Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Down with Capital’s FIFA!




Down with Capital's FIFA! 
Defeat the Popular Front! Down with the union bureaucracy!
No illusions in bourgeois elections!
We will not pay the debt for the World Cup!
We demand freedom for political prisoners arrested in #NaoVaiTerCopa and #NaoVaiTerFinal demonstrations and in the workers' strikes!  
For the independent organization of the working class!
Build the base for the General Strike!

The following was written by a Brazilian Supporter of the Liaison Committee of Communists (LCC). It has been edited for the English translation.

                                                ****

Combating the Cup is the struggle against the capitalist crisis in Brazil. We live in the deepest economic crisis since 1929 and the largest uprising of the masses in four decades. In Brazil, the uprising was a response to the call of the youth combating the increase in public transport fares and for better health and education. The June days, the demonstrations during the FIFA Confederations Cup, the emergence of the #NaoVaiTerCopa[1] movement is fuelling every fight against expropriation of dwellings, every fight for each occupation, every demonstration in the slums, and in every strike of workers! The struggle against the capitalist crisis was built in every manifestation that the youth and #NaoVaiTerCopa organized.

Even the “spontaneous” working class movements started from a basis of consciousness. The awareness that the Brazilian masses took to the streets in June, 2013 is an informed consciousness built upon an 11-year experience with a Popular Front government which they believed would be different, but which they soon enough saw following the neo-liberal policies of the previous, usual right wing government. The movement of the masses in Brazil is today making a break with the Popular Front government. The rising of the masses comes without the call of the traditional workers’ organizations; the class is rising above them.

The June days were a great experience of a fight against the government. A government which defends major corporations and international capitalism in its crisis, a government that doesn’t have the ability to make concessions and instead attacks the rights of the working class and the poor. It was also an important experience with the leftist organizations that are outside the government, such as the Unified Socialist Workers’ Party (Partido Socialista dos Trabalhadores Unificado- PSTU)[2] and the Socialism and Freedom Party (Partido Socialismo e Liberdade- PSOL).[3] 

Since Day one of the June days, these parties have had a policy of defending retreats and “negotiation” and they have repeatedly taken actions to divide the masses when they saw they could not control them. These opportunistic organizations were rejected by the movement of June and claimed they were being attacked by fascists, but in fact it was the youth who did not allow themselves to be controlled and who would not let these organizations use their demonstrations as a soapbox. To discredit the mass movement and the youth, the opportunists’ main argument was that “there were no workers” in the demonstrations and that “it was not an organized movement.”

But the working class had ​​their experience back in June that inevitably brought forward and developed consciousness and organization. After the June days, a number of fronts, organizations, collectives and youth groups, social movements and working class groupings of various kinds emerged; rejecting not only the ruling parties and the traditional right wing, but also the reformist left PSTU and PSOL. These are the new organizations that have launched the demonstrations against the World Cup and for better living conditions, health and education. These are the new groups that appeared in the teacher’s strike of 2013 in Rio de Janeiro, and who in 2014 were an example of struggle that invigorated the strike over the heads of the union bureaucracy headed by the leftist PSTU and PSOL. 

The strike movement of the working class, which was already happening before the June Days, including teachers, civil construction, oil transporters and bus drivers certainly gained strength in fighting the World Cup; indeed the workers and strikers were the protagonists! In 2014 we had a great wave of strikes that have intensified up to the eve of the World Cup. They had great success by going over the heads of the union bureaucracy, which is linked to the government and the employers.

The same way that the working class had their experience in June, the government, the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy that had previously been caught by “surprise” by the rapidly unfolding events, are now better prepared. Rousseff Dilma promised a large military contingent and fulfilled her promise! Demonstrations and strikes are being violently suppressed. Since the #NaoVaiTerCopa demonstrations at the beginning of the year, the government has illustrated that it is determined not to allow the events and launched its massive offensive of repression that culminated in the death of a TV cameraman and a pervasive media campaign against the movement. The courts, in turn, fulfill their role as a bourgeois institution by criminalizing activists and strikers. Lots of activists and strikers were prosecuted, fired, arrested, threatened and assaulted. 

WE SAY FREE THEM ALL! REHIRE THE FIRED! DROP THE CHARGES!

The leftist organizations that call themselves revolutionary acted the same way as the government and the bourgeoisie; they worked to stop the mass movement and prevent the unity of the youth and workers. After large protests had been organized in June, the actually reformist left, the PSTU and PSOL delegitimized the General Strike plans and called instead for a “Day of Mobilization”, exactly to stop the movement, and they did this in complete harmony and unity with the central-government and the employers. Through the “espaço de unidade de ação,” which is a popular front of the PSTU and the Unified Workers’ Central (Central Única dos Trabalhadores- CUT)[4] with the unions, they organized the movement around the slogan “Take the fight into the cup,” trying to co-opt the #NaoVaiTerCopa movement. 

But the left bureaucracy could not co-opt the movement of June, nor the #NaoVaiTerCopa, therefore they used the policy of criminalization of the radicalized youth and the “Black Bloc” in order to isolate them from the broader masses of youth and the workers. They had a sectarian approach to divide the movement by boycotting all of the fronts and independent organizations which had shown in June that they would not allow themselves to be controlled. The reformists succeeded in controlling a major sector of the working class by ending several strikes under the guise of “Unity.”

Thus they provided left cover for the ruling Workers’ Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores- PT),[5] the Communist Party of Brazil (Partido Comunista do Brasil- PCdoB)[6] and the right-wing parties such as Brazilian Democratic Movement Party (Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro- PMDB)[7] and the Democratic Labour Party (Partido Democrático Trabalhista- PDT).[8]  Through its popular front in the unions, and their economistic agenda in the strikes, they prevented the strikes from adopting the #NaoVaiTerCopa slogans and demands and instead blocked unity with the popular and youth movements which were already on the streets and had maintained a strong mobilized presence despite being under heavy state repression.

In the Sao Paulo subway, at the same time that the PSTU boycotted the popular movement and youth of #NaoVaiTerCopa, they blocked #NaoVaiTerCopa’s demands and slogans from being taken up as the agenda of workers. They similarly blocked organizational unity in action with the striking bus drivers.  The PSTU united with the PCdoB and with the “support” of the General Union of Workers (UGT) the strikers remained isolated by their limited economistic agenda, leaving the movement politically disarmed and incapable of facing what was coming. The government then fired 42 workers and the union ended the strike, leaving their comrades behind. The bus drivers of Rio de Janeiro passed over the union leadership to take action, but were barred by the PSTU in the strike committee by bureaucratic manoeuvres that prevented the formal vote for the strike, setting the striking drivers up for defeat. 

The Rio de Janeiro teachers’ strike was the first one which went over the heads of the PSTU and PSOL controlled unions. This layer of educational workers already had the experience of their own strike being betrayed in 2013 by this union leadership. They remained on strike during the World Cup, even after lay-offs and persecution of strikers and even as the PSTU joined with the PT and advocated the end of the movement. These education workers did not accept the defeat and decided to continue even without the support of the union! With a bureaucratic manoeuvre, the PSTU and PSOL in unity with the PT, the PCdoB, and the PDT called an extraordinary deliberation council and an early meeting at which they successfully ended the strike.

The PSOL and the PSTU also imposed an economistic agenda in the federal public workers sector unions, despite the workers there having run their own strikes for years. Their only slogan was “negotiate Dilma!” The government is imposing the neo-liberal plan and is not willing to trade it, so this slogan only creates illusions. Instead of leading real class struggle they limited the workers to begging Dilma to negotiate, thus demoralizing the movement and weakening the workers’ resolve.

Thus, with the security forces of the state acting at the behest of the PT and with the offensive of the bourgeoisie and the media, the sabotaged strikes and the betrayal by the left bureaucracy, the movement against the World Cup has been “different” from June. After the strike movement of workers bypassed the bureaucracies of the CUT, Union Force Trade (Força Sindical- FS),[9] UGT, etc., it ended up being blocked by the left bureaucracy, the strike committees and by the unions they control. The defeat of the Sao Paulo subway workers strike also contained the process of building the General Strike, which was being hotly debated inside the mass movement.

Not only is the bureaucracy in the union movement a hindrance to the workers’ fight, but it is in the struggles of the broader social movement as well. The leadership of the Homeless Workers Movement (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Sem Teto- MTST)[10] capitulated to the government and the popular front by cancelling the demonstrations that were planned for Brazil’s friendly match before the World Cup in Sao Paulo, even while there was a strike by subway workers that stopped the city! At the moment the MTST was mobilizing 20 thousand people for actions, they cancelled the actions and dropped the fight against the Cup, claiming to have “negotiated” with the government. The promise of the government was the “Minha Casa Minha Vida” program of the federal government, which for years has been transferring public money to big construction companies fuelling the speculation and horrible housing conditions and the promise of a master plan (Director Plan- a new law on urban replanning), the same plan that has been adopted in recent years to serve the interests of large developers and to generate foreclosures and evictions.

The World Cup in Brazil was not what the government and the bourgeoisie hoped. The expected nationalist wave of emotion was substituted with popular protest, many of the public works promised by the government were not completed and the “stimulation” of the economy did not happen as expected.  The budget deficit and rate of inflation increased, and the living conditions of the working class are still under attack.  The struggle against the Cup is the struggle against capital and it will continue after the World Cup final against the popular front government that continues to defend capitalism in crisis and tries to make the workers pay the bill. 

Organizations claiming to be revolutionary Trotskyists must say “no” to any alliance with the ruling bureaucracy in the unions, and fight union attempts to stop the unity of the mass movement and workers from joining the working class youth and popular movement. It is the new fronts and organizations that arise in the experience of struggle against the government and against capitalism in its crisis that are strengthening the united front against the Popular Front.

The parties of the left united with the ruling bureaucracy to end the strikes and mobilized extensively to build their coalitions and political campaigns for the October elections, making their priority clear. The mobilization of workers must continue with the consciousness that they must fight the government, the bourgeoisie and the trade union bureaucracy, following the example of the education workers of Rio de Janeiro, which already are working in rank and file organizing committees to keep fighting the threats and dismissals. 

The demonstrations against the World Cup, despite facing great repression, are being continued by the social movement and the youth. We also need to generalize the self-organization of workers on a democratic basis. The agenda of workers for better working conditions and wages must be united in the struggle against the government and capitalism in crisis, denouncing and fighting the false democracy of bourgeois elections, rescuing the flags of the socialist revolution and building the revolutionary party!

[1]http://revolution-news.com/the-story-of-resistance-to-fifas-war-on-brazilian-people-video-blog/
[2]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Socialist_Workers’_Party
[3]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socialism_and_Freedom_Party
[4]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Central_%C3%9Anica_dos_Trabalhadores
[5]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Workers’_Party_(Brazil)
[6]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Communist_Party_of_Brazil
[7]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brazilian_Democratic_Movement_Party
[8]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democratic_Labour_Party_(Brazil)
[9]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/For%C3%A7a_Sindical
[10]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeless_Workers’_Movement

July 3, 2014  written by a supporter of the LCC in Brazil Any mistakes in translation are the responsibility of the CWG/USA

Sunday, July 13, 2014

FOR A SOCIALIST PALESTINE!






The events of the last weeks that saw a renewal of open hostilities between Israel and Hamas have an element of deja vu in them. Once more the Zionist state steps up its oppression of the West Bank and Gaza using as a pretext the killing of three Israeli youths. Once more the Palestinian masses rise up in resistance as Arab youth are killed and hundreds arrested. Yet we are not taken in by the arguments for or against renewed hostilities; they are a ritual exchange between the Zionist ruling class and the Palestinian bourgeois factions Hamas and Fatah to negotiate the division of Palestine. The two factions are using the Palestinian masses as no more than expendable pawns in their battle for supremacy. Lost in this exchange is the truth of what underlies this conflict between the Zionist oppressor state, and an oppressed occupied state. While both regimes negotiate with missiles the Palestinian masses pay the price in blood. Their leaders continue to sell out to Israel. In selling out they prevent the Palestinian struggle for self-determination from arming independent militias and uniting their forces with other armed struggles in the surrounding Arab states. We are for a revolutionary party and program for the defeat of the Zionist state and for a Socialist Palestine in a United Socialist States of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA)!

1) Down with the Zionist State!

Israel is a settler state that came into existence after United Nations (UN) resolution 181 in 1947 which was a fig-leaf for British and US imperialist backing of the Zionist colonisation of Palestine and its partition into two legitimate states. This was followed by a series of wars starting with the civil war followed by the First Arab-Israeli war in 1948, together called al-Nakba by the Arabs, that led to defeat of Arab forces and drove Arabs off their land to the point that today all of Palestine is either settled by Israelis or controlled by the Israeli military. Those parts of the West Bank and Gaza that are not permanently occupied by the military are no more than prison camps much as are the refugee camps that house millions of displaced Palestinians in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria. Israel justifies it’s right to occupy Palestine in terms of its Zionist claims to the ancient land of Israel. It is pre-occupied with completing its Zionist program of reclaiming its historic homeland which would not be possible without a massive military subsidy from the US. (See ‘Zionism: A Road Map to Hell’).

Israel is therefore not an imperialist economic power and only exists on the basis of US and EU imperialist support. It might be called ‘sub-imperialist’ in the sense of “sub-contracted to US imperialism”. It is an armed settler state with a theocratic Zionist regime no less ‘fundamentalist’ than its rival Islamic Republic of Iran, or the upstart rival Sunni Islamic State (ISIS), and certainly a nuclear armed ‘terrorist’ state. It is an affront not only to the Palestinians, but to Jews and to humanity as a whole that Zionist Israel exists, and so must be destroyed. (see Against Zionism).

Writing on The Jewish Problem in 1937, Trotsky foresaw the tragedy of Zionism as a reactionary solution to the national rights of Jews:

"But the facts of every passing day demonstrate to us that Zionism is incapable of resolving the Jewish question. The conflict between the Jews and Arabs in Palestine acquires a more and more tragic and more and more menacing character. I do not at all believe that the Jewish question can be resolved within the framework of rotting capitalism and under the control of British imperialism. And how, you ask me, can socialism solve this question? On this point I can but offer hypotheses. Once socialism has become master of our planet or at least of its most important sections, it will have unimaginable resources in all domains. Human history has witnessed the epoch of great migrations on the basis of barbarism. Socialism will open the possibility of great migrations on the basis of the most developed technique and culture. It goes without saying that what is here involved is not compulsory displacements, that is, the creation of new ghettos for certain nationalities, but displacements freely consented to, or rather demanded by certain nationalities or parts of nationalities. The dispersed Jews who would want to be reassembled in the same community will find a sufficiently extensive and rich spot under the sun. The same possibility will be opened for the Arabs, as for all other scattered nations. National topography will become a part of the planned economy. This is the grand historical perspective that I envisage. To work for international socialism means also to work for the solution of the Jewish question.”
2) Palestinian National Liberation

The struggle of the Palestinian masses against Israeli occupation is a national liberation struggle. To achieve Palestinian liberation the Zionist state must be destroyed. National liberation does not mean recognition of the state of Israel as legitimate nor the acceptance of a two-state solution. This is the position of one faction of the Palestinian bourgeoisie –Fatah. Nor does it mean the opportunist policy of the other bourgeois faction Hamas, i.e. military confrontation to recognise the de facto right for Israel to exist until it can be replaced by a theocratic Islamic State of Palestine. Between these two factions’ policies of dividing up Palestine with the Zionists there is no essential difference. Both are “bloody traps” for the Arab masses manipulated as pawns of the rival factions of the Palestinian bourgeoisie.

Much of the Western left also buys into a negotiated ‘peaceful’ solution such as the claim that Israel is an ‘apartheid’ state which can be reformed by pressure of international public opinion and more UN resolutions to go back to the partition of 1947. This is based on the belief that Jews have national rights in Palestine that can be peacefully resolved by recognising both Palestinian and Jewish rights. This is making Palestine liberation conditional on Jewish national rights as if they have an equal claim to living in Palestine. Not so. Trotsky argued that in the 1930s that Jews could claim national rights as an oppressed nation, but not at the expense of occupying Palestine.

“The attempt to solve the Jewish question through the migration of Jews to Palestine can now be seen for what it is, a tragic mockery of the Jewish people. Interested in winning the sympathies of the Arabs who are more numerous than the Jews, the British government has sharply altered its policy toward the Jews, and has actually renounced its promise to help them found their “own home” in a foreign land. The future development of military events may well transform Palestine into a bloody trap for several hundred thousand Jews. Never was it so clear as it is today that the salvation of the Jewish people is bound up inseparably with the overthrow of the capitalist system.” On the Jewish Problem.

The National rights of Jews therefore cannot be at the expense of the Palestinians. So the national liberation of Palestine means the defeat of Israel and the re-occupation of Palestine by the armed people of Palestine, with or without the support of militant Jews, and necessarily in conjunction with the popular revolutions that have begun in the other Arab states. The national rights of Jews will be realised in a democratic, socialist, multi-ethnic workers’ state in Palestine.

3) The Arab Revolution

Since 1948 the Palestinian revolution has been isolated (in effect quarantined) by the Arab states whose regimes professed support for Palestinian rights, but stopped short at limited wars to weakly contest the expanding borders of Israel. The surrounding Arab states condemned the Israeli state but in practice put their own separate interests before the defence of Palestine. They were rivals for leadership of the Arab states and could never agree on a unified strategy. In 1948 King Abdullar of Jordan backed by Britain, schemed with the Zionists to incorporate the US mandated Palestine into Jordan but was opposed by Egypt and Syria who had their own plans to annex Palestine. The outcome of the war was a victory for Israel and its expansion well beyond the UN partition borders (see map). 

The 1967 “Third Arab-Israeli war” between Israel and Egypt, Syria and Jordan also led to an outright Israeli victory and further incursions into Palestinian territory. Since that time the Arab states have collaborated with Israel. Egypt and Israel struck and agreement over Gaza. In Syria, the secular Baathist regime of Assad, father and son, co-existed with the theocratic Zionist state just as much as it collaborated with the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Arab and Israeli ruling classes were in agreement on their fundamental interest of keeping the Arab revolution divided and quarantined.

The Arab Spring changed that. Since 2011 the uprisings from Tunisia to Syria have forced the Arab regimes to actively suppress or co-opt the spread and synchronisation of these popular uprisings. In Syria Assad has starved and bombed the Palestinian camp of Yarmouk because the different leadership factions including Hamas that ruled the camp could not suppress the solidarity of the Palestinian masses with the Syrian Revolution. Moreover the revolutions continue in Libya and Syria where the armed resistance continues to fight the regime. The outbreak of a popular war against the Maliki regime in Iraq puts on the agenda not only the defeat of imperialism in MENA but also the defeat of imperialism’s puppet regimes in Iraq and Syria their Islamic State rivals. For the first time a Palestinian popular uprising has the potential to join forces with the Egyptian, Syrian and Iraqi revolutions and to link up the Palestinian masses in Lebanon and Jordan in a wider Arab revolution to overthrow imperialism and its national bourgeois puppets.

4) Role of Imperialism

There are no imperialist powers in the MENA. Israel and all the Arab regimes are semi-colonies of imperialism including the oil-rich Gulf States (and the non-Arab Iran). In the last analysis, Israel’s existence is not about land grabbing in the name of God, but its military role as the mercenary of US and EU imperialism in defending their interests in MENA against the emergence of the rival imperialist bloc of Russia and China. The Arab regimes act as agents of one or other, or both imperialist blocs, as they compete to win their favour and increase their share of the oil wealth exploited by imperialism. There can be no Arab Revolution unless it breaks with both imperialism and all the national bourgeois factions that rule over the masses on its behalf.

It is not possible to complete the national revolutions to defeat imperialism without overthrowing the national bourgeois factions that rule on behalf of imperialism. Hamas and Fatah in Palestine use the masses as military pawns to negotiate better terms with Israel for dividing Palestine. The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and in Syria compete with the military al Sisi and Assad regimes, and secular bourgeois factions such as the Free Syrian Army (FSA), for popular support to win the backing of the US and/or China/Russia. All compete to prove they can contain the Arab Revolution and that it is not they but their rivals that are the ‘terrorists’ that must be smashed. Against such brutal regimes, the Arab revolution that is historically centred on Palestine must declare its political independence from all bourgeois factions and build popular armed militias based on the workers and oppressed. See “The Arab Revolution meets NATO/Zionism”.

5) For Permanent Revolution

The struggle for an independent, secular Arab revolution has to contend with a history in which the revolutionary Marxist party has been betrayed by Stalinist popular front politics. That is, Communist Parties in MENA have historically collaborated with ‘progressive’ national bourgeois factions such as Fatah and the Baath Party purportedly against imperialism. But such collaboration has never led to national independence only to the defeat of the masses. The Arab revolution has made important advances against such historic betrayals only by taking up the armed and independent struggle against imperialism and it bourgeois lackeys. The fighting masses need to take the leadership of the anti-imperialist struggle out of the hands of the national bourgeoisie and embarking on the road to socialist revolution.

So the Palestinian Intifadas threatened to break the masses from the control of Fatah and Hamas and the threat of popular revolution forced these bourgeois lackeys to negotiate with Israel to contain the revolution. In Libya the armed militias retain a dual power against the pro-imperialist post-Gaddafi regime despite the current US attempt led by its henchman General Khalifa Hifter to disarm the militias. In Syria the secular armed revolution is holding out despite terrible odds against both the regime and the Islamic State. In Egypt, the masses are now facing a military dictatorship that strips away all illusions that the military is ‘progressive’. What is lacking is the Marxist party and program for Permanent Revolution that spells out the necessity for the armed, independent struggle for socialist republics within a wider Federation of Socialist Republics of MENA .

6) Revolutionary Party and Program

Only a revolutionary Marxist party and program is capable of addressing the Palestinian revolution as part of the Permanent Arab Revolution and as part of a global revolution. This is because as we said above the Zionist state is a military settler state funded by US and EU imperialism as its mercenary in MENA. It is the key to US and NATO control of its MENA ‘assets’ both political and economic which is today a vital defence of the US blocs oil assets against those of its rival Russia/China bloc. It is also imperialism’s weakest link in MENA because its role as imperialist gendarme forces it to militarise its settler population. This means that all Zionism’s claims to national rights and democratic legitimacy are constantly exposed as extreme hypocrisy turning the oppression of the Palestinian people the flaming beacon of the Arab Revolution. The cry “We are all Palestinians” means that while the Palestinians are not free, no-one is free!

That is why the struggle against imperialism in the MENA cannot succeed without the defeat of Israel and the smashing of the Zionist state. While it exists it will play the role it has played since 1948 as the armed mercenary of US imperialism in MENA. Just as the US imperialism can only prevent its decline as the No 1 imperialist power, so Israel’s fate is dependent on its role of protecting its master in MENA. Only the revolutionary Leninist/Trotskyist Party can cut through the pacifist liberal confusion that holds out the possibility of a negotiated peace in Palestine and in the wider MENA. Revolutionary Marxism is uncompromising in leading such a revolution because it refuses to legitimise the Zionist state!

In response to the left-liberal cry ‘victory for the Intifada’ we say victory can only be the victory of a revolutionary war of national liberation that (1) overthrows the Zionist IDF, (2) defeats all intervention by imperialism or its proxies, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, Iran and Turkey, and (3) exposes and defeats the treacherous leadership of the national bourgeois agents of imperialism in Palestine, Hamas and Fatah!

We agree with Trotsky. In 1998 we wrote:

“A democratic multi-ethnic Palestine could only be achieved as a result of a socialist revolution based on workers councils and militias. It would also be part of a Socialist Federation of the Middle East. In that context not only Palestinians would have the right to return but also Arab Jews would have the right to return to Syria, Morocco, Iraq and other Arab countries. Kurds, Assyrian and other nationalities would achieve self-determination and equal rights.” Against Zionism.   

  • That is why our program calls for the Egyptian working masses to build workers councils and militias to overthrow al Sisi and the military dictatorship, and to form a popular militia able to break down the walls and open the borders of Gaza to unite its people with the West Bank and Jordan! 
  •  We call on the Palestinian masses in occupied Palestine and in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon to unite with the Syrian revolution to build workers councils and militias to smash both the Assad regime and the Islamic State (ISIS) and its allies Hezbollah and Iranian fighters.  
  •  We condemn all self-proclaimed revolutionaries in the imperialist countries for failing in their duty to take action against their own imperialist ruling classes, whose defeat ultimately will enable the permanent revolution in MENA to be victorious. 
  • We oppose all pacifist, individualist boycotts and appeals to United Nations negotiations as continuing the legitimation of imperialist rule in MENA and as barriers to the armed, independence of the Arab masses. 
  •  We call on Israeli workers to take the side of Palestinian liberation, form workers councils and strike for the release of Palestinian political prisoners! 
  •  We call on Israel conscripts in the military to refuse to obey orders to shoot or otherwise oppress Palestinians! 
  • Defeat Zionism! We refuse to demand that the Zionist state frees its political prisoners, pulls down its walls and grants the right of return. We do not create illusions in Israel as we do not recognise its right to exist. The right of return will be enforced by Zionism’s defeat! 
  •  We call on workers in the imperialist countries to mobilise in their unions to enforce bans on all diplomatic, military and trade relations with Israel! 
  •  We call on the ranks of the military to mobilise against all imperialist occupation and intervention in the Arab states! 
  •  We call on the unions to make political strikes against the US funding of Israeli occupation! We call on workers to build international brigades to fight alongside the armed, independent militias in Palestine, Syria and Iraq, and for weapons and medical aid to the Palestinian struggle! 
  •  For a Socialist Palestine within a Federation of Socialist Republics of MENA!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Class Struggle No 109, April-June 2014

China: Socialists at odds over the Yue Yuen strike



Striking Yue Yuen workers mass rally

It’s one thing to say socialists all agree that the self-activity of the working class is the true basis of the march for socialism, but what is the road map? Disagreements over the character of Chinese society as socialist, capitalist, or imperialist, make all the difference to whether the road map leads the marchers to socialism or not. This question was raised specifically during the Yue Yuen strike. We reprint here an edited version of an exchange which took place on the facebook page ‘Trotskyism is Alive and Kicking’.

First, there are that ‘state caps’ or ‘third camp’ like the Cliffites (SWP-Britain) who claim that China since 1919 has been capitalist if not imperialist, so what is new? Tell that to striking Yue Yuen workers who see themselves locked in a struggle to defend their ‘socialist’ pension  rights against the return of capitalism.  The fact is that while the ‘third camp’ judged the Chinese revolution from afar was a bourgeois revolution where the bourgeoisie were expropriated, the Chinese masses knew they had been in a social revolution and the bourgeoisie had disappeared off the stage of history. The Chinese bureaucracy of the CCP has cleverly staged a capitalist counter-revolution by posing as the defenders of the revolution in the apparent absence of a new Chinese bourgeoisie. It is necessary to explain to workers who struggle against the return of wage labour, to see the need to overthrow the CCP as the bourgeois defenders of capitalism and not its destruction.

Then there are the dogmatic Trots like the Sparts and the CWI who say China became a bureaucratically Deformed Workers State after 1949 and remains one today.  They reverse the ‘third camp’ position and insist that the bourgeoisie who were cast off the stage of history by the revolution, cannot re-enter that stage except in the guise of individual capitalists. Incredibly they explain China’s rise to No 1 world economy as the responsibility of the CCP bureaucracy thereby crediting a degenerate workers state with the capacity to develop the forces of production ahead of the imperialist powers.  Tell that to the striking Yue Yuen workers who see the CCP in bed with capitalist corporations, super-exploiting them and getting superrich in the name of ‘market socialism’. 

Then there are the ‘Trotskyists” like the FLTI who claim China has restored capitalism but is not or cannot become imperialist since it is oppressed by the existing imperialist powers. For them, China serves the interests of imperialism as a capitalist semi-colony which allows super-profits to be extracted from cheap Chinese labor and raw materials. Tell that to striking Yue Yuen workers who see their labor and lives pay for China’s rise to the No 1 world economy which is super-exploiting workers in Asia, Africa and Latin America.  
The FLTI is wrong on China. China is not a ‘maquiladora’ of the US. Today China and the US are rapidly shaping up as the major imperialist rivals. China has moved very fast since it opened up its SEZs to FDI 20 years ago. Even 10 years ago it was hard to see it emerging as a new imperialist power. 

All three positions on China have been debated at length by the LCC in a number or articles. Most recently we have taken up a critique of the roots of these different positions in our article: "Why are Russia and China Imperialist Powers and not Capitalist Semi-Colonies?” 

Yet today the US and China are competing to be the No 1 largest economy and invest in each other where the costs of production are nearly equal. We are facing escalating trade, political and military rivalry between the two. Not to acknowledge this fact means, for example, you lack the clinching argument against the Bolivarian's popular front with China for 'market socialism' in Latin America. 

Worse it is a call for the defence of China in wars with other imperialist powers. Here is recent data on comparative costs of production of 25 countries including China and the US:

"The country with the lowest manufacturing costs, we found, is not China. It’s Indonesia, then India, Mexico, and Thailand. China comes next—with Taiwan’s costs just a tad higher and the U.S.’s a bit more than that, ranking America No. 7 in our study. As Chinese labor costs rise, American productivity improves, and U.S. energy expenses fall, the difference in manufacturing costs between China and the U.S. has narrowed to such a degree that it’s almost negligible. For every dollar required to manufacture in the U.S., it now costs 96¢ to manufacture in China, before considering the cost of transportation to the U.S. and other factors. For many companies, that’s hardly worth it when product quality, intellectual property rights, and long-distance supply chain issues are added to the equation."

The response of David Walters on facebook to the above is typical of the FLTI and others trapped in a dogmatic time-warp:

“China plays both roles, as a developing national state capitalist country and as a HUGE repository of maquiladora...basically all of the maquiladora industries have departed Mexico for China. This occurred almost 10 years ago. It is still going on. It's a great sucking hole for low wage 'repetitive injury' jobs and capital.”

CWG replies: “That China plays both roles is not in dispute. Their relative weight and role in the direction of China's capitalist development is. Since restoring capitalism China has re-entered the global capitalist economy without subordinating itself as a semi-colony.

Unlike normal capitalist semi-colonies, China's maquiladora role was not a means of sucking out all of China's surplus into the imperialist countries, but a means of getting a trade surplus and R&D transfer. Thus as the Businessweek article above shows China has gone up the value chain and is no longer the world's cheap labour factory. As the most recent OECD survey shows, China has taken off so it is no longer so dependent on manufactured exports of Foreign Investor Enterprises to maintain its dynamism. "Total FDI peaked at 17.1% of fixed capital formation in China in 1993 and has declined since then to 2.8% in 2010, even though it has risen markedly in absolute terms." 

And consider that North America has a tiny share of the FDI stock compared with other Asian countries. It is China's emergence as a new imperialist power that explains the rising competition between the US and China that we are seeing in every continent. 

Walters replies: “All you are saying is that regular monopoly capital equals state monopoly capital. I'm not disagreeing for the sake of this discussion. I'm saying that for a state to be imperialist, that finance capital has to be THE dominant form of economy within the mode of production. I see zero evidence for this. I see the domination of manufacturing capital, both SOEs and IO/private forms, dominant. That such export of capital from either private sources or, SOE is a small percentage of the overall GDP. China looks essentially like a state capitalist form of the U.S. circa 1898. BTW...I have zero political stake in this discussion. I'm really here to learn and discuss. For China to really be Imperialist, it would have to do its investments, first, in terms of quick return of the dollar (they do use dollars, not their own currency, another issue in terms of being Imperialist but not decisive) and secondly with a rising tendency for speculative investment in finance. China is doing neither. None of its foreign investments, at least not significantly, are designed to return a thing except raw materials which would be more profitable to use domestic resources in many instances. Instead they are building up huge stockpiles in raw materials for further use down the road. This is totally unheard if investments were actually based on profit.”

CWG replies: You make a fundamental and unfortunately common mistake. Lenin defined finance capital as the fusion of banking and productive capital. Productive capital means productive of commodities. “State monopoly capital” was used by Lenin to characterise the form of finance capital at the more concrete level of international relations and the global market where finance capital was fused also with the state. Unlike the prevailing use of the term, capital that quits the productive circuit to speculate in non-productive existing assets is not finance capital but money capital. “Manufacturing capital” is a meaningless term unless you are using it as a non-Marxist proxy for productive capital. If you use Lenin’s conception of finance capital it is immediately obvious that the Chinese state is fused with finance capital devoted entirely to its reproduction.

As for "quick return"? Since when has that been a criterion for imperialism? Super-profits will obviously increase as turnover time increases. But super-profits do not derive from turnover time. And your "Speculative investment"? No.  Export of capital is driven by the need to counter the TRPF with cheap raw materials and labour power. When this fails due to rival state monopoly capitals, surplus capital is driven into speculation. So speculation is a symptom of finance capital being diverted from the production of value to speculation in existing values as money capital. 

As yet China's capital export is countering the TRPF but the increasing organic composition as China develops will bring this to an end before long. This is part of the law of capitalist accumulation. Your argument rests upon voluntarist policies of the CCP able somehow to override the determination of the LOV where China is forced by its need to accumulate capital to enter into a growing rivalry with the US-led imperialist bloc. Not only that, you have to explain the US encirclement of China as a voluntarist response to China's voluntarist expansion. The result is a position like Kautsky's ultra imperialism where the fate of nations hinges not on the law of accumulation but the respective policies of imperialist elites. Ergo imperialist war is an aberration and parliamentary socialism can correct for it by ensuring that capital is invested productively so it continues its historic mission to prepare the conditions for socialism in the never-never.

The Chinese revolution which created a degenerate workers state has not survived capitalist restoration by the CCP. Yet many of the workers still believe they are fighting to defend socialism (albeit with 'Chinese characteristics) . But in truth the only way they can do that is to fight for a socialist revolution against the new capitalist ruling class that is today responsible for China’s emergence as a new imperialist power.

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