The ‘Paradise Papers’ revelations aren’t surprising, only enraging. Over 13 million leaked documents detailing the offshore tax-avoiding activities of the global elite tell us what we already know: that while they cut healthcare, education, and welfare for the rest of us (with the excuse that there’s no money), the super-rich don’t pay tax.

The equivalent of a silent, unilateral war has been going on for years in the Mediterranean Sea. It is not a war in the traditional sense, because it lacks contending armies, but a war of the entrenched 'civilised world' against hundreds of thousands of unarmed people. Their only crime is a desperate attempt to flee poverty, unbearable living conditions and the destruction of their livelihoods in their home countries, and follow the dream of a better life for themselves and their families in Europe.

Budget airline Ryanair recently announced the cancellation of nearly 2,000 flights over the next 5-6 weeks, accounting for 40 to 50 flights a day. Officially, the company blames various delays, air traffic control strikes in France, weather conditions and a modified holiday schedule of pilots and cabin crew. However, this is all a smoke screen.

The isolationist Trump has had a change of heart. Instead of his promise to keep out of the Middle East, he has used the outrage over a chemical attack on civilians in Khan Shaykhun in Syria to send 59 cruise missiles against a Syrian government air base. The White House was quick to announce that the action sent a strong signal not just to Assad, but to the rest of the world.

The year 2016 ended with two more dramatic and bloody occurrences: the assassination of the Russian ambassador in Istanbul and the brutal murder of people in Berlin who were peacefully enjoying preparations for Christmas. These events were linked to the bloody morass in the Middle East and more specifically to Syria.

Across the world, centre-left governments and the traditional parties of the working class are in crisis. Reformism has hit up against the rocks of reality, unable to offer anything to workers and youth in this age of austerity. Daniel Morley examines the crisis of social democracy and points the way forward for leaders, such as Corbyn, in the fight to defend the gains of the past.

The recent NATO summit in Warsaw was full of contradiction and tensions between members of the alliance. The fragility of NATO’s power and the instability of world relations were on display for all to see.

For Marxists elections provide a valuable way of ascertaining certain tendencies in society. It is true that they are not the only way of judging the mood of the masses – nor even the best barometer of the real state of the class struggle. At best they are a snapshot of a certain mood at a given time. But having made these necessary reservations and qualifications, one has to take these indicators seriously, as Marx and Lenin certainly did.

At the 2015 Labour conference, shortly after Corbyn’s victory, Labour members voted in favour of a Unite motion to only support air-strikes on Syria if they have United Nations (UN) backing. More recently in the Commons vote to authorise this bombing, in the absence of UN support, Diane Abbott, a key Corbyn ally and Labour left-winger, urged caution, saying that “if some MPs are intent on military action, surely their first step should be to pressure Cameron to obtain some kind of UN resolution?”.

“Out with the Old. In with the New”. That was always the encouraging message of New Year. But amidst all the parties and the popping of champagne bottles, there was no sign of any optimism or hope for the future on the part of the ruling class and its strategists. On the contrary, the columns of the bourgeois press are filled with pessimism and foreboding.

The recent FIFA corruption scandal has adorned the front pages over the past few weeks. Beginning with the news on 27th May, just two days prior to the presidential election, that several officials had been subject to FBI raids and leading to the standing down of president Sepp Blatter after 17 years in the position and just a few days after being re-elected, the events have no doubt had a big impact at the top of FIFA.

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