Category Archives: middle east

Protest the Dublin ‘Israel at 60’ event on Wed 7th May

THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE: NOTHING TO CELEBRATE! ON WEDNESDAY 7th MAY PROTEST THE ‘ISRAEL AT 60’ CELEBRATIONS Assemble 6pm @ Ballsbridge Court Hotel, Dublin 4 – Wear black clothing

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Attending the celebrations on the anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel is to celebrate a process of brutal ethnic cleansing and colonisation.

On Wednesday 7th May the Israeli Embassy in Ireland is hosting an event at the Ballsbridge Court Hotel in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel.

There will be a peaceful and lawful protest outside this event saying shame upon those who choose to attend. Those attending are asked to wear black clothing or armbands to mourn the people of Palestine, then and now.

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Gaza – End the bloodshed

 

Judy Beishon 

The opening trigger for this latest bloodshed was the Israeli assassination of five leading Hamas fighters, which was followed by over 40 Qassam rockets being fired by Palestinians on the Israeli town of Sderot, one of which killed an Israeli man. The subsequent Israeli onslaught on Gaza was coldly described by Israeli politicians as a “limited” operation, well short of the full scale invasion being considered.

The conflict then continued with an East Jerusalem Palestinian man shooting dead eight Jewish religious students in Jerusalem in the deadliest attack in Israel for over a year, and the first in Jerusalem for four years. The gunman’s family said he was reacting to the events in Gaza.

Conditions for the Palestinians in both parts of the occupied territories are now the worst in the entire 40 year occupation. In the “open air prison” of the Gaza strip, they are catastrophic, with a majority of people unemployed and suffering from malnutrition and a shortage of necessities. The Israeli government has restricted the power supply to the strip, causing power cuts for up to 12 hours a day, including to hospitals. The Israeli regime removed the Jewish settlements from the strip in 2005, but maintained complete control of the borders, sea and air space, and has let in few goods since Hamas – the Islamic Resistance Movement – was elected to government by Palestinians in 2006. Brutal Israeli army actions have regularly been carried out, using tanks, bulldozers and helicopters, including in the summer of 2006 when 400 Palestinians were killed.

At best, the western imperialist powers tend to describe the slaughter by the Israeli army as “excessive and disproportionate force”, whereas Palestinian violence is described by many of them as terrorism. The term “disproportionate” is a sickening understatement. Palestinian rockets have killed 14 Israelis since they were first fired in 2001. But last year alone, 379 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces. Last year’s ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths in the conflict was 40:1. This year, over 200 Palestinians have been killed in the first 10 weeks alone.

As Seumas Milne pointed out in The Guardian, there are no Palestinian rockets being fired from the West Bank, nevertheless there have been 480 Israeli military attacks there in the last three months with 26 Palestinians killed. Socialists are necessarily critical of right wing Palestinian parties and those that act against workers’ interests, including Hamas and Fatah and their militias. But the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI) has always defended the Palestinians’ right to armed resistance against the brutal occupation. However, this vitally necessary resistance, together with offensive campaigns against the occupation, should be democratically organised and controlled, involving the widest possible number of people. And it should be of a mass character, rather than being carried out by the various small, competing, secretive militias.

It also needs to be recognised that attacks on Israeli civilians in Israel are counter-productive. Enraged at the killings and repression, Palestinian militias want to imitate Hezbollah in Lebanon and inflict damage on the Israeli regime. But as well as bringing more repression down on the Palestinians, increasing their suffering and making struggle more difficult, the rocket fire is pushing Israeli workers away from sympathising with the Palestinians’ plight and closer to the war aims and other positions of the Israeli capitalist class. The recent escalation in rocket firings has strengthened the Israeli far right and increased the number of Israelis who favour violent retribution. The situation could escalate further at any moment, and the danger of a wider war drawing in surrounding states is ever present. Right wing Jewish settlers have threatened revenge attacks, particularly as five of the eight men killed this month in Jerusalem were from religious Jewish settlements.

The latest slaughter in Gaza inflamed Palestinians in the West Bank and inside Israel; demonstrations broke out, with some participants resorting to stone throwing and petrol bombs. Demonstrations also took place in other countries of the region, including Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has declared that:  “everything is on the table – ground operations, air [strikes] and special operations”. The deputy defence minister, Matan Vilnai, threatened a “holocaust” on the Palestinians.

But the Israeli government is caught in a major dilemma between conflicting pressures. Some politicians, particularly on the right and far right, advocate a full invasion of Gaza, while others warn of the dangers of this, and 64% of the population – according to a recent poll – favour government negotiations with Hamas (the party that heads the Palestinian Authority in Gaza).  A choice of a full invasion, which would mean deaths of Israeli soldiers as well as a great number of Palestinians, or the humiliation of negotiating with Hamas, is seen as a choice between “the plague and cholera”, in the words of a leading Israeli journalist. Olmert fears that if the Israeli army goes in, it will not easily get out again. When it went into Lebanon in 1982, it was there for 18 years.

The US Bush regime – which massively finances the Israeli military – is vehemently opposed to any negotiations with Hamas, which it calls a “terrorist” organisation, part of an anti-US “axis of evil” alongside Hezbollah and the Iranian regime. This is despite the fact that Hamas has said it would like to negotiate a long term truce. Hamas was elected to government in January 2006, with 43% of the vote, and quickly faced Israeli and international sanctions. The sanctions created a financial crisis which led to the non-payment of public sector workers’ wages. Clashes broke out between Fatah and Hamas’ security forces and individual supporters, because of Fatah supporters’ frustration at Fatah losing its privileges associated with its long time in power, and at the unpaid wages. The clashes were deliberately encouraged by Bush’s US regime, which was funding Fatah forces in order to try to destroy Hamas’ rule.

In an attempt in the occupied territories to cut across the division and end sanctions, a “unity” government involving both Hamas and Fatah was formed in March 2007 (negotiated in Mecca), but neither the US or Israel accepted this government, because of the leading role in it of Hamas, and they set out to destroy it. The UN Middle East envoy Alvaro de Soto spelt this out in a leaked report when he said that: “the US clearly pushed for a confrontation between Fatah and Hamas”. The US increased its funding of Abbas’ forces after the unity government was agreed, with the stated aim of giving Abbas the military power to be able to dismiss the unity cabinet.

Around 700 Palestinians died in six months of clashes, which culminated in June 2007 with Hamas ousting Fatah security forces in Gaza in a complete “takeover” of the strip, and Abbas then declaring a new government – which has only been able to operate on the West Bank. Far from weakening the Hamas leaders as the Israeli regime wants, the use of Israeli military force is strengthening them, as Palestinians see them as under attack by the population’s oppressors. Hamas also increased its standing, which had previously dipped, when it temporarily broke through the Gaza-Egypt border in January, allowing hundreds of thousands of Gazans to cross into Egypt to buy goods.

Instead of harming Hamas, the attacks on Gaza have weakened Israel’s present chosen “talks” partner, Palestinian president Mahmood Abbas, whose dwindling Fatah power base is confined to the West Bank. Faced with outrage from Palestinians, Abbas briefly suspended negotiations with Israel, only then to agree to resume them without even the precondition that Israeli attacks on Gaza should stop. And the use of Israeli military might is not stopping Palestinian rocket fire on Israeli towns, but rather is increasing it. In a new departure, a number of Grad rockets have hit Ashkelon, an Israeli city of over 100,000 people, 20 kilometres north of Gaza.

The Israeli regime has no coherent strategy at present. Not long ago, Olmert declared that Israel will have to accept a Palestinian state to avoid the prospect of Palestinians becoming a majority of the population within the area controlled by Israel. But as Financial Times writer Philip Stephens commented: “Analysis is one thing. The will to change course is another. Mr Olmert anyway lacks political authority. His coalition could collapse at any moment”. Olmert is certainly weak and detested, falling to 3% in opinion polls at one stage. But he remains in power because there is no obvious replacement; all the representatives of Israeli capitalism are highly discredited.

Not surprisingly, media commentators are saying that the “peace process”, that started in Annapolis last November, is in crisis. But it never was a remotely viable peace process, given the present stance of the Israeli ruling class. Even a Financial Times editorial (6.3.08) felt driven to say: “Israel, arguably, has never pursued a realistic peace settlement”. In the last week alone, the Israeli leadership has authorised the building of 400 more homes in a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem and 750 in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem, both of them Palestinian areas occupied by Israel since 1967. Now, fuelling continued pessimism by commentators, while the US demands a return to talks, it is not even calling for a ceasefire in Gaza by Israel.

The Israeli economy is in its fifth year of growth, yet there is a rapidly widening class divide, with the rich getting richer and a third of children now living in poverty. There have been waves of attacks on the welfare state and on secure jobs, by successive governments in pursuit of a neo-liberal agenda. Tremendous anger towards the government has built up, on economic issues and over deteriorating security. Israeli Jews will never be free of the constant cycles of violence as long as they are led by capitalist politicians who regularly have an interest in resorting to national conflict. On the contrary, the prospect of worse bloodshed is becoming greater. The Israeli working class, however, rather than being a future obstacle to a genuine Palestinian state (as some left organisations internationally believe), can develop into a powerful and decisive force against the Israeli ruling class, that must be defeated to solve both Israeli workers’ aspirations and those of the Palestinians.

Ordinary Palestinians have repeatedly shown a willingness to struggle, not just against the occupation but also against their own completely inadequate “leaders”, as recent workers’ strikes in the West Bank have shown. They do not want their “government” to be divided between Fatah and Hamas; there have been calls for “national unity” at the many funerals and polls show that this is presently seen as the most important issue. However, neither the politics of Hamas, nor the pro-western imperialism Fatah, can show a way forward. A capitalist Palestinian state, whether Islamic or secular, would not solve the Palestinians’ economic problems. The Hamas leaders have rejected the overt corruption of Fatah and have condemned the actions of US imperialism, but when in power, whether in councils or government, they have turned to passing the burden of economic crisis onto the shoulders of workers through job cuts and privatisation, as has Fatah.

Neither does either party have a strategy that can deliver a Palestinian state against the massively armed opposition of the Israeli ruling class. The development of new mass workers’ parties in both the Palestinian territories and in Israel is urgently needed. It is essential that socialist ideas are developed in these parties. A poverty-free Palestinian state will not be achieved on the basis of capitalism. And in Israel, with its far more developed economy, capitalism is unable to provide acceptable living standards for a vast layer of ordinary people.

Faced with the existence of the new “security” wall that has been built by Israel, eating significantly into Palestinian land; also with the expansion of Jewish settlements and atomisation of Palestinian areas; some on the left internationally call for a single, secular, democratic state of Palestinians and Jews. But this idea raises enormous fear in the region – especially among Israeli Jews, who fear becoming a discriminated-against minority in such a state, as the Palestinian birth rate is out-stripping that of Jews. Jewish workers will not be won over to seriously challenge their own ruling class and embrace socialist ideas, faced with such a goal.  Only on the basis of a socialist Israel alongside a socialist Palestine can there be a rise in living standards for ordinary people on both sides of the divide, and the necessary democracy and links to ensure the building of trust and communication across the national divide, and an end to the bloodshed for ever.

We demand

– For the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli army from the Occupied Territories!

– For an end to the Israeli blockade of Palestinian towns and villages.

– For the establishment in the occupied territories of grass-roots committees, to provide the basis for genuine and democratic workers’ leadership. For the right of these committees to be armed for the purposes of defence.

– For a mass struggle of the Palestinians, under their democratic control, to raise their standard of living and to fight for genuine national liberation.

– For an end to the use of Israeli soldiers as cannon fodder by the Israeli ruling class and army generals. n For a struggle by Israeli Palestinians against institutionalised racism and their treatment as second class citizens.

For an end to unemployment and poverty in Israel. For a struggle of the Israeli working class – both Jewish and Palestinian – to end capitalism.

– For a socialist Palestine alongside a socialist Israel as part of a voluntary socialist confederation of the Middle East, with guaranteed democratic rights for all national minorities.

Troops out of Iraq now!

Paddy Meehan

In just five years, the seemingly invincible super-power of the US and its ‘Coalition of the Willing’ has been brought to its knees in a war they thought would last a few weeks. Instead, there is no end in sight to the disaster they have created, not only for themselves, but for the people of Iraq.

In the last few weeks, Iraq has been invaded yet again, this time by the Turkish military in their own local ‘War on Terror’. This incursion was only supported by the US on the basis that it would be short. The fear of US imperialism is that yet another insurgency could develop in what has been up to now supposedly the most stable region of Iraq.

Pressure is continually mounting in the US for withdrawal of troops. Both Clinton and Obama have been forced to deal with the issue of Iraq in their primary campaigns but neither can give a definite date for withdrawal. As 62% of Americans believe the war was a mistake, both candidates are desperate to outdo each other by appearing to call for withdrawal. However, both had their chance in the Senate to block funding for the war and ensure an end of the occupation, but chose not to.

The need to secure Iraq’s oil resources and US imperialism’s interests in the region will be the priority for the next President. Deploying divide-and-rule tactics, the US has leaned on different tribal and religious militias to pit them against each other. This has involved arming and integrating into the army and police the Sunni Awakening Councils, supposedly as a reward for their fight against Al-Qaeda. Instead, this has resulted in the army and police being split along sectarian lines.

Any talk of withdrawal of the US-led occupation is set in the distant future and only on the criteria that a divided Iraq can be controlled from the outside. The prospect of ethnic cleansing and a sectarian war is an afterthought in their thirst to secure the country’s oil resources.

The occupation of Iraq can only deliver more bloodshed, sectarian division and dire poverty. It has been a disaster for the people of Iraq and also threatens to destabilise the entire region. Only the Iraqi people themselves should decide their own destiny. The corrupt warlords and religious fundamentalists who effectively control large parts of Iraq rely on sectarian division and offer no way out of the barbaric conditions most Iraqis have to endure. Capitalism offers no solution for the people of Iraq.

Socialists support all attempts by Iraqi workers, youth and poor to build a movement which fights against the barbaric conditions of poverty, sectarian conflict and the occupation. Such a movement should also fight for a socialist alternative where the resources of Iraq are publicly owned and democratically run to meet peoples’ needs.

Thousands endorse Socialist Youth anti-war campaign

Socialist Youth ran a very successful campaign across Northern Ireland against the occupation of Iraq in the run-up to the 5th anniversary of the invasion. Thousands of signatures were collected from school students calling for the immediate withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Dozens of stalls with anti-war leaflets and information about the occupation were held outside many schools in Belfast, such as St. Joseph’s College on the Ravenhill Rd, Ashfield Boys and Girls School in East Belfast and St Malachy’s Grammar on the Antrim Rd.

Hatred for George W Bush has definitely not disappeared amongst young people as was evidenced by our anti-Bush badges being sold out on many stalls. As well as campaigning in schools, Socialist Youth members also organised activity in Belfast Metropolitan College, Queen’s University and University of Ulster Coleraine where we received an attentive responsive from students.

As a result of this campaigning work, the profile of Socialist Youth has leaped and socialist ideas have been introduced to thousands of young people.

Iraq: One million dead, $1.5 trillion wasted – Now Turkey threatens to invade!

By Cillian Gillespie

The imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq has had devastating consequences for the Iraqi people. Some estimates now put the number of casualties at 1 million dead since the war began in March 2003.

Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes as a result of sectarian civil war – a war that is a by-product of imperialist intervention in the region. A recent investigation by the US Congress found that the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, when hidden costs such as the rise in the price of oil were included, came to $1.5 trillion. This waste of resources is almost as criminal as the obscene loss of life that Bush’s wars for power and oil have cost.

Now the conflict in the Middle East is set to intensify with Turkey threaatening to invade Northern Iraq, which has a mainly Kurdish population. Turkey, along with Iran, Syria and Iraq, has long suppressed the rights of the Kurdish people and denied their democratic right to self-determination. Kurds are the poorest and most discriminated section of Turkish society, often facing longterm unemployment and repression by the military.

In the past few weeks the Turkish government has placed an army of 100,000 soldiers on the Iraqi border, and has begun attacking Kurdish targets in northern Iraq with aircraft strikes. It wants to smash the resistance of the fighters of the Kurdish nationalist group, the PKK (Kurdish Workers Party). More generally, they fear that the emergence of an independent Kurdish state with oil wealth could be a catalyst to spark off a new wave of struggles by the Kurdish people across the Middle East for independence. The Kurdish “autonomous” region of northern Iraq encompasses Kirkuk, which has enormous oil reserves.

The action against the PKK by Turkey has received the full support of the current US administration. Turkey is a key ally of the US in the Middle East and is the only member of NATO in the region. The majority of US military supplies for its occupation of Iraq pass through Turkey. The Bush administration will do whatever it can to placate the Turkish regime, as it is dependent on its support to further its strategy of dominance over the oil rich Middle East and possible attacks against Iran. US Secretary of State, Condelezza Rice, has even suggested that the US would be prepared to take military action against the PKK.

The Socialist Party is completely opposed to the Turkish and US government’s threats against the Kurdish people. We stand for the immediate unconditional withdrawal of all US and foreign forces from Iraq and Afghanistan and oppose any attempt to attack Iran.

As this region faces further instability, war and chaos, the necessity of building a powerful movement that unites workers and poor people across national and sectarian divides and fights for a socialist alternative has never been greater.

US: Seattle students shut down school board — Demanding military recruiters out of schools

By Dylan Simpson and Marianne Mork and Philip Locker

Below is a report of an important Seattle anti-war action against military recruiters in schools, which Socialist Alternative (the CWI in the United States) played an important role in organizing.

“What do we want? Recruiters out! When do we want it? Now!” chanted over 70 antiwar protestors as we marched into to the Seattle School Board meeting Wednesday night. The spirited protest, called by Youth Against War and Racism (YAWR), demanded the school board finally take real action against military recruitment in our schools. As the local TV news King 5 said, it was “intended to be political high theatre, and it certainly was effective.” Another reporter commented: “it was the most dramatic anti-military recruitment rally to date.”

Seattle students stage protest against military recruitment in schools

YAWR is calling for military recruiters to be banned from Seattle public schools. But to stay within the legal paramaters of the “No Child Left Behind” law, we are demanding that all recruiting be done at a district-wide recruitment fair once a semester. This would create equity between the access to students that the military, college, and job recruiters have. Currently, military recruiters have a massive budget and a huge advantage over college and job recruiters. A district-wide recruitment fair would also stop military recruiters from carrying out their predatory tactics within our schools and disproportionate targeting of schools that are predominantly made up of poor and minority students.

Student activist Kristin Ebeling said: “Our public schools should not be military recruitment stations for the Iraq war. Instead of wasting $500 billion on a war for oil and empire, we need money for jobs and education.”

High school students, teachers, parents and community activists rallied outside the school board for an hour. With the start of the meeting the rally moved inside, energetically chanting and sitting in at the front of the room. To bring the reality of the war home, some students enacted a “die-in,” lying across the floor covered in blood, while the school board politicians huddled at the side of the room.

Addressing the board and the whole room, Shanay Salas and Ramy Khalil from YAWR then explained our demands to restrict military recruiters. We urged that the board amend its agenda for 10-15 minutes to discuss our proposed policy. Unfortunately, the board refused to discuss our policy, nor would they start the meeting until we ended the sit-in and moved away from the front of the room.

Board member Darlene Flynn condescendingly lectured the students: “This is what democracy looks like, but it’s not what a school board meeting looks like, and we have to have a school board meeting.” This statement, ironically exposing the undemocratic nature of the board, brought loud jeers from the demonstrators. With the protestors holding their ground, the board hurriedly left and reconvened in a back room closed to the public.

This comes against the background of the board refusing to enforce their own policy to restrict military recruiters that was passed two years ago. After a city-wide student walkout of 800 students on April 18 to protest military recruitment, attending numerous school boards meetings and sub-committee meetings, and still having the board refuse to let us speak, we decided to take matters into our own hands and organize a sit-in. However, the meeting could have easily continued if the school board had simply been willing to grant our modest request to discuss our proposed policy at their meeting for 10-15 minutes.

Since the board refused to listen to the public, we decided to continue the meeting and took public testimony from those who had already signed up to testify. A number of school bus drivers spoke about their struggle to unionize to overcome the terrible wages and conditions they face, which the board is refusing to support. While some members of the audience complained that we had disrupted an official board meeting, an overwhelming majority of the crowd voted to support our decision to continue the meeting in defiance of the board members.

While school board members claim that they cannot implement our policy because it would mean losing $40 million a year in federal funds, the fact is that our policy was carefully constructed to remain within the legal confines of the No Child Left Behind law. By restricting military recruiters to a recruitment fair on equal grounds with college and job recruiters, this policy would have absolutely no effect on federal funding.

Wednesday’s school board action was a major success in bringing real pressure to bear on the board and raising the issue of military recruitment in the public consciousness. All the local TV news gave very prominent coverage to the protest (see list of links below). But to win we will need to keep up the pressure on the school board and build an organized, active antiwar movement. This fall YAWR is organizing a major student walkout, which we are trying to spread nationally, to show that business as usual will stop until the military is out of Iraq and out of our schools.

Get active with Youth Against War and Racism and the fight against military recruiters! Please come to the next YAWR meeting on Sunday July 1, 4-6pm, at Uptown Espresso (2504 4th Ave and Wall St.) where we will be planning our next steps.

We want to thank all the organizations that made this protest possible: Nova High School Peace and Justice, Lake Washington High School Peace Club, Renton High School Youth Against War and Racism, Seattle Central Community College Students Against the War, Team Victory, and Socialist Alternative.

Links to Mainstream Media Coverage

KOMO 4 Video coverage (click ‘Watch the Story’ below the picture)

King 5 Video coverage

Seattle Times report

The G8 means war, poverty and environmental destruction

 

Socialist Youth leaflet – Available as PDF here.

G8 Hypocrisy

G8AID: Of the $60 billion that was pledged for third world countries at the recent G8 summit only $3billion was new money pledged – These are the same leaders that spend $1 trillion annually on the arms trade.

ENVIRONMENT: Despite the continuing destruction of our environment, the G8 said that they would only ‘consider’ reducing carbon emissions.

FAIR TRADE: African goods still face enormous tariffs when they try to export goods to places like Europe and America.

WAR ON IRAQ: Bush and Blair have spent billions on the war in Iraq that has resulted in the death of over 650,000 Iraqis and has forced millions to flee their homes.

G8 and capitalism mean:

GLOBAL INEQUALITY: 1 billion people worldwide have no access to clean water while the super rich buy designer deodorants worth $30,000 a pop!

AIDS EPIDEMIC: In some parts of Africa one third of young adults will die of the aids epidemic, major pharmaceutical companies have blocked the production of cheap generic drugs to combat aids which would reduce their cost from $10,000 to $150.

“FREE TRADE”: In 2003 $4 billion was given to 28,000 big US cotton farmers – This is more than the GDP of the African country Burkino Faso which has 2 million cotton farmers

ENVIRONMENTAL DESTRUCTION: The G8 leaders have failed to achieve the limited targets for cuts in carbon emissions set out by the Kyoto Treaty. One scientist has claimed it would take the equivalent of 30 Kyotos to deal with global warming!

Kevin Carter, a white South African photographer, won a Pulitzer Prize for this photo of a vulture stalking a sudanese baby during the famine. No one knows what happened the child as Carter left the place as soon as the photo was taken. Three months later, Carter committed suicide. Is any more evidence needed as to the brutal reality of capitalism?

Kevin Carter, a white South African photographer, won a Pulitzer Prize for this photo of a vulture stalking a sudanese baby during the famine. No one knows what happened the child as Carter left the place as soon as the photo was taken. Three months later, Carter committed suicide. Is any more evidence needed as to the brutal reality of capitalism?

The G8 is a club made up of the most powerful capitalist countries worldwide. Under the pressure of ordinary working and young people its leaders were forced two years ago to give commitments to resolve the desperate poverty facing Africa. 250,000 marched in Edinburgh under the slogan ‘Make Poverty History’.

However, the above facts speak for themselves. Even Bob Geldof and Bono were forced to describe the recent G8 summit in Rostock in Germany as a ‘total farce’. They have no intention of resolving the desperate problems of poverty and environmental destruction faced by the majority of the world’s population. The 80,000 people who came to protest against the G8 this time did so to oppose not only their policies but their lies and broken promises as well.

Why won’t the G8 ‘make poverty history’?

Today the top 500 companies gloablly control 70-80% of world trade. These are privately owned and controlled by those who enrich themselves with vast profits at the expense of the needs workers and poor people internationally. This capitalist system leads to war, horrific poverty and is threatening the very existence of humanity itself. G8 leaders like Bush, Blair and Putin are only interested in helping these companies exploit the resources of the‘third world’ as opposed to helping the people who live there. It is this reason and not simply because of a lack of‘political will’(as Bono and Geldof would have us believe) that explains the inaction of the G8 on issues like third world debt, fair trade and aid.

What is the socialist alternative to the capitalist profit system?

Socialist Youth and the Socialist Party participated in the recent protests against the recent G8 summit in Rostock. We reject the that idea celebrities like Bono and Geldof have put forward in the past that the G8 can be used as a force for good.

Workers and young people should be organised internationally in a movement that can oppose the attacks on their living standards and fight for a democratic socialist society. Such a society would bring into democratic public ownership and control the 500 companies that control the world economy.

On this basis it would be possible to prioritise the needs of people and end global inequality through democratic socialist planning of the economy. If you agree with our ideas then join Socialist Youth today.

Britain: Brown’s political coronation – new face, same agenda

From The Socialist (England & Wales)

London has become a tax haven for the world’s billionaires. One British hedge fund manager put it clearly: “I think the super-rich want to have two homes, one in New York and one in London, but if they’re based in New York, they would pay a lot more tax than here.”

Gordon Brown - by SuzThe thousand richest people in Britain own half the country’s liquid assets. In the last five years of New Labour government they have seen their wealth increase by 79%, to an average of £70 million per head (excluding first and second homes!).

Meanwhile twelve million people live below the poverty line. Public services are being decimated.

Average mortgage payments have increased by £1,500 in the last year, while food prices increased by at least 6%. The government is demanding public-sector workers accept effective pay cuts.

No wonder Britain’s workers have the longest working hours in Europe, struggling to make ends meet while a few at the top drown in an orgy of unimaginable excess.

This is Britain under Blair. Add in the nightmarish occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and it is no wonder that New Labour were humiliated in this year’s elections and only 22% of the population believe Blair did ‘a good job’.

Millions of workers will greet his departure this week with relief.

Brown, however, will be more of the same. He has spent the last six weeks emphasising the continuity between himself and Blair; promising to increase ‘reform’ (read destruction) of public services.

As chancellor he has been directly responsible both for attacks on public sector pay and the tax-free bonanza being enjoyed by the super-rich.

Brown has also used his pre-coronation period to pose as being even tougher on ‘terror’ than Blair.

He has not, however, indicated any change in Britain’s imperialist foreign policy, which is responsible for making Britain a target.

His proposal to increase the length of time individuals can be held without charge beyond the current, already draconian, 28 days will not effectively combat terrorism, but it will further undermine democratic rights.

Undermining democratic rights

Just as was the case with the Prevention of Terrorism Act (legislation that was supposed to thwart the IRA), the vast majority arrested will be innocent. Under the PTA only 1% of those arrested were convicted of any crime.

Brown’s ‘coronation’ campaign, designed to show that he can out-Blair Blair, has had some effect.

Despite Tory attempts to portray him as a closet socialist, voters on average now consider him to be only minutely ‘left of the centre-ground’ – the ‘centre-ground’ being the standard anti-working class, pro-big business, pro-privatisation policies being pursued by all the establishment parties.

However, Blair is seen as being considerably to the right of ‘centre’.

Despite Brown’s efforts to prove otherwise, there are working-class voters hoping that Brown will act in their interests, or at least slow the pace of New Labour’s attacks. It is this that has led to the small ‘Brown bounce’, which has increased New Labour’s miserable rating by about 3%. Experience of Brown as prime minister will destroy these desperate hopes.

If a feeling rapidly develops that ‘nothing has changed’ a Brown government could quickly face an explosion of all the accumulated discontent of the working class, in the form of industrial action, which the trade union leaders would be powerless to hold back.

One factor in how rapidly events will develop is the timing of the next world economic crisis, which would be likely to hit Britain, now a giant casino for the world’s hedge fund gamblers, particularly hard. Even if the economy continues to grow for a couple more years, and it takes a bit longer for the paint to completely flake off Brown’s ‘respray’ of New Labour, he will still face an increased willingness of the working class to struggle.

New workers’ party

A foretaste of this may come within days, delivered by the postal workers, if their union, the CWU, goes ahead with a strike to defend pay and conditions.

As Brown and Cameron fight a battle to be the best representative of big business, the need for a mass party that stands up for the working class is overwhelming. Some activists continue to hope that New Labour can be ‘reclaimed’ by the working class.

Yet this is shown again to be utopian by Brown’s coronation. He was nominated by 313 of 355 MPs, with left MP John McDonnell unable to win enough parliamentary support even to get on the ballot paper.

Instead a contest is taking place for the virtually powerless position of deputy leader. Even if a left-wing candidate was elected they would be unable to do more than whisper in Brown’s ear.

However, there is no possibility of this happening. All six deputy leadership candidates nominated Brown for leader, revealing that, far from representing workers’ interests, their priorities lie first and foremost with furthering their own careers.

In the hope of winning ordinary trade unionists’ backing, some have made attacks on the obscene wealth at the top of British society.

However, even Jon Cruddas MP, who has gone furthest – stating the obvious truth that New Labour has ignored the working class and lost five million voters as a result – was quick to deny that he supported any concrete increase in taxation of the rich.

Since 1997 more than £100 million of trade union members’ money has been paid to New Labour. The majority of national trade union leaders continue to argue that this is to influence New Labour. This will be just as utopian under Brown as it was under Blair.

The majority of even those MPs directly sponsored by trade unions have voted against the most minimal of the trade unions’ demands.

A majority of them even opposed, for example, the introduction of a Trade Union Freedom Bill which would repeal some of the worst aspects of Thatcher’s anti-trade union laws.

The Campaign for a New Workers’ Party, fighting for the breaking of the link between the trade unions and New Labour, and the establishment of a new mass party of the working class, will be crucial under Brown’s reign.

Wealth gap widens

The wealth of the richest 1,000 people in Britain has more than trebled under Brown’s stewardship. They had an income between them of £360 billion in 2006, which was £59 billion more than the previous year, an increase of 20%.

Britain’s 54 billionaires last year paid only £14.7 million tax – just 0.1% of their incomes! The poorest fifth of the population pay nearly 10% of their income in direct taxes, and another 28% in indirect taxation.

Corporation tax on companies since 1997 has been cut from 33p to 28p.

Warmonger

Being known as ‘Mr Prudent’ hasn’t stopped Gordon Brown wasting £76 billion of public funds on a replacement for the Trident nuclear missile programme.

He has also dug deep (£7.4 billion up to April 2007) to finance the bloody wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Privatisation

Brown has made it absolutely clear he will continue with Blair’s privatising policies.

He will accelerate ‘reform’ in the NHS, and has earmarked another £50 million worth of public assets for privatisation.

£5 billion annually is currently handed over to private contractors, for treatment centres, GP services, etc.

Attacks on public sector

Many public-sector workers are raging at Brown’s 2% wage limit, effectively a pay cut. Other battles are looming, such as against Royal Mail plans to axe 40,000 jobs and close a further 2,500 post offices.

200,000 civil servants were forced to take strike action on 1 May against huge job cuts, privatisation and pay cuts. Brown has spear-headed the attacks on the civil service. In 2004 he announced the axing of 104,000 civil service jobs.

Public sector occupational pensions have been attacked. Many face having to work longer, pay more in contributions and receive smaller pensions.

Pensions

In 1997 Brown gave big business the green light to cut workers’ occupational pension schemes. Companies also took massive ‘pension holidays’ – they stopped paying employers’ contributions – saving them £4,000 a worker every year.

A top UK company director can retire at 60 on a final-salary pension of £3 million. Whereas a majority of UK workers face retirement at 65 or later on inadequate pensions; a single person’s state pension is a paltry £84.25 a week.

Brown’s own pension will more than double when he becomes prime minister, to £123,000 a year.