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Conference shows current stage of international left recomposition

1st October 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1998

Over 700 people participated in the conference ‘150 years after the Communist Manifesto’ held in Paris in May. The congress, initiated by the French Communist Party and organised by a coalition of French Marxists, social democrats and academics, gave an indication of the current stage of recomposition of the international Marxist movement.

The conference was open and non-sectarian. It had a hybrid character, however – combining a large body of (largely male) academics with a significant number of political parties and currents.

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Eastern and Western Europe today

1st May 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: May 1989

Europe is today undergoing its greatest changes since World War II. This is obvious in Eastern Europe which has seen the greatest political shifts since 1945. In Western Europe structural shifts on a less dramatic scale, but still the greatest since World War II, have marked the two last decades. How are these developments linked, and what are their driving forces?

The first issue to be clarified in examining European trends, and the development of European politics, is the relation between the uniqueness of each state and the overall situation. There are no two countries in Europe in which the organisation of capital, the structure of the state, or the relations in the labour movement are duplicated or in which political tactics can be the same. Nevertheless this does not prevent there being a clear general European development. If we are to understand the individual process in each country in Europe we must first examine the international reality in which it develops. The aim of this article is to consider these broad trends of European development in their full scope. Within that framework the specific situation in each country can then be situated.

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Militant bourgeois

1st July 1996 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1996

Some years ago the Financial Times ran an exceptionally instructive back page interview with Jean Marie Le Pen, the leader of the extreme right wing French National Front. It was instructive, not because of what it told the reader about Le Pen, but for what it reflected about the thinking of the Financial Times.

The article was entitled ‘Militant bourgeois’. The tone of the interview was precisely expressed by its title. It sought to foster toleration among the FT’s readers of Le Pen as a ‘militant’ representative of a ‘bourgeois’ political force – without, of course, endorsing his more obscurantist, racist and anti-semitic views. The approach was to create the kind of attitude to Le Pen among FT readers, that might have been found among militant car workers in the 1970s to a ‘communist’ shop steward – ‘we don’t agree with a lot of their ideas, but they are useful to have on our side in a fight with the class enemy.’

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The recomposition of the International Workers’ Movement, part 1

1st October 1995 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1995     

The re-introduction of capitalism into eastern Europe in 1989 and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, unleashed a carnival of reaction throughout the world; the advance of NATO into eastern Europe, starting with the bombing of Yugoslavia; the collapse of living standards throughout eastern Europe and the former USSR; the greatest rise of racism since the 1930s and the first serious attempts to start dismantling the welfare states in western Europe.

This course of events was predictable and predicted. The overthrow of the planned economies in eastern Europe and the break-up of the USSR changed the international relationship of class forces in favour of imperialism. The imperialist ruling classes consequently became, not more conciliatory, but vastly more aggressive – taking the offensive to secure their interests in the third world, in eastern Europe and against the working class within the imperialist states.

The critical issue today, is whether that imperialist offensive will be taken onto a new level by the restoration of capitalism in Russia. Four years after Yeltsin came to power that issue has still not been resolved.

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The recomposition of the International Workers’ Movement, part 2

1st October 1995 Socialist Action 0

The refusal to work out its line on the basis of the class character of the conflict has finally led the Fourth International to disaster in its line on the war in Yugoslavia.

The real situation in Yugoslavia is that German imperialism sponsored the break-up of the federation to create new capitalist states in Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia. The Serb minorities fought to remain part of the Yugoslav Federation – a non-capitalist state. The United States and German imperialism built up Croatian and Bosnian armies. NATO was moved into the area. Imperialism conducted a propaganda campaign, swallowed by most of the west European ‘left intelligentsia’, likening the Serbs to Hitler and then launched the massive aerial, missile and artillery bombardment of the Bosnian Serbs.

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The nature of World War II

1st October 1995 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1995

World War II, the fiftieth anniversary of which has been celebrated recently, set the entire framework for current world politics. It was incomparably the greatest armed conflict in human history. But it was also something more. It was the greatest class struggle in the twentieth century.

The first problem in approaching World War II is its sheer size. With fifty million dead – thirty million of them in eastern Europe – with war on three continents, with the greatest number of people under arms in human history, it bears the same sort of relation to a strike that the Himalayas do an anthill.