THE EUROPEAN Social Forum will be an important rallying point for activists in the anti-capitalist movement. But it is also likely to reflect growing divisions over strategy. These divisions were already evident at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil, in February.
"ANOTHER world is possible" is the ringing declaration of the anti-capitalist movement. For us this other world can only be socialism, a society based on production for need not profit. But what will this socialism look like?
SIX MONTHS ago left wingers like Tony Benn and Jeremy Corbyn MP looked very lonely figures in the Labour Party. They were barely tolerated by the leadership as quaint reminders of a long-gone era when people thought capitalism could actually be done away with and privatisation was a swear word.
LABOUR WAS the biggest party after the 1929 general elections, and Ramsay MacDonald became prime minister. But as slump hit the world the Labour government turned on its own supporters and imposed harsh austerity measures. The Labour cabinet accepted a range of brutal cuts but eventually balked at what MacDonald wanted, and in 1931 he formed a government with the Tories.
"DON'T PANIC, don't panic!" say George W Bush and Tony Blair, like the Corporal Joneses of a Dad's Army standing guard over the world's stockmarkets. They try to reassure people that, despite weeks of chaos on the stockmarkets, their economies are fundamentally sound. This was exactly what US president Herbert Hoover said in October 1929, days before the Wall Street Crash plunged the world into a decade of misery and conflict.
IN AMERICA we say, "Don't let friends drive drunk." There is a drunk at the wheel of American foreign policy. Friends of America must stand up and stop the madness, and take away the key driving the American machine towards war.
THE FIRST bombing from the air took place in 1911. Almost inevitably, given the history of European imperialism, it was a bloody massacre to put down colonial revolt. The Italian lieutenant Giulio Cavotti dropped four bombs on Arabs near Tripoli in north Africa who had fought back against Italian troops.
SOCIALISTS hope capitalism will collapse, paving the way for socialism. That was the gist of what Lord Meghnad Desai, a former economics adviser to chancellor Gordon Brown, had to say in a debate last week. The truth is that socialists don't believe socialism will automatically rise from the wreckage of capitalism. Nor do we leap for joy at recession, slump or capitalist crisis.
CESAR BLANCO Moreno was on his way from work last month when he was shot dead in the street. The unknown gunmen made their escape. Everyone in the town knew why Cesar had been killed.
"IT'S official: stunning new report exposes crime figures are falling." This is a headline you could have read last week, but didn't. Instead the tabloids were full of stories about gangs of hoodlums running out of control, terrorising vulnerable people.
AN OLD slogan in anti-racist movements in Britain is "we're over here because you were over there". Rozina Visram shows how true that is. From the beginning, Asian migration to Britain is entwined with the way Britain established and built its empire. Queen Elizabeth I granted a charter for trade to the Governor and Company of Merchants of London in 1600, founding the East India Company. And it was the company's ventures which sparked the first movement of people between South Asia and Britain.
ONE VIEW held by socialists often bewilders many people. That is the contention that the state machine in capitalist society serves the interests of the ruling class and cannot be used for a move to socialism. "But", some people insist, "you will always need the police. However much you dislike them, they do a necessary job. Without them there would be complete chaos."
TENS OF thousands of trade unionists and anti-capitalist activists will be meeting at the European Social Forum (ESF) in Florence, Italy, between 7 and 10 November.
NIALL MORTON is a postal worker who works in the Mallusk post office in North Belfast. He led a walkout of postal workers in protest at the murder by Loyalists of a young Catholic worker, Danny McColgan, earlier this year.
ONE SINNER come to repentance is worth 99 righteous men, says the Bible. One economist who used to be at the centre of running the supposedly "free" market system can provide criticisms of its functioning even more damning than those who have never trusted it.
READER Peter Norcliffe raised an important issue in a letter to Socialist Worker last week. He questioned the paper for being too negative about all bosses. "There are", Peter wrote, "also hard working, considerate companies and organisations which strike a good balance between looking after their workers and the local environment, and can still make a profit."
SATPAL RAM has finally gained his freedom after a 16- year ordeal in jail.
A JUBILANT crowd carried five men shoulder high from London's Pentonville jail. "Arise ye workers" read the banner at the centre of the celebrations. The date was 26 July 1972, and the words on the banner were no mere slogan. The "Pentonville Five" were trade unionists -dockers -jailed five days earlier for deyfing anti-union laws. Strikes had swept the country in response. They forced the courts into a humiliating climbdown, and inflicted a crushing defeat on the Tory government of the day. The strikers defied their union leaders and Labour Party leaders, who denounced the struggle. Derek Watkins, one of the five jailed dockers, spoke to Socialist Worker as he waited for police to t
ONE OF the most popular arguments against socialism is that people are just too selfish for it to work. It is claimed that socialists are unrealistic dreamers for imagining that things will change overnight and people work together for the common good without being made to.
ON 5 JULY 1948 queues formed outside doctors' surgeries and hospitals across Britain. It was the first day of the new National Health Service. Hundreds of thousands of working class people who had never been able to afford proper medical treatment finally had access to basic services.