February 18, 2016 Leave a comment
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
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For Permanent Revolution ! Workers of the world Unite !
March 11, 2015 Leave a comment
The situation in the Arab world today and the Indian migrant workers there:
The Arab world today is in the throes of a revolutionary situation. Whilst world attention has been mainly focused on the popular mass of demonstrators and protestors driving the popular national revolutions everywhere, a vital section of the masses – the migrant working class – has been completely neglected. Today there are over 12 million migrant workers in the eastern gulf. 8.4 million of them are from the sub-continent. In the eastern gulf region (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Kuwait) the mostly Indian migrant workers constitute the bulk of the working class population. In North Africa they constitute a significant segment of the population numbering 5.4 million.
These migrant workers have long been denied their rights as workers. Taking advantage of their position as migrant workers, the regimes of the Arab countries have exploited…
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January 19, 2015 Leave a comment
[Originally published by LIT-CI here ; link
The revolutionary process initiated in the late 2010 in North Africa and Middle East is still one of the centres of the world political situation.
As every revolution, it includes unprecedented combinations. As every complex process, it draws countless discussions. This text pretends to point out more general trends highlighting its already very evident limitations. We will also resume the discussions regarding this process.
Is there or is there not a revolution underway?
The discussion about what is going on in the region begins with the definition: is there or is there not a revolution underway? Right from the very beginning we assumed that this process was a revolutionary one which originated a polemic with the absolute majority of the left.
Trotsky postulated a classical definition of a revolution: “The most indubitable feature of a revolution is the direct interference of the masses in historical events… But at those crucial moments when the old order becomes no longer endurable to the masses, they break over the barriers excluding them from the political arena, sweep aside their traditional representatives, and create by their own interference the initial groundwork for a new régime… The history of a revolution is for us first of all a history of the forcible entrance of the masses into the realm of rulership over their own destiny.”(Trotsky, History of the Russian Revolution) Most of the left cannot envisage a revolution underway in the region. They can see specific and momentary events, some “rebellions” as if they were some explosions of righteous anger, and then vanish. In this way, they miss out the global nature of what is happening in North Africa and the Middle East. When a revolutionary process begins, nothing remains the same; there are qualitative changes in the actual facts. And the actuality in that region is very different since the moment the revolutionary process began.
“Arab Spring.” And now what: Winter?
There is another discussion as to what is going on in that region. After almost four years, most of the world left – that never regarded these events as a revolution – consider the process as something finished for all practical purposes.
At first, these trends assumed the journalistic definition of “Arab Spring” to describe the democratic uprising that toppled such regimes as the Tunisian and Egyptian. Now they talk about “the end of the spring” and the beginning of “winter”.
However, a long and complex process as this one includes powerful and stubborn confrontations between revolution and counterrevolution, with ups and downs, with partial victories and defeats. This definition is richer than the simplified comparison with the sequence of seasons of the year.
There is a moment now marked by impasses and ebbs – quite different from the generalised ascent in 2011 – but there is also the opening of new battlefronts, such as those of the Kurds and the resuming of fight in Palestine and the rearrangements that these front cause.
There is a new moment in the civil war in Syria, with the military retreat of the opposition to Assad’s regime together with the military offensive of the government and the imperialist air attacks on the Islamic State.
In Iraq there is a new reality due to the Islamic State’s headway. There is a new civil war, this time it is a confrontation between two counterrevolutionary sectors: the Shiite administration linked to Iran against Islamic State. The struggle for oil fields control lies behind the civil war.
In Egypt, al-Sisi won the elections and launched a fierce attack on the workers increasing the fuel by 80%. It is quite likely that he will clash against a new outburst of strikes. The vicious invasion of Gaza by Israel was defeated by the Palestinian resistance and the global repudiation to the genocide of the Palestinian people.
The impasses of the moment reflect deep limitations
On the one hand, the revolution has heavy limitations to be rooted. In the first place because the working class still represent but a slight weight in the entire process. Secondly, because the revolutionary leadership is practically absent. This combination prevents the mass movement from making headway and opening a higher stage of the revolutions.
Taking advantage of these limitations, the imperialist counteroffensive and the violent repression by the dictatorships have more often than not forced the uprising to recede. But the counterrevolution also shows its own limitations. The continuity and the deepening of the economic crisis lead to increasing pauperisation of the masses. Day after day, the maintenance of the hated dictatorships renews the political radicalisation of the process. The result is the reactivation of the motivations of the revolution causing the ascent to be renewed after each defeat.
There has been neither definite defeat of the masses nor stabilisation in the region. The new Israeli defeat in its attempt to invade Gaza and the extension of the conflict to Turkey prove this.
To substitute the end of the revolution for the current moment of weakness and impasse is a catastrophic error, typical of petty-bourgeois impressionists.
Specific features of the revolutionary process
The development of the confrontations between the revolution and counterrevolution in these four years allows us to take note of some specific features and tendencies of this process.
There are factors in the region that make the conflicts deeper and more severe. In the first place, the biggest oil reserves in the world, strategic for imperialism, are to be found there.
Secondly, imperialist exploitation and oppression literally turn this rich oil region into a barrel of powder. After the peak of bourgeois nationalism as the Egyptian Nasserism and the Baath party (in Syria) in the 50’s of last century, there came a process of recolonisation by imperialism with the capitulation and association of local bourgeoisies. These corrupt and repressive bourgeoisies have an extremely luxurious life contrasted with the tremendous poverty of the majority of the population.
Thirdly, The Nazi fascist state of Israel is also to be found in the region. Even though it is true that Israel is a guarantee of the military domination of imperialism, it is also true that it is a factor of permanent political radicalisation, of conflicts and wars. Israel cannot coexist peacefully together with an Arab population opposing the usurpation of Palestinian territories.
Fourthly, the region was almost entirely dominated by despised dictatorships that ruled for decades before the revolutionary process. Vicious class antagonisms and national oppression in general cannot be solved within the framework of bourgeois democracy.
These structural elements have been very much affected by the economic crisis that began in 2007-2008. Unemployment increase, especially among the youth, as well as of the prices of basic consumption, made the discontent explode. Desperation and lack of perspective for a better future drove the masses to action.
It is no coincidence that the starting point of the entire process was the self-immolation of a door-to-door salesman in Tunisia when the police confiscated his fruit trolley. The protests that ensued spread throughout the country and set fire to the entire region.
Permanent revolution in the region
The process of permanent revolution in the region incorporates these factors. When workers and oppressed peoples of these countries fight against poverty they unconsciously challenge the exploitation and oppression by imperialism and the associated local bourgeoisies.
This economic, material background has not been solved by any of the bourgeois governments that have momentarily been imposed. The contrary is true: they merely worsened the political crises and the wars. The whole process is aggravated by the existence and actions of the State of Israel.
This is a revolution where the urban popular masses are the social subject, particularly the youth, the unemployed and precarious workers.
The proletariat is economically and socially important in several of these countries, such as Egypt and Iran. It is no coincidence that the of the 24,000-workers strike at the textile factory in Machala (Egypt) in 2006 inspired the foundation of the Movement 26th April, one of the engines of the revolutionary process that began in Egypt 2011.
In other countries, the influence of the working class is smaller. On the other hand, reformist leaderships are doing their best in order to avoid any independent proletarian role and so they broaden the backwardness in the level of awareness and in the organisation of the working class.
Urban popular masses are the social subject in these revolutions. In the midst of them, there were workers as individuals but not as an organised and leading class.
In most of the countries of the region, the democratic tasks became the central goals at first. This has nothing to do with the Stalinist stageist policy, where the permanent goal is to subordinate the proletariat to some sector of “democratic” or “nationalist” bourgeoisie.
This is all about the definition that for most of the countries, the centre of the programme at present is the fall of the dictatorships, clearing the path for the socialist revolution, in a similar way that Trotsky envisaged in the Spanish revolution, or in the Russian February revolution.
This allows the unity of action between those who fight these dictatorships, but at the same time imposes on us a constant struggle for proletarian hegemony of the revolutionary process and independent from the bourgeoisie. In the imperialist epoch, revolutions in backward countries start with minimum or democratic demands that the bourgeoisie is unable to comply, pushing the proletariat to lead these struggles, which can only be resolved with the seizure of power.
Another feature of the concept of permanent revolution is fundamental to understand the region and its international character: it is a whole region that is boiling, where processes interact with each other directly. The beginning of the Tunisian revolution quickly spread to neighbouring countries. Israel’s defeat in Gaza was celebrated throughout the region. The Kurdish struggle against IS affects the whole region, in particular Turkey and Syria.
Absence of revolutionary leadership
The mass movement leadership that emerged after the capitalist restoration in the European East are much more fragile because they are not strongly influenced by the proletariat. This is a general feature in the beginning of the century and in the region it is even more accentuated, not only because of the uneven presence of the proletariat from one country to another, but rather because of the lack of strong revolutionary organisations. All this often sterilises the heroic efforts of the masses in struggle.
The role of the traditional left organisations in the region, in particular of Stalinism, of capitulation to the bourgeois nationalism is a fundamental part of this situation.
Very often it is easier to seek religious, of race or of gender identities than of class. This results in fragmentation and in this particular region the Islamic religion predominates.
This region has been traditionally divided according to religious terms, which conceals particular bourgeoisie interests, mainly the dispute for oil resources.
The limits of the bourgeois democracy
In Latin America, a series of democratic revolutions defeated dictatorships in Argentina (1982), Brazil (1984), Uruguay (1985) bringing about a process that led to the establishment of bourgeois democratic regimes over most of the continent.
And yet, in the North Africa and the Middle East this did not happen. In the last four years the overthrow of dictatorships and the establishment of bourgeois democracies in most countries have not happened.
Convulsive processes with insurrections, civil wars, coups did take place but there was no establishment of bourgeois democracy. The same motives (oil, Israel) that originated the dictatorships make their fall more difficult. In Egypt, the Bonapartist regime was maintained even after the fall of Mubarak and Morsi.
In Libya, after the fall of Gaddafi, imperialism has been trying to rebuild the State, but so far they have not managed to stabilise any government, constantly challenged by militias from different groups.
In Iraq, the withdrawal of imperialist troops did not stabilise a national unity government as desired by imperialism, much less a bourgeois democracy. It was established a Shiite government aligned with Iran, with strong Bonapartist characteristics. The Sunni rebellion was capitalized by the Islamic state, and the country is experiencing a new civil war, now between two counterrevolutionary poles.
In Syria, the civil war goes on, now including the confrontation of the regime and imperialism with the Islamic State. In Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia a fierce repression managed to defeat the protests up to now.
The exception is Tunisia, where the Ben Ali’s administration was defeated as well as the dictatorial regime that used to rule the country.
Will these facts change due to the development of the situation as a whole? Yes, it can be. The revolutionary ascent can do lots of things. What we want to assert is that so far this has not been a generalised phenomenon.
Imperialist decadence imposes limits to its own intervention
American imperialism is hegemonic in economic, political and military terms. It is the only nuclear super power, which turns the possibility of a new world war remote at this stage.
But there is an element of reality that we need to analyse. The decline is of imperialism as a whole, not just the U.S. The resultant is that this hegemony is becoming more and more parasitic, with increasing subordination to the great financial capital.
Since its defeat in Vietnam in 1975, American imperialism has been losing its capacity to discipline the world in military terms. That defeat caused the “Vietnam syndrome”: the rejection by the American people of new wars that drive their children to death. While the American imperialism must coexist with bourgeois democracy, they need to respond to these pressures.
After the attacks on the Twin Towers in 2001, Bush started a counteroffensive to overcome this situation by using the alibi of “fighting against terrorism”. This, among other things, produced the invasion of Afghanistan (2001) and Iraq (2003).
The defeat of Bush’s counteroffensive, particularly in Iraq, resumed powerfully this reflex in American people, this time as “Iraq Syndrome”. This factor is still one of the imperialism’s limitations to intervene in the region.
As a rule imperialism responds to this reality with air attacks, avoiding the exposition of their troops by land invasions, or even outsourcing occupation to other countries, as in the case of Haiti.
At present, for example, imperialism would be in far better military conditions to demolish the Islamic State compared to the attack on Saddam Hussein in 2003. It cannot do so due to political conditions at home that were favourable after the Twin Towers, but not now. So, they have to restrain themselves to air raids.
Bourgeois Islamic trends
Islamic nationalism has been on the ebb tide since the 70s, from Nasserism of Sadat and Mubarak to the Baath party of Saddam Hussein and al-Assad.
After the capitulation to imperialism, the governments from that origin began to implement neoliberal plans in the region. This included Egypt, Syria, Libya and Iraq with dictators who became the target of the wrath of the masses as well as other administrations in the region.
Taking advantage of the dictatorships’ crisis, several traditional bourgeois Islamic parties took office and experienced important crises, as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the Ennahda in Tunisia. Perhaps this is what is now beginning to happen to Erdogan’s AKP in Turkey.
And yet, even if decadent, we cannot underestimate these trends due to their mass influence as well as the cyclical crises of their opponents.
Side by side with the people against the Syrian and Libyan dictatorships? Take no sides?
There is another big controversy with much of the left that arose with the outbreak of the revolutionary process in North Africa and the Middle East. When these demonstrations clashed with dictatorships as in Libya or Syria, a new issue was posed: stand with the fighting people or close to those hated dictatorships? This debate took even greater color when the fight has evolved to the military ground turning into civil wars in these countries.
Most of the left came out in defense of those dictatorships, denying the ongoing revolutions and reducing all to imperialist interventions to overthrow “anti-imperialist” governments. They purposely forgot all the capitulation to imperialism of those bourgeoisies, which abandoned their nationalist attitudes of the past to apply the neoliberal plans in their countries. The government of Assad and Gaddafi were supported directly by imperialism until the masses rebelled in these countries, and imperialism had to differentiate from them.
We suffered attacks in full Stalinist style and were accused of being “allies of imperialism” because we supported the peoples of these countries against their governments.
The Cuban and Venezuelan administrations, which supported these dictatorships, drew our attention to their attitude if great ascents dare to challenge them.
At this moment, the position of these trends once again collides with reality. Imperialist air raids against the positions of the Islamic State (IS) in Syria materialise an explicit alliance between Assad and the imperialist governments. According to the Lebanese paper Al Monitor, the U.S., “which lack reliable allies in Syria, may contemplate the regime as the only force capable of holding back the Islamic state in the north of the country”, so they can see no problem “in letting it occupy areas of Aleppo and its peripheries.”
That is why it is important to ask, “Who is the ally of imperialism at this moment?”
The trends dubbed Trotskyist, such as PTS and SoB put an equals sign between the Assad dictatorship and sectors that rose in arms against it and did not take any sides in this revolution. Remaining neutral in the face of something relatively obvious as the struggle of masses against despised dictators is certainly a very serious error.
Failing to see the difference between the fighting masses and their bourgeois or reformist leaders is a foul manner to start any analysis of any process. But even if it were wrong anywhere else, it is even more so in such complex process as that of the Middle East and North Africa, where there are no revolutionary leaderships.
Sectarians are not always ultra-left. In this case, these trends have adopted an opportunist posture. They end up by objectively helping the ruling dictatorships and placing as the left wing of the Castro-Chavista block to attack these revolutions.
Our demand of weapons for the Syrian rebels and weapons for the Kobane people is rooted in the Trotskyist tradition in the Spanish revolution, stained by these trends.
Militaries still in office in Egypt
In Egypt, the military regime obtained a victory with the election of Marshal al-Sisi in May 2014. It was the expression of the continuity of the military regime even after the collapse of the Mubarak and Morsi administrations. The recent absolution of Mubarak was just another piece of evidence of this continuity.
But the 54% abstention in the election of al-Sisi evidenced an important degree of erosion of the regime. An enquiry carried out before al-Sisi took over shows that there is quite a broad degree of discontent with the institutions as a whole. Egyptians are more dissatisfied (72%) than satisfied (24%) with the general situation of the country. The militaries had 88% of support of the population after the fall of Mubarak; 73% after the fall of Morsi and 56% with al-Sisi in the office. The Brotherhood, who used to have 53% of support before their collapse, now stand at 42%.
Once in the office, al-Sisi increased the price of fuels between 40% and 79% which caused an increase in several other prices and making dissatisfaction to accrue.
The working class, of great import in the country, carried out a wave of strikes in February this year (2014) that went as far as rushing the fall of Hazem el-Beblawi administration. Now, faced with this new attack, may manifest once more heavily.
A new civil war in Iraq
In Iraq, American imperialism was defeated by the Iraqi resistance and their troops had to retreat in 2011.
This was expressed in the character of the Shiite Prime minister Nuri Malaki’s government. It was not established as a mere puppet of imperialism, but as part of an agreement with the Iranian Shiite dictatorship. This alternative looked like the best thing to guarantee some stability and to weaken the Iraqi resistance, mainly the Sunni (Saddam Hussein’s ethnicity) something that, at that moment, was in American interest as much as in Iranian.
The U.S. policy was for a national unity administration that would include the Shiite, the Sunni and the Kurds, but Maliki, interested in the exclusive control over oil, carried out an administration of exclusion of the other sectors.
This facilitated the crisis and the Sunni rebellions that ended by being capitalised by ISIS (later on Islamic State), a counterrevolutionary bourgeois alternative. In a rapid offensive, ISIS defeated the Iraqi army fitted out by the U.S. – who fled in disgrace without a combat, and began their control of the Sunni territory of Iraq.
The fall of Maliki, who was substituted by a new administration led by al-Abadi, aims at resuming the imperialist proposal of a government of national unity (with a Sunni vice-president) in order to oppose the Islamic State.
But the civil war goes on. The threat of the division is still posed with the constitution of the Caliphate proclaimed by the Islamic State.
The Syrian impasse
The brutal offensive by Assad, supported by Hezbollah, and the activity of the Islamic State weakened the military resistance against the dictatorship. The death toll of the civil war is almost 200,000, plus six million dislodged people and three million living in other countries.
The presence of a fifth column – the forces of the Islamic State – turned the military situation extremely complicated. With the proclamation of the Caliphate, the IS began to challenge Assad’s government directly. As from that moment on, an imperialist air raid began in explicit alliance with Assad.
The Free Army of Syria, the Islamic Front and the Revolutionary Front had to fight the Syrian State supported by Hezbollah on the one hand and, on the other hand, the powerful army of the Islamic State. The military retreat of the opposition is due to this double cause.
And yet, in spite of its overwhelming military superiority, the regime did not manage to annihilate the revolution. Not even the area surrounding the capital – Damascus –is completely controlled by the Assad dictatorship.
The truth is that paying an increasing sacrifice, the anti-dictatorial forces keep up the struggle, controlling important areas, such as parts of Aleppo and Idlib, peripheral areas surrounding Damascus and in the neighbourhood of Homs. Recently they asserted that they had advanced in military terms between the southwest of Damascus, Dara and Kuneitra, and reopened the way toward Lebanon borders.
The leadership of this opposition is bourgeois and pro-imperialist. The so-called National Coalition for the Forces of the Opposition and the Syrian Revolution (CNFORS) openly supports the imperialist intervention in the region.
Even the sectors directly linked to the armed struggle have not been able to unite the struggle against the regime. The formation of the Council of the Command of the Revolution that unites the Islamic Front and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) can be a step ahead from this point of view.
A new counterrevolutionary factor: the Islamic State
With their military headway in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State proclaimed the Caliphate, with a territory that goes from Diyala in the east of Iraq up to Aleppo in the North of Syria. In an attempt to establish a State with religious reference to Islamic caliphates of the 7th century, al-Baghadi proclaimed himself as the continuation of Mohamed.
Actually, this is not at all a religious war, despite the ideological Sunni background. The caliphate of the Islamic State is a dictatorship with fascist methods of terrorism in order to paralyse the opponents, and whose main target is to control a significant part of oil in the region.
By the control of oil fields, the IS would achieve a yearly revenue estimated at between US$ 600 and US$ 800 million, which can fund their need to heavy weaponry (essentially modern tanks and artillery). As the IS became strong enough to confront the Iraqi and Syrian states directly and now they are trying to build up a new state, imperialism must now face them.
The defeat of Israel in Gaza
The Nazi-fascist state of Israel invaded Gaza trying to take advantage of that moment of relative ebb of the Arab revolution. But the fiery Palestinian resistance and the increasing isolation all over the world determined their defeat.
Even with the support of the imperialist media, it turned impossible to avoid the repudiation of the global public opinion against the Palestinian genocide perpetrated by Israel. Radicalised demonstrations of Palestinian youths threaten to turn the protests into a third Intifada.
Israel had to withdraw without having destroyed the military structure of Hamas and was forced to start negotiations for the end of Gaza’s blockade. Israel defeat produced a crisis in that country’s administration and strengthened Hamas.
However, Hamas advanced in the negotiations with the Palestinian Authority tending to the acceptation of the State of Israel and that it should be the Fatah who would control the accesses to Gaza. The crisis of Israel continues: now the Netanyahu administration had to dismiss ministers who did not agree with the proclamation of the Jewish character of the State of Israel and issued a summons to elections in order to deepen the racist guideline. The countries of the European Union who support Zionists but defend a negotiated solution, made a symbolic gesture in order to press Netanyahu to acknowledge the Palestinian State.
Libya: still in crisis
Since the collapse of the Gaddafi’s dictatorship, imperialism has been trying to recompose the Libyan State. They have not yet achieved their goal. There are still no Armed Forces that can have an upper hand over the different militias or an established political regime with a minimum of stability.
After successive administrations in crisis, last June 2014 elections gave rise to a civilian government opposed to the Islamic hegemony of the previous congress. The new administration had to function in Tobruk, near the borderline with Egypt until the old government, still installed in the capital Tripoli could be dissolved.
There are two governments now, two congresses disputing their legitimacy in the country. But, while the mass movement hasn’t built a leadership independent from the bourgeoisie to impose their government the counterrevolution cannot stabilise the country.
The progressive struggle of the Kurds
The Kurds are one of the most numerous oppressed people without a state of their own. Their population of about 40 million people is spread over the territories of four countries: Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria.
Theirs is a just struggle for the right to national self-determination and the creation of a single Kurdish nation. From this point of view, the struggle of the Kurds against the IS, the Turkish, Iraqi and Iranian governments is just and progressive in spite of their bourgeois and pro-imperialist leaderships that have to be faced by the exploited classes.
Kobane is a Kurdish city in Syria, next to the border with Turkey. The heroic resistance of the Kurds who live there against the siege made by the IS must be supported by revolutionaries around the world. In spite of the military superiority of the IS, the Kurdish resistance partially managed to force the occupation out of the neighbourhoods of the city. An extremely progressive agreement was reached between the General Command of the YPG (Kurdish militias) and the Free Syrian Army to fight the IS.
This battle polarised the entire region, destabilised Turkey and is making the first great defeat of the IS possible.
Turkey is getting destabilised
At present, Turkey is going through a turbulent integration in the conflict in the Middle East.
In 2013, Erdogan’s AKP, an Islamic bourgeois party, faced huge student demonstrations. Nevertheless, they were defeated and Erdogan (who was then Prime Minister) was elected president in August 2014. Right now the regional process joins the battle due to the Kurdish question. The AKP administration has a practical policy of alliance with the IS in Kobane in order to prevent the strengthening of the Kurdish struggle in Turkey.
For decades now, the PKK (Partiya Karkerên Kurdistani – KurdistanWorkers’ Party) has been fighting an armed struggle for the Kurdish self-determination. Erdogan prevents Kurdish voluntaries from crossing the border to join the Kobane battle and stops any weapons from being sent.
The outcome of this was a Kurdish uprising in Turkey, accompanied by a significant mass movement and Erdogan encouraged fascist bands to attack Kurdish mobilisations against his government. The Syrian conflict is destabilising Turkey.
Tunisia is the country where the revolutionary process began in December 2010 and also the country where the first great victory was achieved with the fall of the dictator Ben Ali in January 2011.
The first elected government was that of the Islamic bourgeois nationalist Party of the Rebirth (Ennahda), similar to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. This government was defeated by a people’s revolt followed by a general strike after a leader of the reformist opposition, Chokri Belaid, was murdered in 2014.
A Constituent Assembly was elected and it produced one of the most liberal constitutions in the region: it ensures religious freedom, without any lasharia (religious law) imposed, freedom of expression and legal equality between men and women.
In new elections, “Summons for Tunisia”, a secular bourgeois coalition with links to the old officials of the Ali dictatorship won. They ran as an alternative to the Islamism of Ennahda. The new government will have to face the same economic crisis that was one of the basic causes for the beginning of the revolutionary crisis four years ago. Unemployment is still about 16% of the population and 40% among the youth.
Unlike the rest of the region, in Tunisia a dictatorship fell and was replaced by a bourgeois democratic regime.
A revolutionary process with structural impasses and limitations
As we have seen, the impasses and limitations of the revolution in North Africa and Middle East have structural reasons related to the absence of revolutionary leaderships and the slight role played by the proletariat.
On the other hand, neither imperialism nor the local bourgeoisies have been able to provide a solution to the economic crisis and the poverty of the masses. They can neither annihilate the masses violently nor stabilise any government.
There have various attempts at defeating the masses violently. Imperialism has tried it by the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. Israel has tried when its army invaded Lebanon in 2006 and more recently Gaza. Assad is now trying to do the same thing in Syria. None of these attempts proved successful so far.
On the other hand, neither has imperialism, as we have already seen, bet on democratic reaction in order to divert the mass movement towards bourgeois democracy.
The outcome is a convulsive process that cannot be stabilised either by the defeat or by partial victories. An extremely contradictory and complex reality and a great challenge for the revolutionary left. But above all, it is a region that is still one of the centres of the world revolution.
June 17, 2013 Leave a comment
TO THE INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND ACTIVISTS:
Protest and express your support for the struggle of youth and workers Brazilian
As you are surely following in the news, the struggle of youth and workers against the increasing of the bus fare and police repression has taken over São Paulo and other major cities in Brazil.
The support of the population to the demonstrations is huge, and the number of protesters is increasing day after day, fueled by the indignation provoked by the criminal activities of the police forces, commanded by the governor Geraldo Alckmin (PSDB), who has already injured hundreds (bombed with tear gas and shot by rubber bullets) and detained a huge number of protesters (under illegal and pathetic “accusations” as, for instance, carrying vinegar – used as protection against the tear gas).
The shocking images of repression moved the population, had international repercussions and recalled the dark days of military dictatorship. Again, Alckmin, led a bloody action against the people, as he and his Militar Police did in the massacre of the residents of Pinheirinho, in São José dos Campos (SP). The same thing that they do, every day, with the numerous of killings (a truly genocide) of young black people in the suburbs.
Because of that, today, the 17th of July, the city of S. Paulo is going to be taken by what will surely be one the biggest demonstrations in our recent history. Now, more than ever, it’s time to take the streets by the repeal of the increase of the passage and against repression!
We, from the the Socialist Workers’ Party – United (PSTU) are proud to be part of the demonstrations, side by side with an increasing number of social, popular and youth organizations, and we are calling all the international organizations and activists to express the support to this struggle, through motions, messages and the organization of protests all over the world, as it has already happened in around 30 cities worldwide.
Immediate withdrawal of the increase in tickets! Punishment for those who ordered the repression! Demilitarization of PM! No more massacres
Meanwhile, Fernando Haddad, the major of S. Paulo, who belongs to PT, the same party of President Dilma, insists on keeping the absurd rate of R $ 3.20 for the bus fare.
During his electoral campaign, Haddad used the chaos of public transport in SP to win the votes of workers and youth. He promised a lot of things, but, so far, the only thing he really did was to increase the bus fare to further the profits of entrepreneurs. And, to make matters worse, Haddad has been supporting the repression of the military police.
After the negative impact of police action, on the 13th, Haddad said he was against “the possible excesses of the police”, but at no time he condemned the police action or stand in favor of dismissal of the commander responsible for PM repression. But not only that. Haddad has increased bus fare against the will of the people! Haddad (PT) teamed up with Paulo Maluf (PP), a well known corrupt and active supporter of the dictatorship, to win the city major hall and ally himself the corrupt big business and against workers and youth. We can not trust this government.
The annulment of the increased passage does not end the struggle for public transport, access and quality! In São Paulo (SP), the population coexists with the daily chaos: crowded bus, stopped traffic and highly expensive fares! Haddad does not say the truth for the people. If the transportation fare accompanied inflation over the past ten years, the ticket price should be R$ 2.10, and not R$ 3,20. Haddad delivers R$ 6 billion a year in subsidies to large transport companies. Not by case, the same ones who financed his election campaign.
If we had the investment of 2% of the national GDP in public transportation, we could nationalize the system, ensuring services with quality and for free for the need people. Because of that, PSTU defends: Nationalization, now! Against the privatization of the subway! Free pass for students and unemployed, now!
Broadening and unifying struggles to defeat inflation, the decrease of wages, the privatizations and repression!
The struggle of youth and workers of São Paulo was the trigger for protests that are shaking dozens of cities across the country. Hundreds of acts are scheduled for the next days! It is time to unify the struggles, especially at that moment when the demonstrations (including those ones against the amazingly high and scandalous corrupt expenditures with the World Cup) are facing fierce repression of the Federal and the State police!
Because of that, the PSTU also advocates unification of struggles in a national day against rising transport and repression!
In the streets, the people are demonstrating that nobody is up to tolerate the indifference to education and public health, which are abandoned, as the government invests billions on overpriced stadiums for the World Cup. Inflation erodes wages and high food prices take food from the table of the worker. Therefore, we require that Dilma Rousseff (PT) to freeze food prices and tariffs!
There is no doubt, as the protesters remind proudly in their chants and political slogans yelled on the streets, that this movement, besides moved by its specific demands, echoes the mobilizations of the youth and workers all over the world, in an increasing number of streets and squares: from Puerta del Sol, in the Spanish State, to Tahir, in Egypt; from Taskim, in Turkey, to Syntagma, in Greece.
Exactly because of that, more than ever, it’s time to International Solidarity. It’s time to raise our voices, all over the world to remind governments, bankers and bosses that the youth and the workers will not accept to pay for the crisis created by their endless greed.
Protest in the way you can! Support and join the struggle of the Brazilian youth and workers.
Socialist Workers’ Party – United
Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado (Brasil)
17th of July, 2013.
May 1, 2013 Leave a comment
Comrades! Let us look carefully into the conditions of our life; let us observe that environment wherein we pass our days. What do we see? We work hard; we create unlimited wealth, gold and rich fabrics, brocade and velvet; we dig iron and coal from the bowels of the earth; we build machines, ships, castles, railways. All the wealth of the world is created by our hands, is obtained by our sweat and blood. And what reward do we receive for our hard labor? In justice we should live in fine houses, wear good clothing, and in any case not want for our daily bread. But we all know very well that our wages scarcely suffice for a bare existence. Our bosses lower the wage-rates, force us to work over-time, unjustly fine us. In a word, they oppress us in every way, and, in case of dissatisfaction on our part, they promptly discharge us. We time and time again discover that those to whom we turn for protection are friends and lackeys of our bosses. We, the workers are kept in ignorance, education is denied us, that we may not learn to struggle to improve our conditions. They hold us in bondage, discharge us on the slightest pretext, arrest and exile anyone offering resistance to oppression, forbid us to struggle. Ignorance and bondage — these are the means by which the capitalists and the Government, always at their service, keep us in subjection.
What means do we have to improve our conditions, to raise our wages, to shorten our working day, to protect ourselves from abuse, to read intelligent and useful books Everybody is against us — the bosses (since the worse off we are, the better they live), and all their lackeys, all those who live off the bounty of the capitalists and who, at their bidding, keep us in ignorance and bandage. We can look to no one for aid; we can rely only upon ourselves. Our strength lies in union; our salvation in united, stubborn, and energetic resistance to our exploiters. They have long understood wherein lay our strength, and have attempted in all manner of ways to keep us divided, and not to let us understand that we workers have interests in common. They cut wages, not everybody’s at once, but one at a time. They put foremen over us, they introduce piece work; and, laughing up their sleeves at how we workers toil at our work, lower our wages little by little. But it’s a long lane that has no turning. There is a limit to endurance. During the past year the Russian workers have shown their bosses that slavish submission can be transformed into the staunch courage of men who will not submit to the insolence of capitalists greedy for unpaid labor.
In various towns strikes have broken out; in Yaroslavl, Taikovo, Ivanovo-Voznesensk, Belostok, Vilna, Minsk, Kiev, Moscow and other towns. The majority of the strikes ended successfully for the workers, but even unsuccessful strikes are only apparently unsuccessful. In reality they frighten the bosses terribly, cause them great losses, and force them to grant concessions for fear of a new strike. The factory inspectors also begin to get busy and notice the beams in the capitalists’ eyes. They are blind until their eyes are opened by the workers calling a strike. When in fact do the factory inspectors notice mismanagement in the factories of such influential personages as Mr. Tornton or the stockholders of the Putilov factory.
In St. Petersburg, too, we have made trouble for the bosses. The strike of the weavers at Tornton’s factory, of the cigarette workers at the Laferm and Lebedev factories, of the workers at the shoe factory, the agitation among the workers at the Kenig and Varonin factories, and among the dock workers, and finally the recent disturbances in Sestroretsk have proven that we have ceased to be submissive martyrs, and have taken up the struggle. As is well known, the workers from many factories and shops have organized the “Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class,” with the aim of exposing all abuses, of eradicating mismanagement, of fighting against the insolent oppressions of our conscienceless exploiters, and of achieving full liberation from their power. The “Union” distributes leaflets, at the sight of which the bosses and their faithful lackeys tremble in their boots. It is not the leaflets themselves which frighten them, but the possibility of our united resistance, of an exhibition of our mighty power, which we have shown them more than once. We workers of St. Petersburg, members of the “Union” invite the rest of our fellow workers to join our “Union” and to further the great cause of uniting the workers for a struggle for their own interests. It is high time for us Russian workers to break the chains with which the capitalists and the Government have bound us in order to keep us in subjection. It is high time for us to join the struggle of our brothers, the workers in other lands, to stand with them under a common flag upon which is inscribed: Workers of the World, Unite!
In France, Great Britain, Germany, and other countries, where the workers have already united in strong unions and have won many rights, they have established the 19th of April (the First of May abroad) [Before the October Revolution the Russian calendar was 13 days behind the West-European] as a general Labor holiday.
Forsaking the stuffy factories, they march in solid ranks, with bands and banners along the main streets of the towns; showing the bosses the whole might of their growing power, they gather in numerous large meetings, where speeches are delivered recounting the victories over the bosses in the preceding year, and indicating the plans for struggle in the future. Through fear of a strike, not a single factory owner fines the workers for absence from work on this day. On this day the workers also remind the bosses of their chief demand: the eight-hour working day — 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep, and 8 hours rest. This is what the workers of other countries are now demanding. There was a time, and not so long ago, when they, like we now, did not have the right to make known their needs. They, too, were crushed by want and lacked unity just as we now. But they, by stubborn struggle and heavy sacrifices, have won for themselves the right to discuss together the problems of the workers’ cause. We send our best wishes to our brothers in other lands that their struggle should quickly lead them to the desired victory, to the time when there shall be neither masters nor slaves, neither workers nor capitalists, but all alike will work and all alike enjoy life.
Comrades! If we will energetically and wholeheartedly strive to unite, the time will not be far distant when we, having joined our forces in solid ranks, will be able openly to unite in this common struggle of the workers of all lands, without distinction of race or creed, against the capitalists of the whole world. And our sinewy arm will be lifted on high and the infamous chains of bondage will fall asunder. The workers of Russia will arise, and the capitalists and the Government, which always zealously serves and aids the capitalists, will be stricken with terror!
April 19, 1896.
Union of Struggle for the Emancipation of the Working Class
February 10, 2013 3 Comments
In this interview with a radical bolshevik student from Nepal, Bibhusit Bista, we publish a set of responses to some important questions pertaining to Nepal and the revolutionary process over there, understanding what are the political and social forces at work in determining class struggle in Nepal.
1) The Nepali revolution was a landmark in recent world history. It was what can rightfully be called as the first ‘Spring” of the 21st century. It was also important as a part of the revolutionary struggle in South Asia where monarchy was abolished. But since the beginning of the revolution, there have been many negative developments and it appears that the social agenda is not being pursued. The revolution appears to have stopped at the achievement of a republic. Would you agree that the revolutionary process has ended at the republic ? What is the present situation in Nepal and what is the future of class struggle in Nepal ?
1. The ‘speciality’ of Nepali revolutions/uprisings till date is that all of them have ended in reaction. Be the 1950 revolution against Ranas, 1980 students’ uprising, 1990 uprising or lately, the 2006 uprising. One of the chief features is the class-collaborationist, Menshevik line adopted by Communist Party of Nepal during these events. Its failure to recognize the reactionary nature of the bourgeoisie has always applied brakes to the evolving revolutionary situations. With their continuity of this tradition, this time by the Maoists, Nepal has once again fallen to a period of reaction. The UCPN-M seems to have adopted Menshevik theories while CPN-M led by Mohan Baidhya look unclear. What’s common to both is their insistence on aligning with the non-existing revolutionary bourgeoisie which is supposed to be ally of the working class.
The revolutionary tide seems to have receeded. With the recent split in the Maoist party, there is a chance of revolutionary polarisation. But here in Nepal, there’s no genuine revolutionary alternative.
2) The recent statements from the Maoist leadership in Nepal has stated that they would like to ‘normalize’ relations with india and also called for greater foreign investment in Nepal. There have been many other overtures from the Maoists in Nepal which seem to indicate a reversal in policy of the revolution. Our question is, what do you feel has been the role of the Maoists in the development of the revolutionary process ?
2.The Maoists actually played an important role in the development of revolutionary processes. But they are also equally responsible for giving it a death-knell. There’s a great significance of the “People’s War” in unfolding the latter political developments in Nepal. The political consciousness it aroused, mainly among the peasants and the social gains in their base areas have a great importance. Even the 2006 uprising became effective only after Maoists joined it. In a country where almost 80% of the population are peasants, Maoism appeals a lot to them. But when put in practice, it starts showing its faults. Vice-chairman of UCPN-M and Prime Minister Dr. Baburam Bhattarai believes that to sustain the Nepali revolution, it’s essential to take one of our neighbours in confidence. In this case, India. He also sees the indispensability of “national capitalism” before the transition to socialism. But that is totally a defeatist position resulting directly from the Stalinist two stage theory.
3) Can you give us an overview of the classes and parties in Nepal and what role they play and are playing presently ? Which political force has been in the leadership of the working class, students and peasants respectively ? Which segment played the vanguard role in the revolution and what was the role of each sector of society during the revolution in 2006 ?
3. Peasantry constitute around 75%-80% of the population. They are mainly represented by Maoists. As we’ve seen before, a part of it have played a revolutionary role. The industrial proletariat is mainly under the reformist CPN(UML). But recently Maoists have also gained some hold but the unions are full of corrupt bureaucrats. The working class has been totally misled and there’s a dire need for a revolutionary, militant alternative. Speaking of the working class, there’s a large number of transnational proletariat working mainly in India and the middle east. Besides these, there’s Nepali Congress Party which represents the bourgeoisie-landowners. There’s also a monarchist party and some fringe parties, mainly representing a section of the prtty-bourgeoisie. There are 3 major students unions, of which Maoist affiliated ANNISU-R seems to be the largest. The other two are Congress affiliated NSU and ANNISU affiliated to CPN(UML)
The April uprising of 2006 was a spontaneous one, Pretty much like the February revolution in Russia. We saw people from all walks of life take part in it-peasants, workers, doctors, civil servants, doctors, lawyers etc. We at times saw women leading the protests and strikes. The students mainly were the vanguard of the revolution. They were not only the vanguard but the guiding revolutionary force who called for republic and not just the reinstatement of parliament. The working class played all important role. The royal regime shook to its foundation once they went on a general strike. All we lacked is a farsighted revolutionary party with a revolutionary tactic.
4) With this background, what would you say would be the path of development for a Bolshevik Leninist *( Trotskyist ) party in Nepal ? Additionally, there was a clear hand of imperialism in the sabotaging of the Nepali revolution, in particular the Indian ruling class played a leading role in formulating the compromise between Maoists and the republicans and monarchy. What do you feel about the need for an internationalist political approach in Nepal ?
4.I think we should start off with a Trotsky reading circle and build a party around it. There’s a total absence of Trotskyist literature here in Nepal. People seem to be unaware of him and his ideas. So, for the formation of an organisation, we need to start from scratch. The Maoists are also being discredited by the masses. So, I think this is the perfect time to introduce Trotsky to the Nepali masses.
The Indian ruling class has always been dominant in Nepali politics. Since the 1950 uprising, the leading revolutionary force have bowed down to them at the decisive moments. The same thing happened during the April uprising. The fate of the uprising was already sealed as a result of the compromise between the Maoists and the & party alliance, facilitated by the Indian ruling class. It will be foolish to expect the Indian ruling class to end its hegemony in Nepal and pave way for the proletariat to power. So, an internationalist approach is a must to advance the cause of the proletariat here in Nepal.
5) Of late there has been a concerted attack on Trotsky by the Maoist press. It seems as if there is a fear in the minds of the Maoists towards Trotsky and his ideas especially of permanent revolution. What is the situation of Trotskyism in Nepal ? Are there any groups or individuals involved in any kind of party or group building effort ?
5. Trotskyism in Nepal is infant. Nepali Communist movement has been dominated by Stalinism-Maoism since its beginning. People still view Trotsky from the eyes of the Stalin-era falsified history. Many of the seasoned Maoists seem to have the same view. The attack on Trotsky is typical of Stalinists-Maoists, here and elsewhere. Yes, they seem to fear his ideas and do everything they can to discredit him. But there’s a new interest developing towards the revolutionary legacy of Trotsky and his ideas and I think that the future is bright for Trotskyism in Nepal.
There are only a handful of Nepali Trotskyists I know of. Some of them are associated with International Marxist Tendency, which seems to be practicing the entryist tactic. But I have not known of any independent trotskyist group/organisation here in Nepal.”
February 8, 2013 Leave a comment
Rising inflation ! Rationing of LPG cylinders ! Price hikes in essentials ! Divestments in public sector companies ! Mass arrests and repression on worker’s organizations!
These are the reasons why all the major trade-union bodies and even smaller trade unions throughout India are coming in a general strike on 20th and 21st February.
We want to express our unconditional support for the General Strike. Only the uninterrupted and permanent mobilization of millions can bring a real change in India. A General Strike is great weapon in the hands of working class. Even a two day strike shows everyone who really runs this world! It shows what will happen once the entire proletariat arises in indefinite general strike against the intolerable exploitation of the capitalist bosses and government. The only thing a boss can keep moving is a whip… For the third time in three years that workers of India are rising against inflation, for defense of worker’s rights and social security !
A charter of ten demands has been drawn up to rally the workers in struggle. We fully support to these ten charter demands, but to really improve our lives we must mobilize behind a more aggressive programme with the following demands :
1) A sliding scale of wages :
To fight inflation, worker’s wages must be compulsorily increased along with the price levels of essential commodities starting from a minimum living wage of Rs.15000. All wage agreements signed between workers and management and the statutory minimum wage of a state must be subjected to regular increases based on rising inflation in essential commodities. This sliding scale would be more valuable than gold in our fight against inflation. We would no longer helplessly watch our wages drain away. We must fight to win real wage security!
2) Price controls pegged to average minimum wages :
The government is fully capable of controlling the prices of essentials, if it wishes to. It fails to do so because it is not interested in our needs, and only caters to the needs of the Tatas, Birlas, Ambanis and Mittals. These corporate interests pressure the government to deregulate prices so that ‘market’ forces will boost their profits. We must teach them the lesson that our needs are more important than their profits!
3) No privatizations ! No to FDI! Nationalize the Big Private Companies !
The cause of our present misery from inflation to corruption have been the corporate interests (both indian and foreign) and their lackey politicians who loot us. They hold all the wealth and power. Public Sector Companies are built by our toil and effort, and we resolve to never let them be sold off to fatten these bourgeois scoundrels! We demand an immediate moratorium on all divestments in public sector companies and a plan to nationalize WITHOUT COMPENSATION the major conglomerates of the Tatas, Birlas and Ambanis to be placed under control of democratic councils of workers. We must nationalize them and bring back to the people the wealth they have looted.
4) Right to organize must be a Fundamental Right !
The class enemy knows the danger a mobilized and militant working class presents, that is why they try their best to suppress us and take away our right to organize. The Honda and Suzuki motor workers set us a proud example of a principled fight for organizational rights and the right to union recognition. When we are starved by inflation, beaten by repression and pauperized by privatizations, struggle is our only hope of surviving the attacks of capitalism. We therefore demand that the right to strike and to organize be made a fundamental right!
These demands are the core needs of the working masses of India today. The bourgeoisie and their lackey accountants and intellectual ‘experts’ will try to convince us our demands are wrong. But we must not waver. They sow fear, and doubt to intimidate us and stop us fighting. But we refuse to pay for their crisis and their failures. The workers on the move are a huge force which can change history, but no struggle will be successful without a revolutionary party to channel the energy it generates. The problems traumatizing India can only be resolved by throwing the bourgeoisie from power and replacing the capitalist ruling class! We need a workers’ state. We can only do this if we build a revolutionary Bolshevik- Leninist Party and build the Fourth International as a party of world revolution!