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International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers

20/02/2017: Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

  Solidarity, Yemen

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Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

18/02/2017: Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

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Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

16/02/2017: Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

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Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

15/02/2017: Time to build the class struggle on the streets

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14/02/2017: Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

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Upheaval in Tamil Nadu

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Britain
Universal basic income demand gains ground

08/02/2017: What approach should socialists take?

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Yemen
Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S

07/02/2017: Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

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After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out

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Biggest street protests since 1989

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Is an end to the war in sight?

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Airport protests help block Trump travel ban

30/01/2017: Defend immigrant communities

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CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee

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Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!

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Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence

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Mass protests against state repression

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Social revolts shake Ouattara regime

24/01/2017: Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

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US foreign policy under Trump

24/01/2017: Island risks being pawn in his game

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CWI joins protests around the world against Trump

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US
Kshama Sawant responds to Trump inauguration speech

23/01/2017: Socialist council member speaks

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New US President’s approach to China

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Regime increases repression

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US

Socialist wins 28% of the vote in Seattle

www.socialistworld.net, 14/11/2012
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Historic Opportunities to Challenge Corporate Politics

Philip Locker, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in the US)

“This is just the beginning!” Kshama Sawant promised supporters and voters on behalf of Socialist Alternative at an excited election night party on November 6 in Seattle, WA. While the presidential race was mainly about what to vote against (see article Right Wing Rejected in the Elections), an inspiring campaign in Seattle’s 43rd district for Washington state house offered working-class voters a real alternative. The ongoing vote count at the time this article was written has Kshama Sawant winning over 28%, pointing toward a final number of over 20,000 votes.


Video: Socialist Alternative candidate, Kshama Sawant, speaks on election night after receiving a ground-breaking 28% of the vote against corporate Democrat and speaker of the Washington State House of Representatives, Frank Chopp.


Socialist Alternative ran against Frank Chopp, Speaker of the House and the most influential Democratic legislator in Washington state. Chopp represents the Washington establishment, a well-deserved target for the anger of frustrated, poor, working-class people, and young people in Seattle. The vote for Sawant marks the strongest opposition by far that Speaker Chopp has faced during his entire 18 years in office.

This record-breaking vote for an independent working-class candidate has raised the confidence of workers, young people, and activists that it is possible to struggle against looming budget cuts from the “fiscal cliff,” attacks on public sector workers, education, and other social programs.

In Washington state, the Democratic Party won the governor’s race and maintained their majority control over both houses in the state legislature. They will likely propose a further round of vicious budget cuts to social services is likely early next year, while they allow corporations such as Boeing, Amazon, and Microsoft to get away without paying barely any taxes. Sawant, a union activist and teacher, commented, "Public sector unions like mine need to prepare for strike action against budget cuts. Workers and youth need to be ready to occupy the Olympia state capitol building against attacks on our living standards.”

Based on this election breakthrough and the links built during the campaign, Socialist Alternative is using the profile and authority it has won to help to build a fight-back against all attacks on working people and oppressed groups in the coming weeks and months.

Sawant and Socialist Alternative are also forming a broad electoral alliance with other left-wing forces to use this result as a launching pad for a far bigger challenge to the Democratic Party. Concretely, Socialist Alternative is organizing for 2013 a slate of independent left-wing candidates to run for mayor and for all the open city council seats, all of which are currently held by Democrats. “We will go after them!” Sawant declared to huge applause of excited supporters on election night.

Election night also saw mass celebrations in the streets of Seattle after the passage of Referendum 74 for marriage equality and the defeat of Mitt Romney. Sawant addressed a crowd of over 2,000 people, saying “If you think that the Democratic Party politicians did this for you, let me tell you it was us that won this! The fight for LGBT rights has just begun - we still need to fight poverty, homelessness, and workplace discrimination!”


Video: Philip Locker of the Justice newspaper editorial board discusses the implications of the national elections.


Socialist Ideas Gaining Support

“We achieved this election result as an openly Socialist campaign that was largely ignored by the corporate media, with no corporate donations, on a shoe-string budget,” explained Sawant. The campaign had to take the Washington Secretary of State, the Attorney General, and King County to court to allow Sawant’s party, Socialist Alternative, to be printed on the ballot.

As Sawant and campaign volunteers knocked on doors all around the district and spoke to union meetings, community forums, neighbors, and friends, they all had experiences that led them to the same conclusion - there is clearly an open audience for socialist ideas among a large section of young people and working-class people. This confirms what opinion polls since the Great Recession have consistently indicated.

After years of attacks by right-wing pundits claiming that any taxes on the rich are “socialist” and denouncing Obama as a “socialist,” a growing number of people are looking to find out more about socialist ideas as a fundamental alternative to the failing capitalist system.

Secret of Success

The anger and distrust towards both corporate parties is reaching a boiling point across the country. In Seattle, as in most large cities across the country, there is deep discontent among progressive workers and youth at the Democratic Party, which has held a virtual monopoly on political power in the city and governed Washington state for years.

Frustration over unemployment, student debt, the healthcare crisis, budget cuts, and the suffocating domination of the super-rich was finally given an organized expression last year by the labor uprising in Wisconsin and the Occupy movement. While the elections in 2012 acted as a safety valve for the ruling class and succeeded in temporarily undermining these movements, that same fury at Wall Street and big business is still palpable and continues to be a key factor in U.S. politics.

Unfortunately, this mood across the country was not able to find a clear expression in the 2012 elections due to the failure of the left and the leaders of the labor movement and other progressive movements to organize a strong working-class political challenge to both parties.

It is in that context that the Sawant campaign starkly stands out. “Sawant nearly topped the combined national votes of all the socialist candidates in a single district! … Make no mistake: Sawant and Socialist Alternative made history in Seattle” (The North Star, 11/8/12). Socialist Alternative’s vote was the highest for an openly socialist candidate, including with union endorsements, in recent memory anywhere in the US. How was this possible?

The basis of the success of the Sawant campaign lay firstly in correctly recognizing the political space that exists for a working-class alternative that could bring the spirit and message of the Occupy movement into the elections. The campaign then moved quite audaciously to make use of the opportunity that this opening presented.

The campaign was able to connect to the mood of workers and young people by advancing concrete demands addressing questions facing ordinary people, such as calling for an increase of the minimum wage to $15/hour, a public jobs program to fight unemployment, a struggle to defend women’s rights, and full equality for LGBT people. These immediate demands were linked with the overall need to fight against capitalism and transform society along socialist lines. This approach struck a chord with those searching for a bold alternative to the corrupt, broken political system.

The Sawant campaign also stood out as an energetic activist campaign. The district was plastered with campaign posters, and “Stop Chopp - Vote Sawant” yard signs were seen everywhere. The Sawant campaign tabled and leafleted in various neighborhoods, engaging thousands of people in political conversations. The campaign also systematically reached out to progressive organizations and unions, while also actively participating and helping promote various protests and community struggles taking place.

On numerous occasions, the campaign’s enthusiasm and determination overcame various obstacles. A significant mid-campaign victory was the legal struggle to get Sawant’s party listed on the ballot. This battle was also used to expose the undemocratic and rigged nature of corporate politics that imposes enormous hurdles against independent candidates.

When Sawant’s employer, Seattle Central Community College, refused to rehire her in the middle of the election campaign in a blatant act of retaliation and political discrimination, a campaign was launched to defend her job and improve the appalling working conditions for adjunct community college teachers at her college and beyond. Not only did the campaign succeed in forcing the college administration to reinstate Sawant for the next academic quarter, but it also was able to reverse their previous policy of imposing a right-wing “free market” economics textbook in her classes.



There were also particularly favorable conditions for Sawant’s campaign that not all independent left candidates will be able to immediately replicate. Frank Chopp was particularly vulnerable as a leading Democrat whose policies, despite his liberal rhetoric, are substantially to the right of the voters of the left-wing Seattle district he “represents.” In this “safe” Democratic district, Seattle’s main alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger broke with its general policy of supporting Democrats and endorsed Sawant, which helped the campaign reach a much larger audience. But The Stranger’s endorsement was itself symptomatic of the growing discontent and ferment among the Democrats’ base at their corporate policies.

Independent Working-Class Politics

As a prominent figure in Occupy Seattle, Sawant brought the spirit of this uprising against Wall Street into the election year. One of the main slogans in the Vote Sawant campaign was “A voice for the 99%,” pointing towards the need for a new force, a real activist political party of workers, the poor, and young people.

Socialist Alternative used the terrain of the 2012 elections to stimulate a debate about the need to break from the Democratic Party, popularize socialist ideas, and help prepare the ground for future working-class battles. Outlined in “Imagine 200 Occupy Candidates This Year,” Socialist Alternative argued there was a real opportunity to challenge the corporate duopoly if credible working-class campaigns were organized – and was able to set an impressive example with its own campaign in Seattle.

Despite all the special circumstances in Seattle’s 43rd district, who could deny the power of this argument now? Unfortunately the call to Occupy activists to run a whole number of independent candidates across the country - as a tool to systematically reach out to the hundreds of thousands of workers and fight against corporate politics - was not heeded despite a few notable exceptions. The leaders of labor, civil rights, anti-war and environmental organizations overwhelmingly rejected all attempts to support independent left candidates. Instead of endorsing and actively campaigning for independent, working-class-based candidates, enormous sums were spent to support a big-business party.

Even in Seattle, where the “lesser evil” argument did not even apply since no Republican ran in the race, the main union leaders refused to support Sawant, a union activist running on an uncompromising working-class agenda against a big-business Democrat. They did not dare cross the powerful Speaker of the House, believing that they would somehow be rewarded for their endorsement of Chopp despite his long track record against working people. Of course, this “pragmatic” approach of supporting our class enemies is exactly what has led to the catastrophic decline of the labor movement, and only emboldens politicians like Chopp to carry out an even more blatant anti-worker agenda.

The 28% vote for Sawant is quite a rebuke to this timid strategy of the union leadership. If they had actually put their weight behind Sawant’s campaign - actively promoting it to all union households in the district, mobilizing volunteers, and putting money behind the campaign – it is entirely conceivable that Frank Chopp would have been defeated, and a genuine fighter for working people would have been elected Speaker of the House.

The message is clear: The unions have to break with the Democrats and use their resources and influence to build a voice for workers and the 99%. Rank-and-file union members will need to lead the way in demanding their organizations take up such an approach.

The Sawant campaign is also an example for Occupy and union activists of how to link together protests and social movements and elections. Although the electoral system is rigged in favor of the corporate elite, the Sawant campaign shows how we can resist capitalism not only in the streets but also in the elections and reach a broader audience.

This is now an urgent task. Since Obama’s re-election, he has signaled he is prepared to move even further to the right with offers to the Republicans to carry out major attacks on Medicare, Medicaid, and other social services as part of the negotiations to avoid the “fiscal cliff.” These are just some of the battles to come.

That is the “beginning” spoken of by Kshama Sawant. Socialist Alternative will do everything in its power to make sure that the agenda of the 1% will meet a determined working-class and community resistance. As part of this process, Socialist Alternative is working to organize left-wing independent challenges for mayor and every city council seat in Seattle’s 2013 elections, together with activists from Occupy, unions, and other social movements.

On a national level, Socialist Alternative is appealing to prominent figures in progressive politics, along with left-wing, Occupy, and working-class activists, to organize a joint speaking tour around the country with Kshama Sawant. This speaking tour is an opportunity to provoke discussion and debate on building mass struggles against Obama and the corporate agenda as well as the need to build towards working-class political representation, a new mass force of resistance, and as an immediate step putting forward left electoral challenges to the two parties of Wall Street in 2013 and beyond.



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NEWS

Yemen: International protests in support of TOTAL/G4S workers
20/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Solidarity spreads for victims of wage robbery and killing by multinational corporations

Netherlands: Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections
18/02/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

Solidarity: French presidential candidate Mélenchon backs #JobstownNotGuilty campaign
17/02/2017, socialistworld.net :
Support the international solidarity campaign

Britain: Council cuts can be fought - and they must be
16/02/2017, Editorial comments from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) :
Corbyn needs to stand up to Brexit rebels

Spain: Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress
15/02/2017, Izquierda Revolucionaria, Spain:
Time to build the class struggle on the streets

US: A socialist strategy to defeat Trump
14/02/2017, Kshama Sawant, Seattle City Council Woman and member of Socialist Alternative :
Escalate the resistance toward shutdowns on March 8 and May 1!

Greece: Athens’ bus cleaners win bulk of wages owed
14/02/2017, Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) and Apostolis Cassimere’s (Board Member of OASA - Athens Bus Workers’ Union):
The struggle continues!

Scotland: Greens back SNP government austerity budget
13/02/2017, Matt Dobson, Socialist Paty Scotland (CWI), Glasgow:
TUSC council elections candidates put forward 100% anti-austerity programme

Yemen: Workers protest at parliament against TOTAL and G4S
07/02/2017, Socialistworld.net:
Security workers demand wages and arrest of colleagues’ killers

Romania: Biggest street protests since 1989
04/02/2017, Mâna de Lucru (CWI supporters in Romania):
What position should the left take?

Quebec: Terrorist Attack in Québec City
01/02/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Canada) :
Counter terrorism and hate with solidarity

CWI: 9th Latin American school a success
31/01/2017, socialistworld.net:
Over 200 participate in Sao Paolo CWI continental gathering

US: Airport protests help block Trump travel ban
30/01/2017, Socialist Alternative reporters, US :
Defend immigrant communities

China: CWI member Hu Xufang forced to flee
28/01/2017, chinaworker.info reporters :
Xu and his family are victims of China’s deepening police crackdown

Russia: Duma legislates to decriminalise domestic violence
26/01/2017, From Socialist Alternative (Russian CWI) website (socialist.news) :
For unified struggle for women’s rights and against capitalism

Tamil Nadu: Mass protests against state repression
26/01/2017, Isai Priya, from Tamil Solidarity website :
Support the right to assemble and protest - release those arrested immediately!

Bangladesh: Hartal protest against power plant
25/01/2017, Pete Mason, Socialist Party (CWI in England and Wales) :
Follows mass strike of garment workers in December

Côte d’Ivoire: Social revolts shake Ouattara regime
24/01/2017, Militant Côte d’Ivoire (CWI group in Côte d’Ivoire) :
Public sector strike and soldiers’ mutiny expose reality behind “economic growth”

Taiwan: US foreign policy under Trump
24/01/2017, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info:
Island risks being pawn in his game

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

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

India: Upheaval in Tamil Nadu
09/02/2017, Sajith Attepuram, New Socialist Alternative (NSA) (CWI India) :
Corruption, nepotism, and other crimes of ruling party exposed

Britain: Universal basic income demand gains ground
08/02/2017, Judy Beishon, from The Socialist (weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party – CWI England & Wales) :
What approach should socialists take?

CWI and Izquierda Revolucionaria – Towards unification
06/02/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Joint declaration of the CWI’s IEC and Izquierda Revolucionaria’s IEC

France: After Sarkozy, Juppé and Valls, now Fillon is on the way out
06/02/2017, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Révolutionnaire (CWI in France) :
Space opening up to left of Socialist Party

Syria: Is an end to the war in sight?
03/02/2017, Serge Jordan (CWI) :
New movements for change will need to arm themselves with the lessons of the Syrian tragedy

Sri Lanka: The year 2017
31/01/2017, Siritunga Jayasuriya, United Socialist Party (CWI in Sri Lanka) :
Between oppression and struggle

Canada: Where are Trudeau’s ‘Sunny Ways’?
31/01/2017, Tim Heffernan, Socialist Alternative (CWI Canada), Toronto

:
Battles of Indigenous peoples, youth, workers will test Liberal government

Russian Revolution Centenary: January 1917 - On the eve of revolution
29/01/2017, Niall Mulholland, from 1917revolution.org :
War, hunger, hated Tsarist regime: class tensions reach breaking point

Afghanistan: The limits of US power
28/01/2017, Judy Beishon, from Socialism Today (February 2017 issue), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales)<br />
<br />
:
Imperialism’s 15-year adventure a bloody catastrophe for millions

US: Build 100 days of resistance to Trump’s agenda!
27/01/2017, Bryan Koulouris, Socialist Alternative, US :
Establishment deeply divided as mass resistance explodes

Millions on women's marches around the world
25/01/2017, Editorial from the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) and reports from US marches :
Reports from mass women's marches against Trump

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
17/01/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
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

CWI International Executive Committee: European capitalism “battered by events”
16/12/2016, Kevin Henry, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Report of discussion on Europe at CWI IEC meeting in November

CWI International Executive Committee: World shaken by seismic political events
14/12/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Report of first session of the CWI International Executive Committee, discussing World Relations

World capitalism in deep crisis
08/12/2016, CWI :
Perspectives documents agreed by November CWI international meeting

Sudan: Three day nationwide strike shuts down the country, in unique defiance of Al-Bashir’s rule
30/11/2016, Serge Jordan, CWI:
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”