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latest news

China
Slowest growth rate since 1990

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

  China

Cuba
Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased

24/01/2015: Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

  Cuba, US

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’

  Ireland North

Sri Lanka
Mobilise now to defend our demands

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

  Sri Lanka

 US
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”?"

  US, Video

Russia/Ukraine
Facing a turbulent 2015

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

  Russia, Ukraine

Greece
Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes

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

  Greece

Nigeria
The Massacre in Baga

19/01/2015: Socialism or Barbarism

  Nigeria

Review
‘Eleanor Marx - a life’

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

  Review

 Video
Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor

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

  Video

Nigeria
2015 general elections and the working masses

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

  Nigeria

  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"

  Ireland Republic, Video, Women

 Video
A year of struggle in Brazil

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

  Brazil, Video

Sri Lanka
New but uncertain period opens up

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

  Sri Lanka

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

  Iran

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

  Germany

France
Millions march for solidarity

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

  France

New Zealand
Extreme poverty worsens

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

  New Zealand

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

  France

Norway
General strike called for 28 January

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

  Norway

Sri Lanka
Rajapaksa defeated

09/01/2015: Period of uncertainty opens

  Sri Lanka

Sweden
New elections cancelled

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

  Sweden

Greece
Towards a Syriza government?

08/01/2015: General elections on 25 January

  Greece

France
Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo

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

  France

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”

  Hong Kong

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)

  Israel / Palestine

Northern Ireland
The Stormont House Agreement

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

  Ireland Republic

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?

  Environment

New Year
Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015

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

  Britain, Europe, World Economy

Britain
In defence of TUSC

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

  Britain, US

 CWI
National Question a key feature of political crisis of capitalism

28/12/2014: A socialist solution to national oppression

  CWI

Scotland
Blairite wins election as Labour’s new Scottish leader

27/12/2014: Murphy’s election means trade unions must build a new workers party

  Scotland

Obituary
Gough Whitlam, 1916-2014

26/12/2014: Former Australian Labour Party (ALP) prime minister

  Australia, Obituary

China
Hard landing in 2015?

24/12/2014: China’s economic slowdown already being felt throughout world economy

  China

Trotsky
‘The national principle’

24/12/2014: An article written by LEON TROTSKY, exposing the hypocrisy of world powers towards national minorities and oppressed peoples, translated into English for the first time

  History, Trotsky

Portugal

General strike announced after biggest workers’ march in 32 years

www.socialistworld.net, 17/02/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Determination to break from current path towards ruin and bankruptcy

Danny Byrne, CWI and Fransisco Oliveira Raposo, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Portugal)

CGTP union organisers claimed that the workers, pensioners and young people, who flooded onto the streets of Lisbon on Saturday 11 February numbered over 300,000. This would make the demo, called against the austerity policies pushed by the right-wing coalition government and Troika, the biggest workers’ march in 32 years, since the revolutionary period of the 1970s. These policies are driving the economy and society further and further down the “Greek road”, towards mass impoverishment and default. But, with a general strike now announced for 22 March it is being shown that, as in Greece, the working people will shake the system to its foundations in the fight for an alternative road.

A sea of red flags and banners set off from various points in the city centre, and converged in human sea. Chants of “alternative policies are urgently necessary”, “the struggle will continue on the streets and in the workplaces” were heard throughout, as the mood on the demonstration represented a clear shift in a more militant and determined direction. With the announcement of a new general strike, the stage is set for a period of escalated class battles.

Troika austerity accelerates social degradation

The continual release of economic and social data from last year, paints quite a clear picture, which reinforces the necessity of entering the stage of struggle. This is a picture of spiralling living standards, and an economic crisis which is worsening in tandem with the increasing levels of austerity being imposed by consecutive governments and the Troika. This is confirmed by all the fundamental indicators. Mass unemployment is worsening, with 2011 having registered twice the number of company layoffs than 2010. And on top of this, records show the real avalanche of job losses coming in the autumn / winter period, after Troika representatives had settled in. The dead end of austerity policies has even been registered by capitalist investors. 2011 saw a 25% drop in industrial orders and exports, again with a rapid acceleration of the decline in the last months of the year.

Mass unemployment and attacks on the wages and conditions of workers, with salaries cut across the board and a lengthening of the working week, are combined with rising prices of basic goods and services, such as electricity and transport. The result is a rapid and massive impoverishment, which threatens the fragile existence of the Portuguese middle class. The media has reported on how price rises implemented in the new year led to a new swathe of insolvency and bankruptcy, overwhelmingly hitting the former ’middle class’. The national debt support office (GAS), which provides emergency debt assistance, reported that the overwhelming majority of those seeking aid were university graduates, with an income of over 1,500 Euros a month. This process, leading to a rapid polarisation between a rich elite and an impoverished majority is the spectre which awaits the mass of Portuguese people on the basis of Troika capitalist rule.

2nd bailout?

However, the most striking illustration of the failure of last year’s bailout package is the situation regarding the debt itself. After almost 1 year of brutal austerity with the aim of reducing the debt and calming the debt markets, Portugal now pays over 3 times the risk premium on its debt than it did before the “bailout” was agreed! The plan upon which the bailout was agreed, with an expected return of Portugal to the financial markets in 2013, has been blown to smithereens by the disastrous impact of these policies. All serious ’independent’ commentators accept that these targets are fanciful, and take for granted the necessity of going back to the Troika for another bailout.

Government sources are eager to deny such a prospect, but these denials are fairly reminiscent of those of Socrates, the previous Socialist Party Prime Minister, who denied the need for a bailout in the first place right up until the last minute, insisting that “everything was under control”. In fact, so ridiculous is the current government’s position, that it has not even been able to keep the truth from escaping its own ranks! Eduardo Catroga, himself a negotiator appointed by the government to deal with the Troika, admitted weeks ago that “at least another 20 billion” was necessary in order to meet obligations. At a recent EU summit, the Portuguese Finance Minister was caught on camera speaking with his German counterpart, who assured him that a “renegotiation” of the package would be possible, once the situation with Greece had became more stable.

How long will it be before the game is up? A 2nd bailout, inevitably attached to even greater austerity would even more clearly push Portugal down the Greek road, with even more miserable conditions imposed on the majority. When the Troika arrived initially, despite massive opposition, there were some hopes that financial aid would allow the worst to be overcome. A layer of people who remembered the IMF’s intervention in 1979, which preceded Portugal’s entry to the European Union, and despite brutal attacks on the working class, gave way to a period of so-called prosperity, had hopes that the Troika’s intervention could have similar eventual results. But these hopes, and the hopes hammered into people since that period by capitalism to the effect that a new era of prosperity of Portugal in Europe had dawned, are being crushed. The reality, that rather than help the ’promotion’ of Portugal into the EU “premier league”, the capitalist EU merely cemented the dominance of the big European powers, is settling in, leading to an explosive mixture in consciousness.

New social movements

The crisis has not been wanting for manifestations of social unrest. Under the misnamed Partido Socialista government, led by José Sócrates in 2010, a set of three packages of austerity measures, notoriously named “Stability and Growth Plans” (PECs) were implemented, which in reality, sped up the process of crisis and impoverishment. The growing pace of attacks and the huge anger amongst the working class led to a general strike in November 2010 which paralysed the economy. But it was followed by a period of demobilisation of the movement by the trade union leaders. Then, in March of 2011, over 300,000 youths exploded onto the streets in the ’Geracao a Rasca’ protests, which, organised through facebook and social networks, were a prelude to the European indignados’ movements. This movement showed a new layer of activists, mostly young people, driven into struggle under the pressures of events.

The fall of Jose Sócrates’ government and the elections which followed seemed to put a temporary break on these new movements, but the new coalition government of right-wing parties soon faced new mass oposition. The ’15-O Platform’ mobilised 100,000 young people in October and has given way to the continued, although lower scale, activity of various social movements, such as the Portuguese indignados, Occupy, Anonymous etc.

Part of the basis for the explosion onto the surface of these new social movements was the failure of the trade union movement to profile itself as a dependable and democratic fighting force, after the experience of the 2010 general strike. However, the re-entry of the trade union movement onto the stage with the 24 November 2011 general strike of massive proportions, followed by the election of a new leadership of the CGTP (main union federation) which is seen as more militant, and Saturday’s demonstration, the organised workers’ movement seems to have re-taken the momentum. However, the fundamental tasks posed by the new social movements, of opening up the unions on the basis of democratic control from below, unionising the young ’precariat’ and the building of a united movement of workers, youth and the unemployed, remain unsolved.

Another expression of the unstable situation and unrest has been the consistent rifts in the state apparatus, with army staff and sergeants’ associations in open conflict with the government over cuts and changes to practice. A recent war of words took place between the Minister of Defence and the sergeant’s association, when the former demanded that those in the armed forces who wanted to protest “look for another career”. This was replied to with a defiant open letter from the sergeants’ union, in defence of the right to protest. The trade union and social movements must support all attempts by soldiers and sergeants’ organisations to resist the attacks of the government, and make appeals for them to join in a united movement, including the defence of their right to take strike action. Such an approach could be vital in the coming period of class confrontations, to weaken the capacity of the capitalists to implement their brutality by force.

CGTP

The government’s and Portuguese capitalists’ shameless attempts to isolate Greece and portray the Portuguese situation as completely different are reminiscent of a slave who flogs his friend to please his master! The capitalist press are full of hypocritical attacks on the Greek people “who borrowed more than they could pay back” etc. One of their boasts has been that unlike Greece, they have established a “social pact”, on the basis of which the Troika deal can be implemented. But they forget to mention that this “pact” does not include the biggest trade union federation in the country! As opposed to the smaller UGT federation, the CGTP has refused to sign up to this ’Tripartite’ deal. Reports now indicate that there is a substantial movement of UGT members and rank and file leaders towards the CGTP, as it becomes seen as a more militant point of reference. This was followed by the election of Arménio Carlos as new CGTP secretary. Arménio began his leadership with a series of fiery speeches, and there are hopes amongst the CGTP’s rank and file that he will implement a new strategy, distinct from that of sporadic strikes and demonstrations to let off steam, pursued by the previous Carvalho da Silva leadership.

The following up of last Saturday’s mass demonstration with the announcement of a general strike on 22 March is a good start. Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Portugal) , while welcoming the opportunity which the new leadership represents to fight for an alternative policy, demands that the class struggle be democratically controlled from below, not leaving the top leadership with the unchallenged power to call and call off actions and mobilisations. The general strike should be democratically built for by mass assemblies and strike committees in workplaces, communities universities and schools, with the drawing up of a plan to defeat the government and its policies, involving a series of general strikes of escalating duration, linked to alternative policies, such as the non-payment of the debt to the bankers and speculators and for massive investment of society’s wealth in jobs and socially useful projects. Such bodies should also be open to UGT members who want to participate in strike action, and to non-union workers.

For a political answer to the blackmail

SR members intervened on Saturday’s demonstration selling copies of our newspaper and seeking to build support for our ideas. Now more than ever, a clear political answer to the blackmail of the capitalist parties and Troika is necessary. However, it is tragic at this crucial stage that the leaders of the mass left parties continue to confine their demands to a “renegotiation” of the debt. But on the basis of what re-negotiation would the debt be acceptable, or sustainable?? Look at Greece, where the debt has been renegotiated, with a 70% “write off” of private sector debt. This goes much further than the type of renegotiation demanded by Francisco Louca of the Left Bloc at the time of the Troika intervention, when he called for renegotiation to lower interest rates. And even this has done nothing and will do nothing to reverse the process of devastation in Greece.

From the organised working class movement and the left parties which should represent it, there can be no other position than a repudiation of the debt. With the nationalisation of the banks and key sectors of the economy under democratic control, we could develop an emergency plan to combat the crisis and the poverty spiral. On the basis of mass struggles and of campaigning for such a positive programme, a united front of the left parties (especially the PCP and Left Bloc) could popularise this programme, and the alternative of a workers’ government to transform Portuguese society along socialist lines.

To those who say that this would turn the Euro powers against us, we say that the international offensive of the capitalists and EU must be met with working class internationalism. International action and struggle is key to any alternative to the current crisis. The upcoming mobilisations in Southern Europe, with a general strike in Italy on 9 March, a brewing battle over new labour reform legislation in Spain, and the ongoing turmoil in Greece, must be coordinated with the movement in Portugal. A coordinated general strike in these countries would transform the situation, give confidence to the working class and display the power of the workers, young people and unemployed when mobilised internationally. On the basis of such a power, an alternative Europe of the workers can be built to the capitalist EU.



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

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

Scotland:Blairite wins election as Labour’s new Scottish leader
27/12/2014, Philip Stott, SPS (CWI Scotland):
Murphy’s election means trade unions must build a new workers party

Obituary: Gough Whitlam, 1916-2014
26/12/2014, Conor Flynn, Socialist Party (CWI in Australia):
Former Australian Labour Party (ALP) prime minister

China: Hard landing in 2015?
24/12/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
China’s economic slowdown already being felt throughout world economy

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

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.

Britain: Anniversary of first issue of Militant newspaper
24/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party general secretary, from this week’s Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
50 years of socialist ideas and workers’ struggle

Spain: Death knells of "Transition" regime
23/10/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Catalonia; ’Podemos’, and the left