Solidarity 083, 03 November 2005

Belgians battling for their pensions

On Friday 28 October the Belgian trade unions staged a second 24-hour national strike opposing government plans to increase the retirement age from 58 to 60.

Unlike on 7 October, when only the ABVV/FGTB federation, with links to the Socialist Party, went on strike, all the trade union federations participated.

A hundred thousand joined a march in the capital Brussels, many of them brought there by trains which ran throughout the strike just for the purpose of transporting protestors.

Unite the fragments

By Joan Trevor

The workers of the SNCM ferry company have voted a return to work after 24 days’ strike. They had been protesting against government plans to privatise the company. They voted to stop their protest only after the government threatened to put the company into liquidation. The vote was 519 for a return to work and 73 against.

It is disappointing, if not surprising, that the dispute ended in defeat. Especially since throughout Marseille there were a number of disputes ongoing, against, effectively, the same government policies.

The bitter fruits of communalism

There was nothing progressive about the riot that broke out in the Lozells area of Handsworth, Birmingham over the weekend of 21-23 October. The disturbances were fuelled by poverty, racism, mass hysteria, criminal drug gangs, religion and communalism.

The disturbances were sparked by a rumour that had spread throughout the Afro-Caribbean community over a period of months: that a 14-year old black girl had been gang-raped by an Asian shopkeeper and his friends.

“Once we knew a bit more about the man. . .”

This letter from campaigning anti-capitalist journalist Greg Palast is a comment on our Open Letter to Tony Benn (Solidarity 3/83), a piece which detailed now a number of Holocaust deniers and neo-Nazis had signed a petition calling for Tariq Aziz to be released from jail. The petition was launched in the UK by George Galloway.

I don’t know all the facts, but it does seem you’ve done a heck of a lot of hard and valuable work deconstructing fake “causes” like support for a war criminal such as Tariq Aziz.

Galloway and oil-for-food: the facts

By Sacha Ismail

George Galloway is facing a renewed scandal over his links with Iraq’s former Ba’thist regime, with both the US Senate committee which he savaged in May and a separate United Nations inquiry alleging he received money from Saddam Hussein’s oil-for-food programme.

Trotsky on Bonapartism in Mexico

After the Mexican revolution (1910-1920) ended with the exhaustion of the major combatants, a Bonapartist regime was established. It took the form of a ruling party (called the PRI for most of its history), which integrated trade unions, peasant organisations and business groups within its structures. Leaders of these organisations delivered votes and suppressed struggles.

Bonapartism in Venezuela

“By Bonapartism we mean a regime in which the economically dominant class, having the qualities necessary for democratic methods of government, finds itself compelled to tolerate – in order to preserve its possessions – the uncontrolled command of a military and police apparatus over it, of a crowned ‘saviour’. This kind of situation is created in periods when the class contradictions have become particularly acute; the aim of Bonapartism is to prevent explosions.”

Leon Trotsky, Again on the question of Bonapartism, March 1935, in Writings 1934-35

Unravelling the issues

We have started a discussion in Solidarity on the issue of “left-wing anti-semitism”, with an editorial in the last issue of the paper and an eaxtended review of Preachers of Hatred by Pierre-André Taguieff, a major French-language study of the issue. The articles can be found at:

We invite further contributions to the discussion.

conspiracy theories

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