Sunday, May 27, 2012

Bauhaus:art as life

By Anton Johnson     
THIS SUMMER the Barbican is holding the first exhibition of Bauhaus in London for over 40 years. The Bauhaus school was founded in Germany in 1919 on Socialist-Utopian ideas and the Arts & Crafts movement – to bring art and technology together. The first school was based in Weimar then moving to Dessau to a purpose-built facility in 1925.
Bauhaus saw play and fun as a starting point for creativity with a collective approach. The school had for that time a very progressive admissions policy, with women being allowed equal entry and in the mid-1920’s the majority of students were under 30 years of age.
Bauhaus covered all forms and mediums – cloth, metal, wood, sculpture, design, photography and performance art such as the famous Triadische Ballet.
The school had a socialist bent and there was a parallel with the Vkhutemas Workshop in the USSR. The school had a communist student cell and its second director from 1928–1930 was the Swiss architect Hannes Meyer who was a member of the German Communist Party.
Meyer undertook the largest Bauhaus commission, which was to design the school for the Federation of German Trade Unions (ADGB) in 1930. Though Meyer, because of his political beliefs, was often overlooked as a Director of Bauhaus by historians when compared to the other two, his contribution was fully acknowledged in the German Democratic Republic in the 1970s.
 The school attracted hostility from the right-wing. The Nazis did not approve of the Bauhaus movement, which they dismissed as “degenerate art”. When the Dessau local government fell to the Nazis, the school had to move to Berlin. In an attempt to survive in the changing political climate of the time, the school adopted a non-political outlook, which took away the ideals of the movement.
But was not enough for the Nazis and in 1933 the Gestapo raided the building, resulting in the closure for ever of the Bauhaus school. Many of the Bauhaus masters went abroad and set up new design schools such as in Chicago. That dispersal, following the Nazi closure of the school in Berlin, was to spread the influence of Bauhaus throughout the world.
Bauhaus was an art for life – it brought simplicity and utilitarianism to design; a design that was to last – for those who went to school in the 1950s to 1970s will recognise the Bauhaus chair used in schools. The nesting tables that became popular in the living rooms of the 1970s were a Bauhaus design. The architecture style was to last and influence.
Bauhaus gave a view of modern urban living, with communal design living for the then growing numbers of single urban dwellers and the housing estate, modelled on ideas from the USSR by Meyer, which were a format for the British “Garden Cities”. The Bauhaus gave designs for production and showed a way forward for modern living that if revisited today may provide answers to many of the issues we face, such as housing.
Bauhaus has something to offer today, behind the adoption of its design for fashion and by the wealthy, the Bauhaus movement had fundamental ideas that can be looked at by communists today for ideas and practical solutions.
             The full range of the Bauhaus creativity is on display from children’s toys to furniture and is to be recommended.

Bauhaus: Art as Life runs at the Barbican until 12th August. The Barbican Art Gallery is part of the Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS and admission is £10 (when purchased online in advance) or £12 on the door; concessions £6-£8; under-13s free. The gallery is open daily from 11am to 8pm (6 pm on Wednesday) with a late showing until 10pm on Thursday.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Solidarity with Syria

Theo Russell, Prof Majid and Andy Brooks share a joke
By New Worker correspondent

NEW WORKER supporters and members of the Arab community in London heard two stirring calls to stand by Syria at a New Worker public meeting last week. Prof Kamal Majid, the vice-president of the Stop the War Coalition and New Communist Party leader Andy Brooks spoke in detail about the moves of US-led imperialism and their Arab agents to overthrow the Assad government.
            The meeting was chaired by Theo Russell from the NCP London District, which has sponsored a number of New Worker public meetings in central London over the past year or so.
Prof Majid, a communist who writes on current affairs in the Arab media, covered the efforts of the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda to spread terror and sectarian division across Syria as part of the imperialist plan to replace the Syrian government with a puppet state, à la Libya, that would do the bidding of the Americans and Zionists.
Andy Brooks reported on the stand taken by the major trends within Syria’s communist movements in support of genuine reform but opposed to all attempts to tear up the new constitution. Both broadly agreed on the need to build solidarity with Syria’s progressive and democratic forces that have closed ranks around the Arab Socialist Renaissance Party (Baath) to end the violence and defend the gains of the Syrian national revolution.
 Kumar Sarkar, from Second Wave Publications, took the floor to raise the issue of the balance of forces in Syria and the class issues at stake in the current turmoil. Both main speakers said this would take hours to cover but, in fact, the questions were easy to answer.
As Andy Brooks pointed out imperialism can never solve the problems of the Arabs or indeed any other people in the world and it never claims to do so. It flies the false flag of “human rights” to justify neo-colonialist aggression and what it is doing in Syria is what it has done in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan and what it hopes to do in Iran if it gets half the chance.

Red salute to Democratic Korea!

Dermot Hudson gives a comprehensive report
By New Worker                         

FRIENDS of revolutionary Korea met in London last weekend to mark the centenary of the birth of great leader Kim Il Sung, the eternal president of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and to hear a report back on the World Congress of the Juche Idea that took place in Pyongyang last month.
            Dermot Hudson, the chair of the Juché Idea Study Group, opened with a comprehensive report on the Juché conference and life in the DPRK today. NCP leader Andy Brooks gave a rousing rendition of the declaration of the World Congress of the Juché Idea, which was adopted by the meeting by acclaim.
And Dr Hugh Goodacre spoke about Kim Il Sung’s immense role in the Korean and world communist movement during a life-time devoted to the struggle of working people.
            But first of all the meeting paused to pay tribute to Katina Ellis, a New Worker supporter who showed her unconditional support for the Korean people’s cause of socialism and reunification. Katina, who died last month, was a peace activist and anti-imperialist who regularly took part in the meetings and protest pickets organised by the UK Korean Friendship Association (KFA) and Friends of Korea Committee.
            Juché supporters from all walks of life and all age groups took part in the discussion, which revolved the epic events held in Pyongyang last month that included a great military parade and firework display, an arts festival and the unveiling of the statue of dear leader Kim Jong Il, who sadly passed away in December.
            Supreme leader Kim Jong Un was swamped by the enthusiasm of the people when spoke to the people at all the mass events during the celebrations – a week that Dermot Hudson said was truly the trip of a lifetime.
Many questions were asked by the audience, including the role of the media, the DPRK satellite launch, cultural exchange, and the campaign against the imperialist sanctions against Democratic Korea.
            The meeting was organised by the Juché Idea Study Group, the Association for the Study of Songun Politics and the UK KFA and during the organising part of the agenda it was agreed to prepare for a UK KFA AGM on 25th June and organise seminars on the works of great leader Kim Il Sung and dear leader Kim Jong Il.

Lewisham Against the EDL

By New Worker correspondent        

DOZENS of anti-fascists turned out in Lewisham last Saturday to show their anger and defiance at an attack by English Defence League thugs on a Socialist Workers’ Party stall that left two pensioners needing hospital attention.
 The crowd that gathered represented a remarkable spectrum of the local left: Unite Against Fascism, The Right to Work Campaign, Stop the War, the Socialist Workers’ Party, People Before Profit, the National Union of Teachers, the Labour Representation Committee, the civil service union PCS and the New Communist Party and more.
 It was a demonstration that in the face of fascist attempts to intimidate sectarianism on the Left disappears and there is unity against the fascists.

Soviet Victory Day in London

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 200 people gathered in the grounds of the Imperial War Museum on Wednesday 9th May to commemorate the millions of Soviet soldiers, sailors, air crew and civilians who died in the titanic struggle to defeat the Nazi war machine and to celebrate their victory that brought peace and freedom to Europe.
 Among those present this year were a party of six Soviet war veterans, two women and three men, covered in medals but looking remarkably well considering what their age must have been.
 All the usual veterans of the Arctic Convoy Club, the British Legion, attachés from the embassies of the former Soviet Republics, political organisations including the New Communist Party, youth organisations and the Russian community in London were also present.
 And a teenage soprano singer from the Russian Embassy School in London gave and a tear-jerking a capella rendition of the Song of the White Cranes, a lament for those who died in battle.
 This was followed by the Last Post and an invitation from the Deputy Russian Ambassador to join them in drinking a toast to the victory.

Police protest at cuts

by New Worker correspondent

AROUND 35,000 off-duty police officers from forces throughout England and Wales marched through London last Thursday – the same day as public sector unions Unite, PCS and UCU were staging their third one-day national strike over pension cuts.
 The police were protesting at Con-Dem Coalition cuts of 20 per cent to police force budgets, which will result in job cuts and wage cuts, and against creeping privatisation of traditional police functions.
 It is against the law for police to take strike action; otherwise the numbers attending would have been far greater. Thousands who had to be on duty that day sent messages of support.
 Among those leading the march were the recently resigned former Chief Constable of Glamorgan, Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper and Keith Vaz, chair of the Commons Home Affairs Committee,
 The march was joined and supported by members of the Occupy campaign.
 Prison officers also took part in the 10th May Day of Action by public sector workers with a series of unofficial protest meetings – in defiance of the law which also bars them from striking.
 The Prison Officers’ Association claims that more than 80 per cent of its 25,000 members supported the stoppages until a threatened injunction forced them back to work
 A POA spokesperson said: “This has been a great success in raising the public's awareness to the inherent dangers that the coalition government's policy change will bring to the prison service in the future."

Thursday, May 10, 2012

May Day in London

by New Worker correspondent

LONDON’S traditional May Day march this year set off from Clerkenwell Green as usual led by TUC and trade union banners and well supported by colourful Turkish, Kurdish and Iranian community groups and other progressive organisations.
 There was an important contingent from the Remploy factories – Government owned factories designed to provide employment opportunities for disabled people – which are being closed by Government cuts.
 As procession made its way towards Trafalgar Square it was joined at Holborn by a contingent from the Occupy Movement, swelling the numbers with many protesters against capitalism who were new to the May Day tradition.
 Once in Trafalgar Square the Occupy comrades set their tents up in one corner of the Square, which became packed with marchers. There were rousing speeches from Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the civil service union PCS and Len McCluskey, general secretary of the giant union Unite.
 There was also a strong appeal from the spokesperson for the Remploy workers in their fight against the cuts, and from the Occupy spokesperson for her colleagues to work together with the “more experienced” activists of the trade unions.
  And she paraphrased Jesse Jackson’s famous speech: “We are not the revolution that is yet to come; we’re the canaries at the coal face telling people what is going to happen.”

Saturday, May 05, 2012

EDL thugs attack pensioners in Lewisham

By New Worker correspondent

A GROUP of thugs whose faces have been seen on many marches organised by the Islamophobic English Defence League last Saturday violently assaulted members of the Socialist Workers’ Party and other activists in Lewisham.
 Earlier that morning the same group had attacked a press photographer who recognised them from the “March for England” event in Brighton the previous Sunday.
 They recognised him and five of them followed him to a bus stop, punched him twice in the face and then ran away. He immediately reported the assault to the police in the hope of alerting them to the presence of dangerous EDL thugs in the area.
 Alas the warning fell on deaf ears and there was no quick police response when the fascist thugs attacked the regular SWP stall that has been a feature of Lewisham High Street for three decades – even though the stall is just across the road from the very large Lewisham Police Station.
 The thugs accused the SWP group of being from Unite Against Fascism and “throwing bottles in Brighton” the previous Sunday.
 They were referring to the enormous turnout of local Brighton anti-fascists in protest at the EDL/March for England trying to march through their town, which succeeded in twice stopping the fascist march.
 But the only bottle throwers in Brighton on Sunday 22nd April were the EDL themselves and a few drunken anarchists, not the UAF.
 The thugs were under the impression that the thousands of anti-fascists who came out in Brighton were all UAF and that they had all come from outside, as they themselves had.
 In fact the anti-fascists in Brighton were almost all local. And since the event had not been reported in any national media – not even the Morning Star – most people in Lewisham, including those around the SWP stall, had no idea what the EDL thugs were talking about.
 The EDL came to Lewisham intending to wreak some sort of violent revenge for their humiliation in Brighton against the UAF.
 They expected a UAF election campaign bus to begin its journey through south London – urging people to vote against British National Party and other fascist candidates in the coming mayoral and GLA elections – from Lewisham clock tower that morning, as advertised on the UAF website. But the UAF campaign bus was delayed due to mechanical problems.
 The EDL hung around the clock tower for an hour, taking photographs and staring menacingly at shoppers and activists and then decided to attack the SWP stall.
 Shortly after 12 noon they passed the stall en masse at which point an altercation began, with shouts and heckling from the racist group.
 In response to Islamophobic statements an SWP pensioner approached them and received a vicious head-butt as an answer, throwing him to the ground. Another pensioner intervened and was quickly surrounded, man-handled and flung to the floor, receiving a knock to the head. Both had to receive medical treatment for their injuries.
 Sabby Dhalu, Unite Against Fascism Joint Secretary said: “This vicious, cowardly attack by fascists on anti-racist pensioners, illustrates why we must all campaign against fascism. The police must take action and immediately arrest and charge the perpetrators of this vile attack.
 “We urge every one to use their vote on Thursday 3rd May and stop fascist and racist groups like the British National Party, English Democrats and National Front from getting elected; and join the peaceful demonstration against the English Defence League organised by We Are Luton and Unite Against Fascism."
 Jarman Parmar, who chairs Lewisham Anti-Racist Action Group said: "The actions of these racist attackers is shocking and strengthens our resolve to unite everyone who opposes this kind of behaviour and ideas which have no place in our society. Those who have the vote should make it count by voting against the British National Party and help stop the far right on 3rd May. We all want to create and live in a society where there is no hate and no fear on racial and ethnic grounds.”
 Gerry Gable, editor of Searchlight anti-fascist magazine, told the New Worker that anti-fascist and other left activists should take note that there is a real threat of attack by fascist thugs like this and they should take sensible precautions. He added that dedicated activists would not be deterred by this; they would be more motivated to come out and oppose the fascists after cowardly attacks like this.

Greenwich librarians on strike

AROUND 100 members of the giant union Unite working across 13 Greenwich libraries last week began five days’ industrial action over privatisation of their workplaces.
 Greenwich Council proposes to privatise library services by transferring it out to Greenwich Leisure Limited (GLL), where staff are already on poorer pay and conditions and do not receive the London Living Wage of £8.30-an-hour.
 GLL has said it intends to “harmonise” terms and conditions in the near future, which has led the union members to believe it will lead to race to the bottom – harmonising to the poorer conditions.
 By setting up stalls outside libraries, Unite recently conducted a public consultation exercise and asked the public to vote on whether they wanted the service transferred out. This got overwhelming support and resulted in over 1,600 signed postcards returned saying no to the transfer.
 Unite regional officer Onay Kasab said: “We have the full support of the public on this campaign as GLL has no experience running libraries. Despite promising to do so, the council has failed to carry out its own survey. We believe this was due to the huge opposition the council knows exists regarding the transfer.
 “During Unite’s public consultation, many fears were voiced by the public and library users. Not only do many believe that services will suffer, there are also great fears that GLL will close the smaller libraries and that the mobile library service will be scrapped – a service essential to those unable to travel.
 “Disgust was also expressed at the introduction of charges for services such as use of computers – a service thousands of people on lower incomes have come to rely on.”