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Europe

Galicia: Anova's bruising congress a ‘collective apprenticeship’

By Dick Nichols

July 7, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The mainstream media were taken aback: why was the first congress of the Galician left nationalist organisation Anova — the key component along with the United Left (EU in Galicia, IU nationally) in Galicia of the hugely successful Galician Left Alternative (AGE) — so heated and acrimonious, at times reaching the point of “shambles” (the term of the chairperson)?

How come the 16-month-old Anova — vital to AGE winning 14% of the vote in the October 2012 Galician regional elections and now at the point of overtaking the Galician affiliate of the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) in the polls — was having a congress marked by dissent from the rulings of the presiding committee, fierce lobbying of delegates and in-the-corridors distribution of four how-to-vote cards for different tickets for the national coordinating committee?

It was left to Xosé Manuel Beiras, historic leader of Galician left nationalism and Anova’s unanimously re-elected spokesperson, to help the media — and some shell-shocked delegates — grasp what had happened in the Congress Centre of Santiago de Compostela, capital of Galicia, on June 8-9, 2013.

Britain: Kate Hudson on Left Unity, People's Assembly

Kate Hudson.

July 8, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Kate Hudson is a veteran British left-wing activist and former chair of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Hudson was a candidate for the left-wing Respect party in 2012's Manchester municipal by-election, but stood down after Respect leader George Galloway made “unacceptable and unretracted statements about the nature of rape”.

Since then, Hudson has joined other left-wing activists, including film maker Ken Loach, in pushing the Left Unity initiative for a new left-wing party, which has received support from thousands of people across Britain.

Green Left Weekly's Jody Betzien spoke to Hudson after the huge People's Assembly in London, which brought together more than 4000 people to plan to a campaign against the brutal austerity of the British government.

* * *

The People’s Assembly was a clear success with more than 4000 people attending. What was the significance of the event?

Britain: People's Assembly prepares for fight back (with videos); Success, challenges and politics

Ken Loach.

By Jody Betzien, London

June 30, 2013 -- Green Left Weekly -- Frances O’Grady, head of the British Trade Union Congress (TUC), set the tone in the opening session of the People's Assembly in London on June 22, declaring: “The Bullingdon boys are waging class war against ordinary people. We will retaliate, it is time to fight back against a government of millionaires.”

O'Grady's reference to Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne by the exclusive upper-class Oxford University society they belonged reflects the anger at the Conservative-Liberal Democrats war on the poor.

More than 4000 anti-austerity campaigners packed Westminster Central Hall on June 22 to launch a national fight-back campaign.

The huge mass gathering was a joint initiative of unions, campaign organisations and left parties opposed to the coalition government's savage austerity, which is largely supported by the Labour opposition.

It was preceded by “people's assemblies” in cities across Britain, involving thousands of people.

Catalonia: Left unites to pay homage to Andreu Nin

Andreu Nin.

By Dick Nichols

June 21, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- It took 76 years and one day since his abduction on the orders of Stalin during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39), but on June 17, 2013, all parties of the Catalan left came together in Barcelona to recognise the contribution to the Catalan and Spanish working people of revolutionary fighter Andreu Nin.

At midnight on June 16, 1937, Nin, the general secretary of the Workers Party of Marxist Unification (POUM), was abducted by Stalinist agents outside the POUM’s headquarters. He was then taken to a secret prison near Madrid, where he was tortured and then murdered once it was clear he would never “confess” to being in the pay of Hitler. His remains have still to be discovered.

Spain: Rising United Left tackles new challenges

In June 2013, the United Left trailed just 4.7% percentage points behind the PSOE (16.8% to 21.5%). Click on graph for larger size.

By Dick Nichols

June 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The latest opinion polls in the Spanish state have been stirring waves of concern in the ruling elites, of hope on the left and storms of comment in the media.

Nationally, they show the radical federation United Left (IU) within reach of closing the gap on the social-democratic Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE). In the June Metroscopia poll IU trailed just 4.7% percentage points behind the PSOE (16.8% to 21.5%).

Latvia: Left bloc gets 59% in municipal elections

June 9, 2013 -- Webguerrillero [es] -- The Saskaņas Centrs, a coalition of left-wing parties, has won 59% of popular vote in the municipal elections held in this Eastern European country. The coalition, whose name means "Harmony Center" is formed by the social-democratic party "Harmony" and the Socialist Party of Latvia (heir of the Communist Party, which was declared illegal in 1994).

The coalition belongs to the all-European Union (EU) political bloc European United Left-Nordic Green Left, which includes the major communist-leaning coalitions and parties, such as Greek SYRIZA, Cypriot AKEL, German Die Linke, French Left Front, Spanish United Left and Irish Sinn Féin, among others.

While the EU and the International Monetary Fund insist that Latvia is an example of the "success" of the draconian policies of "austerity for the poor, huge profits for the rich" that they sponsor and dictate all around, the reality is that Latvia has been ravaged by such policies (see the funny video above).

Sweden: 'Unemployment, inadequate schools and racism' behind riots

By Mathias Wåg, translated from Swedish by Petter Nilsson

May 28, 2013 -- Transform! -- Stockholm suburbs have been ablaze. Cars have been torched in suburbs around the city and when the firefighters and police arrive they have been met by youths throwing stones. Why is this? Why now? How come in Sweden?

Seen from the outside, Sweden can still seem like the promised land of welfare, the balanced third way between socialism and capitalism. But inside during the last 10 to 20 years, neoliberal policies have been eating away like termites consuming the welfare state's foundations from within, leaving it as an empty shell. And Stockholm, where the riots started and were centred, is the testing facility for neoliberal reforms large and small.

Europe's 'lefts' and the capitalist crisis

Front de Gauche (France) leader Jean-Luc Melenchon with SYRIZA (Greece) leader Alexis Tspiras.

For more on the developments on Europe's far left, click HERE (see also the pink tabs and the end of the article)

By Francois Sabado

May 20, 2013 -- International Viewpoint -- The situation of the "lefts" in Europe cannot be understood without starting from the crisis, its multiple dimensions and its effects on the social and political field. Hitting head-on all the organisations and parties linked to the history of the workers’ movement, precipitating ruptures, it obliges political forces to recompose around new axes.

A peoples’ manifesto: Roll back austerity and claim real democracy!

Our urgent common priorities for a democratic, social, ecological and feminist Europe

[The following is the manifesto to be discussed at the Alter Summit, June 7-8, 2013, in Athens.]

May 21, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Europe stands on the edge of a precipice, looking into the abyss. Austerity policies drive the peoples of Europe into poverty, undercut democracy and dismantle social policies. Rising inequalities endanger social cohesion. Ecological destruction is worsening while acute humanitarian crises devastate the most affected countries. Women and young people are hardest hit.

Building socialism for the 21st century: interview with Michael A. Lebowitz

[For more articles by or about Michael Lebowitz, click HERE.]

Michael A. Lebowitz interviewed by Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović

May 7, 2013 -- Left East,suggested to Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal by Michael Lebowitz.

Darko Vesić and Aleksandar Stojanović: Capitalism has been in crisis for several years now and in response to this crisis the capitalist states practice  so-called austerity measures. If we look at the historical dynamics of capitalism in the last half century, we see that they responded to the crisis of the 1970s with what is now called “neoliberalism”. If the restoration of growth is what must be carried out as a response to the crisis, we can say that neoliberalism of the 1970s was successful. Yet, can we say same of present-day “austerity measures”?

Richard Seymour on the rise of a new left in Europe

By Richard Seymour

May 19, 2013 -- Lenin's Tomb, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Speech presented at the Subversive Festival in Zagreb.

* * *

I think the title of this talk, "The rise of a new left", is clearly to some extent projection of a desired outcome; of course, there are elements of a new left visible. Not just the indignados and occupiers, but also the radical left challengers: Syriza, the Portugese Left Bloc, Die Linke, the Scandinavian red-green alliances, Front de gauche in France, maybe some elements of the Pirate Parties ...

Portugal: Left Bloc calls for a left government to confront austerity

For more on Portugal's Left Bloc, click HERE.

Francisco Louçã, Left Bloc (Portugal), interviewed by Mark Bergfeld

May 17, 2013 -- The Bullet

Mark Bergfeld: Across Europe we have witnessed three strands of resistance to the Troika (the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank) : mass strikes by workers, youth revolts like the indignad@s, and electoral revolts such as SYRIZA in Greece, Front de Gauche in France, and the CUP in Catalonia. In Portugal we have witnessed the former two but haven't seen an upsurge in support for the Left Bloc or the Communist Party for that matter. Why hasn't the Portuguese left been able to take advantage of a favourable situation?

Murray Smith: The real European left stands up

By Murray Smith

May 10, 2013 -- Left Unity, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Murray Smith's permission -- Having followed with sympathy the emergence of Left Unity and the possibility of a new party of the left being launched, I read with interest the two-part article by an anonymous figure, who may or may not be called Michael Ford, which may or may not be a pseudonym. I’m sure we’ll find out. For the purposes of this article, I will refer to him as Ford. In any case, whoever wrote it, the aim of the article is clearly to try and discredit the perspective of building a new party to the left of Labour and validate that of working with/within the Labour Party to drive it to the left.

There will undoubtedly be many replies to Ford from people who are directly involved in politics in Britain, which I am not at present. However, an important part of Ford’s argument is to try and demonstrate that the political forces to the left of social democracy in Europe don’t amount to much, either politically or in terms of their support. In doing so, frankly, he paints a picture which has little relation to reality. This is what I want to take up [1].

What to do about the debt and the euro? A manifesto

May 13, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Europe is sinking into crisis and social regression under the pressure of austerity, recession and the strategy of “structural reforms”. This pressure is tightly coordinated at the European level, under the leadership of the German covernment, the European Central Bank and the European Commission. There is a broad consensus that these policies are absurd and even “illiterate”: fiscal austerity does not reduce the burden of the debt but generates a spiral of depression, more unemployment and despair among the European peoples.

Yet, these policies are rational from the point of view of the bourgeoisie. They are a brutal way -- a shock therapy -- for restoring the profits, for guaranteeing the financial rents and for implementing the neoliberal counter-reforms. What is going on is fundamentally the validation by the states of the financial claims on future production and GDP. That is why the crisis takes the form of a sovereign debt crisis.

Parti de Gauche: ¡Abajo la austeridad!

[English at http://links.org.au/node/3301]

Por Dick Nichols

12/4/2013 -- Sinpermiso.info -- En el tercer congreso nacional del Partido de Izquierda (Parti de Gauche) celebrado en Burdeos del 22 al 24 de marzo, el nuevo grupo socialista, el cual está cobrando fuerza a una velocidad sorprendente, pareció por fin alcanzar la madurez como partido.

Con tan sólo cuatro años de vida, el Partido de Izquierda surgió en el momento en que su principal figura, Jean-Luc Melenchon, quien fuera antiguo líder de las corrientes de izquierdas
del Partido Socialista (PS), abandonara éste después de que las propuestas del PS contra la
austeridad neoliberal lograran no más de un 19% de apoyo en el congreso del 2008.

Ireland: What’s left after the ULA?

Happier days before the Socialist Party and Socialist Workers Party abandoned the ULA.

Click HERE for more on the United Left Alliance.

By Henry Silke, Dublin

April 29, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- This brief report intends to outline the situation within the Irish left following the slow implosion of the United Left Alliance (ULA).

France: Parti de Gauche vows to build ‘citizens’ revolution’ for ecosocialism

Down with austerity!

By Dick Nichols

April 12, 2013 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- At the third national congress of the Left Party (Parti de Gauche) held in Bordeaux from March 22 to 24, France’s newest and fastest-growing socialist group seemed to come of age.

Only four years old, the Left Party was born after its leading figure, Jean-Luc Melenchon, a long-time leader of left currents in the Socialist Party (PS), abandoned it after the tendencies in the PS opposing neoliberal austerity mustered only 19% support at its 2008 congress.

Hungary's crackdown on the left

By Gyula Thurmer

March 27, 2013 -- Morning Star -- Hungary is in crisis. Almost 500,000 people are officially registered as unemployed -- just over 11 per cent of the workforce. About the same number of young people are working in other EU countries, notably Britain, Austria and Germany, because they could not find a job at home. Even so, the rate of youth unemployment (under the age of 25) in Hungary stands at more than 28 per cent.

The Fidesz (Civic Union) government led by Prime Minister Viktor Orban is well aware of these facts, while proclaiming the "Hungarian miracle". The reality is that many ordinary people are worse off than they have ever been.

The real winners under this capitalist government are those who earn more than 900,000 forints (£2500) net a month. The rest are on or below the average net salary of 157,000 forints (£434), which is absolutely nothing considering that prices in Budapest are similar to those in Vienna.

The pro-capitalist forces in Hungary know very well that only the Hungarian Communist Workers Party (HCWP) proposes a real alternative to mass unemployment, poverty and the colonial occupation of Hungary by multinational companies.

Alexis Tsipras in London: Q & A on lessons from Hugo Chavez, a left government, the euro, stopping Golden Dawn ...

March 15, 2013 -- Irish Left Review -- The following questions [in bold] and answers took place after a talk SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras gave to SYRIZA’s London branch in Friend’s House in Euston on March 15. The speech itself can be found here. Some of the questions have been condensed to remove lengthy preambles and/or tangents but they remain an accurate reflection of the query posed by the audience member.

Could you give us a few reflections on what we can learn from the left in Latin America and particularly the legacy of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela?

Britain: Encouraging left regroupment/left unity initiatives

Ken Loach has called for a new left party in Britain.

March 25, 2013 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In the recent period a number of left unity/left regroupment initiatives have been launched on Britain's far left. They include the Anti-Capitalist Initiative, Left Unity and radical film director Ken Loach's call for a new left party in Britain.

Another important development has been the formation of the International Socialist Network out the hundreds of revolutionary socialists who have resigned from the Socialist Workers Party during its recent crisis.

And in June 2013 a People's Assembly Against Austerity organised by the Coalition of Resistance is to be held, already having gathered the support of more than 1600 activists from all sections of the left.

Below are a number articles from the British left that introduce and survey some of these developments.

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