Sunday, April 30, 2006

Mayday 06! One Class! One Fight! Occupy, it’s our right! Global Solidarity with the US Migrant workers Strike!

by Communist Workers Group

On this day ever since the hanging of four workers in Chicago in 1886, arising out of a strike for the 8 hour day, workers around the world have come together in marches, rallies and strikes, to celebrate their common membership of an international working class that continues to struggle against all its class enemies for its emancipation from the chains of capitalism.
The US Migrant workers strike today keeps this tradition alive!

One Class! One Fight!

The struggle continues because international capitalism cannot survive without a constant increase in the exploitation and oppression of every worker who produces its profits. In the process it destroys resources, steals land, closes factories and expels workers from production. Most destructive of all, it recruits jobless workers to go to war and invade countries like Afghanistan and Iraq to seize their scarce resources.

When workers resist and try to reclaim their countries, their resources, schools and factories, they are asserting their right to own and control the means of production necessary for life. Here we can see the common factor behind all of these struggles; it is the spontaneous fight of all those excluded from production or trapped in wage slavery, to assert their class independence and take control of the means of production to meet their basic survival needs.

Mayday 2006! Unite all the struggles around the world

Today, many such struggles are taking place around the world. Peasants are fighting to retain or get land; factory workers are fighting to survive closures; women workers are fighting to keep their families together and against violence; young workers are fighting for an education, and decent jobs, a living wage and social rights. Unemployed recruited into imperialist armies or warlords militias are refusing to follow orders. Iraqis, Afghans, Africans, Melanesians, Colombians etc., are resisting imperialist occupations and fighting for their national independence.

Peasants and agricultural workers in the Solomons and West Papua, in Bolivia and Brazil, India and China, Nigeria and South Africa, resist the removal of their land for capitalist agriculture, or extraction of oil, gas, timber or minerals etc. by the giant multinationals based in the imperialists countries. Many of these peasants are indigenous peoples who defend their own social relations and cultures. Their universal response to these attacks is to occupy the land! Take the land, and join forces with all workers to take the trucks, the ports and the banks!

Industrial workers, whose wages and conditions deteriorate under the increasing exploitation forced on them by the IMF, World Bank and WTO, resist in many countries. In Latin America, around a third of the work-age population is without work, and another third lives in the ‘black’ economy of undocumented, super exploited, virtual slave labor. Where workers are cast out of production, their instinct is to occupy. Turn all the occupations into expropriations!

Long live the strike of the 12 million US 'illegals'!

In the United States the 12 million undocumented ‘illegals’ have poured into the country from the South, West and East, and perform the most menial, dangerous and servile work. They are under immediate threat of being criminalised, arrested, deported, or turned into ‘guest’ workers regulated and repressed by Bush’s Department of Homeland Security. Wherever ‘illegals’ stand up and fight back they are criminalised and forced to occupy the Guantanamos of this world.

Long live the May 1st strike of ‘illegal’ workers!
We are all ‘illegals’!
Close down the Guantanamos!

Women workers continue to bear the brunt of the worst exploitation and oppression. On top of the burden of child care and support, women still do the low-paid, menial, insecure work. As the capitalist crisis of the 80s and 90s has shifted much industry from core capitalist states to the ‘third’ world, women have filled many such jobs in the maquiladores of Latin America, the shantytowns of Africa, and factory dormitories of China and India, and borne the brunt of family breakdown, rape and murder. Because of this women take the lead in struggles for land rights, indigenous rights, factory occupations, and human rights. They are asserting their right to break out of domestic slavery and to take ownership and control of the means of production.

Liberate the woman worker!
Abolish domestic slavery!

Young workers are also among the most vulnerable, facing, unemployment, discrimination and ‘precarity’ - lack of job security. In December of last year the unemployed youth of the migrant communities in France rebelled against the police as the agents of imperialist repression. In March of this year university students, high school students and workers in auto, rail, and the state sector took to the streets to stop the latest reactionary labor law giving bosses’ freedom to hire and fire young workers. They occupied universities, schools, and blocked railways and roads to prove that they too can take over and control, if only symbolically for now, the means of production, distribution and exchange.

Occupy the schools and universities under student/worker control!
For free education to all! Jobs for all!

Soldiers are workers or peasants in uniform, drafted to fight the wars of their bosses by killing and looting the peoples of the colonies and semi-colonies. They are mainly poor, unemployed youth drawn from peasant, migrant, or stateless families. Where these troops refuse to obey orders the capitalist military machine collapses. In recent years, in Bolivia, Venezuela and Iraq, some conscripts have mutinied against their officers and sided with the masses.

For rank-and-file control of the military!
For the formation of rank and file councils!

For workers' and peasants' militias!

Socialism is the only way out!

Global capitalism in the 21st century is in a crisis in which the forces of production are being destroyed so that capitalists can continue to profit. Marx long ago predicted that capitalism would ultimately dig its own grave by creating a working class that would overthrow the private owners to claim social ownership of the forces of production.

This is where we are today. Peasants, factory workers, women workers, youth, conscripts; the vast majority are being cast out of production. This is what Marx and Engels meant in the Communist Manifesto when they raised the slogan: “Workers of the world unite! You have nothing to lose but your chains”! Despite all those doomsayers who claim that socialism is dead, or those wheeler-dealers who claim that capitalism can be reformed by ‘democratic’ , ‘humane’ politicians, the system has them all in its grip. The producing classes cannot survive by placing any hopes in reforming the system. This can only lead to further social destruction, climactic disaster and fascist barbarism.

The only solution for the worlds’ workers is to expropriate the means of production from the private owners for our own use. When we are excluded from production, or forced into slave labor, we must occupy and put the means of production under our own control. Where workers have done this as in Argentina and Venezuela, they have proved that bosses are superfluous. The struggle for workers control is also the struggle for workers power.

We are one class; the working class! one fight; the fight for socialism!

Standing between workers and socialism are all the enemies of their class. They are those who seek to contain and divert the workers struggle to expropriate the capitalists into compromises, deals, and sell-outs to save the bosses skins. These are the false friends of workers – the union officials who are paid by the bosses state to prevent workers from running unions democratically; the political parties funded by the bosses state with false names like ‘labor’, ‘socialist’, ‘worker’ or 'communist', that promise workers, land, jobs, health and education, but instead cut jobs, wages, health, education and social benefits, to guarantee bosses good profits.

Today the most dangerous class enemies of all the peasants, wage slaves, women, youths, and conscripts, who are struggling to take control of the means of production, distribution and exchange, are those false ‘socialists’ who tell the workers to put their faith in strong leaders who can bring about socialism from ‘above’; in particular, those in the World Social Forum who look to Castro, Chavez and even Lula, to solve their problems for them.

No! To defeat the class collaborationist World Social Forum we must build a new Leninist-Trotskyist communist international. The only guarantee of socialism is the independent, armed organisation of our One Class! –peasant, factory, woman, and youth workers united in workers councils everywhere to fight for workers power; our One Fight! –turn all occupations into expropriations as the basis of a socialist planned world economy!

Communist Workers Group (NZ)
Member of the Fraction Leninist-Trotskyist

027 280 0080

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Australian Green Left roots *

In Class Struggle # 60 we criticised the Australian Democratic Socialist Perspectives’ cheerleading for Chavez. As we point out the DSP is aligned to the Castroites who are influential in the World Social Forum and play a treacherous role in the mass struggles in Latin America. It also has some influence on some reformist currents in Aotearoa/NZ, and may be the model for a future ‘socialist alliance’ between between the SWO and Matt McCarten. To expose the treacherous role of this organisation today we print here a short history of the DSP by the Communist Left of Australia which traces its degeneration from a self-declared Trotskyist group in the 1960s to its present pro-Stalinist, pro-Castroist position as the ‘Democratic Socialist Perspectives’ inside the Australian Socialist Alliance. It is a sorry tale.

Origins in the ‘Fourth International’

The origins of the Democratic Socialist Party of Australia go right back to a split in the post-war self-claimed ‘Fourth International’ between the majority United Secretariat, and those who supported Michel Pablo known as the International Marxist Tendency. In Australia the majority led by Nick Origlass, supported the IMT. The Australian United Secretariat supporters led by Bob Gould and Ian MacDougall split in 1965 and put out the magazine called Socialist Perspectives.

Whilst there was an organisational break with Pablo over political questions, both groupings had the same fundamental methodology. In Pablo's ‘new world reality’ history was seen as an inevitible process that would revolutionise reformist, stalinist and even bourgeois nationalist parties. Therefore both sides of this split no longer saw the need to build independent Trotskyist parties.

Both groupings were thoroughly loyal to the Australian Labor Party (ALP) practicing long term entry work (deep entrism). John and Jim Percy, foundation leaders of the Democratic Socialist Party, were then Sydney University campus radicals in the Labor Club. They were recruited by those who produced Socialist Perspectives. Eventually they were to win ideological hegemony over the Sydney University Labor club.

The grouping around Socialist Perspectives, founded the Campaign for Nuclear disarmament which became the Vietnam Action Committee when Australia entered the Vietnam War. Its leader was Bob Gould. For the next few years a number of youth and student fronts were formed centred around their bookshop, the ‘Third World Bookshop’, which became an activist centre.

Inside this group there were differences over organisation. The Percy brothers were known for their belief in strong centralised organisation. On the other hand, the ‘New Leftists’ very influential at the time, opposed organisation, equating it with bureaucracy. New left meetings were often chaotic and bureaucratic (lacking structure certain stronger members tended to dominate). The older Trotskyists (MacDougall and Gould) were fearful that a more defined organisation would threaten their long-term entryism in the ALP.

Their youth group Resistance became very successful, organising high school students against the war and the Student Underground. During 1968 there was a significant growth in activity and membership. They also received a degree of notoriety because of their support for the NLF in Vietnam and with their booklet How Not to Join the Army. The ‘Third World Bookshop’ was raided by the police.

A number of splits occurred over organisational issues. The most significant of these being in 1970 was with Bob Gould who opposed Resistance being defined by political demands. Gould split away taking with him about one third of the membership. Both supported protest movements and an orientation to the Labor Party. The real difference was priority. This is shown by their support for Bob Gould as Socialist Left delegate to the 1971 Federal ALP Conference. In NSW the Percy group won hegemonic control over the Socialist Left within the Labor Party which never grew (in NSW) significantly beyond the radical left.

Bob Gould claimed the Third World Bookshop as his property because he was the legal owner and put in more money than others. The Percy majority pointed out that the Third World Bookshop was established as a bookshop for Resistance and Bob was in the minority. Within six months, Gould had lost most of his supporters to the variant of the so-called "Fourth International" called the International Committee led internationally by Gerry Healy.

Out of all this the Percy grouping renamed itself as the Socialist Youth Alliance and emerged as politically coherent with a strong organisational framework. They then formed the Socialist Workers League. They published a colourful and strident newspaper called Direct Action. Each issue came out in a different colour. They had the full support of the Socialist Workers Party of the US (SWP-US). John Percy had been to the USA. Barry Shepherd SWP-US leader had visited Australia. Allen Myers, an antiwar GI, migrated to Australia and joined their ranks.

Vietnam War

Now being fully aligned with the SWP-US, they took on its theoretical heritage, such as Cuba being considered a healthy workers state. The SWP-US was an ex-Trotskyist party in total degeneration. It adapted to bourgeois liberalism in the anti-war movement and Castroism in Cuba. Castro, they argued was an ‘unconscious Trotskyist’.

The priority of SYA became the Moratorium against the Vietnam War. They fought for a coherent single-issue one-point programme: ‘Out Now!’ They opposed calls for ‘peace’ or ‘negotiations’. They opposed the Moratorium being based around support for the National Liberation Front.

They opposed any orientation to draft resistance or against conscription. They opposed the slogan "stop work to stop the war" arguing that this underestimated the strength of the protest movement. They supported strong centralised and regular marches and opposed decentralised ones. They opposed the Vietnam Moratorium becoming multi-issue.

Their opposition to the ‘solidarity with the NLF’ slogan came from both the right and left. For revolutionaries, the point of internationalist solidarity is to sharpen the struggle against ‘ones own’ country by calling for its military defeat. This the SYA didn't do. They deliberately avoided taking a military stand in what was an imperialist war with the conscious purpose of mobilising as broadly as possible. According to SYA ‘theory’, which they still agree with today, the might of numbers i.e. public opinion, forces governments to act. This they counter-posed to direct action by the working class. Their strategy amounted to populism and public opinion. Bourgeois forces were welcomed as part of the mass movement. This apparently was "their contradiction and not ours".

They sounded left when they opposed the strategy of the Vietcong, correctly identifying this strategy as stalinist. They made the link between Stalin's theory of socialism in one country and the NLF call for peace talks. Of course class struggle anti-imperialist solidarity must mean a break from Stalinism. But the SYA opposed identification with Stalinism as it might scare off bourgeois liberal antiwar opponents and narrow the movement. This is a right wing opposition to the ‘solidarity with the NLF’ demand. They have since changed their analysis and now consider the NLF to be Leninists who pursued a revolutionary strategy.

From class struggle to protest politics

SYA adhered to the theory of neo-capitalism. According to this theory capitalist crises are over, and issues such as alienation were now more relevant in creating a revolutionary dynamic. In the late ‘sixties and early ‘seventies in prosperous Australia, radical middle class people were concerned about many ‘quality of life’ issues. SYA were active around issues such as high school students’ rights, the environment, women’s liberation, gay liberation, anti-racism, anti-censorship etc.

In all these issues they pursued the same method — mass action around single-issue demands. They were, seen as conservatives, especially during the mass movement against the South African racist Springbok rugby tour. Virtually everyone else involved supported physical disruption of that tour.

In short, SYA were a Labor Party loyal league with a minimalist programme oriented to radical middle class protest politics.

In 1972, the economic crisis hit. Class issues came to the forefront. The Liberals moved some reactionary anti-working class legislation known as the ‘Lynch Laws’ bringing about an upsurge of militancy in the metal industry, the ‘movement for workers control’. This resistance continued after the Whitlam-led ALP was elected in November '72. During this upsurge of working class struggle the SWL were basically irrelevant. A group of Ernest Mandel supporters left its ranks no doubt itching to get involved in class struggle as opposed to student protests. They constituted themselves as the Communist League.

A key issue in the split was what attitude to take to the ALP. In his recently published book John Percy has suggested that the difference was merely a tactical one of formulating their critical support. However if one reads SWL leader Jim McIlroy in his commentary on the 1974 Federal election, it is very clear that the SWL considered voting Labor to be a matter of principle, as opposed to tactics, since Labor was the working class party to be supported despite its leadership.

During the Whitlam years the SWL may have abstained from the militant working class struggle, but there was plenty of student and mass movement activism for them to build their league. They formed the Women's Abortion Action Campaign, a single issue campaign. They were prominent in defending the Palestinians in resolutions debated within the Australian Union of Students. They recruited some from the Communist Party of Australia – Dr Gordon Adler being the most prominent. But basically, they consolidated their organisation. In the climate of militancy during that period they were considered conservatives within the left. The Communist League described their paper as ‘The Women’s Weekly of the Australian revolutionary left’.

They entered into many significant debates with the CPA Stalinists on international issues such as Chile, Portugal and Vietnam.

The 1975 Federal Election saw them stand candidates for the first time. They have stood in almost every election since. Previously they were known to have opposed standing for parliament on principle, arguing that it was a barrier to their fight against the Labor leadership. The '75 election occurred after the sacking of Whitlam by governor General Sir John Kerr and his replacement with an interim Fraser government. Working class militancy and anger was immense. The left were extremely active. Of all the left groups the SWL was the least involved with the justifiable anger felt within the working class. They made a splash with prominent and colourful posters around protest issues (Women’s, gay and black rights) calling for a Labor government pledged to socialist policies. This, in a situation were a revolutionary general strike was being seriously and widely demanded.

In February '76 they renamed themselves the Socialist Workers Party. Of course this spelt out that they were to have a prominent presence outside the ALP. But they were still liquidationist. A few years later Bob Gould was to point out that ‘supporters of Direct Action were virtually indistinguishable from the official Left in NSW Young Labor, the Radical Leadership Group’. Gould at least had a faction which demanded ‘socialist policies’ (of the reformist variety). The RLG and therefore ‘supporters of Direct Action’ did not!

‘Turn to the workers’

As with their US comrades, the 1976 conference announced a ‘turn to the working class’ They argued that this is necessary due to intensified class struggle. There was no objective reason the turn to the working class was any more warranted in ‘76 as it was in ‘73 or ‘74. In fact the working class of ‘76 was more on the defensive. But the Australians turned basically out of loyalty to the US SWP.

By renaming themselves as a party and their turn to the working class, the SWP did form a sort of pole of attraction among sections of the far left. They won over some former members of the syndicalist Melbourne Revolutionary Marxists and some former CPA members. They were on the road to winning back those who split to form the Communist League which was seen to be failing in its efforts to build an organisation,

They were still strongly involved in protest politics. In the Timor Moratorium movement and the anti-uranium movement they intervened as they did against the Vietnam War. They had a single-issue broad populist approach. From these movements they recruited. But they didn't recruit from the movement for civil liberties in Queensland. They opposed marching for the ‘right to march’ because it was against the law even when large sections of the labor bureaucracy were marching. Once again they were considered conservatives on the left.

The turn to the working class was unsuccessful in terms of results for effort. The ex-student radicals joined the unions to form rank-and-file oppositions. While a few militants were won the class composition did not significantly change. And in no union were they a serious left pole of attraction. On the whole they opposed economic protectionism but sometimes made opportunist adaptations to link up with militants who were protectionist (Victorian Builders’ Union for example). In Wollongong they were controversial for standing against the official rank and file dominated by the CPA. For this they got a hostile reception and were disowned by almost the whole of the Wollongong left.

But they did have some ideological influence on the left. This resulted from the CPA Stalinists rabid turn to the right. In the major unions where the CPA had significant influence, the perspective of workers control of the early ‘seventies was replaced by overt class collaborationist protectionism. The CPA promoted all sorts of ‘Peoples’ Economic Programmes’ (PEP) basically to get the government to ‘save manufacturing’. The logic of this was the selling-out of class struggle, as the bureaucrats did with the Prices and Incomes Accord which they negotiated before Bob Hawke came to power.

The SWP was a pole of attraction because they were the most prominent opponents of the stalinist social patriotic schemas promoted by the "left" union bureaucrats, supported by large sections of the rank and file and sections of the academic left. However the SWP had an analysis which did not correspond to the reality of Australian capitalism. For the SWP, there was no fundamental restructuring away from manufacturing to mining nor any significant intervention by foreign capital. The reality was that during the ‘seventies, ‘eighties and ‘nineties whole sections of manufacturing collapsed, including shipbuilding, the car industry, white goods and the BHP steelworks in Newcastle. In short, because of their failure to understand the dynamics of Australian capitalism, their heartfelt desire to oppose both protectionism and class collaboration lacked credibility, especially in the eyes of trade union militants.

The Communist League shared a roughly similar analysis and there was joint work in opposition to the PEP. This facilitated their reunification. The Communist League were instructed to rejoin by leaders of the United Secretariat such as Ernest Mandel.

The formal break with Trotskyism

Subjective revolutionaries joined the SWP because they perceived the need for a numerically strong party which identified with Trotskyism (irrespective of its flaws). Many were purged by the Percy leadership whose lesson from their previous CL experience was to deal with potential troublemakers. But some remained as members. But what these leftists were joining was a party collapsing into Stalinism at a rapid rate of knots. With every crisis of Stalinism that occurred during the next twenty years, the SWP took one step further in a Stalinist direction.

In 1979 there was a third Indochina war when Vietnam invaded Pol Pot's Kampuchea and China invaded Vietnam. The SWP justified their pro-Vietnamese line by suddenly discovering that Kampuchea under the Khmer Rouge was ‘state capitalist’. This convenient analysis meant they were not seen as endorsing an invasion of one post-capitalist state by another. But in no way did it square with reality. The ‘capitalist’ Khmer Rouge had even abolished money!

When the Soviet Union sent troops to Afghanistan, they endorsed the invasion more enthusiastically than their US comrades.

SWP Australia was formed in solidarity with SWP-US and therefore considered Cuba a healthy workers state. But on the whole Cuba had been a low priority for the Australian comrades. With the victory of the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, this was to change. The SWP Australia became their uncritical cheerleaders. The popular governments in Nicaragua and Grenada were hailed for ‘following the Cuban road’. They defended the Sandinistas maintenance of capitalism and their repression of the revisionist Trotskyist Simon Bolivar Brigade.

The SWP-US was also enthusiastic, uncritically hailing these revolutions and their leaderships. They also made a reassessment of Trotskyism, consciously breaking from it. But the Australian SWP went even further along the Stalinist road than the North Americans did.

For the Australian SWP, Castro was not an ‘unconsciousness Trotskyist’ but a ‘conscious Leninist’. Trotskyism, they now argued, was a sectarian deviation from Leninism. They repeated the Stalinist slander that Trotsky ‘underestimated the peasantry’. Basically they were arguing for a Stalinist strategy for the third world. One leading SWP member at their Social Rights Conference argued that if Trotsky's line had been pursued, the Chinese revolution would never have been won!

The Australian SWP then reassessed their analysis of the Vietnamese revolution. The Vietnamese Stalinists too became ‘conscious Leninists’. In doing this they stabbed in the back the very significant Trotskyist movement that had a strong base amongst the Vietnamese proletariat. They rehashed the same Stalinist slanders which they had refuted when argued by Denis Freney, the notorious Pabloite who became a Stalinist. They have since established friendly relations with the Vietnamese Workers’ Party and invite speakers from the Vietnamese Embassy to their conferences.

Of course this blatant turn to Stalinism led to a break not only from the SWP-US, but from the United Secretariat which they considered a roadblock to their efforts to regroup third world Stalinists. Here there is a clear logic. If the Sandinistas, Castroites etc. are revolutionary, then why have a Fourth International? Mandel and Co could not junk the old Trotskyism, or rather identification with Trotsky, so easily. So the SWP liquidated the fundamental class line between Trotskyism and Stalinism. As a result of this international break, Australian supporters of the United Secretariat and of Sean Matgamna (now called Workers Liberty) left the SWP.

Bloc with Stalinist Socialist Party of Australia

Internationally the SWP was pursuing alliances with left Stalinists. In Australia, they looked for an alliance with the pro-Moscow Socialist Party of Australia (now called Communist Party of Australia). There was no way that the SPA would abandon support for Stalin, nor the ruling bureaucracy in the Soviet Union or Poland (the SWP supported Solidarnosc), but there was some basis for unity.

The organisation called CPA at the time was heading to the right rapidly. And many SPA trade union officials were joining in. The logic of CPA strategy was to make an alliance with the Hawke government called the Prices and Incomes Accord. Under the Accord workers sacrificed wages and conditions in exchange for minor reforms which workers would normally expect from a Labor government anyway. The Accord divided the Australian left but the only official to have opposed it openly was Jenny Haines, a supporter of Bob Gould. But it was SPA policy to oppose the Accord.

The SPA stood by its principles and expelled the overwhelming majority of its trade union base, including prominent party leaders. They lost not only one third of their membership, but the significant membership in terms of trade union influence. Making an alliance with the SWP gave them a bit more clout and assisted their influence amongst young people. The SWP gained some contact with unionists. Their joint efforts meant more effective election campaigns.

Their main campaign was the Social Rights Manifesto. The title speaks for itself. Rights is a bourgeois concept and their Manifesto was for rights under capitalism. What this showed was that in terms of the Australian situation, the SWP and SPA had approximately the same minimum programme. The SWP called their demands ‘transitional’ and argued that the process was continuing. SPA called the Manifesto the first stage of their two stage revolution.

The SWP and SPA were also allies in the peace movement. Both opposed the right stalinist and liberal bourgeois view that ‘both superpowers’ were responsible for the arms race. SWP and SPA put the blame on imperialism and were clearly better in their variant of the popular front. Eventually there was a division of labour with the right Stalinists organising Palm Sunday, and SWP/SPA running the Hiroshima Day protests. Of these two the right popular front was the more popular.

All this stalinist maneuvering was too much for the SWP-US who formed a faction in Australia which were then expelled (forming another Communist League). This faction included former leaders Nita Keig, Deb Schnookal and Dave Deutschmann. In the US the Australian SWP had the support of former SWP-US presidential candidate Pedro Camejo. In the USA, John Percy and Pedro Camejo supported the presidential campaign of US Democrat Jesse Jackson and the protest campaign to freeze nuclear weapons.

The SWP-US and its supporters also objected to the Australian SWP's support for cold war right wingers at Polish solidarity rallies and its support for a Croatian nationalist organisation known as the Croatian Movement for Statehood (HDP).

Was HDP a former fascist Croatian organisation moving to the left or an adaptation by the fascists to co-opt the left? Either way it was unsupportable. The HDP, even with its left face, recognised the fascist government of Pavlevic whose dictatorship was backed by Mussolini during the Second World War. This fact alone made it thoroughly unprincipled, in fact treacherous, for revolutionaries to give it any positive recognition irrespective of its left rhetoric, genuine or otherwise.

The Hawke Government went to the right and started attacking unions. In response there was a national rank and file movement called Fightback which the SWP was active in. Fightback split into two wings. Some known as Canberra fightback, wanted it to remain a rank-and-file caucus. The SWP and SPA alliance, joined by the Maoist CPA(ML) wanted to turn it into a new communist party.

The Maoist-led Builders Labourers Federation was under attack by the Hawke Government at the Federal level, and by the Cain Labor government in Victoria which authorised an armed police raid on its offices. Legislation aimed at the BLF was a serious threat to organised militant unionism in Victoria. So the Maoists were now hard left when it came to opposing Labor. The pro-Accord Stalinists stabbed the BLF in the back, refusing to defend it from a capitalist state attack, in fact often endorsing the attack!

Understandably there was strong hostility amongst militants towards Labor. The SWP opposition to Labor also intensified. In 1987 they even endorsed the bourgeois Australian Democrats. They argued that whilst the Democrats were a bourgeois party, they supported progressive movements and were to the left of Labor on social services and welfare issues, and could be given critical support. At the same time the Greens were growing rapidly. So the name of the SWP paper Direct Action was changed to Green Left Weekly.

The Gorbachev liberal bureaucratic leadership of the Soviet Union led to another turn by the SWP — towards the Gorbachev leadership. As the Soviet Union degenerated rapidly, the SWP made all sorts of alliances with liberalised Stalinists. Devoid of any Marxist analysis they took their democratic credentials at face value oblivious at any threat of counter-revolution. They have close ties with East Germany's former ruling party, the PDS. In the spirit of democratic socialism, they changed their name to Democratic Socialist Party.

Meanwhile the SPA was going in the opposite direction. They wanted to hang onto as much of the Breshnevite past as possible. So there was a strain on the alliance. The SPA was then oriented to the Chinese leadership. The bloodshed of Tienamin Square, supported by SPA but opposed by DSP, was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The alliance was over.

The DSP then oriented to the fast degenerating Communist Party of Australia who were aiming to develop a new party in what was called the ‘New Left Party Process’. The CPA were reassessing the Accord but hadn't broken from it. But the CPA did not reciprocate the DSP’s advances, and chose to degenerate in alliance with old pro-Accord ex-SPA bureaucrats. The DSP has tried to fill the vacuum left by the CPA degeneration.

Socialist Alliance

The most recent party building maneuver has been the Socialist Alliance formed similar to the one in Britain. The Socialist Workers Party (‘state capitalist’ and unrelated to the SWP-US and DSP traditions) was a key initiating force in Britain. Their Australian supporters, the International Socialist Organisation were joint founders of the Australian version along with the DSP.

What started off as a joint electoral bloc around minimal demands with equal participation by the various groupings has become virtually a DSP front. The DSP has now become renamed as Democratic Socialist Perspectives and has no public presence apart from the Socialist Alliance, though its youth group Resistance still has an open presence. The Alliance is now virtually a non-revolutionary party dominated by the DSP. Alliance candidates effectively stand on the DSP programme.

During the eighties, the pin-up boys for the DSP were the Sandinistas. They ‘reassessed’ Trotskyism and abandoned it on the basis of the Sandinistas' ‘success’. Had they any integrity they would have re-assessed their position in the light of the Sandinista’s failure. This they haven't done. Today they have replaced cheerleading the Sandinistas with cheerleading Chavez in Venezuela. They hail him virtually uncritically.

Another piece of DSP treachery has been its support for Australian troops in East Timor, sent there ostensibly for defending Timorese independence. It may be understandable that some bourgeois nationalists may take imperialist rhetoric at face value. Those who have some understanding of Lenin should know better. Australia has now imposed a deal which steals oil that belongs to the Timorese.


This is only an overview of the whole SWP/DSP history of liquidation and treachery. Essentially what started off as an attempt to establish Trotskyism on the basis of student radicalism against the Vietnam War, degenerated into a pro-Stalinist grouping, organisationally opportunist, and whose only principle appears to be cheerleading Stalinists and building a party distinct from Labor (but not reformism). They are good at tapping into youth and student radicalism.

Whilst on some issues, they find Trotsky's analysis appropriate, when it comes to drawing fundamental class lines they clearly stand with Stalin, especially in imperialist dominated countries euphemistically called the ‘third world’.

Many DSP members are good activists in their unions. The DSP presents itself as a strong and confident organisation. But it is the Stalinist principles which are decisive. For the sake of the revolution, these must be thoroughly broken from. The only revolutionary banner is the red banner of proletarian internationalism. The revolutionary tradition is that of Leon Trotsky and the Fourth International. On the basis of this tradition a new revolutionary international must be built.

* This is a repost to redrave as the original posted in August 2005 was unfortunately deleted.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Long Live the Paris Commune!

France, 4 April, 2006: Long live the struggle of the students, young people and the workers against the vicious attack of the government and the bosses!

In order to defeat the CPE and labor flexibilisation and end the slavery of the working class and its youth we must impose the demands of the workers and the exploited people to send to the rubbish bin of history the imperialist Fifth Republic of Chirac-Villepin-Sarkozy, the social-imperialist parties, and the union bureaucracy!

Is necessary to make France a Baghdad every night and day, and Paris into a Commune!

with pickets, mobilizations and self-defence committees!

An enormous struggle of the masses shakes imperialist France. On the days of the 7, 16, 18 and 28 of March, university and secondary school students, young workers of the "Cités" - the workers neighborhoods – amd the education and public sector workers, and to a lesser extent of the private sector, took to the streets in their millions in all the cities of France, confronting the government of President Chirac and Prime Minister Villepin responsible for the vicious attack on young workers with the "First Job Contract" (CPE) and other measures combined in the cynically named "equal opportunity law".

This law, passed by parliament and promulgated by Chirac [though suspended until a new law is passed], allows the bosses to make young workers under 26 years of age work without rights and protection from dismissal; to make 14 year-olds into apprentices, and 15 year olds work at night, among other measures. It is the imposition of a true slavery onto the whole generation of young workers. This ruthless attack is an example of what the French imperialist bourgeoisie has to do to defeat to its own working class and enable it to embark on new adventures and wars to win new markets, zones of influence, oil fields and other resources from the ex-workers states like China and Russia, in competition with US imperialism.

It is not accidental that French imperialism is going on the offensive against its own working class. It must defeat it not only to extract more profits at home, but also in its intense rivalry with US imperialism. French imperialism is now embarked on a bitter competition with US imperialism for the repartition of the global economy. The US has stolen a march in Iraq and subordinated Britain, Italy and Spain. The French imperialists have responded by taking the initiative to bully Iran over nuclear weapons in the hope of winning a share of the spoils of any war against that country. It has stopped US corporates from privatising French state assets such as Gas France. Chirac recently threatened to use France’s nuclear arsenal against any threat to “the integrity of the territory, the protection of the population and the free exercise of the sovereignty” of France, its strategic supply lines and its “allied countries”. (Clarin, March 2006).

This attack on youth jobs at home is clearly linked to the policies of French imperialism abroad. But it has met a strong response from the students, workers and the exploited young people in the migrant communities. The university students were first into the trenches to lead the counter-attack, occupying or blockading 60 out of the 80 universities in France, confronting the riot police who forced the evacuation of he Sorbonne – the symbol of May 1968.

But the movement took a leap forward on March 16 when the mobilization of the students was joined by the young workers of the suburbs, the new generation of the French proletariat whose heroic rebellion of October-November of 2005 was a ‘curtain-raiser’ for the current struggle of the masses. Those that came to the aid of the students were those young workers who had risen to the shout of "Every night we make Paris a Bagdad". Fighting for work, decent wages and freedom, but abandoned and isolated by the privileged workers and the labor bureaucracy of the unions and their parties, they were ruthlessly repressed with almost 800 imprisoned many deported and more than 4000 put under police supervision.

With the powerful energy of young workers - one of the most oppressed sectors of the French proletariat - the struggle took a big step forward. Then the secondary students began to join in large numbers, mainly from the "Cités". The massive mobilization of Saturday 18 of March, saw more than a million students, workers and youth unite across the country, proving that the fight against the CPE was becoming a struggle of the whole French working class, indeed a political fight of the masses.

The shout of "Drop the CPE now or indefinite general strike” raised by hundreds of thousands of workers and students in the streets of Paris showed clearly that the masses understood perfectly that they could not stop the CPE and the “equal opportunity law” and their other demands, without the credible threat of a general strike. Thus, the enormous mass struggle has put on the order of the day the indefinite general strike to defeat the government of Chirac-Villepin-Sarkozy, along with the imperialistic regime of the Fifth Republic, ending the CPE and all the anti-worker laws, releasing the prisoners from the October-November youth rebellion as well as those arrested in the present struggle, and imposing the demands of the students, young workers and all workers and exploited people.

But between the masses and the general strike there is a large barrier: the union bureaucracy of the CGT, CFDT, FO and of the student union UNEF, along with the social-imperialist parties – the Socialist Party (PS), the Communist Party (PCF) and the pseudo-Trotskyists – all, as we shall prove, the faithful subjects of the imperialist Fifth Republic.

But in spite of all its efforts, the bureaucracy could not prevent the development of the struggle and the convergence on the streets of the students, the young workers of the Cités and other workers. This has forced it to try to take over the leadership of the struggle including the demand for a general strike. But it refuses to make the call for an indefinte general strike.

Thus, the enormous mobilisation opf the masses on the 28 of March was not a general strike: it was a day of partial strikes and marches uniting 3 million workers and students all over the country. It was a ‘day of action’ called by the union bureaucracy, the PS and the PCF to prevent a general strike and to put pressure on the government to force them to negotiate. By this means the bureaucracy was responsible for rescuing the government and keeping in power the repressive, anti-worker and imperialist killer of colonial peoples – the Fifth Republic regime!

But this is not the last word on this enormous class struggle that has been unleashed. The bourgeoisie strikes back: it needs to defeat the working class. On the 30 of March, the Constitutional Council ratified the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity". On 31 of March, Chirac announced that he would pass the law with two cosmetic changes - the probationary period would be reduced to one yea, and the employer would have to give a ‘reason’ for dismissing a young worker. But of course the worker cannot use this ‘reason’ to contest the employers right to sack him or her. The amended CPE passed by Chirac is ‘suspended’ while a new law is drafted with the agreement of the student and trades union leaders and then voted on.

Against this subterfuge the students have renewed their opposition. Secondary students in their thousands walked out of school to block the railways and roads; and the occupations of the universities have been maintained. After the speech of Chirac, thousands of young students and workers spontaneously went into the streets of the cities, in particular Paris: they stayed on the streets all night and at dawn gathered in the historical Montmartre - where the Commune of Paris in 1871 began -, and they painted on the walls "Revenge 1871" and " Long live the Commune ".

The union leaders have been forced by this further spontaneous upsurge to call another “day of action” i.e. partial strikes and marches for the 4 of April. But the unions of Air France have already announced that they will strike for 24 hours on 4 April so that the workers can participate in the marches against the CPE. And in response to the union leaders call for another limited ‘day of action’ to pressure the government, the national Coordination of students has called to transform the 4 of April into the beginning of indefinite general strike! And the General Assembly of university in Paris voted to march on Monday 3 April to the headquarters of the CGT (CP led union federation) to demand indefinite general strike!

In the next days and weeks it will be decided in the streets whether or not the treacherous leaders of the workers preventing the general strike, and save the French bourgeoisie, its government and its regime yet again; or, on the contrary, the spontaneous revolutionary energy of the masses can sweep the away the barriers and begin the general strike, "the great day when the oppressed meet their oppressors” - as Leon Trotsky said - that will revive again for the French working class, after almost 40 years since 1968, and 135 years from the insurrection of March 1871, the ‘revenge’ of the glorious Paris Commune, and open the road to revolution.

The present struggle of the masses in France, foreshadowed by the the revolt of young workers last October-November, along with a general strike in Belgium, the awakening of sections of the US working class against the war of Iraq, and now the huge mobilizations of more than a million Latino workers in the United States against the new immigration law, is evidence that we have entered a time of renewed struggle of the main battalions of the working class: the proletariat in the imperialist countries.

Long live the struggle of the students, workers and youth against the ferocious attack of the government and the bosses! Unite the militant students, young workers and the whole of the proletariat to demand an indefinite general strike until the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity" is defeated, all the workers demands have been won, and no part of the regime of the Fifth Republic of Chirac-Villepin is left standing, including its class collaborators, the social-imperialist parties and the union bureaucracy!

The labor aristocracy and bureaucracy of the Fifth Republic, its unions and parties: A "Holy Alliance” to prevent the general strike

The general strike is the order of the day! The militant masses know that only by defeating the government and the regime will they be able to impose their demands. But the labor bureaucracy and its parties, the loyal subjects and servants of the imperialist Fifth Republic, have formed a "Holy Alliance" to prevent a general strike. Forced to take the lead by the mass pressure of the movement, the "inter-union" formed by the union bureaucracy of the CGT, the CFDT (led by the PS), the FO (Workers’ Force) and other unions, along with the leadership of the National Union of Students of France (UNEF), have been surfing the crest of the wave to try to control it, and to prevent it from overflowing the barriers and becoming an independent uprising of the workers.

For that reason, the ‘inter-union’ has refused to call a general strike, and has instead used a series of 'days of action' to pressure the government to withdraw the CPE and open negotiations. Thus, when the Constitutional Council confirmed the law, they called on Chirac "to use his constitutional prerogatives to withdraw the CPE". Now that Chirac and his ministers have invited the ‘inter-union’ to negotiate a new law, they want to use the April 4 'day of action' as a "show of force" to strengthen their position in the negotiations on the the CPE due to begin on April 5.

In this way the bureaucracy collaborates with the maneuver of Chirac and the employers to introduce the "tsunami" of the CPE knowing that it would meet strong opposition, and then to pretend to "back down" and instead pass a "hurricane" called the "law of equal opportunity". This new law will continue to impose flexibility and casualisation on young workers, but will have some cosmetic changes, will be blessed by "consensus" with the ‘Holy Alliance’ and voted in Parliament not only by the deputies of the UMP, but also by those of the PS. That is the trap that the Chiracs-Villepin-Sarkozy and their servants of the labor bureaucracy and the social-imperialist parties have set for the masses.

This treacherous union bureaucracy is the same one that ordered its stewards to beat-up the young workers of the Cités when they confronted the police with the shout of "national Police, military servants of capitalism"! Many of the hundreds of young people who were arrested in this struggle were handed over to the police by the thugs of the union bureaucracy, proving that they are the internal police of the labor movement in the service of the bosses, its state and its imperialist regime!

Down with the the labor bureaucracy of the CGT, CFDT and other federations and unions, paid agents of Chirac and the Fifth Republic, opponents and jailers of the students in struggle and the heroic young workers of the suburbs!

No less treacherous a role is played by the social-imperialist parties based on the privileged labor aristocracy that lives off imperialist super-profits, such as the PS and Communist Party. But most treacherous of all are the pseudo-Trotskyists like the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR). After the Constitutional Council confirmed the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity”, these parties published a scandalous common declaration stating:
"the organizations and the political parties of the left solemnly require that Jacques Chirac withdraws the CPE and opens negotiations with the unions before taking the law back to the Parliament. Knowing the exceptional conditions of the elections in 2002, there will be serious consequences if the law is passed." ("Declaration of the Left, Le Monde 31/03/06, signed by the Socialist Party, the Communist Party, Greens, the LCR, among others).

This confession is proof of guilt! These parties are the faithful subjects of the French Fifth Republic and its 'monarch' Chirac, advising him that it is in his interests to withdraw the CPE, just as during the rebellion of young workers last year, they appealed to Chirac to end the state of emergency and to "defend democracy and civil peace", even while Chirac’s police militarized the Cités and hunted down the young rebels! The cynicism of these treacherous leaders has no limit! Full of self-importance they remind Chirac that he only won the elections of 2002 thanks to the votes of the masses under their influence. Now they ‘threaten’ with another ‘day of action’ so they can meet him on April 5th to arrive at a ‘consensus’! Here they gamble on being able to use the ‘extreme left’ to control the strikes and marches on April 4th so that this mobilisation can be used to ‘pressure’ Chirac in the negotiations.

The "extreme left" of the Fifth Republic Regime

The imperialist Fifth Republic also has its subjects on the "extreme left", as the fake Trotskyists of the LCR, and the PT are commonly called in France. These currents, that have thousands of militants, and who lead or influence a layer of the workers and students vanguard, are a key element in the support of the regime of the Fifth Republic, and have for decades defended the regime from the masses uprisings in France.

They called for a vote for Chirac against Le Pen in 2002; they called on the masses to vote in the referendum on the European Constitution in 2005; during the youth rebellion of October-November of 2005 they hung upon the apron strings of the ‘Republican left’ defending ‘democracy’, and talking of restoring ‘civil peace’. The LCR, PT, and LO are the ‘left leg’ of the ‘Holy Alliance’ that contained and repressed the rebellion of young workers. Alain Krivine, a leader of the LCR traveled to Palestine to tell the heroic people that they must accept the imperialist plan for ‘two states’. In Brazil, Miguel Rossetto, leader of the LCR’s fraternal party (Socialist Democracy), is the Minister of agrarian reform in the pro-imperialist government of Lula, protecting the property of the landowners who kill the landless peasants.

Now the LCR has signed the official statement of the ‘left’ parties begging Chirac to withdraw the CPE. These true reformists even manage, as they say in their leaflets, to call for a "general strike" to defeat the government - that is to say, Prime Minister Villepin - but they stop short of a general strike to remove the ‘sacred’ Fifth Republic and its 'monarch' Chirac. They even criticise some union leaders, but never do they say it is necessary to defeat the union bureaucracy in order to make a indefinite general strike. For them the ‘general strike’ is merely to win a “better redistribution of wealth".

Lutte Ouvrière, on the other hand, does not even raise the general strike for the purpose of reforms. It only mobilizes for the withdrawal of the hated CPE. The Lambertist Workers Party (PT), faithful to their line of ‘defense of the democracy’ and the ‘French Republic’, demands the withdrawal of the CPE as ‘unconstitutional’. The PT are in the leadership of the CUT union bureaucracy in Brazil, which collaborates with Petrobras (partner of the French Totalfina) to plunder Bolivian gas and strangle the Bolivian revolution.

The betrayers of Trotskyism have moved openly onto the terrain of reform. They are the "extreme left" of the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic, oppressor and butcher of the colonial and semi-colonial peoples, and exploiter and repressor of its own working class.
The masses have begun an enormous political fight. They have forced the leaders of the unions to form the national “inter-union”. They have begun to build their own organs of political struggle. The university students occupy the faculties with their barricades and make their decisions in daily general assemblies. The same happens in the secondary schools that have joined the struggle. They have created a National Coordination of students, mandated, with rotating chairs, delegates elected by each general assembly and meeting each week, rotating from city to city.

In its last meeting in Lyon on April 1-2, it voted for an indefinite general strike. In the city of Lille, the General Assembly unites students with local and regional unions, associations of unemployed people, immigrant workers ‘without papers’, and has also called for an indefinite general strike from the 4 of April. Coordinations have been formed in four other departments - Girond, Loire Atlantique, Sarthe and Vienne, also calling for an indefinite general strike. For the 4 of April, they announced that all education workers of all levels, postal and communications, mass media, transport, bank, energy, chemical, commerce and construction workers will go on strike.

In order to overcome the counter-revolutionary resistance of the apparatuses of the ‘left’ parties and the unions and their 'united front from above', and to turn April 4 into an indefinite general strike, it is necessary to create a National Coordination of Struggle made up of mandated delegates of all the unions and workers organizations in the national “Inter-union”, of the national Coordination of students, each school and occupied faculty and the workers of each militant factory and workplace, and the delegates of the young people of each Cite and workers district, organized by locality, and region. This national Coordination of workers and student in struggle must become the new leadership of the working class in place of all the treacherous leaders of the ‘left’ parties and union confederations.

A National Coordination of struggle must summon and organize and indefinite general strike until the CPE and the "law of equal opportunity", to the government of Chirac-Villpein-Sarkozy, his economic plan and the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic, is defeated.
It must raise a program to unite the workers ranks, now divided by the the privileges of the labor aristocracy and bureaucracy:

  • Down with the CPE, and the law of “equal opportunity” that is in reality the law of flexibilisation and casualisation!
  • Down with Chirac-Villpein-Sarkozy, their anti-worker economic plans and Fifth Republic Regime!
  • Useful work and a living wage for all! Redistribute the work hours among those willing to work with a minimum wage at the level of the cost of the family shopping basket, indexed automatically to inflation!
  • Unemployment wage at the level of the minimum wage for all unemployed workers without conditions and time limit!
  • For the younger generation of workers:
  • Four hours work and 4 hours of study paid by the employer's association and their state!
  • Ban night work and unsafe and unhealthy work!
  • Equal work, equal wage and the same conditions for all the young workers from 16 years!
  • Free schools and universities and with unrestricted entry for all the young people who want to study!
  • All political, social, economic and union rights for all youth!
  • Immediate and automatic French citizenship for all the worker immigrants, who comprise of the French working class!
  • Down with all laws that destroy the past gains of the working class, their pensions, their social security, public education and health!
  • Renationalistion without payment and under workers control of Gas France!
  • No to the privatizations of EDF and other public companies! Put these companies under workers control!
  • Down with commercial secrets in the banks, the key industries, transport and in all the branches of production, so that the workers prove that the bourgeoisie waste human labor to make their enormous profits!
  • Workers control of the production in all the factories and companies of the country in the hands of factory committees!
  • Against the police! Against the gangs of thugs of the union bureaucracy!
  • Form committees of self-defense of workers, young workers of the Cités, and of the students
The bourgeoisie has responded to the latest upsurge of struggle with a new outbreak of repression. As it did against the young working people of Cites in November last, the French imperialist state has arrested hundreds of young students and workers at each march or picket. Hundreds have been taken to court, and many condemned to prison by summary judgments. Each march ends with an attack by the police: there are tens of wounded, among them a union activist in a coma and in danger of dying after being brutally beaten by the anti-riot police, the CRS.

  • Immediate freedom for the imprisoned young working people from October-November of 2005!
  • Freedom and withdrawal of charges for all arrested workers and student militants!
  • Stop the repression against the workers and students in struggle!
  • Dissolve the police and the gendarmerie!
In the universities, the rectors organize the bands of "papas boys” to break the occupations and to attack the students. And at the same time the thugs of the union bureaucracy, attack and hand over militants to the police. It is necessary to form pickets and self-defence committees of all the student and workers organizations in struggle, in each district, locality and region, to defend the struggles and the lives of the exploited from the police, to eject the union thugs from the workers’ ranks, and to build the basis of a centralized workers militia accross the whole country.

"A people that oppresses another cannot be free itself"

The workers aristocracy and labor bureaucracy acts to prevent the workers of France, Spain and Germany from breaking with their own imperialistic bourgeoisies. This stopped a workers movement from going to the aid of their class brothers and sisters in Iraq. It allowed French imperialism free hands to occupy the Ivory Coast and use military repression to continue their enslavement in Africa. Then, at the end of the last year, it acted to impose ‘social peace’ on the young migrant workers in the name of the imperialist Fifth Republic. These actions have strengthened the regime of the imperialist French bourgeoisie which now attacks the French proletariat again!

The more it plunders and kills in the colonies and the semicolonies, the more the French bourgeoisie treats its own working class in the same way that it deals with its slaves in Africa and the Pacific. It attacks and destroys the historic gains of wages and conditions. It imposes severe labor flexibilisation and casualisation. And when the exploited rise up it responds, with a state of emergency, and with batons, repression and mass arrests, as it did against the young workers last year, and as it does today against the enormous mass mobilizations.

"A people that oppresses another cannot be free ", Marx and Engels said more than one hundred years ago. That is why the students and workers who are fighting against the ‘precarite’ today must adopt the slogan of the young workers of October and November: "Every night make Paris a Bagdad". That means taking responsbility to defend the oppressed Iranian nation today threatened by the French, English and Yankee imperialists and their “den of thieves” the UN. This also means taking into their own hands the struggle for the military defeat of all the imperialist troops in Iraq, in Afghanistan, the Ivory Coast, and every other oppressed nation. They must also make as their own, the fight for the restoration of the dictatorship of the proletariat by socialist revolutions in Russia, China and all the former degenerated workers states who have been turned by their ex-stalinist bureaucracies, now national bourgeoisies, into capitalist colonies and semicolonies full of MNC assembly plants employing enslaved manual labor.

The more they adopt the anti-imperialist struggles to the full, the closer will be the workers and students to winning their present struggle, and opening the way to the socialist revolution in France.

  • Down with the Fifth Republic, imperialist exploiter and oppressor of its own working class, and killer of the peoples of Africa, of the Pacific, of Asia!
  • French imperialists hand off Iran and all Middle East!
  • For the military defeat of all the imperialistic troops in Iraq, for the victory of the Iraqi resistance!
  • For the immediate liberation of the Martinique, Guyana, the Kanak islands and other ‘Dominions and transoceanic territories’ under French colonial slavery!
  • Out with the French genocidal troops from the Ivory Coast, Kosovo, etc.!
  • French imperialists hands off the nations of Africa, Asia and Latin America!
  • Equal wages and the conditions of work for all the workers of the colonies of France, and its monopolies, banks and companies in the colonial and semi colonial countries, for the expropriation and nationalization of capitalist property without payment and under workers control in those countries!

So that the working class and the exploited ones live, the Fifth Republic must die.
For the Republic of the Workers Councils in France, for the Socialist United States of Europe!

We wrote this declaration a few hours before the strikes and marches on the 4 of April. The task of the hour is to build a National Coordination of militant worker and student organisations and to make an indefinite general strike with pickets, marches, blockades and committees of self-defense, to open the way to the overthrow, the imperialist regime of the Fifth Republic of Chirac, Le Pen, the union bureaucracy and the social-mperialistas parties. A successful general strike that defeated the government and its attack on young workers jobs, would open a pre-revolutionary sitation, putting onto the agenda the struggle for state power by the working class and its councils and armed militias, capable of giving birth to a Workers Republic on the ruins of the Fifth Republic.

Like the revolt of the young workers last year, today the struggle of the masses in France must become a common struggle of the continental European working class. Only by this means can the offensive of the European imperialist bourgeoisies against the historic living standards of the masses, the attacks on the colonial and semi colonial world, on the heroic Iraqi resistance, on Iran, on the oppressed peoples in Europe - in Ireland, the Basque Country, Kosovo, Chechenia etc,- be defeated. This united continental struggle cannot be won without breaking from the privileged labor aristocracy and the class collaboratist labor bureaucracy.

A strong advance in the revolutionary struggle in France would open the only road to the liberation of the European proletariat: the United Socialist States of Europe, from Portugal to Russia, where workers can overthrow the imperialist bourgeoisies in the West, and at the same time remove the restored capitalist semi-colonies in the East, united with the revolutionary and anti-imperialist struggle of the workers and exploited people of the of the semi-colonial and colonial world.

For an International Conference of Principled Trotskyists to create a new world wide party socialist revolution and to refound Trotskyism in France under the program and the legacy of the Fourth International of 1938!

The invasion and occupation of Iraq; the containment of the Bolivian revolution and the anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses by the continental politics of the popular front ; the intensified wage slavery of workers by the imperialists MNCs and the new bourgeoisie in China; the recolonization and plundering of the ex-workers states of the old Eastern Europe and USSR, have allowed the European imperialistic bourgeoisies to make a brutal offensive on their working classes.

What motivates this attack is the necessity for the imperialist bourgeoisies to compete for spheres of influence, oil reserves, new sources of raw materials and cheap manual labor in the colonial and semi colonial world, in particular the race for the colonization of China and Russia now restored by the ex-stalinist bureaucracy to the world capitalist economy.

Against this offensive workers are beginning to fight back. Sections of the US working class are starting to oppose the war on Iraq, and the most exploited sectors, sthe Black and Latino migrant workers are mobilising in their hundreds of thousands against the new immigration law for the Great American Strike of May 1, 2006. Today, the workers and students of France have declared that they will not be ‘flesh’ for the bosses, nor ‘cannon fodder’ for the imperialists. And like the US working class, it is the most oppressed sections of the class, the young workers of the Cités, who led this fight at the end of last year.

The oppressed workers of the US and France are throwing all the rotten, fake Trotskyists, who became the voice of the labor aristocracy and complained that the workers in the imperialist countries would have to go through years of economic struggles before being able to fight for socialism in the distant future, into the rubbish bin of history. Because today the most oppressed workers have shown that they are capable of mobilising a political fight in the imperialistic countries which can organise independently of the unions of the labor aristocracy and the bureaucratic leadership.

The fate of the world working class today hinges on the outcome of the present struggle of the French students and workers, and of the working class of the United States and its undisputed vanguard, the millions of Latino workers and immigrants. The main obstacle blocking this proletariat is the counter-revolutionary character of their main political currents, most of them associated with the World Social Forum, including the fake Trotskyists who have gone over openly to the camp of reformism, and the most abject class collaboration.

With the emergence onto the stage of the militant layers of the proletariat of France and the US, it is the urgent task of the healthy forces of Trotskyism to call an International Conference which can regroup these forces around a revolutionary program, and which fights without quarter to defeat the class collaborators of the WSF, in particular the renegades of Trotskyism, and to refound the World Party of Socialist Revolution. In this way, French Trotskyism can be refounded, defeating the fake Trotskyists, and recuperating the forces of the Fourth International of 1938 to provide the heroic and self-sacrificing young workers, women workers, migrant workers and all the most oppressed sectors of the French proleteriat, the revolutionary leadership they justly deserve.

Fraction Leninist/Trotskyist, April 4, 2006 (Trans. from Spanish)

Saturday, April 01, 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.

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."

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

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.

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.”

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. 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. 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[ ]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.

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!