Europe

UPDATE: We have just been informed of the good news that the students have been released, but the fact they were arrested to begin with is still a scandal. Yesterday, 9 April, University of Nanterre management called two units of the CRS [Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité: general reserve of the French National Police] to violently expel 100 students gathered in a General Assembly. Seven students were arrested. Six were remanded in custody, including our comrades Andreas Coste and Victor Mendez. It is clear that the arrests targeted student activists at the university. 

The Catalan Committees for the Defence of the Republic (CRDs) have come under a sustained campaign of criminalisation. The state prosecutor, the mass media and the political parties of the Spanish regime have all ganged up to brand them as “violent”, demanding that “action should be taken” against them and threatening them with prosecution for “rebellion”. Why are they so afraid of the CDRs?

Yesterday, the Spanish regime’s strategy of repression against the Catalan independence movement suffered a serious blow, when a German court in Schleswig-Holstein decided there were no grounds to extradite Catalan President Carles Puigdemont for rebellion. Additionally, a series of decisions by the Belgian justice system further undermined the position of the Spanish regime.

Lucha de Clases (section of the International Marxist Tendency in the Spanish state) opposes the arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Germany and demands his immediate release. We also demand the release of five Catalan independence leaders arrested on Friday, including the last candidate for the presidency of the Generalitat, Jordi Turull; along with all Catalan political prisoners. Original statement in Spanish here.

The latest issue of Révolution (French organ of the IMT) will be published in the wake of a social movement that could mark a turning point in the correlation of forces between our camp (the youth and workers) and the bosses, of which Macron’s government is the executive body. A rail strike, starting from 3 April, will be the focal point of the struggle. But, both for us and for our enemies, the significance of this strike goes beyond the fate of the SNCF [Société nationale des chemins de fer français: France’s national state-owned railway company] and its employees.

The arrest of Carles Puigdemont in Germany on Sunday morning was an escalation of a strategy of repression against those who dared call an independence referendum in Catalonia on 1 October. On Friday, five other politicians were jailed and another went into exile. These moves were met with a surge of anger from below, with mass demonstrations and road blockades on Friday and Sunday. Tens-of-thousands in the streets had two main slogans: "General strike" and "Parliament should decide who’s president".

On 4 April, public sector workers in Denmark will be taking strike action in response to negotiations over a new collective bargaining agreement. The government has reacted by threatening 440,000 public sector workers (of a total 825,000) with lockouts, which could take effect any time from 10 April. This could result in the biggest class conflict in 20 years. The impending confrontation bears major historical significance, because it marks the beginning of the end of 'class peace' and 'social partnership' in Denmark.

On Monday, David Davis and Michel Barnier – the lead Brexit negotiators for Britain and the EU respectively – announced that an agreement had been reached to implement a 21-month transitional period following the original March 2019 deadline. During this time, the status quo would apply and the UK would effectively remain in the EU. The extension period, it is hoped, would be used to thrash out the final Brexit deal, including the as-yet-unspecified future trading arrangements.

One decade on from the onset of the Great Recession, and British society is undergoing a series of crises: economic, political, and social. The status quo has broken; the centre ground has collapsed; political polarisation and radicalisation is taking place everywhere.

We are happy to introduce no.marxist.com, the website of Revolusjon: the Norwegian supporters of the IMT! The celebrated ‘Nordic models’ of capitalism – with an extensive welfare state – have not avoided the general crises in the capitalist system. Huge tax cuts for the rich, privatization of public services, and the increasing economic gulf between rich and poor are creating discontent among workers and youth. The election of a candidate to the parliament from a socialist party that calls itself Marxist (Red) is a sign that mass discontent is beginning to shift the political climate.

There is an old film starring Peter Sellers called The Mouse that Roared that describes a comical situation in which a tiny, insignificant, European nation declares war on the United States in order to obtain aid. By a peculiar twist of circumstances, they win. The scenario of this amusing production was strikingly brought to mind by the events of the last few days in Britain.

Alek Atevik, a member of the Central Committee of the Macedonian organization Levitsa(Left) and a leading figure in the Yugoslav section of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), spoke to Epanastasi [‘Revolution’] about nationalist myths and the need for internationalist class solidarity.

For weeks pensioners have been protesting across the Spanish state against the government’s decision to increase state pensions by a paltry 0.25 percent (against a 1.6 percent inflation rate). The largely spontaneous movement has been growing and is now calling on other sectors of society to join in mass demonstrations on Saturday, 17 March.

Alan Woods, editor of In Defence of Marxism, discusses the latest spy thriller: the attempted assassination of an MI6 double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, England, which the Tories are blaming on the Kremlin. But what lies behind this story? Alan argues that there is something suspiciously theatrical about the use of nerve gas (a 'Cold War relic') to bump off an ex-spy. But maintaining a sense of Cold War tension is certainly in the interests of the British ruling class.

Mario Iavazzi, a supporter of Sinistra Classe e Rivoluzione [the IMT in Italy] intervened at the recent gathering of the National Committee of the CGIL (Confederazione Generale Italiana del Lavoro – General Confederation of Italian Labour – equivalent to the TUC in Britain, CGT in France or AFL-CIO in the USA). He openly criticised the leadership for its lack of a fighting programme and for its total lack of understanding of what happened in the recent Italian elections.

What happened in Spain on International Working Women’s Day was remarkable. A commentator in the Barcelona daily El Periódico described it as “more than a strike, almost a revolution”. Over 6 million workers, mainly women but also men, came out on strike, the first time a strike had ever been called to mark 8 March. Hundreds-of-thousands participated in huge demonstrations in over 120 cities in a mass movement that can only be compared to the indignados in 2011 or the huge anti-war marches of 2003.

Ahead of the 8 March International Working Women's Day strike, Lucha de Clases published this article explaining that the struggle for women's liberation is also a fight against capitalism, which entrenches gender inequality. The article calls for a general strike and unified action by men and women workers to overthrow the chauvenistic capitalist system. The incredible success of the women's strike has changed the entire situation in Spain, as Jorge Martin explains; and such unified struggle against exploitation and oppression must be adopted going forward.

The Italian elections – a political earthquake in the true sense of the word – have produced what had long been predicted: a hung parliament, with no party, or coalition of parties, capable of expressing a majority government. Serious bourgeois commentators have lamented the fact that more than 50 percent of the electorate voted for ‘populist’ anti-establishment parties, while those parties that the system has rested on for the past 25 years have been seriously weakened.

On Wednesday the Crown Prince and de facto ruler of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is visiting Britain on a 3 day visit where he will meet up with top business figures as well as Theresa May and Boris Johnson.

Miembros del Partido Laborista Británico y de los sindicatos han lanzado una nueva campaña llamada Labour4Clause4 (Laboristas por la Cláusula 4), que tiene como objetivo restaurar la Cláusula 4 en los Estatutos del Partido, y comprometer al Partido Laborista con las políticas socialistas. Esta campaña cuenta con el pleno apoyo de Socialist Appeal (sección británica de la CMI). Hacemos un llamamiento a las agrupaciones locales del Partido Laborista, agrupaciones sindicales y organizaciones estudiantiles para que lo apoyen donde sea posible.

El domingo, el pueblo de Barcelona expresó masivamente su rechazo a la monarquía borbónica. Una monarquía que es heredera directa del franquismo, que fue utilizada por las oligarquías de la dictadura como salvaguarda de sus intereses, que está hundida en la corrupción y goza de una impunidad desvergonzada, con una fortuna nunca explicada y que, por encima de todo, se implicó de manera directa en la represión contra los derechos democráticos de los catalanes y catalanas, sobre todo a raíz del discurso autoritario y neofranquista del rey el 3 de octubre. Una monarquía que ha sido rechazada en las urnas por el pueblo catalán en tres ocasiones, el 27 de septiembre de 2015 y el 1 de octubre

...

27 February marked the centenary of the adoption of the socialist aims of the British Labour Party. At a special Labour conference in February 1918 at Central Hall, Westminster, under the direct impact of the Russian Revolution, the party adopted a new constitution that contained the famous Clause 4.

With the recent announcement in Britain of the engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle and the upcoming wedding, we call not for celebration of but the abolition of the monarchy. The royal family is a feudal relic and symbol of national chauvinism which, along with the House of Lords, reveals what our so-called ‘democracy’ really is – a system designed and run to serve the interests of the ruling class. The monarchy is a drain on the public purse, receiving handouts of £35.7 million per year on top of countless other expenses. The upcoming royal wedding is an excellent example of this. While the royal family will pay for the wedding ceremony, reception etc., the taxpayer will foot

...

Han pasado casi cuatro décadas desde los dramáticos acontecimientos del 23 de febrero de 1981, y aún permanecen grabados en mi memoria como si hubieran sucedido solo ayer. Había vivido en España desde enero de 1976, cuando participé en la lucha clandestina contra la dictadura de Franco.

Italy goes to the polls on 4 March in the context of economic crisis and a general impasse in the political situation. It seems likely that the elections will produce a hung parliament with no outright winner. The right wing will emerge strengthened, but also the Five Stars Movement will most likely be the strongest single party. And what remains of the left has all but collapsed. The most striking feature is the generalised disgust of the masses with all the old established parties. In these conditions the Italian comrades of the IMT decided to stand their own independent list.

On the anniversary of the 1981, '23-F' coup attempt in Spain, we republish a 1981 article by Alan Woods, political editor of Nuevo Claridad. This article was later translated and re-released in the Militant(UK), along with an editorial comment (also republished). Alan provides a new introduction explaining the circumstances surrounding the article's publication.

In the past few days, the level of repression, intimidation and blatant authoritarianism exercised by the rotten Spanish ‘78 regime has reached unprecedented levels. It is enough to make one’s blood boil. On 20 February, Communist rapper Valtonyc was sentenced to three years and six months in prison for "lèse majesté" (insulting the crown) and “glorifying terrorism” in the lyrics of one of his songs.

50 years after the revolutionary events of 1968, one hundred revolutionary Marxist students gathered at SOAS in London for the annual Marxist Student Federation conference. With comrades from Glasgow to Southampton present, the Federation’s fifth conference was its most enjoyable yet.

A new campaign has been launched by British Labour Party and trade union members called Labour4Clause4, which aims to restore Clause 4 and commit the Labour Party to socialist policies. This campaign has the full support of Socialist Appeal (British section of the IMT). We call on local Labour parties, trade union branches, and student societies to endorse it wherever possible.

Following amendments to the labour code (adopted in September 2017) that made it easier to fire workers, Macron’s government is now lashing out at the unemployed with a counter-reform to the unemployment insurance system. ‘Negotiations’ with the trade unions should conclude in mid-February. The law is scheduled to be adopted this summer.

Last weekend, the small Austrian town of Bregenz played host to a large gathering of young socialists at the annual Karl-Marx-Seminar. The event was organised by Sozialistische Jugend Vorarlberg and Der Funke, the Austrian section of the IMT.

El sábado 13 de enero, decenas de miles se manifestaron contra el nuevo gobierno austriaco del conservador ÖVP y el nacionalista de derecha FPÖ en lo que se llamó una "bienvenida de año nuevo para el nuevo gobierno".

La clase dominante y su aparato de Estado están decididos a hacer cualquier cosa para dar un escarmiento al independentismo catalán e impedir la investidura de Puigdemont como President de la Generalitat. Para ello, están pisoteando sus propias leyes en una deriva autoritaria que también apunta contra los movimientos de lucha y resistencia de la clase obrera que se dibujan en el horizonte. Si la excusa para violentar su propia legalidad burguesa es la “situación excepcional” catalana, ¿cuánto más no van a justificar mañana acciones similares y más graves cuando tengan lugar, a su entender, “situaciones excepcionales” en el resto del Estado?

When the Catalan government declared a republic, the Spanish regime answered by sacking it, dismissing the Catalan Parliament and calling fresh elections on 21 December. That election was another defeat for the Spanish regime as it delivered, again, a pro-independence majority. Unable and unwilling to respect the democratic will of the Catalan people, the Spanish regime is now using all means at its disposal to prevent Carles Puigdemont from being elected as Catalan president. In the process it is revealing the profoundly undemocratic nature of the regime that was established in 1978.

A recent poll finds that young people in the UK today see capitalism as more dangerous than communism. But what has really sent the establishment into a frenzy is Marxist student Fiona Lali's defence of communism on BBC Radio 4.

On Sunday, 14 January 2018, tens-of-thousands of activists from different labour and left-wing organisations came to the Berlin Socialist Memorial Cemetery in the Eastern suburb of Friedrichsfelde to commemorate the murder of the outstanding German revolutionaries and Marxists Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht on 15 January 1919.

El régimen neofranquista español fracasó en su objetivo de impedir la mayoría absoluta del independentismo catalán en el Parlament y desalojarlo de la Generalitat. No obstante, alardea de haber disciplinado a los dirigentes de ERC y del PDECAT para que abandonen la vía del independentismo unilateral, y se felicita por haber establecido una cabeza de puente reaccionaria en las zonas obreras de mayoría castellanohablante, principalmente a través de Ciudadanos. Sin duda, pretenden estimular un enfrentamiento entre los trabajadores catalanes en líneas nacionales. Este es un enorme peligro que los obreros españoles y catalanes deben combatir firmemente.

Last Saturday, tens-of-thousands demonstrated against the new Austrian government of the conservative ÖVP and the right-wing nationalist FPÖ in what was called a “new year reception for the new government”.

Workers in Britain have been under attack from the bosses and the Tory government for years. And yet many trade union leaders do not seem capable of fighting back. This is one of the reasons that unions last year experienced the biggest single drop in their membership since records began. Total union membership is now just 6.2 million workers, compared to 13.2 million in 1979.

The collapse of Carillion has come as a shock to the company’s workers and the public who rely on its services. But it seems that Westminster politicians and City bankers were fully aware of the dodgy dealings going on at the construction and outsourcing giant.

By kicking off 2018 with a cabinet reshuffle, May had intended to re-establish her authority over the Tory Party and her cabinet. The Prime Minister hoped to send out a signal that her administration had found a new stability. But it was not to be.

Laurent Wauquiez was elected leader of The Republicans (Les Républicains,LR) on 10 December, by a wide margin (74.6 percent) in the first round of voting. The low voter turnout (42 percent of paying members) shows that the stakes were limited: the new shift to the right had already been acknowledged by the party’s rank and file.

The situation in Ukraine four years after the Euromaidan overthrow of the Yanukovitch government could not be worse from the point of view of the masses. Brutal, IMF-inspired cuts in social spending, curtailment of freedom of expression and widespread corruption dominate the scene. So bad is the situation that even Western imperialists have started to openly voice criticism of the Poroshenko regime, which they backed and helped to install.

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer will stop research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, and is expected to lay-off 300 research and development staff in Massachusetts and Connecticut, in a move that could severely hamper progress towards effective treatments for these illnesses – proving that critical medical research cannot be left in the hands of capitalist profiteers. Corporations like Pfizer should be expropriated and their assets, data and equipment placed under democratic control, to be used for the betterment of mankind.

This month marks the anniversary of the December 1970 Polish protests – or ‘Black Thursday’ – when the workers of Polish coastal cities of Gdańsk, Szczecin, Gdynia and Elbląg rose in protest against a huge increase in prices of basic food products, but were harshly repressed by the so-called People’s Army. The cost of striking against price rises was high: 46 workers and students were killed and thousands injured in the stand-offs, just a week before Christmas.

The Catalan elections on 21 December represent a slap in the face for the strategy of the Spanish government: of introducing direct rule to smash the independence movement. The Spanish ruling party has been reduced to 3 seats in Catalonia and the pro-independence bloc has once again won an overall majority in the Catalan Parliament.

One phone call from Arlene Foster to the British Prime Minister Theresa May was enough to halt a deal between the European Union and British government, already agreed on Monday 4 December. Arlene Foster is the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland: a right-wing party with its roots in the anti-Catholicism of its former leader Ian Paisley. It is also pro-life, anti-gay and deeply reactionary.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!