Of course, human-made disasters are not new. Since societies became divided into classes and since the creation of states there has always been struggle, war, inequality and oppression.
Many of these disasters have led to the deaths of millions. This includes the many wars of colonial invasion and expansion, the hideous slave trade, the mass slaughter of two world wars, the holocaust and the millions of deaths caused by poverty arising from the exploitation of neo-colonialism, third world debt and inequitable trade.
And yet the dangers today are even greater because the betrayal of Soviet and east European socialism, led by the Gorbachov clique of counter-revolutionaries has allowed imperialism to slip the leash and left the third world countries without the friendship and alliance of a major power.
There is a growing awareness of this stale of affairs in the upsurge of anti-capitalist and anti-globalisation demonstrations around the world.
The word "imperialism" would he more accurate than the term "globalisation", but "imperialism" is all too often misunderstood and is commonly used to simply describe "colonialism" or "empire building".
Lenin defined imperialism in his work: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism, written in 1916, as the following:
A phenomenon that will include these live features.
1) [when] the concentration of production and capital has developed to such a high stage that it has created monopolies which play a decisive role in economic life.
2) the merging of bank capital with industrial capital, and the creation, on the basis of this "finance capital", of a financial oligarchy;
3) the export of capital as distinguished from the export of commodities acquires exceptional importance;
4) the fommation of international monopolist capitalist associations which share the world among themselves, and
5) the territorial division of the whole world among the biggest capitalist powers is completed."
Since 1916 the characteristics of imperialism have intensified. Modern communications and technology have enabled the international capitalist networks to operate both more widely and more rapidly. Monopolisation has concentrated enormous economic power in the hands of a few giant transnational companies and leading banks, inequalities between those who work and those who exploit have increased both nationally and between countries.
And yet the very revolution that Lenin was a part of was to act as a restraint upon the imperialist powers for 70 years. Not only did the Soviet Union and the other states that adopted socialism create whole areas of the world where imperialism could not penetrate, they also provided a source of aid and strength for others to find liberation and progress.
The counter-revolution in the Soviet Union was a huge setback for humanity. It threw crisis-ridden imperialism a lifeline by handing the former socialist countries on a plate to the exploiters. For the first time in decades the biggest imperialist powers could act without the restraining hand of a socialist super-power.
The strongest of these powers, the United States, has grown steadily in arrogance and aggression. It no longer bothers to declare its wars or seek endorsement from the United Nations for its actions. It just uses its huge arsenals, built up during the years of the Cold War and designed to fight a power of more or less equal size, against any third world countries it decides are not sufficiently compliant and bombs them into the ground.
The US should not really be so surprised that it has been attacked nor that it is having difficulty keeping its war coalition together.
But the answer is not to commit acts that kill or harm thousands of American, or any other, citizens. The only answer for humanity is socialism. The only future for humanity is socialism and the only peace we can keep will come through socialism.
This is the struggle of our age -- to oppose imperialism, to struggle for a socialist future and in the immediate moment to demand an end to this bloody imperialist war!
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by our Arab affairs correspondent
ANGLO-AMERICAN IMPERIALISM is continuing to pound Afghanistan amid growing fears of a widening war. Indian forces have started to bombard Pakistani positions along the cease-fire line in Kashmir.
A reactionary Zionist politician has been gunned down in Jerusalem and the seat of American government has been closed following a possible terror anthrax attack.
Nearly 700 civilians have died in day and night rocket and bombing raids on all the major cities in Afghanistan according to Taleban reports from Kabul. But Western dreams of speedy victory are fast fading. Taleban fighters are moving north to repel a Northern Alliance drive on the strategic city of Mazar-e-Sharif and their morale still appears to be high.
US Secretary of State Colin Powell is in the region trying to keep both India and Pakistan on side in the imperialist war. But anti-American demonstrations are getting bigger in Pakistan and Delhi has taken advantage of the crisis to settle some old scores in Kashmir.
India accuses Pakistan of arming Kashmiri nationalists, who only last week planted a devastating bomb in the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. This week Indian artillery opened up on Pakistani positions all along the cease-fire line that divides the disputed province of Kashmir. Pakistani forces are on high alert and the fighting is continuing.
Zionist minister killed
In the Middle East, Western manoeuvres to keep the Arabs quiet while the Afghans are crushed are also unravelling. It began well with a summit behveen Tony Blair and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat in London aimed at reviving the so-called "peace process".
Though the talks went well hopes of dampening down the Palestinian uprising faded Wednesday morning with the assassination of an Arab-hating Zionist leader in the heart of Jerusalem.
Rehavam Zeevi, the leader of the National Union Party, was fatally wounded in his room at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Jerusalem. The two Arab resistance fighters who carried out the operation escaped. Two days earlier he left the Israeli Cabinet and pulled out of the ruling coalition following remarks by the prime minister, General Sharon, to the effect that Tel Aviv might be ready to recognise a Palestinian state under closely defined Israeli terms.
Zeevi was hated by many Palestinian Arabs. He once referred to them as "lice" and repeatedly called for them to be driven out of the occupied territories to make room for Zionist settlers.
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) ordered the attack to avenge the murder of their leader by Israeli forces last August. "We vowed to avenge the killing of leader Abu Ali Mustafa and we fulfilled our promise" they said in a communique released soon after the assassination.
Capitol building closed
Now an anthrax scare is sweeping the United States following last week's death and the despatch of contaminated letters to prominent Americans. The US Capitol, the centre of the American government has been closed for tests after 31 Senate employees tested positive for anthrax exposure.
Most of them worked in the office of Senate Majority leader Tom Daschle, who received an anthrax letter in the post last week. New York Governor George Pataki said there was "a likelihood" that his own Manhattan offices had been contaminated by an anthrax letter.
According to the FBI the letters sent to Senator Daschle and NBC news anchorman Tom Brokaw contained the messages "Death to America" and "God is Great".
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) warns that as many as 100,000 Afghan children could die this winter unless food reaches them in sufficient quantities over the next six weeks.
UNICEF spokesman Eric Laroche said the organisation needs $36 million to carry out its "barest emergency work" inside the country, but so far it has only received half that amount.
Laroche added that the combination of drought, years of civil unrest and the US bombardments have made the crisis facing children in Afghanistan one of the worst scenarios possible.
He added that if you are a child born in Afghanistan today you are 25 times more likely to die before the age of five than an American. a French or a Saudi Arabian child. Laroche pointed out that more than half the children in Afghanistan were already undernourished and 300,000 Afghan children die each year from preventable causes.
All round the world the demand to stop the bombing is growing. This war must stop now!
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by Renee Sams
"OVER THE last year, council tenants and trades unionists have come together to resist the continuing drive towards selling off council housing," Mark Weeks, the national co-ordinator of the Defend Council Housing campaign, told a meeting of council tenants last Wednesday 10 October.
He was speaking at the Community Hall on the Collingwood Estate in Stepney, east London.
Tenants on the estate fear the London Borough of Tower Hamlets wants to privatise it. Entrepreneurs are eager to get their hands on this prime property, to put rents up and make plenty of profit.
"The aim of the meeting," said Mark -- who is a council tenant in nearby Poplar -- "is to decide how to take the campaign forward.
"We are told the council has no money for council housing. But at the recent Labour conference, Trade and Industry Secretary Stephen Byers has said that councils would now be able to borrow 'against their assets'."
Bernie Cameron, of the borough-wide Tenants' Compact group -- an organisation that talks to tenants, the council and the companies -- openly expressed his distrust of the council.
He recalled when he was young, hearing Clem Attlee speak in Stepney, saying that never again would people be homeless. Social housing would be there to provide decent homes for all those who needed them -- forever.
"Now they can't wait," he said, "to sell off as many council homes as possible. And under the tenants' right to buy policy, many homes have already been sold.
"Tower Hamlets," he told his audience, "has now decided to hold a referendum to ask tenants whether they want to stay as council tenants or do they want to take up other housing options."
Bernie told the meeting that he is worried that the council "may try to force the vote by arguing that they have no money and it would be better for tenants to go for choices."
Veteran campaigner Tony Benn recalled that his grandfather had been born in Stepney in 1850, his father had been a councillor in the area and that he had been brought up on the policies of public services and social housing.
On the escalation of house prices, he said: "One reason for this is the buying of houses for investment instead of homes."
He reminded people that the attack on social housing had started under Thatcher, who had promoted the idea of Britain being 'a country of home-owners.
"And then we became a country of home-buyers with large mortgages," said Tony. "And New Labour have taken that a step further and now everything has to be market-oriented."
But when it came to money, he pointed to the now bankrupt Railtrack that the Government has found £370 million to bail out.
He recalled that in 1921 Poplar council was led by George Lansbury, who had been prepared to defy the Government and go to prison rather than levy a rate.
That council had put up a fight for the people of Poplar and Tony stressed that now "councillors should be our leaders in this fight".
Councillor David Edgar, who heads the borough housing committee and is a former chairperson of Poplar HARCA, (housing association) denied that the council is intent on privatisation.
He said that HARCAs are non-profit-making and, "We are not talking about privatisation by big corporations." And he added that many housing associations are charities.
"It is all about giving people a choice," he said, "and getting the housing stock up to a standard that the council cannot do without Government money -- which they do not allow us to borrow.
"The council budget will be running into serious problems in the next few years."
He revealed that one reason the council will have less money is that "more and more people are exercising their right to buy. We need to tell people about the alternatives and make a judgement on what is realistic."
John McCoughlin, chair of Tower Hamlets Unison housing branch noted that Byers "had opened the door on council borrowing".
He asked why? "Because people are voting against transfers," he said, "campaigns against privatisation are growing and so are the problems of those who have been sold off to housing corporations."
Tower Hamlet's enormous debt problem has not been helped by the council pressing to sell off its housing stock, he said.
"They said getting rid of housing offices, contracting out repairs would save £1 million. But this move has cost the borough £13 million. They have also spent £15 million on a call centre which has proved useless."
John asked the audience for a show of hands on whether they wanted to keep their council houses or go for an alternative. The result was a unanimous vote to keep council housing.
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Russian Communist Workers Party statement
Dividing peoples into the ranks of the civilised and the outcast is nothing but fascism.
The US have commenced air strikes on Afghanistan. Under the pretext of "fighting terrorism" they are bombing not just the military targets, but also cities, transport routes and the means of life support.
President Bush and the leaders of the countries that grovel before the US declare hypocritically that the victims amongst civilians are inevitable. But the honourable aims set forth are worth it, they say. They also made it clear that this will be a protracted war, and that they may hit any country where US believes terrorists are present.
In their speeches, the leaders of the so-called anti-terrorist alliance are already drawing the line between those who are with them and the rest of the world. The demagogic hysteria that was started in order to provide ideological support for the aggression denotes this operation by a term quite in spirit of Dr. Goebbels: "Enduring Freedom". Like the "Thousand-year Reich"; the interests of the Reich or of this very freedom are above all. Under this new slogan the US are in practice pursuing their well-established policy of military expansionism and forcible interference in the life of any people, the policy imposition of a world order according to their own standard.
The US make virtually no effort to conceal their plans for dominating the world and are acting as brazenly and mendaciously as their Nazi predecessors in the 1930's and 1940's. The fascist propagandist slogans they are re-using are undergoing only minor editing: George W. Bush altered the infamous neo-Nazi "God is with us" motto into the modern "God is not neutral."
However, the essence does not change as a result of obscuring
the emphasis. The candidates to establish a world order have started acting.
One can already hear: "Heil democracy! Freedom is enduring!"
This is fascism. Ahead lies the struggle against it.
First Secretary CC RCWP - Viktor Tiulkin
CC Secretaries - Yuri Terentiev, Boris Yachmenev
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by Caroline Colebrook
THE GIANT aircraft engine manufacturer, Rolls Royce, is reported to be considering cutting a further 4,000 jobs, in addition to 6,000 already announced last August.
Worldwide, the company employs some 43,000 staff and was planning major cutbacks even before the events of 11 September.
Most of the cuts will be at the group's Derby factory which employs 14,000.
Rolls Royce also employs about 2,000 workers at three Scottish plants at Hillingdon, East Kilbride and Dalgety Bay in Fife.
Airlines across the world have been forced to ground planes in the wake of the 11 September attacks and many have postponed the delivery of new aircraft.
A spokesperson for Rolls Royce said: "Since the attacks we have been working with our customers to evaluate the impact on them and on our own business. We will give a measured assessment soon."
The marine, defence and energy divisions of Rolls Royce have been largely unaffected in the wake of the attacks but the civil aircraft division generates 54 per cent of the company's turnover.
The American giant Hoeing has also announced huge job cuts - 30,000 by the end of next year. More than 10,000 of these will be from the company's civil aircraft division.
Rolls Royce supplies engines for Boeings 757 and 777 planes.
Meanwhile the partial privatisation of Britain's air traffic control system, Nats, may come apart as cash-strapped airlines are forced to withdraw from the consortium.
They are suffering from a dramatic fall in business since 11 September although many were in serious trouble before then.
Rolls Royce's long-separated twin is also in trouble. The plant in Crewe which now manufactures Bentley and Rolls Royce cars has been put on a three-day week because of a collapse In business in the United States - the most important market.
Although they share a factory, different German motor manufacturers now own Bentley and Rolls Royce cars.
Sales of Bentley, now owned by Volkswagen, fell 60 per cent below forecast levels in the month after 11 September. No one is buying these cars which cost at least $212,000.
Rolls accounts for 20 per cent of this plant's production and has been hit in the same way - though its sales were already down by 30 per cent after uncertainty in connection with the transfer of ownership to BMW.
The 2,500 Crewe employees will be given an extended Christmas break while their bosses hope the slump is temporary.
In the Midlands, TWR Aeronautical systems - a US-owned aerospace group, last week announced plans to cut 1,100 jobs after a decline in orders. Around 670 will go from British sites and the rest in Europe, south-east Asia and North America.
TRW said the defence side of its business - which accounts for 25 per cent of sales - has yet to see any real improvement from the war situation and any future upsurge would not protect the company from the crisis in the civil aviation industry.
At Prestwick in Ayrshire, GE Caledonian - part of the American giant General Electric - is also cutting jobs.
The German-owned Siemens communications company is going ahead with 2,000 job cuts in its mobile phone business by not renewing the short-term contracts of its workers. In total the company will shed some 5,000 workers, many on Tyneside.
British Telecom is also axing between 800 and 1,000 jobs in London and the south-east of England as it pulls out of Concert, its loss-making joint venture with America's AT&T.
Each side will take the parts it contributed to Concert in 1998, leaving BT with a loss of £1.2 billion.
Closing the venture will cost a total of 2,300 jobs from Concert's 6,300 workforce on both sides of the Atlantic. BT has set aside £200 million for redundancy and restructuring.
The pattern of these job losses was well established before 11 September but many companies are using the attacks as an excuse to pile on even more job cuts.
It is true there is a real and unpredicted drop in business for the civil aviation industry. But many of these companies also have defence departments, which are clearly expected to make a fine profit if the war on Afghanistan continues. Yet they are still cutting the jobs to maximise those profits rather than investing in retraining.
But capitalism is a terrible system that depends on making war on an impoverished and defenceless country to make the wheels of the economy keep turning.
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