On 14 July, the Greek parliament agreed to the bail-out austerity terms imposed by the Troika (European Central Bank, European Union and the IMF) which are even more oppressive than those which Syriza had opposed when it won the January 2015 general election. 32 Syriza MPs voted against the deal and seven abstained, forcing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to rely on the votes of open supporters of austerity: the former governing party of New Democracy, Pasok and To Potami. This capitulation was the more abject because in a referendum just over a week earlier on 5 July the Greek people by an overwhelming majority – 61% to 39% – had signalled their complete opposition to the terms on offer.
In the days that followed, 25 Syriza MPs, together with a large number of members and officials opposed to the Party’s capitulation, broke away to form a new organisation, Popular Unity. With his parliamentary majority gone, Tsipras announced his resignation on 21 August, triggering a new general election on 20 September. This election will be a test of the extent of Popular Unity’s base within the Greek working class, and whether it can mobilise the sort of real opposition to austerity that Tsipras and his government signally failed to do during all the negotiations with the Troika.
Africa is an extremely resource rich continent, yet, despite its natural wealth, Sub-Saharan Africa is at the bottom of the Human Development Index, with 50% of people living in extreme poverty. The Overseas Development Institute estimates that $30bn of aid goes into the continent each year, but huge parts of the African population remain in poverty. A report by 15 charities, Honest Accounts? The true story of Africa’s billion dollar losses* sheds light on why this might be.
Africa has been bled dry over centuries by slavery, colonisation and imperialism, at an incalculable economic and human cost. Today this takes the form not of physical chains, but huge debts, debilitating theft of income and imposed policies that prevent the independence of nations. As Honest Accounts? explains:
Following large scale public opposition to planned fracking - the extraction of shale gas by hydraulic fracturing - at two sites in Lancashire at the start of the year, approved by the Environment Agency, Lancashire County Council rejected planning permission in June. The council was responsible for giving the final stage of approval required for Cuadrilla, Britain’s biggest fracking firm, to begin mining at the sites of Roseacre Wood and Preston New Road. These would be the first commercial fracking projects in Britain. As was to be expected, Cuadrilla immediately launched an appeal, showing complete disregard for public opinion. The appeal process is expected to take at least 16 months.
In early 1915, amid the slaughter of the First World War, the patriotic landlords of Glasgow implemented a series of rent increases and evictions against tenants. In response, the working class women of the tenements refused to pay and initiated a rent strike which was to force the British government to place on the statute book the first ever controls restricting rents.
In today’s conditions of intensifying austerity and housing crisis, the rent strike campaign of 1915 is an inspiring example of how the working class can fight and win on the housing question. But more than this, it demonstrates the ability of seemingly powerless sections of the working class outside the trade unions to challenge both the authority of the capitalist state and the limits of the traditional labour movement itself. The ‘ordinary’ women who led the rent fight developed creative new forms of resistance, based on their own lives and conditions, and transformed the narrow industrial struggles of the Clydeside labour aristocracy into a genuinely popular movement, breaking the limits of the law.
For the RCG, this has always been the key to the emergence of revolutionary possibilities. The rent strikes of 1915, the rates strikes of the women of Free Derry against internment in 1971, the miners’ strike of 1984-85: all involved mobilisation based on the mass of the working class and directly confronted state repression. In 1990, in the midst of the anti-poll tax campaign, we wrote:
From 1 September 2015 all babies in the UK will for the first time be offered a new meningitis B (MenB) vaccine called Bexsero, as part of the routine NHS childhood vaccination programme. According to the NHS Choices website, this ‘makes England [sic] the first country in the world to offer a national, routine and publicly funded MenB vaccination programme’. However, 27 years ago, socialist Cuba’s Finlay Institute, under the personal direction of revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, developed a MenB vaccine also as part of its national immunisation programme. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was proud Britain ‘will be the first country in the world to have a nationwide MenB vaccination programme’ (The Guardian, 29 March 2015). So who was the ‘first’ country to the MenB vaccine, Britain next September or Cuba in 1988? Charles Chinweizu explains.