Europe

As the crisis in Russia deepens, all sorts of workers' committees are emerging: strike committees, salvation committees, etc. Some of them are soviets in all but in name. Renfrey Clarke interviews the Anzhero-Sudzhensk Workers' committee and finds out how workers democracy functions in practice.

A historic defeat for chancellor Kohl and a clear victory for the left are the most outstanding features of the German election on September 27. After exactly 16 years of Kohl in office, German workers and youth said: enough is enough. German is now likely to be governed by a coalition of Social Democrats and Greens. Hans Gerd Ofinger analyses the implications from Germany.

Russia stands at the parting of the ways. The strategists of capital are facing a completely different situation from that which they had expected when the old Stalinist regime collapsed. They thought there would be a smooth transition to capitalism. That is not what they are getting. Ted Grant and Alan Woods provide a socialist analysis of why and what is the way forward.

The roar of hundreds of coal miners drumming their helmets on the pavement rolls like thunder up the glass and granite face of Russia's White House, the seat of government. Even more ominous is the repeated mass chant: "Resign! Resign!". Fred Weir reports from Moscow on the latest wave of militancy of Russian miners.

Konstatin Simitis--the Greek Tony Blair--is a worried man. Elected after the death of Andreas Papandreu less than two years ago as leader of the Greek socialist party (PASOK) under the banner of "modernisation" he had 70% of public opinion behind him. Now it has dropped to 18%. The streets of Athens (congested at the best of times) are regularly blocked with demonstrations of angry bankworkers, airline employees and teachers. The premises of the Ionian bank, which the government wants to privatise, are occupied by the workers and covered with black flags. Alan Woods reports from Greece.

This is supposed to be, as the media are forever telling us, the people's game, our World Cup, etc., etc. But we have little or no say in it. We generate the passion but all the officials see are the buckets of cash. The governing bodies of football, both national and international, are remote, out of touch and above all travesties of democracy. So long as big business and the multi-nationals control the game and shape it in their interests, this will continue to be the reality of things. The fightback should start now, starting with the grassroots supporters groups, to ensure that fans have a say in the...

In August 1931 the Labour prime minister, Ramsay MacDonald, crossed the floor of the Commons with a handful of supporters to join with the Tories and Liberals in forming a National Government. This event was considered one of the greatest betrayals in the history of the Labour Party. More than sixty-five years later, voices have once again been raised about the need for a radical realignment of British politics and the formation of some kind of coalition. "If Blair is the Ramsay MacDonald of the Nineties," warns the Observer, "he could be getting his National Government in early as...

On Monday, April 27th nearly 500,000 Danish private sector workers went on an all-out strike. The strike, which lasted for nearly eleven days was the biggest movement since 1985 when 1 million workers paralysed Denmark for ten days.

Events in Greece are especially relevant to the British Labour Movement because right wing PASOK (Socialist Party) leader Simitis is pursuing similar policies to those of Tony Blair and so-called "New Labour." This has led to an explosion of anger, not only on the streets, but in the trade unions and in PASOK itself. The PASOK union leaders were pro-Simitis one year ago, but now they have been forced into semi-opposition. Under pressure from below, they called a one-day general strike on April the 8th. Alan Woods reports.

"No-one, it seems, has learned anything on the Balkans since 1991." (Financial Times, editorial, 9/3/98.) The scenes of massacre of men, women and children in Kosovo have disturbed the conscience of civilised people everywhere. What is the meaning of this? What is the solution? And how should the labour movement react? Alan Woods analyses the situation and puts forward, as the only solution, the Socialist Federation of the Balkans with full autonomy for all people's.

In a follow up on his previous article Renfrey Clarke describes the real reasons behind the recent coal mine "accidents" in Russia. Early on January 18 an explosion and fire in the Tsentralnaya mine in Vorkuta, in the Arctic north of European Russia, claimed 27 lives. This followed a similar catastrophe on December 2, when 67 miners died in one of the pits of the Kuzbass coal region in Western Siberia.

In this article, Renfrey Clarke describes how the Yeltsin administration is preparing an all-out offensive against the miners, one of the best organised sections of the Russian working class. It also explains the steps being taken by the miners to defend themselves and the perspective of a generalised movement as other sections of the workers are also under attack.

The recent rebellion against the Lbour government's decission to cut single parent benefit and the growing disquiet about proposals to cut benefits for the sick and disabled have brought the welfare to work programme into sharp focus. Mick Brooks looks at what is all about, adn asks the important question: can it create real jobs or is just another way of massaging the statistics and reducing the social security budget?

Alan Woods writes an obituary of Olwyn Hughes, a Welsh miner whose political life went back to the period during and just after the War, when he first got active in politics, first in the Young Communist League, and then in the Trotskyist Revolutionary Communist Party.

The Labour Party and the trade unions remained defiant in the face of the 1931 general election defeat. The 1932 Annual Conference of the Party was told that "when the dust of battle had settled, an army of nearly 7 million men and women had rallied with unflinching loyalty and resolute determination to withstand the supreme attack of the combined forces of reaction…Labour refused to yield and at the end remained on the battleground a united formidable compact force that was the admiration of the working class movements of all countries. This augurs well for the future."