Ireland – How the ‘Right To Water’ Campaign Transformed the Political Situation

Collage smallPublished: 30 April 2015
Author: Dermot Connolly (United Left)

2014 will be looked back on as the year when everything changed in Ireland. In the early part of the year Ireland managed to exit from the Troika bailout without a continuation of financial support. The economy went into recovery and unemployment started to fall. One would have expected a rise in support for the government of Fine Gael and Labour but in fact quite the opposite happened.

The reason was an explosion from below on the issue of water charges, the final austerity straw that broke the camel’s back. Despite attempts by the government, the state and the media that the anti water charges campaign is being led, hijacked and manipulated by ‘trots’, the hard left and even republican dissidents, the movement has been extremely spontaneous.

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Urgent Call for Solidarity with the Greek Public Debt Truth Commission

url3Published: 27 April 2015
Intro: by the TSN Editor.

A few weeks ago the Greek Parliament took a potentially momentous decision to establish a Public Debt Truth Commission. The aim of the Commission is to look at the debts contracted by Greece from the mid 1990s to the present, and to identify how much of the debt was illegal, illegitimate, unsustainable or odious. The 30-strong Commission, half Greek and half international, is made up of experts in international and constitutional law, in auditing public accounts, and macroeconomics. It began meeting on 3rd of April. Below we publish an appeal endorsed by the Commission and call on all supporters of The Socialist Network to do what they can to put the content of the appeal into action internationally and in their own countries:

“To the people of Europe and the whole world!

To all the men and women who reject the politics of austerity and are not willing to pay a public debt which is strangling us and which was agreed to behind our backs and against our interests.

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Finland’s Berlusconi proposes new bout of neoliberalism

Collage smallPublished: 26 April 2015
Author: Michael Roberts

In the general election on Sunday, Finnish voters gave most support to a former telecoms entrepreneur as prime minister. Juha Sipilä, the leader of the Centre party and a millionaire who has built his own house and gas-powered car, is set to replace Alex Stubb as Finland’s prime minister. Centre came first in the election with 21.1% of the vote (up from 15.8% in 2011). The euro-sceptic True Finns gained 17.6% (actually down from 19%). The incumbent coalition parties took a hit, with the National Coalition down to 18.2% from 20.4% and the Social Democrats 16.5% from 19.1%. Centre won 49 seats in the 200-seat parliament, with the True Finns gaining 38, the National Coalition 37, and the Social Democrats 34.

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Gallipoli 1915: When 120,000 Men Died and 250,000 were Wounded for Colonial Plunder

Collage smallestPublished: 25 April 2015
Intro: by the TSN Editor

This week marks the 100th anniversary of the of the invasion by British and French empire forces of Gallipoli, on the Western coast of what is now Turkey. The object of the invasion was to capture Istanbul (Constantinople), the capital, and thereby seize vast tracts of territory from the Ottoman empire. The military campaign which lasted seven months was a disastrous and bloody failure, hampered by arrogant leadership and poor planning on the Allied side, and fierce defensive resistance from the Turkish side.

In the media coverage currently filling TV screens there is much talk of the bravery of the British, Australian and New Zealand soldiers but no reference to the fact that this was an invasion organised purely for colonial conquest. And the invading Allied forces are somehow put on the same moral level as the Ottoman troops who were only defending their homeland.

Below is a short video made by Australian directors John Rainford and Peter Ewer which puts a very different perspective on the Gallipoli campaign from that of the capitalist media:
‘Gallipoli – Lest We Forget … the facts’

As UK Elections Approach, a ‘Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory’ is Launched

Collage smallPublished: 20 April 2015
Intro by TSN Editor

On May 7th 2015 there will be a General Election in Britain. After five years of unpopular austerity attacks on living standards and welfare benefits this is a chance to get rid of the Conservative/ Liberal Democrat coalition. Normally an election victory for the Labour Party should be guaranteed. However, the opinion polls now show that the Conservatives and Labour have equal levels of support. This incredibly weak position is a result of Labour’s commitment to maintain the Austerity programme, albeit at a slower pace. Labour accepts the neo-liberal propaganda and promises to ‘balance the books’. Above all, they desire to appear as ‘responsible’ before the electorate. Yet consistent surveys show that the majority of voters would support a more radical position.

This is further demonstrated by the fact that the most popular politician in this election is the leader of the Scottish National Party who is campaigning on a platform against austerity. However, Labour seems more concerned to please the financial industry and the right-wing media rather than the working people of Britain. It is really to them that they want to appear ‘responsible’, not the British public. Indeed, the Labour leader has admitted that a more radical programme would be more popular with the voters, but he doesn’t “want to make promises he can’t keep”!

Nevertheless, it is vital that the Conservative-dominated coalition government is thrown out by the British people and a Labour-led government elected in its place. Labour is proposing some important improvements in the minimum wage, in rent controls, on energy bills, and to end the notorious zero-hour employment contracts. Their campaign promises to prioritise working people and to stop their living standards from falling further. Above all, a Labour government in these changed circumstances will not be like its pro-business counterparts in the boom years 1990s and 2000s. It will be a government facing stark choices and open to pressure from the ranks.

To give an idea of the potential for revolt from below we publish here a statement from a section of the Left inside the Labour Party. The statement was initiated by the Socialist Campaign for a Labour Victory” and can be found at their website: https://socialistcampaignforalabourvictory.wordpress.com/sign-the-statement/

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Debate: What Way Forward For Greece?

Greek Debt editedPublished: 14 April 2015
Authors: Jonathan Clyne, Themos Demetriou and Sotiris Vlachos
Intro by: TSN Editor

The crunch is coming soon for the Syriza-led Greek government and the debate over what they should do next is ranging far and wide. Below are the latest contributions from members of The Socialist Network.

Syriza – From Defensive Tactics to Offensive Strategy
by Jonathan Clyne

Since 2008, Greece has been hit by an economic and social firestorm. The victory of Syriza has raised hopes that at last the situation can be turned around. Internationally, the 99% have suffered defeats for at least three decades. Sympathy is widespread for the new Greek government. However, Syriza’s road to power has been extraordinarily short, and the new government have been thrown into a very difficult situation. Not only Syriza, but also the European and global left is unprepared for power. The tradition of winning struggles has been lost. The aim of class struggle has been reduced to either modest amelioration or empty slogans about socialism. This is reflected in the comments by the left about Syriza’s recent agreement with the EU’s finance ministers. Instead of sweeping criticism, unconditional support, or general patience with the newly elected government, the task of socialists inside and outside Greece is to work out a clear tactical and strategic path ahead. This article is a contribution towards such a discussion.

The Character of the Syriza Government
We have become accustomed to social democratic leaders in power rapidly extinguishing the hopes on which they were elected. After losing power, if not earlier, ex-ministers and other leading politicians have gone on to lucrative careers.

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1915 – Socialist Women and Youth Declare Against the World War

Collage smallerPublished: 9 April 2015
Intro by: TSN Editor

In this the 100th anniversary of the First World War, the Spring of 1915 witnessed the first international gatherings of socialist against the War. From 26-28th March 2015, twenty nine socialist women delegates from Russia, Poland, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, the Netherlands, France, and Britain met in Bern, Switzerland to discuss their opposition to the War.

Just ten days later, on April 7th 1915, youth delegates representing Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Poland, Bulgaria and Russia also met in Bern to voice their opposition to the World War. Below we publish the two declarations which ring across the last century to us.

Women of the Working People!

“Where are your husbands? Where are your sons?

For eight months they have been at the front – torn from their work and their home. Youth, the support and hope of their parents; men in the prime of their life; men with graying hair, the providers for their families: clothed in uniforms, they all live in the trenches, under orders to destroy everything that diligent labor has created.

Already, millions lie in mass graves. Many hundreds of thousands lie in the hospitals with shattered bodies, smashed limbs, sightless eyes, and broken minds, gripped by epidemics or prostrated by exhaustion.

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China Forges Ahead with Development Banks as an Alternative to the Western Financial System

China about to push the US asidePublished: 1 April 2015
Author: Richard Mellor
Intro by: TSN editor

China’s increasing economic power is now being reflected in the global financial sector with the launch of two new international banks – the BRICs New Development Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. Both are seen as a serious challenge to American domination of the world economy.

New Development Bank: There has long been discontent in the developing countries with the reactionary neo-liberal and corrupt operations of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. In response, two years ago the New Development Bank was agreed to by the leaders of China, Russia, India, Brazil and South Africa at the BRICS summit in South Africa – combined these countries comprise cover more than 3 billion people, a quarter of the world’s land area and 25 percent of global GDP. Since then a range of other newly developed countries including Mexico, Argentina, Nigeria and Indonesia have indicated their desire to join the new financial institution.
…The new international bank will be headquartered in Shanghai in China and will open its doors for lenders in 2016 with $100 billion in capital. Unlike the World Bank whose management operates like a capitalist company being controlled according to the capital shares that each country puts into it (and is in effect run by the US), each participating country in the New Development Bank will have one vote and no country will have a veto.

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