Conference report 2016

The current situation in Germany is in a sense, a concentrate of a whole series of issues of major importance in the present situation: Germany is at the heart of the refugee crisis, the rise in populism and the threat this poses to political stability, the imperialist confrontations with Russia, to name but a few. This report, adopted by the February 2016 joint conference of the ICC sections in Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland, does not claim to be complete but rather to open up a reflection on these difficult questions.

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Antisemitism

The co-chairman of the Oxford University Labour club resigns after claiming “a large proportion of both OULC and the student left in Oxford more generally have some kind of problem with Jews."; two Labour councillors suspended for antisemitic posts on social media: one of them, Salim Mulla, the mayor of Blackburn, tweeted that Israel was behind recent Islamic State atrocities in Europe; further up in the party hierarchy,  Labour MP Naz Shah has to apologise in the House of Commons for suggesting on Facebook that the solution to the Israel-Palestine problem is to transport the entire population of Israel to the USA; and to top it all, Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, denies that Naz Shah has said anything antisemitic and refuses to apologise for claiming that “Hitler supported Zionism in 1932 before going mad and killing six million Jews”. Under pressure from the press and parts of his own party, Jeremy Corbyn announces the formation of a commission of inquiry into antisemitism in the party, headed by civil liberties campaigner Shami Chakrabarti.

So, do Labour and the left have a “Jewish problem”?

Leaving aside the way Labour’s scandals have been used to the hilt by the Tories, the right wing press, and parts of the Labour party itself, to discredit the Corbyn leadership; leaving aside the habitual refrain of the right wing Zionists that any criticism of the Israeli state is by definition antisemitic – the answer is still yes.

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EU Referendum

The arguments by both sides in the UK’s Referendum on membership of the European Unions are limited. They make outlandish claims on the benefits of Leaving or Remaining while warning of the dangers of their opponent’s policy in a perpetual pantomime of “Oh no it isn’t! Oh, yes it is!”

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History of the class struggle

It is 40 years since the events that took place in the city of Vitoria, where, in 1976, in the context of falling wages due to the economic crisis there were important workers’ movements throughout the country, and in Vitoria there were increasingly massive General Assemblies which elected a committee of revocable delegates. It was when a General Assembly was taking place in the Church of San Francisco that police unleashed repression against the workers gathered there. The then government minister, Señor Fraga Iribarne, founder and president of the Partido Popular (the People’s Party) until his death, and honoured ‘democrat’, ordered the police to fire upon the workers, causing five deaths with many injured.

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Populism
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If we are to believe the media bombardment that has been assaulting us in recent months, we are on the eve of an earthquake that will shake to the core the traditional scenario of the last thirty years, in which the People’s Party of the right (PP) and the Socialist Party (PSOE) have succeeded each other alternately in power without anyone finding anything to complain about. This political chessboard is disturbed today by the eruption of ‘emergent forces’, and in particular by the most recent: Podemos. But Podemos represents nothing new.

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Junior doctors
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On hearing of a strike by nurses demanding better staffing levels at Europe’s largest hospital, Charité, in Berlin last July a junior doctor in London said “They should do that here”. Now the junior doctors are striking here in England in a dispute over a contract that involves both a pay cut and problems of staffing levels. The government claim that they have offered a pay rise, but it’s one which will leave doctors thousands of pounds worse off due to a cut in out of hours pay. The claim that this is about 7 day working is equally outrageous, when the junior doctors have always covered nights and weekends, and rightly fear that increasing the weekend workload without increasing the number of staff would put patients at risk. In February secretary of state for Health, Jeremy Hunt, announced that the new contract would be imposed from August as negotiations had broken down.

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Terrorism
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It may be that the recent terrorist attacks in France and Belgium are an expression of the difficulties facing “Islamic State” in the ground war in Iraq and Syria, but sudden murderous attacks on the population of the central countries of capitalism are fast becoming a fact of life, just as they have been for many years in Syria, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkey, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan and numerous other countries caught up in today’s expanding war zone.

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Correspondence

We publish here a second letter to the Tampa Communist League, in response to DP's reply on TCL's website to our previous letter. For us the last two questions – the relationship between activity and period, and the principal lessons of the Russian revolution regarding party and power – are probably the most important ones for further debate.

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Readers' Contributions

By starting a new heading of ‘Readers’ Contributions’ on our website, and occasionally in our paper, we hope to encourage our readers and sympathisers to write texts and articles which can go into greater depth than is possible in our discussion forum, and so stimulate a longer term reflection. These articles, while being broadly based on proletarian politics, need not fully represent the positions of the ICC, or may deal with issues on which the ICC does not have a collective view. The question of art is clearly such an issue, and we welcome Boxer’s effort to deepen our understanding of the marxist approach to humanity’s creative productions.

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This third part in our history of the workers movement in Japan deals with the attempt to create a Communist Party affiliated to the Third International, and its Stalinisation following the defeat of the revolution world wide.

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