Even before the pandemic, Bulgaria’s public health system had been wrecked by privatization. Now suffering among the world’s highest COVID mortality rates, Bulgaria provides a case study in how “market reforms” hobble public infrastructure and suck skilled workers from the European Union’s poorest countries to its richest.
Loren Balhorn is a contributing editor at Jacobin and coeditor, together with Bhaskar Sunkara, of Jacobin: Die Anthologie (Suhrkamp, 2018).
Last fall, Armenia was devastated by a six-week war with its neighbor Azerbaijan, ending in the deployment of Russian peacekeepers across the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh. Yet the “peace agreement” has done nothing to resolve the deeper reasons for the conflict, in the ethno-nationalist strife which has simmered since the fall of the USSR.
After years of stagnant poll numbers and declining electoral results, Germany’s Die Linke party hopes that its new leadership team will return it to the promise of the 2000s. But as its social base in the former East fragments, the left-wing party doesn’t just need a different marketing strategy — it needs to rebuild its roots in working-class life.
The East German protests in the fall of 1989 included many who aspired for a democratic socialism. In the state’s final years, the young supporters of the Modern Socialism Project fought for an alternative to authoritarianism — promoting an ecological socialism rooted in democratic rights.
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation promised Africa a “Green Revolution” to fight hunger and poverty. It hasn’t worked — but it has upped corporate agriculture’s profits. Local farmers are being left empty-handed, and hunger is rising.
On Christmas Eve in 1913, a pitched battle between organized labor and the mining barons of northern Michigan climaxed in the gruesome deaths of over 70 union supporters and their children. The 1913 Massacre struck a debilitating blow to the region’s labor movement and changed the Upper Peninsula forever. But it’s been largely forgotten in popular consciousness.
Rooted in Germany’s metalworks industries, IG Metall is one of the world’s strongest trade unions. But the need for climate action is forcing it to take a more critical approach to the industries where its members work — and fight for a green transition that creates new kinds of high-paid, fulfilling jobs.
With the announcement that Olaf Scholz will lead Germany’s SPD into the 2021 elections, chances for a revival of social democracy in the heart of Europe appear grim. But prospects for the radical-left Die Linke aren’t looking much better, either — stalling hopes of a break with Christian Democratic dominance.
This Saturday, Mattea Meyer and Cédric Wermuth are set to become the new copresidents of Switzerland’s Social Democratic Party. They told Jacobin why they think they can pull their party to the left — and stand up for those who aren’t benefiting from their country’s great wealth.
After the Berlin Wall’s fall, the introduction of the West German currency was widely presented as the East’s path to prosperity. But the result was a fire sale of East German industry to Western businesses — a massive destruction of jobs and public property whose harmful effects are still felt 30 years after reunification.
Thirty years since German reunification, the “new states” from the former East still suffer the effects of mass deindustrialization and emigration. But if reunification hasn’t delivered the promises of 1990, socialists should recognize why most East Germans didn’t defend the old system — and why welfare and public services aren’t enough to build a viable socialist society.
Jacobin has been publishing for 10 years now. And we still retain the hope that the solution to the world’s ills will come through more popular democracy and freedom, and not less.
Yugoslavia’s partisan movement singlehandedly defeated Nazi occupation and paved the way for a radical transformation of society. Yet socialist Yugoslavia was ultimately broken by its own internal contradictions — and its unwillingness to push that transformation further.
Photos of Eastern Europeans flown West to pick strawberries despite the lockdown has focused attention on the plight of the EU’s migrant farm laborers. But as some of these workers told Jacobin, traveling across Europe to make ends meet isn’t new — it’s just much more dangerous now.
Yanis Varoufakis: “The European Union Is Determined to Continue Making the Same Errors It Made After 2008”
The lack of EU help for the states hardest hit by COVID-19 is the latest sign of the hollowness of “European solidarity.” As Yanis Varoufakis tells Jacobin, the European Union’s institutions are hardwired to ignore the needs of the social majority — preferring to allow mass suffering than to change their own rules.
On March 13, 1920, twelve million workers struck across Germany to block an attempted military coup. The successful resistance was organized by the workers’ councils — a form of grassroots democracy that allowed the masses to assert their own power.
Since 1945, Germany’s parliamentary parties have refused all alliances with the far right. That changed yesterday in Thuringia, when liberals and Christian Democrats teamed up with neofascists to throw the Left out of office.
On January 15, 1919, the leaders of the German revolution were murdered by far-right soldiers enraged by the rising socialist movement. The man who masterminded the killings was Waldemar Pabst — a fanatical nationalist officer whose paramilitaries became the rank and file for Nazism.
From the failed resistance against Hitler to the Cold War divide, Wolfgang Abendroth’s career was defined by the tragedies of the German left. But as postwar Germany’s most important socialist intellectual, he showed how an academic can keep their work rooted in the struggle.
After more than 20 years of dogmatic neoliberalism, Germany’s Social Democrats have elected their first left-leaning leadership in a generation. But it may be too late to win back workers.