Yesterday, October 17, In Defence of Marxism and the Hands Off Venezuela campaign organised a meeting on Venezuela and the Bolivarian revolution at the European Social Forum in London. The room was packed with young people and trade unionists from all over the world.

This year’s European Social Forum is taking place from 15-17 October in London. The same as last year, In Defence of Marxism will be there putting the socialist case. This we will do by having several stalls with Marxist publications and books. However, we are also participating in the debates themselves.

What is the essence of the ILO (International Labour Organisation)? Some in the labour movement have the illusion that it can be a genuine force for defending workers' rights. Luca Lombardi analyses a recent ILO document, A Fair Globalization: Creating opportunities for all, and shows that in reality the ILO makes a lot of statements about ethics, morality, "fair development", etc., but in reality it is an instrument in the hands of the bosses.

In February 2004, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) published a report on globalisation ‑ A Fair Globalization: Creating opportunities for all. It is worth reading not so much for its content, which is fairly poor, but because it graphically demonstrates the attitude of this organization towards the labour movement. It also shows how ill-placed the confidence of the reformist leadership of the trade unions and left parties in the UN and its agencies is.

On November 12-16 the second European Social Forum was held in Paris.The attendance did not reach the numbers of the first ESF in Florence, nonetheless around 35-40,000 people registered during the three days of meetings and workshops and around 100,000 took part in the demonstration on Saturday 15th against the war and the occupation of Iraq and against the cuts in the welfare state and to living standards all over Europe.

Last September 14, world trade talks broke down in Cancun, Mexico. Everybody blamed everyone else. Before the conference, British delegate Patricia Hewitt had predicted, "if we fail, it will be a disaster for world economy." And this is true, for the collapse could stun the already fragile prospects of economy recovery.

Instead of further integrating the world's economies, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) summit in Cancun actually succeeded in creating more polarisation and deeper divisions between its members. The viability of the WTO, which since Seattle (December 1999) has gone from failure to failure, is more than ever in doubt. Luis Enrique Barrios, from the Mexican Marxist paper Militante analyses the breakdown of talks and future prospects.

The 1990's has seen a huge increase in poverty around the globe. The gap between the rich and the poor is getting wider, and if current trends continue then it will be the year 2147 before areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa can hope to halve the number of people in poverty.

The EU summit that was recently organized in Thessalonica from June 19 to 21 was met with tens of thousands of Greek workers and youth showing their opposition to the this international club of capitalists gangsters. The European "leaders" were discussing the new EU Constitution and the problems of illegal immigration.

On June 20 2003, another tragedy took place in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. A boat packed full of illegal immigrants capsized due to bad weather off the coast of Tunisia. It has been estimated that 250 people from several African countries were on board this boat, another common steamboat that regularly seeks to go to nearby Italy. The journey to try to find a better life ended with the probable drowning of about 200 people. Only 41 survivors were rescued. There were some who by very tedious efforts managed to swim for 5 hours and were able to reach the shore. This plight of these unfortunate illegal immigrants with their boats either sinking, capsizing or getting lost at sea