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10 years after 1989

1st December 1999 Socialist Action 0

First published: December 1999

Ten years after 1989, the consequences of the re-introduction of capitalism into Eastern Europe are clear and acknowledged even by some of the international agencies which sponsored the process.

The World Bank reports in its 1999 World Development Indicators: ‘In 1989 about 14 million people in the transition economies were living under a poverty line of $4 a day. By the mid-1990s that number was about 147 million, one person in three. The distribution of income in the communist period was relatively egalitarian, primarily because of a relatively flat wage distribution, but also because of the virtual absence of income from property and the redistribution of income through social transfers… Today, some eight years later, income distribution has worsened sharply, particularly in the former Soviet Union… the stress is showing in the declining or stagnating life expectancy and sharply worsening adult mortality. Today, for example, the probability that a 15-year-old Ukrainian male will survive until his sixtieth birthday is a mere 65 per cent, down from 72 per cent in 1980. The Europe and Central Asia region is the only part of the developing world with rising adult mortality rates. Even Sub-Saharan Africa, with its AIDS epidemic, is seeing a reduction in adult mortality.’

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After the bombing of Yugoslavia – the US prepares to confront China

1st December 1999 Socialist Action 0

First published: Dec 1999

The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia set a precedent for unilateral military action by the United States and its allies outside of any framework of international law – making clear that such wars would not be subject to vetoes by China or Russia within the United Nations Security Council. This was not an ‘accident’ necessitated by the urgency for humanitarian intervention, as NATO claimed. The bombing was meticulously planned many months in advance. The destruction of the post-World War Two international political order was rather a central goal of the bombing and the way in which it was launched.

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Capitalism hits a brick wall in Russia

1st October 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1998

In one of the most spectacular financial explosions in history, on 17 August, in the space of one day, Russia’s entire financial system collapsed. Stock markets around the world were sent reeling, not because of Russia’s weight in the world economy, nor the big losses incurred by Western banks speculating on the Russian bond market, but because Russian capitalism had run into a dead-end from which there appeared to be no way out. What really rattled the markets was the possibility that, faced with destitution this winter, the Russian people might call a halt to the re-introduction of capitalism, which having already resulted in the greatest peacetime industrial collapse in history, now promises worse. As one commentator said, it began to dawn on the markets that capitalism’s victory over socialism might turn out to be only a short episode at the end of the 20th century. Even the financial press, and people like George Soros, echoed this sentiment.

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Unionists try to wreck peace process

1st February 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: February 1998

Unionist politicians and loyalist death squads are doing everything in their power to wreck the Irish peace process. While Ian Paisley boycotts the talks, David Trimble sabotages them from within by refusing to talk to Sinn Féin, and loyalist paramilitaries murder Catholics chosen at random. Their common goal is to block any fundamental change in Northern Ireland’s status quo.

The Unionist programme is very simple. Northern Ireland must be maintained as a sectarian state in which nationalists are treated as second class citizens. Unionism stands for discrimination in employment, housing, education, culture, religion and politics. Nationalist resistance is met with sectarian murders, pogroms and legalised repression. Unionism correctly sees the partition of Ireland and British rule in the north as the guarantees of the privileges and discrimination which cement the Orange bloc.

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Gerry Adams replies to Tony Blair

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

The largest swing to any political party in the general election was to Sinn Féin – a 60 per cent increase in their vote over 1992, nationalist voters made clear that they held John Major, not Sinn Féin, responsible for the collapse of the peace process. As well as gaining two seats – Mid-Ulster and Belfast West – the party’s 16.1 per cent of the vote made them the third largest in Northern Ireland, overtaking Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party. In the local elections which followed, the Unionists lost control of Belfast City Council and Sinn Féin’s vote advanced further.

But, in his first major policy statement on the north, Tony Blair made clear that as far as he is concerned Labour’s conference policy for ‘Irish unity by consent’ is now a dead letter. Blair did not make clear under what conditions Sinn Féin would be admitted to all-party talks.

For the information of our readers we reproduce here the bulk of Gerry Adams’ reply to Tony Blair.

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NATO expands towards Russia’s borders

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

The first East European states will be admitted to NATO in July at a summit in Madrid and become full members by 1999. Having delayed for fear of losing Boris Yeltsin last year’s presidential elections, NATO is now poised for rapid expansion towards Russia’s western borders.

The states most likely to be admitted in July are Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic. All three occupy the strategically crucial central European corridor between Russia and Germany. Other candidates are Romania, which has the backing of France, and Slovenia, sponsored by Italy.