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latest news

Britain
'Slow coup' against left Labour leader

02/05/2016: Anti-Semitism charges a cynical campaign by right-wing to ditch Jeremy Corbyn

  Britain

May Day 2016
The idea of May Day on the march

01/05/2016: "The brilliant idea of May Day is the immediate stepping forward of the proletarian masses"

  May Day

Israel/Palestine
The Marxist left, the national conflict and the Palestinian struggle

29/04/2016: The necessity of a class approach and a socialist alternative

  Israel / Palestine

Austria
Stop the rise of the far right!

27/04/2016: Against Hofer, the government and the system of the super-rich!

  Austria

Greece
Athens bus cleaners hold solid 48 hour strike

27/04/2016: Workers resist inhuman working conditions and violation of working rights

  Greece

France
One-day strike set for 28 April

26/04/2016: A final stage before indefinite action against Hollande’s government?

  France

Germany
Huge protest against TTIP deal

25/04/2016: For decisive unions’ action to stop bosses’ plans!

  Germany

Britain
Jeremy Corbyn’s EU u-turn

23/04/2016: The bosses’ EU is no friend of workers

  Britain

Belgium
New major social conflict in the making

22/04/2016: Second action plan needed to stop the Michel government

  Belgium

US
The un-Democratic Primary

22/04/2016: Why we need new party of the 99%

  US

South Africa
Zuma & the ANC must fall

22/04/2016: Build a socialist mass workers party for a government of the working class

  South Africa

 Video
Paul Murphy speaks on Brexit referendum and for a socialist Europe

21/04/2016: Socialist Party TD (MP) exposes real nature of EU in Irish parliament

  Europe, Video

Iceland
Mass protests continue

21/04/2016: CWI’s programme explained

  Iceland

India
Workers oppose Modi proposals

21/04/2016: Eye-witness account of successful protest

  India

 Video
Peter Taaffe debates with Paul Mason on BBC TV

20/04/2016: Socialist Party General Secretary debates with author and journalist on revolutionary socialism today

  Britain, Video

 Sudan
Solidarity from the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - Nigeria with the student protests in Khartoum

20/04/2016: The ERC, the national student campaign linked to the DSM (CWI in Nigeria) is displaying its support for the student movement in Sudan

  Nigeria, Solidarity, Sudan

Poland
Anger at abortion ban plan

20/04/2016: Protests and a new spontaneous movement for abortion rights erupt

  Poland

 Sudan
Solidarity with the students’ protests!

19/04/2016: Free all arrested students now

  Solidarity, Sudan

Iran
Jailed trade unionists announce start of hunger strikes on April 29

19/04/2016: Statement by Jafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association

  Iran

Capitalism
a failing system

18/04/2016: A new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, analyses the downward course of the US economy – and the limits of the whole capitalist system

  Review, US

 Video
Socialist TV appearance ’goes viral’ in US

18/04/2016: FOX interview with Darletta Scruggs, Socialist Alternative member, viewed millions of times

  US, Video

Cuba
Obama’s visit

16/04/2016: Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interests

  Cuba

Burma
Democrats have historic majority in parliament

16/04/2016: But army remains powerful force

  Burma

Belgium
Successful ‘Socialism 2016’ weekend event

14/04/2016: Inequality, war and insecurity show the urgency of the struggle for socialism

  Belgium

Review
’Militant’ by Michael Crick

14/04/2016: Lessons of Militant vital for anti-austerity struggles today

  Britain, History, Review

Britain
Panama Papers reveal corrupt system of the 1%

13/04/2016: Build a party in the interests of the millions not the millionaires

  Britain

France
Workers and youth on the streets

12/04/2016: Full-scale struggle with ‘Socialist’ government erupting

  France

Hong Kong
Panama Papers: Hong Kong protest

12/04/2016: “Tax the rich” shout protesters at Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office

  Hong Kong

Netherlands
Dutch say ‘No’ to EU-Ukraine Treaty

11/04/2016: Major blow against “endless austerity” Liberal/Labour government

  Netherlands

 Brazil
Solidarity with attacked civil servants

08/04/2016: Hired thugs beat rank and file trade union protesters

  Brazil, Solidarity

Iceland
"You're fired!"

07/04/2016: Protesters stay on streets after forcing PM's resignation

  Iceland

China
Panama Papers name eight Chinese leaders

06/04/2016: Massive clampdown by state censors

  China

Britain
Panama Papers scandal

06/04/2016: ‘They’re all in it together!’

  Britain

Sri Lanka
Left political leader imprisoned

06/04/2016: Socialists demand immediate release

  Sri Lanka

review

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell.

www.socialistworld.net, 16/09/2003
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

ON A bright June day in Liverpool in 1977, hundreds of trade unionists and socialists took part in a march to rally at the final resting place of Robert Noonan - known more popularly as Robert Tressell, author of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists.

Roy Farrar

In a rough, weed-choked field opposite Walton Jail we gathered to unveil a marble plaque to mark the grave. This wasteland held the bones of over 1,000 ’paupers’, their bodies wrapped in canvas bags, stitched up by former inmates of the jail, and cast into mass graves.

Local activists had located the grave of Robert Noonan, plus the names of the 12 others interned with him, and all had been etched into the black stone. In a Liverpool workhouse (after 1949 a hospital) Robert had died of tuberculosis at the age of 40 in 1911.

Why this homage to Robert Noonan? He was a member of the Marxist Social Democratic Federation, but as far as we know he did not lead any mass campaign or strike. He wrote only one book, a novel about working-class life prior to the First World War.

Shortly after I joined the Young Socialists a worn copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists was pressed into my hand with the recommendation that I may find it a good read. An understatement if ever there was.

Turning the pages one was drawn into the tale, of a year in the life of an Edwardian town in southern England. The book revealed how the capitalist system rules and exploits workers.

It’s an accurate historical account of the lives of working people, and more, a condemnation of the horrors of capitalism, a comprehensive explanation of how the system works, and the need for a socialist alternative.

Robert Tressell speaks through the ’hero’ Owen, a building worker, describing incidents and characters that any worker could relate to today. The "Philanthropists" are the workers willing to work for the "good cause" of giving their unpaid labour to the "masters" - the bosses’ profits.

Casualisation, bullying bosses, low pay, poor housing, debt, unemployment, and the regular humiliations endured by working people throughout their lives, are all graphically depicted by Robert. The overwhelming impression is of a book written by, not just a well-placed observer, but as Noonan puts it "the story of twelve months in Hell told by one of the damned".

"Damnably subversive"

ROBERT WROTE his novel between 1905 and 1908 but despaired of having it printed as publisher after publisher rejected the manuscript. After Robert’s death his daughter Kathleen managed to sell the manuscript, for £25, to its first publisher, Grant Richards, who described it thus: "The book was damnably subversive but it was extremely real".

Unfortunately the first edition, 1914, and in subsequent editions, the novel was much hacked about and shortened, and given a depressing ending with Owen contemplating the killing of his family and his own suicide!

Fred C. Ball, Noonan’s biographer, tracked down the original manuscript and eventually, in 1955, the first unabridged edition came off the presses and with Robert’s uplifting final chapter restored.

Throughout the novel are various episodes where Owen explains the real workings of capitalism to his workmates and argues the need for socialism. These explanations are not ’forced’ for the writer’s skills for dramatic effect make these scenes feel natural and as parts of a seamless whole.

The Money Trick, Chapter 21, gives a lucid and as straightforward an introduction to Marxist economics as any. It is made memorable by its humorous treatment and the realistic portrayal of the behaviour of the characters involved.

One charge sometimes laid against the book is of being biased to men and their workplaces, that the women receive a lesser treatment. But as early as Chapter 3 Tressell shows Ruth Easton as being more able than her husband in managing the household budget - a greater insight of the economics of capitalism which enables them to survive.

In Chapter 6 it is Nora Owen, in conversation with her young son, who from a socialist perspective describes capitalism and the problems to be overcome in changing it.

The "Philanthropists" lack feelings of class solidarity and the novel is hazy about how they may attain class consciousness to forward the struggle for socialism. Occasionally the idea of the impoverished masses driven by their wretched conditions to overthrow the capitalists in a bloody uprising is proffered, at others an appeal to "reason", to vote for Revolutionary Socialists.

Owen’s ’lectures’ of course mirror the socialism of his day, a convincing analysis of capitalism coupled to the drawing of a wonderful vision of a socialist future, but somewhat vague as regards the transition between.

Only months after Robert Noonan’s death Liverpool was in the grip of a general strike. 80,000 workers fought police and soldiers in the August demonstration known as "Bloody Sunday". To the journalist Gibbs - the strike was "...as near to revolution as anything seen in England."

Only those carts and goods could move freely that had permits from the strike committee. Posters and leaflets declaiming "Socialism is the answer to Capitalism" went up in the city. In the following local elections Labour representation gained a successful foothold in a city where politics had been deeply marked by religious sectarianism.

But for Noonan’s tragic and untimely death, and given his powers of observation and description, a worthy sequel to The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists may have been written - depicting working people awakened by great events, realising their capability to challenge the "masters" and to change society.

From The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England and Wales



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NEWS

Britain: 'Slow coup' against left Labour leader
02/05/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary :
Anti-Semitism charges a cynical campaign by right-wing to ditch Jeremy Corbyn

May Day 2016: The idea of May Day on the march
01/05/2016, CWI socialist greetings/Two articles by Rosa Luxemburg :
"The brilliant idea of May Day is the immediate stepping forward of the proletarian masses"

Austria: Stop the rise of the far right!
27/04/2016, Tilman Ruster, SLP (CWI in Austria) :
Against Hofer, the government and the system of the super-rich!

Greece: Athens bus cleaners hold solid 48 hour strike
27/04/2016, Apostolos Kasimeris (Board Member of OASA’s Athens Bus Workers’ Union) and Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) :
Workers resist inhuman working conditions and violation of working rights

Germany: Huge protest against TTIP deal
25/04/2016, Angelika Teweleit, Socialist Alternative (SAV- the CWI in Germany) :
For decisive unions’ action to stop bosses’ plans!

Britain: Jeremy Corbyn’s EU u-turn
23/04/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary:
The bosses’ EU is no friend of workers

Belgium: New major social conflict in the making
22/04/2016, Els Deschoemacker, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium):
Second action plan needed to stop the Michel government

South Africa: Zuma & the ANC must fall
22/04/2016, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Build a socialist mass workers party for a government of the working class

Video: Paul Murphy speaks on Brexit referendum and for a socialist Europe
21/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party TD (MP) exposes real nature of EU in Irish parliament

Iceland: Mass protests continue
21/04/2016, Jonas Brännberg, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden), in Reykjavik:
CWI’s programme explained

India: Workers oppose Modi proposals
21/04/2016, New Socialist Alternative (CWI India):
Eye-witness account of successful protest

Video: Peter Taaffe debates with Paul Mason on BBC TV
20/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party General Secretary debates with author and journalist on revolutionary socialism today

Sudan: Solidarity from the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - Nigeria with the student protests in Khartoum
20/04/2016, Socialistworld.net:
The ERC, the national student campaign linked to the DSM (CWI in Nigeria) is displaying its support for the student movement in Sudan

Poland: Anger at abortion ban plan
20/04/2016, Paul Newberry, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI in Poland):
Protests and a new spontaneous movement for abortion rights erupt

Sudan: Solidarity with the students’ protests!
19/04/2016, Statement of Socialist Alternative (CWI in Sudan):
Free all arrested students now

Iran: Jailed trade unionists announce start of hunger strikes on April 29
19/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Statement by Jafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association

Video: Socialist TV appearance ’goes viral’ in US
18/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
FOX interview with Darletta Scruggs, Socialist Alternative member, viewed millions of times

Cuba: Obama’s visit
16/04/2016, Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno, socialist corespondent in Havana, Cuba:
Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interests

Burma: Democrats have historic majority in parliament
16/04/2016, Keith Dickinson, Socialist Party (England and Wales):
But army remains powerful force

US: The Battle of New York: Sanders Campaign Faces Decisive Test
15/04/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative :

Belgium: Successful ‘Socialism 2016’ weekend event
14/04/2016, PSL-LSP (CWI in Belgium):
Inequality, war and insecurity show the urgency of the struggle for socialism

Britain: Panama Papers reveal corrupt system of the 1%
13/04/2016, Editorial from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales) :
Build a party in the interests of the millions not the millionaires

France: Workers and youth on the streets
12/04/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Full-scale struggle with ‘Socialist’ government erupting

Hong Kong: Panama Papers: Hong Kong protest
12/04/2016, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
“Tax the rich” shout protesters at Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office

Netherlands: Dutch say ‘No’ to EU-Ukraine Treaty
11/04/2016, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam :
Major blow against “endless austerity” Liberal/Labour government

Brazil: Solidarity with attacked civil servants
08/04/2016, LSR (CWI in Brazil) reporters:
Hired thugs beat rank and file trade union protesters

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Israel/Palestine: The Marxist left, the national conflict and the Palestinian struggle
29/04/2016, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
The necessity of a class approach and a socialist alternative

France: One-day strike set for 28 April
26/04/2016, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
A final stage before indefinite action against Hollande’s government?

US: The un-Democratic Primary
22/04/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative Seattle, originally published on counterpunch.org:
Why we need new party of the 99%

Capitalism: a failing system
18/04/2016, Peter Taaffe, from May edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, analyses the downward course of the US economy – and the limits of the whole capitalist system

Review: ’Militant’ by Michael Crick
14/04/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
Lessons of Militant vital for anti-austerity struggles today

Britain: A new moment
28/03/2016, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), published in April 2016 issue of Socialism Today:
Extracts from a statement discussed at the Socialist Party’s recent congress

Ireland: 100th anniversary of Easter 1916 Rising
26/03/2016, Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
A revolt against imperial power and war

History: When Khrushchev denounced Stalin
26/03/2016, Niall Mulholland, from Socialism Today (April 2016 issue of the monthly journal of Socialist Party, England & Wales):
1956 ‘secret speech’ a devastating blow to Stalinist regimes

11th CWI World Congress: World Perspectives
22/03/2016, socialistworld.net:
Amended agreed version of the World Perspectives document agreed by the CWI’s 11th World Congress

Germany: Big gains for right-wing, nationalist, AfD in state elections
22/03/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
DIE LINKE (Left Party) urgently needs to change course

US: Sanders needs to run as an independent in November
18/03/2016, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in USA):
Continuing the Political Revolution

European Union: Alliance with Turkey to close borders
09/03/2016, Per-Ãke Westerlund, from Offensiv - the weekly paper of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
Crises for refugees - and the EU – continues

Germany: Between hatred and solidarity
08/03/2016, By Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
The situation in Germany

Turkey: No intervention in Syria! Stop the war on the Kurds!
01/03/2016, By Murat Karin, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey) and Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Two articles on the current situation in Turkey and Kurdistan

US: Nevada Goes to Clinton – Sanders Looks to Super Tuesday
26/02/2016, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Huge enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution leads to serious challenge to Hillary Clinton

Five years on from the “Arab Spring”
20/02/2016, Serge Jordan (CWI), article to be published in the March 2016 edition of Socialism Today, No.196.:
The “Arab Spring” revolutionary wave brought dictators in Tunisia and Egypt crashing down. It swept through the Middle East, inspiring workers and youth the world over. It has since ebbed, however, leaving the region wracked with war and sectarian conflict.

CWI 11th World Congress: South Asia wracked by instability
15/02/2016, Geert Cool, CWI Belgium:
Huge potential for workers’ struggles

US: Bernie’s political revolution opens new era for American politics
13/02/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Build a #Movement4Bernie to Defeat the Billionaire Class and the Democratic Party Establishment.

CWI 11th World Congress 2016: Women and oppression in class society
13/02/2016, CWI World Congress Document:
A socialist approach

CWI 11th World Congress: Upheaval of traditional European political framework
12/02/2016, Sarah Wrack, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ fury at austerity and capitalist system will find more expression

11th CWI World Congress: A World in turmoil
11/02/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Renewed economic crisis, wars, political polarisation & class struggle perspectives

Africa: New political storms and mass struggles
08/02/2016, CWI 11th World Congress Document:
Opportunities will arise for working class and poor to organise

India: Rising class struggle reflects seething anger of working class
08/02/2016, Anand Kumar, from Dudiyora Horaata (Workers’ Struggle – newspaper of the CWI in India), Bangalore:
Is ‘Modimania’ on the wane?

World relations, economy and the class struggle
08/02/2016, Socialistworld.net:
CWI 11th World Congress document

Spain: A break in the political establishment
07/02/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI (article from issue 195 of ’Socialism Today’):
December’s elections broke the hold of the two main capitalist parties for the first time since the Franco dictatorship. The high vote for representatives of workers’ and social movements, and the recovery of the left-populist Podemos, open up a new phase in the struggle against austerity.