Eastern Europe

CZECHOSLOVAKIA 1968 (1968)

1: April 1968: A "Cultural Revolution"?

The attempt in Czechoslovakia in 1968 to create a "Socialism With a Human Face" was snuffed out by an invasion by the armies of the USSR and its other East European satellites. Where did the reforming regime come from? Two articles from Workers Fight, 1968

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Czech Imperialism and the National Question in Central Europe (1938)

Between the two imperialists world wars the Marxists considered Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland to be imperialist powers, because in these three states there were oppressed national minorities – Croats, Kosovars and others in Yugoslavia, Slovakians and Sudeten ethnic Germans in Czechoslovakia, Ukrainians in Poland. If it could be taken apart from the entire context which in fact it had, and if German imperialism had not been German imperialism, Hitler's claim to the Sudetenland, where the majority wanted to unite with Germany, would have been more or less reasonable.

Between the two world wars Marxists considered Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia and Poland to be imperialist powers, because in these states there were oppressed national minorities

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IS and Ireland, Czechoslovakia, and the national question (Easter Conference, 1969)

This text, part of the discussion on Ireland in IS (now called SWP) in 1968–69, attempted to expound the basic Marxist principles on national questions, as the Trotskyist Tendency (forerunner of AWL) understood them.



Introduction (2014)

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Against Jobbik and anti-semitism

On 27 April, 25,000 people protested against anti-semitism in Hungary.

Every year, a march takes place in Budapest to commemorate the Hungarian Jews killed in the Holocaust.

This year, a record number joined the march, with many marchers protesting against the rise of anti-semitism in Hungary. Just three weeks earlier, elections had seen the far-right, anti-semitic Jobbik party win 21 per cent of the national vote.

On 27 April, 25,000 people protested against anti-semitism in Hungary.

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Hungarian far right stymied

The leader of Jobbik, one of Europe’s largest far-right parties, held a rally in London on 26 January.

Jobbik, which is now the third-biggest party in Hungary, campaigns on an explicitly anti-semitic, anti-Roma platform. Its paramilitaries violently attack Roma communities, while its parliamentary statesmen denounce Zionist conspiracies and demand that the government draw up lists of influential Hungarian Jews.

With elections in Hungary approaching, Jobbik’s leader, Gábor Vona, came to London to drum up support amongst the city's large Hungarian community.

Anti-fascist mobilisation in London physically blocks Hungarian fascists.

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Freedom of movement for all

The latest ideas coming from reformists on migration are worth discussing.

On the one hand you have a recent Institute for Public Policy Research report which argues that we have to accept freedom of movement of labour within the EU and it distances itself from UKIP and the Tories. That’s fine. But it also talks about being tough on the misuse of these rights.

We are in favour of freedom of movement for all people around the world.

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Sheffield: “The Roma are under the cosh”

Andy Shallice, an socialist activist based in Sheffield, spoke to Solidarity about the background to David Blunkett’s recent attacks on Roma migrants living in Page Hall, Sheffield.


In the original Radio Sheffield interview Blunkett did [about frictions between Roma and other communities living in Page Hall] there were no quotes about race riots.

A socialist activist in Sheffield describes the background to David Blunkett’s recent attacks on Roma migrants in the city.

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Revolution in the Russian Empire: For Socialist Freedom and Democracy

The program of the anti-Communist revolution in Eastern Europe can be summed up in one word: democracy. And its content can be summed up in one phrase: democratic socialism.

Today this can be asserted not as a hypothesis, a theory or a hope, but as a fact demonstrated and confirmed by every one of the great revolutionary movements which have challenged the rule of the Stalinist bureaucracy for the past decade and a half.

The revolutions in Eastern Europe represent a struggle for liberty, democracy and socialism.

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A Lesson of the Revolution: The Working Class vs The Totalitarian Myth

The Hungarian Revolution, temporarily defeated by Russian military force, has nonetheless already accomplished outstanding wonders and recorded magnificent victories, and that by virtue of its occurrence alone. It has dealt shattering blows to Stalinist barbarism as a world system, erecting a mighty barrier to Russian and international Stalinist aspirations to global domination.

The Hungarian Revolution shattered the myth that totalitarian society is invincible and unaffected by class struggle.

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Reform or Revolution In East Europe?

A totalitarian or despotic society is one in the midst of a deep-seated social crisis. Totalitarianism is needed when it is impossible to rule with the consent of the people.

While such a regime presents a picture of monolithic unity, beneath the surface are the severest conflicts and suppressed class struggles. Or else why the need for repression?

Could the Stalinist countries of Eastern Europe gradually reform themselves towards democracy, or was a fundamental revolution needed?

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'Prudence' or Cold Counter-Revolution? The 'Gomulka Way' in the Polish Revolution

In Hungary the fight was clearly, in the eyes of the world, a struggle between the united Hungarian people in revolution versus the Stalinist totalitarian power resting on Russian tanks. But in Poland the nature of the contending forces and the question of who is on which side have been far more obscured in the common view.

Hal Draper argues that socialists should have no illusions in the 'reforming' Gomulka regime in Poland.

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The Greatest Blow for Peace: The Revolutions Impact on The West and the War Danger

The Hungarian and Polish revolutions of 1956 mark a new period not only in the straggle for socialist freedom against Stalinism, but also in the fight against war and the danger of war.

Its impact is not only on the underpinnings of the Russian empire but also on the bases of the Western capitalist war alliance.

Democratic and internationalist, the Hungarian uprising created the possibility of ending the military stand-off between the Cold War powers.

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The Unexpected Vanguard - The Role of Youth Behind the Iron Curtain

In a message to a Paris rally last November, Albert Camus said:

"I admit that I was tempted in recent years to despair of the fate of freedom ... I feared that it was really dead, and that was why it sometimes seemed to me that all things were being covered over by the dishonor of our time. But the young people of Hungary, of Spain, of France, of all countries, proved to us that this is not so and that nothing has destroyed or ever will destroy that pure and violent force that impels men and nations to demand the honor of living with integrity."

Michael Harrington describes the role students and youth played in the Polish and Hungarian uprisings

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Kosovo, NATO, Milošević and the SWP at the Easter 1999 NUT Conference

Friday, April 2

Arrive at the NUT Conference in Brighton expecting a lively and constructive weekend. Teachers are deeply angry about the Green Paper proposals for performance related pay.

Yet it is hard to think about anything but the unfolding crisis in Kosova. The previous week I had been to an involved discussion on the issue. This conflict is not reducible to the well-worn slogans - 'the main enemy is at home', 'stop the war', etc.

Kosovo, NATO, Milosevic and the SWP: Diary of a Delegate to Easter 1999 NUT Conference. Workers' Liberty 55, April 1999

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Revolution and counter-revolution in Hungary (1956)

This pamphlet was published in November 1956 by the British "Orthodox" Trotskyists. Healy is justly discredited because of the antics of the "WRP" in the last phase of his life. The memory of the earlier Healy, who had the guts, determination and conviction to hold some of the Trotskyists together in the general semi-collapse at the end of the 1940s, and afterwards, does not deserve to be buried under the later Healy. - S. M.

This pamphlet was published in November 1956 by the the British "Orthodox" Trotskyists.


STALIN IS DEAD BUT STALINISM LIVES.

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Don't blame migrants

Economic analyses show that more immigration increases average wage levels in a country, rather than pushing them down. Generally, countries with more immigration are economically more dynamic and prosperous.

Within a year”, says a typical scaremongering Ukip leaflet, “29 million Romanians and Bulgarians will gain the right to live, work and draw benefits here”.

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Migrants scare is a distraction

On Sunday 25 March David Cameron wrote a piece for the Sun railing about so-called health and benefit tourism by migrants!

He carefully calibrated his language so as to appear reasonable — the sane alternative to UKIP was the image he was going for.

He made a nod to “Polish wartime heros” and “hard working” West Indian migrants who helped us “rebuild” Britain after the war.

But the underlying message was clear enough: “Hey you, East European good for nothing, if you think you're going to get more than £8 an hour and a bed on a park bench, bugger off”!

Next year restrictions on migration from European Union member states Bulgaria and Romania will be lifted. There is growing pressure for workers from those countries to be excluded and denied rights.

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Lessons from Bulgaria

In Greece, a place all too familiar with poverty and the results of “austerity”, Bulgaria is reknowned for starvation wages (although the cost of living is far cheaper), the host country for Greek companies looking for cheap labour and as the site of dangerous nuclear power plants.

The Bulgarian working-class stormed into the news with their militancy and defiance in overthrowing the right-wing government of Boyko Borisov on 20 Feburary. Borisov had pushed through austerity measurements and privatised all the country’s resources condemning the majority of the population to extreme poverty and destitution.

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Bulgarian crisis

The resignation of the Bulgarian government on Tuesday 19 February amid escalating popular protests provides an illustration of the way in which austerity and neo-liberalism interact — and, more positively, the way in which this can lead resistance.

The protests were sparked by the continually rising energy prices that have resulted from the privatisation of the state monopoly in electrical distribution in 2005, which have doubled and in some cases tripled.

The resignation of the Bulgarian government on 19 February amid escalating popular protests provides an illustration of the way in which austerity and neo-liberalism interact — and, more positively, the way in which this can lead resistance.

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Anti-racists fight “special schools” for Roma

Roma, Traveller, and socialist activists demonstrated outside the Czech and Slovakian embassies in Kensington on Tuesday 13 November against the policy of “special schools” for Roma children in these countries.

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has called the schools “Educational Apartheid”.

The schools, which are invariably inferior and chronically underfunded, have continued to exist in defiance of a ECHR ruling, and illustrate the rising tide of anti-Roma persecution across the former Eastern Bloc.

There is a rising tide of anti-Roma persecution across the former Eastern Bloc.

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A Socialist Programme for Poland

A declaration issued by a workers' committee in Poland in 1989. Published in our pamphlet "Eastern Europe: towards capitalism or workers' liberty?"

A declaration issued by a workers' committee in Poland in 1989. Published in our pamphlet "Eastern Europe: towards capitalism or workers' liberty?"

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Hungary: rise of Jobbik

Stan Crooke’s article on Hungary’s Fidesz government (Solidarity 235) outlined its right-wing, anti-democratic programme. It is worth also noting the rising popularity of Jobbik (Movement for a Better Hungary).

In the 2010 election Jobbik won 17% of the vote. Fidesz’s spell in government has done nothing to undermine that support. Though the ruling alliance of Fidesz and Christian Democrats leads opposition parties, at the end of 2011 polls put Jobbik on 21%, just behind the Socialists on 22%.

The far-right is on the rise in Hungary.

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Right takes hold in Hungary

In Hungary, capitalist crisis has led to triumph for the right, not the left.

In late 2011, the Bloomberg corporation classed Hungary as the eighth-riskiest economy in the world — second only to Greece as a likely candidate for bankruptcy.

Two ratings agencies have downgraded Hungary’s public debt to junk status. In October, December and January investors were not prepared to buy bonds put up for sale by the government. The market price of Hungary’s bonds already in circulation fell so that the (fixed) interest payments on them now represent a yield of 10% a year.

In Hungary, capitalist crisis has led to triumph for the right.

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EU leaders blackmail Greece

The push for new cuts in Greece is backed up by ever-increasing “carefully” leaked scenarios of a disorderly Greek bankruptcy as early as March and the expulsion of Greece from the eurozone.

Merkel and Sarkozy are exercising severe pressure on the Greek government to reduce Greek labour costs further towards the levels of Portugal and Bulgaria.

The leaders of the three main parties in Greece have agreed to recapitalise the banks, effectively meaning that the state will hand over €40 billion to the bankers.

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Solidarity with Cegielski workers!

Date: 

27 November, 2009 - 16:30 to 18:00

Location: 

Polish Embassy, London

Description: 

Solidarity with workers at Polish engine factory.
20% of the workers have been laid off.
4,000 demonstrated on 23 October.
Trade union activists sacked.

4.30pm Polish Embassy 47 Portland Place W1B 1JH

More details: http://www.ozzip.pl/english/20-latest-news/926-cegielski-factory-in-crisis

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Solidarnosc after the referendum

On 29 November 1987 the Polish government called a referendum on a programme of market-oriented economic reforms, asking for approval although "this will mean going through a difficult two to three year period". It got a 60-odd per cent majority on a poor turnout, less than the 50% of the whole electorate which it wanted. The banned Solidarnosc trade union movement, although its leaders and even the majority of its rank and file had swung to pro-market views, had called for a boycott of the referendum.

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