Friday, June 26, 2009


Iran in the last few weeks has been in a political ferment as tens of thousands mobilised around the dispute between the two leading factions of the Iran national bourgeoisie who both represent the rightwing Islamic regime that came to power in 1979. This dispute is about how best to control the masses and how best to gain control of a share of Iran’s wealth in significant deals done with Japan, Germany, Russia and China. The spark that ignited deep dissatisfaction against the Islamic regime among youth and organized labor was what they saw as an election stolen by Ahmadinejad. The mass rallies and repression then escalated over several weeks into a major crisis in which a more politically conscious element came to the fore and raised the demand for the end of the ISI (Islamic regime) and for a ‘democracy’. At this point Rafsanjani began to make overtures to Khamenei to restore social peace and defend the Islamic regime. We argue here that workers need a revolutionary leadership to complete the revolution that was betrayed and smashed in 1979. There is no halfway house of ‘democracy’ that does not become a ‘slaughterhouse’ of the masses. The revolution must be ‘permanent’ and for that there must be a revolutionary party and program based on the Leninist-Trotskyist program of 1938.

The revolution betrayed

Iran has long been a strategic prize for imperialism as a historical power pivotal between Europe and Asia. The imperialist countries squabbled over Iran early in the 20th century. Today this rivalry is hotting up again as the structural crisis of the global economy is bringing about a renewed period of inter-imperialist rivalry. At stake are Iran’s oil and gas resources (second largest reserves in the OECD) and access Central Asian oil. The British lost control of Iran oil when Mossadegh came to power after WW 2. But as he moved toward the USSR he was overthrown by a US sponsored coup in 1953 and the pro-US Shah installed. A national revolution against this US puppet rose up on 1979 but was diverted by the reactionary Islamic clerical bourgeois faction led by the Ayatollah Khomeini into a counter-revolutionary Islamic regime.

The tragedy of the 1979 revolution showed that Iran was ripe for revolution but lacked a revolutionary leadership. The workers and poor peasants were the force behind the anti-Shah revolution, but were led by liberals and Stalinists who allied with the Islamic national bourgeoisie who by 1981 had turned on the most advanced workers and exterminated many thousands of the best militants. The failure of the socialist revolution can be clearly blamed on the role of the Stalinist Tudeh party which following the fatalist Stalinist line of making a democratic revolution in alliance with the ‘progressive’ bourgeoisie to kick out the imperialists. The Stalinists refused to learn from their betrayal of the revolution in China in 1927 when their ‘ally” and honorary member of the Comintern, Chiang Kai Shek, turned on the Communist Party and massacred its leadership.

Playing an equally bad role but this time adventurist rather than fatalist, the Maoist and Guevaraist guerillas thought that they could spark off a popular insurrection that would take over the historic role of the national bourgeoisie. Of course the Islamic leadership obeyed its own laws of motion, its collective hip pocket, and despite the anti-imperialist rhetoric, recognised that its class interests lay in doing deals with imperialism, and so turned on and smashed not only the treacherous leadership of the working class, but the heroic vanguard.

Today, nearly 30 years after the Islamic clerical counter-revolution, we have a split in the Islamic bourgeoisie between two factions who are squabbling over their share of the profits from the privatization of state assets and FDI in oil and gas assets. Both factions are committed to wholesale privatization and a greater role for FDI in oil and gas production.

The dominant faction, that of Khamenei/Ahmadinejad is a rightwing populist faction that continues to follow the Islamic ‘revolutionary’ principles of the 1979 revolution. It mobilises the rural and working class poor around an Islamic nationalism against US imperialism and Zionism in a bloc mainly with Russia, China, India etc, along with the Bolivarian states, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador. Its nationalist rhetoric is designed to suppress resistance on the part of Iran’s poor workers and peasants who have suffered massive cuts to their living standards under Iran’s IMF-supervised structural adjustment program.

The other faction, around Rafsanjani/Mousavi is no less committed to privatization and DFI in the economy, but presents a more liberal program of social welfare and protected living standards. It is based on the urban middle class and some sectors of workers and favors a modernized Islamic state that can do deals with ‘democratic’ EU and US imperialism. Most prominent in support of the opposition against the existing regime are the university students and prominent union activists in the Teachers Union of Iran and the Teheran Bus Drivers Union, both of which have suffered repression of strike action from 2005 to the present.

Who does the reformist left back in this fight?

Those who see the US as the main enemy (or like Petras see the US as a pawn of the Israelis) back the rightwing populists because they think they are genuinely anti-imperialist. This is a lie. The regime is not anti-imperialist. !t uses anti US and anti-Zionist sentiment cynically to control the impoverished masses. In principle the regime has no objection in doing deals with the US and UK but since these countries have imposed the UN economic embargo on Iran, they play the role of foreign “devils” to arouse nationalist sentiment. They play this role well being the two powers who have dominated Iran in modern history. Today they lead the attack on Iran’s nuclear program. UK banks have frozen Iran’s accounts. The US pressures Sarkosy to boycott Iran. This has lost the French Total a major oil and gas contract which has gone instead to China.

Germany, however, has broken ranks and is stepping up its FDI in Iran, mainly to provide technical development in oil and gas production. It is desperate to get gas from a source other than Russia. Iran moreover is very keen to develop the “Persian Pipeline” to take its gas via Turkey to the EU. Japan, also a major imperialist power, is a major export partner. Not only that, Iran is open for business with Russia, China, India etc., a powerful bloc of nations, including Japan, increasingly drawn into economic competition with the US and EU. Most of FDI in Iran developing its oil and gas resources today is now Chinese. Russia refuses to stop cooperating in Iran’s nuclear development. Thus the anti-imperialism of the ruling faction is a smokescreen to contain the masses while the Islamic bourgeoisie pockets its oil and gas profits.

This is why the leadership of the World Social Forum backs this faction. Chavez has come out (on Alo Presidente on 21 June) in support of the Iranian populists. “We send a greeting to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's great president, to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and to the Iranian people. We ask the world to respect Iran because they are trying to undermine the Iranian revolution's strength." This shows that the Venezuelan Bonapartist recognises his class interests are the same as the right wing populist Ahmadinejad. Chavez sees the ability of the Bolivarian states in pressuring US imperialism to reduce the costs of the crisis of finance capital being downloaded on the semi-colonial world as strengthened by the bloc of states allied to Russia, China and Iran. It doesn’t matter that the regimes in these countries are rightwing populist or state capitalist Bonapartist since what is critical is containing the masses behind an anti-US imperialist wave of public opinion so that an anti-US bloc of states can put pressure on the US ruling class towards ‘multilateral’ or ‘multipolar’ world.

Those who think that imperialism can be democratic and peaceful back the modernizing faction. As we have seen Rafsanjani/Mousavi are no more anti-imperialist than the present regime. However, they are openly aligned to Obama and the EU as what they see as ‘democratic’ imperialists. This explains the widespread sympathy for Mousavi and the claim that the election was rigged by all those liberal and ‘social democratic’ and left movements in the imperialist countries.

The left leg of the WSF (IMT etc) covers for Chavez support of the right populists by backing the 'democratic' rights of the protesters, covering Chavez naked backside with the call for a national democratic front in the form of a “constituent assembly”. They hope to "pressure" the WSF popular front to the left as Chavez tends to the right. They do not see their position as contradictory as they operate with the concept of the popular front that pretends that the working class can prevail against the bourgeoisie in a Bonapartist regime.

Alan Woods of the IMT explains Chavez’ support of Ahmadinejad as a “mistake”. Similarly, he does not think that James Petras is deliberately attacking Iranian workers. He too is “mistaken”. What is their mistake? The mistake is to think that Iran is like the populist regimes in Latin America. According to Woods, Iran is an Islamic dictatorship. The regime is a military Bonapartism not a Latin American populism. What Woods fails to see is that Chavez and Petras are correct in essence. Venezuela and Iran are essentially the same despite their surface appearances. And for that reason they are forced to expose the reality under the appearances. Both regimes are forms of Bonapartism which attempts to include the poor masses directly as the ‘subjects’ of the revolution. In Latin America it is a ‘popular front’ for Bolivarian revolution; in Iran it is an Islamic Republic.

The concept that unites all of these regimes and reveals their popular front character is that of the Marxist concept of Bonapartism. A Bonapartist regime is one that claims to be ‘national’ rather than class based and draws its support from a declassed ‘populism’. The Marxist concept of ‘popular front’ is a class critique of ‘populism’ which exposes the role of the ruling class in disguising its class interests with a ‘classless’ formula. Such regimes range between ‘left’ Bonapartism such as Chavez when the leader is able to contain the masses by social reforms, to ‘right’ Bonapartism such as Ahmadinejad, where counter-reforms are imposed upon the masses in the 'national' interest. Thus in the last analysis, Bonapartism is a bourgeois regime that is necessarily pushed to the right as imperialism imposes the costs of its global crisis onto the semi-colonial world. The role of Bonapartism is to divert the working class from independent self-organisation to face the onset of the fascist counter-revolution.

Like the fake Trotskyist left leg of the WSF, the Iranian pseudo-revolutionary left generally supports the modernizers against the ‘dictator’. They recognise that while both factions are part of the ISI but the opposition has set in motion a popular fight for democracy to bring the 1979 ICI regime to an end. For example the Workers Communist Party of Iran is a small party that has many supporters outside Iran including Iraq, and is very active on the internet. It takes a reformist posture adhering to a stageist conception of the revolution. In Iraq for example it called on the UN to replace US imperialism under the illusion that the UN would represent ‘democratic’ imperialism.

In Iran the WCI raises immediate demands but does not call for socialism yet. That comes later…
This is a dangerous position as it does not prepare workers for the insurrection. It does not explain that their 10 immediate democratic demands which include freedom of assembly, release of political prisoners and end of torture etc., cannot be won short of a socialist revolution. It does not explain how workers need to being organizing and arming now to win that revolution. Therefore to the extent that it influences the vanguard, it runs the danger of repeating the betrayal of the Tudeh and the guerrillaists of 1979.

What position should revolutionaries take in this fight?

Revolutionaries back neither bourgeois faction but instead back the fight for the political independence of the working class. We explain that there can be no national independence from imperialism without the working class leading that fight all the way to socialism. For this we need a program for a real Socialist Republic.

Our program is first, to defend the democratic rights of workers, peasants, students etc to vote, to demonstrate, for freedom of expression in the media and on the streets etc. This includes freedom of all political prisoners, freedom of religion, opposition to Sharia law, etc. Without these democratic rights it is not possible to organize openly an independent working class movement.

We also defend the national rights of Iranians to be free from the oppression of imperialism but say that only a Socialist Republic can do this.

To that end we form a united front with those who are protesting the outcome of the election whether or not it was rigged, but without an ounce of political support to the modernizers who have illusions in imperialism. We do not renounce this fight for democratic rights under the delusion that this weakens the rightwing populist credentials as anti-imperialist. As we have seen this is a fraud. The regime is making deals with Japan and Germany every month, and with Russia and China.

Second, we demand a program that will meet the needs of workers, peasants etc particularly facing an economic crisis and state repression, for jobs for all, a living wage, decent housing, education and social security.

Third, we say to workers that to win these democratic rights, to organize an economy that can meet workers needs, it will be necessary to take power. Workers must strike and occupy their workplaces, arm and defend themselves. There can be no compromise with the bourgeoisie of any faction. No trust can be placed in any of the institutions of the state, especially the military and the justice system.

Fourth, this means that workers have to organize their own assemblies around workplaces and universities, and coordinate regionally and nationally. We call on poor peasants to organize their own “shora” and for the ranks of the military to organize their rank and file “shora”. These “shora” have to be defended by armed workers, peasants and rank and file soldiers.

Inside these “shora” revolutionaries have to fight for the leadership around a Leninist-Trotskyist program of world socialist revolution to defeat the traitors of the world social forum.

For a Workers and Poor Peasants Government

Finally, to express the interests of the workers, the poor peasants and students, we call for the formation of a Workers’ and Poor Peasants Government, i.e. the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

We do not accept that to mobilise the forces for revolution that it is necessary to call first for a Constituent Assembly which is a form of bourgeois regime that recognises the right of the bourgeoisie to have an equal vote with workers. This is a Menshevik concession to Stalinist stagism and a vote of no-confidence in the revolutionary capacity of the working class and its vanguard. It is another form of the popular front which entraps workers and poor peasants inside a bourgeois regime.

A Workers’ and Poor Peasants’ Government is the Government of those classes who are exploited by the bourgeoisie, and of the petty bourgeoisie who prove themselves loyal to the revolution. The only form of Socialist Republic that we recognise is the Dictatorship of the Proletariat.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Workers of General Motors, occupy and take control of your workplace!

The dismantling of the American auto industry, the US government’s bailout of a bankrupt GM, and the deal being cut with the UAW to savage a diminished workforce, if carried out according to Obama’s plan, will be a historic defeat for the working class, with far-reaching consequences. The UAW leadership, which long ago abandoned class struggle methods for classic business unionism, knows it can save its bureaucracy’s privileged position, which enjoys all the perks of Stalinist-era commissars, by selling out the membership, cutting the workers’ pay and benefits, and accepting mass lay offs. Meanwhile, there is not even a glimmer on the horizon of the new industrial jobs desperately needed to build the “green economy.”

The American auto worker’s pay and benefit package (known as the “gold standard for labor”) was won by hard-fought battles on the picket lines, backed by heroic acts of solidarity on the part of tens of thousands of union members, together with their families and communities. Victory could not have been achieved without efforts such as the six-week factory occupations at the Flint Chevrolet and Fisher Body plants in 1937, and the “Battle of the Overpass” at the Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Complex later that same year.

Those historic battles ended in victories for the entire working class, as other industrial and manufacturing workers set their sights on, and fought for, equivalent benefit packages to those won at the “Big Three.” American workers became accustomed to the promise and expectation of vacation pay, lifelong medical benefits, pensions, and a “decent” paycheck. The working class became redefined, in the public discourse and in workers’ own consciousness, as a new “middle class.” Ironically, in part because of their own past victories, workers no longer identified themselves as a class condemned to sell their labor power to the owner of the means of production. The Marxist concept of class, defined by relationship to the means of production, had been displaced in workers’ minds by a concept of class defined by income level.

Meanwhile, a witch-hunt was loosed upon the left within the unions, resulting in the displacement of left-leaning organizers by “loyal” careerists, and even criminals, as union officers. Workers had little natural sympathy for the majority Stalinist left that was still trying to peddle the class peace they had sold the UAW in wartime, so no one noticed the “speedup” at first—or so the story goes. Consequently, business unionism displaced militant trade unionism, and “labor relations” became both an academic discipline and a profession committed to binding labor to capital. The end result was a commitment to capitalism, on the part of the rising cadre of business union bureaucrats, that labor had stopped playing hardball. The crimes of the turncoat labor parasite caste against workers here at home are outweighed only by their role in tying the subjective allegiance of American workers to the overseas exploits, wars, and military interventions of imperialism. These labor fakers traded on the workers of the world for their bowl of porridge. We must demand and fight for a democratic rank and file leadership, with wages and benefits capped at the level of the best paid workers in the union!

Busily selling the “middle class” hype to their members, these labor “leaders” never seriously challenged the Taft-Hartley Act (which, among many other anti-labor provisions, prevents unions from launching sympathy strikes). Our dues and energy should have been used not only to force the repeal of Taft-Hartley, but also to organize the unorganized, educate our membership, build strike funds, and launch a fighting Workers’ Party. Instead, for decades the unions’ parasitic rulers wasted our dues dollars and volunteered our energy electing Democratic Party “friends of labor,” who can’t ever deliver anything of real value to working people (e.g., the ERA, single-payer health care, EFCA, etc.), and who have promoted—and billed us for—every imperialist military action in our history. Meanwhile, generations of labor leaders became accustomed to living the good life along with their corporate counterparts. Now, today, when labor needs to recapture its militant traditions and to fight like hell, the UAW leadership is giving it all away without a shot being fired.

General Motors has announced it is firing another 29,000 American UAW members. Workers fear for their pensions; they see their neighbourhoods abandoned to foreclosures; schools and the social safety net are being destroyed. And what do the “friends of labor” in the White House and Congress have to offer these and the other millions of unemployed? Despite the fact that between them, the UAW and the US government will own a large share of “New GM,” neither the union nor the federal government will be making any use of the leverage this could give them over the company’s future plans.

Revolutionary Marxists do not advocate the nationalization of industries under the control of pro-capitalist governments, rather than under the direct control of the working class. But workers should be told the truth: that the Obama administration, despite its ostensible commitment to the environment and to creating badly-needed “green economy” jobs for US workers, has bent over backwards to avoid even the slightest appearance of nationalizing the company for the benefit of society as a whole. Instead of taking an active role in setting a new direction for New GM, the Obama administration has made it clear that all will remain business as usual. The government will assuming the risk, but retain no decisionmaking power; the workers will make the lion’s share of the sacrifices; and any eventual profit will go straight into the pockets of management and the shareholders.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration boasts in its Fact Sheet on the GM deal that “[t]he UAW has made important concessions on compensation and retiree health care. . . . In virtually every respect, the concessions that the UAW agreed to are more aggressive than what the Bush Administration originally demanded in its loan agreement with GM.” Among other things, the $20 billion that GM owes the UAW for retiree pensions and benefits will not be paid. Instead, the existing pension and benefit trust will be replaced by a new trust that will be given a bunch of currently worthless stock in New GM. This places the UAW in a total conflict of interest with its own members. If the value of New GM stock does not go up, the stock owned by the pension trust will continue to be worthless, and UAW retirees will lose their benefits. But in order for the stock value to rise, New GM will have to make as much profit as possible—on the backs of current UAW members! That is, the UAW’s bureaucracy, as one of the owners of New GM, has a direct interest in increasing the exploitation of the union’s members in order to raise the value of the pension trust’s stock!

To make matters worse, even though the trust will own 17.5% of New GM, it will only have the right to select one independent director, and will have none of the other normal shareholder rights. In other words, instead of taking advantage of its position as one of GM’s major creditors to demand that New GM remake itself into a source of green economy jobs, the UAW has given up any claim to having a say in the company’s future that is proportionate to the trust’s ownership. Meanwhile, the only “green economy jobs” measure to which GM has agreed is the token concession that it will use one idled plant in the US to build a new small car model. This will increase GM’s domestic production by a measly four percentage points.

Who Stands to Gain?

GM’s secured lenders, who stand to benefit from the bankruptcy deal, include Citibank and JP Morgan Chase. These and the other organs of global finance capital have historically exploited and oppressed our brothers and sisters in Africa, Latin America and Asia even more than they have US workers.

Consider all those cell phones, ipods, laptops, and other high-tech toys. Much of the metal for their components came from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). JP Morgan Chase, through its major share in Anglo American Mining has been extracting these metals from the DRC in competition with other banks. The result has been an ongoing war in the DRC since 1996 which has killed over 4 million people.

And working people should never forget that it was Citibank which financed the 1973 overthrow of the democratically elected government in Chile. In the course of that coup, Pinochet and his goons herded thousands into stadiums and executed them.

Obama talks about “change” and a “new beginning,” but what we see is the final nail being placed in the coffin of the “gold standard of labor” by the unholy alliance of Obama, the UAW leadership, and representatives of big finance capital like JP Morgan Chase and Citibank.
Stagnation of the US economy and falling profits

For the past 20 years, the rate of inflation may have been kept nominally low, but in real terms, workers’ wages have fallen. In the struggle to maintain and keep their families afloat, workers resorted to taking loans against their homes, and got into hock up to their ears to credit card companies at usurious rates of interest. What did the banks do with the surplus cash they extracted from workers as interest? Unless it was invested, this capital would have had no value. The banks found these usurious loans and the “financial instruments” that were derived from them more profitable than actual productive investment, thus they offered more and more loans. After the market crash in 2000, the banks were forced to lend at cheaper rates. To make the same profits their shareholders had become accustomed to, they had to issue more loans. A saturation point was finally reached where workers could not afford any more loans, and started to drown under this excessive debt. At the same time, unsecured speculative lending and recklessly risky investments in derivatives left banks wildly overleveraged.

Now the US, European, and Japanese governments are bailing out the banks to the tune of trillions of dollars. But this means nothing in the context of a stagnant world economy. In order to extract more profit from the working class, we see the beginning of inter-imperialist rivalry that threatens to explode on an international scale as the race for raw materials and cheap labor pits the imperialists against each other. The massive displacement of manufacturing facilities into China and third world countries, to exploit the lower wages there and reap the benefit of the consequent higher rate of profit, has cut like a scythe through the gains of working class in the rest of the world. The crisis of the banks and the overall economy is so great that mass unemployment, which has risen to 9% in the US even by official estimates (meaning the real rate is closer to 16%), has not been enough to “stop the bleeding” and increase profits. These western finance capitalists running the US government, who have not hesitated to resort to wars, coups d’état, and punishing workers abroad, are now turning their guns on the American worker, stealing from our pensions, depriving us of medical care, and shredding the safety net for the poor and indigent.

What can workers do?

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy of GM has just been declared; there is still time to intervene!

We call on workers to organize factory committees to coordinate an immediate occupation of all GM plants and dealerships! Tear up the six-year no-strike pledge!

We can have no faith in the sell-out leadership of the UAW; only a revitalized democratic rank and file movement can lead us out of the crisis! An emergency delegated conference of representatives of factory committees must be convened to elect an entirely new union leadership.

Working class communities around the factories should be mobilized to defend the occupations; workers will need to prepare for self-defense against the reaction of the state!
The demand that will mobilize the rest of the working class to take solidarity actions must show the way out of the economic crisis.

Therefore we must demand: Nationalize GM under workers’ control and without compensation! Open the books to give workers full access to all financial information about their company! Workers must take control of all “bailout” funds used to shore up the company. Not a single worker should be laid off. All work should be shared among all those who can work, without loss of pay.

But we need workers’ control to make this happen. It is only under workers’ control that the auto plants can be transformed and retooled to manufacture the infrastructure for green power (e.g., wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles) and clean and ubiquitous public transport (e.g., electric bullet trains and light rail systems). The workers could hire any specialists, such as engineers and designers, that they deem necessary to assist the transition.

Occupations of auto factories aimed at implementing these demands will inspire the entire working class to follow suit, and will be a beacon to the workers of the world, even in China. The international economic crisis is propelling the working class around the world, in countries like France, Greece, and Peru, into massive struggles.

If the UAW rank-and-file undertake mass actions like sit-ins; if they fight for workers’ control and confront the state and its forces of repression as they did in the 1930s, this will provide inspiration for every worker in the world, particularly the many workers in the semi-colonies who produce parts for GM. Nothing could be more inspiring than seeing a key sector of the workers in the belly of the beast take the lead in the struggle to smash US imperialism.

Around the world, every workplace needs to set up factory committees, and these committees need to be united with delegate council meetings in each industrial area, right up to national and ultimately international level. Such structures would be the precursor to the launching of a fighting workers’ party in the US that unites workers across nations, one that sees the struggles of the workers around the world as their own. This is a scenario out of which the Fourth International can be reborn, and all the power of JP Morgan Chase and Citibank be shown for naught, to be as fictitious as the capital their paper accounting purports to represent.

The capitalist class long ago ceased to be progressive. Only the working class has a material interest in rational planning for progressive growth of the productive forces. Capitalist anarchy is all that stands in the way. The time has come for the US working class to put its stamp on events and take a lead in the international struggle against capitalism.

In this struggle, the HRS, FLT and WIVL will be your ally!

Joint Leaflet of Humanists for Revolutionary Socialism (USA); Workers' International Vanguard League (South Africa); Leninist Trotskyist Fraction (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, New Zealand, Peru).

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Down with the World Economic Forum!



Every time we go into a super market, the prices have gone up; yet the world food prices have come down by 40% in recent months.

The food gang like Pick ‘n Pay, Shoprite, Woolworths, Spar, Tiger Brands, Pioneer and others, are making billions from overcharging us. All of these companies are owned by international banks. The profits of these same banks are falling; some of them, like Citibank and Merryll Lynch had to be bailed out with workers’ money in the United States. It is these banks that are deliberately pushing up food prices because, behind the scenes, they have a monopoly on food production and distribution, in the world!

Billions of people are being deliberately starved by these banks that the South African government is welcoming here with open arms. Of particular concern is that the SA government is now acting as the mouthpiece of imperialism by justifying the 34% increase in electricity which is nothing else but a legal scam for the self enrichment of US imperialist banks. The 34% increase is nothing else but putting the burden of the falling profits of the monopoly capitalists on the shoulders of the poor of the world.

Further we are concerned that Citibank and JP Morgan Chase are stealing US$ 6 billion ( About R50 Billion) of GM workers pension funds while retrenching 40 000 workers. We call for the expropriation of the imperialist banks and for them to be placed under workers control. We call on the workers of GM to occupy, resist and control their company. Further:

  • Citibank was involved in overthrowing the democratic government of Chile in 1973;
  • JP Morgan Chase is the major shareholder of Anglo American and the SA Reserve bank;
  • Merck profits by pushing the price of medicine up;
  • HP, Intel and JP Morgan Chase directly benefit from the war in the DRC where over 4 million people have died since 1996
  • ABB is an ‘economic hit-squad’ that makes money out of governments through projects like upgrading airports, building stadiums and power stations- all projects cost billions while millions are kept homeless

A group of activists and workers’ organizations met in Cape Town on Monday 1 June 2009 to discuss the crisis facing the working class today, namely that none of the unions or mass workers' organizations are waging a serious fight against starvation and poverty facing the working class. Millions are malnourished, many are dying of hunger and many do not have adequate clothing and shelter.

The first step was to form a new movement called UNITED STRUGGLES AGAINST STARVATION (USAS).

It was decided that the first action was to organise this mass protest at the World Economic Forum on Africa on the 10th June 2009 at the CTICC. The capitalists have the audacity to come here to openly plan their further plunder of Africa. We are calling on the working class to take up a sustained campaign against starvation.

Our demands are:

Decent Houses for all! Occupy vacant buildings and land!

Share the work among all who can work, without loss of pay!

No to retrenchments and closures! Sack the bosses! Occupy! Expropriate!

Increase all wages by a minimum of 30%, wages to increase when prices do;

Expropriate all the food producers and distributors, under workers’ control!

Establish a national non-profit food distributor, under workers’ control!

Expropriate and centralise all banks, under workers’ control!

Replace all union leadership with representatives who are prepared to fight the capitalists! Call a national council of workers’ delegates and unemployed to co-ordinate the fight

Establish workers’ defence committees against attacks by the state

Capitalism is the crisis, working class power the solution!

All workplaces and working class communities are called on to elect delegates to send them to our meetings. USAS 10.6.09


Mitchell’s Plain Jean Beukes ph 0837213966; Cape Town –Salt River Shaheed Mahomed ph 0822020617; Atlantis Barbara Rass ph 0733150304; Athlone David Appolis ph 0733863582; Seawinds-Retreat-Steenberg Yolanda Anderson de Monk ph 0835234199

Kuilsriver Sarah Fabie ph 0724225182; Parkwood Eleanor Hoedemaker ph 0730122009; Khayelitsha:Loyiso S’Donga ph0731300018

Friday, June 05, 2009

South Africa: State of Nation address shows the ANC is still pro-imperialist

The state of the nation address by the new President, Zuma, shows that the ANC's pro-imperialist role is set to continue and that the working class will carry the burden of the crisis of profits of the capitalists.

1. Municipal work is privatised on a mass scale by the implementation of the so-called public works programme; instead of employing full-time municipal workers, temporary work is created. Although within weeks these jobs are over, the ANC government (with the full support of Statssa) somehow counts these as 'jobs' created, even misleading the public that 4 million jobs will be created until 2014. This makes a mockery of the supposed commitment to 'sustainable' jobs. The Cosatu leadership are cheerleaders of this type of privatization of municipal work.

2. More sinister, though, is that this provides a cover for the monopolies to continue to retrench ( they may be asked to keep workers on for some weeks with a nominal training).

3. The food gang (Pick 'n Pay, Woolsworths, Shoprite, Spar, Tiger Brands, Pioneer, and others) are making billions in profits out of deliberately starving the masses, and to this, the ANC has no plan in place. International prices of wheat, rice and maize have fallen by 40% in recent months but food prices still continue to rise. The FAO (Food and Agricultural organization of the UN) admits that there is enough food but almost 1 billion people are starving purely because they cannot afford the high prices. The capitalists are reported to continue to create an artificial scarcity in food by deliberately planting less this year. The government is more worried about sports achievements than the hunger of the masses.

4. The National Health Insurance is another scam to extend the role of the private health sector into the public sector. This is another scheme to enrich the banks that thrive on control of private health care. In the USA over 34 million people are excluded from health insurance as their income is too low. The onset of the health insurance in the US led to a rise on health costs as the private sector that was tasked with handling major sections of the implementation, simply increeased their fees. The Cosatu leaders are once again cheerleaders of this attack by imperialism on our already collapsed health system. The health sector needs to be completely nationalized under workers'control, not further privatised through this health insurance scam.

5. The over R700 Billion for infrastructure will not be for needs of the working class but will act as a cash cow for imperialist companies- nowhere is this massive sum linked to houses for all, of for setting up of a national non-profit food distributor, etc. This money will go to imperialist companies who will build power stations that pollute and in fact capacity that is not needed.

6. Not surprising is the ANC continued commitment for a bantustan for Palestinians (a so-called 2 state solution)- in this the ANC are the direct mouthpiece of imperialism, against the Palestinian masses. The recent study by reformist Levine shows that any '2-state' proposal is not possible.

7. Nowhere does the ANC tackle Anglo American for their role in the war in the DRC- how many people must die before the working class takes international action against imperialism. [already over 4 million people have died since 1996 in the war in the DRC).

8. The ANC repeats the Millienium goals, which are excuses of imperialist agencies like the UN to provide a cover to postpone meeting the needs of the working class now, while capital makes massive profits. Trillions of dollars are used to bail out the greedy banks but the few billion needed to feed the world, no-one is prepared to part with. 'Let them die' is the message from the capitalists and their agents in government.

9. The ANC is pledging to support agents of imperialism to suppress the masses in Madagascar; where is the Cosatu leadership in supporting the heroic fight of the working class in Madagascar.

We need to unite the working class, both employed and unemployed to continue the fight against capitalism and their system. Clearly a new leadership is needed in Cosatu, who is prepared to fight in a real way, and not just symbolically. Activists are being arrested on false charges of public violence, in the middle of winter the homeless in Delft are left to freeze on the pavement, activists are being shot at in the night by veiled gunmen; the working class must get organised, nationally and internationally to fight.

Our demands are:
Decent Houses for all! Occupy vacant buildings and land!
• Share the work among all who can work, without loss of pay!
• No to retrenchments and closures! Sack the bosses! Occupy! Expropriate!
• Increase all wages by a minimum of 30%, wages to increase when prices do;
• Expropriate all the food producers and distributors, under workers’ control!
• Establish a national non-profit food distributor, under workers’ control!
• Expropriate and centralise all banks, under workers’ control!
• Replace all union leadership with representatives who are prepared to fight the capitalists! Call a national council of workers’ delegates and unemployed to co-ordinate the fight
• Establish workers’ defence committees against attacks by the state
• Capitalism is the crisis, working class power the solution!

Organise or starve

Workers International Vanguard League
1st Floor, Community House, 41 Salt River rd, Salt River, South Africa 7925