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24/03/2017: Unite against terror, racism and war

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Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

22/03/2017: Class struggle can build real left force

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Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

21/03/2017: Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

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Second referendum on independence?

18/03/2017: SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

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Brazil
National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten

17/03/2017: For a one-day general strike as the next step

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South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

17/03/2017: Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

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Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

16/03/2017: Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

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Yemen
Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies

16/03/2017: International campaign needed to force companies to pay

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Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

14/03/2017: Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

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Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

14/03/2017: Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

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Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

13/03/2017: Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

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 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

12/03/2017: Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

10/03/2017: Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

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 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

09/03/2017: International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

  Women

 Spain
Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike

08/03/2017: ‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

08/03/2017: Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

  Pakistan

 International Women’s Day 2017
A century on from the Russian Revolution

06/03/2017: Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

  Women

Britain
Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won

06/03/2017: Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

04/03/2017: Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

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Hong Kong’s sham election

03/03/2017: Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

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US
Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress

02/03/2017: Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

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Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017: What is behind Trump's attack?

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Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

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Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

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February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

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 Yemen
International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

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Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

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Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

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Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

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South Africa

Powerful general strike against bosses

www.socialistworld.net, 28/06/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Militant action needed to stop "jobs holocaust"

Weizmann Hamilton, Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI), Johannesburg

In a magnificent show of force, 100, 000 workers brought central Johannesburg to a complete standstill, on Monday 27 June, in answer to the Congress of South African Trade Unions’ (Cosatu) general strike call. In Cape Town, the square where workers traditionally gather for protests and rallies could not contain the estimated 60,000 workers who turned out. Thirty thousand workers demonstrated in the small town of Klerksdorp. Cosatu estimates that 2 million workers went on strike, with 500,000 demonstrators marching in 20 town and cities across the country.

The capitalist class, the press and the media, including the South African Broadcasting Corporation television service - now increasingly acting openly as a propaganda channel of the African National Congress (ANC) government - hoped for a repeat of the poor turnout during the last general strike (against privatisation) in 2002. But they were rocked back on their heels by a solid demonstration of working class power and solidarity.

An unusual feature of the strike was the participation of the mine workers, who in the past have participated minimally in general strike action. This time, the mining industry was crippled, along with the clothing, textile and automotive and engineering sectors, whose workers are engaged in wage negotiations that may lead to strike action.

The general strike was called in protest at what the commercial television station E-TV described as a "jobs holocaust". Rising joblessness has now reached crisis levels. Over the last decade, 153,000 jobs have been lost in the mining industry, 195 000 in agriculture and 100,000 in clothing and textiles. The textile industry, "according to Cosatu, lost 17 000 jobs in the past year alone" (Mail and Guardian 24-30 June 2005). Thousands more face job losses in mining and manufacturing, as bosses force workers to pay the price for lower profits which they blame on the strength of the currency, the Rand. Production in the mining industry has plunged to the lowest levels since 1931. A quarter of the country’s manufacturing capacity has been shut down.

Deepening poverty

The increased job losses are deepening the poverty of most of the working class. Unemployment stands at between 6 and 8 million. The South African Reserve Bank puts the unemployed at 46.6% for males and 53.4% for females. An incredible 43% have been unemployed for over three years. As Cosatu General Secretary, Zwelinzima Vavi, points out: "For every worker who loses his or her job, five to ten people suffer impoverishment and hunger. Mass unemployment means our communities are being torn apart by joblessness, poverty and despair" (Mail and Guardian, 24-30/06/05).

Seventy nine per cent rely on other persons for income support, including child support, disability grants and old age pensions. Such is the level of desperation that people are reported to be falsifying their HIV/Aids status by borrowing positive tests in the hope of qualifying for disability grants.

Capitalist commentators have been preoccupied with the so-called successes in the government’s economic policies. The institutions of world capitalism, the IMF, World Bank and the WTO, as well as the G8, are all very impressed with the way in which the SA economy is managed. Interest rates are the lowest in decades, inflation has been within the target range for twenty months, the budget deficit has been reduced, exchange controls have been all but dismantled, tariffs have been abolished and big business has been granted tax breaks amounting to a staggering R74 billion, over the past decade. The currency, the Rand, has recovered from around R14 to the US dollar, four years ago, to more then doubling to the current trading value of around R6.80.

With property prices skyrocketing, vehicle sales setting new records and the retail sector struggling to cope with demand for electronic goods, the economy is said to be booming. Growth is forecast to increase to an average of 4.3 %, this year, up from 3.7% in 2004. Business confidence shows continual increases and Moodys has become the second international agency to upgrade SA’s investment rating. Some economists are even predicting growth will reach 6% -- the rate at which it is claimed unemployment can be stabilised by absorbing to 400,000 who join the labour market every year.

But the "success" has been achieved through a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich. This boom is completely bypassing the working class. It is as if the rich inhabit a different country. While over half of South Africa’s 46 million people lack the basic necessities of life, "business has never had it so good", as economist, Iraj Abadian put it. The latest survey on directors’ fees, conducted by the Labour Research Service, reveals that the average fee earned by executive directors, excluding gains from share options, increased from an average of R2.6 million in 2003 to R3.7 million, last year. This amounts to a 38 percent increase. In 2003, it took a worker earning the average minimum wage 111 years to earn what the average director earns in one year. With the huge increase in executive directors’ fees last year, it takes that same worker 150 years to earn the average annual fee of a director.

As the June edition of Cosatu’s, The Shop Steward, points out: "The share of workers earning under R1,000 a month has remained virtually constant even in the formal sector, at about 25%, that is … one worker in four earns under R1,000 a month. Even in the unions, half of our members get less than (the University of SA’s poverty datum line) R2,500 a month. Low pay is reflected in the declining share of wages and salaries in the national income. In 1994, workers got 51% of the national income; in 2004, their share had fallen to 46%."

The government’s neo-liberal policy, Gear, (Growth, Employment and Redistribution), has wreaked havoc on the living standards of the working class. Privatisation, commercialisation, casualisation, limits on public spending in health, education, housing, the deliberate sabotage of the Supreme Court order roll out of anti-retrovirals to treat HIV/Aids, the imposition of cost recovery for the delivery of basic services and rampant corruption, have provided the combustible material for the explosion of social unrest that has begun.

The government and the bosses had begun to believe that they had broken the back of working class resistance after the failure of the October 2002 general strike and the subsequent decline in the level of strikes. But at a subterranean level, working class anger has mounted. Since September last year, protests against the lack of service delivery have broken out. Beginning in the Free State province, in what the Sunday Independent described as the "November insurrection", these protests have now spread throughout the country, affecting 6 out of the 9 provinces. Township residents, emulating the methods of struggle of the 1980s, have blockaded highways with burning rubber tyres and emptied sanitation buckets on the lawns of council offices and the lawns of corrupt councillors. Student protests against unaffordable tuition fees, and financial exclusion from tertiary education institutions, are now becoming an annual event.

Tensions in the ANC

This week’s general strike occurred against the background of the outbreak of a virtual civil war in the African National Congress [ANC - the ruling party], following President Mbeki’s dismissal of the Deputy President Jacob Zuma, and his indictment under corruption charges. In Kwa Zulu Natal, 16 June commemorations of the Soweto Uprising [mass protests in 1976 against the former racist Apartheid state, initiated by Black youth in the townships, which were brutally attacked by the regime] were used to express opposition to Mbeki and to support Zuma. Mbeki’s ally, Premier S’bu Ndebele, was forced to leave the stadium under a hail of missiles. Similar scenes were witnessed in the province of Mpumalanga. At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Freedom Charter, in Kliptown, Soweto, the day before the general strike, the loudest applause was reserved for Zuma, while Mbeki had to put up with heckling and booing during his speech.

Despite the Cosatu and South African Communist Party leaderships rallying behind Zuma, these protests were much more an expression of opposition to Mbeki than support for Zuma. The Johannesburg march resounded with slogans and struggle songs, such as "Zuma for president", led by the leadership.

Regrettably, the opportunist position adopted by the Cosatu leadership on Zuma, was supplemented by reformist demands for the devaluation of the Rand, a "buy South Africa campaign" to compel clothing retailers to source 75 % of their products from SA suppliers, and the imposition of tariffs on cheap textile and clothing imports from China. The Cape Town march stopped outside several retail outlets and bosses were called out to sign a pledge to buy 75% of their products from local sources. Of course, the bosses have dismissed these demands, and so has the government in relation to the currency.

The Cosatu leadership was also at pains to insist that the strike was against the private sector and not the ANC. Yet, the date was brought forward to precede the ANC’s National General Council (the highest decision-making body between its 5-yearly conferences), which will be considering proposals to introduce a flexible labour market, by formalising separate conditions and wages for different groups of workers on 30 June. The proposals include removing the protection from unfair dismissal for all young workers starting work for the first time and for workers in companies employing less than 200. Proposals also include reviewing the automatic extension of collective agreements to all companies in a sector, even if they are not members of the bargaining council.

The adoption of the LRA was a step forward and still offers some limited rights. But only 30% of workers are covered by bargaining council agreements. Even then, 80% of all applications for exemption from collective agreements are granted. So, there is already a de facto two-tier labour market. Given that 90% of workers are employed in companies with 200 or less workers, the proposals in the ANC’s discussion document amount to an attempt to smash the LRA. They will destroy even these limited gains and return conditions to those that prevailed under Apartheid. The Financial Mail headlined their analysis of the ANC’s discussion document with the words: "The unsayable has been said". The right-wing white Democratic Alliance has pledged its full support for the proposals. A South African Chamber of Business spokesperson argued yesterday that SA should follow the US example, whose economic success he attributes to the power of the bosses to tell workers "You are fired!"

Yet, while chanting slogans in support of socialism, the government’s neo-liberal Gear policy was mentioned only once. In spite of the opportunity provided by the Freedom Charter celebrations, not one leader mentioned nationalisation - the heart of the charter.

Reformist policies

It is clear, however, that the leadership has no intention of raising these issues. In every decisive confrontation with the government - over privatisation, Gear, public sector pay and Zimbabwe, the Cosatu leadership has capitulated. It is this cowardice that has emboldened the bosses and the government. Many workers believe this paralysis is caused by the fact that many of Cosatu’s leaders are using their time in the unions as an apprenticeship for senior positions in government and in the corporate world. This is linked to, and rooted in, the ideological degeneration of the Cosatu leadership. They have lost all confidence in socialism and have been absorbed into the state apparatus. The SACP has only served to reinforce their reformism.

The Sunday Times urged Mbeki to face down this tide of populism. Mbeki, his authority now openly challenged, is determined to oblige. His appointment of the new Deputy President, Phumzile-Mlambo Ngcuka, the wife of the former head of the National Prosecuting Authority, who is widely held responsible by Zuma’s supporters for his dismissal, will only inflame tensions in the ANC. Phumzile-Mlambo Ngcuka was embroiled in the so-called ‘Oilgate scandal’. This concerned payments to her brother by a company in the oil business. The new Deputy President indicated that she is cast in the Mbeki mould when she threatened to introduce legislation to criminalise "spreading alarm" following revelations by Earthlife Africa of radioactivity in the land around the Pelindaba nuclear power plant while she was Minister of Minerals and Energy.

The general strike is the first move to kick-start Cosatu’s rolling campaign of mass action, which will entail monthly protests until February, next year. The divisions in the ANC, and between it and the Tripartite Alliance in the South African Communist Party (SACP), will become unbridgeable. Just as the SACP leadership was unable to suppress the demands of the Young Communist League for a special congress to debate the SACP standing separately in the end-of-year local government elections, the Cosatu leadership will ultimately be compelled to confront the question of a split in the Alliance.

The Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM - CWI in South Africa), will campaign for the rank-and-file to organise to take Cosatu out of the Tripartite Alliance and to prepare for the establishment of a mass workers’ party, on a socialist programme.



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NEWS

Britain: Terror attack at Westminster
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Unite against terror, racism and war

Belarus: Protesters flood onto streets demanding scrapping of “law against parasites”
21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

Spain: Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March
21/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), Spanish Students' Union :
Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

Scotland: Second referendum on independence?
18/03/2017, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
17/03/2017, Shaun Arendse, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI South Africa):
Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

Netherlands: Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government
16/03/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

Russian Revolution: March 1917 - After the fall of Czarism, what next for the revolution?
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
New article on 1917revolution.org

Hong Kong: Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman
14/03/2017, Sally Tang Mei-ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

Quebec: Counter protest against far-right
13/03/2017, Michele Hehn, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) :
Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

International Women's Day: Speech by Kshama Sawant
12/03/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

International Women’s Day: Millions join marches and take action
10/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

Hong Kong: Women’s march against sexism and racism
09/03/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
08/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes, students’ union in the Spanish state :
‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

Pakistan: Political spectacle of the ruling class
08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
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Britain: Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won
06/03/2017, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary :
Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

Egypt: Price hikes hit workers and middle classes
04/03/2017, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) :
Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

Hong Kong’s sham election
03/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action:
Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

US: Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress
02/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

Catalonia: Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees
25/02/2017, Esquerra Revolucionària :
'Volem acollir'

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
What is behind Trump's attack?

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

Ireland: A web of intrigue sparks government crisis
22/02/2017, By Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Italy: Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis
22/03/2017, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrrente, (CWI in Italy) :
Class struggle can build real left force

Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten


17/03/2017, André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) :
For a one-day general strike as the next step

Yemen: Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies
16/03/2017, Cedric Gerome, CWI :
International campaign needed to force companies to pay

Ireland North: Snap election raises sectarian temperature    
14/03/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
06/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November