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 CWI School
Social and political turmoil in Ireland

30/07/2015: Socialists play key role in rapidly changing situation

  CWI, Ireland Republic

Britain
Corbyn’s Labour leadership bid shows anti-austerity message popular

29/07/2015: Militant Tendency held up as bogeyman by Labour right and media - What’s the real history?

  Britain

Turkey
Horrific Suruc massacre

28/07/2015: Only workers’ unity can end terrorism and division

  Turkey

 CWI School
Europe’s euro-crisis and prospects for class struggle

28/07/2015: Ground prepared everywhere for new battles and rise of left formations

  CWI, Europe

Britain
Labour Left leadership candidate under fire from right wing

27/07/2015: Blairites’ terror at popularity of left-wing ideas in Corbyn campaign

  Britain

 Turkey
CWI brings solidarity with Suruç victims

22/07/2015: Message of support from the CWI and its sections

  Solidarity, Turkey

Turkey
Massacre in Suruç

20/07/2015: Kurdish and Turkish people pay price for Erdoğan’s support for ISIS

  Turkey

 Venezuela
Solidarity with workers and unions at FOGADE

20/07/2015: No to union discrimination and repression!

  Solidarity, Venezuela

Ireland
57% boycott water charges

18/07/2015: Mass non-payment campaign gets results

  Ireland Republic

 Video
Reject sectarianism in Northern Ireland

17/07/2015: Paul Murphy addresses Irish parliament

  Ireland North, Ireland Republic, Video

Germany
Capitalists strangling Greece

15/07/2015: No to the dictatorship of banks and big business – For a socialist Europe!

  Germany, Greece

Migration
Fleeing horrors created by capitalism

14/07/2015: A socialist view on immigration crisis

  Britain

Greece
Tsipras crosses the Rubicon

10/07/2015: Time for a new, mass revolutionary Left to oppose all austerity!

  Greece

Britain
Union activists say, We could stop austerity in its tracks

09/07/2015: National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference

  Britain

China
Stock market crash can turn into a political crisis

08/07/2015: Regime adopts panic measures as market crash threatens wider economic recession

  China

Greece
Mighty class-based ‘NO’ shakes bosses’ EU

06/07/2015: Referendum earthquake sees working class boldly defy Troika and Greece’s servile ruling class!

  Greece

Scotland
Dundee porters’ victory proves strike action can deliver

06/07/2015: After 13 weeks of all-out strike action the 117 Dundee hospital porters have won an inspiring victory

  Scotland

 Video
Harris Sideris on Greek referendum and Vodafone battle

05/07/2015: Sacked Greek Vodafone trade unionist speaks in London on eve of historic referendum

  Video

Austria
Social? Democratic? Party!

04/07/2015: The Fragmentation of the Social Democracy in Austria

  Austria

Britain
Socialists and the EU referendum

03/07/2015: How should socialists approach the in-or-out EU debate?

  Britain

 Video
Real nature of EU is being laid bare

02/07/2015: Ruth Coppinger, Socialist TD (Irish MP), supports Greek ‘NO’ vote, and calls for debt refutation and nationalisations

  Greece, Ireland Republic, Video

 Video
Socialist MP condemns Troika/Irish government’s bullying of Greek voters

01/07/2015: Paul Murphy TD (Irish MP) attacks Irish prime minister’s collusion with Brussels big business agenda and voices solidarity with Greek workers

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Is China’s stock market bubble bursting?

01/07/2015: Billions wiped off share values in June – only the Greek stock market is more volatile

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Greece
Troika threatens Greeks ahead of referendum

30/06/2015: Vote ‘No’! For a mass working class campaign to oppose Troika and for socialist policies!

  Greece

South Africa
The Marikana Report – a whitewash

30/06/2015: Not a stone has been left unturned on the political landscape

  South Africa

Tunisia
Terrorist atrocity in Sousse

29/06/2015: For a renewed mass movement against poverty and terror

  Tunisia

Greece
“NO”

27/06/2015: On Sunday 5 July, we say “no” to the gang of the lenders!

  Greece

Britain’s class battle-lines are drawn

26/06/2015: A quarter-of-a-million people protested through London and Glasgow raising the need for trade union-led struggle

  Britain

Germany
Indefinite strike for more staff at Charité hospital

26/06/2015: Berlin industrial dispute of national importance

  Germany

Greece
Where are mass solidarity protests with Syriza?

26/06/2015: Troika must be defied – No more cuts! Don’t pay the debt! Socialist policies would win huge backing from Greek workers

  Greece

Egypt
Counter-revolution continues

25/06/2015: Recent strikes show workers will resist

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Greece
Tsipras retreats before Troika threats

24/06/2015: What should the SYRIZA Left do next?

  Greece

Scotland
1,000s rally against austerity

24/06/2015: Ferry workers’ strike over jobs, pay, pensions and privatisation

  Scotland

 Video
Socialist MP condemns Troika’s blackmail of Greece

24/06/2015: "Minister Noonan lined up with Schauble, he said tighten the noose, he stabbed the Greek people in the chest and the Irish people in the back"

  Greece, Ireland Republic, Video

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

CWI School: Social and political turmoil in Ireland
30/07/2015, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Socialists play key role in rapidly changing situation

Britain: Corbyn’s Labour leadership bid shows anti-austerity message popular
29/07/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Militant Tendency held up as bogeyman by Labour right and media - What’s the real history?

Turkey: Horrific Suruc massacre
28/07/2015, Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Only workers’ unity can end terrorism and division

Britain: Labour Left leadership candidate under fire from right wing
27/07/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales - formerly the Militant Tendency) press statement on Labour leadership contest:
Blairites’ terror at popularity of left-wing ideas in Corbyn campaign

Turkey: CWI brings solidarity with Suruç victims
22/07/2015, :
Message of support from the CWI and its sections

Turkey: Massacre in Suruç
20/07/2015, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey):
Kurdish and Turkish people pay price for Erdoğan’s support for ISIS

Venezuela: Solidarity with workers and unions at FOGADE
20/07/2015, socialistworld.net:
No to union discrimination and repression!

Ireland: 57% boycott water charges
18/07/2015, Michael O’Brien, Anti-Austerity Alliance (AAA) Councillor and Socialist Party member:
Mass non-payment campaign gets results

Video: Reject sectarianism in Northern Ireland
17/07/2015, socialistworld.net:
Paul Murphy addresses Irish parliament

Germany: Capitalists strangling Greece
15/07/2015, Georg Kümmel, Cologne, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
No to the dictatorship of banks and big business – For a socialist Europe!

Migration: Fleeing horrors created by capitalism
14/07/2015, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A socialist view on immigration crisis

Greece: Tsipras crosses the Rubicon
10/07/2015, Editorial Statement by Xekinima(CWI Greece):
Time for a new, mass revolutionary Left to oppose all austerity!

Britain: Union activists say, We could stop austerity in its tracks
09/07/2015, From The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales):
National Shop Stewards Network (NSSN) conference

Scotland: Dundee porters’ victory proves strike action can deliver
06/07/2015, By Philip Stott:
After 13 weeks of all-out strike action the 117 Dundee hospital porters have won an inspiring victory

Video: Harris Sideris on Greek referendum and Vodafone battle
05/07/2015, socialistworld.net:
Sacked Greek Vodafone trade unionist speaks in London on eve of historic referendum

Austria: Social? Democratic? Party!
04/07/2015, Sonja Grusch, Socialist Left Party (CWI in Austria):
The Fragmentation of the Social Democracy in Austria

Video: Real nature of EU is being laid bare
02/07/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Ruth Coppinger, Socialist TD (Irish MP), supports Greek ‘NO’ vote, and calls for debt refutation and nationalisations

Video: Socialist MP condemns Troika/Irish government’s bullying of Greek voters
01/07/2015, :
Paul Murphy TD (Irish MP) attacks Irish prime minister’s collusion with Brussels big business agenda and voices solidarity with Greek workers

Is China’s stock market bubble bursting?
01/07/2015, Dikang, chinaworker.info:
Billions wiped off share values in June – only the Greek stock market is more volatile

South Africa: The Marikana Report – a whitewash
30/06/2015, Weizmann Hamilton, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP):
Not a stone has been left unturned on the political landscape

Tunisia: Terrorist atrocity in Sousse
29/06/2015, Statement by Al-Badil al-Ishtiraki (Socialist Alternative, CWI in Tunisia):
For a renewed mass movement against poverty and terror

Greece: “NO”
27/06/2015, Statement by Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
On Sunday 5 July, we say “no” to the gang of the lenders!

Germany: Indefinite strike for more staff at Charité hospital
26/06/2015, Aron Amm, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Berlin industrial dispute of national importance

Greece: Where are mass solidarity protests with Syriza?
26/06/2015, Eleni Mitsou, from Xekinima (CWI Greece) website:
Troika must be defied – No more cuts! Don’t pay the debt! Socialist policies would win huge backing from Greek workers

Egypt: Counter-revolution continues
25/06/2015, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Recent strikes show workers will resist

Video: Paul Murphy appeals to Greek Left - Reject the blackmail
24/06/2015, socialistworld.net:
CWI MP speaks in Irish parliament

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

CWI School: Europe’s euro-crisis and prospects for class struggle
28/07/2015, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Ground prepared everywhere for new battles and rise of left formations

China: Stock market crash can turn into a political crisis
08/07/2015, Interview, with chinaworker.info editor, Vincent Kolo:
Regime adopts panic measures as market crash threatens wider economic recession

Greece: Mighty class-based ‘NO’ shakes bosses’ EU
06/07/2015, Editorial comment by Xekinima (CWI Greece), 6 July 2015:
Referendum earthquake sees working class boldly defy Troika and Greece’s servile ruling class!

Britain: Socialists and the EU referendum
03/07/2015, Clive Heemskerk, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
How should socialists approach the in-or-out EU debate?

Greece: Troika threatens Greeks ahead of referendum
30/06/2015, Andreas Payiatsos and Niall Mulholland:
Vote ‘No’! For a mass working class campaign to oppose Troika and for socialist policies!

Britain’s class battle-lines are drawn
26/06/2015, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) Deputy General Secretary - article from ’Socialism Today’:
A quarter-of-a-million people protested through London and Glasgow raising the need for trade union-led struggle

Greece: Tsipras retreats before Troika threats
24/06/2015, Statement by Xekinima (CWI Greece) [dated 23 June 2015]:
What should the SYRIZA Left do next?

Greece: No surrender to‘Gang of Lenders’
22/06/2015, Editorial article from Xekinima (CWI Greece) [dated 17 June 2015]:
Plan an anti-austerity fight-back, with socialist policies!

Iraq/Syria: US imperialist strategy in tatters
12/06/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
A year after ISIS captured Mosul, the jihadist group controls about half of Syria and a third of Iraq – more territory than ever before

Greece: Syriza voters want austerity ended, not another ’compromise’ Troika deal
04/06/2015, Editorial article from Xekinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 3 June 2015]:
Break with the austerity - adopt a socialist programme!

China: Is China heading for a new Tiananmen?
04/06/2015, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
26th anniversary of the Beijing massacre on June 4, 1989, is also a warning of revolutionary shocks ahead

Hong Kong: Endgame for Beijing’s fake democracy plan
03/06/2015, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Government’s electoral reform proposals meet with mass opposition

Spain: Victories for Left “popular unity” lists in local elections
02/06/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Two-party system dealt a new blow in local and regional elections

Belgium: Momentum to bring down right wing government lost
01/06/2015, Els Deschoemacker and Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
Learn from the struggle, as new opportunities open up

Ireland: Massive ‘Yes’ to Marriage Equality referendum
28/05/2015, Conor Payne, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Growing opposition to conservative establishment

Britain: The struggles to come
27/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales) General Secretary:
No fundamental change to be expected from the Labour Party

Canada’s ‘carbo-state’
26/05/2015, Bill Hopwood, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada):
Only a socialist alternative can challenge the carbo-capitalists’ grip on Canadian politics

Iraq/Syria: ISIS rout national armies at Ramadi and Palmyra
23/05/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
United working class movement needed to sweep away sectarian militias and reactionary politicians

Ireland North: Election marks growing rejection of sectarian status quo
21/05/2015, Daniel Waldron and Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast:
Opportunities to build new anti-sectarian political voice for working class and youth

Spain: Is Podemos in crisis?
20/05/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Left and social movements in a state of flux, as key elections loom

USA: Presidential candidate declares "political revolution" against billionaires
12/05/2015, Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative, Seattle:
Campaign needs to build independent political power

Britain: Fight against "five more damned years" of Tory rule
12/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party )CWI England & Wales) General Secretary:
Labour leader’s ’responsible capitalism’ shows its bankruptcy

China: “In a hard landing now”
11/05/2015, Dikang, chinaworker.info:
Stock market frenzy and fabricated GDP figures cannot hide the reality of an economy in deep trouble

Ireland North: Socialist Party replies to leading Sinn Fein councillor’s attacks
06/05/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland) Statement:
How to fight cuts, sectarianism and to build workers’ unity

May Day 2015: Socialist plan or capitalist chaos
01/05/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party General Secretary, (CWI England & Wales):
What sort of new society are we struggling for?