On January 1999 the Romanian miners marched again on the capital Bucarest in opposition to plans to close the mines. As a result miners' leader Miron Cozma was sentenced to 18 years of jail and arrested during violent clashes between miners and riot police. The miners from the Jiu Valley have a long and proud history of struggle. Alan Woods examines the implications for the process of capitalist restoration in Romania.

"The entire history of the international workers' movement in the twentieth century has furnished us with a wealth of material to show the way in which the working class and its organisations develop. From the study of the workers' movement over several decades, I drew the following inescapable conclusion: that when the mass of the workers enter the arena of struggle to change society, they inevitably gravitate, in the first instance, to the traditional mass organisations. The mass of the workers--and even the greater part of the advanced elements of the class--do not learn from books, but only from experience, and particularly the experience of great events. Where a strong and educated Marxist tendency is present, the process can be considerably shortened. This was the case with the Bolshevik Party in 1917."

Things are changing fast in Germany. In September 1998, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) scored a big victory in the Bundestag elections, ousting the bourgeois coalition under Kohl which had held power for 16 years. The new "red-green" coalition government under chancellor Schröder was greeted with great hope by millions of workers, unemployed, old age pensioners and youth. Now the SPD as well as the Greens are stumbling from defeat to catastrophe to disaster.