Last month, the far right Vlaams Blok changed its name to Vlaams Belang, supposedly to be a “nicer” and “more polished up” version of its former ultra right image. They want to present themselves as a strong conservative party, a “respectable” alternative on which the ruling class can rely to carry out its attacks on the working class. Even in small and peaceful Belgium, all the contradictions are piling up, waiting to explode in one way or another.

Pierre Broue is internationally renowned for his tireless work as a historian of the international revolutionary movement. His histories of the Bolshevik Party, the Communist International, the Spanish Revolution, and above all his recent Life of Trotsky have been widely admired. His latest book on the Left Opposition is yet another major contribution by this outstanding Trotskyist writer, who has dedicated his life to the fight for international socialism.

The surprise defeat of Mick Rix by a right winger for the position of General Secretary of the rail union, ASLEF, will have come as a great shock to many in the union and in the wider Labour and trade union movement. Certainly it was not something that could have been easily predicted or even guessed at. The winner, Shaun Brady, is an old-style right-winger, relatively unknown in the union. He talks about taking the union back to the membership but in reality he means the membership of the Strategic rail Authority, CBI and the City of London! How did this happen? What does it mean? What lessons must be learnt from this?

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