'Radicals in Conversation' is a monthly podcast from Pluto Press, one of the world’s leading independent, radical publishers.
Repealed: Ireland‘s Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Rights
Content warning: rape, suicide
On 25 May 2018, the Irish people voted to remove the Eighth Amendment from the constitution. This amendment, which had been introduced in 1983, not only made abortion illegal in Ireland, but equated the life of a pregnant woman to the life of a fertilised embryo. Despite this criminalisation, the ban on abortion was always resisted and circumvented. In the years leading up to the 2018 referendum, a grassroots movement pushing for repeal emerged on an unprecedented scale, sending tens of thousands of people out canvassing in villages, towns and cities around the country.
This victory for the Irish Repeal movement set the country alight with euphoria. But, for some, the celebrations were short-lived – the new legislation turned out to be one of the most conservative in Europe. People still travel overseas for abortions and services are not yet commissioned in Northern Ireland.
This month Pluto published a new book, Repealed: Ireland's Unfinished Fight for Reproductive Rights, by Camilla Fitzsimons, with Sinéad Kennedy, and a foreword by Ruth Coppinger. We are joined on the show by Camilla, Sinéad and Ruth to discuss the history of the Catholic Church and women’s oppression in Ireland, the introduction of the Eighth amendment in 1983, and the qualitative turning points in the long road to repeal. We also consider the lessons from the campaign, and the challenges that still remain, more than three years later.
Join the Union!
The trade union movement in Britain has existed for nearly two centuries: from the Tolpuddle Martyrs, to the 1888 Matchgirls’ strike, to the militant action of Women machinists at the Ford plant in Dagenham in 1968 - organised labour has a rich, if complicated, history. But in the ebb and flow and workers’ power over the decades, we find ourselves at a historic low point. Union membership is declining, with young workers in particular less likely to be part of a trade union than ever. In every year since 1991 the number of strikes has been lower than in any year prior to that point.
Much of this decline can be laid at the door of successive rafts of anti-union legislation brought in by Margaret Thatcher, and more recently by David Cameron, raising the legal bar for strike ballots and outlawing secondary action.
But as our guests on this month's show argue, reports of the trade union movement’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Not only is the need for unions more urgent than ever as we face our second winter of the Covid-19 Pandemic, but workers are taking action across the economy and winning. And it is women, young people and migrant workers who are leading the charge.
We are joined on the panel by:
Eve Livingston, author of Make Bosses Pay: Why We Need Unions; Jane Hardy, author of Nothing to Lose But Our Chains: Work and Resistance in 21st Century Britain; and Henry Chango Lopez, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain (IWGB).
Find out more about the IWGB: iwgb.org.uk
Fighting for Climate Justice and a People‘s Green New Deal
Throughout 2021 we have witnessed a number of devastating and deeply disturbing extreme weather events across the globe. From flooding and forest fires, to soaring temperatures, it is abundantly clear that global warming is accelerating faster than anticipated, and our window of opportunity to combat its worst effects is shrinking commensurately.
The 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) takes place in Glasgow at the end of October, but many of us would question whether the process is capable of delivering the radical emissions reductions we need in the timescale required, or indeed if any process so dominated by the rich nations of the global north is likely to result in an agreement that has the principles of climate justice at its core.
Training our gaze elsewhere, this month we consider the framework of the Green New Deal, in its myriad formations: from largely status-quo visions of green capitalism, to the Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez GND resolution, to more radical programmes founded on the principles of anti-imperialism, agroecology, and just transition.
Joining us on the panel are: Max Ajl, author of A People’s Green New Deal; Chris Saltmarsh, author of Burnt: Fighting for Climate Justice; and Adrienne Buller, a Senior Research Fellow at Common Wealth, and author of the forthcoming book The Value of a Whale: On the Delusions of Green Capitalism (Manchester University Press, 2022).
In May 2021, Pluto published a new edited collection from Jules Joanne Gleeson and Elle O’Rourke, titled Transgender Marxism. The book offers a groundbreaking synthesis of transgender studies and Marxist theory. Exploring trans lives and movements, the collection’s contributors delve into the experiences of surviving as transgender under capitalism. They explore the pressures, oppression and state persecution faced by trans people living in capitalist societies, their tenuous positions in the workplace and the home, and give a powerful response to right-wing scaremongering against ‘gender ideology’.
Joining us on the panel to discuss the themes of the book, are:
Jules Joanne Gleeson, a writer, comedian and historian who has published essays in outlets including Viewpoint Magazine, Invert Journal and VICE. She has performed internationally at a wide range of communist and queer cultural events, and is co-editor of Transgender Marxism;
and Farah Thompson, a Black, bisexual trans woman who lives in San Diego. She advocates for anti-imperialism, LGBT rights, decriminalisation of drug use and sex work, and self-determination of Black and colonised peoples. Farah is the author of one of the book’s chapters, titled ‘The Bridge Between Gender and Organising’.
Listeners of Radicals in Conversation can get an exclusive 50% off Transgender Marxism through plutobooks.com. Just enter the coupon PODCAST at the checkout.
Gypsies, Roma and Travellers: The Policing Bill and Institutional Racism
The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill is a far-reaching piece of legislation that would, if passed into law, result in an enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers, severely curtailing the right to peaceful protest. Over the summer, many people have taken to the streets in #KilltheBill protests to voice their opposition and alarm.
One aspect of the Policing bill that is perhaps less discussed is the manner in which it will specifically threaten Gypsy, Roma and Traveller (GRT) communities. In this episode we look at the histories, identities and lived realities of GRT people in Britain today, and the ways in which anti-GRT racism is already manifested institutionally.
This episode is structured in two parts. Firstly we have an interview with Jo Clement, Managing Editor and Creative Director of Butcher’s Dog poetry magazine. Jo is also a Roma Gypsy and a member of the Drive2Survive team - a grassroots campaign against Section 4 of the Policing Bill, that threatens Gypsy, Roma and Traveller life in Britain.
In the second part of the show we are joined on the panel for a more in-depth discussion with two fantastic guests:
Luke Smith, a Romani-Gypsy activist and founder of GRT Socialists; and Ben Smoke, Politics Editor at Huck magazine, and one of the Stansted 15.
Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism
'Work hard, get paid.' It's simple. Self-evident. But it's also a lie - at least for most of us. For people today, the old assumptions are crumbling; hard work in school no longer guarantees a secure, well-paying job in the future. Far from a gateway to riches and fulfillment, 'work' means precarity, anxiety and alienation.
Discussing everything from the history of work under capitalism, to social reproduction and the trade union movement, our panel are:
Amelia Horgan, author of Lost in Work: Escaping Capitalism; Sarah Jaffe, a reporting fellow at Type Media Center and the author of Work Won't Love You Back; and Orlando Lazar, a political theorist and college lecturer at the University of Oxford, whose research focuses on power and domination at work.
Absolute must listen
Great insightful discussion. Would love to hear a mix of authors and organizers. Absolute must listen for understanding contemporary capitalism and its contradictions.