Europe

The Irish peace process is mired in crisis. Despite all the fanfare accompanying the Good Friday Agreement, the people in the Six Counties of the north once again find themselves at an impasse. Phil Mitchinson looks at the issues involved.

Nato is to send 3,500 troops to Macedonia with the stated aim of disarming the Albanian rebels who have been involved in armed conflict with the Macedonian army. NATO is going in because Macedonia is on the verge of open civil war. If this were allowed to spread and get out of control it would have far greater consequences than simply that of destabilising Macedonia itself. It could bring Greece and Turkey (both NATO members) into a war where they would be fighting on opposite sides thus seriously weakening NATO's south eastern flank.

After a wave of protests against the right-wing government at the beginning of last year and the first signs of mobilisation by the Austrian Trade Union Federation (Osterreichischer Gewerkschaftsbund, OGB), the coalition government formed by the conservative People's Party and the extreme right-wing Freedom Party was finally able to temporarily stabilise its position, thanks mainly to the policy of the leadership of the OGB which tried to prolong its old "social partnership". Now however things are getting hot in Austria and this Autumn we could see a worker backlash.

The Swedish media has been taken by surprise by the groundswell of opposition to the US military adventure. Now the opposition to the US attacks has begun to be expressed in demonstrations. Opinion polls reveal that 6 out of 10 Swdes are against any US attack if any innocent civilians were put at risk. Only 3 out of 10 favour such attacks. In addition 56% have little or no confidence in Bush and only 32% have confidence in him. By Lena Ericson Hoijer, Editor Socialisten, the Swedish Marxist Journal. In addition we publish a report on an anti-war demonstration in Stockholm by Pia Hallgren.

We have received this article from Alek Atevik in Skopje, Macedonia. It analyses the historical background and the situation facing Macedonia today. Particularly striking is the reference to workers strikes. As the author points out, when it is a question of defending jobs and wages, such as at the Yugohrom factory, there is no divisions between Albanians and Macedonians. Workers' unity cuts across the ethnic divide!

Three huge demonstrations (particularly for a city with only half a million inhabitants) took place during the EU summit in Gothenburg. 10,000 marched against president Bush on Thursday 14 June, 20,000-25,000 against EU/EMU on the Friday and 10,000-15,000 against the policies of the EU on the Saturday. These was the largest demonstrations in Gothenburg since the big strike and lockout of 1980. It also reflects a growing discontent amongst young people and workers.

Since 1994 and throughout the whole period of the right wing PP government in Spain, the leaders of the two main trade union confederations in Spain, CCOO and UGT, have carried out a policy of agreements and social partnership. In 1996 they agreed to a change in the pension system. The old system was based on taking the average wage for the last eight years worked. With the new system the calculations to work out a worker's pension are based on the last fifteen years [the further back you go the lower the wages and thus the level of pensions goes down]. In 1997 they agreed to a new kind of labour contract which reduced the amount paid in redundancy payment. These policies of the trade

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The events in Oldham have hit the national headlines. Similar explosions of racial conflict have taken place in other towns in Britain. This has brought the BNP and the danger from far-right groups back into the spotlight. Bryan Beckingham, Secretary of Oldham National Union of Teachers, and Alan Creear in Oldham describe the background to these developments.

There have been a lot of disasters on the railways in Britain. But the real disaster has been rail privatisation itself. There was a lot of rhetoric from the Tories about the 'dynamism and efficiency' private capitalism would bring, but experience has shown that the only people to benefit from rail privatisation have been the profiteers, not the general public that has to use the railways. So what is the alternative?

Editorial note: The following is a full version of the shorter article we published on 8 June on the British election.
Labour has won the elections with a majority of 167 seats at Westminster, only slightly down on last time when they won a landslide majority of 179 seats. On the face of it, it is an outstanding triumph for Tony Blair. But these results do not adequately express the contradictory nature of the mood in British society. The mood of the masses is sceptical. The working class is disappointed and frustrated with New Labour. Despite Labour's landslide victory, the underlying mood is extremely volatile.

The Revolution Betrayed is one of the most important Marxist texts of all time. It is the only serious Marxist analysis of what happened to the Russian Revolution after the death of Lenin. Without a thorough knowledge of this work, it is impossible to understand the reasons for the collapse of the Soviet Union and the events of the last ten years in Russia and on a world scale. For Marxists, the October Revolution of 1917 was the greatest single event in human history. If we exclude the brief but glorious episode of the Paris Commune, for the first time the working class succeeded in overthrowing its oppressors and at least began the task of the socialist transformation of society.

On 7th June, the people of Britain will go to the polls to elect the next government. According to all the polls Labour is set to gain a hefty majority over the Conservatives. The polls show that Labour is now leading the Tories by a massive 28 points. The personal rating of Tory leader William Hague is just 13 per cent.

On 7th June, the people of Britain will go to the polls to elect the next government. According to all the polls Labour is set to gain a hefty majority over the Conservatives. The polls show that Labour is now leading the Tories by a massive 28 points. Yet the election campaign has been as dead as a Dodo, and the great majority show little interest and less enthusiasm for either New Labour or the Tories. The general election turnout is likely to be low - some have even predicted the lowest for over 100 years. The reason for this alleged "voter apathy" is not hard to find.

In 1987 the propaganda machine of the Irish government and the bosses worked overtime to sell the social contract. Trade union leaders too were keen to sell their members the idea of social partnership, management and unions would get together to cooperate over improving the state of the Irish economy in order to share out the subsequent wealth generated.

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