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Albania — a mass, armed anti-capitalist uprising

1st July 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1997

The mass armed uprising which won control of a third of Albania in March this year showed why the United States and European Union are determined to expand NATO into eastern Europe – because the new capitalist states in the region are too weak to confront a really mass movement of the people and will be even less able to do so if a Communist government comes to power in Russia.

The 6,000-strong Italian-led force in Albania would be equivalent to more than 100,000 troops in a country with Britain’s population. Such a large imperialist military operation was the only way to defeat the first popular, mass, armed insurrection against a capitalist government in Europe since the Second World War. The insurgents rapidly won control of a third of the country. The Albanian army and police sympathised more with the uprising than with the government. A network of ‘Salvation Committees’ took control of the south, establishing territorial dual power which was rapidly expanding northwards.

 

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Middle ground knocked out of Russian politics

1st June 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: June 1997

Since the beginning of March this year the middle ground has been smashed out of Russian politics. On one side, at the beginning of March President Yeltsin re-organised his government around the neo-liberal politicians closest to the United States – notably the architect of the corrupt privatisation program, Anatoly Chubais, and the governor of Nizhny Novgorod Boris Nemtsov. The new government immediately announced plans for a second wave of economic shock therapy – to remove state subsidies on housing, heating, electricity and transport while simultaneously acceding to US demands to attack the power of Russia’s remaining giant monopolies.

On the other side, all of the classical signs of a rising mass radicalisation of the population are apparent. Millions participated in the trade union day of action against non-payment of wages on 27 March. Given their limited economic muscle, workers are resorting to more and more desperate tactics ranging from hunger strikes to seizing local officials and buildings, blocking roads and railways and in parts of Siberia setting up local ‘salvation committees’ – embryonic soviets.

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Gains for women could prove short lived

1st March 1997 Socialist Action 0

First published: March 1997

In addition to electing an historic number – 101 – of women MPs, Labour succeeded in closing the gender gap in voting in this general election. In 1992 exit polls showed that only 35 per cent of women voted Labour. This compared with 37 per cent of men.

The increased number of women MPs still leaves the Parliamentary Labour Party made up of only 24 per cent women members and the House of Commons as a whole with 18 per cent of MPs being women, lower than parliaments in Spain, Germany, Austria, Holland, Denmark and Sweden. At least 33 of the new women MPs elected were originally selected through an all-women shortlist. However, following the failure to appeal the Leeds Industrial Tribunal ruling, this policy was dropped and has not been replaced with any other mechanism.

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The left and European Monetary Union

1st July 1996 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1996

‘The completion of the socialist revolution within national limits is unthinkable. One of the basic reasons for the crisis in bourgeois society is the fact that the productive forces created by it can no longer be reconciled with the framework of the national state. From this follow, on the one hand, imperialist wars, on the other, the utopia of a bourgeois United States of Europe. The socialist revolution begins on the national arena, it unfolds on the international arena, and is completed on the world arena. Thus, the socialist revolution becomes a permanent revolution in a news and broader sense of the word; it attains completion only in the final victory of the new society on our entire planet.’ – Trotsky

The social explosion in France at the end of last year, and the new wave of cuts in public spending planned in Germany, France, Spain, Belgium and other states, show the contradictions in which those on the left who supported the Treaty of Maastricht now find themselves. They endorse the very agreement which is co-ordinating the attacks on the welfare state on a European Union wide level and, in doing so, place themselves on a collision course with every section of the European labour movement acting to defend the welfare state.

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The material basis of Euro-socialism

1st July 1996 Socialist Action 0

First published: July 1996

For more than a decade the most coherent support for the process of concentration and integration of capital in western Europe has been provided by social democracy. The rise, and recent decline, of this current – ‘Euro–socialism’ – provides an object lesson in the way in which the politics of the working class movement are shaped not merely by its own immediate situation, but by its relations with all classes in society.

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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.’