Cabu, Charb, Tignous, Wolinski, among the twenty killed in the attacks in Paris on 7 and 9 January, these four were a kind of symbol. They were the priority targets. And why? Because they stood for intelligence against stupidity, reason against fanaticism, revolt against submission, courage against cowardice, sympathy against hatred, and for that specifically human quality: humour and laughter against conformism and dull self-righteousness.
The press is turning the 1914 Christmas Truce into a harmless display of "humanity in the midst of barbarity", to the point where Sainsbury's can turn it into an advert for chocolate. But behind the Christmas Truce lay a real revolutionary potential...
The capitulation of anarcho-syndicalism, integrated into the Republican state in Spain 1936-37 did not go unopposed by proletarian currents inside and outside the CNT. To a greater or lesser extent all these groups were made up of working class militants who fought in the heroic struggles of July ‘36 and May ‘37.
Across the globe there is a ‘great debate’ about immigration. Mostly it consists of arguments about how to restrict it. Immigration is presented as having a harmful effect on vulnerable economies, as undermining a country’s culture, as making our lives worse.
A hundred years ago the world was plunged into the cataclysm of World War I, a vast inter-imperialist conflict in which 20 million died. During the war there were many workers’ struggles that went against the spirit of national defence. In Britain the Shop Stewards movement originally appeared as an expression of these struggles, but because they never broke from the trade union framework, they were subsequently integrated into the apparatus for controlling the working class. The article that follows was first published in WR 4 in August 1975. Written nearly forty years ago there are inevitably some formulations that we would now qualify, change or omit, but we are republishing it as it first appeared because its essential argument remains as valid as ever.
In 1936-7 the entire international revolutionary movement was faced with the necessity to affirm the absolute incompatibility between proletarian class struggle and imperialist war, since the one can only advance to the detriment of the other. The class struggle either prevents or disrupts imperialist war; the working masses can only be mobilised for imperialist war by renouncing the class struggle. As we argue in the article on anarchism and imperialist war in this issue, significant parts of the anarchist movement failed this test in 1914, and even more spectacularly over the war in Spain; and the same pattern of capitulation to capitalist war is being repeated today in relation to Ukraine and the Middle East today. But the war in Spain also precipitated a crisis in the Marxist currents which had initially tried to resist the Stalinist counter-revolution, and it was only a small minority which was able to remain loyal to internationalism during that dark period.
Changes to stamp duty, making it cheaper to buy an ordinary house but more expensive to buy one costing in excess of £2 million, provides a little cover for the cuts announced in George Osborne’s autumn statement. We should have no doubt that the proposed spending cuts are an attack first and foremost on working class living standards, and continue the policies carried out by governments of left or right since the credit crunch, and before.
Today the question of war is once again facing the world proletariat. Not a world war around already constituted blocs, but a more general, more chaotic descent into military barbarism across the planet, as exemplified by the wars in Africa, the Middle East and the Ukraine. These wars are again imperialist wars, in which the bigger capitalist states vie against their rivals through various local or national factions, and they are all expressions of capitalism’s increasing descent into self-destruction. And once again, a part of the anarchist movement is openly participating in these imperialist conflicts.
War in Ukraine has brought military conflict between opposing imperialist powers back within the frontiers of Europe.
All the media told us that the protests in Hong Kong were for "democracy". But were they really only limited to that?