frontline 17.


From La Paz to Gleneagles

Across the world something is stirring. The idea that the neo-liberal world order cannot be opposed is being challenged. Workers, peasants and poor people from every continent are standing up and saying no to privatisation. They are saying no to the theft of the world’s resources in the name of private profit. They are saying no to the run-down of the welfare state and they are opposing the environmental destruction and havoc that is being wreaked by governments who act in the interest of corporations and not people. The millions who marched against the war, who opposed the imperialist intervention into Iraq of the US, Britain and their allies are on the move again.

In Pakistan 62,000 workers from 9 unions in the telecommunications sector take strike action against privatisation. The United Action Committee occupies telephone exchanges across the country and paralyses the government’s plans to sell-off the profitable state telephone network. The government of George Bush’s favourite leader General Musharaf sends troops to take over key locations. The head of the union side says “They (troops) are very much here for the protection of the company’s interests.” Union leaders are forced underground to avoid arrest. Despite hundreds of strikers being arrested, union members stand up to the government threats and refuse to give in.

In Bolivia tens of thousands of demonstrators bring the country to a halt. Indigenous people unite with miners and teachers in protest at plans to sell off Bolivia’s vast gas resources to foreign multinationals. In 2001-2002 Bolivian workers and peasants brought down the Bolivian government when it tried to privatise water resources. This time the movement demands the nationalisation of the oil and gas industry. Bolivia is a country which suffers from gross inequalities of wealth as does the whole of South America. Indigenous people are the poorest in this poor country and they can take no more.

Faced with a mass movement which shuts down the country, President Carlos Mesa resigns and fresh elections look likely. This gives the government the chance to move the struggle from the streets to the electoral field. Evo Morales, the leader of the Movement for Socialism (MAS) backs down on demands for nationalisation, but is eyed with suspicion by Washington as a potential future ‘Chavez’, another radical leader in Latin America.

In South Africa, the poor neighbourhoods and townships around Cape Town erupt in protests against the inaction of the ANC government. The government have gone along with neo-liberal economic policies that have failed to address the crisis of homelessness and poverty faced by the majority of South African’s. In France and the Netherlands voters reject the neo-liberal EU constitution and call for a social Europe.

In Scotland, Edinburgh braces itself for the arrival of up to a million demonstrators. Protestors from a wide variety of groups around the ‘Make Poverty History’ campaign including NGO’s, charities, churches, trade-unions and political parties have come together to call for the end of the debt owed by developing nations to the likes of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Ordinary people rally around a cause that calls for an end to the obscene situation in Africa, where 50, 000 children die each day from poverty. In this issue of Frontline we examine what neo-liberal globalisation really means. We look at what globalisation has to do with the state of the NHS in Britain, how privatisation has affected it and what we can do to fight back. We look at the political realities of getting rid of poverty in Africa and around the world. We expose the neo-liberal economics that mean privatisation and poverty.

Whilst Gordon Brown claims to be striking a blow against poverty with his plan for $1.8 billion of debt relief for 18 countries, in reality he has no plans whatsoever to stop the process of forcing countries to open up their education, telecommunications and natural resources to multinational corporate predators. Those organisations who participate in G8 Alternatives, in which the Scottish Socialist Party plays a leading role, are seeking to tell the truth about how our world is run, and in whose interests. G8 Alternatives have planned a march to the gates of Gleneagles hotel, where the G8 leaders will meet. They will have a major conference with leading radical speakers which will argue that another world is possible.

Unsurprisingly they face obstacles. The right-wing press have worked themselves up into a frenzy declaring that there will be violence at the summit. The New Labour government has been keen to depict some (‘make poverty history’) as ‘good’ protestors and others (G8 Alternatives) as ‘bad’ protestors. The state has been openly intimidating protestors. Meetings have been filmed, those running web-sites have been brought in for questioning.

Most seriously the demonstration at Gleneagles has, at the time of writing, been effectively banned by the Scottish National Party controlled Perth and Kinross council. The council demanded insurance cover of up to £5million for the right to demonstrate. Tony Benn MP said the move “confirms our worst fears about the state of civil liberties in Britain at the moment”. G8 Alternatives are pledged to resist the ban and to bring the voice of the movement to the gates of Gleneagles

The worldwide movement against corporate globalisation is a movement of workers, trade unions, women, youth, peasants, indigenous people and all of those excluded by capitalism. It is now finding its voice and our task it to help expose the real causes of debt, war and poverty. In all the meetings, marches, strikes and protests our task is to explain our vision of a better world, a socialist world