Europe

The conflict between the Italian government and the “Troika” (the European Commission, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund) is making news headlines around the world. To understand fully the meaning of this clash and its consequences, we need to go back to the political earthquake of the 4 March elections.

A crunch point is approaching in the ongoing saga surrounding the highly-indebted Italian economy. This could spark a revival of the dormant euro crisis.

11 November this year marks the centenary of the end of the First World War. This is known as Armistice Day, or Remembrance Sunday, in which Britain officially commemorates the service of British military personnel in the two world wars and all subsequent ones. The British establishment are going into overdrive to whip up a mood of 'patriotism'.

News came today of the arrest of a far-right, 63-year-old man who wanted to assassinate the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez. Despite the fact that the police found 16 guns in his possession, the Spanish National Audience refused to deal with the case as it did not consider it an instance of terrorism. This is the same tribunal that has sentenced rap artists to jail time for “glorifying terrorism” in their lyrics. A case of double standards?

This weekend saw the annual, national school of Revolution, the Swedish section of the International Marxist Tendency, which took place in Gothenburg. Over 90 enthusiastic revolutionaries from all over the country gathered to prepare for a rise in the class struggle in the coming period, which will offer great possibilities for Marxists.

The headline announcement from the latest UK budget was that “the era of austerity is finally coming to an end”. This assurance, coming from a Conservative chancellor, is an indication of just how far the mood in society has shifted. After eight years of cuts borne by the working class, the vulnerable, and the poor, it is clear that ordinary people are no longer willing to tolerate any more hollow rhetoric that “we’re all in this together”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has announced her withdrawal from the Christian Democratic Union’s (CDU) leadership election race, as well as her candidacy for the next German parliamentary election. This marks a political earthquake and the end of an era in German politics, as Merkel has been Chancellor since 2005 and leader of the CDU since 2001.

Revolution: that was the banner under which Switzerland’s biggest, Marxist weekend school took place on 7-8 October. 100 enthusiastic Marxists from Switzerland, France, Italy, Germany and Austria met in Nidau/Biel in the heart of Switzerland to discuss how to achieve socialism in our lifetimes.

The chaotic Brexit negotiations appear more and more like a pantomime farce, complete with constant shouting from the sidelines. But there is more at stake than just seasonal slapstick. UK Prime Minister Theresa May is in the midst of a political storm that threatens the very survival of the government. Amid cries of “appeaser” and “traitor”, she promises to make “the right choices, not the easy one”.

This week has seen thousands of women council workers taking strike action in Glasgow in an ongoing dispute over pay equality. The dispute dates back to equal pay claims from 2006, when Glasgow City Council introduced a Workforce Pay and Benefits Review System, which aimed to tackle the gender pay gap. However, under the scheme, low-paid jobs tending to be occupied by women – such as cleaning, catering and care – are being paid significantly less than jobs such as refuse collection, which are male dominated.

On 19-21 October, around 300 Marxists from Britain, Europe and beyond gathered in London for the annual Revolution Festival. This year’s festival commemorated the inspiring events of 1968, half a century on. The weekend provided an inspirational experience for all comrades present, with the political level of contributions throughout the discussions being higher than ever before.

Whilst her dancing skills have been found somewhat lacking in recent months, Theresa May has become an expert at one thing: kicking the can down the road. Of course, she has been aided in this by the real masters of this practice: the European leaders, who have turned the making of political fudge into a fine art over the last decade. But no matter how much May and her negotiating partners attempt to duck and dive, they cannot dodge the final bullet. One way or another, Britain and the rest of Europe are heading for an explosion. The only question is when.

Britain’s ultra rich are already moving their money offshore, in anticipation of a Corbyn-led Labour government. They are anxious that some of their enormous wealth will be called upon to help fund the NHS, provide free education, and build council houses. Hence many are paying vast sums to accountants to help them find better uses for their money, such as hiding it in secret offshore accounts.

On 17 October 1961, between 200 and 300 Algerians and French citizens of Algerian origin, demonstrating against a curfew imposed on them by Paris Prefect of Police, Maurice Papon, were killed and thrown into the Seine by the police. 40 years later, few people know of this pogrom, which was perpetrated in full view of Paris, with the authority of the prefect, who was himself abetted by the highest levels of the state.

The former Catalan president, Carles Puigdemont, once again resides in Belgium. He first fled to the country in order to escape conviction for sedition and rebellion by the Spanish state after he (formally) declared the independence of Catalonia on 27 October 2017. Ever since, the Spanish government and judiciary have tried to convince other European states to arrest him and send him back to Spain for trial. So far, they have been unsuccessful. Following a short period during which he was under arrest in Germany, Puigdemont is now back in Belgium.

Once again, this autumn, Marxist students have been hitting campuses up and down Britain, signing up eager students to university Marxist societies. This year has been the most successful yet for the Marxist Student Federation (British youth organisation of the IMT), with thousands signing up to join societies across 33 campuses, and hundreds attending meetings all over the country.

As British Prime Minister, Theresa May, lurched out onto the stage at her Tory Party conference this year, swaying robotically to the sound of ABBA’s Dancing Queen, she will have been under no illusions as to the real state of the party she was about to address.

One year ago, the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October became a turning point in the whole political situation in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish state. What we call the “Republican October” was characterised by an abrupt entry of the masses into the political arena. It saw an impressive mobilisation from below that challenged the apparatus of the state and the hesitation of the leaders of the Generalitat, becoming one of the most important challenges faced by the 1978 regime in 40 years.

The Labour4Clause4 campaign set up by British supporters of the IMT held a hugely successful fringe meeting at this year’s Labour Party conference. Around 80 people attended the meeting, held on 25th September, to hear about the importance of reinstating the historic Clause 4, which represented Labour’s commitment to socialist values.

Labour Party Chancellor, John McDonnell, set a confident tone in his speech to the 2018 Labour conference. Whereas shadow chancellors normally address conference to dampen expectations, John stated he would do the opposite, because “the greater the mess we inherit, the moreradical we have to be”.

On 3 August, Alberto Garzón, the leader of the Spanish United Left (Izqierda Unida, or I.U.) posted an article entitled "Is Marxism a scientific method?" Under the guise of presenting a 'scientific' critique, Garzón was preparing a break with Marxism. Like every revisionist in history, he disguises this break with the excuse of 'modifying' the ideas of Marx. In reality, he was jumping on the bandwagon of those 'left' leaders who are making a dash for the 'centre ground'.

The British Labour Party is currently holding its annual conference in Liverpool, UK. Members and supporters of Socialist Appeal (British section of the IMT) have been intervening, raising our slogans of nationalisation, reinstating Clause IV (committing Labour to socialism) and kicking out the Blairites. The comrades provide this report on the conference thus far, which has already seen a stitch up to keep discussion of mandatory reselection of MPs off the table.

In Britain, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn and Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell have made a number of bold and much-welcomed pledges in order to fix the "broken economy". But what kind of economic programme should a Labour government carry out?

There are now fewer than 200 days to go before the UK officially leaves the European Union and still no agreement has been reached over the terms of its departure. As Theresa May and many of her European counterparts meet in Salzburg, they will be hoping that with enough fudge they will be able to deliver a deal that survives a ratification vote in the British parliament. But the opposition of as many as 70 Tory MPs could be enough to shatter their proposals and send the UK crashing out of the EU without any deal on 29 March 2019.

One year ago, the Catalan independence referendum on 1 October became a turning point in the whole political situation in Catalonia and throughout the Spanish state. What we call the “Republican October” was characterised by an abrupt entry of the masses into the political arena. It saw an impressive mobilisation from below that challenged the apparatus of the state and the hesitation of the leaders of the Generalitat, becoming one of the most important challenges faced by the 1978 regime in 40 years. It could have gone much further. What was missing?

In St. Petersburg, 2,000 people took part in a rally organised by the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) at Lenin Square, in front of Finland Station, to protest against Putin's counter-reform to pensions. Comrades of the IMT raised the slogan of revolution!

The following is the latest editorial from Revolució: magazine of the IMT in Catalonia. The Catalan Marxists offer a balance sheet of the political situation in Catalonia and the rest of the Spanish state, and explain the tasks ahead for the left wing of the Republican movement.

Two weeks ago, British Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a three-day jaunt across Africa, visiting South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya. The purpose of May’s whistle stop tour (aside from showcasing her inimitable dance moves) was to strike up post-Brexit trade relations with Africa’s “emerging economies”. The visit was a cringe worthy affair that saw May shuffle awkwardly from one public relations blunder to the next, and it highlighted the decline of British imperialism and the crisis facing the capitalist class as the Brexit cliffedge looms.

Despite the rosy picture presented to us by self-styled socialists like Bernie Sanders, after the latest election, it is clear that the same instability and political polarisation that has affected other countries has finally reached Sweden.

The Russian masses are in uproar over President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to raise retirement ages for men from 60 to 65, and for women from 55 to 63 by 2034. In addition, VAT is being raised from 18 to 20 percent. The tremendously unpopular ‘reform’ has sent Putin’s approval ratings plummeting by 15 percentage points (from 82 to 67), and has resulted in major demonstrations across the country.

The idea of a new Centre Party is back in the news in Britain. There is a growing realisation amongst the ruling class that the crisis of the Tory government, together with the debacle over Brexit, could soon lead to a general election that would propel Corbyn into 10 Downing Street.

Sud Poste 92

We received this appeal for solidarity from the French postal workers of Hauts-de-Seine (Paris) who are fighting against the victimisation of their shop steward.

Protest 10 August

On Friday 10 August the long-awaited ‘Diaspora at Home’ rally took place, with up to 100,000 protesters gathering in front of Victoria Palace alone. The rally itself had been organised on social media for a few months by the Romanian diaspora living abroad.

Prague 1968

The Prague Spring was a movement with the potential to develop into a socialist political revolution against the Communist Party (CP) bureaucracy, possibly with far-reaching consequences. For this reason, over the last half century, the Prague Spring has been slandered by Stalinists, co-opted by liberals, and distorted by both.

A concerted Blairite campaign is being run to smear Corbyn and the left over anti-Semitism. Meanwhile, the Tories are being let off the hook for their ingrained racism. Blairite plotting is becoming more open and vicious as the establishment war against Jeremy Corbyn goes on. Every day we are seeing ever-more crude attempts to smear Corbyn as a racist and an anti-Semite.

The Polish government and the European Commission are locked in conflict over proposed changes to Poland’s Supreme Court. The EU is considering taking the unprecedented step of stripping Poland of its voting rights within the Union as punishment for infringing on the rule of law. It has also threatened to cut EU development funds for Poland unless the rule of law is protected.

Trump and Putin’s meeting in Finland made headlines worldwide. Just like in other places, Trump’s visit was met with street protests in which thousands of workers and youth expressed their anger. This was despite the best efforts of the liberal organisers to water down the main protest’s message and create confusion about its time and location.

“Our relationship has never been worse than it is now. However, that changed as of about four hours ago. I really believe that.” The judgement of President Donald J. Trump delivered from the heights of Helsinki followed hard on the heels of his first summit meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin. If anything, it was even more bizarre than his visits to the NATO summit and the United Kingdoma few days ago. And it made even bigger waves.

Donald Trump’s visit to Britain could not have come at a worse time for Theresa May. In the days before he landed, May was busy facing down a rebellion over her Brexit plan, with Boris Johnson and David Davis – two senior cabinet members – having resigned. Threatened with a leadership challenge if she didn’t change course, May was desperately trying to patch up the split in the Tory Party.

In London, on the inauspicious date of Friday the 13th, Donald Trump was met by one of the largest demonstrations seen in the UK since the days of the 2003 Iraq war: hundreds-of-thousands strong. The enormous size of this protest is an indication of the real mood of anger and rebellion that exists within British society at the present time.

Less than three weeks after she survived an ultimately toothless rebellion by her pro-European MPs, Theresa May has embarked on a collision course with the hard-Brexit-wing of her party, provoking the deepest crisis her government has faced since last year’s general election.

Along with the renewed discussion in Britain around renationalisation (a policy promised by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn), the idea of workers’ control and workers’ management has re-emerged. Indeed, John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, has said that renationalised companies should not be run like they were in the past, but should instead be run under workers’ control.

It wasn’t long ago that Germany was considered one of the few countries with a stable political situation. On the surface at least, with high economic growth and a dominant position within Europe, everything seemed to be going well for the German ruling class. However, this stability is turning into its opposite.

Italy’s public debt stands at a staggering €2.3tn, or 132 percent of GDP: the third largest in the world after Japan and Greece. Furthermore, Italy’s banks hold the largest share of Europe's non-performing loans, totalling €224bn. Unlike Greece, which is a relatively small player in Europe, Italy has the third-largest economy in the Eurozone, contributing more than 15 percent of its overall GDP. Italy has now become a huge risk to the financial stability of the whole of the European Union.

The British National Health Service (NHS) turns 70-years-old this year, on 5 July. Festivities are planned across the country to celebrate perhaps the greatest achievement of the 1945 post-war Labour government. And rightly so. The NHS continues to provide care free at the point of delivery. It is, in essence, the embodiment of a socialist approach to healthcare: free and universal.

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