Thursday, 31 May 2012

Andy Coulson arrested and charged, time for Tommy Sheridan’s conviction to be quashed

With the excellent news of Andy Coulson being arrested and charged on suspicion of purgery during the former Scottish socialist party leader Tommy Sheridan’s trial.
Prime Minister David Cameron's former director of communications Andy Coulson has been arrested by police and charged with perjury.
Mr Coulson, 44, has now been released, after being detained at his London home at 06:30 BST by Strathclyde Police.
He arrived at a police station in Glasgow shortly before 15:30 BST.
Mr Coulson was formally arrested on Wednesday evening as part of an investigation into evidence at the trial of former MSP Tommy Sheridan.
He left the police station at 21.30 BST on Wednesday evening.
A Crown Office spokesman said there was no legal obligation for Coulson to stay in Scotland, and he was free to return to his home in London.
The spokesman said no date had been set for any court appearance.
Earlier, a police spokeswoman said: "Officers from Strathclyde Police's Operation Rubicon team detained a 44-year-old man in London this morning under section 14 of the Criminal Procedure Scotland Act 1995 on suspicion of committing perjury before the High Court in Glasgow."
Mr Coulson gave evidence at the perjury trial of former Scottish Socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan in 2010.
Mr Coulson was called to give evidence at Sheridan's trial as he was editor of the News of the World between 2003 and 2007.

This was posted earlier from the defend Tommy Sheridan campaign
The Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign is delighted at the arrest of Andy Coulson in London today, for committing perjury in the High Court in Glasgow during the trial of Tommy & Gail Sheridan in 2010.

This is a hugely significant development, given that it comes after an exhaustive investigation by Officers of Strathclyde Police’s ‘Operation Rubicon’.

Mr Sheridan has been regularly briefed by Strathclyde Police Officers over the past 10 months, as the primary complainant in Operation Rubicon, which was instigated after a dossier of evidence, was furnished to them in July 2011, by his then solicitor Aamer A war and Tom Watson MP.

Throughout his trial, Mr Sheridan consistently argued that he was being hacked by the News of the World and that senior executives at News International were conspiring against him. This was denied by Andy Coulson.

It now appears that Strathclyde Police have evidence that lead them to believe him to be lying.

Fiona MacDonald, Secretary of the Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign said: “It now appears that Mr Coulson’s evidence was nothing but bare-faced lies. Tommy, his family, his friends and his supporters have consistently said that this was the case. Mr Coulson’s arrest has vindicated all of us. We look forward now to seeing justice prevail and for Tommy’s conviction to be overturned.

Ken Ross, Chair of the Defend Tommy Sheridan Campaign said: “The offence of perjury has a very high bar. To be charged with this offence means that the lies told under oath must be seen as being pertinent to the outcome of the case. Given that Strathclyde Police appear now to have taken this view, by the sheer fact that they have arrested Mr Coulson for Perjury, this must surely mean that Tommy now has substantial grounds to appeal his conviction.

“Mr Coulson and his colleagues have wrecked peoples’ lives for years. The net is now closing in on them. We await with relish his conviction and that of others at News International.


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Doctors vote by huge majority for industrial action over pensions

In a highly significant move the BMA the British Medical association has vote for a clear majority for industrial action and action short of industrial action this June over a dispute over pensions. This is big news as Doctors are not known for their militancy and always have to be careful to keep public perception on their side. I think this could turn out to be one of the most significant parts to this dispute as people will say if the doctors are striking it must be pretty serious as they don’t take industrial action lightly then again no one does but doctors especially due to the nature of their job.
Doctors will stop providing non-urgent care for a day next month in the first industrial action by the profession for nearly 40 years.
The move comes after a majority of doctors voted in favour of action in a British Medical Association ballot of 104,000 members over pension changes.
The 24-hour day of action will take place on 21 June.
The union said emergency care would still take place, as doctors did not want to put patients at risk.
Of those balloted, half responded. Among the main groups of doctors the results were overwhelming.
Some 79% of GPs, 84% of hospital consultants and 92% of junior doctors who responded voted in favour.
By targeting non-urgent care, patients are likely to be affected in this way:
• Elective operations such as knee and hip replacements likely to be postponed
• GP practices to remain open, but routine appointments will not take place
• Hospital appointments for routine conditions expected to be cancelled
• Tests for critical conditions such as cancer will still be available
• A&E units and maternity services to run as normal

Contributions will rise the greatest for the highest earners. Those earning over £110,000 a year will end up contributing 14.5% of their salary.
Many may understand that approach, but doctors believe they are being unfairly targeted.
They point out that the top-paid civil servants will not be hit in the same way - and that perceived injustice has put the profession at loggerheads with the government.
It will be the first time since 1975 that doctors have taken industrial action.
It is not yet known whether the day of action will be followed by further ones.
Unions representing a host of health professionals, including paramedics, admin staff and porters, have already taken part in strikes over pension changes.
Patient safety 'safeguarded'
But the Royal College of Nursing, one of the most influential voices inside the NHS alongside the BMA, has yet to decide what it will do.
It has held a ballot where the majority rejected the government's pension changes, but the turnout was low.
Under the plans, which apply to England and Wales but could be introduced elsewhere in the UK, the age at which doctors retire would rise from 65 to 68 by 2015.
The contributions doctors have to make are also due to rise.
Which will mean just like other public sector workers they will be made to work longer, pay more and get less and none of this will benefit them in anyway it is going to help pay off the deficit, the deficit ordinary public sector workers did not cause. So I for one will be extending my solidarity with doctors on the day of action. No doubt the government will try and tar them as disruptive and all the other nonsense but they have been left with no other choice. A fair pension for all is fair whetehr your public or private sector. Let’s unite today for fair pensions and stop this robbery!

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Say no to austerity vote No this Thursday in Ireland

The 'austerity' treaty referendum is the dominant issue in Ireland's news media. The treaty which involves 25 out of the 27 EU members (Britain and the Czech Republic opted out) is the latest response by the European political establishment to the sovereign debt crisis.
The background to the referendum is the growing unpopularity of the government. Opinion polls show dissatisfaction with the government has swelled to 65%. The Financial Times reports that senior government ministers have faced verbal abuse on the campaign trail. The deputy finance minister was called "a waste of space" and "just a yes man".
But as Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins explains the establishment parties are "now holding an economic and political weapon to the heads of the Irish people to coerce them into voting 'Yes' to their austerity Treaty on 31 May."
Their arguments in favor of this treaty involve a re-writing of recent economic history. Apparently, the crisis we face is at root a crisis of public spending and governments, particularly in the 'peripheral' countries by not having balanced budgets.
The reality of course is that this is a crisis of capitalism and the particular form in which it began was in the banking and property sectors where the lending practices of banks across Europe fuelled property bubbles particularly in countries such as Ireland and Spain.
However both Ireland and Spain had 'balanced budgets' before this crisis began. That has since changed because of the scale of private banking debt that has been taken on by governments.
The other side of the crisis is the collapse of private sector investment, a strike of capital which in Ireland has seen fixed capital formation decline by 65% since the crisis began raising unemployment in Ireland to 500,000 or 14% of the active population.

In the referendum in 2009 the 'Yes' side (which apart from the government principally includes the Fianna Fáil 'opposition' and the employers' organisation IBEC) is again using a combination of carrot and stick with the electorate.
Vague promises of growth, stability and jobs are promised if a yes vote is achieved. This does not wash with the public. The Socialist Party and the United Left Alliance, which the SP is part of, has pointed out that over 100,000 fewer people are at work now compared to the time of the Lisbon Treaty. The figure would be higher but for emigration.
Figures from the Central Statistics office show that more than 3,000 Irish people are leaving the country each month, the highest number since the Famine in the mid-19th century.
The absence of convincing positive reasons is acknowledged by a host of right wing economists and some opposition right wing TDs (MPs) who instead rely on the 'stick' argument. They say that without passing this treaty Ireland will be denied access to the only source of emergency funding available to it (the European Stabilization Mechanism) in the event of a second bailout being required - which everybody apart from the government thinks is a near certainty.
Therefore, we are told that Ireland and the other member states who are party to this treaty must (as required by articles three and four of the treaty) implement savage additional cuts in the years ahead to bring our structural deficit to GDP ratio to 0.5%.
Ireland's estimated structural deficit for 2013 is 3.7% necessitating an additional €6 billion in cuts according to the Unite trade union. The corresponding total scale of additional cuts across Europe to meet these targets is estimated to be some €161 billion.
Articles five and seven empower the unelected European Commission and European Council to automatically place countries in effective administration if deficit targets are exceeded. Taken together the treaty essentially seeks to enshrine austerity in the law and constitutions of the signatory countries and preclude for example any expansionary budgetary policy of government borrowing to fund job creating public works projects and reverse the economic decline.
As Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy points out, this is a bankers' and bondholders' treaty. It is about putting the working people and unemployed of Europe on rations so that as much bank debt as possible is paid on the back of destroying public services, wages and working conditions.
One of the biggest ploys used by the 'yes' camp is to paint a picture that if the treaty is rejected then Ireland will be left isolated in Europe.

However, the rejection of austerity by working class voters in recent weeks in Greece, Italy, Germany and Britain, and the collapse of the Dutch government because of its inability to process €16 billion of austerity, demonstrate to working class people in Ireland that their rejection of the fiscal compact will be welcomed by tens of millions of their brothers and sisters across Europe.
The broadcasting rules during the referendum campaign have forced the media to give 50% of time to the 'no' side which in the main is the Socialist Party/United Left Alliance and Sinn Féin.
Our representatives, unlike Sinn Féin, have dealt with the question of Ireland's borrowing requirements and funding needs in 2013 and beyond by calling for a cancellation of debt servicing, implementing wealth taxes and by raising the slogan of a socialist Europe as the only means of overcoming this crisis of capitalism.
The latest opinion poll claims the 'yes' side is on 37%, 'no' 24% and 'don't know' 37%. This is remarkable given the scale of scaremongering by the 'yes' side and the fact that they outspend the 'no' side by a factor of tens.
The FT accompanied Socialist Party MEP Paul Murphy as he campaigned in Dublin city centre and reported that "it is clear that working class voters are more likely to vote No than the middle classes".
Regardless of the outcome, the experience of the household tax shows that it is one thing to pass a law or effect a constitutional change on the basis of lies, fear and deception but it is another thing entirely too actually implement the cuts. We can look forward to stiff, active and sustained resistance to austerity in Ireland and across the continent in the months and years ahead.

With extracts taken from the Irish socialist party part of the CWI

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Complete over reaction to Ukuncut’s street party protest outside Nick Cleggs home

Yesterday members of UKuncut a loose organisation targeted Nick Clegg and his home to hold a peaceful street party outside his home. This was not in anyway endangering anyone at all Nick Clegg wasn’t even in and his kids went. Ever since we have seen a complete backlash from the liberals and other such folk who claim to be on the left.

In my view no one was hurt and that wasn’t ever the intention. We may have disagreements with Ukuncut and their methods involved in protest but they are at least getting out there and trying to raise the issues which are affecting ordinary people in an imaginative way. Ok its not your average protest and isn’t march from A to B which we have been used to but fair play for having the guts to try something different and new. It got the news headlines for perhaps the wrong reasons but you can blame them for that. I think the over reaction to the fact that Nick cleggs kids could have been at home and would have felt threatened is nonsense and completely miss’s the point of the protest.

It is clear the journalists and those jumping up and down at this would be the ones who would be opposed to any sort of real fairness in society with ordinary people having a say and protest in their minds is only ok when it doesn’t inconvenience anyone. Well that’s been tried time after time and has not worked. This protest may not have worked but fair play to those at UKuncut they got off their armchairs and did something which few seem to be as we speak. Groups like UKuncut have sprung up precisely because the labour party and the labour movement too have not offered an alternative yet and people are being forced to go it alone.

You can hardly tell me that the trebling of tuition fees, selling of our NHS, some of the deepest harshest brutal cuts we have ever seen on the disabled among much much more is eve remotely comparable to an apparent threatening protest outside Nick Cleggs house. It’s frankly laughable.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

A confused state of consciousness

It sometimes feel that decades go by in a year and other times time moves so slowly along and nothing seems to be changing at all.

Well today we are in a period of time where things are changing very quickly indeed. Almost by the day as the governor of the bank of England recently has come our and said. When asked well what’s going to happen next year to the economy he replied I’m not sure what will happen tomorrow let alone next year.

So since the global economic collapse in 2008 ordinary working people can find themselves with all sorts of odd conclusions and ideas where the is a lack of a mass works party as we find ourselves in that situation today.

For a example of this I was in my local pub the other night just casually chatting about politics and the current state of things with Greece and tee economy etc when this guy said to me well I consider myself a Tory always voted for them and feel that it was all labours fault. Maybe labour played their part but they stepped in to save the banks where we were hours away from not being able to use the banking machines and funds drying up. I pointed out they had to do this but should have gone further in fully nationalising the banks under democratic workers control using the banks funds for peoples needs not to save capitalism. But this guy went on although I’m a Tory he claims anyway I don’t agree with all this bonus’s these bankers are still getting it’s a disgrace and should be stopped. So this sort of contradictory idea of apparently being a Tory which in all honesty I’m not sure he was he has probably just been brought up to save and look out for himself which there is some good in that of course but a Tory I think not. By examining the fact that the bankers have run a mock on our economy he points out that even ordinary working class people who you may think don’t get what is going on in the wider picture do get things to a degree. But currently are drawing some wrong conclusions and are perhaps a bit naive in their thinking of how to solve the crisis.

I just find it interesting how consciousness changes and shifts on major shifts in society. As Lenin quite rightly points out consciousness always lags behind reality and this is no different today we are 4 years into the biggest economic crisis in capitalism for a very long time and workers are only now just starting to wake up to the pure class war which is going on in front of our eyes. Workers are starting to rub sleep out of their eyes and look for answers. Unfortunately those answers are possibly not the correct ones at this moment in time but they will learn through experience no doubt.

I can see a situation where when workers or more advanced layers of workers finally realise they have been lead a merry dance for so long that class anger can spill out at a fast rate in unpredictable ways.

Class consciousness is something we as Marxists study constantly looking to see where that build up of pressure is and how it is developing and where that sparks may come where the term the straw that broke the camels back comes into play. There is a build up of anger and frustration by people out there but unfortunately thus far it has only really been shown in the riots of last August which sadly if no proper fight back is forthcoming from the labour movement and the trades unions I could see reoccurring if nothing is offered as an alternative.

I sincerely hope it doesn’t but that lack of an alternative being posed apart from permanent austerity will force people to the conclusions we may not always wish for.

It is important that we as socialists and those who consider themselves Marxists to offer that alternative and bridge that gap in consciousness by raising the ideas and the political understanding with our own ranks but eventually the wider class if we can. It is a hard uphill task but a task we must take up none the less.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Defend trade union and employment rights! Stop Beecroft! Come to NSSN Conference!

If you need any confirmation to come to the NSSN conference on 9 June and bring your work colleagues and union activists, to hear and discuss a fighting strategy to defeat this government and its friends, then the Beecroft Report’s attacks on workers’ rights this week should provide that.

Adrian Beecroft is a ‘venture capitalist’, investing money where he thinks he can make huge profits. One of the companies he finances is Wonga, the ‘pay-day loan company’ that charges extortionate interest to those unfortunate enough to have to utilise their services.

But he wants to extend his extreme Thatcherite ideas to the whole of the workforce. Not content with having some of the most anti-working class employment legislation in Europe, Beecroft wants to see the idea of ‘no fault’ redundancy implemented. This is really ‘no rights’ redundancy. With very little notice, no consultation and minimal compensation, workers that any boss did not like could be sacked at a whim. This, of course, could include trade union workplace reps. What a cheap and nasty way of getting rid of ‘troublemakers’!

Beecroft thinks this would create more jobs! The only jobs it might create are low-wage jobs with bosses acting like dictators! And he was assisted in the drafting by David Cameron’s former adviser, Steve Hilton, now departed to Stanford University in California. So the Tories are up to their necks in it!

This report was too strong even for the Liberal Democrats. Business Secretary Vince Cable wants to kick it into the long grass, at least the most contentious bits. Beecroft said that Cable was a ‘socialist’ for opposing its recommendations! That just shows how vicious Beecroft is! The Lib Dems have collaborated with the changes to workers’ rights in the last two years, including the extension of the period of employment before a worker has full employment rights from a year to two years.

If the government tries to implement any of this report, the TUC and individual trade unions should call conferences as preparation for protests and even industrial action against it. This should be linked to the campaign to end all the anti-trade union and anti-worker laws. Coming to the NSSN conference will add to the pressure on the trade union leaders to fight against this vicious big business government.

The RMT slammed the Beecroft report.
Beecroft, who has funded the Tories to the tune of a half a million pounds, has been set up by Cameron to be his out-rider for attacking worker’s rights in the same way that McNulty was tasked with doing a similar number on the railways. He is reported to be likely to recommend:
• A systematic stripping away of equal rights in the workplace
• Ripping up the transfer of undertaking rights (TUPE) that give workers some protection when their employer changes hands
• Hammering redundancy rights and reducing consultation to as little as five days in “emergency” situations
• Bending to his buddies in big business and introducing a “hire and fire” culture in the name of profit.
RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:
“It is no surprise that a venture capitalist, Tory-funder and Cameron buddy like Beecroft would recommend taking an axe to every last shred of protection that workers have from bad bosses. He comes from an industry that treats people as nothing more than profit-making serfs who can be chewed up and spat out at will.
“All the signs are that this government of the rich for the rich is winding up for an all-out assault on redundancy, equalities and worker’s transfer rights.
“RMT works in industries where franchise transfers, takeovers and company collapses are a way of life. This government, and their big business allies, are determined to rip away even the tattered safety net which offers our members some limited protection. They will have an almighty fight on their hands. “

Trade unions have the power to defeat the endless attacks on working
class people.

The pension struggle is far from over with key unions looking to take
more action.

the NSSN conference is an important opportunity to review the strikes and
battles that have taken place since the last conference

Pressure will have to be put on some unions to join with other unions
who are committed to take action.

The NSSN will need to play a key role in mobilising and intervening in
the TUC demo taking place in the autumn.

Trade union reps and members will have the opportunity to catch up
with the latest situation re: pensions in the various unions as well
as how to defeat the constant attacks on working class people.

SO if you can make it 9th June London friends meeting house near Euston Station starts 11 am but do get there before as due to the high profile speakers there may be high demand to get in and hear what they have to say.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Solidarity with workers across Europe

As the crisis in capitalism grows deeper and deeper and the ruling classes look increasingly desperate for ordinary working people they haven’t seen this drop in living standards for a very very long time possibly ever.

In Britain, as in every country of Europe, millions of working people are following events in Greece with baited breath. In part this is because of fear of what the deepening economic crisis in the euro zone could mean for workers in Britain. But it is not the only reason. It is also because workers are inspired by the defiance of the Greek population.
Seventeen general strikes have shaken Greece in the course of the last two years as Greek workers have refused to accept the mass impoverishment demanded of them. And now the Greek working and middle classes have shouted their defiance in the elections - shattering the electoral base of the previous establishment parties - Pasok and New Democracy - and voting for those who opposed austerity.
Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left) was the biggest beneficiary of the anti-austerity mood in the recent Greek general election, increasing its vote from 4.6% to 16.78%.
Since then Syriza's principled stand, refusing to join a coalition that accepted more austerity and instead demanding a left government, has led to increasing support in opinion polls - as high as 26% - mostly topping the polls. This also shows the potential for left, anti-cuts candidates to make breakthroughs outside of Greece, including the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) in Britain.
The right-wing and fascist Golden Dawn won 21 MPs in the 6 May elections but has since seen its support plummet in the polls. This gives an indication of how support for the far right can be undermined when a credible left alternative emerges. But it is also a warning of what could emerge if Syriza does not lead a battle against austerity.

All across Europe workers are being forced to accept austerity in Ireland next week people will go to the polls to vote on the European austerity treaty as socialists we call for a strong NO vote rejecting permanent austerity and being locked into a straight jacket in terms of Ireland’s options from this point on.

The capitalist classes of Europe are now cranking up the pressure on the Greek working class, trying to blackmail it into voting 'the right way' at the recall general election in June.
Typically Cameron has led the charge, crudely sending "a very clear message to the people of Greece: there is a choice - you can vote to stay in the euro, with all the commitments you made, or if you vote another way you're effectively voting to leave."
Cameron is attempting to turn the general election into a referendum on the euro. He is gambling on the fact that a majority of the Greek population still want to remain in the euro, fearing the prospect of being a small, isolated and impoverished country.
It was not the Greek people that made a "commitment" to endure endless misery. This was done by the previous government parties and, as a result, the Greek population punished them at the polls.
The policies demanded by the troika of the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank, and implemented by Greek governments, have left sections of the Greek population destitute and the vast majority in terrible poverty.
The Greek economy has shrunk by 20% in four years, a catastrophe not seen in Europe since the 1930s. Public sector wages have fallen by 40%. The church is now feeding an average of 250,000 people each day as sections of the population literally face starvation.

As the pressure of the axe-men and women mounts on the Greek people to submit, the working class of Britain, along with workers across Europe, needs to send a resounding message to the Greek people: 'We stand 100% with your rejection of austerity. We support your struggle and will step up the battle to stop cuts and defend living conditions in our own countries, as the best means of assisting your struggle. If, as is overwhelmingly likely, the capitalist classes of Europe force you out of the euro zone, you will not be isolated - the workers of Europe stand in solidarity with you.'
What better support could workers in Britain give to workers in Greece than by bringing down the hated Con-Dem government?
It is not only in Greece but across Europe that the working class has rejected austerity on the streets and at the ballot box. The defeat of Sarkozy in France and of Merkel's party in Germany's most populous state, the huge vote against the Con-Dem's in Britain's local elections, plus the local election results in Italy; are all electoral indications of a growing tidal wave of opposition to austerity.
The battle against austerity must be linked to struggle against capitalism - a system in a profound crisis. It is not the supposed past profligacy of the peoples of Greece, Spain, Ireland or Britain that has led to the current catastrophe but the economic crisis of capitalism, and the past and current profligacy of the financiers and speculators who dominate the economy.
The euro zone has become an austerity zone, where all the problems of the capitalist crisis are intensified. We as Socialists always warned that the euro, a single currency for very different economies, would not work on a capitalist basis.
When the world economy was growing it could appear a success, but in a crisis it would become a terrible trap for the working classes of Europe.
The leaders of the euro zone, headed by German capitalism, are trying to overcome the crisis by driving the working class into the dirt.
Cameron is applying the same policy in Britain. But this is exacerbating the economic crisis and is creating a gigantic revolt. It is fear of a deepening of the economic crisis and, above all, of the revolt that is coming, that is forcing the leading representatives of capitalism, including Obama, to put pressure on German capitalism to move towards some measures to stimulate the euro zone’s economies.
The economic crisis is not caused by a lack of profits for big business. The capitalists have huge piles of cash. The Wall Street Journal estimates that in the US, the euro zone, the UK and Japan, some $7.75 trillion in cash, is sitting in the vaults of big business.
Because the capitalists refuse to invest this money, we call for an immediate 50% levy on it, in order for it to be used for a massive programme of investment in public work and job creation. However, there is no prospect of capitalist governments carrying out this kind of serious stimulus, which would create howls of outrage, and opposition, from their big business backers.

So let’s join together across Europe and look across borders and see we are all fighting the same enemy and that if we unite across borders workers can finally feel their huge strength they do hold. Once workers in Europe break out of their chains the tide will turn very quickly. In Britain we can do our bit by helping to bring down this weak rotten con-dem government which is intent on making the poor pay for a crisis they did not create. This October on the TUC demonstration we also need to have placards and banners with messages of solidarity with Greek, Spanish, Irish and Portuguese workers on this will scare the ruling class’s with the ideas and solidarity that is spreading like wild fire across Europe as we speak.

Its time to fight back, its time to unite but most of all stand together.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Defend the right to protest

As demonstrations, protests and strikes against austerity become more common, there are even more horrific policing tactics in the pipeline. The Independent recently revealed that, in London, the use of rubber bullets has been authorized 22 times in the last year. Scotland Yard is also considering making water cannon and Taser stun guns more easily accessible for the police.
This is on top of some of the most draconian laws already in place which are set to get even worse were a person will be banned from a particular area for 48 hours if deemed to be acting suspiciously. This would obviously consist of protesting politically and against the cuts most notably. With the treatment of protesters over the last few years this doesn’t bode at all well for the future of the right to protest.

I am not even sure we do have the right to protest or if we ever had it it is a debate in itself. But it is perceived that we do and people generally can but further tightening of these oppressive laws will only increase as demonstrations increase and people’s anger deepens.
We must remain vigilant to police violence and attempts to deter students, workers and anti cuts campaigners from protesting in a mass form. As this week the TUC has announced its second mass demonstration for the 20th of October it will be key that we defend this right and our right to distribute our own material and offer those on the demonstration the chance to take a leaflet and more information on how we can fight the cuts. But fundamentally protesting is something which will become increasingly more popular as this crisis in capitalism deepens. This was shown when one of the people of the year given out by one of the national newspapers gave the person of the year to the year of the protester in 2011. I can only see this trend continuing and as more and more layers of the class get drawn into the movement we need to defend their rights to organize and to protest peacefully.

We say as the socialist party:
• Build a mass campaign in defense of civil and democratic rights! Defend the right to protest
• Scrap the anti-trade union laws, defend the right to strike
• Stop victimization of protesters by the police and in the courts
• Repeal all the draconian 'anti-terror' legislation and stop new repressive powers
• For the election of judges and the right to trial by jury
• For the police to be under the control of, and accountable to, the communities they serve. For trade union rights for the police

Was the Labour party ever a socialist party ?

Many people growing up today would think absolutely not and they’d be right but has the Labour party which was once seen as the workers party not a full workers party in the way we see it but advanced workers interests slightly on a capitalist basisis over time.
To most people today, the phrase 'Labour politician' brings to mind a well paid career polititian .
But that was not the way the Labour Party started out. For at least the first half of its life the Labour Party was built and maintained by dedicated self-sacrificing volunteers, collecting the pennies and halfpennies of working people to keep going.

But from its foundation, Labour was a battleground between people with a vision of a socialist future and those who believed only in ameliorating the worst evils of an 'unchallengable' capitalist system.
In February 1900 a conference called by the Trades Union Congress in the Memorial Hall, Farringdon Street, London, founded the Labour Representation Committee (its name changed to Labour Party in 1906). But this founding conference only came about after 20 years of struggle for an independent political voice for the working class, a struggle in which the main opposition came from within the trade union movement itself.
At the turn of the 20th century, two national political parties, Liberals and Tories, vied for power in Parliament. Both were parties of the ruling class although Tories tended towards 'old money', the landowning aristocracy, and Liberals towards 'new money', factory owners and businessmen.

It was quite possible for politicians such as Winston Churchill to pass easily from one to the other and back. The working class had no independent representation.
ions had been built among skilled workers. The leaders of these unions (particularly the engineers and the South Wales Miners) did not believe that independent 'labour' candidates could defeat the established parties. They saw their best hope for workers' interests, in acting as the loyal junior voice of organised labour in the Liberal Party.
They negotiated with the Liberals to be allowed to stand a number of workers' candidates with Liberal support in working class constituencies.
At the 1885 election, 10 'Lib-Lab' MPs were elected including officials of the South Wales Miners, the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners and the general secretary of the TUC. These MPs loyally supported Liberal policies.
They gained support from the Fabian Society founded in 1884, an organisation of middle class intellectuals espousing an 'English' socialism, opposing Marxist ideas of class struggle and dedicated to peacefully and gradually 'permeating' the ruling class via the Liberal Party.

semi-socialist groupings, of which the most important was the Social Democratic Federation (SDF). This was founded in 1883 and took its inspiration from Marxist ideas.
The SDF comprised a mixture of trade unionists, leaders of new 'general' unions which were springing up, like Tom Mann and John Burns, and intellectuals like William Morris. In the same period, an independent socialist, Robert Blatchford, set up a paper, the Clarion, to put forward socialist ideas, which soon gained a weekly circulation of 30,000.
But the major force inspiring the development of socialist ideas was the rising tide of working class struggle.
There was a succession of economic slumps in 1875, 1880 and 1884, each followed by a very feeble 'stabilisation'. The effect was the destitution of unskilled and casual workers, particularly in London. Mass demonstrations of the unemployed became common.
In 1886 the government was so scared of an impending demonstration in Trafalgar Square that four leaders of the SDF were arrested and charged with sedition. In 1887, on 'Bloody Sunday', the police smashed a workers' demonstration organised by the SDF, with many injured.
At the same time, shunned by the older 'craft unions', workers in their thousands were flocking to join new general unions with leaders untouched by ideas of conciliation with the bosses.
In 1889, London dockers struck for "the dockers' tanner" - a basic hourly wage of sixpence (equivalent to under £2 an hour today). Led by Ben Tillett, John Burns and Tom Mann (with Eleanor Marx secretary to the strike committee) they scored a victory after a bitter struggle, gaining support from around the world.
These battles led socialists to realise the importance of unity. In 1893 a conference in Bradford set up a new organisation, the Independent Labour Party. Of the 115 delegates, 91 were from already existing groups, including the Scottish Socialist Party.
The others came from other political organisations including the Fabians and the SDF (neither of which agreed to support the new party which was too socialist for the Fabians and not socialist enough for the SDF).
Nevertheless, the ILP soon developed into a party of some tens of thousand members under the leadership of Keir Hardie, who had become an Independent Labour MP for West Ham South in 1892.
At the same time, the debate within the TUC on independent representation for workers was finally being won, with the fact that the Liberal government had reneged on all the promises made to Lib-Lab MPs having a powerful effect.
Finally, in 1900, the TUC convened the founding conference of the Labour Representation Committee. This conference comprised delegates from 12 trade unions and 10 cooperative organisations, together with the ILP, the SDF and the Fabians.
The schism which was to mark the Labour Party throughout its existence was clear at the day of its birth. Socialists (particularly the ILP and representatives of the new trade unions) wanted labour representatives to be:
"...a distinct party based upon a recognition of the class war and having for its ultimate object the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange".
On the other hand, the older union leaders merely wanted: "Men sympathetic with the aims and demands of the labour movement". (Quotes from conference minutes in The History of the Labour Party, edited by Herbert Tracey, Caxton 1948).

accepted by the conference, proposed by Keir Hardie. It proposed the standing of Labour candidates who would form a group in parliament with their own agreed policies independent of any other party, but dropped any mention of socialism. Unwilling to accept this compromise, the SDF walked out and eventually split into tiny warring sects.
The history of the Labour Party for the next eight decades was one of continuous battles. The Labour Party was never a socialist party but an uneasy compromise. At times of heightened class struggle, socialists made gains.
In 1918 in the shadow of the World War and the Bolshevik revolution, a new party constitution was agreed.
This included the famous Clause IV: "To secure for the workers by hand and by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service".

(In 1995 the clause was removed and hence any pretence that the Labour Party was socialist).
But at the same time, party chairman Arthur Henderson moved to allow people who were not trade unionists or members of socialist societies to become members. Henderson, supporting the war, had accepted a minor post in the Liberal war cabinet in 1915.
His aim was to swamp the ILP (which had steadfastly opposed the war) with hundreds of 'safe' delegates from Labour Parties with no roots in the labour movement. For a time this succeeded.
Later, however, local Labour Parties became a strong left wing force which necessitated regular purges of 'dangerous marxists' through to the 1990s.
The Labour Party was born on a wave of working-class struggle at the beginning of the twentieth century. There are many parallels with the present day. In the 1890s the Lib-Lab trade union leaders put their trust in false Liberal Party promises. In the 1990s, Labour Party promises made to trade union leaders were discarded once 'New Labour' got power.
On the left, many of the same arguments over political compromises are heard today. One thing is certain, British workers facing a desperate crisis of jobs, homes and living standards will once again move to gain a political voice independent of compromised trade union leaders and big business backers.

So in conclusion the Labour party has never been a fully fledged socialist party but has contained socialists . For workers to fully realise our potential and to build a new society based on the many not just the few we need our own mass workers party with marxist ideas at its core.

With extracts taken from

Monday, 21 May 2012

Euro crisis deepens but which way out for workers and youth ?

By Tony Saunois (CWI) with Andros Payiatos, Xekinima (CWI Greece)

Syriza leader Alexis Tripras: it’s “a war between peoples and capitalism”
The Greek elections called on May 6 resulted in a political earthquake. Powerful after-shocks are still hitting the global economy, the EU, and Greece itself. These are now set to be the precursor to even stronger political and social upheavals in Greece and throughout the EU.

The workers’ organisations and youth in Britain and throughout the EU need to extend their solidarity to the Greek workers. The workers’ movement throughout the EU needs to oppose the demands that the “Troika” and others are making for the Greek workers to accept more austerity. Such solidarity is a part of the struggle of workers in all countries against the attacks made on them by their own ruling class and governments.

The elections shattered the old established political allegiances but left no coalition of parties from either the left or the right able to form a parliamentary majority. The government has been left paralysed, and new elections have been called for June 17.

This paralysis in parliament is a reflection of a Greek society convulsed in turmoil. There are powerful features of both revolution and counter-revolution. As the Financial Times has warned: “Looting and rioting could occur. A coup or civil war would be conceivable” (18/5/12).

Syriza (Coalition of the Radical Left), whose share of the vote leapt from 4.6 percent to 16.78 percent, emerged as the second most successful group in the elections. This tremendously positive development, which has given hope to many workers and socialists internationally that something similar could take place in their own countries, has terrified the ruling class in Greece along with Merkel, Cameron, Rajoy and the other political leaders of capitalism. It has thrown down a potential challenge to the “Troika” and the austerity programme dictated by it.

The crucial question now is: can this left advance be pushed further and channelled into a bigger victory in the second election? Will the Greek working class and its organisations embrace a rounded out revolutionary socialist programme? Without this it will not be possible to resolve the crisis in Greece or begin to solve the devastating social consequences of the austerity packages thus far introduced.

As the elections on May 6 also demonstrated, if the left fails to meet this political challenge with the correct programme, slogans, intensity of struggle, and methods of organisation, then the extreme far right will certainly be willing to step into the void. The growth of the fascist Golden Dawn, which emerged from the election with 6.97 percent of the vote and 21 MPs, is a serious warning to the Greek and European working class. It illustrates the threat which will emerge as the crisis deepens in the next weeks and months if the left fails to offer a real alternative to capitalism.

The collapse of the established political parties, especially New Democracy (ND) and PASOK, was the clearest manifestation of the overwhelming rejection of those parties which have enacted the austerity programmes, slavishly following the demands of the “Troika”. Under both New Democracy and PASOK governments, and the outgoing coalition led by them, Greece has been under effective occupation from international bankers, the ECB, IMF, and EU. The European capitalist classes have adopted a modern version of colonial rule, appointing EU commissioners as overseers in each government Ministry.

The stooge parties of the EU have been vomited out by the Greek people. In the last three decades ND and PASOK garnished between 75 percent and 85 percent of the votes in each election. The combined vote of both these parties this time was a mere 32.02 percent - 18.85 percent for ND and 13.18 percent for PASOK.

Brutal attack on living standards
The Greek working and middle classes have suffered a brutal attack on living standards and working conditions for years. As a result of the economic crisis and austerity packages, Greece’s GDP (total output) will have fallen 20 percent from its 2008 level by the end of 2012. This is one of the largest ever falls in GDP suffered by any capitalist country since the depression of the 1930s.

These are not cold statistics. The lives of millions of working- and middle-class people have been shattered. The social consequences have been devastating. Public sector workers have seen wages slashed by 40 percent. A cup of coffee costs the same in London or Athens. Yet in Greece many workers are paid only €400 per month – a pittance. These are literally starvation wages for many. The church estimates it now feeds 250,000 people at soup kitchens every day. Healthcare patients are now expected to pay in advance for treatment, and the number of hospital beds is being slashed by 50 percent. One hospital refused to release a newborn infant until the mother paid the bill. Thousands of schools have been closed down. Many tens of thousands have fled the cities and gone back to the countryside where they can live with families and at least get access to food.

The middle class is being destroyed, with many becoming homeless, left to queue alongside the most downtrodden immigrant workers at food and homeless refuge camps. These camps appear like a southern European version of the “favela” shanty towns of Brazil. Unemployment has soared to over 21 percent – and an astonishing 51 percent amongst the youth.

The right wing and the fascist Golden Dawn have tried to whip up nationalism and racism by targeting illegal immigrants, whose numbers are estimated in hundreds of thousands. This is a major challenge for the workers and left organisations. Emergency measures to house and feed these people through the introduction of a special public works programme should be demanded by the left. A programme not at the expense of the Greek workers, but funded by the EU.

Workers fight back

The Greek working class has tenaciously fought against these attacks and each government which has enacted them. PASOK replaced New Democracy in the autumn of 2009, only to cave to the diktats of the “Troika” by applying the most vicious attacks against the Greek workers since the end of the civil war in 1949, ignoring its own promises to the contrary. PASOK’s support then collapsed as workers rejected its policies. The trade union leaders have been compelled since the beginning of 2010 to call sixteen general strikes – three of them for forty-eight hours – by the pressure of the workers. Still, the attacks have continued to rain down on the Greek population. The failure of the trade union leaders to take the struggle forward led to exhaustion among workers as one general strike followed another, appearing to lead nowhere. Now in the elections they have vented their rage against the pro-austerity parties.

Tens of thousands, out of desperation, have emigrated. Many more are on the waiting lists. Some have sought a way out by moving to Australia, Britain, and Canada. It has been estimated by the Greek press that in Australia alone there are currently 30,000 illegal Greek immigrants. Some, incredibly, have even gone to Nigeria and Kazakhstan, so desperate has life become in Greece.

Others, driven by desperation and the humiliation of the plight they find themselves in, have taken a more tragic exit. The international press featured the suicide of 77-year-old retired pharmacist, Dimitris Christoulas, who shot himself in front of Greek parliament because of debt. The trigger was effectively pulled by the “Troika” and its policies.

Having increased 22 percent, the suicide rate in Greece is now the highest in Europe. One radical journalist who recently returned from Greece witnessed a Mercedes car driven into the sea by a small businessman who killed himself. Under Greek law debts cannot be passed onto the family.

These are conditions reminiscent of those described in John Steinbeck’s epic novel about the U.S. depression – The Grapes of Wrath.

There is bitterness, hatred, and anger directed toward the Greek rich elite and their politicians who cannot safely walk the streets or enter public restaurants. The rich are transferring their money to Switzerland and other European countries while the mass of the population is left to suffer the consequences of the crisis.

In the May 6 elections, the Greek people punished all those politicians and parties which had implemented the austerity policies.

Syriza oppose coalition with PASOK and ND
The leadership of Syriza, particularly its top figure, Alexis Tsipras, correctly took a bold stand by refusing to join a coalition with either PASOK or ND given their support for the terms of the bail out and their continuing acceptance of austerity. He offered to instead form a left block with the Greek Communist Party, KKE, and tried to include the split from Syriza – Democratic Left – in order to fight for a left government.

Although limited, he proposed such a left front be based on a programme of freezing any further austerity measures; cancelling the law which abolishes collective bargaining and slashes the minimum wage to 490 euros per month; and launching a public investigation of the Greek debt, during which period there would be a moratorium on debt repayments. This programme, although inadequate to deal with the depth of the crisis in Greece, would have served as a starting point for developing the struggle against austerity and as a basis for a programme necessary to break with capitalism.

Scandalously, the leadership of the KKE refused to even meet with Tsipras, which was a continuation of its previous sectarian approach towards Syriza, the rest of the left, and the trade union movement. Syriza had correctly proposed a left front together with the KKE and ANTARSYA – the anti-capitalist left alliance in the elections. This was refused. The idea of a left front of Syriza and the KKE was something initially campaigned for by the Greek CWI section, Xekinima, in the period 2008-2010. Though viciously attacked initially, this idea gradually developed support and was eventually taken up by Tsipras and the Syriza leadership.

Had such a joint election list been formed it would have emerged as the largest force and got the 50-seat bonus in parliament which the Greek election system gives to the largest party. Even if this was not enough to form a parliamentary majority, it would have put the combined left forces in a commanding position to enter second elections and to offer the realistic prospect of a left government.

While the KKE refused to even consider joining a coalition left government, historically they were prepared to join a capitalist coalition. The KKE entered a coalition with ND in 1989. The KKE General Secretary, Aleka Papriga, has argued that they have learnt from this experience and use this to justify not joining forces with Syriza. However, a united left front, on the basis of fighting against austerity, is entirely different from joining a pro-capitalist government with ND.

A working-class left front led by workers’ parties could have served to unite in action the fragmented left forces in Greece. It could have led to the building of a powerful, organised movement outside parliament as a basis to challenge capitalism. Unfortunately, other left forces like ANTARSYA (Anti-capitalist Left Coalition) also adopted a similar attitude during the first election. However, they now face huge pressure from below, and there are sections of their ranks demanding a united front of some kind with Syriza in the June 17 elections. The issue is still being debated in their ranks, with the majority in the leadership wanting to stand against Syriza. If this line is the one adopted in the end by ANTARSYA, they will pay a heavy price with a serious fall in their support (ANTARSYA won 2 percent in the local elections of 2010 which fell to 1.2 percent in the May 6 election).

The sectarianism of the KKE leadership has provoked opposition within their own ranks as well. Some party members said in the election they would vote for the KKE but urged others to vote for Syriza. A continuation of this policy is certain to provoke further opposition in the ranks of the KKE and the possibility of a split within it.

The KKE has paid a price for this sectarian policy. Its vote only increased by 19,000 – 1 percentage point – to 8.48 percent in the May election. A recent poll for the election in June gave it 4.4 percent.

Despite the inadequacy of Syriza’s programme, its clear stand against austerity and refusal to enter coalition with any pro-austerity parties means it is strengthening its position. It is likely to emerge even stronger in the June elections. Recent opinion polls have put it on between 20 and 26 percent, which would mean it could be the largest party.

Tsipras has threatened not to pay the whole of the national debt, cut defence spending, and crack down on waste, corruption, and tax evasion by the rich. He has also supported public control of the banking system, at times implying nationalisation. He has also spoken favourably of Roosevelt’s “New Deal”. It is a radical reform programme but does not break with capitalism. However, it is a starting point for an emergency public works programme linked to the need for the nationalisation of the banks and key sectors of the economy and the introduction of a democratic socialist plan.

The rapid electoral growth of Syriza has important lessons for other left forces in other countries including TUSC in Britain. Such organisations can experience a rapid electoral growth from a low base when objective conditions are ripe for this. They need to establish a firm and clear profile to fight for workers’ interests to capitalise on the situation when other political parties have been tried and rejected. The electoral success achieved by the ULA in Ireland, especially the Socialist Party, illustrates this.

Syriza’s refusal to join a pro-cuts coalition with PASOK and ND, even on the basis of their promise to renegotiate the Memorandum with the “Troika”, is in marked contrast to other left forces and parties at this stage. In Italy, the PRC entered such coalitions at the local level and consequently destroyed its support. The IU in Spain, whose support grew in the recent election, has also now wrongly joined a coalition with PSOE in Andalucia. A continuation of this policy could erode the growth and development of the IU.

The pro-cuts parties, led by ND and PASOK, along with the “Troika”, are desperately trying to turn the second election into a referendum on membership in the euro zone and the EU rather than on their austerity policies. They, along with the EU establishment, are launching a clear campaign arguing that to oppose the austerity package will mean Greece being ejected from the euro and probably the EU.

The EU and the euro
This is a central issue in the Greek crisis and it is crucial for the left to have a clear policy and programme to face up to this question.

Unfortunately, despite taking a bold stand against austerity and against coalition with ND and PASOK, Tsipras and the Syriza leadership are not arguing for a clear alternative. In part, this reflects the pressure of a majority of Greeks – 79 percent according to one recent poll – who, while rejecting austerity, want to remain in the euro.

This reflects an understandable fear of what would follow Greece being ejected from the euro, including the potential isolation of Greece’s relatively small economy. The Greek masses are terrified of Greece being thrown back to the social conditions of the 1950s and ‘60s or the high inflation of the 1970s and 1980s. Syriza and the left need to answer these fears and explain what the alternative is.

It is also clear that Tsipras is gambling that the EU would not throw Greece out of the euro zone because of the consequences it would have for the rest of the EU. Yet this is not at all certain.

The KKE, on the other hand, opposes the euro and the EU and attacks Syriza for its attitude toward the EU and the euro. Politically, this is one of the justifications they use for not joining a left front with Syriza. While the KKE formally speaks in very radical rhetoric about a “people’s revolt” or an “uprising”, they adopt a propagandistic, abstract approach in practice which is totally unfitted to the class polarisation and willingness to struggle which currently exists in Greece. They even justified not joining a left governmental front because “what would then be the character of the opposition?” Opposition to the EU and the euro on a nationalist basis means they are trapped in a capitalist framework. What is necessary is an internationalist socialist approach that links together the struggle of the Greek workers with the working class in other EU countries.

It is true that a section of the European ruling classes are terrified of the consequences of throwing Greece out of the euro zone. The Centre for Economic and Business Research estimates that a “disorderly” collapse of the euro caused by Greece leaving could cost up to US$1 trillion. An “orderly” collapse would cost 2 percent of EU GDP –US$300 billion. Undoubtedly such a development would have massive consequences for the whole of the EU and could result in the break up of the euro zone with possibly Spain and/or other countries breaking from it.

However, the over-riding fear of the German ruling class and others is that if substantial concessions are made to Greece then Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Ireland would clamour for even more. This they cannot risk. Thus the same Centre for Economic and Business Research concludes: “The end of the euro in its current form is a certainty”.

Tsipras and Syriza mistakenly believe that it is possible to remain in the euro zone and at the same time not introduce austerity policies against the working class. Yet the euro itself is an economic corset which allows the larger capitalist powers and companies to impose their austerity programme throughout the euro zone.

Syriza is correct to say it will refuse to introduce austerity. But how would it then face up to the threat of Greece’s ejection from the euro? This is the inevitable course events are now taking. It is not credible simply to respond by saying Greece will remain in the euro and oppose austerity. If they did this, and a left government on that basis were thrown out of the euro, Syriza would not be prepared to answer being blamed by the right wing for this.

While most Greeks fear being ejected from the euro at this stage, that does not mean that the euro can or will be accepted at any price indefinitely.

Syriza needs to respond to this attack by clearly explaining that if we reject austerity they will eject us from the euro zone. Even without a government opposing austerity Greece could be ejected from the euro.

Faced with such a situation, a left government should immediately introduce capital and credit controls to prevent a flight of capital from the country, nationalise all banks, finance institutions, and major companies. It should cancel all debt repayment to the banks and financial institutions. The books should be opened to inspect all of the agreements made with international banks and markets. The assets of the rich should be seized and safe guards given to small savers and investors. It should introduce an emergency reconstruction programme drawn up democratically as part of a socialist plan which would include a plan to assist small businesses.

Need for socialist internationalism
At the same time, Syriza and a democratic government of workers and all those exploited by capitalism should appeal to the working people of Europe – especially those facing a similar situation in Spain, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy – to join them in solidarity and begin building a new alternative to the capitalist EU and euro. The massive crisis erupting in Spain and elsewhere would mean the working people would rally to such a call. This could be the first step to the formation of a voluntary democratic socialist confederation involving these countries as a step towards a socialist confederation of Europe.

Such a process should be begun now with direct links being built with the left and workers organisations in these countries.

Unfortunately, a failure to boldly answer the threat of being ejected from the euro will only serve to partly disarm the movement of struggle against austerity. It may prevent Syriza from emerging as the largest party. The Greek ruling class and the “Troika” are campaigning to make the election about membership in the euro, not about austerity. They are attempting to terrify people out of voting for Syriza and to rally fragmented right-wing voters - including from right-wing parties that failed to enter parliament - around New Democracy. However, after years of austerity measures and brutal attacks it is not certain this strategy will succeed.

Despite Syriza’s weakness on the EU and euro, at the time of writing Syriza seems certain to increase its support and has a serious possibility of becoming the largest party in close competition to ND. Recent polls have put both parties at between 20 and 23 percent of the vote.

New phase of the struggle
Should Syriza emerge in the lead or at the head of a government this would not signal the end of the crisis, but it would begin a new phase that the workers organisations need to urgently prepare for if they are to take the struggle forward.

Syriza itself needs to be strengthened by workers, youth, the poor, and all those opposed to austerity joining its ranks and getting organised. Syriza, as a coalition, is now attempting to broaden out to begin including social movements and organisations.

Tsipras has rightly called for the left to come together in a united front. This needs to be given a concrete organised expression through the convening of a national assembly of rank-and-file delegates from the left parties, trade unions, workplaces, universities, neighbourhoods, and community organisations.

Local assemblies of elected delegates from these same spheres should be urgently formed under the initiative of SYRIZA to prepare for the coming struggles and to ensure that a future left government carries out policies in the interests of working people.

The ruling class is beginning to feel threatened by the emerging challenge of Syriza and the left. There is the threat of a collapse in society if the left does not seize the moment. Government funds may even run out before the election on June 17.

Lessons from Chile
Although in a different era, there are some parallels between the situation in Greece today and the situation which developed in Chile between 1970 and 1973. There are also many parallels with developments taking place in Latin America today in countries like Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina.

In Chile in the period 1970-73 a massive polarisation developed in society. The right and the ruling class prepared their forces - they could not allow the impasse to continue.

The fascist organisation Patria y Liberdad marched, bombed, and attacked local activists and acted as a fascist auxiliary to the military which struck in a deadly coup on 11 September, 1973.

Golden Dawn, which praises the former Greek military dictatorship and Hitler, can act as a fascist auxiliary should the ruling class, or sections of them, conclude they have no alternative but to “restore order” from the chaos and social collapse which threatens Greek society through a military intervention. Although this is unlikely to be the first recourse of the ruling class, they could eventually move in this direction. If Golden Dawn’s support declines - as the polls indicate it will in this election - it would be positive, but it would not be the end of the threat posed by this fascist organisation.

The fascist leader of Golden Dawn, Nikolaos Michalokiakos, threatened those who have “betrayed their homeland”, saying: “[T]he time has come to fear. We are coming”. They cannot become a mass force in their own right, but like Patria y Liberdad they can become (and already are) a vicious organisation that can act as an auxiliary to attack minorities and the working class.

Golden Dawn is sending its “black shirt” thugs to attack immigrants who suffer daily beatings and threats from them. According to press reports in Gazi, Athens, they left leaflets outside gay bars warning they would be the next target and attacked gay people leaving the bars.

This poses the urgent necessity of forming local anti-fascist assemblies that should establish groups to defend all those threatened by fascist attack.

In the June 17 election, should Syriza emerge together with other left forces and win a parliamentary majority, a left government headed by Syriza and Alex Tsipas could rapidly be pushed towards the left under the pressure of the mass movement and depth of the crisis. This is also a fear of the ruling class. Such a development in Greece would also set an example in other countries, such as Spain and Portugal.

A government of this character could at some stage even include some features of the Allende government in Chile 1970-73 and also some features of the Chavez, Morales, and Kirchner governments in Venezuela, Bolivia, and Argentina. This could include taking measures that attack capitalist interests, including widespread nationalisations. While at this stage Syriza and Tsipras are not speaking of socialism as an alternative, this could change. In an interview published in the British daily paper The Guardian, he argued that it is “war between peoples and capitalism” (19/5/12). This represents a significant step forward but illustrates how he and the Syriza leadership could be pressured by the situation to go even further to the left. When first elected to power, Chávez in Venezuela did not make reference to socialism. Such a scenario in Greece is not at all certain but such developments could not be excluded at a certain stage. Particularly under the impact of the deepening crisis and class struggle, demands like nationalisation, workers’ control and management can be embraced by wide sections of the working class. This can push “left” governments to adopt such measures, at least partially. This was the experience of the first period of the PASOK government in 1981.

Should the pro-cuts parties be able to cobble together a coalition, on the basis of ND becoming the largest party and gaining the 50-seat bonus, then it would lack any credibility, authority, or stability. All such parties with such a low level of support forming such a government would effectively constitute a coup against the majority of the Greek people by minority pro-austerity parties. They would face intense anger and bitter struggles by the Greek working class. Such a government would face the huge anger of society and a ferocious struggle of the Greek workers to get rid of it, particularly as they will see the powerful possibility of a left government around Syriza, who would, under these conditions, be the main opposition force, deepening its presence and roots in society.

In this situation, Syriza should prepare a struggle against the government and the capitalist system. Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI, would propose that under these conditions the central slogan should be for a struggle to bring these institutions down through strikes, occupations, and mass protests.

The rapid growth of Syriza is an extremely positive development. However, the depth of the social and political crisis unfolding in Greece will put it to the test along with all political forces. If it does not develop a fully rounded-out programme, set of methods, and approach of struggle that can offer a way forward to the masses, then it can decline as rapidly as it has arisen. To assist those forces in and around Syriza in drawing the necessary political conclusions as to the tasks needed to take the struggle forward, the strengthening of the Marxist collaborators of Syriza in Xekinima is also an urgent necessity.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Is there justice now Abdelbaset al-Megrahi is dead or has an innocent man suffered for nothing?

Is a interesting question following the death of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi today who had lived on longer than many people had thought he might. But does this latest episode in the mystery behind the tragic bombing of that Pan-Am flight one christmas.

The death of the only man to have been convicted of the Lockerbie bombing – when Pan Am flight 103 was blown out of the sky over Scotland in the week before Christmas 1988, means it is less likely than ever that the full story behind the outrage will be told.
Abdelbaset al-Megrahi who died in Tripoli on Sunday, two years and nine months after his release from a Scottish jail, always protested his innocence.
The 60-year-old, whose imminent death had been predicted on several occasions since his return to Libya, had, according to US and UK authorities been a Libyan intelligence officer as well as head of security for Libyan Arab Airlines and director of the Centre for Strategic Studies in Tripoli.
In November 1991, he and Lamin Khalifa Fhimah were indicted in the US and Scotland for the bombing which killed 259 passengers and crew on the Pan Am jet and 11 people on the ground. Libya refused to extradite them, though they were kept under arrest in Tripoli.
However, eight years later they were handed over after complex negotiations that led to their being prosecuted under Scottish law, at a court with three judges but no jury, in the Netherlands. In January 2001, Megrahi was convicted of 270 murders and jailed for life. Fhimah was acquitted.
The Libyan government paid $2.7bn (£1.7bn) in compensation and accepted responsibility for the actions of its officials while not admitting direct responsibility for the bombing. Megrahi was jailed first at Barlinnie, in Glasgow, and later at Greenock. His wife and children moved to Scotland too.
Years of legal wrangling followed, with an appeal rejected in 2002, and a £1.1m investigation by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC) that found there were six grounds where a miscarriage of justice may have occurred.
A full appeal got under way in April 2009. But it was dropped suddenly the following August, two days before Megrahi was put aboard a plane to Tripoli. Climbing aboard the plane, he wore a white shell-suit to hide body armour. He had been transferred from prison in a bombproof vehicle accompanied by security officers, also wearing body armour and drawing enhanced danger pay.
International furore erupted over the release, with allegations it had been sanctioned by the UK government in order to secure more business and oil deals with the Gaddafi regime. Gordon Brown's administration was forced to admit it had known in advance of the release but that it had been a matter for the Scottish justice system. Nonetheless, David Miliband, then foreign secretary, made no apology for protecting business links with Libya. "With the largest proven oil reserves in Africa and extensive gas reserves, Libya is potentially a major energy source in the future", he told MPs at Westminster. David Cameron always said that Megrahi should have died in jail.
Even as the Gadaffis faced overthrow last year, state TV showed Megrahi at a rally in support of the threatened rulers. But when rebel forces took control of Tripoli and discovered Megrahi apparently close to death, the national transitional council said he would not be returned to Britain.
Late last year, the new Tripoli government gave Britain some encouragement to mount fresh investigations, both into Lockerbie and the shooting of PC Yvonne Fletcher in London in 1984.
Megrahi's family insisted he was too ill to be seen by British officials and in March this year Libyan officials appeared to rule out the possibility of UK detectives travelling to Libya to conduct new inquiries for the foreseeable future.
However, Frank Mulholland, the Lord Advocate and Scotland's chief law officer, recently visited Tripoli with the FBI chief Robert Mueller to kickstart talks about getting access to records from Gaddafi's regime and potential suspects, believed to include the former Libyan head of intelligence Abdullah al-Senussi.
While many relatives of Lockerbie victims remain convinced of Megrahi's guilt, there are some, particularly in Britain, who believe he is innocent.

The UK and US authorities have repeatedly brushed off claims by campaigners that the bomb was planted by Syrian agents and Palestinian terrorists in revenge for the attack on an Iranian passenger airliner by a US warship.
The Scottish first minister Alex Salmond said: "The Lockerbie case remains a live investigation, and Scotland's criminal justice authorities have made clear that they will rigorously pursue any new lines of inquiry. "
Jim Swire, whose daughter was a passenger on Pan Am 103 told Sky News: "It's a very sad event. Right up to the end he was determined – for his family's sake, he knew it was too late for him, but for his family's sake – how the verdict against him should be overturned.
"And also he wanted that for the sake of those relatives who had come to the conclusion after studying the evidence that he wasn't guilty, and I think that's going to happen."

Will we ever know the truth I wonder? Did an innocent man go to prison or was he part of a bigger cover up. I don’t know but whatever happened many innocent people lost their lives in the process which is unforgivable. Someone was behind it and I hope there I justice one day for the families of lost loved ones.

With extracts from the Guardians piece on the same story.

What is Bourgeois democracy?

The term bourgeois democracy is often put about as describing life under capitalism and how life is for the masses of ordinary people. This blogpost will attempt to describe what democracy is like under capitalism and the limits of democracy under this current system.

Bourgeois democracy essentially is A government that serves in the interests of the bourgeois class. The word Democratic is attached to such a government, because in it all people in such a society have certain freedoms: those who own the means of production , the bourgeoisie, are free to buy and sell labor-power and what is produced by it solely for their own benefit. Those who own only their own ability to labor , the proletariat, are free to sell themselves to any bourgeois who will buy their labor power, for the benefit of maintaining their own survival, and giving greater strength and power to the bourgeoisie.
The state fundamentally represents the interests of one class over others. On this basis Lenin named bourgeois democracy bourgeois dictatorship. On the same token, Lenin made no distinction that the socialist state, being a state that represents the working-class, is a dictatorship of the proletariat.
In no civilized capitalist country does "democracy in general" exist; all that exists is bourgeois democracy, and it is not a question of "dictatorship in general", but of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, i.e., the proletariat, over its oppressors and exploiters, i.e., the bourgeoisie, in order to overcome the resistance offered by the exploiters in their fight to maintain their domination.
Vladimir Lenin
First Congress of the Communist International
In capitalist society, providing it develops under the most favourable conditions, we have a more or less complete democracy in the democratic republic. But this democracy is always hemmed in by the narrow limits set by capitalist exploitation, and consequently always remains, in effect, a democracy for the minority, only for the propertied classes, only for the rich. Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in the ancient Greek republics: freedom for the slave-owners. Owing to the conditions of capitalist exploitation, the modern wage slaves are so crushed by want and poverty that "they cannot be bothered with democracy", "cannot be bothered with politics"; in the ordinary, peaceful course of events, the majority of the population is debarred from participation in public and political life.
Democracy for an insignificant minority, democracy for the rich - that is the democracy of capitalist society. If we look more closely into the machinery of capitalist democracy, we see everywhere, in the "petty" - supposedly petty - details of the suffrage (residential qualifications, exclusion of women, etc.), in the technique of the representative institutions, in the actual obstacles to the right of assembly (public buildings are not for "paupers"!), in the purely capitalist organization of the daily press, etc., etc., - we see restriction after restriction upon democracy. These restrictions, exceptions, exclusions, obstacles for the poor seem slight, especially in the eyes of one who has never known want himself and has never been inclose contact with the oppressed classes in their mass life (and nine out of 10, if not 99 out of 100, bourgeois publicists and politicians come under this category); but in their sum total these restrictions exclude and squeeze out the poor from politics, from active participation in democracy.
When the term democracy is used today we tend to think of using our vote every 5 years to elect a new government to attack us each time. It’s that thought that democracy is tied up in that tiny voting slip you have when you enter the ballot box. Many people consider democracy simply that. But for socialists we see democracy a far wider term with the access to society being just one part. Having democracy over the economic and social situation is key to a truly democratic society. Socialism would truly be democratic and the illusion of what excuse for democracy we have today would be shattered.

I think as capitalism comes under further pressure from its internal contradictions which are bound up within the system the grip on democracy becomes tighter and is limited to the mass’s unless democracy is used too much to affect change which could put the system into danger. Democracy is something which can be picked up and retracted if the ruling class in a given country feel threatened. Such as when a fascist regime is ushered in to protect the bourgeois society from revolution. The idea of democracy is certainly I will return to in the future when it comes to changing society to benefit the many not just the few.

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Coping with a disability and busting the myths

As people may or may not know I am registered as disabled being registered as blind. I have less than 30% vision I lost my central vision due to a rare genetic disease back in 2004. Life isn’t easy for me I’ll admit that. I make the best of a situation and do as much as I possibly can. Hearing the constant news of benefit scroungers and benefit fraud it worries me deeply that I’ll be next to see my benefits cut or ended. Ok I do work part time as there isn’t any more work I could do where I am at I would love to work full time but there simply isn’t the work for me as yet.

I decided to join the socialist party as I firmly believe they have the best ideas and the best strategy to creating a better fairer society for tee many not just the few. Other political parties talk a good game but no one puts their words and theories into action quite like the socialist party they do as they say and I’m glad to be apart of them.

But this government wish to make us disabled people including myself who are blind to pay for a crisis caused by the rich reckless bankers who gambled huge amounts of money more than you or I could ever possibly imagine and lost. We as ordinary working class people and the middle class lets not forget have to pay for their mistakes in the way of austerity measures.

I get by on little money any money I do get be that in a wage from work or benefits from the government are mostly given to my mum who I still live with due to the fact there is little chance of me moving out anytime soon as the lack of affordable housing out there in my area. I do not live the high life and I certainly don’t have it easy. The Tories and new labour before them have constantly attacked disabled people using various different terms such as scroungers, festering, work shy, drain on society, cost we cannot afford and the media have brought into this echoing these attacks in the daily press. Many people who read these papers and subscribe to such media take this in as gospel but I would like to shatter these illusions if I can and tell it how it is for me being disabled and a benefit claimer.

Sheffield socialist party have produced this myth buster which I hope they don’t mind me sharing with you all its fantastic. If this piece made it into the mass media or a opposition used this to defeat the lies we could really get somewhere as it is Labour buy into the scroungers idea too unfortunately something we must fight against too as they are no better.

The welfare state has led to a 'something for nothing' culture? IT'S A LIE. There are over 8 million people receiving benefits in this country. There are more people IN WORK who get benefits than not working. 90% of all housing benefit claimants are IN WORK. The Welfare state is actually a massive state subsidy to business which enables it to pay poverty wages and charge exorbitant rents.

You're all sick of paying a huge swathe of chavs to lay about watching Jeremy Kyle all day?
IT'S A LIE. Less than 5,000 people, out of a population of 60 million, have been on Job Seekers Allowance for more than 5 years. Historically, whenever jobs get created, they always get filled. The idea that there is a vast horde of the work-shy is a myth.
Living on benefits is a lifestyle choice?
More than 80% of benefit claimants are aged over 35. The vast majority of unemployed claimants have worked, and paid taxes, for years and are now on benefits due to redundancy, sickness, disability or having to care for someone. Millions more are receiving benefits due to poverty wages.
People won't work because benefits are too high?
IT'S A LIE. Average benefits amount to £3,400 a year. These people are living in poverty. Since 1997, due to various Government actions, the value of benefits has fallen sharply year on year in real terms. People on benefits are far worse off now than in the last 30 years.

People should get off their arses and look for work?
IT'S A LIE. When Iain Duncan Smith suggested the jobless in Merthyr Tydfil should get on a bus to Cardiff to find work, Merthyr had 43 people for every job vacancy. Problem was, Cardiff already had nine unemployed people for every job vacancy. The jobs just don't exist. In 2010, there was 1 million more unemployed than there were job vacancies.

Benefit cheats are bankrupting the country?
IT'S A LIE. Benefit fraud does amount to about £1.5 billion a year. However, £16 billion goes UNCLAIMED every year. Meanwhile, the amount of tax lost through avoidance and evasion is a whopping £120 billion a year. ( And don't give me the crap about avoidance being legal, the truth is, it shouldn't be. Not one of the major parties will openly state the real truth. The biggest causes of poverty in this country are lack of jobs, poverty wages and part time work. All the parties have social policies that they KNOW are based upon outright lies, lies that are allowing a whole section of society to be vilified as heartless people cast around to find a victim upon which to blame all this countries woes

The money is out there for us all to live comfortably I say lets tax the rich and bring their wealth into public ownership to benefit the many not just the few.
With thanks to Sheffield socialist party for the exert on myth busting benefits.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

The nothing for something culture

We are constantly told of the something for nothing culture which apparently infests our country with many people scrounging benefits and feeling a sense of entitlement. This is completely untrue of course and is a rhetoric driven by the ruling class with the capitalist controlled media aiding their assault on disabled people as one section of the society feeling the attacks hardest.

But I thought I’d twist this on its head and re name it the nothing for something culture where we are being asked to work for nothing in workfare schemes where big companies get cheap labour well for nothing.

The government of millionaires are quite happy for this society to carry on as many of them have financial benefits with such companies involved in the workfare scheme. Workfare is meant to help people find work but ultimately it is unpaid labour where the workers only get their benefits and if they refuse they may not even get that.

The battle to defeat workfare hasn’t gone away and a concerted effort to highlight the programme and how we can create real jobs with real wages needs to be addressed.

Many will ask so you oppose workfare so what is your alternative?

Well how about using some of that 750 billion big business is sitting on either tax it or say we’d nationalise them to run for need not profit providing socially useful jobs perhaps in the construction industry for a start. Rolling out a mass affordable house building project.

Other areas could be investing in our railways, a fully nationalised railway and public transport system run for the need of people not just the profits of a few fat cats at the tops of these private organisations.

The nothing for something culture has to end with the bankers laughing all the way to the bank with their bonus’s all be them not as large as before we do need to get organised to change society to benefit everybody on this planet.

Disabled people this week have been attacked in the news this week with the news that Iain Duncan Smith the work and pensions secretary for the government declaring half a million S DLA claimants are to be re assessed and those in least need will be losing their disability benefits. Even amputees who have lost limbs in illegal wars could see their benefits cut or removed entirely. Only the most genuine cases will be granted support and this will be constantly monitored I don’t imagine any life time indefinite claims will be granted. Forcing more disabled people into misery and poverty I wouldn’t be surprised if many feel it is too much to carry on with the cost of living and the challenges they already face feeling far too great. Life is a struggle to many disabled people myself included as a blind man we are not a drain on society and certainly don’t fester on long term benefits. I work two days a week on part time employment but I still don’t earn much but I try my best. IDS want us all to work harder and get less as a result. Its time this government was gone in my view.

How the financial crash of 2008 unfolded

The neo-liberal capitalist model which was embraced and glorified by the bourgeoisie and their supporters in parliaments and the capitalist media over the last twenty years in 2008 spectacularly collapsed. The very idea that governments should intervene to regulate, let alone nationalise, banks, financial institutions and industry was up to now ridiculed as being outdated, primitive and discredited.
After the collapse of the Stalinist dictatorships in Russia and Eastern Europe, one of the most outspoken exponents of neo-liberalism, Francis Fukuyama, argued that the progression of human history as a struggle between ideologies had come to an end. His conclusion, that the fall of Stalinism represented the end of history and that liberal "free" market economics was the final stage of economic evolution, was accepted by the political establishment across the world, including the tops of the former workers' parties, such as the Labour Party in Britain and Australia, and the Social Democrats in Germany. The propaganda which followed was used to attack genuine socialist ideas and used ideologically to justify to workers that neo-liberal policies of privatisation, de-regulation, and attacks on workers and public services were needed. Even the majority of trade union leaders went along with these reactionary ideas.
This opened the way for a massive offensive against workers internationally. Intensification of exploitation of workers, shifting production and industry from the advanced capitalist countries to low wage economies and removing barriers to exploit foreign markets, led to a huge shift in wealth from workers to the super-rich.

The ideological impact of the current collapse of the global financial sector and the expected world recession is only beginning to be felt. However, it is already leading to a questioning of capitalism and a revival in socialist ideas, including from some surprising quarters. Even the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams has had to admit that Karl Marx, the founder of modern socialism was correct in his analysis of capitalism. Writing in the British right-wing journal, The Spectator, he says "Marx long ago observed the way in which unbridled capitalism became a kind of mythology, ascribing reality, power and agency to things that had no life in themselves; he was right about that, if about little else."
He was joined by the Archbishop of York, Dr. John Sentamu, who labeled those involved in "short-selling" as "bank robbers and asset strippers". It must have slipped the archbishop's mind that the Church of England itself was profiteering from their £5 billion investment portfolio though!
Even in the belly of the beast of US imperialism, socialism is once again being discussed, albeit by figures such as rightwing Republican Congressman Jeb Hensarling who voted against the original bail-out package claiming it would put the nation on "the slippery slope to socialism". It is a bitter pill to swallow for the neo-conservatives who have worshiped at the altar of the free market for so long. Announcing the $250 billion part nationalisation of the US banking sector, Bush was at pains to explain it was "not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it." US Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson added "We regret having to take these actions. Today's actions are not what we ever wanted to do – but today's actions are what we must do to restore confidence to our financial system" and "Government owning a stake in any private US company is objectionable to most Americans — me included, yet the alternative of leaving businesses and consumers without access to financing is totally unacceptable." The howls of horror at "socialist" measures from the Hensarlings of the world are therefore unfounded. The moves to nationalise and part-nationalise the banks are not socialist, but a desperate attempt to save the system. It was necessary for the capitalist state to intervene to shore up capitalism and avoid a complete collapse of the economy, leading to a 1930s-type depression. This however does not mean they will be succeed in avoiding such a devastating slump.

Socialists do not support the bailing out of the banks. It does not represent genuine nationalisation as socialists stand for. It is a case of "socialism for the rich", where the risks and debt are socialised, but the profits and assets are privatised. These steps are also designed to be temporary. As soon as conditions permit, it is intended to hand back these financial institutions to the private sector. But the depth of the crisis means the state may be left with no choice in propping up the banks for far longer than expected. Even if they are forced to keep the banks partly or wholly in public hands for an extended period, they will continue to be run in the interests of the rich as they always have been. They will be not be used to maximise returns for the working class.
While different governments may bring their own representatives on to the executive boards of the banks, this will be to assist the transition back to private ownership and to steer the banking system towards boosting the profitability of big business. The financial wizards or "masters of the universe", who appeared to magically accumulate huge sums of money apparently from thin air will continue to live in luxury. Working class people (the actual creators of wealth) will be told they must pay the price.
A socialist government would bring all the banks and financial institutions fully into public ownership and co-ordinate a central plan to provide cheap credit and zero-interest loans to people struggling to buy a home. Any compensation would only be paid to individuals on the basis of proven need. Instead of the banks being run by completely unaccountable wealthy bankers, enriching themselves with huge bonuses and salaries, a socialist banking system would be run democratically by elected committees representing bank workers, trade unions, customers and government representatives, all living on a workers' wage and subject to recall.
This does not mean disposing of every economist and financial specialist. Their talents and expertise would be used to provide a banking service for the needs of all. The motivation to make as much profit as quickly as possible, regardless of the consequences, would be removed. Instead of paying dividends to private shareholders, revenue from a socialist banking system would be used to invest in quality public services to cater for people's needs.

As a result of the mass impoverishment and horrific conditions which neo-liberalism created in many countries, mass movements have developed against the excesses of capitalism. Across Latin America, movements of workers, youth and indigenous peoples have shaken the continent and the corrupt political elites who had opened the door for major multi-nationals to take over public services and rob countries of natural resources and wealth.
Companies such as Bechtel Corporation were allowed to take over the water service in Bolivia, leading to massive hikes in water charges. Hundreds of thousands of Bolivians were left with no water supply. A massive movement developed from below which eventually forced the Bolivian political elite to re-nationalise the water service.
However, even though there is mass support from the populations of these countries for the nationalisation of the major sectors of the economy, these regimes have refused to take such steps. They are still trapped in the belief that there is no alternative to capitalism. They wish to make compromises with their national capitalist class in the vain hope that they will accept reforms which benefit the working class and poor.
However, capitalism will do everything in its power to protect their profits and power. Any attempts to give a bigger slice of the cake to workers will be met with fierce opposition by big business, who will move to remove these regimes from power. Such measures have already been attempted in Venezuela. The right-wing has repeatedly tried to overthrow the government of Hugo Chavez in different ways, from attempted military coups to bosses' lock-outs and food shortages. In Bolivia, the right-wing with the involvement and support of US imperialism is attempting to split the country, threatening to drag it into civil war, in order to keep ownership of the country's valuable energy resources and topple Evo Morales from power.
In order to prevent such a scenario, it is urgent that the working class develop its own independent organisations which fight for the overthrow of capitalism and for the establishment of a workers' government which takes the commanding heights of the economy out of the hands of the multi-nationals and the super-rich minority and runs it democratically for the benefit of all. Such a step would receive huge support from workers and the poor across Latin America and the world. It is important for socialists to study developments in Latin America as the revolutionary processes underway on that continent are not down to people in Latin America having some exclusive socialist gene. The crisis which capitalism has caused in Latin America is now spreading worldwide and will result in a similar revolutionary process in the rest of the world.

The fact that capitalism has been forced to use the state to intervene into the finance sector and nationalise banks is a living example of the inability of private ownership and the market to develop an economy which can cater for people's needs. This is not exclusive to the finance sector. The same straitjacket of the market applies to all industry and every aspect of the capitalist economy.
The scandal of starvation and malnutrition across the world is another illustration of the inability of the profit-driven market to cater for the needs of all. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, more than 25,000 people died of starvation every day in 2003. As a result of the panic on stock markets, speculation on crops and foods saw an explosion in food prices. Between 2006 and 2008, the average global price for rice rose by 217%, wheat by 136%, maize by 125% and soybeans by 107%. For people living in the neo-colonial world, the increases were far higher. The numbers dying of starvation today are without doubt higher than 2003. Capitalist governments continue to ignore this reality. While trillions of dollars are being handed to the rich across the world in the form of "rescue packages" and bail-outs, the amount invested to prevent mass starvation is miniscule in comparison. The budget of the UN World Food Programme in 2008 was $2.9billion, a drop in the ocean! There is more than enough resources in the world to provide every single person with a decent standard of living. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, more than $1204 billion was spent on arms in 2006 alone. The problem is this wealth is concentrated in the hands of a tiny elite. The top 500 multinationals in the world account for 70% of world trade. These giant companies, which dominate the lives of billions, should be taken into public ownership and run democratically as part of an international plan to raise people out of poverty.
This would also enable all the talents of individuals to flourish and be put to use for socially productive causes, based on co-operation, not the laws of the capitalist jungle, where greed is promoted above solidarity. Planning is essential within the structure of any business. In every factory, production is fine-tuned and run according to a plan. But in the capitalist market, where there is no planning, chaos reigns. A socialist plan of production would be far more efficient in delivering goods and services, allowing people to work fewer hours and able to freely participate fully in the running of society.

It is widely acknowledged that there is no national solution to the world economic crisis. Yet each country has moved to defend the interests of its own ruling class before thinking about the "greater good" of the world economy. The decision of the Irish government to guarantee the savings of accounts in Irish banks led to panic as banks across Europe feared people would abandon their bank and open accounts in Irish banks. Soon other countries in the EU were forced to take similar measures. This episode of disunity is a warning of the coming major problems which will threaten the very institutions of the EU itself which we are now starting to see in Greecefor example. This crisis of global capitalism will also seriously test the euro. Some countries may be forced to break from the currency. The very existence of the euro altogether has been put into question as the different economic and political interests of each country run into conflict with each other.
While capitalism has internationalised trade, most companies still base themselves in a home country. In this respect, capitalism has proved incapable of moving beyond the confines of the nation state. Globally, tensions between countries, especially between US imperialism and the emerging super-powers of China and Russia, will lead to global instability and even the outbreak of regional wars, which can dwarf recent conflicts like that between Russia and Georgia.
Again, it will be working class people and the poor of all countries who will be made to pay. As more workers and youth in the US are discovering, the imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are not in their interests. They are being fought, ultimately, to defend the interests of US big business. Due to capitalist globalisation, the struggles of workers will tend to have a greater international aspect than ever before. The traditions of international solidarity, such as seen in the massive movement against the war on Iraq, will re-emerge in the struggles of workers, demonstrating the potential for a socialist world.
Writing in their joint work, The German Ideology, Marx and Engels stressed how the struggle for socialism has to be international, explaining "everyone will be freed from … particular local and national limitations, brought into a practical relationship with the products (including intellectual products) of the whole world, and enabled to gain the capacity to delight in all the fruits of world-wide human creativity."

The opportunities for building a mass socialist movement internationally will open up in the coming period. Capitalism will never collapse out of existence. After the 1929 Wall St. crash, economies collapsed but capitalism survived, resulting in the horror of the second World War. Throughout the 21st century in dozens of countries, there were many times when the working class was within a hair's breadth of taking power and transforming society along socialist lines. Tragically, despite great sacrifice and heroism, those opportunities were missed because of the betrayal of the leaders of the workers' movement. What was missing was a mass revolutionary party, soaked in a Marxist understanding and method and rooted in the working class, which could have provided essential leadership in the struggle for socialism. Today, capitalism promises only economic hardship, war and untold damage to our environment. The need to build a socialist alternative has never been greater.