In perspective column

A bad year for the extreme centre

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With further elections coming this year in Europe, socialists must organise against racism and for alternatives to neoliberal politics.

If the year just ended had a single guiding theme, it was the accelerating crisis of what Tariq Ali dubs the “extreme centre”: mainstream political parties and institutions that have become addicted to the neoliberal status quo.

December was a fitting end to a year that had already seen Britain reject the EU and the US reject Hillary Clinton. In Austria, where the annulled presidential election run-off was restaged, an independent candidate from the Green Party defeated the far-right Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) candidate.

May is heading for maximum pain

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The Tory party's pronouncements on refugees and "hard Brexit" fuel racism, but the political picture is more complex than a simple rightward shift.

Is Britain lurching to the right in the wake of the referendum vote? That was the impression given by the Conservative Party conference. Not only did Theresa May embrace a “hard Brexit”, designed to restrict migration, but Home Secretary Amber Rudd proposed forcing companies to reveal how many foreign workers they employ — before being made to backtrack.

The dynamics of the world economy

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The weakness of the global economic recovery vindicates Marxists' analysis of the 2008 crisis.

It is sometimes hard to remember a time when the world economy was not meandering through a funk of stagnation or teetering on the cusp of some new disaster. Six years ago I wrote a piece for this magazine entitled “The Crisis: Over or Just Beginning?” Fortunately I erred on the side of “just beginning”, describing the much-hyped recovery with three words: weak, fragile and uncertain.

More space for a left No

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The debate continues on how best to be an internationalist in the run up to the EU referendum.

Last month’s Socialist Review contained James Anderson’s rather intemperate response to an article I wrote calling for an “internationalist No” in the forthcoming referendum to retain British membership of the European Union.

He writes, “The main argument for voting Yes is that in practice internationalism would be greatly facilitated and given credibility and focus by taking full advantage of the common political framework provided by the EU — by sharing the common membership and institutions and also the common enemies it provides.”

Different aspirations

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Class is often the missing element in politics, and when it is raised, it is in terms of suffering or aspiration, rather than power.

A quarter of a century ago socialist journalist Paul Foot observed, “When the Labour Party was first formed, and had to win votes from the Liberals, politics for Labour Party people was saying what you believed and persuading people to vote for it. Today, stricken by psephology, politics for Labour is finding out what most people believe and pretending to agree with them.”

Greece: It didn't have to be this way

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The Troika has succeeded in imposing its will on the Syriza government for now, but other options were. And still are, available.

One of the most scathing responses to the deal struck between Greece’s radical left Syriza government and European finance ministers in February came from 92 year old Manolis Glezos. The former resistance fighter — famous for tearing the Swastika from the Acropolis in 1941 and now a Syriza MEP — compared the agreement to “renaming fish as meat”.

Who do we vote for now?

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We need to build a credible unified left alternative to Labour that is rooted in the struggle of the working class.

Half a century ago the American Marxist Hal Draper wrote a piece entitled “Who’s Going To Be the Lesser Evil in 1968?” His argument was simple. The choice between the two main parties in the US — the Democrats and Republicans — was no real choice at all. That did not mean the parties were identical, merely that “they tend to act in the same way in essential respects, where fundamental needs of the system are concerned”.

Chained to austerity

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Despite slashing public spending, the coalition's economic medicine has failed. Now the economy is taking another turn for the worse.

According to the Greek legend Prometheus, who angered the gods by stealing fire from them, was chained to a rock to have his liver eaten away by an eagle. Each night the liver would grow back so when dawn broke the torture might begin again. So too the budget deficit. No matter the savagery that chancellor George Osborne perpetrates, it is still there the morning after.

Solidarity against racism

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The electoral success of far-right parties presents a challenge for the left. Brian Richardson reports from a key anti-fascist conference in Greece that is beginning to coordinate a continent-wide strategy to halt them.

The headline story in this May’s European Parliament elections was the success of the fascist Front National (FN) in France. Marine Le Pen’s party topped the poll with 24.85 percent which translated into 24 seats.

It is now the fourth biggest party in the parliament. That success was subsequently consolidated with the capture of two seats in the French Senate elections in September. The outright fascist Jobbik party took second place in the Hungarian elections with 14.6 percent of the vote, winning three seats.

The economy's empty smile

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October's market jitters show how confidence in the recovery can flip into panic. But what underlies the turmoil?

Appropriate mood music for London’s stock exchange last month, according to the Financial Times’s James Mackintosh, might have been Anthrax’s “I’m Alive”. For those readers unfamiliar with thrash metal, the relevant lyrics are: “An empty smile / And you’re hypnotised / Selling lies, my enterprise / The sheep just get in line / Capitulate so easily / The power of fear.”

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