Germany: Voters seek alternative to Merkel’s government

December 16th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

The coalition government of Angela Merkel of CDU, CSU and FDP in Berlin, known by the colours of these parties as black-yellow, has lost a significant amount of its support since the election victory of September 2009. Four Regional Land elections in 2011 have documented the melting away of the coalition’s voting strength signalled mainly by the huge decline in the suport for the more rightwing FDP, first in the northern metropolis of Hamburg in February, then in the south-eastern Sachsen-Anhalt  and now in two south-western states, the Rheinland Palatinate (RP) and Baden-Wuerttemberg (BW) on Sunday 27th March.

The background was, of course, the efforts to recover from the deep economic crisis affecting all major capitalist countries. The CDU and Bavarian CSU had been in coalition with the social democrats (SPD) up to September 2009; the SPD came out of that period of crisis and cuts and anti-working class legislation with its worst result in postwar German history with only 23% of the votes, cementing the social democrats’ loss of 6 million (!) votes over a nine year period, half of its electoral support. Fully one-third of the party’s members left in the period, disappointed with the SPD’s neo-liberal line. Many dropped out of political activity but numbers of activists joined the Linke, the Left Party boosting its membership overall to 70,000 and its electoral support throughout most of Germany, with the party gaining seats in regional parliaments in 13 of the 16 federal states.

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The causes of war, and how to stop it 18. Big business and the struggle for socialism

December 14th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

War and Resistance is a translation of the Swedish book Draksådd, originally published in 2004 and in the light of current events is as relevant as ever. It analyzes the most important wars of the past hundred years. It examines the role of the United Nations, civil disobedience and many other failed attempts to stop war. And as a contrast explains why other forms of resistance to war have been successful. This is the final chapter, all the others are available here as previous posts.

We did not conquer India for the benefit of the Indians.

We conquered India as the outlet for the goods of Great Britain.

We conquered India by the sword, and by the sword we should hold it.1

Lord Brentford, former British government minister, speaking in 1930

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Paying for Europe’s banking mess

December 12th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

In several posts in 2010, I argued that the people of Europe were going to have to pay for the bailout of the banking system in the Europe through a significant reduction in their living standards (by higher taxation and inflation, lower incomes, rising unemployment and reduced public services.

It started with the Greeks (see my post, Greek countdown, 1 February 2010).  The socialist government there agreed to take a E110bn in loans from the European Union and IMF to fund the buyback of its maturing government bonds and future government borrowing.  It had to do so because capitalist bond investors (who are mainly Greek and European banks and pension funds) were refusing to buy any more Greek government debt unless the prices they paid were slashed.  In other words, the government would have to pay an 8-10% interest rate on their borrowing, a level that was just way too much forcing the government to borrow even more to pay for it!

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The Battle for Libya

December 10th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

The imposition of a no fly zone over Libya, backed primarily by France, Britain and the United States, and the invasion of Bahrain by Saudi Armed forces, mark a new stage in the tumultuous revolutionary events in the Arab world. The joyous revolutionary victories secured by mass protests on the streets and squares of Egypt and Tunisia have given way to bloody and ferocious conflict drawing in national and international military forces.

In the past the Imperialist powers were happy to see dictators in power throughout the region, provided they appeared to serve the economic, political, military and strategic interests of European and US capitalist states. It was European powers that colonised, plundered and divided the peoples of the region; leaving a legacy of artificial lines from which nations were carved out of the sand.

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Al-Nahda and the Muslim Brotherhood in Two Revolutions

December 8th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

Are the Islamists “ready for their close-up”? In an article published on (10.3.11) the writer D. Parvaz, extensively quoting observers on Islamism and the Arab world like Ed Hussain, Tareq Ramadan, George Joffe, and Amina Elbendary, poses this question and points to the misrepresentation of the Islamists by the West. A West, he says, that tends to “put all the people in the same box.”

He distinguishes Al-Nahda in Tunisia and the Muslim Bortherhood (MB) in Egypt among the Islamist movements to assert that they played no role in the revolutions in both countries. And also to paint the features which reflect that they are moderate organisations. He concludes that even if these two countries end up with Islamist governments, it would not be “a catastrophe” as people do not want a religious-based system.

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Left turn in the Ireland of crisis

December 6th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

This article was written before the agreement between Fine Gael and the Labour Party to form a coalition government but it’s general argument remains valid.

Ireland is one of the countries that has been hit hardest by the
capitalist crisis. In the late 90s the country became known as the
“Celtic Tiger”. The political leaders of the traditionally biggest party
in the country, liberal Fianna Fáil, turned the country into a neo-
liberal experiment shop.

The bank and finance sector was completely
deregulated, big parts of the welfare system was privatized and an
unprecedented campaign for loaning was launched, where ordinary wage
earners were convinced to loan up both on the house and car.

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Interview with Polish Railworkers leader

December 4th, 2016  / Author: Barbara Davis

Wojciech Figiel and Bojan Stanisławski of Polish Labour Notes speak to Leszek Miętek , the president of the Confederation of Railway Trade Unions.

Could you please tell our readers how the process of restructuring the Polish State Railways was done?

The railway company was functioning as one state company up to September 2000 when the commercialization, restructuring and privatisation of Polish State Railways law came into force. In accordance with this law Polish State Railways S.A. was created along with its subsidiaries. It was all about that PKP S.A. take over the railway debts and the whole burden of restructuring. The “sick mother” was supposed to give birth to healthy unindebted children. Let us add that this law lobbied for a foreign consulting company that gave advice in the privatisation process of British Railways. It was a fiasco. The British paid a lot of money for this re-nationalisation than they did in World War II.

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