THERE IS no doubt about it: radical solutions are necessary to solve the problems facing the globe. The prospect of nuclear war hangs over our heads. Environmental destruction continues apace, as does the devastation of the Third World. Protests are good. Protests have succeeded, for example, in forcing the government to delay the commercial growing of GM crops in Britain. But a succession of protests, even if big and angry, are still not enough to radically alter the balance of power across the world. To do that we need to expropriate those with power.
POSTAL WORKERS face a big new threat which could hit wages and conditions and point the way towards privatisation. They will be pushed towards competing with courier firms to shift goods for supermarkets and other big stores. Some local managers have even suggested pizza deliveries and milk rounds. The attacks are a direct result of a bosses' plan called Shaping for Competitive Success (SCS) which fits perfectly with New Labour's vision for the Post Office. Stephen Byers, the trade secretary, may not dare to say the government will privatise the post. But the government stresses that the market has to be brought into the postal service, which workers will be made to pay for.
THE SCOTTISH Socialist Party's "Socialism 2000" conference took place in Glasgow last weekend against the background of growing dissatisfaction with the Scottish Parliament's failure to deliver change. That desire for change translated into a huge vote for the left at the parliament's first elections last May. Some 100,000 people across Scotland voted for socialist candidates in the elections. Scottish Socialist Party member Tommy Sheridan was elected to the Scottish Parliament.
LABOUR LEADERS are to announce next Tuesday who will be allowed to stand in the vote to decide the party's candidate for London mayor. They have still not said whether they will allow Ken Livingstone to be on the ballot paper. Party leaders could even be set to bar Livingstone from standing to become Labour's candidate, according to a report in the Observer last Sunday.
THE APPEAL total reached £98,048.27 at the beginning of this week. That does not include thousands of pounds which was pledged in sponsorship for dozens of fundraising events which took place on Sunday. Some 25 Socialist Worker readers cycled from Cambridge to London (60 miles!), raising over £2,000 in sponsorship.
"I FEEL ashamed to say that I'm a member of the London Labour Party. The shenanigans that are taking place to stop Ken from becoming mayor are a disgrace. This has nothing to do with democratic socialism. It is more like Stalin's Russia."
When a person dies, the autopsy reveals the nature of their illness. The collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe makes it possible to be absolutely clear about the nature of those regimes. There was no resistance to the collapse from the mass of people. They didn't defend the system. That shows they didn't believe the regimes had anything to do with socialism or workers' power.
"THE PEOPLE of Eastern Europe can now look forward to a future of freedom and prosperity." That was the confident prediction of the Times at the end of 1989. The Berlin Wall had crashed down weeks earlier, symbolising an extraordinary year.
"SOCIETY MAY be in a mess, but a revolution would produce a new tyranny." That is one of the most common objections to the idea of revolution. Defenders of capitalism said the monstrous societies of Eastern Europe and Russia which collapsed in 1989 were the inevitable result of workers' revolution.
THE SIGHT of rejoicing people tearing down the Berlin Wall sums up for many the hopes of the 1989 Eastern European revolutions. They demonstrated the potential of the mass of ordinary people to rise up and challenge even the most repressive regimes. They proved wrong all those who had claimed that the Stalinist regimes were all-powerful monoliths that could not be overthrown. Yet ten years on the hopes of so many of those who fought for their freedom have been turned to dust.
THE WORLD Trade Organisation (WTO) meets in Seattle in the United States at the end of this month. People across the world are preparing to protest against it. The WTO claims to be about ensuring fair play in international trade. Its real function is to act as the bully boy for the world's most powerful governments and multinational corporations. It helps patrol a world where eight giant corporations grab more wealth than half of the world's people combined and where 1.2 billion people live in abject poverty.
"YOU CAN stick Loaded magazine up your arse!" "What do we want? Liberation!" That's what 600 students chanted as they marched for women's rights through the streets of east London on Wednesday of last week.
GRANTS MIGHT return for poorer students in Scotland. That could be the result of the political crisis over education funding that has swept the country. It would be a huge victory that could detonate a massive fight to bring back grants for students in England and Wales. The prospect of the return of grants is a result of the crisis facing the Scottish Executive.
"I'VE BEEN a Labour Party member for many years. But I'm so angry at the government that I came out with a torrent of abuse when someone rang me to donate to the Labour Party election fund. I'm giving the money to Socialist Worker instead." So said pensioner Thelma Battersby as she handed £5 to a Socialist Worker seller in Birmingham last week.
"WE'RE NO longer Florence Nightingales. We're fighting back." Those were the words of Susanne Kennedy, one of 10,000 striking Irish nurses who brought the centre of Dublin to a standstill on Thursday of last week.
"THERE'S NO point wishing for anything because I know it's going to carry on like this forever." That voice of despair was Tracey, a 14 year old sleeping rough who was freezing cold and had not eaten or slept for two days. She was one of those interviewed in the Channel 4 documentary series Staying Lost.
Tony Blair and his cronies are out to block Ken Livingstone from becoming London mayor. Only last week Neil Kinnock, former Labour Party leader, said: "When people get down to remembering Ken's real record as the man who brought about the destruction of the Greater London Council, the man who invented the London loony left, then they'll say we really don't want this guy to represent the greatest city in the world."
WHEN I started work as a civil servant at the London Passport Office 18 years ago I made the terrible mistake of believing I was going up in the world. I arrived at work wearing my best suit. I got the shock of my life. Everyone else was wearing jeans. All I did all day was stamp passports. I was part of a clerical production line.
IN THE summer of 1889 the London Evening News and Post reported on the huge strike wave then sweeping the capital. The Bryant and May match girls' strike a year earlier had been, it concluded, "the proverbial small spark" which had "kindled a great fire".
"NOW EVERYONE can see why the Metropolitan Police wanted no one to see this report." So said a bitter Sukhdev Reel last week after her MP, John McDonnell, and Hackney MP Diane Abbot used parliamentary privilege to read out a damning report on the police investigation into her son Ricky's death.