DOES FREE trade benefit rich and poor alike? A few thousand rich and powerful individuals will be pumping out the message that it does as they meet in Seattle for the World Trade Organisation talks this month.
SOCIALIST Worker editor Chris Harman opened the conference with a session on the "New World Disorder". He argued that the starting point for socialists is the huge political and economic instability across the globe. "People should cast their minds back ten years to the euphoria of the ruling class at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall," Chris said.
CHRIS BAMBERY talked about how a series of political issues have exploded over the past few months in Britain. This has exposed the bitterness against New Labour amongst two groups of people. "The first group would describe themselves as 'Old Labour' or centre left, but are now hostile to Tony Blair," he said. "The second group see themselves as anti-capitalist."
"TELL HER to come down here and spend just one night. That's all I can say. And let me have her house for a night." Those are the words of Ian, who is 18 and homeless, in response to the government's so called "homelessness tsar", Louise Casey. New Labour is not content with attacking disabled people, those on benefits, asylum seekers and "squeegee merchants".
"IT'S A victory for us." Those were the first words of Sukhdev Reel on Monday after a west London inquest jury took just 50 minutes to return an "open verdict" into the death of her son Ricky.
SOCIALIST WORKER'S appeal burst through the £100,000 mark this week. Now the total has reached £114,448.51. The money we received included £365 raised from a walk by 50 people around London's East End through the sites of great working class struggles like the Match Girls' strike in 1888. A walking tour round Manchester raised £214.
CATACLYSMIC NEW evidence of the threat of global warming emerged last week. As government ministers from across the world met to discuss the issue in Germany, scientists warned that global temperatures could rise faster than at any time in Earth's history.
"WE ALL sit in row after row. You have to log in and log out, even for your 15 minute coffee break. It's exactly like clocking in at a factory." That's the reality of life on the white collar production line, according to a woman worker at Avis UK's call centre in Bracknell in Berkshire.
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.