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’Defenders of democracy’ mourn despot’s death

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Greece
Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?

29/01/2015: For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

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Greece
Syriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten

29/01/2015: An inspiration for workers and youth across Europe

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Greece
Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse

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25/01/2015: Economy decelerated 30 percent in five years

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Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased

24/01/2015: Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

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Northern Ireland
Water service workers win important victory

23/01/2015: A victory for all workers and an inspiration to resist the ‘race to the bottom’

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Mobilise now to defend our demands

22/01/2015: Article first published in the Colombo Telegraph

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Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address

21/01/2015: "Why can’t Barack Obama say “Black Lives Matter”?"

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Russia/Ukraine
Facing a turbulent 2015

21/01/2015: As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

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Greece
Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes

20/01/2015: Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

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Nigeria
The Massacre in Baga

19/01/2015: Socialism or Barbarism

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Review
‘Eleanor Marx - a life’

17/01/2015: Clare Doyle reviews ’Eleanor Marx - A Life’ by Rachel Holmes

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 Video
Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor

16/01/2015: Socialist MP grills establishment over banking bubble and collapse

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Nigeria
2015 general elections and the working masses

16/01/2015: Boko Haram and the war in the north-east

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  Video
Ruth Coppinger calls for referendum on abortion rights in Ireland

15/01/2015: "You march in Paris, yet uphold laws any religious fundamentalist would envy"

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 Video
A year of struggle in Brazil

14/01/2015: LSR members intervene in struggles of 2014

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New but uncertain period opens up

14/01/2015: President Sirisena aims for clean government but will face difficulties

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Iran
Labour and children’s rights activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, sentenced to another nine years

13/01/2015: International action needed to overturn latest conviction and to immediately release Behnam

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Germany
What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?

13/01/2015: Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

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France
Millions march for solidarity

12/01/2015: Unity against racism and capitalism!

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New Zealand
Extreme poverty worsens

12/01/2015: Workers need to build political alternative to major parties’ big business agenda

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France
Counter terrorist threat with workers-led mass unity

10/01/2015: The shocking, cold blooded slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and more killings in subsequent days, has been met with mass outrage

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Norway
General strike called for 28 January

10/01/2015: Two-hour protest against worsening working conditions

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Sri Lanka
Rajapaksa defeated

09/01/2015: Period of uncertainty opens

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Sweden
New elections cancelled

09/01/2015: “Peace deal” between government and right-wing opposition

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Greece
Towards a Syriza government?

08/01/2015: General elections on 25 January

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France
Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo

08/01/2015: Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

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Hong Kong
Politics transformed by ‘Umbrella Revolution’

07/01/2015: A fighting democratic movement must be created to continue and build upon this historic “first round”

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Israel-Palestine
A successful Socialism conference in the shadow of national divide

06/01/2015: Over 150 people participated in the ‘Socialism Conference 2014’ in Tel Aviv, organised by the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM - CWI in Israel-Palestine)

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Northern Ireland
The Stormont House Agreement

05/01/2015: Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

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Environment
Market forces hold back renewable energy

01/01/2015: Have capitalist governments around the world finally woken up to the danger of global warming?

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New Year
Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015

31/12/2014: As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

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Britain
In defence of TUSC

30/12/2014: As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition gears up for its biggest ever electoral stand…

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Tunisia

“The mass of people continue to struggle”

www.socialistworld.net, 31/01/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Interview with two Tunisian socialists, one year after the fall of Ben Ali

The Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales)

14 January marked the first anniversary of the downfall of the hated dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali by the Tunisian revolution. ‘The Socialist’, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales) spoke to two socialists who are campaigning in Tunisia and who sympathise with the politics of the Committee for a Workers’ International.

Can you describe the situation in Tunisia today?

Revolution is a process, not a single act. This process is still continuing, which can be seen by the new wave of protests which has taken place in Tunisia, especially since the beginning of the year.

Every day, new protests against the authorities, new strikes for better social conditions, sit-ins by people expressing their grievances are occurring all over the country.

The anniversary of the revolution has provided a momentum for what seems to be the biggest wave of mobilisations since one year ago, which has taken in some areas an almost ‘insurrectional’ character. In the mining areas around Gafsa, the situation is explosive, with regular strikes and demonstrations, and entire localities being self-run by inhabitants.

Protest against unemployment in Gafsa in December

A regional general strike has also taken place and lasted five days in the governorate (region) of Siliana, in the south, between 13 and 18 January, to protest against poverty and the social marginalisation of the region.

’Revolution’, in Arabic, means a complete, fundamental break from the past; but this has not happened. All these protests show that people have still got much to fight for, that conditions for the majority have not fundamentally changed.

The objective conditions in society that caused the revolutionary upheaval are still present. In many respects daily life for the majority has actually got worse. Unemployment has literarily exploded, while this issue was at the heart of people’s demands in the first place.

Since 14 January of last year, there have been 107 cases of new self-immolations in the country, with at least six during the first week of this year. Most of them are unemployed people, desperate and ready to do anything to get a job.

There has been no fundamental break from the past system; consequently it is entirely predictable that the mass of people continue to struggle. So it is clear that the revolution – people looking for real change in society, and erupting en masse onto the scene to impose it – is still alive.

After the first stage of the revolution can you draw up a balance sheet of what has been won and what is still to be won?

The first thing to note is that the capitalist class was relying on the old regime of President Ben Ali to defend its interests. When Ben Ali was overthrown, the capitalists were initially destabilised. Faced with a revolution that threatened their social existence, they had to concede important demands especially in the political sphere, in an attempt to restore a certain control.

Under the pressure of the mobilisations, a lot of leading figures in the state machine were removed, the ex-ruling party, Ben Ali’s RCD, was dissolved, etc. The movement was so powerful that even the commentators in the capitalist-controlled media were forced to admit that this was a revolution.

However, since the initial revolutionary upsurge, there has been a conscious attempt by the capitalists to concentrate attention solely on questions of political democracy and political representation, but not to concede on the fundamental social foundations of capitalism.

All the elements linked to the capitalist class have deployed efforts to derail the revolutionary process towards the safe channels of ‘legality’, towards the old existing constitution and institutions. But it was the revolutionary youth and workers who imposed the election for a new Constituent Assembly, after the second mass occupation of the Kasbah Square.

The majority have not clear objectives in which direction to take society, the political consciousness is quite mixed. The mass of the people are trying to navigate themselves through the daily poverty and corrupt state bureaucracy bearing down on them. However, there is a realisation among many that simply by removing the figurehead of the old regime, their lives have not and will not improve fundamentally.

People are angry and frustrated by the lack of progress. Many lost friends and relatives in the revolution, but see that their sacrifices have been hijacked by the ruling class. Even the martyrs’ families have seen their cases denied real justice. A lot of the killers are still running free, including some whose identity is known.

Demo organised by martyrs’ families in Tunis

And the people injured by the state’s repression in the beginning of the year have been denied proper medical assistance. 90% of the people who were shot have still the bullet in their bodies, because of the lack of serious medical treatment! A lot have lost their jobs, or even their lives, since. In some cases the police have even been sent against them when they were protesting.

The British press has made a lot of the Islamist parties’ election victory. How do socialists view it?

The ‘moderate’ religious party Ennahda was the main winner of December’s parliamentary elections. It made gains at the expense of the other parties because it exploited the pressing social issues – poverty and unemployment, etc - of the majority.

Ennahda was also able to convince many voters that the other ‘secular’ parties were ‘anti-religious’ and wanted to attack Islam. This was made possible because most secular parties encouraged the political debate to be polarised in such a way that the burning social issues were not really addressed.

Ennahda also bought votes with money from the Qatar regime and elsewhere. Ennahda members promised voters gifts of all sorts, such as sacrificial sheep for the feast of ‘Aid al-Adha’. When these didn’t materialise there were protests.

It is not so much that Ennahda is a strong force in society; rather it is the case that the other opposition parties are very weak. And Ennahda was then able to fill in the vacuum.

However, Ennadha will lose support as it fails to deliver in terms of improving the social conditions of the poor. This cannot fail to happen, as Ennhada’s policy is nothing but a new version of the old regime’s policies. And many people are drawing such a conclusion. In January Ennahda attempted to impose figures associated with the old regime at the head of the public media. This provoked such an outcry that they had to step back.

Already Ennahda has experienced a fall in support in the opinion polls, from 41% to 28%. And a certain part of Ennahda’s electoral support is on the streets to protest against the party they voted for in October. That does not mean an automatic drop in support for right wing political Islam in general –as more fundamentalist wings are also trying to step in- but it shows that a significant layer of Ennahda’s votes is not based on firm ground.

The workers, through strike action, played a decisive part in the revolution. What is happening now within the workers’ movement?

In December 2011, a new national bureau of the UGTT [Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail] was elected. This is significant, as this new leadership is currently in a ‘cold war’ with the government. Among the 13 members of the new bureau, there are nine who purport to be from a ‘Marxist’ tradition.

UGTT congress in late December 2011

The UGTT is potentially more powerful than any political party in the country, and to an extent the new leadership understands this. Although the UGTT leaders are not revolutionary, and despite coming from a Marxist background, are not relating their day-to-day activities and propaganda to the socialist transformation of society, they are nonetheless much more to the left than the previous leadership and not directly associated with Ben Ali’s dictatorial regime as the previous ones were.

A number of them come from a militant background, they know that the crisis of capitalism is worsening the attacks on the working class and are more attuned to the mood of the rank-and-file workers. They are therefore pressurised to speak the ‘language of the class struggle’ and adopt a more radical stand in relation to the new government.

There are workers’ struggles breaking out everywhere in Tunisia at the present time, including some key sectors of the working class, for example in the gas industry where a blockade of the port of Gabès has taken place. The oil sector has also been hit by strike actions. Workers and poor have also been involved in blocking the railways and roads. Figures have been released stating there are on average four road blockades taking place every day. There have been sit-ins and in some cases hunger strikes, to improve working conditions and to demand more jobs.

These strikes have not only addressed social and economic demands, but have also been political in character – demanding the removal of corrupt officials and managers associated with the old regime, and targeting the new government’s impotence to face with their grievances.

The main challenge is to transform the UGTT into a democratic and fighting body for the organisation of the working class, which also means orientating it towards the massive amount of angry unemployed, and to embrace a positive programme which can challenge the rule of capitalism.

Of course we are not utopian. Without a mass party for working people that can be a lever for achieving a socialist revolution, all sorts of prospects could open. That’s why building such a party is now the most important task for revolutionaries.

The imperialist powers want to showcase Tunisia as a democratic ‘model’ of a capitalist-controlled transition. Imperialism would be panicked if there is a workers’ movement going in the direction of controlling the economy. That is something they want to avoid at all costs because of the consequences for the entire region. This is the reason why there is such an aggressive ideological campaign in the media to attack workers on strike, a campaign aimed at scaring people, saying that strikes and sit-ins are “pushing away investors and destroying jobs”, etc.

But this campaign seems to have little effect on the working class. The capitalists expected that with a new elected government, it will have sufficient authority to bring social stability. The demand from the new President of the Republic, arguing for a “social truce of six months” has reflected this. But it does not work. The continuous pressure put on the government because of the struggles and strikes could result in imperialist countries providing the Tunisian government with more financial support to calm the situation. But their margin of manoeuvre is limited, given the general economic conjuncture.

What role has been played by the left forces in Tunisia?

The left has historically played a central role in many important working class struggles and social gains, including on women’s rights and to provide a public healthcare system.

There are now many organisations on the left. However, the litmus test in Tunisia today is the application of a socialist programme to take the workers’ struggles forward.

The country could experience a Greek-style period of protracted struggle, because of the lack of a mass workers’ party with a socialist programme to carry the movement towards challenging the capitalist system.

There can be no permanent solution for society’s problems within capitalism. Those forces on the left who argue that a first, ‘democratic capitalism’ stage needs to be fulfilled before talking of socialism are misleading the working class. Because capitalism is only interested in exploiting workers, not in putting in place a real democracy. The only way out of the impasse is for the working class to achieve socialism. Concretely, a socialist programme must address the questions of a full jobs-programme based on sharing the work and on massive investment in public infrastructure, a decent welfare for all, workers’ control on industry and banks… But unfortunately the left does not put forward a clear programme on these issues.

The group sympathising with the CWI in Tunisia demands the non-payment of the country’s ‘debt’ from the old regime, the nationalisation of the banks and of the entire wealth of the ex-ruling clans under democratic control of the working class and the population, and a government based on the workers and on the people who have made the revolution, in order to fulfil these measures. At the moment we argue for the organisation of a general strike as a first step to unite in one powerful show of strength all the people who are struggling in different parts of the country.

What message would you like to give to workers fighting austerity measures and the crisis of capitalism in other countries?

After the revolution the media opened up a bit in Tunisia. So instead of the usual football matches, we were also able to see on TV workers’ struggles in Europe, such as in Greece. Greece is to Europe what Tunisia was to the Maghreb and the region, in the sense that these workers’ struggles have been hugely inspiring.

In Britain there has been recently a regeneration of the trade unions and workers’ strikes after a relatively long period of quiescence. This is very significant, as it also shows the limitations of the rulers’ propaganda, and how the situation can be transformed if working people organise and take their fate into their hands.



Europe

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US: Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address, 21/01/2015

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NEWS

Greece: Syriza-led government announces anti-austerity policies
30/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Markets and EU leaders react against Athens

Saudi Arabia: ’Defenders of democracy’ mourn despot’s death
30/01/2015, Simon Carter, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Atrocious human rights records no concern for Western powers

Greece: Syriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten
29/01/2015, Editorial of The Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
An inspiration for workers and youth across Europe

China: Slowest growth rate since 1990
25/01/2015, chinaworker.info reporters:
Economy decelerated 30 percent in five years

Northern Ireland: Water service workers win important victory
23/01/2015, Donal O’Cofaigh, Socialist Party, Fermanagh:
A victory for all workers and an inspiration to resist the ‘race to the bottom’

Sri Lanka: Mobilise now to defend our demands
22/01/2015, Tu Senan, International Coordinator of the Tamil Solidarity campaign:
Article first published in the Colombo Telegraph

US: Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address
21/01/2015, Socialistworld.net, via socialistalternative.org:
"Why can’t Barack Obama say “Black Lives Matter”?"

Review: ‘Eleanor Marx - a life’
17/01/2015, Clare Doyle, CWI. Article published in the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Clare Doyle reviews ’Eleanor Marx - A Life’ by Rachel Holmes

Video: Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor
16/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist MP grills establishment over banking bubble and collapse

Nigeria: 2015 general elections and the working masses
16/01/2015, Aj. Dagga Tolar and Kola Ibrahim, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Boko Haram and the war in the north-east

Video: Ruth Coppinger calls for referendum on abortion rights in Ireland
15/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
"You march in Paris, yet uphold laws any religious fundamentalist would envy"

Video: A year of struggle in Brazil
14/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
LSR members intervene in struggles of 2014

Sri Lanka: New but uncertain period opens up
14/01/2015, Clare Doyle, CWI:
President Sirisena aims for clean government but will face difficulties

Iran: Labour and children’s rights activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, sentenced to another nine years
13/01/2015, Campaign in Support Workers of Iran:
International action needed to overturn latest conviction and to immediately release Behnam

France: Millions march for solidarity
12/01/2015, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
Unity against racism and capitalism!

New Zealand: Extreme poverty worsens
12/01/2015, CWI Reporters, NZ/Aotearoa:
Workers need to build political alternative to major parties’ big business agenda

France: Counter terrorist threat with workers-led mass unity
10/01/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) website editorial:
The shocking, cold blooded slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and more killings in subsequent days, has been met with mass outrage

Norway: General strike called for 28 January
10/01/2015, Trond Sverre and Elise Kollveit (CWI, Oslo):
Two-hour protest against worsening working conditions

Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa defeated
09/01/2015, TU Senan, CWI:
Period of uncertainty opens

Sweden: New elections cancelled
09/01/2015, Questions answered by Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
“Peace deal” between government and right-wing opposition

France: Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo
08/01/2015, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

Hong Kong: Politics transformed by ‘Umbrella Revolution’
07/01/2015, Editorial from Socialist magazine《社會主義者, of CWI in China and Hong Kong:
A fighting democratic movement must be created to continue and build upon this historic “first round”

Israel-Palestine: A successful Socialism conference in the shadow of national divide
06/01/2015, Or Dar, Socialist Struggle Movement, CWI in Israel-Palestine:
Over 150 people participated in the ‘Socialism Conference 2014’ in Tel Aviv, organised by the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM - CWI in Israel-Palestine)

Environment: Market forces hold back renewable energy
01/01/2015, Pete Dickinson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Have capitalist governments around the world finally woken up to the danger of global warming?

Britain: In defence of TUSC
30/12/2014, Clive Heemskerk, from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition gears up for its biggest ever electoral stand…

CWI: National Question a key feature of political crisis of capitalism
28/12/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI Scotland):
A socialist solution to national oppression

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

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

Russia/Ukraine: Facing a turbulent 2015
21/01/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

Greece: Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes
20/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

Nigeria: The Massacre in Baga
19/01/2015, H.T Soweto, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Socialism or Barbarism

Germany: What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?
13/01/2015, Wolfram Klein, Socialist Alternative (SAV- CWI Germany):
Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

Greece: Towards a Syriza government?
08/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
General elections on 25 January

Northern Ireland: The Stormont House Agreement
05/01/2015, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

New Year: Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015
31/12/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

Latin America: The end of one cycle and the beginning of another
17/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
Document on Latin America, agreed by CWI International Executive Committee

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
15/12/2014, CWI International Executive Committee:
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Sri Lanka: Presidential Election January 8, 2015
11/12/2014, Interview with Siritunga Jayasuriya, USP (CWI Sri Lanka):
Socialist candidate challenges all other forces

Australia: Major community victory stops Melbourne’s East-West Toll Road
08/12/2014, By Socialist Party (CWI Australia) reporters, Melbourne:
Socialist Party leads successful campaign against Toll Road and for investment in public transport

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
27/11/2014, International Secretariat of the CWI :
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Ireland: Lies and distortions against community protests, the AAA and the Socialist Party
21/11/2014, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
Government and Water Charges completely undermined

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks
19/11/2014, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM):
New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

Ukraine: Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions
15/11/2014, Rob Jones, CWI Moscow:
Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

Northern Ireland: 20 years after the ceasefires
10/11/2014, Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

Germany: 25 years since November 9
09/11/2014, By Robert Bechert, CWI, who was living in Berlin in 1989:
Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

Elections in Brazil
07/11/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2014, Clare Doyle, CWI:
November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

Ireland: Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance
04/11/2014, Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

Kurdistan: Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads
31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

A ‘third industrial revolution’
28/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.