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latest news

Britain
Terror attack at Westminster

24/03/2017: Unite against terror, racism and war

  Britain

Italy
Democratic Party splits and 5-Star Movement in crisis

22/03/2017: Class struggle can build real left force

  Italy

Spain
Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March

21/03/2017: Over 100,000 take to the streets in SE demonstrations

  Spain

Scotland
Second referendum on independence?

18/03/2017: SNP fire the starting gun but offer no solutions to austerity

  Scotland

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

17/03/2017: For a one-day general strike as the next step

  Brazil

South Africa
Unity against poverty, crime and xenophobia

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

  South Africa

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

  Netherlands

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

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

  Yemen

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

  Hong Kong

Ireland North
Snap election raises sectarian temperature    

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

  Ireland North

Quebec
Counter protest against far-right

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

  Quebec

 International Women's Day
Speech by Kshama Sawant

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

  Women

 International Women’s Day
Millions join marches and take action

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

  Women

 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”

  Women

 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

  Women

Pakistan
Political spectacle of the ruling class

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

  Pakistan

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

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

  Women

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

  Britain

Egypt
Price hikes hit workers and middle classes

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

  Egypt

Hong Kong’s sham election

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

  Hong Kong

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

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

  US

Sweden
“Who could believe it?"

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

  Sweden

Britain/Ireland
Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty

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

  Ireland Republic

Ireland
A web of intrigue sparks government crisis

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

  Ireland Republic

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.

  Russian Revolution

 Yemen
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

Netherlands
Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

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

  Netherlands

Britain
Council cuts can be fought - and they must be

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

  Aceh

Spain
Pablo Iglesias wins clear victory in Podemos congress

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

  Spain

Netherlands

Anti-immigrant Freedom Party leading polls ahead of general elections

www.socialistworld.net, 18/02/2017
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Only a choice between the “regular” and far-right?

Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam

Dutch voters go to the polls on on 15 March, with a record 28 parties on the ballot paper. Nearly half the parties have only been in existence since 2014. The largest traditional parties are expected to lose many voters (the main three parties are expected to win just around 40% of votes, down from 89 per cent three decades ago). At the same time, Geert Wilders’ right-wing, anti-immigrant PVV (Freedom Party) is expected to win the most seats.

Pieter Brans looks at the reasons for this dramatic change and what the Left can do to offer a viable alternative.

Socialistworld.net

As in other European countries, the general elections in the Netherlands, in March, seem to present a choice between the “regular” right (Dutch Liberal Party) and far right (Geert Wilder’s PVV - ‘Freedom Party’). The PVV is predicted to win 29 seats in a parliament of 150, could come out as the largest party. The VVD (Liberal Party is predicted to win 27 seats) and is the other main contender. Major losses are predicted for the Labour Party (down to 11 seats from 38), which have been in coalition with the VVD in an austerity government for the past four years. The crucial factor is the lack of working class representation. As Benjamin Franklin said; “democracy is two wolves and a lamb deciding on what’s for lunch…” The goal of socialists is to turn the lamb into a lion through organisation and training it to fight.

How did this situation come about? The pushing back of organised labour has been a central goal of capitalist strategy since the early eighties. At the end of that decade, working class organisations had been pushed back a long way. The road was open for the ‘free market’ and the neoliberalism of the nineties. At the end of that decade, however, in spite of the counter-reformist role of the social democratic parties and the abandoning of struggle of most trade unions, protest was on the rise again.

Actions against the G8 summits in Seattle and Genoa attracted worldwide support. Trade union protest was subdued, but the potential for mass resistance remained, as was proven by the massive Dutch trade union protest in 2004. Capitalist strategists decided that they might have dealt a blow to working class organisations, but that working class strength remained unbroken.

Their solution was, partly, to raise ‘auxiliary troops’ for the capitalist system. Right wing, racist organisations were welcomed on the political plane. The same forces also grew because of the consequences of the policies of governing neo-liberal parties, causing growing inequalities and de-industrialisation, precarious jobs etc.

In the Netherlands right wing politicians, like Pim Fortuyn, and parties like the LPF, were pulled out of the bag. They often organised right wing voters more effectively than the traditional right and provided a haven for disgruntled sections of the middle classes and workers who lost out in ‘globalisation’. They started to monopolise discontent of neoliberalism by blaming the elite.

These auxiliary troops became quite effective after the turn of the century. The left was set back even further. The unions retreated and the Socialist Party in the Netherlands (a former Maoist party) never became a mass force despite its potential, mainly due to its failure to put forward a consistent anti-austerity and principled socialist alternative. Left wing action groups, anarchists and other organisations were all pushed to the margins of society.

This was how the Dutch bourgeoisie was able to continue the success of the right after the initial wave of neoliberalism had spent its force around the year 2000. One of the results is that in the upcoming elections there is a proliferation of right wing parties, all trying to cash in on this trend by going for a few seats in parliament. Nationalist pride, “Netherlands first”, are the kind of themes that these parties boast.

Shaken by Brexit

The capitalist class in the Netherlands has been shaken by the success of these far right forces.

The outcome of the Brexit-referendum also shook the Dutch establishment. Britain was their “natural” neoliberal partner against stronger countries in Europe, like Germany and France, where state intervention was more popular (the ‘continental capitalist model’). They were also shaken by Trump’s election in the US. And forces on the Dutch populist, anti-immigrant right, like Geert Wilders and the PVV, threaten to gain political power.

They capitalist class is at the same time confronted with the negative consequences of their neoliberalist measures; in the Netherlands companies now have so many people under flexible contracts that they lack reliable core workers to keep production going (in health care, pharmaceutical and insurance companies, for example). The housing market is one bubble after another and workers spend a huge amount of time in traffic. Serious and expensive mistakes, like over-investment in coal power plants, hang like millstones over energy companies. Tens of thousands of workers are needed in the care-sector but the cuts have been so deep that nobody wants to work there anymore.

Wilders’ PVV is a racist party, openly calling for fewer Moroccan people in Holland during the last election campaign. Wilders has officially been convicted of inciting hatred and discrimination but the trial has given him wide publicity. He says he does not “recognise” the power of the court. He considers the judges to be “PVV-haters” and says he will appeal. That will give him additional publicity in the election campaign. Wilders appeals to the frustrated and passive and as such it remains to be seen if they will be motivated to go out and vote for him. But it is almost certain that his party will come out of the elections as the largest party.

At present a counteroffensive to Wilders is taking place in the media. Trump is also criticised daily and racist utterings by certain newspapers and websites come under increasing criticism. The Dutch bourgeoisie wants them to know their place. Racist and nationalist parties are all well and fine, helping to keep the left at bay, but they should not dominate politics. The capitalist class realises that if the influence of the populist, anti-immigrant and anti-EU right continues to grow it will have counterproductive effects, like damaging the free market in the EU on which Dutch exports (roughly 50% of GNP) depend.

The most likely outcome of the elections in March is a large Freedom Party, a major defeat for the Labour Party and a minor defeat for the Prime Minister’s Liberal Party. As the Liberal Party has indicated that a coalition with Geert Wilders is not on the cards, they will probably try to form a complicated five-party coalition that continues austerity. The rise of right wing populism limits their options to rule. But if a multiparty coalition fails, a coalition with Wilders’ party cannot be ruled out. They have done it before, even though it was not a success at the time.

Ineffective union leadership

In the past five years the trade union leadership have concluded a “social pact” with the Liberal and Labour Party government and carried through a major reorganisation. Both factors have limited trade union militancy, though successes have been booked by made regarding minimum youth wages and collective labour agreements. The recently elected new president of the Dutch trade unions, however, like the previous president, comes from the police unions. With all the respect that we should have for the trade union work in these services, the leaders of these unions do not usually pull the unions to the left.

The Socialist Party is predicted to win a meagre twelve seats in the polls, three seats down on the number that they current have in parliament. The Socialist Party’s participation in local governments, together with austerity parties, is an obstacle to its gaining the trust of workers on a national level. In the media they are presented as a weak left wing version of “populism”. In elections in 2012, an expected SP election victory (an predicted 37 seats in the polls) was snatched away by a media campaign against the SP and by the Labour Party share of the vote. But workers’ disappointment in the Socialist Party is also a key factor.

Yet, in the absence of a campaigning mass workers’ party that consistently represents the independent political interests of the working class, the Socialist Party will be seen as the best choice for many working class voters. The Socialist Party does has some positive policies - fighting cuts in health care, wants to bring back the pension age to 65 and favours higher wages, all of which are necessary – but also fails to effectively resist racism, for example. The SP’s positive policies are not clearly tied to a socialist programme, standing for nationalisation of the big banks, main utilities and big industries, on the basis of workers’ control and management, in order to transform society for the need of the many not the super-profits of the few.

And only such a programme can provide a solution to problems in Dutch society. After years of cuts and austerity, 400,000 children in the Netherlands now grow up in poverty. Amsterdam has special burials for those who died alone, without family or friends. The number of unemployed is more than 400,000.  One million people are “self-employed”. With some exceptions, this means that they work for piece-wages, as in a previous period of capitalism. If the outcome of the elections is a larger political platform for racists and a continuation of austerity, it will be clear that only strong resistance from below can start to put an end to this situation of workers’ powerlessness.

The capitalist class might try to curb some of the rampant racism in society in the coming period and they might concede some minor reforms, like small wage increases that will help the economy, or insurance schemes for the self-employed. A moral struggle against racism and discrimination will help the bourgeoisie under the present circumstances, but not the working class. The working class should make sure that their comeback in society and in politics is a show of their own strength. Only independent struggle and organisation, only combative trade unionism and a broad workers’ party can ensure that their interests are taken seriously. The working class must show that it has an independent socialist alternative for the continuing disaster of capitalism.

 



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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

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

Belarus: Protesters flood onto streets demanding scrapping of “law against parasites”
21/03/2017, Daniil Raskolnikov (translation of article from the Russian CWI site www.socialist.news):
President Lukashenko must go!

Spain: Student strike empties classes and fills streets on 9 March
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):
Capitalist politicians use xenophobia to divert attention from failures of profit system

International Women’s Day: March in Malaysia and week of activity in Belgium
16/03/2017, socialistworld.net :
Reports from Kuala Lumpur and Brussels

Netherlands: Election result a colossal defeat for austerity government
16/03/2017, Pieter Brans, Socialist Alternative (CWI in Netherlands), Amsterdam:
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

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

International Women's Day: Speech by Kshama Sawant
12/03/2017, Socialistworld.net :
Video of 8 March rally in Seattle

International Women’s Day: Millions join marches and take action
10/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI:
Socialists around the world demand an end to women’s oppression

Hong Kong: Women’s march against sexism and racism
09/03/2017, Socialist Action (CWI in Hong Kong) reporters:
International Women’s Day: “Solidarity with global mass protests and women’s strikes”

Spain: Hundreds of thousands participate in International Women’s day student strike
08/03/2017, Sindicato de Estudiantes, students’ union in the Spanish state :
‘Libres y Combativas’ and Sindicato de Estudiantes call strike against sexist violence and for working class women's rights

Pakistan: Political spectacle of the ruling class
08/03/2017, Tariq Shahzad, National Organiser of IYWM (International Youth and Workers Movement) :
Most workers underemployed, 40% in poverty - situation demands new workers’ party

Britain: Massive demo shows battle to save the NHS can be won
06/03/2017, Hannah Sell, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) deputy general secretary :
Up to 250,000 march in national protest, organised from below

Egypt: Price hikes hit workers and middle classes
04/03/2017, David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) :
Falling support for dictator Sisi portends growing opposition

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

Catalonia: Historic demonstration in Barcelona in support of refugees
25/02/2017, Esquerra Revolucionària :
'Volem acollir'

Sweden: “Who could believe it?"

24/02/2017, Per-Åke Westerlund, Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI Sweden):
What is behind Trump's attack?

Britain/Ireland: Dublin's #JobstownNotGuilty
23/02/2017, Neil Cafferky, from The Socialist (weekly paper of the Socialist Party, England & Wales):
Defend the right to protest - stop this political vendetta!

Ireland: A web of intrigue sparks government crisis
22/02/2017, By Cillian Gillespie, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) :
Smear campaign against a prominent police whistleblower

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?

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 :
Workers need strong socialist alternative at ballot box and in unions

International Women’s Day 2017: A century on from the Russian Revolution
06/03/2017, Clare Doyle, CWI :
Demonstrations world-wide swelled by anti-Trump anger

February revolution 1917: What lessons for today?
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

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