International

Socialism and Freedom

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WHAT IS IT that most ordinary people want in life? Is it something unreal or utopian? No. The goals which most people have are quite modest. A good standard of living and freedom to live our lives the way we want to. Instead we have to put with unemployment, low pay, insecure employment, drudgery. We are pushed around, bullied or dominated by bosses and faceless bureaucrats. All of this to make a small group of people, the ruling class, wealthy beyond most peoples' wildest dreams.

37% illegally underpaid in Northern Ireland & Britain

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WAGES COUNCILS, which used to set minimum wages in badly paid industries like catering, in Northern Ireland & Britain are no more. As reported in the last edition of Workers Solidarity they were abolished by the Tories on February 7th.

After Berlusconi's election Women's Rights, Sex and the Pope - interview

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ITALY SEEMS all bad news these days with the new government coalition's that is a mix of the neo-fascist party National Alliance, the separatist Lega Nord and Forza Italia the party of the media tycoon, Berlusconi. What we hear less of in Ireland is the opposition to these forces. A member of the Florence affiliate of the Italian Anarchist Federation tells us of some of the problems facing progressives in Italy.

The arguments for drug de-criminalisation

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THE LEGALISATION OF CANNABIS is now being debated openly by sections of the European ruling class. In localised areas like Amsterdam they have been conducting a 20 year experiment into the effects of legalisation. In Switzerland they are experimenting with the de-criminalisation of small quantities of heroin. According to the British Guardian one well-known brewery, Carlsberg-Tetley, has been investigating the hash cafes of Amsterdam with a view to running similar establishments in Britain. In Italy a referendum in March of 1993 ended the obligatory penal sentence for cannabis possession and in Germany earlier this year the Supreme Court suggested personal possession of drugs should not be prosecuted.

Evolution or Revolution?

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THE IDEA OF evolution has always been important to socialists. Except for a handful of utopians most have thought of socialism in terms of human progress and improvment. This idea was given a scientific basis in the nineteenth century by socialists who saw society as evolving through stages towards socialism (not that it would stop here socialism would just be the end of pre-history real history could then begin.) Most socialists believed that the struggle towards socialism was a striving of people to develop and move forward.

Review of The Poll Tax Rebellion by Danny Burns.

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IN THE LAST issue of Workers Solidarity we discussed the proposed introduction of service charges in Dublin. We pointed out how they were a grossly unfair form of double taxation on ordinary PAYE workers. How can they be resisted? A refusal to pay campaign in Waterford, Dublin and Limerick beat the water rates in the 1980s we believe a don't pay, don't collect campaign can do so again. Conor Mc Loughlin examines a new book on how the Poll Tax was beaten in the UK.

The Poll Tax Rebellion by Danny Burns.
AK Press.
£4.95 (available from WSM Book Service)

Bosnia, Rwanda and UN intervention

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The WSM has always said socialists should not support any intervention by the UN anywhere. What is currently happening in Bosnia and Rwanda demonstrates the reasons why we should not call on the UN to intervene.

In Europe most people have favoured intervention from an early period in ex-Yugoslavia. Initially this would have been in the support of Croatia, now it would be for Bosnia. Yet despite the popular acclaim such intervention would receive (in its early days), it has not happened. Why? Because our rulers have decided it is not in their interests to do so.

Edouard Balladur retreats in face of mass protests in France

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PRIME MINISTER Edouard Balladur and his government have been in retreat over the last six months as the people of France take to the streets to demonstrate their anger at new policies. The government has backed down on Air France (see last issue of WS), on extra funds for church schools and with the fishermen. The turn of the students of France came when the government proposed to cut the miniumm wage by 20% for people under 26.

Thats' Capitalism from WS42

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In spite of the Employment Equality Act and the Anti- Discrimination (Pay) Act many employers still get away with treating women workers worse than male employees. More than fifteen years after the introduction of equal pay laws in the 26 counties, women workers earn only 62% of men's average earnings. On an hourly basis they are paid, on average, #2 less.

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60% of the tax relief in the 26 counties on mortgage interest and VHI premiums goes to the top 20% of earners. Only 5% goes to the bottom half.

Thats Capitalism from WS42

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In 1977 part-time women workers in Britain earned 83% of the full-time hourly rate for women. By 1992 they earned only 73% of the hourly rate.

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In the Indonesian archipelago only 7% of land has a clear owner. Most is communally owned and administered by villages and families. That's no good for capitalism says the World Bank. they are working with the Indonesian Government to change things by compiling a register of land owners. In the next 25 years they hope to register 54 million parcels of land.

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