Chris Harman

Bet your Bottom Dollar

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Bush's faces more problems in his second term than many realise, argues Chris Harman.

The re-election of George Bush at the end of last year has left many people, particularly on the US left, shellshocked. As they see it, an administration dominated by the neocons and bolstered up by the votes of the religious right can now get away with anything it wants for the next four years.

This ignores three things. First, the intractability of the position US imperialism faces in Iraq. It is bogged down in a ground war it did not expect and does not have sufficient troops easily to deal with, and which is paralysing its capacity to act elsewhere.

From Common Sense to Good Sense

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What is the role of complex ideas in the day to day struggle? Chris Harman, editor of International Socialism, explains.

'Practice without theory is blind, theory without practice is sterile.' What is the relevance of this old adage today? That is something I have had to think about since I switched jobs five months ago. After working on our popular weekly paper, Socialist Worker, for 30 of the last 34 years, I took over the editorship of International Socialism, our 'quarterly journal of socialist theory'.

Neither Washington nor Moscow

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Ukraine's 'Orange Revolution' is not all it seems.

The crisis that erupted in the Ukraine at the end of last month has had liberals of all sorts slathering at the mouth. Here, they declared, was a new people's uprising, a display of popular power inaugurating a 'velvet revolution' like that in eastern Europe in 1989.

In fact, what occurred was a fight between rival groups inside a corrupt ruling class, each side of which has been happy at various points to preside over a government given to muzzling opposition and fixing ballots.

Not So Awkward Now

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Why some union leaders have buckled over the occupation of Iraq.

Watching the major trade union leaders at this year's Labour Party conference, I was reminded of a Socialist Worker editorial discussion a few years ago. We were discussing the 'awkward squad' - the union leaders elected to office on policies critical of Blairism from the left. We all agreed that these leaders could not be crudely equated with the Blairite figures they had replaced. Their combative language reflected a wide feeling for more struggle among hundreds of thousands of union activists.

The Thaw Sets In

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The anti-capitalist and anti-war movements of the last five years show enormous similarities with the movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s. But there is, so far, one big difference.

The years 1968-74 saw a huge increase in the level of industrial struggle in many countries. There has so far been nothing on that scale this time round, despite big one-day general strikes in several countries (although, unfortunately, not yet in Britain). The wave of demonstrations and strikes among French teachers in the summer of last year has been the exception, not the rule.

The Great Gamble

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In a recent speech delivered in Porto Alegre, Chris Harman explains why the US is staking its imperial future on Iraq.

Iraq is creating an enormous crisis for US imperialism. The US is in a situation very similar to when it faced the Tet Offensive in Vietnam, in February 1968 - a situation in which most of the sectors of the US ruling class have decided they are in danger of losing, but from which they do not see any easy way to withdraw. It took seven more years after Tet for the US to get out of Vietnam. They lost two presidents, the army fell apart, and US imperialism suffered an immense crisis in terms of its ability to impose its will elsewhere in the world.

South America's New Revolt

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Che Guevara's vision of continental revolution is being revived, argues Chris Harman, but political leadership remains essential.

Nearly four decades after the murder of Che Guevara, a new ferment of revolt is beginning to spread across South America. Three governments have been driven out in three years - in Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia - by spontaneous uprisings. In Peru the Toledo government that took office after the fall of the Fujimori near-dictatorship is being shaken by recurrent rebellion against its economic policies. In Brazil discontent with the policies of the Workers Party government of Lula elected just 20 months ago is giving birth to new left currents.

Are You Being Served?

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There's more to the role of NGOs than meets the eye.

Left wing activists raised one issue repeatedly with me when I spoke at a number of meetings in Pakistan a few months back: 'What can we do about the NGOs? How can we stop them continually damaging struggles?' The vehemence of the questioning would surprise many activists in the west. The plethora of non-governmental organisations that have sprung up in the last two decades are usually thought of here as campaigners who expose the misdeeds of corporations and governments. In Naomi Klein's No Logo they were presented as part of the 'swarm' that was going to paralyse corporate power.

The Clash of Fundamentals

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Finding the right response to neoliberalism is not always straightforward.

A comrade recently took issue with a short piece I wrote in Socialist Worker about the overthrow of Aristide in Haiti. He recognised that I was adamantly opposed to the entry of US troops and to the takeover of key cities by armed right wing groups that preceded it. But he claimed I failed to see that the whole opposition to Aristide was the work of the Haitian bourgeoisie and the US government.

Developing Neoliberals

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My enemy‘s enemy is not always my friend.

Many activists at the World Social Forum in Mumbai were quite rightly celebrating the blow to the plans of the US and the EU at the Cancun meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). For once, the world‘s most powerful capitalist states suffered a setback in their schemes to write the agenda for the rest of the system.

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