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Kurdistan
Democratic autonomy or socialism?

29/08/2015: Articles on Öcalan’s ideas and Rojava, originally published in sozialismus.info, the quaterly magazine of SAV (German section of the CWI)

  Kurdistan, Syria, Turkey

Greece
What does “Popular Unity” stand for?

28/08/2015: New Left force launched following Tsipras’ betrayal

  Greece

Sri Lanka
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27/08/2015: Working class struggle top priority for socialists

  Sri Lanka

Britain
The Corbyn insurgency

27/08/2015: Whatever the outcome of the contest, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has already transformed the political situation in Britain

  Britain

Lebanon
‘Garbage protests’ shake the ruling class

25/08/2015: Interview with Tamer Mahdi, CWI member in Lebanon

  Lebanon

World economy
China crisis triggers panic on global markets

25/08/2015: More than $5 trillion wiped off global stock markets in two weeks since Chinese devaluation

  China, World Economy

Sri Lanka
Election sees Rajapaksa fail to make a come-back

23/08/2015: Neo-liberal policies of UNP-led government will not satisfy demands of workers and poor.

  Sri Lanka

Gulf War
25 years since invasion of Kuwait

22/08/2015: ’Unfinished business’ remains today

  Iraq

History
Anniversary of Trotsky’s assassination

21/08/2015: Coming mass revolts will see workers and youth look to Trotsky’s ideas

  History, Trotsky

Scotland and the Jeremy Corbyn campaign

20/08/2015: The response to Corbyn’s campaign has parallels with the outpouring of class anger that was seen during the independence referendum

  Scotland

Thailand
Bomb in Bangkok kills 20

19/08/2015: Country plagued by military junta and economic downturn

  Thailand

Socialism
Past or future?

18/08/2015: Review of ‘PostCapitalism: a guide to our future’ by Paul Mason

  Science, Theory

Greece and the latest phase of the EU crisis

18/08/2015: Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza leadership have pushed through parliament the third bailout – and further deep cuts – although only with the help of right-wing parties. However, the crises in Greece, the eurozone and wider EU are far from over…

  Greece

Britain
Corbyn challenge - a very welcome political upheaval

17/08/2015: The Labour Party’s right-wing leaders have been astonished and horrified at the over-flowing rallies for Jeremy Corbyn around the UK over the last few weeks

  Britain

Northern Ireland
Left Challenge for Largest Union’s Leadership

15/08/2015: CWI member, Patrick Mulholland, leads Left campaign for leadership of NIPSA union

  Ireland North

Ireland
Paul Murphy and 22 activists to be charged over peaceful protest

14/08/2015: Socialist MP to be charged with false imprisonment for protesting against water charges

  Ireland Republic

Technology
Will robots end capitalism?

14/08/2015: Technological developments, the threat to jobs, and perspectives for the struggle against capitalism and for the future of humanity

  Science

 CWI School 2015
New Left formations

13/08/2015: Report of discussion on New Workers’ Parties, Left Populism and the ideas and programme of PODEMOS, SYRIZA

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China
Devaluation of yuan jolts global markets

12/08/2015: Sudden reversal of Beijing’s exchange rate policy underlines seriousness of China’s economic woes

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France/Britain
Human tragedy of Calais crisis

07/08/2015: Tories have no solutions

  Britain, France

Kurdistan
PYD leaders call for partnership with Bashar al-Assad’s regime

06/08/2015: No faith in authoritarian rulers and Western powers!

  Kurdistan, Syria, Turkey

Japan
70th anniversary of Hiroshima atomic bomb

06/08/2015: Can a future nuclear conflict be avoided?

  Japan, Nuclear Power

 CWI School
Building the CWI

06/08/2015: Introductory video to the plenary session on ‘Building the CWI’ shown at the 2015 CWI Summer School, featuring the work of our International across the world

  Video

Britain
Jeremy Corbyn – thousands rally to anti-austerity appeal

05/08/2015: Large attendances at Corbyn rallies across country

  Britain

US
Kshama Sawant leads primary elections count on 50%

05/08/2015: Seattle socialist primary election success

  US

Greece
‘The working class showed it will return to struggle’

04/08/2015: After Syriza capitulates, taking first steps towards building a new mass Left alternative to austerity and capitalism

  Greece

 CWI School 2015
World crisis continues amid horrific consequences

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  CWI

 CWI School
Drawing the lessons from the revolutions in North Africa

03/08/2015: Life and death struggle with the process of counter-revolution.

  Africa, CWI, Tunisia

US
Over 1,000 attend housing debate hosted by Socialist councillor Kshama Sawant

31/07/2015: Kshama Sawant, Seattle’s socialist councillor defending seat in primary elections on 4 August

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Social and political turmoil in Ireland

30/07/2015: Socialists play key role in rapidly changing situation

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Britain
Corbyn’s Labour leadership bid shows anti-austerity message popular

29/07/2015: Militant Tendency held up as bogeyman by Labour right and media - What’s the real history?

  Britain

Turkey
Horrific Suruc massacre

28/07/2015: Only workers’ unity can end terrorism and division

  Turkey

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Europe’s euro-crisis and prospects for class struggle

28/07/2015: Ground prepared everywhere for new battles and rise of left formations

  CWI, Europe

Italy

Anti-immigrant violence and riots explode against the background of economic crisis

www.socialistworld.net, 19/01/2010
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

United class response needed to prevent unleashing of racism

Cedric Gerome, CWI

The anger felt by hundreds of African immigrants exploded on Thursday 7 January in Rosarno, a small town in the largely impoverished, agricultural region of Calabria, in Southern Italy. This followed a racist provocation by local young people, who shot with an air gun at a group of immigrant farm workers on the way back from work. This incident was the detonator for riots and protests, with some immigrants clashing for hours with the police and local inhabitants, breaking shop windows, burning and smashing cars with sticks, etc. Subsequently, a brutal witch-hunt followed against the immigrants, undertaken by some local inhabitants, including savage beatings with iron bars, and immigrants being knocked down deliberately by cars. More than 60 people were injured in what were probably the most violent racial clashes which have taken place in Italy for years. A number of immigrant workers fled the city, while more than one thousand of those remaining were put by the police in buses and trains to be evacuated over the weekend to detention centres in Crotone, Bari and Brindisi. The immigrants’ makeshift encampments were subsequently bulldozed.

’Modern Slave Labour’ for the Mafia

The recent events in Rosarno have, first of all, revealed the terrible conditions facing immigrant workers in Southern Italy. In their protest, some of the immigrants carried placards saying, “We are not animals”. Immigrants in this area are living and working in near slave conditions, over-exploited by local bosses and severely controlled by the ‘Ndrangheta’, the Calabrian Mafia, who use them as a very cheap and pliable labour force, without any rights. As was pointed out by a 30-year-old worker from Ghana, interviewed by the Italian newspaper, “Il Manifesto”, “We are treated like beasts. We work so much; at the present time, I harvest mandarins and oranges, and I receive 20 euros for the whole day.” The same newspaper revealed that, according to an investigation in May 2009, these workers“were beaten in the case of any slowing down of the rhythm of harvesting the fruit”.

Clashes in Rosarno

Calabria is home to some 20,000 illegal immigrants, according to the CGIL trade union. Most of them work as seasonal labourers, picking fruit and vegetables. In Rosarno alone, 1,500 were living in abandoned factories, with no running water, sanitation or electricity. They were employed, most of them illegally, to be paid 20-25 euros (sometimes less) for 12 to 14 hours work a day. As was recently reported by the human rights group, Médecins Sans Frontières, “Many of them are affected by respiratory and muscular problems because of their unhealthy living conditions and long working hours.”

Rosarno is only the tip of the iceberg of an immense system of fraud and exploitation in which the Mafia is playing a central role, relying on the subjugation of this very cheap workforce for the maximisation of their profits. This, among other diverse activities, like international drug and arms trafficking, public works fraud and prostitution, represents a very lucrative business for organised crime. Official estimates indicate that the ’Ndrangheta’ made Euro 44 billion (more than $60 billion) profits in 2008 alone.

The economic crisis has only contributed to worsening the immigrants’ situation even further. Because of the decline of the prices of citrus fruits, and the flood of the Italian market by cheap imported fruit from abroad (notably Spanish oranges and Brazilian orange juice), a lot of owners in the area decided that these immigrant workers were not profitable anymore, or that their wages needed to be driven down further. Here is manifested once again the absurdity of the blind market system: since the owners received European Union subsidies for every cultivated hectare, it has become sometimes more profitable to let the fruits rot on the trees, than to pay workers to harvest them.

For the above reasons, the involvement of the local mafia in orchestrating the racist attacks and feeding the explosion of violence in order to “clean up the place” and maintain its control over the area, fearing social agitation, is far from excluded. But whatever the role of the mafia in these events has been, their political and social implications are much wider. They must serve as a warning to the working class, in Italy and internationally, of the dangers that could develop in the present period of historical crisis of world capitalism, if the rising social anger and frustration is not assisted by a positive programme and a conscious collective struggle to change society along socialist lines.

Thousands attend local demonstration

“We are not racists”

Commenting on the Rosarno events, the Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s newspaper, came out denouncing “the racism of the Italian people”, and criticising the fact that “the value of the mixing of different races has still not been understood”. As if the present situation, in one of the poorest regions of Italy hit hard by poverty and mass unemployment - at about 25%, the worst rate in the whole country - was a haven of peace and well-being!

It is true, however, that racist attacks and violence have been on the rise in Italy in the recent period. Nevertheless, this can hardly be explained by the simplistic view that “Italian people are racists”. The worsening social conditions, the lack of jobs, the systematic attacks on living standards, and the gloomy future offered by the capitalist crisis, combined with the lack of a viable alternative on the left, have opened a vacuum. Racist propaganda and projecting blame for the crisis onto immigrants are feeding on this.

Significantly, on Monday 11 January, several thousand people from Rosarno - out of a population of 15,000 - demonstrated in the streets of their town, with some immigrants of African origin at the head of the march, rejecting the accusations of “racism” against them, with some accusing the State of having abandoned them to their problems, and done absolutely nothing about the disastrous conditions in which the immigrants were forced to live. This kind of reaction is an indication that the violent racist attacks committed by some inhabitants are not widely accepted by the local population.

Contrary to what the Vatican’s statement suggests, racism is not a problem of a lack of moral virtue. It is a social problem, rooted in the class-based and divide-and-rule policy of capitalist society. As Malcolm X pointed out, “you cannot have capitalism without racism”. In the absence of a united struggle for decent jobs and living standards, the unprecedented increase of immigrant workers fleeing the misery of the neo-colonial world, in the context of the economic crisis, can only become a factor of growing tensions and competition for jobs between the immigrants and the local inhabitants. According to “Le Monde”, for the year 2009 alone, Italy has registered a 75% increase in immigration arrivals.

The only ones who profit from these divisions are the bosses and the Mafia, using this “war of the poor against the poor” to increase the exploitation of labour and maintain their rule over the economy. The vulnerable and insecure position in which most immigrant workers are forced to live constitutes an integral part of this process. “In reality people who came to Italy illegally make up a big part of its 5 million-strong immigrant population. Many sustain parts of the economy that would otherwise be uncompetitive”, commented ‘The Economist’.

Police clash with immigrant demonstrators

Race riots: the government’s policy has opened up a Pandora’s box

Following the events in Rosarno, Home Affairs Minister, Roberto Maroni, from the anti-immigrant party, the Northern League (coalition partner of the Berlusconi government), said that this violence was a result of “years of excessive tolerance” of illegal workers in Italy. He then added that the government will eventually deport all illegal immigrants who took part in the riots. In fact, many of the immigrants were legally in Italy, some having moved south when they lost their jobs in factories in the north because of the economic crisis.

Over the last two years, the right-wing Italian government has deployed a long series of harshly repressive and racist measures against immigrants, which can hardly be described as “excessive tolerance”. These include the legalisation of ‘civilian patrols’ to control the immigrants, the forcing of public officials to inform on un-documented refugees, the organisation of punitive raids against gypsy camps, the criminalization of those helping ‘illegal’ workers, with the threat of a 3 year prison sentence, or the forced turning back on the open seas of boats with refugees arriving on Italian coasts, thus denying refugees the right to claim asylum.

The Berlusconi government and the Northern League have been at the forefront of consciously fuelling racism against immigrants, exploiting the fears of Italian workers and the lack of a collective response to the social problems from workers organisations. Minister for reform and founder of the Northern League, Umberto Bossi, has been reported on several occasions as nicknaming African migrants ‘Bingo-Bongos”, in reference to a 1982-movie from which the main character was an ape-man. In “Il Sole 24 Ore”, the main newspaper owned by Berlusconi, the term “Negro” is commonly used to describe the African immigrants.

Recently, the local council of the Northern town of Coccaglio launched an immigrant purge under the cynical name of “White Christmas”, consisting an officially-sanctioned drive to identify and expel as many non-Europeans as possible before Christmas. The town’s Northern League Mayor, Franco Claretti, declared “We just want to start cleaning the place up.”

This kind of campaign, combined with an increasing social crisis and casualisation of labour, heavily encouraged by the government and pushed along by the economic downturn, as well as the total impunity with which the Mafia imposes its strong grip on the economic structure of Southern Italy, have contributed to create an explosive cocktail, of which what happened in Rosarno is a direct result. The government is now cynically attempting to exploit this to tighten up further its policy against immigrants, in an increasing campaign to provide a scapegoat for the country’s economic demise and deflect blame away from the capitalists.

On 8 January, all state schools received a document giving some “guidelines for integration of immigrant students”. This includes the introduction of a maximum cap of 30% of immigrant students to be accepted in state schools. Since then, some leaders of the Northern League have added their own statements proposing other very imaginative ideas, like train carriages available for Italian people only, or restriction access to the social security system for “native Italians”.

In reaction to this, the leader of the main opposition, Democratic Party (PD) Pier Luigi Bersani, accused the Northern League of blaming illegal immigration and denounced its racist stand. However, while in power, the centre-left, elected on the promise of reversing the anti-immigration laws adopted during the previous legislature (notably the Bossi-Fini law, which facilitates the expulsion of immigrants from the country) has done absolutely nothing in this respect.

Immigrant camps bulldozed

Only a united struggle of the working class can stop racism and prevent ‘new Rosarnos’

Capitalism is responsible for what happened in Rosarno. The economic crisis is causing rocketing unemployment and spreading misery around the world. Racist and reactionary politicians will inevitably use the immigration issue to divert attention, divide the working class and prevent a common struggle of exploited workers and youth which could threaten the privileges and position of the capitalist ruling elite.

In Vic, a city in the eastern Catalonia region of Spain, the town’s administration has launched a plan to stop allowing immigrants, who make up roughly a quarter of the population of 40,000, to register as residents and to deny them the right to access healthcare and other services.

If the workers’ leaders fail to put forward a political way out and prevent this kind of racist policy being implemented, the ground will be prepared for new racial explosions, such as the events in Rosarno. The collapse of the left in Italy, illustrated by the fall of support for the PRC (‘Party of Communist Re-foundation’) because of its compromising positions and its endorsement of neo-liberal policies, has been one of the main reasons for the increase of the votes for the right parties and the Northern League, the latter having exploited the fears of the workers in order to raise its anti-immigrant agenda.

The fact that immigrants eventually reacted against the local inhabitants in Rosarno could have been avoided if the union leaderships had organised a proper campaign to defend their rights, linking their struggle to the demands of the wider working class. A clear strategy and programme is urgently needed to fight against the real enemy: the capitalist class and the mafia organisations. A common struggle of all workers, whatever their origins or nationalities, is urgently needed; a struggle for jobs, decent housing and better living standards for all, refusing to accept that the capitalist crisis should be paid for by anyone of us. This must include an implacable fight for the withdrawal of all the racist laws implemented by the government, which can only weaken the working class’ resistance and be used to undermine the democratic rights of all.



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NEWS

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Whatever the outcome of the contest, Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign has already transformed the political situation in Britain

Lebanon: ‘Garbage protests’ shake the ruling class
25/08/2015, socialistworld.net:
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More than $5 trillion wiped off global stock markets in two weeks since Chinese devaluation

Sri Lanka: Election sees Rajapaksa fail to make a come-back
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Neo-liberal policies of UNP-led government will not satisfy demands of workers and poor.

Gulf War: 25 years since invasion of Kuwait
22/08/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
’Unfinished business’ remains today

Scotland and the Jeremy Corbyn campaign
20/08/2015, Editorial taken from the current issue of the Socialist - the paper of Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
The response to Corbyn’s campaign has parallels with the outpouring of class anger that was seen during the independence referendum

Thailand: Bomb in Bangkok kills 20
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Country plagued by military junta and economic downturn

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18/08/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI, from September 2015 issue of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Alexis Tsipras and the Syriza leadership have pushed through parliament the third bailout – and further deep cuts – although only with the help of right-wing parties. However, the crises in Greece, the eurozone and wider EU are far from over…

Britain: Corbyn challenge - a very welcome political upheaval
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The Labour Party’s right-wing leaders have been astonished and horrified at the over-flowing rallies for Jeremy Corbyn around the UK over the last few weeks

Northern Ireland: Left Challenge for Largest Union’s Leadership
15/08/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
CWI member, Patrick Mulholland, leads Left campaign for leadership of NIPSA union

Ireland: Paul Murphy and 22 activists to be charged over peaceful protest
14/08/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
Socialist MP to be charged with false imprisonment for protesting against water charges

CWI School 2015: New Left formations
13/08/2015, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
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China: Devaluation of yuan jolts global markets
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Large attendances at Corbyn rallies across country

US: Kshama Sawant leads primary elections count on 50%
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CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Kurdistan: Democratic autonomy or socialism?
29/08/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Articles on Öcalan’s ideas and Rojava, originally published in sozialismus.info, the quaterly magazine of SAV (German section of the CWI)

Sri Lanka: Identifying the challenges after defeat of Rajapaksa
27/08/2015, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka):
Working class struggle top priority for socialists

History: Anniversary of Trotsky’s assassination
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Coming mass revolts will see workers and youth look to Trotsky’s ideas

Socialism: Past or future?
18/08/2015, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) General Secretary:
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Technology: Will robots end capitalism?
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Greece: ‘The working class showed it will return to struggle’
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CWI School 2015: World crisis continues amid horrific consequences
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Report of World Perspectives discussion at the 2015 CWI Summer School

CWI School: Europe’s euro-crisis and prospects for class struggle
28/07/2015, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Ground prepared everywhere for new battles and rise of left formations

China: Stock market crash can turn into a political crisis
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Regime adopts panic measures as market crash threatens wider economic recession

Greece: Mighty class-based ‘NO’ shakes bosses’ EU
06/07/2015, Editorial comment by Xekinima (CWI Greece), 6 July 2015:
Referendum earthquake sees working class boldly defy Troika and Greece’s servile ruling class!

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Greece: Troika threatens Greeks ahead of referendum
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What should the SYRIZA Left do next?

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Two-party system dealt a new blow in local and regional elections

Belgium: Momentum to bring down right wing government lost
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No fundamental change to be expected from the Labour Party