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#JobstownNotGuilty international day of action a huge success

28/03/2017: Over 30 protests around the world and 88 MPs/MEPs pledge support

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A week-end of mass protests

27/03/2017: New spring of protest opens up, as 1,000s arrested

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Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship

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Terror attack at Westminster

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Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

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Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

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National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten

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South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

17/03/2017: Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

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Netherlands
Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government

16/03/2017: Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

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Yemen
Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies

16/03/2017: International campaign needed to force companies to pay

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Hong Kong
Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman

14/03/2017: Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

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Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

14/03/2017: Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

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Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

13/03/2017: Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

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 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

12/03/2017: Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

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Millions join marches and take action

10/03/2017: Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

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 Hong Kong
Women’s march against sexism and racism

09/03/2017: International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

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 Spain
Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike

08/03/2017: ‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

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Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

08/03/2017: Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

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 International Women’s Day 2017
A century on from the Russian Revolution

06/03/2017: Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

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Britain
Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won

06/03/2017: Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

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Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

04/03/2017: Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

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Hong Kong’s sham election

03/03/2017: Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

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US
Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress

02/03/2017: Kshama Sawant, Socialist Alternative councillor, speaks

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Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017: What is behind Trump's attack?

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Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

23/02/2017: Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

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Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

22/02/2017: Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

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February revolution 1917
What lessons for today?

21/02/2017: 23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

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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

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Netherlands
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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South Africa

One year after the Marikana massacre

www.socialistworld.net, 17/08/2013
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Both capitalists and working class prepare for unforeseen turmoil

Liv Shange, DSM (CWI South Africa)

On August 16, 2012, at Marikana, a bloody line was drawn in South Africa’s political sand when police in cold blood shot dead 34 workers and wounded 78. The few seconds of the massacre that were shown on TV tore down decades of carefully nurtured illusions about the ANC government and the capitalist state. The state’s resort to the most brutal form of reaction against the striking Lonmin workers set in motion a new period of revolution and counterrevolution in South Africa. A year later, a mining bosses’ offensive against jobs and worker rights is gathering pace. With the lessons of Marikana imprinted on the consciousness of millions of workers and youth, the scene it set for further mighty upheavals centred on the mining industry.

Remembering Marikana

The massacre on August 16, 2012, was a carefully orchestrated operation calculated to crush the Lonmin workers’ deadly challenge to the government and the capitalist order. Provoked by days (and years) of repression, the thousands of workers gathered on the hill, ‘the mountain, outside Marikana were fenced in with razor wire, attacked from behind and from the air with water bombs, and automatic gunfire. Chased towards the five-meter opening in the fence, in front of TV cameras, a first group was shot down. The majority of those killed and wounded were hunted down, out of sight of the cameras, among the rocks and bushes at another small hill. Many were shot at close range, in the back or with their arms stretched up to surrender. Police deliberately destroyed the faces of the dead by running over their skulls with armoured vehicles. Less well-planned, perhaps, was the police ‘investigation’ of the scene which has been revealed as a clumsy cover-up attempt.

The true story of Marikana was forced out in the open by the Lonmin workers’ defiant continuation of the struggle after the massacre and the industry-wide strike that followed. In the days immediately before and after the massacre, the public was washed over by a virtual flood of vicious propaganda against the Lonmin workers and their struggle. The workers who had been left, by the National Union of Mineworkers’(NUM’s) betrayal, with no choice but to take the fight for a decent wage into their own hands and for this crime were subjected to brutal repression were painted out variously as bloodthirsty criminals and murderers, muthi-possessed savages or hapless victims of manipulation by a ‘third force’. Jeremy Cronin of the South African ‘Communist’ Party (SACP) took the prize by publicly condemning the strikers a ‘Pondoloand vigilante mafia’. While the state and its appendices continue to hammer the refrain of police ‘self-defence’ at the Farlam Commission, this just shows how detached from reality this farcical show trial is since in the rest of society, these initial ‘truths’ were long overturned by the workers’ struggle.

Bloody repression of working class struggles in general, and mineworkers’ struggles in particular, of course did not begin at Marikana. Just two weeks earlier, on August 1, 2012, for example, five protesting workers were shot dead by police at the Aquarius K5 shaft outside Rustenburg. Their murders warranted no more than a paragraph on the business pages. The scale and publicity of the violence meted out on the Lonmin workers, which shook SA and the world, were no accidents. This was the calculated response to the, up until then, most serious challenge to the foundations of the African National Congress’ (ANC’s) rule – a mineworkers’ uprising against the NUM, which throughout the democratic era has been the key to control the mineworkers and thereby the mining industry, the backbone of the SA economy; by so doing also becoming a bearing pillar of the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) and the ANC-led Alliance. The threat was not just to NUM’s authority but to the ANC’s ability to maintain the capitalist ruling class’ confidence in its ability to ‘control the black working class’ (as a recent Business Day editorial so helpfully defined the ANC’s reason for being). ‘Concomitant action’, the expression used by ANC leader and Lonmin shareholder Cyril Ramaphosa to urge the crack-down, therefore had to mean asserting the state’s power through the barrels of automatic rifles.

‘This is not our government’

The attempt to drown the worker-led strike in blood, instead of shoring up these relationships, exposed them to millions with blinding and instant clarity. One of the key lessons of Marxism – that any state at its core consists of ‘armed bodies of men and women’ defending the ruling class, while also relying on ‘softer’ institutions (such as parliament as a means to reinforce illusions in the system on regular basis) and extended arms such as the trade unions, political parties and the media to justify the oppression of the many by the few – was suddenly understood way beyond the reach of committed socialists. Marikana spelled out that the ANC government is a party that exists to defend the interests of the capitalist bosses, that the NUM is the main tool to carry out this task, and that the supposedly neutral police, courts and media are in fact little more than the private securities and praise singers of big business.

Flowing immediately from these conclusions is the search for a working class alternative. Mineworkers, first in the Rustenburg platinum belt and then throughout the country’s mines, immediately followed the Lonmin workers’ example of setting up independent strike committees. The NUM fulltime shop stewards, often earning ten times the wage of ordinary workers, were chased out of the union offices. Through the spreading, unification and coordination of the strikes the mining houses and the government were forced to instead recognise the workers’ committees. In the minds of the striking workers this was right from the start linked to the need to also take the government bosses out of their Union Building offices, and put in place a workers’ government. As workers regained the confidence in the ability to organise, fight and win, the idea of building a new party, a working class alternative to the ANC and all the established parties, took root as an urgent necessity. The development of the strike committees into the National Strike Committee by October 2012 and the formation of the Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) by December 2012 came out of these realisations.

New battles on the mining front

Marikana registered a new level of class consciousness within the SA working class, which is forced to fight on several fronts – in the workplace, in the community – on daily basis. When battles are now escalating again this is against the backdrop of the recognition that things cannot continue as before – both within the working class and the capitalist class. Again, SA’s political and economic contradictions come to their most concentrated expression in the mining industry. While the R15bn in lost sales as a result of the strike wave August-December 2012 is certainly an irritant to the bosses, this is not the cause of the looming onslaught on jobs. It is the relentless downturn in the world economy which have seen prices of e.g. platinum and gold plummet and eaten into the profits and room to manoeuvre of the mining multinationals. Their major objectives are to cut the ‘over-supply’ of minerals such as platinum and gold to restore profitability and to shoot down the workers’ newfound confidence in struggle.

Already before Marikana, the mining houses were testing the waters for reducing over-production by attempting the closure of some shafts around Rustenburg. Having been forced to retreat by the strike movement, they resumed the offensive immediately after the strikes were over, starting with the lock-out and eviction of 6000 workers at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu shaft in Carletonville on New Year’s Day 2013. Amplats, the world’s biggest platinum producer, followed two weeks later announcing the so-called moth-balling (closure with the possibility of re-opening later) of four shafts in Rustenburg, the closure of one mine and the retrenchment of 14 000 workers. Under pressure from government and the continued combativitiy of the mineworkers, the numbers have been reduced to three shafts and 6000 workers, for now. While the AMCU (Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union) is still busy with the company’s ‘consultation on this ‘strategic review’, the bosses are already acting on the plan and count on its finalisation within the second half of 2013. Anglo Gold Ashanti has announced a 300 000oz cut out of its total 920 000oz global production – in just one year, most likely concentrated to SA.

Like Amplats, Glencore Xstrata is a pilot case for the ruling class. They too understand the working class truth that an injury to one is an injury to all. Throughout 2013, brief spontaneous worker-led strikes have continued to break out throughout the mining industry. At Glencore-Xstrata’s Eastern Chrome mine in Tubatse, Limpopo, 2000 workers struck in May in protest against the company’s protection of a white supervisor who had racially assaulted a black worker. The company acted immediately by having the strike declared illegal and dismissed the 2000 workers. Backed by SA mining bosses and international speculators united, the Glencore Xstrata bosses are hell-bent on consolidating a defeat for the workers, who are fighting for their reinstatement supported by the Workers and Socialist Party and the Democratic Socialist Movement. Bourgeois analysts speak of a possible cut of 200 000 mining jobs in the next five years (or three?). At the same time, the falling Rand, falling GDP growth rate, falling tax revenue and rising inflation, unemployment and government debt has the SA economy overall balancing close to a ‘tipping point’ which pro-capitalist commentators fear may trigger an all-out social crisis.

Peace without justice?

In addition to the attacks on mining jobs, the ruling class is responding by pushing for the rolling back of the collective bargaining system and for the cementation of the repression to which they resorted in Marikana. A series of ‘peace accords’, under various labels, have been branded about in the aftermath of the massacre. The latest is the ‘Framework Agreement for a Sustainable Mining Industry’, developed in talks government-industry-union talks led by deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe (a former NUM GS). Just previous, completely ineffectual agreements, it contains vague promises to improve the standard of living in mining communities and more concrete undertakings to enforce law and order, e.g. through the permanent stationing of police and ‘other security forces’ at all mining operations. Workers and unions are made to take responsibility for maintaining ‘peace’ while the bosses are preparing for war. Meanwhile, threats and assassinations against worker leaders associated with AMCU have continued, often provoking bloody retaliation.

The ‘Framework’ is part of the ANC government attempts to assure the mining capitalists and the ruling class as a whole that it can re-establish the grip on the situation after Marikana. It is of course no accident that it was drafted just at the start of wage negotiations in gold and platinum which are the most polarised in decades – e.g. a 120% increase demand versus a 5% offer in the gold industry – and the onset of the possible mass retrenchments. The attack on the Democratic Socialist Movement, attempting to scapegoat DSM EC member Liv Shange for so-called anarchy in the mining industry and effectively deport her from SA, also forms part of the efforts to undermine the fighting capacity of the mineworkers.

Despite the ANC’s efforts, its ongoing internal rifts are evidence that its big business handlers are yet to be convinced that ‘the centre can hold’. While the Zuma-faction appears all-powerful for the moment, its paranoia indicates a recognition that others, e.g. around deputy ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, may be biding their time. Increasingly however, the ruling class is shopping around for political ‘Plan Bs’ outside of the ANC. The formation of Agang-SA, a new political party led by former mining magnate and World Bank director Mampela Ramphele, is one such experiment. The right-wing opposition Democratic Alliance is aggressively attempting to swallow other parties into a ‘super-opposition’.

Expelled ANC Youth League president Julius Malema is now the ‘commander-in-chief’ of the Economic Freedom Fighters hoping to capitalise on the new situation with a programme of radical demands. The ANC is widely expected to suffer big losses in next year’s elections to national and provincial parliament.

A year after Marikana, on the threshold of turmoil that could shake SA to its core, the SA working class has only just begun the reconstruction of its class-independent organisations. AMCU, the union which took over the Rustenburg platinum belt and cut out a large chunk of NUM membership also in the gold industry in the wake of the strikes is yet to show how it will fare in the test that is already beginning with dismissals and retrenchments. So far, the lack of any apparent fight-back strategy is a great cause of concern. Cosatu, the trade union federation to which NUM belongs, appears unable to recover from its historical capitulation to the bosses at Marikana. Since the Cosatu leaders effectively condoned the massacre, and went on to endorse the directly responsible ANC leaders for re-election, the federation has not displayed any effective organising or campaigning work. Instead it stoops to new lows in bitter infighting on weekly basis.

It is high time for workers, the unemployed, youth and students to act on the key lesson of Marikana – that there is no more powerful force than the working class independently organised and united in action. Izwi labasebenzi/ the Democratic Socialist Movement calls for the mineworkers National Workers Committee to work for a joint fight-back plan, coordinated across the different mining sectors and trade unions, to stop the mass retrenchments and fight for living wages and jobs. We also call for a national day of action against the job cuts, for the nationalisation of the mines, banks and big and big business under democratic control and management by workers and communities, for jobs and decent living conditions such as housing and education for all. Izwi labasebenzi/ the DSM campaigns for working class unity and urges all genuine working class fighter to come together in the building of the Workers and Socialist Party. The best honour we can pay to those comrades who were mowed down at Marikana is to craft the political weapon we will need to defeat their murderers once and for all – a mass workers party armed with a socialist programme.



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NEWS

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Over 30 protests around the world and 88 MPs/MEPs pledge support

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27/03/2017, Socialist Alternative (CWI Russia) Reporters:
New spring of protest opens up, as 1,000s arrested

Hong Kong: Creeping “coup” by Chinese dictatorship
27/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Defend the four Hong Kong legislators

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24/03/2017, Judy Beishon, from the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) website :
Unite against terror, racism and war

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21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

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21/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes (SE), Spanish Students' Union :
Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

Scotland: Second referendum on independence?
18/03/2017, Philip Stott, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI) :
SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

South Africa: Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia
17/03/2017, Shaun Arendse, Workers and Socialist Party (CWI South Africa):
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International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
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Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

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Oppose Wilders and the ‘mainstream’ right – Build a mass workers’ party that struggles for socialism

Russian Revolution: March 1917 - After the fall of Czarism, what next for the revolution?
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net:
New article on 1917revolution.org

Hong Kong: Protest against LSG Sky Chefs dismissal of union chairman
14/03/2017, Sally Tang Mei-ching, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) :
Ng Chi-Fai sacked for organising union by multinational’s Hong Kong division – international solidarity needed

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13/03/2017, Michele Hehn, Alternative Socialiste (CWI in Quebec) :
Rise of Islamophobia and right-wing reaction poses new challenges to the left

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Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

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Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

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Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
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‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

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08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
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Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

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Hong Kong’s sham election
03/03/2017, Dikang, Socialist Action:
Pan-democrats sink to new low by supporting “lesser evil” John Tsang

US: Socialist response to Trump’s address to joint session of congress
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Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
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CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Italy: Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis
22/03/2017, Marco Veruggio, ControCorrrente, (CWI in Italy) :
Class struggle can build real left force

Brazil: National day of strikes and protests shows Temer can be beaten


17/03/2017, André Ferrari LSR (CWI in Brazil) :
For a one-day general strike as the next step

Yemen: Workers and their families left to starve by multi-billionaire companies
16/03/2017, Cedric Gerome, CWI :
International campaign needed to force companies to pay

Ireland North: Snap election raises sectarian temperature    
14/03/2017, Daniel Waldron, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland), Belfast :
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International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
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21/02/2017, Peter Taaffe, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales), printed in the Socialist (paper of the Socialist Party):
23 February 1917 (8 March in today’s calendar) marked the beginning of the socialist revolution in Russia, which sparked a revolutionary wave that would travel around the world.

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

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:
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<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
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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

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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