Socialism the podcast: 2021 episodes
The podcast of the Socialist Party. A Marxist approach to the big issues we face in a world of capitalist crisis. Fighting for jobs, homes and public services for all.
From strikes and mass movements through to community campaigns, history and theory. We shine a light on the struggles of workers and young people, and discuss the strategy for a socialist fightback.
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107. 1971: how workers beat anti-union laws
26 February 2021
What can we learn from the defeat of the Industrial Relations Act 1971?
Capitalist commentators often refer to the 1970s as a kind of dark age, and accuse socialists of wanting to return to it. What they’re frightened of is the huge power of a working class that fought and often won during that decade.
One major victory was the defeat of the Tories’ 1971 Industrial Relations Act, an attempt to smash the power of shopfloor union reps. Unofficial strikes and mass resistance made the act unenforceable.
Why did workers have such power in the 1970s? Can that be replicated? What was behind the bosses’ attacks on their wages and conditions? And can the anti-union laws that shackle workers today be overcome?
This episode of Socialism looks at the 50th anniversary of the 1971 Industrial Relations Act: how workers beat anti-union laws.
- How militant trade unionism defeated the 1971 Industrial Relations Act
- On The Track: an account of trade union struggles at British Leyland
- Workers’ Control & Workers’ Management
- How to fight the anti-union laws (2015)
106. Black workers’ charter
19 February 2021
How can we fight racism and capitalism today?
Black and Asian people have been disproportionately affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, they are disproportionately affected by austerity, and by all the inequalities and attacks that face the working class.
Meanwhile, working-class youth showed their willingness to fight racism and class inequality in the magnificent Black Lives Matter protests last summer. So what are the next steps for the movement against racism?
The Socialist Party’s black and Asian group has produced a new charter proposing some key demands in this fight.
This episode of Socialism looks at the struggle against racism: a black workers’ charter.
Further reading and listening
- Socialism 72. You can’t have capitalism without racism
- Black Workers’ Charter: A programme to fight racism
- Black and Asian Covid-19 deaths: an indictment of capitalist inequality
105. Russia protests: what future for Putin’s regime?
15 February 2021
What next for the mass protests in Russia?
Facing down brutal police repression, tens of thousands seized the streets in Russia to oppose the arrest of opposition leader Alexi Navalny. Vladimir Putin’s dictatorial regime was shaken.
While working-class Russians suffer ever more misery, Putin has built himself an opulent private palace. The anger against him is enormous. But although Navalny has exposed the kleptocracy’s massive corruption, his vision is limited to a more democratic capitalism.
Workers should have greater democratic rights. But would this alone solve their problems? Is it even achievable with capitalism in crisis? And what sort of programme and organisation does Russia’s working class need to end both dictatorship and poverty?
This episode of Socialism, taken from a broadcast by the Committee for a Workers’ International on 11 February 2021, looks at the Russia protests: what future for Putin’s regime?
- Heavy state repression fails to stop second wave of protests in Russia: https://www.socialistworld.net/2021/02/01/heavy-state-repression-fails-to-stop-second-wave-of-protests-in-russia/
- Mass anti-Putin protests sweep across cities and towns: https://www.socialistworld.net/2021/01/25/russia-mass-anti-putin-protests-sweep-across-cities-and-towns/
- Russia: Week-long vote, full of falsification: https://www.socialistworld.net/2020/07/13/russia-week-long-vote-full-of-falsification/
104. School workers need a fighting union
5 February 2021
How can the National Education Union win for school workers?
During the pandemic, educators and support staff have been on the front line of the Tories’ war for private wealth over public health. Schools became key breeding grounds for Covid-19.
Then, in January, the NEU forced a humiliating government U-turn on school reopening. What are the lessons from that victory, and what are the next steps to achieve safety?
How can teachers reduce their staggering workload? Is there an alternative to Britain’s ‘exam factory’ education system? What is the way to reverse devastating cuts and privatisation?
Socialist Party member Martin Powell-Davies is standing for deputy general secretary of the NEU. Socialist Party members and other fighters are standing for the union’s ruling national executive committee too.
How can school workers achieve a genuinely democratic union, where they are listened to, not talked at? And who stands for the serious strategy of industrial action necessary to change good union policies into real wins for members?
This episode of Socialism looks at the National Education Union elections: school workers need a fighting union.
- Martin Powell-Davies for NEU deputy general secretary: https://martin4dgs.co.uk/
- Socialist Party in Education: https://spined.co.uk/
- Martin Powell-Davies for NEU DGS: “We need to use our collective strength”: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31920/27-01-2021/martin-powell-davies-for-neu-dgs-we-need-to-use-our-collective-strength
- The NEU’s ‘big announcement’ – lessons need to be learned: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31977/03-02-2021/the-neus-big-announcement-lessons-need-to-be-learned
- Schools: ‘We have to fight for everything’: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31921/27-01-2021/schools-we-have-to-fight-for-everything
- Workers’ action wins Tory U-turn on school safety: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31788/06-01-2021/workers-action-wins-tory-u-turn-on-school-safety
103. The Arab Spring
29 January 2021
What are the 2011 Arab Spring’s lessons for now?
Ten years ago, revolutions erupted in Egypt and Tunisia, and rapidly spread in the Middle East and North Africa. Workers and poor people enraged by their living conditions toppled dictators.
World capitalist governments were taken by surprise. Why did Marxists in the Committee for a Workers’ International foresee that uprisings were coming?
What was the outcome of the Arab Spring movements? Why did some go further than others, and why have none achieved the full aims of protesters?
What is the significance of revolutions in the region since? And what is needed for the further upheavals which are already brewing to finish the job?
This episode of Socialism looks at the tenth anniversary of the Arab Spring: lessons for today.
- Ten years since the ‘Arab Spring’: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31923/27-01-2021/ten-years-since-the-arab-spring
- Egypt: The road to the 2011 revolution: https://www.socialistworld.net/2021/01/25/egypt-the-road-to-the-2011-revolution/
- Tunisia: explosion of protests against government austerity (2018): https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26747/17-01-2018/tunisia-explosion-of-protests-against-government-austerity
- Iran: strike wave marks new stage in revival of workers’ movement (2020): https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/31329/09-09-2020/strike-wave-marks-new-stage-in-revival-of-iranian-workers-movement
- Lebanon: mass protests cut across sectarian division (2020): https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/30278/12-02-2020/lebanon-mass-protests-cut-across-sectarian-division
102. US: the storming of the Capitol
22 January 2021
How should socialists respond to the dramatic crisis in the US?
On Wednesday 6 January 2021, Trump supporters – some armed – invaded Congress. It was the culmination of the loose-cannon president’s desperate attempts to overturn the election result. But the US capitalist class is used to inflicting humiliations like this on the rest of the world – not losing control at home.
Was this action just a protest-turned-riot, or did it represent some kind of attempted coup? Are Trump and his movement ‘fascists’, or is the real picture more varied and chaotic?
The opposite attitudes of Capitol Hill police officers and US military chiefs show the splits in the US state machine. The big divide between Trump’s supporters and other Republicans shows splits are developing there too.
So can incoming Democrat Joe Biden fundamentally change the fortunes of US capitalism, or the conditions of the mass of the population? Is it right to support social media bans, new anti-terror laws, and the Democratic Party? Or could that actually help Trump and hinder working-class struggles?
Clearly the events of 6 January were a watershed. What do workers and young people in the US need in order to put their own stamp on events?
This episode of Socialism looks at the US in crisis: the storming of the capital.
Further reading and listening
- CWI analysis of the US post-election crisis
- US socialists respond to 6 January attacks
- CWI statement immediately following 6 January events
- Trump Twitter ban: only independent workers’ voice can defeat right
- US imperialism in decline
101. Britain, 2021: a new era of capitalist crisis
15 January 2021
What is the outlook for class struggle in Britain in 2021?
The pandemic was a world-shattering turning point. All the weaknesses of capitalism were laid bare in 2020. But in few countries more so than Britain.
The nightmare which began in 2020 has not been limited to public health, but has infected the already-ailing world economy – with British capitalism the worst hit of all the major capitalist powers. Working-class and young people have already suffered hugely as the bosses try to pass on the pain. The bare-bones Brexit deal will only make things worse for Britain’s capitalist rulers.
Boris Johnson’s Tory government has been completely exposed for its incompetence and craven defence of profit over lives. But Keir Starmer’s Labour offers no opposition whatsoever. Britain’s working class has no political voice – and desperately needs to build for a new, independent, mass workers’ party.
Already this year, the trade unions have overturned the government by forcing part-closure of schools. And young people showed they are ready to explode in protest in last year’s Black Lives Matter movement.
British capitalism is not well. Meanwhile, Britain’s working class is angry – but lacks political organisation and leadership.
This episode of Socialism look at Britain in 2021: a new era of capitalist crisis.
- 2020 – a year which drove home the catastrophic failures of capitalism
- Global capitalism at most dangerous conjuncture since the 1930s
- Workers’ action wins Tory U-turn on school safety
- Universities: refund the rent, cancel the fees, for fully funded, publicly owned education
100. 2020 highlights: A socialist youth charter
10 January 2021
What do young people need today – and how can they fight for it?
Last summer, massive, young, working-class protests exploded around the world after the murder of George Floyd, and other appalling incidents of racism and police violence. But it’s not just these issues that angered young people.
In the US, Britain and around the world, the youth are suffering appalling conditions, and a future of crisis and uncertainty. But young people have also fought. In electoral movements – through support for figures like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Sanders. And on the streets – in the global climate strikes, and last year’s huge, young and working-class uprisings under the slogan of ‘Black Lives Matter’.
Even before the pandemic, wages were low, jobs insecure, housing and education unaffordable – and tomorrow promised nothing but economic and social turmoil, and even climate catastrophe. In 2020, the pandemic multiplied all these problems, as the capitalists and their politicians dumped the burden disproportionately on the working class and youth. Young people on the streets were angry about racism, but they were also angry about all of it.
How can young people fight to change things? And what would a socialist programme offer young people in that struggle?
This episode of Socialism, one of our highlights of 2020, looks at how young people can fight back: a socialist youth charter.
Further reading and listening
- Refund the rent, cancel the fees, and fight for fully-funded, publicly owned education
- Socialism 91. Universities in crisis
- A socialist charter for young people
99. 2020 highlights: US imperialism in decline
2 January 2021
The crisis-ridden US has two options: socialism or barbarism.
In the run-up to last year’s election, the United States was faced with a litany of crises. This episode was recorded during the run-up – but Biden’s election changes little.
Like many capitalist economies, the US had to partly suspend production in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. The state was forced to inject trillions of dollars into the economy to keep the capitalist system going.
The capitalists were facing these crises with an unreliable representative at the helm: Donald Trump. But they were breathing a bit easier once Bernie Sanders, who came to prominence with his promise of a “political revolution” against the “billionaire class,” endorsed a more reliable representative of big business interests in the form of the Democrat Joe Biden.
Biden narrowly defeated Trump. But the problems faced by “Sleepy Joe’s” administration have no solution on the basis of the capitalist system that both he and Trump defend.
Huge anger is growing. Class polarisation sharpens as the divisions between bosses and workers are exposed. Armed demonstrations ratchet up the tensions. Capitalism is threatening to plunge millions more into poverty, on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.
This episode of Socialism, one of our highlights of 2020, looks at US imperialism in decline: coronavirus, Trump, Sanders and socialism.
- Trump out but not down
- Lesser evil Democrats won’t end Trumpism
- Revolution or reaction
- Global covid-19 pandemic, capitalist crisis and bitter class polarisation in the United States