Friday, March 31, 2006

Sago Mine disaster symptom of US Capitalist crisis

From Class Struggle #65 February March 2006

Was it lightning strikes, ‘vulture’ capitalists, Bushite de-regulators, or an absent union that caused the Sago disaster? This is the checklist the US reformist ‘left’ which thinks that US capitalism can be reformed. But it’s none of these. US Imperialism cannot be reformed. It is on the warpath abroad and at home. The Sago dead, like the Iraqi dead and the Bolivian dead, are symbolic of US imperialism’s march to destruction as it tries to avoid its life and death crisis of falling profits. Only an international socialist revolution can stop this collapse into barbarism.


US imperialism and the Sago Mine Disaster

The loss of the 13 Sago miners (12 dead and one severely brain injured) of West Virginia in early January was the direct result of the mounting attacks by US imperialism on its working class, in an attempt to take back concessions and cut labor costs to compete with cheap labor in Asia and Latin America. While these attacks are made worse by the Bush administration and the failure of the union leaders to challenge the bosses, the underlying cause is the crisis of US imperialism and the attempts by the US ruling class to make the US working class as well as workers globally pay for its crisis.

US imperialism’s crisis is a crisis of overproduction of capital. In the 1970s the US economy faced falling profits due to the rising cost of capital investment in plant and machinery. Its solution was to export surplus capital to less developed countries to take advantage of cheap labor and raw materials. The super-exploitation of cheap labor and plundering of resources in the semi-colonies was achieved by the institutions of the IMF, World Bank and World Trade Organisation acting in the interests of US finance capital. So-called neo-liberalism or globalisation are both words that describe but do not explain the US drive to escape its crisis of falling profits by the classic Leninist export of capital. The result is that US corporates are today producing most of their profits offshore in so-called ‘outsourced’ plants.

Nevertheless, the superprofits from US global expansion have been insufficient to resolve the crisis of overproduction and allow a return to an upward cycle of capital accumulation. The great mass of surplus capital remains outside the productive circuit as money in the form of ‘fictitious capital’ speculating in shares, futures and exchange rates. US capitalism has come up against the fundamental contradiction of capitalism – that the working class will no longer sit back passively and allow the forces of production (including its own labor and lives) to be destroyed to restore private profits. The plundering of labor and raw materials in the semi-colonial world is facing resistance from workers and poor peasants across Latin America, Asia and in parts of Africa. Inside the US the drive to restructure industry cut costs of production is now facing a potential revolt. The fundamental class contradiction in US capitalist society, long suppressed by its imperialist role, is re-asserting itself as an awakening of the working class to confront US imperialism at home and abroad.

US imperialism has always relied on waves of migrant workers and black workers to work for low wages to keep the bulk of services in America running. Some graduated upward into the labour aristocracy to join that layer of privileged workers who backed US imperialism so they could get high wages. Today, however, the crisis of US imperialism has trapped a large stagnant pool of labor, usually living in poverty – like the black population of New Orleans abandoned to Hurricane Katrina – and repressed as a ‘criminal underclass’ on the streets and in the jails. They do not see anything progressive about US capitalism.

Not only that, the crisis has forced the capitalists to attack large sections of the former privileged aristocracy of labour – high paid mainly male unionized workers in steel, auto, airlines etc. Over the last decades these former world-beating industries have gone into decline as low wage and high productivity foreign competitors have taken increasing shares of the US and world market. In most cases the ‘foreign’ competitors are actually US global corporates like the Auto industry which has closed 100s of US plants and ‘exported’ 200,000 jobs since 2000. The result has been that the US corporates have used their global expansion to drive down labor costs at home in an attempt to compete with themselves. The established union leaderships have gone into ‘partnership’ with the bosses to ‘save American jobs’ by negotiating massive cutbacks and takebacks in jobs, wages and conditions in the hope of retaining the privileges of a minority of the US labor aristocracy and their own privileges as a union bureaucracy.

But the existing unions’ leaderships’ complicity in saving US capitalism at the expense of millions of workers whose labor capacity is being destroyed is beginning to create divisions in the ranks. The attempts by the AFL-CIO to defend American jobs by blaming foreign workers have failed and brought about a decline in the unions. More and more workers are awakening to the fact that US corporates are dominating the global economy and going to war to assert their primacy. Within the ranks of the labor movement there is a growing recognition that US workers must unite with foreign workers employed by the same corporates in common fight to limit their power and greed. The AFL-CIO has split and increasing grass roots dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party is challenging the grip of the bureaucracy on the unions. Into the breach left by the discredited ‘old bureaucracy’ and its failed strategy of defending jobs, steps the ‘new bureaucracy’ of the left aligned with the World Social Forum, presenting a new vision of the ‘peaceful, democratic road to socialism’.

Central to this reformist perspective is the bureaucratic bloc formed around the defence of Cuba, the Bolivarian Revolution, the MAS in Bolivia, and the anti-war movement against the US invasion and occupation of Iraq. This defence hinges on the ‘democratic’ labor movement in the US preventing the Bushites from invading these countries, which would then be allowed to develop their own resources rather then be plundered by US corporates. Thus the predatory role of US global corporates will be replaced by a ‘fair sharing’ of national resources between the indigenous and national populations and US investors. Back in the USA, the money wasted on military invasions and the armaments industry will go to much needed public health, education and social services. This unholy alliance of social democracy, Stalinism, Castroism and fake Trotskyism comes to the rescue of US imperialism by keeping alive the illusion that it can be pressured from below to adopt a form of ‘market socialism’.

Critical to this ‘left’ perspective is the active role of organized labor in stopping the supposed greedy, rogue, anarchic, warmongering, ‘dark’ side of imperialism from manifesting itself in ruthless attacks on workers. This explains much of the reformist left response to the Sago Mine disaster.


Could Sago have been saved by the union?

Of course industry must be unionized. Cost cutting in the coal mines has a bloody history. Disasters were commonplace until workers organized to demand improved safety standards. The unionization of the mines was the only way to defeat these terrible conditions. US mine workers fought many battles to get union cover. But today their unions have become open partners with the bosses in cost cutting. The level of health and safety protection has fallen dramatically. At Sago the Mine Safety and Health Administration recorded 208 violations of federal mine rules in 2005, including 18 orders to shut down parts of the mine while faults were corrected, yet there was no order to shut down the mine completely. http://www.kclabor.org/no_blood_for_coal.htm

At Sago mine 13 miners lost their lives because the employer would not pay for radio telephones or concrete barriers against explosions that would have cost a tiny fraction of its multi-million profits. Meanwhile, state regulation agencies under Bush have been filled with former coal industry executives who refuse to close dangerous mines. The UMWA (United Mine Workers of America) claims that the single factor that could have closed down the mine was missing at Sago– the union! Here is its statement released shortly after the disaster:


“International Coal Group (ICG), the US-based company responsible for 12 mining deaths last week in the state of West Virginia, operates 21 US coal mines in America, all non-union. Yet, three emergency-response teams from nearby United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) staffed mines, plus the ICEM affiliate’s Health and Safety director were involved in rescue efforts at ICG’s Sago mine on 2 January after 13 miners became trapped following a gas explosion.

ICG has become a major eastern US coal supplier to utility companies at a time of high demand and high prices. The company is a creation of Wilbur L. Ross, a bankruptcy buyout opportunist who has a two-decade-long record in steel, textile and now coal bankruptcies. Ross uses US court bankruptcy proceedings to gain tax deferrals and cancel workers’ bargaining rights, pension benefits and retiree health care.

ICG bought bankrupt Horizon Natural Resources, Anker Coal Group and CoalQuest Development, among others over the past few years. ICG gained a stake in Anker, the former owner of Sago, in the early 2000s and increased his holding as the company weakened and entered bankruptcy in 2002.

He only recently finalised buyout of the company for US$173 million, adding some eight coal mines and loading facilities to ICG. Also in late 2005, Ross took ICG—founded only in 2004—public, infusing US$250 million cash into the firm, and causing Ross to state: “It’s all new money for the company. Neither my firm nor the founding shareholders are selling any stock on the offering at all.” Rose’s controlling stake increased from 9.2% to 13.7% on the initial public offering.

` It is evident Rose’s “new money” and current coal revenue profit-taking are not intended for miners’ social welfare, whether it be retirement benefits or job safety. On 30 August 2004, 17 UMWA members were arrested by police when they and 800 others protested before a US bankruptcy court in Louisville, Kentucky. Some 3,000 UMWA members, both active and retired, were about to lose job security, and health care coverage as Ross and IGC took control of Horizon at a discount value in the bankruptcy court. . .”

But would the UMWA have made a difference? These workplace deaths can be multiplied across all the industries from steel to auto to airlines, key sectors of which are unionized. Over 100,000 workers lose their lives every year through industrial accidents. It is true that Wilbur Ross who bought the unsafe Sago mine has build his empire by scavenging companies and using bankruptcy laws to take back wages and conditions won by generations of workers. A prominent fundraiser for the Democrats, Ross makes a point of selling himself to union bosses as ‘saving jobs’ after firms have gone into bankruptcy. It seems that some union bosses’ actually believe Ross and ‘partner’ him to restructure US industry to ‘save American jobs’.

Where the UMWA and similar unions exist they have collaborated in Ross’s ruthless practices. In steel and textiles Ross restructured companies with huge loss of jobs, pay and conditions and in each case got the approval of the respective union chiefs. According to Andrew Pollack in Monthly Review Zine:

Ross’s “ . . . first big move was his February 2002 purchase of bankrupt LTV Corp, waiting until LTV had shed its health-care liabilities and dumped its pension obligations on the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corp. Ross paid $90 million in cash and took on $235 million in assumed liabilities -- in return, he gained assets worth $2.5 billion. LTV became part of Ross's International Steel Group. After replacing defined benefit pensions with 401(k)s, Ross instituted an incentive pay program in which workers got paid more for beating production goals. The ISG cut man-hours of labor per ton of steel from two-and-a-half to one, a saving equaling $45 on a ton of steel selling for $300.

Because Ross had "saved" steelworker jobs -- even though their pay and benefits had been slashed -- USWA President Leo W. Gerard said the investor was "a breath of fresh air. Wilbur and his people actually cared about what we had to say." Apparently, all it takes to make a union bureaucrat happy these days is a friendly capitalist ear.”

Pollack says this was true of the textile industry as well:

“Steel union head Gerard's fondness for Ross was matched by a glowing endorsement from [textile union] UNITE HERE head Bruce Raynor, who said "I really think the future of domestic manufacturing is people like Wilbur Ross." http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/pollack060106.html

In the Auto industry Ross is said to be eyeing Delphi where CEO Miller (who took Bethlehem Steel to bankruptcy before Ross bought it cheap) is threatening bankruptcy if workers do not take a 2/3rd pay cut and loss of pension rights. The current struggle at Delphi is to reject the deal struck between Miller and the UAW union bureaucrats and a potential Democrat ‘job saver’ buyer like Wilbur Ross.

Whether in steel, textiles, coal or auto, as proven collaborators with the bosses, the leaders of all these unions must be held responsible for the many defeats of workers under the US anti-union and bankruptcy laws. Why is this, when unions are commonly understood as acting in the interests of workers? What explains the active ‘partnership’ of the US union bosses with corporate bosses in restructuring US industry?


The labor bureaucracy

The fact is the union leadership collaborates with the capitalist class to subordinate and exploit the working class. More specifically it dominates the unions so as to contain dissent arising from the massive cutbacks and takebacks. As the crisis of US capitalism has developed in the last two decades the reactionary role of the unions has become more blatant. Now unions openly advocate win-win ‘partnerships’ with the employers to increase profits and, they claim, wages. But of course as the deals with Ross prove, the cost of keeping some jobs is the destruction of many more. The reformist left keeps pointing to ‘sellouts’ and ‘deals’ done by bureaucrats, but sees these betrayals as evidence of a wider ‘corruption’ found in the ruling class. And just as the Enrons can be brought to justice, rogue bureaucrats can be challenged and replaced. Yet this does not account for the systematic treachery of union officials. How to explain this?

The classic Marxist explanation has two legs. First, the labor bureaucracy is a layer of union officials that originates in the relatively privileged aristocracy of labor (those workers whose wages and conditions are raised because they work for monopoly corporations who super-exploit the semi-colonial or ‘poor’ countries). It functions to mediate between the labor aristocracy and the employers. Trotsky referred to them as ‘labor lieutenants’ of business. It is their job to collaborate with business in the super-exploitation of foreign workers so that the labor aristocracy at home can share in some part of this bounty. US unions have come to play the role of partner in US imperialism to ensure that the aristocracy of labor gets is share of imperialist super-profits. Recent examples of this international class collaboration by the AFL-CIO to promote US ‘friendly’ regimes in Venezuela and Haiti are reported at http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/scipes250106.html

Second, is the bureaucracy’s ideological role in promoting the fetishised view of capitalism as one of market relations between individuals. It accepts that the market’s normal state is one of equilibrium, and that crises and wars are disturbances caused by the behavior of the rich, powerful ruling class who cheat and prey on the weak and poor. The purpose of organized labour is to checkmate the power of global elite and allow the market to be stabilized, and equalized, by a ‘mixed economy’, sometimes called ‘market socialism’, today better known as the public/private partnership (PPP). This world view is presented as ‘realism’ or ‘common sense’. It is the ideological basis of the class collaboration or ‘partnerships’ between unions and bosses.

This is why the bureaucrats’ response to bosses attacks is to negotiate and concede cutbacks and concessions in order to save some jobs and some plants (and the union) but never to challenge the ultimate right of boss to hire and fire, and to even hire and fire on behalf of the bosses. The result has been the decimation of whole industries and the destruction of a large part of the US work force. Job losses and disillusionment with unions has seen the membership of unions sink to an all-time low at around 13% (36% public sector and 8% private sector). The recent split of the SIU and Teamsters from the AFL-CIO to form the breakaway labor federation Change to Win group was an attempt to meet this crisis by spending more money on recruitment. But it did nothing to challenge or change the class collaborationist role of the labor bureaucracy. According to Labor’s Militant Voice it entrenches the bureaucracy’s hold over these unions by taking away what little autonomy local labour councils have left. http://www.laborsmilitantvoice.com/pamUnions.htm

The current strikes at North Western Airlines, and NY Transit, and the looming fightback at Delphi, all illustrate the widespread complicity between the bosses and the AFL-CIO union leaders that has led to decades of defeats in the major steel, airlines and Auto industries. It is not a case of a few union sellouts, or leaders making mistakes or misjudgments. The labour bureaucracy specializes in sell-outs. They are chronic collaborators. Proof? Look at the ongoing NY Transit dispute.
Local 100 boss Roger Toussaint had a deal lined up with his ‘Partner’ the MTA, but was undone by the determination of the state governor and NYC Mayor Bloomberg to cut public funding to transit services of the largely black and migrant workforce by destroying their pension rights. The 36,000 transit workers anger boiled over and an illegal strike was on. Mayor Bloomberg called the strikers ‘thugs’ and threatened heavy fines and even imprisonment. Though the majority of NYC commuters supported the strike, Toussaint consulted with other top bureaucrats, not his membership, about how to end the strike.

According to one report:

“Toussaint then nervously turned for help to Bruce Raynor, the general president of Unite Here, and a top dog in Change to Win, [The same Bruce Raynor who regards bosses like Wilbur Ross, as “the future of domestic manufacturing”! ] and Mike Fishman, president of the city's giant union of building service workers, Local 32BJ of SEIU. These two big shots had been strong supporters of Mayor Bloomberg's recent reelection victory. After talking to His Honor, they assured Toussaint that, while they had no formal guarantees, if he called off the strike City Hall would make sure negotiations would be fair. Others began to lean on Toussaint to cave as well such as Brian McLaughlin, president of the New York City Central Labor Council and United Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.” http://www.kclabor.org/wir12262005.htm

After 3 days facing massive financial penalties and assured by the Change to Win officials that Bloomberg would go easy on them, Toussaint fixed a deal where transit workers would keep their pension rights but start paying for health insurance! Members angry with both Toussaint and the deal narrowly rejected the offer. Governor Pataki and the MTA came back with a worse deal and a threat to force the union into arbitration. The rank and file is currently divided with a minority actively rejecting both the new offer and arbitration (as of 1 Feb)

Toussaint, Raynor and McLaughlin are not isolated cases. They are fully paid up members of the labor bureaucracy. It is clear that the role of the labor bureaucracy subordinates the rank and file to the bosses and the state, but how do we overcome this problem?

First, we neither gloss over this problem claiming as does Workers World Party, which as the main force behind the International Action Center signed a statement calling for a January 12 protest rally in NYC labeling Wilbur Ross a ‘vulture’ and Roger Toussaint a ‘hero’. This is an opportunist signing up to the bureaucracy as a ‘progressive’ force on the side of labor able to checkmate ‘vulture’ capitalists. http://www.iacenter.org/images/mine-owner06.pdf It is no accident that the WWP regards Cuba as ‘socialist’ and is uncritical of Chavez’s ‘21st century socialism’ in Venezuela. The WWP backs the labor bureaucracy at home and abroad.

Second, we don’t try to sweep the bureaucracy under the carpet like the Socialist Equality Party which correctly condemns the bureaucracy but wont fight it in the unions. Its position on the NY Transit strike is to leap over the demand for a general strike to call on all the workers of New York to join a new socialist party. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/dec2002/tran-d14.shtml.This is un-Marxist and sectarian. So long as key sectors of industry are bureaucratically unionized, and the majority of workers remain un-unionized, revolutionaries have to fight to re-build the labour movement on the basis of rank and file democracy. Articles condemning the labor bureaucracy will not convince unionized workers to break with them. This requires a concrete program of fight inside the unions and for an independent workers political voice.


Building rank and file democracy

As Marxists we know that US imperialism is in trouble and that it can only solve its crisis by attacking workers at home and abroad. These attacks will necessarily generate fightbacks even by unorganized or non-unionized labor. The ‘old’ labor bureaucracy’s strategy of defending the US aristocracy of labor is bankrupt. The ‘new’ bureaucracy seeks to contain the new labor fightbacks within the a reformist perspective of the World Social Forum. This reformist perspective sows illusions in the US imperialist state able to pursue a peaceful, non-exploitative international role in collaboration with democratic nationalists, or even 21st century socialists, in the semi-colonies. This perspective is ‘social imperialist’ because it covers up the fact that the social reforms in the US will be still be paid for by the superprofits won by deals between ‘democratic’ imperialism and the national bourgeoisies at the expense of the workers and poor peasants. It is in the interest of the ‘new’ bureaucracy to promote this democratic ‘alternative’ because it is bought and paid by capitalism to keep the working class tied to the state. The first step in building a rank and file control of the unions is to break all ties to the state!

Revolutionaries begin with the fact that workers control of production is the only real basis of workers power. We have to build independent workers organizations to establish workers’ control. Despite its bureaucratic leadership, the existing labour movement is an historic gain we cannot write off. The AMWU in particular played a leading role in the class struggle unionism of the 1930s that led to the formation of the CIO. It has won major victories right up to the 1980s. As Trotsky said those who cannot defend the old gains cannot win new ones! Therefore work in the labour movement is ABC for revolutionaries. Our tactics must be to lead the rank and file in rebuilding the unions as ‘schools for revolution’. We have to be the best fighters in the frontline of rank and file rebellions against union boss sellouts to break the ‘new’ bureaucratic trap!

Two current fightbacks show that rank and file fightbacks are beginning to emerge. It’s early days yet and these struggles run the risk of being sidelined by a new layer of ‘left’ bureaucrats who step forward to replace the old bureaucrats who have lost credibility. Breaking with both layers of the bureaucracy is the urgent task ahead!

At Northwestern Airlines, the 4,400 mechanics who are striking against the employers drive to outsource 90% of the jobs and impose big wage cuts and takebacks, are in a democratically controlled union. The mechanics joined the Airline Mechanics Fraternal Association (AMFA) in the 1990swhen their existing union, the International Association of Machinists (IAM), forced them to accept major concessions by bureaucratic methods. The IAM is now an open strikebreaking union, while other airline unions are supportive but have not gone on strike. The AFL-CIO leadership has refused to endorse the strike. The Teamsters (one of the main unions in Change to Win) is also hostile. To overcome these divisions driven by the bureaucracy, the mechanics have formed a fightback organization Airline Workers United to fight for rank and file unity across all the unions in the airline industry and to mobilize support from outside the industry. This is a move in the right direction but so far it has limited it self to ‘pressuring’ of politicians to change the bankruptcy laws, diverting the struggle from building national, coordinated strike action.

The second example is at Delphi a major multinational supplier of auto parts to General Motors. The response of the workers at Delphi points the way forward not only for the auto industry (currently facing many plant closures and over 60,000 job losses) but the whole of US industry. CEO Miller’ threat to bankrupt Delphi (formerly part of GM) to impose cuts and takebacks has jolted the workers into forming a militant rank and file group Soldiers of Solidarity to resist the ‘sweetheart’ deals being made between the bosses and the United Auto Workers union (UAW). While its efforts are also directed at putting pressure on the employers and politicians, the main thrust of SOS is mass industrial action. There is much talk of a return to the militant sit-down strikes of the 1930s such as that at Flint in 1936. The strength of the sit-down strike is that it keeps the workers inside the factories. More immediately a series of rank and file meetings across the country has debated the ‘work to rule’ tactic as a preparation for strike action. The immediate response of Miller was been to threaten closure of plants working to rule. This should be all the workers need to push for factory occupations and the demand that the industry be nationalized under workers control, along with health, education, banks and so on.

These are important fightbacks, yet the development of SOS and of militant rank and file control of the unions as ‘schools for revolution’ across the US, requires a revolutionary leadership. The main problem is that the Trotskyist movement that was active in the leadership of the major strikes of the 1930s does not exist today. Consistent with their ‘social imperialist’ perspective, the fake Trotskyists in the unions are intent on forming a new ‘left’ bureaucracy to limit the rank and file to pressuring the corporates and lobbying congress for ‘fairer’ laws and universal healthcare and pension reforms funded by taxing the rich. What they deny is the super-profiteering role of US imperialism abroad in paying for these social ‘reforms’ at home. Breaking with the ‘new’ bureaucracy means therefore, confronting US imperialism by smashing the roots of its global superprofiteering and oppression.


Break from the ‘new’ bureaucracy!

To develop SOS into a model for rebuilding the unions, the rank and file must control the unions. This means holding mass members meetings where decisions are taken by show of hands, elected and recallable delegates, election of strike committees, pickets and self defence groups, unions united nationally and internationally across the industry by rank-and-file-based congresses that can mount united front actions to force on the bureaucracy demands they cannot fulfill. Neither the AFL-CIO nor Change to Win leaderships represent the interests of rank and file workers. Neither backed the TWU wildcat strike in New York with anything more than words. The rank and file must coordinate national organizations, and demand that the bureaucrats of the AFL-CIO and Change to Win call for national workers conferences and fund and back illegal strikes and nation-wide strikes to break the power of the corporates and their anti-union laws. Strike action must always point towards the political general strike to bring down the government and to create a Workers and poor Farmers’ Government.

Such transitional demands cannot be met by the old or the new labor bureaucrats. Their exposure as bosses’ agents will educate and mobilize the rank and file to dump their misleaders and take over the leadership. That militant leadership must follow the principles of workers democracy. All negotiations should be done by delegates elected by the rank and file. Union officials should be elected each year for a fixed term, immediately accountable to the members, and paid no more than the average wage in the industry. The books should be open to all members and all union assets, bank accounts, etc open to member scrutiny.

Trotsky wrote that unions in the epoch of imperialism were subordinated to the state. His central demand was to break with the state and its class rule. Today this means breaking with the ‘left’ ideology of ‘social imperialism’. US labor must reject state reforms paid for by imperialist profiteering by plunder and war. Employers must be forced to carry the full cost of workers health, education, housing and pensions rather than state or federal welfare services.

The reformist left is calling for universal state funded universal health care in which they will fill the new jobs created to administer these services! This is central demand of the Change to Win federation. Some fake Trotskyist groups are also backing this reform. Dianne Feeley in the fake Trotskyist group Solidarity[ http://www.solidarity-us.org/ ]argues that the only way that everybody will be covered by health insurance is through universal state provision (Against the Current, Jan/Feb 2006). But there is no chance that unions that today take wage cuts to pay for health care can tomorrow mobilize enough pressure politically to force bosses to fund a federal health system. State provision of welfare services always offers loopholes for the bosses to cut their contributions. Workers have shown that they have the industrial muscle to refuse to pay for their pensions and health care and to demand that the bosses also pay for pensions and unemployed support.

For example, Roger Toussaint and his bureaucratic cronies tried to do a deal with the NY City Mayor which kept existing pension rights, but imposed a 1.5% payment for health insurance that would in future rise faster than wages! The rank and file refused to vote for a wage cut to pay for their health care! When NY City and NY State as public employers try to impose health costs onto workers what chance is there that workers can vote in a federal health provision? Yet when workers refuse to pay they show the potential power that can win successful occupations and nationalisations without compensation under workers control.

The only way forward is strike action on the job to break the bosses’ repressive laws that threaten fines, dismissal or imprisonment to make workers pay for their own health, education and welfare. The bosses’ use the bankruptcy provisions to break labor agreements and cream off vast profits. They ignore the labor laws and health and safety regulations which causes the deaths of more and more workers like the Sago miners. Workers must break these laws and enforce their own health and safety standards as the measure of their own control. Work to rule, sit ins and occupations are the necessary steps to workers’ control and workers’ ownership. They create organs of dual power from which the revolutionary workers can take state power. There can be no shortcut in which a workers party negotiates the expropriation of private property and compensation to the bosses as the fake Trotskyist SEP says in its 2006 election program. http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/jan2006/elec-j12.shtml

Just as workers must reject social reforms at home paid for by imperialist profiteering, so they must unite their forces with workers and peasants everywhere who are super-exploited by imperialism. We do not mean the ‘fake’ internationalism of the WSF anti-war movement that calls on Troops Out of Iraq because of the loss of American lives and the US$2 trillion cost of the war! We are for the defeat of the US in Iraq! We are for smashing the US military at home, the Patriot Act and its concentration camps! We do not call Chavez’s ‘21st century socialism’ internationalism when it sells oil to the US to invade and plunder Iraq. We must be for a socialist revolution in Venezuela, Palestine and Iraq! We are for the political revolution in Cuba and the return of Guantánamo!

Real internationalism means that US miners fight the mine bosses in the US, in China and Latin America. The Sago miners are no different to the miners of El Teniente in Chile, Turbio in Argentina, Barakova in Ukraine, Mutun in Bolivia or Fuksin in China. US workers must join forces with all workers in every country to fight for the expropriation of the property of the landlords, the banks and the corporates. Only by such a common struggle can the national divisions that separate workers and poor peasants in different countries be overcome, and a new world made possible!


For a mass Labor Party with a socialist program!

The revolutionary transformation of unions into workers’ councils or soviets is our goal!

Along the way we must break from the bureaucrats and their funding of the party of US social imperialism, the Democrats. To do this we must call for a real workers party based on democratic unions to be built. Trotsky argued that in the US in the 1930s the labor movement had yet to find its own political voice. He took into account that workers would not jump out of the Democrats into a mass revolutionary party overnight, but would support a Labor Party in which revolutionaries raising the transitional program could be instrumental in transforming it into a mass revolutionary party as part of a new revolutionary international. Over 60 years later the need for a Labor Party is even more urgent.

* Jobs for all on a living wage!
* 30 hours work for 40 hours pay!
* No concessions on wages, jobs, health or pensions!
* Strike to make the bosses pay for full pension and health care!
· If bosses threaten redundancies and bankruptcy demand they ‘open the books’!
* Occupy under workers control all plants threatened with closure!
* Open the borders to economic and political worker migrants!
* US troops out of Iraq, Haiti, Cuba and bases in Asia and South America!
* Victory to Iraq! Defeat the main enemy at home!
* Strike against the US war industry and build soldiers committees against the war in Iraq!
* Nationalize industry, transport, communications and banks without compensation under workers control!
* For a Workers and small farmers government and a planned socialist economy!
· For a Socialist United States of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego!

Review of Brokeback Mountain

Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal
134 Minutes


Class Struggle #65 February/March 2006

Brokeback Mountain has been getting a lot of press in the US and elsewhere as a breakthrough movie from Hollywood that’s deals openly with gay issues. The Hollywood movie moguls have not been known for their willingness to embrace these issues and very few mainstream movies have dealt with them in a positive manner. Vito Russo in The Celluloid Closet said:

"In a hundred years of movies, homosexuality has only rarely been depicted on the screen. When it did appear, it was there as something to laugh at—or something to pity—or even something to fear. These were fleeting images, but they were unforgettable, and they left a lasting legacy. Hollywood, that great maker of myths, taught straight people what to think about gay people … and gay people what to think about themselves."

Most of the intelligent films on these issues have tended to come out of the Independent film movement in the US or British, European and even New Zealand cinema.

The movie is a departure for director Ang Lee as well. His last movie was Hulk and action-adventure movie and even his highly acclaimed Crouching Tiger, hidden dragon while being a fantastic film is still a far cry from an intense drama about a love between two cowboys that spans many years.

While some of the reviews about this film talk about the way in which Hollywood is finally coming to terms with gay and lesbian issues other reviewers have said it is not really a gay movie as such, more a love story. There are problems with both of these views.

It seems to me that the reviewers who take the “love story” angle have missed the whole point of the film.

The fact the two characters, Ennis (played by Heath Ledger) and Jack (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) cannot be together as they want to be is completely a result of the incredible homophobia they face in society and have internalized themselves (particularly in the character of Ennis).

The story starts in 1963 when the two young cowboys are sent out on the range to look after the sheep of a local rancher, Joe Aguirre (played by Randy Quaid). Once the initial shyness of Ennis wears off he begins to warm to Jack and the two become good buddies. Once it goes further (initiated by Jack) the two develop a secretive relationship which is broken up when they are espied by Aguirre, although he uses other excuses to get rid of them.

The film then follows them through the following decades as they both marry, settle down and have families. The relationship is re-initiated and the two men are only able to share intimacy a couple of times a year.

This is a constant frustration for the more dominant and self-accepting Jack, who wants Ennis to leave his wife and has a dream that the two of them can have a ranch together. For Ennis this is out of the question. In one particular scene he recounts how as a nine year old boy his father had taken him and his brother to look at the corpse of a man who had his been dragged around by his penis until it was ripped from his body, all because he was in a gay relationship.

The film reminds us of what it must have been like growing up and being gay in the 60s and even beyond. The difficulty was compounded by the fact that these two men were in a very macho environment. As time goes on and takes us into the seventies, it is worth noting that the gay liberation movement was well established (beginning in the late 60s). But that liberation movement was not alluded to in the movie, and nor should it have been.

The movement for gay and lesbian rights was largely an urban based movement and centered around cities such as New York and San Francisco. For Jack and Ennis, that movement and those sorts of people might as well have been on another planet. Though it seems that the movie is a hit with prospective tourists elsewhere on the planet earth. A representative of the Wyoming Travel and Tourism Division says many people in other countries are expressing interest in visiting Wyoming because of the film:

“It's gotten rave reviews from the international community,” she said. “I don't know if they're more tolerant or something, but they're viewing it as a great Western movie.”

This is a good point. The film takes the ‘western’ as the stock statement of all the virtues of European settlement of patriarchal farm families and the tough heterosexual male stereotype, and turns it on its head. Although things have improved for gays and lesbians in the rural states, it is worth noting that the movement to ban “gay marriages” and anti-gay initiatives still largely come from the South and rural states. These places still have a long way to go before gays and lesbians feel safe in this environment. One reaction from a Wyoming woman playwright who had “never encountered a gay cowboy” was: “Don't try and take what we had, which was wonderful -- the cowboys that settled the state and made it what it was -- don't ruin that image... There's nothing better than plain old cowboys and the plain old history without embellishing it to suit everyone."

The film is very believable. You can well imagine the dilemma facing two men who met and felt this way about each other. They clearly wanted to be together but couldn’t due to the attitudes in the ‘western’ farming community.

Ang Lee has made an intensely political movie which when you look below the surface has some interesting class elements as well.

These two men are both poor working class cowboys, who didn’t have a dime to spare. Jack marries into money (his father in law owns a farm machinery business) but is still trapped. He is in a stronger position to break his connections but the money aside, he still has to contend with society’s attitudes. Ennis, meanwhile continues to struggle from one ranch-hand job to another and certainly has very little economic independence. If these two men had been wealthy enough, they probably could have ridden the storm and maintained a relationship. They may still have had a lead a double life but it would have been easier for them.

In taking on the subject of two working class cowboys who love each other but who can’t maintain their relationship, Lee has made a bold statement about how society could deny love to two such people purely on the basis that they were the same sex.

But if its not a simple love story, does that mean that Hollywood is redeeming its shameful past in dealing with gay issues? Actors such as Rock Hudson and Anthony Perkins both went to enormous lengths to hide the fact they were gay as did many others. Not just in failing to present them objectively in movies but also in it’s black-listing of actors who were left wing and gay (such as Will Gear). If there was anything McCarthy hated more than communists it was pinko-communists.

What is the state of play today? Michael Bronski writing In Zmag thinks that gay films have yet to make a serious breakthrough to the mainstream:

“Nearly a decade ago it looked as though we were about to enter a Renaissance of gay and lesbian filmmaking. Unable to have access to mainstream movie making, independent filmmakers, writers, and producers began turning out a remarkable body of work. Todd Haynes’s brilliant The Karen Carpenter Story and Poison that moved a gay sensibility to new levels of cultural critique and intelligence, were revelations as was Tom Kalin’s queer re-telling of the Leopold and Loeb story in Swoon. Rose Troche’s Go Fish and Isaac Julian’s Looking for Langston broke new territory and Jennie Livingston’s Paris is Burning expanded the parameters of what a queer documentary might do.

But since then it has been down hill; particularly in the past three years. The enormous possibilities opened by the success of independent queer cinema have become a dumping ground for third-rate and unimaginative comedies and feel-good movies. In 1997 we had Kiss Me Guido, I Never Met Picasso, Love and Death on Long Island, and I Think I Do followed the next year by Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss, Late Bloomers, Leather Jacket Love Story, and (slightly better) The Opposite of Sex. Not that there weren’t some fine films as well—Cheryl Dunye’s Watermelon Woman was imperfect, but ambitious; John Greyson’s Lilies was a triumph of style and intelligence; Lisa Cholodenka’s sharp and pungent High Art and Bill Condon’s Gods and Monsters were about as perfect as movies get.

While it was nice to see homos in mainstream Hollywood movies, films like The Object of My Affection, In and Out, and My Best Friend’s Wedding, they lacked edge, intelligence, and any semblance of queer wit. Of course, mainstream films also presented us with the most stereotypical of gay “types”—Bruce Willis’s gay victim in The Jackal, Kevin Spacey’s wealthy queen in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Lauren Joey’s least-believable lesbian in Chasing Amy, and Ian McKellen’s repressed gay Nazi war criminal in Apt Pupil. While Edge of 17 had a few bright moments, it felt like a 20-minute short that had been blown out of proportion.

The British Get Real was sweet, but came nowhere close to the perceptiveness and potency of 1997’s Beautiful Thing. Relax...It’s Just Sex had some interesting moments, including a plot twist that dealt with sexualized murderous rage that followed a queer-bashing, but the film had no consistent center. Trick, with its cute boys, pre-packaged ghetto humor and edgy-but-sentimental sex was homogenized, formulaic, and empty. Beefcake, a faux documentary about Bob Mizer and Physique Pictorial, had flashes of humor, but ultimately had little point. Even Rose Troche, whose Go Fish showed so much promise, failed with Bedrooms and Hallways, a light, sprightly look at love, friendships, and sex in London that never rose above standard sit-com quality. The Canadian Better Than Chocolate offered little more than a lesbian version of its gay male independent counterparts, with pretty girls, the prerequisite political stances, and a happy ending that made no thematic or organic sense.” http://www.zmag.org/zmag/articles/feb2000bronski.htm.

Hollywood has never been known for campaigning for minority rights. It’s following the money. So does that mean that the huge popularity of Brokeback Mountain signals the ‘breakthrough’? Marxists, would gloss this ‘popularity’ to mean that as the traditional standards of the ‘western’ crumble under the impact of globalisation, there is more money in cropping the multi-millioned film audience and world adventure tourism than in the family plot. The economic interests of small town petty capitalism are blown away by large-scale capitalist agriculture, wage labour replaces family labour, Wal-Mart replaces the local store, and gays become part of the production line. When there is a profit to be made gays are no longer pariahs but ‘pretty men’.

As for the Hollywood machine and all the talk about Oscars, the film richly deserves them, not just for the fine acting and great script but for the breath-taking photography as well. If, as widely tipped, it does get Oscars and walk away with the Best film award, it will unfortunately be more because of a gilt-trip by members of the Academy than because of the artistic merit of the film.

Regardless of the motives, it will be a good day at the Oscars if this film gets the recognition it deserves for being such a fine and well-crafted film. Not just because it is a fine film but because such a movie in the mainstream will maybe give some of those homophobes (of whom there are still plenty) something to think about.

But more important than this, is my hope that the movie reaches out and touches the people who need it most. Somewhere in Wyoming (or maybe even rural New Zealand) there is a 16 year old boy or girl who when they see this movie will get some positive affirmation from it and realize that is ok to be gay and that it is better to be with the person you love than to spend your whole life leading a lie.

Defend the Iranian people!

Support Iran’s right to a nuclear deterrent


On March the 18th, protesters will gather in towns and cities around the world to mark the third anniversary of the US invasion of Iraq, and the beginning of a war that still kills thousands of Iraqis every month.

This year the anti-war movement faces the threat of a new imperialist war, against Iraq’s eastern neighbour.

The United States is leading a campaign against Iran’s nuclear programme, and threatening the country with military action if it does not dismantle the uranium enrichment technology in its nuclear facilities.

Bush’s government used aggressive diplomacy to make sure that the International Atomic Energy Agency voted to send the issue of Iran’s nuclear programme to the United Nations Security Council, where the US has a permanent seat and immense influence. Bush has repeatedly said that is prepared to use violence to stop Iran’s nuclear programme even if he can’t get his way on the Security Council.

Iran’s government maintains that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes, and after the lies they told about Iraq’s phantom ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ the US and other Western governments can’t be trusted when they say they are certain Iran is trying to make nuclear weapons.

But even if Iran is seeking nukes, what right do the US and its allies have to complain?

The US is a country with many thousands of nukes aimed at targets around the globe and a history of aggressive action against scores of other states. The Middle East’s neighbourhood bully and US ally Israel sits on an arsenal of several hundred warheads.

Both the US and Israel continue to build new nuclear weapons – what right do they have to condemn Iran if it wants to do the same?

Poll after poll shows that Iranians support their country’s nuclear programme, and believe that they have a right to nuclear weapons.

Even the pro-Bush media admits the popularity of Iran’s nuclear programme. Karl Vick, the Iranian correspondent for the pro-Bush, pro-war Washington Post, recently admitted that ‘Ordinary Iranians overwhelmingly favour their country’s nuclear ambitions, interviews and surveys show’.

Why are the Iranian people so keen on nukes?

Some racist commentators in the Western media have suggested that it is because they are a fanatical, bloodthirsty people, who long to fight a holy war against the US and Israel. But the Iranians know better than almost any other people the bloody reality of war. In the 1980s a million of them died defending their homeland against an invasion by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. At the time Saddam was an ally of the US, and the US had encouraged him to invade Iran because it wanted to topple the government there. More recently, Iranians have watched the US fight two bloody wars against Iraq. The war that began in March 2003 is estimated to have killed 150,000 Iraqis already. Now the Iranians hear Bush threatening attacks on their own country.

It is because they don’t want another war that the Iranians want nukes. Iranians realise that nukes would be a powerful deterrent against an attack by the US. They can see that the US invaded Iraq knowing that it had no Weapons of Mass Destruction, but backed away from attacking North Korea because that country had developed nukes.

A look at the whole history of the nuclear era bears out the Iranian point of view. The US says that nuclear proliferation is a threat to world peace, but the only time nukes have been used was before nuclear proliferation began, in the days when the US had a monopoly on the weapons. US President Harry Truman bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki not to defeat Japan, which was already about to surrender, but to intimidate the rest of the world, and especially the Soviet Union and Red China. The US wanted to use nukes to make sure it controlled the post-war world.

In 1950 the US was bogged down in a war against Korea, and General Douglas MacArthur, the commander of their army, drew up plans to explode thirty nukes inside territory held by the North Korean army. Millions of Koreans were saved from death only because the Soviet Union had recently developed its own nukes as a deterrent to US aggression. The US was forced to shelve MacArthur’s plan after the Soviets threatened to retaliate for any nuclear strikes in Korea. Again and again in later years, the Soviet nuclear deterrent saved vulnerable Third World countries from US aggression. Who can blame the Iranians for wanting the same deterrent?

Most Kiwis dislike George Bush and oppose the wars he has started.

At the same time, though, many of us are uneasy about the prospect of another country developing nuclear weapons. If a poll were taken today it is likely that only a fraction of us would support Iran’s right to nukes. But we only think like this because we haven’t stood in the shoes of Iranians and other peoples threatened by US imperialism. We live on islands at the bottom of the world, far away from hotspots like the Middle East. We’ve never been invaded, and we don’t have the hostile army of a nuclear superpower camped on our doorstep. The Iranians don’t have the luxury of rejecting nuclear weapons, and we need to understand that. If we don’t, we risk taking the side of the US and Israel in a new war.

The Green Party has already fallen into the trap of supporting the US campaign against Iran, by urging that the UN be used to ‘restrain Iran’.

Others are in danger of going down the same path. In a debate on the Indy media website, one activist said that he wanted to show ‘solidarity with anti-nuclear sentiments among the Iranian and wider Middle Eastern population’. If he looks, he will soon find that the only people in the Middle East interested in campaigning against Iran’s nuclear programme are Israelis and the US armed forces. Anti-war activists should show solidarity with the Iranian people by supporting Iran’s right to nukes.

But solidarity with Iran doesn’t mean political support for the country’s government.

Iran is run by a gang of Islamic fundamentalists who hijacked the 1979 revolution against the US-backed Shah. The fundamentalists took power by killing their secularist rivals on the left, and they use violence to stay in power. In the last few months, for instance, the Iranian police and pro-government paramilitary organisations have been attacking and detaining the bus drivers of Tehran. The bus drivers have been campaigning and striking for better conditions and union rights, and three hundred of them have been detained for this ‘crime’.

It’s not only trade unionists that the Iranian government attacks.

Iranian women are regularly stoned to death for ‘crimes’ like adultery and pre-marital sex, and gay men are often hung if they are caught having sex.

We should support the Iranian nuclear programme, but we should also support trade unionists and other groups fighting against government repression.

Some Westerners argue that there is a contradiction between these two types of support. They say you can’t support Iran’s right to nukes without giving political support to the country’s government. What they ignore is the fact that Iranian people themselves support their country’s nuclear programme, at the same time as many of them oppose their country’s government. As Karl Vick notes, “Support [for the nuclear programme] runs deep in the population of 68 million, cutting across differences of education, age and, most significantly, attitudes toward the fundamentalist government”.

When we gather next month to mark the third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, we should also protest against the aggression of the US and the UN against Iran. But we can only oppose Bush’s new war drive by taking the side of the Iranian people by supporting Iran’s right to a nuclear deterrent.



Leaflet issued by

Workers Against the War Of Terror (WAWOT) February 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Reposted blogs (someone deleted the old blog)

Saturday, February 04, 2006
Caracas: Meeting of the 6th Counter-revolutionary World Social Forum

The "Bolivarian Revolution" of Chávez, Morales, Castro and the reformist leaders expropriates the struggle of the working class and subordinates it to the bosses!

From the 24 to the 29 of January the Sixth annual meeting of the counter-revolutionary international the World Social Forum met in Caracas, Venezuela.

The WSF along with the "left" of the US Democratic Party, was responsible for betraying the US national ‘day of absence’ against poverty, racism and war called for the 1st of December by a Committee of more than 700 worker and antiwar organisations. This was the first time for years that militant elements in the US working class had coordinated a counter-offensive against the Bush government and the US capitalist class.

It is this same collection of social democrats, Stalinists, "Greens", Castroites, Maoists, and fake Trotskyists – all associated with the WSF - that have mobilised to contain the awakening US working class in response to the crisis of the Bush administration, such as we saw in the Transit strike in New York, to make sure it remains subordinated to the Democratic party of US imperialism.

At the Sixth WSF were all those dedicated to the suppression of US workers struggles and all the mass struggles in Latin America in the name of the much heralded ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.

First up was Chavez declaring "it is necessary to go forward to 21st Century Socialism”, speaking of "socialism or death", shamelessly singing the ‘Internationale’ to close the meeting, and taking photo opportunities with Cindy Sheehan - the mother of the US soldier killed in Iraq who fights for the return of US troops – while at the same time he continues to sell the US regime the oil it needs to occupy Iraq and kill its people!

Or course Chavez never calls on the oppressed workers of Iraq, or the mothers, wives, or daughters of the thousands of Iraqi resistance fighters killed by the invaders, to organise for the military victory of Iraq and the defeat of Anglo-Yankee imperialism!

Following Chavez were all the supporters of Evo Morales, the new president of Bolivia, just finished appointing to his cabinet millionaire industralists like the ministers of Defense and Public Works, and ex-state employees of the former government of the murderer Goni overthrown in a popular rebellion in 2003, as well as peasants, miners and ex-union leaders.

In other words, the Sixth WSF was a meeting for all those backing the class collaboration of Morales who has already announced that he will respect and defend private property, allow the private exploitation of the Mutún mine (the largest manganese deposit in the world) , made deals with the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie (home of most of Bolivia's oil and mineral wealth), with the Spanish firm Corona, and with the oil monopolies, to contine to plunder Bolivia’s gas wealth.

After the Morales cheerleaders came those of the current Ecuadorian government of Palacios such as the Maoist MDP, the Pachacutik and the CONAIE. They had tried to prevent the removal of his predecessor, Lucio Gutiérrez, who fell at the hands of a revolutionary mass uprising. Today these same forces are once more trying to stop the new uprising of the workers and poor peasants led by students, who have been fighting for two weeks against the the signing of a FTA between the Palacios government and the US.

These same leaders went to the WSF to embrace Chávez, who only months ago openly lent millions of barrels of oil to Palacios, thus sabotaging the strike and a political uprising of the workers and farmers of the Ecuadorian provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana against Oxy and other imperialist oil companies. With the aid of his friend Chávez, Palacios used the Ecuadorian army to fiercely repress the people and to militarize these two provinces.

They can both count on the support of the Cuban bureaucracy of Castro - as can Morales – which also comes to the rescue of the US client regimes of Lula, Kirchner, Tabaré Vázquez, Bachelet and Co., as it prepares to complete the restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

Not to be left behind, there were four ministers of the Brazilian government, representing Lula and the PT (Workers Party), one of the most servile lackey governments of the US ( like Kirchner, who has paid off the billions owed to the IMF in cash) which allows its troops along with those of Argentina and Chile, to occupy Haiti in the service of the imperial master.

The Argentine delegation included the Kirchnerites of the FTV, Barrios de Pie, bureaucrats like Yasky of the CTERA and Gutiérrez of the UOM - today a supporter of Kirchner in parliament. During the WSF a number of workers were attacked and jailed by the police and local politicians in Tartagal and Mosconi (in the North of Argentina), while in Caracas the state servants of Kirchner, the ally of Bush, Repsol and the IMF, met with the union bureaucrats and pro-government officials of the piqueteros (unemployed workers movement), bosses' politicians like Mario Cafiero, the mst, and Nestor Pitrola of the Workers Party which voted for the popular front government of Evo Morales.

Playing a key role in the WSF are the fake Trotskyists who destroyed the Fourth International and became reformists. Today, all are fervent defenders of Chávez, Morales, the Castro bureaucracy, and the "Bolivarian Revolution". They have openly broken with the struggle for the workers and socialist revolution, and have adopted the old class collaborationist policy of "revolution by stages" of Stalinism, telling the workers to put their hopes in the "good", "progressive" bosses, the "anti-imperialist" military, and the "democratic" and "pacifist" imperialists.

So the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’, the ‘star’ of the Sixth World Social Forum, is no more than a cover to disguise the sordid deals the national bourgeoisies make with each other and with the imperialistic monopolies, to decide who gets what share of the profits, according to what resources are available, and how each country is slotted into the global capitalist division of labor. It is also a cover for the politics of the Castro bureaucracy that wants to restore capitalism in Cuba and to re-invent itself as a new bourgeoisie.

Socialist revolution is the triumphant insurrection of the workers and poor peasants that seizes the power, overthrows the bourgeoisie and expropriates the imperialistic monopolies and all the bosses. That is the only way that the anti-imperialist struggle can be carried through to completion, breaking with the imperilialists and their national bourgeois junior partners and making a planned socialist economy possible.

That is why there are only two roads for the working class and the exploited masses of Latin America: either the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ in which the proletariat submits to the continued exploitation, misery, massacres and imperialistic sacking of our nations; or, the struggle for a victorious workers socialist revolution on the road to the Socialist United States of Central and South America which can plan production where the gas, iron and managnese of Bolivia, the meat and the soyabean of Argentina, the copper of Chile, the minerals of Peru, the oil of Venezuela, the industry of Brazil, etc., are all used to meet the needs of the vast majority of the exploited and oppressed workers and poor peasants.

Today the most important step along the socialist road for all workers and poor peasants of the continent, is the fight for the victory of the heroic revolution of the Bolivian workers and peasants which the popular front goverenment of Evo Morales, backed by the counter-revolutionary WSF, is today trying to destroy.

Against the WSF, expropriator of the struggles of the masses!
For the Workers' and poor Peasants' Revolution!
For a Socialist United States of Central and South America!
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Translated and condensed from
Supplement to Democracia Obrera 3rd February 2006

posted by dave @ 2:16 PM 0 comments


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Friday, January 13, 2006
Chile - Declaration on the El Teniente Strike

Workers International Party (Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction) 2006-01-10

For a Workers' and poor farmers' national congress of rank and file delegates!

For an indefinite strike of the contract workers of the El Teniente mine!


To all the contract workers of Andina of the Andes, Chuquicamata in Calama, Ventana in the V Region, all the privatised mines of the country, and all the sectors of the workers in struggle in every workplace. Hold rank and file meetings to elect 1 delegate for each 100 workers to go the the strike of the contract workers of El Teniente, to fight for the formation of a National Congress of the working class and exploited people of Chile.

For 5 days the contract workers of El Teniente, Andina, Chuquicamata, Tomic and Ventana have held an indefinite strike for a US $972 bonus for 2005. Over these days the class enemy of the bosses’ parties, the presidential candidates Bachelet and Piñera, the church which was part of the Pinochet fascist regime, the press etc., have all been preaching peace and reconciliation. The government tries to deceive the striking workers by changing the law on subcontracting claiming to have the interests of the workers of the subcontractor companies at heart. It wants to bring contract workers under the ‘legal’ coverage of the existing workplace unions. Lagos, Bachelet and Pinera want this law changed urgently because over 50% of Chilean workers are currently working under subcontracts. But the purpose of this new law is to break the strike using the official union leadership to prevent it from spreading and developing into a national strike that sets off an uprising in the whole Chilean working class capable of smashing the FTA with US and European imperialism, breaking with the IMF, and bringing down the ‘socialist’ government of Lagos that covers for the Pinochet regime – in short, of revolting against the re-colonisation of Chile.

TO GET WHAT WE WANT AND DEFEAT THE LAW OF SUBCONTRACTING WE MUST GO ON THE OFFENSIVE


The Government is ruthless. There is no bonus on the agenda in its negotiations with the CUT and the Coordinatora [national union of the contract workers]. Only secondary questions that can be included in the reformed law are being discussed. Lagos has already rejected any bonus for contract workers because this would reduce the superprofits of imperialism. That is because the huge profits made by the state-owned Codelco in 2005 (around 33% of the copper production in Chile) do not go to the State but to pay the external debt to the imperialist IMF, or to buy new weapons for the Chilean military to use against the people (10% of the copper revenue funds the Armed Forces). It is a sad joke that Lagos claims that he will use the money the contract workers claim in bonuses to help benefit youth in poverty when his government has privatized many state companies; the ports, health and education, road construction, bridges etc.; in short, when it is his policies that are responsible for the poverty and oppression of workers in Chile.

We can gain nothing from reforming a law that ‘legalises’ the slavery of the working class. We must fight to defeat it. But who is against this law? Not the leaders of the CUT [trade union federation] who are the puppets of the Ministry of Labor and the Government. Not the leaders of the Coordinatora who also agree with the Government’s law. Only the workers who have gone on strike are against this law. The bourgeoisie only grants concessions to workers when it is afraid of losing everything, and these conquests can only be defended by constant struggle. Instead of negotiating with the class enemy over the terms of their exploitation, workers must go on the offensive and fight to smash the subcontracting law of Lagos, the FTA, Pinochet’s 1980 constitution, and the plundering of copper by imperialism, by renationalising the industry under workers control!


STRENGTHEN OUR FORCES AND OUR ORGANIZATION
CALL A NATIONAL CONGRESS OF WORKERS AND POOR FARMERS WITH RANK AND FILE DELEGATES IN RANCAGUA


The indefinite strike has been very strong up to now. In Rancagua the highway 5 South that is used to transport copper has seen strong confrontations with the police. In the cities the strikers have mobilised to stop the buses carrying strikebreakers. There have been many demonstrations in support of arrested comrades. Similar strong actions have been made by the comrades of the Andina mine, who have cut the highway to Mendoza (Argentina) to stop buses reaching the mine.

Despite threats of dismissal, non-renewal of contracts, use of strikebreakers etc., the strike has held firm. But the contract workers of Codelco who are leading the struggle against super-exploitation cannot be left to fight alone for one more second. By uniting the miners with the maintenance and service contract workers in the fight for the bonus, they have set an example to the workers of the whole country on how to fight for their demands. But the leaders of the CUT and the Coordinatora do nothing to unite and generalise the strike. By burying the demands in negotiations, these leaders hold back the offensive, preventing the building of the strike through street protests, pikcets, barricades and workers self-defence committees.

One thing is certain, the workers will not win if instead of trusting in their own forces, they allow their fight to be subordinated to the politicians, the church, the fascists, the mayors and the bureaucrats. Comrades, if we want a strong union of contract workers we cannot allow it to become dependent on the state. The state unions are legally recognised but impotent in the face of the privatisations. We must build the union on the basis of rank and file solidarity with the working class method of workers democracy and direct negotiations independent of the state and the union bureaucracy.

Only a rank and file union can demand that the leadership of the CUT, Martinez (head of the Coordinatora) and the Communist Party, break with the bourgeoisie and with the civil-military pact of the government of Lagos and all those who backed the Pinochet coup. We must demand that the union leaders immediately summon a National Congress of workers and poor farmers based on rank and file delegates to strengthen the indefinite strike of the contract workers of El Teniente! Organizations like the CAT, the SINTRAC, CGT MOSICAM, the National Coordinatora of Dock and Ship Workers, all the unions and federations of the country, must break with class conciliation and give support to a National Congress.


DEMAND THAT THE CUT BREAKS WITH THE BOSSES AND SUMMON A CONGRESS OF THE EXPLOITED IN RANCAGUA!


The contract workers of El Teniente are the symbol of Chilean working class slavery. The contract workers of all the other mines, all the factories, workplaces, ports and plants, must send one delegate for each 100 workers elected by mass assemblies, to El Teniente, to make a National Congress that can begin immediately to plan and prepare for a national general strike of masses; to create Self-Defence Committees to face the repression of the police; to defeat the subcontracting system completely, the privatisation of the mines, by bringing down the Lagos Government and the Pinochet regime – the Agreement of the Constitution of 1980 – of the client state of US imperialism’s IMF and FTA.

The Congress must plan for the re-nationalisation without compensation and under workers’ control of the whole copper industry! The non-payment of the external debt! The break with all Free Trade Agreements! An end to 10% of the copper revenue going to the Armed Forces! An end to the military investments to stop the Chilean bourgeoisie acting as the servant of US and UK imperialism and using the Chilean army to smash the Bolivian revolution!

Only by these means will the contract workers of Codelco win a bonus of 1 million 600 thousand pesos (US$972) and the same conditions as the wage workers of Codelco. For a 7 and a half hour day without increased work! For equal pay for equal jobs, including overtime and other payments! It is vital that the contract workers get the same conditions as the wage workers as this is the only way to unite the workforce against the subcontracting system. There have been over 9000 ‘regular’ jobs, ‘protected’ by the union under collective agreements, lost since 1990 to the subcontracting system.


THE MOST IMPORTANT DEMAND IS : PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM!


We are the militants of Internationalist Workers Party (POI), members of Leninist-Trotskyist Fraction (FLT). We think that proletarian internationalism is the most urgent demand of the Chilean working class. Since 2003 the vanguard of the working class struggle of the Latin American continent has been the miners of Huanuni, Bolivia. They fight for the nationalisation of the Bolivian mines and the gas under the control of the workers, leading the struggle of all the American working class to strike a blow to the head of the bourgeoisie and its private property, that it has defended since the 1970s by means of military dictatorships and which it continues to defend by its ongoing repression and massacres.

Our continent continues being plundered and bled by imperialism. The natural resources and the enslaved manual labor is imperialism's main prize. It is the same in the US where mine owners have killed 13 miners in West Virgina because they took their profits without paying for the safety of the miners. This was what happened in 2004 in Rio Turbio in the south of Argentina in August 2005 when 14 coal miners died in a Rio Turbio coalmine after a gas explosion, and in El Teniente coppermine in 2005 where 12 workers were killed. The demands of the miners of Huanuni is the only way to stop the imperialists from murdering miners for profit, because the workers would control and manage the mines ensuring good health and safety conditions.

The manifesto of the miners of Huanuni and the Bolivian working class, is the internationalist manifesto for the whole American working class. For that reason it is necessary that the Chilean working class fights for the renationalisation without compensation under workers control of copper and all natural resources. But even more important, is that the workers of the continent rally in support of the victory of the Bolivian revolution. The Bolivian working class holds the key to the victory of the working masses and poor farmers of South America. With the gas controlled by the Bolivian workers, the fuel necessary for all industry to operate under the control of workers in the Continent would be made possible. This and no other reason is why the Leninist-Trotskyists of POI say that the victory of the Chilean working class will be decided in the streets of Bolivia, in La Paz, in El Alto, Oruro, etc.

CHILEAN WORKERS MUST SUPPORT THE VICTORY OF THE BOLIVIAN WORKERS' AND POOR FARMERS' REVOLUTION!

posted by dave @ 10:23 AM 1 comments


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Wednesday, December 14, 2005
Iraqi, Venezuelan and US workers can unite to shut down US Big Oil’s War!

While Big Oil makes record profits [see Palast and Pringle articles below], Iraqi, Venezuelan and US workers have the power to shut down Big Oil and its oil for war. In Iraq the rebuilding of the Oil workers unions provides a platform for workers to fight to gain control of the nationalized oil industry back from Big Oil. At the same time Big Oil profits has driven up the cost of oil to US workers. Chavez provision of cheap heating oil to US workers opens up the opportunity for a higher level of class unity between Venezuelan and US workers that can block the supply of US oil for the war machine in Iraq!


Iraqi Oil Workers Against the Occupation and for Workers Control of Oil

The formation of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions (IFOU) independent of both the main union federations is a significant step forward. Representing over 23,000 workers in the key oil industry, across 3 provinces and nine state oil and gas companies, the union has a militant record and strong positions against the occupation and against privatization of oil.
“The union has on two separate occasions halted oil exports through strike action over unpaid wages, repressive Baathist managers and officials in the Ministry of Oil and land allocations for employees. It has successfully reconstructed infrastructure, port equipment, drilling rigs and pipelines without the help of foreign companies. It has succeeded in canceling the last two tiers of the Occupation’s Order 30 wage-table and raising the minimum wage for Iraqi oil workers from 69,000 Iraqi Dinar (US$32) per month to 102,000 ID (US$60) per month.
The union’s ‘Troops Out’ policy calls for the immediate withdrawal of all occupation forces from Iraq.” It’s policy on ownership states “The privatization of oil and industrial sectors is the objective of all in the Iraqi state/government. We will stand firm against this imperialist plan that would hand over Iraq’s wealth to international capitalism such that the deprived Iraqi people would not benefit from it.”

While Big Oil can maximize its superprofits from the control of Iraqi oil without privatization (see previous story) the IFOU has the potential to take control of the oil industry from below and close down the imperialist siphoning of Iraq’s oil wealth. But they cannot do it alone. It is necessary for workers in the imperialist countries to shut down Big Oil at home, and for Venezuelan oil workers to take the lead in shutting off the supply to US oil for war.


Venezuela: for workers democracy in the oil industry

Chavez is using Venezuelan oil as a ‘geopolitical weapon’ threatening US supplies, offering cheap oil to US workers, making plans for an alternative energy bloc in LA etc. But there is a problem. Chavez and his LA partners are national leaders who will not go all the way to nationalise and put under workers control the most powerful imperialist corporates – Big Oil. At best Chavez, Lula, Kirchner and Morales (the likely new Bolivian President) can only negotiate shares of the oil wealth to be retained in their countries. This leaves the giant share being of oil and gas being pumped out of LA and used power monopoly capital and its war of Terror. Only real worker ownership and control of oil and gas can reverse this process, stop the war for Big Oil, and make oil available to meet the needs of the masses of the world.

Under Chavez’ control oil is being used as a weapon against workers. Not only to fuel the war in Iraq, but to strike break in Ecuador and at home in Venezuela where anti-strike legislation can be used by Chavez to lock out oil workers. Even the deals done with the Caribbean states and with China for cheap oil may not end up benefiting workers but the capitalists who are on the way back in Cuba and raking off huge profits from China. Unless oil is under real workers control it becomes a subsidy from the Venezuelan people to monopoly capital. The only way to ensure that workers benefit is to make sure that the ownership and control of Venezuelan oil is in the hands of the workers, so that its production and distribution can be planned by workers for workers.

US Workers: Hurricane Katrina and cheap oil

We can see how this would work in the case of the supply of cheap oil to the US. Chavez offer is for cheap oil to be administered by the Venezuelan owned Citric collaborating with local authorities. But Venezuelan oil workers could do better than that by offering free oil and demand that it be distributed by rank and file union groups in the US. This would become a platform to launch real workers control in Venezuela so that workers could renegotiate the current deals with Big Oil for exploration and exploitation of oil and gas. Chavez and the Bolivarian state energy policy of creating an alternative Latin American energy company called Petrosur, which would integrate regional oil and gas industries. But this plan is not based on the expropriation of the key Big Oil players in Latin America, Repsol, Petrobras, Exxon etc. It is an attempt to negotiate better terms with Big Oil. The limits to this collaboration with Big Oil are evident in Chavez deals with Kirchner, supplying oil to Ecuador to replace that lost by strike action, and his plans to introduced no-strike laws in Venezuela.
Real workers control will only result form the transformation of the workers organizations that co-manage nationalized industries along with the state taking complete control of industry from the state. The oil workers can show the way by fighting to take control of production and distribution of oil, setting the price and end use of oil.

No Oil for War! Iraqi and Venezuelan oil workers unite to smash Big Oil’s monopoly!
Oil for the Poor! Iraqi, Venezuelan and US oil workers unite to defend the rights, wages and conditions of oil workers! Unite to distribute oil to the workers of the reserve army of unemployed in the US under rank and file control!
No Oil to strike break! Follow the lead of the Venezuelan oil workers who condemned Chavez’ sale of oil to Ecuador as strike breaking!
Workers control of production and distribution of oil to meet the needs of the world’s workers!

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Greg Palast exposes Big Oil and Pentagons fight over how to steal Iraqi Oil

Recent evident proves beyond doubt that oil was the prime motive for the invasion of Iraq. Big Oil has gone on to make record profits. We argue that oil workers in Iraq, and in oil producing countries like Venezuela, and workers in the imperialist countries like the US, can unite to close this war and occupation down.

Greg Palast recently reported on the evidence that the invasion of Iraq had been long planned to seize control of the oil resources. The only issue was privatize or not.

“. . .Two years ago today - when President George Bush announced US, British and Allied forces would begin to bomb Baghdad - protesters claimed the US had a secret plan for Iraq's oil once Saddam had been conquered.

In fact there were two conflicting plans, setting off a hidden policy war between neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, versus a combination of "Big Oil" executives and US State Department "pragmatists".

"Big Oil" appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was, we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants.

Insiders told Newsnight that planning began "within weeks" of Bush's first taking office in 2001, long before the September 11th attack on the US.

We saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities and pipelines [in Iraq] built on the premise that privatisation is coming Mr Falah Aljibury An Iraqi-born oil industry consultant, Falah Aljibury, says he took part in the secret meetings in California, Washington and the Middle East. He described a State Department plan for a forced coup d'etat.

Mr Aljibury himself told Newsnight that he interviewed potential successors to Saddam Hussein on behalf of the Bush administration.

Secret sell-off plan

The industry-favoured plan was pushed aside by a secret plan, drafted just before the invasion in 2003, which called for the sell-off of all of Iraq's oil fields. The new plan was crafted by neo-conservatives intent on using Iraq's oil to destroy the Opec cartel through massive increases in production above Opec quotas.

The sell-off was given the green light in a secret meeting in London headed by Fadhil Chalabi shortly after the US entered Baghdad, according to Robert Ebel.

Mr Ebel, a former Energy and CIA oil analyst, now a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, told Newsnight he flew to the London meeting at the request of the State Department.

Mr Aljibury, once Ronald Reagan's "back-channel" to Saddam, claims that plans to sell off Iraq's oil, pushed by the US-installed Governing Council in 2003, helped instigate the insurgency and attacks on US and British occupying forces.

"We saw an increase in the bombing of oil facilities, pipelines, built on the premise that privatisation is coming."

Privatisation blocked by industry

Philip Carroll, the former CEO of Shell Oil USA who took control of Iraq's oil production for the US Government a month after the invasion, stalled the sell-off scheme.

Mr Carroll told us he made it clear to Paul Bremer, the US occupation chief who arrived in Iraq in May 2003, that: "There was to be no privatisation of Iraqi oil resources or facilities while I was involved."

Ariel Cohen, of the neo-conservative Heritage Foundation, told Newsnight that an opportunity had been missed to privatise Iraq's oil fields.

He advocated the plan as a means to help the US defeat Opec, and said America should have gone ahead with what he called a "no-brainer" decision.

Mr Carroll hit back, telling Newsnight, "I would agree with that statement. To privatize would be a no-brainer. It would only be thought about by someone with no brain."

New plans, obtained from the State Department by Newsnight and Harper's Magazine under the US Freedom of Information Act, called for creation of a state-owned oil company favoured by the US oil industry. It was completed in January 2004 under the guidance of Amy Jaffe of the James Baker Institute in Texas. . .”

View segments of Iraq oil plans

This plan worked. Not only are Iraq’s oil fields now controlled by Big Oil but oil profits have never been higher The ‘results are in’ according to Evelyn J Pringle:

“By the end of 2004, the big three American oil companies, ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobile, and ConocoPhillips, realized profits of $33.6 billion during Bush's first three years in office.

. . .On October 27, 2005, Reuter's reported that Exxon Mobil posted a quarterly profit of $9.9 billion, "the largest in U.S. corporate history, as it raked in a bonanza from soaring oil and gas prices." Exxon's record earnings topped the $9 billion net profit previously reported by Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Reuters said.

Exxon reported third-quarter net income up 75 percent from the year-ago period. "It was among the biggest quarterly profits of any company in history, and amounted to a per-minute profit of $74,879.23 during the quarter," according to the October 28, 2005 Wall Street Journal.

"Shell, the third largest oil company by market value behind Exxon and Britain's BP PLC, said its third-quarter net income rose 68 percent to $9.03 billion, on $76.44 billion in revenue," the Journal reported.

According to the Federal Energy Information Administration, the price of a gallon of regular gas in the same week the profits were announced, was up 28% from a year ago. Natural-gas prices have almost doubled in the past year and the EIA predicts that owners of gas-heated homes will see a 48% hike this winter over last year's already inflated prices, and homes heated with heating oil could see a 32% increase.”

Big Oil’s massive profits are at the expense of workers and poor peasants everywhere. Big Oil must be the main target of worker’s expropriation and control from Iraq, to Caracas to New Orleans!

posted by dave @ 8:24 PM 0 comments


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Friday, December 02, 2005
French Youth Make Paris Baghdad!

This article is a freely translated and adapted summary of parts of a longer article by the Internationalist Trotskyist Fraction (Fourth International).
We are grateful for the use of this material for which the responsibility of any errors of translation and interpretation is ours.

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FRANCE : ANTI-CAPITALIST AND ANTI-IMPERIALIST YOUTH REVOLT

For a General strike to defeat to the government of Chirac-Villepin- Sarkozy and to impose the demands of young workers, railworkers and all workers in struggle!


Long live the heroic revolt of young workers and their slogan "Every night we make Paris a Baghdad"!

For more than three weeks in October, cars, police stations, schools, and factories burned every night in the working class dormitories, called "Cités" of greater Paris and in more than 300 cities all over France. The spark that set alight the fire was the fatal electrocution of two young people of 17 and 15 years when they hid from pursuing police inside a high-tension transformer in Clichy-sous-Bois (department of Seine-Saint Denis, district 93), Paris. On Friday 28 October, a revolt of young workers began all over district 93. On the Sunday the CRS (police anti-riot) tear-gassed women and children in a mosque, and the Interior Minister Sarkozy went on TV and promised to ‘clean up the rubbish’ and the ‘scum’ ("racaille", or rascals) of the Cités. This reactionary response of the Government poured gasoline on the fire so that the revolt spread all over France.

This tremendous rebellion of young working people all over France was both anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist. To the shout of "This is like Iraq", and "Every night we make a Baghdad", youth took as their own fight the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses against the imperialistic occupation. It was also an anticapitalist revolt of youth for jobs that was inseparable from the resurgence of struggles of French, Belgium and Spanish working classes.

The rebellion was not Islamic. Islamic students did not join their rioting friends even when living in the same neighbourhood. Islamic Mullahs were brought in by the government to calm things down. The result was the burning of the main Mosque in Lyon. Nor is it the rebellion of the ‘marginalised’ or ‘poor’ that can be socially engineered out of existence. Capitalism does not exclude or or create poor people, except as a consequence of exploiting and oppressing workers, employed or unemployed. You cannot eliminate poverty without eliminating capitalism; or for starters Sarkosy!

The youth revolt opens a new stage in the fightback of European workers against the bosses reactionary attacks.

It is clear that the rioting youth are one of the most oppressed sections of the French working class - the reserve army of labour made up principally of migrant worker or their descendants. It is no accident that the youth revolt comes at the same time as other major working class struggles are building up in Europe. In France, the transport workers of Marseilles went on strike for 46 days. They have been joined by sailors of the Merchant Marine (SNCM), electricity workers of the EDF , and many other industrial struggles.

On November 21 a national strike of railworkers against privatization and for a wage increase began. This national strike could have become indefinite, but after Chirac promised not to privatise rail the workers voted not to continue the strike on the 24th. In Belgium, also in October the working class made two enormous active general strikes, while in Spain strong struggles are developing in particular that of the workers of SEAT.

All of these struggles threaten to break the tenuous grip that the ruling class has on Europe thanks to the treacherous reformists, stalinists and fake Trotskyists who so far have rallied workers to the utopia of a ‘social Europe’.

Down with the labour bureaucracies, servants of the European imperialistic bourgeoisies!

Those that give holiday speeches about the "Europe of the workers" and against the "Europe of Capital", today, when the rebellion of the young workers threatens to join forces with the striking Belgian working class and raises the spectre of a united European workers movement, try to isolate the youth and douse its rebellious spark for fear that it might spread into a prairie fire that can destroy the Europe of Capitalist Imperialism!

But even as they desparately try to hold back independent workers struggles by defending capitalist ‘democracy’ against ‘fascism’, the democratic imperialists, Chirac, Sarkody, Villepin etc have little faith in the ability of the reformists to hold back the rising tide of labour militancy. A year after calling on workers to vote for Chirac as the ‘democratic’ alternative to ‘fascist’ Le Pen, and months from the ‘victory’ of a ‘No’ vote against the ‘neo-liberal’ Europe, the Socialist Party, Communist Party, Workers Fight (LO) and the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) etc now see that Chirac and Sarkozy acting like fascist Le Pen. In desperation the SP and CP are using the fake Trotskyists LO and LCR to lend a spurious ‘revolutionary’ credibility to ‘restoring order’ and maintaining ‘social peace’ to keep alive their fading utopia of a 'social Europe'!

For a continental workers congress, of rank and file mandated delegates

But this fight has only just begun. The street fighting of rebellious youth has been suppressed for now. But it has already revealed 'emperor' Chirac to be naked. Not only him, but the reformists are naked too. What drove the youth to spontaneously revolt, the terrorism of the French police state, has but one cause – the crisis of French and European imperialism. This cause will not go away and must make the bosses state use more force to suppress and smash the emerging workers struggles.

It is no accident that the state of seige came into force on 21 November the same day that the national rail strike began. It has been extended for three months. The French imperialistic bourgeoisie is preparing to use state force to smash the growing anger of the working class which threatens to come together in a single torrent. If the treachery of the reformist leaders manages to isolate the heroic fighters of the working youth of France from the other struggles of workers, and brings about its defeat, the result will be a new slavery and "apartheid" against youth in the reserve army of labour.

The imperialistic bourgeoisies in the US and in Europe are driven to go on the offensive against their own workers. They can use the world wide reserve army to drive down wages and conditions at home.

The restoration of capitalism in China has created a vast pool of cheap labour of many millions of workers. In the former worker states of Eastern Europe, new "assembly plants" have been build to take advantage of the cheap labour. Smashing Afghanistan and occupying Iraq strengthens imperialism’s hold over the middle East and Central Asia where in India and Pakistan there are huge reserves of enslaved manual labor. European Imperialism has within a few kilometers of its coasts an massive labour reserve of hundreds of million workers in black Africa and the Magreb - many from which, risk their skins on the fences of Ceuta and Melilla trying to enter Europe to find work.

But even with this huge world-wide reserve of labour at its disposal, the European imperialist bourgeoisies must go on offensive to take back the most important gains won by their own workers. The crisis of the world economy has revived the rivalry between the US and the EU. To compete with the US, the EU must cut its labour costs also. The revolt of French working youth, to the shout of "Every night we make of Paris a Bagdad", it is a magnificent answer to these attacks, and joining forces with the railworkers strike, the two Belgian general strikes, the struggles of Spanish and German workers, makes it clear that the united fight of all European workers based on a Transitional Program must be the next step.

* Work for All! A sliding scale of working hours without loss of pay, equal pay for equal work, must be raised against the imperialistic regimes and governments.

* A great united action of workers over the continent, in support of the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses and for the military defeat of the Anglo-Yankee troops! For the immediate withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan!

* For the right to national self-determination of the oppressed peoples of Europe - Ireland, the Basque Country, Kosovo, Chechenia! For the right to self-determination of the colonies and semi-colonies of Europe in Africa and the Pacific!

* Smash the labour bureaucracy and its social imperialist parties that led to the betrayal of the former workers states, acting as bourgeois agents of the imperialists to make these countries capitalist semi-colonies!

* For the creation of a new world party of socialism to lead the fight for social revolution in Europe, and the recovery of the former workers states, and a Socialist United States of Europe, from Portugal to the Russian steppes!

posted by dave @ 9:52 PM 0 comments

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Monday, November 21, 2005
NZ Troops out of Afghanistan Now!

The withdrawal of some of the US troops from Afghanistan has put pressure on NATO seek further troops from NZ to add to the SAS troops already present.

In solidarity with the US Nationwide days of Action Dec 1-3 we call on worker militants to organise to get NZ troops out of Afghanistan and end NZ's involvement in the War Of Terror!

WAWOT has organised a 'teach-in' on the War Of Terror, Sunday, 4 December 2-4 pm Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road, Auckland.

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‘Teach-in’ in Solidarity with the US Nationwide Days of Action against Poverty, Racism and War, Dec 1-3.

“Building opposition in the labour movement to NZ’s role in the WOT as part of international labour movement.”

Sunday, December 4, 2-5 pm, Grey Lynn Community Centre, 510 Richmond Road, Auckland

Come along, discuss, debate and organise to get NZ troops out of Afghanistan! plus:

(1) Labour takes a leading role in the Dec 1-3 US Nationwide stoppage for the global anti-war movement! What about Aotearoa/NZ!

(2) Solidarity with the Iraqi Resistance and the building of fighting, democratic unions to lead the resistance. How can we help?

(3) Involving unions in local actions against NZ companies that are profiteering from the WOT - ANZ, Oscmar, etc.

(4) Organising labour to fight the Anti-terrorist legislation in NZ, Australia designed to repress working class anti-capitalist opposition.

Sponsored by WAWOT (Workers Against the War Of Terror)
We are a group of worker militants in unions or community organisations dedicated to defeating imperialist wars. We say that only organised labour has the power to stop bosses’ wars -
phone 027 2800080

posted by dave @ 12:16 PM 0 comments
Friday, November 04, 2005
Defeat Bush, Howard & Clark's War Of Terror!

Support the Dec 1 US National Day of Absence against Poverty, Racism and War!
NZ out of Afghanistan!
Stop ANZ war profiteering!
International Day of Solidarity with Venezuela, December 2!
Unite Workers Against the War Of Terror!

The US imperialist sheriff and his Deputy, John Howard, closely followed by the Deputy’s Dog, Helen Clark, are riding roughshod over the oppressed of this world. They are doing this because US imperialism and its weaker allies such as Australia, Britain and Italy, and its ‘good friends’ like NZ , must grab what is left of the world’s resources to overcome the crisis of monopoly capitalism caused by falling profits.

The cynical wars for ‘democracy’ and the ‘cancelled’ debt in Africa and Iraq are a cover for monopoly capitals plans to re-colonise the world. In the Pacific region the ‘peacekeeping’ role of Australia and NZ is a front for monopoly capitalism’s plunder of the Pacific’s economic resource base and reserve of migrant labour.

When this fails and resistance rises up against the WOT, domestic anti-terror laws are used to criminalize and jail political opponents of the WOT. To defeat the WOT it is necessary for workers to mobilize internationally against the roots of the WOT, the crisis-ridden global capitalist economy that threatens to destroy humanity and nature.

War Of Terror
Bush and his neo-cons planned the WOT well before 9/11 to occupy Afghanistan and get a strangle hold on the Central Asian oilfields. Then they lied about WMD to invade Iraq to gain control of Iraqi oil from China, Russia and the EU, and bust the OPEC cartel.

The new Iraqi Constitution guarantees Big Oil like Exxon-Mobil, Shell etc around 80% control of Iraqi oil. Big Oil is backed up by the IMF, WB and the JP Morgan Chase bank consortium (which includes ANZ ) to ‘reconstruct’ Iraq along the lines of a free market where monopoly corporates like Halliburton, Bechtel etc., can rip off the tiny share of oil wealth left in the hands of Iraqis.

The scandal of ‘kickbacks’ paid to Saddam Hussein during the UN imposed ‘oil for food’ scheme in the 1990s is a smokescreen designed to blame companies like Fonterra which supplied vital imports during the embargo which killed a million Iraqis, and to cover up the ruthless imperialist multibillion dollar plunder of Iraq planned in the 1990s and now being put in place.

The imperialist posse is using the WOT to invade, terrorise and recolonise oil rich and mineral rich countries. Not just pre-emptive wars against Afghanistan, Haiti and Iraq, but the threat of preventative war against Cuba, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe. The US justifies this mounting genocide, terror and torture as a war for ‘democracy’ against Islamic ‘fundamentalism’, ‘drug cartels’ or ‘rogue states’ for which they themselves are responsible.

From the Taliban and Saddam Hussein to Castro, Chavez and Aristide their regimes are the product of US imperialist policies that created the oppressive conditions out of which they emerged as allies or opponents.

The WOT has got nothing to do with ‘democracy’ and everything to do with eliminating ‘rogue’ nationalist regimes and imposing imperialism’s dictatorship under the cover of ‘democracy’. Thus the recent Iraqi Constitution was dictated by the US to guarantee continued control of Iraq oil by Big Oil and Big Banks.

Anti-terror torture laws
Imperialism and its allies suppress rising opposition at home with draconian anti-terror laws that allow the arrest, incarceration and torture of ‘suspects’ without legal rights. Blair used the London bombings to immediately suspend basic civil rights and authorised a ‘shoot to kill’ policy the led to the killing of the Brazilian migrant worker John Charles de Menezes.

Bush’s FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Authority) was empowered to suspend civil rights in the emergency of the aftermath of Katrina. Workers can be drafted to work gangs and shot for ‘looting’ food and water for their survival while the corporates move in to profiteer from the reconstruction of New Orleans just like they do in Iraq!

Emboldened by Bush, Howard has used the hysteria following recent bombings in Indonesia to deport a visiting US non-violent protest advocate, and to rush through anti-terror laws that include suspension of habeas corpus and ‘shoot-to-kill’.

NZ rapidly passed anti-terror laws legislation modeled on US and UK laws to earn its share of the spoils that fall off the imperialists table. In the Ahmed Zaoui case it used ‘intelligence’ passed on by the French state that fought a bloody colonial war against Algeria to lock up Zaoui as a suspect terrorist. NZ remains an integral part of ‘Echelon’ the US imperialist spy network that monitors internet communications (protest at Waihopai.

Attack on Labor
At the same time the imperialists and their allies impose new labour laws to smash the unions and defeat organised labour as it begins to mobilize against the WOT. Bush found bipartisan allies in the AFL-CIO to block the Million Worker March against the war in Iraq during the last Presidential election campaign.

US corporates are outsourcing most of their production and for twenty years have used bankruptcy laws to close plants, cut jobs, wages and conditions of their remaining US workers in steel, airline and auto industries.

After abandoning the poor people of New Orleans, Bush suspended labour and health and safety laws to rebuild New Orleans with poor, migrant workers. New Orleans his is a metaphor for US imperialism’s attacks on its own workers rights, wages and social security. The vast majority of US workers are not covered by any decent public health or pension entitlements while CEOs payouts are in the millions of dollars.

Howard’s workplace ‘reforms’ are designed to smash the unions and put workers on individual contracts so they have no power to prevent the complete erosion of their past gains like overtime and holiday pay. Ina this way Howard hopes to follow NZ’s lead in the 1990s in cutting labour costs and boosting the profits of monopoly capital. Clark’s new Labour led government has moved right in agreements with NZ First and United Future. NZ First will try to shut down the border to migrant workers and refugees.

Fight the WOT as a class war!
The WOT is a continuation of imperialist neo-colonial politics which is itself the symptom of the global economic crisis. To restore profits, imperialism must cut costs.

This is what is behind the ‘drive to the bottom’ – the sourcing of the cheapest supplies of raw materials and labour world wide by monopoly banks, energy corporations and manufacturers. The effect is to concentrate and centralise production and destroy the forces of production. Nature is depleted and exhausted and the surplus population is killed off by endemic disease, overwork or genocide.

There is nothing ‘progressive’ about imperialist globalisation and free trade or investment! In China today, the restoration of capitalism has created a huge multimillioned reserve army to boost the profits of monopoly capital. Despite the problems of the former state economy the masses’ needs were better served than by the capitalist world market.

The only way to defeat imperialist destruction of humanity is to eliminate its roots in the capitalist system and replace it with a socialist planned society. Fighting back against the imperialist military machine, and mutinies within imperialist armies, can inflict defeats but they cannot win a decisive victory.

The world proletariat must fight a class war to politicise the masses, win over the rank and file of the imperialist armies, and occupy and control vital economic resources. The vital steps towards this socialist revolution are workers’ and peasants’ militias, a popular constituent assembly and workers ownership and control of production, distribution and exchange.

Victory to Iraq and Venezuela!
Leading the fightback today is the armed resistance and rebuilt unions of Iraq, and the workers movement of Venezuela. Here the defence of national self-determination can only be realised by the mobilisation of the workers to found their own state and plan for a socialist economy.

Victory to Iraq! For a Popular Constituent Assembly!
US reparations for reconstruction!
Big Oil, Big Banks Out! Bush Out!
For workers control of the reconstruction of New Orleans!
US Hands Off Venezuela!
No Venezuelan Oil for the WOT!
End the US blockade of Cuba!
Destroy Guantanamo!
US and Latin American troops out of Haiti! Reinstate Aristide!
Bring down the Howard Government!
No WOT laws!
No workplace reform!
NZ Labour out of Afghanistan!
Occupy and Nationalise Air NZ under workers’ control!
No to FTAs with Chile, China and the US!
Socialise Big Oil, Big Banks and MNCs!
For Workers’ and Peasants’ Governments!
United States of Socialist Republics of the Pacific!

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Build and International Workers opposition to the WOT!
International solidarity with the December 1st US Nationwide Strike against Poverty, Racism and War!
International Day of Solidarity with Venezuela, December 2nd!

WAWOT (Workers Against the War on Terror) 027 2800080

posted by dave @ 3:59 PM 1 comments

red rave is the loud mouth of members of the Communist Workers' Group of Aotearoa/New Zealand committed to building a new communist international to lead workers to the revolutionary overthrow of global capitalism
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# Film Review: Brokeback Mountain
# Caracas: Meeting of the 6th Counter-revolutionary World Social Forum
# Chile - Declaration on the El Teniente Strike
# Iraqi, Venezuelan and US workers can unite to shut down US Big Oil’s War!
# French Youth Make Paris Baghdad!
# NZ Troops out of Afghanistan Now!
# Defeat Bush, Howard & Clark's War Of Terror!
# Why spoil your ballot when you aint got no bullet?
# VICTORY TO IRAQ!
# Gulf Crisis: International Workers Unite to take up the offers of help from Chavez and Castro
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