The January 2016 issue of the rs21 magazine will be out on Saturday. Order your copy or subscribe here. Below, Rob Owen gives an overview of the new edition.
- The secret life of the NHS, the life of a junior doctor, by Sophie Walton
- Joe Sabatini and Tabitha Spence looking at climate politics from above and below after the COP21
- Hot Topic: How should the left respond to the crisis in Syria?
- In a new feature Ian Birchall looks at the history of the slogan “The main enemy is at home”
- Sian Ruddick on the politics of Consent
- Interview: Author, and US labour organiser, Jane McAlevey on strikes and semantics
2015 came to a close with Justin Bieber endorsing the NHS choir in the battle for the UK Christmas number one. An end far less surprising than Jeremy Corbyn, stalwart of left wing campaigns, ending up leader of the Labour Party. The unlikely duo of Corbyn and John McDonnell have become figureheads of a young, enthusiastic left that, while lacking any organisational focus, has given socialist ideas newfound credibility.
As Andy Stone discusses in this issue, there remains a deep contradiction at the heart of the left’s breakthrough. While reflecting the hopes of Labour supporters, Corbyn remains trapped within a Labour Party wedded to the establishment. Whether the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) can bury Corbynism or not will depend on whether movements beyond parliament can set the agenda.
As 2016 begins there are signs junior doctors are doing just that and taking the future of the NHS into their hands. The cabinet rebellion which forced a free vote over Syria, and the treachery of Hilary Benn, exposed both Corbyn’s strength of anti-war principle and his main weakness. His commitment to the “broad church” of the Labour Party, stretching from socialists to unreconstructed Blairites, goes beyond pragmatism. Limited support in the PLP has undoubtedly limited Corbyn’s hand but it is his fundamental belief that Labour must encompass both left and right that hamstrings him. This underpins a refusal to support campaigns for the reselection of MPs. Tragically the right of the PLP and cabinet has no such scruples and consistently campaigns to undermine his leadership. While Corbyn refuses to fight the right inside the PLP he will remain vulnerable to sabotage against which his base has little influence.
A crucial issue over which Corbyn has stood firm is his support for the anti-war movement. Although the radical left is united in its opposition to the bombing of Syria, the confluence of geopolitics, revolution and counter revolution has triggered sometimes fractious debate. In this issue’s hot topics we feature an argument for prioritising building the anti-war movement and a piece from Mark Boothroyd making the case that solidarity with the Syrian revolution should be central. Such debates are rarely easily resolved but we hope that this will be part of a wider discussion that helps clarify the issues at stake and strengthens the wider movement.
In this issue we also return to two important areas of work for rs21. We feature several pieces on gender and sexuality, including an article on how we understand consent and reviews of Lise Vogel’s ideas on social reproduction and a new book on women and socialism. After the COP21 we also carry a feature on climate change with articles by Tabitha Spence on the movement today and Joe Sabatini on the limitations of the neoliberal management of climate change.
We hope readers like the new format of the magazine and look forward to feedback ahead of our next edition.