Chris Harman

Revolution in the Air

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Chris Harman analyses critical choices facing the Latin American left.

'The US has lost the plot in Latin America.' So said at least one commentator during last month's Summit of the Americas in the Argentinian city of Mar del Plata. Not only was Bush faced with a big and militant demonstration outside led by former football star Diego Maradona, but his plans for a Free Trade Area of the Americas got the thumbs-down from the government leaders assembled inside.

It was symptomatic of a swing to the left throughout South America in the last five years. But how deep is this swing, and where is it going?

The Works are Complete

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Chris Harman enjoys Marx and Engels' last writings.

The appearance of this volume should be a cause for celebration for all English-speaking socialists. It represents the completion of a Herculean 30-year effort to translate and publish virtually everything that Marx and Engels ever wrote. Few people are going to have the time and energy to read through all or even most of the 50 volumes (those of us who got them one by one as they came out are probably privileged in this respect).

Mirror Images

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The idea of "community" can be dangerous.

'The Muslim community must deal with the extremist elements within it.' Such has been the message of the media and mainstream politicians since the London bombings in July. It amounts to putting some responsibility for the bombings onto the million and a half people in Britain who happen to accept versions of Islam. As some left liberal commentators have pointed out, it is like blaming all Christians for the Nazi Holocaust or all atheists for Stalin's gulags.

Marching Separately

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The rise of the new left in Europe opens up new opportunities for revolutionaries.

Is a new mass left emerging across Europe? This seems a very real possibility after a summer which has seen the emergence of the Left Party in Germany, the central role played by the LCR and the Communist Party in the victory for the 'No' vote in the French referendum, and the electoral breakthrough for Respect in England.

Global Faultlines

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Chris Harman identifies three problems facing global capitalism.

The ruling classes of mainland Europe are now trying to recover from the shock which hit them in the early summer. Their central project of pushing through neo-liberalism was thrown into crisis by the No vote in the French and Dutch referendums.

Since the referendum all leaders of the European Union's mainstream parties have repeated the same refrain. Europe's economies, they say, have no future unless the mass of people are prepared to work harder, and for lower wages and pensions in order to cope with 'the challenge from India and China'.

The End of Poverty?

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We can make poverty history, but not if we accept the logic of market liberalization.

Make Poverty History is going to pull vast numbers to Edinburgh the Saturday before the G8 opens in Scotland next month. They will be living testimony to the enormous feeling over world poverty, particularly in Africa. They will also show how much things have moved on since the time of Band Aid, when the single message was one of charity. Now it is one which involves calls for political action on debt, trade and aid.

Polls Apart...

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Elections are one thing - the revolutionary party is another.

'You can't mean we need a Bolshevik party in Britain in 2005?' The point was put to me by a veteran socialist activist, someone who joined the Communist Party at the time of the Spanish Civil War, left after the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 and remains a bitter opponent of Bush and Blair today. Some 70 years of struggle did not make him feel that revolution was imminent in Britain today or that the left should be organised accordingly.

Chain Reaction

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Watching the televised congress of Italy's biggest far left party, Rifondazione Comunista, last month brought to mind a statement by its general secretary, Bertinotti, when he spoke at the SWP's Marxism two years ago.

The old debate between reform and revolution, he said, is no longer relevant at a time when reformists cannot deliver reforms and revolutionaries cannot bring about revolution.

It is an argument frequently heard in the global movement of the last five years. We can all see that neoliberalism and war are causing immense damage, it is argued, and we have to forget our differences in order to oppose them.

A Taste of Things to Come

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New Labour is presenting its attack on pensions as a necessary response to the ageing of the population. But in reality something else is at stake - the latest stage in ratcheting up the stakes in intercapitalist competition.

Three years ago the leaders of Britain, Italy and Spain established the Blair-Berlusconi-Aznar axis to give an added push to the copying throughout Europe of the attacks on workers' conditions and rights pioneered by Reagan and Thatcher in the US and Britain. Aznar fell off the axis a year ago, but the push has been joined by the French government with its renewed attacks on pension rights and its rescinding of the 35-hour week, and by the German government with its slashing of unemployment benefits.

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