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23/01/2017: Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

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23/01/2017: Socialist council member speaks

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US
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23/12/2016: Commiserations must not be exploited for racism

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US
Inaugurate the resistance

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Austria
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Greece

Another 48 hour general strike paralyses society

www.socialistworld.net, 08/11/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

But how can the struggle against austerity be won?

An interview with Paris Makrides, Xekinima (Greek CWI)

Yesterday was the first day of another 48 hours general strike. How big was the strike and protests of the Greek workers and youth?

The strike paralysed Greece completely. Athens was like a deserted city as nothing moved except the demonstration of the striking workers. Not only workers were on strike but small shopkeepers as well, even taxi drivers, who together with the strike in public transport paralysed Athens entirely. The picture was similar in every other city of Greece.

The numbers on the Athens strike demonstration however were not that big, due to the lack of transport; workers and youth had no means of getting to the centre of Athens other than by foot. Despite this, we estimate that 30,000 to 40,000 people were on the streets of Athens.

Today’s rally at Syntagma Square, which is intended to encircle the parliament building, where MPs will be voting on the new (third) Memorandum [new austerity measures at the behest of the Trioka] at 5.00pm, will probably be much bigger. But there is always an element of uncertainty, as the broad population, including workers and youth, know that most probably there will be violent clashes largely between anarchists and provocateurs (secret police agents), on the one hand, and the riot police, on the other hand. These clashes turn away the mass of the population from taking part in the demos. If this element did not exist, we can safely say that this afternoon one million people, if not more, would be on the streets of Athens surrounding Syntagma Square.

What does the new, third ’Memorandum’ mean for the Greek people?

The third Memorandum will be a disaster, added to an economy and society already devastated by the two previous Memorandums.

According to estimations of the Troika [European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund], Greece’s GDP will be reduced for a sixth consecutive year. And public debt, notwithstanding the austerity measures that have been adopted these last years and “haircut”, for 2013 will reach 346 billion € (189% of GDP) increased by 66 billion since last February!

Over the last years, Greek people have paid much higher taxes, have see their wages slashed, unemployment has reached 24% and youth unemployment 55% (these are the official figures). Public health and education have been destroyed and public services and companies privatized and sold off for peanuts. But European and Greek capitalists have no interest in the terrible social effects their policies are having.

The third Memorandum contains new cruel austerity measures, such as increase on the retirement age to 67 years, massive dismissals of public employees, more taxes, greater so-called “flexibility” concerning labour relations and privatisations. And it is clear this will lead to more social misery and catastrophe, just like the earlier Memorandums.

How do you explain the fact that despite all this huge mobilisations of the Greek people, the Troika is still able to apply its anti-working class policies?

The Greek people’s struggles over the last two years have been massive. People understand that they have to do something to stop the Troika’s policies. So they participated in general strikes, refused to pay taxes and occupied squares. People want to resist and fight. On the other hand, the trade union leaderships don’t. These leaderships don’t want to overthrow the government because they are tied with the government parties.

The parties of the Left support people’s demands but do not have a plan about how the capitalist’s policies will be stopped and how the government will fall. SYRIZA (Coalition of the Radical Left) recently called for new elections. But elections are not the Left’s primary field of battle at this moment. What is necessary is an indefinite general strike which, of course, will raise the question of power in society – who decides, who controls and who manages the economy and society. This is the only way to go forward, to overthrow the government, and to pave the way for a government of the Left which will be based on worker’s power, through democratic rank and file committees and assemblies, in every workplace, neighborhood, university and school etc.

Is the huge anger of the Greek working class reflected inside the trade unions?

The role of the leaders of trade union is absolutely exasperating. But whatever they do they cannot stop the class struggle. People are outraged with the Troika’s policies. This anger has pushed several rank and file unions and union federations to call the GSEE and ADEDY (the private and public sector trade union centres) for an indefinite general strike, as the only reply that corresponds to the scale of government’s and the Troika’s vicious austerity attacks.

However, the GSEE and ADEDY refused to call an all-out general strike (which was to be expected) and the unions calling for this action did not try to take the next necessary step, which is to co-ordinate actions between themselves; to prepare for and set a day of strike action and to call on the rest of the union movement to come out in coordinated, indefinite strike activity. We are convinced that such an initiative, given the explosive mood in Greek society, would trigger an avalanche of class action and would push aside the official union federation leaderships. Militant, mass industrial action, as described, could maximize workers’ mass pressure against the government and Troika and give society with a perspective to defeat the attacks.

But what really infuriates working class people and drives them “mad” is that often breaks on the strikes movement are made by the parties of the Left. For example, a resolution for at least one week’s strike action was voted down on the Central Council of the ADEDY federation (civil servants’ union) because of the votes of the KKE (Communist Party) faction. The resolution for a week’s long strike had the support of 19 votes, with 17 votes against, but the KKE used its seven votes to defeat it.

In the journalists’ union, two days ago, a similar role was played by the SYRIZA faction, which is the biggest faction in that union. The PASOK vote split, with half supporting the demand of the anti-capitalist Left for indefinite strike action. But SYRIZA voted, together with the conservative section of the union, to have only one 24 hour strike and some three hour stoppages.

These examples show the extent to which the mass parties of the Greek Left are far behind the needs of the situation and the mood of the working masses.

What impact do these developments have on the political landscape?

Despite dissatisfaction with the Left, a big section of the population now regards a new government of the Left as the only hope on the horizon. There is thus a huge turn in favour of SYRIZA (although opinion polls reveal that Syriza’s support has not essentially grown, but it is the largest party because support for the New Democrats, the main party in government, has fallen). But this turn towards SYRIZA is not enthusiastic. This is not without reason. SYRIZA’s political platform is not clear. People do not know exactly what SYRIZA is going to do if it takes the power, and that makes them suspicious. On the other hand, the KKE (communist party) is continuously isolated from the bulk of the working class because of its sectarian tactics. The KKE speaks, in general, about the need for “revolution” and “socialism” but it refuses to link this call, in any way, to today’s reality and to mass consciousness. On the contrary, the KKE say that things are not ‘mature enough’ yet for system change. So, in practice, they have ‘maximum and minimum’ approach (i.e. make radical and general rhetoric for ‘socialism’ etc, while only putting forward minimum demands and without linking the two concretely), rather than a transitional approach (campaigning on the key class demands of the day, while linking this up with the need for a workers’ government and to change society). In reality, as we can see from the union votes mentioned above and other actions, the KKE leadership functions like a strike breaking force.

Despite SYRIZA’s inadequacies, the struggle for a government of the Left is what the movement needs to campaign for and this is the approach of Xekinima. Of course, we link this struggle to the absolute need for a socialist programme and the need to base this on rank and file assemblies and committees of action. We emphasise that if a government of the Left, based around SYRIZA, fails to adopt a socialist platform this will represent a massive defeat for the Greek Left and the working class, particularly given the fact that the neo-fascist Golden Dawn received around 12% to 14% in recent polls.

How is Golden Dawn being combated?

The far right, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn is not invincible, however. Opposition to it is growing. There are many anti-fascist committees being set up. The mass parties of the Left do not really understand how to tackle the problem of rising fascism, which requires working class unity, combating the real danger and propaganda of the far right and also fighting for an end to cuts, and for jobs, decent homes, a living wage and for decent public services, health and education for all etc.

But things are changing. In September, every proposal made inside SYRIZA to create anti-fascist committees (usually made by members of Xekinima who participate in local branches of SYRIZA) was voted down. In the course of the last week, however, the central secretariat of SYRIZA changed its stand and is now in favour of anti-fascist committees. The KKE, on the other hand, makes no such call but it has a sectarian, abstract approach towards resisting Golden Dawn and the need for a united front against the far right threat. The KKE continues to live on its own isolated planet, refusing to understand what is happening around it.

How is the Left responding to the crisis?

SYRIZA is not the only field where developments are taking place. In the rest of the Left important developments are taking place. It is correct to say that the Greek Left, in general, is in a state of crisis, which takes different forms for different parties of the Left. There are splits inside ANTARSYA (the anti-capitalist Left Alliance); there is a mass exodus from the KKE; there are major clashes inside SYRIZA as the leadership turns to the right; and the Left Current of SYNASPISMOS (the main constituent force making up SYRIZA) is reacting to this rightward turn but without clarity as regards what should be done; and, of course, the huge mass of Left voters remain outside the Left parties and formations.

In this context, Xekinima (CWI in Greece), came together with other forces of the Left, from ANTYARSYA and the rest of the anti-capitalist Left and we have also linked up with forces inside SYRIZA, to create the ‘Initiative of the 1000’, as it has become known (1013 individuals signed the launching statement before it became public). This initiative bases itself on the need for a radical anti-capitalist programme, as the only way to come out of the devastating social and economic crisis. This includes calling for a repudiation of the debt, nationalisation of the banks and the commanding heights of the economy, and for a planning of the economy, on the basis of social needs, and under workers’ control and management. The programme also calls for a united front of the parties of the Left and for support for a Left government i.e. a government based around SYRIZA. At the same time, this means fighting against the reformist programme of the leadership of SYRIZA. The majority of the leadership think they can manage the crisis better than the ruling class and do not prioritise fighting to get rid of the capitalist system and for a socialist society.

The Initiative of the 1000 has only been publically alive for a few days but it has already been noted by the whole of the Left. It is an entirely new innovation, uniting forces from all sections and parties of the Left, on the same programme and with similar aims for the mass movement in the immediate period ahead. Its development and potential are not yet clear. But it is certainly worth the attempt to build the Initiative of the 1000. We will be able to say more about its role and perspectives in the very near future.



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NEWS

US: CWI joins protests around the world against Trump
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Photo gallery selection of CWI actions during weekend of mass protests

US: Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech
23/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Socialist council member speaks

Russian Revolution Centenary: New site celebrates and defends October socialist revolution
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
1917revolution.org brings rich lessons of 100 years ago to wide audience

Kazakhstan: Regime increases repression
20/01/2017, Andrei Prigor from Campaign Kazakhstan:
Citizens forced to register with police at all times

US: Global resistance against Trump’s inauguration
20/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
CWI organizes protests as millions prepare to fight Trump’s agenda

Portugal: Purge in the Left Bloc
20/01/2017, Ysmail, Socialismo Revolucionário (CWI in Portugal):
6 CWI members expelled in undemocratic attack

India: Struggle against land grab in Pune
16/01/2017, Venkatesh Harale, New Socialist Alternative (CWI in India):
Socialists and villagers wage tireless battle

Book Reviews: Trotsky and February 1917
16/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, from the February 2017 issue of Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales):
Preparing for revolution

Tunisia: Six years after the fall of Ben Ali, demands of revolution still to be realised
14/01/2017, Al-Badil al-Ishtiraki, CWI in Tunisia:
New revolts brewing

US: Seattle activists win $29 million for house building
13/01/2017, Adam Ziemkowski, Socialist Alternative:
Important precedent for using city bonding authority to build homes

Palestine/Israel: Everyday life under occupation
12/01/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden) :
Discussion at Socialism conference in Tel Aviv

Mexico: Mass movement against “gasolinazo”
10/01/2017, David Lopez, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Mexico:
Towards a general strike against the Nieto government!

US: Growing calls to “take back” Democratic Party
10/01/2017, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative:
Workers need for own party, independent of corporate cash

Ireland South: Apollo House occupation taps into mood of anger over homelessness
09/01/2017, Councillor Michael O’Brien, Anti-Austerity Alliance and Socialist Party member:
Far-reaching radical measures necessary to resolve housing crisis

Book Review: ‘A Very British Ending’
07/01/2017, Review by Tony Saunois :
Novelisation of attempts to undermine and overthrow Wilson’s Labour government

Ireland North: 'Cash for ash' scandal rocks power-sharing Executive
06/01/2017, Dave Carr from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party England & Wales):
Need for non-sectarian, socialist politics

Chile: The state is murdering Machi Francisca Linconao
05/01/2017, socialistworld.net :
Solidarity appeal for messages of protest

Hong Kong: CY Leung forced out!
04/01/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) statement
:
Now let’s change the whole corrupt system!

Sri Lanka: Island Nation - hell in 'paradise'
03/01/2017, By Clare Doyle, carried on Tamil Solidarity Campaign web-site, November, 2016 :
Review of play called 'The Island Nation'

Iranian “election”
30/12/2016, P. Daryaban:
Crisis continues; infighting escalates

Review: The Iron Heel
26/12/2016, Jon Dale, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales)<br />
:
Jack London’s timeless classic

Britain: Labour's nuclear conflict
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During the second leadership campaign, Jeremy Corbyn spoke of his ambition to have ministers for peace and disarmament in a future Labour government...

Germany: Berlin Christmas market tragedy
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Commiserations must not be exploited for racism

US: Inaugurate the resistance
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Inauguration protests can serve as a launching pad for a massive grassroots resistance to Donald Trump’s new administration

Austria: Victory & defeat for everyone & noone
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Presidential elections

Yemen: Three employees found killed, as workers demand unpaid wages
22/12/2016, Socialistworld.net :
Solidarity with workers and their families! Justice for the slain employees!

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

China: New US President’s approach to China
21/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Outbursts raise fears of confrontation

Ireland North: Snap elections called to Stormont Assembly
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Build a socialist alternative to the ‘Orange’ versus ‘Green’ headcount

Spain: What kind of Podemos do workers and youth need?
17/01/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spanish state, editorial :
Debate within leadership touches on fundamental issues for future of party

US: Trump prepares vicious attacks
05/01/2017, Philip Locker and Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative (US):
Mass resistance needed!

Russian Revolution centenary
02/01/2017, Editorial from Socialism Today, Dec/Jan 2017 edition:
Defending the legacy in a new era

2017:Upheaval and fightback will continue
01/01/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary :
Everything to play for in 2017

Britain's shifting political contours
22/12/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) from Socialism Today Dec/Jan 2017 edition :
Capitalist establishment in disarray

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Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November

CWI International Executive Committee: World shaken by seismic political events
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Report of first session of the CWI International Executive Committee, discussing World Relations

World capitalism in deep crisis
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Perspectives documents agreed by November CWI international meeting

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Escalation of the struggle needed to overthrow repressive regime

US: Trump prepares attacks on working people,immigrants and women
27/11/2016, Tom Crean and Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (USA):
We must prepare massive resistance!

Cuba: Fidel Castro, leader of 1959 revolution, dies at 90
26/11/2016, Tony Saunois, CWI :
Castro's life and the Cuban Revolution

China: New stage in power struggle
24/11/2016, chinaworker.info reporters:
Xi Jinping becomes “core leader”

Hong Kong: Government purges Legislative Council
17/11/2016, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
“Nothing short of a coup”

Ireland: The Jobstown trial and the threat to democratic rights<br />

12/11/2016, Eddie McCabe, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Biggest political trial in decades, as Socialist Party & Anti Austerity Alliance MP and councillors face threat of lengthy prison sentences

History: Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
November 7th anniversary of workers’ taking power

Capitalist system “on the edge of the volcano”
03/11/2016, International Secretariat of the CWI:
Draft documents for November CWI international meeting

Spain: PSOE leadership hands power to the PP
03/11/2016, Izquierda Revolucionaria editorial :
A new phase in the class struggle

Hungary: The political revolution of sixty years ago
23/10/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
When workers fought arms in hand to end Stalinist dictatorship

Britain: The fight for real democracy in the Labour Party
20/10/2016, Editorial of the Socialist, weekly paper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Defend Corbyn and transform Labour into a party acting for working class

Crisis of social democracy in Britain
19/10/2016, Peter Taaffe, from next issue of Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England and Wales) :
Which way forward for the Left?

US: The disastrous failure of ‘lesser evilism’
18/10/2016, Patrick Ayers and Ty Moore, Socialist Alternative (originally published at CounterPunch.org) :
Change through mass struggle  - a new party should act as an organizing and for solidarity

Spain: Crisis in social democracy
17/10/2016, Juan Ignacio Ramos, Izquierda Revolucionaria general secretary, from Socialism Today (monthly magazine of the Socialist Party England and Wales) :
PSOE and the class struggle

Britain: Tories whip up division over Brexit
17/10/2016, Editorial from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Fight for a socialist, internationalist exit