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Greece
Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?

29/01/2015: For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

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Greece
Syriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten

29/01/2015: An inspiration for workers and youth across Europe

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Greece
Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse

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Northern Ireland
Water service workers win important victory

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Mobilise now to defend our demands

22/01/2015: Article first published in the Colombo Telegraph

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Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address

21/01/2015: "Why can’t Barack Obama say “Black Lives Matter”?"

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Facing a turbulent 2015

21/01/2015: As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

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Greece
Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes

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Nigeria
The Massacre in Baga

19/01/2015: Socialism or Barbarism

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Review
‘Eleanor Marx - a life’

17/01/2015: Clare Doyle reviews ’Eleanor Marx - A Life’ by Rachel Holmes

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 Video
Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor

16/01/2015: Socialist MP grills establishment over banking bubble and collapse

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Nigeria
2015 general elections and the working masses

16/01/2015: Boko Haram and the war in the north-east

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Ruth Coppinger calls for referendum on abortion rights in Ireland

15/01/2015: "You march in Paris, yet uphold laws any religious fundamentalist would envy"

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A year of struggle in Brazil

14/01/2015: LSR members intervene in struggles of 2014

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Sri Lanka
New but uncertain period opens up

14/01/2015: President Sirisena aims for clean government but will face difficulties

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Iran
Labour and children’s rights activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, sentenced to another nine years

13/01/2015: International action needed to overturn latest conviction and to immediately release Behnam

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Germany
What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?

13/01/2015: Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

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France
Millions march for solidarity

12/01/2015: Unity against racism and capitalism!

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New Zealand
Extreme poverty worsens

12/01/2015: Workers need to build political alternative to major parties’ big business agenda

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France
Counter terrorist threat with workers-led mass unity

10/01/2015: The shocking, cold blooded slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and more killings in subsequent days, has been met with mass outrage

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Norway
General strike called for 28 January

10/01/2015: Two-hour protest against worsening working conditions

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Sri Lanka
Rajapaksa defeated

09/01/2015: Period of uncertainty opens

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Sweden
New elections cancelled

09/01/2015: “Peace deal” between government and right-wing opposition

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Greece
Towards a Syriza government?

08/01/2015: General elections on 25 January

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France
Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo

08/01/2015: Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

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Hong Kong
Politics transformed by ‘Umbrella Revolution’

07/01/2015: A fighting democratic movement must be created to continue and build upon this historic “first round”

  Hong Kong

Israel-Palestine
A successful Socialism conference in the shadow of national divide

06/01/2015: Over 150 people participated in the ‘Socialism Conference 2014’ in Tel Aviv, organised by the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM - CWI in Israel-Palestine)

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Northern Ireland
The Stormont House Agreement

05/01/2015: Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

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Market forces hold back renewable energy

01/01/2015: Have capitalist governments around the world finally woken up to the danger of global warming?

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Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015

31/12/2014: As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

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Britain
In defence of TUSC

30/12/2014: As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition gears up for its biggest ever electoral stand…

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Pakistan

Local elections expose Musharraf’s sham of democracy

www.socialistworld.net, 29/10/2005
website of the committee for a workers' international, CWI

Socialist Movement members achieve impressive votes

Khalid Bhatti, Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI)

The article below was written in early October. As a result of the earthquake, its translation into English was delayed, as well as its posting on our website. The partial stabilisation of Musharraf’s position following the elections is now in question because of the massive failures of his administration in responding to the 8 October earthquake. Despite the article being written before the earthquake it is still of relevance and contains important information concerning the role of Socialist Movement Pakistan (CWI in Pakistan) in the elections

socialistworld.net

Local elections expose Musharraf’s sham of democracy

General Musharaf, President of Pakistan, was able to conclude the third and final round of the second set of non-party local government elections in his six year rule, in the first week of October. In these elections, panels of candidates can stand but not in the name of any political party or organisation. The election results are not surprising for those who know some thing about Pakistani politics. As expected, the general’s party won most of the seats in these non-party elections. The opposition parties accused the government of rigging the vote but the election commission and government responded saying that the elections were held in a fair and transparent manner.

Non Party Elections

This is not the first time that elections were held on a non-party basis in Pakistani politics. All military dictators since 1958 have used these type of elections as a tactic to weaken political parties and to strengthen their military rule.

The main purpose of the non-party elections is to weaken political debate and to promote Biradariism (clan politics), sectarianism, tribalism, and other divisions. By transferring limited powers to a local level, the generals attempt to divert attention away from absolute centralization of power in their hands.

In this way, military dictators in Pakistan, who enjoy almost complete control over a lot of what happens in the country, attempt to give the illusion to the majority of the population that some sort of democracy exists through conducting fabricated local election dramas.

In 1962, General Ayub Khan organised local government elections to camouflage his military regime with a “democratic” cover. General Zia-ul-Haq held 3 non-party local elections in 1979, 1983 and 1987, to strengthen his military rule and weaken the political parties. Now General Musharraf is attempting to follow the same path. Musharraf held the first local government elections in 2000-2001 under his “devolution” plan. The results show that these elections have served the purpose of temporarily de-politicising society.

Low turn-out

The turn out in these elections, which were held in two phases on 18 and 25 August, were very low, showing how the masses have completely lost confidence in the electoral process. The election commission announced that the turn-out was 48%, which nobody believed except the government and election commission. The turn out in Karachi was 25.6% and 22% in Lahore. The turn-out nationally, in reality, was not more than 30%. Even in Baluchistan the turn out was 17%. In every election the election commission has to increase the turnout to give the election more credibility and legitimacy.

The vast majority of people are not interested in casting their votes because they know it will not make any difference. Every body knows that the military will decide the outcome and will rig the elections.

It is the working class who have particularly lost illusions in the electoral process, which was shown by the fact that the turn out was even lower in working class areas. There was no public enthusiasm for the polls. In many cases, the only active people in these elections were relatives and friends of the candidates. In some areas, political workers were also active in the support of their candidates. But state machinery was the most active in the campaign supporting the ruling party’s candidates.

Violence and Rigging

These were the bloodiest elections in the history of Pakistan. More than 74 people were killed and 800 injured. Election related violence has continued even after the polls closed. Many people were killed because they did not cast their votes in favor of candidates backed by powerful forces in local politics.

In the rural areas, the local elections have always become the starting point of long-lasting feuds between different clans and groups. These sorts of feuds take 5,000 lives every year just in Punjab province. In some areas, like Dera Ghazi Khan and Gujrat, the polling staff were abducted and tortured to get favorable results.

The most debated issue during and after the elections is rigging. All the opposition parties accuse the government of cheating. Even government ministers complained about rigging. It is no secret that rigging is an “essential” part of elections in Pakistan for the ruling elite. It is a tradition. The government uses all means possible to win the elections. Government-backed candidates use violence and threats to make sure they win. Pre-poll rigging is very important in securing a victory. Bogus ‘voters’ lists’ and duplicate voting are normal practices in Pakistan. The provincial governments in Punjab and Sindh used the full machinery of their provincial administrations to win elections. Opposition party candidates were forced to withdraw from elections. Pressure to get them to do this was exerted on their relatives who worked in different provincial and federal departments. These government employees were threatened with the sack from their jobs if their relatives decided to contest against the government backed candidates.

Election Alliances

All the political parties contested these non party elections, but not under the name of their party. All parties form groups or lists at a national level. For example, the ruling Pakistan Muslim League (PML-Q – General Musharraf’s party) formed itself as the Prosper Pakistan group, the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) as the Peoples Friend group, and Jamat-i- Islami, the reactionary Islamic party (JI) as the Al Khidmat group.

The PPP, JI and PML-N (the party of the deposed Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif) formed an alliance in Punjab, but in many areas these parties also made alliances with the ruling party.

All the parties gave support (although it was non-party) to influential candidates who came from big clans and tribes. All the capitalist parties prefer standing rich candidates. It was almost impossible to differentiate between the candidates, because they contested the same programme which, in fact, means no programme. The election campaign was almost non-political and personal. It was very difficult to differentiate between different political parties.

The experience of the election campaign showed to the working masses that these parties have no programme and ideology, but that they are only consumed with greed to get power to plunder state resources. The elections for district mayors and town mayors showed there is a disgusting struggle for power amongst the parties in which supposedly sworn political enemies have forged alliances to get their hands on power. Jamat-e Islami made an alliance with the so-called progressive Awami National Party (ANP) in North West Frontier Province. The ‘progressive’ PPP-S (Pakistan Peoples Party – Sherpao, which is an ally of Musharraf) has formed an alliance with the party which gave rise in part to the Taleban, Jamiat –ulmai-Islam (JUI) and PPP in NWFP. During the elections these groups fought against each other but now to get power they have united.

The results in Sindh are shocking for the PPP, as it has lost in its stronghold there. It even lost a seat in the home constituency of Benazir Bhutto.

In many districts, the PPP failed to put candidates. It is true that government repression caused lot of problems for the PPP, but it is also true that these results reflect the reaction against the pro-American, anti-working class policies of the PPP leadership. The PPP has completely transformed itself into a capitalist party. PPP leaders always rely on big feudal lords and the rich. Its leadership long ago lost confidence in the working class.

The MMA (the alliance of religious Islamic parties) suffered heavily in these elections. The two main parties of the alliance contested elections against each other. Jamat-e –Islami lost in its strong hold in Dir to the PPP and ANP (the Pashtun Nationalist party). Jamiat-ulmai-Islam (JUI) lost to the ANP in its stronghold, Tank. The ANP emerged as the single largest winner in these elections. Fundamentalist parties lost lots of ground against ANP, since the last general elections in 2002.

The ruling PML-Q emerged as the largest party in Baluchistan, thanks to the tribal chiefs and state machinery. The Baluch nationalist parties have shown their strength in Makran coastal belt. JUI has also won the majority in 6 districts, mainly in Pashtun speaking areas.

The ruling PML-Q is in serious crises. The ministers are accusing each other of rigging.

In the Punjab, the chief minister and provincial president of PML-Q, both want to become prime minister after the next general elections.

Overall, these results show that the military, through bribery and unprincipled alliances, has a comfortable majority to elect the maximum district and town mayors, who are vital to win the 2007 general elections. The military establishment is preparing in advance for these elections. The establishment has developed a new strategy and the emergence of sh;ANP in NWFP is part of that strategy.

The military establishment is also worried about the results in the cities in Punjab, where opposition parties showed steps forward. Despite the rigging, government candidates lost in Rawalpindi, Sargodha, Faisalabad and other cities.

The working class has experienced both “democracy” and military rule. Neither has solved any of the basic problems in society. The ruling class has failed to even establish capitalist democracy and abolish feudalism. These elections once again raise the question of a working class alternative. A revolutionary mass party of the working class can overthrow this repressive capitalist regime and establish workers’ democracy and a planned economy.

Good results for Socialist Movement

Socialist Movement members contested elections in different areas on a pro-working class and anti-privatisation programme. 15 Socialist Movement and Trade Union Rights Campaign members contested the elections, in which 11 won seats. Socialist Movement members did not stand under the name of the party because of the restrictions in the elections. Therefore, the votes we received were not necessarily votes for a full socialist programme. However, the results do represent support for working class candidates who were standing for a fighting opposition to privatisation. In total, SMP members got 15,000 votes.

8 SMP members won councilor seats in Karachi, and one each from Dadu, Shikarpur and Dir.

The votes were as follows:

Karachi

Amir Alam, Labour Councilor: 867 votes

Zuhra Bano, Labour Councilor:1023 votes

Amanullah Khan, General Councilor: 1084 votes

Nafees, Labour Councilor: 751 votes

Kishan, Minority councilor: 1056 votes

Hamza Chandio, General councilor: 1175 votes

Allah Dino, Labour councilor: 894 votes

Sadiq Hussain, Labour Councilor: 981 votes

Ibrar Khan, 655 votes

Hanif usmani, 835 votes

Dadu

Muhammad Ibrahim, General Councilor: 1287

Shikarpur

Riaz Jatoi, Labour Councillor: 916 votes

Sanjay Kumar, 694 votes

Ghotki

Ram Kumar, 471 votes

Dir

Hashim Jan, Local Mayor: 2362 votes



Europe

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US: Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address, 21/01/2015

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NEWS

Greece: Syriza-led government announces anti-austerity policies
30/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, CWI:
Markets and EU leaders react against Athens

Saudi Arabia: ’Defenders of democracy’ mourn despot’s death
30/01/2015, Simon Carter, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Atrocious human rights records no concern for Western powers

Greece: Syriza victory shows austerity elite can be beaten
29/01/2015, Editorial of The Socialist, newspaper of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
An inspiration for workers and youth across Europe

China: Slowest growth rate since 1990
25/01/2015, chinaworker.info reporters:
Economy decelerated 30 percent in five years

Northern Ireland: Water service workers win important victory
23/01/2015, Donal O’Cofaigh, Socialist Party, Fermanagh:
A victory for all workers and an inspiration to resist the ‘race to the bottom’

Sri Lanka: Mobilise now to defend our demands
22/01/2015, Tu Senan, International Coordinator of the Tamil Solidarity campaign:
Article first published in the Colombo Telegraph

US: Kshama Sawant gives socialist response to Obama’s "State of the Union" address
21/01/2015, Socialistworld.net, via socialistalternative.org:
"Why can’t Barack Obama say “Black Lives Matter”?"

Review: ‘Eleanor Marx - a life’
17/01/2015, Clare Doyle, CWI. Article published in the Socialist, paper of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Clare Doyle reviews ’Eleanor Marx - A Life’ by Rachel Holmes

Video: Joe Higgins questions Irish Central Bank governor
16/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
Socialist MP grills establishment over banking bubble and collapse

Nigeria: 2015 general elections and the working masses
16/01/2015, Aj. Dagga Tolar and Kola Ibrahim, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Boko Haram and the war in the north-east

Video: Ruth Coppinger calls for referendum on abortion rights in Ireland
15/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
"You march in Paris, yet uphold laws any religious fundamentalist would envy"

Video: A year of struggle in Brazil
14/01/2015, socialistworld.net:
LSR members intervene in struggles of 2014

Sri Lanka: New but uncertain period opens up
14/01/2015, Clare Doyle, CWI:
President Sirisena aims for clean government but will face difficulties

Iran: Labour and children’s rights activist, Behnam Ebrahimzadeh, sentenced to another nine years
13/01/2015, Campaign in Support Workers of Iran:
International action needed to overturn latest conviction and to immediately release Behnam

France: Millions march for solidarity
12/01/2015, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
Unity against racism and capitalism!

New Zealand: Extreme poverty worsens
12/01/2015, CWI Reporters, NZ/Aotearoa:
Workers need to build political alternative to major parties’ big business agenda

France: Counter terrorist threat with workers-led mass unity
10/01/2015, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales) website editorial:
The shocking, cold blooded slaughter at Charlie Hebdo, and more killings in subsequent days, has been met with mass outrage

Norway: General strike called for 28 January
10/01/2015, Trond Sverre and Elise Kollveit (CWI, Oslo):
Two-hour protest against worsening working conditions

Sri Lanka: Rajapaksa defeated
09/01/2015, TU Senan, CWI:
Period of uncertainty opens

Sweden: New elections cancelled
09/01/2015, Questions answered by Rättvisepartiet Socialisterna (CWI in Sweden):
“Peace deal” between government and right-wing opposition

France: Deadly attack on satirical paper Charlie Hebdo
08/01/2015, Gauche Revolutionnaire (CWI in France):
Defend freedom of speech! Don’t let us be divided!

Hong Kong: Politics transformed by ‘Umbrella Revolution’
07/01/2015, Editorial from Socialist magazine《社會主義者, of CWI in China and Hong Kong:
A fighting democratic movement must be created to continue and build upon this historic “first round”

Israel-Palestine: A successful Socialism conference in the shadow of national divide
06/01/2015, Or Dar, Socialist Struggle Movement, CWI in Israel-Palestine:
Over 150 people participated in the ‘Socialism Conference 2014’ in Tel Aviv, organised by the Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM - CWI in Israel-Palestine)

Environment: Market forces hold back renewable energy
01/01/2015, Pete Dickinson, Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
Have capitalist governments around the world finally woken up to the danger of global warming?

Britain: In defence of TUSC
30/12/2014, Clive Heemskerk, from Socialism Today, magazine of the Socialist Party (CWI in England & Wales):
As the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition gears up for its biggest ever electoral stand…

CWI: National Question a key feature of political crisis of capitalism
28/12/2014, Matt Dobson, Socialist Party Scotland (CWI Scotland):
A socialist solution to national oppression

CWI Comment and Analysis

ANALYSIS

Greece: Why did Syriza and the KKE fail to reach agreement?
29/01/2015, Article from Xekhinima (CWI Greece) website [dated 26 January 2015] translated and slightly edited:
For socialist policies to end austerity nightmare!

Greece: Syriza comes to power, as old ruling parties collapse
27/01/2015, Niall Mulholland, socialistworld.net, interviews Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI Greece):
Left parties fail to form government - Syriza goes into coalition with populist right Independent Greeks

Cuba: Diplomatic relations with US restored, embargo eased
24/01/2015, Tony Saunois, CWI:
Threat of capitalist restoration accelerates

Russia/Ukraine: Facing a turbulent 2015
21/01/2015, Rob Jones, CWI, Moscow:
As death toll rises, economies plunge into freefall

Greece: Prospect of Syriza victory raises workers’ hopes
20/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, from Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
Mass intervention of working class to struggle for socialist policies is vital

Nigeria: The Massacre in Baga
19/01/2015, H.T Soweto, DSM (CWI in Nigeria):
Socialism or Barbarism

Germany: What is behind the ‘PEGIDA’ anti-immigrant demonstrations?
13/01/2015, Wolfram Klein, Socialist Alternative (SAV- CWI Germany):
Unions and Left must organise against racism and for jobs and decent living standards for all

Greece: Towards a Syriza government?
08/01/2015, Interview with Andros Payiatsos, Xekinima (CWI in Greece):
General elections on 25 January

Northern Ireland: The Stormont House Agreement
05/01/2015, Michael Cleary, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
Agreeing Not To Agree, Again

New Year: Political and economic ingredients for volatile 2015
31/12/2014, Peter Taaffe, General Secretary Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
As crisis of capitalism worsens, vital to organise and continue the struggle

Latin America: The end of one cycle and the beginning of another
17/12/2014, socialistworld.net:
Document on Latin America, agreed by CWI International Executive Committee

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
15/12/2014, CWI International Executive Committee:
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Sri Lanka: Presidential Election January 8, 2015
11/12/2014, Interview with Siritunga Jayasuriya, USP (CWI Sri Lanka):
Socialist candidate challenges all other forces

Australia: Major community victory stops Melbourne’s East-West Toll Road
08/12/2014, By Socialist Party (CWI Australia) reporters, Melbourne:
Socialist Party leads successful campaign against Toll Road and for investment in public transport

World Perspectives: A turbulent period in history
27/11/2014, International Secretariat of the CWI :
Signs of revival of class struggle signposts the future

Ireland: Lies and distortions against community protests, the AAA and the Socialist Party
21/11/2014, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland) reporters:
Government and Water Charges completely undermined

Israel-Palestine: Netanyahu threatens “heavy hand” response to synagogue attacks
19/11/2014, Yasha Marmer, Socialist Struggle Movement (SSM):
New rounds of repression answered by new wave of rage and protest

Ukraine: Competing ’elections’ deepen divisions
15/11/2014, Rob Jones, CWI Moscow:
Working people need socialist alternative to warring oligarchs and outside powers

Northern Ireland: 20 years after the ceasefires
10/11/2014, Ciaran Mulholland, Socialist Party (CWI in Ireland):
In 1994, the IRA and Loyalist paramilitaries called ceasefires. Four years later the Good Friday agreement was declared to mark the end of the ‘Troubles’…

Germany: 25 years since November 9
09/11/2014, By Robert Bechert, CWI, who was living in Berlin in 1989:
Berlin Wall brought down by mass revolutionary movement

Elections in Brazil
07/11/2014, Andre Ferrari, LSR (CWI in Brazil):
Narrow win for Dilma sets scene for more crisis and instability

Russia’s 1917 socialist revolution
07/11/2014, Clare Doyle, CWI:
November 7th anniversary of workers taking power

Ireland: Stunning Dublin by-election victory, huge water protests…new chapter for working class resistance
04/11/2014, Kevin McLoughlin, Socialist Party (CWI Ireland):
How the Anti Austerity Alliance won a parliamentary seat and the way forward for the Left

Kurdistan: Battle for Kobanê at a crossroads
31/10/2014, Serge Jordan, CWI:
What does US military ‘assistance’ mean for the Kurdish struggle?

A ‘third industrial revolution’
28/10/2014, Peter Taaffe, general secretary of the Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales):
New technological innovations are having a huge impact on the capitalist system, a subject explored in a new book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society.