meeting 14th april: class struggle in world war II

9 04 2011

A meeting of the Birkbeck discussion group*, with a lead-off by David Broder.  From 7:30pm on Thursday 14th April at Room 254, Birkbeck, Malet Street (Goodge St. tube). All welcome.

The Second World War was the greatest crisis in the history of capitalism. For six years the system of states was in chaos as rival
imperialisms fought each other for control. Many communists hoped that the disaster of war and the discrediting of the ruling class would provide an opportunity for revolution. Yet the democratic bourgeoisie  emerged from 1945 stronger than ever.

Read the rest of this entry »





a hope unfulfilled: communists in world war II

11 03 2011

David Broder writes on the disappointed revolutionary aspirations of the WWII-era left

The recent collapse of dictatorships in Egypt and Tunisia marked inspiring victories for the mass uprisings in the Arab world. However, these revolts have again posed an age-old question of revolutionary politics: is the aim to get rid of this or that leader, or to overthrow the system as such?

This question was sharply posed in the late World War II period when mass resistance movements besieged fascist régimes across Europe. These movements were dominated by activists who believed in the desirability of communism.

But as such, the maintenance of capitalist order after the war was a major defeat. Why did resistance not mean revolution? Here I shall focus on the examples of France and Italy. Read the rest of this entry »





the shipwrecked (part I): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

11 10 2009

The refugees who tried to save themselves by crossing the frontiers: hated by the fascists for being communists, hated by the Nazis for being Jews, and hated by the democracies for their being anti-capitalists. By João Bernardo.

beckmanndeparture

In the early days of July 1940, off the Irish coast, a German submarine attacked and sank a ship carrying around 1200 civilian passengers. More than half died, not least because the ship did not have enough lifeboats. Read the rest of this entry »





imperialism and the world today: 19th october london forum

29 09 2009

‘uncaptive minds’ public meeting hosted by The Commune

The next of our London forums will be looking at modern imperialism. The coming to power of the Obama administration in the United States has led many people to believe that there will be a change in American foreign policy: yet the western military presence in Central Asia and Latin America is set to increase; the Eastern European nuclear defence shield has been abandoned with the aim of securing Russian support against Iran; and the war in Afghanistan continues unabated.

19thoctober

What is the strategy of imperialist domination today? With the rise of China and India, are there one, two or many imperialisms? What forces really challenge imperialism? Join the debate with speakers:

Andy Higginbottom
Latin America solidarity activist

Marko Bojcun
Ukrainian Marxist and writer on Eastern Europe

From 7pm on Monday 19th October at the Lucas Arms, Grays Inn Road, near King’s Cross. See below for map, or email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com for more details. Read the rest of this entry »





beyond mousavi: the movement of the iranian masses

7 07 2009

by David Broder

The explosion of popular defiance following the seemingly fraudulent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmedinejad marks a turning point in the evolution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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While in the last two years there were strikes on the Tehran bus network and in isolated factories, as well as illegal student protests thousands strong, the post-election demonstrations were by far the greatest challenge to the authority of the Ayatollahs’ regime since it was established in 1979. Read the rest of this entry »





new pamphlet: the meaning of communism today

26 01 2009

We are pleased to announce the publication of our sixth pamphlet, “The meaning of communism today”.

The pamphlet, excerpted in the latest issue of The Commune, features a discussion document produced by supporters of A l’Encontre, l’Emancipation sociale, Carré rouge and A contre-courant looking at what alternative we can pose to the crisis-ridden capitalist system, including a focus on gender oppression, the coming ecological disaster and modern imperialism.

Arguing against the tried-and-failed statist and vanguardist conceptions of Stalinism and social-democracy, the piece puts forward the case for a self-managed society based on participatory democracy and collective decision making.

You can order the pamphlet for £1 + postage by writing to uncaptiveminds@gmail.com or The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY.

meaningcommunismcover





the commune issue 2 published

22 01 2009

issue2cover

february 2009 – £1 + postage and packing, email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com to order

click here for pdf or see individual articles below

barack obama is lipstick on a pig – by Ernie Haberkern

civil service pay dispute: defeat or victory? – by Steve Ryan, Wrexham PCS

class struggle on the london underground – interview with Vaughan Thomas, RMT London region chair (LUL)

occupations: the way to win? – guest editorial by Gregor Gall

the people’s charter: a charter for change? - by Chris Kane (online only)

militancy and mobilisation in the anti-war movement

the mindset of israelis in the gaza conflict – by Solomon Anker

anti-semitism and the war – by Aled Thomas

unemployment: a view from the front line – by Christine Hulme, PCS DWP

welfare ‘reform’, the brown premiership and the recession – by Chris Grover, Lancaster University

what does ‘socialism or barbarism’ mean today? – by François Chesnais

call centres: the workers’ enquiry – review by Jack Staunton

ukraine’s ‘new left’ and the russian ‘gas war’ – by Milan Lelich

the socialist movement in iran – by Sam Parsa

political platform of the commune






occupations for gaza in london! get down to lse!

15 01 2009

In our report on Saturday’s demonstration, we urged students to occupy university buildings.  A leaflet which some of us helped to distribute also called for university occupations.  With demonstrations outside the embassy dwindling, and the PSC seeking to demobilise the movement with their latest (sexist) call for a “women’s and children’s march” following another mind-numbing rally at Trafalgar Square, occupations are vital to take the movement to the next level.

Students at SOAS have already occupied, and the university has agreed to grant several of their demands (including banning the military from campus, and allowing the student union to run a series of events for Gaza there during the week).   Tonight LSE students have embarked upon their own occupation.  We need to support these!  Get down if you possibly can, student or not, and help to make every occupation a centre of discussion and organisation!  Find more about the occupations here:

SOAS occupation

LSE occupation [Map and travel instructions]

These occupations pose a question of social power – i.e. who runs the institutions that make up society – and doing so while raising the banner of Gaza. Street mobilisations alone will burn us out without posing these questions of power, and leave us with no alternative centres of organisation apart from the PSC and the STWC which are already trying to demobilise the movement. Isolated actions – such as the disruption of BICOM on Tuesday morning – are broadly positive, but don’t provide an organisational centre to counter the national NGOs, and don’t do anything to link the situation in Gaza to broader questions of politics and power. Occupations can also be centres of learning and organising, they are exactly what needs to happen. Their potential will be defined by the number of people who attend and commit to them.

If you are at another university, consider organising your own occupation.  We also need to think about how these occupations can become a space, not only for students, but for the broader community of activists and demonstrators who have taken action over the past two weeks.





gaza demo 7th january: police run riot after zionist counter-protest

8 01 2009

report by Taimour Lay

Demonstrations outside the Israeli embassy in Kensington on Wednesday night ended in baton charges on pro-Palestinian protesters and at least ten arrests. A counter-demonstration organised by the Board of Deputies of British Jews, Jewish Leadership Council and UK Zionist Federation attracted 300-400 people, but the arrests were ultimately sparked by police tactics at the end of the evening rather than the conduct of the opposing sides during the protest.

7th-jan1

The police chose not to force pro-Palestinian demonstrators – who had been gathering since 5pm for the daily demonstration – away from their pen as the Zionists arrived shortly after 7pm, instead setting up a second pen opposite the embassy nearer Gloucester Road, with three police vans and 40-50 officers to keep the two sides apart in contained areas.

But as the night wore on riot police were used to end the anti-war demonstration by force. One policeman said a strategic decision had been made to ”clear the area”, including Kensington High Street and surrounding roads, to prevent ”Israeli and Palestinians from kicking each other”. In reality, it meant that the peaceful pro-Palestinian demonstrators, who still numbered around 200 by 9pm, and who remained determined not to depart before the close of the opposition demonstration, were pushed, harried and chased out of the pen.

Read the rest of this entry »





israel-palestine: the chauvinist onslaught

29 12 2008

Our comrade Solomon Anker reports from Tel Aviv, Israel on the escalation of the conflict in Gaza and the response of the Israeli left and peace movements as well as Arab organisations.

The situation in Israel and Palestine has made everyone become more nationalist.  The right-wing Jewish parties in Israel are gaining more support and the Arabic citizens of Israel are extremely angry, and they relate strongly to the suffering of the people in Gaza.

Within the Jewish community the majority support the Army, and the establishment Left (Labour Party) is part of the Government who is in charge of the massacres during the war. Ehud Barak, the Defence Minister is from the Labour Party. Within the Labour rank-and-file there are those who are unhappy with the Government but not even one member is opposing the action in Gaza. The Social Democratic Party (Meretz) and Peace Now, who are anti-occupation, not in the government and whom have a very left-wing rank and file are silent. They tend to only demonstrate against the settlers and the far-right and never challenge the state.

The only opposition in the Jewish community has come from members of the Chadash Party (Communist) and Anarchists Against the Wall.  In Tel-Aviv a very lively demonstration took place with 300 people with 5 getting arrested.

The main opposition within Israel’s borders has come from the 1.2 million Arab citizens of Israel. However, these demonstrations have not had a left-wing tone. The demonstrations have been called to protest against what is going on in Gaza, but the mood of the protestors and  chants at the demonstrations have been mostly right-wing and are extremely nationalist. In the city of Haifa, where the Communist Party is strong, 300 people a day are demonstrating, mainly shouting slogans saying “Palestine is Arabic” and other slogans relating to “re-conquering” the country. In the smaller Israeli-Arab villages where the Balad Party (Arab Nationalist) and the Islamic Movement are popular the slogans have been even more aggressive, including “We Will Defeat the Jews” and “Death to the Jews.” Slogans saying “End the Occupation” and” Stop the Violence in Gaza” are heard, but in general, these are less popular than the more “militant” calls.

All in all, the mood of the country is nationalist, and even liberal voices are almost dead, with people just tending to stick by their ethnic tribe and having mistrust and fear of the other. Racial fighting between young Jews and Arabs (all working-class) broke out a few months ago in the northern town of Akko. Predictions are that a third Intafada will lead to more racial tension and the chance of working-class solidarity is  completely dead and the chance of a race war is far more likely.





video of iranian student activist behrouz karimizadeh

18 12 2008

Below is a video of the Iranian student activist Behrouz Karimizadeh – a leading member of Freedom and Equality who spent several months in prison in winter 2007-spring 2008 – speaking at the Hands Off the People of Iran conference on December 13th. Behrouz discusses (via an interpreter) the challenges the student movement faces in building its forces and building its links with the workers’ movement in the face of repression and imperialist threats, as well as outlining the history of the movement. Videos of other talks are available on the HOPI website.





the origins of the movement for workers’ councils in germany

25 11 2008

Ninety years ago the German working class unseated the Kaiser and the military establishment with a series of strikes and mutinies which brought World War I to a close.

Conscripted sailors and soldiers created strike committees, and then joined with industrial workers to create workers’ councils akin to the soviets which existed during the Russian revolution. These enjoyed extensive working class participation and in some cities held power: but over the subsequent five year revolutionary wave the working class was time and again crushed by the Social Democrats and the right-wing troops it could call upon to defend capital.

For our latest pamphlet we have reprinted a seventy-year old pamphlet on the workers’ council movement produced by the Dutch GIK (Group of International Communists) accompanied by the autobiography of leading GIK member Jan Appel (a participant in the revolution and the commandeering of a ship) along with a chronology of the German revolution.

Printed copies cost £1 each – email uncaptiveminds@gmail.com or write to The Commune, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John Street, London EC1V 4PY.

click here for pdf





hands off the people of iran conference

11 11 2008

hopipic Read the rest of this entry »





review of ‘resistance to nazism’

19 10 2008

by David Broder

Recently I have engaged in a fair degree of research into working-class resistance during the Second World War, and so at yesterday’s Anarchist Bookfair I was interested to pick up a copy of the Anarchist Federation’s pamphlet ‘Resistance to Nazism’ (subtitle ‘Shattered Armies: How the Working Class Fought Nazism and Fascism 1933-45′), reprinted this May.

The stated aim of the pamphlet is to present an alternative ‘history from below’ discussing the struggles and experiences of working-class people rather than looking at the world through the prism of competing governments and military figures. This is a worthy aim indeed. Read the rest of this entry »








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