment, how Québec solidaire sees the relation between electoral and mass action, and other topics.

Britain: Mark Steel on the crisis in the SWP -- 'Oh Good Lord what have they gone and done NOW?'

By Mark Steel

March 13, 2013 -- Mark Steel's Blog -- It shouldn’t matter. It really shouldn’t matter, should it, what goes on in the Socialist Workers Party. Their membership is roughly the average home gate at Mansfield Town. By the time I left them, in 2007, the most common comment I heard about them was, "Oh. Are they still going?" the way you might refer to Bernard Cribbins.

But somehow they’ve got themselves in such a mess that thousands of people have been gripped by it, as if it’s a real life Trotskyite soap opera, with onlookers settling before the internet with a tub of ice cream for the latest episode and gasping, “Oh my God they’ve called the faction leader a disgraceful liberal moralist, I can’t wait to see what happens tomorrow.”

Sortu and Basque left nationalism’s strategic relaunch

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

By Dick Nichols

March 5, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Nearly 10 years after the Spanish high court outlawed its previous political organisations, Basque left nationalism has finally given birth to a new legal party—Sortu (“to create” or “to be born” in Basque). The new arrival is a powerful progressive force for Basque independence—socialist, feminist, ecologically aware and staunchly internationalist.

Its goal is an independent socialist Basque-speaking state that unites the three northern Basque regions in the French department of Pyrenees Atlantiques with the four southern Basque regions covering Navarra and Euskadi (the Basque Autonomous Community) in the Spanish state.

Basque Country: Movement for sovereignty and socialism on the rise

For more coverage of the Basque struggle, click HERE. For more on Spain, click HERE.

February 18, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Oskar Matute (pictured above) was elected to the Basque parliament in the election of October 21, 2012, as a candidate for Euskal Herria Bildu (EH Bildu, Basque Country Reunification). He was previously a member of parliament from 2002-2009 with Ezker Batua-Berdeak, a united-left grouping. His is spokesperson for Alternativa, one of the founding members of the EH Bildu coalition, which has achieved spectacular electoral results since its legalisation in May 2011. EH Bildu won 25% of the popular vote in the October 2012 Basque election -- capturing 21 out of 75 seats.

Tristan Parish and Rachel Evans spoke to Oskar Matute about EH Bildu and the Basque battle for independence, dignity and socialism.

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How did EH Bildu form and why did it achieve such good results?

Tunisia: Activist leader assassinated as left re-unites to provide alternative

More than 1 million people mobilised to protest the assassination of Chokri Belaid.

By Patrick Harrison and Dominique Lerouge

February 12, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Furious protests have exploded onto Tunisia's streets and a general strike has been called after the assassination of left-wing politician and lawyer Chokri Belaid on February 6. Belaid was head of the far-left Party of Democratic Patriots (PPD, he was previously leader of MOUPAD: see article below). His killing is Tunisia's first reported political assassination since independence.

Belaid was gunned down outside his home. Only 12 hours before, he publicly denounced "attempts to dismantle the state and the creation of militias to terrorise citizens and drag the country into a spiral of violence", Al Ahram said on February 6.

Britain: Is the left coming together or falling apart?

By Socialist Resistance (Britain)

January 29, 2013 -- This is the editorial from the latest issue of the British socialist newspaper Socialist Resistance -- Recent events on the [British] left give the impression that it is falling apart. Last summer, following George Galloway’s outrageous comments on rape, Respect suffered the resignation of Kate Hudson, Andrew Burgin, Salma Yaqoob and others. Now, the Socialist Workers Party is tearing itself apart after its leadership tried to protect one of its own from allegations of rape in order to “defend the party”.

Ireland: Socialist Party leaves the United Left Alliance

[Click HERE to read more on the development of the United Left Alliance.]

By Henry Silke

January 30, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On January 26, the Socialist Party (affiliated to the Committee for a Workers International, CWI) posted an article on its website announcing the end its membership of the United Left Alliance. This was one of the least surprising political developments on the Irish left as the Socialist Party (SP) had been steadily moving away from the alliance for more than a year.

The SP has given two reasons for leaving the alliance.

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.]

United Left national convention: ‘This is the Spanish SYRIZA!’

[For more reports and discussion on political developments in Spain, click HERE.]

By Dick Nichols, Madrid

January 4, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- On the last day of the 10th federal convention of the Spain’s United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU), Juan Peña, young IU organisation secretary for the Castilian town of Valladolid, summed up his view of the impact of the indignado (15M) movement on the IU, one of the oldest broad left formations in Europe: “15M brought IU good news and bad news. The good news was that our programmatic proposals hit the mark, shared by the people who poured into the streets. The bad news was that the people thought that these proposals were new, their own.”

Australia: Socialist Alliance to endorse and participate in Marxism 2013

Joint statement by Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative,

December 13, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance -- The National Executives of the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative agreed on December 13 to terms under which Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly will endorse and participate in the Marxism 2013 conference to be held in Melbourne, March 28-April 1, 2013.

This first significant national co-operation between our two organisations is a product of discussions that began between the two organisations on November 4, 2012, to explore the possibility of closer collaboration and unity.

Socialist Alliance and Green Left Weekly will be promoting Marxism 2013 as an important opportunity for all socialists and other progressive activists and thinkers to discuss how we can advance our common cause.

What politics to unite Australia's left?

"If we are going to get anywhere with left unity today we are going to have to find a way to get beyond a false argument within the left about who is really 'revolutionary' and who is not, and start discussing, in a constructive way, how best a united left can engage in the struggles against the ills of capitalism." 

By Peter Boyle, national co-convenor, Socialist Alliance

December 8, 2012 -- Socialist Alliance -- Once again the question of left unity is on the agenda in Australia. There have been exploratory talks between the Socialist Alliance and Socialist Alternative and also between the Socialist Alliance and the Communist Party of Australia (CPA). The Socialist Alliance and the CPA worked together in a Housing Action election ticket in the Sydney City Council elections earlier this year.

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