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Fwd: SEP Newsletter: The Dow at 15,000 and the social crisis in America

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World Socialist Web Site

Socialist Equality Party Newsletter

Below is a selection of articles appearing on the World Socialist Web Site last week. Six days a week, the WSWS publishes on all the major political, social and cultural developments. To sign up for the daily newsletter, click here.
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The 15,000 Dow

9 May 2013
On Tuesday, Wall Street celebrated a new milestone. The Dow Jones Industrial Average crashed through the 15,000 plateau, setting yet another record in a dizzying climb that has seen the benchmark index rise by almost 15 percent since the beginning of the year.
It took just two months after recovering all of its losses from the financial crash of September 2008 for the Dow to breach the 15,000 barrier. It rose 1,000 points from the 14,000 level in just 66 days.
The Standard & Poor's 500 stock index also hit a new record Tuesday, having gained 199 points since January. The Nasdaq Composite index closed at its highest point since November of 2000. The manic rise in US stocks is part of a global phenomenon. The FTSE All-World equity index on Tuesday rose to its highest level since June 2008.
The current explosion of stock prices expresses two essent ial tendencies. First, the disconnect between the process of wealth accumulation by the corporate-financial elite and the creation of real value through the production of goods has reached unprecedented heights. A financial aristocracy is concentrating ever more obscene levels of personal wealth in its hands entirely on the basis of financial speculation and manipulation, while the real economy continues to stagnate and decline.
The stock and bond markets are themselves mechanisms for economic parasitism and the further transfer of social wealth from the bottom to the top.
Second, the fundamental drive of capitalism, as Marx explained 146 years ago, to pile up wealth at one pole of society and poverty, misery and degradation at the other, is operating almost without restraint. The current stock bonanza reflects an explosive intensification of class tensions.
In the midst of t he worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the Dow has gained over 8,500 points, surging nearly 130 percent since it bottomed at 6,547 on March 9, 2009. That period of four years and two months has been an unmitigated disaster for the bulk of humanity, including the broad mass of working people in the United States.
The social disaster has worsened this year even as stock markets in the US and around the world continued their manic rise. Economic growth and job creation in the US have slowed from their already anemic pace, condemning millions of workers and youth to permanent unemployment or sweatshop jobs at poverty-level wages.
Unemployment in Europe, already at postwar record highs, continues to rise to levels unseen since the 1930s. With the economy of much of the continent contracting, unemployment in Greece and Spain is officially at 27 percent, and youth unemployment is nearing 60 percent. Economic growth is slowing in China and most other so-called "developing" economies, as governments turn to austerity measures and exports are hit by the deepening slump in the West.
The staggering growth of social inequality--with poverty, homelessness, hunger and desperation taking an ever greater toll among the masses of people, while corporate profits, CEO pay and the stock portfolios of the rich soar ever higher--is the result of brutal class war policies being carried out by governments around the world.

These policies have two sides: ruthless budget- and wage-cutting for the working class, and the pumping of trillions of dollars by the central banks into the markets for the benefit of the financial elite. This year, the Obama administration has overseen $85 billion in so-called "sequester" cuts, including cuts in benefits for the long-term unemployed. These are only a down payment on histo ric cuts in the bedrock social programs dating from the 1930s and 1960s, Social Security and Medicare.
At the same time, the Federal Reserve is printing $85 billion every month to buy Treasury bills and mortgage-backed securities while keeping interest rates at near zero. Similar measures are now being carried out by the European Central Bank, the Bank of England and the Bank of Japan. This policy is intended to channel speculative funds into the stock markets, inflating share prices and guaranteeing massive profits for the rich and the super-rich, who own the vast bulk of such assets.
It is a continuation and intensification of the basic policy pursued since the Wall Street crash by governments and central banks. They have concentrated all their efforts on protecting the wealth of the ruling classes and insuring that the losses they suffered in the meltdown triggered by their own recklessness and greed are recouped many times over.
State treasuries were emptied to pay off the bad debts of the banks, and mass layoffs, wage cuts and attacks on social welfare programs were carried out to make the working class foot the bill. The current Wall Street boom reflects the progress, to date, of this program of social counterrevolution. The working class all over the world has sought to fight back, but it has been blocked and sabotaged by the trade unions, which have done all in their power to dissipate resistance and prevent it from assuming an independent, revolutionary form. The unions have been aided by the various pseudo-left organizations, which demand that workers remain trapped in these right-wing corporatist organizations.
But the frenzied rise of stock prices is, in its own way, a sign that this stage of the crisis is coming to an end. The financial bubble that has been inflated is unsustainable. Like all previ ous bubbles--including the bubble of 1999-2000, the subprime mortgage bubble that imploded in 2008--this far larger bubble must explode, creating a new and even more catastrophic financial crisis.
This time, it is not individual corporations or banks that face collapse, or even individual sovereign states, but the central banks that have been printing worthless dollars, pounds, euros and yen to underwrite the plundering of society by the ruling elites. In the process, they have undermined the world currency system, setting off a chain reaction of currency and trade wars that can lead only to a further collapse of the real economy.
Working class opposition and anger have grown more intense. The past five years of depression for the masses and super-profits for the corporate elite have not been lived in vain. There is a growing sense that the entire system is economically unviable, intrinsically unjust , and morally indefensible, i.e., that capitalism has failed and must be replaced.
The trade unions, the right-wing "labor" and social democratic parties, the pseudo-left organizations of the upper-middle class that are allied to them--SYRIZA in Greece, the New Anti-capitalist Party in France, the Left Party in Germany, the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, the International Socialist Organization in the US--are being exposed as agencies of the ruling class and discredited in the eyes of the workers.
Out of this historic breakdown of the capitalist system a new period of social revolution is emerging. The urgent task of the hour is the building of the Socialist Equality Party as the new leadership of the working class to arm the coming struggles with a revolutionary socialist program.
The task is not to "occ upy" Wall Street. It is to shut it down, redirect the vast resources that are squandered in the operations of this gigantic gambling casino to meeting social needs, and take the banks and corporations out of private hands so they can be run democratically for the benefit of society.

D'Artagnan Collier turns in petitions for Detroit mayoral campaign

By Thomas Gaist and Bryan Dyne
10 May 2013
On Friday, D'Artagnan Collier, the Socialist Equality Party's candidate for Detroit mayor, submitted one thousand signatures to get on the ballot in the August 6 primary elections. After turning in the petitions, Collier released a statement thanking his campaign team and explaining the basis of his campaign.
Collier noted that the mayoral race is shortly after the appointment of an "emergency manager," Kevyn Orr, to run the city. Orr, he said, "has been given vast powers to extract every penny possible from workers and poor people, to pay off bondholders and restructure the city in the interests of the rich."
The purpose of the campaign, he said, will be to "give a voice to the working class," whose grievances and deep anger find no expression in the current political setup. Collier explained the SEP campaign's opposition to both big business parties and the entire establishment : "To fight for our interests, we cannot appeal to the Democrats and Republicans, the two parties of the rich. From the Obama administration, to Governor Rick Snyder, to Mayor Bing and the City Council, and all the other candidates for mayor--whatever their tactical differences, all agree that the working class must pay for the crisis of the capitalist system."
Collier's campaign will fight to unify workers throughout the Detroit Metropolitan area. "Every section of the working class faces the same attack," he said. "Auto workers who have been forced to accept a 50 percent cut in wages; teachers in underfunded schools; city workers facing sharp cuts in pay and benefits; firefighters doing their best as stations are shut down; elderly and disabled workers evicted from their homes as downtown Detroit is gentrified."

Collier submitting the petitions
Referring to the standard claim that "there is no money," Collier pointed out that "The stock market is soaring, yet they demand that workers' wages go down. Corporations are awash in cash, yet health care and pensions are being cut. Trillions have been spent on war abroad, yet there is supposedly no money to keep schools and libraries open."
Rejecting the racial politics employed by the Democratic Party establishment that has run Detroit for decades, Collier insisted, "Workers of all races and nationalities have the same interests. I reject attempts to pit Detroit against the suburbs, or to present the crisis in Detroit as a racial issue. The essential question is not race, but class."
Detroit has become a massive laboratory for the ruling class in their efforts to impose the cost of the crisis on the working class throughout the US and around the world. As Collier stated, "The wealthy see Detroit as a model for what they want to do everywhere. We must make Detroit the model for a counter-offensive by the working class."
Several supporters of the campaign joined Collier as he turned in the petitions.
Asked about the significance of the campaign, Detroit resident Betsy said, "The situation in the city is very dire. We have been under corrupt and negligent management for years. Detroiters have turned a blind eye, but now it is time to call for a change, and I can see that change coming forth through the leadership of D'Artagnan Collier."

Collier speaking with Detroit auto workers
After turning in the petitions, Collier and his team went to Warren Truck to speak to auto workers. He was warmly received by the workers and spoke at length to Brad, 29 years old with three years working at Chrysler, who agreed strongly with Collier's program.
"I'm from Texas. I moved to Detroit because of my family and I was able to transfer from Chrysler there to here. There is a big contrast. The neighborhoods in this city are ridiculous. Everybody who's making money is connected to the City Council and everyone else is struggling to get by. And the mayor is almost a comic book villain.
"On the news, all I see are people getting robbed and killed. You might say that it starts at home, but no one does anything to try and address that."
Collier explained that the real criminals are the corporate executives that force people into desperate socia l and economic situations.
Johnson responded, "It's true. When I see Detroit, it's like Iraq.
"Compared to Detroit, Houston and Dallas are the land of milk and honey. There they have jobs. Here they layoff firefighters, police officers, medical workers. I heard on the news that the city can't pay for medical gloves. How do you lay off people you need?"
Collier replied that the emergency manager was installed into Detroit to escalate the offensive against the working class. He also connected what is happening in Detroit to broader issues in the US. "The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have an estimated cost of $6 trillion. What could that money have done if used for social programs in the US?"
Johnson then spoke about his conditions of work. "You can't support a family on what I make. I'm just earning enough to survive. Here you get paid just eno ugh to keep coming back.
"After taxes, union dues and all that crap, there is nothing. Then I have to pay a mortgage and insurance. If I had kids, food expenses would be even worse. And I don't work overtime because that's taxed so much. I'd rather rest my bones than pay the sixty percent tax rate. It's not worth it.
He also spoke out against the alternate work schedule, which has eliminated the eight hour day for auto workers. "I don't like the idea of ten hour days. We do a lot of hard work in the plant. Lots of heavy labor and lifting. Imagine standing up for ten hours. Then imagine also doing labor for that time. You get worn out. They try and get six hundred trucks past us per shift. That's too much."

Video: Detroit tenants denounce mass evictions

By Jerome White and James Brewer
11 May 2013
Hundreds of low-income Detroit residents are being forced from their homes as part of a plan by Detroit officials to gentrify the downtown area.
The World Socialist Web Site interviewed residents at both the Griswold building downtown and the Henry Street Apartments in the Cass Corridor. Henry Street residents were told to vacate their homes within 60 days.
Most of the residents are retired and low-income, and many require special assistance for medical conditions.

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The International Socialist Organization and the imperialist onslaught against Syria

By David North and Alex Lantier
11 May 2013
On May 1, the International Socialist Organization (ISO) released a statement, "Solidarity with the Syrian revolution," signed by a politically disparate and dubious group of "Syrian, Arab and international activists", in support of the imperialist-orchestrated conspiracy to remove the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The thoroughly reactionary and politically sinister character of this document is virtually self-evident. The ISO statement aims to provide a cynically-contrived pseudo-left cover, couched in the language of "human rights," for a proxy war being waged by reactionary mercenary forces financed and armed by US and European imperialism. The ISO statement blatantly falsifies the character of both Syria's Islamist opposition and US war aims in the Middle East, functioning as a propaganda instrument of power politics.
The timing of the statement's publication is politically significant. It occurs in the midst of an escalating propaganda campaign in the American and European media to prepare public opinion for direct military intervention in Syria and the installation of a puppet regime in Damascus. The day after the statement appeared, Israeli air strikes hit the Syrian capital.
The circumstances surrounding the production of this document, which emerged out of a gathering of the World Social Forum in March, stink to high hell. The World Social Forum is a "left" political front of hundreds of organizations operating in the orbit of major corporate-financed think tanks with connections to state intelligence agencies.
Held in Tunis, the World Social Forum offered middle class pseudo-left organizations the opportunity to rub shoulders, share drinks, and discuss mutual interests and strategies with scores of state intelligence operatives and established bourgeois politicians. The Tunis event was attended by the US Agency for International Development, which has a record of fronting for CIA operations in Asia and Latin America, and the think tanks of Germany's two leading bourgeois parties, the Social Democratic Party's Friedrich Ebert Stiftung and the Christian Democratic Union's Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. An especially prominent figure at the gathering was Frank-Walter Steinmeier, a leading right-wing figure in the German SPD who served as foreign minister between 2005 and 2009 in the coalition government of Chancellor Angela Merkel.
It requires no great political insight to recognize that the Tunis gathering was seen by the Obama administration and its European allies as an opportunity to orchestrate "popular" support for the escalation of its war plans in Syria. The ISO statement served this purpose.
Signi ficantly, the ISO does not identify the authors of the statement, let alone provide details of the discussions that preceded and accompanied its drafting. Nor does it offer information on precisely how signatories were gathered.
However it was drafted, or by whom, the published statement is an exercise in political obfuscation, evasion and deceit. It begins: "The following statement, signed by intellectuals, academics, artists, and activists from more than 30 countries, reminds the world that what is happening today is a people's revolution for freedom and dignity--and for that reason, it should be supported by all means."
If the world needs to be "reminded," it is because the bloody carnage carried out in Syria by the imperialist-backed mercenaries for the last two years bears no resemblance to a "people's revolution," let alone one for "freedom and dignity."
Washington, it s NATO allies, and the Saudi and Qatari monarchies are waging a bloody sectarian war, using far-right Sunni Islamist militias as proxies. US officials and media admit that the opposition's military spearhead is the Al Nusra Front, which emerged from Al Qaeda in Iraq--a terrorist group formed during the US occupation of that country--and recently pledged its loyalty to Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The US government itself has reported that, by last December, Al Nusra alone had carried out nearly 600 terror bombing attacks, killing thousands of Syrian civilians. Opposition forces have themselves told major media that they loot and destroy factories, such as pharmaceutical plants and granaries around Aleppo. They are responsible for sectarian massacres, such as that in Houla one year ago and, according to UN officials, for a poison gas attack that killed dozens of people in the village of Khan al-Asal.
Th e sectarian politics of the US-backed opposition find expression in the bloody ranting of leading Sunni cleric Sheikh Adnan al-Arur. Demanding "harsh and painful" punishment for the minority Alawite sect, from which the Assad regime's leading personnel is drawn, Arur pledged that if Alawites resist the opposition, "by Allah, we shall mince them in meat grinders, and we shall feed their flesh to the dogs." So much for the ISO's clap-trap about "freedom and dignity."
There is no great and unfathomable mystery about what is going on in the eastern Mediterranean and Levant. The Syrian war is the latest chapter in US imperialism's efforts--with the support of its ultra-reactionary Gulf State clients--to violently carry out a restructuring of Middle Eastern and Central Asian politics. Most clearly symbolized by Washington's installation of neo-colonial regimes after invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, this offensive has cost untold hundreds of thousands of lives. As part of this offensive, Syria, which appeared on "Axis of Evil" lists compiled by Bush administration officials, has been in Washington's gun sights for over a decade.
The ISO, lying through its teeth, presents this US intervention in the Middle East as progressive. It writes, "The fight in Syria is an extension of the fight for freedom regionally and worldwide. It cannot be divorced from the struggles of the Bahrainis, Egyptians, Tunisians, Libyans, Yemenis and other peoples who have revolted against oppression and authoritarianism."
These words are fraudulent demagogy. The ISO statement makes no attempt to explain, concretely, how the events in Syria are "an extension of the fight for freedom regionally and worldwide." In fact, the United States is regularly launching drone strikes and murdering Yemeni insurgents. Bahraini protests are being ruthlessly suppressed by the s ame regimes of the Gulf Cooperation Council that are playing a key role in financing the onslaught against Syria.
The comparison of the events in Syria to the Egyptian revolution is nothing short of obscene. The mass popular movement that unfolded in Egypt bore all the characteristics of a genuine revolution. Initial mass protests grew into a general strike, demanding the fall of Mubarak and better living standards for working people. The revolutionary movement unified Muslims and Christians participating in protests and strikes. And, in what was the surest sign of the popular and progressive character of the movement, it was opposed by American imperialism. The Obama administration supported Mubarak's attempts to crush the protests. Only after it became convinced that Mubarak could not be saved did the United States shift its counter-revolutionary tactics and promote the Muslim Brotherhood as an alternative to the old dictatorship.
Of the examples given by the ISO, there is only one that bears comparison to the ongoing struggle in Syria. The Libyan operation of 2011 was, as is now all too clear, a trial run for the intervention in Syria. Then, as now, the United States and its NATO allies backed and armed various Islamist terrorist groups to overthrow and murder Gaddafi. The outcome of that conspiracy has not been "freedom and dignity" for the Libyan masses, but the virtual destruction of society.
In the Syrian war, as in the 2011 Libyan war before it, whatever initial protests occurred were overwhelmed and utilized as a pretext for large-scale military intervention by Washington against a regime with which it had long-standing grievances. In both wars, Washington's key proxies were Sunni sectarian forces tied to Al Qaeda--veterans of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in Libya and the Al Nusra Front in Syria.
The ISO statement invents a narrative that grotesquely distorts reality. It writes, "This is a revolt that was sparked by the children of Deraa and the sit-ins and demonstrations of the youth in the cities, the peasants of the rural areas, and the dispossessed and marginalized of Syria. It is they who rallied nonviolently through protests and songs and chants, before the regime's brutal crackdown. Since then, the regime has pushed for the militarization of the Syrian nonviolent movement. As a result, young men took up arms, first out of self-defense."
In what must be one of the most bizarre uses of post-modernist jargon, the ISO attempts to rhetorically fumigate the murderous activities of Al Nusra by referring to its terror bombings as merely the "negation of the Other."
The ISO's presentation of the war is out-and-out State Department propaganda. The "militarization" of the opp osition's activity in Syria was not a secondary aspect of its response to the Assad regime's actions, but the central element of a strategy of escalation and regime change agreed upon with its foreign backers.
The opposition's early June 2011 attack on Jisr al-Shughour came two days after a US-backed opposition council was established in Antalya, Turkey. Its first major campaign in Aleppo in February 2012, kicked off by a terror bombing which US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper attributed to Al Qaeda, was followed by news that US drones were overflying Syria. After the opposition campaign on Damascus in the late spring of 2012, which began with the May 10 Damascus car bombing and the May 25 Houla massacre, the New York Times confirmed that US intelligence was arming the opposition.
Since then, the Syrian opposition's violent character and the aid and materiel it receives from the CIA a nd its allies, measured in the thousands of tons, have been a matter of public record. Nonetheless, despite this assistance, the opposition has proven incapable of bringing down Assad--a fact that testifies to the lack of support for its far-right, jihadist politics.
There is no question but that Bashar al-Assad heads a repressive bourgeois regime that is guilty of countless crimes against the Syrian working class. As is the case in all the former colonial countries in the Middle East, the incapacity of the bourgeoisie to carry through a genuinely democratic restructuring of society led to the establishment of quasi-Bonapartist dictatorial regimes, in which democratic rights were ruthlessly suppressed. However, it is a basic axiom of socialist politics that the overthrow of these regimes is the task of the working class. The struggle for democracy and socialism cannot under any circumstances be outsourced to the imperialist powers and their proxies.
A socialist perspective in Syria proceeds historically from its character as an oppressed, ex-colonial country, whose sectarian divisions are rooted in the imperialist carve-up of the Middle East--in Syria, that of the Ottoman Empire after World War I by Britain and France. The task of overcoming these sectarian tensions and securing the economic resources to ensure prosperity for all can be solved only by the unified struggle of the Middle Eastern masses for socialism. In this struggle, as Leon Trotsky's Theory of Permanent Revolution explains, the leading role falls to the working class, in a struggle against imperialism.
Such a struggle entails the revolutionary unification of workers in Syria, Iraq, Israel, Egypt and the Arabian peninsula across all ethnic and religious lines, the overthrow of the reactionary sheikhdoms in the Persian Gulf, which monopolize most of the region's oil revenues, and a common struggle with the American and European working class against the threat of imperialist intervention.
By aligning itself with the Islamist opposition in Syria and its backers in Washington, the ISO demonstrates its hostility to all of these struggles. It is contributing to the defense of the privileges of the opposition's paymasters--the Persian Gulf royals and their US and European overlords--and to stirring the region's sectarian tensions, which are inflamed by the opposition's massacres and right-wing propaganda. The interests it is serving are not progressive, but reactionary.
The agenda behind US imperialism's drive to war was bluntly laid out in a May 6 Wall Street Journal editorial. It wrote, "The immediate goal would be to limit the proliferation of WMD [Weapons of Mass Destruction], but the most important strategic goal continues to be to defeat Iran, our main adversary in the reg ion. The risks of a jihadist [i.e., Al Qaeda] victory in Damascus are real, at least in the short term, but they are containable by Turkey and Israel."
That is to say, the Journal views an Islamist victory in Syria as a step towards Washington's key strategic goal: the defeat of the Iranian regime and the establishment of full US hegemony over the oil-rich Middle East. This hegemony would be exercised first of all against Washington's geopolitical rivals in Russia and China, who have supported Assad. These international conflicts underlying the Syrian war refute the ISO's claim that it is backing a revolution.
The ISO attempts to make light of its open alliance with imperialism by commenting ironically: "The Syrian revolution has confronted a world upside down, one where states that were allegedly friends of the Arabs such as Russia, China, and Iran have stood in support of the slaughter of the peop le, while states that never supported democracy or independence, especially the US and its Gulf allies, have intervened in support of the revolutionaries."
No, it is not the world, but the analysis of the ISO that is "upside down." Is it really necessary to explain that Wall Street, the Pentagon, the major oil firms, and the crowned heads of the Persian Gulf sheikhdoms are not fighting for a revolution? Is it not far more likely that the ISO, in keeping with the evolution of so many other pseudo-left organizations of the middle class, is pursuing a political line that is determined by the US State Department?
There is the matter of the signatories of this letter. As we have already noted, the ISO does not explain how this disparate group was rounded up and induced to politically prostitute themselves in the interests of imperialism.
Some of the signatories, such as Tariq Ali , Gilbert Achcar, Sherry Wolf and Michael Löwy, have long associations with the reactionary political intrigues of the rightward-moving pseudo-left parties. Many, however, have doubtless been roped in under the fraudulent banner of human rights--and have signed the declaration, probably without even reading it and without any serious knowledge of what is taking place in Syria. Such individuals should reconsider their association with this reactionary pro-war propaganda exercise and have their names removed from the list of signatories.
As for the ISO, it has irrevocably and comprehensively exposed itself as an instrument of US imperialism, using lies and euphemisms to drum up support for aggression against Syria. It is a political accessory to the crimes being committed against the Syrian people, and a direct accomplice of imperialism.

New pamphlet on 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation

Mehring Books is pleased to announce the publication of a new pamphlet commemorating the 150th anniversary of US President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation.
Marx aptly called the Emancipation Proclamation "the most important document in American history since the establishment of the Union." The executive order issued by President Lincoln in the midst of the Civil War freed some four million slaves in rebel-held areas of the South, one of the largest property transfers in history.
While in official circles the anniversary of the proclamation has received little notice, its implications continue to reverberate to this day. Thics bold, revolutionary action serves as an inspiration to oppressed masses all over the world in the struggle against class exploitation. Meanwhile, the American ruling class, resembling more and more the old slavocracy of the South, rejects the democratic principles of the American Revolution and Civil War.
This pamphlet brings together five essays by WSWS writers on the Emancipation Proclamation and issues related to the struggle against slavery, including an interview with American Civil War historian James McPherson. It will appeal to both students of American history and those new to the subject.
Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation is available in print, pdf and epub format.
Lincoln and the Emancipation ProclamationPublisher: Socialist Equality Party
Pages: 38
Pamphlet: $3.50
Digital: $1.99

WSWS 15th Anniversary Chronology: The Year in Review 2010

This week, the WSWS posted its thirteenth installment in the year-by-year chronology marking 15 years of continuous publication. We urge SEP supporters to study the Chronology, and review how the great events, political issues, social processes, and cultural and intellectual controversies of the last 15 years were reported on and analyzed by the WSWS. Read the full essay for 2010 and previous years here.
The events of 2010 made clear that the economic slump stemming from the 2008 financial crash was not merely a cyclical downturn. Rather, it represented a fundamental breakdown of the world capitalist system and a turning point in class relations on a global scale.
In response to the sovereign debt crisis, particularly the state bankruptcies of Greece and Ireland, the European ruling classes adopted a policy of savage austerity. They launched a social counterrevolution aimed at the destruction of the post-World War II European welfare system. In the United States, the Obama administration initiated major attacks on health care under the guise of "reform" and presided over the worst recession since the 1930s.

Protesters clash with policemen during riots at a May Day rally in Athens | Photo credit: PIAZZA del POPOLO
A series of natural and social disasters--beginning with the earthquake in Haiti in January that killed 200,000 people--cast light on the consequences of social inequality and the historic failure of the capitalist system.
International relations became increasingly unstable, with American imperialism the driving force for military aggression, not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but ultimately against Iran and China. This was combined with attacks on democratic rights internationally, as the ruling class in each country sought to prepare repressive measures to deal with mass resistance and social upheavals.
In anticipation of major developments in the class struggle, the International Committee of the Fourth International held founding congresses of its sections in Australia, Britain and Germany, while a congress of the SEP in the US adopted a party program. The year also saw a major development in the ICFI's campaign in defense of the ideas and legacy of Leon Trotsky.
Read the full essay for 2010 and previous years here.