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Europe

Germany: Die Linke's road to an anti-capitalist program

By Dick Nichols, Erfurt

November 18, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Late on October 23, 2011, a chilly Sunday afternoon, the culminating vote of the program congress of Germany’s Left Party (Die Linke) came in Erfurt’s cavernous Congress Centre: 503 delegates raised their voting cards to support the document as finally amended by the congress, with only four against and 12 abstentions.

Boris Kagarlitsky: Economic policies after the death of neoliberalism

Boris Kagarlitsky.

By Boris Kagarlitsky

November 2, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The international economic system that took shape after the collapse of the Soviet Union is not dead yet, but it is dying. We see that daily, not only in reports on the crisis but also in other news from around the world that tells the same story: the system isn’t working.

The truth is that the system has never worked for the poor and for the toiling classes. It wasn’t designed for that purpose, no matter what its propagandists and various corrupt intellectuals keep telling us. The system did work for the elites; it generated a tremendous redistribution of wealth and power in favour of those already rich and powerful, in favour of the bourgeoisie. But now it no longer delivers even for them. Though the elites aren’t brave enough to admit it, the system has to be transformed.

This is a real systemic crisis, if not for capitalism, then at least for its neoliberal form. And this crisis can’t be overcome until neoliberalism is eliminated. Whether this will also be the end of capitalism will depend on the scale of global struggles and their outcomes.

'The EU Crisis Pocket Guide' for the 99%

October 2011 -- The Transnational Institute has produced a useful pocket guide -- The EU Crisis Pocket Guide -- on how a crisis made in Wall Street was made worse by EU policies, how it has enriched the 1% to the detriment of the 99%, and outlining some possible solutions that prioritise people and the environment above corporate profits.

Download the booklet from these links, or read the 12-page version on screen below this article.

The euro on a knife edge: Are the Greeks to blame? What is the left position on the euro crisis?

On October 19 and 20, 2011, Greece will be stopped by the latest in a series of general strikes against austerity. Above and below: Workers march on October 19. All photos by WFTU International.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

October 19, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- “Bloody Greeks—corrupt and lazy, born cheaters who think the world owes them a living. Why should the hard-working taxpayers of the euro zone core economies like Germany have to fund billion-euro rescue packages for those scoundrels?” That’s the vicious tone of Germany’s tabloids and conservative politicians towards Greece’s galloping public debt crisis and the Greek people’s protests against the austerity programs imposed on them by the European Union, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund (the “troika”) as the price of bail-out funding.

Europe Against Austerity conference builds enthusiasm for fightback

By Fred Leplat

October 3, 2011 -- Socialist Resistance -- The Europe Against Austerity conference, held in London on October 1, was attended by 681 people including 150 from outside Britain. This happened the same weekend that two big demonstrations took place. In Glasgow, there was the "People First" demonstration of 15,000 called by the Scottish TUC on October 1. On October 2, 35,000 joined a demonstration in Manchester on outside the Conservative Party conference, called by the Trades Union Congress and backed by the Coalition of Resistance and the Right to Work Campaign.

Denmark: Right-wing government defeated, Red-Green Alliance triples seats

Prime Minister-elect Helle Thorning-Schmidt.

By Inger V. Johansen and Line Barfod

September 20, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal --The result of the September 15 parliamentary elections in Denmark means that the right-wing government of the last 10 years has finally been ousted.  A new government will be formed under the leadership of Helle Thorning-Schmidt, the leader of the Social Democrats. The core parties of this government will be the Social Democrats and the Socialist People's Party (SPP), who for some years have formed a close partnership with the aim of strengthening the possibilities for an alternative government.

For the first time a woman will be the prime minister of a Danish government.  For the first time SPP will be in government.

Spain: 'Hot' autumn of protest brews

Protest in Madrid against austerity and constitutional changes, September 6.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

September 11, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In Spain the signs are unmistakable: a “hot autumn” of political and social conflict is brewing in the run-up to the November 20, 2011, general election. Polling night will reveal how much the growing social resistance, brought onto the streets since May largely by the 15-M movement of “indignants”, has shaken up the political scene.

As things stand, the most likely result is a repeat of the wipe-out suffered by the governing social-democratic Spanish  Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) at the May elections for local council and regional governments (known as “autonomous communities”).\

A September 7 the Barometro Cope opinion poll has the right-wing opposition Popular Party (PP) winning  45.1% of the vote and 51.1% of seats.It would trounce the PSOE, which is widely blamed for Spain’s 5 million unemployed. The poll shows the PSOE would win only 31.1% of votes and 36.6% of seats.

Movie: Ken Loach's 'Land and Freedom' (104 minutes)


British director Ken Loach's drama about the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39.

Mike Marqusee: Riots, reason and resistance

By Mike Marqusee

August 16, 2011 -- MikeMarqusee.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Mike Marqusee's permission -- “Criminality pure and simple” was British Prime Minister David Cameron’s initial verdict on the rioting. From the right came the mantra, “Down with sociology! Up with water cannon!” Don’t think but do act – harshly, punitively, peremptorily.

In the wake of the riots, a powerful vested interest has been at work – a vested interest in people not making links, not searching for causes, not weighing contexts. Above all, an interest in derailing the growing resistance to the government’s austerity programme.

In the vast realm of human phenomena there are few things as impure or as complex as a riot, with its ever-shifting array of motives and circumstances. It is a social phenomenon and requires a social analysis and response. It’s the denial of that duty that’s reckless and irresponsible, not the alleged “socioeconomic excuses” reviled by conservatives.

Baltic far right attempts to rewrite history

Estonian Nazis parade on July 30, 2011.

By Rupen Savoulian

August 12, 2011 -- Antipodean Athiest, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Early in August, a major World War II anniversary was marked in Europe; August 1 was the 67th anniversary of the heroic Warsaw uprising by the Polish underground resistance movement against Nazi German occupation forces. I raise this anniversary to highlight the importance of commemorating the courageous struggles by the peoples oppressed by the Nazi regime, and to underscore the importance of historical debate for comprehending the tremendous social forces that have shaped the world today.

My point is not to just go over old historical ground, but to highlight a growing problem; Baltic ultranationalism which has mutated to outright neo-fascism.

Tariq Ali on riots in England: Why here and now?; Neoliberalism’s chickens coming home to roost

By Tariq Ali, London

August 9, 2011 -- Why is it that the same areas always erupt first, whatever the cause? Pure accident? Might it have something to do with race and class and institutionalised poverty and the sheer grimness of everyday life?

The ruling Conservative Party-Liberal Democrats (Con-Dem) coalition politicians (including new New Labour, who might well sign up to a national government if the recession continues apace) with their petrified ideologies can’t say that because all three parties are equally responsible for the crisis.

They made the mess.

They privilege the wealthy. They let it be known that judges and magistrates should set an example by giving punitive sentences to protesters found with peashooters.

They never seriously question why no policeman is ever prosecuted for the 1000-plus deaths in custody since 1990.

Whatever the party, whatever the skin colour of the MP, they spout the same clichés.

Yes, we know violence on the streets in London is bad. Yes, we know that looting shops is wrong.

But why is it happening now? Why didn’t it happen last year?

Iceland’s loud 'No!': Can't pay, won't pay

By Silla Sigurgeirsdóttir and Robert H. Wade

August 2011 -- Le Monde Diplomatique -- The people of Iceland have now twice voted not to repay international debts incurred by banks, and bankers, for which the whole island is being held responsible. With the present turmoil in European capitals, could this be the way forward for other economies?

The small island of Iceland has lessons for the world. It held a referendum in April to decide, more or less, whether ordinary people should pay for the folly of the bankers (and by extension, could governments control the corporate sector if they depended on it for finance). Sixty per cent of the population rejected an agreement negotiated between Iceland, the Netherlands and the UK to pay back the British and Dutch governments for the money they spent to recompense savers with the failed bank Icesave. That was less resistance than the first referendum last spring, when 93% voted no.

The Oslo mass murder and the mainstreaming of racism in Europe; Solidarity from Palestine

The Sun, a flagship daily of the disgraced Murdoch empire, immediately prepared a front page that described the far-right attack as an "Al Qaeda Massacre".

By Miriyam Aouragh and Richard Seymour

July 27, 2011 -- Jadaliyya -- Media coverage of the Norwegian tragedy was led with dangerous and clichéd arguments about "Islamic extremism" and multiculturalism, even after the identity of the killer was confirmed – thus contributing to the mainstreaming of racism that helped make far-right mass murderer Anders Breivik what he is.

An hour before Breivik embarked on his massacre of the innocents in Oslo on July 23, he distributed his manifesto online. In 1500 pages, this urgent message identified “cultural Marxists”, “multiculturalists”, anti-Zionists and leftists as “traitors” who are allowing Christian Europe to be overtaken by Muslims. He subsequently murdered dozens of these "traitors", the majority of them children, at a Labour Party youth camp. His inspiration, according to this manifesto, were those pathfinders of the Islamophobic right who have profited immensely from the framing and prosecution of the “war on terror”, including Melanie Phillips, Bernard Lewis, Daniel Pipes, Martin Kramer and Bat Ye’or. 

Europe: Statement by the Anti-Capitalist Left conference


Mobilisation of the ENOUGH campaign against the IMF in Dublin on July 16, 2011. One of the European actions the European Anti-Capitalist Left pledged to build.

The following statement was adopted by the anti-capitalist left organisations meeting together in London on June 11-12, 2011, on the call of the SWP (Britain) and the NPA (France) as a follow-up to the previous conferences held in Paris in June 2008 [1], December 2009 [2], and May [3] and December [4] 2010. Text from International Viewpoint.

Ireland: United Left Alliance confronts big challenges

[For more coverage of the United Left Alliance and its discussions at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, click HERE.]

By Dick Nichols, Dublin

July 16, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal/Green Left Weekly -- Ireland’s seven-month-old United Left Alliance is the “new kid on the block” of European anti-capitalist parties. Launched on November 27 last year, it emerged from the February Irish national elections—where its name didn’t even appear on the ballot paper—with five TDs (Teachta Dála, members of the Irish parliament, the Dail). To date the ULA has also won 20 positions in local councils and one seat in the European parliament.

Greece: 20 popular fallacies concerning the debt crisis

By the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation (Germany)

July 9, 2011 -- It’s that time again! Greece needs more loans and governments in Europe are arguing about whether it’s really necessary and who should foot the bill. There is widespread opinion in Germany that Greece itself is to blame for the problems it now finds itself in. It is claimed that first of all cheated its way into the eurozone, then the government spent too much and the governed worked too little, many believe.

Latently nationalistic interpretations of this kind have been nourished by German politicians and the media, who have no end of proposals for how to "solve" the crisis. For example, the Greeks should save more, work more and sell their public property – and if all of these measures do not help, then Greece will just have to leave the eurozone or declare itself bankrupt.

The stupid thing is, neither are the causes of the crisis that have been named are correct, nor will the proposed ways out of the crisis achieve their goal.

The Rosa Luxemburg Foundation has produced Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks! to explain the truth about the fallacies being spread about the causes of the Greek crisis, and who is responsible.

Review: `The Muslim revolt: A journey through political Islam'

By Rupen Savoulian

June 25, 2011 -- http://rupensavoulian.wordpress.com, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Since the September 11, 2001, twin tower attacks, there has been renewed interest in the questions of Islam, political Islamism and jihadism. Books have been published by the truckload, seminars bringing together various political scientists and experts have been held, reams of paper analysing the origins and trajectory of political Islam have been published, and the airwaves resonate with talkback from pundits about the impact of Islam and Islamism in the world. How can one make sense of all this? Where does one begin?

Six days that shook Spain

June 19 brought out entire new sections of Spanish society in protest against a massive, cruel and destructive crisis from which those who were responsible are gaining, while ordinary people suffer -- in evictions, in cuts to child and aged care, in health and education.

By Dick Nichols, Barcelona

June 23, 2011 -- Green Left Weekly/Links International Journal of Socialist Renwal -- On June 19, huge demonstrations of the M-15 [May 15] movement in 97 Spanish cities and towns brought at least 250,000 people onto the streets. This vast and peaceful turnout marked a new phase in the rising struggle against the austerity policies of the country's "parties of government" -- the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE), the People's Party (PP) and the Catalan nationalist Convergence and Union (CiU) -- as well as against the recently adopted Euro stability pact.

Is the capitalist economic crisis over?

Demonstrators in London against government cutbacks, March 26, 2011.

By Dimitris Fasfalis

June 6, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In so far as the global capitalist media are concerned, the global recovery and the boom in Asia and Latin America have created an ideological illusion that hides the unfolding capitalist crisis.

The latest IMF World Economic Outlook (April 2011) sets the tone of established economists concerning the pace of global economic growth: “The world economic recovery continues, more or less as predicted.” The IMF’s line of argument then runs as follows: market economies have always undergone periodic crises, which are a fundamental feature of their functioning, ensuring a healthy and sustainable growth.

Spanish local elections: PSOE rout boosts right and left

Basques celebrate the 25.5% vote for the new Basque nationalist alliance, Bildu, on the evening of May 22, 2011. Photo by www.eitb.com.

By Dick Nichols

May 31, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, an earlier version of this article appeared at Green Left Weekly -- On May 22, in Spain’s local elections, a tsunami of popular rage with the Spanish Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) government of José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero spead across this country of 5 million jobless. It swept away PSOE bastions held since the end of Francoism—scores of “faithfully left-wing” cities and regions surrendered to the right.

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