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Now more than ever, end the war in Afghanistan

Via Stop the War circular:

RALLY: Afghanistan - Time To Go
Monday 26 July, 7pm
Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL

SPEAKERS: Lance Corporal JOE GLENTON, just released from prison following court martial for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, CAROLINE LUCAS MP, JEREMY CORBYN MP, MARK STEEL, comedian and columnist, LINDSEY GERMAN, Stop the War Coalition, YASMIN KHAN, War On Want.

'The 90,000 US secret documents leaked today confirm everything the anti-war movement has said for years. The biggest ever wartime leaks show conclusively that the war in Afghanistan is pointless and unwinnable and the warmongers have lied to us continually.

The war must end now. All foreign troops must be withdrawn without delay.

The Guardian, giving 14 pages of coverage to the revelations, reports, "The huge cache of secret US military files provides a devastating portrait of the failing war in Afghanistan, revealing how coalition forces have killed hundreds of civilians in unreported incidents, Taliban attacks have soared and Nato commanders fear neighbouring Pakistan and Iran are fuelling the insurgency."

In this context, David Cameron's timetable of at least five more years killing is tantamount to premeditated mass murder. British soldiers are being asked to kill and die in a war which is lost. They must come home now.

The rally tonight (26 July) in London, AFGHANISTAN: TIME TO GO, featuring among others, Joe Glenton (pictured with his wife, Clare), the soldier court martialled for refusing to fight in Afghanistan, MPs Caroline Lucas and Jeremy Corbyn, and columnist and comedian Mark Steel, could not have been more timely. If you live in London, it has become a must go event.'

Also see:

Video: Joe Glenton interviewed after release from military prison

Joe Glenton and Caroline Lucas to share anti-war platform

End the war in Afghanistan: national demonstration set for 20 November

  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

Rosa Luxemburg and the politics of mass strikes

I've just re-read Tony Cliff's little book on Rosa Luxemburg (pictured) - it's contained in Cliff's 3-volume selected writings - and was particularly impressed by the force of a couple of passages from Luxemburg quoted in the section on the mass strike. Cliff's short book, first published in 1959, is online HERE.

'In former bourgeois revolutions where, on the one hand, the political education and leadership of the revolutionary masses was undertaken by the bourgeois parties, and, on the other hand, the revolutionary task was limited to the overthrow of the government, the short battle on the barricades was the appropriate form of revolutionary struggle.

Today, at a time that the working class must educate, organise and lead itself in the course of the revolutionary struggle, when the revolution itself is directed not only against the established State power but also against capitalist exploitation, mass strikes appear as the natural method to mobilise the broadest proletarian layers into action, to revolutionise and organise them. Simultaneously it is a method by means of which to undermine and overthrow the established State power as well as to curb capitalist exploitation ...

In order that the working class may participate en masse in any direct political action, it must first organise itself, which above all means that it must obliterate the boundaries between factories and workshops, mines and foundries, it must overcome the split between workshops which the daily yoke of capitalism condemns it to. Therefore the mass strike is the first natural spontaneous form of every great revolutionary proletarian action.

The more industry becomes the prevalent form of the economy, the more prominent the role of the working class, and the more developed the conflict between labour and capital, the more powerful and decisive become the mass strikes. The earlier main form of bourgeois revolutions, the battle on the barricades, the open encounter with the armed State power, is a peripheral aspect of the revolution today, only one moment in the whole process of the mass struggle of the proletariat....

The movement does not go only in one direction, from an economic to a political struggle, but also in the opposite direction. Every important political mass action, after reaching its peak, results in a series of economic mass strikes. And this rule applies not only to the individual mass strike, but to the revolution as a whole.

With the spread, clarification and intensification of the political struggle not only does the economic struggle not recede, but on the contrary it spreads and at the same time becomes more organised and intensified. There exists a reciprocal influence between the two struggles. Every fresh attack and victory of the political struggle has a powerful impact on the economic struggle, in that at the same time as it widens the scope for the workers to improve their conditions and strengthens their impulse to do so, it enhances their fighting spirit.

After every soaring wave of political action, there remains a fertile sediment from which sprout a thousand economic struggles. And the reverse also applies. The workers’ constant economic struggle against capital sustains them at every pause in the political battle.

The economic struggle constitutes, so to speak, the permanent reservoir of working class strength from which political struggles always imbibe new strength. The untiring economic fight of the proletariat leads every moment to sharp isolated conflicts here and there from which explode unforeseen political struggles on an immense scale.

In a word, the economic struggle is the factor that advances the movement from one political focal point to another. The political struggle periodically fertilises the ground for the economic struggle. Cause and effect interchange every second.

Thus we find that the two elements, the economic and political, do not incline to separate themselves from one another during the period of the mass strikes in Russia, not to speak of negating one another, as pedantic schemes would suggest.'

Image: protestors in Nepal, where the issue of mass strikes has been of critical importance in recent months.
  • Written by Alex Snowdon
  • Category: Comment

Back to Basics: What about women?

Equality minister Harriet Harman last night attacked Tory plans for married couples tax breaks, accusing the Conservatives of "Back to Basics but with an open neck shirt and converse trainers".

The Fawcett Society and LSE Gender Institute election debate was more engaging, witty and intelligent than the televised leaders' debates have been. But fundamentally Harman, Theresa May and Lynne Featherstone floundered on how they would protect women from sweeping public sector cuts after the election.

Questions on issues like the gender pay gap, division of labour in the home and violence against women were put to the panellists. All women claimed a commitment to increasing women's participation in parliamentary politics, with Harman arguing for all-women shortlists, May promoting careers advice and mentoring, and Featherstone asserting the egalitarian potential of electoral reform.

However, Harman's grand claim to stand "shoulder to shoulder with women in the developing world" conflicts with her pro-war voting record in parliament which has had a devastating effect on the lives of women in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As I heard Harriet call us "sisters" from the stage, I wondered how she thinks of the women's rights campaigners in Afghanistan whose struggles are knocked back with every day the military occupation continues.

The ways that gender, race and class operate as systemic oppression in society went curiously unspoken by the representatives, despite the repetition of 'fairness' and 'change' throughout their election rhetoric.

I enjoyed Harriet's sideswipes at the Tories, but such claims to sisterhood will always be empty while the wealth and power rests in the hands of a tiny global minority.

Delay, delay, delay

Apologies for the pause in posting: I’ve been ferociously busy with other things, not least of which was the launch of the new, improved Counterfire website. Feedback so far has been (almost) universally excellent, and site visits seriously in excess of what I (at least) anticipated. It’s too early to say whether this early [...]
  • Written by James Meadway
  • Category: Comment

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