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latest news

Latin America
A new turn?

25/04/2015: Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

  Latin America

Finland
Worst ever election result for traditional Left

24/04/2015: Finns Party second biggest in parliament

  Finland

Iran
Proposed nuclear deal reflects transformed Middle East

24/04/2015: In aftermath of disastrous Iraq occupation, Obama administration balancing between region’s forces

  Iran, Middle East

Scotland
Labour face annihilation as millions seek an answer to austerity

23/04/2015: The SNP, according to the polls, will win 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster MPs

  Scotland

 Video
Paul Murphy speaking at anti-water charges demo in Dublin

23/04/2015: Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks at march of tens of thosuands against water charges on April 18

  Ireland Republic, Video

 Video
Interview with Jawad Ahmed, famous Pakistani singer and activist

22/04/2015: Jawad Ahmed, Singer and central committee member of International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM) from Pakistan spoke to CWI about the work of IYWM.

  Pakistan, Video

South Africa
Organise against xenophobia – a programme for our communities

21/04/2015: Build a country-wide socialist civic movement. Fight for jobs, houses and services for all

  Africa, South Africa

 Video
TUSC 100% anti-austerity election broadcast

20/04/2015: Broadcast goes out on all 5 national terrestrial channels

  Britain, Video

Britain
Labour - party of cuts

19/04/2015: Oppose the ’logic of capitalism’

  Britain

Tunisia
After the Bardo terrorist attack

18/04/2015: New class battles loom

  Tunisia

 Video
Paul Murphy attacks bosses’ victimisation of strikers

17/04/2015: Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks in Irish Parliament

  Ireland Republic, Video

US
National day of strikes and protests for $15

17/04/2015: Snapshot of the movement – the fight for $15 in 7 major cities

  US

 Video
Kshama Sawant on Democracy Now

16/04/2015: Socialist Seattle councillor debates Hillary Clinton run for President

  US, Video

Ireland North
Hundreds protest against racist arson attack

15/04/2015: Build a united mass movement to challenge racism, sectarianism and all forms of bigotry

  Ireland North

Yemen
Brutal onslaught on country’s poor

15/04/2015: For unity of workers and poor against imperialism and sectarianism

  Yemen

Québec
A hot spring in the making?

14/04/2015: Students take strike action against austerity

  Quebec

China’s feminists
A victory for protests in China and worldwide

14/04/2015: Five women activists released in rare climb down by Beijing regime

  China

France
First one-day strike against austerity gets big response

13/04/2015: 300, 000 people marched on demonstrations across France on Thursday 9 April

  France

Australia
Budget - Who should pay for the economic crisis?

13/04/2015: Federal government preparing the ground for their second budget

  Australia

Britain
UKIP blame immigration for problems facing working class

12/04/2015: Workers’ unity to defend pay jobs and services

  Britain

Panama 2015 Trade Union and Social Alternative Summit

11/04/2015: For an end to imperialism and capitalism, long live socialist and revolutionary united solidarity in our Americas!

  Latin America

Kenya
The Garissa massacre, Al-Shabaab and US imperialism

10/04/2015: Growing regional destabilisation

  Kenya, US

US
40,000 Seattle workers get pay rise

08/04/2015: Coalition of students and workers demand $15 minimum wage at University of Washington

  US

Australia
Anti-racist protesters vastly outnumber ‘Reclaim Australia’ Melbourne rally

07/04/2015: Only ‘minority’ to blame for society’s problems is ultra-rich 1%

  Australia

Climate change
Looking for a cheap fix

06/04/2015: The cyclone that devastated the Pacific island of Vanuatu in March, the most severe ever recorded in the region, highlighted again the very likely connection between extreme weather events and global warming.

  Environment

Nigeria
Ruling party crumbles in historic election

05/04/2015: But only mass struggle can guarantee the interests of workers and poor masses under buhari’s presidency

  Nigeria

Scotland
Is the SNP: a threat to the political establishment?

04/04/2015: The SNP (Scottish National Party) looks set to win the majority of Scottish seats in the general election

  Scotland

Economy
What low oil prices cost the world economy

03/04/2015: The sudden plunge of oil and gas prices has underlined the volatility in the world capitalist economy

  World Economy

 Video
Paul Murphy speaks in support of striking workers

02/04/2015: Socialist MP challenges Labour Deputy Prime Minister in parliament

  Ireland Republic, Video

Scotland
Indefinite strike by Glasgow Council Homeless workers

01/04/2015: Workers treated unfairly by council for years

  Scotland

South Africa
Cosatu splits as ‘Vavi’ expelled

01/04/2015: Expulsion opens new chapter in working class struggle

  Africa, South Africa

Singapore
Former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew dies

31/03/2015: Apologist for neo-liberalism and autocracy

  Singapore

France
Elections punish Valls and Hollande

31/03/2015: Department results show need for fightback against austerity and racism

  France

Europe

Austerity locked-in with EU economic governance package

www.socialistworld.net, 05/10/2011
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Implications of so-called "six-pack of economic governance measures", voted on in the European Parliament last week, are vast

Paul Murphy, MEP, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), first published in the "Irish Left Review"

What was described by European Commission President as a “silent revolution” was passed in the European Parliament on Wednesday with hardly a mention in the mainstream media. The implications of the so-called six-pack of economic governance measures are vast. This package represents a qualitative leap forward in terms of the institutionalisation of austerity and neo-liberal economic policies at the heart of the EU and backwards in terms of a further undermining of democracy within the EU structures.

These pieces of legislation, ostensibly a response to the economic crisis, are actually a fulfilment of long-held desires by the capitalist establishment in Europe to develop a strong authority in the EU that would ensure that national governments implement austerity policies. The six-pack does this by establishing the European Commission as an effective policeman for austerity across Europe. It is also a step towards the fiscal unity that key sections of the establishment believe is necessary in order to save the euro.

Even if the media is ignoring it, the European establishment is aware of the significance of this victory from its point of view. Speaking in June 2010 about this package, European Commission President Barroso correctly stated that:

“The Member States have accepted - and I hope they understand it exactly - but they have accepted very important powers of the European institutions regarding surveillance, and a much stricter control of the public finances.”

What the package means:

In order to achieve this, the package centralises power in the hands of the un-elected European Commission, establishes a scoreboard of austerity, and gives the Commission power to impose massive fines on countries. There are many different elements to these six different pieces of legislation. However, the central basis of it is establishing a mechanism to put significant pressure on national governments to implement austerity and neo-liberal policies.

Essentially there are three key aspects of the mechanism to ensure that governments keep within neo-liberal economic orthodoxy. The first is the notion of “budgetary surveillance” and the “European semester”. What this means is a timetable across Europe for the presentation of draft national budgets at an early stage to the European Commission and Council. These draft budgets will be discussed by these bodies in advance of any discussion in national parliaments. The purpose of the discussions is clear - to put significant political pressure at an early stage on national governments to implement what the Commission and Council consider to be necessary policies.

The second is a qualitative strengthening of the “Growth and Stability Pact” - which limits countries’ public debt to 60% of GDP and annual deficits to 3% of GDP. In the past, this has been a relatively toothless mechanism, which has been ignored by both the major powers and the more peripheral less developed economies. Now this will be backed up by an enforcement mechanism.

Those who breach the targets and ignore warnings and recommendations from the Commission will be faced with a fine, consisting of either an “interest-bearing deposit” or a “non interest-bearing deposit” equivalent to 0.2% of GDP, which will be converted into a fine if the situation does not improve. This fine can then be increased with repeated failure to follow the Commission’s recommendations. These fines will amount to hundreds of millions of euro - being taken out of the pockets of states that are evidently facing real financial difficulties.

The third is the extension of this enforcement mechanism well beyond the strictures of the “Growth and Stability Pact”. Now countries will be monitored not just on their public debt and their annual deficit, but on a range of other measures as part of a “scoreboard” system. The details of what will be measured has still not been revealed, but Commission recommendations are to “cover the main economic policy areas, potentially including fiscal and wage policies, labour markets, product and services markets and financial sector regulation.” (’Prevention and Correction of Macroeconomic imbalances‘).

This gives a sense of how these proposals are not simply about tackling excess debt of deficits - but about giving the Commission a means to push right-wing economic policies generally and put pressure on countries to liberalise their labour markets and public services. Failure to act in response to warnings and recommendations from the Commission on the scoreboard issues, or being deemed to have acted “imprudently”, will open countries up to face fines. This is clearly a way for the Commission to push neo-liberal policies generally - including the liberalisation of the labour market and the privatisation of public services.

Assault on democracy

One of the most obnoxious features of this package is the fact that the already extremely limited democracy within the EU has been trampled upon in order to ensure that this austerity will rule. This attack takes a number of forms.

One is the strengthening of the power of the Commission. The majority in the European Parliament voted for a number of amendments designed to strengthen the power of the Commission. This is always the position of the right-wing in the Parliament who see the Commission as an ally in the fight for a “European” position as opposed to one rooted in the interests of the countries represented at the Council. The effect, however, is to remove decision making even further from ordinary people. The role of the Commission from the point of view of the establishment is to articulate a “European” strategy for the capitalist class in Europe. It is able to do this because it is relatively immune from the political pressure that national governments can face - precisely because the Commissioners exist in a bubble in Brussels and don’t have to face election.

Another attack is the stripping of the right to vote from “miscreant” countries on the question of sanctions. So if the Commission proposes that a country be punished by a fine of hundreds of millions of euro for example, that country and all other countries that have been deemed to be acting imprudently and have been subject to sanctions will not have a vote in this decision. You could therefore have a situation where most of the peripheral European countries have their votes taken away from them and it is the Northern European countries who are voting on the sanctions to be applied to these countries.

The other element is how this voting is to take place. The six-pack introduces a new form of voting which is breathtaking in its cynicism. Instead of a straight vote with a need for a majority of countries, or the traditional qualified majority system (which means getting 255 weighted votes out of 345, representing at least two thirds of the countries and at least 62% of the EU population), the qualified majority system is turned on its head. Now it is referred to as “Reverse qualified majority” voting. What this means is that the Council is presumed to agree with the sanctions, unless a qualified majority vote against it. This means that to overturn the sanctions, you would need to get a huge majority to vote against it. So even if the peripheral European nations still had their votes, they wouldn’t have a chance of defeating it if the major northern European governments were in favour of it! Of course, this was fully endorsed by the Parliament, and the agreed document (Enforcement measures to correct excessive macroeconomic imbalances in euro area ) argues that the procedure for the application of the sanctions should be “construed in such a way that the application of the sanctionon those Member States would be the rule and not the exception.”

Who is driving this agenda and why?

It is not indulging in conspiracy theorising to suggest that a large element of this six-pack is making sure not to “waste a good crisis”. This is posed as a response to the economic crisis. It is no such thing. It is part of the march of entrenching neo-liberal orthodoxy across Europe. The Corporate Europe Observatory (www.corporateeurope.org), an excellent research and campaign group working against the power of corporate lobbyists in the EU, has established how the major organisation of big business on a European level, the European Roundtable of Industrialists (ERT), has been pushing for such an agenda for over a decade.

Their chairman proclaimed in 2000 that a “double revolution” was underway. “On the one hand we are reducing the power of the state and of the public sector in general through privatization and deregulation… On the other we are transferring many of the nation states powers to a more modern and internationally-minded structure at European level. European unification is progressing and it helps international businesses like ours.” In 2002, the ERT were calling for ”at the drafting stage, the implications of national budgets and of major national fiscal policy measures [to be] reviewed at the level of the Union” - precisely what will now happen.

European big business wants this, because, like their political representatives in the establishment parties, they want the certainty of knowing that what they deem to be “prudent” policies will be implemented. The uncertainty of democratic debate and discussion with different economic policy options on offer is simply too much of an inconvenience. Likewise, the ability of mass movements to put pressure on their governments to withdraw some of their worst attacks is a threat to the certainty of austerity. Therein lies the need for a central authority (the Commission) that through its sanctions and political pressure will act as a counterweight to the pressure of potential mass movements.

Can this package be stopped?

The Council is due to discuss and finally agree this six-pack on 4 October, which means that the package will enter into force at the end of 2011 or at the latest by the start of 2012. Effectively, the battle inside the institutions of the Parliament and the Council has been lost, given the overwhelming majority for the right-wing parties (including so-called social-democracy) in both institutions.

The battle now moves onto the plane of the streets and the protest movements. The movement against cuts and attacks that are aimed at making working people pay for the economic crisis is redeveloping in southern Europe. A major mobilisation by the unions is being organised in Portugal, while Greece will see a general strike on 19 October. While Ireland is currently behind these developments, with the passage of time and in particular the passage of their own savage budget in December, the ability of the new government to blame the old government and avoid facing responsibility and major movements will be reduced.

The Left has a crucial responsibility to build these movements and also to intervene into them, raising the need for a European-wide fightback as well as putting forward a socialist alternative to this crisis of capitalism. With lies being told about “lazy Greeks”, it is particularly important to stress the similar problems that working people face across Europe and raise the need for a common fight-back, including a 24 hour general strike against austerity across Europe. Part of this intervention must be publicising the effect of this economic governance package and injecting opposition to this European shock doctrine into the movements.

Paul Murphy is the Irish Socialist Party / United Left Alliance (ULA) MEP for the Dublin constituency



Europe

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Video: Paul Murphy speaking at anti-water charges demo in Dublin, 23/04/2015

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NEWS

Finland: Worst ever election result for traditional Left
24/04/2015, Jonas Brännberg and Juha Tapio for CWI in Finland:
Finns Party second biggest in parliament

Scotland: Labour face annihilation as millions seek an answer to austerity
23/04/2015, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI in Scotland):
The SNP, according to the polls, will win 53 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster MPs

Video: Paul Murphy speaking at anti-water charges demo in Dublin
23/04/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks at march of tens of thosuands against water charges on April 18

Video: Interview with Jawad Ahmed, famous Pakistani singer and activist
22/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Jawad Ahmed, Singer and central committee member of International Youth and Workers Movement (IYWM) from Pakistan spoke to CWI about the work of IYWM.

South Africa: Organise against xenophobia – a programme for our communities
21/04/2015, Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) leaflet text:
Build a country-wide socialist civic movement. Fight for jobs, houses and services for all

Video: TUSC 100% anti-austerity election broadcast
20/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Broadcast goes out on all 5 national terrestrial channels

Britain: Labour - party of cuts
19/04/2015, Editorial from The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Oppose the ’logic of capitalism’

Video: Paul Murphy attacks bosses’ victimisation of strikers
17/04/2015, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist Partty (CWI) and Anti-Austerity Alliance TD speaks in Irish Parliament

US: National day of strikes and protests for $15
17/04/2015, Socialist Alternative (CWI in US) reporters:
Snapshot of the movement – the fight for $15 in 7 major cities

Video: Kshama Sawant on Democracy Now
16/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Seattle councillor debates Hillary Clinton run for President

Ireland North: Hundreds protest against racist arson attack
15/04/2015, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI), Belfast:
Build a united mass movement to challenge racism, sectarianism and all forms of bigotry

Québec: A hot spring in the making?
14/04/2015, Deirdre Grégoire, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec):
Students take strike action against austerity

China’s feminists: A victory for protests in China and worldwide
14/04/2015, chinaworker.info reporters:
Five women activists released in rare climb down by Beijing regime

France: First one-day strike against austerity gets big response
13/04/2015, Report from website of Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
300, 000 people marched on demonstrations across France on Thursday 9 April

Australia: Budget - Who should pay for the economic crisis?
13/04/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in Australia) editorial:
Federal government preparing the ground for their second budget

Britain: UKIP blame immigration for problems facing working class
12/04/2015, Editorial of The Socialist (issue 851), weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ unity to defend pay jobs and services

Panama 2015 Trade Union and Social Alternative Summit
11/04/2015, The Committee for a Worker’s International, via its Venezuelan Section Socialismo Revolucionario, greets the Panama 2015 Trade Union and Social Alternative Summit.:
For an end to imperialism and capitalism, long live socialist and revolutionary united solidarity in our Americas!

Kenya: The Garissa massacre, Al-Shabaab and US imperialism
10/04/2015, Shaun Arendse, CWI South Africa:
Growing regional destabilisation

US: 40,000 Seattle workers get pay rise
08/04/2015, Kailyn Nicholson, republished from 15Now.org:
Coalition of students and workers demand $15 minimum wage at University of Washington

Scotland: Dundee porters and Glasgow council workers on indefinite strike
08/04/2015, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) Reporters:
Build solidarity now!

Australia: Anti-racist protesters vastly outnumber ‘Reclaim Australia’ Melbourne rally
07/04/2015, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) Reporters:
Only ‘minority’ to blame for society’s problems is ultra-rich 1%

Climate change: Looking for a cheap fix
06/04/2015, Pete Dickenson, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The cyclone that devastated the Pacific island of Vanuatu in March, the most severe ever recorded in the region, highlighted again the very likely connection between extreme weather events and global warming.

Nigeria: Ruling party crumbles in historic election
05/04/2015, By National Executive Committee Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM – CWI in Nigeria):
But only mass struggle can guarantee the interests of workers and poor masses under buhari’s presidency

Scotland: Is the SNP: a threat to the political establishment?
04/04/2015, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI):
The SNP (Scottish National Party) looks set to win the majority of Scottish seats in the general election

Video: Paul Murphy speaks in support of striking workers
02/04/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist MP challenges Labour Deputy Prime Minister in parliament

Australia: Counter-protests set for ’Reclaim Australia’ rallies
02/04/2015, Mel Gregson, from The Socialist (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party - CWI Australia):
Stand against racism & Islamophobia!

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Latin America: A new turn?
25/04/2015, Tony Saunois, article from May issue of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Historic handshake between Barack Obama and Raúl Castro, turmoil in Venezuela, and stalled reforms in Bolivia – as well as crises in Brazil – symbolise a new turn in Latin America and the Caribbean

Iran: Proposed nuclear deal reflects transformed Middle East
24/04/2015, Robert Bechert, CWI:
In aftermath of disastrous Iraq occupation, Obama administration balancing between region’s forces

Tunisia: After the Bardo terrorist attack
18/04/2015, Serge Jordan:
New class battles loom

Yemen: Brutal onslaught on country’s poor
15/04/2015, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the CWI England & Wales):
For unity of workers and poor against imperialism and sectarianism

Economy: What low oil prices cost the world economy
03/04/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The sudden plunge of oil and gas prices has underlined the volatility in the world capitalist economy

Israel: Netanyahu mobilises far right to win election
25/03/2015, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement, Israel-Palestine:
New coalition will face unresolved crises and bitter struggles

Italy: The instability of domestic capitalism
24/03/2015, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrente (CWI Italy):
Political vacuum pushes FIOM to take initiative

Greece: Varoufakis’ “erratic Marxism” is not the answer
23/03/2015, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Necessary to clarify ideas upon which successful struggles of European working class will be conducted

Belgium: No agreement reached between unions and government over austerity
20/03/2015, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (Belgian section of the CWI), Brussels:
New action plan against right wing government takes off

Ukraine: Conflict unresolved after ’Minsk-2’ agreement
18/03/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Only independent working-class mass movement can remove the region’s authoritarian rulers

Greece: Syriza’s first months in power
07/03/2015, Andreas Payiatsos, from Xekinima (newspaper of the CWI Greece):
The working class and social movements must enter the struggle for their rights

Quebec: Towards a hot spring
02/03/2015, Deirdre and Bruno, Socialist Alternative (CWI Quebec):
Disrupt them like they disrupt us!

Greece showdown
26/02/2015, Article to be published in the March issue of Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party, CWI in England and Wales):
Niall Mulholland interviewed NICOS ANASTASIADES, of Xekinima (CWI Greece), just as Syriza leaders agreed a four-month bail-out extension with the EU.

Libya: War-torn country becoming new hub for IS activities
25/02/2015, Serge Jordan (CWI):
Libyan people bearing the brunt of NATO’s fiasco

Europe: Eurozone time-bomb
25/02/2015, Lynn Walsh, article from Socialism Today (magazine of the Socialist Party of England and Wales):
Mired in recession, the eurozone is haunted by the spectre of stagnation

Greece: Syriza retreats under Troika threats
24/02/2015, Nicos Anastasiades, Xekinima (CWI Greece), Thessaloniki:
Popular mood shows anti-austerity, socialist policies would win huge support

History: The political legacy of Malcolm X
21/02/2015, Eljeer Hawkins, Socialist Alternative:
50 years after his assassination

Spain: Is ‘Podemos’ the Spanish Syriza?
16/02/2015, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Dangers of “moderation” and domestication

Egypt: Regime brutality on fourth anniversary of revolution
10/02/2015, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Masses will regain confidence and willingness to fight

Greece: Not a single step back!
08/02/2015, Statement by the Editorial Board of Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Conflict between SYRIZA government and EU escalates

Kurdistan: ‘Islamic State’ driven out of Kobanê
02/02/2015, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Will the end of Kobanê’s siege turn the tide against IS?

Greece: Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?
29/01/2015, Article from Xekhinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 26 January 2015] translated and slightly edited:
For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

Greece: Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse
27/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, socialistworld.net, interviews Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI:
Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates