Polemic on Syria; Alan Woods : Defend the revolution or contribute to its defeat

The following is a polemical article written by comrades J.M Pau and Juan P of the International Worker’s League – Fourth International. The original text may be found here :

http://litci.org/en/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2342:alan-woods-defend-the-revolution-till-the-end-or-contribute-to-its-defeat&catid=41:world&Itemid=113

The following article is important not only because it exposes the reactionary politics of the IMT over Syria but also because it deals with the vital question of revolutionary leadership. We repost this article on our blog expressing full agreement with the positions expressed herein :

The positionof Alan Woods and his international political organization on the Syrian Revolution.

Alan Woods wrote last June an extensive article on Syria, to which we will respond with this text.

Many articles have been written on Syria on these years of revolution and civil war. Most of the left, starting with the Castro brothers and the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, openly stood beside the dictator Bashar al Assad and his regime. Alan Woods (who supports Chavez and Chavists governments, and appeared as Chavez’ left adviser) – who runs the IMT on an international level -, changed hispositions, on the assumption that previously he had placed himself in favor of the Syrian Revolution. [1]

Below, we summarize the arguments used by Alan Woods to justify his position with quotationsfrom his own article:

1. The movement in Syria began as a popular revolution with mass support. If that movement had been armed with a genuinely revolutionary programme, it could have succeeded in winning over those sections of society that backed Assad for fear of the alternative. However, in the absence of clear leadership, the movement was hijacked by reactionary elements and pushed in a sectarian direction.

2. America’s regional allies, those bulwarks of reaction, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, have been pouring in money, weapons and mercenaries into Syria from day one. Their objective was not at all to help the rebels who were fighting for change in Syria, but on the contrary, to crush the revolutionary elements and transform what began as a popular uprising into a civil war with sectarian connotations.

3. To the degree that the whole thing became militarised, the struggle was deprived of any revolutionary content. Those who controlled the money and arms were able to dictate terms. The counterrevolutionary Salafists and Jihadis, lavishly backed with money and arms from their billionaire paymasters in Riyadh and Doha, seized control. That determined the nature of the so-called opposition.

Based on these arguments, the conclusion drawn is: “The truth is that the Syrian Revolution has suffered defeat,”and everything now would sum up to an imperialist intervention against the country through its allies. In other words, according to Alan Woods, it does not matter which side wins the war: the immediate task of the revolutionaries in Syria would be only to wait for better days.

The truth is that after reading these paragraphs there is no more doubts that Alan Woods or his political current have never supported the Syrian Revolution. But for us, who know his trajectory, it is not surprising that they have gotten to this point, although on this occasion they have been forced to beat around the bush and to tailor some of their positions over time, hiding and changing others to finally have arguments to continue supportingthe ones they regard as their guides for the international revolution: Chavismo without Chavez.

Let us see, at first, Alan Woods’ arguments on the Syria situation.

The article begins by stating that the Western press (let’s say pro-imperialist) only mentions the government’s actions, concealing the Jihadists and Salafists’ brutality. This is not true, because we have all seen the pictures of a Salafist militiaman plucking and eating the heart of a dead soldier of the regime.

Alan Woods, however, does not say a single word about what the Western press did not publish on this macabre fact. On the internet it can be found statements of Abu Sakkar (the militiaman who ate the soldier’s heart) saying that he did it because when they (the rebels) captured that soldiers they watched the videos that were recorded on their cell phones where they (the regime soldiers) showed how they raped rebel women or murdered children.

According toWoods, the Western media only covers the government atrocities, when in fact, what happens is that the media works to amplify the Salafists and Jihadists’ actions, causing civil war looks like a sectarian war, in which the medicine can be worse than the disease itself. And every day, further and further pieces of news appear in this regard: on the financing of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, on the front Al Nusra which states to be linked to Al Qaeda. In other words, Western media does the same advertising job as Alan Woods.

The process of the Syrian Revolution and the Salafists

In March 2011, large demonstrations were held calling for the fall of al Assad’s regime. After eight months of brutal repression, the Revolution began to arm itself and ended up provoking a civil war that still lingers in the country which is now divided into zones controlled by the regime and liberated zones. Alan Woods says that because of its militarization, the revolution has suffered a defeat, after being dominated by the Salafists. This assessment, in our opinion, is flatly wrong.

Firstly, it is necessary to analyze who is actually fighting on the ground. The largest rebel military force in Syria is the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a group of militiamen and battalions relatively heterogeneous, but who keep a common standard. The estimated current soldiers of FSA areof 80,000 men. The largest Salafist group is JabhatAl Nusra, which has about 7,500 troops. As we can see, despite the Salafists progress in recent months (thanks to the international support they have, against the isolation of the FSA), the non-sectarian forces are largely dominant in the military rebel field.

Secondly, in the liberated areas with a major presence of Salafist forces there have been frequent confrontations of the population against them. Lately, even armed clashes have occurred in the city of al Dana or in the Kurdish areas. The Salafists murdered a FSA’s battalion chief and the Local Coordination Committees have spoken against them. In Raqqa, Aleppo and Idlib (the most important liberated zones), there have been streets demonstrations for the same reasons. The Syrian people are far from joyfully accepting the Salafist guardianship, and there is a vivid struggle in the rebel field against the enforcement of the fanatic precepts of these currents.

Third, every Friday demonstrations keep happening throughout Syria. Although they do not count on as many participants as at the beginning, due to the forcible exile, people continue to occupy the streets every week. For instance, on July 19, the Independent Syrian Center for Statistics recorded 73 Syrian demonstrations.

Finally, we want to highlight that organizations which were created by the Syrian masses as from their mobilization, still exist, just as at the beginning. For instance, the extensive network of the Local Committees – the organizations that began coordinating the demonstrations – also took the tasks of supplying the people’s needs (and even being the government in the liberated areas). There is also the Union of Free Students of Syria, dozens of newspapers, many initiatives of the press giving to the world insights of what goes on inside Syria, humanitarian assistance through professional doctors, nurses, psychologists and volunteers, cultural initiatives, etc…

Among the arguments used by Allan Woods, one is worth mentioning:

“To the degree that the whole thing became militarised, the struggle was deprived of any revolutionary content. Those who controlled the money and arms were able to dictate terms. The counterrevolutionary Salafists and Jihadis, lavishly backed with money and arms from their billionaire paymasters in Riyadh and Doha, seized control. That determined the nature of the so-called opposition.”

It is the first time that we read that when a revolution is militarized, it loses its revolutionary content. We revolutionaries believe that it is precisely the opposite: to destroy a regime it is necessary to destroy the key support of the Bourgeois State, which are itsArmed Forces. To achieve this feat, the masses arm themselves or manage to get the Army troops to come over to the revolution side and thus fight the regime with their arms. Therefore, a revolution that manages to destroy the regime’s Army challenges the very Capitalist State. On the other hand, a revolution which leaves intact the Army cannot be more than a “democratic revolution” which, if stalled at this point, will not be able to move to a social revolution.

With all of this, we want to conclude that the Syrian revolution is alive, and that the Salafists are a minority faction from all points of view. To say, as Alan Woods does, that the money and the weapons are in the hands of the Salafists and therefore the efforts of the revolutionaries have been in vain is the greatest contempt of someone who claim to be a Marxist could send to the poor masses and exploited people of the whole world. It is clear that without money and weapons it is more difficult, but if it was the decisive factor there would never have been any revolution in the world, for money and weapons have always been in the hands of the minority, the bourgeois.

Would Assad be”secular” or “progressive”?

AlanWoods acknowledges in his text that the Syrian government commits atrocities. In previous articles of his own organization, Assad was denounced as a capitalist government that implements neoliberal plans. However, in the latter article, when criticizing the Muslim rebels, Woods slips and unveils the characterization that the Syrian regime is “progressive”, and that “the victory of the Jihadis would represent reaction in its blackest and most vicious form. It would signify the liquidation of all the gains of the last 50 years, pushing what was a civilized and decent country back into barbarism. It would mean a savage bloodbath of ethnic cleansing of Alawites, Christians and secular people. The slogan “Alawites to the grave, Christians to Beirut!” gives us fair warning as to the character and intentions of the jihadis. Their aim is to provoke a Sunni/Shia war of extermination.”

We have already responded to one of the main arguments which is the base for those who argue that the Syrian revolution would be a reactionary process for being “under the control” of Salafists. Now we want to give the question back: What about the government side? Would it be “secular” or “progressive”?

Although apart of the left spread this regime’s image, the answer is categorically No. Assad and his regime are not progressive nor in the content, and they do not even worry about hiding it in the form. And the proof of that was the fatwa read by the Mufti [2] of the Republic on television, calling a jihad to defend the regime. Further proof can be seen in the way the Army generals call upon the Syrian youth to enlist to fight “on behalf of Hussein” (son of Ali, the central figure of Shiite Islam). We can also mention the fact that after the conquest of Qusayr, the first thing that the regime troops did was to unfurl an offensive flag on a Sunni mosque. And finally: the government’s bombardments had already destroyed at least 800 mosques in April, to sow fear, but above all sectarian hatred.

Someone could say that this occurs because of the war and as a reaction to the Salafists’ actions, but the Syrian regime could not be characterized as “secular” even before the war.

The Syrian regime is not a secular state where wouldn’tmatter the religion a particular person professes. Religious leaders play a major role in the Syrian regime. The regime has fostered the splitting and has leaned on one of the Muslim factions, the Alawites (10% of the population) in order to control the Army and State institutions. Civil marriage is prohibited and those who want to get married can do it only if they profess the same religion. Syrian Kurds were massacred and discriminated for decades, and only with the beginning of the revolution the citizenship was provided to them, in order to neutralize them.

If any doubt remained about al Assad’s regime, simply look at their allies to dismiss it completely. On the battlefield, the Hezbollah troops serve as the regime ground troops. And the word Hezbollah, literally translated, means “Party of God”.

On the international stage, al Assad’s main support is the Islamic Republic of Iran and its Ayatollah (which translated means “sign of God”) as “the supreme leader”.

It is ridiculous to try to justify the support to Bashar’s dictatorship for being a “secular” regime fighting against “reactionary Islamists”. In fact, it is the regime that makes more efforts to convert the Revolution in a sectarian fighting, in order to weaken it.

Nor does Bashar hesitate to promote massacres against the Palestinians in Syria (which stem from the 1948 refugees. All his speeches in support of Palestine were definitely thrown into the dustbin of history when it started the bombing on the Yarmuk neighborhood (originated from a refugee camp), where more than 150,000 people live, including Palestinians and Syrians. Palestinians in Syria are part of the revolution, because they suffer the same misery and lack of freedoms that affect the entire population.

50 years of accomplishments?

This is the second statement that stands out most in the arguments of Alan Woods: why is it that the Syrian people rose up massively against the regime, if the country had, according to Alan Woods, 50 years of accomplishments, being a ‘civilized’ country in which there were acceptable living conditions?

A few months earlier, on March 1st, 2013, Fred Weston, also of Alan Woods’ current, explained in an article the nature of Al Assad’sregime, showing the unemployment growth, especially among youth, the dominant role ofthe private industry and the fall in the purchasing power of the population, in other words, a situation similar to the rest of the countries in the region.

“The truth, however, is very concrete: there is not a single gram of anti-imperialism in al Assad regime. There is nothing of progressive in which he could somehow justify a possible support from the socialists, including the most critical of the ‘critical support’ “. [3]

If Alan Woods had a minimum of seriousness he would have, before beautifying the regime which his Bolivarian friends support, to say that his own comrade was mistaken, and demonstrate, if possible, where are the “50 years of accomplishments.” Let us remember that they are 50 years of military dictatorship, during which Bashar al Assad’s father held massacres in which thousands of people died. The current dictator “inherited” from his father the country presidency.

The lack of a revolutionary leadership in accordance with the standards required by Alan Woods

It is typical of the propagandists to criticize the masses for not doing whattheir schemes determine, beforehand. That’s exactly what Alan Woods does in his article, even though we have already seen this phenomenon in other texts by his current about the Syrian Revolution.

The above mentioned article starts as it follows:

“The movement in Syria began as a popular revolution with mass support. If that movement had been armed with a genuinely revolutionary programme, it could have succeeded in winning over those sections of society that backed Assad for fear of the alternative. However, in the absence of clear leadership, the movement was hijacked by reactionary elements and pushed in a sectarian direction.”

In at least one point we agree: there is not a revolutionary leadership in Syria whose program aims at the socialist revolution. However, for sure the Syrian masses have a revolutionary program: to overthrow the bloody regime of Bashar al Assad. It is lacking the program of the social revolution and it is lacking the building up a revolutionary party to defend this program, but this can only be built in the trenches of the revolution, as it happens in reality.

Indeed, a good part of the Syrian revolutionaries can be considered politically as “moderate Islamists”. How could we ask the masses to be on the “leftist” side if most of the worldwide “left” has been supporting the capitalist dictatorship which is promoting massacres against the masses? Much of the blame of the Salafists’ progress or the advance of political Islamism is of that very “left” who condemns the revolution just for this reason. How can Woods be so hypocritical to the point of accusing the Syrians of not following the direction he proposes, when his own current collaborated with the late President Chavez, the known friend and collaborator of the Syrian dictatorship?

Revolutions are as they are: they do not follow a predetermined pattern. It is necessary to look at them objectively, to see how they develop in practice in the real world. The Syrian masses rose up peacefully first, however, seeing themselves repressed and murdered, they took up arms to defend themselves and wipe out the regime. The Syrian people could not build a revolutionary leadership to the taste of some and others. This leadership has to be built in the midst of the government bombings and in a scenario in which there are many interests at stake. And amid all of this the Syrian people have been building their own bodies of power, with all its strengths and weaknesses: local committees, the Free Syrian Army, their Free Students organizations…. It is therefore a living process which should be known and supported by all the workers and peoples of the world.

The anti-imperialism of Alan Woods

We leave for the end what isthe justification of the text we criticize: Obama’s statements saying that U.S.would directly subsidize the Syrian opposition with weapons and resources. There are several statements that have not been fulfilled. However, for Alan Woods this is a scandal, because it would mean an imperialist intervention.

We denounce precisely the opposite. The imperialism has long been intervening in Syrian conflict and has done it mostly in favor of the regime. The arms embargo has benefited so far only the Syrian dictatorship, which continues to be armed by countries such as Russia and Iran, through subsidized fuel from Venezuela and the economic support from China, as well as a true foreign intervention, that of the Hezbollah. This is because the imperialism’s policy, which has not yet been changed, is of forcing a deal between the opposition and the regime, to make a transition that would leave intact the current regime foundations, but without the presence of Bashar al Assad. What worries the imperialism the most is the instability of the region. This stability, which Assad had been ensured for the past 40 years, along with the Egyptian regime, has been one of the mainstays of the State of Israel survival.

On the other hand, the imperialism most direct “allies” (as they are defined by Alan Woods) in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been financing the Islamist factions with the clear objective of perverting the revolution and weakening the Syrian masses. Incidentally, neither Qatar nor Saudi Arabia have never sent heavy weapons to the militias they support, which demonstrates that their real intention is far from the prompt and effective overthrow of the regime.

And why wouldn’t the Syrian rebels have the right to receive weapons from the U.S. or Europe? The Syrian masses have the right to arm themselves, no matter where the weapons come from. Let us remember that during the Civil War or the Spanish Revolution, all the left demanded an end to the arms embargo that had been decreed by the “democracies” of Europe. The government of the Spanish Republic requested arms fromFrance and fromEngland. The Syrian people have the same right, otherwise the ones who will be armed to the teeth will be only the military dictatorship and, to a lesser extent, the Salafist militias – and that is what is actually happening.

That “left”ends up by playing the same role as the imperialism in order to isolate the revolution, echoing the U.S. propaganda when they (the U.S.) declare that they will arm the rebels, but disregarding the fact that these statements are never carried out.

A curious omission in all texts of Alan Woods and his current

In March, Fred Weston denounced the Communist parties for giving support to Bashar al Assad’s regime, when he quoted a statement by the Israeli Communist Party who said that Assad was preferable to a rebels’ triumph. As said above, Alan Woods’ collaborator explained that the regime of Bashar al Assad was at all, nor anti-imperialist nor progressive. Eventually he denounced the Communist parties, but never mentioned either the Castro brothers, of the Cuban regime, or the Venezuelan Chavez or his heir, Mr. Maduro.

However, supposing that Alan Woods is right and that the revolution is defeated, we should ask him what were the role of the left in this process, and especially the role of the government he so much defends. Why does Alan Woods say nothing about the role of Chavez and of the Castro regime in the Syrian Revolution?

Both governments have declared themselves friends of Bashar al Assad and Venezuela sends directly the fuel that moves the Syrian tanks and its air force. Both governments are the ones who led the toxic ideological campaign on the Syrian Revolution. These two governments have supported the thesis that the demonstrations and the revolution were an imperialism conspiracy. This is the “left” which declares Bashar as anti-imperialist, as a defender of the Palestinian people and as an enemy of Israel and even as “socialist” and “humanistic”. These are the figures of whom Alan Woods and his friends have forgotten, who helped the isolation of the Syrian revolution on an international basis, isolation that led to the lack of support by the workers and peoples of the world, as happened with Tunisia or Egypt. These two governments are also responsible for the fact that the Syrian people look suspiciously the left because they have seen the way large part of the “left” has supported and continues to support the dictatorship.

We do not condemn Allan Woods and his current for changing their position. Everyone has the right to do so, if convinced by the arguments, and especially if the reality proves that the point of view they previously advocated is wrong. What is not correct is to try to show up as a revolution supporter and then do everything possible to demoralize it, using precisely the arguments of the imperialism, and demoralize the revolutionary summoning them implicitly to accept the “defeat”.

Alan Woods has once again demonstrated that he has abandoned Marxism, which he claims to defend. We, who are Marxists, on the contrary, as it should be, we support the revolution, we are unconditionally with the Syrian people, for the defeat of the dictatorship and we will do whatever is possible, no matter how humble our own possibilities are, to surround them in internationalist solidarity.

__________________________________________

[1] For those who have not read Alan Woods’ article, the full text can be found at the link:

http://www.marxist.com/no-to-imperialist-intervention-in-syria.htm

[2] Ahmad Badr al-Din Hassoun, referred to as”The Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic.” “Mufti” is a state-religious or academic authority, responsible for interpreting the Islamic law (Sharia) and to issue official statements (fatwas) on controversial issues.

[3] Available at: http://www.luchadeclases.org/internacional/oriente-medio/1181-regimen-de-al-assad-que-se-ha-convertido.html

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Perspective on the work stoppage at Bajaj

The nearly 50 day long tool down action at Bajaj’s Chakan plant was a landmark action by the workers of the Chakan industrial belt, both for it’s duration and the impact it has had in radicalizing the otherwise ‘peaceful’ situation at the Chakan industrial belt. The core issue of the struggle was over the ill-effects of the imposition of total productivity methods at Chakan modelled on the system at Maruti Suzuki and union busting tactics of the management at the Pantnagar plant.

The action at Chakan may be linked to the developments at the Pantnagar plant in Uttarakhand where the workers were deliberately denied from joining the Vishwa Kamgar Kalyan Sangathana ( VKKS ). The harrassment of workers at that plant led to the union at Chakan break the old agreement and make a fresh set of demands targetting an improvement of their working condition. The union leadership however, was limited from the start, by targeting shareholding in the company for workers as a ‘lasting’ means of improving worker’s wages. The leaflet distributed by the union expressed the ideological basis for their demand for shares, the belief in trusteeship, championed by Jamnalal Bajaj. This demand more than any other was what was highlighted by the union.

There were other issues as well. During the meetings, the question of condition of work for contract workers was raised more than once. Bajaj like every other major industry prefers the hiring of contract labor to use of permanent workforce. In the slump period in the auto industry, contract labor again gave way to the use of trainee workers. This together with the total productivity methods, squeezed out the highest possible productivity out of the workers at the plant, not to mention rendered them precarious owing to the contractual nature of work and the temporary or trainee status of the workers. However, the union did not raise these questions concretely in their charter of demands. On the contrary, the allotment of shares, which was stressed by the union, would only aid the management in exploiting the workers. With shareholding, the workers are tied in to the profits and losses of the company, and consequently, hostage to the policy of the management.

At no point was the tool down action directed towards more militant forms of protests like gheraos or factory occupations, or pickets. The result was that the company had a free hand in forcing the trainee workers to work overtime to compensate for production losses due to the tool down. Even though this was illegal, the union leadership preferred a legal course to tackling this than the more militant alternative of installing a gherrao of the factory. However, the enthusiasm of the young workers at the union ( their average age being 26 ), proved to be an inspiration for other workers to join in solidarity. The Shramik Ekta Mahasangh which was the umbrella body of industrial unions in the Chakan belt expressed their solidarity with the workers. However, no tool down action was taken by them.

All in all, the workers at Bajaj had to go on their own. The workers showed both determination and unity in carrying on the tool down action for more than 50 days beginning from the 25th of June till August 14th. This was all despite management tactics of harrassment and attempts to break the strike, not to mention, threats of shifting production away from the Chakan plant to neighboring Aurangabad. In the end the strike was ended ‘unconditionally’. The union leadership under has promised to ‘continue to press for the demands raised by the strike action including wage revision’.

Thus, the work stoppage action ended without any demands conceded, and a murky uncertain future awaits for the suspended workers. The management feels emboldened with its success in ending the struggle without any concessions made, and in potential for shifting production to any other plant in the country.

The unity of workers which has been building up albeit in a somewhat distorted manner since the general strike of 2010, has tremendous implications for the future of the worker’s movement. The Bajaj tool down action represents both the problems and the potential in mobilizing workers in India.

The larger picture :

Though the action at Bajaj ended without consequence, the significance of this work stoppage action can’t be ignored in the larger picture. Since the beginning of market reforms and what is generally called ‘neo-liberal’ growth, the condition of workers in India has become more and more precarious. Contractorization, casualization and rationalization of workforce in addition to privatizations of public companies have added to the burdens of the working class. The ‘boom years’ of the Indian economy also saw the birth of a new phase of class struggle, with the workers at Honda revolting. Soon after, the Gurgaon industrial belt became the scene of the most significant labor movement in recent times centered around Maruti. The rest of the country has not been immune to this. It was not too long since the workers at Mahindra’s Nasik plant struck work after the arrest of it’s union leadership there.

With worsening conditions of work, and the entry of millions upon millions of freshly proletarianized peasant populations ( people who’ve been rendered wage slaves due to loss of subsistence income from the countryside, pushed into the cities or factories to find work ), a new young working class has been created out of the most rebellious and desperate section of india’s populace. The increasing intensity of struggles, with frequent cases of workers turning violent, is an unsurprising outcome of the brutality of the system upon the lives of these populations. With shrinking stable job opportunities, owing to a stagnation of organized employment, most of these wage slaves end up with the worst kind of work in the unorganized sector, if not end up unemployed yet again.

The increase of this reserve labor has strengthened the ability of capitalists to impose their will upon the workers. It is not for no reason that the management at Bajaj could compensate the loss of man hours as easily with trainee workers. The system favored him, but the times are against him. The world crisis has affected india, and the problems of a proletarianizing economy founded on the systematic destruction of peasants and petty bourgeois, has come crashing in. Workers become more rebellious and there is an ever present danger of it becoming violent. The example of Gurgaon-Manesar industrial belt stands as a warning before the greedy bourgeois.

With this new method of exploitation, there have been new movements of resistance against it. The movement for organizing contract workers for decent, secured job opportunities through their regularization, epitomizes this. The proliferation of contractorisation in Indian industry has given new impetus to the movement to organize contract workers. There is not a single major company where contractorisation has not taken roots, and consequently, there is an ever present struggle against the conditions which it brings about. This is one area which can combine the struggles of workers in private industry with those in public industry where contractorisation is emerging in a major way. Take the case of BSNL where almost 100000 workers work as ‘outsourced’ contract workers. But while the significance of the struggle seems obvious, the nature of the movement is restrained to a company specific approach. No focussed effort seems to be in place to create a movement of all workers against contractorisation uniting both public and private sector workers. Building such unity is the need of the day !

This is not unconnected with the developments in the public sector. The crisis has forced the government to aggressively target the public sector for increased privatizations. The results have been a spree of strike actions by workers against privatization. Coal India Ltd, BSNL, Neyvelli lignite have all been witness to workers protesting efforts at privatizing these companies. These have so far been successful in restraining any efforts at completing the privatizations of these companies. The question of contract workers and overall, the question of improving work conditions are not unrelated to this. Privatization brings with it a worsening of working conditions, and increasing precariousness of work. The workers of the public sector companies are essentially waging a defensive struggle against privatization and against losing the security that comes with state ownership. This stands in contrast with the actions in the private sector where existing conditions of work are being challenged.

The public sector is a fortress for the working class, and a lifeline for giving sustainable secured employment. It accounts for a majority of organized workforce in the country as well as being in the commanding height of the economy. Uniting the workers of these two sectors would strengthen the working class in their struggle against Indian capitalism. This would not be possible without the necessary political leadership.

On the question of the revolutionary party

We are re-publishing this article written by comrade Jonas Potyguar on the question of the revolutionary party and it’s organization. The article lays bare the critical importance of organizing the party on the principles of democratic centralism and with a distinct emphasis of recruiting workers as its grassroots.

 

88 years without lenin: A revolutionary leninist party, or a party of affiliated sympathizers ? 

– Jonas Potyguar

The topic of construction of a revolutionary party and the discussion hinging round this pivot abound among socialists. The character of a Leninist party has been attacked from all kinds of angles.

It has even been said – and not altogether wrong – that Lenin’s main contribution to Marxism has been the theory and practise of the organisation of a revolutionary party. This is so, because Lenin regarded organisation as a fundamental issue among all the other tasks, whether agitation or propaganda.

He has even stated that the task of organisation is more important than that of the use of revolutionary violence in the revolution and that is what he said in 1919, at the funeral of Sverdlov, the greatest organiser the Bolshevik party has ever had:

“Comrades, people who judge by what they see on the surface, the numerous enemies of our revolution, and those who to this day vacillate between the revolution and its opponents, consider the most striking feature of our revolution to be the determined and relentlessly firm way it has dealt with the exploiters and the enemies of the working people. There is no doubt that without this, without revolutionary violence, the proletariat could not have triumphed. Nor can there be any doubt that revolutionary violence was a necessary and legitimate weapon of the revolution only at definite stages of its development, only under definite and special conditions, and that a far more profound and permanent feature of this revolution and condition of its victory was, and remains, the organisation of the proletarian masses, the organisation of the working people.”1

And he tops this reasoning “…the main task of the proletarian revolution is precisely the task of organisation.”2

That is why, unlike reformists, Marxists wish to exert power together with the organised masses and that is not a feat of some great parliamentary “leaders”. The most serious symptom of capitulation to the apparatuses – whether reformist or bourgeois parliamentary – and the most frequent way in which this is expressed is the abandonment of the organisation of the toiling masses – or the pushing back of this task to second-best position (in their own organisations) – and of the vanguard in the revolutionary party. The most appealing task normally are those that imply audience, where is possible to test out very soon and in front of people one’s own individual aptitudes. The simple “grey” task of organising, recruiting and spreading the orientation of the party through the press, for example, is much more difficult and tedious. But pushing the task of organisation to the second-rate level means to yield to the pressure of the bourgeoisie and to capitulate to the apparatuses where a few leaders “substitute” the labour of the masses and of the advance guard.

 

This is so important that taking it as priority and building the revolutionary party in Russia was the reason for the victory in Russia and the opposite, considering this a secondary task, led to the defeat of the revolution in Germany in 1918.

The secret of the Bolshevik party and their most important lesson on how to build revolutionary parties all over the world was that, understanding the importance of the organisation, they leaned on a tripod that could (and can) ensure strength and invincibility to any revolutionary party: the use of Marxist theory, a close link with the International and their insertion in the workers’ movement.

“Only relying on Marxist revolutionary theory and on the experience of the international social democracy we can merge our revolutionary trend with the workers’ movement…”3

Using this tripod, Bolshevism gets organised in a new type of party, reflecting not only the specificity of the Tsarist Russia but also the new historic epoch of wars and revolutions. It is from his analysis of imperialism that Lenin draws his vision of a new type of party, fighting, for action, for the seizure of power.

“Imperialism is a stage of capitalism in which, after having done all it could have done, it now revolves towards decadence… There may be many similar wars… To fulfil this new task, the proletarian party may need organisations of a totally new type. It is difficult to foretell what the new form of organisation should be in correspondence with this phase.”4

In 1900, defending a party built around a hard core, basically by professional revolutionaries, he said,

“We must prepare men who would not dedicate only their free afternoons to the revolution, but their entire lives…” 5

He asserts that the party must have a flexible structure to define when a frontal combat is required and when it is necessary to retreat properly. He asserts that unconditional centralisation and the most severe discipline of the proletariat inside their party is one of the fundamental conditions for victory over bourgeoisie.

He draws on the norm that the grassroots of the party be active militants, where all the members, without any exception, take part in the struggle, in the movement and in the everyday life of the toiling masses.

After power has been seized, discipline and centralisation are even more important:

“The strictest centralisation and discipline are required within the political party of the proletariat in order to counteract this, in order that the organisational role of the proletariat (and that is its principal role) may be exercised correctly, successfully and victoriously. The dictatorship of the proletariat means a persistent struggle – bloody and bloodless, violent and peaceful, military and economic, educational and administrative – against the forces and traditions of the old society. The force of habit in millions and tens of millions is a most formidable force. Without a party of iron that has been tempered in the struggle, a party enjoying the confidence of all honest people in the class in question, a party capable of watching and influencing the mood of the masses, such a struggle cannot be waged successfully.” 6

For the Bolshevik party, right from the beginning, even when it consisted of a tiny group of intellectuals who acted in hiding, the insertion in the industrial working class was priority. This orientation is based on the Marxist vision, on the Marxist standpoint on the central character of the industrial working class and the very experience of Marx and Engels who did their best to take socialist ideas to the real movement of working class. As early as 1893, Lenin gets in contact with advanced workers of Saint Petersburg and in 1902 he said:

“Our work is aimed, first of all and above all, at factory workers of the cities. Russian social democracy must not disperse its strength, but concentrate its activity on industrial proletariat… we do not deem it wise to orient our strength towards craftsmen and farmhand…”7

Later on, when the party was no longer small, Lenin oriented it towards other sectors without, however, forsaking that priority. Having defined this priority to social advance guard sectors proved correct, for in 1917 Lenin defended the seizure of power when he achieves majority of soviets in two most important working class cities: Moscow and St. Petersburg. We must add that in those days the Russian working class counted 3 millions souls densely concentrated in big factories among 150 million inhabitants. They achieved the miracle of leading dozens and dozens of millions because they were a power inside the industrial proletariat.

Lenin attached an enormous importance to the press of the party. In his famous book What to do? he spreads a vision of a party newspaper as an organizational and political centraliser for the whole party. Thus, in 1912, faced with the first signs of struggle of the working class, he launches a legal newspaper, the Pravda, whose launching was preceded by a several-month-long campaign asking factory workers for their financial support. Contributions came in tens of thousands and there was also a subscription campaign. Pravda had the backing of tens and hundreds of workers, who – with their modest contributions – ensured its publication.

Reflecting directly the situation of class struggle, the ups and downs, victories and defeats, and also the different phases of the construction of the party, there were great wavering as far as the number of militants goes. A party of a few tens of militant cadres in 1901 and of hundreds in 1903 was a founding group, as Lenin put it; “a communist nucleus whose central task was to insert themselves among the masses of workers.” In 1905, at the beginning of the revolution, an advance-guard party with 8 000 militants, most of them inserted in industrial centres, a party in “transition from communist propaganda and agitation to action”. In 1907, at the congress of reunification with the Mensheviks, 77 000 militants with a slight majority of Bolsheviks, the party was already in the period of “mass party” whose essential task was, as Lenin used to say, “take the initiative in massive actions”. At a time of a slump in the struggles, of defeats, in 1910, in most regions the party disintegrated and just a few dozen militants remained. In 1916 the new ascent began and the Bolshevik party had at most 5 000 members and a few cadres. When the revolution began, thousands and thousands of workers joined the political battle and left-wing parties and by April 1917 the party could already boast 79 000 members and by July the figure reaches 170 000, 250 000 by March 1919, 610 000 in March’20 and 730 000 in March 1921.

Bolshevism combined a great inflexibility as far as principles are concerned and a great flexibility at the time of using tactics (forms of struggle) of the most varied type. For example, the defence of using parliament and then boycott, the defence of participating in all the workers’ organisations (trade unions) but censuring the yellow trade unions; the use of terrorism (and also guerrilla) but in a compulsory manner using it only in the service of the working class and as part of the workers’ struggle.

This is absolutely essential in the building of revolutionary parties because to fall into opportunism or ultra-leftism is to give priority to an only procedure, isolate it and turn it into an absolute (for example the use of the parliament). It is just like this popular saying goes: “anything in excess is poison”.

This is how Lenin expresses this vision: “On the other hand, Bolshevism, which had arisen on this granite foundation of theory, went through fifteen years of practical history (1903-17) unequalled anywhere in the world in its wealth of experience… During those fifteen years, no other country knew anything even approximating to that revolutionary experience, that rapid and varied succession of different forms of the movement—legal and illegal, peaceful and stormy, underground and open, local circles and mass movements, and parliamentary and terrorist forms”. 8

If Bolshevism could triumph in the revolution it is because they knew how to expose the opportunists in Russia and in II International; this was one of the causes of victory.

A party of active militants based on professional militants made the building of a mass party for combat and seizure of power possible. This was expressed, for example, in the way Barmin, a young Bolshevik leader, recruited new members in the factories: “Join the party that does not promise advantages or privileges. If we achieve victory, we shall build a new world. If we are defeated, we shall fight to the last man.”

But in order to build a party that can resist the pressure of the bourgeoisie and the defeat it is necessary to mould a party and leaders capable of learning from their errors.

“A political party’s attitude towards its own mistakes is one of the most important and surest ways of judging how earnest the party is and how it fulfils in practice its obligations towards its class and the working people. Frankly acknowledging a mistake, ascertaining the reasons for it, analysing the conditions that have led up to it, and thrashing out the means of its rectification – that is the hallmark of a serious party; that is how it should perform its duties, and how it should educate and train its class, and then the masses. By failing to fulfil this duty and give the utmost attention and consideration to the study of their patent error, the “Lefts” in Germany (and in Holland) have proved that they are not a party of a class, but a circle, not a party of the masses, but a group of intellectualists and of a few workers who ape the worst features of intellectualism.” 9

But he was not satisfied with just identifying the error but reasoned in a Marxist way that is to say, with the understanding that the pressures inside the party reflected the pressures existing in the bourgeois society and he always tried to propose concrete measures within the scope of the organisation of the party to correct the existing deviation or problem.

That is how in the early 1905, in the middle of the revolution, as he saw a lot of hesitations among the leaders of his faction, he proposed clear steps: that the committees of the party should have a majority of workers. (“eight workers for every two intellectuals, for workers have class instinct) He lost when the votes were taken. But in November 1905 in the middle of the revolutionary crisis, he was requesting one intellectual for several hundreds of workers.

After the seizure of power and by the end of the civil war, climbers were flooding the party. Lenin proposed:

“…I should advise the most rigorous admission to the party: a three-year period as candidate for workers (considering a worker one who has worked at least 10 years in the great industry as a simple salaried worker and has now been working for at least 2 or 3 years); for peasants and combatants of the Red Army, 4 years and for everybody else, 5 years.”10

When the danger of bureaucratisation of the USSR emerges, in his last writings he insists that:

“Inclusion of many workers to the CC will help workers to improve our administrative body… The workers who will become part of the CC should be mainly not those who have been acting for a long time in the Soviets… for they have been soaked in with certain traditions and prejudices that we wish to fight against.”11

What a difference between this party and the German party! The latter, held on to legal (parliamentary) intervention, with affiliates who did not have an everyday active participation in the life of the party and workers’ struggles. This “giant” party had, on the eve of the war, a million members, 90 daily papers and had reached 4 million votes in the elections to the parliament. It had magazines, schools, universities, 2.5 million workers were organised in trade unions led by social democrats. When the war broke out it split to pieces like crystal receiving the first bullet. But this routine in the form of organisation was so deep that this lax and rusty structure affected also the Spartaquists, whose leader was Rose Luxemburg, who in 1914 publicly split away from the reformists but did not split away, or took a long time to do so, with their forms of organisation. And that proved deadly for the German revolution. Rose Luxemburg failed to understand that the new epoch required a new type of party. Her organisation had to form itself in the middle of the war and in totally clandestine conditions, had no time to grow up: its members had no discipline and most militants, reacting in an ultra-leftist fashion to the opportunist capitulation of the social democrats, refused to take part in elections or trade unions. Later on Lenin reflected that the main error of German communists was that they did not split away from the social democrats early enough, even before the war.

In 1921 he was to say:

“it is necessary to expose in full details what is it that does not exist in most of the legal parties in the West. There is no everyday work (revolutionary work) done by each and every one member of the party.”12

Nowadays, there is a great discussion in the workers’ movement about the characteristics and the structure of a revolutionary party. Most people point blank refuse to have “Leninist” Democratic Centralism which is regarded as antidemocratic and the form of “affiliated” members, a lax form that admits “ample democracy” for the grassroots, is regarded as preferable.

The discussion on centralisation or non-centralisation of a revolutionary party depends on the purpose it is being built for.

If it is for the seizure of power and to install the dictatorship of the proletariat and overcome the resistance of imperialism by force, the organisation of the party will necessarily have to be centralised, where the 100% of the militants are active and committed militants of workers’ cause. History has proved that without such a type of party victory is always in jeopardy.

On the other hand, if we want to have a party centred hinging round parliamentary activity, elections, a trade union activity now and again (strictly legal) so as to achieve more votes and reach power through elections, there is no need for any democratic centralism. The structure of social democratic parties is good enough for that.

But it is deceitful to tell simple people who do not understand politics that the structure of “affiliates” is more democratic: this is simply a lie! In this type of parties, it is the opportunist leadership who decide everything, and more often than not they are members of parliament, governors, presidents, trade union bureaucrats and the affiliates are simply informed via TV about the guideline of the party, just the way it keeps on happening in Brazilian PT: it turned neoliberal without consulting the hundreds of thousand of affiliated workers.

On the contrary, the Leninist structure of democratic centralism, with the active militants, who participate in the everyday struggle of the workers and party life, discuss everything freely inside the party with the most absolute democracy and then, in a centralised way, everybody, from the freshest to the oldest, have to defend the guideline voted by majority.

This is the only way in which workers can impede that their leader be corrupted by the bourgeoisie.

“And if the workers’ party is really revolutionary, if it is really workers’ (that is to say: linked to the masses, to most workers, to the grassroots of the proletariat and not only to the upper crust sector), if it is really a party, that is: if it is the organisation of the revolutionary advance guard, strong and consistent, capable of doing the revolutionary task among the masses by any possible means, then there is no doubt that this party will be able to hold its members of parliament back…” 13

“The more outstanding the scabs are (meaning Kamenev and Zinoviev) the more compulsory it is to punish them at once with expulsion. The only way to heal a workers’ party is to purge a dozen pusillanimous petty intellectuals, to huddle together the revolutionary rank and file, march together with revolutionary workers.” 14

By means of thousands of negative examples, history has proved the absolute necessity of a Leninist party and today the loss of many revolutions happens just because proletariat does not have a tool of this type and is trapped by the demagogic socialist and “democratic” leaders.

The United Secretariat of the IV International has long forsaken the democratic centralist structure of the organisation of their parties and of the International. But now they take another step forward and make a call to unite all the anticapitalist left, a call that has been passed at the XV Congress of the LCR (France) to:

“… build a new political force, ample and pluralist, radically anticapitalist and resolutely democratic. This grouping in a united party is necessary and urgent to act together along the major guidelines that may, in our opinion, be summed up in a few points: opposition to imperialism, to the war, to the capitalist globalisation… the perspective of a breach with capitalism.”15

This resolution is a “jewel” of opportunism in every field. It would be necessary to write an entire book to expose the venom it contains.

To begin with the expression “opposition to imperialism”. “Opposition” is a parliamentary term. Anybody, down to the blind man in the doorway of a church is “opposition to imperialism”. “Opposition to the war”, yes, of course we are all against the war and the imperialist invasion of Iraq. But are we for the anticolonial war that the Iraqi resistance is carrying out now, and even if necessary, for sending them weapons?

Let us go on to the “perspective” of breach with the capitalism. This just does not commit anybody to anything and left for the future it is something that even Rosseto (Minister of Land Reform in Lula administration) might sign. And the break away from capitalism is to replace it with…. what? That is not said. In this way, anyone can fit into the party, any anti-neoliberal democrat, like the ones who head the World Social Forum and claim that “another world is possible” even in the imperialist system or claim for “unlimited” democracy – and this is something everybody likes – especially imperialism and their companies that exploit and govern the world in an “unlimited way”.

To enter the kingdom of democracy it is not necessary to have a disciplined party of determined and toughened proletarians, ready to die for their class; all you need for that is “to be ample and pluralist”. That is so, because obviously what is needed here is not a party to lead an insurrection and a revolution but to form “potential socialist ministers” for the parliament who would dedicate themselves to diminish the poverty of the “excluded” by means of “compensatory measures” and to guarantee a “law” that would demand from the capital that it should share out its profit and to yell from the parliamentary tribunal against capitalism. What is the use of a centralised party, organised and educated for the seizure of power if it is all about civilised “opposition” to her majesty the bourgeoisie? It is far more convenient to make an “ample and plural” party with members of parliament, consultants, trade union leaders, where liberty would prevail so far that it would even be possible to become a minister in a capitalist government!

Whether to be part of an “anticapitalist” party or not is not a point of principles. Very often revolutionaries are compelled to be there in order to fight reformists who are there. But USec defends the dissolution of their organisations in such parties making the frontiers between revolutionaries and reformists blurred.

Be that as it may, what matters is not what is said but what is done, for words are often gone with the wind and what stays are the bourgeois laws defending the large Brazilian estates applied against the poor of the countryside by a “Trotskyist” minister (in reference to minister Rosseto, member of the USec). It is a disgrace for the IV International. Those who accept such treason are accomplices in the blemishing of the banner of the IV International, of Leninism and revolutionary Marxism.

Notes:

1 Lenin, C.W. tome 38, page 158

2 Lenin, C.W. tome 7, page 59

3 Lenin, C.W. tome 26, page 30

4 Lenin, C.W. tome 4 page 396

5 Lenin, Lef-wing communism, an infantile disorder

6 Lenin, C.W. tome 2, page 486

7 Lenin, Lef-wing communism, an infantile disorder

8 Lenin, Lef-wing communism, an infantile disorder

9 Lenin, C.W. tome 45, page 7

10 Lenin, C.W. tome 45, page 363

11 Lenin, C.W. tome 44, page 14

12 Lenin, C.W. tome 39, page 173

13 Lenin, C.W. tome 34, page 439

14 Lenin, C.W. tome 34, page 439

15 Rouge, 21/11/2003

Analysis of the Occupy Wall Street Movement

We are posting this article on the Occupy Wall Street Movement from the American section of the International Worker’s League- Fourth International. This article is unique in that it analyses the internal dynamics of the occupation assemblies which very few others have done as precisely.

 

 

From Occupy Wall Street to Occupy USA: Tasks and Perspectives

 

 

From a few dozen youth in New York City’s Manhattan Park, Occupy Wall Street has now seen thousands (20,000 at it’s peak in NY) take action not only in N.Y., but also in the first days of sister occupations across the U.S – Los Angeles, Chicago, Portland, among many others. This growing movement (there are now over 200 occupations) is captivating the hearts and minds of the majority of the peoples across theU.S.and the world.

These protests show that there is a potential for the American people to develop anti-austerity (i.e. against cuts to public services) mobilizations like their comrades inSpain,Greece, andChile; that’s if it manages to clearly express its political goals. This is why we must learn from the current strengths and limitations of the Occupy Wall Street protests so that the 1% is not able to make the 99% pay for the economic crisis caused by Wall Street and its partners-in-crime – Obama and the oligarchy he represents.

In this movement, marches and actions have grown to more than five-thousand strong. In fact, labor unions have joined the marches and actions, and the Occupy Wall Street protesters have been very happy to welcome them. The repression against Occupy Wall Street and its sister occupations has been severe: with a total of more than two hundred arrests during its few first weeks and an arrest of over 700 protesters who took to the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1st.

The consistent message in the mainstream media, which is now being forced to cover this growing mass action, is that the movement lacks a clear message. Of course, the corporate press (i.e. New York Times, Fox News, etc.) is seeking to portray it as a confused and misdirected movement in order to diffuse and contain it as much as possible.

However, it is our responsibility in the movement to set clear political goals or a strategy toward accomplishing them exist yet. But some of the occupations that have started since Occupy Wall Street – like Los Angeles, Berkeley, and others – have faced the following obstacles: a) the bureaucratic facilitation of general assemblies [1], b) lack of involvement people of color, women, & rank-and-file workers, c) an unhealthy alliance with the police[2], Democratic Party, elected leaders, and non-profit forces, among other obstacles toward evolving the occupations.

 

Tasks and Perspectives

 

As a result, the most immediate challenges and tasks that the Occupy movements face are, in our opinion, 1) the independence of our movement from the Democratic and the Republican Parties, the police, and from elected officials, 2) the democratic organization of the movement.

The lack of a democratic process for the General Assemblies – the main space for decision-making being used for the occupations- hinders the ability of people to participate. Combined with this, for the movement to be truly democratic and successful, it must be independent from the big business & Wall Street parties- particularly Obama and his Democratic Party that bailed-out Wall Street and is cutting public services.

We need to develop a movement that is politically independent of the ones that are allied with the 1% in enacting the austerity policies that are hurting the 99%. Without this being remedied, the movement is likely to be co-opted and eliminate the possibility of a real change and reversal of this crisis.

There are six general tasks for the movement that must be won over in order to have a sustainable, democratic, class independent and mass-based movement:

1) We need to ensure class independence: Keep the movement independent from elected political officials, particularly from the big business parties (i.e. Democratic, Republican and the tea Parties) and from the police, that is not a “neutral” force.

2) Securing democracy of the movement and challenging the present leadership’s conception of it and practice of bureaucratic methods.

3) Develop the political program of the movement: what the movement should fight for and against, its principles (goals and values), and above all its demands.

4) Develop strategy and tactics of political struggle for the movement: how are we going to achieve our goals? Which other sectors we want to involve?

5) Strongly link the movement to the working-class and oppressed (i.e. people of color, LGBT, women) peoples and their current struggles to build solidarity and unity in action.

6) Link and build the base of the movement to other in other sites: schools, neighborhoods, & workplaces, so we keep spreading and involve more sectors of society.

 

For now, “OccupyUSA” is the most important social movement of the day in theU.S.A.It is happening in the midst of a strong general offensive against the working-class. At the same time, there are important reconfiguration and mobilization processes happening within the organized labor movement:  for example, the 60,000 health care workers acrossKaiserHospitalinCaliforniawere on strike September 21-23.

As the occupation movement grows and spreads to Labor unions, the non-profits and other sectors, the movement must be cautious of the ability of bureaucrats from these sectors to strangle the functioning of the occupations.

In addition, as the 2012 presidential elections are around the corner, Democratic Party and their allies – union bureaucrats, non-profits, and the like – will try to channel the occupation movement into electoral solutions and away from strikes and occupations. This was the fate of theWisconsinmobilizations of early 2011 whose leadership (composed of the aforementioned sectors) removed the possibility of a real reverse of the cuts and the legislation by not organizing a General Strike and instead doing the recall process.

What is clear is that the American youth and workers have once again entered into the scene of class-struggle. Although the occupation movement’s political consciousness is uneven and unclear, it may evolve into the strikes and actions that the rest of the world has been experiencing since the 2008 Great Recession. Likewise, though the U.S.is late to the game, we have the advantage of learning from the battles that our brothers and sisters faced recently, like the March 15th Movement of Spain, the Arab Spring and the Chilean student protests.

OccupyLA, OccupyOakland, OccupyBoston, and others have just begun. And time is running against the occupations movement and the sectors it seeks to represent: the youth, workers and unemployed (i.e. the 99%). During the start of OccupyWallSt there was the possibility that the movement would not gain the momentum needed and would immediately collapse. Thankfully the protesters that were led by the youth in N.Y. stayed the course for the first lackluster days and showed the people the way. We must look forward to this patience and commitment spreading across the nation.

However, the present leadership that continues to dominate this movement must be challenged, both in the realm of democratic organization and independence from elected officials (i.e. class independence); this will create the foundation needed to develop the independent and militant character of OccupyUSA. Otherwise, the movement risks being politically short-sighted, co-opted, and eventually buried.

 

We Need an Alternative to Wall Street and Capitalism

The “OccupyUSA” movement is an expression of an anti-capitalist sentiment of the people but it lacks firm political direction. Thus the movement must be cautious of co-optation from Obama and other Democrats as they are taking advantage of the void; they are now saying they understand the sentiment of the occupations movement and some are saying they support and are fighting for the 99%. [3] This hypocritical stance ignores the fact that Obama and his Democrats are tied to Wall Street and its big banks & corporations; they are funded and enact the policies of these sectors.

They got us in this economic mess and the only way out will be possible if all youth, workers, and oppressed peoples unite and exercise their power to withdraw their labor, stop “business as usual”, and hit the banks, corporations and ruling elite where it counts. Furthermore, the movement must spread to labor unions, non-unionized workers, youth, unemployed, and oppressed peoples everywhere.

Occupy Wall Street is sowing the seeds that will allow Americans to mobilize a mass fight-back. In order for OccupyUSA to make a big step, it must mobilize around demands that unite the 99% and clearly express their interest:

– Jobs, Free Public Education, & Universal Healthcare for all,

– Tax the Wealthy! End Foreclosures, Take Back the Bailout Funds & Nationalize the Banks!

– No to Wars and Imperialist Occupations of other Countries!

– End the Prison Industrial Complex! End Police Brutality!

– Legalization for all Immigrants!

The OccupyUSA movement must lay the foundation for a mass movement that demands an alternative to a system based on profit, one that can meet everyone’s basic human needs. In order to be rid of the exploitation and oppression they face, the working class and oppressed people will have to take power into their own hands – and away from big business and the financial elite. Only with worldwide socialism and with workers democracy will we be able to have a world that is democratically run by and for the vast majority of people.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

 

 

[1] In general, one of the factors that have led to the bureaucratic facilitation of general assemblies has been the use of consensus (i.e. 100% of people have to vote yes on decisions.) and its use to silence minority views. Consensus makes it easier for a person to paralyze a meeting and makes it difficult for the majority of peoples’ opinion to be realized. What preserves the democratic character of a meeting is the right of any participant to speak, express their opinions and/or make proposals. The participant should be not be coerced verbally, through gestures or the use of podium; they should have the same amount of time to talk as everyone else. Each individual can have whichever opinion they have but it will be the self-governing assembly who then votes and decides. Therein lays the true democratic nature of a meeting.

[2] Some occupation’s (for example, OccupyLA) organizers have built a harmful relationship with the police. They are spreading the idea that the police are our friends and will protect the occupations if we follow their rules and directions. These organizers also check the “legality” of their occupation’s activities with the police. This relationship ignores the fact that the police are the arm of the state and only listen to their bosses. Furthermore, as some Occupations show (i.e. WallSt,Boston, andSeattle), the police has been deceiving, beating, & arresting occupiers. Thankfully some occupiers are trying to change this relationship to the police and educate others on police brutality.

[3] Lucy Madison, “Obama: ‘Occupy Wall Street’ reflects ‘broad-based frustration'”, http://www.cbsnews.com 10/6/11

The Causes and Consequences of the BSNL workers strike

– Comrade KrantiGarjana

Major workers unions in BSNL called a strike on 1st and 2nd Dec

Their main Demands were:
1) Govt compensate for the losses on 3G spectrum allocation.
2)Effect a roll back on Disinvestment of BSNL.
3)Provide Advance Technology to BSNL.
4)Make the company free from bureaucratic obstacles
At the end of the strike none of these demand could be achieved.
Throughout its history, the telecom sector has seen a decided discrimination in favor of private enterprises and every Bourgeois Govt in power under the direction of their Capitalist boses used the public sector telecom units as cash cows. Be it the BJP or the Congress both followed a policy of actively undermining BSNL. The situation became particularly adverse after the ‘liberalization’ of the economy. As a result of increased competition faced from private companies in the telecom sector, coupled with discriminatory practices of the government, the BSNL employees were pushed in the direction of militancy to defend their company. Obviously, the government’s attitude aims towards fully privatizing the company much to the detriment of the workers and employees . It was against this backdrop that the decision to strike was called. The final straw for the workers were of course the spectrum scandal.
The strike itself was unsuccessful in meeting any of its demands. The reasons put forward by the unions to abruptly call of the strike were :
1) To keep up competition with the pvt sector companies *(where militancy is less)
2) Customer welfare. i.e. minimal difficulty to the customer
3) To keep good relations between private corporations and the government
Thus, we see the core reason for BSNL’s present dismal state of affairs is due to the intention of the bourgeois governments and their bureaucrat lackeys.
The strike in Calcutta like the rest of the country was carried out in a most bureaucratized manner by the unions. But in Calcutta the workers openly disobeyed their union bureaucrat bosses and gatecrashed their way back to work by breaking the picket line. These workers who broke the picket weren’t scabs or from unions affiliated with the bourgeois parties, but active members of left wing unions which called the strike. This act was an open mutiny against the bureaucratization of the union and of the leadership. Incidents like this point towards the failure of the unions to present a militant alternative for the working class in BSNL . The net result of such unionism is that workers lose faith in the unions.
The only solution before us now is towards building a new militant working class leadership which can fulfill the much desired need for working class militancy at BSNL.

BSNL Strike December 2010

Statement of support for BSNL workers strike:

From the 1st of December this year, the workers of BSNL , India’s largest telecommunications provider, and one of the largest public sector companies in India, are on strike. The strike is against the divestment of state assets and the massive attacks on the working conditions and welfare of the workers in BSNL. The Rights of workers and living conditions achieved in India result from years of struggle against the capitalist system. The government attacks target all the victories won by the class in constant militant struggle. The Indian government’s economic, social and political offensive against millions of workers is ruthless and massive, but the struggle of the BSNL workers will be a watershed. We give our unconditional support to the strike called by the BSNL workers and employees under the banner of the JAC.

The demands raised in struggle are the following :

The abolition of the Pitroda Commission Recommendations :

The Pitroda commission is recommending huge lay offs and retrenchments under the guise of a retirement scheme for employees as well as a massive sell-off. These plans are part of a coordinated long term drive to break the militancy of the working class in BSNL and to hand over one of the leading state sector companies to India’s conglomerate owning families. The consequences of this would be devastating . Thus far, such a move has been pioneered by the congress government at the centre who are by a million strings attached to precisely these families.

Stop discriminating against BSNL!  :

Time and again the ruling government in power and particularly the Congress government has treated the BSNL in a discriminating manner. It has been held back from access to some of the best technologies in the market as well as having to pass through unwarranted bureaucratic hurdles to keep up competing with other private firms currently dominating the telecom market. Such discrimination has no justification and must be immediately halted.

A review of existing employment policies :

The present existing wage schemes for workers do not include pension benefits which have been halted since 2007. Also a review is needed on the pay scale and an overall increase of wages must be put into effect. Furthermore, the complications arising out of the absorbsions of employees of the ITS need urgent resolving. We demand that proper steps be taken to resolve this most urgent issue.

Whilst the aforementioned demands broadly describe the approach of the struggle as it stands we believe the following demands should be raised to take the struggle for the BSNL forward

1) Accountability and direct workers participation in all decision making process of the company :

State control over industry is meaningless if it is subjected to the whims of pro-capitalist bureaucrats who are more than willing to sell off public wealth at throw away prices. To ensure that the gains arising out of state ownership benefit the people, the workers who are the life and blood of the corporation must have a decisive say in running the company.

2) Guaranteed employment and good wages for all employees! :

We demand that adequate employment guarantee be granted to all employees working in BSNL which include a pension scheme for all new entrants in work. As well as increases in wage pay for both permanent and contractualized workforce. We also demand that contractualized workers be treated at par with permanent workers in BSNL without any loss of pay to permanent work force.

3) Make BSNL a model company for the country :

BSNL is one of the foremost public sector companies in India. To serve the interests of all people in the nation this essential industry must be given all necessary technical, political and legal assistance to become a model of efficient and democratized planning and development. It must be seen as an inspirational model of class infrastructural development for the prosperity of all citizens.

We call for national level solidarity of all state sector employees to come forth in defense of their rights and for the defense of public assets and state corporations in the greater welfare of the people.

The demands needed to save BSNL aren’t limited only to BSNL or to any single corporation for that matter. They are in essence part of a much broader struggle. To make the struggle for BSNL a true success we must mobilize behind these demands to a higher level of militant struggle culminating ultimately in a nationwide general strike in solidarity with all BSNL workers.

For a United Struggle !

United we rise divided we fall. For the struggle in the BSNL to succeed we need to make sure that the struggle remains a solidly unified one. For this we propose a network of nationally coordinated network of strike committees.