THE 1980s were characterised by the dominance of Thatcher and Reagan, rabid supporters of the market. Workers were hit by recessions and a ruling class eager to ram through attacks on union organisation. There were important struggles in the 1980s-in Poland the Solidarity movement sparked a wave of protests in Eastern Europe that shook the regimes to the core.
SO FAR £157,271.78 has reached the appeal office. One last push would reach our target. Readers in many areas are continuing workplace collections and also organising fundraising social events in the run up to the Christmas holiday. Thanks to everyone who gave to the appeal last week and please keep the money coming in. Post early to avoid the Christmas rush.
"GET OUT or die." That was the barbaric message from Russian forces to people in the Chechen capital, Grozny, this week. Russia is waging a savage war to crush people in the tiny republic in the mountainous Caucasus who are fighting for independence from Russian rule.
DEPUTY PRIME minister John Prescott is under intense pressure. The attacks come from the Tory press, but also from sections of the Labour leadership and from papers that usually support Labour. The focus of the row is transport. The government's transport policy is in chaos on the roads, the rail and in the air. Last week John Prescott unveiled Labour's long-awaited transport bill. It represents surrender to big business, the pro-roads lobby and those who want more privatisation.
THE MEDIA AND POLITICIANS ARE SAYING THAT THOSE WHO TOOK PART IN THE SEATTLE PROTEST HAD NOTHING IN COMMON. IS THAT TRUE?
"THOSE WHO were arguing they were going to shut the WTO down were in fact successful today." That was the frank admission of Seattle police chief Norm Stamper on Tuesday of last week.
"THE DAYS of Miss World are numbered. Miss World is a reactionary, backward looking contest. Women should not be forced to look a certain way or be a certain shape. We're not animals in the marketplace." That was how Sue, a student from east London, described why she had joined the angry demonstration outside the Olympia exhibition centre in London last Saturday.
DONATIONS THIS week bring the total raised to £149,250.58. Thanks to everyone who has given to the appeal in the last week.
WORKERS EVERYWHERE are under pressure. We face heartless managers, constant demands to work harder and insulting pay, no matter what industry we are in. Bitterness is rising even though all too often it does not surface in collective action. Last week, in three different areas, it did.
This Saturday we will be subject to the degrading spectacle of the Miss World contest on television. Women will be paraded, ogled at and inspected like so many pieces of meat. They will be judged for the size of their breasts, the shape of their legs or the smoothness of their skin. A "bubbly" personality or an interest in "children or current affairs" may be an asset, but only if the contestant matches up to a stereotypical and sexist image of what is "beautiful".
"WHEN KEN Livingstone was in charge of the Labour Party in London we were a byword for extremism. We were unelectable as a political party. I never want to go back to those days again." This is Tony Blair's central argument why people should not back Ken Livingstone as Labour's candidate for mayor of London. It is a complete reversal of the truth.
WORKERS "have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workers of all countries, unite!" So rings out the magnificent internationalist declaration at the end of The Communist Manifesto, written by Karl Marx and Frederick Engels 150 years ago. It is a message more relevant than ever today. Politicians are always trying to divide workers on the basis of "race", religion, "ethnic group", or some other supposed difference.
Most people know about Charles Dickens even if few have ploughed through his novels. They have heard of Oliver Twist, the little orphan boy who asked for more food, or Ebenezer Scrooge, the skinflint employer who dismissed time off for Christmas as humbug.
TONY BLAIR got a taste of the discontent and debate inside the Labour Party when he spoke in east London last week. Blair and deputy prime minister John Prescott conducted a question and answer session at Queen Mary & Westfield College. Some 400 invited Labour Party members were crammed into the hall, with another 200 in an overspill room.
THE NEW Assembly in Northern Ireland has been welcomed by nearly everyone except a tiny minority of hardline Unionists gathered around Ian Paisley. Millions of people are hoping the new Assembly will mean the dawn of a new era of peace in Northern Ireland. Many ordinary Protestants and Catholics are also hoping that the new Assembly will begin to tackle poverty, unemployment and declining welfare services. But the real question is whether the new Assembly will be able to deliver the peace and prosperity so many people in Northern Ireland are hoping for.
THE MONEY collected for the Socialist Worker appeal has now reached £143,075.71. Workplace collections continue to come in. Workers at the London Fire Authority have now contributed £124. Other workplace collections include: Glasgow Council social work £47, TNT News Fast £15, Islington Green School £20, Wiltshire Mental Health £7, Holborn Housing £5, Greenwich council £4.50.
PRESSURE from trade unionists, Labour Party activists and Londoners has forced Blair to put Ken Livingstone's name onto the ballot paper for Labour's candidate for mayor of London. Blair knew that the London party would have split in two if he blocked Livingstone.
Used to replace others
RAY IS 19 years old. He was homeless for a year but now has his own flat in Sheffield. He was offered a placement on the New Deal. Ray signed onto a computing skills course. He hoped that would enable him to get a job. But the reality did not match the hype:
"YOU Marxists believe in violent revolution," is a charge put by establishment politicians and mainstream newspapers. These people claim that, unlike Marxists, they stand for peace and non-violence. This is the utmost hypocrisy. Such people organise and cheer on the most barbaric violence when it is in their interests.
GEORGE MONBIOT is one of Britain's best known environmental campaigners. He writes a regular column in the Guardian and is writing a book due out next year on "the corporate takeover of Britain". Socialist Worker spoke to him in the run up to next week's protests against the World Trade Organisation.