By Stephen Bell
In recent weeks it has become evident that US President Trump’s policy in the Middle East primarily involves reinforcing the military presence and activity of US armed forces. Despite his campaign rhetoric about $6 trillion spent to no result, he has moved swiftly to increase the size and rate of US deployment. With a current account deficit of $469 billion in 2016 US imperialism can offer concessions only to its most favoured allies. For the rest, which includes the majority of Arab countries, there is simply the presence of US military might.
Martin McGuinness was one of the greatest Irish Republican leaders of his or any other generation. Socialist Action sends its condolences to all his loved ones, friends and comrades.
The fight over who will be the next leader of Unite is important for the direction of the labour movement in Britain and for the leadership of the Labour Party. On both counts Len McCluskey should be supported in his bid to be re-elected as General Secretary.
By Jane West
There are two distinct projects in Britain to drive down the living standards of the working class and so drive up profits. One is the project of European Union big capital, which is to drive down the share of the economy that goes to the working class and raise profits, through slow attrition meaning a permanent squeeze on public spending, reducing the welfare state and wage decline or low growth. The other is the Brexit project which is an immediate and ferocious assault on living standards, trade union rights and public services.
The first Russian Revolution of 1917 – known in all the historical literature as the February Revolution – actually began on International Women’s Day March 8, which under the old style Russian calendar falls in February. This revolution was led by women.
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.
First published: October 1995World 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.
First published: July 1995 Since the Second World War the position of women in society has progressively advanced. The driving force of this was the mass entry of women into the workforce. But its consequences spread into all spheres of society – the education system, rights to divorce, abortion and contraception, equality legislation, legal, economic and property rights and the massive expansion of social provision via the welfare state. Today women face the first sustained attempt to roll back these gains, not by driving women out of the workforce, but by dismantling the welfare state.
First published: January 1995The most important strategic debate in the international labour movement since Marx and Engels was that which took place between Stalin, Bukharin and Trotsky in the Soviet Union in the 1920s. The fundamental issue at the core of that debate was Stalin and Bukharin’s strategy of ‘socialism in one country’. Although Stalin resolved the debate by liquidating his opponents, he could not liquidate the real contradictions which gave rise to the conflict. Those remain the fundamental driving forces of the crisis which has unfolded in Russia since Yeltsin came to power in August 1991. As the Russian working class faces a struggle with capital today as desperate as 1917 and 1941, the starting point for a theoretical understanding of that struggle remains the issue of socialism in one country.The issue of ‘socialism in one country’ is the most fundamental question of socialist strategy in the twentieth century. Trotsky regarded this issue – not, for example, democracy or the popular front – as the fundamental point of divide between Stalin and Bukharin; between what he called ‘national reformism’ and Marxism.
First published: Spring 1993
The electoral collapse of the French and Italian Socialist Parties signals the demise of Euro-socialism, the dominant current in the West European labour movement for the last decade. This is simply the latest symptom of the crisis of the European Community. The EEC is being ground between the external competitive pressure of the United States and Japan, and the internal dominance of the unified Germany. Rather than offering reforms, Maastricht proposes to dismantle the welfare state in Western Europe. The rise of the extreme right and the collapse of Euro-socialism are logical results.In Europe imperialism is suffering its first substantial reverses since Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union. At the beginning of 1992 imperialism recorded an historic triumph with the installation of a capitalist government under Yeltsin in Russia. But a year later Yeltsin had lost his majority in the Congress of People’s Deputies. George Bush failed to secure re-election in the United States, Japan faced financial crisis and the European Monetary System came apart at the seams. Thus the re-charged imperialist system, which delivered Washington’s triumphs at the end of the 1980s, has started to exhaust itself.
First published: May 1993The consideration of inter-imperialist competition is frequently not integrated into the body of Marxist economic analysis, which is too often seen as relating to the study of the workplace or to national capitalism, with inter-imperialist competition running ‘parallel’ to this. This is radically wrong.The starting point of Marx’s analysis is the development of ‘capital in general’ or ‘the capital of the whole society’ . This is sometimes taken to be the capital in a nation state, but this is wrong.  Capitalism is an international system in which the world economy is dominant. The decline in the rate of profit throughout the 1960s and 1970s, from which capital has still not recovered and which is the driving force of the present crisis, was an international decline working itself out in all countries.But capital as it actually exists is not ‘capital in general’. As Marx put it: ‘In their actual movement capitals confront each other in certain concrete forms’.  Capital exists as different firms, and different nations with different companies and trusts, in competition with each other. It exists, as Marx put it, as ‘many capitals’. Competition between these capitals is the ‘essential locomotive force of the bourgeois economy’.  Competition is the mechanism by which the fundamental laws of the capitalist economy work themselves out.
First published: October 1991 The Soviet putsch of 19 August was an attempt to put the clock back towards the Brezhnevist past. Its failure made transparent the greatest class struggle in the world since 1917 – that for the survival of the Russian Revolution. It left the pro-capitalist forces in the USSR greatly strengthened.These forces will betray the interests and hopes of the Russian and Soviet peoples. The Soviet peoples wanted to create a democracy and an economy which would serve their interests. But, as Boris Kagarlitsky put it: ‘Millions of people in Russia have been fighting for democracy. But what they have got is Yeltsin.’
First published: Summer 1991
A potential change of government from one party to another is a fairly routine matter in British politics. But what underlies the decline of the present Tory government, and the evident inability of the Labour Party to present any convincing alternative, is something more fundamental. Britain is approaching one of those great turning points in political history which have so far occurred roughly only once a century, which imply a shift in the entire party political system, that is in the form of bourgeois political hegemony.
Since the English bourgeois revolution of 1642–49 there have been only four crises of equivalent scale – 1688 with the ‘Glorious Revolution’, 1783 with the turning point after the American War of Independence, 1832 and the passing of the first Reform Act, and 1886 with the fatal split in the Liberal Party over Irish Home rule. In order to grasp the scale and nature of what is unfolding in British politics today it is therefore valuable to step back from immediate issues and consider the general course of British political history.
First published: April 1991 The Gulf War, the largest military offensive waged by imperialism since Vietnam, is one of those events which is so great in its impact that it clarifies not only immediate events but the entire historical course of which it is a part. The Gulf War both confirmed the analysis of world politics presented by Socialist Action in the last years – the new phase of imperialism, the new era of North-South wars, and the emboldening of imperialism due to the events in Eastern Europe – and at the same time, as with every major event, has deepened and extended that analysis. Socialist Action was able to play a role in the fight against the war out of all proportion to its circulation because it was prepared for it, and the course of world politics of which it is a part.
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