Anti-austerity movement

Greece: the battle lines sharpen

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Last month's general strike in Greece was an impressive response to attempts by the government to crack down on strikes and protests against austerity. Nikos Loudos, a Greek revolutionary socialist, spoke to Despina Karayianni and Mark L Thomas about the developing movement


Last month's general strike seems to have been a big success. It comes against a background where the government has been taking a harder line, attacking strikes and occupations and becoming more vicious. Could you say something about the position of the government?

The government is trying to present itself as a lion, but in reality it's a mouse.

Organising to resist

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The retreat by union leaders over the pensions struggle shaped last year. What are the prospects for a renewal of resistance in 2013? Socialist Review spoke to Michael Bradley, from the SWP's industrial office, about the prospects for strikes and how socialists in the unions should organise

2012 was dominated by the retreat over the pensions struggle. What do you think is the balance sheet of that experience and what lessons can we draw from it?

Crisis and resistance in Portugal

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Mark Bergfeld recently attended the congress of the Left Bloc in Portugal and witnessed the general strike there a few days later. Here, he argues that Portugal is currently experiencing its biggest social and political upheaval since the 1974-5 Revolution

A day before the right wing coalition government in Portugal was to vote through its 2013 budget, the German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble met his Portuguese counterpart Vitor Gaspar and proclaimed, "Portugal is on the right path and is, for all of us in the eurozone, a brilliant example that the approach we have been following to stabilise the euro is correct." Schäuble went on to praise the "exceptional job" being performed by the Portuguese government.

Class struggle in the UK

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On 14 November while millions of workers struck and marched across large parts of Europe, the British TUC issued a press release. And not a very good one either.

Instead of calling for action, it whimpered, "TUC general secretary Brendan Barber and TUC president Lesley Mercer will be visiting the European commission's office in London to hand in a letter for commission president José Manuel Barroso, reminding him of the growing opposition to austerity and calling for an immediate change of direction." Did the bosses and governments of Europe shudder?

Quebec: how we won

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After a six-month strike students in Quebec celebrated a victory last month when the new Parti Quebecois government announced it would reverse a planned tuition fees hike. The new government also repealed Bill 78, an emergency law introduced in May, aimed at restricting the right to protest. Aamna Mohdin and Jamie Woodcock spoke to Jérémie Bédard-Wien, a spokesperson for CLASSE, a radical student coalition that played a central role in the movement


“Half a million people marched through Montreal on 22 May - the largest ever act of civil disobedience in North America.”

Jérémie Bédard-Wien


There has been a history of student strikes in Quebec. What was the trigger for the 2012 student strike? And what was the inspiration?

Can we break the coalition?

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Less than halfway through it's projected 5 year term of office, the Tory and Lib Dem coalition is on the rocks. Charlie Kimber argues that it's important to understand the weakness of our opponents - but what kind of action would it take to drive this government out?

We need to understand the weakness of our opponents to grasp the potential for successful resistance. It's the backdrop to building huge demonstrations in London and Glasgow on 20 October and then resistance afterwards. We are all painfully aware of the weaknesses in our own camp. But we can often forget the deep and structural problems of our rulers.

The Tory-Lib Dem coalition is less than half way through its projected term of office. But it is in deep trouble. It's not just the ups and downs and temporary unpopularity that affect many governments.

Germany: the rise of the Pirate Party

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The German Pirate Party has captured the imagination of millions of young and unemployed voters but, asks Mark Bergfeld, are they really the radical anti-establishment force they claim to be?

"Que no! Que no! Que no nos representan!" They don't represent us. From the streets of Buenos Aires in 2001 to the squares of Puerta del Sol and Placa de Cataluna in 2011 this slogan captures the anger and alienation that millions of people feel towards the political system made up of professional politicians, lobbyists and unelected technocrats.

Spain: a spiral of crisis, cuts and indignacion

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In March 2011 several regular Guardian columnists analysed the crisis in the Spanish state and the response to "austerity" by the population. All agreed that young people were "apathetic" and even "docile".

Two months later that same youth led tens of thousands to occupy city squares and a million to demonstrate across the country - the movement of "the outraged" ("los indignados" in Spanish). Actually the journalists were not wholly wrong: at the time of writing there had been a limited fightback and the consensus across Spain was that people were apathetic.

Greece at a crossroads

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Socialist Review spoke to Giorgos Pittas, a journalist from the Greek socialist newspaper Workers' Solidarity, about the political situation in Greece following elections in May that saw a dramatic fall in support for parties backing austerity.

What was behind the collapse in support for Pasok and New Democracy, parties that have dominated Greek politics since the fall of the military junta in the mid-1970s, at the election in early May?

First is the scale of suffering. The rate of unemployment is now over 21 percent - it has doubled over the last two years. For young people unemployment is at 50 percent. There used to be hardly any homeless people in Athens, but this winter there were 25,000 living in the streets.

A new phase in the crisis

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The crisis in Europe has entered a new phase. 2008 saw the onset of the worst economic crisis since the 1930s. In 2010, and especially from 2011, there was a marked upswing in resistance, with a series of mass strikes in Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium and Britain, and the rise of the indignados in Portugal, Spain and Greece last spring and then the Occupy movement in the autumn.

Now the mood of bitterness and revolt against austerity has received a powerful electoral expression which will have major ideological, political and economic reverberations across the continent.

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