The ICC Section in France held its 20th Congress recently. As with the plenary gatherings of our other territorial sections, an important part of the work of the RI Congress was devoted to the discussion of the activities of the ICC. Moreover, in the way in which in recent years our organisation has devoted its congress debates to analysing the evolution of the economic crisis and the class struggle in particular, this Congress of RI gave itself the task of conducting a specific discussion on the dynamics of the imperialist conflicts by placing them in a historical and theoretical framework.
The 1980s was a period of important working class struggles in Britain as well as in the rest of Europe and the world. The ‘Thatcherite revolution’, capitalism’s response to the inability of Keynesian economics to deal with the economic crisis, was a means of ruthlessly culling unprofitable industrial sectors and involved a brutal assault on workers’ jobs and living conditions. The classic expression of this policy was the decision to decimate the UK mining industry, which provoked the year-long Miners’ Strike of 1984-5. This struggle was a focus for the whole working class in Britain, but although its defeat came as a bitter blow, the effects of which would make themselves felt even more strongly in the longer term, it did not bring an end to the wave of struggles in Britain. Between 1986 and 1988 there were widespread movements involving printers, BT workers, teachers, health workers, postal workers and others.
After the ill-treatment of people with learning disabilities was filmed by Panorama, Winterbourne View has been closed, more inspections have taken place, and 11 care workers have been convicted. Between 400 and 1200 ‘excess’ and ‘unnecessary’ deaths between 2005 and 2008 at Mid Staffordshire Hospital Trust have been investigated and reported on. Health minister Jeremy Hunt and the Chief Nursing Officer for England have emphasised the need for “care” and “compassion”.
Globally, it is estimated that at least 10% of the world’s population is squatting. Many of the slums that surround cities such as Mumbai, Nairobi, Istanbul and Rio de Janeiro are largely comprised of squatters. The types of accommodation, the services, or lack of them, available to inhabitants, the type of work undertaken and the composition of the population all vary, but collectively they show that, for all the goods produced and all the money swirling around the world, capitalism remains unable to adequately meet one of the most basic of human needs. The purpose of this article is to try and examine the reasons for this.
In the 19th century ignorance was a plausible explanation for the high mortality in hospitals, the dangers which are becoming transparent in the hospitals in Greece today are not a manifestation of ignorance but an expression of the threat against the survival of humanity coming from a totally obsolete, bankrupt system of production.
It’s always difficult - and unwise - to make precise predictions about the international situation, particularly as imperialist tensions and conflicts take on a more irrational and chaotic character. However, we can say with some certainty that, whatever the specifics of events in Syria, whether the regime falls or not, there will be more fighting, more bloodshed and the greater likelihood of the war worsening in Syria itself and extending beyond its borders.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne restarted an old ‘debate’ when he said that all those dependent on the welfare state for their existence were ‘scroungers’. The Labour party along with some of Osborne’s LibDem coalition partners, were astonished at the apparently provocative outburst, which relegated the greater part of the working population to the same status as the unemployed. For Osborne, the unemployed are shirkers by definition of course, and most of his critics have difficulty distinguishing their position from his. It has become fashionable to be tough on the unemployed, and the Labour party is making sure that it fits in with the fashion. This means that in contemporary public discourse everyone has to look as though they believe that unemployment is always a matter of choice.
At the start of 2013 the UK’s Coalition government voted in the latest tranche of austerity measures aimed at reducing the budget deficit. The Spending Review put forward by George Osborne factored in the planned attacks on welfare benefits and pensions. These attacks have been phased in by the British bourgeoisie over a number of years and didn’t start with the Lib-Cons coming to power. The attacks are plainly focussed on the working class.
For a long time sport has represented a phenomenon that cannot be ignored from the fact of its cultural breadth and its place in society. A mass phenomenon, it's imposed on us through the tentacles of many institutions and results in a permanent hammering from the media. What significance can we give it from the point of view of a historical understanding and from the point of view of the working class?
The massacre of innocent lives at Sandy Hook elementary school is a horrific reminder that short of a thorough revolutionary transformation of society the spread and depth of decomposing capitalism can only find expression in ever more barbaric, senseless, and violent acts. There is absolutely nothing in the capitalist system that is capable of offering a meaningful understanding of why such an act could even be conceived, let alone a viable proposal for change.