Comprehensive but crude

Around the web: Alliance for Workers' Liberty

If the hysterical reaction of the Alliance for Workers' Liberty to the 'Leeds incident' is anything to go by, it could be that this column will be the subject of outraged attacks by angry AWLers on next week's letters page. We shall see. Under the banner "For international working class solidarity and socialism"�, the main page of the AWL website leads with anti-war material. Two links are highlighted here. 'Meetings' brings up a page that lists three AWL public gatherings against the war, followed by the Scottish Socialist Party conference dates and, strangely, a repetition of the previous three notices. Most prominent is the March 1 AWL conference, while the Socialist Alliance and National Union of Students conferences are also detailed. There follows a useful list of other union gatherings and socialist events, leading up to the next European Social Forum meeting in November. The second link takes us to a number of thematically arranged articles from Workers' Liberty and Solidarity, grouped under 'Why we oppose the US/UK war drive' and 'What we think about the debates in the anti-war movement'. Whatever one may think of their actual content, this is a useful touch lacking from the Stop the War Coalition website itself (Weekly Worker February 13). Back on the main page, immediately underneath these anti-war links we are invited to sign a downloadable appeal opposed to both US imperialism and Hussein's dictatorship, appearing in Farsi, French and Finnish (!), as well as English. The next item links to the AWL's pre-conference page. The viewer is invited to participate in the pre-conference discussion list, to book a place at the event and even reserve cr�che places. A number of discussion documents are available in pdf format; the only drawback is that one has to possess membership with Yahoo to view them. However, a useful organiser's pack is open to view, allowing an insight into the basic workings of the group. Returning once more to the home page, the following link invites us to join the AWL. This is fleshed out with two short articles on why the reader should do so, and what is expected of prospective recruits. Links are also provided here to the constitution and a collection of articles about the group (documents, pieces from Workers' Liberty, and postings to its website). The rest of the main page contains a mix of article and publications links, rounded off at the bottom with links collected under 'What we say', 'Subscribe or buy' (AWL publications), and 'Contact us' (links to AWL franchises from Australia to Finland). The sidebar index groups together the sites' materials under nine links. The first two carry news, the latter organising the items under 48 sub-headings. The 'Campaigns' link carries more articles, meeting details, and model resolutions, while 'What's on' repeats the meetings from the main page link. Sections carrying reviews, website members and the site's most popular pages are also available to view. Lastly, the links page deserves a special mention for compiling 322 websites, though those to other socialist organisations are confined only to supporting organisations of the Socialist Alliance. A separate section on the sidebar is given over to the AWL's three publications - WL, Solidarity and Bolshy. Starting with Solidarity, the latest issue is available to view in text format but the archive is very poor, covering just the last seven issues. The WL link leads to an unnecessary page that provides a link to the proper archive. Here we are only given the option of reading the two last issues of the magazine online, though clicking on the 'Publications' link allows us to peruse the January 2001 issue. An index of WL articles is also open, but the bulk of them are not yet online. Clearly the comrades could do with redesigning this area by getting this material uploaded and providing an archive in chronological order, following the established practice of the other revolutionary groups. The Bolshy link just provides a number of articles in text format. The AWL website certainly cannot be accused of not being comprehensive. Perhaps everything about the AWL is present here, and the inclusion of a discussion forum allows room for voices that may take issue with some of the group's material. The main criticism is that the website overall looks slightly on the crude side and is in need of a makeover - perhaps as much as the politics it carriesl Phil Hamilton