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latest news

Chile
Socialism 2014 a success!

22/04/2014: First Santiago Socialism event organised by CWI in Chile

  Chile

CWI
History of the Committee for a Workers’ International

21/04/2014: 40th anniversary of the founding of the CWI

  History

Sri Lanka
Provincial elections spike president’s plans

20/04/2014: Repression can provoke opposition

  Sri Lanka

China
Labour disputes soar

17/04/2014: 40,000 workers paralyse world’s largest sports shoe maker

  China

Greece
International anti-fascist conference “No pasaran!”

16/04/2014: Four thousand attend three-day event in Athens

  Greece

South Africa
Enthusiastic response for WASP ahead of May elections

15/04/2014: WASP campaigning material available on pdf

  South Africa

India
Massive election process could end in turmoil

14/04/2014: New party expresses, but cannot solve, major discontents

  India

Cyprus
Austerity sees living standards fall back 40 years

11/04/2014: One year of the right wing Anastasiades government

  Cyprus

 Iranian nuclear talks
Hypocrisy abounds

10/04/2014: Paul Murphy MEP

  Video

Britain
Dave Nellist on BBC outlining TUSC’s socialist policies

10/04/2014: Trade union and socialist coalition (TUSC) candidate count reaches 476 for May local election

  Britain

Taiwan
Occupation of parliament ends after 23 days

10/04/2014: What are the lessons of the island’s ‘sunflower movement’?

  Taiwan

Hungary
Election highlights lack of Left challenge

09/04/2014: Declining vote for ruling Fidész party; neo-fascist Jobbik picks up 20% as false ‘alternative’

  Hungary

Environment
Ukraine crisis exploited by multinational fracking lobby

09/04/2014: Oppose the pro-big business EU/ US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership!

  Environment, Ukraine

Belgium
50,000 join ETUC Brussels demonstration

08/04/2014: Protesters’ radical mood

  Belgium

Britain
One in ten council seats will have TUSC candidate

07/04/2014: No-cuts election challenge grows

  Britain

Review
Net political impact

06/04/2014: To Save Everything, Click Here • By Evgeny Morozov •

  Review

Belgium
The rise of the PTB/PvdA

05/04/2014: Recent polls confirm a probable electoral breakthrough for the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PvdA).

  Belgium

Ivory Coast
First victory for students at University of Cocody

04/04/2014: An important step to push the struggle against neo-liberal policies further

  Ivory Coast

Canada
Port of Vancouver truckers’ strike wins significant gains

03/04/2014: After bosses’ seen off - unions must defend their right to strike!

  Canada

France
Government punished in local elections

02/04/2014: Far right gains highlight need for strong fighting left opposition

  France

Nepal
Turning back the wheel of history

01/04/2014: Second constituent assembly election – a shift to the right

  Nepal

South Africa
WASP manifesto launch success!

01/04/2014: On Saturday 29 March the Workers and Socialist Party launched its 2014 election manifesto at a rally in Katlehong, Gauteng

  Africa, South Africa

Taiwan
Half a million on the streets against President Ma

31/03/2014: Demonstrators call for trade pact to be withdrawn and for president to step down

  Taiwan

US
Winning $15 an hour in Seattle

31/03/2014: A socialist strategy

  US

Netherlands
Socialist Party local election gains

31/03/2014: Vote for SP can be the basis for a mass struggle against cuts

  Netherlands

 Video
Hypocrisy of Irish Govt & EU on Ukraine

29/03/2014: Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI MP) speaks in Irish parliament

  Ukraine, Video

 Sweden
New political winds affect CWI Congress

28/03/2014: Optimistic Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna prepares for elections

  CWI, Sweden

No to the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership!

28/03/2014: Anti-democratic agreement seeks to increase corporate domination of politics

Portugal
Thousands of police and military march in Lisbon

27/03/2014: Reflection of the government’s intrinsic weakness

  Portugal

Spain
A million march for dignity in Madrid

26/03/2014: 22M: A before and after moment for the class struggle

  Spain

Taiwan
Ma government rocked by mass protests and occupation of parliament

26/03/2014: Down with undemocratic Kuomintang rule – for a Taiwan-wide student strike as the next step!

  Taiwan

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.



Europe

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Exposing the economic blackmail of the IMF in Ukraine, 14/04/2014

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A socialist world is possible, the history of the cwi with new introduction by Peter Planning green growth, a contribution to the debate on enviromental sustainability

NEWS

Chile: Socialism 2014 a success!
22/04/2014, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Chile) reporters:
First Santiago Socialism event organised by CWI in Chile

Sri Lanka: Provincial elections spike president’s plans
20/04/2014, Siritunga Jayasuriya, Secretary of United Socialist Party (CWI Sri Lanka):
Repression can provoke opposition

China: Labour disputes soar
17/04/2014, chinaworker.info reporters:
40,000 workers paralyse world’s largest sports shoe maker

Nigeria: Bomb explosions in Abuja - more evidence of the failure of capitalist government
16/04/2014, Segun Sango, Socialist Party Nigeria National Chairperson:
For democratic self-defence committees

Greece: International anti-fascist conference “No pasaran!”
16/04/2014, Sebastian Forster (CWI Germany) and Elin Gauffin (CWI Sweden):
Four thousand attend three-day event in Athens

South Africa: Enthusiastic response for WASP ahead of May elections
15/04/2014, Socialistworld.net:
WASP campaigning material available on pdf

India: Massive election process could end in turmoil
14/04/2014, Clare Doyle (CWI international Secretariat):
New party expresses, but cannot solve, major discontents

Cyprus: Austerity sees living standards fall back 40 years
11/04/2014, Athina Kariati, New Internationalist Left (CWI in Cyprus):
One year of the right wing Anastasiades government

Iranian nuclear talks: Hypocrisy abounds
10/04/2014, :
Paul Murphy MEP

Britain: Dave Nellist on BBC outlining TUSC’s socialist policies
10/04/2014, :
Trade union and socialist coalition (TUSC) candidate count reaches 476 for May local election

Hungary: Election highlights lack of Left challenge
09/04/2014, Sonja Grusch and Tilman M. Ruster:
Declining vote for ruling Fidész party; neo-fascist Jobbik picks up 20% as false ‘alternative’

Environment: Ukraine crisis exploited by multinational fracking lobby
09/04/2014, Paul Murphy, Socialist Party MEP, and Tanja Niemeier:
Oppose the pro-big business EU/ US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership!

Belgium: 50,000 join ETUC Brussels demonstration
08/04/2014, Eric Byl, General Secretary, Linkse Socialistiche Partij / Parti Socialiste de Lutte (PSL/LSP):
Protesters’ radical mood

Review: Net political impact
06/04/2014, Ben Robinson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) published in Socialism Today:
To Save Everything, Click Here • By Evgeny Morozov •

Ivory Coast: First victory for students at University of Cocody
04/04/2014, CWI in Ivory Coast:
An important step to push the struggle against neo-liberal policies further

Canada: Port of Vancouver truckers’ strike wins significant gains
03/04/2014, Socialist Alternative Reporter, Vancouver:
After bosses’ seen off - unions must defend their right to strike!

France: Government punished in local elections
02/04/2014, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France) reporters:
Far right gains highlight need for strong fighting left opposition

South Africa: WASP manifesto launch success!
01/04/2014, Workers’ and Socialist Party (WASP):
On Saturday 29 March the Workers and Socialist Party launched its 2014 election manifesto at a rally in Katlehong, Gauteng

Taiwan: Half a million on the streets against President Ma
31/03/2014, CWI reporters in Taipei:
Demonstrators call for trade pact to be withdrawn and for president to step down

Netherlands: Socialist Party local election gains
31/03/2014, Pieter Brans, Amsterdam:
Vote for SP can be the basis for a mass struggle against cuts

Video: Hypocrisy of Irish Govt & EU on Ukraine
29/03/2014, socialistworld.net:
Joe Higgins, Socialist Party (CWI MP) speaks in Irish parliament

Sweden: New political winds affect CWI Congress
28/03/2014, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna Reporters:
Optimistic Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna prepares for elections

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

CWI: History of the Committee for a Workers’ International
21/04/2014, Socialistworld.net:
40th anniversary of the founding of the CWI

Taiwan: Occupation of parliament ends after 23 days
10/04/2014, Interview with Sally Tang Mei-ching, CWI participant in Taipei protests:
What are the lessons of the island’s ‘sunflower movement’?

Belgium: The rise of the PTB/PvdA
05/04/2014, Eric Byl, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium):
Recent polls confirm a probable electoral breakthrough for the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB/PvdA).

Nepal: Turning back the wheel of history
01/04/2014, Senan, CWI:
Second constituent assembly election – a shift to the right

US: Winning $15 an hour in Seattle
31/03/2014, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative, USA:
A socialist strategy

Spain: A million march for dignity in Madrid
26/03/2014, Angel Morano, Socialismo Revolucionario (CWI in Spain):
22M: A before and after moment for the class struggle

Taiwan: Ma government rocked by mass protests and occupation of parliament
26/03/2014, Sally Tang Mei-ching in Taipei and Vincent Kolo:
Down with undemocratic Kuomintang rule – for a Taiwan-wide student strike as the next step!

Bosnia-Herzegovina: Mass protests - The first flowers of spring
26/03/2014, Sonja Grusch, Socialist Left Party (CWI in Austria):
What programme should the Left advocate?

Britain: After Bob Crow and Tony Benn
24/03/2014, Peter Taaffe, from Socialism Today (No.177, April 2014), monthly magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Mourn the loss, fight for the future

Scotland: Unions and the socialist case for independence
23/03/2014, John McInally, national vice-president of the Public and Commercial Services union (personal capacity):
Aruging a independent, working class position

Ukraine: Crimea breaks away to join Russia
18/03/2014, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Tensions between powers worsen

Australia: Socialist Party playing key role in fight against East-West tunnel
13/03/2014, Mel Gregson and Stephen Jolly, Socialist Party (CWI in Australia), Melbourne:
Campaign brings public transport to forefront of political debate

Bosnia Herzegovina: Mass protests of working people and youth show the way forward
13/03/2014, CWI Leaflet text:
Working people stir to end poverty, joblessness, corruption and ethnic divisions!

Socialist perspectives for Aotearoa / New Zealand
09/03/2014, CWI Aotearoa / New Zealand:
The world and New Zealand in crisis

International Women’s Day 2014
07/03/2014, Clare Doyle (Committee for a Workers’ International):
Fighting austerity and oppression world-wide

Venezuela: A year after Chavez’s death
06/03/2014, By Gabriela Sanchez (CWI Venezuela).:
Commemorations in context of new crisis

Ukraine: Russian troops take up positions throughout Crimea
04/03/2014, CWI Reporters:
Tensions deepen between Western powers and Moscow

Greece: Still in the eye of the storm
26/02/2014, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece) published in Socialism Today:
From the outside, it can appear there’s a certain pause in the struggle in Greece. Is this true?

Ukraine: Bloodshed in Kiev
19/02/2014, Rob Jones, from Socialism Today (March edition, No.176):
What lies behind the Ukraine crisis?

Venezuela: An analysis of 12F
19/02/2014, By Gabriela Sanchez- SR Venezuela:
On 12F, three people (two right wing supporters and one government supporter) were killed in Caracas and dozens injured and arrested in the protests and demonstrations that took place around Venezuela to commemorate the annual ’Youth Day’.

Pakistan: Negotiating peace
18/02/2014, Khalid Bhatti, SNP Lahore:
Government/Taliban talks begin - But where will they go?

South Africa: The end of Cosatu?
17/02/2014, WASP (Workers and Socialist Party) Reporters, S Africa:
Time for a new socialist trade union federation

Greece: The fascist threat
08/02/2014, Christina Ziakka, Xekinima (CWI Greece) - translated by Amalia Loizidou. First published in Socialism Today:
Deep economic crisis, savage austerity and social upheaval have polarised Greek society.

South Africa: After NUMSA’s Congress
04/02/2014, Workers And Socialist Party (WASP) statement:
Seize the historic opportunity of the 2014 elections

Tunisia: Three years on since the fall of Ben Ali
30/01/2014, Serge Jordan and CWI supporters in Tunis:
New ‘technocratic’ government no response to workers’ demands