Chile: The beginning of the end of neoliberalism?

Samuel F, a former member of the ISO now active in Chile, offers these reflections.


After more than 40 days of almost non-stop demonstrations things are on the surface somewhat quieter on the streets of Chilean cities. Quieter does not mean “normal” in any sense of the word – the streets are filled with political graffiti, today we were sent home early from work, and shops are boarded up to repel looters; on the other hand at least one can go about life without constantly worrying about getting tear gassed. It is common to hear people discussing politics in the streets – something rarely heard before, and hatred of the police is a more or less universal phenomena. The recent viral hit “Un violador en tu camino“ not only attacks rape culture, but also targets state violence quoting in irony the hymn of the national police force, Carabineros. On a personal level, most people are utterly exhausted both physically and emotionally, and according to news reports demand for psychological consultations has gone off the scale since the start of the crisis.

Politically, the president Piñera is doing all that he can to remain in office, and at the same time being politically isolated including by his own party. His strategy can be described as both a war of attrition against the protestors, and an attempt to divert the movement against the government by pushing a law and order agenda. The law and order agenda appears to be faltering a little, not least because a city council representative from his own right-wing party was recently arrested for organizing the looting of a shopping mall. The fizzle of the law and order strategy is promising, because by reducing the call for a crackdown amongst certain sectors, in particular small business – the short term risks of further violence and economic deterioration have receded somewhat. [Read more…]

Why voting Democratic hasn’t preserved choice

The Clintons on parade for Bill Clinton's inauguration in 1997 (White House)

The Clintons on parade for Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1997 (White House)

Elizabeth Schulte makes the case that a woman’s right to choose abortion won’t be defended by subordinating our struggle to the needs of the Democratic Party.

DONALD TRUMP gave abortion rights supporters a frightening glimpse of what an administration he commands might do when he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews earlier this month that “[t]here has to be some form of punishment” for women who have illegal abortions. [Read more…]

Mass protests grow on the streets of Hong Kong

Protests getting bigger by late afternoon Monday (Photo: Sue Sparks)

Protests getting bigger by late afternoon Monday (Photo: Sue Sparks)

The mass protests on the streets of Hong Kong over the past few days have been inspiring. The protests started with university students holding class boycotts and then public lectures in central Hong Kong. These led to an occupation of Civic Square, a space – as its name suggests – which is supposed to be open to the public but that has recently been fortified with huge fences. After prevaricating, the leaders of the movement called Occupy Central, which had planned to occupy roads in the central business district on October 1st, decided to bring the date forward and essentially merge the movements.

On Sunday, the students were joined by tens of thousands of other Hongkongers, mostly, but not exclusively, young. The police blocked access to the main protest site. They expected that they could simply move in and arrest the core group, while everyone else drifted off home. This didn’t happen. They were frustrated by the sheer numbers of people who decided to break through the over stretched police lines and take possession of a series of key roads in the centre of the city, where many of them remain. The police surrounding the original protest essentially got surrounded themselves. They attempted to dislodge the protesters with pepper spray, tear gas and baton charges, but failed. The riot police were withdrawn this [Monday] morning, who knows for how long. Meanwhile, protests spread to other parts of the city, including Nathan Road in Mong Kok, Kowloon, one of the city’s main roads, and another major retail and business area, Causeway Bay. [Read more…]

Modi: Behind the Mask

ImageSajeev Kumar, a Socialist Review reader, offers his thoughts on the recent elections in India:

Saffron is the colour of hindutva, but for quite some time, it is also the colour of death or shivering fear for the religious minorities of India. For some of them, it is the colour that made their life colourless, it is the colour that brings back chilling memories of those days they ran for life, leaving behind everything and everyone they thought precious till that moment, it is the colour that made them refugees in their own land.


The streets were full of blood. People with Trishuls and swords ran amok like blood-thirsty devils, looking for Muslims or non-Hindus. Within 72 hours there were more than 2000 corpse on the streets, including children and pregnant women. No one was spared, and nothing but religion was considered. Nobody was there to hear their heart-breaking screams. Nobody was there to save them, because, all these were well planned and arranged.  [Read more…]

Tokyo Elections and the Future of the Anti-Nuclear Movement

NoNukes2011What to make of the Tokyo gubernatorial election results? How can we organize a campaign to stop reactivating nuclear power plants that connects the whole country? How effective is the “single-issue” focus?


On 9 February, amidst the biggest snowfall in 45 years Tokyo held its gubernatorial election. Only 46.14% of eligible voters turned out, the third lowest turnout on record. The winner was former Health and Welfare Minister Yoichi Masuzoe who won with 2, 112,979 votes, with the backing of the ruling Liberal Democratic (LDP) and the New Komeito parties.


Kenji Utsunomiya, an attorney and former President of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations, came second. Utsunomiya came second the last time he ran for governor, in 2012, winning some 970 000 votes. The 2012 gubernatorial election was held on the same day as the general election due to the then Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s abrupt resignation. Despite the 16% drop in voter turnout – 140,000 fewer votes were cast than in the 2012 election – this time round Utsunomiya still managed to win 982,594 votes and exceed his 2012 efforts. Former Prime Minister Morihiro Hosokawa, backed by former Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro, ran on a single-issue platform of eliminating nuclear power. He came a close third receiving 956,063 votes. [Read more…]

Syria: No to Assad, No to US Imperialism

Syria-Civil-WarThe Syrian civil war has come about as a response to the rule of Bashar al-Assad who succeeded his father in the year 2000, coming into presidency with strong support of the people and with aspirations of democracy and secularism. However, as his presidency unfolded, not much changed for the Syrian people. The economy was still strongly controlled by the authorities and any signs of uprising or Arab Spring type movements were not met “democratically”.

This crackdown began by heavy monitoring of the internet, which led to nationwide detainment, torturing and killing of political dissidents. The official civil war didn’t begin until early 2011. Many people, inspired by the Arab Spring, felt it was time to protest for reform and demanded Assad resign. The regime was met with the biggest protests in decades – their response was to mow these unarmed protesters down right across the country. [Read more…]

Hezbollah and the Syrian Revolution

SyriaImageHezbollah fought on the front lines against Israeli aggression against Lebanon in 2006, winning respect from Sunni and Shia in Lebanon and all opponents of Zionism. But Hezbollah fighters have now turned their fire on the rebels fighting to overthrow Assad’s regime in Syria, raising the risk of the Arab Spring becoming a sectarian war in Syria and Lebanon. Sam Campbell reports from Lebanon. [Read more…]

The Legacy of Hugo Chavez: Venezuela and the Bolivarian Revolution

hugo_chavez_by_drunahHugo Chavez was a figure that had the neoliberals of the world worried. He led a democratic sweep of changes across his country, appropriating businesses, nationalizing oil wealth and providing services for the people and the poor, something that, according to the logic of the market’s apologists, cannot work. For all that Time magazine called him ‘garrulous and pugnacious’, workers and the poor in Venezuela voted for him time and again, in elections that have been declared some of the freest in the world. Chavez’s mandate was real, his achievements – from healthcare to welfare – notable, and his networks of support substantial. And this is to say nothing of the support he gathered internationally when he spoke out against Bush and Blair’s War on Terror. He became a leader for progressive people worldwide.

However, Venezuela is still part of the capitalist world; it is no socialist paradise. The inherent contradictions of world capitalism still have their vicious effects in Venezuelan society. So what is Hugo Chavez’s legacy? [Read more…]

The Arab Revolutions Two Years On

Arab-Spring-women-EgyptWhat has come in the West to be called the ‘Arab spring’ was one of the largest outpourings of anger at corruption and injustice in the Arab world in many decades. It saw dictators forced from their palaces, and the people of many nations embrace their ability to make this change. It saw the resurgence of strikes and protests in countries that had not seen such things in years, or even decades, and inspired similar actions in other countries all over the globe from Europe to the Americas and everywhere in between. [Read more…]

Lies, damned lies and weapons of mass destruction

9b96c62ca0003d7b5cd056b82275efb0_XLMarch 19-20 marks 10 years since the beginning of the war on Iraq. Before the war, Socialist Alternative argued, along with other opponents of US imperialism, that the war was predicated upon lies and would bring nothing but death and carnage to Iraq.

There are times you would love to be proven wrong. This was one of them. But the reality of the destruction of Iraq was significantly worse than most people expected. Ten years on, the country has not even begun to recover.

Every war is based on lies – whether it be lies that German soldiers bayonetted babies and raped nuns in Belgium, or lies that Iraqi soldiers removed premature Kuwaiti babies from incubators. No empire is ever honest about its plans to dominate other countries. Here are the lies they told 10 years ago. [Read more…]