Socialist Worker

Review of the century

Issue No. 1677a

  • 1889 Boer War, lasting three years, sees the first concentration camps set up by Britain.

  • 1900 In the previous 16 years Britain has grabbed 3,700,000 square miles of new colonial territory. By 1939 the British Empire covers one quarter of the world's population and a quarter of the earth's surface.

  • 1900 The British Labour Party is officially founded.

  • 1905 Revolution in Russia.

  • 1910 Upsurge in workers' struggles in Britain and the US begins.

  • 1910 Mexican Revolution begins.

  • 1912 Balkan Wars start.

  • 1913 The five month Dublin Lockout of transport workers.

  • 1914 Outbreak of the First World War.

  • 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin. Rebels, mostly Republican, seize key buildings in the middle of the city. Rising is put down, and leaders, including socialist leader James Connolly, are executed.

  • 1917 Revolution in Russia. Russia pulls out of the war.

  • 1918 End of the First World War. Wave of revolution across Europe begins.

  • 1919 Murder of German revolutionary leaders Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht.

  • 1919 Amritsar Massacre by British troops in India sparks revolt.

  • 1920 Factory occupations in many parts of Italy. 125,000 strong textile strike in Bombay.

  • 1922 Italian Fascists take power.

  • 1923 Workers' uprising in Germany crushed.

  • 1926 General Strike in Britain lasts nine days before it is called off by the TUC.

  • 1928 Stalin takes all power in Russia-the counter-revolution is complete. Stalin's rule affects the course of struggle for decades to come.

  • 1929 Wall Street Crash. On Black Thursday, 24 October 1929, the US stock market crashes. The slump spreads around the world, ruining the lives of millions of workers.

  • 1931 Revolution in Spain. Monarchy abolished.

  • 1933 Adolf Hitler comes to power in Germany and proceeds to smash the working class and its organisations.

  • 1934 Heroic anti-fascist rising in Vienna is crushed. Inspires the slogan, 'Rather Vienna than Berlin!'

  • 1936 Spanish Civil War begins. Popular Front electoral victory in France. Oswald Mosley's fascist Blackshirts are stopped by mass workers' protests in London's East End.

  • 1939 Spanish fascists under Franco win civil war.

  • 1939 The Second World War begins after German troops invade Poland.

  • 1940 German troops reach Paris and France falls. This victory encourages Mussolini to send Italian troops to join the war.

  • 1941 Hitler attacks Russia. The war between Russia and Germany is one of the bloodiest in history. The German army is halted at Stalingrad and Kursk. By 1945 six million German troops, 13 million Russian soldiers and seven million civilians are dead.

  • 1941 Japan attacks the US fleet at Pearl Harbour after the US blockades the country's access to supplies of raw materials. The US now joins the war.

  • 1942 The Quit India movement begins after anger that Indian troops are used to fight on the British side, yet those same people are oppressed under British rule.

  • 1943 Strikes rock the Italian city of Turin, which spread to involve 100,000 people. Resistance movements mushroom in Greece.

  • 1944 An uprising liberates Paris. A revolt rocks Warsaw.

  • 1945 Resistance movements succeed in liberating northern cities in Italy. The US and British troops take West Germany while Russian forces seize the East.

  • 1945 The Japanese towns of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are flattened by US atomic bombs.

  • 1947 Britain is forced to leave India but its partition of Pakistan and India leaves a legacy of communal division that ensures bloodshed for decades to come. In the immediate aftermath up to one million people die.

  • 1948 The state of Israel is created, backed by the US, with land robbed from the Palestinians.

  • 1948 Onset of the Cold War as the Second World War allies-Britain, France, the US and Russia-come into conflict in Berlin.

  • 1949 Mao's peasant army succeeds in driving out all foreign rule in China. He declares the People's Republic of China. It is another sign that the old imperialist order is in retreat.

  • 1950-70 Over these 20 years half of Asia and most of Africa will throw off colonial rule.

  • 1950 The Korean War starts, the first military conflict of the Cold War. It results in two million military casualties plus two million Korean civilians.

  • 1952 The rebellion in the old British colony of Kenya is started by the Mau Mau, who are brutally put down by British troops.

  • 1953 In Egypt nationalist Nasser launches a successful coup against the Western-backed monarchy.

  • 1954 Revolt against French in Algeria begins.

  • 1955 Rosa Parks, a black woman in the Southern US, decides she will not give up her bus seat to a white person and the civil rights movement in the US is born.

  • 1956 In the Middle East, Nasser's move to nationalise the British and French owned Suez Canal leads to retaliation by the West, backed by Israel.

  • 1956 Hungarian Revolution sees workers rise up and demolish the myth that the Stalinist states serve workers.

  • 1959 Castro, Che Guevara and their guerrilla army wrest power away from the old former US-backed ruling class in Cuba.

  • 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis takes the world to the brink of nuclear war.

  • 1965 A military coup by Suharto in Indonesia, backed by the West, sees half a million people killed.

  • 1967 Israel occupies the West Bank after the bloody Six Days War. In the US the fight for black rights sees the growth of the Black Panther Party and an uprising in Detroit.

  • 1968 The year of struggle in France and Czechoslovakia. The US war in Vietnam provokes outrage and protest across the world.

  • 1969 The fight for civil rights in Northern Ireland erupts after decades of discrimination. The Labour government sends British troops into the country.

  • 1973 General Pinochet's coup, backed by the US, brings down the left wing Allende government in Chile. Terrible repression follows.

  • 1974 Tory prime minister Heath tries to face down the miners who are on strike in Britain. He calls an election around 'who runs the country, the Tories or the miners?' The Tories lose.

  • 1974 A revolution sweeps Portugal.

  • 1976 School student uprising in Soweto, South Africa, against the brutal apartheid regime.

  • 1979 Margaret Thatcher is elected Tory prime minister after five years of a Labour government attacking the workers who put it in power. Revolution in Iran tears down the rule of the Shah. Somosa regime brought down in Nicaragua.

  • 1980 Eastern European regimes rocked as Polish workers' movement, Solidarity, is born.

  • 1980 US backs Saddam Hussein's Iraq in war against Iran.

  • 1980 End of white rule in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia).

  • 1982 Tory Margaret Thatcher launches the Falklands War.

  • 1984 The year-long miners' strike begins in Britain.

  • 1988 Strike waves hit Yugoslavia as Croat and Serb workers unite to demand a better deal.

  • 1989 Students and workers protest in Tiananmen Square, China. Berlin Wall torn down. Protests across Eastern Europe.

  • 1990 Riot in London's Trafalgar Square marks height of the rebellion against the poll tax.

  • 1990 Rise of Tudjman and Milosevic. They use nationalism to divide workers, leading to civil war in former Yugoslavia.

  • 1991 The US, using the UN, declares war on Iraq. The bombing and sanctions that follow devastate the country. An attempted coup in Russia fails and the USSR is broken up.

  • 1992 Los Angeles riot in the US.

  • 1994 Apartheid in South Africa ends.

  • 1995 Mass strikes and demonstrations shake the French government.

  • 1998 Economic crisis sweeps from East Asia to threaten the West. A protest started by Indonesian students escalates to bring down the dictator Suharto.

  • 1999 NATO bombs Serbia and Kosovo. The bombing of the Balkans inspires protests in many European countries.

  • 1999 Mass protest against World Trade Organisation in Seattle gives hope of a better future.

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    Article information

    Sat 18 Dec 1999, 00:00 GMT
    Issue No. 1677a
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