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THEORETICAL REVIEW OF THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
Imperialist War and Revolution
Statement by the International Secretariat of The Fourth International On the Threat of War In Syria and Iran
European Treaties: Will All of Europe Follow in Greece’s Footsteps?
February 19, 2012, in Madrid: 500,000 workers and youth mobilize against the “reform” of the Spanish Labor Code
ISSUE N° 73 (NEW SERIES) - MARCH 2012
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“The politics of Communism stands only to gain from a truthful clarification of reality. Untruth is needed for salvaging false reputations, but not for the education of the masses. The workers need the truth as an instrument of revolutionary action. “Your paper bears the name Vérité (Truth). This name, like all others, has been amply abused. Nevertheless it is a good and honourable name. The truth is always revolutionary. To lay bare the truth of their position before the oppressed is to lead them to the high road of revolution.” Leon Trotsky
LA VERITE THE TRUTH
THEORETICAL MAGAZINE OF THE FOURTH INTERNATIONAL
Contents LA VERITE-THE TRUTH No. 73
• Imperialist war and revolution Statement by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International on the threat of war in Syria and Iran • Europe, the crisis...and “the decisive factor” By Daniel Gluckstein • Germany’s role in the crisis that is shaking Europe By Marc Lacaze • Problems of the revolutionary crisis in Greece By Christel Keiser and Dominique Ferré • Egypt: Mubarak fell one year ago By Samir Hassan • Tunisia, one year later By Lucien Gauthier • The Chinese working class, the bureaucracy and Obama’s “American pivot to Asia” (Part One) By Alain Frandor • Arms economy and capitalism’s crisis of disintegration By Pierre Cise, Daniel Gluckstein and Jean-Pierre Raffi • United States – Latin America. The class struggle today: “Prepare for the worst!” (IMF) By Markus Sokol • Once again on the “outraged” By Andreu Camps • A review that supports NATO’s intervention in Libya: Inprecor By Dominique Ferré p. 1
This would be necessary both in the United States as well as internationally. This explosive combination acted as a detonator in 2011 for the long-contained crisis of the European Union. More than ever. US imperialism. the final phase of the war to break up Yugoslavia initiated in the 1990s. governments of both left and right are trying to push for forms of “national unity” in order to impose on the peoples plans that are designed to carry out the demands of the markets by using austerity and deregulation. the very heart of imperialism. the threat of war is growing. Iraq was invaded once again. is now knocking on the doors of Europe. In 2003. NATO’s military intervention in Serbia and Kosovo. the epoch of wars and revolutions”. That is without even mentioning the military occupation of Haiti and the very many so-called “regional” conflicts. From this point of view. thus opening the way to an accelerated march towards its disintegration. In seeking to resist the barbarism into which imperialism is dragging them. On this occasion. Lenin wrote that the historic period which humankind had entered was that of “imperialism. we saw the launching of the bombing and then the military occupation of Afghanistan. In 2011. This is expressed by the crisis of US political domination. Indeed. and of carrying out a restructuring of the world order under its control. so-called “peace accords” with the State of Israel. a war to break up nations. The escalating threats of a war of aggression against Syria and Iran derive from this crisis of capital. through the introduction of the IMF into the European plans (Troika). elements which are inextricably linked. according to a remark by the President of the United States following the break-up of the Soviet Union. fed by imperialism. which spread mainly into Egypt. The imperialist “order” As early as 21 January 2011. has unleashed a veritable war on the workers and peoples of the whole world. The proliferation of a series of wars – since the first Gulf War in 1991. Capitalism. faced with the revolutionary developments underway in Tunisia. In 2001. Israel is reaffirming its aim of bombing Iran in the spring. form part of this global upsurge in the class struggle against imperialism. This is leading it to seek to transfer all the effects of its crisis onto the other imperialisms and to provoke a series of explosions on every continent. The significance of the fall of Mubarak is international. In order to protect the world imperialist “order”. and not a so-called “Arab revolution”. Egypt holds a special place and role in the region. the agreement reached between the military apparatus that runs the country and US imperialism resulted in the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1978. which today is combining with the processes of world revolution underway in Tunisia and Egypt. but not enough on its own The march towards the proletarian revolution in Tunisia and Egypt was certainly directed against the regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak. whose international order has been destabilised by the development of the proletarian revolution in Tunisia and Egypt (and its world repercussions). This is the meaning of the adoption by the countries of the European Union on 1 and 2 March of a new European treaty that destroys all the rights and guarantees won by the working classes through struggle (see the file on Europe in this issue). The dominant US class has shown itself incapable of overcoming its own crisis (of which 9/11 opened a new phase). which has continued to deepen to an unprecedented extent. In exchange for “peace” between Egypt and the State of Israel. the Fourth International stated that it was indeed a question of a proletarian revolution.Imperialist War and Revolution Statement by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International on the Threat of War in Syria and Iran At the very moment this issue of La Vérité-The Truth goes to press. that social system in its death-throes. which. in order to achieve this. and by its own crisis of decay. with the complicity of most of the governments of the Arab League countries. but also against their leaders’ masters: the imperialist powers. it contributed greatly to destabilising the US “order” in a part of the world where the slightest questioning of the existing balance threatens the very conditions for imperialist domination at the world level. To this extent. the mobilisations by the workers of Europe. The far-reaching consequences of the widespread crisis of the capitalist system of exploitation – initiated in 2008 in the United States. they must attack the independence of the trade union organisations. which are being called upon to become part of accompanying those plans. That revolutionary process. by what is referred to as the subprime crisis – are being expressed in the crisis of US imperialism’s domination. Camp David marked the beginning of an escalation of the confinement and crushing of the Palestinian people. A century ago. War: a necessary condition. Ever-increasing calls for military intervention in Syria are being heard. took a new step in taking control over the European Union and its governments. In the countries of Europe. In the late 1970s. it was the turn of Libya. US imperialism would need to crush the planet under the jackboot of a fascist-style dictatorship. notably in Africa. whatever forms of counter-revolutionary action taken by the apparatuses that lead the labour movement in order to contain it. The accords 1 . without being able to control them. It is a question of the world march towards revolution against the imperialist “order”. was meant to inaugurate a new world order – involves imperialism directly: in 1999. the workers and peoples have no other solution than to move towards revolution and emancipation. but the conditions have not come together for achieving this. the world political situation totally confirms the relevance of that statement.
which had always condemned the Camp David Accords as an act of treachery. deprived of any sovereignty. Democrat as well as Republican. That line was the starting-point of successive US administrations. But Gaddafi was no longer able to play the role assigned to him by the great powers. and therefore denied the Libyan people any opportunity to express its will democratically. tribal and other militias. this referred to the Camp David Accords. The aim was and is to use the GME to break up the whole of the Middle East and Near East. The basis of national unity between the army and the Muslim Brotherhood was then achieved. British and US imperialisms. have been pushed by the demands of the IMF. But the continuing mobilisation by the Palestinian people. From this point of view. it needed first and foremost to put an urgent stop to the revolutionary wave that was sweeping the region. Algeria is under particular threat. “Islamism”. the US administration declared itself ready to recognise any new regime provided that it recognised the international treaties signed by Egypt. now subject to the different mafia-style cliques and to religious.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH signed at Camp David in the United States under the aegis of the US administration were the first steps towards establishing the direct domination of US imperialism over that part of the globe (the world’s leading oilproducing region). Since then. to place it under the control of imperialism and its agents. In the name of “democracy”. prompting the peoples to react. imperialism needed to prevent the masses from acting independently. US imperialism introduced the line of “democratic transition”. The SNC is a grouping of opposition figures who are mostly located abroad. In the name of “aiding” the Malian army. Tunisia and Egypt. Obviously. one of which is a member of the Socialist International. Libya’s new “government” proposes to reestablish Sharia law. partly regaining control of its economy and refusing to allow its military forces to come under US control. with British and French imperialisms leading the charge. it destroyed Libya. The fall of Ben Ali and then Mubarak put the organising of that plan into question. since the Americans as well as the French and British had up to that point supported the regime and received Gaddafi on official visits with all due honours. much to the satisfaction of the US administration. agreements which installed a “Palestinian Authority” in the Gaza Strip and West Bank that committed itself to guaranteeing Israel’s “security” and abandoning the PLO Charter. The Camp David Accords made possible the signing in 1993 of the Oslo Accords. are countries which had gone furthest down that road. the line of the so-called “two states” covering the historic territory of Palestine was developed. their refusal to give up the demand of the right of return for the millions of Palestinians living outside Palestine. But although the war of aggression to break up Libya was a necessary condition for defending the imperialist “order”. Libya has disintegrated. The positive answer given by the Egyptian military apparatus was not enough for US imperialism. The “Friends of Syria” It is in these conditions that one must understand the holding of a “Friends of Syria” conference on 24 February. denouncing Gaddafi and his regime as being “bloodthirsty” – something that was well-known by all. Its main leaders are linked to the Muslim Brotherhood. became today’s ally. its government did not comply with several of imperialism’s demands. demonstrates the relevance today of the Palestinian Revolution. The conference decided to take a first step towards recognising the 2 . The “Greater Middle East” means putting trade barriers into question. to remodel that region so as to guarantee direct US control over it. the leading parties of which were members of the Socialist International. As far as US imperialism was concerned. In Morocco. and on the other side of the country a guerrilla war being waged by an AlQaeda group. the Islamists joined the government following the recent elections. ordered to go further with “reforms”. but under the leadership of the US ruler. That attack heralded what imperialism is preparing for Syria. they needed to be “reformed” so as to keep their main element. Border incidents between Tunisia and Algeria are much more frequent. That urgency demanded war in Libya. turned it into another Somalia. in other words their links of subordination. And in Egypt. secular and democratic Palestine where Jews and Arabs could live as equals. involving militias coming from Libya. it means deregulation. In so doing. for developing what they called the GME (“Greater Middle East” policy). A country located centrally in the Maghreb and in the Sahel. which kept up its pressure until the Muslim Brotherhood. (see the article “Mubarak fell one year ago” in this issue) The result of this offensive by US imperialism was the war that broke out throughout the Sahel region. Faced with the risk that the revolutionary wave which had put the dictatorial regimes in Tunisia and Egypt into question could spread. including Afghanistan and Pakistan. privatisation and the installation of military forces under US control: this is indeed the direction in which all of the region’s governments. broke it up. the country has been subjected to a campaign aimed at provoking a “revolution”. A delegation from the Syrian National Council (SNC) officially participated in the conference. and eventually – shortly – for Iran. Let us recall that immediately following the fall of Mubarak. the Muslim Brotherhood reached an agreement with the army. and who met in Turkey to found the SNC as a “government in exile” or “provisional government” of Syria. Yesterday’s enemy. Shortly after the bombing of Iraq and the second war waged against it. Ennahda formed a government of national unity with two secular parties. Today. US airplanes bombed the north of Mali on 4 March. Thousands of weapons are in circulation in the region. which in the imperialist vocabulary means “disintegration”. “Democratic transition” In order to protect the regimes following imperialism’s orders. which brought together most of the Arab League countries and representatives of French. the aim of which was a single free. with a so-called Tuareg army and mercenaries from Libya who want autonomy for North Mali on one side. Mali is a country at war. but also to all the other peoples. the war in Libya is a direct threat to the Tunisian and Egyptian peoples. Imperialism then proceeded to eliminate Gaddafi. to divert it from its aims. it was not enough on its own. A propaganda campaign was organised in the media. In Tunisia. declared that it would not put those agreements into question.
but also by certain factions resulting from the regime. but it now came into contradiction with the policy of US imperialism as expressed in the latter’s attack on Libya. This is what is looming shortly in the case of Iran. long repressed by the regime. which were low due to state subsidies. would be to totally destroy a state’s sovereignty. The Syrian regime. it has seen the arrival of tens of thousands of young rural workers driven off their lands. especially in relation to Palestine.). The IMF also recommended an increase in electricity prices. “regional” and religious conflicts. adding to the growing ranks of unemployed in the city’s outskirts and forming shanty-towns like the Baba Amr district. The “humanitarian” mobilisation. When forced to do so. come from the Alawite community. In 2003. The privatisation programme. it began to envisage the departure of Bashar al-Assad in order to seek a solution that would ultimately maintain the military regime in Syria. or part of the military apparatus within a “national unity” government. The existence of a centralised Syrian state whose decisions did not depend directly on imperialism. to break up a nation and to deliver it up to an endless series of “ethnic”. Then. as events developed. rather like everywhere else in the Middle East. The regime created under the aegis of Hafez al-Assad was part of the game being played between US imperialism and the Kremlin bureaucracy. Shi’ites. in other words to slavishly carry out all its demands. was able to appear as a stabilising factor. Arabs. playing an essential role in relation to Lebanon and refusing to isolate Iran. imperialism first called on Mubarak to carry out reforms. which had resulted in the dictators being driven from power. Syria was forced to readjust its world policy. “held together” for half a century by a regime whose leaders. expressed in the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005 and the implementation of the economic reforms demanded by the IMF. It is about the world order. The city of Homs illustrates this fact: the country’s third biggest city. the IMF strongly urged Syria to stop giving food subsidies. with repression. On the contrary. The ultimate fate of Bashar al-Assad’s regime is today of secondary importance for imperialism. condemned terrorism. The fall of Mubarak was a first victory for the Egyptian people against that military regime and against imperialism. the activities of different groups linked to foreign countries – the Muslim Brotherhood organisation. Faced with the initial mobilisations that took place in Syria. This is exactly the same scenario that played out in Paris a few weeks before the intervention in Libya. In 1976. then decided to cut him loose in order to protect the military regime. it was the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses 3 . For an initial period. This is not about Syria. Until recently. was more deeply marked by the activity of the working class. which had long been on the US administration’s list of “terrorist states”. for which Syria and its people are supposed to pay the price. US imperialism was calling on the regime to “reform” itself at the same time as formally condemning the repression. Syria was one of the Arab states which participated in the first “world crusade” against Iraq. as well as the gambit by Qatar and Saudi Arabia on behalf of imperialism – pushed towards an uncontrolled development of centrifugal forces. Syria has played an important role in maintaining the existing order in that part of the world. The worsening of those regional inequalities plunged some regions into increased poverty. In 1991. After the collapse of the Soviet Union. The most significant turning-point was the Syrian government’s reaction to the attacks on New York on 9 September 2001. But there is a difference: Syria is not Egypt. During that same period. it called on the Syrian regime to “reform” itself. The Syrian people must pay the bill In a world and regional situation in which US imperialism could not accept the march towards revolution (against dictatorial regimes in crisis that were showing their weakness). which recently was the scene of the most violent fighting. based on intense political repression combined with a protectionist economic policy functioning through subsidies – was obliged to carry out a turn. But thanks to the revolutionary processes underway in Tunisia and Egypt. In Egypt. with a conference of “Friends of Libya” being held and moves to recognise the National Transitional Council in Libya. imperialism is capable of retreating in order to save what is important. especially the military officers. imperialism no longer only condemned the repression after the event. between those who wanted to go further in collaborating with the United States and those who were opposed. the Syrian government supported and helped the US intervention in Iraq. as it unfolded. Druze. price increases and the end of public subsidies plunged the vast majority of the Syrian population into poverty. Imperialism knows how to sacrifice leaders and regimes in order to protect what is important to it – its control – in the face of the revolutionary mobilisation of a people. following the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia. in January 2011 the Syrian government announced that it would pay 11 dollars per month to the most impoverished families. the regime reacted the way it always had.IMPERIALIST WAR AND REVOLUTION SNC and to fund the activities of the “Free Syrian Army”. it was the Syrian army which bloodily wiped out the bastions of the Palestinian Revolution in Lebanon. Kurds. resulting in the settling of scores and executions. Faced with the revolutionary mobilisation of the Egyptian people which. This is what is underway today regarding Syria. once again. Straightaway. and the sanctions are the prelude to a new attack. The policy of responding to the IMF’s demands worsened regional inequalities that until then had been more or less tempered by the regime’s subsidies. Eastern Christians. The turn carried out by the regime produced deep contradictions within its ranks. The tension was so high that. Hafez al-Assad’s government greatly increased its acts of rapprochement with imperialism. all the while presenting itself as the main source of support for the Palestinians. the aim of which. therefore. Alawites. It also knows – and it has lots of experience in this area – how to eliminate regimes with which it has long co-operated but which have become an obstacle to its policy. etc. the military regime – which had developed an “Arab nationalist” and socialistic demagogic discourse. the situation in the region and internationally was no longer the same. the recourse to the UN and the European Union. In fact. Syria is a mosaic of populations and religions (Sunnis. helped along by various groups and foreign secret services. It was this situation that stirred up the existing specific local characteristics. For decades.
after accepting the roadmap put forward by the Quartet (United States. subjecting that people to confinement in Gaza and the West Bank. one objective of which is to threaten the peoples who are fighting for their rights and their sovereignty. the banks and insurance companies. aiming to break up nations along tribal. the latter being almost autonomous. are pushing it to take risks. faced with revolution. If this country. As far as imperialism is concerned. But they are calling for the arming of the opposition militias. at the initiative of the Workers party of Algeria and the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA). military occupation and the breaking up of nations was held in Algiers. In November 2011. it is not about human rights. We condemn the plans of the great powers. the right of all refugees to return to their homes. No zone of the region is meant to escape being controlled and pillaged by imperialism. to pillage the peoples’ wealth and dominate them. including the US plan for a “Greater Middle East”. the disagreements that are emerging on the question of the Middle East. to repression and repeated attacks. Even though the Obama administration is trying to rein back the State of Israel. in order to save the speculators. a mosaic of different cultures languages and peoples were to blow apart. This is the reason behind its offensive against Syria and Iran. divided between Shi’ite. another country that has been broken up. The International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples supported that conference. There is an emergency when the great powers raise interference in a country’s affairs into a world system. whose unremitting struggle for the right to a nation and therefore to the land of Palestine has for more than 60 years forbidden any “stabilisation” of the situation under imperialist control. The State of Israel’s threat to bomb Iran is speeding up the process. nor a people’s rights. that country has been broken up. Intervention in Syria would have the same consequences as in Libya. Hamas – the Gaza branch of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood – has differentiated itself from the Syrian regime. Its policy leads to the breaking up of nations and states. China. It would open the way to new acts of violence.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH that drove out Mubarak. ethnic and religious lines with pillage and oppression as their goal. Syria occupies a special place. it is significant that in Gaza. and this is the yardstick against which the current Syrian regime is being measured. The unleashing of a civil war means that the people. thus aligning itself with the demands of imperialism. no to war This imperialist interference already underway and an open military intervention would lead to the breaking up of Syria. Sunni and Kurdish zones. as soon as the first demonstrations took place. and therefore in Syria and Iran. They are half-heartedly saying they do not want a military intervention by imperialism. This is an exact repeat of what happened in Libya. The whole planet could suffer the consequences of this unrest. conversely. an Emergency Conference against war. caught in a crossfire. In so doing they prevented any mobilisation by the masses immediately following the first demonstrations. but we strongly condemn the manoeuvring and conspiracies embodied in the exploitation of those aspirations by the imperialist powers and their sub-contractors to turn them into a pretext for foreign military intervention in Syria. The blockade of Iran. thanks to its history. Parties that emerged from the CPs. something that some 4 . We declare our full support for the aspirations of the Syrian people for democracy. From this point of view. which is quasi-autonomous? And both of these areas border on territory in the south of Turkey that is mainly inhabited by Kurds. nor about democracy. the parties that emerged from Castroism or the CPs are supporting Bashar al-Assad’s regime). Bordering on Iraq. at the same time continuing to deny the Palestinian people their inalienable historic rights. We condemn the intervention. is in turn preparing the breaking-up of Iran. The agencies and secret services are deliberately acting to push towards civil war. opposing this call or stalling for time. another to impose a foreign “protectorate” on them. (…) There is an emergency when those same imperialist powers and the international institutions unleash a social war in Europe and the United States through murderous austerity plans. ten years after the intervention in Iraq. rather. (…) There is an emergency when the great powers prepare the conditions for widespread war in the Mashreq region. carried out by the great powers for some months. The offensive against Syria is linked to the offensive on Iran. Conversely. to new wars. taking it upon themselves to decide the fate of nations and peoples. The contradictions and divisions within the dominant US class. imperialist adventures and barbarism. in Syria. the State of Israel. have gone to ground and are being subjected to violence and barbarism on all sides. with or without the UN’s backing. the leaders of the Socialist International are hoping and praying for military intervention. this would have immediate repercussions for the neighbouring countries. European Union and Russia) for resolving the Palestinian question. setting up military groups fighting against the regime’s army. imperialism and its agents intervened to push for civil war. for equality. What would become of the Syrian territory currently inhabited mostly by Kurds. This new offensive aimed at breaking up nations also represents an additional attack on the Palestinian people. We oppose any foreign military intervention anywhere in the world. In fact. bordering on the Kurdish territory of Iraq. which motivate that intervention [in Libya – Editor]. Certain sectors of the dominant class are calling for direct intervention in Syria and support for the war that Israel wants to launch against Iran. No to foreign interference. especially in Europe (in Latin America.” This declaration sounds the alarm for the whole of the world’s labour movement on the eve of a possible intervention in Syria and Iran. as it does Syria. But Syria is not Libya. or members of the United Secretariat (USec) (1) are declaring their “support for the Syrian people” against the regime. confiscating their right to determine their own present and their future. others are hesitating. But this region is not the only one under threat. it is about the need to maintain its control. Turkey and Lebanon. and are using media images of fighting to justify military intervention by imperialism. it still intends to break up Iran. Delegations of labour and democratic activists from over 40 countries passed a resolution that declared: “We condemn imperialism’s aims.
especially of trade unions. In the Maghreb. 5 . The Fourth International declares itself against any intervention in Syria and Iran. and of its unconditional support for the peoples’ struggle for social and national emancipation. The Fourth International’s objective is not the “reform” or the “humanisation” of the imperialist system. In contrast with Libya. one year on”). a demonstration took place that was called in defence of the UGTT. in other words that a free and independent people can be defended. democracy. This is the meaning of the Fourth International’s resolute opposition to the threat of war against Syria and Iran. a party of the right and a member party of the Socialist International. but its overthrow. the workers in Tunisia were at the heart of the people’s mobilisation. which brought together as many people as had attended the demonstrations at the time of Ben Ali’s fall. Contrary to the imperialist “solutions”. by mobilising and relying on their historic trade union organisation. one can thus read. just as it did for Libya. in the United States and elsewhere. means helping the working class to overcome the obstacles raised on the path to its mobilisation. with their demands. in Europe. Afghanistan and Iraq. and the formation on this basis of a government of national unity composed of an Islamist party. In short. “Down with war. War in Syria would result in even more deaths and suffering for the Syrian people. prevented the country being dragged into civil war and barbarism. the workers and youth of Tunisia. nor the United States”. using Qatar as an intermediary — militias which themselves are calling loud and clear for foreign military intervention. down with exploitation!” is the slogan for the future and for protecting humankind. The Fourth International in favour of revolution The Fourth International stands squarely on the same ground on which the labour movement was constituted in the 19th century. of Europe and the whole world are seeking to achieve. they led the rising of the people against the small minority that was following the orders of the foreign powers. and that one can in no way compromise the defence of the peoples against imperialism. of the whole region. which for several weeks had been subjected to attacks and provocations. that the sovereign nation can be defended. the workers’ elementary organising framework. opposing the policy that consists of involving the trade union organisations in the implementation of the capitalists’ plans means maintaining and protecting the framework for the working class’s struggle against capital. and whose most popular slogan was: “Neither Qatar. expresses the fact – whatever the nature of the apparatuses leading the organisations – that society is divided into classes with irreconcilable interests. the UGTT. An impressive demonstration.IMPERIALIST WAR AND REVOLUTION sectors of imperialism are already currently doing. The Fourth International considers that the prime enemy of nations and their sovereignty is imperialism. which the peoples of Tunisia and Egypt. that of the struggle against wars waged by the great powers. This question is international: the existence of organisations of the working class. the economic. Opposing the actions of the labour movement’s leading apparatuses. It is through the mobilisation of the workers on their own ground. using their organisation the UGTT through strikes and street mobilisations. — International Secretariat of the Fourth International 6 March 2012 ENDNOTE (1) In a statement by the International Committee of the United Secretariat. such as the transformation of the Constituent Assembly into legislative elections. necessarily standing up against subordination to imperialism and its demands. which would like to accompany those plans. They thus federated all the layers of the population. by breaking all the links that subject it to the imperialist powers. regarding Syria: “Left-wing Syrian military forces are engaged in this insurrection so that the people’s self-organisation can develop”! Left-wing military forces armed and funded by imperialism or Qatar…! As for the self-organisation of a people subjected to violence and civil war… Behind this radical language lies the cover for imperialism provided by the far left. From this point of view. it is significant that on the eve of the “Friends of Syria” summit in Tunis. which falsely claims to be the Fourth International. social and labour content of which is inseparable from their democratic demands and stands against the regimes acting as transmission-belts for imperialism. freedom and national independence is the path of mobilising the masses on their own demands. for the national framework is the one within which the peoples can drive out the regimes that act as the vassals of the great imperialist powers. That revolution came up against and continues to come up against the obstacles raised by imperialism and its support troops. a government which is subject to imperialism and is attacking the workers and the UGTT. Supporting and helping the Syrian people means defending their right as a nation to stand up against any attempt to break it up. even on humanitarian pretexts. The only path to peace. Two days later. and that despite the many dead and wounded resulting from Ben Ali’s repression. the UGTT’s executive committee passed a resolution condemning the threat of military intervention in Syria (see the article “Tunisia.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 6 .
the crisis – beginning in the United States and very quickly spreading to the Old World in the superficial form of the subprime crisis. It is the resistance of the working class that has made it impossible for capital to go as far 7 . seeking to make use of their organisations despite the policy of their leaderships. To be sure. Public deficits have reached twice the level authorised by the Maastricht Treaty. Like the IMF. the Crisis … and “the Decisive Factor” By Daniel Gluckstein The signing of two new European treaties within a few weeks of each other in early 2012 expresses both the extent of the European Union institutions’ disintegration and. written into its statutes. The enormous amounts made available in the name of “helping Greece” are only helping…the banks and are driving the people into poverty. the Social-democrat Chancellor Schroder would never have been able to impose his destructive deregulation measures. The text of the TSCG devotes a long section to reiterating everything that already figures in the Maastricht Treaty. But it is also a fact that. moreover. What does this mean? Let us remember that the Maastricht Treaty created the European Union. whatever difficulties they faced. shameful pacts signed by the leaders of the trade union organisations allowed destructive counter-reforms to be passed. (…) The burden of adjustment (…) will henceforward rest exclusively on national labour costs. Extremely violent blows have been delivered. Like the IMF. from 2007-8 onwards. speculators and other capitalists. in order to use them as weapons in the fight to resist and to win back their gains. German imperialism. the workers once again took the path of the class struggle. Its major decision was to introduce the euro. budget deficit at or below 3 percent of GDP. then the debt crisis – revealed itself to be a crisis of disintegration for the whole capitalist economy. which alone is providing more than a quarter of the ESM’s funds. Hans Tietmeyer. But that proved not to be enough.” For the last twenty years. This has resulted in the inability of the capitalist class to deal with its own crisis. these mobilisations have come up against the refusal by the leaderships of the labour organisations to organise united action against the counter-reforms: without the policy of accompaniment applied by the Confederation of German Trade Unions (DBG). one of the German central bank’s officials. for reasons that refer back to the very nature of the capitalist system in its stage of decay (1). the heads of state and government met once more in Brussels. it has every power to impose “structural adjustment plans” and check on their implementation on the ground by sending in its own experts. a European “international monetary fund”. At the time. conversely. those attacks have given rise to the greatest of class struggles against them. administered by a European Central Bank given responsibility for making sure that the famous Maastricht criteria (public debt not to exceed 60 percent of GDP. the farreaching movement towards proletarian revolution.Europe. it was the obstinate refusal by the leaderships (especially of the main trade union confederation) to formulate the demand to withdraw the counter-reform which allowed it to be passed by parliament. it is funded through contributions that are proportional to each state’s economic strength. governments of every political colour have used and abused this “variable”. Supported by a dozen European heads of state and government. In a way. Major blows were delivered against the working class. had said: “We can no longer exploit exchange rates. the resistance of the working class. in Spain and Italy. Like the IMF. What is this money for? Following the example of billions upon billions of dollars swallowed up since the start of the crisis. attacking social welfare systems and labour rights and trying at every stage to associate the trade union organisations with this dirty work. in France. with the avowed aim of protecting US financial interests from European contagion. it is for bailing out the bankers. during the big movement against the pensions reform in 2010. signed and ratified twenty years ago. the US administration in effect demanded that the ESM should be funded at a much higher level than initially envisaged (700 billion euros). Because in every country. is finding the pill hard to swallow (see the article on Germany in this issue). and beyond. this time to sign the “Treaty on Stability. On 2 March. the blanket imposition of privatisation-destruction. etc. and the Maastricht criteria were shattered. the obligation to implement “free and undistorted competition”. Also. The ESM treaty formulates respect for the rules of the TSCG as a condition for obtaining loans. Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union” (TSCG). It has one particular aspect: the IMF has official representation within the ESM. the provisions of the TSCG are an inverted expression of the crystallised class struggle. The very existence of nation-states and the framework of political democracy built within them are under threat. The ESM lives up to the name given to it by the US authorities: a firebreak. and at the same time. in every country concerned. it extends loans to “countries in difficulty” accompanied by “conditionality provisions”. the root cause of the crisis that has marked the birth of the ESM from the very beginning. The first treaty (signed on 2 February 2012) created the European Stability Mechanism (ESM). despite the mobilisation of millions of workers. The function of acting as a firebreak is. Its primary function is to protect US finance capital from the convulsions of the crisis of disintegration that brought about the collapse of the Greek economy and threatens other countries of Europe with similar developments.) are respected. Every European state today has debt levels in the region of 100 percent.
But. confusion and contradictions – still set great store by the independence of their organisations and do not accept seeing them transformed overnight into reserve troops for the US’s plans. social welfare systems. (3) This why the sections and militant activists of the Fourth International are acting to help achieve unity between the workers and their organisations. The militant activists of the Fourth International do not underestimate the complexity of the situation and the threats that weigh on the working class and. carrying out a bold united front policy. coming together from all over Europe in a single struggle against the plans of the EU-IMFECB troika. and smash those labour market rigidities – let us translate: Labour Code. at the time of writing. this situation has been made possible by the fact that at the political level. The treaty is of an unprecedented brutality. just a few weeks after trade union leaders Toxo and Mendez agreed to sign a shameful pact with the Zapataro government. all the guarantees won through the class struggle – and. (2) Passing such a plan would imply wiping out all forms of labour movement independence. They are doing so throughout the continent. by the treacherous politics of the old workers’ organizations. the proletarian revolution is knocking on the doors of Europe. beyond them. seek to take hold of them to use as tools in their class struggle. but also of defending political democracy (which is inseparable from it) and national sovereignty. Obviously. For.” A ratings downgrade is not an “economic assessment”. one destructive plan after another and one-day general strikes which most often were led into a dead-end by leaderships that want to protect the precarious existence of governments that are bowing the knee to the Troika. in a context where. the first of which.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH as it needed to in its destructive offensive. It is starting from an understanding of this contradictory movement that the sections of the Fourth International. despite the capitulations and the pacts to accompany the plans for dismantlement. sometimes despite the orientation of the leaderships. in order to put a stop to the ratification of the TSCG. That is the whole of the new TSCG treaty in a nutshell – not only the treaty. is focused on this question. If one takes into consideration the whole architecture of the ESM and TSCG treaties. Zapatero in Spain and Socrates in Portugal have faithfully and loyally agreed to implement every one of the murderous plans dictated by the capitalist class. the first. The result: after signing the TSCG. collective bargaining agreements. this can be summarised in one function: to be a bludgeon in the hands of US finance capital for protecting its interests and forcing the European governments to crush the working class and impose a corporatist framework. dismembering all that is left of the segments of political democracy and sovereignty of the nations of Europe. The Greek people cannot accept being reduced to nothing solely because of the declared need to bail out the banks and bankrupt speculators. but above all a social and political assessment on the grounds of the class struggle delivered by the capitalist class. in Spain. on the whole of human civilisation. Thus.” This statement in the founding programme of the Fourth International is essential for whoever wants to understand the combination of contradictory aspects that mark the situation today in Europe and to derive from this a leverage-point for action. They are doing so in each country. which sets its conditions. This. Namely: to help the masses mobilise around a system of transitional demands. the political condition for emancipating the labour movement from the corporatist shackles in which their leaders would like to lock them. conscious of its interests and fighting to defend them. the same does not apply to all levels of the labour organisations. is the non-ratification of the treaties. US finance capital ordered the European governments. They understand the extent to which we are now facing the absolute 8 . Here we have the whole paradox of the European situation. When Standard & Poor’s downgraded France in early 2012. the leaders of the parties historically born of the labour movement have – ages ago – accepted the very framework of the European Union’s institutions. Even when the senior levels of the labour organisations seem ready to set out along the path of accompanying capital’s plans. the working class is still standing. the working class is still standing. on that condition. today. expressed in particular through the credit rating agencies. they were forced to call for demonstrations. This is a question of defending the working class as a class. Its full implementation would imply the inflicting of a major defeat on the working class and the taking of a decisive step towards transforming the European Union into a supranational dictatorship. the masses inevitably turn to their old organisations and. the very expression of the existence of the class as a working class in itself. who could do nothing about it: “You must hit your own working class much harder. the fight for class independence. In Greece itself. Within this movement. is the decisive one: the laws of history are stronger than the bureaucratic apparatus. It is seeking the path of struggle. faced with the first batch of measures by the new Rajoy government. when the workers used the old UGTT trade union federation as a tool in their class struggle. are playing their own role. who called on them openly to prepare a general strike. and second. let us repeat. a concentrated form of the demand to break with the European Union. after more than a year of crisis. Papandreou in Greece. of course. is what happened in Tunisia. the greatest differentiations are emerging. in a certain form. “The orientation of the masses is determined first by the objective conditions of decaying capitalism. Of these factors. The pressure brought to bear by US finance capital. the situation is leading to an open revolutionary crisis. in forms that correspond to the national situation and their own forces. within the framework opened by the internationalist rally held on 1 October 2011 in Paris with workers and activists of all tendencies. They mustered one and a half million workers and youth. where cadres and activists – certainly with illusions. which is not likely to become any calmer in the next period. The political fight against ratification of the TSCG concentrates. despite this constant pressure towards a “sacred union” of subordinating the labour organisations to capital. as we have emphasised. It is thus a question of helping the working class to prepare itself for the big clashes of the class struggle due in the next period. but also the context in which it was put on the agenda. Rajoy announced that he will not be able to implement it! This expresses a fundamental law of the class struggle: in the first phase of their mobilisation. it accused the country of having excessive “labour market rigidities”. maybe we the owners of finance capital will once again have confidence in you.
The forms vary from country to country.). 2 March 2012). much more than the national education budget! And in cases of an “excessive deficit”. The same corporatist idea expressed in two different forms – one which puts into question the very essence of political democracy. France. preferably constitutional”. the labour movement was created and was able to win the greatest gains of the working class through struggle. it obliges states to adopt a programme of “structural reforms” (privatisation. Sarkozy stated that “in the Republic. historically. It cannot act any differently today. It provides for a “correction mechanism” to be triggered “automatically” and an appearance before the European Court of Justice in cases of non-compliance. which would directly control their execution” (Statement by the Independent Workers Party (POI). But the content is the same. The working class has all the resources it needs to change the way things are now. dismantling social welfare systems and the Labour Code. and the article “Arms economy and capitalism’s crisis of disintegration” in this issue. and François Hollande (Socialist Party) stated that “the President of the Republic cannot succeed on his own (…). The decision taken by the militant activists of the Fourth International to lay the foundations of such independent political parties and groupings. 71. regulation. It imposes a reduction of the public debt by at least 5 percent per year when this exceeds 60 percent of GDP. (2) “The new Brussels Treaty imposes the adoption of the “golden rule’’ for balancing public budgets “through binding and permanent [legal] provisions. in other words to work towards resolving the crisis of leadership. This is a fight that can be won. In other words. notably “the local collectivities and the trade unions” to help him govern. he will need intermediary bodies”.EUROPE. It is by separating itself completely from the capitalist class that the working class is able to defend its interests. there is no place for the class struggle”. a system in its death-throes” in La VéritéThe Truth. restore and win back the political independence of the labour movement. is the condition for helping the working class to move together as a whole class. Issue no. will fight and act to protect. (3) At the time of writing. These structural reforms would have to be approved by the European Commission. reducing wages and pensions. this would represent 90 billion euros per year. in the middle of the presidential election campaign in France. This is the way. within the traditional organisations. And to win. 9 . For France. THE CRISIS AND THE “DECISIVE FACTOR” necessity to help resolve the crisis of leadership. etc. to help in whichever form is appropriate to lay the foundations of independent workers’ parties or political groupings which. ENDNOTES (1) See the article “‘Debt crisis’? No.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 10 .
Obama. The reasons that are pushing US imperialism into wanting to make Germany play a role that is beyond its capabilities It is essential to understand the reasons that are pushing US imperialism into wanting to make Germany play a role that is beyond its capabilities. pressure on Germany moved up a notch. she was playing for high stakes. at the 48th “Conference on Security Policy”. The insistence in recent days within the SPD leadership on the need to strengthen links with the DGB leadership indicates that they are preparing for every eventuality – including the rebuilding of a “grand coalition” government – if maintaining the social order requires it.” This exists. himself facing a political crisis that continues to ravage the highest levels of the most powerful imperialism. and was very conscious of this fact. at a time when Europe is shutting down. of strengthening the capabilities of the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM). especially in the last 10 years. The sudden change of President of the Federal Republic has resulted in a dialogue between all the parties.” Arguing that Germany must propose a political course and not just austerity plans. stem first and foremost from the “social peace” that has been established there. before the consequences of an austerity policy in Europe closed down the channels of the European market. The European Summit was postponed… On the eve of the Bundestag vote on the second “rescue package for Greece” to the tune of 130 billion euros. wanted to present himself to his electorate as the man who had saved the world from a global crash. to cover the “risks” incurred in the euro zone and in fragile economies on other continents. on 25-26 February in Mexico. If there was any need to further dot the i’s. It would be a mistake to confine oneself to a simple explanation such as: “It is Germany’s economic power. Above all. There was an ulterior motive for that pressure. despite the dead-weight bearing down on it since the brutal offensive by Social-Democrat Schroder and the Social-Democrat leadership of the DGB (2). for that matter. 11 . France’s downgrading by credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) on 14 January indicated that as far as the main representatives of finance capital were concerned. But in recent days the whole world is afraid that those achievements might break apart. Two days after that vote (29 February). she received a serious warning. nor. are clear to see. she was afraid of contributing towards provoking a reaction from the population to these massive outflows of money intended to guarantee the billions “loaned” by the banks and speculators. to be sure. The rifts that have opened up in the government coalition – even within her own party – express the feeling that it is impossible for Germany to play the role in Europe allotted to it by US imperialism. Today. its power appears extremely fragile and closely dependent on variations in world “growth”. which in the recent period have resulted in the country being described by every government as a model for the whole of Europe. this is about leadership. Germany’s most important achievements. as these events illustrate the role Germany is playing in the crisis. its pre-war economic power. The fact that an agreement could be reached between Merkel and the SPD to propose Joachim Gauck’s candidacy is an indication of other discussions. at a time when the German people were and still are in the grip of 10 years of austerity and deregulation that it had recently been subjected to. Once again. ordering them to put their affairs in order so as to reassure the “markets”.Germany’s Role in the Crisis That Is Shaking Europe By Marc Lacaze The sequence of events that immediately preceded the postponement of the European Summit due to take place on 1 and 2 March 2012 deserves to be retraced briefly. European affairs should henceforth be dealt with in Berlin. The Chancellor’s solid self-assurance is now nothing more than a memory. He warned his hosts: “2012 could be a year where Germany becomes a leader of Europe. Merkel had lost what in Germany is called the “Chancellor’s majority” (1) and now had to rely on the votes of the SPDGreens “opposition”. Today its power is based mainly on the export capacity of its mechanical engineering industry. or (…) it could be the year in which Germany stumbles and draws the ire of Europe. World Bank President Robert Zoellick did so in Munich on 4 February. Twenty members of her parliamentary majority (CDU/CSU-FDP) withdrew their support. In early February. The German financiers and industrialists have channelled all their energies into the gap opened up for them by Schroder through driving down the cost of labour in Germany. the International Monetary Fund (IMF) returned to the attack and demanded that the G20 Finance Ministers increase the IMF’s reserves by US$600 billion. like everyone else – including the Social-Democrats – that a turn in the situation is underway. for example. Mario Monti no longer has the political support? Then what happens to Europe? The stakes are bigger than economics. the power of the German economy depends increasingly on the Chinese market’s capacity for absorption. Merkel knows. Merkel made it known that she was not in favour of increasing the IMF’s reserves. he added: “What happens if 6 or 9 or 12 or 18 months from now. From this point of view. but it is nothing like. The signs that a molecular process is developing deep down in German working class. the US administration was piling the pressure on the Europeans.” A few days later.
From that point on. Will the union leadership be able – as it did in 2010 – to give up a claim for a specific figure in the name of maintaining jobs? What happens in early March (3) assumes exceptional importance for the working class throughout Europe. It falls to the militant activists of the Fourth International to help build the leveragepoints that will allow it to deploy its full strength. if Sommer is able to continue to “neutralise” the working class. That paradoxical situation is owed to the Social-Democrat Chancellor Gerhard Schroder. Schroder declared war on the workers in his government statement (“Agenda 2010”) of 14 March 2003. Identifying this essential dimension. In this sense. without referring the matter to any official body. the leaders of the big trade union federations worked with the bosses to draft all the measures for relaxing regulations to allow jobs to be “saved”. as cover for the shameful diktat addressed by Merkel to our Greek brothers and sisters – this is the 12 . Practically 10 years ago. it formed the biggest battalion of the European working class. Twenty-three years ago. In that statement. which forced reunification through. Of course. to insecure employment without any protection against being laid off. one of the consequences being the pillage of the unemployment benefits system and a new explosion in insecure employment. DGB President Michael Sommer and the leadership of the IG Metall union called jointly for all the industrial action to stop. Short-time working was pushed the furthest possible. violating the most basic mandate of any trade union organisation. The working class tried to react. the German proletariat which brought down the Berlin Wall. IG Metall is seeking a 6. in the name of the first so-called “rectifications” made to the measures. Germany’s financial and economic power can only play its role as a circuit-breaker for the “crisis”. they have been prevented for the last 10 years from using all of their organisations’ power. In late May 2003. can only protect the US banks from contagion. Finally – something that was unprecedented – on the eve of the Bundestag vote (29 September 2011) on the first Greek “rescue” package. The workers know how to count: 210 billion + 130 billion = 340 billion. Sommer is infinitely more important than Merkel herself. During the 2008-9 crisis. Everybody can feel that the situation is becoming explosive. They used all their strength to make the workers pay at a time when. Sommer ceremoniously published a joint statement with Dieter Hundt. How long will they be able to maintain the dead-weight they are pressing down on the working class? The second Greek “rescue” package of 130 billion euros was voted through (27 February 2012) without Sommer daring – this time – to throw his weight openly on one side of the scales. with demonstrations. Three hundred and forty billion for the banks. The most concentrated and organised working class in Europe is being inevitably pushed to take up the role that is its right within that European confrontation. but there is one detail that all of them are pretending to ignore. The “miracles” announced in the area of defending jobs are going to vanish into thin air as soon as the first signs of the world recession appear in Germany. The German workers have taken some hits. at a time when tariff negotiations were starting in the public services and the metallurgical industry. like in Berlin. Pressure from the union grassroots is high. they called jointly for members of parliament to vote in favour of expanding the EFSF. This leaflet was signed by the eight heads of the DGB’s main member federations. The Social-Democrat leadership of the trade union apparatus was using all its strength on the side of the European banks. the G20 and US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is pushing the government and institutions of the Federal Republic to breaking-point. the DGB was distributing a leaflet calling on members of parliament to vote to reform the EFSF. siding with the bosses to make the workers pay the 210 billion euros in “guarantees”. The trade union leaderships then called for actions to “critically” accompany the course imposed by Schroder. At the same time. came together in a single class organisation despite all the obstacles. And we find ourselves in that paradoxical situation where the “pacified” social relations that exist in Germany are referred to every day as the model of responsibility which all European trade union leaders are being invited to imitate. He all but placed explosive charges under what served as a Labour Code. Pressure from US imperialism is bringing to crisis-point all the contradictions that run through German society. putting into question the system of collective bargaining agreements and therefore the prerogatives of the trade unions as guarantors of the workers’ collective rights. 21 percent of people under the age of 65 were living on social welfare. “Our enemy is in our own country” (Karl Liebknecht) The system of imperialist domination is leaking everywhere. President of the German Employers Federation (BDA). This is the real and ultimate safety lock for the situation throughout Europe. He greatly increased the scope for fixed-term contracts and temporary work.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH How long will the dead-weight being pressed down on the German working class by the DGB leadership last? The pressure being brought to bear on Merkel by the IMF. He imposed a cut in unemployment benefit and shortened the period it covered. with the bosses not wanting to give a cent. the German bourgeoisie has profited handsomely from the country’s 20 years membership of the euro zone. of its millions of members. They called on them in the name of the “common interest of workers and the entire German economy” to take on their responsibilities and finally open the way to better coordination of economic policy at the European level. he condemned hundreds of thousands of people to poverty. but they exist as a class and they remain organised as such. With his “Hartz IV” law.5 percent wage-rise. He imposed the introduction of derogation clauses into the collective agreements. there was a wave of mobilisations against those plans… That was when the credit rating agencies S&P and Moody’s threatened to downgrade Germany if Schroder’s “Agenda” was not immediately adopted in full. As far as US imperialism is concerned. in order to allow the German proletariat to deliver its heartfelt sentence without appeal on the disgraceful act of a Sommer providing the authority of the DGB. the centre of gravity of the situation in Europe is the degree of control that Sommer is able to exercise over the working class (and until when?).
not forgetting the German people. during the war. especially against the Germans. who are showing us the future to which finance capital would like to condemn us all. 13 . Only a careful and clear differentiation from the Sommer leadership will contribute towards restoring the German proletariat to its rightful place. that the Fourth International has set itself the task of providing. and to supporting the insultingly firm language used by a Schauble regarding the Greek people. of incomparably greater significance for the development of the German revolution than the sentimental semi-protests of the pacifists of the Independent Party”. He is the one (even more than Merkel) who agreed to be the accomplice of all the provocateurs intent on unleashing xenophobic hatred across Europe. hand on heart. who allowed Merkel to move into the vanguard to strangle the people of Greece. as opposed to a mere majority of those that are currently assembled. Sommer publicly and provocatively claimed to represent the interests that are supposedly shared by the German workers and their exporting enterprises. let us repeat. Delivering an uncompromising sentence on him is the most solid leverage-point for helping the working class to regain control over its class organisation. The USPD remained fundamentally on the ground of pacifist protest. He is the one who has played a crucial role in allowing the Americans to push Merkel further into the role of a “Gauleiter” tasked with carrying out the murderous plans against all the peoples of Europe. Today he can swear. (2) The Confederation of German Trade Unions (DGB) represents eight German trade unions with more than 6 million members. (4) The Independent Social Democratic Party of Germany (USPD) was established in 1917 as the result of a split of left-wing members of the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) who opposed the “sacred union” (the subordination of the labour movement to the bourgeoisie’s needs in the name of patriotism). acting as the worst kind of bag-carrier for finance capital.GERMANY AND THE CRISIS THAT IS SHAKING EUROPE help. which is vital for the situation to mature. The militant activists of the Fourth International are devoting themselves to just that. in the front line of the struggle together with the Greek people. for making progress in achieving a united front and restoring the working class to its rightful position in the revolutionary upheavals that are underway in Europe. in order to commit the trade unions to “saving” the euro zone together with Merkel and the bosses. by requiring that a majority of all elected members of the Bundestag must vote by secret ballot to elect a Chancellor. in line with the instruction given by Leon Trotsky on 6 October 1932: “The determined voice of a single Liebknecht was. (4) ENDNOTES (1) The “Chancellor’s majority” (Kanzlermehrheit in German) is designed to ensure the establishment of a stable government. He can strut about with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and chant: “Enough is enough!” but he is the one. because he used his authority as President of Europe’s main labour confederation to provide cover and support for Merkel and the Troika. (3) When this article was written – Translator. of his solidarity with the people of Greece.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 14 .
no autonomy over the budget. within and through their trade union organisations.000 members). half from New Democracy – were expelled from their parties for abstaining or voting against the memorandum. including two from PASOK. – mobilised on a wide scale from 6 to 12 February during the latest visit to Athens by the Troika. the situation in Greece was still marked by the fact that – to quote Lenin’s famous formulation – “the ‘lower classes’ do not want to live in the old way”. In early 2012. the militant activists of the Fourth International are duty bound to make their contribution to the necessary debate between labour activists. it was the initiative taken by the masses.000 members). and on the perspective of a regroupment for an independent labour political expression in Greece and across the continent. no credit.000 people?) carrying with it the main political and trade union organisations that claim to stand for the working class. since the memorandum was voted through and applied. Crisis flared up again within the state apparatus: the main police officers’ trade union declared: “You cannot force us to fight our brothers (…) demonstrating or demanding a change of policy. the ESM and TSCG). A revolutionary crisis that is Greek in form. Six ministers resigned. to call a strike overnight for the following day. carrying with it its organisations and broad sectors of the petty bourgeoisie – is faced with substantial internal obstacles – obstacles which. carrying with them their trade union organisations and rallying around them broad layers of a petty bourgeoisie strangled by the crisis…was a new factor in the disintegration of the institutions and the apparatus of the bourgeois state. Let us be clear: during that week of 612 February. the militant activists of the Fourth International were proposing to labour activists of all tendencies to open a discussion on the political problems posed by the mobilisation of the masses. It is within this framework that we must immediately pose one question: how is it possible that the movement by the Greek working class together with its organisations for the last two years has not been able to put a stop to the vicious policy of austerity measures dictated by the Troika and implemented by the governments of Papandreou and then Papademos? This movement by the working class – unequalled in strength. for the moment. 200. the “bailout plan” reduces Greece to the status of a colony: no money. surrounded the Parliament building… A mass of people united on a 15 .” “The chief obstacle…” Once again. (…) Clearly. a revolution). accused by their own flock of taking the side of the rich and powerful… – once again responded en masse to the call by the trade union confederations for a 24-hour strike on 17 January. In the same way. former minister in the Papademos government and leader of the far-right party LAOS (1). This being the case. and “the ‘upper classes’ cannot carry on in the old way” (4). opening the way to a vote by Parliament on 12 February. during the vote.half from PASOK. the centre of Athens saw a repeat of scenes from the strike of 19 and 20 October 2011: a gigantic mass (100.000. and then by Parliament. the newspaper of the Brazilian bourgeoisie. when after hours of continuous discussions the leaders of the three parties ratified the Papademos government’s plan on 9 February. it has not managed to overcome. 43 members of parliament . as we explained regarding the events of October-November 2011. that pushed the confederal leaderships of the private sector confederation. In Parliament on 12 February. On 12 February. the GSEE (700. and the public sector confederation. taking on one of the institutions of bourgeois order in Greece: the Orthodox Church and its Patriarch. stated before committing to implementing the Troika’s (2) new memorandum that he did not want to “contribute towards an explosion of a revolution (…) that could spread across Europe”. By publishing a modest Greek-language discussion bulletin in January 2012 called “The Fourth International Newsletter”. the Greek masses: – once again spontaneously demonstrated from the Orthodox Christmas holidays at the beginning of January. said the following on 23 February 2012 in the editorial of its finance supplement: “To make things simple.” In Greece itself. no nothing. What the European elite are trying to do is gain time (…) and protect the banks and European governments from an “accident” in Greece (for example. nobody gives a damn about Greece and even less about ordinary Greeks.Problems of the Revolutionary Crisis in Greece By Christel Keiser and Dominique Ferré The Folha de São Paulo. in order to identify those obstacles and help to formulate the ways and means for overcoming them. Everybody agrees: the revolutionary crisis is indeed on the agenda in Greece. but European and international in its content (reinforced by the two new European treaties. George Karatzaferis. However – and this sums up the whole contradiction – they really did carry on governing. 7 February. during the first visit of 2012 to Athens by the Troika’s emissaries. This new mobilisation by the masses. while trade unions and parties called for a demonstration in front of Parliament on 12 February. ADEDY (350. like all the barbaric measures that had come before. it was once again the powerful pressure from below that led the GSEE and ADEDY leaderships to call for a 24-hour strike on 10 February. aiming to get the new memorandum (3) endorsed by the Papademos government and the leaders of each party in the government of “national unity”.
Here we have the problem facing the labour movement: accompany the Troika’s plans. One is the healthy pressure coming from the grassroots. pushing the labour organisations to accompany the Troika’s plans. by drawing on the workers’ formidable combativity. out!” The workers have shown willing fifteen or twenty times. out!” “Troika. out!” means demanding that the organisations break with the Troika not only in words. it approved it without the confederal leaderships of the trade union organisations issuing the slightest guidance on that vote. barely a few thousand workers responded to the call by the GSEE and ADEDY to demonstrate in the same place. The masses’ mandate: “Troika. etc. by 199 votes out of 300. The (employers’) National Trade Confederation seized on this. The multi-millioned masses again and again enter the road of revolution. a “common front on social dialogue” was created – bringing together the GSEE and the employers’ organisations – proposing that the government should draft “concrete measures for reducing non-wage labour costs and improving the national economy’s competitiveness”. We urge the trade unions and union federations of the public and private sectors to call for the strike to be continued. sit-ins. the secondary school teachers union OLME sent this message to its confederation ADEDY. under the false pretext that 16 . from the top down. And not only did Parliament vote it through – as we shall see. rallies. and therefore disappear as labour organisations within a corporatist dictatorship. through sit-ins. parties and institutions that agreed to submit to it… Once again. out!” – and out with the government. Faced with the dictates of the Private Sector Involvement (PSI). “To the end” means getting rid of the Troika and its representative. which approved all the so-called “plans to help Greece”. that’s what we expect of our organisations.) until the Troika leaves. the GSEE leadership called for the National Collective Labour Agreement to be maintained. The labour organisations are constantly seeing two contradictory tendencies being expressed in their ranks.” “The situation can only change as part of a general uprising” Moreover. one shout could be heard ringing out everywhere: “Troika. Who can believe that the European “Parliament”. in other words respond to the mandate given by hundreds of thousands of workers who were demonstrating across Europe. quoted in various press outlets and expressing what millions were thinking. Thus in January. which says in particular: “The chief obstacle in the path of transforming the pre-revolutionary into a revolutionary state is the opportunist character of proletarian leadership: its petty bourgeois cowardice before the big bourgeoisie and its perfidious connection with it even in its death agony (5). We call on the ADEDY leadership to decide immediately to continue the fight using every form (strikes. As far as the militant activists of the Fourth International are concerned. like the “anti-capitalist coalition” Antarsia. this problem has begun to be posed within the Greek labour movement.” As one activist pointed out to us: “On 12 February. But each time they are blocked by their own conservative bureaucratic machines. that this poses the problem of uniting the whole of the working class. where are they going to cut now? The trade unions need to call everybody out on to the streets!” Of course. which was perfectly correct…but at the same time they agreed to reduce “non-wage labour costs”. Yet the leaders of the trade union confederations announced a meeting on 14 and then on 15 February. or demand the withdrawal of the plans. nobody is unaware of the enormous pressure being brought to bear. this major problem lies at the heart of its programme. taking over the labour organisation and carrying it into the fight for demands. on Sunday 19 February. shown that they are prepared to see things through to the end. the aspiration contained in the OLME letter was expressed: one female pensioner. advocating the signing of a “social protocol”. to discuss “the continuation or not of their movement”… But as early as 13 February. It is clear that the situation can only change as part of a general uprising that will have the characteristics of a political strike. from Lisbon to Athens.” Let us make clear: some groupings. Parliament voted late in the night to approve the memorandum. through demonstrations. the GSEE was asking for the “immediate intervention of the European Parliament to protect the Greek workers”. with the trade union organisations in the front rank. out!” The mandate given by the masses to their organisations was the slogan shouted out by hundreds of thousands of workers on 12 February in Athens: “Troika. from the state apparatus. to the implementation of the barbaric measures of cutting wages directly and indirectly. which a few months ago approved the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) with a broad “leftright” consensus. The other. the confederal union leaders called for a new rally…on the morning of Sunday 19 February. Yet. the Papademos government. demonstrations.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH single slogan: “Troika. while in Greece – and internationally – it only exists through its organisations. from top down and from bottom up. Bring the country to a halt until the Troika leaves with its plans. on the basis of an appeal to rally “to defend the Constitution. which involves attacks on the Social Security and pensions systems.200 euros… But that makes five times they have made cuts. but that they break off all links that tie them to the Troika’s plans. members of parliament. could prevent the implementation of the memorandum: a united general strike to put an end to the barbaric measures. from Brussels. as we stood facing Parliament. on 15 February: “We are continuing our fight to overturn this policy. Just after 12 February and on the eve of the meeting of the confederal union leaderships. one week later. in other words pulling the carpet from under the workers and refusing to use the only means of action that. In all countries the proletariat is racked by a deep disquiet. through 24-hour strikes. the law and democracy”. also claim to be putting forward the perspective of an “indefinite political strike”…without mentioning even once. could be a leverage-point for this fight? Two contradictory tendencies Finally. can only lead to the self-destruction of the organisations themselves. invoking the example of the recent tripartite social agreement signed in Portugal by the UGT leadership. Even within the 19 February rally. however. yelled: “I’m now getting 600 euros a month instead of 1.
the Greek press is saying that opinion polls are giving “the left” (in other words. like the Romanian people who in December 2011 stood up to the Basescu government and its counterreform of privatising healthcare as dictated by the IMF. certain sectors that support Merkel’s policies – and her hateful statements against the Greek workers – are trying unsuccessfully to pen the working class inside a “national unity” operation. At the time of writing this article. would arise from a general strike confronting the Papademos government in the pay of the IMF and European Union. and breaking with the institutions of the decaying Greek state which today only exist as subsidiary institutions of the IMF and European Union. Portugal. in a spontaneous explosion that produced the slogans “Privatisation kills!” and “IMF. What kind of government will rebuild Greece? What kind of government will cancel the measures in the memorandum and the past measures. PASOK. the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). breaking with the Troika. Conversely. poses the crucial question of uniting the working class and its organisations on the line of breaking with the international institutions and their policy. government and trade unions – to find socalled solutions. The workers must be vigilant: can such campaigns not lead to the kind of bloody fratricidal clashes manufactured by imperialism for which the Balkans already paid dearly during the 1990s? Against this policy of division that is aimed at clearing the name of the European Union.PROBLEMS OF REVOLUTIONARY CRISIS IN GREECE people should all pull together – bosses. one can say that the trend is for the workers to express confidence – not without illusions – in those parties that appear to them to be opposing the Troika and its government. through a united front of labour organisations – political and trade union – based on the demand: “Troika. which also reflects the constant stream of resignations by party members and trade union cadres. certain groups that emerged from Stalinism are seizing on Merkel’s statements and are trying to replace the deserved hate of the Greek workers for the Troika. Far from “isolating Greece” from the rest of Europe. It means letting the workers carve out a path that overcomes the obstinate refusal of the leaderships to call for a general uprising. out!” But such a perspective. 17 . out!” means doing away with calls for isolated one-day strikes which in the long term can only wear the workers down. It is this internationalist tradition that was applied by the German militant activists of all tendencies – including the German Trotskyists – who gathered in front of the Bundestag during the vote on the ESM on 27 February. the parliamentary coalition Syriza and the Democratic Left) between 30 and 40 percent of voting intentions if legislative elections were held. which aim at nothing less than “institutionalising what the Troika is imposing on Greece today”. in Greece or in any other country of Europe. the perspective of such a general uprising and a general strike directly poses the question of power. such a movement would win the sympathies of the workers from all over Europe. European Union and the French and German governments with a campaign against “the Germans”. In Greece. the Fourth International in Greece lays proud claim to the continuity of the traditions of Pantelis Pouliopoulos (1900-1943). is facing widespread rejection. Spain. In reality. The “most economical solution” As far as the militant activists of the Fourth International are concerned. France and An Appalling Campaign Let us note on this topic that in Germany. give way to a government that will break with all of that policy and with the international institutions of the IMF. in other words that they present a united front against the Papademos government for the formation of a government that would break with the European Union and the IMF. it is possible that such a government. this question was posed months ago. then leader of the Fourth International in Greece – a man who. “Germany”. will cancel the debt and break with the IMF and the European Union? There cannot be today.. a founder of the KKE and the Left Opposition. as well as the collapse of the vote for its trade union factions in internal elections. according to Paul Quiles. faced as they are with the Troika’s murderous plans and the ESM and TSCG treaties. like at the trade union level. In Germany. etc. Without being able to forecast its exact form. and therefore. It would win the sympathies of the workers of the Balkans. out!”. the promoters of the ESM-TSCG. “Troika. European Commission and ECB. it is clear that the “most economical solution” would be for the leaders of the parties which today enjoy the confidence of the masses to adopt the path of breaking with the European Union and the IMF. who refused to obey their officers’ order to fire. whose leadership on behalf of the Socialist International is cynically calling for it to have direct responsibility for the policy of destruction. that “prison of the peoples”. a campaign which the Fourth International is duty bound to denounce. Taking into account all the disclaimers regarding polls. It was contained in the slogan of October 2011: “Take your memorandum and clear off!” In other words: out with a government that is carrying out the Troika’s orders and strangling Greece. in order to clear the Troika’s name. standing with a banner that expressed the unity of the Greek and German workers against their common enemy. The same polls show PASOK’s support collapsing to less than 10 percent of voting intentions. a former Socialist Party minister in France. spoke out in their own language to those workers in uniform. as in Greece. an appalling campaign is being developed within the labour movement itself and relayed by certain senior figures. facing a firing squad of fascist Italian troops. Of course. any other solution for the workers than to stand on the ground of breaking with the international institutions of decaying capitalism. It would win the sympathies of the workers of Italy.
This perspective is also being put forward by various “anti-capitalist” groupings. it is clear that no step forward on the path of saving working people. Democratic Left – are openly claiming that a solution to the tragic fate of working people is possible within the framework of a “reformed” or “renovated” European Union.). a break with the directives of the Common Agricultural Policy. No memorandum must be signed. blackmail and embargo. it would be thrown out. It is certain that during a period in which thousands of trade union cadres. What would most probably happen. can be compatible with maintaining the anti-democratic institutions of the European Union. No new agreement. Now. and within the sizeable layer of workers and labour activists it influences. in a document entitled “The position of the revolutionary Marxists in relation to the European Union”: “Offering a solution to the crisis that is favourable to the working class and the poor layers requires a policy that opposes and is incompatible with the structures and mechanisms of the euro and the European Union. eventually. What is more. would be that even if it wanted to stay in the euro zone or the European Union. the KKE leadership puts forward in its propaganda. the KKE leadership is using its public positions as an instrument for dividing the workers’ ranks. notably advancing the perspective of an alliance and. those merchants of privatisation and poverty? As far as the Fourth International is concerned. And yet Synaspismos – supported by the Party of the European Left – is calling for “the anticipated elections” straight away. are posing the perspective of rebuilding a genuine workers’ party based on the trade unions. out!” means responding positively to the enormous aspiration to bring about the unity of the whole of the working class with its organisations against the puppet government of Papademos in order to sweep it aside. whose position on the European Union has evolved over the last few months. the Fourth International has conducted a debate with several groups and militant activists. would also not be implemented. in Greece or any other country of Europe. fulfilling the mandate of those millions who today in Greece are demanding “Troika. which as always called a rally that was separate from that of the ADEDY and GSEE union 18 . To this end.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH Germany. heavy taxation of capital and high incomes and property (including their confiscation). cancellation of the debt in order to put a stop to the bloodsucking of the payments of interest and insurance to the Greek and foreign usurers. In July 2011. it is a fact that some of these parties – Synaspismos. from the Maastricht Treaty via the Lisbon Treaty to the Stability Pact. trade unionists. its treaties and its directives. It is a fact that – against all the evidence and going against what millions of Greek workers are demanding through “Troika. the perspective of “leaving the European Union” and “cancelling the debt”.” Very good. That vote and public positions indisputably correspond to a profound aspiration among the working class and oppressed layers who are demanding “Troika. The plutocracy must pay”. but the barbaric plans and policies of the European Union. Far from addressing all the forces of the working class in order to propose a rallying together in unity on this perspective. control over and restrictions on the movement of capital. are pondering the issues. out!” But this is where the whole contradiction is to be found. would any “left-wing” government that did not put into question the framework of the European Union not be condemned to supplying a modern version of the “Popular Front”. the KKE leadership said: “Hundreds of thousands of demonstrators chanted to the four corners of the country: “The government and its criminal political line must leave now.” Other comrades. This corresponds to the policy of the Party of the European Left (EL). A position which regarding the debt matches that of the so-called “anti-capitalist” groupings that are putting forward the supposed need for a “citizens’ audit” of the debt. “Offering a favourable solution is incompatible with the euro and the European Union” In recent months. a government of the “left” (Synaspismos. This is all the more true in the case of a weak economy like that of Greece. etc. in order to determine the proportion of what they call the “illegitimate debt”. in favour of breaking with the European Union. But can an honest labour party be built in Greece without taking a clear position in favour of breaking with the Troika. Among them are the comrades of the Organisation of Internationalist Communists of Greece (OKDE-Ergatiki Pali) (6).” Why only the demonstration by PAME (the KKE’s trade union faction. beginning with all the banks. with the Troika. as twenty years after the destruction of the USSR it still continues to proclaim its attachment to the Stalinist bureaucracy and its international policy. out!” – several forces of the “left” and “far-left” are stubbornly claiming that breaking with the European Union and the debt is not a key question for opening up a solution. Its members of parliament voted against the memorandum. especially those who have broken with PASOK. In a statement issued the day after the mass demonstration in front of Parliament (13 February 2012). For example. even the most timid of measures for rebuilding the productive fabric (industry. the nationalisation of the key sectors of the economy. if a country’s government decided to carry out any measure in that direction. the role played by the leadership of the Communist Party of Greece needs to be noted within the necessary debate. and would suffer threats. agriculture) presupposes an industrial and trade policy based on control-monopoly over foreign trade and on the possibility of exercising a monetary policy (which is impossible without a new currency) and a credit policy. this debate deserves to be held. of which Synaspismos is a member. KKE. the most timid of measures for rebuilding the public sector and public services presupposes that not only would the “memoranda” not be implemented. It goes on: “The PAME demonstration in Athens was impressive. drawing attention to the absence of political representation for the working class. Now. in order to accumulate the economic sources and means for an alternative economic policy. To be sure. tying the parties that comprised it to continuing with the implementation of the European Union’s barbaric policy which today is hitting the Greek people? Should we not help to achieve a genuine united front of the working class against the government and the Troika? Conversely. these comrades wrote the following.
But what is the KKE leadership proposing to help the people get rid of “this political system”? In a communique dated 16 February.” Very good. which in this case means with the bourgeoisie and its institutions: the IMF. Should we wait and suffer more and more trials on the pretext that the people “has not understood” that it should support the KKE? Or rather. let us repeat. Left-Wing Communism: an Infantile Disorder. should we not act now to build unity among the workers of all the organisations that are stating their rejection of the Troika’s dictate in order to put an end to that policy? Almost instinctively. this is not due to them simply accepting their fate. nor sit quietly and let themselves be skinned alive. far-right). the destruction of 150. one of PAME’s spokespersons. to fill the coffers of the capitalists. but also the policy of those who claim that a solution is possible without breaking with the European Union and the IMF. demonstrating its class unity. PSI (private sector involvement) demands the total elimination of the National Collective Labour Agreement. European Union and ECB. it is because “the people” actually wants this and is letting it happen? Any PAME or KKE member knows very well that if the measures are raining down on the Greek people. despite the fact that grassroots pressure forced the PAME leaders to join the demonstrators in Syntagma Square)? How are we to characterise the fact that at a time when. It is nevertheless true that the questions posed in this article can only be overcome through free discussion as part of the common struggle being pursued by the workers and militant activists of the whole of Europe. During the debate in Parliament. to confront the representatives of the Troika. but to support the KKE. this would not resolve the urgent need to sweep away the Troika’s memorandum and the government that is implementing it. the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). and with which militant activists of the Fourth International have maintained discussions for several years. to which the Greeklanguage Fourth International Newsletter intends to contribute. (5) With the bourgeoisie in its deathagony. (6) OKDE-Ergatiki Pali is an organisation which a few years ago broke with the Pabloite United Secretariat. the Greek working class has carried with it its organisations. or again of those who while saying “down with the Troika” are systematically organising division among the workers’ ranks? Nobody can claim to have complete answers to the complex and difficult situation facing the Greek working class. (4) V I Lenin.000 jobs in the civil service and the complete privatisation of publicly-owned enterprises like the water. (2) Troika: the European Commission. it is due to the policy of the leaders of the apparatuses that control the labour movement.” What are we to understand from this? That if one memorandum follows after another and barbaric measures follow barbaric measures.PROBLEMS OF REVOLUTIONARY CRISIS IN GREECE confederations. addressed the demonstrators as follows: “The people must not be afraid of them. member of the Socialist International) are the three parties that formed the government of “national unity” headed by Papademos. (3) A new memorandum which among other things calls for a 22 percent cut in the minimum wage and new cuts in retirement pensions. Christos Katsiotis. Every time. It has done so on several occasions. 19 . ENDNOTES (1) LAOS (Popular Orthodox Rally. making use of more than twenty calls for 24-hour and 48-hours strikes to affirm its wish to drive out the Troika and its representatives. (…) What is vital is for the people to decide that it will not make any more sacrifices for the benefit of the plutocracy. railway and electricity systems. (…) is not just to free themselves from the parties of the plutocracy. New Democracy (right) and PASOK (Panhellenic Socialist Movement. has that wish not come up against the policy of the leaders of the labour movement who are refusing to call for a general strike and are reaching agreements with the bosses and the government to implement all or part of the “memoranda”. rather. the Greek working class was forcing its confederal union leaders to all call for the same action at the same time to confront the government and Parliament. there is no other solution for the people. rallied together and united in the face of the governments in the pay of the Troika. At the same time. once again.” Any sincere militant activist who is a member of PAME or the KKE knows that even if the KKE were to double its vote tomorrow. the KKE leadership counterposed the contingents it organised to the other demonstrators? Revisiting the policy of the KKE leadership On 12 February. while they and their children are plunged into total poverty and misery. It is only in this way that there can be a genuine break. KKE General Secretary Aleka Papariga stated: “The popular movement must move towards replacing this political system with a political system in which the workers and the people will have the power. the question for the people and for each worker. the KKE leadership evaded this question: “Henceforth. Withdrawal from the European Union and unilateral cancellation of the debt. together with their plans and their treaties.
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Egypt: Mubarak Fell One Year Ago
By Samir Hassan
The shockwave of the Tunisian Revolution, which delivered a blow to the US world order and brought about big upheavals in the Middle East, with mass mobilisations in Bahrain, Yemen and Syria, has found a powerful extension in Egypt. The revolutionary developments in this country, as in Tunisia, cannot be separated from the global revolutionary processes that are seeing the peoples rise up against US imperialism, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the European Union – today in the very heart of Europe. For 30 years, Egyptian political life had been dominated by the National Democratic Party (NDP), the party of Mubarak and his clique. The state’s security service, which was devoted to the security of the regime, filled society’s every pore through the distribution of bribes, job dismissals, deprivation of freedom, terror and torture. Elections were completely fraudulent. The sole aim of Mubarak and the military was to safeguard the despotic regime and then to pass power on to his son Gamal, in order to continue the corruption and organised usurpation of state wealth for the greater benefit of US interests. The influential US daily newspaper The Washington Post explained on 20 October 2011, in an article with the subheading “In Egypt, Corruption Cases Had an American Root”, how “beginning two decades ago, the United States government bankrolled an Egyptian think tank dedicated to economic reform. (…) Formed with a $10 million endowment from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies gathered captains of industry in a small circle – with the president’s son Gamal Mubarak at the center. (…) By the end of the 1980s, the public sector still constituted more than half of Egypt’s industrial production and 90 percent of its banking and insurance industries.” Gamal Mubarak’s allies “helped draft legislation in 1991 that authorized Egypt’s privatization program, with a plan to privatize more
than 350 companies worth $104 billion” and then “the Cairo office of the giant Chicago-based international law firm Baker & McKenzie handled more than $3 billion of the privatization deals, including the government’s sale of assets, companies and land”. (1) This is how Egypt was integrated into the world economy, under the aegis of US imperialism, resulting in the brutal superexploitation of the working class and worsening oppression. In 2010, then-IMF Managing Director Dominique StraussKahn congratulated Mubarak and his team on the job they had done and at the same time invited them to speed up the privatisation programme. The “25 January revolution” The demonstration on 25 January 2011, the first in a series that would see millions of Egyptians take to the streets for 18 straight days, brought together 15,000 people. The day before, daily newspaper Al-Wafd announced that neither the Copts, nor the Muslim Brotherhood, nor the liberal Wafd Party, nor the left-wing Tagammu party (2) would take part. Also before the demonstration, Mubarak visited the Police Academy that was named in his honour – the same one where his trial would be held, five months later – and delivered a speech there in which he talked about the attack on the Two Saints’ Coptic Orthodox church in Alexandria in the New Year and his 10-year fight against terrorism. On the eve of 25 January, the Muslim Brotherhood condemned a new wave of arrests from among their ranks. Day after day, participation in the demonstrations grew, in Cairo and the country’s other main towns and cities, especially in Suez, which saw something close to an insurrection. Police stations, government offices and NDP offices were stormed. For several days, demonstrators faced off against the military police. On 31 January, Mubarak – under pressure from the Obama administration – asked General Omar Suleiman, head of the
intelligence service, whom he had just appointed Vice President of the Republic, to open a dialogue with the opposition. The Muslim Brotherhood, Tagammu and supporters of El-Baradei (3) responded to the call. The masses continued to fill the streets, demanding Mubarak’s immediate departure. On 1 February, 1 million people demonstrated in Cairo, 500,000 in Alexandria, 250,000 in the industrial city of El-Mahalla El-Kubra, 200,000 in AlMenya, 150,000 in Fayoum, 250,000 in Menoufia, Mubarak’s city of birth, 100,000 in Port Said, 100,000 in Arish, 250,000 in Sinai, 500,000 in Mansoura and 500,000 in Suez. German news agency DPA estimated that at least 8 million people demonstrated that day throughout Egypt. Mubarak refused to resign, but made a commitment not to stand in the next presidential election due in September, as demanded of him by Obama. But the people were demanding that he leave immediately. On 2 February, the regime sent in its bully-boys and henchmen (baltageya), who violently charged the crowds in Tahrir Square on horseback and camelback, before being surrounded and unseated by the demonstrators. One of the instigators of that “Battle of the Camel” was none other than Hussein Megawer, President of the official Egyptian Trade Union Federation (ETUF). The day after the battle, defence committees were spontaneously set up to defend the neighbourhoods and apartment buildings, and to control the access-points to Tahrir Square. But this move towards forming committees, which lasted a few days, went no further. While the government was pursuing its dialogue with the opposition, the anger of the masses continued to rise and turned against the NDP and the compliant media. The main NDP headquarters in Cairo was set alight. The Muslim Brotherhood did not support the demonstrations, but were not able to prevent their members and supporters from taking part. From 9 February onwards, hundreds of
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strikes broke out across the country, linking social demands to the democratic demands. The official trade unions opposed those strikes with all their might. In key sectors like the naval dockyards (owned by the military apparatus), the Suez Canal Authority and Cairo International Airport, the workers had to brave the hostile opposition of the official trade union representatives. Everywhere – the energy and oil sectors, the textile and metallurgical industries, telecoms, agriculture, the banks, government ministries – the workers were demanding wage-rises, permanent employment contracts and, within the same movement, the resignation of the ministers and directors appointed by the government and the right to set up their own trade union organisations that were independent from the official union. Hundreds of thousands of workers who up until then had participated in the mass demonstrations together with their families, neighbours and friends to demand Mubarak’s immediate departure, now organised their strikes and sit-ins. The sudden emergence of the working class in the factories, offices and dockyards played a determining role in Mubarak’s “desertion” by the White House and the army, and in his downfall. On 11 February, Omar Suleiman announced that Mubarak was resigning – in his speech the day before, he was still hanging on to power. Suleiman announced that power had been handed over to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – some 20 senior officers headed by Field Marshal Tantawi – in other words, in fact, to the military apparatus that had governed the country for the last 60 years. The heart of the regime had been affected, but the state apparatus, with the army as its spinal column, remained in place. The 18 days of demonstrations and clashes had resulted in 864 dead and 6,460 injured. “Democratic transition” gets underway The SCAF dissolved Parliament, suspended the Constitution that had been in force since 1981 and announced that it intended to lead a process of “democratic transition”. It announced that it would organise a referendum on 19 March on the adoption of amendments to the (suspended) Constitution, closely followed by legislative elections, the The setting-up of the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions (EFITU) was announced during a press conference held in Tahrir Square on 30 January 2011. In its constituent declaration, it totally opposed the official ETUF and specified: “The workers’ struggles paved the way to today’s revolution by the people. This is why Egyptian workers and employees drafting of a new Constitution and a presidential election, all within six months. A process that was dreamed up and introduced against the demand for a sovereign Constituent Assembly that would represent the workers’ interests. The SCAF called on Egyptians to return to work and allow order to be restored. The NDP and Muslim Brotherhood were in favour of the generals’ “roadmap”. The Vice-chair of the constitutional reform committee, who had been appointed by them, was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. But far from coming to an end, the strikes continued and escalated. Teachers, doctors, textile workers, metalworkers, cement-works employees, telecoms workers, railworkers, bus-drivers, dockers, etc. all put forward their demands and called for the dismissal of managements that had been appointed by Mubarak. “We demand that Egypt be rid of institutionalised corruption”, the workers shouted, systematically linking social demands with democratic demands, conscious that one was interdependent with the other. At the same time, demands for the repeal of the state of emergency and the special military tribunals, for the dissolution of the state security service, for trade union rights, for press freedom were all expressed strongly. Very quickly, the demonstrators who had gathered practically every Friday in their tens of thousands, in Tahrir Square and in the public squares of every large town and city, demanded the departure of Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, whom Mubarak had appointed before his downfall. “The Shafiq government is the servant of the corrupt regime, we do not want Shafiq!”, the demonstrators chanted. The masses wanted nothing to do with the regime, even though Mubarak had already been removed from it. The building of independent trade unions, constraints and confusion categorically refuse to allow the “governmental” general federation to represent them and speak in their name”. Created in 1957, the ETUF has for decades been a key institution, a cog in the regime’s apparatus for oppression and corruption. A 1976 law gave it a monopoly on representing the workers. The Sharaf government refused to dissolve it. On 4 August 2011, the government finally dissolved the ETUF’s Administrative Committee and appointed a provisional committee made up of independent trade unionists, Islamists and members of the official trade union. Four general trade unions – oil workers, millers, maritime transport and transport workers – called for the dissolution of the provisional committee and went on strike to achieve this aim. The government then took the decision to replace those members with members of the official trade union. The EFITU held its first Congress in January 2012. It claims to have 2 million members organised in some 200 trade unions. But both trade unionists and other workers are facing serious difficulties. The new trade unions are enterprise-based unions that are hardly connected with their branch or geographical sector. Most of them have neither a trade union office nor a bank account and are having to deal with the presence of the official trade union, which continues to receive the compulsory dues deducted from wages. Another problem has arisen: confusion between trade unions and “nongovernmental organisations” (NGOs). One of the main NGOs, the Centre for Trade Union and Workers Services (CTUWS), or Dar al Khadamat al Niqabya in Arabic, is active – as an NGO – in setting up trade unions. Its main representative, Kamal Abbas, heads up the Egyptian Democratic Labour Congress (EDLC), which claims 214 member trade unions. The report on a meeting on 24 May 2011 between Abbas and Anick Coupé, spokesperson for the Union Syndicale Solidaires in France, indicated without further comment that the CTWUS “enjoys the long-term support of the NGO Oxfam. It has established links with the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), organisations affiliated to the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and the AFL-CIO. It is also in contact with the Euro-Maghreb network, in which
Every President and Prime Minister. and virginity tests were carried out on detained women.” (6) Thus. aviation and construction). the military made novel use of the law that allowed them to requisition land for the defence of the motherland. “Between 2004 and 2011. the generals ran some big state enterprises. It heads up an economy which according to experts represents more than one-quarter of the national economy. the NSPO set up a string of dairies and got into chicken-farming and fish-farming. a Coptic church in the working-class district of Imbaba (Cairo) was set alight while the army looked on passively (12 dead. In April. continued with its attempts to smash the mass movement and ban strikes and sit-ins. selling their plots to developers who in exchange guaranteed them shares in huge touristsector projects.” One could ask oneself who is fooling who. The Egyptian army is the regime’s spinal column. not the people… Yes. instead of receiving military training. they observed: “This army is no longer the people’s army. violent acts by troops in front of the Interior Ministry in Mohamed-Mahmud Street lasted 7 days (43 dead. whose aim was to maintain the regime at whatever cost by means of a “democratic transition”. The CTWUS received the “French Republic Human Rights Prize” in 2007 from the Sarkozy-Fillon government.EGYPT: MUBARAK FELL ONE YEAR AGO participate most notably the SNAPAP (Algeria). Mubarak’s former Aviation Minister. under Anwar el-Sadat? These days it is only the generals who talk such nonsense. and pose this question: if “this army is no longer the people’s army”. The profits could be counted in billions of dollars. 750 injured). the military are involved in all of Egypt’s administrative and economic institutions. 325 injured). and most government ministers have come from their ranks. the ElMarinab church in Aswan was set alight. “Down with the military government! Tantawi. the National Service Projects Organisation (NSPO). The masses face off with the army The wish to have done with the regime led increasingly broader layers of the population into confrontation with the military leadership. In the 1960s. it is the regime.000 injured). In December. or even employment law. a sit-in was violently dispersed in Tahrir Square. Its main representative has been active for many years in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and speaks there on behalf of the trade union organisations. military tribunals. we want to win soldiers over to the revolution. Officially. and then demonstrations against this massacre near the Interior Ministry and in Suez between 2 and 6 February were put down violently (15 dead and hundreds injured). They exploited a cost-free workforce of soldiers in factories that were not subject to trade union law. Following the fall of Mubarak on 11 February 2011. Mubarak had 23 . (…) In the early 1980s. there were mass arrests. General Ahmed Shafiq. the agricultural concerns were cultivated by miserable young conscripts who. In July. The army accounted for 18 percent of national food production. Conversely. some 1. In October. the Defence Ministry set up a string of commercial enterprises. the CGT (Spain) and the Union Syndicale Solidaires (France)”. In June. but once the “democratic transition” manoeuvre had begun. things were different. The army is not neutral. In September. Its role is to protect Israel. On 1 February 2012. 186 injured). The army developed that economic power considerably following the signing of the peace agreement with the State of Israel and thanks to the privatisation programme drawn up by the Mubarak regime and the IMF. In May. But one should not be fooled by slogans saying “the army is on our side”. In March. This army is not the one that defeated the Zionist enemy in October 1973. and at least two of them died. They greatly increased the number of real estate and tourism projects on the coasts. Before Mubarak’s downfall it did not open fire on the people. Under the auspices of an ad hoc institution. resign!” Since Mubarak’s downfall. In fact. in a statement dated 6 February 2012. The army is the pivot of the regime The army has used the regime’s full arsenal of repressive measures: anti-strike law. a demonstration by Copts in front of the Maspero building of the state TV channel was savagely crushed (28 dead. not a month passed without repression or bloody provocation against the demonstrators. lasted 35 days. it was a question of involving the army in national economic development and to ensure the selfsufficiency of the troops.” (5) Then the wave of mass privatisations in the 2000s opened up a new El Dorado for the senior officers. torture. Playing all the odds. This army is closely linked to America and Israel. At the same time. families of victims who had gathered peacefully in a meeting-room in the centre of Cairo were brutally attacked. the military took advantage of their political networks to obtain juicy contracts. the strength of the revolutionary process has brought about the fall of two Prime Ministers and seen millions demand an end to the military government. the SCAF. young officers opposed to their hierarchy were arrested. demonstrators marching on the Defence Ministry in Abbasseya district (Cairo) were ambushed. does this mean therefore that it was once the people’s army and should become it again? When was it the people’s army? In 1973. naval dockyards. The Egyptian army occupies a particular position. and a demonstration in front of the Israeli Embassy on the anniversary of the Naqba (4) was repressed violently (350 injured. a massacre was carried out in the Port Said stadium (74 dead and hundreds injured). threats to press freedom. but it was when Anwar el-Sadat signed the Camp David Accords that the army got involved in the production of the widest possible range of consumer goods. they obtained management positions in the newlyprivatised strategic enterprises (port infrastructure. In November. state of emergency. collected eggs and distributed grain to batterychickens. the management of which was entrusted to military officers and which enjoyed an exceptional status: they did not pay taxes and were not subject to company law or the least governmental regulation. It was surprising to read this question in a statement dated 1 February 2011 by the Revolutionary Socialists (RS) of Egypt (linked to the UK’s SWP): “Everybody is wondering: is the army with the people or against it?” And one year later. 150 arrested). “The military command converted a big proportion of its production infrastructure to the manufacture of consumer goods. extension of the special laws. there were 4 days of clashes near the seat of government (19 dead.
” That same evening. The RS welcomed this nomination. the military chiefs of staff prepared for a meeting with the Muslim Brotherhood. On 11 February. Tagammu and supporters of El-Baradei. shouting “Down with the military government! Tantawi. it doesn’t make it any less of a desertion. the United States discussed with the Egyptian generals the terms for the departure of Hosni Mubarak and the transfer of power to a transitional government led by the Vice President. quickly saw that Sharaf was refusing to lift the state of emergency and the antistrike law. On 1 February. On 7 February. On 4 February. John Kerry and John McCain have been meeting regularly with its leadership. the US administration cut Mubarak loose in order to save the regime. On 5 February. That’s what is most worrying”. as millions in the streets were demanding. the Israeli leadership were very worried. the IMF and World Bank could “help the Egyptian economy to bounce back” in the current situation. The Muslim Brotherhood is led by wealthy businessmen who swear by 24 .LA VERITE/THE TRUTH appointed him a few days before his own downfall. especially after 9/11. US imperialism and the European Union supported the dictatorships of Mubarak. He did not ask him to leave. National dialogue to save the regime As early as 1 February 2011. In their own statement. Mubarak’s former Prime Minister between 1996 and 1999. and Obama’s Special Envoy to Egypt Frank Wisner. This crucial question was to dominate all the negotiations and decisions taken during the popular uprising and the current process.” On 6 February. They rose up to demand the end of the military government and the prosecution of the guilty. and on respecting the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty signed in 1979. He did not co-ordinate his comments with the US government. Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. Obama’s Special Envoy Frank Wisner. but only not to stand in the presidential election due to be held in September 2011 – which Mubarak duly announced a few hours later. Every political and institutional force united to block the movement begun by the masses and come to the rescue of the military apparatus. saying: “The views he expressed today are his own. the Muslim Brotherhood has also been very clear. The Muslim Brotherhood has said repeatedly to its interlocutors that it would scrupulously respect the peace treaty. Barack Obama reiterated his wish to see an “orderly” and “meaningful” transition that would lead to a “representative government”.2 billion IMF loan that had been postponed by the government in June 2011 in view of the massive popular rejection of the policy of subordination to the financial institutions. As for Egypt’s subordination to the IMF and World Bank. The Democrat Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The Muslim Brotherhood asked for a round-table to be organised with the regime. and in his place appointed Kamal al-Ganzouri. Mubarak’s Transport Minister in 2005. resign!”. the discussions have focused on how the United States. the RS urged the political parties to “involve all the national political forces in that round-table”. very senior US officials like Deputy Secretary of State William Burns. the massacre of the Copts at Maspero and the savage repression in front of the seat of government. assuring 235 out of 498 seats in the People’s Assembly (43 percent). a senior Israeli official told news agency AFP. al-Ganzouri wins first prize among those who fulfilled the contract imposed by the IMF and the World Bank. was used as a fall-guy by the generals when hundreds of thousands of people demonstrated. emphasising that he “had participated in the liberation demonstrations”. The Egyptian chiefs of staff stayed in permanent contact with US Defense Secretary Robert Gates. who were deaf to such ringing endorsements. from the Salafists (ultra-conservative Islamists) to the left and far-left. The president must stay in office to steer those changes through. former President Jimmy Carter. With the privatisation of 113 public enterprises. the Obama administration distanced itself from the envoy’s comments. the SCAF persuaded Essam Sharaf to resign. They gave their approval for a US$3. The opposition parties and the NDP were invited to a meeting with the government. Hillary Clinton called on the Egyptian government to “immediately” open a dialogue with the opposition and repeated that the army’s duty was to protect the demonstrators. an anxious communiqué from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu called on those in power to “demand” that any Egyptian government should respect the EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty. In order to save the regime. General Omar Suleiman. Ben Ali. The whole of the left – including the far-left – welcomed this initiative. Essam Sharaf. described the discussions that were starting between the government and the Muslim Brotherhood as “frankly quite extraordinary”. who had met with the leaderships of both the regime and the opposition. in the name of their constituting a useful barrier to Islamists linked to al-Qaeda. The Muslim Brotherhood become “respectable” The Muslim Brotherhood has been depicted as a shadowy organisation with links to terrorism. Former US Vice-President Dick Cheney praised Hosni Mubarak as a “good friend and ally to the United States” while at the same time suggesting he should “retire”. His nomination had been proposed to the generals by youth coalitions that were in permanent contact with the SCAF. “Even if the American position has become more nuanced in the last few days. The masses. as well as for another loan from the World Bank in the amount of US$1 billion. Since the Muslim Brotherhood won the elections. Bashar al-Assad and Qaddafi. which provided cover for the provocation in Imbaba. Obama congratulated the Egyptian army for allowing peaceful demonstrations to take place – one way of asking it to stand aside and maintain itself so as to be able to answer an eventual call later. resulting in thousands of workers being laid off. following the violent clashes in front of the Interior Ministry in November. on condition of anonymity. John Kerry. President Obama spoke with Mubarak on the telephone. Far from being limited to human rights. said that Hosni Mubarak should stay in power to ensure the political transition to democracy: “We need to get a national consensus around the preconditions for the next step forward. All forces united to defend the regime The sudden wave of demonstrations and strikes terrified the US administration because of the risks to regional and global order which the collapse of the Mubarak regime could create.
As Sadat’s successor. Iraq has become a mosaic of Sh’ite. The platform of the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). mercenaries returned immediately after that war. just like US imperialism. one of the main regions producing oil and gas. He signed specific trade agreements with his Israeli “partners” and since May 2008 supplied them with natural gas at subsidised prices under a long-term contract. In fact. Egypt became a special ally of the United States and posed as a factor of stability for the imperialist order in the Middle East following the negotiations carried out with the State of Israel. the Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafists brought hundreds of thousands of their supporters to the 29 July demonstration by chartered bus. In Mali. we are the voices of your children in Tahrir!” Egypt. He applied the Egypt-Israel treaty devotedly. a veritable war is threatening neighbouring Algeria. And since controversial issues were not supposed to be debated. then in the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty in 1979. A project to carve nations up into pieces.3 billion. In Chapter Four. This project consisted of a complete redrawing of the map of the countries “from Afghanistan to Morocco”. This grouping is headed by Hassan Malek. the Egyptian Communist Party and the Tagdid (8) together with the Muslim Brotherhood. and had them chant: “We want it [the Republic] Islamic!” and “Do you hear us Tantawi. an order based on breaking up and blowing apart nations that George Bush called the “Greater Middle East” (GME). Egypt has had to import gas from Qatar at normal world market prices.” This government minister cited as a reference worked. Rachid Mohamed Rachid (7) understood very well how to attract foreign investment. who has openly praised Mubarak’s economic policies: “We can benefit from previous economic decisions. they put all their weight behind respect for the electoral timetable. a special ally of the United States Egypt is a cornerstone of US imperialism’s plans in the Middle East. the United States has provided annual financial aid to the Egyptian army that has reached US$1. the Salafists and the Gamaa Islamiya – the latter two being supporters of an Islamist Republic. Following the war in Libya. When the Israeli army crushed Gaza under a carpet of bombs in December 2009. On 11 January 2012. Mubarak closed the crossing-point between Rafah and Gaza. a grouping of leading businessmen linked to the Brotherhood aiming to promote private investment. which is seeing conflicts unfold on its own territory. and in the north-west. the Muslim Brotherhood. in line with the plans dictated by the IMF and international institutions. and supported the SCAF as it implemented its “roadmap”. and that support only for the Jewish State was not the solution. Egypt was therefore regarded as a rock-solid guarantor of the world order in the Middle East. what is more. To cap it all.000 men. on the border with Algeria. he participated in the first Gulf War by sending 35. speaks highly of the mechanisms of the free market. which depend on fair competition and restricted free economy (without manipulation or monopoly). an army is claiming autonomy over a territory it controls in South Sudan. which brought about the renunciation by Palestinians of their right to a nation and the scattering of that people over scraps of territory controlled by the Israeli army. like all the others. Before his downfall. Syria 25 . it stipulates that “economic activity is to be conducted in conformance with Islamic market mechanisms. chaos reigns. Will they succeed? That is another question. the generals in power. They intend to guarantee the continuity of the regime on every level. if not as an act of turning their back on class independence? And what are we to say of the forming of a “United Popular Front” – grouping together nearly every political organisation – that called a huge demonstration in Tahrir Square on 29 July 2011 but made a commitment not to debate “controversial issues”? This “front” included left-wing and far-left organisations. the Islamist parties’ slogan was “Islam is the solution!” Today they are converts of “democratic transition”. the Obama administration has been implementing this sinister carve-up without speaking of a “Greater Middle East”. In 1990-1. they started a war there. the Muslim Brotherhood set up the “Egyptian Business and Investment Association”. He is one of the very few officials of the Mubarak regime to have been convicted of squandering public funds and embezzlement – convicted in absentia. During the bloody clashes that preceded the launch of the elections in November. and the substitution of social rights with charity. On Egypt’s doorstep. a textiles magnate and financial backer of the FJP. Since that date. as Rachid fled to Dubai after Mubarak’s downfall. entitled “Towards the founding of a Workers’ Coalition of the January 25 Revolution” (9). Mubarak and. in order to be able to supply the contracted quantities of gas. Is this programme any different to those of the US Democrat or Republican Parties or of the European Union? The Muslim Brotherhood simply dubs these measures “Islamic”. in the east with alQaeda. The war launched in 1973 against the State of Israel aimed precisely at convincing the United States that Egypt could play an important role in the Middle East. armed to the teeth. any more than they have demanded the repeal of the anti-strike law. How are we to understand the propensity of some left and far-left organisations to be associated with the Muslim Brotherhood? What could be the meaning of the declaration signed jointly on 25 February 2011 by the Revolutionary Socialists. Those Accords opened the way to the Oslo Agreement in 1993. Those negotiations resulted in the Camp David Accords in 1978. Sudan has split into two under the auspices of the UN and.EGYPT: MUBARAK FELL ONE YEAR AGO privatisation and foreign investment. Thus. the Muslim Brotherhood’s political arm. Economic activity will also rely on Islamic investment and funding methods. with the Tuareg militias who are claiming independence. The first – and hardly the least – consequence of the signing of the Accords with the State of Israel was the isolation of the Palestinian people. under the White House’s leadership. to privatise hundreds of Egyptian enterprises and to smash any hint of trade union resistance.” The platform calls for an end to state subsidies allocated to people who need them. Hosni Mubarak remained a fervent ally of the United States. There have been correct ones in the past. They have not supported the call for rallies against the generals. When they were in opposition. waged in order to counter the revolutions underway in Tunisia and Egypt. the liberals. today. The interest the US has vested in Egypt has been matched by the services rendered by the regime under Anwar elSadat. Sunni and Kurdish territories.
They are conservative. Now we are demanding that the rights of our Palestinian brothers and sisters be respected.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH is on the verge of exploding. In Morocco. (7) Mubarak’s Minister of Trade in 2004. A dozen declared candidates have entered the lists. On each occasion.” The revolutionary developments in Tunisia and Egypt changed the situation once and for all. an end to the occupation of the Palestinian territories. the anniversary of the Naqba. (9) See: http://www. This formulation made the front page of all the newspapers. Much more than a historic act defined by a particular moment. affiliated to the Socialist International. and the Ettakatol (Democratic Forum for Labour and Liberties). (5) French daily newspaper Le Monde. and when the workers on strike in several establishments were demanding the sacking of corrupt managements. (6) Ibid. The following question was put by a journalist to a US diplomat: “Do you trust the Muslim Brotherhood?” The diplomat replied: “They have several facets.. against strikes and sit-ins. the defence of the right of return for Palestinian refugees and the release of the detainees”.2 billion from the IMF. (3) Mohamed El-Baradei. another current linked to the UK’s SWP. (2) The National Progressive Unionist Party (in Arabic. In Egypt. European. and on 21 August. In Tunisia. calling for “the closure of the embassy and the expulsion of the ambassador. As far as the Egyptian people are concerned.” The message is clear. (8) Socialist Renewal. decreed by the generals. (4) The Palestinians speak of the creation of the State of Israel in 1947-8 as the “Naqba”. following the attack of the Israeli armed forces in the Sinai. On 15 May 2011. It is consensus that allowed parliamentary elections to be held at a time (November and December 2011) when a genuine popular uprising was demanding the resignation of Field Marshal Tantawi. widely known as the Nobel Peace Prize-winning former Director General of the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). After spending 24 years partly underground. faced with the wave that had swept away Ben Ali and Mubarak. the expression of the new stage in the world proletarian revolution that is opening. killing 6 Egyptian army officers. wage-rises and permanent employment contracts. The Washington Post. The consensus which exists today for accepting a loan of US$3. which eloquently express what millions of Egyptians are thinking: “We spent 18 days on Tahrir Square calling for our rights. are pushing to intervene there. the army violently broke up the demonstrations. Negotiations are underway. pilot fish to US imperialism’s shark.org/sp ip. In Tahrir Square. with all the considerable consequences that could entail for all of the countries in the region. it is the binomial militaryMuslim Brotherhood that is being put in place to save the regime. Grimaldi and Robert O’Harrow Jr. Saudi Arab and Qatari investors – a consensus against repealing the privatisations. 26 . ENDNOTES (1) James V. 20 October 2011. The consensus between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood is that of the “democratic transition” wished for and supported by imperialism. A “consensus President” The presidential election is due to take place in late May. something different is in order. This is an absolute necessity for them. made up of the three main parties: the Ennahda movement (Islamist). but they are also strategists and they do not appear to me to want to rock the boat for the moment. The Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership has stated publicly that Egypt needs a “consensus President”. the Naqba has in fact never stopped. Hizb al Tagammu’ al Watani al Taqadomi al Wahdawi) widely referred to as Tagammu. returned to Egypt on 27 January 2011 from the United States two days after the big mass protests began. A consensus which was precisely demonstrated in the refusal by the Muslim Brotherhood to oppose the law that criminalised strikes and sit-ins. because if the regime does not survive. which means catastrophe. Everybody is providing their own commentary on this. hundreds of Palestinian and Egyptian flags have often flown side by side. deprivation and the denial of the Palestinian people’s basic right to exist. 22-23 January 2012. against the process of the revolution that is continuing. the King revised the Constitution in order to associate the opposition – notably the Islamist party – and save his regime. the Islamist parties – once excluded – have today been integrated in the name of the “democratic transition”. and has become a long process of expulsion. National unity against the revolution In order to counter the revolutionary developments and keep the regimes in place. in Egypt as in Tunisia. including groups and parties that are not represented in Parliament. The official registration of candidates is scheduled to take place between 10 March and 18 April 2012. Taking into account the results achieved by the Muslim Brotherhood in the parliamentary elections. a government of national unity has been put in place. French daily newspaper Le Figaro reported (16 May 2011) the comments of one demonstrator. there is no doubt that the candidate who receives their support in the presidential election will be elected. Qatar and Saudi Arabia.php?article2102 on the United Secretariat’s website. this is a natural extension of our revolution. declaring himself ready to lead a transitional government if that was the people’s wish. but at the same time everybody recognises that it speaks loudly of “a President who also has the support of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces”. demonstrations took place in front of the embassy of the State of Israel in Cairo. the Congress for the Republic. the Muslim Brotherhood – legalised after Mubarak’s downfall and controlling 43 percent of the seats in the People’s Assembly – have decided to play the national consensus card as broadly as possible. They are historically opposed to the West.internationalviewpoint. “How US Policy Helped to Corrupt the Egyptian Economy”. This consensus was aimed at reassuring the markets and establishing a climate of confidence for US. order in the region will be destabilised. It is in this explosive situation that imperialism is demanding of the generals in power in Egypt and of their Islamist supporters that they stay on course and guarantee that the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty is respected.
Let us recall that following the elections to the pseudoConstituent Assembly. confronting several obstacles raised in its path by the big imperialist powers. through their revolutionary mobilisation and drove Ben Ali from power. A year ago (March 2011). Ettakatol (member of the Socialist International) and the Congress for the Republic. and before that Iraq. who reaffirmed the independence of the trade union organisation and the need to defend the demands of the workers and youth. since its formation. the proletarian revolution has started”. workers and the working population against a small corrupt minority acting on the orders of imperialism. through the association agreements with the European Union and the IMF plans that threatened the national sovereignty of Tunisia. One Year Later By Lucien Gauthier A year ago.Tunisia. La VéritéThe Truth carried an article entitled: “Tunisia. water.4 of the bulletin 27 . It expresses its complete rejection of the “Friends of Syria Summit”. Just before and during the UGTT Congress. the dignity of Tunisia and its martyrs. particularly French and US imperialism. a country that had freed itself from colonialism and was engaged in the super-exploitation of the Tunisian workers. against all those who would like to back the idea that the revolutionary process in Tunisia is over. but this was repelled by the response of the workers and union members. and no Ennahda!” we should add that on the eve of the “Friends of Syria Summit”. The revolution of the workers and youth in Tunisia is flowing its course. a veritable gangrene in the Tunisian system. to defend the rights of the youth. It is a revolution to defend popular sovereignty and national sovereignty. Against all those who were talking about an “Arab Spring” or “democratic revolution”. ending with the election of a pseudo-Constituent Assembly and a government of “national unity”. provocations and attacks on some of its offices in the provinces. the three representatives of those parties went to the Tunis Stock Exchange to reassure the bosses and called on the big powers to strengthen their partnership with Tunisia. The demonstration was extremely large. Several local offices of the UGTT were set alight or ransacked in certain provincial towns and cities. it is indeed a revolution that has started in Tunisia. the Fourth International stated: “Yes. and constitutes a leverage-point to try to make it submit. “The Constituent Assembly is a joke and the same gang are still in charge”. The slogans shouted on the demonstration called by the UGTT indicate the frame of mind of the working masses: “The Tunisian people are free – no America. on Saturday 25 February. The UGTT calls on all of the nation’s vibrant forces to express their rejection of these plots and to unite in order to oppose them. in order to prepare a military intervention in Syria. as the western media are reporting.” The proof is there to see. These threats and calls to tame the UGTT came up against the reaction by the overwhelming majority of the delegates to the UGTT Congress. the UGTT called a demonstration in the face of threats. the imperialist powers organised a “Friends of Syria Summit” in Tunis under the aegis of the United States and with the collusion of the Arab League and the Tunisian government. The government of “national unity” not only failed to denounce the Association Agreement with the European Union signed by Ben Ali. various members of the government and the three parties issued an increasing number of statements to put pressure on the UGTT. It is in following this path that. no Qatar!”. dictatorship and colonialism. The Tunisian government was one of those which called loudest for military intervention in Syria. “The people demand national sovereignty”. The government of “national unity” against the revolution An article in Issue No. the workers and youth regained their grip on their trade union confederation. yes. It is a workers’ revolution that is standing up to capital and the system of exploitation based on private ownership of the means of production. the government has continuously threatened the UGTT.” (1) Neither United States nor Qatar! One year on. Egypt: For the Fourth International. The mobilisation of the Tunisian people demands the expropriation of the corrupt minority headed by Ben Ali and of his “party” the RCD. It is in these conditions that organised provocations have been taking place against the trade union confederation for the last few weeks. an imperialist and Zionist plot that undermines the freedom revolution. bringing together the Islamist party Ennahda and two “secular” parties. recalling the number of demonstrators who had marched during the fall of Ben Ali on 14 January 2011. the UGTT’s National Administrative Council approved a statement that said: “The UGTT condemns the massacres inflicted on our people in Syria by the dictatorial government and certain armed groups. A commando attempted a provocation at the UGTT’s headquarters. just as Libya was destroyed. Even before the government was formed. a government of “national unity” was formed. which took place in late December 2011 and elected a new leadership. The “secular” President of the Republic declared that “the continuation of social conflicts would be collective suicide”. It is not a question of just a “democratic revolution”. on the contrary it asked the European Union for a special partnership. turning Tunisia into a channel for foreign interference aimed at the destruction of Syria. and in so doing to try to smash the revolutions that have broken out in the Arab countries against despotism. who are using the three parties in the government coalition. The day after the Summit. that it is nothing of the sort. The “Islamist” Prime Minister called on the UGTT to contribute to national unity. “Bread. the Tunisian General Labour Union UGTT.
because the official data on which the World Bank bases its calculations do not take into account direct investment. No to the United States. contained the following analysis of the government’s policy: ““Diplomatic delegations and representatives of the international financial institutions are coming one after another to Tunis at an unprecedented rate. no to Qatar!” Defend the revolution.” This is what Rached Ghannouchi. The revolutionary movement of the Tunisian masses carried the indissociable demands for economic. not a week passes without a representative of the European Union or the United States or the IMF or the World Bank or the Gulf States. with the collaboration of practically all the political parties. especially Qatar. an open platform of the class struggle. is proposing to the European Union countries that the debt owed to them should be “recycled”. The IMF. the IMF. no Qatar!” Yes. when in fact these were just funds invested at high rates of interest. when the country was a French colony.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH Sawt Al Oummal (The Workers’ Voice. The content of that movement was the demand to see their overall demands through to a successful outcome and the impossibility of seeing that successful outcome without driving the regime from power. put forward by the masses and conceded by the government. The only path for national sovereignty was to break the links of subordination to the big imperialist powers. And this is precisely the reason why the big imperialist powers. The UGTT has called from the beginning of the revolution for a stop to the policy of indebtedness and for the refusal to pay the debt involving all the loans that were fraudulent or stained by corruption. the banks and financial speculators are “investing” in order to add even more to their interests. which can only be achieved by breaking with imperialism. The official data indicate that the public debt stands at 45 percent of GDP. The conclusion is clear: the pursuit of the policy of indebtedness is only widening the chasm of debt even further. Ben Ali proposed the same thing in 1993. Excellent for who? Let us look at what this economic policy that advocates unbridled debt is all about. The sovereignty of the Tunisian nation requires that an end be put to this policy of submission to imperialism. President of the Ennahda party. Ettakatol and the Congress for the Republic. and no Ben Ali!” that the youth and workers together with the UGTT drove Ben Ali from power. The financial institutions. until the day they decide to relocate to even more profitable climes in Asia and India. the Tunisian people want to live free. European Union and World Bank have been bleeding the Tunisian people dry for decades. The demand for a Constituent Assembly. this is not a figure of speech. are all saying in unison. our country’s economic situation has simply continued in its upward spiral of debt. Recycling the debt quiet simply means reconverting the debt into targeted projects that are even more profitable for the international financial bodies. had as its aim to declare the nation as sovereign. The first forms of organisation specifically for Tunisian workers. In fact. the President of the Constituent Assembly. When we say that the UGTT is the historic organisation of Tunisia’s working class. The result of this shopping spree: a heavily indebted state. It was in 1946 that the UGTT was formally 28 . The capital granted by the G8. defend the UGTT! By attacking the UGTT. Tens of thousands of workers. confiscated that Constituent Assembly in order to transform it into pseudo-legislative elections resulting in a government of “national unity” tasked with maintaining that subordination to imperialism. published on the initiative of supporters of the Fourth International in Tunisia). Mustapha Ben Jaafar. followed by the Bizerte dockers. bread. say Tunisian economists. endemic unemployment and…flourishing foreign businesses that are profiting shamelessly thanks to a cheap labour force and complete exemption from customs duties and taxes. no to the European Union. the government is attacking the very process of the revolution on behalf of the imperialist powers. the European Union or the Gulf States is only of use for one thing: servicing the interest payments on the debt. university students and school students who marched on 25 February in Tunis to defend their UGTT chanted: “The Tunisian people are free – no America. the European and US leaders. The UGTT’s roots lie deep in the history of the international labour movement. “That is way off the mark”. It is clear that the policy being pursued by the Jebali-Marzouki-Ben Jaafar coalition government is the same policy pursued by Beji Caid Essebsi and follows in a straight line from the programme of submission to imperialism imposed by the Ben Ali-Ghannouchi government. It was indeed based on the demand of “water. At least. They want to free themselves from the chains of imperialism. coming to Tunis to sign agreements and contracts with the Tunisian government. represented an iron heel on the Tunisian people’s neck. Since the implementation of the two structural adjustment plans. unemployed workers. handing the vast majority of public enterprises over to privatisation and – in line with the stipulations of the Association Agreement – opening up the customs borders to commodities and products from the countries of the European Union. based on the principle of free and undistorted competition. namely Ennahda. were set up after the Tunis dockers’ strike in August 1924. beginning first and foremost with the situation of the public debt. democratic and national rights. Not to a public debt that is not a debt incurred by the Tunisian people but by the regime of corruption and dictatorship. and the leaders of the parties in power. The sovereignty of the nation demands that we say immediately: “No to indebtedness. The Association Agreement with the European Union. is saying. who then fired up the whole of the Tunisian working class. The signing of the Association Agreement with the European Union in 1995 widened the chasm of debt even further. Ben Ali’s dictatorial regime had but one function: to ensure order to allow the foreign businesses to exploit the Tunisian people. And this is why the government is attacking the UGTT on behalf of the big imperialist powers. who locate it at around 100 percent of GDP. IMF and World Bank leaders. taking away its wealth against so-called aid and so-called loans to help development. which clearly needs to be taken into consideration when calculating the public debt. “This is an excellent sign for the Tunisian economy”.
the only class able to guarantee national sovereignty. In the space of one year. As early as at its founding Congress. the UGTT declared itself in favour of independence for Tunisia. In contrast with the countries of Europe and the United States. with the aim of guaranteeing free debate for bringing together activists of diverse political origins who nevertheless intend to fight on the revolutionary path against imperialism. the organising framework of the working class. This is the struggle of the bulletin Sawt Al Oummal.TUNISIA ONE YEAR LATER constituted. thus making a direct link between the workers’ demands and the demand for national sovereignty. conceived as an open platform of the class struggle. Defending the revolution and helping it to deepen means precisely defending the UGTT. was a country under the domination of a foreign colonial power. Asia and Latin America. driving out the aristocracy and achieving national sovereignty within the framework of the bourgeois regime and under its domination. Tunisia. In the epoch of imperialism and its world domination. 29 .000 members. ENDNOTE (1) “Tunisia: it’s a revolution!”. full independence and full national sovereignty cannot be achieved by weak local bourgeoisies – which are completely in the thrall of imperialism – but by the working class freeing the nation from subordination to imperialism. like most of the countries of Africa. 21 January 2011. it had over 65. which in the 19th century had carried out their democratic revolution under the bourgeoisie’s control. the colonised countries did not follow that same road.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 30 .
That workers should go on strike against a Hong Kong or Japanese factoryowner for better pay seems natural. warned The Economist (28 January 2012). It resulted from political decisions by the government in Beijing. according to American Time magazine (25 November 2011). Here are their demands: payment for time deducted illegally between 1 October 2005 and 31 October 2011. as pointed out by The Economist (28 January 2012). at the same time they are becoming alarmed at the risks of unrest. although commentators are welcoming “economic progress” which nothing. The fact that the authorities could in some cases subsequently seek to present themselves as “mediators” with the aid of the official trade union indicates the power of the movement by the workers and the rifts it can provoke among the senior ranks of the party. When strikes break out in state enterprises where it is the CP leaders at the national. the city famous for its Special Economic Zone. view that China does best by embracing the made-in-America rules of the road. he points out. the Chinese Communist Party. describes the hopes of the US administration in these terms: “They hope Xi will finally be the Chinese leader who accepts the U. with the state.” Thus. appears even more clearly. Several negotiation sessions took place until the management finally gave in on 28 October.The Chinese Working Class. the three-day strike for pay in a state-owned steel-mill near Chengdu in early January won the concession of an increase in real wages. This also applies when the strikes are against the privatisation or breaking-up of an enterprise. it hardly needs reminding. press agency AFP explained. the multinationals’ setting up in China did not fall from the sky. This was the tenth official strike in Shenzhen to occur in October. warns the British business magazine The Economist (28 January 2012). Dan Blumenthal. What is the nature of the system of ownership in China? What are China’s relations with the world market? What remains of the gains of the 1949 Revolution? It is in relation to these questions that we will begin with a few reflections on the current labour unrest. has been rampant for more than a year. pension contributions to be calculated and paid based on real salary. and as each strike began. But. especially affecting food. Thus. the strike 31 . honest negotiations with delegates chosen by the workers. more than a thousand young workers went on strike at a Citizen Watch factory in Shenzhen. The strikes – carried out against the direct exploiters of those workers – therefore put the political power of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) into question. protected them. began their development in private enterprises belonging to the multinationals.” But. the strikes of 2011 were better organised.” (1) This “social unrest” heralds “a dangerous year”. although they were entitled to that time”. “1. Thus. a former United States official in charge of US-China relations. Since then. provincial and city levels who are deciding on restructuring or wage-freezes. A new wave of strikes since October 2011 On 17 October 2011. “China is facing its worst wave of labour unrest since a series of wildcat strikes at Japanese-owned car plants last year”.178 employees complained that management had been deducting 40 minutes a day from employees’ timecards for restroom breaks since 2005. compared with those in 2010. a wave of strikes has developed in various provinces – and not only in the private and foreign manufacturing sector of the exportfocused Guangdong province – in a situation where price inflation. the British financial daily newspaper Financial Times reported with alarm (23 November 2011). Those strikes. can slow down (China has supposedly become the “world’s second biggest economic power”). this confrontation with those holding political power. Similarly. But – and this is the point of the thought I want to develop in this article – those strikes are happening in a country where most of the big means of production are still owned by the state. He paid an official visit to Washington in mid-February 2012. the labour actions were “the most significant since workers at several foreign-owned plants went on strike in the summer of 2010. “A report published this month by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) says that. more confrontational and more likely to trigger copycat action”. and where the only legal trade union organisation is explicitly under the control of the party that holds exclusive political power. The government decided to encourage the arrival of the multinationals. “undoubtedly acting on government orders”. compensation for workers hit by the relocation of the factory. a “classic” situation so to speak. Xi Jinping cannot make clear commitments “lest he ignore what China calls ‘social tensions’. the Bureaucracy and Obama’s “American Pivot to Asia” (Part 1) By Alain Frandor Xi Jinping is being presented as the man who is sure to become the next General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party and head of state. whether relating to foreign businesses or state enterprises. and not by private owners. The strike lasted 12 days. We should also note that these strikes are occurring in a country where the right to strike has not been part of the Constitution since 1992. apparently. therefore against the so-called “reform” policy leading to the elimination of state ownership.S. which are now affecting state enterprises. the official trade union sided first of all with the bosses.
a demonstration marched to demand the return of the farmland into public ownership. For years.” He could deliver the very same speech in 2012.000 mass demonstrations. If they don’t handle it this time. flags flying. Repression is focused on the government’s wish to be able to prevent any permanent organising by the workers. On 21 November. then it would be a disaster for the world. It is the activity of the Chinese working class that is once again placing these rights on the agenda and often is imposing respect for them (at least temporarily) despite the ever-present threat of repression. strikes. land is collectively-owned and managed by a village committee. Victor Shih. because there are uncertainties both inside and outside the country. after more than ten days of the big village of Wukan being blockaded. (2) Reference to the 2010 Honda strike: elected delegates Why is Honda referred to so frequently in relation to the current unrest? What characterises the Honda strike in Foshan in May 2010 is that young workers started to take care of their own interests themselves: they discussed. of a “Chinese-style market socialism”. and it certainly explains the fact that indeed elections were held in Wukan on 1 February 2012 to choose an 11-person commission – including delegates who had been active in the villagers’ mobilisation – tasked with organising and supervising the elections to the “village committee”. the whole world will have problems. the right to negotiate collective contracts and rights. What was one of the most senior representatives of the Chinese bureaucracy acknowledging with those words? Not only that the Chinese economy could not be kept separate from the world economy.” And Wen Jiabao stated at the AsiaEurope Meeting (ASEM) in Brussels in October 2010: “If China saw social and economic turbulence. which is coming up against both penetration by imperialism and the governing bureaucracy acting as its trouble-shooter. or 500 on each day of that year!). local government offices were ransacked and the town’s Communist Party Secretary had to run away. and side-lining up to a point the factory representatives of the official trade union. today it is rare for the government to take the risk of sending to prison or re-education camps workers who are going on strike or demonstrating. in contradiction with the demands of the multinationals supported by the Chinese authorities. more precisely. All these strikes are formulating demands on pay and social welfare. the ACFTU. electing their own delegates for negotiations. There is no doubt about this. that occurred in rural areas in 2010 were due to the illegal sale of land (sociologist Sun Liping puts the figure at 180. and the right to organise independently of the government institutions. This is not an unusual event in itself: some experts suggest that twothirds of the 90.” One reporter for the Reuters news agency emphasised (12 December 2011): “The real worry for authorities is not the number of protests. who were lining up with the Japanese bosses. The delegates were mandated by mass strike meetings. petitions. warned one demonstrator. Prime Minister Wen Jiabao explained that China was “deeply worried” about the state of the US and global economies: “Global economic developments cannot but have an impact on China (…) 2008 might be the most difficult year for China’s economy. The bureaucrats were driven out of the village: the local authority buildings were empty.000 located on the coast of wealthy Guangdong province. expressing even more concern… The whole world is afraid of what might hit China today. In practice. etc. but just 550 yuan (65 euros) per inhabitant! Not getting a response from the village authorities. described as the “beginnings of a victory” by one of the village representatives. In China. several thousand people once again demonstrated peacefully. the people of Wukan then decided to appoint their own representatives. the right to demonstrate. it won’t be peaceful next time!”. prepared and organised. One of the representatives who had to negotiate a few days later with the provincial CP’s number two – who had been hastily despatched to the area – insisted: “The most important demand that must be met is the legal acknowledgement of the temporary. demanding: “Give us back our farmland!” “The government promised to solve the land problem but they haven’t done anything! They are liars. It is indeed the class struggle that once again seeks to bring real life to these rights. but their tendency to become more persistent and organised”. French news agency AFP reported at the time: “The Chinese authorities ended up making concessions (…). a specialist on the Chinese economy. Thus. has warned that today China is a huge monster. twelve delegates chosen for their combativity. unleashing uncontrollable forces. decisions were taken in front of the local people in one of the village squares. It was an admission of the fallacious character of all the “theories” about “socialism in one country” and. China and the world market What was the international context for this surge in political and social demands? In 2008. and decided together and democratically on their demands and the strike. because the officials and police commissariat had abandoned them… Henceforth. netting 700 million yuan (85 million euros) for the authorities. The villagers of Wukan also choose their representatives Wukan is a fishing and farming “village” with a population of 15.” (3) An agreement was reached a few days later. they seek to impose the exercising of rights of which the workers had been deprived: the right to strike. The widespread world crisis into which the system of capitalist exploitation had plunged and the decay of 32 . shows that the government is worried about the stir caused throughout the country by this uprising and dreads its possible spread to other towns. Another explained that 80 percent of collective land had been sold to developers. of the Chinese working class seen as a whole. and they could sign nothing without previously having consulted the mass meetings. people have been protesting against the plundering fraudulent sale of farmland by local bureaucrats. but above all that the way in which its links with the world market had been tightened and diversified made China even more dependent on it. This U-turn. transitional 12 village representatives.000.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH movements are the expression of the activity of a single class. On 21 September 2011. and if it has problems.
senior editor Robyn Meredith explained: “China seems strong but it is weak. namely the manufacturing sector dedicated to exports to the countries of the European Union first of all. American companies keep the remaining $85.000 businesses located in China may have shut down or carried out mass lay-offs by the end of 2011! In this case. at a time when it is designated the world’s second biggest economic power? The economic consultancy Xerfi gave this summary of the country’s situation during a conference on China on 15 April 2011: “The prices of raw materials are going through the roof. In an article in US financial magazine Forbes headed “Made by America in China” (25 July 2007). the modes of production are radically different. For instance. hundreds of thousands of jobs. the crisis hit China where it had most integrated with the world market. These decisions temporarily reversed the direction of the policy pursued for years by the bureaucracy. forcing the authorities to intervene to try to cool the economy down. at least. Its bureaucratic management had given free rein to the forces in place in the provincial and local authorities and in the state enterprises.” Things have not changed since then. And today. tied up in property speculation. and undoubtedly also in speculative financial circles that were even betting against their own country’s currency. But the parasitic and corrupt bureaucracy could not reform itself.” (5) Official figures released in early December 2011 showed that industrial production had fallen to its lowest level for 32 months.CHINESE WORKING CLASS AND OBAMA the world market together pose a direct threat to what was once called “Chinese prosperity”. but this time in an even sharper fashion: “Falling exports and global economic uncertainty have hurt scores of toymakers and other manufacturers in China. A few thousand toy factories closed in China in 2011 while about 10 percent of workers in the industry lost their jobs. according to one research director at the Institute of Population and Labour Economics (September 2009). transportation costs or other value. just $15 of the price stays in China in the form of workers’ wages. despite the international unrest and the disasters in the surrounding region. they did not feature in the official statistics… The Federation of Hong Kong Business Associations estimates that it is possible that one-third of its 50. the problem of tens of thousands of private enterprises closing down is being posed once again. GDP growth reached 10 percent after an almost imperceptible slowdown in 2009. would be at stake! …but in fact. And this year. even millions. What is the real situation in China. Last year.8 percent of the value of an iPhone 4! The private manufacturing sector on the front line… In fact. especially from the summer of 2008 onwards. For an iPhone “Assembled in China” with an estimated cost of US$189. when China exports a shoe that sells for $100 in the US. etc. competiveness is eroding and the number of bubbles is growing. But on the surface. The value added in production is also radically different. first and foremost in the private sector. the whole economy is under threat With the property and financial 33 . giving priority to state enterprises. The bureaucracy supplies the multinationals with a cheap workforce for assembly manufacturing that is deprived of the right to organise. (…). A pittance. in other words to the misappropriation of huge amounts of money swallowed up by corruption (the scale of the embezzled funds was such that the Railways Minister caught with his hand in the till had to be dismissed). This high-speed progression is clearly linked to the good performance of investments. according to the Toy Manufacturers’ Association of Hong Kong. Forty-one million jobs were destroyed by the crisis. Twenty million migrant workers were laid off or were unable to find work. China even knocked the United States off the top world spot in terms of volume of industrial production. For comparable industrial production. The multinationals export throughout the world and the whole of the international press almost unanimously hails “Chinese growth”. Last year. The Economist (21 January 2012) quoted a July 2011 study carried out by three California academics which showed that the labour cost of Chinese workers to US company Apple (in reality. underground rail systems. The non-manufacturing sector also fell.” These few figures indicate the extent to which China is still a “backward” country in terms of labour productivity (4) – a little over 4 percent of the United States’ – despite its title of the world’s second biggest economy. what was received by the employer as payment for the workforce…) represented just 1. airports. Furthermore. Contrary to the bailout plans for the banks and the anti-labour measures implemented in various industrialised capitalist countries that had been presented as being necessary for facing up to the crisis. but US or European exports…from China – which is not at all the same thing. Tens of thousands of subcontracting or joint venture companies with big payrolls linked to the export sector – and therefore entirely dependent on the economic situation in the Western countries – closed their doors. tram and train networks. the picture is attractive. let us reflect on the conditions in which China was awarded that title. you need eight times more employees in China than in the United States. inflation is soaring. we continue to expect growth of the order of 9. But 60 percent of those exports (more than 85 percent of high-tech products) leaving China are not Chinese. As these involved migrant workers who generally-speaking do not have employment contracts. Undoubtedly. and in autumn 2008 it launched a massive stimulus plan worth more than 450 billion euros designed to create millions of jobs in an attempt to compensate those who had been or were about to be caught up in the mass lay-offs. bridges.5 percent. Of course. even with the aim of saving its own skin. China ultimately gets just US$6.50. but also foreign trade. especially for food products. They are simple. particularly in real estate. the Chinese state – because it is the owner of the big means of production – was able to mobilise material and financial means aimed at guaranteeing the economy’s course and therefore the creation of jobs: most of the funds under the plan were dedicated to the building of infrastructure (highways. the government decided to react. as the CP leadership was forced to admit in February 2009.) and reserved (over 90 percent) for state enterprises. tens of thousands of jobs have already been cut. then to the United States. Faced with the looming social disaster.
or by buying up European sovereign debt in the secondary market – all of this. the bureaucracy has not at this stage agreed to its full convertibility. which is published by the central bank (People’s Bank of China) might declare that “large-scale currency appreciation does not figure in economic policy plans for next year” because “at such a crucial time. The peoples of Europe are being subjected to the dictates of the Troika. The Chinese Central Bank wrote on 7 January 2011: “China supports the measures adopted by Spain for its economic and financial readjustment.2 Trillion Headache” (9).” The bureaucracy is thus coming to the rescue of the world economic order. There is the crisis that is starting to erode the prospects of the state enterprises (steel-mills and naval dockyards.000 billion euros. This pressure from imperialism is expressed through the continuous demand reiterated for more than 10 years to revalue the yuan – in reality it aims to push for the yuan’s full convertibility in order to offer it up for speculation in the financial markets. In 2010. The Chinese factories are paid for production in dollars by the multinationals. In October 2011. Substantial amounts of speculative capital have in fact entered the country since the start of the crisis. using its reserves in US dollars. as explained by Yao Tang. the finances of the local authorities. China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange had around US$35 billion available for speculation. The question facing the Chinese leadership is: should China now come to the rescue of the euro zone in order to save its export prospects? Europe. in the hope of seeing the yuan appreciate. in an article entitled “China’s $3. the leading destination for Chinese exports. The crucial question of the Chinese currency The question of the Chinese currency is one illustration of the relations between China and the United States. but “are waiting to see if the local government will comply with this adjustment. That speculation is focusing particularly on the perspective of the appreciation of the yuan – the Chinese currency – a demand being repeated continuously by imperialism. this does not make much difference: “The markets are speculating on the yuan appreciating and are pushing the Central Bank to regularly set new limits on the yuan’s conversion rate against the dollar”. with the firm conviction that it will achieve a general economic recovery. the Ministry of Finance announced that the policy of supporting “local innovation”. but instead by the markets. the same problem is posed even more sharply regarding control over the movement of capital. there is an absolute need to limit liquidity flows in order to avoid an uncontrollable rise in currency value because “a study by the China Center for Economic Research has found that a 20 percent appreciation against the dollar would entail a 3 percent drop in employment – more than 20 million jobs.”! For the time being. let us note these figures from a study by Crédit Suisse: 10 percent of China’s richest people enjoy 62 percent of illegal income. The Central Bank’s governor and the Chinese leadership are still refusing to revalue the yuan (which is “manipulated and undervalued”. and they are either CP leaders or linked to the CP. the bureaucracy is undermining its own system from within. the fear of seeing the Chinese working class unleash vast movements is preventing the bureaucracy from giving in completely to these demands by imperialism over the currency. as well as “the stability of the euro”. was lifted. a task that is made increasingly difficult by the fact that international speculation is gaining ground thanks to the institutions and instruments that the bureaucracy itself has put in place. either by buying T-bills issued by the United States to finance its ever-increasing debt. It should be remembered that those reserves in US dollars are the result of the superexploitation of the Chinese workers in factories in the export manufacturing industries. or 1. which foreign companies saw as a handicap to their responses to public tenders on equipment and technology. 34 . then Portuguese debt and Spanish debt. which would threaten the bureaucracy’s very existence.” They also urged China to sign up to the WTO Agreement on Government Procurement. and the speculation. Nevertheless. For the yuan to become “a currency like any other”. The American and European chambers of commerce welcomed the announcement. according to imperialism’s dominant circles) – however.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH bubbles. The yuan (or renminbi) is neither fully convertible nor has its rate set by the markets. (8) In this situation marked by the rise in speculative processes. the system of state ownership (which includes legislation for controlling credit and capital flows) would have to be completely overturned. Director of the China Center for Economic Research at Beijing University. and the Chinese Central Bank uses it to buy T-bills. And the Chinese bureaucracy has announced that it “indeed supports the series of stabilisation measures adopted by the European Union. is on the verge of collapse. China has been using its exchange reserves in US dollars to buy US Treasury bills (widely referred to as “T-bills”). It has bought Greek sovereign debt in an attempt to avoid collapse. However much The Financial News. they are in favour of having the yuan’s value determined by the financial markets. while direct foreign investment amounted to US$106 billion. Can China offer a “solution to the crisis”? For years.” (6) Clearly. this aid extended by the bureaucracy cannot save a capitalist system entered in an advanced stage of decay. US senators passed a law aiming to apply customs duties on certain Chinese products entering the United States. but there are also the decisions taken by the bureaucracy that are leading to the multinationals competing (inevitably in their favour) with the Chinese public enterprises: “On 1 July. the ECB (European Central Bank) and the IMF (International Monetary Fund)”. And yet. since 2005 it has appreciated by 40 percent against the US dollar. While it has agreed to the appreciation of the yuan. and for years US imperialism and the European Union in turn have been putting on pressure for the value of the Chinese currency to no longer be determined by the People’s Bank of China. the corruption that is eating away at all the economic channels at every level. because the yuan was “highly undervalued”… In fact. the factory managers bank that money. any big fluctuation in the yuan’s exchange rate would have a significant impact on the Chinese economy and would not be in the country’s fundamental interest” (7). for example).
It is all this that the Chinese bureaucracy is getting down to dismantling at the demand of imperialism and all the financial institutions. together with the monopoly of foreign trade. where the CP expropriated the masses from the very beginning. some 50 million workers supplied to those state enterprises by temporary employment agencies are not included in those statistics… Restructuring. (10) Although it is of course indicative of the mafia-like character of the bureaucracy. and primarily by their relation to the means of production. a quarter of recent billionaires owe their position to the development in real estate marketing and speculation based on the 450 billion euro stimulus plan launched in late 2008 – a development partly linked to directors of state enterprises and local apparatchiks. in the name of integration into the world market and out of respect for what they call “market norms”. theatres. State ownership in industry and the policy “of reforms” Are the state enterprises – as essential constituent elements of state ownership which formed the basis of the development of the Chinese working class – still today the enterprises of the key sectors of production that form the core of the economy and dominate it? Originally. regarding the obstacles to the restoration of capitalism. the activities of which were open to all and practically free. How does this relate today to China? We can begin to address this question by starting from these two terms used by Trotsky. despite 15 years of the “policy of opening up and reform” aimed at restructuring them or selling them to the private sector. On the other hand. a kindergarten. privatisation for the benefit of the old leadership. education and social welfare systems. the fact that 200 dollar billionaires exist does not in itself allow us to draw the conclusion that capitalism has been restored. a state enterprise would include workshops.000 richest people in China. the international press tells us. etc. etc. The bureaucracy (supported hypocritically by all of the world’s governments) responded with bloody repression.) and in real estate. but also accommodation rented very cheaply to the workers and their families. the Chinese Revolution resulted in the expropriation of both national and foreign capital. the nature of the Soviet Union as a proletarian state is for us basically defined.. 20 million were in state enterprises. And it was above all an “iron rice-bowl” that guaranteed employment and paid retirement. led the Chinese working class to stand up to the government in the form of the revolutionary outbreak of 1989. and in 1995 there were 112 million. that owns private capital. the theft of public wealth but also its sale through the issuing of shares to employees and bureaucrats – every method has been used to respond to the needs of the market and the demands of imperialism. are not identical – far from it – to the conditions of the Chinese Revolution of 1949. and is linked to the policy of handing over public entities to the private sector. has the restoration of capitalism in China been accomplished? In 1936. transport and exchange. Through these relations.2 million workers in state enterprises (compared to 90. and out of 31 million jobs created during that period. and even less that such a class should have succeeded in changing property relations.6 percent of urban workers (11). according to official statistics produced by the government’s information bureau. It was in late 1978 that Deng Xiaoping undertook the launching of the policy of reform and opening up which in 1980 was expressed by the opening of the first four Special Economic Zones (SEZs). based on workers’ councils and led by a revolutionary party. property relations are validated by laws. in late 2009 there were 64. then get rid of the biggest of their “indirect costs”. to speculation in raw materials (energy. that the Soviet Union would remain an enemy in the eyes of the bourgeoisie “until the monopoly of foreign trade is broken and the rights of capital restored”. Through a series of successive regulations up to 1988. the method of analysis used by Leon Trotsky is indispensable. and is the state constituted on the basis of defending capitalist social relations.6 million in 1998). a college. constitute the basis of the Soviet social structure. machinery and canteens. More recently. and therefore capitalist property relations? Are we to believe that there has been a smooth and peaceful counter-revolution that has somehow re-established the political and economic domination of the capitalists? There are a growing number of Chinese millionaires. or that it is the private sector that employs the greater number of employees. For example. For all that. and in order to understand this. a hospital (or a dispensary for smaller enterprises).” He added. Several articles also insist that private sector businesses have the upper hand. The nationalization of the land. We should point out here that the conditions of the Russian Revolution.CHINESE WORKING CLASS AND OBAMA Is China a capitalist state? Is China. in other words state accommodation. the means of industrial production. In 1984 there were 87 million workers in state enterprises. In civilized societies. this reform. notably during and after the Tiananmen Square Massacre 35 . It had to commit to restructuring the economy to make it more competitive and get rid of unprofitable enterprises. combined with a big rise in the cost of living and the development of large-scale corruption. or 20. The consequences of opening up to the market. metals. a school. caused mass layoffs in the state enterprises. which gave a large role to market mechanisms. whose role in the world market we have just described. established by the proletarian revolution. closures. governed socially by the laws of the capitalist system? Is the functioning of the Chinese economy determined by the search for profit by a capitalist class that possesses the means of production as its private property. Nevertheless. This only confirms that the policy carried out by the bureaucracy favours the constitution of a parasitic social layer that is growing in size. The fact that the bestplaced members of the bureaucratic caste are depositing billions – the result of embezzling and pillaging social property – in tax havens or gambling them away in the casinos of Macao is not enough to establish the formation of a bourgeois class. Trotsky wrote about the USSR in Revolution Betrayed: “Is the bureaucracy a ruling class? Classes are characterized by their position in the social system of economy. and the “iron armchair” that allowed an official position to be passed on to an heir or close acquaintance. which explains how 75 members of the National People’s Congress are among the 1.
000 in 1995 to 5 million in 2006.” (17) In these conditions. has pointed out that the fall in number from 196 to 121 of big state enterprises controlled by the central government was a result of mergers and acquisitions among themselves intended to enlarge and strengthen several flagship companies: “The total assets of the SASAC companies. the party-and-state apparatus still has a stranglehold over the economy. we will deal with the following questions: — Is China imperialism’s “indispensable ally” or its “irreconcilable enemy”? — Recent relations between the United States and China. airlines. China Mobile (one of the two biggest telephone companies) and Sinopec (one of the two biggest oil companies)! And in the 2010 classification of China’s 500 leading enterprises. ports. steel. September 2008). thus. insurance. The 129 central-level SOEs (…) enjoy monopolistic status in areas including oil and gas. And what of the relative weight of the state enterprises? Willy Lam.000. Another indication of the relative weight of the state enterprises in the economy: if one adds up the profits made in 2009 by China’s 500 biggest private enterprises. Hilary Clinton: “The United States is back in Asia. urban employment fell from 147 million to 97 million (state enterprises. (2) The term “bureaucracy” is used frequently in this article. how could one claim that the functioning of the Chinese economy is determined by capitalists who own the means of production and have available to them a state that corresponds to those property relations? The fact remains that the policy of permanent concessions to the demands of capital being carried out by the bureaucracy has already swept away 50 million workers and given another 150 million over to savage exploitation. former Beijing correspondent of the UK financial daily newspaper Financial Times. electricity. telecommunication services. According to Xinhua. these are less than the profits of just two big state enterprises. airports. auto industry. 20 December 2011. a former senior advisor at the OECD: “The big reduction in the number of state enterprises in industrial productive activities is due mainly to a disengagement by local governments. “Bull in the China Shop”.200 billion euros] in 2010” (16). therefore. began by welcoming the role of the private sector. and one cannot understand its reality or contradictions unless one begins from the analysis made by Trotsky in Revolution Betrayed. minerals and power generation. In 10 years. (3) UK daily newspaper The Telegraph. however.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH in Beijing. aluminium. even though this policy is pushing it towards its own disintegration and certain death. the bureaucracy is the main vehicle for the restoration of capitalism. Foreign Policy. the number of state enterprises in China’s industrial sector fell from 77. While many of the 129 so-called “aircraft carrier” conglomerates are listed on the Chinese – and in some cases also the Hong Kong and New York – stock markets. but a social layer whose privileges depend on parasitically feeding on state ownership and the preventing the working class from having any kind of its own political representation. (12) During the same period. but which one can find notably in the document adopted by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International in May 2008 (see La Vérité-The Truth Issue no. telecommunications and transportation. Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao announced proudly. 66 percent are state enterprises. What economic and political reality does this cover? “Small and micro-sized firms serve as a significant channel for creating jobs”. increased from 3 trillion yuan [300 billion euros] in 2003 to 20 trillion yuan [2. (14) Let us examine the official figures supplied three months previously by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC). banking and insurance. Richard McGregor. petrochemicals. For his part. highways.” (15) Cheng Li. or…two employees per enterprise. in the first quarter of 2011. the number or private enterprises went through the roof: from 655. railways. it is therefore a social layer of the same type as the Stalinist bureaucracy analysed by Trotsky. the central government holds at least half of their shares. banks. — How is the march towards political revolution in China and the policy of the Fourth International being expressed. education and administration. between 1995 and 2004. a committed supporter of the market. In Part Two of this article. drawing its privileges and socially dominant position from that political dominance exercised through the one-party state. In this sense. This does not mean that it is identical to the Stalinist bureaucracy in every way.” — What is the situation in the Chinese Communist Party and the bureaucracy on the eve of the next CP Congress? — What are the whole world’s governments afraid of? The awakening of the Chinese working class. ENDNOTES (1) Dan Blumenthal. from a historical development the analysis of which lies outside of the scope of this article. former chief editor of the South China Morning Post. mining. for it is placing the whole country under the pressure of the needs and norms of the market economy and the demands of imperialism. (4) Let us remember that the essential 36 . 10 February 2012. In total. 36 million individual enterprises had almost 74 million employees. collective enterprises and limited companies). representing 85 percent of profits made. compared to 3 percent in the early 1990s. Let us therefore clarify that the Chinese bureaucracy is the social layer that exercises exclusive control of political power and identifies itself with the state. 87 percent of the disappearances of state enterprises in the industrial sector between 1998 and 2003 are due to a withdrawal at the prefecture or district level”. but I want to underscore we are back to stay. It was born out of different historical circumstances. in that this dominance is not determined by a particular role in the relations of production. as well as aerospace and defence. health.62. Between 1995 and 2002.600 to 42. This fact greatly qualifies the fantastical figures on the development of private microenterprises. Basically. wrote: “Thirty-three years after the beginning of the reform and open-door era. only to then express this concern: “But the main reins of the economy remain in the hands of the state: oil. The bureaucracy has jeopardized and continues to jeopardize the economy based on state ownership. It is not a new class. some 50 million state enterprise employees were “relieved of their post”. (13) Today they represent 75 percent of all enterprises. According to Sean Dougherty.
China could produce the same as the United States in volume with five times less productivity. let us note that. (16) China Leadership Monitor. (7) Reuters. For example. 14 January 2011. taking their respective populations into account. It is sometimes forgotten that the “big Chinese enterprises” quoted on the international exchanges belong to the state.net. 2005-2006. as we are still very far from this! (5) Reuters. (14) Xinhua news agency. 16 December 2010. special supplement “Le Siècle chinois” [The Chinese Century]. (10) Even then. July 2008. (11) Official press agency Xinhua. 10 September 2010. 37 . that the term “private enterprises” also covers tens of thousands of small workshops and small shops.CHINESE WORKING CLASS AND OBAMA factor for measuring any economy is productivity.questionchine. and that many of the “private enterprises” are the equivalent of small businesses run on a self-employed basis. at www. 18 August 2011. 4 September 2011.34. 2011. (8) French daily newspaper Le Monde. No. 13 January 2012. (9) Project Syndicate. October-November 2011. (17) Le Monde. Sometimes the term “private” is applied to enterprises that are managed by the provinces and municipalities – the so-called “collective” sector – simply because they are deemed to be “non-state”. 1 February 2012. (12) CEPII seminar. (13) China Economic Quarterly. “China’s reserves and US Treasury bills. (6) Jean-Paul Yacine. A purely hypothetical case. bourgeois specialists in the Chinese economy recognise that the available statistics are extremely unreliable. (15) China Brief. as Trotsky emphasised in Revolution Betrayed by quoting Marx: “All economy is finally reducible to the economy of time”. The force of circumstances”. 1 October 2011. because the criteria used to define the type of ownership are extremely confused.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 38 .
threats of destabilisation of the whole of North Africa. re-establish and protect its political domination. Finance capital. the formation of which is one of the essential characteristics of the imperialist stage.” (5). Rosa Luxemburg would complete this list by adding to machinery and money a third major lever for parasitically driving the capitalist economy: militarism (what today we call the arms economy). which. growing threats against Iran.Arms Economy and Capitalism’s Crisis of Decay By Pierre Cise. In fact. in the period of the so-called ‘primitive accumulation’. Afghanistan. it is employed to subject the modern colonies. It is responsible (…) for extorting railway concessions in backward countries. This conference firmly declared its position in favour of setting up a broad united anti-imperialist front against any foreign interference. One can only understand it if one links it to all of the mechanisms of the crisis of decay of a capitalist system based on private ownership of the means of production. it is a pre-eminent means for the realisation of surplus value. Then. Later. The arms economy became an essential means for capital to try to overcome its contradictions. Finally. Monopolies. (…) and to turn the natives into a proletariat by compelling them to work for wages in the colonies. and for enforcing the claims of European capital as international lender. and are no longer productive but destructive forces (mechanisation and money)” (4). the dispersal of centres of war and destabilisation throughout the African continent. we established that what observers are calling the “debt crisis” is nothing more than the expression of the contradictions of the capitalist system. And we added the following comment: “Subsequently. It plays a decisive part in the first stages of European capitalism. beginning with that of the Algerian nation. it is in itself a province of accumulation” in which control by the state (therefore the arms budget and hence its financing through taxation and public borrowing) plays an essential role. Another need also arises here: the arms economy (which tends to be transformed into a war economy) has for decades played a particular role as a parasitic and artificial drive-wheel of a capitalist system that is on its knees. “A pre-eminent means for the realisation of surplus value” In a previous article (1). recalling this passage from Marx and Engels: “In the development of productive forces there comes a stage when productive forces and means of circulation are brought into being. or with the revolutionary developments in Egypt. Iraq. under the existing relationships. Pakistan. Imperialism’s tendency to more fully resort to war owes very little to chance. First of all the need to maintain. militarism is a weapon in the competitive struggle between capitalist countries for areas of non-capitalist civilisation. Daniel Gluckstein and Jean-Pierre Raffi 2012: Wars are spreading across every continent. we wrote on the subject. but overcomes them only by means which again place these barriers in its way and on a more formidable scale. All this fully justifies the initiative taken jointly in Algeria by the Workers’ Party and the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) to convene the Emergency Conference which in December 2011 brought together delegates and representatives from over 40 countries – activists. as a means of conquering the New World and the spice-producing countries of India. Today the role of the arms economy is being revived. intervention in Libya resulting in the permanent presence of NATO troops. One the one hand. against threats of military intervention and for the defence of the sovereignty of nations. The real barrier of capitalist production is capital itself”. threats of direct imperialist intervention in Syria. the result of “the merging 39 . workers from every current of the labour movement in addition to broad delegations from Algerian organisations. production seeks “Capitalist continually to overcome these immanent barriers. Rosa Luxemburg emphasised in 1913 the double function of militarism in the process of capitalist accumulation based on private ownership of the means of production and the exploitation of labourpower. Marx already wrote in the epoch of ascendant capitalism. But also the need to contain the revolutionary movement by the masses: it is easy to link the counter-revolutionary intervention in Libya with the revolutionary process begun a year ago in Tunisia. today we have reached the stage of decayed imperialism. for Rosa Luxembourg militarism’s other function is that. the need to pillage natural resources. The dramatic change in the capitalist mode of production in its imperialist phase brought this aspect to a qualitatively new and ever-growing degree. (2) But in the epoch of decayed capitalism – that of imperialism – although the means used by the capitalist system for pushing back its own barriers are the same on the face of it. “from the purely economic point of view. It is the result of a convergence of several needs that are vital for a capitalist system that has entered its phase of decay. “militarism fulfils a quite definite function in the history of capital. where the massive injection of credit and the accumulation of mountains of debt are resulting in the mass destruction of the productive forces” (3). “play a decisive role in economic life” (7) and therefore have played a driving role from a very early point.” (6) On the other hand. they have very different consequences. “From a capitalism that in its ascendant phase could “push back its own limits” through the (artificial) means of credit. she wrote. accompanying as it does every historical phase of accumulation. only cause mischief.
which made considerable profits in the war economy. metallurgical. through its colossal destruction of material and human productive forces. (…) The militarisation of the economy and the arms economy become – for a more or less lengthy period and as a preface to the war economy and war – the preferred means of realising surplus-value. the limits of the market structured on private ownership of the means of production in the epoch of imperialism restrict the arms economy sector. especially military spending.). the defence budget represented 45 percent of the US federal budget! The war in Vietnam played a determining role in that whole phase in the history of US finance capital. thus subordinating the world capitalist economy even more closely to the demands and needs only of US capitalism. the recovery was apparent above all in 1965-6. which are subject to competition in the world market. military aims and macroeconomic aims became combined. Rosa Luxemburg wrote: “In this way capital turns historical necessity into a virtue: the ever fiercer ‘competition’ in the capitalist world itself provides a field for accumulation of the first magnitude. both as an artificial driving force of the economy but also as part of the whole policy of counter-revolutionary “containment” which. the whole planet is subject to the capitalist market. etc. It has been able to mitigate the cyclical crises of “recession”. the pursuit of the accumulation of capital proved to be increasingly difficult. In fact. GDP per capita fell to US$2. would allow imperialism to resume the process of accumulation from 1945 onwards (…). The arms economy consequently guarantees the functioning of the overall system and all of the branches of capitalist production. the labour of millions of producers. (10) They had to wait until 1953. each period of slowdown being followed by a recovery stimulated by increases in public spending. “The arms economy is not one characteristic among others of the latest period of capitalism’s historic existence. to quote Marx’s formulation. (…) Needless to say. “Clever tricks have their limits” “The arms market is. after a certain stage the conditions for the accumulation of capital both at home and abroad turn into their very opposite – they become conditions for the decline of capitalism. Michel Dauberny wrote on the subject: “War. from the Korean War via the Vietnam War to the blockades policy (Cuba. into “forces of destruction”. but this has only re-emerged on a wider scale. it reached US$46 billion. it lies at the root of supplementary symptoms. the fall in capital’s profitability could not be put off indefinitely. The arms economy diverted surplus-value for the benefit of the industries working in weaponry: aeronautics and space. the everbudding proliferation of capital – invested in increasingly speculative and risky activities.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH of bank capital with industrial capital” and the basis for the creation of “a financial oligarchy”. It deflected the crisis in sectors of heavy industry and leading-edge industry. because this time the march towards global crisis is taking place in a form that (…) first of all is assuming the aspect of a “monetary crisis”. Clever tricks have their limits. chemical. This is not the case for other products. or the industrial lobbies. From the late 1960s onwards. The rebuilding of the European and Japanese economies constituted a privileged market for US capital. the carving-up of the world has been completed. But the productive forces no longer have the aim of increasing humankind’s material wealth. the contemporary expression of the formidable destructive force that money has become – in other words. the trade surplus fell by half. In 1948. it is the driving force and the basis for the period of accumulation. and the industrial applications of research. it has delayed the manifestations of capitalism’s fundamental contradiction.” But this did not last long. but precipitated the crisis in other sectors. just like all other sectors 40 . with the surge in budgets intended for funding the war in Vietnam. Due to this. They are then transformed.” (9) Let us point out that these lines were written in 1971. electrical and electronics. in other words below 1942 levels”. The capitalist economy makes its profit there. Military budgets subsequently constituted the drive-wheel of the US economy. in other words the return of war. In reality. and therefore financed by imports. The market once again proved to be too narrow (…). if war does not become its logical conclusion. the advocates for the USA to be the world’s policeman. and the average rate of profit began to decline from the mid-1960s onwards. the production of military equipment ordered by the state. but not eliminate them. (…) But stabilising the capitalist economy is not enough.” (8) An artificial drive-wheel of the economy Put another way: although we have been led to characterise the public debt as “a weapon of mass destruction”. Sooner or later. a “privileged” market. scientific and technological research. also very quickly found significant ground to operate in. That same year. in effect. the highest form of capitalism. formed a continuity of imperialism’s policy since October 1917. In actual fact. (…) The consumption of commodities by and for the army (…) opens up a new market to which everything else is subordinated: machinery. In 1949. The state is the only buyer. the Political Bureau of the OCI (12) stated: “With imperialism.” (11) It is precisely with the turning-point of the 1970s that the arms economy appeared to have run out of steam as the parasitic drive-wheel of the capitalist economy. In 1968. Following the 1961 recession. for the United States’ GDP to regain its 1945 level. When US President Nixon ended the link between the value of the US dollar and its gold standard in August 1971. was achieved to the detriment of other consumer goods and household equipment. only to fall to US$35 billion in 1949. without the possibility of distinguishing who had the most impact. and competition is ruled out. this time in Korea. At the same time. and so on. to the war economy) as an artificial drivewheel of capitalism that has entered its phase of imperialist decay. based on the transformation of the productive forces into destructive forces which the capitalist economy has recently undergone and which is now being completed. “Between 1945 and 1946 – in one year – private investment in the United States grew from US$10 billion to US$30 billion. this analysis would not be complete without linking it to the role of the arms economy (and beyond that.170. the whole history of capitalism since the big crisis of 1929 has revolved around the axis of the arms economy.
Faced with threats of imperialist pillage. from the 1980s1990s onwards.6* 3. more recently. would lead to a series of speculative bubbles. weapons and strategies designed to provide real service.8* 2. which nevertheless only represents less than 2 percent of global spending.0 7. the export of weapons and equipment to all of the armies of new countries joining NATO required the arms sector to be made cost-effective in order to win those markets. which “only” represents 7. Kosovo and a military presence in Macedonia – the disintegration of the old “world order” led imperialism to preserve and strengthen a military potential that was capable of facing up to any situation where the protection of its interests. Second comes China. what was now needed was to build systems for combat. whose spending increased by 78 percent over the last 10 years. around 50 companies merged into 12 corporations.3 37.6 59. Sub-Sahara Africa and the Middle East. a restructuring that in practice was organised by the US government. a whole series of arms programmes were already underway or have been launched. in order to permit the development of the capability to intervene anywhere in the world to maintain the imperialist order.6 3. and as each bubble burst. not only in the producing countries (North Africa. The main driving force for this growth has been US imperialism. This was the source of the chain of processes that. although it is globally limited in terms of volume. the preservation and protection of wealth in raw materials (especially oil) has played a crucial role in this. as a firebreak to the revolution that erupted in Tunisia. which in turn burst and resulted in even greater losses. From this point of view. US military spending has obviously been boosted by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.0 119.3* United States China United Kingdom France Russia Japan Saudi Arabia Germany India Italy * Estimates.8 2.2* 41. making the Stock Exchange what it was before the arrival of the stars of the “new economy” and the “new technologies for information and communication” (NTIC). from the 1980s onwards. War on a mass scale is once again on the agenda as an essential means for imperialism to impose its iron heel against the workers and people. Within this framework. Chad) but also in countries through which the oil transits or which are located in strategic zones from this point of view (like Burkina Faso.5 45. According to the latest known statistics (14). Nigeria. imperialism tried to put in place what it called its “new world order”. the creeping intervention in Syria and the threats against Iran as well as against all the countries of North Africa. already strangled by the structural adjustment policies of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and 41 . With the war on Iraq in 1991. This was the starting-pistol for a vast movement of merger-acquisitions. to the tune of US$698 billion.0* 43. the relative stagnation or even fall in US arms spending during the 1990s could appear misleading. rather.7* 54.5 2. those of Wall Street and the multinationals. for example. imperialism threw itself wholeheartedly into the intervention in Iraq. spending that has necessarily been carried out to the detriment of all other budget expenditure. the intervention in Libya. With the break-up of the USSR closely followed by the war on Iraq. global military spending reached US$1. Thus.3 percent of world spending (see Table 1). and these also play a Table 1: The top ten countries in military spending (2010) Country Spending World Share (US$ billion) (%) 698. it resulted in considerable losses that were “compensated” by the inflation of the next bubble. This is why military spending has increased considerably over the last 10 years in several non-oil producing countries.3 58. etc. deployment of US and British troops in the Gulf in 1997. the era opened by the fall of the Berlin War and the disintegration of the USSR no longer necessitated the accumulation of weapons (especially nuclear ones) that were intended more as a deterrent than actually to be used. It was about a vast process of restructuring the arms sector. the war in Afghanistan and. Source : SIPRI Yearbook 2011.630 billion in 2010. might be threatened.7 3.” Nixon’s decision to end the link between the dollar and the gold standard was the start of the series of all the measures of financial and monetary deregulation that would open up fields of speculation of unprecedented scope and breadth for the battered capitalist economy.3* 3. determining role. a 60 percent increase in 10 years. it was a question of increasing that sector’s cost-effectiveness by concentrating it even more and eliminating multiple producers of the same product or the same service. A 60 percent increase in 10 years…! Since that period and following the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York (11 September 2001). The restructuring of the arms economy However. Let everybody judge for themselves.2 45. offering it margins of profitability that far exceed those available to the whole of the capitalist economy. Nixon has just stated those limits in the measures he has just taken. Bosnia. Six of the biggest US arms corporations that exist today are the result of the merger of 26 companies since the early 1990s.0* 59. it regained an increasingly important role – first and foremost for political reasons. on which we have already given our position (13) and which we will only outline here. In the first place. a country that notably borders Niger and Côte d’Ivoire whose arms spending has risen by 115 percent). The rise in military spending varies in significance according to the country or continent in question. The United States on its own weighs in with 43 percent of the world’s military spending. In total.ARMS ECONOMY AND CAPITALISM’S CRISIS OF DECAY of the capitalist economy. On the other hand. although the arms economy was no longer sufficient as the artificial drive-wheel of the world economy. But at the same time. which together accounted for two-thirds of spending in 2009.3 2. a new offensive in 1998-9 – but also intervention in Somalia. The arms economy is once again becoming a major artificial drivewheel of a dislocated capitalist economy. the biggest increase in military spending is to be found in Africa.
and have been in the top 10 for several years. now Total. The same applies today for Nigeria.095 3. this should be considered in relation to Brazil’s role as henchman for maintaining the imperialist order in the region.858 Boeing (USA) Northrop Grumman (USA) 31. these companies occupy specific niche markets that are completely dependent on the activity of the arms economy dominated by the imperialist powers.). or rather the offshoring of certain segments of the production of weapons and combat Table 2: The world’s top ten arms companies (2010) Company Sales (US$ million) Profits all activities (US$ million) 2. its military spending rose by an average of 5 percent. and on the other hand several European corporations (especially the UK’s BAE Systems) draw a big proportion of their sales from US orders. for example.622 23.307 3.287 Finmeccanica (Italy) 14. the company’s former CEO. After Africa.945 2. Wars. affaire d’Etat [Elf business. uranium. that loose conglomeration of economic. one notes that two European companies dropped out of the table between 2008 and 2009. as acknowledged by Mr Loik Le Floch-Prigent. especially in Brazil.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH the World Bank (see sidebar). etc. is convincing. while the United States saw an average annual economic growth of 1. On the one hand. The same also applies to South Sudan in terms of uranium. “Brasilia is far ahead of all the other countries in the region. According to the 2011 report of the Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security (GRIP). For the same period. The tendency is for a strengthening of the US corporations’ position: on the one hand. 42 .4 96 48 90 82 93 27 58 83 21 42. whose oil production today represents 80 percent of its exports. While the economies of the OECD countries grew by an average of 1. For the most part.926 2. cobalt.600 Sources: Aerospace and Defence. The example of Chad. state business]. even with a recession in 2009. Since 2003. ranked sixth among the world’s oil exporters thanks to its huge oil reserves located in the Niger delta. The purchase of the weapons that were used in the civil wars was mainly funded by oil revenues. We should also mention that several companies from the dominated countries have entered the global Top 100.105 1.181 General Dynamics (USA) 26. etc. Elf and Congolese oil epitomise the whole history of the relations between France and Africa. control over the exploitation of Chad’s oil has passed to French and American companies (ExxonMobil. No less than 7 of these corporations are American. an 8 percent increase compared to 2008. Chevron and Petronas). we should underline the fact that the volume of military spending has continued to increase despite the eruption of capitalism’s widespread crisis in 2007.” Clearly.750 4.” During the crisis. Brazilian military spending in 2009 exceeded the total military spending of the 10 other South American states (US$25. and especially oil as the main vector.443 L-3 Communications (USA)13.4 percent during the period 2007-10. 45 are from the US and 33 from the European Union. organised in lobbies and a network and focused on monopolising two forms of income: raw materials and public aid for development. These tendencies are also reflected in the sales figures of the world’s main arms-manufacturing corporations.2 percent (including a 2. sometimes referred to as “Françafrique” (…). the biggest rise in military spending is in Latin America.109 30.420 Raytheon (USA) EADS (Europe) 16. with of course a slowdown in 2009 and 2010. copper. it is a question of what can be assimilated by sub-contracting.711 Share of sales linked to military (%) 93. military sales represent on average 40 percent of their global sales.565 746 1.2 percent. oil and the breaking up of nations The March 2008 monthly newsletter of the Oil Revenues Management Watch (OGRP) said: “In the Republic of Congo.5 percent recession in 2009). it has been indicated that the recurrent conflicts since 1997 have brought to light the activities of that company. In CongoBrazzaville. It would be a mistake to see in this the emergence of new military powers competing with the imperialist powers. which between them account for 60 percent of the “Top 100” sales (see Table 2).800 Lockheed Martin (USA) BAE Systems (UK) 33. it is business as usual On a general level. political and military actors in France and Africa. in his book Affaire Elf.419 3. 2010 year in review and 2011 forecast (PricewaterhouseCoopers) and the 2010 annual reports of the companies concerned. This tendency is demonstrated even further in the top 10 producers. US imperialism is gradually prising that godsend away from “Françafrique” in a “war within a war” that everywhere is spreading chaos and the disintegration of nation-states that were artificially drawn up during the colonial period in Africa. As many of those same corporations also have civilian sector activities. Of those 100 top producers. In 2009 this amounted to more than US$400 billion for the “top 100” arms manufacturers. As pointed out by TchadOnline (12 August 2011): “In the proxy conflict between Chad and Sudan via third party rebellions. and mainly US imperialism.8 billion). like in Haiti. the sole objective of the struggle between the elites for control of the government was control over the godsend of oil” (and reserves of diamonds. Moreover. military spending in those same countries grew by 4. the oil stakes are the determining factor at both the regional and international levels.074 United Technologies (USA)11. Seventy percent of that production is controlled by the United States through a pipeline that crosses the country and neighbouring Cameroon. the history of the wars is connected with oil activities and the presence of the French company Elf Aquitaine.
ARMS ECONOMY AND CAPITALISM’S CRISIS OF DECAY systems (Hindustan Aeronautics and Indian Graph 1: Wall Street indexes comparing shares in the Ordnance Factories in India. nevertheless something sordid about the given above on the arms economy and the But it is nevertheless the case that there fact that the political elites have given powerful corporations that operate within appear to be some doubts about the future their unconditional support to short-term it. it seems that the increase in total sales by the arms corporations slowed down (up 2 percent) and one may think that an equivalent tendency could emerge in 2011 (the 2011 financial reports have not yet come out and the official statistics are even further off). The military sector cannot escape Note: The DFI (bold black line) is the index for “defence sector” shares. the almost permanent “income” generated by procurement programmes that are often proceeding on the basis of the which there seems to be no other response spread over several years. Military expenditure. at a time when the system’s production (see Graph 1). arms sector to those in the rest of industry (1996-2011) ASELSAN in Turkey).” This level of export activity (see Table 3). in its desperate search 1990s. privatise) certain activities in the combat zones. than four years. and shares in the big arms corporations Development” Within this framework. and is the conclusion drawn by GRIP in its by the Republicans and Democrats on the all this with public funding (and therefore 2011 report (15). production and everything are still growing. there is above envisages cuts in federal military this has meant that up to now the arms all a logic. to sub-contract (and. On the other hand. the civilian sector. especially the United States. we are going to enter a period of consequences of the crisis that has been for artificial means that would allow it to cuts in military spending described as a ravaging the capitalist system for more survive at any cost and maintain its “peace dividend”? In no way whatsoever. Compared to 2010. if only for strategic reasons. In 2008 and 2009. that of a system of exploitation spending. GRIP. the this present-day tendency of Nasdaq covers “hi-tech” shares and the two others (including the Dow Jones the economy. the main activity of some of these companies is the supply of logistical services close to actual or potential theatres of operation (Agility Logistics in Kuwait). There is in its imperialist stage. maintaining a recorded only half or a third of the fall high and increasing level of military registered by those in other sectors of As we have referred to above. Beyond the sordid question of the debt and budget deficit public debt) that does not truly appear to aspect which quite rightly fills the report’s under pressure from the financial markets. to 43 . The current industrial strategies in search of profit looks at “Research and Development” budget debate in the US Congress. For all that. at the spending. is turning increasingly the stock markets saw record falls. although this occurs to a lesser extent than in Industrial Average) cover “classic industrial” shares. transfers of weapons – Compendium 2011. quite the opposite – all authors with indignation. be under threat. a very high compromise agreed in early August 2011 than to increase military spending. when domination. strictly “economic” level military deep crisis imposes measures to destroy “’Business as usual’. has a certain logic. and it would be spending is a vital question for capitalism the gains of the working class to an naïve to be surprised at that. that generate increasing instability. just as they were telling us in the industrial sectors to protect itself from the decay and which. But the maintenance of military budgets at levels that despite Taken from Luc Mampaey. should we believe sector has been able better than other which has reached an advanced stage of that. in practice. Besides the data unprecedented degree. This falls under the general tendency of the imperialist powers. this is clearly demonstrated when one level of military spending. stocks Arms economy and “Research and towards the arms economy.
Other companies have flown drones in Iraq and Afghanistan. DynCorp. Although it is true that several civilian technologies are versions of military technologies. which is one of the essential parameters of capitalist accumulation and the orientation of capital in search of valorisation. but in France the figure is almost 30 percent (source: Eurostat). most notably that of the privatisation of war. Let us remember that in official terminology. Spending on military R&D tops the table. are used to control drones (pilotless planes) remotely or for demining. which would be against their financial interests. since Barack Obama became President the company Xe Services (formerly Blackwater) signed contracts worth US$174 million with the US State Department alone in 2010. the impossibility of states allowing this industry to go bankrupt. through the device of privatising war and military spending generally.000 (compared to 130. The same applies for example to “green” energy. Today these are increasingly being used for military applications and are already present in military equipment. the number of mercenaries used in the war by private companies has risen to 200. a US lobby group representing the interests of the biggest actors in what it calls the “peace and stability industry”. one gets the very clear impression that the current 44 . when in fact they are not. etc. Most of Boeing’s products are civilian versions of military products – not to mention IT. This means that the industrial arms corporations carry out one-third of all federal R&D. although this sector does not account for the same proportion in the economy or the financial markets.” Thus. special steels. it is clear that the PMCs have no interest in stabilising the situation or in the successful Afghanisation of the ANA [Afghan National Army]. as is the case in all instances of privatisation. In the 1950s. the arms economy is making the private sector and the universities work for it. Since 2005. while in fact. for example. The UN has thus become one of the main employers of PMCs.2 billion with the State Department even after being condemned for multiple murders. “Centres of insurrection are springing up everywhere” For when one looks at the arms products and sectors that are due to be cut back in the United States. a military intervention is called a “peace operation”… According to US magazine The Nation. Let us once again take the case of the United States. a little over 40 percent of federal R&D budgets are carried out by industry. the arms economy and the weapons industry carry decisive weight in the area of R&D. for example. telecommunications. one of the world’s biggest private military contractors (PMCs). etc. it is also true that the military sector is increasingly monopolising for military purposes technologies resulting from civilian research – which is often carried out with military funding. But looking at this more closely. several observers estimate that green technologies will head more towards the military sector than the civilian sector – biofuels. Thus in the United States. LieutenantColonel Marie-Dominique Charlier. more than half (and in some years close to 60 percent) of that funding was destined for “defence”. To this end. This allowed it to sign a contract worth US$2. largely due to its crucial role in technological innovation. In one study journal (17). chemicals. Moreover. the armed forces and specialised federal agencies were the main sources of funding for the country’s basic research. waste recycling. it increases spending in that sector. one notes that the balance between research and development leans greatly in favour of the latter. when talking about the sector. energy supply (solar panels. Although for the last 15 years or so the share of public funding of R&D represents on average around 1 percent of US GDP. but to reduce the cost of transporting fossil fuels to fields of operation. an average of 13 percent of public funding of R&D is devoted to arms. either through direct budget allocations or by offering incentives (especially fiscal) for innovation. political adviser to the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). and for very long periods. games consoles. machine tools. (16) Just in terms of the war in Iraq. All the more so because the strategic orientations of maintaining capital’s iron heel that form the basis for military R&D and direct production in a concerted fashion towards the arms corporations greatly contribute to those tendencies. way ahead of health. That would lessen the need for contractors.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH (R&D). The same applies to technologies that have proved their worth in the civilian sector. but in 85 percent of cases this involves R&D carried out on behalf of the Defense Department. The privatisation of war All the more so because new spheres of activity are opening up for that economy. smartphones and tablets. in which developments form a significant share of research today. According to the New York Times (3 September 2010). acting on behalf of the CIA. the leading global arms economy. What is more. like graphics boards. noted: “In light of various return of experience reports by French officers on the Afghan theatre and my own experience.) – not through a concern to reduce CO 2 emissions.000 regular soldiers). From the immediate aftermath of the Second World War onwards. PMCs have “helped” the United States to train around 80 percent of African “peacekeeping” soldiers. space and energy (which moreover includes the “military” share of spending on nuclear research). acts of torture and bloody operations against Iraqi civilians. It is a member of the International Peace Operations Association. Between 2004 and 2009. which allows the appearance to be given of a reduction in military spending. in fact we are referring to five corporations that between them capture the major share of those budgets. is wellknown. Blackwater also “created a web of more than 30 shell companies or subsidiaries in part to obtain millions of dollars in American government contracts”. the need for war or the threat of war in order to maintain world order – all this means that fundamentally the arms economy will not pay the cost of reducing public deficits as demanded by the financial markets. Games consoles. The role of R&D in the aeronautics sector. they want us to swallow the lie that military budgets are falling. according to statements by several US military officers. employees of Blackwater equipped US army drones with missiles and laser-guided bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. employs 17. In Europe. The central strategic role played by the arms industry.000 people and declares sales of 2 billion euros.
Part 1D. 2000. Chapter 32. “The return of the arms economy”. a trend which can only increase with the gradual disappearance of the welfare state. “Proletarians and Communism”. an issue that forms part of the general tendency of the arms economy: “We must be brave enough to face up to reality. (18) Olivier Jehin. The Accumulation of Capital. the Blackwater henchmen killed 17 Iraqi civilians without any cause (to quote the words used in the FBI report) in September 2007. Other programmes (armoured vehicles.1 (“Revisiting 50 years of world history: myths and realities of the “Thirty Glorious Years” and the twenty years that followed”) in Daniel Gluckstein. the Highest Stage of Capitalism. (15) Luc Mampaey. APIO Publishing. French section of the Fourth International and current of the Independent Workers Party (POI). against interference in countries’ internal affairs.71. April 2010.org/) database for the years 1988-2010. (3) La Vérité-The Truth. the class struggle is forcing capitalism in its decayed stage of imperialism to increase military spending in an attempt to shore up its domination. Centres of insurrection are springing up everywhere. “‘Debt crisis’? No. These questions were concentrated in the slogan: “Down with war! Down with exploitation!” this slogan is shared by all activists. the figures quoted in this article come from the SIPRI (Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. (13) La Vérité-The Truth.Ecrits de Michel Dauberny [Revisiting thirty years of crisis of the capitalist system – Writings of Michel Dauberny].71. (14) Unless otherwise indicated. including in our direct neighbourhood [This was written a few weeks before the launch of the Tunisian Revolution – Editor]. is concerned. there is a growing threat of violence. No. production and transfers of weapons . Vol. in defence of the integrity and sovereignty of nations”) of December 2011. This assessment was summarised in a study by a researcher with the French Institute of International Relations (IFRI) published in November 2010 (18). cit. this slogan is especially farreaching. La Vérité-The Truth.Compendium 2011. website: http://www. Helicopters. populism. including at home. Chapter 15. Its basis lies in imperialism’s nature of being “reactionary all down the line” (Lenin) and the particular role played within it by the arms economy. October 1971. radars and sensors. La Vérité-The Truth. October 2011. This is the objective for which the militant activists and sections of the Fourth International are organising. October 1971 (reproduced in Retour sur trente ans de crise du système capitaliste . cit. and to counter the social explosion which imperialism’s policy inevitably generates. But above all. smartphones and tablets.I. (11) Complementary Study No. (6) Rosa Luxembourg. Military expenditure. No. precursor of today’s Internationalist Communist Current (CCI). (17) Etudes de l’IRSEM. because that spending offers a priceless outlet for capital whose valorisation is continuously being hampered. demands for recognition and extremism of all sorts.32. Here we are indeed at the heart of the questions raised notably by the Algiers Conference in November 2010 and the Emergency International Conference (“Against wars of occupation. op. cit. Michel Dauberny. the rise in inequality and resurgence (sic) of social tension. March 2003. op. (16) For example. Brussels. both of them convened on the initiative of the Algerian Workers’ Party and the UGTA. 45 . to use the term preferred by the CIA and the Pentagon. Part III.71. which focused on the deplorable state of the European defence industry and called for a restructuring as soon as possible. All around us is instability. Firstly. groups and organisations from every tendency of the democratic labour movement who are part of the campaigns and proposals promoted by the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples. Sélio 2008). No.grip. Going beyond the indispensable united front against war and exploitation. (5) La Vérité-The Truth. by removing any resistance to the free circulation of capital and the pillage of material and human resources. which part of that broad united front. Visions (IFRI). No.ARMS ECONOMY AND CAPITALISM’S CRISIS OF DECAY orientation of the arms economy is towards “urban warfare”. The German Ideology. GRIP. a system in its death-throes”. November 2010. Class Struggle and Globalisation. (4) Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.org). Georges Mazet (Gérard Bloch). “European Defence Economy Affected by the Crisis”. (9) “Crise monétaire et marche à la crise économique mondiale” [Monetary crisis and the march towards world economic crisis].554-555. (7) All quotes in this paragraph are from V I Lenin. (8) Rosa Luxembourg. Vol. it is necessitated by the requirement to maintain the system of capitalist exploitation at any cost. website: http://www.III. and above all the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Imperialism. Chapter VII. from the SIPRI Yearbook 2010. (12) OCI: Internationalist Communist Organisation for the reconstruction of the Fourth International. San Francisco. ships and aircraft-carriers. in other words to the capitalist system based on private ownership of the means of production.554-555. “Exposition of the Internal Contradictions of the Law”. As far as the Fourth International.sipri. No. Capital. it calls for the struggle to put an end to the system of exploitation itself. op. cybersecurity and above all drones – the market for which is estimated at more than US$11 billion over the next 10 years – are today in favour with the Pentagon. Everywhere. (10) “Economie d’armement et parasitisme au sein du capitalisme à l’agonie” [Arms economy and parasitism at the heart of capitalism in its deaththroes]. (2) Karl Marx. each unit costing a mere US$200 million) have not been abandoned but adapted to new strategic orders based on an assessment of the world situation in the class struggle. and from the 2011 report and other publications by GRIP (Group for Research and Information on Peace and Security. The researcher highlighted one of the issues for the arms economy in Europe.” In other words. No. ENDNOTES (1) La Vérité-The Truth.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 46 .
For an initial period. touching on the key question of ownership. Obama stated (12 December 2011) that the country must “honor its existing commitments to creditors”. Evo Morales in Bolivia (2005) and Rafael Correa in Ecuador (2006). c) Dilma Rousseff. Along this path. what is the situation in Latin America in 2012? 2. in Argentina. integration into world trade. and who generally still supported them. Following the masses’ victory over the pro-imperialist military regimes that were in power from the 1960s to the 1980s. holding an auction for the concession (with foreign participation) made up of the three most profitable airports. Gains that previously had been tolerated were now being reviewed.) and raised taxes. without breaking with imperialism (deappropriating with compensation is not expropriation). and the revolutionary movements in Tunisia and Greece. despite higher “growth rates”. piling up new confrontations with the masses who had elected them. Within the limits of this article. run by the local authority.Latin America The Class Struggle Today: “Prepare for the worst!” (IMF) 1. President Obama was elected in the middle of a crisis in the United States. related to the financing of real estate. but he had to retreat in the face of the popular rising led by the Bolivian Workers’ Confederation (COB). the revolutionary explosion at the time of the 2001 financial collapse resulted in a de facto renegotiation with imperialism (a new discount in the value of sovereign bonds comprising the debt). etc. but he never achieved this. the masses’ standard of living are still falling. control over national resources and heritage. via Tabaré of the Broad Front in Uruguay (2003). But these governments are different from the others – the open agents of imperialism such as in Peru. Mexico or Colombia. She outdid him with the first big privatisation since the PT came to power. who unmasked or eliminated several pro-imperialist “traditional parties”. we must point out that the resistance to imperialist pillage – the result of the direct struggle of the masses. renegotiating contracts in favour of private companies. lost 50 percent of its subsidies and doubled the ticket prices. deepened the disagreement among sectors of the government’s social base among rural workers and the indigenous population. the foreign debt crisis appeared. Four years later. But since then.). In this context. and the InterAmerican Development Bank (IDB) blocked credits that had been approved previously. each of the new “progressive” regimes went back on measures they had introduced previously. which rediscovered its independence in relation to the government. Considered over a century ago as the “private hunting ground” of a US imperialism that has since been hegemonic in the world for over half a century. Although the President’s image was one of being more “flexible”. The Buenos Aires underground railway. etc. which in 2012 ended in new market offers to the foreign oil companies. thus continuing Lula’s policy. intended to provide a corridor for exports. renegotiated the oil contracts. with the task – from imperialism’s point of view – of winning back the political and economic positions that had been lost on the continent. For five years he had tried to make the state the sole proprietor facing oil companies acting as service providers. the capitalist crisis provided a breathing space. today Latin America no longer looks the same as it did a century ago. bringing back bourgeois Peronism in government with the task of rebuilding a state that had been shaken to its core by the masses.5 billion. the Latin American continent could in no way remain sheltered from the turbulence that has been buffeting the heart of the system as a result of then social resistance and shocks of the class struggle produced in the United States itself (in the context of the Obama government). but reaction set in and restricted the margin for manoeuvre of all those governments who were now called upon to bail out the banks and therefore the system of private ownership of the means of production itself. ranging from Chavez in Venezuela (1999) to Lula of the Workers Party (PT) in Brazil (2002). some have gone further than others. In Argentina. The current capitalist crisis began five years ago in the United States with the appearance of the subprime crisis. marked by the collapse of the former USSR. a deal worth US$24. 3. began 2011 with the “gasolinazo”. the struggle of the exploited and oppressed masses has resulted in a new situation opening on the continent at the turn of the century. Resistance to the opening of a road through an indigenous reserve. d) Christine Kirchner. The United States accounts 47 . is using deep cuts in the budget to top up the primary surplus in order to service a public debt weighed down by interest (US$238 billion in 2011) and the target for speculators. cancelled the subsidies which for 10 years had “balanced the books” of the privatised enterprises (gas. while the old CPs collapsed and guerillaism failed “militarily” and politically (the Sandinista government of 1979-90 is one example) – has brought about the appearance of elected petty-bourgeois nationalist or “popular front”-style governments. in Ecuador. an adjustment measure (a reduction of subsidies. These governments have been led to renegotiate their relations with US imperialism (the debt. hence huge increases in the price of fuels) in order to meet payment of the debt. a) Evo Morales. in reality his administration was harder than that of Bush. in Bolivia. production fell and he retreated. water. electricity. in countries where. Within this framework. in Brazil.United States . Although it continues to be the US’s “private hunting ground”. or even Chile of the “Concertación” coalition – which have maintained their customary harmony with Washington. followed by an avalanche of privatisations and free trade treaties. One by one. b) Rafael Correa.
This expresses the wish to wipe out what remains of any national element in the industrial sectors of the dominated countries. In fact. And in the final analysis. Despite the discourse and sometimes the joint voting at the UN by some of these governments on questions linked to the sovereignty of Iran. by carrying out a direct military intervention with almost double the number of troops than MINUSTAH (the UN’s “stabilisation mission” in Haiti. this does not mean a decline of domination in the dominated countries! 9. Thus. following the sovereign initiative to repatriate gold reserves held abroad. Libya or Syria. In this sense. in Venezuela. The coup – ratified by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. 6. But there are no new big nationalisations. commanded by Brazil). But he cannot give up the means of “global” financial pillage – the wheel of history cannot be turned back 100 years within the configuration of the imperialist epoch that has established the supremacy of finance. The reorganisation continued with the presidential election in Haiti (20102011). 4. but as can be seen in Haiti and Honduras. and US$330 million owed to US companies has been referred to the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) (see below). an elected bourgeois President with vague national desires for land reform and a Constituent Assembly who joined the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America (ALBA. and support for the murderous regime of Porfirio Lobo. he used the “legitimate” authority of Lula of the PT in relation to the movement of the masses and the role of Brazil in the continent. he appointed Martelly – a singer who came third – as a candidate in the second round in order to beat the former first lady. which includes a military cooperation agreement between those governments without the presence of the United States. Telesul. In line with this orientation. Obama has flooded the markets with billions in a series of currency issues by the Federal Reserve of the United States (widely referred to as “the Fed”). It is true that Obama’s rise goes hand in hand with a new “crisis of domination” in the United States. Bush needed Lula to head the intervention in Haiti – Obama. who were reintegrated into the OAS. a classic military coup seen throughout the previous century overthrew Manuel Zelaya. e) Chavez. this went against the view of MINUSTAH. the evolution of the situation in Haiti is another significant example.). The intention is to monopolise trade in the region by opening a safety-valve in the domestic crisis (threat of bankruptcy. a grouping of governments introduced by Chavez-Castro. through fierce competition with the European imperialisms for control over the continent’s markets. Despite the fact that the initial boycott of the coup-plotters supported the domestic resistance to the regime. with the participation of troops from more than 40 countries. in order to strengthen his own power rather than relying on the masses. and he can manage up to a certain point without intermediaries – thanks to his role in the class struggle in the United States itself. Morales or Correa). In terms of political evolution. indicating the wish for complete control. this resembles the previous agreement on the 9 new military bases established in the continent by the United States – seven in Colombia. Zalaya’s return was based on a political amnesty for the coup-plotters. with aspects of economic collaboration that does not pose the question of imperialism’s widespread domination). they have not been able to “spread” national sovereignty on the continent. He decided to quit the ICSID. Bush needed an intermediary in order to negotiate. one in Curacao and one in Aruba – together with the Union of South American Nations (UNASUL). which resulted in the forming of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) in 2011 (see below). unemployment. In June 2009. etc. 8. The United States used the tragedy of the 2010 earthquake as a pretext to show “who is in charge”. rein back and try to reverse the course chosen by each regime under the impact of the masses (Chavez.). one of the keys to Obama’s orientation is his “State of the Union” address in January 2010: “To help businesses sell more products abroad. is looking for balance in a difficult situation of rising prices and mass unemployment. Petrosul. Undoubtedly. 5. which in the previous fraud (in 2006) had selected Preval due to his origins in the Lavalas popular movement 48 . Incidentally. or in Honduras. But Obama needs to go further. The facts show that the pressure created by the crisis is being felt. This is an indication of Chavez’s willingness to negotiate. proposed by Bush to the UN Security Council in 2004.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH for US$6. that will compete with the Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (CTV). as the real body in power.8 billion in terms of creditors who have not accepted the debt discount. he left behind the Interim Commission for the Reconstruction of Haiti (CIRH). in this case by subordinating himself to imperialism. a mediator needs a certain amount of room in which to operate. even after withdrawing his troops. the National Workers Union (UNT). a negotiation in 2011 within the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS) ended in Zalaya’s final return to Honduras. This is a good illustration of what has “changed” between Bush and Obama. he is increasing the influence of the military within the government and is supporting the development of a “socialist” trade union confederation. headed by Bill Clinton. where they had a concrete responsibility in the face of imperialism. and in practice by Obama – symbolises the wish of the new administration to regain the positions lost during the previous decade. This is why. we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014”. with an eye on the elections due this year. Honduras is a classic example. On this question. class conflict. Obama used the OAS to accuse the “winners” in the first round – a Duvalierist former first lady and President Preval’s son-in-law – of fraud in an election that once again was marked by a record level of abstention. not necessarily. But instead of logically declaring the election void. In one way. under the influence of Chavez and with the backing of Castro and Lula. provoking an “exchange rate war” as well as a trade war. which is dominated by the multinationals. this is about more than just confronting “rival” Chinese and German exporters. One can see here the limits of the confrontations. following the forming of the ALBA and UNASUL and other variable-geometry projects inspired by Chavez (Bank of the South. etc. 7.
Their “humanitarian aid” to a puppet regime for some 8 years now demonstrates their search for an agreement with imperialism in the region. where henceforth. without at all mentioning the term “national sovereignty” and without speaking of the concrete question of the occupation by UN troops. which guarantees the savage exploitation of the workforce in the free-trade zones? 12.” Thirty-three countries. and the 2011 resolution (XVII Encounter). here we have a resolution by parties participating in governments that are providing the occupying troops. peace and security for our peoples. where Cuba is collaborating with the regime under MINUSTAH supervision. firmness in the anti-imperialist struggle. initiatives that were promoted by the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples with the support of the sections of the Fourth International. Finally. a continental meeting of parties and organisations of the left (set up by the PT and the Cuban CP in 1990). in particular the so-called “nationalist” governments supported by the labour and popular organisations that are participating in the MINUSTAH or collaborating with the occupation”. not counting the PSUV of Chavez and the CP of Castro. it was decided to hold the next meeting of the member countries’ Chancellors in Haiti. while the government has absolutely no power to monitor or control. For example. “no project can be carried through to a successful conclusion without the CIRH’s stamp of approval. But under pressure from the “markets” in crisis. Cuba is an important element in US diplomacy. following the convening of the “Continental Day of 1 June for the withdrawal of UN troops from Haiti. They are not finished. Peru (PNP).000 workers passed over to the “private” sector (after two years of resistance within the country. Out of all of Obama’s promises of a “negotiated” normalisation of relations. Everything passes through the NGOs.UNITED STATES . nobody wanted to break off diplomatic relations. without concessions for the “progressive” governments. inspired by the Cubans. And if words have any meaning. and the project was buried. and adopted by the Caribbean Conference in Haiti (18 November)”. in Point 28 it indicates “that CELAC. these layoffs were officially reduced to 137. The UN’s decision to reduce its contingent to the same level as before the earthquake. the CELAC invokes Dessalines. in other words with Cuba but without the United States or Canada. it was even a question of combining the different “aid” that the governments were able to give – some with oil or medicines. where. the hero of the revolutionary liberation of Haiti. he kept quiet – at a time when what was required of governments like those of Cuba and Venezuela was to condemn the interference by multinational troops orchestrated by the United States. Thirty-four are members of the OAS. we had a particular situation where Ecuador. The latter urges the “continent’s popular governments of the left and centre-left (…) to allow for an agenda of economic co-operation (…). A surprise? At the Sao Paulo Forum. Castro proposed to attack the gains of the revolution through plans for privatisation and the announcement of the laying-off of 500. Martelly himself participated in ALBA’s XI Summit (February 2012. we have not even seen the closure of Guantanamo. Uruguay (FA). the “international community” warned him off. as the only mechanism for dialogue and consensus that unites the 33 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. In relation to this outcome. How can we separate that from the policy adopted for neighbouring Haiti. a precedent that threatens every one of the continent’s nations. More important is the forming of the CELAC in December 2011. once described by Che Guevara as the “United States’ Ministry of the Colonies”. It is true that Chavez did come to put the MINUSTAH into question. “the only mechanism for 49 . an evolution had taken place. Ecuador (PAIS). but it avoids mentioning the shameful occupation of the country today. A political rapprochement of the governments is apparent. the government has to submit management reports to it. If the country must have an army. 10. Bolivia and Venezuela did not have an accredited ambassador to the United States. of partial freedom of movement and a relaxation of restrictions on the remittance of funds. The resolution of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International (January 2012) points out that “the campaign for the withdrawal of the MINUSTAH troops is an instrument of struggle against the submission by the continent’s governments to the policy of the United States. 13. Martelly named as his Prime Minister the former principal private secretary to Clinton at the CIRH – and so it was the US establishment that was in charge. and an anti-imperialist symbol. like Brazil (PT). we need to define the policy of Cuba and Venezuela. But then. A few months ago.” MINUSTAH’s role as guardian of the puppet regime is maintained. Finally “elected”. the President wanted to reconstitute the army. 11. expulsion and the replacement blocked by the US Senate). As the Liaison Committee of Haitian Trotskyists has said. but the simultaneity of the situation proved that tensions persisted. accompanying the Castro brothers. is the highest expression of our will for unity in diversity.LATIN AMERICA of the former deposed President Aristide. in Caracas). But their recent evolution is going in the opposite direction. What is more. Bolivia (MAS). when the Forum made a “wish for the Haitian nation’s rapid sovereign reinsertion in the international community” (XII Encounter). do not change the equation of interference in the service of imperialism. does not imply that one loses one’s lucidity on the reality of their relations with the masses. In the “Caracas Declaration”. it is not the embassies that should structure it. The reasons for this varied (vague charges. On the other hand. between 2005. the broadest popular participation (…) by increasing the humanitarian presence”.000). economic. like its eventual disengagement within a period of “a minimum of five years”. but the United States did not agree. This is possible across the whole continent. or by parties collaborating with the government (Argentina). others on security issues… In reality. social and cultural ties will strengthen on the basis of a common agenda of welfare. our political. launched by the continental meeting of Sao Paulo (5 November 2011) which set up the Continental Committee. the consequences of which for the broad masses are sharpening within the process of the world capitalist crisis. with a view to consolidation of our regional community. as the head of state announced. and economic relations even less.
the strength demonstrated by the Latin American masses at the turn of the century. no longer created the same illusions. centred on defending the workers who are the main productive force. was only the prelude to the decisive battles that lie before them. re-elected) governments. he carried out a cabinet reshuffle and launched a policy of “civil war” against the masses in favour of foreign mining interests. private investment in a network of export channels. following the formation last year of the Political Organisation of the People and the Workers (OPT) on the initiative of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME). promoting land reform and defending the industrial base. reining back the wave of privatisations and attacks on their rights. The coming to power of the Peruvian Nationalist Party’s Ollanta Humala in Peru in 2011. These perspectives require a political instrument. But it is even more true that this whole situation is in the process of changing rapidly due to the global crisis. which already does not look upon it kindly (UNASUL itself played a role against the proimperialist coup d’état by the leaders of Bolivia’s “crescent moon” departments against Evo Morales. the flow of profits to the United States from Latin America exceeded US$100 billion in 2011. declining amounts of FDI in fact came from the head offices. which does not really exist – that explains the alleviation of poverty through a drop in unemployment in the region throughout the last 10 years. But. rather a taste of the future it has in store – on the ruins of which will be built the Free Union of Sovereign Nations of the continent. commensurate with the struggles of the masses in the cities and countryside which gained elements of a domestic consumer market (for example. but one which only governments of the workers and peasants will defend to the end. including the renationalisation of everything that has been privatised and the protection of the country’s natural wealth – a programme with national characteristics which we will not describe here.92) What is more. in six months. forecast that in 2012 the region should “hope for the best (or at least better times). as noted by the ILO study – falling to 6. as the local press emphasised – in recognition of the traditions and experience of the Bolivian proletariat. the reliance on capital flows to finance these deficits has increased the region’s susceptibility to a sudden turnaround in investor sentiment. 16. The governments know this – and Washington. to work for the building of a political instrument for the workers – “a party belonging to the workers”. and also regrouping to defend existing organisations that are being threatened. but prepare for the worst. is in the process of disappearing). for which the continent’s sections of the Fourth International must fight: the building of powerful independent workers’ parties within a process that can be slow or fast according to the country. who at that time was defended by the masses). The moment has come to affirm that the only barrier to the huge pressure from imperialism is a sovereign policy for protecting the nation. 14. In reality. The building of this formal politico-legal framework as distinct from the OAS could create a rift with the United States. This is not easy. If the “tax havens” of this region are also taken into account. 50 . All the more so as the initiatives that interested imperialism. US Department of Commerce). which still controls the General Confederation of Workers of Peru (CGTP). acquisitions accounted for 60 percent of FDI in Latin America between 1990 and 1999. then the decision of the Congress in January of the Bolivian Workers Confederation (COB). and the governments that are openly agents of imperialism are intensifying their policy. A policy of broad antiimperialist unity that includes breaking with the foreign debt. What is more. the “progressive” candidate in the continent’s key country of Mexico. Indeed. the trend is for seeking to permanently associate the trade union confederations through mechanisms of consensus. rather than concede something. The governments that were elected over the last decade are tending to turn to the right. have been abandoned or fragmented. the Initiative for the Integration of the Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA). To do so. the banks and the IMF know it better than they do. Not having much room for manoeuvre.” (p. Director of the IMF’s Western Hemisphere Department. More than ever. the IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook report (September 2011) stated that: “The region’s external current account deficits are set to widen slightly during 2011-12 despite the strength in commodity prices. ENDNOTES (1) All the data given here exclude the Caribbean. the lowest rate since the study began in 1990 – even though half of the new jobs are informal and youth unemployment remains double the average. Examining the “dynamic of growth”. the governments will not be able to avoid touching private property. This is a policy of dismantling imperialist oppression – the terrible face of which in Haiti is not an exception. in particular starting with the best cadres of the trade union confederations who are resisting on the grounds of independence. like the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA-ALCA). dialogue or pacts in each country (which we will not address here). destabilised by a so-called “war on drug trafficking” (60.8 percent. except with regard to the determination of the old Peruvian CP. at the proposal of the Miners’ Federation. (2) According to the United Nations Centre on Transnational Corporations.000 fatal victims so far) which in reality is simply an extension of the pillage under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This is somewhat similar to the limits of the presidential campaign pursued by Obrador. It is the masses’ struggle – and not a “regional integration model”. on 2 February Nicolas Eyzaguirre. to an uneven degree insofar as each one is a different case.” 15. created during the ALCA negotiations. the orientation and course is clear to see for the whole working class from the north to the south of the Americas. in close collaboration with the workers and the oppressed of North America. In the last four years.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH dialogue and consensus that unites the 33 countries” means to say that the CELAC has superposed itself on an OAS that has been rid of its content. 87 percent of FDI came from reinvestment (retention of profits). due to the crisis. a late “nationalist” arrival to the current group go office-holders. It is true that in the eyes of the masses the situation is associated with the “progressive” elected (in several cases. therefore from money that never actually crossed borders (data of the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
During the of this remains in the reserves of the Latin American following decades. half of all surplus-value in the form of astronomical interest from investment was destined for industry. Figure 2 shows that in the early 1980s. But the rise depends on a Marx. In 2011. leading States of more than US$75 billion. during the second half of the century. who “invest” it at reduced rates in US diminished. inflated by cheap money injected by The first wave came after the sharp fall in profit in the the central banks of the United States. they reached US$40 billion. following so many acts of areas in the graph) of surplus-value extracted from the offshoring (with the maquiladoras and the special export workers. in the face of a US Rate of Profit vs. it is the Latin American urban and rural workers who in the first place have to apply themselves to generating such surpluses. the origin of profit. as analysed by surplus in the balance of trade. there was a third wave of heavy transfers. (1) With each wave. As Figure 1 shows. One can observe three big waves of transfers (shaded throughout the continent. Trade between the United States and Latin America is marked by exploitation by the dominant imperialism. the wave of privatisations allowed for the payment of United States. double the amount of foreign direct investment (FDI) made that year. From 2005 onwards. In the 1990s. during the zones) and the free trade treaties. Capital reacted: Nixon decreed the end of the Latin America has had a trade surplus with the United dollar’s convertibility against the gold standard. 1970s. the rise in the continent. Europe and Japan. foreign debt. Flow of Earnings new fall in the rate of profit due from Latin America to US Private Sector to the crisis of 2007-8. In the 1980s. But a big proportion to an explosion of financial speculation. Returns are beating all the records. year after year. exports. In the United States. it was the profits obtained by the multinationals’ subsidiaries that were sent back in an abnormal way to the parent companies.Exploitation and Pillage The second wave. In the third wave. the United States developed another are increasingly moving their FDI out of industrial external instrument: the forced transfer of flows of production. imperialism reacted by calling on Latin interest on the foreign debt. the tendency to fall was reversed or central banks. The first wave. 10 years later. was the payment of interest on the financial operations. interest was overtaken by In order to guarantee being able to send profits. the multinationals in Latin America attacks on the working class reduced the cost of labour. Now. when the rate of profit was falling in the 51 . but also from lucrative 1980s and 1990s. the the realisation of increasing profits for the multinationals continent’s countries must ensure significant levels of that were paid to the parent company. There is a close relation between the rate of profit in the United States and the rate of income flows from Latin America. the last four years. The current wave is derived from the significant weight of the multinationals America to “collaborate” by paying interest. speculative bubble. to the point where capital is fighting against international prices for these products guarantees a the tendency of the rate of profit to fall. the banking and Latin America in the “foreign debt crisis”. reduced wages and supported exports. with the “emerging countries crisis” (1995-2002). Alongside wars. For now. At the same time. the unprecedented Treasury bills. The flow increased strongly in Figure 1. the governments devalued their currencies. specialising increasingly in primary products Overall. saw a return to financial flows via a new hike in interest rates. this pillage impoverished and deindustrialised (agricultural and mineral).
. Exploitation and Pillage (ctd.) during a wave of privatisations. During the 1990s. almost half of the budget is devoted to paying interest on the public debt). have of those resources were pulled out of industry and moved into mergeracquisitions of banks and financial companies and services (public service concessions. production for import is falling even more. for example. As the currencies of several of these countries have remained overvalued. Those who are paying the bill for this are the national budgets and the peoples (in Brazil. a veritable speculative bubble headed for our region. The valorised exchange rate is the result of the arrival of short-term investment. With their strategic positions in the chain of production. while the banking and services sectors dominate completely with more than 55 percent. Cheap money injected by the central banks of the United States and Europe is feeding the speculators. etc. in recent years industrial production has been relegated to 30 percent of investment. which in the 1970s and 1980s represented more than 40 percent of GDP (as much as 50 percent in the case of Argentina and Brazil). 52 . (2) Finally.. has fallen back to around 30 percent. Latin American industrial production. who are able to borrow at rates close to 0 percent and then lend on to the governments of Latin America at the highest rates in the world.) Figure 2 services sectors accounted for barely 33 percent.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH . the multinationals occupy a prime spot in the process of deindustrialisation.
And finally.175). society is divided into classes: the class that owns the means of production. trade and exchange. the monarchy that is the heir of Francoism. Obviously. and in its most extreme expressions. they have been saying that society is divided into percentages – the 1 percent and the 99 percent – and that they represent…the 99 percent. and one of the leaders of the “outraged” in Malaga (southern Spain). and “this means that we must learn to think in the opposite way (…). it is transformed into the “enemy” of the organised working class. In November 2011. there is a need for “another economy. and the extremely heterogeneous “middle class”. In their dedication. forms the majority in most countries. This is why their historic reference-point is Roosevelt and the New Deal. who starting from 15M flooded the streets in order to reject the neoliberal policies that are suppressing social rights and to call for other alternative and fairer measures for exiting the crisis. society is not divided into percentages.176) that will be obliged “to report to the European Parliament” (p. Since 20 November… The “victory” of the right in the legislative elections in Spain has been used by PSOE’s leading apparatus to try to deliver a blow against the resistance of the working class. a university professor and former political exile who spent a long time in the United States.” (p. a book was published entitled There are alternatives: proposals for creating jobs and social well-being in Spain. This is why this movement is attempting to bypass the division of society into classes. In every country. Juan Torres. the liberal professions and rural workers – a layer which. As Roosevelt affirmed when he signed the Declaration of Philadelphia in 1944 . there is a direct link between this and what the European Trade Union Confederation 53 . claiming to speak in the name of all of society. “labour is not a commodity” and “universal and lasting peace can be established only if it is based upon social justice”. “The European Union should be restructured within a federal framework that would allow a social capital-labour pact at the European level. not in order to be slaves to caprice but in order to master need. shop-owners. We shall return to this point. an advisor to Clinton on his healthcare reform and someone who presents himself as a sincere socialdemocrat.” What are their proposals? “The first demand that needs to be addressed is that of reforming the international bodies in order to democratise them”. purely in terms of numbers.212). In all of their public statements.177) “We therefore consider it indispensable. a journalist who is well-known for his defence of republican ideas. As an indirect consequence. to strengthen European governance in economic relations” (p. the wage-earning working class that lives on the proceeds of selling its labour-power.200) The least one can say is that these political figures are being very clear: theirs is the old refrain of the Catholic Church’s social doctrine. In no instance does this movement characterise the institutions as institutions of finance capital acting on its behalf or created by it.189) As Spain is a member of the European Union and the euro zone. a young member of parliament for the United Left.Once Again on the “Outraged” Movement … By Andreu Camps The upsurge of the “outraged” movement occurred in a situation where a majority of the youth felt betrayed by the traditional parties of the working class without finding an answer in the big trade union organisations – the UGT and CCOO – that are bogged down in their policy of social dialogue. beyond the wishes of the hundreds of thousands of youth who mobilised throughout the country. It is therefore the capacity of society’s two main classes – their degree of organisation and consciousness – that allows us to determine which are the objectives that allow the biggest grouping of the majority.” (p. “The European Central Bank should be converted into a genuine central bank” (p. “a very thorough democratisation of the European organisations” is needed (p. politically the “outraged” movement falls within the framework of reforming the system of private ownership. democracy needs to be regenerated…with “the introduction of direct forms of participation (…) like binding referendums” (p. In this sense. disguised as socialdemocratic politics. influenced by Occupy Wall Street. if we do not wish to see the euro zone blown apart. The objective conditions of the upsurge of this type of mobilisation are clear: it is a safetyvalve.206). And in the more recent period. especially the youngest. by making the class bear responsibility for the party’s own electoral defeat. and this forms the startingpoint for characterising the different movements that exist. and Alberto Garzon. composed of small employers.183) “It is necessary to strengthen the organisation of the United Nations.” (p. Clearly. a member of the left wing of the Democratic Party.81). Let us be clear: politically. this has also resulted in the dispersal of the “outraged” movement which during the preceding months had given the impression of an apparent unity across the different regions of the country thanks to one day after another of mobilisations and demonstrations. (p. Let us remember that the signing of the pact on 2 February 2011 which puts the pensions system into question represents a major rift between the adult working class and the youth without rights or work. based on the regionalisation of the country and subordinated to the European Union. Today this work is the “Little Red Book” of the assemblies and groups claiming to represent the “outraged”. the electoral coalition of the Spanish Communist Party. another kind of social relations.180). It was written by three politically active men: Vicenç Navarro. another kind of human being” (p. the “outraged” present themselves as a “citizens’ movement”. they address “all those. including significant layers of workers. within the framework of giving it a human face and reforming the existing institutions – in our case.
in the article referred to above. We wrote about the consequences of adopting such a measure in Issue No. against the labour movement The following announcement appeared in the first week of January 2012 on various internet sites associated with the “outraged” : “Rallies at all CCOO and UGT offices – We workers cannot allow a new betrayal by the CCOO and UGT leaderships. and several activists and representatives at the highest level had declared their opposition to signing a new pact.000. They even announced that if necessary. Navarro wrote a laudatory article on Obama’s policy of nationalising General Motors. to show our rejection of this new pants-dropping. the question of nationalising the banks. The pièce de no résistance! Under the government’s agreement with the companies. On 25 January 2012. Every militant labour activist. taking into account the fact that the banks own the properties. what Mondragon represents in Spain. the main trade union leaders were forced to call demonstrations on 19 February in every town and city in the country against this reform. In fact.” Let us recall that on 7 December 2011. saying that Obama had succeeded in saving General Motors without mass lay-offs. On 19 February 2012. Against the trade unions. tens of thousands of workers and their families have been evicted from their homes. Recently. Similarly. But this allowed the apparatus to say that those who were attacking the negotiations within the framework of the organisations’ governing bodies were provocateurs… Thanks to the “outraged”. Spanish section of the Fourth International. a clerical party that advocates the Catholic Church’s social doctrine. the figure exceeded 50. of course including members of the Fourth 54 . especially those belonging to the Fourth International in Spain. He is a genuine activist for his cause. employers and government on a new social pact had been announced.” Their words. “the workers’ concessions amounted to a slash in all-in labor costs from around $76 per workerhour in 2006 to just over $50. A few elements on the recent activities of the “outraged” In Spain. The campaign’s objective is therefore to gather 500. with the aim of presenting the Cortes (Parliament) with a citizens’ or popular law initiative: “The solution that we are proposing through this popular law initiative is to allow properties to be given back in order to pay off the mortgage”. not ours. On the contrary: hundreds of trade union activists occupied their union offices in order to defend them. Every labour activist. It was set up in the 1920s by capitalists linked to the Basque Nationalist Party.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH (ETUC) is arguing for and trying to impose on all the national trade union confederations. Just last year. and signed by J Bejar. In any case. eight of the most senior European trade union representatives – including Sommer of the DGB (Germany). he began by saying: “The trade union UAW has asked the Mondragon co-operative in the Basque Country for advice on transforming one of the biggest companies among the world’s manufacturers into a co-operative. It grew before and during the Franco dictatorship. if the government did not rectify the situation. Obviously. they tried to go further. How different is this to what is being proposed by those considered by the “outraged” as their oracles? The so-called “co-operatives” as a solution! We are not writing about Vicenç Navarro because of some kind of complex or bitterness. any strike by workers is grounds for forfeiting the [federal state aid] loan. and Toxo and Mendez of the CCOO and UGT (Spain) – called for a “new European social contract”.000 signatures so that Parliament would pass a law on this issue. According to the US press.” At that time. And workers who had been laid off under the Franco dictatorship were not reinstated after its fall. Two pieces of information: the Mondragon co-op is Spain’s seventh biggest industrial and commercial group. the reality of the situation is not so rosy – something the American workers have paid dearly to find out.” Great! What is the Mondragon co-op? One can play on the ignorance of US workers. the UAW approved a two-tier wage structure in which new hires start at $14 per hour – roughly half the pay and benefits of more senior line workers. This is why. published in 2008 by the POSI. sometimes taking the form of gatherings to prevent the evictions from being carried out. he has discovered “cooperatives”. explicitly making a clean sweep of all the rights and gains won through struggle by the working classes in the countries of Europe after the Second World War. Abandoning decades of principle. they would call a general strike. He also saluted the trade union UAW’s ability to get its membership to agree to wage-cuts and a reduction in working hours in order to avoid job-cuts. What is the “outraged” movement doing? It has launched a national signaturegathering campaign that will run until 5 November 2012. This was the high-point of the association of capital with labour. rallies. A contradictory debate raged inside the trade union organisations. on 29 February 2012 the ETUC called for a “decentralised European day of action” under the slogan: “Enough is enough! Alternatives do exist. among other things because the right to join a trade union and go on strike were banned. The appeal by the “outraged” did not result in big gatherings. Navarro.72 of La Vérité-The Truth. For this reason. but not with the facts – namely. He takes every opportunity to defend his positions: in meetings. who is perfectly familiar with the situation and who in any case should know better. nevertheless considers this to be a positive thing. 12 January 2012 at 6pm. we invite you to convene in your respective towns a rally at the offices of both trade unions. Treasury demanded – just one more teeny thing – a strike ban. They are also calling on the political parties to declare their positions. next Thursday. This prompted – and continues to prompt – a huge resistance movement. this measure does not pose the crucial question of banning all evictions and. naturally are taking part in those gatherings and calling on their trade unions to take a clear position on the issue. Thibault of the CGT (France). new negotiations between the trade unions. In fact. we call on grassroots activists in those trade unions to raise their voices and not allow another betrayal in the name of trade unionism. We refer to an article entitled “Selfmanagement and co-operatives in Spain”. To top things off. a reform which dismantles the Code and gives employers every right. after the Rajoy government decreed a new reform of the Labour Code on 10 February. media appearances and press articles. For employment and social justice. like in the United States.
barato. 55 . and the withdrawal of the union signatures to the social pact of 2 February 2011 against pensions and the social pact of 25 January 2012 on the wage-freeze. The stakes are high. and threw rotten eggs at the trade union leaders marching at the head of the demonstration. organised and differentiated bloc”. But what are the “outraged” doing? It would be an exaggeration to say that they have a homogeneous position across the country. a few dozen demonstrators moved up and down the demonstration under the slogans “PP-PSOE. the same shit!” and “The trade unions are for sale! Going cheap!” (“Barato. Thus. therefore starting from a different spot to the one chosen by the broader demonstration.ONCE AGAIN ON THE “OUTRAGED” MOVEMENT International. as these meetings are acquiring an increasingly confidential character… During that meeting. The outrage and anger felt by the workers and youth of all the peoples of Spain will undoubtedly find their way as part of the struggle for the unity of their organisations around clear objectives: the withdrawal of the reform and the repeal of all the adjustment plans. apparently. but let us give one significant example: the position adopted by the gathering at Puerta del Sol (Madrid) that met on 13 February – at least. it was decided to “participate in the 19 February demonstration through the constitution of a critical. but with the intention of joining up with it later… In Madrid. at a time when the working class was once again demonstrating its strength throughout the country and the choice was between rectifying the reform or withdrawing the reform. se vende el sindicato!”). did everything they could to ensure the success of those demonstrations. fighting – then as now – for the struggle against the new reform to have clear objectives: the non-negotiable withdrawal of the reform. Several official bodies have taken a public position on this point. the so-called “outraged” insulted the trade union leaders precisely at the moment when they were calling for demonstrations.
LA VERITE/THE TRUTH 56 .
We condemn the military intervention in Libya. a Libya “freed” by NATO is sinking a little deeper each day into chaos and clashes between tribal militias. taking another step following the introduction of the AFRICOM troops (a joint command designed to co-ordinate all of the United States’ military and security activities on that continent). democracy and the peoples’ right to self-determination that gives its backing – under any pretext whatsoever – to the intervention would thus be agreeing 57 . The importance of the Emergency Conference (Algiers. at a time when the peoples – from Tunis to Athens – are seeking to shake off the yoke of domination by the bankrupt system of private ownership of the means of production. but within which the members of the FI’s French section form the Internationalist Communist Current) declared the following public position: “Any organisation claiming to represent the working class. and imposing military bases in different regions of the world. the militant activists of the Fourth International defended the only principled position in line with labour internationalism: rejection of any intervention in Libya. says in particular: “We met on 10. which far from “freeing” the Libyan people is laying the groundwork for future acts of violence on a tribal. keeping Haiti under military occupation. democratic and labour movement from five continents. co-organised by the General Union of Algerian Workers (UGTA) and the Workers’ Party in Algeria. for whom “a nation cannot become free and at the same time continue to oppress other nations” (1). with the intervention in Libya. including those of Europe and the United States who oppose the privatisations. the National Secretaries of the Independent Workers Party (POI. opening the path to insecurity and instability in the region. there are contradictory processes of revolution and counter-revolution. the counter-reforms imposed by the IMF and European Union and the threats to national sovereignty. imperialist interventions against the sovereignty of the nations of the whole of the Maghreb. hardship and insecurity of all the peoples of the region. and we are faithful to the principles of the first four Congresses of the Communist International of Lenin and Trotsky. supported by the petrodollars of the ultra-reactionary Emirate of Qatar. which regrouped broad sectors of the antiimperialist. jeopardizing the integrity of the countries of the Sahel. with or without the UN’s backing. which is not affiliated to the Fourth International. the co-ordinators of the International Liaison Committee of Workers and Peoples said in a statement on 5 March 2011: “The same people who before invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and are continuing their murderous occupation there. are already committed to a military intervention in Libya. For the Fourth International. but also against the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt.A Review that Supports NATO’s Intervention in Libya: Inprecor By Dominique Ferré As this issue of La Vérité-The Truth goes to press. It would be turned against the sovereignty of all the region’s nations. which was largely endorsed by the delegates to that conference. We affirm that this intervention has merely added to the suffering.” “The only position in line with the labour tradition of fighting against any military intervention” We know that although NATO’s imperialist intervention in Libya was directly sponsored by Washington and facilitated by the UN Security Council – which approved it. there is an emergency when the great powers decide to intervene militarily in Libya under the aegis of NATO. incorporating the defence of the oppressed nations of Ireland and Poland at the heart of the founding of the International Workingmen’s Association. in a Conference “Against wars of occupation. at a time when many African countries have already been ravaged by armed conflict and the foreign pillage established by the servicing of the debt. In those countries. there is no “Arab revolution” or an “Arab Spring”. with the Russian and Chinese representatives abstaining – it was the French and British imperialist leaders who led the charge of the armed intervention. which defined the line of the united anti-imperialist front in the oppressed countries. In France. The conference resolution.” It also said: “We oppose any foreign military intervention anywhere in the world. The militant activists of the Fourth International are faithful to the tradition of Marx and Engels. while the gravest threats of a new military intervention are weighing on Syria and Iran (see in this issue the statement of the International Secretariat of the Fourth International). are continuing the war in Afghanistan. and therefore in Syria and Iran. As we said over a year ago. Revolutionary uprisings against regimes subject to imperialism in Tunisia and Egypt. while those same powers have already destroyed Iraq through a war of occupation. rather. against interference in countries’ internal affairs. in defence of the integrity and sovereignty of nations”. (…) Yes. 10-12 December 2011) Let us also draw the attention of our readers to the significance of the Emergency International Conference “against wars of occupation. in defence of the integrity and sovereignty of nations” called by the UGTA and the Workers Party of Algeria (PTA) following the foreign military intervention in Libya.” On the eve of the imperialist intervention in Libya. It would be turned against all the peoples and all the workers. 11 and 12 December 2011 in Algiers. it is a duty to help organise the struggle against imperialist interventions. ethnic and communal basis. against interference in countries’ internal affairs. Such an intervention would not only be turned against the Libyan people.
using “progressive” verbiage. what happened in Libya with NATO’s help was a “democratic uprising”. under the false pretext of “democracy” and “freedom”. we are seeing 58 . people meet to watch Al-Jazeera television on the giant screen. JulySeptember 2011) devoted a big section to Libya. British and US governments. presented as “a Lebanese activist” of the Revolutionary Communist Group (“a sympathising organisation of the Fourth International”) who “visited Benghazi in June 2011. “the segregation of Liberty Square in a section for men and another smaller one for women. with few results.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH to rally to the flag of the US. which was supported by the Libyan masses”. especially in Europe. while participants of all ages offer the public songs. Let us recall that a year ago. who was described as having spent 10 years in exile in London before returning to Benghazi. this individual stated his support for what he called “the beginning of NATO air strikes. British and Qatari troops (arming and training the militias of the National Transitional Council. constitutes one of the main gains of the revolution. Straight away. it is possible that for a short time there was a little room for part of the urban population to benefit from greater freedom of speech. NATO and the European Union: Stop the military intervention against Libya immediately! Withdraw all foreign troops! No to the bombings!” This lengthy reminder of what a principled anti-imperialist position entails. “as in the other Arab democratic uprisings”. the imperialist governments of Europe and the USA! The significance of the simple fact that flags of imperialist countries were flying over a dominated country did not even occur to this “revolutionary”! What could this mean other than the symbol of imperialist oppression? Inprecor/International Viewpoint did not stop there. a mechanism had been put in gear. The “demand” of support for the United States and the UN Inprecor/International Viewpoint laid it on thick. After 5 pm. it is our own imperialist government!” For our part. “an opponent of the Gaddafi regime”. British and French governments and would be disqualifying themselves in relation to the principles they claim to embody. you read that right. Then we moved on to the stage of striking at the depots and bases where Gaddafi’s missiles are kept. there was Resolution 1973 of the United Nations for the protection of civilians (…). of course claiming this to be in the name of the “Arab revolutions” and the peoples’ right to self-determination. the flags of the USA and the European Union are also there as a reminder that the freedom of the Libyan people depends in great part on the support of these governments”. political forces that for decades had had nothing to do with the Fourth International – all the while usurping its name. We put pressure on the British government by writing and demonstrating. within this idyllic scene. the Pabloite review published without any commentary an interview in Benghazi with a certain Azeldin el-Sharif. In this sense Resolution 1973 was in the service of the Libyan people and the protection of civilians. had newly arrived from London and Washington. Under the headline “The revolution seen from the inside” (3). the UN. the local representatives of imperialism) and the bloody intervention in Libya by imperialism. of course. And the ink had hardly dried on that issue of Inprecor/International Viewpoint before occupied Libya became bogged down in intertribal clashes and the NTC proposed the introduction of Sharia law… The imperialist countries as “guarantors” of the Libyan people’s freedom? The author added: “Paradoxically. aimed at laying the ground for an intervention in Syria. dailies. Inprecor/International Viewpoint discovers “democracy” in Benghazi A few months after the “liberation” of Libya by French.” El-Sharif added: “Thanks be to God.” Thus Inprecor/International Viewpoint opened its columns wide – let us repeat. “the freedom of the Libyan people depends in great part on the support of these governments”. the NTC) the Pabloite United Secretariat’s international political review Inprecor/International Viewpoint (No. there is a surge in initiatives relayed by “left” and “far-left” groups. Inprecor/International Viewpoint placed an equals sign between the genuine revolutionary uprisings that had taken place a few weeks previously in Tunisia and Egypt (driving out the regimes of Ben Ali and Mubarak. whose leaders. a Lebanese Pabloite leader. Inprecor/International Viewpoint’s correspondent went into raptures over “Liberty Square (Tribunal Square before February 17) [which] has become the forum where different political and social opinions are expressed. based on the tragic example of the intervention in Libya is all the more necessary for the fact that. (…) As far as the POI is concerned. according to this so-called “revolutionary communist”. without the slightest commentary – to individuals who campaigned for imperialist governments to carry out armed interventions! (4) Well. This “opposition figure” added that “when we were in Britain.” Of course. In a report headed “Impressions of the new Libya” (2). paints a eulogistic picture of the so-called “New Libya” under the yoke of NATO and the “insurgents”. we refuse to offer the slightest support for “our” government in any intervention against a dominated country.” He barely regretted. asking el-Sharif this question: “As regards Western support. poems and speeches on political or religious themes. the Libyan opposition abroad demanded from the United Nations an intervention as soon as possible. in a whole series of imperialist countries.” A new discovery: “Whereas under Gaddafi the authorised press was limited to that of the regime. He described the “multiplication” (sic) of “activities of several associations (…) in Benghazi since the uprising”. like the Pabloite United Secretariat (USec) of KrivineSabado-Besancenot – shamefully provided cover for imperialism’s armed intervention in Libya. the existence in Benghazi today of more than 65 titles of newspapers. But under the yoke of imperialist intervention. we stand in the tradition of Lenin and Liebknecht: “The enemy is in our own country. However. on behalf of Inprecor/International Viewpoint”. in the Libyan people’s difficult hours there is but one position in line with the labour tradition of fighting against any military intervention dictated simply by the defence of the oil interests: that of demanding against the French.575-576. Yes. wrote Inprecor/International Viewpoint’s correspondent in Benghazi (the city where the NTC based itself before Tripoli was taken by NATO). if they had not emerged from the state apparatus of Colonel Qaddafi. weeklies or monthlies. whatever these “opponents” and their friends at Inprecor/International Viewpoint might think.
whose document on the same subject appears as a report on the meeting of the so-called “International Committee of the Fourth International” on 25-29 February 2012? A NATO “conspiracy” in Libya: NATO did not carry out enough bombings! Which NATO “conspiracy” against the Libyan “revolution” are we dealing with here? Achcar. is inseparable 59 . averaging 565 per day. the insurgents are willing and potentially able to pay for whatever weapons would be delivered to them. (…) And the countries which will be able to invest in oil and gas will be those which have helped the Libyan people. in favour of “recognising the NTC” and “implementing Resolution 1973”. as now.” Who are these “revolutionaries” who dare to claim to represent the Fourth International.850 sorties were flown during the first 4 weeks alone of so-called Operation Iraqi Freedom. it took only 11 days to equal the above number of air sorties flown over Libya in 78 days. This veritable pro-NATO manifesto did not remain in the realm of analysis and articles destined for publication in a review.” Very happily for him. in the guise of “defending democracy”. and who “regret” the socalled “weakness” and “limitations” of the bombings by NATO’s imperialist aircraft? The emancipation of the peoples… will be the act of NATO? But fundamentally. of which the labour movement must constitute the vanguard. of stating a “theoretical invention”: the freedom and selfdetermination of the oppressed peoples can pass through “ugly” phases such as intervention-occupation under the auspices of NATO.INPRECOR ON LIBYA air-raids on the strategic points and centres of Gaddafi. after Britain. 41. in imperialist countries like France. among other things: “Indeed. with the shameful indulgence of Inprecor/International Viewpoint. saying. and can well go through ugly phases. el-Sharif gave the full sense of the installation of a puppet government paid for by NATO on the borders of Algeria. It is necessary to emphasize the positive role played by Qatar. In these conditions. the United States was the second country. But are the Western countries also providing arms to the revolutionaries?” The “opposition figure” continued his pro-imperialist diatribes. But without this process and the readiness to pay the inherent cost. (…) The crucial questions are then: why is NATO conducting an aerial campaign in Libya that is low-key not only in comparison with the air component of the war to grab similarly oil-rich Iraq. The total number of sorties in 43 days of Desert Storm reached 109. and does not concern Libya… It is a question. the French position evolved positively. as Achcar concluded. aimed at neutralizing his forces. Western powers will have much difficulty controlling the process. An exaggeration on our part? Judge for yourselves! Achcar wrote coolly: “The situation in Libya – as in Tunisia and Egypt and all the other countries of the Middle East where the present revolutionary process is unfolding – is only at the beginning of a protracted and tumultuous course of development. levelled this terrible accusation against NATO: “In Operation Desert Storm launched by the US-led coalition against Iraq in 1991. The process of peoples’ liberation and self-determination is convoluted. like the one it carried out victoriously 50 years ago to free itself from the French colonial yoke. What then. It was embodied in public appeals to demonstrate. China and Russia refused the solutions put forward by Britain and the United States. but even compared to the air war for economically unimportant Kosovo? And why is the Alliance at the same time refraining from providing the insurgents with the weaponry they have consistently and insistently requested?” For Achcar. And yet – second paradox – NATO’s Libya air campaign pales in comparison with the Kosovo one. (7) What is “revolutionary” about such a policy? Such a policy is nothing more than cover provided by the far-left for the criminal policy of US imperialism against the peoples. Tunisia and Egypt. praising the fact that “contrary to the Afghans.” And then he turned into a “NATO adviser”: “The logical corollary of NATO’s refusal to arm the insurgents would have been its waging a very intensive war campaign to compensate for the weakness on the ground of those it purports to support. to demand that Gaddafi goes. author of the report on the “Arab revolutions” in the main meeting of the Pabloite USec leadership. The struggle for democracy. the militant activists of the French section of the Fourth International stood unconditionally at the side of the peoples oppressed by their own imperialism. one can well understand what el-Sharif means here by “revolution”: imperialist interference from outside against the Algerian people.825 were strike sorties. (…) The part played by the states of the Arab League for the adoption of Resolution 1973 at the Security Council shows a high sense of responsibility towards Libya. This is the normal destiny of revolutionary upheavals. not to mention other US-led aerial operations in recent times. as is the case in Libya. against its sovereignty and independence won through struggle 50 years ago. 15. so that the Algerian people can get rid of this repressive military regime. the matter is not “circumstantial”.” Concluding. since it proposed to the European Union – and took the initiative on it – air strikes to prevent Gaddafi from advancing towards Benghazi. really is! At that time. Of these. in contrast with thosde carried out during the wars of extermination against the Iraqi people in 1991 and 2003. the problem in Libya was that there had not been enough air-strikes. However it is well-known that France. They don’t have troops on the ground – let alone the fact that they failed anyway to control the situation in countries where their forces are deployed. by adding: “We hope for a revolution in Algeria. After the devastation brought about by that “storm” and further bombing campaigns during the 12 embargo years between 1991 and 2003. which may prove heavy indeed. the whole world would still live under absolutist regimes” (our emphasis).876—an average of 2. at a cost of a million and a half martyrs cut down by French colonialism! The reader could object that this reactionary pro-imperialist prose expresses the views of an individual interviewed by Inprecor/International Viewpoint and does not necessarily commit the Pabloite USec.555 per day. such as Iraq and Afghanistan. or the NATO bombing of Serbia and Kosovo in 1999! (6) Achcar acted like a genuine “sales representative” of Libya’s NTC. are to make of the article headed “NATO’s ‘Conspiracy’ against the Libyan revolution” signed by Gilbert Achcar (5). Subsequently. the Algerian people did not need any el-Sharif to tell them what a genuine revolution.
” (7) See note 1. criminal counter-revolution is underway in Libya: Let us mobilise urgently.org/s pip. the New Anti-capitalist Party (NPA) published a joint statement of which it was a signatory.org/s pip. (5) See http://www. In France on 18 March 2011. Let us recall on this subject that already in 1999. the Pabloite leadership supported the UCK mercenaries. (3) See http://www. which in reality was a militia created by the German secret services. (…) A genuine.internationalviewpoint. (6) Let us acknowledge that Achcar. then controlled by the US secret services and funded by trafficking heroin in Europe. (2) See http://www. In May 1999. in the following terms: “The western governments and the dictatorships of the Arab world are hesitating.org/s pip. pretending to agree on an eventual UN Security Council resolution. The Albanians and their military organisation must be given the means to win back their right to live in Kosovo and to make the Serb forces withdraw.internationalviewpoint.LA VERITE/THE TRUTH from the right of nations to selfdetermination. ending with the “demand” for “recognition of the interim National Transitional Council (NTC).” It is the second hypothesis that must be retained.” A veritable appeal for foreign intervention and to the UN. and even on the details for military intervention. let our ranks be numerous in giving our support to the Libyan people in danger. the only legitimate representative of the Libyan people”… A “demand” which Sarkozy had already “satisfied” by recognising the said NTC the previous week. or they give us weapons as the means to defend ourselves.1822): “The UCK has declared: “Either NATO sends troops on the ground. (4) Let us point out in passing that it is not only a question of el-Sharif’s remarks. without even realising it. the French Pabloite leadership wrote in their review Rouge (No.php?article2276. the so-called “Kosovo Liberation Army”.php?article2227. is quite right to regard the imperialist intervention in Libya and the interventions against Iraq and Kosovo on the same level. ENDNOTES (1) Friedrich Engels. in other words the clear rejection of any imperialist interference in the dominated countries.php?article2245. calling for “rally of solidarity with the Libyan people” in Paris. speech at the International Meeting held in London on 29 November 1847 to mark the 17th Anniversary of the Polish Uprising of 1830.internationalviewpoint. equivocating. 60 .
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