Royal Mail: a battle for us all

The postal workers’ fight is crucial for every worker, student, pensioner and unemployed person in Britain.

It is part of a much bigger war – over public services, jobs, union rights, and pay and conditions at work. It’s about who will be made to pay for the economic crisis.

A victory for the postal workers would show everyone else that resistance is possible and that workers can win. It would help develop the strength needed to beat back the assaults.

A defeat would encourage further attacks. Continue reading

Jose Antonio Abreu – In His Own Words

Jose Antonio Abreu is the charismatic founder of a youth orchestra system that has transformed thousands of kids’ lives in Venezuela. Here he shares his amazing story.

See http://www.ted.com for more information on TED

See also The Sound of El Sistema

The Future of Classical Music lies in Venezuela

Related: Free Instruments for Poor Children in the UK

What Is Exploitation?

The term “exploitation” typically conjures up images of horrendous working conditions, perhaps sweatshops in China or India, or the child labour used by Western clothes manufacturers. We think of people working long hours for little pay in terrible conditions ruthlessly bullied by unscrupulous bosses or gangmasters.

Such “exploitation” is presented to us as exceptional – and contrasted with the “normality” of working life for most people, particularly in countries such as Britain.

Karl Marx had a different understanding of exploitation. Rather than seeing it as exceptional, he argued that exploitation is fundamental to capitalism.

For Marx, exploitation was not just about the level of wages received, or working conditions, but was the very process whereby capitalism creates profit out of the work we do.

In order to understand what Marx meant by exploitation we need to start with his explanation of where profits ultimately come from – the “labour theory of value”. Continue reading

“The Future of Classical Music lies in Venezuela”

Excerpt from documentary ‘Mata Tigre” 2006

Placido Domingo cried when he saw the Venezuelan Youth Orchestra perform. The world-renowned opera singer confessed that the concert evoked the strongest emotions he had ever felt.

Sir Simon Rattle, director of the Berlin Philharmonic, swore that the country’s youth orchestras were doing the most important work in classical music anywhere in the world.

And former Berlin Philharmonic director Claudio Abbado only needed to see one performance by the orchestra to invite the Venezuelans to play in Germany. Continue reading