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From The Socialist newspaper, 18 May 2006

Massive European Social Forum rally in Athens

Socialist policies needed to resist war, cuts and capitalism

ON 6 May, in Athens, up to 100,000 Greek workers and young people including around 9,000 political activisists from the rest of Europe marched against war and capitalist exploitation.

Andros, Xekinima (CWI, Greece)

The rally was called by the European Social Forum, which convened in Athens between 4-7 May.

The demonstrators marched to the US embassy to protest against the policies of the US and EU imperialists in the Middle East, Iraq and Iran. Then the protesters went to the Greek parliament to protest against the anti-working class policies of the Greek government and the European Union.

Xekinima, the Greek section of the CWI, campaigned enthusiastically for a successful demonstration and also took part in discussions during the ESF events. We produced 10,000 posters and 20,000 leaflets, calling on workers and youth to take part in the 6 May rally. There was also a Turkish, Italian and English version of the CWI/Xekinima leaflet that we distributed at the ESF.

At the same time, we criticised the policies of the ESF and, in general, the Social Forums (World Social Forum and national social forums) and the direction in which the social forums are going.

The slogans of the ESF - 'against war, neo-liberalism and racism' - are so general that they allow anybody to take part in its event, including social democratic parties which support these anti-working class policies and apply them when they are in government!

The social forums are now dominated, even more than in the past, by the parties of the European Left, like the Communist Party in France, Communist Refoundation in Italy, and the Party of Democratic Socialism in Germany.

Many of these parties are guilty of taking part in governments, along with social democrats, that carried out anti-working class and and anti-immigrant policies.

These characteristics of the ESF undermine its future perspectives and its ability to play a role in uniting the struggles of the working class against the policies which are of a European and international character.

Only a radical anti-capitalist approach and socialist ideas can provide the necessary programme for activists, all over Europe, to fight the profit system.

Xekinima (CWI) had an excellent contingent on the 6 May protest march in Athens, with over 400 participants, young and old, Greek and immigrant.

There were also members of the CWI from Britain, Ireland, Belgium and the ex-Soviet Union. Our contingent was noted by both friends and enemies for its militancy and youthfulness.

CWI / YRE form impressive contingent

RAPH PARKINSON, Vice-Chair UNISON executive council) and a member of the Socialist Party (England and Wales), also attended the Athens Social Forum. Raph, in a personal capacity, reports:

Socialists, trade unionists, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO) and community and youth activists met to discuss a wide range of issues at the European Social Forum in Athens, covering for example, privatisation, growth of the far right, Latin America, war in Iraq and social liberation.

In comparison to the ESF held in London, two years ago, the mood in Athens was more serious but fewer attended.

The highlight for me was the very large demo, held on 6 May, against poverty, unemployment, war and racism.

Supporters of the Socialist Party (England and Wales) marched under the banner of Xekinima, the Greek section of the Committee for a Workers' International (CWI).

This section was followed by the Youth Against Racism in Europe (YRE) delegation, which included many immigrants who live in Greece.

Both the CWI and YRE marchers were very vocal, singing various chants and songs, and the contingents were well stewarded and organised.

A small Maoist 'counter-demonstration', which fed into the main demonstration, and which attempted to get to the US Embassy, was attacked by riot police. Innocent marchers were tear-gased. The stewards on the CWI and YRE section of the march maintained a disciplined approach to defending their delegation from any possible attacks.

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In The Socialist 18 May 2006:

Socialist Party NHS campaign

Blair's market madness wrecking the NHS

Save jobs and services

Global Warming

Environment: not safe in their hands

Campaign for a New Workers Party

Join the Campaign for a New Workers' Party

International socialist news and analysis

The Venezuelan president's 'vision of socialism'

Building on our election successes

Solidarity with Venezuelan workers

Female factory workers in Russia start hunger strike

Ailing German capitalism slashes workers' wages and conditions

Germany: WASG rebels suspended

Massive European Social Forum rally in Athens

Socialist Students

How students and staff saved Chemistry at Sussex


Pensions 'crisis' - working class will pay the price

Rail unions battle over pensions

Socialist Party workplace news and analysis

Postal workers prepare for action

Privatisation fails workers and customers

Fighting strategy needed to save jobs

Northumbria lecturers forced to strike

Lecturers continue the fight for decent pay

A matter of life and death


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