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Germany
'Es Reicht!' (It's enough!)

28/09/2016: Dortmund demonstration against neo-Nazi-violence

  Germany

Britain
The ‘Corbynomics’ challenge

27/09/2016: What economic policies can end austerity and transform workers’ lives?

  Britain

Britain
Left candidate Jeremy Corbyn re-wins Labour leadership with bigger majority

24/09/2016:


Landslide victory another step to transforming Labour

  Britain

Britain
Labour leadership election draws to a close

23/09/2016: Battle lines drawn: build a real mass party of the 99%

  Britain

South Africa
Solidarity with students

22/09/2016: Struggle for free education

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Leon Trotsky’s living legacy

21/09/2016: Review of "The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky", published in the latest issue of Socialism Today

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Britain
Damning parliamentary report into Cameron's role in overthrowing Gaddafi

21/09/2016: Imperialist intervention helped wreck revolutionary movement and ruin Libya

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Irish embassies face Jobstown trial protests

20/09/2016: Defend the right to protest – Drop the charges!

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Sri Lanka
United Socialist Party congress

19/09/2016: Lively meeting prepares membership for next period

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Ireland
#JobstownNotGuilty trials begin…

19/09/2016: State criminalises right to protest

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Britain
Labour Party needs democratic structures and socialist policies

16/09/2016: Tremendous opportunity to bring Labour back to power but on an entirely different, attractive basis

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China
Fierce clashes at “Democracy village”

14/09/2016: Protesters defy crackdown

  China

Ireland
 Dublin Bus workers move into action

13/09/2016: Strike launched after years of wage restraint

  Ireland Republic

Hong Kong
When Edward Snowden went underground with refugees

12/09/2016: Socialist Action’s Vanessa gave shelter to on-the-run Snowden

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Britain
Trade Union Congress 2016

11/09/2016: Organise mass working class resistance to austerity

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Hong Kong
Elections redraw political map

10/09/2016: Legco elections see record turnout and big swing towards ‘radical’ newcomers

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Britain
Break with Blairites essential to defeating divided Tories

09/09/2016: Huge potential for a bold, socialist Labour party

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Uzbekistan
President Karimov, the butcher of Andijan, dies

08/09/2016: West seeks “stability” under brutal dictatorship

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 Video
Irish Socialist MPs on Apple tax scandal

08/09/2016: Socialist industrial policy argued for in parilament by Paul Murphy, Ruth Coppinger and Mick Barry

  Ireland Republic, Video

Quebec
Montreal Old Port strikers reject wage offer

07/09/2016: Solidarity needed for struggle for a $15 minimum wage

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Britain
Corbyn's Brexit opportunity

06/09/2016: Socialist, internationalist policies can rally both Leave and Remain voters

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Australia
Weak government has no mandate

05/09/2016: Time for the unions and social movements to push back

  Australia

Germany
Growing crises and the Left party

03/09/2016: War, refugees and global economic disaster knocking on Germany's door

  Germany

Brazil
Impeachment farce only serves big capital

02/09/2016: Temer out! General elections now! General strike to defend our rights!

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India
Mass general strike across the country

02/09/2016: Fight must go on for minimum wage and against labour law ‘reform’

  India

Ireland
The €13 billion question

02/09/2016: Government supports Apple’s tax dodging

  Ireland Republic

Britain
Labour right’s purges and exclusions

31/08/2016: We must fight for a party for the 99%

  Britain

France
Burkini ban fuels Islamophobia

30/08/2016: For workers’ unity and struggle against racism, division and austerity

  France

Congo
General strike results in "villes mortes"

30/08/2016: Boiling anger as Kabila tries to cling to power

  Congo

Environment
Green China to save the world?

29/08/2016: Article published in latest edition of Socialism Today

  China, Environment

Book review
Iraq, IS and the failing war on terror

28/08/2016: Published earlier this year before the Chilcot report was finally released, Blood Year by counter-insurgency strategist David Kilcullen is a damning indictment of the so-called war on terror unleased by US imperialism in 2001, with the full support of Tony Blair.

  Iraq, Middle East

Haiti
225th anniversary of anti-slavery, anti-colonial revolution

27/08/2016: A heroic and lasting inspiration to the oppressed everywhere

  Haiti

Scotland
Will the Corbyn uprising save Scottish Labour?

27/08/2016: Lessons of indyref and need for active anti-cuts policies

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Greece
Athens bus cleaners win major victory

26/08/2016: Struggle achieves public contracts for 100s cleaning workers

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Arthur Miller

Death of a dissenter

www.socialistworld.net, 21/02/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Arthur Miller, the American playwright, died on 9 February, aged 89, having battled with cancer, pneumonia and a heart condition.

Tony Mulhearn, Liverpool

Tributes were carried in the international media. Newspapers as far apart as the New York Times, the Boston Herald, the Daily News, in addition to the Times, the Daily Telegraph and the Observer, were compelled to recognise Miller’s eminence in his field. It was a life that had seen the Wall Street crash, World War Two, the Holocaust, and the McCarthy era.

Miller was a literary colossus who penned some of the most revealing insights into the corruption of corporate practices and the concept of the ’American Dream’. Death of a Salesman, View from the Bridge, The Crucible and All My Sons, are just some of his works which are now classics.

Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915, the son of a prosperous garment manufacturer whose business was a casualty of the Great Depression of 1929-31. This experience fuelled his instinctive radicalism and began his politicisation.

Miller worked in a warehouse after graduating from high school until he saved enough money to move to the University of Michigan where he studied journalism and playwriting.

Success

After the outbreak of World War Two, Miller moved to New York to pursue his writing. His first successful play, staged on Broadway in 1947, was All My Sons which dealt with a corrupt arms manufacturer, whose selling of faulty aircraft parts to the US air force during the war led to the death of servicemen.

This was followed by Death of a Salesman, which was acclaimed as a masterpiece, won the Pulitzer Prize and is now synonymous as Miller’s critique of the American Dream (or, if you’re Willy Loman, the American nightmare). It starred Lee J. Cobb as Willy Loman and the then icon of the left, Elia Kazan, directed both plays. The two men subsequently played a baleful and crucial role in Miller’s later life.

Anti-communism

The House un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), originally set up by Congress to investigate Nazi activity in the US, turned to anti-communism under Richard Nixon’s leadership.

In the 1950s it became a tool of Senator Joe McCarthy’s rabid anti-communism, supported by right-wing republicans thirsting for revenge for Roosevelt’s New Deal. It tapped into a mood of anxiety, which was fuelled by the existence of Stalinist-dominated Eastern Europe and the emergence of communist China in 1949.

McCarthy’s witch-hunt targeted the motion picture industry as a so-called hot bed of sedition and communist sympathy. An atmosphere of fear and uncertainty swept post-war America. Hundreds of activists and radical liberals who had supported various peace campaigns which sprang up during and after the war were hauled in front of HUAC and asked the question: "Are you or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party (CP)?"

If they took the Fifth Amendment, they were damned for contempt. If they answered yes, they had to apologise and give the names of friends and colleagues who had been at CP meetings. If no, they had to prove it. If they refused to name names they were in contempt of Congress, faced with jail and prevented from working in their own industry.

Appalled by this blatant violation of basic human rights, Arthur Miller began to write The Crucible, a play that would reflect the activities of HUAC. To research material he paid a visit to Salem, Massachusetts, the scene in 1692 of the most grotesque witch-hunt in American history. Ironically, it was while on his journey to Salem that he heard of Elia Kazan’s decision to collaborate with HUAC.

Kazan’s betrayal

In his biography, Time Bends, Miller describes Kazan’s attempt to justify his decision: ’Listening to him I grew frightened. There was a certain gloomy logic in what he was saying: unless he came clean he could never hope, in the height of his creative powers, to make another film in America, and he would probably not be given a passport to work abroad either.

’If the theatre remained open to him, it was not his primary interest anymore; he wanted to deepen his film life, that was where his heart lay, and he had been told in so many words by his old boss and friend Spyros Skouras, president of Twentieth Century Fox, that the company would not employ him unless he satisfied the Committee.... I was growing cooler with the thought that as unbelievable as it seemed, I could still be up for sacrifice if Kazan knew I attended meetings of the Communist Party writers years ago and had made a speech at one of them.’

Self-justifying

In the early 1950s, Kazan made On the Waterfront, a film about the Mafia controlling the stevedores’ union on the New York docks. Budd Schulberg, who wrote the book and the screenplay, and most of the principal actors, including the aforementioned Lee J Cobb, were ’friendly witnesses’, collaborators with HUAC. In his own biography Kazan conceded that he made the picture to show that if the circumstances demanded it, it was OK to betray your friends.

In response, Miller wrote The View from the Bridge, also set in New York’s dockland. In contrast to the lionisation of Brando’s character in Waterfront, it attacked the role of the stool pigeon Eddie Carbone for his act of betrayal.

Witch-hunted

In 1956, Arthur Miller’s name was projected onto the pages of the world’s popular press when he married Marilyn Monroe and was found guilty of contempt of Congress for refusing to name names to HUAC.

He describes his revulsion at the morals of HUAC when its then chair, right-wing senator Francis Walter, offered to drop the charge if he could persuade Monroe to be photographed shaking his hand. Miller and Monroe both refused.

According to Nicholas Hytner, director of the film adaptation of The Crucible, starring Daniel Day-Lewis, Miller used to joke that, as a measure of the play’s timeless relevance, you could get an indicator of the level of international political persecution by counting the number of productions taking place around the world.

To demonstrate the truth of that observation, it was staged on Broadway just after the Patriot Act had been brought in.

Disenchantment

During the 1990s, Miller expressed his disenchantment with the New York theatre by spending more time in Britain. In one of his last articles, he declares that the Broadway theatre has succumbed to glorious, glamorous show business.

He was right. Everything is about the bottom line. The theatre now parallels capitalism’s obsession with downsizing, delayering, streamlining, privatising, and other euphemisms for sacking workers or attacking wages and conditions.

Miller argued that his great plays would not now be staged on Broadway because they required ’too many people.’

Arthur Miller, while pronouncing and writing boldly about the political issues of the century, was explicitly political in his analysis of society but never joined a political party. David Mamet, director of Glengarry Glenross a film that parallels Salesman, in his New York Times tribute, suggests that there is an acceptance in Miller’s work that it is the ’human lot to try and fail’.

However, this is a profoundly pessimistic analysis. Whilst writing about the dark side of society, Arthur Miller constantly brought out and underlined humankind’s potential for nobility. To the end, he never lapsed into cynicism, or abandoned his vision of a more humane and just society.

Socialism

Socialists can refer to his work as a means of popularly explaining the evils of capitalism, but also explaining how such evils can be eliminated by the socialist transformation of society. On that score, Arthur Miller’s contribution to this debate remains priceless.

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



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NEWS

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From Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website
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Sri Lanka: United Socialist Party congress
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Review of "The Life and Death of Leon Trotsky", published in the latest issue of Socialism Today

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