When the first issue of the World Socialist Web Site was posted on February 14, 1998, the corporate media was proclaiming the irreversible triumph of capitalism and “the end of history.” A new era of peace and prosperity had supposedly dawned. What followed, however, was the unending “war on terror,” the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, a devastating collapse in working class living standards, unprecedented attacks on democratic rights, and, in the face of these events, profound cultural and intellectual disorientation.
The International Editorial Board of the World Socialist Web Site is posting a year-by-year Chronology, selected from its archive of more than 45,000 articles, to provide readers with a comprehensive overview of the critical events of years 1998 to 2013. We urge our readers to study the Chronology, and review how the great events, political issues, social processes, and cultural and intellectual controversies of the last 15 years were reported on and analyzed by the World Socialist Web Site.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the publication of the World Socialist Web Site. On February 14, 1998, the International Committee of the Fourth International launched the WSWS, posting articles five days a week. In April 1999, the WSWS extended its schedule to posting articles six days a week. In the course of 20 years, the World Socialist Web Site has not missed a single day of scheduled publication.
This anniversary represents a significant milestone in the history of the international socialist and workers’ movement. The WSWS was the first, and remains the only, daily socialist and Marxist international publication.
To mark this anniversary, we are reposting and will be extending the chronology of the WSWS, initially prepared five years ago. Throughout this year, we will be publishing essays reviewing the major world developments and how they were analyzed on the WSWS between 2013 and 2018.
The year 2005 unfolded under the impact of two great natural disasters that exposed the failure of world capitalism. The Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami devastated Indonesia, Thailand, Sri Lanka and India, killing nearly 300,000 people. Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States, inundating New Orleans, killing more than 1,800, and demonstrating that working people were hardly more secure in the richest country in the world than in the poorest.
In 2004, as the lies upon which the Iraq war was based became exposed and the occupation dragged on, the truly brutal and criminal nature of the war was seen in the massacres in Fallujah and other cities and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. Accompanying the growth of militarism was the attack on democratic rights within the United States and in all the countries involved in the “global war on terror.”
The year 2003 marked a turning point in world history. US imperialism, with the complicity of all the major powers, launched a brutal and illegal war against Iraq. Defying the will of the majority of the world’s population—millions of whom took to the streets in protest—the imperialist powers, driven by insoluble economic contradictions, escalated a campaign of military predation and world conquest.
The year 2002 was a transition, as the fraudulent “war on terror” launched by the Bush administration in the United States after the attacks of September 11 was used to justify historic attacks on democratic rights and civil liberties. At the same time, the occupation of Afghanistan was followed by brazen preparations for the invasion of Iraq.
The year 2001 began with the culmination of the right-wing political coup engineered by the US Supreme Court: the installation of George W. Bush as president. It quickly became apparent that what was unfolding was a dramatic shift to the right, not only in the United States but in world politics as a whole.
People around the world rang in New Year’s Day 2000 with hopes that the new millennium would bring a better world, one with less violence and poverty. For their part, the ruling classes proclaimed that social convulsions and revolutions were a thing of the past and the next period would be one of triumphant capitalism.
The year 1999 saw the major imperialist powers engage in an unprecedented multilateral gang-up against a small country, as NATO, led by the United States but including forces from Britain, Germany, France, Italy and other allied countries, rained bombs down on tiny Serbia, the largest fragment of the former Yugoslavia.
The World Socialist Web Site was launched on February 14, 1998, in the midst of a mounting political crisis in the heart of world capitalism, the United States. The right-wing campaign to bring down the Clinton administration erupted in the form of the media-driven scandal over Monica Lewinsky, culminating in Clinton’s impeachment in mid-December. At the same time, on the other side of the world, one of the longest-standing props of US imperialism collapsed with the demise of the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia.