Socialist Worker

Europe


Report slams into chicken factories

05 February 2000
A DEVASTATING report into British abattoirs reveals "severe deficiencies" in the production of food, according to a report by vets working for the European Commission. The vets inspected a number of factories producing chicken, which counts for around 40 percent of all the meat consumed in Britain. The process used dirty equipment in run down buildings and with little inspection from qualified vets. The report also concluded that government inspections at the factories are failing. It revealed factory bosses are pressurising the inspectors into giving them a good hygiene report. Food safety expert Tim Lang says this smacks of "the worst time of the 1980s when the ministry's reflex was

Socialism or barbarism

18 December 1999
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.

Never going back to the 'bad old days'

18 December 1999
ACROSS EUROPE the end of the war meant workers had high hopes that society would change for the better. In Britain that was seen with the election of the first majority Labour government under Attlee. It was under pressure to deliver reforms like the welfare state and nationalisation of key industries.

Darkest hour in human history

18 December 1999
THE DEFEAT of the anti-fascist movements had the most horrendous consequences. With the Second World War came the horror of the Holocaust. Some of the great technological advances of the century were turned into instruments of slaughter. Tens of millions of people faced occupation under Nazi rule. That meant repression, hardship and death. In Poland over five and a half million people were killed-some 16 percent of the population. Across Europe, Jews were herded into ghettos from 1939, and from 1942 they were exported to the death camps. In all, the Nazis killed six million Jews.

Most dangerous beef in Europe

18 December 1999
THE TABLOID press has launched a frenzy of French bashing after the French government refused to lift its ban on British beef. Tory politicians and papers such as the Daily Mail have led the pack. Now others are joining in. The Mirror has launched a "Say Non To French Golden Delicious" campaign. The Scottish Daily Record ran a page article on how France has always "betrayed" Scotland.

Inspiration from Seattle

11 December 1999
THE GREAT demonstration in Seattle will make its reverberations felt for years to come. One of its more minor side effects was that on Wednesday last week, much to my surprise, I found myself in the Newsnight studio defending the protesters against the World Trade Organisation from European commissioner Leon Brittan's criticisms.

Workers' pressure pays off

04 December 1999
TONY BLAIR'S key ally in Europe had to turn away from New Labour's policy of letting the free market rip through the economy last week. Pressure from workers and trade unions forced German leader Gerhard Schröder to stump up £80 million of government money to save 28,000 jobs.

Legacy of the 1989 revolts

13 November 1999
TEN YEARS ago this week many thousands of people reduced the Berlin Wall to rubble. They breached the divide which rulers East and West had maintained throughout the Cold War. They were reacting against the repressive regimes across Eastern Europe which they were told were socialist.

The roots of the collapse

06 November 1999
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.

Do revolutions always have to end in tyranny?

06 November 1999
"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 hope that turned to dust

06 November 1999
"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.

Tony Cliff interview ten years after the wall came down

06 November 1999
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.

Afterglow of France 1995

06 November 1999
THERE'S NOTHING like a beef war to remind you just how stupid the British media and British politicians are. The idiotic jingoistic ranting at the French this past fortnight really has taken the biscuit. In fact, France is the most interesting country in Europe today. A huge wave of social struggles is sweeping French society. The farmers' protests are merely the tip of the iceberg. Barely a day seems to go by without some group or other demonstrating in Paris. High school students have taken to the streets in their hundreds of thousands twice over the past six months.

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