Where can social-democracy go? In Greece, the parties of the center, once utterly dominant on the country’s political scene, can barely scrape together a majority combined even with the help of a mass of bonus seats for the plurality party. Their opposition is now formidable in the form of SYRIZA, a left social-democrat outfit with a programme of radical reform that would stretch liberal political economy to the breaking point, but staying well short of an explicit commitment to revolution. In France, the victory of the Parti Socialiste is complete with its clear majority in the Assemblée Nationale following François Hollande’s election to the Elysée. In the UK, the Conservative-LibDem coalition appears ever weaker and less able to enforce its majority, while the Labour Party has been leading it in the polls by large numbers for months on end. In Germany, the ruling rightist coalition has suffered painful defeats in the länder against the SPD. In short, it seems finally things are looking up for European social-democracy. Continue reading “Death Agony of Social-Democracy”
A New Winter of Discontent?
It seems there will still be no end to the resistance movements against the depredations of capital that have sprung up in the wake of the economic crisis. Things are coming to a head in France, where hundreds of thousands have gone on strikes and demonstrations against the attempts of the Sarkozy government to raise the pension age across the board. In a brilliant move reminiscent of the powerful miners’ strikes in Britain in the 1970s, the majority of which were won by the unions, the demonstrators are now blockading petrol depots and stations in addition to gathering for protests. The French government has already been forced to admit that it only has a couple days’ worth of stockpiles to supply Charles de Gaulle airport and other major transport hubs with petrol, and it is seeking to prevent panic buying which would further diminish the flow of this lifeblood for industrialized economies.(1) If the protests do succeed at blockading the government’s access to the coal equivalent of the contemporary world, prospects of victory look good: repeated conflicts with the miners in Britain forced governments of both the Conservatives (Heath and Thatcher in ’82) and Labour (Wilson and Callaghan) to cede to the workers’ demands. Continue reading “A New Winter of Discontent?”
Crisis in Haiti
When an earthquake of 7.0 on the Moment scale struck the country of Haiti recently, this led to a total collapse of the government, economy and social institutions of this already plagued country. Some 200.000 people are estimated to have died, on a total population of about 9 million – the proportional equivalent of some 7 million Americans dying at once. It killed also the opposition leader, the Archbishop, and most of the staff of the United Nations mission in Haiti, MINUSTAH. There has subsequently been an outpouring of foreign aid and medical support from many countries around the world. And yet the question about this long-suffering country remains: how come it was so poor and so unprepared? Haiti is not far from the United States, one of the world’s richest countries, and yet it is itself one of the world’s poorest, and has been so for a long time.
To understand Haiti’s history, we must go back to the days of Columbus. Continue reading “Crisis in Haiti”