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latest news

Israel/Palestine
The Marxist left, the national conflict and the Palestinian struggle

29/04/2016: The necessity of a class approach and a socialist alternative

  Israel / Palestine

Austria
Stop the rise of the far right!

27/04/2016: Against Hofer, the government and the system of the super-rich!

  Austria

Greece
Athens bus cleaners hold solid 48 hour strike

27/04/2016: Workers resist inhuman working conditions and violation of working rights

  Greece

France
One-day strike set for 28 April

26/04/2016: A final stage before indefinite action against Hollande’s government?

  France

Germany
Huge protest against TTIP deal

25/04/2016: For decisive unions’ action to stop bosses’ plans!

  Germany

Britain
Jeremy Corbyn’s EU u-turn

23/04/2016: The bosses’ EU is no friend of workers

  Britain

Belgium
New major social conflict in the making

22/04/2016: Second action plan needed to stop the Michel government

  Belgium

US
The un-Democratic Primary

22/04/2016: Why we need new party of the 99%

  US

South Africa
Zuma & the ANC must fall

22/04/2016: Build a socialist mass workers party for a government of the working class

  South Africa

 Video
Paul Murphy speaks on Brexit referendum and for a socialist Europe

21/04/2016: Socialist Party TD (MP) exposes real nature of EU in Irish parliament

  Europe, Video

Iceland
Mass protests continue

21/04/2016: CWI’s programme explained

  Iceland

India
Workers oppose Modi proposals

21/04/2016: Eye-witness account of successful protest

  India

 Video
Peter Taaffe debates with Paul Mason on BBC TV

20/04/2016: Socialist Party General Secretary debates with author and journalist on revolutionary socialism today

  Britain, Video

 Sudan
Solidarity from the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - Nigeria with the student protests in Khartoum

20/04/2016: The ERC, the national student campaign linked to the DSM (CWI in Nigeria) is displaying its support for the student movement in Sudan

  Nigeria, Solidarity, Sudan

Poland
Anger at abortion ban plan

20/04/2016: Protests and a new spontaneous movement for abortion rights erupt

  Poland

 Sudan
Solidarity with the students’ protests!

19/04/2016: Free all arrested students now

  Solidarity, Sudan

Iran
Jailed trade unionists announce start of hunger strikes on April 29

19/04/2016: Statement by Jafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association

  Iran

Capitalism
a failing system

18/04/2016: A new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, analyses the downward course of the US economy – and the limits of the whole capitalist system

  Review, US

 Video
Socialist TV appearance ’goes viral’ in US

18/04/2016: FOX interview with Darletta Scruggs, Socialist Alternative member, viewed millions of times

  US, Video

Cuba
Obama’s visit

16/04/2016: Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interests

  Cuba

Burma
Democrats have historic majority in parliament

16/04/2016: But army remains powerful force

  Burma

Belgium
Successful ‘Socialism 2016’ weekend event

14/04/2016: Inequality, war and insecurity show the urgency of the struggle for socialism

  Belgium

Review
’Militant’ by Michael Crick

14/04/2016: Lessons of Militant vital for anti-austerity struggles today

  Britain, History, Review

Britain
Panama Papers reveal corrupt system of the 1%

13/04/2016: Build a party in the interests of the millions not the millionaires

  Britain

France
Workers and youth on the streets

12/04/2016: Full-scale struggle with ‘Socialist’ government erupting

  France

Hong Kong
Panama Papers: Hong Kong protest

12/04/2016: “Tax the rich” shout protesters at Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office

  Hong Kong

Netherlands
Dutch say ‘No’ to EU-Ukraine Treaty

11/04/2016: Major blow against “endless austerity” Liberal/Labour government

  Netherlands

 Brazil
Solidarity with attacked civil servants

08/04/2016: Hired thugs beat rank and file trade union protesters

  Brazil, Solidarity

Iceland
"You're fired!"

07/04/2016: Protesters stay on streets after forcing PM's resignation

  Iceland

China
Panama Papers name eight Chinese leaders

06/04/2016: Massive clampdown by state censors

  China

Britain
Panama Papers scandal

06/04/2016: ‘They’re all in it together!’

  Britain

Sri Lanka
Left political leader imprisoned

06/04/2016: Socialists demand immediate release

  Sri Lanka

US
Chicago teachers’ Day of Action

05/04/2016: 15,000 demonstrate

  US

Germany
420 attend “Socialism Days”!

05/04/2016: An expression of the recent advances and growing support for the SAV

  Germany

Bulgaria

Mass movement brings down government

www.socialistworld.net, 06/03/2013
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Electricity prices trigger revolt against system

Danny Byrne, CWI

25 February was the sixteenth day of mobilisations of a powerful mass movement in Bulgaria that already done away with one government. Only a few months ago, Bulgaria was being touted as an “island of stability” (in the words of President, Plevneliev) in an otherwise increasingly unstable region. Its leaders boast the lowest debt-to-GDP ratio (16%) in the EU, and a budget deficit which meets the European institutions’ “stability” requirements. But despite this rosy picture, beneath the figures lies the poorest nation in the EU. This is an important contrast, at a time when the capitalist class across Europe are bleeding workers, youth and unemployed dry in the name of deficit and debt reduction, with the promise of a brighter future on this basis. However, as Bulgaria shows, on the basis of capitalism, such a rosy economic position for capitalism is not translated into a better, more stable life for the majority.

The majority of Bulgarians live in misery, with an average income of €360 per month, and state pensions as low as €75, per month. Official figures show that 49% of the population are judged to be in immediate risk of poverty, with one fifth currently living below the poverty line. Over one million predominantly young people have fled the country out of a population of 7.2 million. The contradiction between this reality, and the decades of false promises of “progress” and “modernisation” since the collapse of Stalinism in 1989, especially following the country’s entry to the EU in 2007, is among the essential ingredients for the recent social explosion. The rapid development of this movement and the dramatic impact it has had, along with the far-reaching mass demands it has thrown up, shows how quickly and devastatingly such contradictions can be unravelled when the ‘levee breaks’.

Electricity prices trigger revolt

The trigger for the movement, as has been reported in the international media, was the soaring, unbearable prices for energy and electricity. Electricity monopolies, mostly Austrian and Czech multinationals, have taken advantage of legal loopholes to dramatically hike up electricity “network charges” in the last months. This is an intolerable burden for millions of workers, young people, and pensioners. It was around this issue that mass protests first developed at the beginning of February, initially demanding relief of energy prices, and in many cases, the re-nationalisation of the electricity monopolies. The first days of protest action saw the mass storming of the headquarters of energy companies. The Czech multinational, CEZ, was the main target and its offices were spontaneously attacked and set alight by angry crowds. Main roads were blocked off, paralysing traffic.

These protests, which also embraced wide sections of the middle class and small business-owners - the traditional base of the former ruling GERB party - shocked the Bulgarian establishment, and immediately put Prime Minister Borissov on the back foot. In response brutal police repression was combined with conciliatory gestures to try to abate the mass movement. Borissov dismissed the Finance Minister, Simeon Dankov, as a scapegoat and sacrificial offering to the masses on Monday 18 February. When protests continued with renewed force the following day, Borissov announced an offer to bring down energy prices by 8%, with immediate effect. However, by this time, the masses had different ideas, and continued with their movement, forcing the withdrawal of Borissov and his entire cabinet. A caretaker ‘technocrat’ government is now in power until new elections are called.

Riot police lay down shields in solidarity with protesters

However, even the government’s resignation has not stopped the tide of radicalisation and struggle. Protesters, correctly expecting nothing from a re-composed government of the discredited political elite, continued with their demonstrations and blockades in the days following the fall of the government. A massive national day of protest – under the slogan “Let us burn the monopolies” – was held on Sunday 24 Feburary, when tens of thousands took to the streets in cities across the country. In contrast to the violent police repression during previous protests, 24th February saw an unprecedented development when riot police lined up in front of protesters and laid down their shields in solidarity! Upon his cowardly resignation, Borissov pathetically tried to claim he was resigning to defend the people from police violence, claiming he could not bear to “see the police attack the people”. However, the actions of the riot police when faced with such a powerful movement, shows that even these state forces can be drawn towards it, creating important breaches in the capitalist state apparatus. The police have shown that the capitalist class will not so easily be able to rely on them for their dirty work in the future. These divisions in the state machine must be further widened by the mass movement, by supporting the right of police officers to to protest, unionise and strike.

Socialist demands to the fore

While protests in towns and cities throughout Bulgaria country regularly gathered many tens of thousands, the widespread social support for the movement was tangible. Opinion polls consistently showed between 85% and 92% in support. This ferment, along with the militant character of the protests, and refusal to be contented with the government’s puny peace offerings, attests to the general anger behind the movement, which stretches far beyond the issue of soaring energy prices. Slogans and demands on the demonstrations also to testify to this. Protesters began to put forward evermore far-reaching demands, policies and proposals that challenge the fundamental basis of the current suffering in the country; the decades of robbery and looting by capitalists and oligarchs, benefiting from the privatisation orgy which accompanied the collapse of the Stalinism and the state-controlled, nationalised economy.

The nationalisation of the energy and utility companies, in some cases extended to the key sectors of the economy, as a whole, are widely embraced demands of the movement. Protesters also call for those guilty of robbing the country’s resources to be tried and imprisoned. At the same time, powerful democratic demands have come to the fore; for a new national assembly, for the breaking of the monopoly of the main parties, for the right to recall deputies etc. These demands testifying to how mass consciousness is radicalised and pushed to the left under the impact of events. They arose in the heat of struggle despite the glaring absence of a strong left and workers’ political force. Such a socialist alternative could participate in the movement, helping to popularise socialist demands and policies and a broad socialist perspective, such as the call for the nationalisation of the banks and commanding heights of the economy under the democratic control and management of the working class.

Another key feature of the protests was the complete failure of mainstream opposition parties, all tied to the confines of the system, to have any significant impact. The leaders of Bulgaria’s main trade unions were also conspicuously absent from the leadership of the movement, although many union militants and the national students’ union played a role in organising protests. The movement must develop democratic structures, with local and workplace assemblies organised and democratically coordinated on a national level, to decide on a plan and programme for the movement. The development of a fighting democratic trade union movement, and of a mass, democratic political party of the workers and youth, which can give an expression to these demands, as part of a rounded-out programme for the socialist transformation of society, is an essential task. A strong mass movement armed with democratic, independent and fighting trade unions, and a mass political party with a clear understanding of the necessary programme to break from the misery of capitalism, could sweep away not only governments of Borissov’s ilk, but the system itself, which generates the contradictions and inequalities which provoked the movement. A socialist Bulgaria, based on a democratically planned economy, would send shockwaves throughout this devastated region, and beyond into Western Europe, where masses of workers and youth are searching for a way out of capitalist chaos and crisis.



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NEWS

Austria: Stop the rise of the far right!
27/04/2016, Tilman Ruster, SLP (CWI in Austria) :
Against Hofer, the government and the system of the super-rich!

Greece: Athens bus cleaners hold solid 48 hour strike
27/04/2016, Apostolos Kasimeris (Board Member of OASA’s Athens Bus Workers’ Union) and Eleni Mitsou (Xekinima - CWI Greece) :
Workers resist inhuman working conditions and violation of working rights

Germany: Huge protest against TTIP deal
25/04/2016, Angelika Teweleit, Socialist Alternative (SAV- the CWI in Germany) :
For decisive unions’ action to stop bosses’ plans!

Britain: Jeremy Corbyn’s EU u-turn
23/04/2016, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party deputy general secretary:
The bosses’ EU is no friend of workers

Belgium: New major social conflict in the making
22/04/2016, Els Deschoemacker, LSP/PSL (CWI in Belgium):
Second action plan needed to stop the Michel government

South Africa: Zuma & the ANC must fall
22/04/2016, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI in South Africa):
Build a socialist mass workers party for a government of the working class

Video: Paul Murphy speaks on Brexit referendum and for a socialist Europe
21/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party TD (MP) exposes real nature of EU in Irish parliament

Iceland: Mass protests continue
21/04/2016, Jonas Brännberg, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden), in Reykjavik:
CWI’s programme explained

India: Workers oppose Modi proposals
21/04/2016, New Socialist Alternative (CWI India):
Eye-witness account of successful protest

Video: Peter Taaffe debates with Paul Mason on BBC TV
20/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Socialist Party General Secretary debates with author and journalist on revolutionary socialism today

Sudan: Solidarity from the Education Rights Campaign (ERC) - Nigeria with the student protests in Khartoum
20/04/2016, Socialistworld.net:
The ERC, the national student campaign linked to the DSM (CWI in Nigeria) is displaying its support for the student movement in Sudan

Poland: Anger at abortion ban plan
20/04/2016, Paul Newberry, Alternatywa Socjalistyczna (CWI in Poland):
Protests and a new spontaneous movement for abortion rights erupt

Sudan: Solidarity with the students’ protests!
19/04/2016, Statement of Socialist Alternative (CWI in Sudan):
Free all arrested students now

Iran: Jailed trade unionists announce start of hunger strikes on April 29
19/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
Statement by Jafar Azimzadeh, a leader of the Free Union of Iranian Workers, and Esmail Abdi, a leader of the Iranian Teachers Trade Association

Video: Socialist TV appearance ’goes viral’ in US
18/04/2016, socialistworld.net:
FOX interview with Darletta Scruggs, Socialist Alternative member, viewed millions of times

Cuba: Obama’s visit
16/04/2016, Rogelio Manuel Díaz Moreno, socialist corespondent in Havana, Cuba:
Easing of embargo to promote US capitalist interests

Burma: Democrats have historic majority in parliament
16/04/2016, Keith Dickinson, Socialist Party (England and Wales):
But army remains powerful force

US: The Battle of New York: Sanders Campaign Faces Decisive Test
15/04/2016, Tom Crean, Socialist Alternative :

Belgium: Successful ‘Socialism 2016’ weekend event
14/04/2016, PSL-LSP (CWI in Belgium):
Inequality, war and insecurity show the urgency of the struggle for socialism

Britain: Panama Papers reveal corrupt system of the 1%
13/04/2016, Editorial from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, CWI England & Wales) :
Build a party in the interests of the millions not the millionaires

France: Workers and youth on the streets
12/04/2016, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Full-scale struggle with ‘Socialist’ government erupting

Hong Kong: Panama Papers: Hong Kong protest
12/04/2016, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
“Tax the rich” shout protesters at Mossack Fonseca’s Hong Kong office

Netherlands: Dutch say ‘No’ to EU-Ukraine Treaty
11/04/2016, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam :
Major blow against “endless austerity” Liberal/Labour government

Brazil: Solidarity with attacked civil servants
08/04/2016, LSR (CWI in Brazil) reporters:
Hired thugs beat rank and file trade union protesters

Iceland: "You're fired!"
07/04/2016, Natalia Medina, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden), reports from Reykjavik :
Protesters stay on streets after forcing PM's resignation

China: Panama Papers name eight Chinese leaders
06/04/2016, Vincent Kolo, chinaworker.info :
Massive clampdown by state censors

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Israel/Palestine: The Marxist left, the national conflict and the Palestinian struggle
29/04/2016, Socialist Struggle Movement (CWI Israel-Palestine):
The necessity of a class approach and a socialist alternative

France: One-day strike set for 28 April
26/04/2016, Alex Rouillard, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
A final stage before indefinite action against Hollande’s government?

US: The un-Democratic Primary
22/04/2016, Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative Seattle, originally published on counterpunch.org:
Why we need new party of the 99%

Capitalism: a failing system
18/04/2016, Peter Taaffe, from May edition of Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
A new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, analyses the downward course of the US economy – and the limits of the whole capitalist system

Review: ’Militant’ by Michael Crick
14/04/2016, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) general secretary:
Lessons of Militant vital for anti-austerity struggles today

Britain: A new moment
28/03/2016, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), published in April 2016 issue of Socialism Today:
Extracts from a statement discussed at the Socialist Party’s recent congress

Ireland: 100th anniversary of Easter 1916 Rising
26/03/2016, Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
A revolt against imperial power and war

History: When Khrushchev denounced Stalin
26/03/2016, Niall Mulholland, from Socialism Today (April 2016 issue of the monthly journal of Socialist Party, England & Wales):
1956 ‘secret speech’ a devastating blow to Stalinist regimes

11th CWI World Congress: World Perspectives
22/03/2016, socialistworld.net:
Amended agreed version of the World Perspectives document agreed by the CWI’s 11th World Congress

Germany: Big gains for right-wing, nationalist, AfD in state elections
22/03/2016, Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
DIE LINKE (Left Party) urgently needs to change course

US: Sanders needs to run as an independent in November
18/03/2016, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative (CWI supporters in USA):
Continuing the Political Revolution

European Union: Alliance with Turkey to close borders
09/03/2016, Per-Ãke Westerlund, from Offensiv - the weekly paper of Rattvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
Crises for refugees - and the EU – continues

Germany: Between hatred and solidarity
08/03/2016, By Sascha Stanicic, Sozialistische Alternative (CWI in Germany):
The situation in Germany

Turkey: No intervention in Syria! Stop the war on the Kurds!
01/03/2016, By Murat Karin, Sosyalist Alternatif (CWI in Turkey) and Paula Mitchell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Two articles on the current situation in Turkey and Kurdistan

US: Nevada Goes to Clinton – Sanders Looks to Super Tuesday
26/02/2016, Calvin Priest, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Huge enthusiasm for Bernie Sanders’ call for a political revolution leads to serious challenge to Hillary Clinton

Five years on from the “Arab Spring”
20/02/2016, Serge Jordan (CWI), article to be published in the March 2016 edition of Socialism Today, No.196.:
The “Arab Spring” revolutionary wave brought dictators in Tunisia and Egypt crashing down. It swept through the Middle East, inspiring workers and youth the world over. It has since ebbed, however, leaving the region wracked with war and sectarian conflict.

CWI 11th World Congress: South Asia wracked by instability
15/02/2016, Geert Cool, CWI Belgium:
Huge potential for workers’ struggles

US: Bernie’s political revolution opens new era for American politics
13/02/2016, Patrick Ayers, Socialist Alternative (CWI in the USA):
Build a #Movement4Bernie to Defeat the Billionaire Class and the Democratic Party Establishment.

CWI 11th World Congress 2016: Women and oppression in class society
13/02/2016, CWI World Congress Document:
A socialist approach

CWI 11th World Congress: Upheaval of traditional European political framework
12/02/2016, Sarah Wrack, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Workers’ fury at austerity and capitalist system will find more expression

11th CWI World Congress: A World in turmoil
11/02/2016, Kevin Parslow, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
Renewed economic crisis, wars, political polarisation & class struggle perspectives

Africa: New political storms and mass struggles
08/02/2016, CWI 11th World Congress Document:
Opportunities will arise for working class and poor to organise

India: Rising class struggle reflects seething anger of working class
08/02/2016, Anand Kumar, from Dudiyora Horaata (Workers’ Struggle – newspaper of the CWI in India), Bangalore:
Is ‘Modimania’ on the wane?

World relations, economy and the class struggle
08/02/2016, Socialistworld.net:
CWI 11th World Congress document

Spain: A break in the political establishment
07/02/2016, Danny Byrne, CWI (article from issue 195 of ’Socialism Today’):
December’s elections broke the hold of the two main capitalist parties for the first time since the Franco dictatorship. The high vote for representatives of workers’ and social movements, and the recovery of the left-populist Podemos, open up a new phase in the struggle against austerity.