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China
The great slowdown

24/07/2014: Signs the mammoth property bubble is finally bursting belie Beijing’s upbeat GDP data

  China

Trotsky
The first year of war

23/07/2014: Article by LEON TROTSKY translated into English for first time

  Trotsky

WW1
The Bolsheviks and the war

21/07/2014: The horrors of the first world war, and the economic and social turmoil it created, led to mass upheaval. In Russia alone did this lead to a successful revolution…

  World War 1

1914
The capitulation of the Second International

19/07/2014: Before 1914, the Second International resolved to act to prevent war…

  World War 1

South Africa
Metal workers’ strike

19/07/2014: Industrial action must take forward call for a new workers’ party

  Africa, South Africa

Britain
Abuse scandals reveal abusive system

18/07/2014: An Establishment cover-up?

  Britain

Sri Lanka
Vicious communalist attacks on Muslims

17/07/2014: USP mounts motor cycle ‘march’ to fight for united struggle against chauvinists

  Sri Lanka

World War One
100 years since the great slaughter

16/07/2014: Ten million killed and more than ten million seriously injured

  History, World War 1

Israel-Palestine
World outraged by Israeli State’s ferocious bombing of Gaza

15/07/2014: Mass action needed to end the slaughter and blockade!

  Israel / Palestine

History
Revolutionary US Teamsters

14/07/2014: Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Strikes

  History, US

Stop the bombing of Gaza – End Israeli state terror!

12/07/2014: Over 100 Gazans have been killed in one week, including 20 children

  Israel / Palestine

Europe
Junk Juncker, Cameron and the anti-worker EU

11/07/2014: "Cameron’s defeat was dire."

  Europe

Israel-Palestine
Netanyahu government fuels wave of protest

08/07/2014: Extracts and updates from a series of articles on the website of Socialist Struggle Movement, the Israel-Palestine section of the CWI.

  Israel / Palestine

Hong Kong
What next after massive July 1 demo?

07/07/2014: Battle-lines hardening as masses push for democracy while government steps up repression

  Hong Kong

Can capitalism put all of us first?

05/07/2014: A response to the “practical idealism” of the Common Weal

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France
Hollande’s austerity plans must be blocked

04/07/2014: United private-public sector strike vital

  France

 Brazil
Solidarity with sacked Metro workers

04/07/2014: 42 workers sacked for going on strike

  Brazil, Solidarity

South Africa
220,000 metalworkers’ on strike

03/07/2014: Forward to a living wage – end labour broking

  South Africa

Australia
Thousands rally in Melbourne against East-West toll road

03/07/2014: Labour claim opposition to project but refuse to rip up contracts

  Australia

 Sri Lanka
Solidarity needed against nationalist attacks

02/07/2014: At least four people were killed and 100 injured in anti-Muslim attacks

  Solidarity, Sri Lanka

Video
Free Vadim Kuramshin

02/07/2014: Joe HIggins, Socialist Party (CWI) TD raises Vadim’s case in Irish parliament

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Argentina
Return to turmoil

01/07/2014: Debt crisis is back – the class struggle and tasks for the Left

  Argentina

Review
’Capital in the Twenty-First Century’

28/06/2014: Thomas Piketty: The new Marx?

  Review

South Africa
Victory in platinum miners’ strike!

27/06/2014: Significant step forward in the struggle for a living wage for all

  South Africa

Pakistan
Military launch offensive in North Waziristan

26/06/2014: Half a million people flee the area

  Pakistan

Britain
Coulson conviction - Cameron must resign!

26/06/2014: Call a general election now

  Britain

Iraq
Isis jihadists capture more territory

24/06/2014: Only organised, united working class can end war and social misery

  Iraq

Israel/Palestine
Protest in Tel Aviv against military raids

24/06/2014: Israeli nationalist thugs cowardly attacked Socialist Struggle Movement activists after the protest

  Israel / Palestine

Waging war on climate change

23/06/2014: The quickening pace of global warming poses a threat to US national security, says a leading, federally-funded military research organisation

  Environment

Pakistan
Scores killed in Taliban attacks on Karachi airport

19/06/2014: Workers need political movement to counter extremist ideology and capitalism

  Pakistan

Nigeria
200 school girls abducted

18/06/2014: Why has Boko Haram insurgency grown?

  Nigeria

Iraq
Oil war’s bloody legacy

17/06/2014: Escalating sectarian conflict threatens to draw in surrounding countries

  Iraq

 Hong Kong
Pro-Beijing newspaper launches attack on CWI

16/06/2014: 1989 massacre apologists accuse Socialist Action (CWI) and radical legislator ‘Long Hair’ of ‘violence’

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Tunisia

Salafist rampages bring worst violence since last year

www.socialistworld.net, 09/07/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Interview with a revolutionary activist

Socialistworld.net

In the middle of June, days of rioting in Tunisia, supposedly triggered by an art exhibition in a suburb of the capital, Tunis, considered as ‘blasphemous’ by fanatical religious groups, left at least one person dead and 62 injured. Salafist groups - probably helped by elements linked to the fallen regime - armed with knives, clubs and Molotov cocktails, attacked shops, set police stations on fire, raided offices of the trade union and of political parties, and clashed with the police for several days in different parts of the country. Socialistworld.net spoke to a Tunisian revolutionary activist sympathising with the ideas of the CWI on the recent developments and their implications.

What are the origin and the context in which this violence has taken place?

In order to understand the recent events, it is important to realise first that the social climate in Tunisia has been extremely tense for several months. Nothing has changed, and there is a complete failure of the government’s policies to address the root causes of poverty, unemployment, rising prices, and so on. There have been continuing tensions between the government and the trade unions, and numerous strikes in all sectors of the economy, to which the authorities have responded with increasing hostility, including using militias to break them up. The government is desperate to find a way to prevent the working class from expressing its discontent and defending its interests.

Another important element is that a secular right-wing faction (people who are painting themselves as ‘progressive’ but who are organised around some elements of the old dictatorial regime, such Caid Essebsi, the ex-provisional Prime Minister) is re-affirming itself in opposition to the present Ennahda-led government.

Both of these wings are not happy that the debate in society has been dominated by social questions for weeks now. The leading party Ennahda is trying to avoid talking about these things as much as it can. And it has been a regular feature since last year that those in power are trying to divert attention from social questions and to feed division by exploiting issues related to religion and identity.

The picture given is that there is a supposed fundamental cleavage based around the place of religion in society. But for the majority of people, these are secondary questions. The most crucial needs to be addressed are jobs, infrastructure and social development, justice to the martyrs’ families, etc. On all these questions the government is hopeless and increasingly discredited.

It is within such a context that the violence launched by Salafist groups has taken place. One can only wonder if the fact that they are taking place now is a pure coincidence.

What triggered these riots?

It is a petty issue. A painting exhibition was supposedly at the heart of all this. The Salafists pretended that the paintings were against Muslim values, and wanted everybody to believe that religion was in danger because of a few supposedly unbelieving artists who were attacking God. Beyond the fact that this relates to the freedom of expression, the idea that this art exhibition was hurting Islam is not even true.

Some radical Imams and Salafist groups incited the violence. Moreover, the number two leader of Al-Quaeda, Ayman Zawahiri,made a public declaration just on the day before, calling Tunisian Muslims to rise up against a so-called “non-Islamist” government and to demand the application of the Shariah law.

In a matter of a few days things took an uncontrollable turn. Once the riots had begun, all sorts of bandits and marginalised and deprived youth took the streets as well. What followed were days of street violence and clashes between mainly Salafists and the riot police, in different parts of the country. These riots, however, didn’t have a large appeal or popular support. Contrary to the attitude of the population during the recent citywide general strikes that we have witnessed in many regions, the mass of the people didn’t take part but stayed on the sidelines.

What was the reaction of the government?

The government has been playing a balancing game with the Salafists since the beginning, and it continues to do so. On the one hand, Ennahda itself regularly tries to exploit religious sensitivities for its own political and electoral purposes, and generally didn’t intervene when the Salafists engaged in violent actions, in order not to hurt its own more radical base of support. Especially when the Salafists are taking action against left activists or attacking the trade unions, as happened on many occasions in the recent period, the government remained generally silent or lenient.

But this time they could not ignore the fact that these actions were provoking mass outrage among the population. At the same time, the government had been recently more and more pressurised by business people from the tourism sector, as well as by imperialist countries, to do something about these fanatical groups who by their actions are not favouring a “good climate for investment” and for the tourists to come back visiting the country.

That’s why they went for a crackdown, endorsing police intervention, the Interior Ministry even declaring that they would be willing to use live ammunition to quell further unrest (which they did, shooting dead one man in Sousse), and called the people involved in the riots “terrorists”, “extremists”, etc. The authorities imposed a 9pm-5am curfew in the capital, Tunis, as well as in seven other regions of the country, and arrested over 160 Salafists.

However, this still went hand-in-hand with proposals by Ennahda leaders to implement repressive laws condemning those who supposedly disrespect religious sensitivities, as well as with a call by the same party to demonstrate with “our Salafist brothers” after Friday’s prayers. But ultimately they pulled back from this last call, as its provocative character was “over the top”.

What is the appreciation of the government among the population?

It is clear that Ennahda has dropped dramatically in popularity, and has not the same margin of manoeuvre that they used to have in the past. Whenever a representative of the government travels into the regions, he is booed or his presence provokes clashes. I don’t think Ennahda will be able to repeat a score of over 40% in the elections as they did last November. A lot of people have voted Ennahda the last time, but won’t do it anymore.

Obviously Ennahda still maintains a certain base of support but it has been reduced. That’s why they had a tendency, despite their initial ‘moderate’ profile, to lean more and more upon radical elements to survive.

But people are angry that Ennahda is ruling with the same methods of brutality and nepotism as the RCD used to do. The party is using repressive laws set up by Ben Ali to deal with opponents, it places loyal figures in every sphere of the State, in the media, in the administration, in the justice system, and so on.

That is precisely why a figure of the old regime such as Essebsi has been able to make a comeback onto the political scene, by trying to exploit the rising popular anger against the ruling coalition (“coalition”, by the way, is an exaggerated term, as in reality the so-called troika doesn’t really exist: it is Ennahda which is the commanding machine of all this). Hence it is more than a possibility that old regime loyalists have also been involved in the recent clashes, in order to fuel a ‘strategy of tension’ which, they hope, would benefit this particular wing of the ruling class.

The working class especially is fed up with empty promises. The recent complementary budget which has been passed through in the Parliament is a provocation: it empties the pockets of the poor to give to the even poorer sections of society. Some subventions for poor families, as well as the construction of new social housing units have been decided, but it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the needs, and is mainly based on sharing misery instead of attacking the interests of the rich. It is also a way for the new regime to seed division between workers and the other layers of the poor, the unemployed, etc. That’s about all this government is capable of offering.

What is the response of the left in the present situation?

Faced with the danger of an emerging pole around Essebsi on the one hand, and the troika with its ambivalent attitude towards the Salafists on the other, the left needs to encourage and build an independent working class pole based on the UGTT and on the genuine demands of the revolution. We need to re-centre the debate on the issues that really matter for the people; the question is not of religious and non-religious people, but about fighting together for a society based on decent living standards for all, creating jobs for the unemployed, cleaning the State machine, etc.

The left organisations have a noticeable influence in the trade unions, but the problem is often that the political expression that they give to their work is below what is needed and doesn’t match the rapid radicalisation which is taking place among the masses in struggle. Some on the left, though they remain marginal at this stage, are even arguing now that faced with the danger of “islamisation” of the country, we should forget for a moment our strategic ambitions, and make an alliance with Essebsi and his clan.

We are willing to establish the necessary connection with the broader working class. For that purpose we need to stand uncompromisingly for the refusal of the payment of the debt inherited from the tyrant Ben Ali, for the nationalisation of the banks and of the big companies, for a steady development of the infrastructure on the basis of a massive public investment programme, especially in the interior regions.

We say there is no point of arguing against the present power if it is to fall back in the arms of people linked with the regime that the revolution just got rid of. During the recent crisis, we have encouraged initiatives based on the organisation of the people themselves to defend their neighbourhoods and their integrity against the violence of the Salafists. But we also fought consistently to defy the curfews imposed by the State and against police brutality, as we don’t want a State-imposed solution, with the military, the police and the national guard controlling our streets, as such a scenario would inevitably make our own struggle much more difficult.



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NEWS

China: The great slowdown
24/07/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Signs the mammoth property bubble is finally bursting belie Beijing’s upbeat GDP data

South Africa: Metal workers’ strike
19/07/2014, By Workers and Socialist Party (WASP – South Africa) Reporters:
Industrial action must take forward call for a new workers’ party

Britain: Abuse scandals reveal abusive system
18/07/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party, Deputy General Secretary:
An Establishment cover-up?

Sri Lanka: Vicious communalist attacks on Muslims
17/07/2014, Siritunga Jayasura, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka):
USP mounts motor cycle ‘march’ to fight for united struggle against chauvinists

History: Revolutionary US Teamsters
14/07/2014, Alan Jones and Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative:
Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the 1934 Minneapolis Strikes

Stop the bombing of Gaza – End Israeli state terror!
12/07/2014, Text of Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) leaflet:
Over 100 Gazans have been killed in one week, including 20 children

Europe: Junk Juncker, Cameron and the anti-worker EU
11/07/2014, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
"Cameron’s defeat was dire."

Britain: Millions of public sector workers prepare to strike
09/07/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary:
Build workers’ movement

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu government fuels wave of protest
08/07/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Extracts and updates from a series of articles on the website of Socialist Struggle Movement, the Israel-Palestine section of the CWI.

Hong Kong: What next after massive July 1 demo?
07/07/2014, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Battle-lines hardening as masses push for democracy while government steps up repression

France: Hollande’s austerity plans must be blocked
04/07/2014, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
United private-public sector strike vital

Brazil: Solidarity with sacked Metro workers
04/07/2014, socialistworld.net:
42 workers sacked for going on strike

Venezuela: Successful workers’ and popular march in Barquisimeto
04/07/2014, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Venezuela) reporters:
Photo report of march

South Africa: 220,000 metalworkers’ on strike
03/07/2014, Mametlwe Sebei, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP) Deputy President:
Forward to a living wage – end labour broking

Australia: Thousands rally in Melbourne against East-West toll road
03/07/2014, Chris Dite, Socialist Party (CWI in Australia):
Labour claim opposition to project but refuse to rip up contracts

Sri Lanka: Solidarity needed against nationalist attacks
02/07/2014, Keerthikan Thennavan, Tamil Solidarity:
At least four people were killed and 100 injured in anti-Muslim attacks

Video: Free Vadim Kuramshin
02/07/2014, socialistworld.net:
Joe HIggins, Socialist Party (CWI) TD raises Vadim’s case in Irish parliament

South Africa: Victory in platinum miners’ strike!
27/06/2014, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP) statement:
Significant step forward in the struggle for a living wage for all

Pakistan: Military launch offensive in North Waziristan
26/06/2014, Khalid Bhatti , SMP (CWI in Pakistan):
Half a million people flee the area

Britain: Coulson conviction - Cameron must resign!
26/06/2014, Judy Beishon, Socialist Party executive committee:
Call a general election now

Israel/Palestine: Protest in Tel Aviv against military raids
24/06/2014, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI in Israel/Palestine) reporters:
Israeli nationalist thugs cowardly attacked Socialist Struggle Movement activists after the protest

Waging war on climate change
23/06/2014, Manny Thain, from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The quickening pace of global warming poses a threat to US national security, says a leading, federally-funded military research organisation

Pakistan: Scores killed in Taliban attacks on Karachi airport
19/06/2014, Khalid Bhatti, Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI), Lahore:
Workers need political movement to counter extremist ideology and capitalism

Hong Kong: Pro-Beijing newspaper launches attack on CWI
16/06/2014, Dikang, Socialist Action in Hong Kong:
1989 massacre apologists accuse Socialist Action (CWI) and radical legislator ‘Long Hair’ of ‘violence’

Brazil: Solidarity protests internationally
16/06/2014, Socialistworld.net:
More pictures from solidarity protests around the world

Brazil: World Cup opening coupled with continuing protests and strikes
13/06/2014, Socialistworld.net:
A few pictures and a video from the protests and CWI intervention

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Trotsky: The first year of war
23/07/2014, Originally published in in special WWI edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Article by LEON TROTSKY translated into English for first time

WW1: The Bolsheviks and the war
21/07/2014, Peter Taaffe, article originally published in special WWI edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
The horrors of the first world war, and the economic and social turmoil it created, led to mass upheaval. In Russia alone did this lead to a successful revolution…

1914: The capitulation of the Second International
19/07/2014, Robert Bechert (a longer version of an article published in the July/August 2014 issue of Socialism Today):
Before 1914, the Second International resolved to act to prevent war…

World War One: 100 years since the great slaughter
16/07/2014, Tony Saunois, article originally published in special WWI edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Ten million killed and more than ten million seriously injured

Israel-Palestine:World outraged by Israeli State’s ferocious bombing of Gaza
15/07/2014, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Mass action needed to end the slaughter and blockade!

Can capitalism put all of us first?
05/07/2014, By Philip Stott:
A response to the “practical idealism” of the Common Weal

Argentina: Return to turmoil
01/07/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Debt crisis is back – the class struggle and tasks for the Left

Review: ’Capital in the Twenty-First Century’
28/06/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI England and Wales):
Thomas Piketty: The new Marx?

Iraq: Isis jihadists capture more territory
24/06/2014, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Only organised, united working class can end war and social misery

Nigeria: 200 school girls abducted
18/06/2014, By Segun Sango, National Chairperson, Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN), a party initiated by the DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Why has Boko Haram insurgency grown?

Iraq: Oil war’s bloody legacy
17/06/2014, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Escalating sectarian conflict threatens to draw in surrounding countries

Ukraine: Hundreds killed in military clashes
13/06/2014, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
Working people fearing all-out war

Review: ’The Snowden Files’
12/06/2014, Clare Doyle, from Socialism Today (June 2014 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Exposing the ‘architecture of oppression’

Britain: The Battle of Orgreave
11/06/2014, Ken Smith, from Socialism Today (June 2014 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
1984 state-organised riot against striking miners

Brazil: Homeless struggle and Metro strike as World Cup approaches
09/06/2014, André Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
New stage of the class struggle

Euro polls warning
05/06/2014, Robert Bechert, CWI:
In country after country, May’s elections to the European parliament saw governments and traditional parties defeated

2014: The ’rejection election’
30/05/2014, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Now Trade Unions must lead our fightback

Ireland: Electoral surge against austerity
28/05/2014, Danny Byrne, CWI:
Socialist Party wins a second TD and Anti Austerity Alliance 14 councillors

Euro elections: A revolt against the capitalist establishment
27/05/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales):
Gains for the far right but some successes for genuine Left

Turkey: Mass protest and strikes erupt against AKP government and mine-owning cronies
15/05/2014, Socialistworld.net:
Soma mine disaster deadliest in the country’s history

China: What lies behind anti-corruption drive?
13/05/2014, Editorial from Socialist 《社会主义者》magazine (issue 26) (CWI):
Case against former security czar risks dangerous splits in ruling party

Nigeria: Boko Haram’s abduction of school girls horrifies the world
12/05/2014, Hassan Taiwo Soweto, Democratic Socialist Movement (CWI Nigeria), Lagos:
Can a solution to the insurgency be found under capitalism?

Ukraine: Descending into bloody conflict
09/05/2014, Rob Jones, Moscow:
Only united working class action can stop the catastrophe

South Africa: Elections 2014
09/05/2014, By Weizman Hamilton, General Secretary of WASP:
The ANC victory, WASP and the EFF.

Algeria: Abdelaziz Bouteflika sworn in for a fourth presidential term
07/05/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
Instability sets to grow