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Karl Marx once said that history repeats itself, first as a tragedy then as a farce. A case in point is that in South Africa sections of the left are once again calling for a mass workers’ party (MWP) to be formed to contest elections – this they believe will bring us closer to revolution. History says otherwise.Of course the new calls for a MWP stem from the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (NUMSA) breaking from the African National Congress (ANC). As an outcome NUMSA is exploring the possibility of setting up a MWP to contest elections. Many Marxist and leftist influenced organisations, but also cadres within NUMSA, are therefore providing reasons why activists should be interested in such a party.
The villagers of the Palestinian vilage of Bil'in have been struggling now for 10 years against the construction of the separation barrier and consequent expropriation of their lands. This struggle has been a non-violent one, carried out together with Jewish activists from Israel and international activists and has inspired dozens of other similar struggles in villages throughout the West Bank. Here, Israeli anarchist Ilan Shalif explains the significance of Bil'in and recounts his experiences there.The struggle in Bil'in is only one part of the fabric of struggle of more than 120 years between the indigenous people of Palestine and the Zionist settler colonialist and transfer project. The struggle in Bil'in is also the culmination of the joint popular struggle of Palestinians and young Jewish community members who "betray" their local Jewish community, which is harnessed to the Zionist project of settlement building and transfer. As partners second in importance only to the local activists, between us we have forged an unusual alliance, one that has hardly ever been seen during the half millennium of struggle between European colonialism and the other inhabitants of the world.
For more than 20 years, Val di Susa residents, common people and militants have opposed the construction of a high-speed railway to connect Lyons with Turin. This useless major infrastructural project would be a catastrophe, wreaking destruction on Nature and ravaging the ecological system. Some of the tunnels are meant to be pierced through uranium and asbestos ore, which would spread the dust of these minerals throughout the valley's atmosphere. Collaterally, many expropriations are planned to enable the railway's construction, especially of agricultural lands.It has been demonstrated that these construction works will cost a fortune to local populations, while the existing rail lines could be improved and put to better use, especially to carry freight, which is currently delivered by road, causing massive pollution. Every metre of the TAV costs €158,000! These are public resources being diverted from socially-useful works and services to be consigned into the hands of mafias and profiteers!
Strong protest has never stopped since the project began, with thousands protesting, and the Val di Susa also being occupied, together with other acts of resistance and sabotage against the work sites imposed on the population. This movement brings together militants from the valley, people from all over Italy and even collectives from France, and has become a struggle of reference for the Italian social movement of the last 20 years. It has also been heavily repressed by the Italian State.
A prolonged revolt is happening in Ireland against the introduction of yet another austerity tax, this time as a charge on water. Across the country housing estates have seen conflict between residents, Garda and private security over the installation of water meters. Marches of tens of thousands have taken place.This week seizing on a minor incident 3 months ago when water charge campaigners sat in front of the Tanaistes (Deputy Prime Minister) car for two hours the Irish police (Garda) have mounted dawn raids against the houses of 21 water charge campaigners. The piece that follows is the Workers Solidarity Movement reportage of these raids as they happened over last week.
The enormous use of Garda resources in terms of a 3 month investigation and large squads of Garda arriving on people's doorsteps in the early morning reveal the highly political nature of these arrests. And these carried out in revenge for a minor protest against a deeply unpopular Labour party political.
Across Europe, the left is excited by Syriza topping the polls in the Greek election. Some on the left have gone so far as to suggest the election itself will mark the end of austerity policies, in the terminology of the Anglo left, an end to the idea that There Is No Alternative (TINA).Another indication that something of significance is happening is that ahead of the election a new wave of capital flight has started from Greece with an estimated 8 billion transferred out of the country over the last few weeks. From an anarchist, non electoralist perspective we might hope that Syriza’s election represents the high water mark of the swing to electoralism that came out of the defeat of mass resistance to the imposition of the crisis. That won’t be today or tomorrow, it will take a period of weeks for Syriza to have been in power long enough to demonstrate that the problem with the old electoral left was not reducible to corrupt social democrats and lying politicians. Rather it is in the nature of the electoral system, a system that takes in young idealist transformers and spits out older, corrupt defenders of the status quo.
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