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Fight racism

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: November 1998

Racism has become a key political weapon deployed more and more frequently by mainstream capitalist parties in Western Europe, Australia and the United States over the last decade. A recent example is the governing Christian Social Union (CSU) campaign in Bavaria which featured a poster stating: ‘If you want more foreigners don’t vote CSU’. The head of the CSU parliamentary caucus in Bonn stated in July ‘Foreigners and criminals are two topics which unfortunately go together’. The campaign was so racist that the local far right withdrew their candidates on the grounds that the CSU had already adopted all of their policies!

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Why Blair and Mandelson are paranoid about the Labour left

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: November 1998

An unprecedented and well-funded operation was launched over the summer to back the Blairite slate for the constituency section of the Labour Party national executive. This included spending at least £50,000 on half-page adverts in national newspapers and magazines, direct mail-shots to thousands of party members, printing thousands of glossy promotional brochures and employing a private marketing firm to undertake telephone canvassing. The centre-left slate was publicly denounced by party general secretary Tom Sawyer – who is supposed to uphold the impartiality of the election – and by former party leader Neil Kinnock. At issue was not control of the NEC, because the constituency section makes up less than a fifth of the NEC seats, but the elimination of all possible dissent from the leading bodies of the party. This looks like paranoia. But it is, in reality, rational.

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Capitalism and the rise of world poverty

1st November 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October/November 1998

It is appropriate in the year of the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto to draw up the economic balance sheet of capitalism in the twentieth century. In addition to the destruction of two World Wars and numerous regional wars, the record is that economic development of a small core of imperialist states occurred at the expense of the populations of the majority of market economies falling further and further behind. The only large economies to close the gap with the major imperialist states are those where capitalism was overthrown. Where capitalism was restored that progress was reversed. With capitalism entering a new period of global turmoil, translating into impoverishment, starvation and untold misery for hundreds of millions of people, Marx and Engels’ view that the working class is the only social force which can take humanity as a whole forward retains all of its force today.

Since the mid-1970s, inequality has risen to the highest levels in history. Impoverishment, starvation, avoidable disease and death have devastated whole continents and destroyed the lives of millions of people.

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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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Capital’s global crisis

1st October 1998 Socialist Action 0

First published: October 1998

The post-1989 triumphalism of the international imperialist system suffered two shuddering blows at the end of August. First, on the economic plane, it became clear that all of the efforts to contain the 1929-scale slump which has afflicted east Asia since last summer have failed – its fall-out is progressively extending its effects to the entire world economy. Second, the chain of the international capitalist economy broke at its weakest link – Russia – and this posed the most serious political challenge to imperialism since 1989, namely, the realistic possibility that the capitalist course imposed on that country since the end of 1991 might be over-turned. The shudder of doubt which passed through the world of capital manifested itself in stock market prices, innumerable articles on the ‘backlash against the free market’, through to the farcical powerlessness of the Clinton/Yeltsin summit.

The driving force of this crisis was the realisation that the east Asian economic crisis had not been confined to that region. But its political punch was delivered by the palpable risk that capitalism could yet be overturned in a country, Russia, whose nuclear weapons rule out the direct Western military intervention which would otherwise be used in such circumstances. The latter political reality was reinforced by the inevitability of rising social and political opposition to imperialism’s prescriptions for east Asia.

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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.