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Era of Crisis and Revolt

Era of Crisis and Revolt

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Author - Baba Aye
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Era of crises & revolts

Perspectives for workers and youths

Baba Aye

Dedicated to the memories of Teslim, Chima & Laitan

Preface and Acknowledgements
The fact that we are living through historic times is one that is beyond question. The world economy and global political system is in severe crisis. This is manifest in several countries as the worldwide economic crisis merges with and is itself aggravated by the accumulated pathway of mal-development which we have witnessed for some five centuries and in particular over the last thirty five years. The working class and youths are fighting back with much vigour. Resistance in some countries, particularly in North Africa have resulted in political revolutions. Governments in Europe have also been consumed by the crisis. The January 2012 Revolt in Nigeria was a turning point for many working class activists and radical youths. Our ideas found resonance in the hearts of millions who rose as one to challenge the system. In the aftermath of this development of historic significance, there is the need to put in perspective the era unfolding before us, so as to arm working people in general and the activists amongst them in particular with perspectives. Ideas are crucial for victory, because they guide the methods we choose and develop and inform the ultimate goals we pursue as we struggle against particular attacks or for specific reforms. The idea of writing this book came in the second half of February 2012, as propositions by comrades at two programmes where I presented a paper titled ―An Era of Global Crisis and Resistance‖. The first was a symposium organised by the Socialist Workers League (SWL) for shop stewards and state council officers of trade unions in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. Comrades from a number of unions, in particular from the Amalgamated Union (AUPCTRE), Civil Service Union (NCSU) & the Association of Senior Civil Servants (ASCSN), expressed the opinion that the paper should be developed into a book and made available to a wider spectrum of working class activists. In this regard, I wish to particularly appreciate the interventions of Comrades Aliu (AUPCTRE FCT Chair), Amaechi (NCSU FCT Chair), Sikiru (AUPCTRE Federal Council Secretary), Tessy (NCSU FCT Vice-Chair), Johnson (AUPCTRE FCT Secretary), Femi (ASCSN Abuja), Prof. Toye Olorode, Dr Umar Kari (ASUU, UniAbuja) and also Sola Olorunfemi, who moderated the programme. A week after the symposium, I presented the same paper at the 2nd General Council Session of the SWL at Oshogbo. A similar response was made by comrades at the programme. The cadres of Socialist Youth League (SYL), the SWL structure on campuses were particularly vocal in this regard and they have been on my case ever since then. In fact, the urgency of wrapping up the book came from the pressure they piled on me. This is because by June 30, SYL will commence a programme of mass education on campuses starting with the Federal Polytechnic Ede. A book such as this was considered necessary for arming cadres and would be cadres of the SYL, and other activists as well with perspectives on where we are now, how we got here and what is to be done. I would particularly want to appreciate the interventions and ―disturbance‖ from Ola Rasheed, Kunle ―Wizman‖ Ajayi, Ismail ―Rio‖ Oloyede, Awo Sam, Ebony Lijofi, ―Ay Struggle‖, Mojeed, MKO, ―Senators‖ Saheed & Oyee. The first draft of the book was discussed at the 2nd Socialist Workers League Convention on February 25-27, 2012 at the IMB (NUPENG) hall, Ibadan. The final draft benefited from some of the issues raised at the Convention. In particular, I would want to appreciate the interventions by Comrades Femi Aborisade, Oluwatoba, Andy Emelieze, Kemi Afolayan, Ola Saint Jericho, Biodun Olamosu and all the earlier mentioned SYL who equally participated actively at the 2nd SWLC. Comrades Ayuba Wabba and Marcus Omokhuale, the National President and Secretary General of Medical and Health Workers‘ Union of Nigeria were supportive of writing this book in a way they might not have been aware of. The process of writing the book

contributed to the delay the union‘s history book project encountered. Happily enough, that is also now being wound up. The process of writing this book has deeper roots than when I was urged to put it together in February 2012. Arguments and earlier versions of some of its chapters had been presented at a number of seminars and in print. An earlier version of the paper ―An Era of Global Crisis & Resistance‖ which dwelt on the revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa region and the Occupy movement was presented at the Social Action antiimperialist camp in the first week of December 2011. It was titled ―A World in Turmoil, a Critical Analysis of Revolution in the MENA Region & the Occupy Movement‖. I wish to express my appreciation to Ken Henshaw & Isaac Osuaka of Social Action, as well as the over 100 young campers who debated the paper vigorously. Earlier versions of some sections of that paper had also been published in the Global Labour News, the enewsletter of the Global Labour University. I appreciate the kind permission of my colleagues on the GLN editorial board for utilising these here. The sections on Nigeria in this book benefited immensely from earlier arguments I had made on my ―Inside & Out‖ column in the African Herald Express. I wish to express my appreciation to Alex Ogbu and Tunde ―Liberty‖ Balogun, both Socialist Workers League cadres that were on the editorial board of the paper. The Abuja print of the weekly seems to have been rested after it became a tribune for radical ideas under the watch of Alex as Managing Editor. An earlier version of Chapter 10 was published by Amandla! magazine in South Africa, for which I wish to thank Mazibuko Jara of the Democratic left, and a member of the Amandla! editorial collective. My gratitude also goes to Petros Al Achmar of the Communist Organisation of Greece, who requested for a shorter version of the chapter as well, which was translated into Greek and published as ―Awakening of People‘s Power in Nigeria‖, in the weekly journal "Dromos tis Aristeras". Similarly, extracts from that chapter were part of the ―letter from Nigeria‖, in the Socialist Review of February, 2012. I express my appreciation to Mark L. Thomas, the Socialist Review editor. In terms of going through the manuscript, it is to Drew Povey of the Socialist Workers Party (Britain) that I am most indebted. He was particularly critical of my long winding sentences pointing out time and again that simpler phrases are necessary for a book which has workers and youths as its primary audience. I must also express my gratitude to Gyekye ―Bazini‖ Tanoh of the International Socialist Organisation, Ghana. He took pains to go through the first draft as a discussion paper for the 2nd SWLC. His comments when we met in Ghana a week to the completion of the book in June were useful. Finally, this book could not have been published as scheduled but for my publisher & comrade, Francis Akinjole, a leading member of the Socialist Workers League. He never stopped cajoling and prodding me. This was despite the sacrifice that he had to make, an extremely busy schedule and challenges I know he faces presently. Words can hardly express my depth of gratitude to this brother who remains thorough and tough through the storm. Mucha gracias, companheiro. Abuja, June 2012

Contents Preface and Acknowledgement Introduction PART ONE: A WORLD IN TURMOIL: HARVEST OF CRISES 1. A General Crisis of Capitalism 2. The West and the Anatomy of Crisis 3. The Global South and Crisis in Slow Motion PART TWO: RISING RESISTANCE, REVOLT AND REVOLUTION 4. Two Pathways of Revolution in North Africa and the Middle East 5. The Americas and the Rise of the 99% 6. Anti-austerity! Class Struggle In Europe PART THREE: PRELUDE OF CRISIS AND “TRANSFORMATION” 7. Whither a Transformation Agenda? 8. Deflected Maximum Rage Over Minimum Wage 9. On the National Question and the National Crisis PART FOUR: AWAKENING OF REVOLT 10.The January Awakening in Nigeria 11.After the January Uprising PART FIVE: REBELLION TO REVOLUTION; PROBLEMS AND PROSPECTS 12.Revolt Pangs of Rebirth 13.Lessons and Challenges 14.Socialism is the Future, Fight for it Now!

Introduction An era of global crisis, resistance & revolution
The past four years mark an historical turn for humankind. We have seen crises rock the world economy and political system to their foundations. Faced with increasing suffering and disillusionment, working people have risen in their millions in resistance, with triumphant revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya; the triumph of left-leaning parties (particularly in Latin America); defeat of pro-austerity conservative parties in France and Greece; the Occupy Movement (largely in the US); and new forms of working people ‘s power as well as the re-definition of old forms. It is quite necessary for working class activists and change-seeking youths to critically assess the current situation and the period we are entering, towards being able to fashion out the most adequate strategies for building our collective power in struggle that could lead to social transformation. We are at an epoch marking the beginning of an era. Epochs are turning points in history, landmark moments which determine the commencement of new periods. We are at such a moment and one which holds all the elements for a new period of struggle, defeats, victories & the ultimate overthrow of capitalism at the end of its tunnel. This book draws lessons from the current international situation and the unfolding dynamics of the struggle of the working masses in Nigeria. It seeks to further workers and youths understanding of the emerging challenges we presently confront. This is with an aim to identify the problems and prospects for the working class and revolutionary youths in the cause of our struggle for social change. It is only through such struggle guided by robust perspectives that we can build a world where real democracy and equality is achieved. It is pertinent at this point to stress a very important point. It is impossible to understand the current situation in Nigeria, particularly the January 2012 revolt, without situating it within the international moment we are living in. Indeed, while some call for a socialist revolution in Nigeria, it is impossible for socialism to be established, for any considerable length of time in just one country (particularly in a backward capitalist economy such as Nigeria). The socialist revolution is of necessity international. Yes, in different countries, the working class would have to overthrow ―its‖ own ruling capitalist class. Yes, we will not all do this on the same day of the same month in the same year. But a key lesson from the events in North Africa is that waves of revolution do sweep through countries during revolutionary eras. It is through such series of political revolutions that the social revolution, which the socialist revolution is, would globally triumph.

This book is divided into five parts. The first part looks at the harvest of crises that capitalist development has thrown humankind into. This section has three chapters. The first looks helps to define the crises, presenting it as the general crisis of capitalism which it is. In the second chapter, we present perspectives on why and how the inevitable started in the advanced industrialised countries, locating this in the nature of capitalist development. The final chapter considers how the crisis has rocked the Global South. It looks at the current evolution and impact of the crisis on the developing countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa. The second part is concerned with the rising resistance, revolt and revolution from below which have marked the response of working people and youths across the world to the crisis. The focus of this appraisal are three regions; the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the Americas and Europe. The first chapter in that section provide perspectives

on: the two main pathways (triumphant) revolutions have taken in the MENA region. The second analyses the Occupy Wall Street movement in the US, the massive rising of students in Canada and the Chilean winter of revolt in Latin America. While the third chapter looks at the wave of class struggle in Europe. In parts three and four, the pamphlet dwells on the Nigerian situation. Part three unravels the pathway of crisis towards the uprising in January 2012, which belies the so-called transformation agenda of President Goodluck Jonathan and the elite class of oppressors in the country. Part four includes an analysis of the January Uprising and its aftermath. The fifth part dwells on the problems and prospects of social revolution. It presents revolts as the birth pangs of a new society, draws lessons that could be generalised from the present period and identity challenges. The concluding chapter of the book presents a perspective of what socialism really is, as the future to be fought for.

PART ONE
A world in Turmoil; harvest of crises
The era between the beginning of World War 1 and the end of World War II is aptly described by Eric Hobsbawm as ―the Age of Catastrophe‖ in his book, The Age of Extremes. In between the two world wars, there was: the Great October Socialist Revolution in Russia; the Great Depression of the 1930s & the rise of fascism. The crisis of the world economy and political system was salvaged through what was known as the post-War order. It involved the establishment of welfare states in the Western countries and the granting of political independence to colonies in Asia and Africa. The world experienced a period of relative peace and prosperity up to the late 1960s. This period has been described as the Golden Age of capitalism. It was based on an unwritten compromise between the bosses and the leaders of the working class, who were content with the minimal gains workers made within the welfare state, such as state-backed health care services and access to qualitative education by children from working class homes. By the 1970s, the world economy entered yet another cycle of crises. But this time around, the bosses felt strong enough to resolve the situation through attacks on the working classes instead of formulating a compromise. This was largely because they felt less threatened by the possibilities of the working masses fighting for a revolutionary alternative i.e. socialism. On one hand, most big socialist parties in Europe had adopted the ideology of ―Euro-communism‖ which stood for gradual reforms through parliamentary legislation as against revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system through revolution from below. On the other hand, the USSR (and its satellite countries) which many still considered as socialist had shown themselves to be no less oppressive than the liberal capitalist countries. Indeed, they were actually bureaucratic state capitalist countries, where a class of bureaucrats utilised the state collectively, for capitalist development in attempts to catch up with the liberal capitalist countries. Between 1979 and 1989, the bosses and their governments fought tooth and nail to enthrone the new ideology of capitalism i.e. neoliberalism as the only way forward for society. After the fall of the state capitalist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe between 1989 & 1991, capitalists across the world sang with ecstasy to the high heavens that socialism was dead. Their claim was that socialism cannot work and liberal capitalism is ―the end of history‖. It was convenient for them that the state capitalist system in the USSR should be considered as socialism so as to dissuade workers across the world from giving consideration to struggle for a socialist future. Quite a number of revolutionaries, including (ex-) socialists agreed with the bosses then that socialism had died. Many workers, youths and activists who were never clearer about what socialism is or how society has evolved and continues to evolve through the leaps and bounds of revolutions and centuries of the dominance of some particular mode of production or the other could also not see any way forward beyond trying to give the ugly system of capitalism a human face. There was thus some form of consensus that capitalism had overcome its inherent cycles of prosperity and crisis. Gordon Brown, who would later become Prime Minister of the UK, had for example claimed that ―the cycle of boom-andburst has been abolished‖, as he glorified capitalism as the engine room of growth and ―development‖. The Great Recession which has surpassed any crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression however puts the lie to such nonsensical claims. Crises have now become a

generalised reality of today‘s world. Big corporations like Bear Stearns and Lehman brothers that were considered as being too big to fail have become history. Countries like Iceland have also become bankrupt throwing millions into grief, while austerity measures have become the guiding principle of policies by governments across Europe, the continent which used to be seen by many in Nigeria and across Africa as the centre of prosperity. Meanwhile in Africa, where crises have become endemic, the terrible situations of the lives of vast numbers of the population have become catastrophic. Droughts and heavy rains occasioned by the changing climate have worsened the matter, spreading famine, not to talk of increasing food prices. It is obvious now to even the most optimistic capitalist that this long drawn crisis is not going to go away anytime soon. Rising unemployment is unlikely to be curbed in the nearest future, according to trends which the International Labour Organisation has presented. Youth unemployment is particularly worrisome. According to the ILO, out of every 5 persons between the ages of 15 and 24 seeking work, 2 are jobless. Meanwhile, most people that are unemployed are actually just hanging in to at least get something to eat. Disillusionment, frustration and anger now reside in the hearts of the youth. It is important for us to understand the nature of this deep-seated crisis of modern industrial society and why it was inevitable. It is on the basis of this that we can properly appreciate the resistance that have risen to it and consider the most effective strategies for addressing the state we have been thrown into by the greed of a few elite, who control the huge means of social production which is actually enough to cater for our collective needs, if not for the parasitic control of these by the capitalists.

Chapter 1 A general crisis of capitalism
What crisis?
There are a number of simultaneous crises which the capitalist world is faced with at this point in time. These include: economic; financial; political; ideological; environmental; food; energy; refugees; human rights &; social crises. These crises are intertwined in so many ways. The primary one, quite obviously, is the economic crisis. It does define the other crises for a number of reasons. The chief reason is because the base of society is its economic structure. We might be ―political animals‖, but first and foremost as human beings, we have to produce food to eat, have clothes to wear, shelter for our heads and generally ―pay the bills‖. It is through economic activities that all these are done1. This is not to suppose that the other forms of crises are unimportant. On the contrary, while they stem largely from the economic crises, they develop their own life and equally further reinforce the crises of the world economy. The political crisis is in many dimensions, and becomes the most visible theatre of the class struggle. Politics generally is about power and contestation for it. In periods of lull and stability, the ruling class wields power, in a manner that is questioned at best only peripherally, by most members of society. This is the case for ―strong men‖ governments such as those of Gaddafi, Idi Amin or Pinochet as much as it is so for ―democratic‖ governments such as those in Europe and North America, for example. Today though, many have risen to challenge such wielding of power with the cry that even in the most ―democratic‖ capitalist regime, the mass of the people is not being represented. The bosses have responded in the most undemocratic way possible, where they could, to the rising anger of the masses. In established capitalist democracies like Italy and Greece, elected governments have been set aside with rule through ―technocratic‖ governments, while unelected ―technocrats‖ in the IMF, EU and European Central Bank decide the fate of tens of millions of citizens, even when it is obvious that the austerity measures of these capitalist institutions are against the will of the people. In Chile, the government has threatened to use lethal force against protesting students, very much like the fascist days of General Pinochet. The ideological crisis is a twin to the political crisis in so many ways. Ideology is in a sense, about hegemony. Hegemony is domination which wins legitimacy by the cooperation of the dominated, who does not see the possibility of a concrete alternative to their state of being dominated. The rich bosses and politicians safeguards their dictatorship (even when this is exercised through ―democracy‖, they always dictate their will over us) through the use of the army, police, courts, prisons, etc. But it is impossible for any minority to hold down the immense majority of a population merely with state power (as was recently demonstrated with the Arab Spring in Egypt, Libya etc). It has to maintain its dominance in the realm of ideas such that the dominated consider the order which benefits the oppressors as the only possible or at least the best possible form of society that can exist. This is what gives a ruling class, comprising just the dominant few legitimacy and some form of moral authority with which it ensures the ―acceptance‖ of its rule by the dominated many. Capitalist ideology is today facing serious crisis. Its basic ideas which have been taken as gospel truth by millions are now being questioned and challenged by millions across the
1 Some of the other crises, such as the financial crisis are actually part and parcel of the economic crisis as a whole, but with their own distinct dynamics as well, within the broader economic crisis.

world. Just as with the political crisis, the ideological crisis is not just a one way thing between all capitalists on one side and working people on the other. On one hand, while working people are questioning several elements of capitalist society, many still cannot as of yet, have the vision of a post-capitalist, or more properly put socialist reality, believing that some reforms to give capitalism a ―human face‖ would be enough. Through their practical struggle and the contestation of socialists in the realms of ideas within these struggles, the possibility of socialism is being realised by the more advanced strata of workers. On the other hand, there is severe crisis within the factories of capitalist ideas i.e. the academia, particularly in the fields of economics and the social science. A good example of this was Queen Elizabeth‘s question to economists at the London School of Economics in 2009. She had wondered aloud why professors of economists could not foresee the global economic crisis, despite all their knowledge and expertise. The environmental crisis stares us in the face, but yet many cannot see it. Since 2008 till date, every winter in Europe has been the most severe winter in decades. In the tropics cases of flood and famine are on the increase, while tsunamis, hurricanes and typhoons have wrecked so much damage in the course of the last few years, particularly in the Southern Pacific. Climate change, as we can see, is a reality. But what is often not stressed is that global warming is a consequence of the capitalist mode of production. The competition that is intrinsic to capitalism is such that anything can be sacrificed in the race to dominate the market. Balanced development which prioritises the needs of human beings and sustainability of the earth is impossible in the for profit cut-throat dynamics of capitalist production. To make matters worse, supposed ―solutions‖ such as carbon trading merely posit capitalist alternatives that do not and cannot salvage the situation. The food crisis equally has strong linkages with the general environmental crisis as a whole. The impact of droughts, famine and natural disasters on agricultural production could be easily imagined. In East Africa for example, several countries have witnessed their worst droughts in over sixty years. But big agri-business is very much also the culprit. Arable land which could be used for the production of food that citizens could live on is used for the planting of cash crops. Grains such as corn have also been harvested to produce bio-fuels instead of for sustenance. Meanwhile, land grabs have become a phenomenon affecting food production in Africa and Asia. These involve corporations who acquire lands, often by force and usually with the help of governments. These lands are to be used for speculative purposes including the building of brand new towns which the original land owners would not be able to afford any house in. These combination of crises now places humankind and the earth in great peril. Capitalism on a world scale is not only not sustainable, it can and is leading us all to a state of barbarism and possible extinction. The need for system change, establishing a socialist order in which the balanced development of society and sustenance of the earth is guaranteed is now more than ever, very imperative.

Why the crises?
At the very root of this and every single one of the crises modern industrial society has witnessed over the past two hundred years, is the nature of capitalism and how it works. This crisis, just like all other earlier crisis, did not arise because there is not enough for every human being to live a life of convenience and self-fulfilment. Rather, the crisis arises from the fact that society has produced more than enough wealth, but only the few rich and powerful capitalists have a claim to paradise, while the poor must face austerity. More concretely, how does capitalism work and why does it necessarily lead to crisis? The most important economic concern of capitalist bosses is more profit. Production is geared towards this, and where and when more ―profit‖ could be gotten even without concretely producing, they are even happier. What is produced, which could be cars, toiletries, clothes, equipment for factories, houses or anything, have to be sold, for the

profit to be generated. They are sold in the market, by several competing capitalists, mainly to the masses. But of course, it is not the use of these commodities that concern the capitalists. It is the profit accruing from them. More and more are produced, in the more typical capitalist economic system until supply outruns demand and there is surplus of such goods. But since labour itself is a commodity, which costs the capitalists, they cut down labour costs as much as possible, to be able to accrue as much surplus value as possible; using the least possible number of workers and paying the least possible level of wages, while utilising improvement in technology to increase productivity of every worker. However, the bulk of the buyers of commodities in the market (apart from luxury goods and military merchandise), are we, who toil, but remain poor. A state of over-abundance of produce and heightened inability of working people to purchase such produce thus always marks the point where capitalist prosperity dips down into economic crisis, in a constant cycle of booms and bursts. As pointed out in the last paragraph though, capitalists do not mind making money from money rather than going through the process of producing and then making profit from the sales of commodities thus produced. This is where finance capital with credits and investments comes in. This financial form of capital includes the banks and other financial institutions which make their ―profit‖ as interest. A peculiar aspect of this particular crisis is capitalism‘s sucking in of working people into financialisation, in the US & Europe. The promotion of buy now, pay later, which committed many into sub-prime mortgages, is probably the clearest manifestation of this. It was geared at furthering the continued expansion of ―prosperity‖ driven by fictitious capital, creating the myth for a while that the likes of Gordon Brown believed, that the era of bursts and booms was over for capitalism. The crisis has been worsened as capitalists try to make workers pay for the economic collapse they precipitated, while bailing out the financial institutions with which they did this. In the next two chapters we look at how the crisis has taken shape. The peripheries of the world system where earlier problems of the system as a whole had been deflected to have not suffered as much from this crisis as the industrial countries in the West (mainly Europe and North America), but they have also been hit, even if to varying degrees. It is important to also note that the crisis will be long drawn, according to forecasts by the bosses themselves. Understanding where we are now and how we got there would be crucial for us to grasp the turns and twists that things will take in the near future.

Chapter 2 The West and the anatomy of crisis
The global economic crisis has gone through three turning points (in the developed countries), over the past four years. It started, just as was the case in 1929, with the American economy; a ―credit crunch‖ became a ―financial meltdown‖ which was eventually accepted to be a dire economic crisis by the capitalists. Then it entered into an interlude period of cautious optimism on the part of the bosses and their governments earlier in 2009. But before the end of that year, the spectre of crisis reared its hydra head with blood curdling screams and by 2011, as the crisis of sovereign debts within the euro zone took the baton of the centre of an all pervasive global crisis, even the most optimistic of capitalists could not but sulk with grave fears about getting out of the woods. The elongated crisis has sucked in countries across the world. But, unlike earlier crises over the last five decades, the main theatre of tumult and confusion in the ranks of the bosses has been the industrialised countries of the Western world: North America and Europe.

From credit crunch to financial meltdown
The crisis started as what was called a ―credit crunch‖ caused by massive defaults in the payment of ―sub-prime mortgage‖ by working people in the US. This started late in 2006 and took up steam by mid-2007. By August 2008 the embers of its fires had become a raging storm that was to unleash the financial meltdown‘s most dramatic events. Sub-prime mortgages are loans made available by (mortgage) banks to persons like you and I, who are not money-miss-roads like the prime capitalists, to purchase houses. These loans where packaged by the banks in ways to attract more people to buy into them despite having low incomes, so as to keep expanding the market and having higher claims on ―profits‖. It was easy to get into, but with very high interest rates. For over six years, the prices of houses rose in the US, getting to a peak of almost 20% in 2004. It was thus profitable for the financial system to invest in it through the loans to millions of working people. By 2006 though, the prices of houses began to fall drastically as economic hardships and the compounded interests on the loans, made it difficult for more and more working people who had homes to pay their mortgages. The fall never stopped, by August 2008, it was -15.8%. When the prices and value of these houses were high, repossessing homes of a few defaulters on the mortgage was something the banks could live with. Some loans could also be written off without qualms as bad debts (in 2001 for example, 0.4% of mortgage loans where written off as losses by commercial banks in the US). However when the economic downturn made it impossible for even still more working people to pay their mortgages and the value of these houses had become much less than the outstanding mortgage, then there was big trouble, for the banks, as lenders. By August 2008, 3 out of every 50 house owners in the US had defaulted in the payment of their mortgages. Over 1 million persons were rendered homeless in barely a year, with many having no option but to sleep in tents, trailers or their cars. Within three years, the number of people that were homeless had risen to about 4 million persons. The mortgage banks had to write off 0.82% of mortgages as bad debts, costing them about $240bn. These financial institutions made frenzied attempts to raise new capital to save the situation with over $160bn raised. Meanwhile the financial sector as a whole raised over $360b and wrote off $500b in 2008 alone. but as we shall see below, this has been to no

avail as the djini of crisis released from the bottle of capitalists‘ greed has refused to go back without wrecking massive destruction in its pathway. How did the sub-prime mortgage defaults lead to a ―credit crunch‖? And how did this crunch precipitate the ―financial meltdown‖ that sent quakes and tremors through the world of capital? In the capitalist financial system there is a parasitic ―secondary market‖, where claims on debts as assets are traded for the purpose of making more profits without production of any genuine value whatsoever added in the process. One of the main instruments of this market is Collateralized-debt-obligations (CDOs). The debts of mortgage entered into by sub-prime mortgage home owners, were packaged as CDOs. With the ―assurance‖ of the mortgages being paid in the future, these CDOs (like shares in the primary market) were sold and bought as bonds by capitalist speculators and their institutions who consider themselves as ―investors‖ and investment banks, respectively. In 2004 CDOs issued globally amounted to $157bn By 2005 it was $272bn, it rose to $552bn by 2006 and shortly before the crunch began, it stood at $503bn. The sales of these issued bonds (which are packaged and re-packaged, bought and sold in a manner very much like casino-gambling) raked in $2trn, in 2007 alone! That however, was before the cookie started to crumble. The first CDO was issued in 1987 by a Wall Street Investment banking firm known as Drexel Burnham Lambert, which was liquidated in 1990 for criminal trading of junk bonds. Need one say more to point out the thievery behind this instrument of ―fictitious capital‖? When sub-prime mortgage ―clients‖ started defaulting in droves, panic spread into this secondary market. Because the CDOs had gone through so much re-packaging and circulation within the finance sector, no one knew how vulnerable the next bank or financial institution was. Normally, banks borrow from themselves on a daily basis as they tend to invest much more than what they have as shareholders‘ capital and deposits so as to make more and more money. But with the uncertainty and fear of the unknown that had now set-in on them like a plague, each bank decided to hold on to its own money, the inter-bank lending practice froze; the 2007 credit crunch was the result. The first major casualty of the credit crunch was Bear Stearns. Until its collapse in March 2008, it was the fifth largest investment bank on Wall Street. Two of the hedge funds it ran had collapsed the year before, but the fall of the ―big bear‖ itself, which had profited from the depression of the ‗30s, signalled the coming of greater things. The United States Treasury had to persuade J. P Morgan Chase bank to buy Bear Stearns at a giveaway price with a $30bn guarantee. This was three days after the release of $300b dollars for Bear Stearns survival by the US government failed to save the situation. Leading columnist with the Financial Times, Martin Wolf was forced to consider March 14, 2008, when the deal was struck as ―the day the dream of global free-market capitalism died‖. Even he did not envisage that worse was still to come, though this was written on the wall. Bear Stearns crash was due to what is called over-leveraging. Leverage in simple terms is the utilisation of debts or borrowed funds to greatly enhance the profit that a unit of invested capital could generate. Bear Stearns for example had a capital outlay of $11.8b, but with leverage, it had an investment profile of $395b. A great chunk of this leverage was tied to bonds on the sub-prime mortgage market. Interestingly, to acquire leverage, financial capitalists don‘t even have to actually borrow the monies that constitute the leverage directly. They have a whole spectrum of what are called derivatives which are financial instruments that have their values dependent on the values of other financial instruments like loans, mortgages, bonds, stocks, interest rates and exchange rates. The whole idea is to spread out the risks while making the deals and getting money rolling into the investment banks which faced virtually no restrictions in the name of free market, while the party lasted.

IndyMac followed Bear Stearns, but it was relatively small fry. Federal National Mortgage Association and Federal Home Mortgage Association, popularly known in America as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, were next. Fannie Mae was established in 1938, as a component of the New Deal, which was a major effort to get capitalism out of the mess of the Great Depression, to guarantee the mortgages of broke banks. It was privatised 30 years later. Freddie Mac was formed in 1970. While they were privately owned firms until August 2008, they were considered as Government Sponsored Enterprises. Between them, they guaranteed $5.3trn of the $12trn, of loans to house owners in the US. In less than 1 year as the sub-prime mortgage crisis spread, the share values of ―Fannie‖ and ―‖Freddie‖ fell by 80% and 86%, respectively. Scared at the possible consequences of their collapse, the US treasury moved in to use tax payers money to support them with what Henry Paulson, who was then its secretary called, ―unlimited liquidity‖. So much for neo-liberal economics, policies and politics! But why did Fannie and Freddie get to such a brink. Once again like Bear Stearns, it was leverage. As against the $5.3t it had in its vaults, it had loaned out $62trn, in the secondary market of speculation. Yet American tax payers had to (and still are) paying for the greed of these banks. The icing on the cake, or more like vinegar in the tea for the capitalists, was to come in their sad September of 2008, that started in the shape of the ―Monday meltdown‖ that swallowed Merrill Lynch (the third largest investment bank in the US), Lehman brothers (the fourth largest investment bank in the US), AIG (the largest insurance firm in the US) and Washington Mutual in quick succession. These were the giants of Wall Street and they were on their knees, filing for bankruptcy or being nationalised by the state. These economic convulsions which started with the credit crunch in the United States spread across the world economy with severe repercussions which are still shocking the bosses and causing great pain to the masses.

A spreading contagion and diverse responses
America has been the engine room for global capital accumulation, for decades. Apart from its ―leveraged‖ foreign reserves (being the biggest debtor country of all times!) its control of global financial institutions and its massive proportion of the multinational/transnational corporations determining the flow of capital across the globe, the sheer volume of its huge population‘s consumption has provided a veritable nerve centre for global trade. Thus its crisis turns out to be the world‘s crisis, because it reflects the collective strengths and weaknesses of global capitalism more than any other country could. It was so in 1929, it is much more so in this era of neoliberal globalisation. There were those who believed that the crisis would be contained within the shores of the US. The argument of the International Socialists amongst others in 2007/2008 that this was going to be a long-drawn world economic crisis has now been borne out by current events The ―contagion‖ of economic collapse could not be contained, throwing the capitalist order into a long drawn global crisis. It is important to analyse how different forces in the society, across and within nations reacted and are reacting to the crisis. Great Britain stopped being great to America in 1776, when America gained its independence. Once having an empire on which the sun never set, it has been content to be a junior partner with America especially since the Second World War. As in the US, capitalism had fashioned a craze for sub-prime mortgage in the aftermath of the 2001 recession, as part of its strategy to kick start a new boom. The real estate market was juicy for investors and the ―buy-to-let‖ market (where investors bought houses merely to let them out to working people) raked in £120bn for investors in 2007 alone. But the bottom came out of that bucket too. Northern Rock, a leading Bank had to be nationalised

that year due to the (sub-) prime mess it had gotten itself into. The British government coughed up £50m of tax payers‘ money for this, jacking up the UK‘s debts profile by 44.3% HBOS (Halifax Bank of Scotland) also had to be packaged by the government for Lloyds bank to buy at a give-away price. The share value of another bank, Bradford & Bingley fell to £350m by August 2008. This was less than its profit in 2007! It was also nationalised to prevent its collapse and then sold to the Spanish Santander bank. The contagion spread like wild fire across the capitals of Europe. The Swiss UBS had to make write-downs to the tune of $50bn, Deutsche bank which had a 501 to 1 leverage was left with 20bn Euros of bad debt. As the Financial Times put it at that period ―European banks are living on borrowed time‖. Australia was not left out; Macquerie, its leading investment bank also went burst. With this scenario, it is not surprising that even some of the most liberal of capitalist politicians and ideologues, called for some extent of regulation of the financial market. Hank Paulson the US Secretary Treasury under George Bush rolled out the Troubled Asset Relief Programme (TARP) at a cost of $700bn. Added to the $600bn already spent in 2007-2008 for the relief of capitalists troubled assets that sums up to $1.3t spent by the US government to save the economy. For Gordon Brown then as Prime Minister of the UK, the problem was simply one of ―irresponsibility‖ on the part of some finance speculators. On the continent of Europe the reactions from politicians have been more strident and hypocritical. They claim that austerity measures which are merely meant to make workers pay for the crisis are in the interests of the same poor. Sarkozy who would be disgraced out of the Presidential Palace in France by 2012, spoke out loudly at the UN in 2008 for ―regulated capitalism‖! Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor held up the crisis as an Anglo-American problem, saying; ―I criticize the casual attitude of the finance market-unfortunately they have opposed voluntary regulations for a long time with the support of Great Britain and the United States‖. The international labour movement has not been left out of reactions to the crisis. The responses of trade unions reflect the self-imposed limitations of seeking a workable answer within the confines of the unworkable character of capitalism. In a statement released on September 30, 2008, titled ―the time has come‖, the International Trade Union Confederation position was that ―resolving the financial crisis must go hand in hand with concerted action to stimulate jobs and growth so that the imminent danger of world recession is averted‖. This statement amongst other things shows a common fad with the issue; seeing it merely as “a financial crisis”. On the contrary it is a crisis of capitalism, starting in the financial sector due to its burden of fictitious capital just as it happened in 1929! The global unions have been calling for a ―global jobs pact‖. But the response of the bosses shows that they will not listen to that call simply because it makes sense. The narrow-mindedness of the employers was clearly demonstrated at the 2012 International Labour Conference. They stampeded the tripartite Conference with demands that would make it easier to hire and fire workers; They are committed to making the workers bear the brunt of any economic recovery that could be possible. This is despite the fact that it was their greed and the nature of the capitalist system which they represent that caused threw the world economy into crisis. The International Trade Union Confederation and Global Union Federations, pushed to more radical positions by the revolutionary pressures of workers‘ struggles from below and the unyieldingness of the bosses have quite correctly described the present economic system driven by the greedy interests of a few as being ―unsustainable‖ and a threat to both humankind and planet earth. They have however stopped short of reaching

necessary conclusions. In contrast we say that an international socialist revolution is necessary. This will lead to the establishment of workers‘ governments and ensure social development, democracy and equality. This will be achieved by working people and their allies running the economy and society as a whole.

The European Sovereign Debt Crisis
The global crisis has hit Europe hard, much more than the leaders of states in that region imagined in September 2008. By the end of that year it could not be denied that Europe, as with the rest of the global economy, had entered a state of recession. The European Union‘s concern was to stimulate recovery and a E200bn stimulus package was agreed. By 2009, what has now come to be known as the European Sovereign Debt Crisis (ESDC) emerged with vengeance, making it clear that the issues at stake were deeper than merely stimulating growth, which itself was but a pipe dream as the global crisis deepened. In the first quarter of the year, the European Union was forced to insist that France, Ireland, Spain and Greece reduce their budget deficits to avoid a crisis in the Euro zone. The first sign of the depth of the problem emerged was in Greece, which still maintains a central place in the crisis raging through Europe and the consequent class struggles of herculean proportions. Greece; in the eye of the storm By October, in the midst of protest as the costs of living got worse, the ―socialist party PASOK was voted back into power in what were snap elections. It would tell the world that Greece was in crisis with the biggest debts it had ever incurred being up to the tune of E300bn. At the time, Fredrik Reifeldt, the Swedish Prime Minister who was then the EU President was of the view that Greece could solve the problem domestically. Mtti Vanhanen of Finland further expressed relief that Greece had come out openly rather than leave the EU surprised at the extent of its problems. But not just surprises awaited the bosses in the eurozone about the extent of the financial situation in Greece particularly and in Europe as a whole, in general. Actually, it was to be a rude awakening. The evil troika of the European Central Bank, the European Union and the IMF moved into Greece like hawks. In January 2010, they reviewed the accounts of the country and came to realize that its budget deficit was worse than earlier envisaged. It amounted to 13% and not 4%. of GDP. It was in this context that Greece asked for an initial loan from the EU & IMF in April 2010, to the tune of E45bn, as part of a 3-year bailout of E110bn. As part of the conditionalities of the loan, the Greece state initiated austerity measure on May 1, leading to strikes and mass protests by the working masses. These conditions amounted to making the working people pay for the financial crisis and competition with Germany as is the case with other countries in Europe. But as it turned out, even this bailout was not enough and the Greek state had to be offered a further E130bn in October 2011, to avoid going bankrupt. More austerity measures were however demanded. Realizing the mass anger in the land but afraid to face his senior class colleagues in the EU, ECB & IMF, the then Greek Prime Minister, Mr. Papandreou declared that he would call for a referendum on the matter. The concerned institutions of international finance capital rejected this. The Greek elite found an anti-democratic solution to carry out this anti-people austerity measures. Papendrou resigned and a government of national unity comprising unelected technocrats was installed, led by Lucas Papademos, a former Vice President of the European Central Bank and Papandreou‘s economic adviser, in the mould of Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala. The rest as they say is now history; but not past history. Mass protests and electoral punishment for the parties of the bosses as we shall see in the next section have been part of the resultant whirlwind of the Greek crisis, sown with the wind of capitalist greed and anti-people policies.

The contagion is an epidemic While Greece might be in the eye of the storm of the eurozone crisis, it is not alone. There is actually no country in Europe, including those not in the eurozone, and particularly Britain amongst these, which is not suffering from the high fever of this unfolding catastrophe. Portugal, Spain and Ireland, as well as Italy are more obvious contenders for the stormy ship. Portugal had to go cap in hand to the EU and IMF for a E78bn loan facility in 2011 making it the third country after Greece and Ireland to get bailouts. But that did not and cannot solve the problem it is caught up in, with the global crisis. Unemployment rates have continued to rise, while growth lagged. It is the workers that are being made to bear the brunt, with the wages of public service workers cut by an average of 20%. In Ireland, it was not so much debts by the government as the government guaranteeing the speculations of its six big banks which were very active in the property market that suffered a similar burst as with the sub-prime mortgage events in the United States. The banks lost over 100billion euros. The working people are however the ones the Irish state is making to pay for the greed of the banks. A stringent budget with cuts in real wages was passed in 2011 after receiving a loan of E45bn to avoid bankruptcy. The situation in Spain is equally worrisome for the capitalists. It instituted austerity measures in May 2010 and has faced serious decline in growth with a sharp rise in the rate of unemployment. Half of the youths in the country are today unemployed. But, the crisis in the eurozone is also giving the European elite serious headache in Italy, Belgium, Cyprus and France and the President of the European Commission has equally raised the obvious fear that the financial and economic hurricane billowing in the eurozone is very much spreading out beyond it on that continent. The United Kingdom is a top contender in this spread of the contagion that is now a European epidemic, within the global economic crisis pandemic. A major phenomenon at the root of the European financial crisis is the interconnectedness of debts and financialisation in general, across countries. The banks are so powerful, and they lend across borders. The bulk of debts deemed to be owed by African countries for example are owed to these private borrowing financial institutions, organised mainly as the London Club. The City of London is the capital of the world‘s money and credit market. The United Kingdom‘s banks are creditors to governments and private businesses in countries worst hit by the eurozone crisis. Thus, as reported in The Guardian, of the United Kingdom on June 24, 2011, "Any associated disruption to bank funding markets could spill over to UK banks."[ But even if to a less extent, banks in other European economies are also in the same impending mess as the British banks. For example $366bn is owed to French bankers by borrowers in Italy which has a debt profile of 1.9 trillion euros, being 120% of its total GDP. Europe has tried to stabilise the situation in different ways. But these have all amounted to bailing out the rich bosses and making the workers pay. The European Financial Stabilization Facility established in May 2010 and a Long Term Refinancing programme in 2011, were all geared at ensuring stability. But they have hardly been of any use, in the long run. The situation in Europe continues to get worse. There is no sign that it will get better anytime soon.

Chapter 3 The Global South and crisis in slow motion
The crisis has not been limited to the West (Europe and North America). Many capitalist commentators were initially optimistic that capital flow only had to move southwards and things would get better. They had their eyes on the BRICS counties (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) the emerging markets in (particularly in Asia and Eastern Europe). This hope has however proved to be misplaced. Unfortunately for these analysts, the economic growth of virtually all these countries has also been declining. In 2008, Russia had to shore up its state-owned Sherbank with $100bn. The Chinese economy is slowing down from its growth rate of 12% to barely 8% in 2012. After picking up a bit in 2010, it fell again in 2011, recording 8.8% in the last quarter. And as Alistair Thornton of the Beijing-based HIS Global Insight think tank pointed out; ―The worst is still to come, with GDP growth likely to sink over a percentage point lower this quarter.‖ The economy of Brazil has equally slowed down considerably, witnessing no significant growth throughout 2011. Similarly, India‘s economy has entered a downturn, with a fall in GDP growth from 8.9% to 6.9% in 2011, while inflation rose from 7% to 10%. Africa which has been in a perpetual state of crisis has equally been hit hard. Cost of living has risen in most countries. Famine and armed conflicts have also taken their tolls on lives and wellbeing of the people. The global crisis has affected developing countries in the three major regions of what used to be called the ―Third World‖ and is now more often referred to as the ―Global South‖. The impact is not yet as deep as it is in Europe and North America, but one thing is very clear. The belief of politicians and businessmen that any of these regions had ―decoupled‖ from the global economy, or that they would not be quite affected by the general crisis of the world economy and social system has turned out to be illusory.

Latin America; rolling back recent “successes”
When the crisis of the world economy started in a creepy way in 2007, not a few people had the illusion that it would not affect Latin America. The region had been presented as a picture of the success of the free market ideology; having witnessed impressive growth of an annual average of at least 5% since 2003. The wealthier nations in the region had significant external reserves and low rates of external debts to GDP. Macroeconomic indices in general gave a seemingly rosy picture. The bosses however always forget that, that seeming picture itself was built on the back of a ―lost decade‖ i.e. the 1980s when Latin America groaned under the yoke of unsustainable debts and structural adjustment programmes. It had been the testing ground of neoliberalism starting with Chile in 1973 and hundreds of thousands of people had been killed or simply ―disappeared‖, across several countries in the region such as Argentina, Brazil and Colombia2. Consequently, it was the incubation room for structural adjustment programmes in what was later described as the ―Washington Consensus‖, after it had been extended to other ―Third World‖ countries in regions like Africa. Bursting the illusions of earlier recovery The late 1990s and early 2000s saw the rise of popular movements of the working people. The free market had obviously failed and the people were angry. Guerrillas in the Chiapas region of Mexico opened the gateway of struggle against the contemporary
2 This was part of such massive repression carried out by military governments supported by the United States, through campaigns like Operation Condor.

globalization of the free market, declaring themselves as Zapatistas and rejecting the free trade zone agreement, NAFTA, which the US wanted to enter into with Latin America. In Argentina workers occupied factories that the bosses had abandoned and started running them (in some cases, till this day). And in Brazil, the Workers Party (PT) led by Lula a former trade union leader rose to power on the crest of the disillusionment of the people with the free market. In a number of other countries, left-leaning governments swept the polls. It was this situation that a number of the states in the region came up with such apparent pro-poor social security policies like Conditional Cash Transfers (CCT), a form of subsidy for the most vulnerable of poor working people to live on. This led personal debts being at a much lower level than was the case in North America, as almost 85million people benefited from the CCTs subsidies. In the period before the crisis, the region also witnessed growth that was based on the increasing sale of commodities such as soya beans, copper and petroleum. Brazil which is one of the biggest national economies in the world further spurred the region‘s growth with manufactured products. The Latin American regional economic bloc (MECUSOR) also made prosperity to seem to spread and things seemed to be stable at last in that volcanic region. This was the context in which many felt that Latin America would be spared from the global crisis. But this false impression did not last. By 2008/2009, the first clear blows hit the region‘s economy. Its growth started to seize. In 2008, regional GDP growth fell to 3% and in 2009; it witnessed a further drop to 2%. Stock prices fell drastically. In Colombia this was by 15%. And there was equally a huge volume of capital flight, as hedge funds and other players in the game of ―foreign direct investment‖ hit by the recession in the United States and Europe, called back their capital. In Brazil for example, such capital flight amounted to over $22bn in the last quarter of 2008, alone. The countries that suffered the most at that point were those in Central America, whose economies were closely tied to those of the United States which was already neck deep in crisis. These were mainly countries in Central America. The GDP of Mexico for example, fell by no less than 6%. But countries in South America like Argentina where cars were assembled for the United States market also bore some of the initial blows. The impact of this decline in growth rates, which itself stemmed from the global crisis was felt by the working masses. Between 2007 and 2009, over four million persons were thrown onto the unemployment market. Most of these were youths. By 2010, it initially seemed that the region might have overcome the situation raging across the world. Growth resumed, with an increase in GDP of 5.9%. This was largely fuelled by a temporary surge in trade, particularly with China in its pursuit for raw materials. But as the Chinese economy also became sucked into the global crisis, growth took a turn for the worse in Latin America. The coast definitely is not clear for countries in Latin America. Their close relationship with European banks, particularly those of Spain (such as BBVA and Santander) which is in a state of distress already is such that the eurozone crisis which is deepening will result in a new phase of crisis in the region. But, beyond the ideology of ―growth‖ and its crisis is the reality of continued underdevelopment in Latin America. Even during the period before the crisis when it seemed all was well, inequality had grown with economic growth. Some of the countries in the region had the greatest levels of inequality in the world. In fact, Brazil which is the engine room of the region was number one in the world in terms of inequality. While some 25million people might have been drawn out of the worst state of poverty through such cash transfers as the Bolsa Familia, the population of people living in relative poverty actually increased. Meanwhile, a tiny minority‘s wealth became very huge. Many of these use helicopters instead of cars to go around town. But they also know that mass anger has been brewing and so they live behind high fences with razor wire.

Such mass anger spilled from social and economic concerns to the ballot box in several countries as stated earlier. To avoid the anger leading to street protests, governments in a number of the countries in the region adopted measures meant to counter the cycle of crisis. This included reducing the tax rates on commodities such as flour and pasta as well as raising taxes on international financial transactions. The closeness of the trade unions to the ruling parties in places such as Brazil and to international finance capital through pension funds, as is the case in Chile have helped to blunt the edge of organi sed labour‘s resistance to the global crisis in Latin America. But it cannot lead to a suppression of the working class and youths‘ struggle. It however explains why the students‘ protests are presently the most striking expression of the working masses‘ anger at this moment. As the crisis in the eurozone and North America deepen, the situation in Latin America is likely to get more tumultuous. The progressive states of Latin America and the crisis The economic despair that might be staring Latin America in the face confronts even such progressive countries as Venezuela and Cuba. Of course, by being progressive, it does not mean that either of the two countries is actually socialist. But they aspire towards state planning from above, with attempts at centrally planned economies. Their leaders also claim to make some efforts to improve the welfare of the working people. But socialism cannot be sustained for any reasonable length of time in just one or two countries. There is no totally self sufficient country. So, de-linking from the world capitalist economy is impossible. Rather, capitalism has to be overthrown globally to establish socialism, which can only be an international system as well. Besides, a socialist economy goes beyond central planning from above. It must rest on workers self management of the economy through their democratic control of the decision-making structures and processes of production and consumption from the workplace and communities to the national level. Both Venezuela and Cuba are being squeezed by the present crisis of the world economy. In Cuba, the global crisis met an already dire economic situation which the forces of imperialism, and particularly the United States had forced on the people of this island. Venezuela on its own part has been a rallying point for the emergent left in governments within Latin America, over the last decade. Faced by the longest economic embargo in the history of the world, without such money raking natural resources like oil or gold, the economy of Cuba suffered immensely after the collapse of the Soviet Union and the COMECON economic bloc it had built and which facilitated trade with such countries as Cuba. The country entered what it called a ―special period‖. In the heat of the worsened economic crisis, there have been reforms to gradually liberalise its economy, along the lines of Chinese state capitalism. Private enterprise is now being encouraged with about half of those on government employment laid off and presented with licenses to operate privately. Meanwhile, there have been moneysaving cuts in the provision of services and use of social amenities. For two hours every day, refrigerators and air conditioners have to be turned off. And wages have remained stagnant at an average of $18 per month for public sector employees. But social wage in the form of free social services such as education and health is still being maintained. Debate on the way forward in Cuba is still rife. But the global crisis might be strengthening the hands of those party bureaucrats that would want a quicker pace of liberalisation. Despite the impact of the crisis on the system in Cuba, its healthcare services still remain one of the best in the world. There is also hope for the island in terms of broadening its revenue base with up to 15bn barrels of oil within the Gulf of Mexico in its domain, waiting for exploration. Liberalisation of the Cuban economy would however be a step backwards for the poor people who would, in such a situation, not be the primary beneficiaries of the possible oil boom.

Venezuela has been at the heart of a battle for the soul of Latin America by progressive forces and the ―popular sector‖ against the interests of “Yankee” (American) imperialism and the few rich in the region. This struggle, which is personified by the Hugo Chavez regime, is the Bolivarian Revolution, which propagates ―Socialism of the 21st Century‖. On the basis of this, the regime had instituted far reaching social policies to benefit the poor working people, before the global crisis began. Healthcare delivery, education, food security and the development of infrastructure had been pursued vigorously. Missions were set up to do this and mass action from below was largely involved. On the international level within the region, the regime was pivotal to the establishment of a regional bloc, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, known as ALBA. This included countries such as Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador. The progressive leadership in Venezuela could do this because of the resources it controlled as a leading oil exporting country. The social policies laid out earlier have been very useful for easing the impact of the global crisis on the country. In 2009 for example, the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) commended the efforts of the Venezuelan government in assuring food security through heavy investments in agricultural production for consumption and saw this as a safeguard for the poor in that country, against the global crisis. Francisco Arias Milla, the FAO Representative in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela at that time said ―The FAO recognizes the efforts of the national government [of Venezuela] to introduce policies, strategies, and programs to confront the global economic crisis and the volatility of food prices, and at the same time to protect the food and nutritional security of the Venezuelan people‖3. The downturn in oil prices has however had a negative impact on the income of the country and consequently on the extent of resources it has to weather the storm and also support other countries in the ALBA bloc to do same

Asia and the fire spitting dragon of crisis
When the global crisis started, Asia and Latin America were perceived by international financial institutions and likeminded analysts as the two regions that could help pull the world economy out of crisis. By the last quarter of 2008 it dawned on a number of these commentators that this might not be the case. The depth of recession that had hit the industrialized countries led to a sharp fall in exports, collapse of the tourism industry and decline in remittances sent back home by immigrants from the vast continent, in America and Europe. The crisis hit all the regions of this huge continent. The South East Asian countries with the ASEAN tigers and Japan have been worst hit. Within the first two years of the crisis the GDP of the newly industrialised countries in the region fell by a range of 10% to 25% and that of Japan by 12%. But even the Central Asian countries that had not been as integrated into the global economy as those in the continent‘s South Eastern region have been badly hit and might even find it more difficult to get through the raging crisis. The economies of these countries which are based on commodities have suffered gravely from the collapse in commodities prices and decline in the demand for their exports. The general crisis in Asia also reflects the general crisis of the world economy as well as the contradictory system which it serves as a basis for. While the international financial institutions show off the newly industrialised economies on the continent as examples of the free market, they conveniently ―forget‖ that they were built by authoritarian political machines. The lid on democracy from below in several countries has been forced open in the current situation. The people could be forced to submit to the coercion of a system that works even when it is based on tyranny. But as the system failed to deliver, it lost legitimacy and the struggle for political democracy deepens both the political and the economic crises in the region. The spate of tsunamis, gales, cyclones, hurricanes and earthquakes that have rocked the region might be natural disasters. But they cannot be
3 See: http://venezuelanalysis.com/news/4254

seen as just demonstrations of a senseless earth. On the contrary, capitalist development with its negative consequences for nature resulting in the environmental crisis is central to the extent and frequency of these disasters that have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of persons. With regards specifically to the global economic crisis, the economies of countries in Central Asia were badly hit. They were based on the export of commodities, including oil, and relied also on remittances from their citizens in Western countries. The collapse in commodity prices coupled with decline in demand for these goods in the global market was a big blow. Remittances also reduced drastically, worsening the situation. Efforts by a number of countries in the region that were part of the defunct USSR were not successful. Georgia for example bought Energy-invest, a large company with Russian interests to save tens of thousands of jobs. It also increased investments in infrastructure as did many of the other countries. But all these were to no avail. The economic crisis combined with repressed anger against authoritarian rule which has been dominant in the region since the period of the USSR Empire led to outbursts of mass anger. India and particularly authoritarian China had been expected to redeem Asia and indeed the world at large. They are both members of the BRICS group of countries. Their huge populations were considered as veritable internal markets, while their huge production capacity had earned China especially, the title of the world‘s workshop. But both countries‘ economies have witnessed sharp declines in their rates of growth. The various efforts of the governments in both countries, just as with other countries on the Asian continent, have not helped matters. The tsunamis and earthquakes that shook Japan to its foundations worsened an already terrible matter. Asia is deep in a multi-faceted crisis from which it cannot disentangle itself in a hurry. Japan and South East Asia Japan had been witnessing economic stagnation for a decade before the global crisis started. It had been the major hub for the acceleration of the South East Asian Tigers growth and development. It had also benefited from the dynamics of growth in the postWorld War II era. In the 1960s, its average annual GDP growth rate was an impressive 10%. In the 1970s and 1980s, when neoliberalism was being constructed as the form of the world economy and ideology of the bosses, this declined to an average of 5% per annum. By the 1990s, it was at a level of almost zero, despite all the efforts made by several governments to save the situation on the basis of capitalism. The collapse of the growth of Japan in the 1990s which is now considered to be the first of its ―Lost Decades‖ is due to that central problem of capitalist economy: the primacy of production and exchange for profit over and above for the need of humankind. The country had witnessed an ―asset bubble‖ in the 1980s, with the rise in the price of land through speculation in a period marked by low interest rate, carried over from the age of high productivity of its economy. In 1989, the illusions that capitalist development had sown with the ―Japanese miracle‖ came crumbling down. The rate of unemployment which up to 1975 hardly went beyond 1.5% is now as high as 5%. For youths it is much worse, being high than 10% in the wake of the current crisis. Along with the economic stagnation scandals emerged of corruption in high places by politicians and bosses. The country went through many changes of government during this period. In 1997/98, South East Asia entered into a major financial crisis. This was set off by the collapse of Long Term Capital Management, a hedge fund which had been the vehicle for substantial amounts of foreign direct investment in the sub-region. Before this time, the sub-region had attracted almost half of the entire foreign direct investment from the advanced industrialised countries to the developing world. But when the crisis started, within weeks, millions of dollars of ―hot money‖ had flowed out of the countries in this region. And in 1998, the GDP of the largest countries in South East Asia fell by 32% (to the tune of $218bn). Political crisis swept through these countries in the wake of the

economic crisis. Dictators like President Suharto of Indonesia and Chavalit Yongchaiyudh, the Prime Minister of Thailand were forced to resign. South Korea, Singapore and the Philippines were also badly hit. These countries never fully recovered from the crisis of that period before the global crisis hit the world economy four years back. The efforts that governments in these countries have made over the last few years have been partly based on the painful experiences of their recent past. But alas, these have been to no avail, as they are still based on faith in the capitalist system of production. Singapore for example has spent over 8% of its GDP on stimulus packages. This has been with the intent of helping corporations to keep afloat through the payment of subsidies with which they can pay part of their workers‘ salaries. Increased access to loans has also been made available to medium and small scale companies. While this ―Resilience Package‖ which has cost the state trillions of US dollars has managed to bring the unemployment rate down from 3% in 2009 to 2% in 2011, the country‘s economy is still shrinking. Immigrants, who comprise almost a quarter of the population of this country of less than 5 million people, have been the first to be kicked out of their jobs. There is a conscious attempt to make immigrants seem to be the problem and not the capitalist system. The South Korean government has equally done its best to keep unemployment rates at a ―reasonable‖ level. While it increased from 3.3% at the commencement of the global crisis in 2007, to 3.7% in 2009 it was brought down back to 3.3% by 2011. But this does not in any way mean that the South Korean economy is anywhere near where it was five years ago. Industrial output fell every month throughout the last quarter of 2011. The won, which is the South Korean currency, has gravely weakened to the dollar. The country‘s stock exchange is in shock caused by the eurozone crisis. According to the Korea Herald of June 10, 2012, European bosses pulled out $2bn from the South Korean economy within the last 21 days of May alone. Thailand which was a major ―tiger‖ of the so-called ―Asian miracle‖, has staggered from disaster to catastrophe since the world economic crisis began. Its average annual GDP growth rate between 2000 and 2004 was 6%, signifying appreciable recovery from the 1997/98 Asian crisis. It had taken stiff regulatory steps to ensure some level of sanity in the financial sector. Its GDP growth however fell to 5%, in 2005, while the global crisis was still in the making. It the aftermath of the crisis it fell to 4%. Unemployment rates which traditionally have been low in the country rose to an all time high of 4.5% in 1998 during the Asian crisis. It was gradually brought down to 1.8% in 2005, rose again, but has been curtailed at 1.2%. This however hides a high rate of underemployment and expansion of the informal economy. The political crisis that has beset Thailand for the past decade is largely an expression of the crisis of capitalism it only partially recovered from, and is back in. The Thai Rak Thai (TRT) nationalist party of billionaire Thaksin Shinawatra came to power in 2001 in the aftermath of the Asian crisis. It carried out a number of welfare programmes which made it popular. This included the establishment of universal access to healthcare services. His government which was no less corrupt than earlier governments in the kingdom was overthrown by the military in the 2006 coup. Properties up to the tune of 46 billion Thai baht belonging to Shinawatra were subsequently impounded by the military. The ―red shirts‖ movement which demanded new elections (and which had the support of the TRT) took over the streets in 2010. Over 100 persons were killed in clashes with the police. The revolt of the red shirts led to the expansion of the democratic space with elections that brought in the sister of Thaksin Shinawatra. Revolts in Myanmar, a much closed up society, also arose in this mood of the moment. It also won the expansion of democratic space with the release of the National League for

Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, who had been under house arrest for the better part of two decades.

India and China India and particularly China were considered as being central to the global economic recovery. The massive size of the two countries‘ population was to provide domestic demand that could mitigate the worst pangs. But the integration of these two countries into the global economy has been such that the possibility of such manoeuvres is almost not existent, and it could have hardly been otherwise. India with a population of 1.2 billion had developed along the lines of import substitution industrialisation driven by a developmental state of the ruling elite, from independence in 1947 to the 1980s. By 1991it was sucked wholly into the neoliberal world economy. While domestic demand remained important to its economic development, foreign trade in goods and services as well as remittances from Indians working abroad now play important roles as well. When the global crisis started in 2008/9, the GDP growth declined from an average of 8.9% over the preceding five years to 6.7%. The government in New Delhi responded with a stimulus package that raised the budget deficit from 2.6% of the GDP in 2007/8 to 6.7% by 2009/10. This was contrary to its normal stance of ―fiscal discipline‖. The deficit spending, was supposed to be geared towards increasing aggregate demand by raising the purchasing power of workers. This has however not been the case. A series of privatisation, deregulation and other reforms which have made the rich richer and the poor poorer in the country have taken their toll. The proportion of the population living below the poverty line in 1991 was 69%. It has risen to 77% (i.e. 836 million people), due to the pro-rich people policies of the government and bosses. 650million of these persons being 55% of the population suffer extreme forms of poverty. The stimulus package has not been of any significance to them and hundreds of millions of other Indians. Strife has continued with much intensity, including guerrilla war by the Naxalite Maoist rebels in the country. More significantly, the working class is rising with great intensity to challenge the existing situation. On February 28, 2012, one of the largest general strikes in the country‘s recent history drew out well over one hundred million workers away from the workplaces. The workers were protesting against the worsening economic conditions and the continued predominance of casual labour. Employers prefer to hire workers as contract staff so as to make it easier to fire them at will and also avoid paying some statutory allowances. The strike was very significant for several reasons. Apart from the huge size of workers involved, it was the first time that a general strike had been organised by all the trade union centres in India. It is also important to note that there had been a series of mass strikes in the year leading up to the general strike, such as those of; the Masaruti Suzuki workers in Gurgoan, the Gorakhpur Yarn workers in Uttar Pradesh and pilots with Air India. The surge of strikes has continued and students too are fighting against cuts in budgets for education and attendant hikes in tuition fees. Crisis and resistance is no less virulent in China despite the iron hand of its rulers who still describe themselves as ―Communists‖. When the global crisis commenced, the Chinese government was one of the first to pump in money into its economy, despite the fact that most commentators believed it would not be affected much. It increased its budget deficit from 0.4% in 2008 to 3% by 2009. This was largely as a result of the injection of $628bn into the economy. That amount was just the first of a 2-year stimulus package worth $4trillion. Banks were given the necessary guarantees to increase the provision of credit to businesses, leading to an expansion of bank credit of up to 73%.

The Chinese elite believed that it could spend its way out of the crisis. It debts hanging around its neck now is about 80% of the country‘s GDP, compared to barely 20% in 2009. A great deal of the debts has been accumulated by construction firms. They have been building houses, shopping malls & other structures. But the working people can hardly afford the apartments they have constructed. Today, not less than 65million of such apartments are empty without occupiers. Similarly several of the shopping malls are empty. A very good example is the New South China Shopping Mall, built as the largest shopping mall in the world. The Daily Mail, London, described it as the ―largest (and) loneliest mall in the world‖ in 2009, because it was bare. As at May 2012, it was still 99% empty. China might have overtaken Japan as the largest economy in the world after the US, but its economy is heading for a worse situation than its ruling class and the global elite might envision. This is partly because the country has been able to play the role of the world‘s workshop because of merciless exploitation of its abundant human resource. Chinese workers are paid pittances for work. Real wages for Chinese workers have decreased steadily every year for over two decades. Immigrants are brought from rural China to the cities and Special Economic Zones where China, in collaboration with several transnational corporations, make them work round the clock for take home pays that can hardly take them home. The Chinese bosses have maintained the oppressive conditions necessary for such super-exploitation over the past thirty years with a great deal of repression and a few carrots. The country, contrary to the situation with other capitalist countries, has consistently spent more on internal security than national defence since 2010 when it spent $82bn for national defence and $84bn for internal security. By 2012, the budgetary provision for defence was $106bn and that for internal security was $111bn. These whooping amounts which would be used for the betterment of the working people by a truly socialist state represent a fraction of the amounts used to wage class war by the Chinese elite against the working class, on behalf of both themselves and bosses globally. Amounts used for such covert internal security activities as censoring the internet are not included in the budget. It is however noteworthy to point out that while China has always been repressive, this sharp increase in internal security spending and so repression was a response to the spectre of crisis and rebellion sweeping across the country. Such increased repression has not been the success the billionaire ―communists‖ in Beijing would have hoped for. Demonstrations and strike actions inside China have sharply increased during the period of global economic crisis, although they remain largely spontaneous and localised. The All-Chinese Federation of Trade Unions is more of a parastatal of the government than a truly representative organisation of the working class. Most other organisations that could mobilise resistance have to work mainly underground or the penalty they pay is very high, including death or ―disappearance‖. But despite this, ―mass incidents‖ which is how the Chinese government describes any form of mass protest or strike, increased from 90,000 in 2006 to 127,000 by 2010. Three years later, there were no less than 180,000 of such ―mass incidents‖ across the country. These protests were sparked off by reasons which included: poor wages; unpaid wages; land grabs by the state and corporate bodies; discrimination against immigrant workers from rural areas; police brutality; corruption and; rising inflation. Similarly in 2011, for the first time since the massacre of demonstrating students in Tiananmen Square on June 4, 1989, demonstrations were organised in honour of their memory within China. These demonstrations were few and the numbers were not much. But they are significant because they further point at the increasing confidence of the Chinese working people to confront the monstrously repressive state. As the economies of Europe and the US still remain stuck in the mire, China‘s economy is set to go only one way; downhill. It could manage to maintain a seemingly appreciable growth level but

it cannot be at the impressive pace it had been before the crisis started. The Chinese workers and peasants are however getting more confident that they can break the chains of exploitation and oppression that have been bound with. Increasing confrontations and ―mass incidents‖ will further dampen economic growth spiralling into a series of crises which would most likely consume the dominant section of the country‘s elite. It is unlikely that a genuine workers government could be formed in the wake of possible upheaval. But the democratic space would be opened, allowing radical and revolutionary forces amongst others to organise and mobilise more openly. This will foster the building of mass workers power from below. In this light, the global crisis as it persists, might signal the death knell for state capitalist China, as we know it today.

Africa, perpetual crises deepens
Looking backwards to see where the rain began to beat us Africa has been in perpetual crises since the early 1970s. The Structural Adjustment Programme (SAP) was introduced in most countries in the 1980s as part of IMF conditionalities in the context of increased oil prices and the debt trap that commenced at the end of the 1970s. By the 1990s, even the IMF was forced to accept that the SAPs had failed. But, they argued that the problem was not with the SAPs but with the failure of implementation. So, SAPs were re-packaged as Poverty Reduction Programmes. These only worsened the fate of the immense majority of the populations on the continent, even where it resulted in growth. This growth, promoted by increased sales in commodities benefited only a tiny minority of the rich who became super rich, while the poor actually got poorer. It would be useful to dwell on the context that created Africa as a continent in perpetual crises to better grasp the dimensions of the global social-economic crisis on the working masses of Africa. There have been diverse views expressed by several interests on how Africa found itself in this state. For the typical capitalist thinkers and international finance institutions, it is that African leaders did not get the right policy mix. Added to this, in their view, is the prevalence of corruption on the continent. But this does not explain the earlier surge forward that countries on the continent experienced in the 1960s and early 1970s, i.e. shortly after winning political independence. For some more critical thinkers, it was exactly because African leaders submitted to the dictates of imperialist powers, particularly the IMF and World Bank. But this view loses sight of the fact that African countries turned to the IMF only because they had entered into the debt trap and the World Bank had been active in Africa in the earlier years after independence before the decades of crisis. Most people who take this simplistic anti-imperialist position look back with nostalgia to the period of development planning in those earlier neo-colonial years and simply call for a developmental state as the way forward. A view that gets closer to the problem is that which recognises the damaging effects of colonialism. There might be those that argue and not without a point to the effect that our colonial past must not be an ―excuse‖ for where we are now. They insist that Africa and Africans4 must bear responsibility for where we now stand. At least, as they could rightly argue, most countries in Latin America and Asia that are now newly industrialised also had colonial pasts. It is however important to point out that colonialism was not just about exploitation and oppression in the general sense. As Albert Memmi (1965) states:
The most serious blow suffered by the colonised is being removed from history and from the community. Colonialism removes any free role in either war or peace, every decision contributing to his destiny and that of the world, and all cultural and social responsibility.

This understanding takes us closer to understanding the roots of Africa‘s debilitating state by the last quarter of the 20th Century. Alice Amsden ―the Wild One‖, in her highly resourceful book, The Rise of the Rest which takes a line of argument identified with the
4

The more sophisticated of arguments in this line realise that ―Africans‖ in this sense are the elite who constitute the rulin g power over the working masses. [just a sop to nationalism?]

historical institutionalist school gives a further inkling. She identified the fact from her wide-ranging research that those countries that performed growth ―miracles‖ in the latter half of the 20th Century were those that had some significant level of manufacturing experience in the inter-war years. The missing link which she failed to supply was that they had been largely de-colonised before a particular moment in global history and thus their elites could play some relatively ―free role‖ or the other, in line with the dominant capitalist model of development at this period. This was a model that promoted different variants of state capitalism and state-monopoly capitalism. The government intervened in virtually every sphere of the economy to build it while also guaranteeing social services such as healthcare. It was broadly speaking a social-democratic model in the West and one of the developmental state in the developing countries of Latin America and Asia that had been de-colonized. This social democratic/developmental state model urged or forced a compromise between the bosses and the working masses. This ―class compromise‖ was lubricated with the growth that was stimulated through capitalist state intervention as institutionalised in the post-War Order. This was the order of the ―Golden Age of capitalism i.e. from the end of World War II to the late 1960s. By 1967-69, decline in profitability set in for the bosses, leading to the general crisis of the early 1970s for the world economy. Thus, Africa for which the 1960s was its decade of independence appeared on the scene just as the period in world history that fostered developmental states was ending5. It is this reality that explains, to a great extent, why the two most advanced economies on the continent are South Africa which was an enclave of apartheid6 and Egypt, which enjoyed semi-colonial status under the British and seized its independence in 1952. Of course, it could be asked why Ethiopia for example still remains largely backward despite its long period of independence. But the capacity for a country‘s rulers to freely (in a relative sense) determine its destiny is also constrained by the resources; natural, human and ideological which it has. It is unlikely that countries rich in resources like Congo, Zambia, and Kenya to mention a few would not have risen with “the Rest” if decolonization in Africa had preceded the Golden Age of capitalism. But of course, capitalism precisely thrives by building peripheries of suffering and pauperisation to centres of heightened development both within and between nations, through, for example, capital flight and the brain drain. It is for the exploited and oppressed to rise and break their chains. It is also important to point out internal factors have contributed to the state of Africa. These include corruption, non-visionary leaders/rulers, unpatriotic business men and women, and feudal lords. But the external resources are more fundamental because of the international nature of the world economy. They also rest on, develop and use the internal factors to the benefit of the rich and against poor working people. There are two important reasons at this juncture for going into the analysis above. First, it is to show the futility of any perspective that fails to be internationalist in the most critical sense of understanding and explaining where we are now and what is to be done. Such positions that propose alternative pathways to development, autonomous growth, delinking from globalisation and the like, are largely illusory. The context of the international social-economic order sets a limit for the transformation which national governments could carry out. This fact is even more so when these governments comprise politicians and technocrats who lap up the ideological soups of the world order. Second, we come to realise that it is in periods of general crises, such as that we are living in today, that the oppressive world order of capitalism can be overthrown wholly, or partially (as in 1917) on one hand, or be radically reformed/restructured on the other hand.
5

This is largely why such development planning as some look at as being autonomous in itself lasted only for that opening scene of post-colonial Africa. 6 aptly described as colonialism of a special type

It is however crucial for us to note that reforms or restructuring might not necessarily be in a way and manner that results in increasing welfare and social security as was the case after the general crisis of the Great Depression and the cataclysm of WW II. Transformation and the reforms that it brings about could be in a direction that worsens the plight of the working masses. A clear example is the neo-liberal ―counter-revolution‖ which started in the 1970s. The general crisis of 1973/74 led to what Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan represented to their countries and the world writ large: privatization, liberalization and cuts in the funding of social services. The way forward in situations like this is determined in the furnace of fierce political and ideological struggle, within each country and internationally. Africa and the current crisis There was of course the same illusion which was held with Latin America and Asia that the global economic crisis would leave Africa and the Middle East unscathed. This has been shown to be the fantasy it was from the word go. The global economic crisis has not only hit Africa and the Middle East, it has merged with other crises that have beset Africa and the Arab countries. In Africa, the economic crisis fed into the food crisis and heightened the human rights crisis. This was inevitable as political crises deepened in the face of confrontations of the working masses with several states on the continent. The general and systemic nature of this organic crisis showed itself in sharp relief, particularly in the North African region. Tunisia which has the second highest Human Development on the continent and Egypt, which has its second most advanced economy, were the first two countries where resistance triumphed as revolution. The economic crisis which hit these countries as part of the world social-economic system was grafted on political discontent against long-standing dictatorships. A similar situation in bloodier colours played itself out in Libya. In West and particularly East Africa, the economic crisis merged with the food and environmental crisis. Famine raged and continues to rage across the land. The human rights crisis has further deepened as the states brutally repress the working masses that have risen against the worsening of their social-economic deprivations. The deprivation of the people could not but have worsened. Growth has drastically declined while corruption has not abated. The economies more integrated to the Western economies, such as South Africa and Egypt have been worst hit. But these countries are equally the engine rooms of growth and economic development in the sub-regions of the continent. South Africa, quite clearly the economic hub of the continent has witnessed an economic slowdown. The country‘s GDP growth dropped from over 5% in 2007 to 3.8 in the subsequent year. Inflation rate also jumped to 11.2% in 2008 from 6.5% the previous year. In Nigeria, the illusions of many in a stock market that kept rising with mouth watering public offers have turned into nightmares. Stocks fell by 33% in value within 4 months in 2008 and the Federal Government had to step in to institute a ceiling and floor to stocks prices movement despite its avowed commitment to free market economics. Interestingly, many analysts fail to see the linkages between the near collapse of the global free market and the so-called ―near collapse of the capital market‖, which the House of Representatives probed in the first half of 2012, unravelling a can of worms, including that of corruption on the part of the ―honourables‖ probing the rot behind the near collapse. Southern Africa: The crisis of the world economy in southern Africa has been quite dire. The sub-region has witnessed no growth in the first quarter of 2012, while GDP growth had reduced by 0.3% by the end of 2011. The middle income countries in the sub-region have not fared much better than those in a state of crisis even before the global turmoil such as Zimbabwe. Botswana which is often portrayed as a major success story of neoliberal development suffered a decline of 6% in its GDP growth within the first year of the crisis. Since then its precious stones mines, which constitute the mainstay of its economy have faced the cold weather of decline in demand for commodities. Several mines have

been closed down and 9.3% of workers in the sector thrown out of jobs. The government instituted the Ipeleng programme meant to provide temporary employment for workers. About a quarter of a million people have benefited from it since 2009 when it commenced. Conditional cash transfers under its Programme for Destitute People and other social security programmes have no doubt helped to mitigate the impact of the crisis. This however resulted in a tripling of its budget deficit. GDP growth has however continued to decline while unemployment rates increase, standing at 17.5% in 2011. Despite the poster boy status of Botswana, South Africa still remains the most developed economy in the sub-region and indeed across the continent. Its economy is closely integrated into the world economy. Thus, not surprisingly, it suffered its first recession in seventeen years within the first half of 2009. Over one million jobs were lost that year alone. The unemployment rate increased from 22.9% in 2008 to 23.3% in 2010. These figures actually mask grave underemployment in several sectors of the economy; 30.2% of the country‘s workforce is on temporary jobs. But South Africa does not only have the most developed economy in Africa, in the course of the anti-apartheid struggle, a trilateral alliance had been forged between the trade unions led by COSATU, the South African Communist Party and the African National Congress, which has been the ruling party since 1994 when majority rule was instituted. This has its benefit, it would seem. But it also nurtures such delusions as the belief by a number of otherwise committed working class activists and youths that there is still a revolution7 going on in the country. In this context, it was relatively easier for South Africa to come up with the first major concerted framework for tackling the crisis. This was the Framework for South African Response to the International Economic Crisis which was arrived at by government, private sector employers and the trade unions on February 19, 2009. The Framework fails to factor in the despondent state of the working masses in the country, even before the global crisis commenced. Growth has not translated into reduction in inequality. On the contrary, it is probably the country with the widest inequality in the world and inequality now divides this great land, much more than race. The global crisis has sharpened this division and led to huge resistance. Since 2005 South Africa has probably experienced more strike days per worker than anywhere else in the world. As Europe stumbles through its hour of deepening economic crisis, and China which became South Africa‘s largest trading partner gets deeper into the woods of a slowdown, the worst seems yet to come for the country‘s economy. North Africa and the Middle East While the bosses did not expect the Middle East to pull the world economy out of recession as they believed Asia could, there was a general consensus that the region was resilient to the global crisis. This was largely due to oil wealth of net oil exporting countries in the region and their use of this for social policies that could buffer the adverse effects for the most vulnerable. The account balance of Qatar for example, dropped from $28.5bn at the time the crisis commenced to $10bn by 2009. The oil importing countries were expected to benefit from the measures by their neighbours through remittances home by their citizens working in the OPEC countries in the Middle East and North Africa. A major fear though had been the fluctuation in oil prices which could be a constraint on the rich countries in the region spending their way out of the crisis. This is due to the lack of diversification of products beyond the mono-culture of oil sector. The North African countries were particularly affected by the developments in Europe due to their geographical and economic closeness across the Mediterranean. This would have consequences on the manner the crisis evolved in this sub-region. The impact of the crisis in Europe on MENA countries‘ economies promises to be very severe. Oil rich countries such as the UAE that are borrowers to European banks stand to lose money in the event of major defaults by countries in the eurozone which now seem
7

described as a National Democratic Revolution

very likely. A decline in the international price of oil would also spell disaster. The prices at which the Gulf countries which are major producers can break even are on the rise due to the expansionary fiscal policies. These would adversely affect those countries that are not major oil producers, worsening their already bad situation. One of the ways this would happen is through the reduction in remittances by their citizens working in the Gulf countries in particular. Related to this is the probability of the return of a large number of these migrant workers back to their home countries. In 2009 for example, the likelihood of 50,000 Egyptians return home from the oil-importing countries caused a great deal of concern to both the government and the citizens. This was not only because they would be returning back to an economy already under stress and with rising unemployment. It was also because of the loss of the funds they were sending back home from abroad. In the 2007-2008 fiscal year for example, remittances from Egyptians abroad amounted to $8.54bn. Egypt of course is the major economy in North Africa. It is the most populous country in the region, with about 85million people and its economy is the most industrialised. The bulk of its workforce is in the services sector. Tourism is particularly important for this country regarded as the cradle of human civilisation. In 2008 for example, over 12million tourists from across the world visited the country and it raked in $11bn from this, amounting to 8.5% of its GDP for that year. Unemployment had been on the rise for years before the global crisis commenced, increasing from 10.3% in 2004 to 11.2% in 2005. The country‘s government under Mubarak had implemented the anti-workers policies of privatisation faithfully, in line with the dictates of the captains of international finance capital and to the benefit of the local rich elite. Aggressive privatisation on its part had led to a decline in the public sector workforce. Workers in the private sector also faced serious challenges as casualization was very widespread. This resulted in social tensions. Thus, to avoid an explosion, the Egyptian state was one of the first in the world to take quick measures aimed at winning social and economic stability. In the 2008 May Day speech of Hosni Mubarak, he promised a 30% wage increase for workers in the public sector, a 15-20% increase had earlier been proposed in his 2008 budget, but this was almost doubled as the state realised that there was mounting working class anger due to the worsening costs of living for the working masses. He called on the private sector employers to also increase the wage rates by the same margin as the state had done. As the eighteen days that shook the world at the beginning of 2011 would show, this was not enough to dampen the people‘s rage. Mubarak‘s overthrow was a pivotal event of the Arab Spring. North Africa was particularly hit hard by the food crisis which has been an integral part of the present structural crisis of the world capitalist system. Most of the food eaten in this sub-region is imported, reflecting the interconnectedness of the world which is described as ―globalisation‖. In Egypt, the food price inflation rate at 24% was far higher than the more general consumer price inflation rate at 15%. In Libya, the prices of food items increased by not less than 90%. The situation was similar across the countries in the sub-region, fuelling mass anger. The mass anger at worsening conditions of living emboldened the masses to question political authoritarianism and electoral fraud that ruling parties had gotten away with times without number before. In Iran, tens of thousands of working people and youths took to the streets over what was perceived as the rigging of elections. Although it was crushed after the Ashura uprising in December of that year, sparks of rage emerged again in 2011, inspired by the Arab Spring. Radical working class activities from below have also been on the increase with the country witnessing a spate of strikes such as it has never had before. The strategic petro-chemical industry in particular has been shaken by strikes that have lasted for several weeks. In Morocco, King Jordan quickly responded to street protests demanding the democratisation of society as the Arab Spring unfolded. He conceded reforms which expanded the powers of parliament. In Algeria, working class

and other progressive forces had been weakened by a decade of terror which started in 1992. The pretext of the state had been the need to break the power of the Islamic Salvation Front which took up arms once again when obvious victory at the polls was snatched away from it by annulment. Despite this, street protests which were curbed by the police and army lasted for weeks at the beginning of 2011. There was a spate of strikes early in 2011 and by the middle of the year; some 20,000 auxiliary police marched on Algiers from all parts of the country. This was in the wake of strikes by the public sector workers and medical interns. The situation in Israel and Palestine has not been any better for the bosses and their politicians. Rising prices of foodstuffs have merged with a housing crisis. This has been a recipe for disillusionment with the state. Hundreds of thousands of working people ―occupied‖ the streets in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv in 2011. Attempts of the Israeli politicians to divert this with rumours of an Iranian attack did not deceive the people. While street protests have been on the decline, the incidence of strikes has risen drastically across several sectors of the economy. The Middle East and North Africa region has turned out to be an important junction of rebellion against the oppressive system which the pro-rich world economy fosters. This is quite contrary to the projection and hopes of the bosses and politicians a few years back. The region might still harbour Emirs, Sheikhs and Kings as the representative form of the ruling class‘ dictatorship. It is however witnessing a democratisation process and the strengthening of the forces for human progress. Resistance to crisis has opened a new chapter for North Africa and the Middle East, and equally for humankind. East & Central Africa: the vice of famine & armed conflicts Beyond the statistics of decline in growth, the organic crisis of the world social and economic system has thrown millions more into the worst forms of hunger and starvation. In the course of the food crisis of 2007-2008, the only countries where there were riots apart from Indonesia were in Africa and the Middle East. Dozens of people were killed and hundreds of protesters arrested in Mozambique, Egypt, Yemen and Senegal. In more recent times, famine has had devastating effects on almost twenty million people in subSaharan Africa. East Africa and the horn of the continent have faced the worst impact of this ugly situation. In the Horn of Africa alone, 11.5million people are starving with 3.7million of these in Somalia. And in 2011, only 300,000 thousand of these have been given much needed food assistance consistently, on a monthly basis. The reason for this is that barely 45% of the $2bn humanitarian aid pledged by Western governments and donors has been paid. But this food crisis which the United Nations has described as the worst in Africa in the last two decades was avoidable. The US government agency USAID‘s Famine Early Warning System Network predicted it as way back as November 2010. But it is profit and not human lives that the capitalist system is primarily concerned about. There is little profit to be generated from averting the famine. The direct impact of the economic crisis in particular has been through the collapse in tourism, reduction in remittances from citizens of countries such as Kenya and Tanzania from abroad and the slowdown of construction work. These have worsened the capacities of the countries in this sub-region to address the problems posed by the famine and drought which they face. In 2009, the African Bio-diversity Network identified the interconnectedness of the crises when in its Mount Kenya Declaration of May 31, it stated thus:
We are deeply aware that the planet is facing multiple interconnected crises which will have an even bigger impact on Africa, even though Africa is not responsible for these crises. On the one hand, there is the stark

and devastating impact of the food and financial crises, which will be compounded by the impact of climate change.8

The sub-region is already in recession and the situation at hand has only worsened. It is unlikely that there is much to hope for by working people. Meanwhile, the divided elite use the blood of thousands that were killed after the Kenyan elections in 2008 to decide whose turn it is to eat and pillage public funds. West Africa, a worsening landscape ?? [this section is missing – can you send it?]

PART TWO Rising resistance, revolt & revolution
We have several times witnessed periods in history when two weeks seem like two hundred years. With the fall of Lehman brothers on September 15, 2008, the priests of the capitalist creed of neo-liberalism could no longer use their hands to cover the pregnancy of crises which dwarfed anything that the modern industrial world has ever witnessed. Crisis bred resistance, especially as the mass of the people are enjoined to bear the brunt of austerity measures, supposedly required to ensure recovery from a global economic recession. But then see an elite, whose greed threw the world into its present abyss, getting bailed out and back making tonnes of money. The national and international dimensions of the general crises of capitalism are merged as the masses confront ―their‖ own elite. Several decades old hated regimes where overthrown within days, others took longer and some are still hanging on, with the utmost of repression. But in each case and indeed across the world, the resistance and revolutions continue. The first waves of resistance in 2008 were spontaneous, but then passed away. The momentum of the events, with such catastrophic consequences on the citadels of capital seemed to leave the mass of working people stunned. As the screws of austerity were tightened, there was an awakening of the fighting spirit of the people, and resistance deepened. While this global awakening unfolded in diverse forms, a thread which runs through the different tactics brought to bear has been that of huge masses of people occupying the streets, even before the word ―occupy‖, took on the political content of a movement. These have been mainly through: protest marches, leading to and during strike actions as those which have rocked Europe for the past two years, and included for the first time ever, a pan-European General strike. Heady riots spread like wild fire through the United Kingdom & burst out with sparks and flames in Greece, Italy, etc as well. Mass marches and rallies for education and students rights as those in Chile, Ecuador and the UK. The clenched fist of mass power has been raised high in an alternative location, representative of the parallel (and popular) power, such as Tahrir (Egypt) or Pearl (Bahrain) squares. Parks and the very frontages of the powerhouses of the 1%, have been taken over by protesters with tents as we have seen with the los indignados in Spain, youths in Israel and the Occupy movement in (and beyond) the United States. Sharp and clear successes of “massquakes” emergent as triumphant revolutions have been recorded. Setbacks have also been inflicted as successful cuts having dire consequences for working people, with the ruling elite readily sacrificing this or that
8 Online @ http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/2460

individual elected representative, at the polls or replacing them with non-responsible (to the masses, that is) technocrats, to push austerity through. In victory though, the masses have learnt the struggle continues, with the system still subsisting, and in defeat, revolution from below remains unbowed, as waves of struggle still simmer. It is only proper to ask ourselves why such turmoil seizes the whole world in an orgy of ―crisis and resistance‖, ―revolution and counter-revolution‖. The capitalist system is now being questioned, even by a number of its representatives and thinkers. But it is a system that in its very inhumanity could not but have always been questioned by the emancipatory spirit of humanity & all who stand for fairness over profit & for the fulfilment of social needs over individual greed. Why now and why is it thus, that anger, sweat and blood mark its question mark? The capitalist system, like earlier class societies is based on the exploitation of the immense majority by a small minority of property owning elite. Oppression tends to go with exploitation. The elite class have to wield state power to keep the majority who actually work to create society‘s wealth, subdued. They use such an apparatus as the police, army, prisons and courts to coerce the poor. Even in Western ―democratic‖ states as we have seen in recent times, youths are tear gassed and the democratic freedoms of assembly, expression, etc, curtailed, using truncheons, water cannons, police dogs and guns. It is however impossible for the ruling classes to maintain their dominant place in society with only the means of coercion, as we pointed out earlier. From the cradle to the grave, the status quo of particular societies is presented as divine and eternal. Under capitalism this false consciousness is promoted ever more systematically and with such subtle but sure intensity. The school system, mass media, religion and even family ties are used to make us believe that there is no choice for humankind beyond capitalism. Individualism is promoted to try eroding our sense of community and solidarity in every way possible. Thus, most people just try to live their lives, even if it is not much of a life, during periods of seeming stability of the system. Many cling to hope that tomorrow will be better somehow, under the system that keeps them down. They merely try to get some incremental benefits. But periods of economic and political crises shatter illusions of the system‘s omnipotence and omniscience. These objective conditions could lead to a revolutionary situation, an historical juncture where from the valley of the shadow of disillusionment and despair, the very possibility of all things being possible is opened as a landscape of what is to be done to those having nothing to lose but their chains, the indignant mass of working and poor people. With rising unemployment rates, austerity measures, cuts in public spending, etc, mass anger boils over. And in the present situation, as working people and youths see the capitalist state bail out the banks and businesses that led society to the brink of the abyss, while we are made to suffer like never before, anger paves way for confrontation. Within the ruling class, confusion also sets in. Sections of the elite realise that they cannot continue to rule as they used to. Some of them align with demands of the masses as we saw in North Africa and even to some extent in the US with ―patriotic millionaires‖ begging for higher taxation of their wealth. Of course, their main reason is to limit how far change or even revolution would go, seeking to curtail it from within. The middle classes feel the brunt of crises as well. During periods of capitalism‘s relative stability, they have hope of joining the 1% by dint of their expertise and relatively secure income. As their proprietary hopes are damned they turn from the big bosses to the mass of working people, including the unemployed, for their salvation swelling the ranks of revolt and protest.

Revolution as we see before our very eyes is primarily the indignant intrusion of the masses into the political arena, which under normal times is dominated by ―statesmen‖ and politicians. The wretched of the earth in revolutionary situations alone, the mass of people, see themselves as the force that can determine their own fate and not some elected or appointed ―representatives‖. The determinant force within ―the people‖, in revolutionary moments, is the working class. The turning points in the revolutions that swept through North Africa, for example, where when workers entered the insurrections as a class. Similarly, the support of the American trade unions for the Occupy Wall Street movement provided it great leverage. This is because of the central role of the working class in capitalist production and its traditions of (voluntary) mass organisation. Indeed, a deeper look at the three triumphant revolutions in North Africa and the different pathways they took shows that the nature and level of development of the working class was, to a large extent, the determinant factor. In Tunisia, the UGTT trade union confederation was incorporated into the Ben Ali regime‘s corporatist state. But it still had more independence in its action compared to the parastatal-like Egyptian Trade Union Federation. UGTT even dared to voice antineoliberal rhetoric and was the anchor of the social forum process in the country, being the host secretariat of the Tunisian Social Forum. During the Tunisian revolution, its actions saw to the entry of workers as a class, much more quickly into the fray of the struggle. In Egypt, the ETUF was a ―Mubarakist‖ organisation, which was no more than a department of the regime for ―integrating‖ workers into its system of oppression. There were however more and stronger independent trade unions in Egypt than there were in Tunisia. They would constitute themselves as an independent federation which has grown in numbers and in stature ever since then and is now at the fore of working class action in the battle for the soul of the new Egypt. Well before the revolution, there were several wildcat strikes organised by these independent trade unions and even rank and file structures within the established ―trade union‖ federation, in defiance of both the state and the recognised labour aristocracy. Gadaffi, the so-called ―brother leader‖ on his own part constricted every form of civil life with political spirits, including, the trade unions. The national ―trade union‖ centre was not only incorporated, it was to all intents and purposes, not something really existing. Even the ritual of collective bargaining which in many corporate states exist, even if emptied of any but some supposed contents, was banned under the Gaddafi regime. As with many an underdeveloped country where the working class is weak in numbers and/or organisationally, insurgency became the pathway of insurrection. It is important though to note that even in the worst case scenarios, such as in Libya, the working class from below, burst asunder the fetters of its bureaucratic layers of official ―leadership‖ to assert its role as historical progress‘ motive force in modern society. The fall of Tripoli, from within, lay in the uprising within the uprising that commenced from working class quarters in the city. In Bahrain, the working class has been very active in the popular uprising that the Bahrainian state and indeed the entire Gulf States have tried their utmost to drown in blood. Not surprisingly, trade union activists have suffered intimidation, detention and disappearances, before and after the pulling down of Pearl square which the Bahraini people had tried to recreate as their own Tahrir square. Yemen which is the poorest country in the Arab world traditionally has a weak working class base. Students at the Sana‘a university inspired by the gallantry of youths of the Arab Spring kick-started the

mass upsurge there that has refused to end after over a year of lethal repression. The spread of revolutionary fervour across the world reflects the close interconnectedness of the capitalist order. International working class and socialist solidarity is needed to overthrow capitalism and build socialist society. We are indeed at a revolutionary conjuncture. There wil be more moments of triumph and equally reverses. We should not be dismayed if this would not be the final conflict. A new generation of working people and youth is learning from the moment of history we are living through. As we remake the world, we would transform ourselves. The foundations of tomorrow are being laid now and the building blocks of our self-emancipation as working people are being remoulded and laid, as we march forward to reclaiming our humanity.

Chapter 4 Two pathways of revolution in North Africa & the Middle East
The revolutionary upheavals in the Middle East & North African (MENA) region triumphed in two states within a month. These were earth-shaking and central events in the rise of resistance and revolt against the status quo globally. The wind of popular power from below in the region: swept dictators in Tunisia and Egypt out of power within weeks of protests and strikes; shattered the myth of Gaddafi‘s invincibility, eventually consuming first his regime and then his life; forced wide-ranging reforms in Saudi Arabia in an attempt to starve off the spectre of revolution; and shook Bahrain, Yemen, and Syria to their foundations with simmering echoes of revolutions that could have been in Algeria, Jordan and Morocco. ―Revolution‖ which had come to be seen as a thing of the past with the supposed triumph of neoliberal capitalism has now come to hold the attention of the world, inspiring millions across the globe. The revolutions in each of these countries are part of the global awakening, emerging from the concrete realities of their socio-economic and political conditions. Thus there are certain distinctive elements in each. But, as is generally agreed, a wide range of similarities can be perceived in the region-wide spread of mass anger and mass people‘s power. Many commentators, have seen the most determinant of these as being the use of the new (―social networking‖) media. They have been described as ―Face Book revolutions‖, ―Twitter revolutions‖ & ―bloggers‘ revolutions‖, for example. They have also been presented as ―leaderless‖, spontaneous revolts of youths against ―sit-tight‖ dictators in a region filled with monarchies and effectively, ―life presidents‖. These perspectives present partial snapshots of a more dynamic and deep-seated reality. The ―Arab awakening‖ and the patterns it is taking emerge from class struggles, within the MENA countries and also reflect the rising rage of disposed working classes in all continents of the world, in the aftershock of the Great Recession and the continued crisis of capitalism on a world-wide basis. In understanding these patterns, at one end we see successful revolutionary climaxes in Tunisia and Egypt, where despite incorporation of the formal trade unions, robust working class struggles had been waged over the past ten years. At the other end is Libya, where a totalitarian, anti-imperialist pretender of a police regime had virtually strangled life out of the working class and eroded any real spaces for a civil society‘s spirit, with the contention of revolution and counterrevolution exploding into, first, a civil war, and

subsequently the entry of NATO signifying a single mermaid of two distinct but intertwined wars. The situations in the other MENA countries fall into a spectrum between these two scenes symbolising two pathways of the first act of revolution and counter-revolution in the region.

Tunisia and Egypt; the strategy of civil insurrection
The regional blaze of revolution in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA region), as is generally known, was sparked off in December, by the self-immolation of Said Mohammed Bouazizi, a 26-year old graduate in Tunis. He was a fruit vendor, despite his level of education, whose wares were seized by state authorities. In burning himself, he became a living rejection of the desperation and hopelessness of a generation of Tunisians, nay, youths across the world who are being crushed by the relentless assault of rampaging capitalism which in the last few decades of its neoliberal restructuring have turned millions into a marginal mass of rejects eking out some form of existence in the shadows of what life could be. The protests that followed his Golgotha marked the beginning of what would be the January 14 revolution, bringing the 24-year presidency of Ben Ali crashing down. The trade union confederation in Tunisia, the UGTT, and particularly some of the radical federations and trade unions within its ranks played key roles in mobilizing for the Tunisian revolution. Working class and youth activists in the communities organized people‘s committees which took over local governance and self-defence. They were at the barricades chanting the downfall of Ben Ali and they downed tools as Tunisia was racked by a wave of strikes. In the wake of the Tunisian revolution, regimes across the region fell over each other with bribes or concessions to poor people as the wind of revolt spread. In Egypt however, the reign of the dictator and long-time key US ally, Mubarak, would come crashing down in only 18 days! In Egypt much more than in Tunisia, the myth of a leaderless ― Face Book revolution‖ is nurtured. But here, more than in any other place in the Arab world, the working class leadership of the revolution is clear. The April 6 Youth Movement turned the political opportunity of January 25 (a public holiday in Egypt to honour police officers) into the beginning of 18 days that shook the world. The roots of this movement are themselves steeped in working class struggles as it was established to mobilize public support for the April 6 strike of workers in the militant city of Gazi el-Mahalla, in 2008. To jumpstart the revolutionary movement in January, its young activists started their mobilization from the poor working class quarters in Cairo. As millions took over Tahrir Square security had to be organized as well as feeding, toilets and music. These necessitated leadership. As with every revolution, newer and newer layers of leaders sprung up as the revolutionary moment‘s steam gave wind to the sail of struggle; throwing up slogans and chants, inspiring, and giving direction to the pent up anger, passions and yearnings of the masses. In the neighbourhoods as well, committees were set up which coordinated municipal functions and armed detachments of ordinary people to defend the revolution against the rampaging counter-revolutionary hordes unleashed by the regime. New media was of great importance in this hour, no doubt. It served as a virtual notice board for Tahrir Square to millions of Egyptians and billions across the world. It is important though to point out an often overlooked fact. To every generation in modern society, its ―new media‖ and enhanced transportation, engender greater possibilities of communication for mobilization. The printing press was no less revolutionary five hundred years back as Twitter is now. Thomas Carlyle said it aided ―disbanding hired armies‖ and ―creating a new democratic world‖. Quickened means of sending letters and newspapers also gave speed to the feet of the French revolution through the correspondence committees. But perhaps Marx and Engels in 1847 best captured the fact that forging of solidarity is ―helped on by the improved means of communication that are

created by modern industry and place the workers of different localities in contact with one another. It was just this contact that was needed to centralise the numerous local struggles...into one national struggle‖. This is not to discountenance the importance of social networking media, but to stress that they merely help living human beings wage real, and not simply online, struggles. Facebook and Twitter on their own did not and could not have made any revolution. The Daily Star, a leading Lebanese paper aptly captured this reality in its editorial just after the Tunisian Revolution: ―Egypt‘s Internet based campaign for political change, the country‘s most critical voice, has failed to filter down from the chattering middle classes to the poor on the street‖. This statement from The Daily Star points towards the importance of classes in two ways. First, it is when the message for change, through whatever media, takes hold of the souls, minds and actions of the mass of the lower classes (the workers and the toilers who create society‘s wealth) that revolutionary political change can beome a reality. This position has been confirmed by most revolutions since 1789 (of course there have been ―passive revolutions‖ from above. But these have arisen more often than not as a reaction to a stalemate in the self-emancipatory struggles from below of the labouring masses). Second, is that the Internet is not necessarily the preserve of ―the chattering middle classes‖. This is only partially true. The changing development of capital has resulted in the changing nature and heterogeneity of the working class. The 21st Century working class is not reducible to the blue collared industrial worker. Along with the new middle class of self-employed lawyers, doctors, contractors, etc (a number of which come from working class families) the working class today also comprises well-trained nurses, teachers, engineers, academics, etc, who are no less wage-slaves than the rugged, hard knuckled, factory workers. These constitute a large number of Internet users. The working class is burdened with providing leadership for revolutions from below in modern industrial society for several reasons. The first is its crucial place in the process of production; “labour creates wealth”. It is hardly accidental that the two countries where revolutions in the MENA region have reached climaxes are those with the most powerful working class movements, particularly Egypt. It is also hardly surprising that in both Tunisia and Egypt, the final moments that spelt doom for the dictatorships where those in which the working class rose to its full stature, donning the awesome gown of their general strike. This is not to say that the working class alone can carry out revolution, even in the advanced capitalist countries where it constitutes the majority of the population. A revolution entails class alliances-in-action; indeed it entails the vast majority of the middle classes crossing over to the standpoint of the working class i.e. a standpoint of the ―wretched of the earth‖ who have nothing to lose (as he who is down needs fear no fall) and everything to win from struggle. In normal times, the ideas of the ruling classes are dominant. Even amongst the middle classes and individual workers, the urge to ―make money‖ and have a good life like the rich are intermingled with their hatred of the oppression by the wealthy. But it is simply ―commonsense‖ to believe during such long periods of lull that things can not be different for society. Individuals thus try to rather make the little or big differences they can make with their individual lives. The wealthy classes thus rule on the strength of their hegemony over society, as Gramsci argues, with coercion helming its borders. AbdelRahman al-Rashed of the Tunisian Ash-Sharq al-Awsat newspaper noted on the eve of the revolution in that country that: ―much of what prevents protest and civil disobedience is simply the psychological barrier.‖ This is the barrier instituted by such hegemony of the ruling class. Leon Trotsky in The History of the Russian Revolution

equally stressed the breaking of the psychological barrier as one of the first tasks of any revolution. More and more people are inspired to rise up and fight when the first sparks of rebellion become beacons of the possibilities of revolt. It is thus in the nature of revolutions that its first phase more often than not is spontaneous, as was Bouazizi‘s self-immolation. The embers from such self-generated fires could however then die, with the aroused masses rage fizzled out through reaction‘s reforms or its counter-revolutionary repressions. For it to take up continued life at the critical juncture between its beginnings and the blossoming of its fruition, it has to be fired up by being consciously stoked, rising to its climax as the spirits of the possibilities of self-emancipation it has liberated possess the souls of tens and hundreds of thousands, and indeed, millions as we saw when Tahrir Square became the heart of the new Egypt. This presupposes the existence before the revolution of oppositional voices of alternative ideas, embodied in men, women, youths, who campaign around radical programmes that challenge the status quo, within and beyond the working class. There were quite a number of such forces in both Tunisia and Egypt. Despite the repressive regime in place, which incorporated the official trade union structures, in Tunisia, there were federations critical of the official UGTT and a host of left groups. In Egypt, several independent trade unions (which formed a new trade union centre in the heat of the revolution) and a diverse array of revolutionary socialists, radical and more liberal organizations filled the role of the “organic intellectual”. The situations in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Libya were quite different. The working class was not only much weaker in most of these countries (though in each it still rose up to fight!); but also possibilities of alternative voices in civil society had literally been strangled. In Syria and particularly Libya, supposedly ―socialist‖ regimes, with antiimperialist slogans were the state power and as well mirrored themselves falsely as being civil society. Independent unions or federations outside the official incorporated union structures were not allowed. The situation in these countries reflected a critical element of revolutionary periods: revolution and counter-revolution are Siamese twins, one of which is fated to consume the other. Counter-revolutions do not only emerge as repressive monsters or with deceptively humane parliamentary faces after the revolution. They fight it if it lives, bury it if it dies or still keep fighting against it after victory. Egyptians have realized thus when unpopular laws were enacted barely weeks after the triumph of the revolution and a young blogger was promptly jailed for criticising the military. Tunisians also came face to face with this when the parliament elected after the revolution‘s triumph introduced a bill to gag the press. It is however simplistic to thus conclude that, every revolutionary situation is also a counter-revolutionary situation. That would be like saying that since the moment of labour for a woman giving birth is as well a moment which holds the painful possibility of maternal mortality or the death of the child. We could then conclude that every moment of birth is thus necessarily at one and the same time a moment of death! The working class faces the greatest anger of counterrevolution‘s reaction. In Tunisia, attempts have been made to curtail strikes after the revolution. In Egypt, the military passed laws seeking to ban strikes and as ITUC protested: ―The Bahraini authorities seem to be intent on destroying the country‘s trade union movement as a central part of a campaign of revenge against those who took part in peaceful demonstrations and strike actions‖. This is one very important reason for grasping the internationalist dimensions of revolutionary struggles for the working class. The voices of workers across the world must rail against attacks on the revolution anywhere. The ITUC for example spoke out against the reaction in virtually every country sucked up in the fever of revolution in the

region. Several other trade unions in Africa, including COSATU & NLC, and even beyond the continent equally condemned attacks on the Arab working people in the strongest terms, at the hour of their spring. Labour internationalism however is never just one way; in defence of the forces of revolution. The struggles in Tunisia and Egypt have equally inspired workers awakening in Wisconsin and Ohio for example and were a major spur of the Occupy Wall Street movement. Indeed, the revolutionary struggles in the MENA region can hardly be understood except as part of the international rising of the working class in the wake of the Great Recession. This is contrary to the rather myopic view of some that it was primarily an echo of the Palestinian intifada. In fact, the Nakba commemoration resistance of the Palestinians five months after the Arab Spring commenced, and so was itself an echo of this revolutionary awakening, and not vice versa! The Arab Spring is one in spirit with the massive wave of anti-austerity strikes and demonstrations in Greece, Spain, France, Italy, Ireland and several other countries in Europe from 2010. The crisis of the capitalist system gave birth to more glorious moments of rage, action, defeats and victories, in New York, Auckland, Quebec, Santiago, Mexico, Marikana (South Africa), Kenya, Lagos and it keeps spreading. Subsequent political developments in Tunisia and Egypt bother a number of workers and youths. The driving forces of the revolution are not the ones that are now in parliament or the executive arm of government. In Tunisia, the Islamist Ennahda party has 89 members of the 217 member parliament, making it the majority party. In Egypt, a second round of elections between former Air Force General and Prime Minister under Mubarak Ahmed Shafiq and Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood had to be conducted in June 2012. At the time of writing, the final results of this election were being expected9. But neither of the two candidates or their parties represents the spirit and ideals of the revolution. The difference between them has been described as that between a medicine that will kill you (Shafiq) and that which would make you get terribly sick (Mursi). This analogy has led some to the conclusion that a vote for Mursi is better than a vote against Shafiq. The military in Egypt effectively reinstated emergency rule in June 2012. Just days to the second round of elections, it rolled out a decree that makes it clear that it intends to retain de facto power. Egyptians have spoken loudly against this. The Moslem Brotherhood has said that it would join demonstrations against the decree. Such possible collaboration in struggle which could not be expected by Shafiq might have informed the position of Egyptian revolutionaries that supported the lesser evil of Morsi. But I would argue that the long time view of the revolutionary struggle at hand cannot be separated from thetactical decisions made now. As Marx and Engels pointed out in the Communist Manifesto: ―now and then the workers are victorious, but only for a time. The real fruit of their battles lie, not in the immediate results, but in the ever expanding union of the workers‖. The revolutions in MENA, have come, and are still in the making. A new world is being born, even though its birth pangs may take long, another round of revolutions might be in the offing. The expansion of democratic spaces being won today in North Africa and the Middle East represents progress for labour and indeed the ocean of humanity across the globe. They are part of the first act in the unfolding drama of re-writing human history; moving from the monotony of necessity to the emancipatory vigour of real liberty. The second decade of the 21st Century reinvigorated our collective energies for struggle towards making another possible world unfold. And just like civilization, it started on the Nile and
9

Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood was declared winner with 51.7% of the votes on June 24, 2012

its environs. Battles lie ahead worldwide, beyond what we can now envisage. In Egypt itself, leaders from the defeated regime hold sway as the new Egypt marches towards elections. But this does not go to say nothing changed. The working people and youth in Egypt now know, without having to be told, that they are and can be the masters of their own destiny. New and newer media will feature in the struggles and revolutions that still lie ahead, but they will be fought and won by living men, women and youths, claiming their selfemancipation, as this century gives birth to a new and just world. That new world, will salute the memories of Tahrir Square and Said Bouazizi.

Libya; the complex of insurgency and foreign intervention
The killing of Muammar Gaddafi, in his home town of Sirte on October 20, 2011 marked the end of eight months of revolt and bloody conflicts in Libya. The beginning of the end of the Gaddafi regime was on August 22 when Tripoli was taken by the then rebel forces in collaboration with NATO in what was dubbed Operation Mermaid, drawing from the characterisation of the city of Tripoli as the mermaid of the Mediterranean Sea. Controversy raged and continues to simmer on the left across Africa with regards to what happened and what is happening in Libya. Some claim it was a revolution, pure and simple. NATO had to help the revolution reach its fruition, to avoid its being drowned in blood, in March. Others claim that the involvement of NATO turned what had started as a revolutionary upsurge into anything but one. The less charitable would even say it thus turned it into a counter-revolution. Yet others see the entire uprising as nothing but a counter-revolutionary movement from the word go, inspired by Western imperialism to overthrow Gaddafi who had created a paradise on earth for the average Libyan. The climax of Operation Mermaid, being the capture of Tripoli in August, was for these socialists and anti-imperialists ―a sad day for Africa‖ and ―the triumph of counter-revolution‖. The killing of Gaddafi two months later, not to talk of the obscene spectacle made of his corpse was for these anti-imperialists, a confirmation of their assertions. How we understand the roots and dynamics of the happenings in Libya is however very important because it could have a critical bearing on our politics in the unfolding period of deep crisis that global capitalism is in, and beyond it. Those that saw the revolution as being merely a counter-revolution from the word go were mainly playing at the ostrich with its neck in the sand. They presented Gaddafi as someone who was bold enough to stand against imperialism (some would even say capitalism), and Libya as a land of milk and honey flowing from the ―revolutionary‖ wells of the ―brother leader‘s‖ commitment to the wellbeing of his people. Nothing could be further from the truth. It could be argued that at some point in time Gaddafi had earned himself the title of ―mad dog of the Middle East‖ from Ronald Reagan for sponsoring forces that razed hell against some interests of Western capitalism in the 1970s and 1980s. But even in that period, Gaddafi collaborated with the Sudanese government to have Communists rounded up and sent back to Khartoum to be executed. He also expelled thousands of Palestinians from Libya, despite funding factions of the PLO. In the past decade Gaddafi entered into close collaboration with the same Western forces he had confronted with rhetoric and the spread of individual terror as against mass emancipatory politics. The consequences of this were quite dire. Contrary to the falsely held belief of many pro-Gaddafi activists, the Libyaonline.com page run by the Gaddafi regime and the Osea newspaper, also with ties to the Gaddafi establishment reported that: ―Libya's unemployment rate is 20.74 percent according to recent census figures released recently by the authorities. That would give Libya the highest jobless rate in the fivecountry Maghreb region of 150 million people, where the proportions of workers without

jobs in the four other states range from around 9 to 15 percent, according to official figures.‖ The only country with a worse unemployment situation in the ―Arab world‖ at the time was the poor cousin, Yemen. Coupled with the spate of unemployment, food prices had increased by almost 90% over the past three years (and Libya imports 80% of the food it consumes) with no increase in wages for those fortunate enough to have employment. It is further instructive to note for those who pointed at the fact that Libya occupied the top place on the Human Development Index in Africa under Gaddafi that Tunisia, where the Arab Spring started, was third, after Libya and Mauritius. It should thus be clear that there was a material basis for genuine mass anger that could and did burst out as revolt, in Gaddafi’s Libya. But as I noted in a debate with some South African comrades when the revolution burst out: ―perhaps the most damning testimony to the sharpening of inequalities and the potentials this presented for what is happening now in Libya was from el-Qadhafi himself, over four years ago...(h)e noted that ―social injustices in societies lead to revolutions & civil wars‖ (how prophetic!) and that ―any where in the world where there are problems and revolutions that took place‖ the people wanted their ―share in wealth‖ & “to share in authority” (emphasis, mine). He accepted the fact that he knew ―some soldiers who when they started the ―revolution‖ then ―used to live in huts, and now they have built palaces‖ (of course he never mentioned the number of palaces his family could have built with assets outside Libya to the tune of $32bn)‖. An important aspect of this Gaddafi‘s ―frank talk‖, to the General People‘s Council in 2006 is that Libyans were not only denied their ―share in wealth‖, but also lacked their ―share in authority‖. Revolutions are never just about fighting against hunger, want and societal ills. They are also about people fighting for power and authority to determine and re-make their own lives. With the foregoing argument, one could assert that a revolution started in Libya on February 17. It however does not answer questions related to its subsequent dynamics and the aftermath of the liberation of Libya. The most divisive issue within these is that of the role of NATO in the liberation of Libya. With the world presently in a state of revolutionary flux, addressing this issue goes beyond the important need of understanding the Libyan revolution. It also has consequences, as I earlier stated, for possible alternatives of methods and approaches in the struggle for a better world. With a massacre seeming imminent in Benghazi, which represented the inchoate forces of rebellion, the principle of ―humanitarian intervention‖ invented by NATO during the Balkan wars in the 1990s as part of the narrative of a uni-polar capitalist world order, was invoked. Resolution 1973 of the United Nations became a blank cheque for a ―popular‖ NATO bombing sortie, supposedly to avert a massacre. Not a few on the left felt obliged to support this move. Their arguments were both ―humanitarian‖ and ―political‖. Human lives were at stake, the spectre of Rwanda was invoked. The Libyan revolution was equally in danger of being drowned in blood. Some of these ―humanitarian leftists‖ actually kid themselves that their support, or as Gilbert Achcar put it, ―non-opposition‖ to imperialist intervention was significant in ensuring just that, and consequently they would add, Benghazi and the Libyan revolution. They also point at the fact that the people in Benghazi (and Misrata, which had fought Gaddafi‘s forces to a standstill at great costs) had called for the intervention as a salve for any thing that could be considered as wrong in not toeing the path of what they describe as ―knee-jerk anti-imperialism‖. However, earlier Libyan revolutionaries, in Benghazi, for example, had clearly and publically demonstrated their opposition to western intervention.

This position is however both naïve and based on linear and one-dimensional analyses. To think the Western powers intervened in Libya or would decide to intervene or not intervene in any country where a massacre is imminent based strictly on the puny stand of some activists is foolish to say the least. Millions marched against the invasion of Iraq, but imperialist forces still went ahead to invade the country. DSimilarly, Syrians called for international intervention, but what we have seen has been more talk, less action by the same forces behind the ―no fly zone‖ in Syria, simply because it is not in their calculated interest to thus intervene against the Ba‘athist regime of al -Assad. Talking of Rwanda which some on the humanitarian interventionist left invoke, I remember a scene from Hotel Rwanda, where one of the Generals conducting the genocide replied to the threats of a US official to the effect that ―we know you will not intervene here since we have no oil, gold or diamonds‖. This character sums it up; imperialism‘s intent no matter the rhetoric is never humanitarian. The road to hell is often paved with good intentions. Like the leper that cannot milk a cow but could upturn pails of cows milk, while the humanitarian left‘s support was not of significance in determining the actions of the NATO allies, it helped to legitimize the intervention. The consequence of this is the primacy ascribed to the NATO intervention, over revolution from below in the liberation of Libya, by Obama, Cameron, Merkel, Sarkozy and other overnight ―friends of Libya‖ on the day after the liberation of that country. Despite the main factor being revolution from below. The short-sightedness of support for intervention (now presented by the imperialists as liberation), is most rooted in the limitation of the frame of reference of the Libyan revolution to Libya, or even the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). There is a groundswell of global resistance and revolutionary pressures, in resistance to the attacks of the bosses on workers and youths, in the wake of the crises of the capitalist world economy, underscoring the interconnectedness of our fate as humankind, economically, politically and socially. The struggle in any country is a part of the broader international revolutionary struggle for the emancipation of the ―immense majority‖ of working people, from the thrall of the oppressing 1%. Challenging the lies and thinly veiled interests of imperialism in the Libyan revolution (geared at grasping back the initiative it had lost as its lackeys in Tunisia and Egypt fell to massquakes), particularly, but not limited to working people in imperialist countries amounted to challenging the might of capitalism as a whole. But the masses in Benghazi called for the intervention? Yes, they did, and they had every right to do so with the threat they were faced with. From Benghazi to Tobruk, Misruta to Ziawayi, the rebels had earlier stood their ground against foreign intervention until a likely massacre loomed on the horizon. Activists committed to the emancipation of the oppressed globally should defend the right of oppressed people anywhere, to uphold their view, even when on a principled basis we disagree with that view. Indeed, the challenge is to be able to espouse the interconnections between the immediate goal of people fighting for emancipation anywhere with that of the ultimate goal of the masses fighting for the revolutionary transformation of society, everywhere, stressing the relations between their immediate goals and the ultimate aim of bringing to birth a new and better world on the ashes of the old. But a defeat for the Libyan revolution would have been a major set-back for the Arab Spring and wider global protests. Intervention from outside Libya was almost certainly necessary to prevent this. The best would have been support from revolutionary governments in neighbouring Tunisia and Egypt. The worst was intervention from NATO. These basic principles which would have been otherwise considered as simple enough for any revolutionary activist to understand were drowned for many in the ―complexities‖ of

the Libyan revolution. Truth is concrete, but without the compass of principles, its concreteness is no more than that of an amoeba within the skulls of many otherwise genuine revolutionaries. But it asserts itself even within the fluidity forced on it. In Libya, with the ideology of humanitarian interventionism by imperialist overlords who better grasped the global frame of the revolutionary waves sweeping through the world and humanitarian leftists alike, as its backdrop, the people have won their liberation. At the head of the triumphant revolution was the National Transition Council, comprising an amalgam of forces including those who yesterday sat with Gaddafi over the Libyan people. Does this mean that what ended with the killing of Gaddafi was not a revolution? The most distinctive element in a real revolution is the masses rising to seize their destiny in their hands. In Libya, as in Tunisia and Egypt, albeit in different circumstances, men and women, youths and the aged rose in battle to win their liberation. To assert that a revolutionary situation is at the same time a counter-revolutionary situation, as some declare, emerges quite clearly from a shallow analysis, as we pointed out earlier. On the contary, elements of one do exist in the other. Not all revolutions become triumphant, but revolutions they still are. In 1848, revolution swept through Europe only to be devoured by counter-revolution. In 1905 Russia, 191923 Germany, and 1956 Hungary, flashes of the spirit of revolution provided humankind with illumination for progress. All revolutions are political, as they involve contestation for power. Triumphant revolutions are marked by the transfer of power. But more often than not, power changes hands to another of the same class of oppressors. The new leaders may have bound themselves to the masses in revolt just before the cock crowed. But they then hold the struggle back rather then facilitating new possibilities. The tide of revolution in the Middle East and North Africa has swept out Ben Ali in Tunisia and Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, but the class in power, no less than in Libya, still remains the propertied class of capitalists. But the waves of resistance spreading across the world as the ocean of the 99% wakens to the challenge of indeed making another better world possible heralds the future of a world where justice, liberty and equality assume real meanings. The Arab Spring has turned out to be an inspiration for millions across the world. It wake has clearly confirmed the truism that revolutionary pulses in modern industrial society will cut across borders, just as with the fires of 1848, 1917 & 1968, for example. Indeed, capitalism can be overthrown only internationally. The Libyan revolution‘s significance is as a pointer to the fact that there will be complexities in the unfolding transitional epoch. Revolution and counter-revolution appear not only as the Siamese twins they are, but also as mermaids of two wars; binding the class war within nations and the war between the 1% and the 99% across national boundaries. Guile, as much as bombs would be in the arsenal of international capital, foresight over astonishment must be the guide for radical activists, drawing lessons from the bloody drama of the mermaid of the Mediterranean.

Chapter 5 The Americas & the rise of the 99%
The wave of resistance to the present structural crisis of the world system has been awesome in the Americas, particularly in the United States, Canada and Chile. Workers and youths in these countries have marched against policies and laws of the bosses that were meant to burden the working masses with the costs of economic recovery. The two major economies of North America have witnessed the biggest demonstrations in their histories. In the United States, this has been accompanied by working people camping out for weeks and months as the Occupy Movement in scores of cities and towns, even in the face of attacks by the police. In Canada, tens of thousands of workers have joined students in defiance of Law 78 to protest against the hike in the cost of tuition fees. Students in Chile on their own part have faced the most horrific of attacks by the police, but remain unshaken in their demonstrated resistance to the neoliberal reforms in the education sector. The demands of the protesters in each of these and other countries in the Americas, North and South have moved beyond immediate demands such as those against tuition fees or against the bailouts of banks to more general demands against the 1% who benefit from the capitalist system. The working masses and youths in rising have demand and still demand the building of a new society for and on behalf of the 99% of the population, the working people.

Occupying together; a “democratic awakening”
In the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman brothers in September 2008, there was a flush of demonstrations in New York and a number of other cities in the United States. This petered out within weeks. The flurry of attacks on the working classes while the banks were being bailed out with well over a trillion dollars ignited more lasting fires of resistance. These attacks included the introduction of over 700 anti-labour bills across the country. There was hardly a single state of the United States where lawmakers did not roll out dozens of bills meant to: result wage cuts; reduce social protection; whittle down the strength of unions &; throw more unionised workers into unemployment. Meanwhile, apart from the mega-bailouts for big business, such big corporations as Bank of America, Verizon and the mercenary firm, Blackwater/Xe owed billions in tax dodges without anything happening. There was stiff resistance in several states. These were buoyed up by the triumph of revolution in North Africa. For example many people in Wisconsin wore tee-shirts with ―we are all Egyptians‖ inscribed on them during the sit-in at Wisconsin against Governor Scott Walker‘s anti-labour legislation. The first major attempt at forging this boiling mass anger into a huge national wave of the working people‘s outrage was with the We Are One (WR1) demonstrations, organised across the United States on April 4, the 43rd anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Thousands of WR1 groups were formed in several cities and towns. The WR1 campaigned against the job losses and casualization of work that were getting worse with the economic crisis. A major struggle was waged in support of the Verizon workers 45,000 of which faced the bosses in defence of better wages and job security, for a year. After the June 22 ―Verizon Day of Action‖ though, the WR1 gradually petered away, as an organised expression of the 99%. What it stood for was however still brewing below the surface. But the bosses in America felt that the worst might have been over. Thus when Zuccotti Park in New York was taken over on September 17, 2011 by a few hundreds of protesters, marking the beginning of what would become the Occupy

Movement, the mainstream press, where it gave the event any attention at all, considered it as ―irrelevant‖ and a sort of ―circus‖. The billionaire Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg felt the occupation demonstration was harmless enough and could be easily kettled or tightly policed. With ease then, he had said "people have a right to protest, and if they want to protest, we'll be happy to make sure they have locations to do it.‖ Today, the call to “Occupy Everything” rings across some 80 countries in the world sparking actions of protesters taking over streets with tents in well over a hundred countries at some time or the other. The height of this was on October 15, 2011, with the global protest and commencement of the generalisation of the occupy movement as an international trend of alternative politics, beyond the United States, where it is the main expression of the rising global revolt of the working people. In the US where over 100,000 people took over Times Square in New York, this was the turn from Occupy Wall Street to Occupy America. The earlier benevolent acceptance of the phenomenon and even verbal expressions of support by representatives of the American elite and representatives of a dozen other states, not to talk of the papacy, has been replaced by greater caution and outright repression. On November 14, in a near simultaneous wave of suppression, in city after city, the police moved in to disperse occupy movement camps. While protesters still defied somewhat, the creeping in of winter equally brought a check on the physical space of this movement which the African-American academic and activist, Cornel West describes as a ―democratic awakening‖. The tongues of the embers of imagination it has brought into on-going and unfolding resistance across the world can however not be doused. In Nigeria for example, ―Occupy Nigeria‖ has become a rather fashionable way of describing the January 2012 Awakening of popular struggle from below. It is thus very pertinent to consider the origins, dynamics, significance and possibilities of this movement as activists to be able to draw the necessary lessons. The call for the first shots of Occupy Wall Street was made by the Canadian-based network of information age activist known as Adbusters in August. The Arab Spring and the May 15 Movement (M-15) of Indignados in Spain were its primary sources of inspiration. The democracy village of activists in front of the British Parliament in November 2010 was a key element of the model of resistance it sort to construct. But the first “Occupy” initiatives actually started on July 30 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. This was Occupy Dataran summoned to coincide with a vigil for the EO6 including international socialist Michael Jeyakumar Deveraj, a leader of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM), who was released for a day to participate. It was equally influenced by the Spanish M-15 strategy of resistance. Back to the occupy movement in general though; it has drawn from the strategy of organising and claiming of space from the M-15. A key element of this for us is that of Popular Assemblies. In recent times, this strategy and structure (which actually has its roots in the direct democracy of Athenian times), evolved in the Argentine turmoil of 1999-2002. It has left its imprint in the occupied enterprises movement that still remain across that country, run by the workers. In my view the generalisation of the primacy of the Popular Assembly principle as against that of Popular Action Committees, for emancipatory politics, is the greatest significance of the occupy movement. The dynamics between General Assemblies and its working groups as the assemblage of participatory democracy give glimpses of the era of freedom over necessity which is that of socialist construction of another possible world. The New York City General Assembly (NYCGA) for example, was both a decisionmaking body and the mass executive platform. Discussions were held which were open to everyone. There was no formal leadership, moderators who were not permanent, were all volunteers. The different working committees established by the General Assembly to carry out some task or the other would report back to the NYCGA. To participate in the discussions at the General Assembly, progressive stacks or lists of persons interested to

speak were drawn up in a way and manner that gave preference to disadvantaged groups such as women and persons of minority racial or ethnic stock in the area. The gatherings of occupying people were supported through solidarity. Funds of up to $700,000 were mobilised with donations made by a wide range of people by Occupy Wall Street, for example, within its first few weeks of encampment. Those who made such donations included persons that were not physically in the camp. The monies were used for collective feeding in soup kitchens set up in the camp and for other activities including publishing a newspaper, the Occupy Wall Street Journal. Accountability was maintained through an ―accounting working group‖ which regularly reported to the NYCGA. By March 2012, with the purse running lean, a Movement Resource Group comprising businessmen who subscribed to the cause of the 99% was constituted. Such members of the 1% that supported the occupying cause had no special status ascribed to them. Occupy Wall Street brought together tens of thousands of old and fresh activists. While it was only a fraction of these that slept overnight for the period that the encampments lasted10, the movement encompassed diverse interests and expressions of the 99%. But they were bound by some basic positions, despite the fact that there was no collective ―programme‖ as such. The primary one was for fairness and equality. The quadrupling of the income of the 1% of the population over the last three decades, whilst the real wages of working people stagnated or declined, was condemned and progressive redistribution of the social wealth demanded. Other positions evolved from this. They included demands for: reform of the banking and finance sector; more jobs and decent work; reducing big business‘ influence on politics; cancellation of the debts of students; mitigating the impact of home foreclosures that made millions homeless. The movement was not limited to its encampments. There were mobilisation in the streets which the state attacked spraying pepper/tear gas, hitting protesters with truncheons and arresting scores in several cities including New York and Auckland. The movement also occupied docks across America in December, leading to the bosses signing an agreement with the dockworkers in Auckland. But as 2011 drew to an end, the physical manifestation of the movement declined. This was partly due to the encroachment of winter which made outdoor gatherings more difficult to organise. The weather was more successful than the state in dispersing the occupy movement. On March 17, attempts of protesters to mark the 6th month of the beginning of it all at Zucotti Park were dispersed by the police. On May 1, more successful attempts at re-igniting the initial sparks of the movement were made with May Day protests in the name of Occupy, in several cities. The spirit of the movement still remains resilient though. It will haunt the bosses and the state in the form of explosions which the near future holds. This spirit is that of the rage of the rising 99%

Students in Quebec; bearing the torch of resistance
On May 22, 2012, the city of Montreal renowned for its Jazz festival witnessed the largest demonstration of civil disobedience ever in Canada, despite heavy rainfall, mighty gusts of winds and thunderous flashing of lightning. This was in defiance of a law against such protest. Mass action organised by university students across Quebec, the Frenchspeaking part of the country, involved over three hundred thousand people. It marked the 100th day of a raging battle by the students against a 75% increase in tuition fees by the government. For four months the students had been on strike in what has turned out thus far as the largest students strike in North America. The demands of the students have moved from being against the proposed increase in tuition fees. They have included demands for free education, for an end to the austerity measures of the state and for social change. Tens of thousands of workers joined this movement and trade unions also gave

10

In Zuccotti Park, re-named Liberty Plaza by the occupiers, there were barely 200 persons living in the occupy grounds tents

the striking students support. The efforts of the government to constrain the students with an anti-demonstration law failed. This torch of resistance by students in Quebec is a testament to mass mobilisation, traditions of struggle and clarity of vision, all of which require organisation. Students there pay some of the lowest tuition fees in North America and even if the 75% hike is achieved by the Canadian state, it would still be one of the cheapest on the continent. But this argument of the state did not move the students one bit. There was mobilisation of the students against any such increment by a radical association of class conscious students, known by its French acronym ―CLASSE‖. This mobilisation is also against the neoliberal attacks on the traditions of a social democratic welfare state as the global crisis bites the Canadian bosses hard. Public sector jobs are being cut, the retirement age has been raised, new user fees have been introduced for accessing public health care services, in short, the parents of students in the universities and the students themselves face a whole lot of challenges without being exposed to hikes in the tuition fees which could rise up to 82% within the next few years. The argument of CLASSE was very simple and straightforward, in a manner similar to that of students in Britain two years earlier but with greater force: ― can‘t pay, wo‘nt pay‖. This demand does not merely say no to paying any increment, it demands the unconditional cancellation of the payment of any tuition fees whatsoever. CLASSE activists have painstakingly argued their position within the ranks of their fellow students over months. This was through symposiums, seminars, one-on-one canvassing and other means of informing and educating their colleagues on what is to be done to fight and defeat the unpopular hike. General Assemblies were constituted at which the mass of students discussed strategies and tactics before and during the strike. The schools were closed in an attempt to undermine the strike. The students had to leave campus but they took their struggle to the streets. They won the support of a wide range of the social forces in civil society, including the trade unions. The Canadian Union of Public Employees for example raised $30,000 for the students to support their activities of resistance. Several other unions from Toronto, Ottawa and other cities outside Quebec sent money amounting to no less than $6,000. Such funds have been used to: print posters, flyers, leaflets; transport protesters to demonstrations from different parts of the state; and to sustain a class conscious newspaper, amongst other things. When the students decided to take over the streets on May 22, the state panicked. It was obvious that this fight back by the students had popular support. It tried to arm twist the students from being able to talk action by using the law. After all, the primary basis of the law everywhere is to safeguard the rule of the bosses over the working masses. Law 78 was hurriedly passed. It made any street procession or demonstration without police clearance illegal. The students damned these legal niceties and marched on the streets ―illegally‖. But such was the might of the masses in motion. Seeing over a quarter of a million people on the streets it was obvious to the police and other security agents that no arrest could be made at the time. It was on the second day that dozens of students in small groups were arrested by the cowardly police officers. Several trade unions and activists have gone to court to challenge law 78 as being a slap in the face of established traditions of civil rights in Canada. This goes to show just how retrogressive the bosses could be as we fight against their anti-poor people programmes. But the anger of the working masses will no longer be contained with such gimmicks. The students and the working people in Quebec will also not let the state divert attention away from the resistance to tuition fees and neoliberal ―solutions‖ to the structural problems of the economy. The students have continued with organising mass meetings and protests. They vow to continue with their strike once campuses are reopened in August. Meanwhile the membership of CLASSE has risen from barely 40,000 to well

over 100,000. It now represents 70% of the tertiary institutions students in Quebec. The slogan of these students remains ―on ne lâche pas‖ (we're not backing down). The resistance by Quebec students definitely is impressive. It is however but a more expressive reflection of the refusal of the working masses in Canada as a whole, to back down in the face of the bosses‘ attacks in the name of their crisis. A wave of strikes has swept through the country in the past three years. These have tended to bind workers with their communities and the broad working class, in struggle and solidarity. This wave of strikes started in August 2008 when workers at the ECP factory in Ontario went on strike rather than receive a 25% pay cut. They sustained the strike till the company was closed down finally in March 2009. The strike of the Vale Inco mine workers was again a long one lasting from July 2009 to July 2010. International working class solidarity was brought to bear on the matter as Brazilian workers and trade unionists from several other countries in the world joined Vale Inco workers to protest at the front of the corporation‘s head office in Sao Paulo. Support for striking public sector workers keep coming from the working public of the 99%. Walkouts by teachers in British Columbia earlier in March 2012 were hailed by the public as being in defence of public education which had had its funding drastically cut. Workers in different workplaces in the same sectors have also not shirked solidarity. This helped the health workers in Edmonton for example, to victory. When those in Royal Alexandra Hospital downed tools, they were joined by colleagues from the University of Alberta Hospital and the North East Community Health Centre. Essentially, these go to show the tide of stiff resistance by the working masses of Canada. The stand of the students of Quebec exemplifies this. The struggle of the 99% in Canada is anything but over. The near future will hold a lot of surprises for the bosses and their politicians. This wave of defiance was a school for millions of workers and youths. They learnt a lot. They have learnt that the ruling class of bosses and politicians are united in making life harder for the working masses. This was shown at the federal level in Canada where the Conservative Party has called for the national parliament to affirm the draconian Law 78 which even the United Nations Human Rights Commission condemned. But they are also learning that it is with the power of a rising tide from below that they can re-shape their lives for the better. Their voices are now heard, as they insist; on ne lâche pas!

“Our future is not for sale”, battle cry of the Chilean winter
Latin America has been a theatre of struggle within the Americas for decades in so many ways. The pueblo i.e. the working masses have been a factor in politics since the era of the Great Depression in the 1930s. A series of populist strongmen built the modern Latin America using the tool of Import Substitution Industrialisation from that period to the late 1960s and early 1970s in the era that was the Golden Age of the world economy. This period of authoritarianism marked by what O‘Donell described as ―Bureaucratic Authoritarian States‖ was supplanted with democratisation in the 1980s/1990s. This democratisation arose through struggle from below by the masses. But the regimes that were established took up the implementation of the anti-worker neoliberal policies with vigour. Starting in 1989 with the mass movement of poor people from the ghettos that too k over the streets in Venezuela known as ‗el caracazo,‘ a new hour was born in Latin America. Social movements which included traditional ones like the trade unions and students‘ movement as well as newly reinvigorated ones such as the Landless Workers Movement, environmental rights and indigenous peoples‘ movements combated the exploitative and oppressive system of the bosses and their masters in the World Bank, IMF, etc. By the late 1990s/2000s, these movements had become the basis or parts of radical electoral

platforms which won popular elections. This spread of radical-popular parties‘ ascent to high office in the region has been described as the ―pink tide‖. The populist governments in a number of these countries which include Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and recently Peru, have implemented reforms that have curbed the powers of the bosses and sought to improve the welfare of working people. The progressive nature of these regimes must however not make us lose sight of the severe limitations for even the most progressive country in a global capitalist economy. The pro-poor people policies they have implemented have lifted millions out of poverty as we mentioned in the earlier section of this book. These populist actions which have seen massive support for the re-election of these ―pink tide‖ governments have also helped to mitigate the effects of the crisis on their economies. The ―pink tide‖ covers a broad spectrum of radical politics. The reforms of a number of these governments have sought to balance between neoliberalism and more social-democratic traditions. But discussions on this would be beyond the modest aims of this book. It is however important to point out that the traditional fighting social movements such as trade unions and radical civil society in these countries are largely welded to the ruling parties which they had been pivotal to creating or bringing to power. This has served to limit the possibilities of genuine mass anger from below. It is thus not very surprising that Chile and Mexico which have been the two countries rocked by mass protests have been amongst those where conservative parties are in government. Students have also been at the fore of these protest movements. But the trade unions and rank and file workers have joined the fray in their numbers as the demands encompassed the general anger of the working people. The mass upsurge in Mexico unfolded in June 2012 when on Sunday 17, over 100,000 youths and working people took over the streets of México City. This was part of a series of grand marches to protest against the candidacy of the conservative Institutional Revolutionary Party‘s Peña Nieto, by what is now known as the Yo Soy132 (I am 132) movement. The youths and workers marching on the streets called for ―informed votes‖ in the forthcoming general elections. They have pointed out that Nieto and all the other capitalist parties‘ candidates for President have nothing to offer the masses, especially as the economic crisis bites harder. They forced the candidates to participate in an online debate watched by millions of Mexicans. But the movement is deepening beyond the demands for freedom of expression, condemning the clear bias for Neto and its likes by the mainstream press. Its demands for the democratisation of the polity and the media is a challenge of the power of the bosses and the call for a more equal society, based to the power of the working masses. In Chile the students have categorically declared that ―our future is not for sale‖, challenging the neoliberal reforms in the education sector and the very logic of capitalist development. From May 2011 to the beginning of January 2012 the students mobilised a rolling series of street protests which drew in over half a million students and tens of thousands of workers who joined them. The students under the platform of CONFECH presented a proposal for pro-poor education reforms to the conservative government led by the billionaire Sebastián Piñera. This was titled as ―Social Agreement for Chilean Education‖. Its demands included: improved funding for public universities; free and qualitative public education; removal of all inhibitions to the participation of students in the governance of tertiary schools; and an equitable admission process for the country‘s most prestigious universities. After two months of protests the government made a proposal to set up a special fund for education. The president, Mr Piñera however stressed his view that making education free would be a mistake. The students and working people were not impressed by this lame proposition. The protests intensified. Students occupied their schools and marched on the streets, joined by workers. Contract workers from the El Teniente mines, who have

themselves been on strike, were prominent on July 14 when the new wave of demonstrations commenced. The government cabinet was reshuffled with the Minister of Education redeployed, but this did not appease the students. A second proposal by the government was made in August. It: increased available university scholarships; would constitutionally guarantee universal access to quality education; and enhance students‘ participation in the governance of universities. This proposal was equally turned down as being inadequate. The students had once again found their voice and re-discovered their power. The youthful energy of the students was central to this Chilean winter. With one of the most expensive education system in the country where the average university student pays 300,000 pesos (($630) per month, students can expect to get angry when things get worse still. But, the struggle of the students was part of a broader resistance of working people against the pangs of the heavy hands of crisis. In 2011, a wave of popular resistance from below swept through the workplaces and communities before the students protests commenced. On January 11, for example, the communities in Magallanes revolted when the price of gas was increased by 17%. Working people from these communities constituted themselves into the Magallanes Citizens Assembly. The Assembly resting on workers power from below barricaded the highways leading into the cities within the area and ran the communities as a popular government for one week. Everyday not less than 30,000 citizens would come to collectively discuss the way forward, governing together. The Chilean government was scared by this development and did not want it to spread to other communities in the country. It thus appealed for calm and reduced the price increase to only 3%. There was also a massive nationwide protest against the government‘s going ahead to site a hydroelectric project in the Aysen region of the country, despite the outcry against this as it would put over 80% of Chile‘s energy generation in the hands of foreign transnational corporations. The Chilean trade unions also went on a general strike where the students were at the fore of picket lines with the workers. At the time of writing this book, the tempo of the Chilean winter had come down. But its fires still fester amidst growing strikes of rank and file workers. The trade unions in the country are tied to international finance capital through the strings of pension funds worth millions of dollars. These monies which have been deducted from workers salaries have been used for institutional investments by the unions across the world. It is however unlikely that the unions will be able to hold back the mass anger from below for long. The next bout of a wintry chill in the country will most likely draw in the trade union movement much more clearly, as they battle to hold on to their leadership of angry rank and file workers.

Chapter 6 Anti-austerity! Class struggle in Europe
Europe is in the eye of a storm of historic proportions. The class struggle has intensified to a level not witnessed since the end of World War II. The global economic crisis has hit the continent with the greatest severity. The bosses shifting the burden of bailing out their system on to the working class has faced the utmost of resistance. Over the past four years, governments have collapsed as a result of mass anger from below and confusion in the ranks of elite politicians, in several countries. These include; Iceland, Latvia, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, & Spain. Mass strikes and street protests involving millions of workers and youths have made the bosses quiver with the fever of uncertainty. Parties of the working people that were on the fringes in normal times have risen to become majority parties expressing the disillusionment of the working people especially in some countries such as Greece. While in others such as France, reformist socialist parties have crested to power on the platform of (verbal) commitment to anti-austerity programmes. In Italy traditional parties have suffered severe defeats in elections to municipal councils. But equally, even if to a lesser extent, fascist parties and those of the most conservative and ultra-nationalist types have won seats in several parliaments, sometimes for the first time. These include Greece, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. This reflects the confusion in some sections of the working class who are equally angry with the status quo. But due to weaknesses with revolutionary alternatives, they see no way forward except in nationalist platforms that portray immigrants and peoples of other ethnic or racial groups as being the problem. This trend is however in the minority as demonstrated by the massive upsurge of electoral and extra-parliamentary support for diverse colourations of working class based alternative platforms. However, a situation of crisis can result where progressive forces are weakened by disunity or other reasons. It was the Great Depression, for example, that paved the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Nazis in Germany, leading to World War II. A related trend in the class struggles in Europe is the spread of discontent with the traditional parties of both the conservative right and the reformist left. Revolutionary pressures from below have built on participatory democracy of the working people and youths. The los indignados (the outraged) movement in Spain is a key example of this trend. Elements of this disillusionment have also been sharp in the ―Squares movement‖ in Greece. To varying extents this sense of not being represented by the subsisting parties also rings out in the various upsurges of rage from below across several countries. On one hand, this reflects the heritage of a generation that has come to realise that the establishment parties represent the bosses. On the other hand, the youths who have been at the fore of this trend can see that most of the radical parties, including the so-called Communist Parties. have become an integral part of the oppressive system which has led to this crisis. In fact, they have served more as safety valves for capitalism at moments of crisis than as vehicles for post-capitalist alternatives. In Greece a great number of youths who held this anti-partisan view of revolutionary change voted for Syriza which they saw as representing a credible alternative. This shows that left parties rooted in the struggles of the masses stand to become poles of attraction and revolutionary or radical leadership can be provided. In this chapter we look more closely at how the working masses have waged the class struggle in Europe. The revolutionary pressures from below are presented in perspective showing that the present stage of struggle is one that has matured in very fast over past few years. The likelihood of the resistance deepening is also high in most countries. The euro zone has been the main theatre of the immense class war that is raging. But other parts of Europe have not been left untouched. Britain for example has also witnessed

mass convulsions, including strikes, marches, sit-ins and even riots. Three countries are chosen as case studies, France, Greece & Spain.

France, voting against austerity
In May 2012, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party defeated the incumbent President Nicolas Sarkozy, in the second round of presidential elections which was more or less a referendum on the austerity measures. The following month, President Hollande‘s party swept the parliamentary elections to win a comfortable majority. With these elections, French workers once more spoke clearly to Sakozy and his allies who had asked them to ―spend less and work more‖. He was the first French President to fail in his bid for a second term in a generation, and the eleventh head of state/government in Europe, to be kicked out due to the global crisis. The defeat of Sarkozy was a moment within the movement of mass power from below that had commenced in opposition to attacks against the working class, in the wake of the global crisis. The first moment of this movement was the struggle against unpopular pension reforms a year and a half before the general elections. It involved mass strikes and street demonstrations in October 2010. At the peak of the strike, more than half of French industries were shut down as raw materials and fuel for production were cut off by the strike movement. The number of workers on strike was around one third of the labour force, concentrated in the more densely unionised ―old heavy industries‖ such as: iron and steel; railway; automanufacturing; transport; energy &; power. They also encompassed white collar workers in the formal sector such as: teachers; medical and health workers and bank workers. A major impact of globalisation on the French economy, as with all national economies – even if to different degrees - is the expansion of informal labour relations. This is the consequence of a reduction in job security which more stable work contracts offer. There have been a growing number of workers in enterprises that employ less than 50 persons where trade union organising is much more difficult, and in many cases barely existent. The expansion of informal labour relations extends into the formal sector, with a marked increase of casual workers such as temporary contract staff and ―casuals‖, a large number of who are immigrants. There was also an expansion of services as a component of the French economy. Workers in the services sector, such as: supermarket chains, shopping malls, telecommunication telemarketing amongst others, tend to be less unionised, partly due to the precarious nature of their jobs. They were thus part of the strike movement in the broader sense, but were constrained from participating in the general strike itself. The French government tried to seize on this fact in the public discourse that raged in the course of the strike movement, seeking to portray the strike movement as one of a minority within the population. There was massive support for the struggle and less than two years down the line this was confirmed through the elections. Independent polls during the strike showed that for 17 consecutive days, over 70% of the French populace was in full support of the strike action, including its radical but peaceful ways of bringing the economy to a halt. This reality was demonstrated on the streets as for days on end, millions of working people and youths marched, protesting alongside the striking workers, with more than 3.5million people marching on October 10, described as the great ―10/10‖ protest. The struggle forged solidarity between striking workers across different sectors of the French economy, and between these and non-striking workers in France, as well as across the international working class movement. In most major cities of France, including Paris, Marseilles, Perpignan and Rennes, striking workers convened each day as ―General Meetings of all striking workers‖. Their action included blocking highways, shutting down tax offices and organising demonstrations. In some of these cities, led by striking garbage collectors, the workers gathered piled up refuse and dumped this in front of the houses of leading business people and government functionaries. In several university

towns, striking cafeteria workers provided free meals for students who were active in the strike movement. Donations from working people that could not join the strike were collected all over France, adding up to considerable amounts, to support the workers in action. A number of non-striking supporters also aided with transporting strikers to picket lines, making food available and generally cheering them along. Solidarity for the striking workers went beyond the French shores. From several countries in Europe, Africa, North America, Asia and Latin America, messages of solidarity were sent by trade unions and trade union federations to the French workers and trade unions. But, perhaps the most significant act of international working class solidarity was that of the Belgian trade unions. The blocking of fuel depots in France by workers in the energy sector who played a prominent role in the struggle, hit the French economy very hard, bringing transportation as well as industry to a near standstill. French gas stations eventually resorted to routing supplies through central Belgian depots in Feluy and Tertre. Belgian trade unions organised around the Federation Generale Belge du Travail (FGBT) promptly organised blocking of these fuel depots in solidarity with their French brothers and sisters. In the course of massive (strike) movements of the working class, such as that which rocked France in 2010, the creativity of workers comes to the fore along with solidarity and bold actions. There were several of such brilliant improvisations during the ―pension reform revolt‖. The General Assemblies of all striking workers has been referred to above. They were not only inter-sectoral in dozens of cities and towns across France, they equally linked worker activists from unions affiliated to different trade union federations together, in many cases, for the first time. Strategies also included joint work with other components of the labour movement outside the trade unions. Students and youth activists from radical and pro-worker parties such as the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) and the ―Left Front‖ were active in mobilising support for the strikes and at their barricades. The strike movement targeted the production process, bringing it to its knees. It however ensured that the consumption process, particularly for the rich was also hampered, particularly with the cut of fuel supplies. But perhaps the most novel tactic was that of ―rolling strikes‖. In France, workers are routinely not paid when they are on strike. The long drawn struggle took its toll on the workers, though their spirits were not dampened. To maintain these high spirits some workers were allowed to work for a few days while others were on strike. Later their roles were reversed. This tactic allowed the strike to continue and the workers also to receive some wages. The French ruling class and state struck back ruthlessly at the strikers, throwing away even respect for the Constitution. The first major reaction of the Sarkozy government against the strike movement was to increase police powers and invoke the ―minimal service‖ law which aimed at restricting the right to strike. The popular onslaught of the strike movement on French big business did not relent despite these repressive measures. The next action adopted was the draconian enactment of a ―state of emergency‖ decree. On Friday October 22, in a step unprecedented in the recent history of labour relations in France, striking oil workers at the Grandpuits refinery were arrested by police officers of the paramilitary force and forced back to work. This sparked a wave of anger and indignation across the country. A judge declared the action unconstitutional, but the State still went on with it over the weekend. Five days later, despite the resounding refusal of the pension reform in general, and the increase in the retirement age in particular, by the working people, the State still passed the pension law. This pyrrhic victory emboldened Sarkozy. Declaring that ―France is not Greece‖ he lashed out at working people in the country with an austerity budget in 2011. The amount set aside for servicing the 1,650 billion euro debt (86% of GDP) was 50 billion euro, much more than the budgetary provisions for social services such as education and

health. The showman that he was, he tried to stir nationalist sentiments in several ways. He attacked the use of veils by Moslem women as not being in their democratic traditions. Parliament also played to the gallery with the question of the massacre of Armenians by the Turks at the twilight of World War I. This sought to declare (correctly) that it was genocide, over a century after the act. All this grandstanding, as the general election showed, was to no avail. Equally without much result, the conservative UMP appealed to the fascist National Front Party over shared positions such as restrictions on immigration, in the aftermath of the first round of presidential elections. The French working class is clear about what it wants; an end to austerity measures. Francois Hollande has presented himself as being part of that desire of the working class He won based on this, making him the first non-conservative President of the French Republic in almost two decades. But to what extent is he sincerely on the side of the working class? The French Socialist Party abandoned any pretence at being socialist in the sense of running society for the benefit of the working people in 1984, during the administration of President Francois Mitterand. When its subsequent leader, Lionel Jospin, was Prime Minister, the party equally pursued policies that were different from those of centre-right parties like Sarkozy‘s. There is no reason to believe that the Hollande government will go far in placing people before profit. He would no doubt go through some motions to try justify the anti-austerity platform which brought his ―socialist‖ party to power. But as push gets to become shove, which will many times occur in the period we are now in, the Socialist Party will urge the working masses to be ―reasonable‖. Signs of the fact that the Hollande government will be more responsible to the capitalist class of bosses in Europe as a whole, much more than to the French people could be seen from his first assignment on being sworn in, which was to visit the right wing leader, Angela Merkel, in Germany. The French working class is not going to sit back and clap for Monsieur Hollande. The fires next time will burn with greater fervour than those in 2010. Revolution from below in France will bellow with a resounding echo across Europe. The challenge in France is that of building a party of a new type, a party of the working people based on revolutionary socialist ideas and not the sterile ―socialism‖ of such parties as Hollande‘s. Efforts have been dedicated to establishing the New Anti-capitalist Party. These seem to have floundered. The tactic of building a united front of radical and revolutionary parties such as the Left Front successfully competed in the general election. This coalition will however be even more useful for the extra-parliamentary battles that lie ahead for the French workers than it has been for electoral purposes.

Greece; the phoenix of workers’ power
The high drama of crisis and resistance in Europe is written as with the earliest plays on that continent, in Greek words and deeds. As was the case in France, May and June 2012 were months of decisive elections. In Greece, the fate of the eurozone seemed to lie in the balance with the polls. The contestation between the pro-austerity and anti-austerity parties was one with great consequences for the eurozone. This is due to the severity of the crisis in Greece on one hand. On the other hand, it was much more a reflection of what the alternative to the status quo of austerity measures represented. Syriza a coalition of radical parties emerged from being a small party at the fringe of mainstream electoral politics to become the second largest party in parliament. Greeks had to go to the polls twice in six weeks because the conservative parties could not form a government without Syriza. Syriza on its own part was not ready to join a coalition government committed to furthering the austerity measures. With its sharp rise, as an electoral party, many expected it to sweep the polls during the re-run parliamentary elections in June. But the conservative New Democracy party came first, with Syriza a close second. It is also important to note that the fascist Golden Dawn party was also elected into parliament for the first time. These contradictions, in which mass rage and action from below are

central, have roots that have matured over the last two years in the streets and workplaces. In the last two years, the working masses have risen in their millions. There have been 17 general strikes and dozens of national mass protests that have brought hundreds of thousands of citizens into the streets across a large number of cities and towns. There have been long drawn out strikes in particular industries. One took place in the steelworks which lasted over 200 days. Students have organised sit-ins on their campuses. Tens of thousands of working people and youths have seized several public squares in the country making these centres of working people‘s power in what has been described as the Squares Movement. The Syntagma Square in Athens became the centre of the Squares Movement and very much the Tahrir Square of Greece. This wave of popular resistance was sparked by the introduction of austerity measures by the leading parties in parliament. The first step in this direction was the passage of the Economy Protection Bill by Parliament in March 2010. Earlier in December 2008, Greece had been shaken to its foundations by tumultuous riots in the wake of the murder of 15-year old Alexandros Grigoropoulos by police officers. Youth anger erupted with violence on the streets. The youths were very clear that while they were against the killing of Alexandros protest reflected deeper feelings of angst. The anger behind the protest was driven by: rising unemployment, increasing inflation and costs of living, police brutality, crass corruption by politicians and the bosses, a culture of impunity and disillusionment with a looming future filled with emptiness as the country‘s situation kept worsening. By 2010 when the first formal shocks of austerity were revealed, socio-economic basis for the youths had not only persisted. They had actually worsened. The youths were organised on the platform of their students‘ unions and also around such central organisations as Direct Action Now/Indignant Citizens Movement. The trade unions have challenged the austerity measures headlong as shown by the spate of mass strikes in the country. Its militants have been key players as shop stewards in the mass upsurge from below, organising and coordinating in the course of mass street protests. Several parties, organisations, alliances and coalitions were very active in the mobilization and organisation of the working people and youths against the austerity measures in the streets. A number of these contested in the elections that were held in May and June, 2012. The most notable of these was Syriza which was formed in 2004 as a broad electoral platform by radical groups. ―Syriza‖ is the Greek acronym for Coalition of the Radical left. As its name shows, it is a party which is a coalition of several groups and parties on the radical left of politics in Greece. The largest of the groups within this broad coalition, Synaspismos (SYN), is itself an earlier coalition of a diverse array of progressive parties and civil society organisations. SYN and subsequently Syriza had been active in grassroots mobilisation well before the global crisis. The more active strata of workers and youths could identify with it as being a part of the struggle for a better society. Syriza became the most visible face for anti-austerity in the 2012 elections. In the May elections, it won 1,061,265 (17%) of the votes cast, giving it 52 seats in parliament. This was a huge leap from its earlier showing at the last elections in 2009, when it had polled only 315,627 (5%) votes. The apostles of austerity measures within and outside Greece got into frenzy. This was worsened by the fact that a government could not be formed since the two conservative parties (New Democracy and the ―socialist‖ PASOK) alone did not have the majority required to form a government. This was why elections had to be held afresh in June. As opinion polls indicated a Syriza victory, shares went down in value on the Athens stock exchange. Policy makers in the EU headquarter at Brussels and in Berlin, the stronghold of the Euro, went red in the face stressing the need for Greece to comply with the bailout conditions of austerity measures irrespective of which government would emerge. These bothered ladies and gentlemen must have heaved sighs

of relief when the pro-austerity New Democracy won at the polls, albeit with Syriza a very close second. New Democracy won through a campaign of fear. It kept screaming about the ―dangers‖ of a Syriza victory. These included the exit of Greece from the euro which it claimed would have dire consequences for the small. Petrol and medicines, New Democracy claimed, would not be available to the citizens in the event of such an exit. This campaign of fear contributed immensely to its winning 30% of the votes cast on June 16 as against the almost 27% won by Syriza which had 1,655,053, voting for it. The ambivalence of Syriza on its programme was also to the benefit of New Democracy. Syriza despite being a coalition of the radical left promoted the view that the austerity measures could be sidestepped without directly confronting big business. For many Greeks, this was illusory and rightly so, despite Syriza‘s hopes and claims. But the victory of New Democracy was one which was filled with defeat for it and its partner PASOK. They cannot rule in the old way or come out as openly as they would have wanted for the implementation of austerity measures. Prime Minister Antonis Samaras assured the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank that Greece would stand by its signature on the Memorandum of Understanding on the Greek bailout. This includes support for banks and big business with austerity measures for the workers and poor. However, Samaras has been forced to make it clear that there would be further negotiations. This, he claims, is to ameliorate the adverse impact of the anti-poor people reforms. The parties that formed a government, including the Democratic Left Party, are now caught between an anvil and a hard place. There is nowhere to turn without bringing a new onslaught of workers‘ power against them. In the coming period, the class struggle in Greece would certainly deepen, with the power of the working people and youths to change their lives becoming stronger. Fascist groups, such as Golden Dawn, which won 7% of the votes and thus seats for the first time in parliament would be expected to grow as well. But popular mass upsurge will smash these along with the more moderate conservatives if such movements of the working people and youths are armed with perspectives that go to the roots of the problem i.e. the need to overthrow the exploitative and oppressive capitalist system that has taken Greece and the whole world to the brink of disaster. The demonstration of over 15,000 people against the fascist Golden Dawn party is a step towards to building an anti-fascist movement within the workplaces, campuses and communities. This was a reaction to one of its MPs slapping a female Communist on live television. This is part of the broader anti-capitalist movement which will haunt the bosses in Athens and across Europe as the era of crisis summons still greater revolts.

Spain: the outraged rise of workers and youths
On May 15, 2011, thousands of youths demonstrated in 58 cities across Spain ―for real democracy now‖. They had categorically stated that ―we are not commodities in the hands of politicians and bankers‖ and stated that, despite the formal representatives of bourgeois democracy, ―no one represents us‖. This first spark ignited a movement that would swell to involve millions of outraged youths and working people in demonstrations and assemblies across more than 80 cities and towns, within only a month. Youths were the moving spirit of the M-15 movement, as it came to be called. Many of them had been former students‘ union activists. With youth unemployment at 44%, a great proportion of youths in the country are outraged and rightly so. But the road to this mass anger was littered with mass strikes, sensitization using diverse means of which new communication technology was a useful component and of course, the spread of fierce resistance against austerity measures that had earlier rocked countries like Greece, Portugal and Italy. The M-15 has received much news coverage due to its boldness and

creativity. It has equally inspired action across the world, being the first wave of what would become known as the occupy movement. It is however part of the broader resistance of the Spanish working people which started in 2010. It rose again in 2012 with the utmost of fury, as the conservative Peoples‘ Party, elected in November 2011, further attacked poor people‘s welfare. It is necessary to put this compounded outrage and fight back in perspective. On September 29, 2010, Spain witnessed its first general strike in a decade. This was in defiance of the government‘s labour market reforms which made it much easier for employers to hire and fire workers. According to the state, this was necessary to address the unemployment problem, but the working class was not convinced. The strike was a massive one with about 1.5 million workers downing tools across the country. It was accompanied by demonstrations which brought tens of thousands of workers and youths to the streets of major cities and towns. But the government still went ahead with its antiworker reforms. By January 2011, it also raised the retirement age from 65 to 67 years. The major trade union federations unfortunately agreed to this. The anger of rank and file workers and youths suffering the worst of unemployment was stirred. They lost faith in the political system, its two dominant parties and even the trade unions. In the wake of the January 2011 pact which the unions reached with their long time ally, the Socialist Party (PSOE), youth groups flourished online, expressing the outrage of young workers, students and the destitute. The Democracia rel Ya! (real democracy Now!) group was central. There was also the Juventud Sin Futuro (Youth without Future). It was the first to call for mass action, mobilising over 5,000 youths to the streets on April 7, in protest against the worsening conditions young people were facing. The May 15 rising however marked a turning point. This was for several reasons. One, the spread of demonstrations was impressive and the numbers it brought out and which kept coming out for days represented a massquake. Second, this was days before the elections and it was clear that the youths insistence that the parliamentarians did not represent them and the poor working people was certainly going to affect the polls. In the view of many people, it contributed to the loss of the elections by the supposedly ―socialist‖ Socialist Party and the victory of the more conservative People‘s Party. But the youths had been able to see beyond the bi-party farce which the bosses present to working people in countries across the Western world. In many cases, one party establishes ties with the unions and claims to represent the workers as a social-democratic alternative. But these parties have carried out anti-worker reforms as much, if not more so, than their clearly more conservative alternative parties. A third and related reason was that quite a number of the protesting youths made it clear that they would camp out until election day and the camping even continued after the elections on May 22 (this could arguably be said to mark the beginning of the occupy movement as stated earlier). The Barcelona camp, probably the most militant was cleared on May 27 by the police using batons, water hose, tear gas and rubber bullets. Fourth, this massive rising led to the forging of a broad front of the occupiers. In the different encampments established, General Assemblies which would serve as the prototype for the occupy movement were constituted. On June 4, representatives from 53 of such General Assemblies from the length and breadth of Spain met at the Puerta del Sol in Madrid, which had become much like the Tahrir Square in Cairo. The outraged movement‘s mass mobilization lasted throughout the year. In July there was the Outraged People‘s March from all parts of the country to Madrid where a new camp was set up at Paseo del Prado. There a Book of the People was compiled to be presented to Parliament. In October the Outraged were also part of the International March to Brussels where on October 15 2011, as part of the day of global rage, the people‘s proposal for the way forward was presented to the European Parliament. But by

the end of the year when parliamentary elections were held in Spain, the tempo of the movement had declined. Mariano Rajoy of the conservative Popular Party crested to victory in the polls. In no time, he commenced flogging Spaniards with scorpions where the Socialist Party had only used whips. In February 2012, a bill to pave the way for employers to set aside collective bargaining agreements was initiated. Hiring and firing of workers was to be made easier to enhance economic competitiveness according to the government. In April both education and healthcare delivery for the working class came under a full frontal attack. Reforms of the education sector was to result in crowded classrooms, longer working hours for school teachers and make it more difficult for outraged students to access public scholarships. Public health services which used to be free with universal access are no longer so. Youths below 26 years of age who do not have a job can access free public healthcare only in the case of emergencies. And this is despite the fact that one in every two people of that age, looking for work is jobless. Irregular immigrants too can no longer benefit from such services except in cases of emergency or for births. These anti-poor reforms of the social services are part of broader attacks on working people which included the reduction of budgetary allocations to education and health by 10 billion euros. The working class has risen in very clear terms of resistance. In March 2012 a massive general strike was organised. It had over 90% compliance across the length and breadth of the country. Even the Basque region, which had not joined in the September 2010 general strike, joined in full this time. Over 4 million workers and youths also marched on the streets as against the 1.5 million who had taken part in demonstrations during the 2010 general strike. The government attacked this manifestation of workers‘ power, but to no avail. 176 arrests were made and well over a hundred people injured by the police. It also attempted to get workers rendering ―essential services‖ to provide ―minimal services‖ on the day of the strike. The trade unions refused to allow this trick to work. Youth activists of los indignados movement participated in the general strike demonstrations. It was becoming obvious to them that trade unions cannot be measured simply by the character of their leaders. The trade union bureaucracy is not just simply ―unreliable‖, but vacillates and could be central to forging a lasting struggle by the poor people and bringing about revolution from below. Apart from the position of distrust of all institutions of authority, including the trade unions, the dominant views in the outraged youths‘ movement have been autonomist. Autonomism with its origins in the 1960s Operaismo (i.e. ―workerism”) in Italy is an attempt at combining Marxism and Anarchism which presents the possibility of the 99% winning control of their lives, without winning state power. It has been rife within the alter-globalisation movement that had declared its place in history when the Seattle demonstrations re-claimed the streets in 1999. Practical struggle will clarify perspectives for the more active youths in the course of the unfolding period. The swell of struggle which Spain is now embroiled in is not limited to general strikes, even if another loomed in mid-2012. There has also been a wave of sectoral strikes. The most noteworthy of these was that by coalminers in the Asturian province. The region has a history of militancy driven by the coalminers who led an uprising two years before the Spanish Revolution of 1936. The mineworkers were on strike for over three weeks. They have repealed police intrusions with stones, sticks and rockets. Over 10,000 of them also went down to Madrid to protest, threatening that next time they would come with dynamite for the government. The anger of the Asturian coalminers is a metaphor for the depth of anger in the hearts of the Spanish working class. As Spain seems headed for a bailout despite the denials of its politicians, a more explosive period of outrage stares the country in the face. The unity of workers and youths is likely to bring down the government and at the very least win some concessions. The crisis will not go away. The

fate of Spain is tied to that of Europe and indeed the whole world. At the heart of this fate is the question of system change, with the overthrow of the capitalist system globally.

PART THREE Prelude of crises & “transformation”
The January 2012 Revolt in Nigeria revealed deeper fissures between the mass of poor people and the tiny minority of elite. These fissures have been both the cause and the effect of a state of perennial crisis. The country has stumbled from one crisis to the other since its Independence on October 1, 1960. Every one of the fourteen heads of state since then promised a better Nigeria than the leader before and claimed to provide a better life for all citizens. Each one of them failed. Meanwhile the ruling class has continued to play the card of ethnic and religious differences. The cost of this particular form of divide and rule has been very great. The working class of Nigeria has been militant since the colonial era. The 1945 general strike was the watershed event that hastened de-colonization. In post-Independent Nigeria, the trade unions have risen to the challenges of defending members‘ rights and also standing up for the poor Nigerians. Between 2000 and 2012, there were nine general strikes. All but one of these was against increases in the price of petroleum fuel. The strike action was matched with mass protests involving tens of thousands. The trade unions‘ role has however been ambivalent in the view of the average Nigerian. Time and again, over the years, they have called off strikes and so doused the rising tide of mass upsurge from below. Despite these shortcomings, organised labour has proven to be the single most unifying platform for struggles of poor people that can lead to social transformation. These realities, which would play themselves out with great vengeance in January 2012, had their seeds sown earlier, as we see below. The degeneracy of the ruling class created real illusions based on ethnic identity. In contrast, the organised working class was able to unify the mass of poor people and so dispel the heavy problem of the national question. These are all facets of one dynamic which has festered over the years. This was the prelude to the January Revolt in the global era of rebellion.

Chapter 7 Wither a transformation agenda?
The emergence of Goodluck Jonathan as President in 2011 was marked with illusions in more than a few quarters. The story of his humble beginnings without shoes rang in the ears of many working people. They were fed with the illusion that if it could be so for him, could be the future for them or their children. He was born into a fishing community in Otueke, within Ogbia Local Government Area (where crude oil was first discovered in commercial quantities, at about the time of his birth). Jonathan rose with ―good luck‖ inscribed for good measure as his name. Leaving university to join the Peoples Democratic Party (the ruling government party), at its inception in 1998, he emerged as a humble and colourless deputy governor the following year. Then began the fairy tale of becoming governor by default, a humble Vice-President who once again by default became President on the death in office of President Yar‘Adua. Jonathan was then portrayed as becoming ―his own man‖, fit enough to ―dream dreams and see visions‖, for the good of Nigeria and all Nigerians, or so he wanted us to believe.

National transformation and the Presidency
That vision, as President Jonathan has repeatedly stated, is not short of transformation. He made this clear time and again during his campaign even if in a manner similar to what James Brown described as talking loudly without really saying anything. In his inauguration speech, a similar pattern was followed. He claimed that ―the leadership we have pledged is decidedly transformative. The transformation, he claimed, would be achieved in all critical sectors, by harnessing the creative energies of our people.‖ And, oh yes, he did point out the ―critical sector‖ of power. In a country where hours of interrupted electricity supply is more of an anomaly, with concomitant consequences for industry, this could not have but been a welcome page in a book that seeks to re-write, indeed transform. But when it comes to the ―critical sector‖ of production, his horizons of ―the Nigerian enterprise‖ are limited to making ―Small & Medium Enterprise...thrive.‖ Such claims of founding Nigeria anew by those who rule us are really not new. But these promises are never fulfilled. Indeed, they cannot be fulfilled, on the basis of the capitalist mode of production. While President Goodluck upbraided ―sceptics‖, such as socialists that, ―cynicism and scepticism will not help our journey to greatness‖, asking us to ―believe in a new Nigeria‖ of his transformative dreams without conditions, his administration has over the past years merely confirmed what was obvious from the word go to working class activists and radical youths; nothing good can come out of the rule of the elite class. As it was in the beginning when the British colonialists handed over power to their puppets who collaborated with them to undermine the workers‘ power which had mobilised decisively for ―Self Government Now‖, before 1960, so it is now. Abubakar Tafawa Balewa described October 1, 1960 as ―a wonderful day‖, after he was sworn-in as Nigeria‘s first president. He was of the opinion that the de-colonization process had been ―thorough‖ and asserted on that fateful day that ―Nigeria now stands well built upon firm foundations‖. In less than six years history proved him and the elite wrong. Millions of poor working people were left to bear the short end of the stick of a ruling class which could not even establish the superficial national ―consensus‖ without which a minimal level of meaningful development could not be established on the basis of capitalism. The first decade of the country‘s independence provided the avenue for politicians to line their pockets with our collective wealth. In contrast, it provided only rising poverty deprival of liberties, and disillusionment for the masses. It eventually led to a civil war that cost at least a million lives. Alhaji Shehu Shagari was the first ―executive president‖ of the Federation in 1979 after the military had placed an American-like presidential system in place. He also promised

to transform the country through a ―green revolution‖ and the provision of housing for all. When he was overthrown barely four years later, there was mass hunger in the land with rice and several other staple food being imported and more poor people were homeless than when he became president. Alas, we were not to know then that we had not seen anything yet! The present ―Fourth‖ Republic has been much more interesting with regards to carefully sowing the seeds of illusions of transformation. Obasanjo at his inauguration in 1999 rightly observed that ―the citizens developed distrust in government, and because promises made for the improvement of the conditions of the people were not kept, all statements by the government met with cynicism‖. He then boldly declared that his administration ―shall not fail‖ in transforming the sorry situation. We now know better. Previously, Umaru Musa Yar‘Adua, Jonathan‘s former boss, said at his own inauguration in 2007: over the past eight years, Nigerians have reached a national consensus in at least four areas: to deepen democracy and the rule of law; build an economy driven primarily by the private sector, not government; display zero tolerance for corruption in all its forms, and finally, restructure and staff government to ensure efficiency and good governance. I commit myself to these tasks. This programme of a delusionary Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) driven consensus of the ruling elites could only, at best, be partially fulfilled, as Yar‘Adua stumbled from partial soundness of health to his last breath. Jonathan‘s agenda for transformation is little more than a repetition of his former boss‘ programme. This reflects an attempt by the elite bosses to forge a ―national consensus‖, which ―naturally‖ is deemed to be aligned in some mysterious way with the expectations of the people. ―Statesmanship, vision, capacity, and sacrifice to transform our nation‖ becomes the new improved empty words for describing the equally empty definition of a ―servant-leader‖. ―A robust private sector‖ still remains the major engine-room that is expected to drive the process of national industrialization, though it would involve an illdefined ―collaborative effort‖. The sleaze and pile of ―collaborative‖ fraud between the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA), and private companies in the oil sector as revealed by the subsidy regime probe provides a graphic picture of capitalist ―public private partnerships‖. These are nothing but ―partnerships‖ for the wealthy exploiters to continue fleecing the wealth beneath our land‘s surface and that we create with our labour as working people. As with Yar‘Adua, Jonathan‘s programme is rooted in the same neoliberal logic that guided Obasanjo and his so-called National economic Empowerment & Development Strategy (NEEDS). Jobs emerged from liberalisation, privatisation and deregulation, even if a far cry from the seven million that NEEDS aspired to ―create‖. But these ―jobs‖ were such as graduates selling well prepared akara, able-bodied men and women selling mobile ―recharge cards‖ and sachets of ―pure water‖ and of course, an expansion of the contract industry of ―engineer photographers‖ and such likes. But more importantly, many more meaningful jobs were lost than the number of mundane ―jobs‖ created. President Jonathan also carried the journey towards arguably ―free, fair & credible elections‖, which began with Justice Uwais and ended with Professor Jega (both of the National Election Commission), to a seemingly logical conclusion. But the “demonstration of craze” which went with the April 2011 elections could only pour the same old wine of elite crooks and vagabonds into the new skin of ―credibility‖ and ―integrity‖ woven with the instrument of quasi-free and pseudo-fair elections. There was little basis for optimism that the result of Jonathan‘s self-declared quest for transformation would be different from that of earlier presidents. This is not about his

being a good or bad man, with good or ill luck. Men and women make history, but the possibilities and limits of what and how they make history are set by the historically established social-economic structures and political culture they inherit, and the extent of their readiness or capability to implement change. Transformation, particularly in the interests of the masses, is nothing short of and cannot be achieved except by revolution. It entails qualitative changes within the fabric and soul of society. These could arguably be through a ―passive revolution‖ from above, such as that of Getuilo Vargas in Brasil, General Pak in South Korea or Ataturk in Turkey. More decidedly is the revolutionary rousing of the masses from below by an expanding critical mass of working people and youths as we recently witnessed in Tunisia and Egypt. There is a link between both forms of revolution. Passive ―revolutions‖ are usually carried out by an elite class genuinely keen to modernize. They try to divert the upsurge of revolution from below by addressing the material needs of the citizenry using the instrument of a developmental state. Every single one of the late-industrialising countries that are today considered ―Newly Industrialised Countries‖ passed through some passive revolution or the other, at the very least. With massive state intervention, they built steel industries, and manufacturing bases for their economies. In Jonathan‘s vision, power is stressed, but this is only tangentially related to industrialisation. Constant power though, does not necessarily translate into an industrialisation programme. Before 2002, Ivory Coast had one of the most reliable power supplies in Africa, but it still remained an agrarian country. Any programme for socio-economic transformation which prioritises ―small & medium scale enterprises‖ over a state-driven heavy industry/manufacturing programme is nothing but a colourless dream. The situation becomes worse in a resource-rich country like Nigeria where the elite is more concerned with fleecing the proceeds of oil sales, under the shadow of ―subsidy‖. The problem is however much bigger than Jonathan, and by extension his predecessors, imagined. The structural problem can be easily perceived in relation to the Western champions of imperialism. The elite class of bosses and professional politicians has always been one of the most ready tools for the agenda of the bosses of Europe and the United States in Africa. They have come to worship the devil of neoliberalism more than the Breton Woods institutions (World Bank and IMF), clinging to the illusions that with their faithfulness to the big Satan, they would somehow be transformed and become part of the G20 group of industrialised countries by 2020. This has been the creed of Goodluck Jonathan. Some people initially had some faith in Jonathan and what he represents. Some had no cogent reason beyond the most mundane, such as: ―he has good luck‖, ―he is from the south south‖, or ―he is a Christian‖. But they all woke up to a rude awakening when Jonathan jacked up petrol prices on January 1, 2012. Prof Adebayo Williams aptly grasped the situation in a way that now sounds almost prophetic, when he noted that: While we await the arrival of the Nigerian critical mass such as we have seen in Tunisia and Egypt, we can have some fun. The problem, if we must repeat, is not Goodluck Jonathan “...he is part of a discrete historical process of which he is barely conscious; a minor actor in a great historical drama. His transformation agenda similarly is a minor theatrical expression of a dazed gaze into the horizons. But such a situation can hardly last for four years. The question of transformation was rightly put from below by the masses in the course of the January Uprising. This was in the form of our solidarity, struggle and conviction that, we the people alone can bring about social change through, and with, our self-emancipation.

The National Assembly is no better

The National Assembly – particularly the House of Representatives - has tried to portray itself at one and the same time as being on the side of President Jonathan (which is actually the case) and on the side of the people (which is nothing but a mirage). During the January Uprising, for example, the House of Representatives cut short its vacation to intervene between the ―government‖ and the people. Similarly, the House Probe on the Subsidy Regime has revealed a lot of what we always knew and the House ad-hoc committee which conducted the probe has released what many have considered to be a bold report. It is important in this light, as class conscious activists, for us not to lose sight of the fact that the legislative arm is just a part of the government. It wields power in controlling the apparatus of state with which the rich maintain their oppression of we the working people. Just like the politicians in the executive arm of government, the legislators also loot our national treasury. As we all know, the legislative role is central to the anti-poor people policies of the state as a whole. This is reflected in its neo-liberal and anti-trade union laws over the years, as well as the contents of successive budgets which are not in the interest of the masses. The legislative chambers could arguably be won to the side of people by the mass anger on the streets and the well-reasoned arguments. These have been provided by a number of well-meaning law makers, particularly those with trade union, student movement, or radical civil society backgrounds. We saw this during the January Uprising when a resolution for the reversal of the fuel pump price back to N65 was passed by the House of Representatives. But in reality, when we take the legislature as an institution of the rule of the elite over us, such acts are little more than a feint. In other words, it is like when two fraudsters from the same gang are obtaining you by trick and one is blowing hot while the other is giving you the impression that s/he is on your side. To make this picture clearer, despite its resolution that the Presidency should revert the fuel price back to N65, the House of Representatives did not utter a single word when this resolution was disregarded. Further, while its subsidy regime probe has shown that what was being subsidised was purely the corrupt enrichment of a few, it did not include a demand for the reversal of fuel price back to N65 in the interests of the majority of impoverished people. The legislators are much more concerned with their own benefits than with ensuring that life is better for most people, particularly the poor. They toil to feed or are even left destitute, without any gainful means of employment. Meanwhile, Nigerian legislators are amongst the highest paid in the world, despite pervasive poverty. Their salaries account for 25% of the overhead expenditure of the Federal Government, according to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank. A senator for example ―earns‖ a higher income than either Barak Obama (US) or David Cameron (UK) in the high temples of capitalism. While the national minimum wage (which many a state government still refuse to pay) is a measly N216,000 per annum, a Senator goes home with almost N30million per annum. And of course, this is not counting the corrupt enrichment with ―Ghana Must Go‖ bags filled with money that they collect from the Presidency and other forms of patronage and sleazy monies! How can such legislators feel the pain the common people feel? Not only do the legislators feel insulated from poverty, but their resolutions on issues of concern for working people are questionable. The Trade Union (Amendment) Act 2005 that was meant to emasculate the NLC was passed by the NASS. Similarly, a bill is before it which has the intent of constraining workers embarking on strike action. On privatization as well, while the NASS reported that most of the privatized State Owned Enterprises are faring even worse than before privatisation, its conclusion is that government has no business doing business, so therefore the privatization exercise should continue. It is obvious enough that the legislature is no more of a friend to the working people than the presidency. We must always be wary of its members supposed ―friendship‖ and being

―representative‖ of us, the working people. They are part of the class of the bosses and serve the interests of this elite class to further our exploitation and oppression.

A National Assembly of the working people for the working people by the working people would comprise delegates of workers and other toilers elected from different industries as well as territorial constituencies. Such genuine representatives would receive the average wage of the workers they represent. Further, a government of workers and the poor cannot afford to have parliaments that are a mere talk shops. At all levels of such government, those delegated with responsibility of leadership would have to function on the basis of councils that are both legislative and executive and which report back regularly to the territorial and workplace constituencies from which they were elected. It is near impossible for such a government to emerge through electoralism. In the first place, working people cannot afford the huge war chest of millions and even billions of naira that the politicians expend to get to office so as to further the looting of the treasury. A government of the working people will be established only with our winning our self-emancipation through revolution from below. This will include strikes, mass protests on the street and the seizure of power, rooted in the self activity of the oppressed. This can be a start with our liberation from the class of rogues and oppressors that now rule.

Chapter 8 Deflected maximum rage over minimum wage
Nigerian workers have been aware of one thing at the very least, with the decline in real wages while politicians and the bosses keep smiling to the bank. This is the gross inadequacy of our income. Thus, not surprising, the struggle for improving on the minimum wage has always been a constant one in history. The first two general strikes after independence (in 1964 and 1981) were on wages and a major cause of workers restiveness in the past three years was for a (living) minimum wage. First, this was for a minimum annual wage of N52,500. When, instead of that a paltry N18,000 was accepted in 2010. But the struggle continued for its implementation. The peak of this was in July 2011, when a general strike was called to press home the demand for implementing the non-living minimum wage. The strike was unfortunately called off at the last minute, as leaders of the trade union movement entered into an agreement with the state, which the later was obviously not ready to abide by. What exactly is a ―minimum wage‖? Why the hue and cry over a minimum wage at this point in time? What is the significance of the calling off of this general strike and how was this done? We need to put the broader picture of the relationship between the wage system and modern industrial society in perspective, to aptly grasp the responses to these questions. Wages as a rule, including the juiciest, cannot be just. By wages, we do not include ―salaries‖ of representatives of capital, who as chief executive officers, directors, managers and the members of the bands of elected or appointed public ―ministers‖ and ―servants‖ also ―earn‖ some form of monthly remuneration, in tons of millions of naira. The wages of a worker represent his/her enslavement to those who control not only his/her labour but the product of the labour of workers past; the owners of capital. As the motto of Nigeria Labour Congress reads; “labour creates wealth”. But this wealth is appropriated by capitalists who own the means with which the labourer works to create this wealth. Since s/he has no means of production and must eat, pay; house rents, transport fares, electricity and sundry bills, in short, since s/he must live, s/he is left with no option but to earn a livelihood, that is seek for work to earn wages which represents a mere fraction of the worth of what her/his labour generates, from the employers. With the generalisation of capitalist production in the 19th Century Europe, the exploitation of wage slaves, which basically is what we workers are, developed such boldness on the part of the bosses. Workers could see they had no choice but to combine and with their collective union strength demand and fight for the amelioration of this horrendous reality of their (working) lives. Trade unions emerged in disregard of the law, to champion their struggles. Better wages was a cardinal part of these struggles. Social reformers and ideologies of different colours arose to demand, for some; fairer wages and more decent conditions. Others realised that capitalism which is the bedrock of the wage system cannot be a basis for resolving the fundamentally exploitative nature of the wage system. Many of the social reformers who called for ―fairer wages‖ were representatives of capital. Indeed quite a number were very wealthy people with factories who feared that, with the extent of bare-faced exploitation and oppression which the workers faced, they might be pushed to the wall of revolt. They considered such palliatives as they proposed necessary to dampen such possible social tsunami as could overthrow the social order that was so much to their benefit. It was as a result of such a spirit of result and in response to the struggle of workers that a minimum wage was first introduced in 1894 in New Zealand. It was a baseline of remuneration to protect the lowest paid of workers who were considered the hungriest and thus the most likely candidates for being the angriest. After the Great Depression and the manipulative designs of Mr. Keynes quite a number of countries in the West

introduced the minimum wage. These reforms from above aimed to arrest revolution from. Mass unemployment, hunger and homelessness has driven millions of workers onto the streets in defiance and rage,. The post-War arrangement of a ―class compromise‖ during the ―Golden Age‖ of capitalism that lasted until the late 1960s. During this period, many more countries, including some like Nigeria that had just won ―flag independence‖, introduced minimum wages. By 2006, according to the ILO, over 90% of all countries on the planet had some form of minimum wage. The history of struggle for the minimum wage started as a struggle for enhanced ―cost of living allowance‖ known as COLA. The first action for this was in 1942, under the banner of the civil service workers federation. It was later taken up by the first Trade Union Congress which was formed in November 1942. The climax of the struggle for COLA was the historic 1945 General Strike led by the spirited Michael Imoudu, Labour Leader Number 1. The workers won after a long drawn strike that lasted for 44 days. In 1964, the second General Strike marked an implicit struggle for and beyond the minimum wage. The result of the Adebo Commission in 1971 could be considered as the first step by the Federal Government to institutionalise the minimum wage in response to the struggles of workers. But even after that, it always took mass mobilisation and general strikes, as in 1981 when Comrade Hassan Summonu as Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) President led the second General Strike after independence. The unilaterally fixed minimum wage was established by the General Abdulsalam-led junta in 1999 as part of the efforts of reaction to enthrone a semblance of consensus. This was needed to roll back the six-year June 12 democratic revolution of 1993. The minimum wage then had to be fought for by the NLC on a state-by-state basis. A similar scenario happened after the increments by the Olusegun Obasanjo administration at the beginning of the decade. By 2008, it was clear beyond all reasonable doubt that the then minimum monthly wage of N7,500 was a take home pay that could not take anybody home. Inflation had rendered the income of most working people (i.e. including in the informal economy) useless. Rallies were held across the country to back the demand for a new minimum monthly wage of N52,500. Back in the 1980s, Prof. Ibrahim Ayagi, who was in no stretch of imagination a friend of the workers, submitted a report to the effect that a family of two parents and four children needed at least N16,000 to survive in the leading cities. And then the exchange rate was $1 to N2. With the current exchange rate of $1 to N150, that amounts to N120,000 without even factoring in the depletion of real wages by inflation. Even the N52,500 demanded amounts to less than half the minimum wage that Ayagi proposed almost a quarter of a century back! However, in 2011organised labour bent backwards, during the process of negotiations, to accept a national minimum wage of only N18,000. The state governments were involved throughout the process of this ―collective bargaining‖. Interestingly a number of st ates, including Abia, that initially proposed N25,000 as against the N52,500 that was then proposed by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC) were to turn around to say they could not afford to pay a minimum wage of only N18,000! The National Assembly passed a resolution that organised labour should be content with N32,000. However, the National Minimum Wage Act stipulated only N18,000. The National Assembly then joined the chorus of voices demanding moderation by organised labour when it gave a 14-day strike ultimatum, instead of demanding that state governments paid at the least the legal minimum. The Presidency on its part made it clear that the Act in its view affects only the ―junior staffers‖ on GL 01-07. This of course was talking tongue-in-cheek since with the public service reforms it initiated some six years earlier, most of the workers on those grade levels in the public sector had been laid off. This was due to the policies of ―downsizing‖ and ―monetisation‖, with their menial functions contracted out to facility managers!

The two trade union centres gave a 14-day ultimatum to the various governments in the Federation to heed their own law. The enthusiasm for an impending strike was so high as the Federal and state governments tried to avoid addressing the workers demands. In Oyo state the workers had commenced strike a day before the national strike. Instructions had been given by the aviation industry unions to their members to shut down the airspace from midnight, while the road transport workers had equally been directed by National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to withdraw all commercial vehicles from the road. The oil workers were to ensure a cessation of petroleum products distribution for those three days of rage that never would be, at least for now. Ten minutes to midnight leading national television stations showed labour leaders and governors coming out of a meeting. They then flashed the breaking news; an agreement had been reached and the strike had been called off! The news filtered out to workers as a rumour that many could not believe. At strategic parts of Lagos such as Yaba, Iyana-Ipaja and Onipanu, angry young protesters burnt tyres in a frantic effort to enforce the sit-athome that was not to be. Billows of black smoke underscored the mood of rage and defiance of many workers and youths in the land. The job of ―industrial relations‖ however is not, many would say, one of making a revolution. It is all about give and take, concessions and compromises in the name of ―collective bargaining‖. Thus, since most of the demands of the trade unions, it would seem were agreed to, it was only apt, perhaps for the strike to have been called off. There are however two key problems with this position. First, organised labour represents not only members of the unions in the formal sector. It holds the respect and ascribed leadership of the entire working people and even many from the middle classes in its hands. Labour by its historic role and strategic position not only creates wealth. It is equally the social force that alone can lead society to its qualitative transformation and the eradication of exploitation. The smashing of organised labour, largely due to its own vacillations in 1994, marked the beginning of the end of forces for change in the six years after the democratic revolution of June 12, 1993. Even ―industrial relations‖ as a theatre of unions‘ contention for workers‘ interests has its political moment. At the heart of labour relations is a contestation of power which the employers never forget for even a fraction of a second, not even when they pretend to with actual concessions. Second, how the general strike was called off in July 2011 angered not just left civil society forces within the broad labour movement, but also millions of rank and file workers. Many argued that it might have been more proper for an agreement in principle to have been followed by an emergency session of the National Executive Council of the Congress that summoned the strike. This body could then discuss and resolve to sign the agreement, or not. This is about ―mandate seeking‖ and ―reporting back‖. This is relevant even in industrial relations and especially on an issue as dicey as this. That would have allowed for at least a one day general strike. This would have warned the state governors on the readiness of labour to prosecute a struggle if the agreement turned out to be mere empty words. This situation led to a credibility deficit for organised labour in the eyes of the working people and its allies on the left of civil society. The situation was worsened by the fact that it soon became very clear that the state had only used trickery and was not ready to abide by the agreement it had reached with the trade unions. It seemed to many that labour leadership just wanted to avoid confrontation with the government and might have entered an agreement to quickly. The bursting out of simmering rage was however just deflected at that hour. Indeed, the governors and the presidency could hardly wait for the ink to dry on the agreement to stave off a (warning) general strike, before they showed their true antiworker colours. Having seen that they had taken the winds out of the sails of a possible

general strike the government sides (Federal and states) became headstrong. They would not comply with the spirit and letter of their agreements with labour. They were obviously buoyed by their ability to have successfully manoeuvred out of the pathway of mass workers anger. It is false to claim that the various state governments could not pay the workers the meagre N18,000 minimum wage. Governor Suswam of Benue State declared this was a ―time bomb‖ and for further measure arrogantly claimed that even if workers in the state were to go on strike for one whole year, that would not make his administration to pay the new wages. Several representatives of the establishment including those of the Salaries, Wages and Income Commission and the Ministry of Finance pointed out that the new minimum wage was indeed affordable. More importantly, the supposed inability to pay flies in the face of mega ―remuneration‖ which the members of the National Assembly ―earn‖. As a reverend gentleman put it, governors who claim they cannot pay workers the new wages should simply resign from office! We must insist that the wages of elected and appointed public servants are not more than the average wages of those should serve. It is only when political offices are not lucrative for accumulating wealth that we can be sure that those who seek offices are really interested in service and not really just in feathering their nests. Organised labour should realise the class interests of the elites which have time and again been demonstrated so obviously. On Monday July 25, 2011, for instance, The Sun columnist, Uche Ezechukwu, who is by no means a radical, quite interestingly captured a clear understanding of this realisation. Discussing the deferred strike and the governors‘ roundabout turn of their positions, he mentioned: “stopping that strike through promises, which even a child on the street knows, would not be kept, is a most disingenuous act of self-deceit, which labour leaders should not have fallen for...the strike was shelved and the union leaders went home with an empty agreement that is not worth the paper on which it was scripted.‖ Organised labour should have no illusions about the lack of sincerity of capitalist employers or their governments. ―Freedom cometh by struggle‖, as the popular song we used to sing on the barricades goes. The same could be said of wage increments. ―Let dogs delight to bark and bite‖, it is in their nature. The elite and their governments use any and every method they can to quench the fires of mass anger. This allows them to continue exploiting working people while they feed fat on the wealth created from the sweat of our labour. It initially seemed that organised labour was clear as its July 17, 2011 press statement claimed that ―promises by the Federal Government and governors would not stop the general strike‖. Calling off the general strike on the basis of ―promises‖ couched as agreements exacted a credibility deficit from the trade union movement before its constituency, the working people Workers needed to look closely at the fine details of agreements with governments. The agreement reached with the Federal Government, it could be argued, was as straight forward as it appeared. But a closer look reveals a technical gambit. The fourth item on that agreement reads: ―the 36 States agree that the effective date for the implementation of the new minimum wage shall not be later than 1st August 2011 provided that any worker who earned less than the N18,000 between 1st April and the effective date of the implementation of the new minimum wage shall be paid arrears of the difference‖. This effectively negates the payment of arrears to all workers, even if the state governments had not reneged on the agreement as a whole. It might be pertinent to take note of such booby traps in subsequent agreements.

The seeming ―double speak‖ of the National Employers Consultative Association (NECA) was also an issue for working class activists. In the midst of the mobilisation for a general strike, NECA initiated a counter-mobilisation and also incited the security agencies against the workers. The trade union leaders presented this as ―a betrayal‖ by the NECA. They argued that the NECA had been part of the tri-partite negotiations that had led to the agreement on an N18,000.00 minimum wage and so they should have supported this agreement. However, the NECA represents the interests of the capitalistsas-employers of labour. It collaborates with labour as ―a social partner‖, but not out of love for the working class or respect for its interests. It is merely trying to short-circuit the possibilities of workers‘ power beyond the limitations of collective bargaining. The NECA, just as with the labour unions, tries to win the hearts and minds of the masses, particularly petty-traders, artisans, taxi and bodaboda drivers and small farmers. These are all working people, but they are not part of the core working class and they are not members of labour unions. It should be expected that as labour demand a new higher minimum wage, the NECA will be more virulent in its counter-mobilisation. To undermine the hue and cry of organised employers, organised labour will have to build linkages between its struggle for an improved minimum wage with a revamping of its anti-casualization campaign. This will ensure that there are more unionised workers in the private sector and thus more battalions of the working class for NECA and its affiliates to contend with even in their own private businesses. It is a very welcome development that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) anti-casualization committee has been reconstituted with Comrade Ayuba P. Wabba, the Congress Treasurer and a dynamic activist as its Chair. In the period since the July 2011 botched general strike, there have been several pitched battles for the implementation of the National Minimum wage. In no less than a dozen states, workers have downed tools to demand the implementation of the new minimum wage. In Enugu and Oyo states the strikes arose from rank and file actions in defiance of the local leadership of organised labour. In Enugu, this led to the formation of the Enugu Workers‘ Forum (EWF), which in the tradition of the earlier Workers‘ Parliament. This body had held the Chimaroke Nnamani government to a stalemate for almost two years as an alternate power base. The current governor, Sullivan Chime served Nnamani as Secretary to the State government. Thus he realized how powerful the Workers‘ Parliament had been. So he moved in with the full arsenal of repression. He attempted to stop the NLC national leadership addressing workers in the state capital using soldiers, police and thugs. He attacked gatherings of the EWF and on October 24, 2011 arrested Osmond Ugwu, the EWF Chairperson. He was not to be released until late January, 2012, three months later. In Oyo state, the workers suspended the NLC leadership in March 2011 to independently commence a public sector strike that lasted for one month. Successful reconciliation of the leadership with the rank and file workers was initiated by the Oyo state Joint Action Front. But the strike remained driven by mass anger from below. The reinstated labour leadership successfully suspended the strike in April, based on the intervention of elders within the state. This did not go down well with the workers, and their anger still simmers. The workers have vowed to go back to the streets if the new wage is not eventually implemented. The struggle for the new minimum wage has dovetailed into several sector-based wage strikes. It is likely that wage-based strike action will prove vital as sparks of workers‘ power in the unfolding period. This is needed, considering the erosion of the real wages of workers by spiralling inflation. Working class activists should fully participate in inspiring and deepening these strikes. Further, we will have to keep pointing out the linkages of these economic struggles with the broader goal of overthrowing the exploitative system of capitalism itself. No wage is ever fair, where and when the wage-

slave is actually the one whose labour creates the wealth from which s/he is paid a supposedly ―fair‖ pittance.

Chapter 9 On the national question and national crisis
Nigeria has been plagued by the question of power relations between the leaders of different ethnic and regional blocs. These have often been described as ―tribalism‖. Related to this have been conflicts over religious differences, which have included killings of tens of thousands of citizens in religious riots, particularly, but not limited to the north. This reality is in a general sense not something strictly peculiar with Nigeria. A national question exists in virtually every multi-ethnic or multi-religious country, in some form or the other. In Europe for example, violent conflicts in Northern Ireland and the Basque region of Spain were a similar phenomenon. The working masses, irrespective of their nationalities, have much more in common with each other than they have with rich elite from their own ethnic group, region or faith. But the ruling class of exploiters is only able to sustain its rule by promoting false consciousness. This is the root of what Bob Marley described as ―mental slavery‖. They manipulate ethnic and religious affinities so as to be able to divide and rule us. But while this is a critical element of the national question, it does not fully explain everything. The blows of daily living in suffering and disillusionment makes people look for succour in the things that can seem to give either an explanation or some form of escape from their desolation. We have seen religious fundamentalism of Christianity as well as of Islam, deepen as people try to seek spiritual succour to their material problems. It is also easier to understand the spread of ethno-nationalist sentiments where there strong extended family ties and some ―big man‖ can dole out patronage to poorer members of the family or at least can be expected to do so. In this situation, ―my brother‖ getting to where he could “chop” tends to have some sense of self-interest, even if I do not personally know this ―brother‖. This is why the dominant political parties of first two Republics had what could be described as ethnic/regional ―catchment areas‖ and why we sometimes see a groundswell of support for President Jonathan in the South South, particularly in his state of origin, Bayelsa. The concrete form the national question has taken in Nigeria has been along the lines of:  contestation between the elite of the dominant “wa zo bia”, nationalities,  the collective domination of the minority nationalities by the dominant three (Hausa-Fulani, Yoruba and Igbo), and  contestation between different ethnic groups of minority nationalities, particularly in the Niger Delta and the Middle Belt, where there are concentrations of minorities. A fourth line of dispute has been between minorities within their region and a dominant ethnic group, usually the Hausa-Fulani, seen as settlers. This particular strand of the national question is located in the Middle Belt and is at the roots of the perennial mayhem in and around Jos. There was a sharp rise in Yoruba nationalism during the 1993 June 12 revolution, after the annulment of the election of MKO Abiola (Yoruba) as Federal President. O‘odua self-determination groups (of the Yoruba) which then flourished have now largely become vigilante forces. They act either for state governments in the south west, landlords or other rich elite persons. A perspective of political struggle, even if based on a questionable ideology, has been replaced with the pursuit of chieftaincy titles or the preference for cultural programmes like the olokun festival. The locus of political ethnic

nationalism subsequently moved southeast to the Niger Delta and north to the impoverished Arewa.

The Niger delta; war and amnesty
Militant nationalism rose in the creeks of the Niger delta, with the spread of a low intensity war causing the Federal Government and multinational oil corporations some grief with the impact of this on the country‘s crude oil production. The December 11, 1998 Conference at Kaima, Bayelsa state could be considered a watershed. By 2003, this new turn to some form of guerrilla warfare assumed a multidimensional dimension. One hand, the demand for ―resource control‖ became a binding cry between the Niger delta militants and the elite of the states in the region. For a number of the militants this might have included genuine concern for developing the despoiled delta of the Niger. But for the elite politicians it was only to secure greater access to wealth for their pockets. Some local politicians also built alliances with sections of the militants who they armed and resourced as thugs for the 2003 general elections. The consequence of this was that the Niger delta militancy became an amalgam of selfdetermination struggle and brigandage, with hostage-taking becoming an industry. The insecurity was very bad for the oil business. Thus after the continued militancy could not be quelled by the armed might of the Joint Task Force, ―peace‖ to explicitly integrate the ―militants‖ into the agenda of the elite became the focus. The amnesty programme initiated by President Yar‘Adua and consummated by President Jonathan was the form this took. Today, a number of (former) warlords from the Niger delta are receiving training across the world and others enjoy contracts, including for providing security services at the docks of Port Harcourt and other places. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) was the main force of Niger Delta militants that did not embrace the amnesty programme. It did declare a unilateral ceasefire on October 25, 2009, but this was called off on January 30, 2010. Its reason was that: ―the government of Nigeria has no intentions of considering the demands made by this group for the control of the resources and land of the Niger Delta to be reverted to the rightful owners, the people of the Niger Delta." Earlier, in September 2008, MEND had also declared a ceasefire, after appeals by Ijaw elders, only to call it off on January 30, 2009, basically for the same reasons. Some key issues arise for activists interested in justice for the working people rendered destitute, hopeless and hapless in the Niger Delta by the multinational corporations and the Federal Government. For a number of youths, MEND‘s daredevilry is a welcome test of strength and hope for emancipation. But a number of salient issues call for consideration. First, is the undefined ―people of the Niger Delta‖ as one broad body all having the same interest and thus desirous collectively for emancipation in the Niger Delta. The effect of this on the MEND strategy is revealed by the influence of the so-called Niger Delta elders on some of its actions and its strong demand for the release of the ex-Bayelsa state thieving governor, DSP ―Alams‖. He had been convicted of corruption to the tune of billions of naira that could have been used to better the lives of millions of Bayelsans. But he was supported simply because he was one of the rightful owners, one of the people of the Niger Delta! The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People, MOSOP, came to realize in the course of mass struggle that, even within a nation‘s struggle for self-determination, there are actually two nations. There is the nation of the rich, wealthy, elite ―vultures‖ that are part of the problem. Then there is also the nation of the poor, exploited working people, which is ―the nation‖ demanding emancipation.

These ―two nations‖ exist not only within the Niger Delta. These two nations are to be found in all the nationalities and geo-political zones. The effective strategy for any social force that is committed to emancipation of the oppressed and exploited is to build the widest and deepest forms of solidarity within and across ―nations‖. This should be based on the class of poor and dispossessed, cutting across ties of ethnicity, nationality, region or faith. It is instructive that this was a major strength of MOSOP which built such circles of solidarity even well beyond their own locality. Second, is the question: ―can armed struggle waged by a select elite for ‗emancipation‘ actually result in the emancipation of the working people?‖ Once again, the example of MOSOP, in contrast to that of MEND, leads us to the answer that it is only the mass movement of the oppressed peoples themselves that can lead to their emancipation. Any genuine and lasting emancipation of the working people must emerge only through a process of self-emancipation. Why is this so? The emancipation of a people or class involves their being set free of the material, political and ideological shackles that hold them in chains. Where and when an armed force, over and above the people claims to emancipate them, such a force wields the power to replace one form of enslavement with another. Examples include America after the Emancipation Act by Abraham Lincoln, in which only the form of black slavery changed and Cambodia, under the Khmer Rouge. It is only where and when the mass of the working people are the driving force of the struggle and consider their emancipation, as their agenda and with the power of their collective action break their chains that lasting emancipation can be secured. Beyond these primary deficits of the armed path to emancipation, the question of its efficacy is also vexatious. The seeming success stories of ―armed struggles‖ are often celebrated, though more often than not, they lack roots in reality. The struggles of the Vietnamese, with the Vietcong‘s success at Diem Bien Phu against the French and subsequently the defeat of the United State after a sixteen year war, undoubtedly must be counted as a ―success story‖ of armed struggle. Many however fail to remember or never realize that it was much more than just an armed struggle. It was rooted in a mass mobilization, of the poor people and was never just an armed ―movement‖ for emancipation. Indeed, armed confrontation was forced on a people and not a detached guerrilla army Similarly, the Rebel Army of Fidel Castro and Ernesto ―Che‖ Guevara rested on the work of the July 26 Movement (M 26-7) after the adventurist 1953 Moncada barracks attack. The full guerrilla warfare that commenced on December 2, 1956 resulted in the overthrow of the hated dictator, Fulgencio Batista on January 1, 1959, because the M 267 was a mass political movement. However, despite the successes of the Vietcong and Rebel Army in Cuba, these were not examples of successful socialist revolutions. Significant gains were made, foreign and corrupt regimes were replaced, but capitalism remained. Today inequality is again increasing in both countries and the poor suffer many of the deprivations suffered by poor people across the world. The workers of Vietnam and Cuba never took power and so these countries were never run by the working peoples in the interests of the majority of their populations. The case in South Africa is especially instructive. Angry members of the ANC Youths League, took up arms, forming the Umkhonto we Sizwe, (meaning Spear of the Nation, simply addressed as MK), when the apartheid regime blocked all other possible means of political agitations. MK commenced operations in 1961 and was not disbanded until after the liberation of South Africa. Interestingly though, it was not the underground armed

work of MK that won freedom. It was the mass movement of the poor people, which took on a new fillip after the Soweto uprising of July 16, 1976. The armed struggles of the Portuguese colonies in Africa (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau and Cape Verde) are often also dressed in fanciful legends of some bands of armed guerrillas. The armed struggles in these colonies, which were forced on the peoples, were led not by organizations that were primarily, armed ―movements‖. On the contrary, they were mass parties/fronts/movements, which were forced to establish armed wings, to combat the foreign colonial master, within the dynamics of the politics of the cold war. Probably the soundest condemnation of the armed pathway to revolution was that made by Hugo Chavez, when on January 13, 2008, he declared that: "I don't agree with kidnapping and I don't agree with armed struggle". This was with the aim of convincing the oldest guerrilla movement in Latin America, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC, formed in 1964), to leave the bushes for a political mobilization that involved the masses. He went on further to stress that: "The guerrilla war is history...At this moment in Latin America, an armed guerrilla movement is out of place". If the moment of armed guerrilla struggle is deemed over in Latin America of the ―great revolutionary‖ (Che Guevara), it is more so in Africa in general and Nigeria in particular. No one can deny the injustice of the circumstances of the immense majority of the peoples in the Niger Delta. It is not surprising that it has been a hotbed of armed struggle, starting with the heroic ―12 day revolution‖ led by Isaac ―Jasper‖ Adaka Boro and his Niger Delta Volunteer Force, in February 1966. The balance sheet of armed struggle over the past forty six years is however one that shows its gross limitations. In summing up, this is a call to the aggrieved youths of the Niger Delta, who still live under the illusions of armed vanguardism to wake up to its debilitating consequences, and possible backlashes. The way forward is for the working people and youths in the Niger Delta and across the length and breadth of Africa to forge platforms and a united front of mass struggle, against the capitalist system that is at the root of the crisis of the Niger Delta and indeed of Africa as a whole. Such platform/s should be based on a revolutionary platform for economic and socio-political restructuring that would place power squarely in the hands of the poor working people and not some self-acclaimed ―elders‖ or rulers. It is not only the government of Nigeria that is not interested in using the wealth of the Niger Delta for the development of the lives of its rightful owners, the poor working people. The ―elders‖ and other rulers despite all their rhetoric are no keener about enthroning a system that would kick out poverty and inequality. They at best propose national ―restructurings‖ that would strengthen their own access as elites, to our collective wealth. A working people‘s restructuring would be deeper and more thorough going. Such restructuring would enthrone participatory-democracy, in the creeks and savannahs, rain forests and cities. The commanding heights of the economy and the processes of social policy and law formulation would start from below in the communities and wards. The judiciary and executives would be subject to the dictates of the masses organized as the determinant authority in society. This vision of another world that is possible, indeed imperative, can be brought about only through the self-emancipatory activities of the masses, led by the workers and youths. The issues at stake go beyond the lacklustre ―amnesty‖ programme. MEND and similar forces in the Niger Delta and beyond can be on the right side of history by being a part of building such a mass force for change and not through the illusory route of armed struggle.

Boko Haram and the peddling of terror

On October 1, 2010, during the 50th Independence anniversary celebrations with the President and co at the Eagle Square, a bomb was detonated in front of Izon house, a stone throw away. MEND claimed responsibility. On October 1, 2011, the President inspected the Independence anniversary parade within the secluded grounds of the Aso Rock Presidential villa, too scared to go anywhere near Eagle Square. It was not MEND that the state was scared of that day. It was Boko Haram. It is clear that the government has come to the conclusion that the fear of Boko Haram is the beginning of wisdom. Even the President publicly says he is aware that the fundamentalist sect has infiltrated every facet of government, including his cabinet. In less than two years, Boko Haram has risen to notorious prominence with the blood of over a thousand persons since it began its crusade, according to Human Rights Watch. It has held several cities in the North West and North East zones to ransom as its cadres‘ storm police stations and other targets. In June 2011, it recorded the first suicide bombing in the country, in a brazen attack within the hallowed holy of holies of the country‘s gendarmerie, targeting, the then Inspector General of Police (IGP). Luckily for the IGP, Mr. Hafiz Ringim, he escaped death. But some eight others were not so lucky. It has equally claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing of This Day newspaper and earlier in 2011 it carried out its most brazen operation at Kano, which saw over 200 people killed Many people have risen to condemn the blood thirsty campaign of the group, and rightly so. Very few though, appear to grasp the depth and significance of what is happening. It is both novel and not at all new. While it borders on security, its roots are deeper, beyond the top soil of religiosity to the deeper crust of socio-economic conditions that have made monsters out of some indignant youths. It was in 2009 that the group Boko Haram became known, as a band of Islamic fundamentalists who strongly aver that ―Western education is a sin‖. The group, by its proper name; Jama’atu ahlus Sunnah lid da’awati wal Jihad, was formed in 2002, with Mohammed Yusuf, then a 32year old man as its leader. This was some two years after the military handed over power to their civilian counterparts and it was becoming clear that there was obviously no better life for the common person while the elites lived in such disgusting opulence. Rising unemployment, increasing poverty, sharpening inequalities and general discontent which were the hallmarks of ―Western democracy‖, in the past decade provided Boko Haram and its likes with a mass of would-be adherents. Speaking in an interview with the BBC after the 2009 confrontation of the sect with the Nigerian state that resulted in the death of its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, Mohammed Ndume, a member of the House of Representatives from Borno state confirmed this reality. As he said: "We have seen this country degenerate from a promising state to a dysfunctional one. We have seen unmitigated corruption and insensitivity on the part of its rulers. We are seeing a lack of opportunities and so much stress for its people. So what do you expect? The people have to react, and that is what you are seeing and that is what the current crisis is all about." Subsequently, investigations linked the senator with the sect, a clear indication of manipulation by the same elite behind this degeneration! The presence of a growing mass of disorientated lumpen youths and even well trained ones such as those that serve as the foot soldiers of the group is a general reality. The situation is however worse in the north. While the elites constituting a power bloc from the region developed the myth of ―the North‖, using this to negotiate power with the weaker power blocs of elites down south, the common people in the north have little or

nothing to show for it. The most abysmal levels of primary school enrolment in the whole world is in northern Nigeria, providing further soil for the seeds of a Boko Haram doctrine to germinate. Western education did not lead to jobs for many its foot soldiers – so they have turned against it. The argument accredited to Boko Haram that as a sect it is against ―western‖ or ―nonIslamic‖ education is one of those myths which are central to building movements on the shifting grounds of religious ideology. ―Western culture‖ as with any other culture has never been static. Indeed, as the British socialist Chris Harman correctly points out; ―most so called Western values are not rooted in some mythical European culture, but arise out of the development of capitalism over the last two centuries...What changed English attitude was not something inbuilt into the Western psyche or any alleged ―Judeo-Christian values‖, but the impact of developing capitalism‖. Making modernization, a defining element of capitalist development, purportedly a sin serves the purpose of rallying seemingly anti-establishment sentiments. But the lie to it is put by the practice of such groups that whip up these baseless sentiments. They use guns and (materials for) bombs manufactured by the same forces they claim to be against, to wreck untold havoc, in perpetuating their ―propaganda of the deed‖. They use cars to move around, cell phones and the internet for communication and yet claim that the world is not spherical and modern science is a ruse. It is rather sad, but not unexpected that the diagnosis by the state of Boko Haram till date has been faulty. It mirrors the Haramists view of the issue being one of religion. The challenge of the worrisome phenomenon has then been seen and presented as merely that of security. This was partly why Mr. Hafiz Ringim (then the Inspector General of Police) felt boastful enough to declare the days of the sect as being numbered when being presented with a set of armoured personnel carriers by the Borno state government in June 2011. Less than 48 hours after that careless statement, the audacious attack on the police headquarters was carried out. The state cannot grasp the deeper roots of the problem that has sprouted a Boko Haram sect for example, because it is part of the problem. There can be no peace without justice. The state lacks the capacity to generalise justice, even amongst the elites that are dominant in it. As for the masses, what it does is to systemically generalise injustice. Privatisation, commercialisation and cuts in the funding of social services have all contributed to pricing goods and services out of the reach of the working people and poor. Meanwhile, it glorifies religion, playing on the love for God which permeates the hearts of many a Nigerian, in the heartless world we live in. Religious leaders, as well as traditional ―rulers‖ have been used to shore up support for the establishment, ideologically promoting the status quo as a divinely ordained order. The puppy becomes a rabid dog under some conditions. The Boko Haram phenomenon is one that might, quite unfortunately, be with us for a while. This is despite the fact that the Federal Government is now set to negotiate with the sect. Resolving matters with a Boko Haram will not quench the spread of fundamentalist sentiments, which represent confused and implicitly reactionary expression of anger against the system. This is more so the fact when we consider the fact that members of the elite class own the voice of Jacob behind the hand of Esau which Boko Haram has. What we are seeing is a reflection of the deepening crisis of capitalism within the context of an underdeveloped northern region of the country. The challenge of building working class forces in this region as a counterforce to Boko Haram and the ideology it represents cannot be overemphasized. It is very significant that the sect sheathed its sword during the January Uprising despite an earlier ultimatum it had issued to persons from the south to leave northern states, and which expired at about the time the general strike in January commenced. The first of steps towards such a

counterforce emerged in some areas in Kaduna and in the Wusasa ward in Zaria, during the attacks carried out by the sect in Kaduna state. Working class residents established vigilante militias to safeguard their neighbourhoods. Unfortunately such efforts are still modest and localised. The trade unions in the northern states most affected would have to be active in such efforts to ensure they become generalised and stronger in the near future.

PART FOUR Awakening of revolt
The first two weeks of January would be remembered by all who went through it. Never before then had Nigerians risen with such rage and unity for so long. An awakening was sown in the minds of many who had always wondered if it could ever be possible to change Nigeria. On the streets this question was answered. But then the end events of the general strike and mass protests were for many Nigerians, very discouraging. Despite the disappointment of several citizens with organised labour, activities geared at re-capturing that moment have been pursued by several groups. There were those who declared the ―June Rising‖ as a follow up to the January Uprising. They failed to realise that uprisings are not decreed into being. Needless to say though, the ice has been broken on the way forward for Nigeria. Workers and youths in workplaces, campuses and the neighbourhoods now openly say that Nigeria can be revamped only through a revolution. {MISSING PARAGRAPH} It is pertinent to analyse that turning moment of awakening which the January Uprising was. This serves as a basis for understanding the subsequent state of the nation and thrust of the work of activists in the months after the January 2012 Revolt. It also presents to the working class the conditions which now make it necessary to return to the demand for a monthly minimum wage of at least N52,500.

Chapter 10 The January Awakening in Nigeria
The first three weeks of 2012 in Nigeria seemed more like three decades to the working people and their allies who were involved. A massive wave of rebellion spread across the length and breadth of the land against the 120% hike in petrol prices. The people spontaneously took to the streets in stiff resistance within the first week of the year and eventually with an 8-day general strike and mass protests, won a stunted victory. Tell a leading liberal weekly described the events of January as “A Revolution Postponed”. It could very well be right. It is necessary to put in perspective the awakening of revolt in those two weeks of rebellion. The place to start of course is with the hike in petrol price which ignited the uprising.

The myth of deregulation and the petrol price hike
President Goodluck Jonathan gave the first hint of the impending fuel price hike on August 1, 2011. According to him, the Federal Government could no longer afford to ―subsidize‖ petrol prices if it were to carry out infrastructural development. The outcry was loud. Petrol prices had been raised no less than 20 times since 1988. The reasons given were always the same, the primary one being that more money would be available for development. But the reverse has always been the case. People from all works of life thus made it clear that any increase would be resisted. Several organisations started mobilizing against the January 1, 2012 date slated for the implementation of ―full deregulation‖. The state responded with what now can be seen as subterfuge. While maintaining its view that deregulation was inevitable, it expressed an interest in consultation and national dialogue. It equally assured people that any deregulation whatsoever would not start before April 1. This was in line with the resolution of the National Assembly that the 2011 budget (which included a line for ―subsidy‖) would run till March 31. Most groups and working people as a whole who has started mobilisation against an impending fuel price hike, simmered in their agitation. For example, barely 24 hours to the hike, a rally held in Lagos asserting that the postponement of deregulation expressed a (minor) victory for the working people, who must however remain steadfast till April. The January 3 protest march organised by the Joint Action Front, also in Lagos, was almost called off, but was agreed should be continued as a pre-emptive measure and not one to resist what would have been announced. The Government‘s attempt to catch the people off guard as it announced the increment on January 1 did not work. By January 2, the first spontaneous protests erupted in several cities. In a matter of days, the protest grew more organised and demands expanded to include: an inquiry into ―subsidy‖ management; cuts in the costs of state governance & even ―Jonathan Must Go!‖

Popular resistance and forms of struggle
The January 2012 awakening invoked diverse forms of struggle some being novel. The most potent which led to the greatest disappointment with its eventual sheathing was the General Strike which lasted eight days. Mass protests in the form of processions and rallies which have been features of popular dissent over the decades shook over fifty cities, involving tens of millions of citizens. Never before has such spread and magnitude of mass protests been witnessed. The forms that could be considered novel and which gained the awakening of the epithet of “Occupy Nigeria” Movement, included mass occupation of city centres and parks which became designated as ―Liberation Square‖ (in Kano) and ―Freedom Square‖ (in Lagos), for example. It also included the

internationalisation of the protest movement by Nigerians in the diaspora who organised demonstrations in several cities across Africa, Europe and North America. While the initial outbursts were spontaneous, efforts to organise in different forms started from the very onset. In Abuja, citizens gathered close to Eagle Square to sign a people‘s petition demanding the price reversal on January 2. They were dispersed with teargas and over fifty people were arrested, eight of whom were released only after the intervention of the National Human Rights Commission, now headed by Prof Chidi Odinkalu, himself a liberal activist. The first major organised forms of action were on January 3, in the two largest cities. These were the protest march led by the Joint Action Front in Lagos and a rally in Kano City Centre under the aegis of ―Occupy Nigeria‖. The Joint Action Front was establi shed in 2004 by pro-labour civil society organisations, including most socialist left groups. It is the civil society arm of the Labour Civil Society Coalition (LASCO) which also includes the two labour federations, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) and the Trade Union Congress (TUC). Its protest march had been planned as a pre-emptive action that might have drawn at best a few thousands. It became a major platform for venting the growing rage in the heat of popular and rising struggle which at the time was still spontaneous. In Kano, ―Occupy Nigeria‖ had been formed by a number of civil society organisations and activists in October 2011, with the major aim of resisting the then impending fuel price hike, and drawing inspiration from the Arab Spring and the Occupy (Wall Street) Movement globally, to fight for a better society. By the next day, the rally in Kano became an occupation which lasted till about 1.30am the following morning when it was dispersed by gun-totting anti-riot police. At least five people were killed in that attack. Police had earlier on January 3 killed the 23-year old Muyideen Mustafa at Ilorin in the heat of one of the spontaneous, peaceful protests then erupting. He would be the first of no less than 20 citizens martyred in the course of the anti-fuel hike struggle. After the general strike was called, the organisers of the ―Occupy Nigeria‖ group in the state teamed up with other forces to establish the United Front for Good Governance which has faced attacks, including the beating up of one of its leaders and the local university teachers union chair Dr Buppa, by State Security Services operatives who then tried to whisk him away, but were stopped by protesters. There were several other attempts at occupying or protests that designated themselves as being or being part of the Occupy Nigeria movement. In Abuja, this could arguably be said to have started on January 6, with youths with some six young men and two women staying put overnight in the surroundings of Eagle Square. The size of this group increased to about 35 people by the time it was dispersed in the early hours of Monday January 9 by police who beat them up. Several scores more joined this Occupy Nigeria/Abuja during the day or late at night, but did not sleep overnight as these determined youths did. The group, whose membership includes young activists around the new Coalition of Youths Against Fuel Price Hike, continued again despite several attempts at curbing it, in the course of the general strike at what was dubbed ―Freedom Square‖, by the NLC in the commercial nerve centre Wuse district of the city. But after the strike, the occupation took place only late in the evenings after working hours. In cites such as Port Harcourt, Benin and Ibadan, several groups have equally described themselves as part of Occupy Nigeria while protesting under the banner of several coalitions, such as the Coalition to Save Nigeria which organised a demonstration in Benin City before the strike commenced and the United Action for Democracy, which is an affiliate of JAF in Port Harcourt. In Lagos, the ―occupation‖ assumed a carnival-like atmosphere in the Save Nigeria Group-dominated Gani Fawehinmi Freedom Park, where no less than 500,000 people

gathered everyday from dawn to dusk with speeches and revolutionary music blaring through huge speakers, throughout the duration of the general strike. The Gani Fawehinmi Park, at Ojota, the entrepôt of the mega-city, was where the December 31 protest march led by the National Conscience Party (NCP) and the family of the late gadfly Chief Gani Fawehinmi (founder of the NCP) had ended with a rally. The JAF march of January 3 established the park as the locus of mass activity in the state. The Enough Is Enough/Save Nigeria Group emerged as a liberal force of civil society in 2010 demanding a resolution of the constitutional crisis arising as the then President Yar‘Adua was in a comatose state. In no time, this group took charge of Freedom Park in early January 2012. With much more financial resources than JAF, it made food and water available for the hundreds of thousands of citizens that stayed in Freedom Park all day. Celebrities and liberal activists graced its dais, where they demanded radical reforms, stating clearly that corruption should be killed by the state and not poor people. JAF along with trade unionists under the aegis of LASCO organised daily processions through different parts of the city with tens of thousands in tow. Several smaller ―Freedom Parks‖ where also established in different strongholds of the working people and youths, such as Alimosho, Ikorodu, Surulere and Ebutte Metta. JAF in the second half of January commenced establishing branches in these areas as part of its mobilisation towards the next phase of what they hope would be an unfolding revolution. It is pertinent at this juncture to analyse the general strike which was the heart and of the popular resistance while it lasted (with the streets as its soul). Unfortunately, the way it ended led to condemnation of the trade unions and provided a safety valve for the state, the system it represents and the postponement of thought of imminent revolution.

NLC/TUC General Strike and its suspension
There were calls from several quarters for an immediate declaration of a general strike. But only the National Executive Council (NEC) of the trade union federations could summon one. On Wednesday January 4, NLC at Abuja and TUC at Lagos held NEC sessions where they resolved that an indefinite general strike and series of mass protests would commence on January 9 if the petrol price was not reduced back to N65 from N141. A joint communiqué ―In Defence of the Nigerian People on Fuel Price Increases!‖, was issued. Radical civil society organisations and activists were at both sessions and extracted a promise that the strike would not be called off without another all embracing meeting which would include civil society as well as the NEC members of both federations. This was based on fear resulting from the trade unions having suspended earlier general strikes over the previous twelve years. The strike paralysed society for eight days. Across the length and breadth of the country, workers downed tools, in the public and private sectors, as well as in the informal economy. Small scale employers and apprentices were not left out. It was only in the South Eastern state of Ebonyi that workers in the public sector dejectedly went to work even as private sector employees joined the strike. This was after the state governor declared that there would be no pay for public servants who joined the strike. In Nigeria the ―no work, no pay‖ rule is always declared by employers during strikes (including this recent general strike) but the trade unions successfully undermine this through insertion of ―no victimisation‖ clauses in agreements reached when the strikes are called off. The Ebonyi state governor had however enforced this anti-workers principle in the aftermath of a recent local strike in September 2011. It was not just the strike that was a resounding success. The mass protests and demonstration of solidarity across ethno-regional and religious divides that went with it were such as had never witnessed before. In more than 50 cities tens of millions marched in one accord. In the south, non-Muslim protesters surrounded Muslim protesters when they held their prayers. Similarly in several cities in the North, such as Funtua and Minna,

Muslims organised themselves into bands that surrounded Churches to protect them on Sundays. This was in response to the earlier proclamation of Boko Haram that it would unleash violence against Christians in the northern parts of the country. In Lagos, the various rallies and processions centrally and in various local theatres of popular activity involved no less than 10,000 citizens. In Abuja where no mass procession had ever had more than 5,000 citizens, the first day witnessed some 20,000. It doubled the next day and for the rest of the week, despite the fact that many had to trek from far distances as there were very few buses on the roads. No less than 50,000 citizens marched in resistance behind the banner of organised labour. Why then were the mass protests called off on January 17 and less than 24 hours later the strike ―suspended? This is a question that many find difficult to find any answer to other than ―treachery‖. The answer might not be that simple, as we shall see below. But it would be apt now to look at the reasons organised labour gave for its action. These were threefold. First, the security situation had degenerated, with increased tension. Second, the state had accepted to probe the subsidy regime and the general state of corruption in the oil industry. And third, while labour ―suspended‖ the general strike it still ―rejects‖ the mere reduction of the hike instead of a reversal in principle, but even at that, the reduction still represents a (partial) victory.

The state and its friends; contradictions and “consistency”
The government was obviously thrown aback by the upheaval that greeted its hike in the price of fuel. Since the year 2000, barely a year after the restoration of democracy, fuel prices had been increased no less than seven times. Each time, there were general strikes and mass protests and after a few days the government would announce a ―reduction‖ which actually amounted to significant increases over the status quo ante. While Nigerians always called for full reversals and organised labour would echo this as it commenced general strikes, the new price would be accepted as a compromise position, the trade union centres would call off the strikes and the masses would grumble that labour had once again ―sold out‖ and then we would all continue to live, even if not happily ever after, at least until another round of increases. Many Nigerians had come to cynically believe that the government actually raised the price of fuel beyond its target, with this scenario in mind, to then negotiate downwards to its earlier goal! This time around, the matter was not that simple. The world as a whole was in a tumultuous state of flux and the poor masses were witnessing how regimes were being overthrown. Millions of poor people were in movement to achieve the possibility of another world. This influenced the fight back of the masses and this resistance led to the deepening of the contradictions within the circles of the state. But it still maintained a coherent anti-poor people line, even if its legislative arm, in particular, genuflects to poor people‘s power and goes through the routine of a prologue for change. We have seen the lies and subterfuge that preceded the fuel price hike. The extent of deceit and fraud on ―subsidy‖ management would however not be revealed until during the public sessions of the House of Representatives ad-hoc Committee constituted to look into the ―subsidy‖ regime. Scandalous discrepancies emerged in the figures presented by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Petroleum, Central Bank, Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency (PPPRA) and the Customs. While the Minister for Petroleum claimed that only private operators import petrol, the Customs showed that up till December, the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was a major importer of the product. As if this was not bad enough, its records showed that the mother vessels used by NNPC were more often than not berthed in the waters of Togo and Benin Republic. The Comptroller General of Customs rightly pointed out that the problem was not so much one of ―smuggling‖ ―subsidized‖ petrol to neighbouring West African countries, as it was a case of ―diversion‖.

Interestingly, the government had always claimed that the quantum of petrol consumed daily in the country was 35 million litres. More objective analyses put the figure at between half and two third of this. Besides, this would normally include the 12 million litres produced locally. So the volume of ―subsidized‖ fuel imported was more likely to be around 12 million litres. The PPPRA Executive Secretary, Reginald Stanley who had signed the New Year announcement of fuel hike claimed that the country subsidizes petrol. But before then, in the heat of the strike, the state as ―the executive committee of the ruling class‖ showed itself not only in the form of coercion, but as well that of deception. The National Assembly made what many consider an ―historic‖ decision when the House of Representatives cut short its recess to pass a resolution moved by Tajudeen ―TeeJay‖ Yussuf, a seasoned activist from his student days at the University of Jos. This was that the government should revert the price of petrol back to N65 per litre. This was on the eve of the General Strike. At the same time, the Senate passed a similar resolution. The leadership of both chambers were thus seen as playing mediatory roles between labour and the government. This was despite the National Assembly clearly being an integral part of the government. More importantly, when the government only reduced the price to N97, there was not so much as a whimper from our ‗honourable and distinguished‘ legislators. This was despite this being in clear disregard not just of their previous resolutions, but also their legislation that the 2012 budget year would not start until April 1 2012. The government tried its utmost to use propaganda, blackmail and attempts at divide and rule. It even claimed the labour leaders were in the pay of the so-called ―cabal‖ which benefits from the ―subsidy‖ to the detriment of the masses! Wrap around pages could be found with every major daily newspaper and weekly magazine espousing how pious and good intentioned the government was with its deregulation policy. Shadowy groups such as the ―Nigerian Youths Coalition for Fuel Subsidy Removal‖ comprised of lumpen elements were paid a mere N1,000 for attacking Labour House on January 6. They were constituted to support such avowed captains of industry as Agedo Peterson, a member of the presidential economic team, who is also CEO of both Stanbic Bank and Cadbury Nigeria Plc. He joined in singing nonsensical lullabies of the el-Dorado we would blissfully enter with the magic wand of fuel hike. As if this were not enough, the embers of ethno-regional divisions were consciously sown by the ruling class, particularly by its cabal of ―elders and leaders‖ from President Jonathan‘s own region, the Niger Delta. They claimed Jonathan, as their son, must be protected at all times and sang to the high heavens about his sincere motives. They claimed the masses who feel the pinch were merely too dumb to see. But there was no word about the patronage they lived on and the millions if not billions of naira they are worth. Despite their claimed entrepreneurship, there was no visible improvement in the lives of Niger deltans through the promised industries and job opportunities that never appeared. Taking a cue from these ―elders and leaders‖, (ex)Niger delta militants barricaded the same oil rigs they once used to blow up, to protect them against being shut down by the oil workers unions (this was a major reason why PENGASSAN could not shut down the flow of oil, it was made clear to them that any attempt to do such would be met with bullets from the ―militants‖). All these machinations could not stop the genie of working people‘s power which like a fearsome spectre stalked the land for eight days. Even in Bayelsa state, the heartland of the Niger Delta and Jonathan‘s home state, was affected. While mass protests on the streets was not possible due to threats from the elders and militants alike, the strike was still total with offices and businesses under lock and key.

The final card of the Presidency and indeed the ruling class as a whole, despite the mimicry of support for the popular rage by a number of its representatives was that of unveiling its ever present (covert when it could be, brazenly overt when push comes to shove) teeth of dictatorship; deploying troops to the streets. Residents of Lagos, Kano, Abuja and other major cities where the battles between incipient revolution and disgraced reaction had raged for two weeks woke up in January to find soldiers, anti-riot police and even sailors and air force personnel totting mean looking rifles and armoured tanks on the streets. That same morning, at 7 am, President Jonathan addressed the nation. He claimed very much like Hosni Mubarak had done, that, miscreants and hoodlums had ―hijacked‖ the strike and mass protests. For good measure, he also accused partisan forces of seeking to turn the mass anger against the fuel price hike to one for regime change. With jackboots and artillery to enforce ―acceptance‖ of the new price of N97 litre the state had won a reprieve for the ruling class. Law and order was restored and an end brought to the beginnings of seething revolutionary pressure. There were still a few skirmishes in Lagos, Abuja and Kano, with Octogenarians tear-gassed and occupier youths dispersed, but these were footnotes to the chapter which closed with the ―suspension‖ of the mass strike. All signs though point to this chapter being more of a prologue than the end of the ongoing popular struggles.

Chapter 11 After the January Uprising
The January Uprising was an experience of workers‘ power and popular upheaval like never before in the history of Nigeria. There are lessons for us as workers and activists to learn from this historic moment. There are equally even more important lessons to be learnt from its aftermath. For over two weeks, in not less than fifty seven cities and towns across every geo-political zone in the country, working people marched on the streets in their thousands and hundreds of thousands, united in struggle. It was clear that the whopping increment of petrol price was basically a trigger. The anger of millions of the 99% of exploited and oppressed working people and youths had exploded. In no time, the demands moved from ―revert back to N65 per litre‖ to ―Jonathan Must Go‖ and ―down with the system‖ in many quarters. This moment dissipated when the trade unions called off the general strike. That had been central to this rising of the working people as an alternative power to that of Aso Rock representing the ruling class of oppressors. In its aftermath, the different networks over diverse social network platforms that were created before and during the revolt have grown cold. A lot of working people awakened as mobilisers have now gone back to their normal lives. But a critical mass have maintained contacts and are now organised in several platforms including anti-corruption groups, pro-democracy/human rights NGOs and socialist organisations. More importantly, the conditions of the working masses have gone from bad to worse. The National Assembly ad-hoc committee which investigated the fuel subsidy regime and came out with a ―brilliant report‖ has been shown itself to be comprised of crooks who are no better than those it pointed out in its report. Meanwhile, the political Islamist group Boko Haram has raised the tempo of its activities in recent times with numerous killings in Kaduna and Yobe states. This has also resulted in reprisal killings of Muslims by Christians, particularly in Kaduna state. But in a few sites of this fratricide, neighbourhood defence militias are being constituted by working people across religious lines. It might however be difficult to generalise this experience, especially if the trade unions and their allies do not get directly involved. We should look at the claims and counter claims that have emerged from the circles of activists that participated in the January Revolt. In the aftermath of this glorious period of working people‘s power, several people, groups and coalitions took to making claims, some of which border on the ridiculous. These include an insistence on going it alone to make the revolution, as they condemn ―labour‖ and assert that labour merely ―hijacked‖ a popular struggle and then betrayed it. They fall into the one-track illusion of how revolutionary transformation could be won. The claims about how the January Uprising came about, by these activists have different variants. But these generally boil down to the assertion that it was the result of mobilisation they or their organisations had done on the then impending fuel price increment. There could be nothing further from the truth despite the commendable sensitization that many groups sincerely undertook. None of these groups had a physical presence in anymore than an insignificant number of the many cities and towns where the uprising erupted. As Chris Harman noted almost ten years back; ―revolutions do not break out just because of the efforts of socialists‖ or other activists, one could add. He further pointed out that ―they occur because great social crises create situations in which as the Russian revolutionary Lenin put it, ‗the lower classes do not want to live in the old way‘ and the ‗upper classes‘ are ‗unable to live in the old way‘ any longer‖. This was what in a sense, happened in January.

This takes us to a very important reality of revolutions; their first moments tend to be spontaneous. There is however another important element to this reality; no revolution can triumph without organisation. But then, there are diverse organisations that are active in revolutionary situations. In fact, in periods leading to revolutions and during upheavals, so many new organisations, alliances, coalitions and networks of organisations emerge. This was clearly the case with the January Uprising. The traditional civil society movement coalesced along three lines:  the Joint Action Front (JAF) aligned with organised labour;  the Coalition of Civil Society Organisations (CCSO) which pitched its tent with the Save Nigeria Group/Enough Is Enough network (SNG/EIE) and;  the Building Leverage and Unity around the Fuel subsidy struggle (BLUF) comprising leading NGO technocrats. Similarly, diverse youths‘ coalitions emerged, with the National Coalition of Youths Against Subsidy Removal, as being arguably the leading one of these. The CCSO/SNG/EIE which had taken over Gani Fawehinmi Freeom Park at Ojota with the Pastor Bakare as its main spokesperson responded immediately after the trade unions called off the strike that it would go ahead mobilising Nigerians for full reversal. It however could do nothing once the state barricaded the Park with armoured tanks. Quite a number of the groups and leading figures within the National Coalition of Youths expressed a similar position resoundingly on facebook and other social networking media. ―We are the ones that started this revolution‖, ―damn labour; we can do it alone as youths‖, were a few statements that capture their feelings. But of course, without the power and organisation of the trade union, these amounted to nought. Within the broad array of organisations, alliances and coalitions that emerge in the tumult of uprisings, the kind of organisation necessary for the triumph of the demonstrated power of the masses is a revolutionary workers party. A revolutionary workers party encompasses ―the most advanced and resolute sections‖ of workers, youths and other activists at the forefront of mass actions, in the struggle for revolutionary change. It is not a separate body of adventurers or heroes who want to make the revolution for the mass of the working peoples. It is rooted in the working class, expanding as more and more workers, youths, poor farmers, professionals, etc become ever more resolute and advance in their understanding of class struggle and of which socialist revolutions are the peak. It is almost impossible for a mass-based revolutionary workers party to be built before a revolutionary situation emerges. Groups of tens, dozens and at most hundreds of revolutionaries, in different pockets of the country can hardly be considered as such parties, not even if they inscribe such nomenclature on their foreheads. Parties are not declared into existence, they are built through tireless practice. Socialist organisations, in periods before revolutions, serve as training grounds for their members. They will later serve as the poles of attraction and backbone of the future revolutionary socialist party. One of the lessons from Egypt through to Greece is that it is almost impossible for any single one of such groups to gather the necessary critical mass required to become a significant partisan force. There is the critical need for United Fronts of a new type, if the forces for revolutionary change are to attain the position from which the contestation against the power of the bosses could really become a contestation for power. Like minds need to come together to fight beside each other in workers struggles against oppressive policies and exploitative practices such as privatization, casualization, poor wages, corruption in high places, etc. Simultaneaously pointing out the fact that while we can win some concessions now and then, to bring an end to these anti-workers realities, we must emancipate ourselves through the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the building of socialist society.

The subsidy regime probe report and related matters
It is equally important that we do not lose sight of the immediate tasks at hand and give serious attention to the particular manifestations of the general struggle for a new society. There are those that say they want a revolution now, now. Such persons never seriously contribute to the process of struggle that can bring a revolution to being. In the immediate instance that we face, the partial triumph of our uprising in January led to the probe of the subsidy regime in the petroleum sector. This revealed the extent of sleaze, bare-faced thievery and shameless brigandage of the elite class and confirmed our assertion that there was no subsidy. Seventy two oil firms were indicted for shady transactions in the report of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee that conducted the probe. The committee established that the amount expended for ―subsidy‖ was inflated by about 900% and called for the return of the mind-staggering amount of over 1,000 billion niara, to the national treasury by the NNPC, PPPRA and private marketers. This report reveals or rather confirms what we knew about the rot in the oil sector in particular and capitalism in general. But it is presented with the intent of pacifying working people and giving the idea that there are some people amongst the bosses and politicians that share our feelings. So we should not fight against the system, but rather just pick out the few ―bad eggs‖ and all live happily ever after. But this is not so. The rot is a systemic one which involves all the capitalists. And also, more heads have to roll than the report (which did not castigate any of the supervising ministers) calls for. The ministers of finance, and petroleum, should have resigned, if they had the slightest tinge of shame. This of course is not to suggest that it is not the entire group of capitalist politicians and bosses that have to be kicked out. This is the starting point, if the petroleum sector is to be made to work for the common people and not the elite that appropriate billions and trillions of naira that could be used for human and infrastructural development. The drama of bribery involving Mr. Farouk Lawan who served as Chair of the committee and Mr Femi Otedola one of the oil magnates confirms the truism that the ruling class of bosses and politicians is made up of rogues and brigands. Otedola‘s is supposed to have bribed Lawan (and other members of the committee) with $3million dollars, from which $620,000.00 had been collected. There is an attempt to conflate this thievery with the rot revealed by the probe. There is a linkage between both. It goes to show that even the members of the ruling elite that appear bold or progressive with their exposure of corruption are playing to the gallery. There is no section of the bosses and politicians in Nigeria that have the welfare of the working masses in mind. Only the working people can liberate themselves. But the demand of most citizens‘ organisations that all those indicted by the probe should face prosecution should be upheld. Farouk Lawan and his co-travellers must be made to face the music.

Working people’s agony worsens
The terrible state of the working people has worsened since the January Revolt. This is despite increasing growth of the economy. Economic growth in Nigerian is presently adjudged to be the third fastest in the world, according to the ex-socialist Minister of Information, Mr Labaran Maku. While speaking with State House correspondents on April 11, 2012, he could hardly hold his jo y when he said ―there is a lot of confidence in the Nigerian economy‖, which witnessed 8% GDP growth in 2010 and almost 8% again in 2011. That confidence is not shared by most working people who toil, seemingly in vain, as we find it harder and harder to keep body and soul together. Workers, peasant farmers and urban poor have always had a hard time. Filled with hope in 1960 after the British colonial masters left, an earlier generation of working people

were jubilant, in the belief that their lives and those of their children would be better. But alas, the reverse has been the case. Conditions have gotten worse with every subsequent generation since ―Independence‖. It is not that the economy has not witnessed growth. But growth has hardly ever been matched by human development. Suffering has become a constant companion, particularly since the ―austerity measures‖ and ―structural adjustment programme‖ of the 1980s. With the re-establishment of a civilian republic, working people once again held on to hope that things would get better. But everything points to the fact that things have only gone from bad to worse for workers, peasant farmers, the urban poor, working women, and youths from lower class backgrounds. In contrast, the capitalist business owners, industrialists, bank magnates, politicians and members of their immediate families got stupendously richer. In the second quarter of 2012, the National Bureau of Statistics confirmed this fact which the bosses and politicians always try to deny about the worsening fate of the working people in the country. According to its official report, while 54% of people were living in poverty as at 2004, by 2010, this had risen to 69% and might have hit 72 per cent in 2011. Not surprisingly, inequality has equally risen very sharply. Almost half of all consumption is by just 10% of the wealthy, while 60% of the population barely consume 20% of the wealth. The current situation is now much worse than the dreadful reality which that report captured, since it was based on a 2011 survey. Yemi Kale, head of the bureau accepted as much, observing that the increase of petrol prices led to astronomic increases in the prices of consumer goods. Meanwhile, even the minimum wage of N18,000 which was grossly inadequate from the word go is not even being paid by most state governments. But the Federal Government sees nothing wrong in further burdening the working people with an increase in electricity tariff from 1st June 2012. Mr. Kale sees this as a paradox. That could be understood, since his understanding is based on the limited scope of capitalist ideology. Indeed, a number of government functionaries who represent capitalism might have genuine feelings about wanting a better life for the people. But mere feelings without understanding and struggle have never changed the lot of working people anywhere in the world and never will. Working class activists and radical youths need to be very clear about the fact that there is no paradox in this matter. It is as also not correct to jump at describing the figures of GDP growth rate as being fictitious. It is simply that it is only a few people, the bosses and politicians, who benefit from the growth devoid of qualitative all round development. The secret of the wealth of the capitalist few lies in our own impoverishment and the exploitation of our natural resources. In 1844, the great German thinker and revolutionary, Karl Marx rightly observed that ―the labourer becomes poorer, the more wealth he produces, indeed the more powerful and wide-ranging his production becomes‖. This is the general reality under capitalism. The situation is even worsened in underdeveloped regions which are rich in natural resources, particularly petroleum. Here the bulk of the wealth from oil is grabbed by a small corrupt elite. However, the experience of Venezuela shows that this does not have to be the case. Fuel there is cheaper and more of the wealth is devoted to education, health and other social services. Africa is said to be the region with the fastest pace of growth in the world now as the global capitalist economy still reels in the stupor of the Great Recession . While Nigeria had the third fastest growing economy in the world, Ghana was the country with the highest GDP growth in the world in 2011 at 13%. But this was simply because it then started prospecting crude oil. Exploitation of and speculation in commodities within the

extractive sectors of natural resources are the driving forces behind the laughably fantastic growth attributed to the continent. This is confirmed by the fact that unemployment rates have actually risen in most African countries and the contribution of manufacturing and industry to their GDP growth patterns have actually declined. But the numbers of Hummer jeeps in the streets and yachts on the high seas in these countries have greatly increased as the rich get richer with the increasing poverty of the poor. What can we do to stop this painful situation and break the chains of poverty, agony and oppression? We must organise and fight with the aim of both immediate gains and ultimately the overthrow of the capitalist system. Every anti-poor people policy of the bosses and politicians must be combated. They could be forced to give us concessions in the form of reforms when they see our might. But while we should seize and defend such reforms and concessions like the partial victory of the January Uprising, we must never, not even for one minute be deceived that gradual reforms could lead to our emancipation from the exploitation and oppression with which we are held in thrall. The pitiable state of the lives of well over a hundred million Nigerians living in poverty can be transformed only by our emancipating ourselves through revolution as the first act in building a socialist society where the needs of the over whelming majority of people and not the greed of a few will determine society‘s policy, because power then would rest in the hands of the working class!
Under capitalism the working class has a great political advantage compared with all previous exploited classes. Capitalism, for its own purposes, has concentrated workers together in great cities and towns. It has forced them together into factories and offices. And it has educated workers far beyond the average level of culture even of previous ruling classes. As a result, it has made the modern working class a force that can organise itself into unions, parties, co-operatives, and other bodies and networks. Never has any exploited class in history had such a capacity to take over and run society. The very people whose lives are currently dominated by the fact that they produce the wealth and power of capitalism are the key to its transformation. Therefore, liberation is not in the hand of ‗our leaders‘ who will act on our behalf. Workers will and can only emancipate themselves in the process of the struggle. A socialist revolution is when the mass of workers take over their work places and run them and the whole of society democratically in the interests of the majority and themselves and other poor people.

PART FIVE

Rebellion to revolution; problems and prospects
The working masses in Nigeria and across the world have challenged and are challenging the bosses and traditional politicians with a fervour like never before. In North Africa this has resulted in the triumph of revolutions in three countries. Several governments in European countries have also collapsed. More battles still lie ahead and the struggle continues. The working class and youths are now confronted with the challenge of generalising our various revolts into rebellions through which we could break the chains of economic and political bondage that have been used to deny us the fullness of our humanity. This will entail waves of political revolution to culminate in social revolution as we pointed out earlier in this book. At this point we need to access the problems and prospects that stand before this our historic movement. There are general problems, but related to this are particular problems that change-seeking activists in different parts of the world will face. These have been historically established based on how the general dynamics of the world capitalist system has developed locally. There are lessons for us to draw from the struggles we have waged and are still waging which are invaluable for us in charting the way forward. The question of what our ultimate goal should be must but be of the essence. The socialist ideal was always an alternative to the ideology and practice of capitalism. The authoritarian state capitalist states run by bureaucrats in the USSR and its satellites before 1989/91 undermined the view that a socialist future is what we should fight for. But the future holds only one alternative to socialism. This is barbarism which is what capitalism takes us closer to with each of its crises with millions thrown into unemployment, starvation and wars such as the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan or the civil war in Syria. Growth of fascist organisations such as Golden Dawn in Greece or the more general scourge of racism, tribalism and ethnic conflict is another aspect of this barbarism. Climate change and environmental degradation is a further aspect. This is already claiming the lives of at least hundreds of thousands of poor people, especially in the Global South and on current trends is expected to devastate the lives of millions. It is socialist consciousness that can guide us to the transformation of society through revolution from below. This links the day-to-day collective struggles of workers and other poor people with the ultimate struggle for socialism as the self-emancipation of the working class and its allies.

Chapter 12

Revolt, the pangs of rebirth
The world is obviously in a state of flux. The economic crisis of world capitalism does not seem to be one that will abate soon. The ―99%‖ of humankind is marching across continents and countries, demanding a new, just, world order. Many now believe that the present neo-liberal, capitalist form of society is one which weighs down our feet and seeks to fetter our souls with chains and manacles. At the heart of our struggle for such a new Nigeria, new Africa and indeed a new world is a craving, aspiration and vision of solidarity, equality and liberty, in deed. In short, the core of the vision behind recent resistance and revolutions that are unfolding before our eyes is decidedly emancipatory. Locally, contradictions of the unsustainable manner of running the economy and the polity have deepened, with morbid dimensions. Bombings which were hitherto rare occurrences are now regular occurrences in parts of the country leading to the deaths of thousands of citizens. Air crashes have been recorded because the bosses who owned airlines were ready to risk lives to make more profit. Roads are equally death traps. There have been waves of strikes for the implementation of the new National Minimum Wage Act. But even this is now grossly inadequate for any worker. Students in the tertiary institutions have also taken to the streets to resist draconian increases in school fees. The biggest battle in recent times was the revolt that followed the removal of the ―subsidy‖ of petrol on January 1, 2012. At the heart of all our struggles is a better life. The pathway to such lies in thorough-going socialist revolution Some have looked at where revolutions have taken place like Tunisia and Egypt and say, ―well, what changed? Little! Is it not the same six that replaced six pence?‖ Libya is still another kettle of fish. Quite a number of progressives actually see this mermaid of a revolution as a counter-revolution! And how about the ―Occupy Wall Street Movement‖? Its steam is not as it was in late 2011. To what end then, one might not be wrong to ask, is the struggle, the mobilization and aspiration for emancipatory change? We are mobilizing for change, because of the war of the 1% against the 99%. The term ―mobilization‖ was first used in mid-19th Century Prussia in the process of warfare. This gives points at the fact that the process of mobilizing is part of some sort of war or the other. In civil society, especially where the domination of society by capital and imperialism is being combated by the immense majority of working, unemployed, destitute and disillusioned mass of humankind it evokes class war, even when this is not explicit in the thinking of the mobilizers. It is important to stress this because it is not only us that seek another Nigeria, Africa or world that mobilize. Spaces within which regular day-to-day activities of the average citizen take place are filled with mechanisms for mobilizing and regenerating the hegemony of the powers that be. The reason for this is that no matter how powerful a state or ruling elites are, they cannot hold down the millions of peoples they dominate and exploit simply with the use of coercive powers. The dominant ideas in society of necessity are those which perpetuate the rule of the dominant classes. It is in this sense that Frantz Fanon and Steve Biko showed that the oppressed is a part of his/her oppression. The extent to which s/he can be liberated is largely determined by the extent to which s/he can break from the ―false consciousness‖ which accepts the exploitative society as given and eternal. The primary instrument of the present waves of resistance and revolution, it could be argued, is that of mass mobilization. It is at the heart of building movements that have made millions to ―walk like an Egyptian‖, across the world, in recent times. It poses questions, raises alternatives and presents such alternative(s) as not being utopian i.e. it shows the possibilities of another world, from within the contradictions of the old. It does, like lines from Ralph Chaplin‘s 1915 song “Solidarity Forever” inspire that ―we shall bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old‖.

What this amounts to is that, our pressure as much as partisan politics must be geared towards expanding the democratic space towards breaking the chains with which the bosses hold us down. No social transformation has ever occurred or can occur in the polity and economy without first winning the minds and consciousness of a critical mass, at the very least. They must be won, not just to recognise the inadequacies of what is to be replaced, but also to the possibility and necessity, of what the emergent social forces represent – socialism as the self-emancipation of the working class and its allies. What revolutionary working class forces represent as an alternative is not just social transformation. What is going on before our very eyes, indeed what neo-liberalism represents is a form of social transformation. Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP), Poverty Reduction Strategy Programmes (PRSP), NEPAD, NEEDS, etc are all manifestos of such anti-working people social transformation. We must claim the high ground of argument not by saying ―nothing has changed‖ or that what ―changed‖ in the past fifty years has just been the worsening of the state of the working people. There has definitely been development. But this has been subordinated to growth, which has benefited a tiny minority to the detriment of 99% of the population. The world itself, with the collapse of the post-War order in the late 1960s/early 1970s, is being restructured with the intent of furthering the dominance of capital, even despite the recent crisis underscoring its bankruptcy. Our mobilization must present our alternatives as being for pro-poor people transformation. In short, I daresay our position for change, the pulse of our mobilization, cannot but be revolutionary. Resistance today cannot stop at being mere resistance. We must not only negate what is, we must aspire for what can be, for a new, better society to come. What would be the contents of our mobilization, creating and presentation of a socialist alternative to contend with the insensitive ruling elite? With what methods could these be most aptly developed and pursued? The ideological basis of our arguments of necessity have to be anti-neoliberal, anticapitalist and in defence of environmental sustainability. This emerges generally from the lived experiences of the exploited, oppressed and marginalized working people of the world, who constitute the immense majority, of the human population. This general sense must be concrete though. We must not just speak in broad grandiose or disjointed terms against corruption or for good governance and so on and so forth. We must stand against oppressive policies and show the systemic basis of such anti-poor people policies, as being for corruption and against good governance. In pursuing our arguments, we must match the profundity of ideology of the ruling elites with profound counterfactual framework of ideas. In this light, there has been a lot of work by several NGOs in several sectors of concern. There is however the need for systematizing this on one hand and on the other, for a simple, but comprehensive platform of argument in the form of a charter for example.11This should be linked to a broader more detailed alternative development vision document. We need to link the immediate collective struggles of the working class and its allies with the final goal of socialism. Successful collective struggles now not only lead to improvements in our lives, but also give many workers and other poor people the confidence that together we can fundamentally change society. Each strike and demonstration is a small spark that provides the hope and confidence that together we can build the democratic and egalitarian future of socialism.

11

There is something which approximates this by the N-katalyst group, but which in my view is rather inadequate at this juncture.

Our struggle against petroleum products price hike was a part of the broader rising of the 99% against the 1% across the world. We have learnt from others and equally present our experiences to humankind as a whole. The culture of demonstrations, processions, house-to-house signature collection, leafleting, pamphleteering and rallies have to be re-awoken. Building on the re-awakened spirit of struggle for change which came with January is vital. Working people might be on the eve of charting a new future. This would entail rupture with the past. But it cannot as well but bear elements of continuity – including continuity that represents the re-tying of broken threads of the activism that was. Of course a return to history cannot be a backward march, especially when its aim is the reclaiming of our dignity. It is a forward march in which elements of the old that would be reclaimed could appear in different apparels. There are no readymade answers for every twist and turn we will enter. There can be no map for the direction that is the future. We can at best have a compass and that compass is both ideological and material. Its ideological line has to be unrelentingly antineoliberal, anti-capitalist and for environmental rights. Its material line is the mass line. We are living through a period in history marked by what Claude Ake described as ―revolutionary pressures‖. Indeed Nigeria has gone through many periods of crises since Independence half a century ago. The history of the country has not been in isolation, it has been a part of the history of contention of forces globally over the fate of humankind and planet earth. At one end have been the beneficiaries of the most brazen exploitation of the working people and the environment without the slightest thought of justice save for crumbs with which to steer the tides of such revolutionary pressures into more reformist waters. At the other end are we, the immense majority, the working people. United, determined and armed with the correct perspectives, we will win. The neo-liberal counter-revolution from the late 1970s marked the beginning of the restructuring of capital to shore up its threatened fortunes after the collapse of the Bretton Woods arrangement, in the wake of the Great Depression and a cataclysmic World War. Africa never benefited from the palliatives of that era and has suffered worse in the neoliberal era. The Great Recession entering its second dip with the banner of austerity measures for the working people and bail outs for the super-rich who got us all here has led to the gradual rousing of millions across the whole world fighting to reclaim our humanity. Heavy clouds on the horizons seem to herald the bursting forth of the rains for ploughing anew the land, a land in which the years of the locusts would have been rolled back. But then, it is yet morning on creation day.

Chapter 13 Lessons and challenges
There are lessons to be learnt from the wave of resistance and revolution that marks this period. It is indeed a great time to be alive for activists who seek to change society for the better. It s however important not to allow ourselves be swamped by illusions, without in the least losing the optimism of our spirits. Jettisoning critical thinking with the pessimism of the intellect that goes with it could be the first step to subsequent disillusionment when it seems the opportunities envisaged do not immediately lead to elDorado. First on revolutions, we have seen the dialectics of closure and continuity in Tunisia and particularly Egypt. February 14 was the closure of a revolution Egypt. But, the revolution is in permanence as Egyptian workers and youths mobilise for what could be a second revolution, against the Supreme Council of Armed Forces‘ dictatorship. To grasp the essence of this formulation is to understand the theory of permanent revolution, which rests on three key pillars. One, it is possible for the socialist revolution to breakout in any country of the world. In 1917 it took place in Russia, a backward European country. Next time it could well be Nigeria that leads the way. Two, It is impossible for socialist revolution to be triumphant for any length of time in one country. Especially if the future socialist revolution starts in the Global South, it must quickly spread to other countries if it is to survive. Three, the complexity of rupture and continuity in unity necessitates radical faith and perpetual revolutionary organising and struggle in a world in flux for as long as capitalism has not been internationally vanquished. Is it possible for capitalism to be internationally vanquished it could be asked? We see from as far back as 1848 that revolutionary moments come in waves that wash through the shores of a broad array of lands. With ―globalisation‖ this near equates to all lands. The Great October Socialist Revolution was not just a Russian event. On the contrary it emerged from an era of turmoil as that which we are now in. In 1968, a similar wave which was the fire last time also spread across the world. There are very similar trends from 1848 and 1968 in the current period. Probably the closest to 1968, particularly in the occupy movement of the indignant is the disdain (young) protesters have for political parties. This is a ―heritage‖ of anger and distrust of the Stalinist methods which are not limited to ―Stalinist‖ political parties and groups. But the need to build revolutionary parties cannot be overemphasized. This is required to bring the most active of working class and youth organisers and mobilisers together as a critical mass. Such a critical mass of committed activists would serve as catalysts for gingering the working masses towards overthrowing the oppressive system of capitalism. The present wave of resistance has shown us flashes of how society could be run. The limitations of generalising these experiences without partisan struggle for power have also been reflected. An example is with the Popular Assemblies. As Grigera who was very active in the direct democracy movement in 1999-2002 Argentina notes: ‗no matter how progressive or ‘advanced‘ the social relationships, forms of decision-making and activities of asambleas [assemblies] are said to be, their small scale, lack of influence and flawed co-ordination between themselves and other movements render this movement unable to overcome very narrow limitations.‘

It takes a revolutionary party rooted in the masses with confidence gained from collective mass action to overcome this ―flawed coordination‖. Such a party as Ernest Mandel shows is not the same thing as vanguard organisations of sects and cannot be built outside the revolution, though in a sense it would rest on the work of such sects before the storm. Does this mean that the decisive social force for moving society forward is a vanguard party? Definitely not! It is the working class. We can see that it played the role of tilting the revolution to fruition within each of the pathways of the Arab Spring. Within Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in the US, the trade unions and the broader labour movement‘s role was also pivotal. Indeed, even before the general strike and closure of ports at Auckland, the anarchist linguist and philosopher, Naom Chomsky had declared to the OWS that workers‘ power was of the essence to move forward. It is important in this light to realise the dynamics within the working class between workers and the trade unions. The trade unions do not equal the working class. But it is its primary associative organ and despite disillusionment with the politics of the labour aristocracy that constitutes the union bureaucracy, building relations with the trade unions is, a very important aspect of work for the struggle to build a new world. We are definitely living in historic times. Capitalism might not be brought down in this hour. This is as a result of weaknesses of linkages between working class revolutionary theory and practice as represented by the partisan and broader social manifestation of this most decisive force for bringing to birth a new world on the ashes of that morass in which we now live in. But it is an hour in which great leaps forward can be made and are being made. Such hours come with lessons that would be invaluable for us living today and for generations coming after us that would eventually cleanse the life of humankind of the ugliness and pains that capitalism stamps on its beauty and fullness. We need to look at the alternative future humankind has to the barbarism which continued capitalist development holds for us. Socialism is not and cannot be decreed into being. It is forming in the womb of the decaying now of capitalism.

Chapter 14 Socialism is the future, fight for it now!
The profound crises of the world economy once again makes it clear that capitalism is a system which is not sustainable and which can only cause grief for the immense majority of the human race. Socialism has been posited as an alternative to capitalism in different ways over the last two hundred years. With the collapse of the bureaucratic state capitalist regimes in Russia and Eastern Europe which described themselves as being socialist, many workers and youths today cannot but ask such questions as: ―what is socialism?‖ ―is it feasible or even desirable?‖ Socialism is simply put; the ascension of humankind from the drudgery of necessity to the realms of freedom. From the primitive beginnings of the ―early man‖ (and woman), humankind has been in constant struggle to master nature, and provide sustenance. This human beings have always had to do socially, through relations of production that have been shaped and which have equally shaped the kinds of tools with which labour has transformed nature and human society itself. For tens of thousands of years, necessity was lord over human beings, even if step by step, progress was made towards freedom from want and backwardness. But such limited freedoms as were won, has never been made available to all humans. The dominant classes of a few who owned the property with which social needs were met continually seized such freedom, resting on the backs of toiling masses. The freedom of a few has always rested on the unfreedom of the many. During the slave-owning epoch for example, the slave owners basked in the warmth of such liberty while they held slaves who were the toilers in bondage, just as feudal lords and kings were free to enjoy of the fat of the land while their poor subjects tilled the soil. The capitalist epoch for the first time provided a possibility for freedom to be something beyond the preserve of the few. The might of productive forces which it called forth embodied in factories, machines, infrastructure, etc, is such that could never before have been imagined and such as could banish the primary unfreedom of insufficiency. The members of the working classes were now also not mere slaves or subjects but, were, like the rich, citizens who were formally deemed to have constitutionally guaranteed equal rights. While such modern democracy might be possible only with capitalism, such rights had to be won. They came through struggles that working people could and did wage as masses that were now brought together by the huge socialisation of large-scale production and a national life. But capitalism like all earlier forms of society still rests on the exploitation of the immense majority by a few. But it is even worse. Unlike earlier exploitative societies it rests on competition. Contrary to capitalist ideology, competition between the capitalists makes the system unstable, resulting periodically in crises, and also promoting grave environmental damage that is resulting in climate change. Competition is equally fostered between workers so as to weaken our solidarity. Most importantly a society based on ―competition‖ when some are rich and own big property and many more are poor and own virtually nothing cannot but be about competition between the 1% of predators and we the 99% that they make their prey. As Albert Einstein put it ―the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development‖. Towards this, socialism involves economic planning. But socialism is not just an economic system as many think. And central planning of the economy is not the same thing as socialism. As Einstein further pointed out; ―it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialist. A planned economy may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual‖.

This was exactly the situation in the state capitalist countries of the Soviet Empire, which continued to parade itself as being ―socialist‖ though a class of bureaucrats using the instrument of central planning, collectively ran the economy on the basis of the capitalist law of value. They governed without any iota of democratic empowerment of working people. In a capitalist economy, it is not the needs of the people that determine what is produced but the profit which the capitalist can extract from such production. In a socialist economy, the needs of citizens, who all work to the best of their ability, are what determine the goods to be produced. And in socialist society, politics is not something reserved for some leaders to rule us as they deem fit until general elections. Governance involves everybody and is not restricted to government. In our workplaces, neighbourhoods, schools, etc, committees will be the masters of our own fate through inclusive decision-making structures and mechanisms. We see flashes of such socialist governance and its revolutionary democracy from below during insurrections like the General Assemblies and Action Committees set up in a number of neighbourhoods during the January 2012 Uprising. Workers‘ governments in socialist society will be truly representative of the masses, unlike earlier state powers. They will comprise delegates elected from governance structures from below, that earn the average wages of other workers, with all adults having military training to defend the revolution as we build a society based on solidarity and cooperation. Socialism will be established as an international order through revolutions across several countries. As it triumphs globally, it will bring about the conscious restoration of our human essence, which is freedom, and open new realms of human development, where exploitation and oppression of humans by humans, would gradually become a thing of the past. Socialism is the future we are making with our revolutionary struggle today.

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