Socialist Worker

2001 – a year of horror and hope

Issue No. 1780

This year has seen the ugly reality of global capitalism. It has ended with the third war in ten years involving the US and Britain. The US bombing has already killed over 3,767 Afghan civilians, according to thorough research by a US professor (see page 7).

It has also created between three and four million refugees in Afghanistan, according to the World Food Programme. One of the poorest countries on earth is now home to the world's biggest refugee camp. Up to 800,000 people will spend the coming weeks in Maslakh camp outside the Afghan city of Herat.

This year has also seen global capitalism slide towards a new slump. In the US 800,000 workers have been sacked in the last two months, and things are getting worse.

The Financial Times reported on Monday, 'Any doubts that the world's largest economy is in recession should be removed by the wave of announcements this month of tens of thousands of job cuts.' Thousands of workers in Britain learned in the run-up to Christmas that they too face job cuts.

In Africa global recession on top of the crushing burden of debt means over 7,000 people a day are dying from Aids. Alongside such horror the last year has also seen signs of hope. The global movement against capitalism has grown and spread.

Last January saw the first meeting of the World Social Forum in the Brazilian city of Porto Alegre, pulling together the strands of the global movement. This was followed by massive protests at various meetings of the global capitalist institutions.

There was Quebec in April, Gothenburg in June, and most impressively of all Genoa in July, where 300,000 people marched.

The war has not halted this movement, as was shown last week by the size of the demonstrations at the European Union summit in Brussels (see pages 4 and 5). The anti-capitalist movement has in some countries spilled over into a movement against the war, from the 300,000 who marched in Italy to the 100,000 on the streets of London on 18 November.

In some of the countries hardest hit by the global recession, workers' anger at what the system has done to their lives has exploded. In South Africa a wave of strikes has shaken the bosses in recent months. A few decades ago Argentina was one of the world's ten richest countries. The devastating economic crisis has seen workers hold seven general strikes this year, each involving millions of people.

Furious workers occupied banks in the capital, Buenos Aires, last week, and pickets blocked roads with burning barricades. The new year will bring more horror, and hope. The resistance to war, recession and capitalism must continue and grow.

At Socialist Worker we will be bending all our efforts to ensure that happens, and we urge all our readers to do so too.

The next demonstration against the war is due to be on 26 January in London.


Hysteria is no answer

Some in the press have tried to whip up hysteria over paedophilia after the conviction of Roy Whiting last week for the horrific murder of Sarah Payne. The campaign run by the News of the World is about deliberately exploiting the tragedy of Sarah's death.

But such hysteria will do nothing to prevent future killings of children. Fortunately child murder by a stranger is one of the rarest crimes. Each year around 80 children are murdered. On average 73 of these murders are committed by family members-parents or close relatives. Only seven are done by strangers.

The News of the World has ignored all warnings, from the police and the probation service, that 'naming and shaming' will drive paedophiles underground and put children at greater risk. When the paper ran its 'name and shame' campaign last year it led to a series of violent vigilante attacks.

In Portsmouth vigilantes drove families out of their homes on the Paulsgrove estate in the summer. One of the families is still living in bed and breakfast accommodation. In 1997 a 14 year old girl was burned alive in the West Midlands when vigilantes firebombed her home, wrongly believing a paedophile was living there.

The News of the World is whipping up fear to boost its circulation. It does not care if innocent people suffer.


Season's greetings

The next issue of Socialist Worker will appear on Wednesday 2 January. All reports need to arrive by 12 noon on Monday 31 December. Socialist Worker sends season's greetings to all our readers.


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Article information

What We Think
Sat 22 Dec 2001, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1780
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