Django's blog

When we say "class", what are we talking about?

Two parallel definitions of the word are used in political discussion. It's a perennial problem that radicals don't define what they're talking about when discussing class, or worse, making sweeping statements about it.

There were plenty of things wrong with last weekend’s Up the Anti conference.

A government at war with living standards

Apparently we're in an economic war. Who with, and to what end?

I've blogged before about the project of the political class to attack working conditions and living standards, in some cases with calls for British workers to give up leisure activities and [url=http://libcom.org/blog/its-getting-explicit-they-want-asian-working-conditions-uk-24082012]follow the selfless

It's getting explicit - they want Asian working conditions in the UK

The Tory right, friends of chancellor George Osborne, are now arguing openly that they want Britain's living and working standards to meet Asia's.

There was something of a storm last week after it emerged that a group of Tory MPs close to George Osbourne claim in a new book that Britain has become a "nation of idlers":

Pussy Riot convicted: Britain rails against “disproportionate” sentence - hypocritically

The UK also has no qualms over disproportionate sentencing or criminal sanctions for occupational protest.

Three members of the Russian punk band Pussy Riot have been sentenced to two years of imprisonment in a penal colony, following a protest-performance in a Russian Orthodox church. Maria Alyokhina, 24, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 22, and Yekaterina Samutsevich, 30, were all arrested after a video of the performance, which was interrupted by security, was posted online.

Restructuring work in the UK: The Beecroft Report is just a symptom

The Beecroft Report, commissioned by Cameron from one of his venture-capitalist pals and recommending the implementation of “compensated no-fault dismissal” has been released, and has caused more embarrassment than anything else for the government. But it's part of a bigger picture, with vast implications for workers.

The proposal is essentially to allow employers to make staff redundant even if the position continues to exist, in effect getting rid of the concept of unfair dismissal.

Don't let yourself be lied to about the efficiency of the market

An interesting publication recently highlighted how innovation in capitalist economies doesn't work as it says on the tin. Does this mean that resurgent social democracy is well placed to save capitalism from its own orthodoxies?

Sometimes, politics can be so strange and irrational that it takes your breath away. After a huge economic crisis, recession and now an ongoing depression, facilitated by decades of increasing deregulation and “neoliberal” policies, European governments are falling over themselves in their attempts to cut back, defund, privatise and otherwise dismantle the remains of the postwar welfare state.

'Stop Vládě' - Union demo in Prague

Over 80,000 people marched and rallied in Prague today in a union-organised demonstration against the government and its austerity program. It took place under the banner of "stop vládě" - "stop the government".

The Czech right-wing coalition government headed by Petr Necas has joined others around Europe in implementing an increasingly harsh program of austerity. The stated objective is to reduce the state deficit from 3.5% to 3%. The Austerity program until now has been praised by global ratings agencies despite hitting domestic consumption and growth.

Party leaders push reform - "[insert adjective here] capitalism" on the way?

The leaders of all three major parties in the UK have been making the case for "reforming" British capitalism, while at the same time digging the grave of the welfare state. What's going on?

There's been some interesting debates on libcom recently about reform and whether it's possible.1

Ben Goldacre on the "evidence" supporting NHS reforms

As the endgame approaches for the governments NHS "reforms", which will in effect privatise the service, Ben Goldacre has a useful survey of the "evidence" supporting reforms. Basically, there isn't any.

I won't recapitulate everything here, but Goldacre shows that Health Secretary Andrew Lansey has been consistently and systematically dishonest when arguing for the "reforms".

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/05/lansley-use-word-evidence

Some more thoughts on "the national question"

After almost six months of putting it off, I spent an afternoon reading over Against Nationalism recently, as well as some of the criticism published in response.

I was one of the main authors of the pamphlet when I was a member of the AF in the UK. It's been long enough since I looked at the text to allow to look at it with something close to fresh eyes. In lots of ways I think its sound –there's nothing wrong with the arguments on the historicity of nationalism and the nation-state as a political discourse and its relationship with capitalism.

EDL take on #Occupy, while new light is shed on their supporters

A couple of reports on the English Defence League that have been published by the think-tank Demos recently make for interesting reading.

The first argues that far-right populism is on the rise across Europe, pointing to the new breed of rightwing, anti-Muslim nationalism represented by the EDL, various populist groups and parties, and “lone wolf” terrorists such as mass-murderer Anders Behring Breivik (whose connections with the EDL were broken [url=http://l

Debunking the Islamisation myth

Fear that Western countries are undergoing a process of 'Islamisation' was the main motivation of Norwegian terrorist and mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik. But it can also be seen in Melanie Phillips' columns in the Daily Mail, in bestselling books, and on the placards of the EDL. It also happens to be nonsensical.

It really shouldn't be necessary to make the argument that Britain is not in the process of Islamic takeover, but sadly, it is.

Alleged Norwegian spree killer has EDL links

The rightwinger allegedly responsible for the Mumbai-style massacre and bombing in Norway appears to have ties with UK-based “counter-jihad movement” the English Defence League.

In online rants, alleged murderer Anders Behring Breivik describes himself as a rightwing conservative opposed to “Eurabia”, the “Islamisation of Europe” and the erosion of Christian values.

In a post on Norwegian website document.no he describes his admiration for the English Defence League, his contacts with the group and aspiration to set up a Norwegian sister organisation:

Bonkers Boris' messy logic

There's an interesting post over on the TUC's Touchstone blog about Boris Johnson's call for strike laws to be made even more restrictive. Boris, who was elected as mayor of London on a turnout of less than 50%, wants strikes to be illegal unless the turnout is greater than 50%.

Quote:
Nigel Stanley - Boris Johnson’s undemocratic proposal on strike ballots

London Mayor Boris Johnson has renewed his call for industrial action ballots only to be valid if the turn-out is more than 50%.

Oops... stats show benefit cock-ups cost more than fraud

New statistics released this month have again demonstrated that errors at the DWP cost nearly twice as much as fraud by claimants.

On the 16th of June the DWP released a set of statistics running up to December 2010 in their report "Fraud and Error in the benefit system."

Agent Provocateur in London?

AP have released raw footage from Saturday which appears to show a black bloc member inside a bank shouting "I'm a cop undercover" at onrushing police, who don't arrest him.

It's at around the 1 minute mark. See what you think.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_1pIBLp9lY&feature=player_embedded

The new war on claimants: blaming the victims

With unemployment increasing, and hundreds of thousands more jobs facing the axe as a result of the cuts, the government is setting out new ways to punish the unemployed.

The government is getting tough. Not on bank bosses, whose bonuses are back to pre-crisis levels. Not on tax avoidance by big companies, whose taxes are being cut. No, its the unemployed facing a crackdown.

Police shoot demonstrators in Tunisia

A youtube video was posted yesterday which is reported to show the aftermath of the shooting of protestors involved in the widespread demonstrations in Tunisia by police.

A link to the video, named "massacre in Tunisia10/01/11" is below. WARNING - GRAPHIC.

Youtube (Video removed from site)

Likeleak

Some thoughts on the UK Uncut demonstrations

The UK has seen a wave of high-street demonstrations under the banner of the UK uncut campaign, many of which have been organised locally following call outs distributed through the internet. The protests have seen a number of stores associated with Tax-Dodging picketed, occupied and flyered in cities and towns up and down the country.

The targets of the campaign have been pretty specific. The most high-profile company to be taken on has been the UK-based telecoms giant Vodafone, which is the most profitable mobile phone operator in the world.

Get on the bus ... to the Jobcentre

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith may well have blown his carefully-cultivated image as a 'compassionate conservative' with his recent Tebbit-esque comments arguing the jobless should 'get on the bus' and look for work. But new research by the PCS union shows that he's also completely wrong.

The former Conservative leader has reinvented himself as a fighter against poverty since he was booted out of the Tory party's top job in a vote of no confidence in 2003.