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A background to this issue's cover art by portraitist Robert Henri.
Plínio de Góes Jr
Florence Sutcliffe-Braithwaite, James Stafford
Labour transformed the electoral map in June. Though the Conservatives form the largest party in the House of Commons, Labour has turned many safe Tory seats into marginals, loosening Theresa May’s grip on her own parliamentary party. Labour now needs a relatively small swing – just 3.57 per cent – to win a majority of one at the next election.
Since the Brexit referendum, cultural and identity explanations for the polarisation of British society have saturated public debate. A comparison between students’ and Brexit voters’ attitudes to economic insecurity, however, reveals surprising similarities between these supposedly opposing groups. Reforms to higher education and the welfare state could be the key to winning a governing majority for Labour.
It’s commonly assumed that the Brexit referendum exposed pre-existing faultlines in British society. But we need to take seriously the idea that voting produces divisions and identities, rather than simply measuring them. If we consider the sorts of subjects and identities our current modes of voting in elections and referendums produce, we might be prompted to embrace more reflective, and more deliberative, democratic practices, in order to bridge rather than entrench divisions in British society.
Stuart Holland, Martin O'Neill
Few living figures can match Stuart Holland’s range of experience and insight into both British and continental European politics. As an advisor to Harold Wilson, Willy Brandt, Jacques Delors and António Guterres, Labour MP for Vauxhall 1979-89, and as a leading light behind Labour’s economic programmes in the 1970s and early 1980s, he has profoundly shaped the political economy of the Labour left and the case for a ‘Social Europe’. With the left now ascendant within Labour, the EU locked in permanent crisis, and the UK struggling to come to terms with Brexit, Renewal caught up with Stuart Holland in Coimbra, Portugal.
The international political environment will inevitably affect the UK government’s ability to pursue its trade policy goals after Brexit. Global trade politics is marked by significant institutional fragmentation, creating a difficult environment for a ‘middle power’ like the UK. In order to safeguard progressive policy objectives, the UK should pass a Trade Bill that would bring trade policy under domestic public scrutiny.
The NHS in its current form is good at keeping people alive but not at keeping them well. Labour should be championing a fundamental change to how we fund and provide health and care, with the aim of keeping people well, and supporting people with long term conditions
Frederick Harry Pitts, Lorena Lombardozzi, Neil Warner
Basic income may not be the ideal response to automation and technological unemployment envisaged by its proponents. In fact, it risks embalming our current economy – defined by low-skilled, low-paid, and unrewarding work – for longer than would otherwise be the case.
Michael Rustin, Myra Barrs
The first instalment of the Soundings Futures analysis of education.
In the international media, the current situation in Catalonia is often explained with reference to the Franco era and the suppression of Catalan language and culture during that time. Commentators also refer to the fact that during the Spanish Civil War the majority of Catalans fought on the side of the Republican government, which meant that after Franco won the war, oppression in Catalonia was especially brutal: large numbers of Catalans were imprisoned, disappeared and killed by the Franco regime.
The Russian revolution of November 1917 – or October according to the calendar it inherited from the tsars – was the world’s first successful workers’ revolution and an inspiration to socialists everywhere. Established in the midst of Europe’s most senseless and destructive war, the new Soviet state met with concerted resistance from within and without its borders and drew on campaigns of international solidarity as part of a world-wide movement against capitalism and colonial rule. Nevertheless, when seventy-four years later the Soviet state collapsed, there was no significant movement to defend it either nationally or internationally.
Lisa A. Kirschenbaum
It was a communist romance. In 1923, Croatian American communist Steve Nelson (born Stjepan Mesarsoš) met Margaret Yeager, the daugh-ter of ‘radical’ German immigrants, at the Communist Party office in Pittsburgh. As Nelson recalled in his 1981 memoir, ‘everything happened’ very quickly, and the two married the same year. Both understood that Yeager, the ‘better educated’ and ‘more sophisticated’ of the two, would not accept a ‘passive role’ in the relationship. Indeed her mother gave the nineteen-year-old bridegroom a copy of August Bebel’s Woman and Socialism as a wedding gift. Nonetheless, they soon took on stereotypical roles. He became an important activist, while she ‘tailor[ed] her life to what was required of me’. Recognising that an outsider might ‘conclude … that Maggie accepted a traditional female role because she shared the accepted view of a “woman’s place” at the time’, Nelson assured his readers that she did not: ‘As a revolutionary she consciously gave me all the breaks, feeling this would be best for the movement’. Thus a self-consciously revolution-ary union produced a paradoxically traditional marriage.
Kevin Morgan introduces a special issue commemorative issue of Twentieth Century Communism.
Commemorations express a political will to remember, a process that relies on establishing a mythologised historical referent. The Russian Communists were aware of the importance of this instrument forthe implantation of a regime whose legitimacy was contested both domestically and abroad, and proceeded therefore to construct a new collective memory through the reordering of time around the regime’s founding act: the great socialist revolution of October.
Gavin Bowd, Dianne Kirby, David Kirby, Michael Waller, André Liebich
Books reviewed: Fedor Il’ich Dan, translated and edited by Francis King, Two Years of Wandering: A Menshevik Leader in Lenin’s Russia, London: Lawrence & Wishart, 2016, ISBN 9781910448724, 236pp; Phillip Deery, Red Apple: Communism and McCarthyism in Cold War, New York, NY: Fordham University Press, 2014, ISBN 978-0-8232-5368-5, xi + 252pp; Åsmund Egge and Svend Rybner (eds), Red Star in the North. Communism in the Nordic Countries, Stamsund: Orkana Akademisk, 2015, ISBN 8281042427, 355pp; Tauno Saarela, Suomalainen kommunismi ja vallankumous 1923-1930, Helsinki: SKS, 2008, ISBN 9522220515, 840pp; Tauno Saarela, Finnish Communism Visited, Finnish Society for Labour History, Papers on Labour History VII, 2015, ISBN 9789525976182, 233pp; Eric Aunoble, La Révolution russe, une histoire française. Lectures et représentations depuis 1917, Paris: La Fabrique, 2016, ISBN 9782358720793, 255 pp.
Anarchist Studies' artwork editor Allan Antliff explains the history behind this issue's cover image, 'Follow Your Leader' by David Wilcox.
This article opens with a press report of a particularly violent action involving anar-chists at an anti-fascist action in the USA, shows how it was inaccurately perceived by media and law professionals, and how this indicates a universal lack of under-standing about anarchists and militant anti-fascism. We then focus on the UK to see how anarchists prioritise anti-fascism and show their historical connections with militant groups like Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), No Platform and Antifa from the 1980s through to the early 2000s, and their current support for the militant Anti-Fascist Network.