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Socialism the Podcast: 2020 episodes
The weekly 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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72. You can't have capitalism without racism
19 June 2020
Malcolm X said: "You can't have capitalism without racism." Why - and what can we learn from that?
Heroic Black Lives Matter protests have swept the US, Britain and the world. Rivers of working-class young people, black and white, have taken up the struggle against racism and police violence.
Sadly, police murder of black people is nothing new. Why has this movement exploded in this way right now? And why do socialists argue that racism is integral to the capitalist system - so that ending racism means overturning capitalism and fighting for socialism?
This episode of Socialism looks at Black Lives Matter: you can't have capitalism without racism.
Further viewing and reading
- Socialist Party Facebook Live broadcast: Lessons from the Black Panthers
- Which way forward for Black Lives Matter protests?
- Lessons from the Black Panthers
- Where was Malcolm X going?
- Oppose racist symbols and the racist system
- Reform or revolt? How was the slave trade abolished?
- Martin Luther King: Fighting for a promised land
Re-run: 4. Fighting the racist far right
12 June 2020
How can the working class defeat the far right?
A magnificent mass movement, overwhelmingly young, working-class and black, but also very multiracial, has erupted in the US, Britain and internationally against racism. Its trigger was the racist police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May 2020.
But young people and workers are angry about years of systemic racism, as well as all the class inequality, privations and oppression of the capitalist system.
The Socialist Party and our sister parties around the world have been to the fore on these protests. We've been discussing with young, working-class people about how to fight racism and capitalism, and signing up big numbers interested in finding out about joining the Socialists.
While we carry on this vital work, we are re-running an episode from 22 October 2018: is the far right on the rise?
As far-right groups attempt to organise again, supposedly in defence of public monuments, how can the workers' movement overcome their violent threat? Where does the far right come from? And what is the record of the Socialist Party on fighting and defeating the far right?
You can hear more about the Socialist Party's response to the magnificent new mass movement in our recent Facebook on YouTube broadcast on 5 June, and the recent Committee for a Workers' International Facebook and YouTube broacdast on 9 June.
This re-run of Socialism looks at the racist far right: how to fight it.
Further listening and reading
- Socialist Party broadcast on the new anti-racist eruption on Facebook
- And on YouTube
- Committee for a Workers' International broadcast on the global explosion of protest on Facebook
- And on YouTube
- Black Lives Matter protests sweep Britain - how can the movement win?
- USA - black and white youth rise up against racism
- Britain - mass protests erupt
- US - what's next for the anti-racist movement?
- "All changed, changed utterly" - A new era of class struggle and capitalist crisis
71. A socialist youth charter
5 June 2020
What do young people need today - and how can they fight for it?
Massive, young, working-class protests have exploded around the world after the murder of George Floyd, racism and police violence. But it's not just these issues that have 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 now in the huge, young, working-class uprisings against racism and police violence.
Even before the pandemic, wages were low, jobs insecure housing and education unaffordable - and the tomorrow promised nothing but economic and social turmoil, and even climate catastrophe. Now the pandemic has multiplied all these problems, as the capitalists and their politicians dump the burden disproportionately on the working class and the youth. Young people on the streets right now are angry about racism, but they're 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 looks at young people fighting back: a socialist youth charter.
- Socialist Party young people's charter
- Fight racism and class inequality, fight capitalism
- USA - another cop killing of unarmed black man sparks widespread protests
70. China's new role
29 May 2020
While the influence of the US declines, China's place in world seems to be rising. The Chinese economy is still nowhere near as powerful as the US, but it's competing voraciously for international markets, investment, and political influence.
With world capitalism slowing down, international tensions over profit and power are escalating. The trade wars between these two largest powers could well break out again. Is a new Cold War, or even direct military conflict, also a possibility?
And what exactly is the Chinese regime? Its dictatorial government claims the country is socialist - so why are there billionaires, and why do so many workers suffer poverty pay and appalling conditions?
External conflicts with competing nation-states. Internal conflicts with Hong Kong and oppressed national groups. And trillions of dollars of loans and capitalist investments in smaller countries around the globe.
This episode of Socialism looks at national and international turmoil and contradictions: China's new role.
- Trump's insults fuel China rivalry
- Coronavirus crisis shakes Chinese regime
- 70th anniversary of People's Republic of China - Mao and the Chinese revolution
- China after the 1949 revolution - the benefits of the planned economy stifled by bureaucracy
- China's hybrid economy (2008)
- Market rule or party rule? (2011)
69. Crisis turning point: national unity ends
22 May 2020
Public confidence in the British government's handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has nosedived.
They're split over how and when to bully workers back into unsafe workplaces to restart the capitalists' profit engines. And they're split over how and when to pay off the massive debts incurred by lockdown relief measures.
Meanwhile, the Labour Party - under its new, pro-capitalist leader Keir Starmer - could hardly be more tame. But the trade unions have a renewed national profile. Tens of thousands are joining and organising to resist the bosses' unsafe working conditions.
And the turning point seemed to be Boris Johnson's farcical "stay alert" speech on 10 May, which tried to lift the lockdown and impose new restrictions at the same time.
What's behind the chaos at the top? And with the bosses squabbling over how best to make us pay for the pandemic, what would help workers coordinate the most effective political response?
This episode of Socialism looks at a political turning point in the coronavirus crisis: the end of 'national unity'.
- Confidence plummets in Tory strategy for Covid-19
- Rich get handouts - workers get pay cuts
- Stay alert to bosses putting profit before safety
- Johnson's reckless 'back to school' plans threaten everyone's safety
- Transport workers and passengers must not pay the price
- Tories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety
68. Lifting the lockdown: schools, safety and super-spreaders
15 May 2020
School workers and the government are set for a stand-off over reopening during coronavirus.
The Tory government is combining absurdly unclear messages about "staying alert" with a rush to reopen more of the capitalist economy. While they are concerned only about restarting the profit machine, workers are concerned this premature, shambolic dash is a Covid-19 death sentence.
The capitalists have one set of guidelines for reopening. The workers have another. So what should the unions do about it?
Are the government's guidelines for "safe" reopening of schools really safe? How can trade unionists force the Tories to take safety seriously? And are there lessons from the lockdown for how education might work differently?
This episode of Socialism looks at lifting the lockdown: schools, safety and super-spreaders
- No going back to unsafe schools
- Tories put profit before lives - unions must stand firm on workplace safety
- Test and trace - workers need a real plan
- Tories using pandemic to shift lab testing out of NHS
- Martin Powell-Davies - teacher, trade unionist and socialist blog
67. Lenin at 150
1 May 2020
What are the lessons for today from Lenin's revolutionary life?
22 April 2020 was the 150th anniversary of the birth of Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanvov, better known as Lenin, the revolutionary workers' leader and Marxist political theorist. In 1917, Lenin's Bolshevik Party led the working class of Russia to overthrow the landlords and capitalists and establish the world's first democratic workers' state.
Lenin was rooted firmly in Marxism. He understood that only the working class could lead a successful revolution. He fought for a well-organised party and a workers' press as the essential tools for achieving that. And, in contrast to the butcher Stalin, he stood for international revolution, and maintained that "democracy is indispensable to socialism."
No wonder his name is feared and slandered by capitalist politicians and their official histories. In particular, they have much to fear at a time when their entire rotten system is wracked by pandemic, economic crisis and social turmoil. To quote Lenin again: "Sometimes history needs a push."
So what were Lenin's real ideas? What were his main contributions to the struggle for socialism? And what can workers and young people fighting capitalist misery learn from them today?
This episode of Socialism looks at Lenin at 150: his revolutionary life and legacy.
- Lenin at 150 - A revolutionary life, and the relevance of his ideas to today's working-class struggles
- Lenin's revolutionary legacy
- Lenin's April Theses, 1917
- The State and Revolution (Lenin)
- "Left-Wing" Communism - An Infantile Disorder (Lenin)
- History of the Russian Revolution (Trotsky)
- Lessons of October (Trotsky)
- From Lenin to Stalin (Serge)
- Lenin and the Revolutionary Party (Le Blanc)
66. US imperialism in decline: coronavirus, Trump, Sanders and socialism
24 April 2020
Chaos in the US presents two options: socialism or barbarism.
In the United States, the capitalist class is faced with a shopping list of crises that are shaking their system almost to pieces. Like many capitalist economies, they've had to partly suspend production - and profit - in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
They've been forced to inject trillions of dollars into the economy to keep the capitalist system going. And now, the absurd situation of competitive oil production outstripping demand so far that prices have become negative!
The capitalists face these crises with an unreliable representative at the helm: Donald Trump. But they may be breathing a bit easier now that Bernie Sanders, who came to prominence with his promise of a political revolution against the billionaire class, has endorsed a more reliable representative of big business interests in the form of the Democrat Joe Biden. Sanders has even admonished his supporters for saying they won't campaign for a corporate shill!
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 into poverty, on a scale not seen since the Great Depression.
This episode of Socialism looks at US imperialism in decline: coronavirus, Trump, Sanders and socialism.
- Global covid-19 pandemic, capitalist crisis and bitter class polarisation in the United States
- 'Protest-caravan' held in solidarity with Worcester city nurses opposing furloughing during covid crisis
- "We have the power" - Staten Island Amazon workers walk out
- The danger of the far right today
65. Will this help the left or the right? Coronavirus, radicalisation and national unity
18 April 2020
Workers are furious, so why aren't capitalist parties suffering?
Capitalist governments across the planet are presiding over incompetent, inefficient, and inhuman responses to the Covid-19 pandemic. Nonetheless, most are riding high in opinion polls.
This is true in Britain too, despite being on course for the worst death toll in Europe. While workers suffer and die on the front line or on furlough, public criticism of the Tories is muted. Even the trade union and Labour Party leaders seem to be backing so-called 'national unity'.
So is this catastrophe helping the right? Or are there more profound processes playing out beneath the surface?
This episode of Socialism asks: will this help the left or the right? Coronavirus, radicalisation and national unity.
- Exit strategy? PPE and mass testing and workers' control of workplace safety
- Fight back against the corona propaganda war
- Sabotage - the inner workings of Labour's political machine exposed
- Starmer victory - organise to fight for socialist policies
64. World economic crisis: a Marxist analysis of the coronavirus crunch
10 April 2020
The capitalist economic system is dysfunctional and obsolete.
In the US, 10 million workers filed unemployment claims in the last two weeks of March. In the UK, a million workers filed Universal Credit benefit claims in the last two weeks of March.
Just over a decade after the 'credit crunch' and Great Recession, the Covid-19 pandemic is causing a 'corona crunch' and could pitch the world into a second Great Depression.
But the world economy was heading for a serious downturn even before the virus. In fact, capitalism itself has been growing increasingly weak, unstable and dysfunctional over a long period. Why?
Marxism points out the capitalist system is riddled with contradictions, and today has long outlived its historic usefulness. So what are the main economic features of the current nosedive, and what sort of problems - and solutions - could the Marxist toolbox point us to?
This episode of Socialism takes a short look at the world economic crisis: a Marxist analysis of the coronavirus crunch. Plus: we respond to the Labour Party leadership election results.
- The new crisis and its consequences
- Brexit and British capitalism - why Johnson's juggernaut is set to jackknife
- 10 years since the financial crash - the socialist answer to capitalist crisis
- Universal basic income - what do socialists say?
- Understanding Marxist economics
- How a socialist economy would work
63. Is this socialism? Coronavirus and state intervention
3 April 2020
Unprecedented state intervention - but still workers suffer?
The British government has pledged hundreds of billions in funding during the Covid-19 pandemic. The US Congress has approved trillions.
Capitalist governments in multiple countries seem to be abandoning privatisation and market competition for nationalisation and central coordination. It looks quite a lot like some of the policies socialists call for.
But corporate profits are being subsidised. The big banks and finance sector are untouched. And workers are receiving too little too late when it comes to income and safety protections.
In fact, lack of personal protective equipment is killing frontline health workers in the UK, and 10 million workers have joined the unemployment lines in just two weeks in the US.
What does this U-turn in policy direction by the capitalists, amid a complete failure of their system, say about capitalism - and the socialist alternative?
This episode of Socialism looks at coronavirus and state intervention: is this socialism?
- International statement - as coronavirus crisis intensifies, class antagonisms deepen
- International statement - coronavirus plunges capitalism into global turmoil - the need for a socialist alternative
- All the latest frontline reports, socialist analysis and working-class demands in the latest issue of the Socialist newspaper
- Donate to help us keep producing independent content
- Join the fightback - join the Socialists
62. Workers' rights during coronavirus
20 March 2020
How can workers look after their interests in the pandemic?
Schools in Britain are part-closing, workers in almost every sector are being sent home with or without pay, and there are shortages of equipment for safe and hygienic working everywhere.
The day after we recorded this podcast on 19 March 2020, the government was due to announce plans to support workers.
But whatever is promised, the track record so far is that workers everywhere are pulling out all the stops to fight the pandemic - while big businesses and their politicians only seem interested in their bottom lines.
What should workers demand to solve these problems? Was the Trade Union Congress right to declare for 'national unity' with the employers and the government? And how can workers make sure their interests are looked after in this period, whether or not they're in a union?
This episode of Socialism looks at the Covid-19 pandemic: workers' rights during coronavirus.
The coronavirus pandemic is a rapidly escalating global crisis affecting every part of the capitalist system.
As well as following this weekly podcast, you should check the Socialist Party's website and our Facebook page, for regular statements on working-class demands, socialist analysis, and reports from the frontline.
- National Shop Stewards Network coronavirus workers' support Facebook group
- Latest issue of the Socialist including more coverage on coronavirus
- Socialist Party Facebook page
- Coronavirus latest on the Socialist Party website
61. Coronavirus: a socialist response
13 March 2020
How can workers' action help overcome the Covid-19 crisis?
The new coronavirus, Covid-19, is sweeping through the world's population - exposing capitalism for disastrous weaknesses in healthcare systems,social infrastructure, and the global economy.
Capitalist politicians and the capitalist state are torn between protecting public health and defending private profit.
The official number of cases in the UK as of 12 March 2020 is 590. But the British government's chief scientific advisor has said the real number could be up to 10,000. The local elections planned for May have been postponed.
Hospitals are facing overload. Workers are facing lost pay. The economy was already heading toward recession.
But workers have also fought back with demands and with strike action to force a response in the interests of the majority.
Why did capitalism get us here? What action can workers take to improve things? And how could socialist change resolve the underlying problems?
This episode of Socialism looks at the coronavirus: the socialist response.
- Latest updates and demands in the Socialist
- Covid-19 - a socialist response to the coronavirus crisis
- Coronavirus crisis shakes Chinese regime
- Coronavirus exposes capitalism's weaknesses in healthcare and economy
- Coronavirus - capitalism limits response to viral outbreaks
60. Socialists into City Hall
6 March 2020
What could a socialist campaign for London achieve?
The London mayor and assembly are up for election in May. The Labour Party's Sadiq Khan is the incumbent and Labour's candidate for 2020 - but is a supporter of the pro-big business wing of Labour and an opponent of Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity politics.
Low pay, a housing crisis, disappearing council services, knife crime and air pollution are all major issues in Britain's capital. Khan has presided over their continuation.
So how should trade unionists and socialists approach the London elections? How would a socialist Greater London Authority behave? And what could a campaign raising those ideas achieve - whether or not it was elected?
This episode of Socialism looks at the London elections: socialists into City Hall.
Re-run: 14. GRA reform
28 February 2020
Trans rights: a socialist programme for united workers' struggle.
Transgender rights have recently become a point of contention in the ongoing Labour Party leadership contest. The Socialist Party fights exploitation, discrimination and oppression in every form.
The workers' movement must fight for the resources necessary to guarantee all sections of the working class a decent life.
If it does not, there is a danger that debates can be falsely framed as battles between supposedly irreconcilable competing rights.
By fighting instead to expand the provision of jobs, homes and services for all, the workers' movement can resolve differences on the basis of common struggle and democratic discussion.
The following episode is a re-run of episode 14, first aired on 15 January 2019, on the Gender Recognition Act (GRA) - much of which has now been kicked into the long grass by the Tories.
But we think the general approach we lay out here on the question of trans rights is entirely relevant to the debates of today.
This episode of Socialism looks at GRA reform: the fight for trans rights.
- Labour Party and trans rights: united working-class fight needed for rights and resources for all
- Taking trans rights forward
- 'End violence against women' and 'A brief history of the Campaign Against Domestic Violence'
- Defending women's services
- Gender recognition division
- Letters: gender recognition
59. Northern Ireland's strike wave
21 February 2020
Major strikes in the civil service and National Health Service have shaken the capitalist establishment in Northern Ireland.
These enormous workers' action followed watershed struggles in the private sector at the Harland and Wolff shipyard and Wrightbus factory.
The rival sectarian parties are required by the Good Friday Agreement to agree to govern together. They had refused to reach such an agreement after a supposed renewable heating scheme collapsed due to incompetence and alleged corruption three years ago. The strikes forced them back into the Assembly to make concessions to the workers.
But having tasted some of the power of collective working-class struggle, will workers allow a return to business as usual? More strikes seem likely. But how about a political alternative to austerity, sectarianism and capitalism?
This episode of Socialism looks at Northern Ireland: the strike wave.
- "Enough is enough": 20,000 Northern Ireland civil servants strike against pay restraint
- Northern Ireland: Harland and Wolff shipyard workers enter occupation
- 'Cash for ash' scandal set to bring down NI government
58. Britain: the new situation
14 February 2020
Divisions and surprises abound as the main parties eye an angry working class in Britain.
The Tories' decade-long grip on power continues for now - but what about their programme? The government has announced more cuts, but has also promised infrastructure investment.
They have restored their majority, but their catastrophic divisions are already re-emerging. In fact, Sajid Javid, the chancellor of the exchequer, resigned in between recording this podcast and it airing.
Meanwhile, the anger in the working class, documented each week in the Socialist newspaper, continues to simmer. The ongoing Labour Party leadership contest is asking: how can Labour win back the confidence of the working class?
So - what is the way forward? This episode of Socialism looks at Britain: the new situation.
- 6.5 million working poor: Fight to end low pay
- 'Post-Brexit' era of crisis ahead
- No 'blank cheque' for Labour leadership candidates
- How to resist Tory attacks on local communities
57. Trade unions: new decade, new challenge
7 February 2020
Do the setbacks in the 2010s mean the unions can't fight today?
The 2010s were a period of major attacks on workers in Britain. But the bosses and their politicians didn't get things all their own way.
The trade unions - the basic self-defence organisations of the working class - fought many important battles, shutting down production to try to force the bosses back.
There were many setbacks in those fights, but there were also victories. Marxists try to learn from both.
With a new decade opening up alongside a change of era in politics and world relations for Britain, what are the lessons of the 2010s for trade union struggle in the 2020s?
This episode of Socialism looks at the trade unions: new decade, new challenge.
Re-run: 16. Are no-cuts council budgets possible?
31 January 2020
It's budget-setting season again for local authorities in Britain. The Tories in central government have succeeded in making local councils do their dirty work and implement savage austerity for a decade.
In fact, so successful was this strategy, that the lack of any practical distinction between Labour and Conservative at a local level was a significant factor in Jeremy Corbyn's general election defeat in December.
From the perspective of many in working-class communities, nothing ever seems to change. So why bother voting for Labour?
But the general election is behind us for now. Council jobs and services are utterly threadbare. And there is major economic uncertainty ahead. Councils have a choice.
Either carry on acting as managers of austerity - as tame local representatives of Tory central government.
Or set no-cuts budgets, and demand the stolen millions back from Westminster - as fighting representatives of local workers and residents. This could even paralyse and eventually overturn Johnson's unstable government.
The Socialist Party calls on Labour councils to fight, and for Labour leadership candidates to commit to pushing for such a fight.
It's the same road taken successfully by the famous socialist Liverpool Council in the 1980s. Now is the time to take the Liverpool Road once more.
This is a re-run of episode 16 from January 2019. The situation has changed, but the need for council to fight has not. This episode of Socialism asks: are no-cuts council budgets possible?
- 'Passing the council cuts test'
- Response to the Corbyn and McDonnell letter Clive references in the podcast
- 'Who's killing local government' by Clive Heemskerk
- Interview about the Liverpool Council struggle
- 'Preparing a no-cuts people's budget' briefing by the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition
- Liverpool - a city that dared to fight' by Peter Taaffe and Tony Mulhearn - check at leftbooks.co.uk
- 'Our record: socialist councillors are different' on the Lewisham Socialist Party councillors Clive talks about
- Campaigning for no-cuts budgets in 2020
56. How can France's strike win?
24 January 2020
After more than 45 days of strikes, workers in France are still furious about President Emmanuel Macron's attack on pensions. His so-called reform would mean: work longer, get less.
But there's no clear strategy from the union leaders. And there's no clear political alternative to Macron and his politics, including from left-wing political leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon.
Understandably, after almost two months of upsurge, the movement is starting to slow down - for the moment. So what happens next?
Socialism the Podcast was in Paris for events including one of the national days of action, 16 January.
We spoke to a striking teacher and member of Gauche Révolutionnaire, the Socialist Party's sister party in France, about the struggle.
This episode of Socialism looks at France: how can the strike win?
- Eyewitness report: workers' struggle in France on the boil
- France: Struggle over pension rights; government in difficulty
- France striker speaks: real, deep anger needs union strategy
55. Middle East in turmoil: Iran and Iraq
10 January 2020
After Suleimani's assassination, what prospects for Iran, Iraq and the US?
The year started with Donald Trump ordering the public assassination of a leading Iranian general, Qassem Suleimani, by a drone strike in Baghdad, the capital of neighbouring Iraq.
What are the prospects for the struggle between the US and Iran? Does this mean war? What about the people of Iraq? And what will this mean next for the region's popular uprisings?
This episode of Socialism looks the Middle East in turmoil: Iran and Iraq.
54. 2020: a promise of rebellion
3 January 2020
The year is now 2020. Popular uprisings are cascading like chain reactions across the globe. Strongman right-wing leaders lie and cheat their way to power in some countries, and are brought to their knees by mass movements in others.
As a new year opens up, class struggles and capitalist instability will only intensify and spread. This episode of Socialism looks at the year ahead: a promise of rebellion.
Plus: hear clips from the new podcast launched by our South African sister party in the Committee for a Workers' International, the Marxist Workers Party! You can listen to their full episode and subscribe at SoundCloud and YouTube.
- 2020: class struggles and capitalist instability will intensify
- Capitalism: the system that ruins the world