Europe

In 1968 the world turned upside down. The long years of the post war economic upswing had led many to declare that class struggle was obsolete, revolution outdated, the working class bourgeoisified, capitalism invincible. Within a few short months, though, they were all proved wrong.

Irish rail drivers, members of the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union, have been engaged in a battle with the rail bosses over conditions and recognition. Under pressure from all sides, and with the intervention of the Labour Court, the union has decided to suspend future strikes.

The ECOFIN - all the Finance Ministers of the EU member states - held a meeting in Sweden's third largest city, Malmo, in the early part of May, which was met with a countre-demonstration, similar to the many demonstrations around the world againts the IMF, the WTO, World Bank, etc. The police used brutal methods to break up the demonstration.

75 years ago an earthquake shook the very foundations of British capitalism. In the greatest display of militant power in its history the British working class moved into action in the General Strike of 1926. For 9 days, from May 3, not a wheel turned nor a light shone without the permission of the working class. In such a moment, with such power, surely it ought to have been possible to have transformed society? How can such a position have ended in defeat?

On Wednesday 26th April 2001, the biggest general strike for fifteen years took place in Greece. Both public and private sectors came out on strike with very big percentages of success, with many factories striking 100%. The demonstration in Athens was huge: 150,000-200,000 workers participated in the rally and then marched through the centre of Athens to the Parliament. It was really an impressive demonstration - almost two miles long.

Born in 1868 into a poor family in Edinburgh, James Connolly was a genuine proletarian. His working life commenced at the age of ten. All his life he lived and breathed the world of the working class, shared in its trials and tribulations, suffered from its defeats and exulted in its victories. Connolly was a self-educated man who became a brilliant speaker and writer. He alone in the annals of the British and Irish Labour Movement succeeded in developing the ideas of Marxism.

After an "interregnum" of five years the Social Democrats regained an absolute majority on the council of "Red Vienna". Vienna has a symbolic value for the Austrian labour movement. Ever since the democratic revolution of 1918 this city has been governed by the Social Democrats, with just two interruptions: the period of Austro-Fascism, followed by the Nazi regime (1934-1945), and the period from 1996 to 2001, when the party lost its absolute majority and collaborated with the weak Conservative party. Now the Social Democracy is back again. But will they be able to live up to the expectations of the workers who voted for them?

The general strike in Italy on April 16 was much more than just a major work stoppage lasting eight hours involving more than 10 million workers. It was also a major milestone in a process that started a number of years ago and that has already gone through a number of qualitatively important stages: e.g. the metal workers' general strike on July 6 last year, the anti-G8 demonstrations last year in Genoa on the day following the murder of Carlo Giuliani by the police (and in spite of the government's threats) in which more than 300,000 people took part and finally the national demonstration in Rome organised by the CGIL trade union on March 23 this year in which more than 2.5 million

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This statement by the Editorial Board of the Socialist Appeal analyses the situation in Britain today. It looks at Britain within the context of world economic and political developments and analyses how these affect the British trade union movement, the Labour Party, the youth and outlines the perspectives for the coming period and poses the tasks of Marxists today.

The results of the municipal elections in France, whilst marking a setback for the right-wing parties in Paris and Lyon, are nonetheless a very serious warning for socialist, communist and trade union activists. Greg Oxley, of the French Marxist paper La Riposte explains how the pro-capitalist policies of the Jospin government have failed to arouse any enthusiasm amongst the workers and youth.

Below we publish a letter we received commenting on our article 'Macedonia - the next powder keg?' What is particularly interesting is what is said about places where the local population is mixed, Albanian and Macedonian speaking. Apparently some form of militia has been formed to protect all the population from attacks from the Albanian guerrillas.

What is unfolding in Macedonia today [March 2001] confirms what we have always said. There will never be a solution to the National Question on the Balkans so long as the underlying economic and social problems remain. After they thought they had brought the situation in Kosovo under control, the situation across the border in Macedonia is flaring up.

The landslide victory of the Communist Party of Moldavia in the recent parliamentary elections has a great significance for all the former republics of the Soviet Union. It is the first time that a 'Communist Party' has managed to take power on the territory of what was the USSR. The high voter turnout makes the success even more impressive. With 71 out of 101 seats in Parliament, the Communist Party can, at least formally, do anything that it wants to: appoint the President of the country, change the constitution, and pass any laws that it wishes. However, the 'Communists', who have come to power in one of the poorest countries in Europe, face serious economic and political...

The active liberalization of the Russian economy is being carried out simultaneously with moves to strengthen the power of the state. The state is consolidating itself on all fronts, of which the media is one of the most important. The government, evidently, has unleashed a war for the restoration of its monopoly over the distribution and presentation of information.

Over the past weeks the news has been dominated by the story of yet another crisis in farming. The rapid spreading of the food and mouth epidemic in Britain is a direct consequence of capitalist farming methods.

On February 1, Putin's government introduced new labour laws which curtail workers' rights. The laws were introduced in part by pressure from the IMF although Russia's bourgeoisie is not in the habit of respecting any laws, preferring to settle disputes with workers with the fists of their security guards.

Over recent years, the French labour movement has been in the forefront of the struggle to defend public services, wages, working conditions and pensions. Since the public sector transport strike of 1995, millions of workers have been involved in some form or other of militant action. In the last few weeks, a series of huge strikes and demonstrations have once again shaken the bosses, the government and the state institutions. Greg Oxley from the French Marxist paper La Riposte reports

One year ago a shock wave went through Western Europe with the coming to power of the coalition government of the OVP and FPO in Austria. A lot has happened since then. Herbert Bartik of the Austrian Marxist journal 'Der Funk' was interviewed by Filip Staes of the editorial board of Vonk (Belgian Marxist paper).

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