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Environment
Green China to save the world?

29/08/2016: Article published in last edition of Socialism Today

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Book review
Iraq, IS and the failing war on terror

28/08/2016: Published earlier this year before the Chilcot report was finally released, Blood Year by counter-insurgency strategist David Kilcullen is a damning indictment of the so-called war on terror unleased by US imperialism in 2001, with the full support of Tony Blair.

  Iraq, Middle East

Haiti
225th anniversary of anti-slavery, anti-colonial revolution

27/08/2016: A heroic and lasting inspiration to the oppressed everywhere

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Scotland
Will the Corbyn uprising save Scottish Labour?

27/08/2016: Lessons of indyref and need for active anti-cuts policies

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Greece
Athens bus cleaners win major victory

26/08/2016: Struggle achieves public contracts for 100s cleaning workers

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Russia
Twenty five years since the coup against Gorbachev

25/08/2016: Decades of ‘shock therapy capitalism’, wars and corruption

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Chile
Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery

24/08/2016: General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

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Quebec
Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour

22/08/2016: "Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

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Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today

22/08/2016: Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

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US
Build a new party of the 99%

21/08/2016: Support Jill Stein

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Middle East
ISIS’ waning “caliphate”

20/08/2016: Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

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Russia
Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup

19/08/2016: Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

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US
Trump in trouble

17/08/2016: Political polarisation deepens

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Philippines
Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?

16/08/2016: New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

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Britain
The Corbyn insurgency 2.0

15/08/2016: Now let’s finish the job

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Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4

14/08/2016: Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

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CWI around the world

13/08/2016: Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

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Quebec
World Social Forum 2016

13/08/2016: Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

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Hong Kong
Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court

12/08/2016: Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

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Britain
#KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism

10/08/2016: The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

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South Africa
Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC

09/08/2016: ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

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Zimbabwe
Mugabe must fall!

05/08/2016: Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

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The Olympics, big business and dictatorship

04/08/2016: A short history of the Olympics:

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Brazil

04/08/2016: New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

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03/08/2016: Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

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 CWI Summer School 2016
Fighting racism and the far right 

02/08/2016: Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

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Germany
‘Brexit’ and the German Left

30/07/2016: Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

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US
Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968

29/07/2016: We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

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Free jailed Buea activists!

28/07/2016: 100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

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Cote d’Ivoire
Protests against electricity prices

28/07/2016: The straw that broke the camel’s back!

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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



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NEWS

Environment: Green China to save the world?
29/08/2016, Pete Dickinson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Article published in last edition of Socialism Today

Scotland: Will the Corbyn uprising save Scottish Labour?
27/08/2016, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
Lessons of indyref and need for active anti-cuts policies

Greece: Athens bus cleaners win major victory
26/08/2016, Interview with Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) and Apostolis Cassimere’s (Board Member of OASA - Athens Bus Workers’ Union):
Struggle achieves public contracts for 100s cleaning workers

Pakistan: Vindictive management suspend and transfer Sindh teachers
24/08/2016, CWI Reporters, Sindh :
Solidarity protests needed!

Chile: Up to 2 million march against pensions robbery
24/08/2016, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) reporters:
General strike threatened for 4 November as protests grow

Britain: Answer right’s attacks with firm socialist programme
23/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#KeepCorbyn

Quebec: Montreal workers strike for $15 an hour
22/08/2016, Interview with Jacques Fontaine, a striking worker at the Old Port of Montreal:
"Company totally underestimated workers’ determination"

Video: Militant, Liverpool and Trotskyism today
22/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Russia Today covers historic Liverpool battle, led by the CWI in Britain

US: Build a new party of the 99%
21/08/2016, Joshua Koritz, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Support Jill Stein

Philippines: Is Duterte following in Marcos’ footsteps?
16/08/2016, Vincent Kolo (CWI) interviews Philippines-based socialist, Gabriel:
New president threatens martial law while leaning on ‘left’ parties for support

Video: Socialist Party general secretary Peter Taaffe on Channel 4
14/08/2016, Socialistworld.net:
Socialist party media coverage amid accusations of Trotskyist "entryism"

Video: CWI around the world
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Video shown at the CWI Summer school of some sections’ activities

Quebec: World Social Forum 2016
13/08/2016, socialistworld.net:
Tens of thousands of activists from around the world gather WSF in Montreal, 9-14 August

Hong Kong: Multinational MTR takes socialist Sally Tang Mei-ching to court
12/08/2016, Socialist Action reporters (CWI in Hong Kong):
Political motives behind ‘David versus Goliath’ trial

Britain: #KeepCorbyn - stand firm for socialism
10/08/2016, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The fight for a Labour Party for the working class

South Africa: Local elections a thunderous rebuke for ANC
09/08/2016, Weizmann Hamilton, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
ANC polls less than 60% for first time since end of apartheid

Ireland: Non-payment of water bills rises to 73%
09/08/2016, Katia Hancke, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Abolish the charges now

Zimbabwe: Mugabe must fall!
05/08/2016, Statement by the Executive Committee of the Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Mass revolt shakes the regime to its foundations

The Olympics, big business and dictatorship
04/08/2016, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
A short history of the Olympics:

CWI Summer school: Brazil
04/08/2016, Michael O’Brien, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
New cycle of struggle following right-wing parliamentary coup

CWI Summer School 2016: Fighting racism and the far right 
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Capitalist crisis and anti-immigrant reaction

Germany: Media seizes on violent attacks to whip up Islamophobia
01/08/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
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US: Most contentious Democratic Convention since 1968
29/07/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (US):
We need a new party of the 99% to defeat the billionaire class

Cameroon: Free jailed Buea activists!
28/07/2016, CWI reporters:
100 protest outside the court demanding release of the 15

Cote d’Ivoire: Protests against electricity prices
28/07/2016, CWI in Cote d’Ivoire:
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Britain: No compromise with Labour right wing
28/07/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
#Keep Corbyn

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Book review: Iraq, IS and the failing war on terror
28/08/2016, Manny Thain, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), from the September edition of Socialism Today:
Published earlier this year before the Chilcot report was finally released, Blood Year by counter-insurgency strategist David Kilcullen is a damning indictment of the so-called war on terror unleased by US imperialism in 2001, with the full support of Tony Blair.

Haiti: 225th anniversary of anti-slavery, anti-colonial revolution
27/08/2016, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
A heroic and lasting inspiration to the oppressed everywhere

Russia: Twenty five years since the coup against Gorbachev
25/08/2016, Rob Jones, CWI in Russia :
Decades of ‘shock therapy capitalism’, wars and corruption

Middle East: ISIS’ waning “caliphate”
20/08/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Imperialist solutions are no solution at all

Russia: Twenty fifth anniversary of attempted coup
19/08/2016, Clare Doyle, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Attempted Stalinist counter-revolution speeds up capitalist counter-revolution

US: Trump in trouble
17/08/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative, USA:
Political polarisation deepens

Britain: The Corbyn insurgency 2.0
15/08/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Now let’s finish the job

CWI Summer School: Economic instability, inter-imperialist tensions, workers struggles’ and political earthquakes
03/08/2016, James McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Report of the discussion on world perspectives at the recent CWI Summer School

Germany: ‘Brexit’ and the German Left
30/07/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
Reject the bosses’ EU! For a Europe of working people - a voluntary socialist federation

US: A call to action
27/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the US):
Walk out from the Democratic National Convention!

CWI Summer School: Europe in the aftermath of the Brexit shock
26/07/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Continent enters new phase of political and economic crises

US: Bernie Abandons 'the Revolution’
14/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist councillor Seattle City :
Time to back Green candidate Jill Stein

Australia: Close election result - A crisis for the establishment
08/07/2016, Socialist Party (CWI Australia) statement :
To fight anti-working class measures, we must build a socialist alternative

History: 1936 - Spain’s revolutionary promise
06/07/2016, Tony Saunois, from Socialism Today (July/August 2016):
Working class and peasants rose up against capitalist exploitation, poverty and fascism

US: Beyond Bernie
01/07/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Still not with her

Britain: Referendum revolt
27/06/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (issue No.200, July-August 2016):
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EU: Left parties turning against bosses’ Europe
10/06/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Progress in Portugal and Spain, confusion in Britain

Muhammad Ali: A fighter who inspired millions
09/06/2016, Hugo Pierre, Socialism Today (originally published in 2003):
Establishment forced to incorporate his legend into re-writing of history

Review: The working-class case against the EU
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Review of ‘And The Weak Must Suffer What They Must?’ by Yanis Varoufakis

France: Fight against Valls/Hollande government intensifies
31/05/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Gauche Revolutionnaire statement underlines vital need for political alternative

Austria: Only 31,026 votes prevent far right’s Hofer becoming president
24/05/2016, Sonja Grusch, SLP (the Austrian section of the CWI):
‘Breathing space’ offers chance to build a fighting, democratic left alternative

Britain: EU referendum exposes gaping political fault-lines
24/05/2016, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
New road can open up for labour movement if working class relies on its own forces

Brazil: Fall of President Dilma Rousseff unleashes offensive against working class
19/05/2016, André Ferrari, LSR (‘Freedom, Socialism and Revolution’ - CWI Brazil):
The impeachment process and historic crisis of the PT (Workers’ Party)