Europe

During his recent visit to Russia, editor of marxist.com, Alan Woods, was interviewed for the online news program, STATION MARX International. The discussion covers a range of topics, from the fall of the Soviet Union, to Trotskyism, to the situation in Great Britain, to the current prospects for communism in Russia. The central theme of the interview: "is revolution possible in Russia today?"

The 10 November Spanish elections have left a more unstable situation than the 28 April elections. Although the right has been defeated again, the PSOE leadership failed in its political calculation that it would emerge strengthened, and the tactics of the UP leadership – to ruin Sanchez's investiture and risk new elections – were also an error that lost them votes and seats. Political polarisation, agitated by the Catalan national question, is reflected in the strengthening of the extreme right, of Catalan independence parties, and Basque and Galician nationalism.

Labour members were delivered an enormous shock by the sudden resignation of Tom Watson. He was a stalwart of the party’s right wing. Nobody expected him to leave the party like this. His unexpected departure has effectively decapitated the right wing of the party.

Alan Woods is on tour in Italy for a series of public meetings titled “Revolution for the future: from the History of Bolshevism to the revolutions of tomorrow”, organised by Sinistra Classe Rivoluzione: the Italian section of the IMT. Here is a report of the first two meetings, in Milan and Bologna. Today, Alan is in Naples; and on Saturday, 9 November, he will be in Rome.

This general election is going to mark a fundamental turning-point in Britain. It will have colossal ramifications internationally.

The following is a speech by Jorge Martin at the IMT's 2019 World School, in which he discusses the economic, constitutional and political crises affecting the European Union. Aside from analysing these very deep crises, Jorge goes into the history of the EU and explains its fundamentally reactionary character as an instrument of European capitalism and imperialist domination.

Recently, Alan Woods returned from a very successful, 10-day visit to St. Petersburg and Moscow, made at the invitation of the Revolutionary Workers Party (IMT). A few months ago, the Russian section of the IMT was hugely strengthened by the adhesion of a large number of Trotskyists who, although they were formally outside our ranks, had been following our material for some years and were in complete agreement with our ideas, tactics and methods of work.

The global economy is slowing down, heading for a new world slump. A rebellion is taking place across the planet, with mass insurrectionary movements erupting onto the streets from Baghdad to Beirut to Barcelona. And in Britain, the Corbyn movement is preparing for the battle of a generation, as a general election looms.

Splits and divisions have opened up at the top of the Tory government. Given the paralysis in Parliament, they don’t know which way to turn. Depending on what extension the EU offers, they are torn between trying to push Brexit through or going for a snap pre-Christmas general election.

Two weeks after the parliamentary elections, the new Portuguese government of the PS (Socialist Party) will officially take office on 23 October. This much is certain – what is not so clear is which of the PS’s potential “allies” (Bloco de Esquerda; the Communist Party and the Greens; the petty-bourgeois environmentalist party PAN; and the smaller left-reformist “eco-socialist” party LIVRE) will support this government – and to what extent.

Yesterday's general strike marked a qualitative leap in the political situation in Catalonia. For the past four days, mass peaceful demonstrations for the release of the political prisoners have been brutally attacked by Spanish and Catalan police. On Thursday, protesters were also attacked by neo-Nazis protected by police, who brutally beat up an anti-fascist militant. The youth have retaliated setting up barricades.

Since mid-September, the Marxist Student Federation in Britain has signed up 3,193 people across the country. This is by a huge margin our best year ever. It reflects the deepening crisis of capitalism, and subsequent search for new ideas from the youth. We’ve been present in 36 universities, at the freshers fairs, putting forward the demand for a radical socialist labour government. With a General Election around the corner, people are ready to talk about politics, and the Marxist societies are bigger than ever.

Today there is a general strike planned in Catalonia and a massive mobilisation, with five columns marching throughout Catalonia to converge in Barcelona. This day of action is organised under slogans rejecting the judgement of "Procés", and calling for the freedom of the Catalan political prisoners and the right to self-determination. The International Marxist Tendency in the Spanish State, Lucha de Clases, unconditionally supports this day of struggle.

"Barcelona has seen more barricade fighting than any other city in the world", wrote Engels in 1873. Yesterday, Barcelona stood by this reputation. Various republican and democratic organisations called peaceful vigils across Catalonia to protest against the sentences faced by the political prisoners. In Barcelona, as well as in other localities, the demonstrators – including families, elderly people, and children – were attacked by Spanish and Catalan riot police, charging at them with truncheons, rubber bullets, and stun devices.

Yesterday, the Spanish Supreme Court issued sentences against twelve Catalan political prisoners involved in the October 2017 referendum, including nine former ministers, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, and two popular civil society leaders. The proceedings went on for almost two years, during which nine of them were held in pre-trial detention. As expected, the sentences were harsh: between nine and 13 years in jail for the nine held on remand, and fines and disqualification from public office for the other three.

Nine Catalan political prisoners, who have been held in remand for almost two years, have been given lengthy jail sentences of between 9 and 13 years by the Spanish Supreme Court for sedition and misuse of public funds. And what was their “crime?” The organisation of the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October 2017. This is a scandalous, undemocratic ruling that reveals the rottenness of the Spanish 1978 regime. The International Marxist Tendency rejects these outrageous sentences and calls on the labour, socialist and democratic forces of the world to mobilise against them with all their might.

At 6pm on Friday 10 October, at the Plekhanov Memorial Library in St. Petersburg, comrade Alan Woods, the editor of marxist.com and a leading member of the International Marxist Tendency, addressed an audience of about 70 people, who crowded into the small conference room. In addition to the members of the older generation associated with the library, the majority of those present were young people — students and workers — members and sympathisers of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party who had organised the event in collaboration with the Plekhanov Library. The meeting was chaired by the director of the Library, Tatyana Filimonova.

Lucha de Clases (IMT section in the Spanish state) rejects the sentencing of the “Procés” trial, issued by the supreme court, which includes jail sentences of 9-13 years and disqualification from public office for the nine Catalan political prisoners and three other defendants. These sentences again show the authoritarian character of the monarchical regime of ‘78.

The following article was written forSocialist Appeal, the British website of the International Marxist Tendency. It discusses the betrayals of the Syriza government in Greece, and explains the lessons of that experience for the British working class and youth should a Corbyn-led Labour government ever come to power.

In the coming days, the Spanish Supreme Court will issue sentences against nine Catalan politicians involved in the referendum of 1 October 2017. Seven of them have been on remand for almost two years. This includes five ministers from the previous Catalan government, as well as two prominent civil society leaders. In addition, a number of prominent politicians and activists are in exile in Belgium, the UK, and Switzerland, which have refused to extradite them.

The latest editorial from Révolution (the French publication of the IMT) argues that Macron’s attempt to introduce a ‘universal pension scheme’ (in reality, a massive attack on pensions) must be resisted by organising a general strike. An upcoming, indefinite transport workers’ strike on 5 December presents a point of convergence for all the forces of the working class, which must be mobilised over the next two months to fight, not only to defeat this pension counter-reform, but for the end of Macron’s reactionary

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In the 1930s, Leon Trotsky wrote that the ruling class were tobogganing towards disaster with their eyes closed. This seems to be an accurate description of the situation in Britain today. Tobogganing towards a no-deal Brexit, the ruling class has lost control of events.

We are four years on from the historic formation of an apparently left government in Portugal, in which the Socialist Party (PS) has relied on the support of the Bloco de Esquerda (BE) and the Communist Party (PCP) to pass measures through parliament. Between them, the three parties have commanded a considerable majority in parliament, but the PS government would have fallen without the support of the parties to its left.

Travel company Thomas Cook is no more. Another iconic cornerstone of the British high street has gone into liquidation and 9,000 workers in the UK are out of a job. Many of these went through the same horrible experience just two years ago when Monarch Airlines collapsed. The current collapse is arguably an even-greater social disaster and hits 20,000 workers worldwide, with wider knock-on effects throughout the travel industry.

The British Labour Party has been holding its national conference over the past several days. At a Labour4Clause4 fringe meeting on Monday evening, a packed room of grassroots Labour activists heard from Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer, John McDonnell and leading trade unionists, who speakers pledged their support for the restoration of Clause 4 and Labour's commitment to socialist policies.

Britain is in the grip of an unprecedented crisis. The Brexit deadline is fast approaching. Boris Johnson’s government has hit the buffers and lost control of the situation. The scene is set for the most important and most bitterly-fought general election since the war.

Britain’s constitutional crisis has been deepened considerably by today’s Supreme Court ruling that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament is unlawful and void. MPs will now return to parliament while the split in the ruling class widens into a canyon.

On Monday 9 September, in an operation involving 500 Civil Guard police, nine activists of the Catalan Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CDRs) were arrested, and 10 properties were searched. By the end of the day, two of those arrested had been released and the seven others were transported to Madrid, where they will be presented to the National Court on Thursday. What we are witnessing is an attempt to criminalise the CDRs ahead of the sentencing of Catalan political prisoners, and the expected protests against these sentences in the next few days or weeks.

For the fourth time in less than four years, Spaniards ready themselves to return to the ballot box on 10 November. The country has witnessed unprecedented political instability in the last period, as social polarisation and the extreme fragmentation of parliament has made it virtually impossible to put together working governments. At the heart of this turbulence lies the radicalisation of Spanish society in the aftermath of the economic crisis.

The Italian government crisis during the summer holidays has been settled with the birth of a new government, composed of the 5-Stars Movement (M5S) and the Democratic Party (PD). This represents a complete upending of the situation, sparked by the decision of former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, to break from the former coalition.

Elections to the Moscow City Duma (city council), despite the typical vote manipulation and skullduggery, inflicted a crushing defeat on United Russia in comparison with previous contests. The opposition received almost half of the seats in the city Duma, while some districts were taken by United Russia, thanks to bureaucratic measures and the actions of pseudo-communist wreckers. It was only due to these underhanded methods that the government was able to maintain a controlling stake in the local Duma.

Parliament has now been shut down for five weeks by an unelected Prime Minister and a hereditary monarch. This scandalous state of affairs is perfectly legal under the constitution. This is what British parliamentary ‘democracy’ looks like.

The Times recently published a survey of 885 property investors, undertaken by PwC and the Urban Land Institute, which placed Lisbon as the number one European hotspot for investment in 2019. The city had jumped up from eleventh place in the same survey the previous year.

“This land is your land, this city is your city! And no one has the right to decide its future, but you – the working people of Moscow!” This appeal from a Russian IMT activist was greeted with an explosion of applause at a recent rally in the Zyuzino district of Moscow.

His government is just two days old, but Boris Johnson has already managed to lose his majority and rack up two defeats in the House of Commons. No government in history has faced such an immediate losing streak. This demonstrates how weak the Tory leader and his regime are.

There is a lot of chatter these days about cross-party and cross-class alliances. The possibility of a no-deal Brexit has certainly set the tongues wagging, especially amongst middle-class radicals like journalist Paul Mason.

We publish the following report, originally written in July by an activist of the Revolutionary Workers’ Party from Northern Russia. It concerns an ongoing struggle against attempts to illegally construct a waste disposal site at Shiyes in Arkhangelsk Oblast, which would cause grave environmental damage and risk the health of local residents. This is an important development that has gained widespread support and sparked protests across the country.

Today is the 200th anniversary of what has gone down in history as the Peterloo Massacre. This is one date that the ruling class has little desire to remember. Even now, two centuries on, a reminder of the bloodshed and violence associated with the history of British capitalism will be uncomfortable for the establishment.

Last Sunday, Servant of the People, the parliamentary party of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, swept the elections, gaining 254 out of a possible 424 seats. This represents one of the largest parliamentary majorities ever, but with another record low turnout of less than half of potential voters.

Yesterday, Boris Johnson took his place in 10 Downing Street as the latest Prime Minister of Britain. His premiership will be characterised by deep crises and intense class struggles.

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