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latest news

China
The great slowdown

24/07/2014: Signs the mammoth property bubble is finally bursting belie Beijing’s upbeat GDP data

  China

Trotsky
The first year of war

23/07/2014: Article by LEON TROTSKY translated into English for first time

  Trotsky

WW1
The Bolsheviks and the war

21/07/2014: The horrors of the first world war, and the economic and social turmoil it created, led to mass upheaval. In Russia alone did this lead to a successful revolution…

  World War 1

1914
The capitulation of the Second International

19/07/2014: Before 1914, the Second International resolved to act to prevent war…

  World War 1

South Africa
Metal workers’ strike

19/07/2014: Industrial action must take forward call for a new workers’ party

  Africa, South Africa

Britain
Abuse scandals reveal abusive system

18/07/2014: An Establishment cover-up?

  Britain

Sri Lanka
Vicious communalist attacks on Muslims

17/07/2014: USP mounts motor cycle ‘march’ to fight for united struggle against chauvinists

  Sri Lanka

World War One
100 years since the great slaughter

16/07/2014: Ten million killed and more than ten million seriously injured

  History, World War 1

Israel-Palestine
World outraged by Israeli State’s ferocious bombing of Gaza

15/07/2014: Mass action needed to end the slaughter and blockade!

  Israel / Palestine

History
Revolutionary US Teamsters

14/07/2014: Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Strikes

  History, US

Stop the bombing of Gaza – End Israeli state terror!

12/07/2014: Over 100 Gazans have been killed in one week, including 20 children

  Israel / Palestine

Europe
Junk Juncker, Cameron and the anti-worker EU

11/07/2014: "Cameron’s defeat was dire."

  Europe

Israel-Palestine
Netanyahu government fuels wave of protest

08/07/2014: Extracts and updates from a series of articles on the website of Socialist Struggle Movement, the Israel-Palestine section of the CWI.

  Israel / Palestine

Hong Kong
What next after massive July 1 demo?

07/07/2014: Battle-lines hardening as masses push for democracy while government steps up repression

  Hong Kong

Can capitalism put all of us first?

05/07/2014: A response to the “practical idealism” of the Common Weal

  Scotland

France
Hollande’s austerity plans must be blocked

04/07/2014: United private-public sector strike vital

  France

 Brazil
Solidarity with sacked Metro workers

04/07/2014: 42 workers sacked for going on strike

  Brazil, Solidarity

South Africa
220,000 metalworkers’ on strike

03/07/2014: Forward to a living wage – end labour broking

  South Africa

Australia
Thousands rally in Melbourne against East-West toll road

03/07/2014: Labour claim opposition to project but refuse to rip up contracts

  Australia

 Sri Lanka
Solidarity needed against nationalist attacks

02/07/2014: At least four people were killed and 100 injured in anti-Muslim attacks

  Solidarity, Sri Lanka

Video
Free Vadim Kuramshin

02/07/2014: Joe HIggins, Socialist Party (CWI) TD raises Vadim’s case in Irish parliament

  Kazakhstan

Argentina
Return to turmoil

01/07/2014: Debt crisis is back – the class struggle and tasks for the Left

  Argentina

Review
’Capital in the Twenty-First Century’

28/06/2014: Thomas Piketty: The new Marx?

  Review

South Africa
Victory in platinum miners’ strike!

27/06/2014: Significant step forward in the struggle for a living wage for all

  South Africa

Pakistan
Military launch offensive in North Waziristan

26/06/2014: Half a million people flee the area

  Pakistan

Britain
Coulson conviction - Cameron must resign!

26/06/2014: Call a general election now

  Britain

Iraq
Isis jihadists capture more territory

24/06/2014: Only organised, united working class can end war and social misery

  Iraq

Israel/Palestine
Protest in Tel Aviv against military raids

24/06/2014: Israeli nationalist thugs cowardly attacked Socialist Struggle Movement activists after the protest

  Israel / Palestine

Waging war on climate change

23/06/2014: The quickening pace of global warming poses a threat to US national security, says a leading, federally-funded military research organisation

  Environment

Pakistan
Scores killed in Taliban attacks on Karachi airport

19/06/2014: Workers need political movement to counter extremist ideology and capitalism

  Pakistan

Nigeria
200 school girls abducted

18/06/2014: Why has Boko Haram insurgency grown?

  Nigeria

Iraq
Oil war’s bloody legacy

17/06/2014: Escalating sectarian conflict threatens to draw in surrounding countries

  Iraq

 Hong Kong
Pro-Beijing newspaper launches attack on CWI

16/06/2014: 1989 massacre apologists accuse Socialist Action (CWI) and radical legislator ‘Long Hair’ of ‘violence’

  China, CWI, Hong Kong

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



Europe

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A socialist world is possible, the history of the cwi with new introduction by Peter Planning green growth, a contribution to the debate on enviromental sustainability

NEWS

China: The great slowdown
24/07/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Signs the mammoth property bubble is finally bursting belie Beijing’s upbeat GDP data

South Africa: Metal workers’ strike
19/07/2014, By Workers and Socialist Party (WASP – South Africa) Reporters:
Industrial action must take forward call for a new workers’ party

Britain: Abuse scandals reveal abusive system
18/07/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party, Deputy General Secretary:
An Establishment cover-up?

Sri Lanka: Vicious communalist attacks on Muslims
17/07/2014, Siritunga Jayasura, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka):
USP mounts motor cycle ‘march’ to fight for united struggle against chauvinists

History: Revolutionary US Teamsters
14/07/2014, Alan Jones and Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative:
Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Strikes

Stop the bombing of Gaza – End Israeli state terror!
12/07/2014, Text of Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) leaflet:
Over 100 Gazans have been killed in one week, including 20 children

Europe: Junk Juncker, Cameron and the anti-worker EU
11/07/2014, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
"Cameron’s defeat was dire."

Britain: Millions of public sector workers prepare to strike
09/07/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary:
Build workers’ movement

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu government fuels wave of protest
08/07/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Extracts and updates from a series of articles on the website of Socialist Struggle Movement, the Israel-Palestine section of the CWI.

Hong Kong: What next after massive July 1 demo?
07/07/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Battle-lines hardening as masses push for democracy while government steps up repression

France: Hollande’s austerity plans must be blocked
04/07/2014, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
United private-public sector strike vital

Brazil: Solidarity with sacked Metro workers
04/07/2014, socialistworld.net:
42 workers sacked for going on strike

Venezuela: Successful workers’ and popular march in Barquisimeto
04/07/2014, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela) reporters:
Photo report of march

South Africa: 220,000 metalworkers’ on strike
03/07/2014, Mametlwe Sebei, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP) Deputy President:
Forward to a living wage – end labour broking

Australia: Thousands rally in Melbourne against East-West toll road
03/07/2014, Chris Dite, Socialist Party (CWI in Australia):
Labour claim opposition to project but refuse to rip up contracts

Sri Lanka: Solidarity needed against nationalist attacks
02/07/2014, Keerthikan Thennavan, Tamil Solidarity:
At least four people were killed and 100 injured in anti-Muslim attacks

Video: Free Vadim Kuramshin
02/07/2014, socialistworld.net:
Joe HIggins, Socialist Party (CWI) TD raises Vadim’s case in Irish parliament

South Africa: Victory in platinum miners’ strike!
27/06/2014, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP) statement:
Significant step forward in the struggle for a living wage for all

Pakistan: Military launch offensive in North Waziristan
26/06/2014, Khalid Bhatti , SMP (CWI in Pakistan):
Half a million people flee the area

Britain: Coulson conviction - Cameron must resign!
26/06/2014, Judy Beishon, Socialist Party executive committee:
Call a general election now

Israel/Palestine: Protest in Tel Aviv against military raids
24/06/2014, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI in Israel/Palestine) reporters:
Israeli nationalist thugs cowardly attacked Socialist Struggle Movement activists after the protest

Waging war on climate change
23/06/2014, Manny Thain, from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The quickening pace of global warming poses a threat to US national security, says a leading, federally-funded military research organisation

Pakistan: Scores killed in Taliban attacks on Karachi airport
19/06/2014, Khalid Bhatti, Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI), Lahore:
Workers need political movement to counter extremist ideology and capitalism

Hong Kong: Pro-Beijing newspaper launches attack on CWI
16/06/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action in Hong Kong:
1989 massacre apologists accuse Socialist Action (CWI) and radical legislator ‘Long Hair’ of ‘violence’

Brazil: Solidarity protests internationally
16/06/2014, Socialistworld.net:
More pictures from solidarity protests around the world

Brazil: World Cup opening coupled with continuing protests and strikes
13/06/2014, Socialistworld.net:
A few pictures and a video from the protests and CWI intervention

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Trotsky: The first year of war
23/07/2014, Originally published in in special WWI edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Article by LEON TROTSKY translated into English for first time

WW1: The Bolsheviks and the war
21/07/2014, Peter Taaffe, article originally published in special WWI edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The horrors of the first world war, and the economic and social turmoil it created, led to mass upheaval. In Russia alone did this lead to a successful revolution…

1914: The capitulation of the Second International
19/07/2014, Robert Bechert (a longer version of an article published in the July/August 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
Before 1914, the Second International resolved to act to prevent war…

World War One: 100 years since the great slaughter
16/07/2014, Tony Saunois, article originally published in special WWI edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Ten million killed and more than ten million seriously injured

Israel-Palestine:World outraged by Israeli State’s ferocious bombing of Gaza
15/07/2014, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Mass action needed to end the slaughter and blockade!

Can capitalism put all of us first?
05/07/2014, By Philip Stott:
A response to the “practical idealism” of the Common Weal

Argentina: Return to turmoil
01/07/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Debt crisis is back – the class struggle and tasks for the Left

Review: ’Capital in the Twenty-First Century’
28/06/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales):
Thomas Piketty: The new Marx?

Iraq: Isis jihadists capture more territory
24/06/2014, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Only organised, united working class can end war and social misery

Nigeria: 200 school girls abducted
18/06/2014, By Segun Sango, National Chairperson, Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), a party initiated by the DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Why has Boko Haram insurgency grown?

Iraq: Oil war’s bloody legacy
17/06/2014, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Escalating sectarian conflict threatens to draw in surrounding countries

Ukraine: Hundreds killed in military clashes
13/06/2014, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Working people fearing all-out war

Review: ’The Snowden Files’
12/06/2014, Clare Doyle, from Socialism Today (June 2014 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Exposing the ‘architecture of oppression’

Britain: The Battle of Orgreave
11/06/2014, Ken Smith, from Socialism Today (June 2014 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
1984 state-organised riot against striking miners

Brazil: Homeless struggle and Metro strike as World Cup approaches
09/06/2014, André Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
New stage of the class struggle

Euro polls warning
05/06/2014, Robert Bechert, CWI:
In country after country, May’s elections to the European parliament saw governments and traditional parties defeated

2014: The ’rejection election’
30/05/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Now Trade Unions must lead our fightback

Ireland: Electoral surge against austerity
28/05/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Socialist Party wins a second TD and Anti Austerity Alliance 14 councillors

Euro elections: A revolt against the capitalist establishment
27/05/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Gains for the far right but some successes for genuine Left

Turkey: Mass protest and strikes erupt against AKP government and mine-owning cronies
15/05/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Soma mine disaster deadliest in the country’s history

China: What lies behind anti-corruption drive?
13/05/2014, Editorial from Socialist 《社会主义者》magazine (issue 26) (CWI):
Case against former security czar risks dangerous splits in ruling party

Nigeria: Boko Haram’s abduction of school girls horrifies the world
12/05/2014, Hassan Taiwo Soweto, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria), Lagos:
Can a solution to the insurgency be found under capitalism?

Ukraine: Descending into bloody conflict
09/05/2014, Rob Jones, Moscow:
Only united working class action can stop the catastrophe

South Africa: Elections 2014
09/05/2014, By Weizman Hamilton, General Secretary of WASP:
The ANC victory, WASP and the EFF.

Algeria: Abdelaziz Bouteflika sworn in for a fourth presidential term
07/05/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Instability sets to grow