Friday, December 21, 2018

Aotearoa 2018 - year of the 'waking' left

Yellow Vest protestors facing police repression in France

Bomber on The Daily Blog is a bit premature calling victory for the cops and corporates excluded from next years Gay Pride Parade.

In fact all that will be missing from the Pride Parade will be those who choose to side with the police bosses’ decision to ban police from parading in mufti. That is, all those institutions on the side of the ruling class that put their class collaboration ahead of standing up for young gays still being targeted by the cops.

Who is this ‘woke’ left that Bomber is so keen to excoriate?  It is the ‘left’ that tries to exclude the alt-right from exercising their bourgeois right to free speech and association. It first cropped up when this ‘woke’ left tried to ban visiting Canadian alt right speakers for their ‘hate speech’. But as was pointed out at the time, the experience of the last 100 years since the cops and the fascist guards in Germany killed Luxemburg and Liebknecht,  is that free speech for fascists is equivalent to allowing them the freedom to recruit and build their armed gangs. The ‘hate speech’ of the alt right is designed to justify and rally support for alt right actions which directly attack the rights of workers and migrants.

Liberal Greenwald vs white-supremacist Spencer on de-platforming the alt right
Glen GreenwaldGreenwardSpencer

Greenwald expresses the liberal view that the alt right must be heard or else the left will face a backlash. Arch alt rightist Spencer says that de-platforming has set back the growth of the white-supremacist movement in the US.

Why at this particular point in history do we find the alt right mobilising against the left?  Because the severity of the twin crises of economic crash and climate burn gives the ruling classes no choice but to abandon democracy and impose martial or emergency laws to allow the police and military to put down all popular uprisings. So at the very least those who understand this history, need to prepare for these crackdowns by building a working class independent resistance movement.

So to call those who backed the ban on alt right speaking rights, and the Pride ban on police uniforms, the ‘woke’ left is akin to the slurs attached to ‘cisgender’ (biological men and women) and ‘terfs’ (trans exclusionary radical feminists) to label and smear those who oppose the wider, ‘inclusive’ Pride movement from acting as a stool pigeon for the police and spy state, and to attempt to intimidate them from standing up to ruling class bullying.

The ‘woke’ slur has been weaponised as ‘trans exclusionary’, conveniently ignoring the longstanding acceptance and support for transwomen and transmen in the movement, in order to make the ultimatum that ‘cisgender’ people must recognise transgender people as equal to biological sexes, or be cast out of the movement. 

But natural born men and women have been around for millennia, and for at least three thousand years, men have dominated and controlled women in the first form of class society – the patriarchy. For just as long women have resisted gender oppression, but have never been able to remove its roots, which is why this resistance needs to continue until it defeats the patriarchy.

It is this development of class resistance to fascist ‘free speech’ and to corporates dominating Pride that shows us that 2018 is the year of the waking left, not the woke left. The bosses are still the same, spying on democracy to destroy resistance to their terrorist class rule. The alt-right crypto fascists are on the march, using the latest C21st tech to sell their message as ‘free speech’ when its agenda is still to push the nation (xenophobia) Church (moral vacuum) and State (body of armed men) as instruments of ruling class rule. Bolsonaro – ugh!

And the social democrats are now openly liberal capitalist parties when capitalism cannot afford to be liberal. The result is that by posing as the ‘lesser evil’ to fascism, social democracy continues to divide and confuse workers, disorganise their unity and potential power, and thus enable the rise of fascism.

That is why this amorphous ‘woke’ left is in the process of ‘waking’ – developing, excluding, and ‘splitting the left’ – by breaking from liberal capitalism and its crumbling ‘bourgeois democracy’, and radicalising itself as anti-capitalist, anarchist or socialist.

I would say that the woke left is waking – a work in progress in both senses. It has partially penetrated the veils of capitalism, survived the flame wars of social media, seen and felt the causes of inequality – the rich exploiting the poor, women, migrant workers, Maori youth in jail etc.; and cast their vote of no confidence in patriarchy-capitalism-imperialism.

The waking left may not agree on how best to be anti-patriarchy-capitalist-imperialist, and prefer Piketty, Fanon, or Guevara to Marx, but they know that capitalism, including its state forces, is the enemy and that social democracy embedded in the bosses state does not serve the interests of workers. Green capitalism is also part of the problem. So is Pride in capitalism and its agents the cops, banks and corporates, part of the problem.

The two most recent explosions of the waking left are the Yellow Jackets and Extinction Rebellion. These are mainly working class (because workers are 80% of those in the economy!) and representative of all kinds of workers, with a heavy presence of women and youth. What is significant is that this waking left has raised demands refusing to accept austerity, poverty and state repression to pay for capitalism’s crisis. Join that to Extinction Rebellion’s demands that government must take action to reverse climate change, or go and make way for those that will.

Extinction Rebellion1

In raising these anti-capitalist demands The Yellow Jackets are building a new movement that is breaking from social democracy, and even ‘the system’ (Macron is the bastard neo-liberal child of bankrupt parliamentary ‘socialism’); from the alt right whose attempt to take over the Yellow Vests has been unsuccessful so far; from the union bureaucracy that is trying to appease Macron; and, is proving itself as a class-based uprising prepared to resist the state forces.

To be ‘progressive’ today means to fight the class war on the side of the huge working majority and to convince the waking left that the survival of humanity means ending capitalism and building a post-capitalist society where planning production flows from workers’ democracy. To do this working people all over the world need to unite in solidarity to form workers’ governments everywhere against the desperate attacks by patriarchy-capitalism-imperialism that threaten to starve, drown or burn us all.

Our starting point has to be a mass workers’ socialist party independent of both the bosses and the bosses’ bureaucracy, where workers – employed, unemployed, of all genders, ethnicities, and nationalities – democratically debate a program on how to overthrow capitalism and replace it with a new sustainable society that produces for need and not profit and takes immediate action to reverse climate change.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Brazil: Election Balance Sheet, the Failure of the Left and the need for a Revolutionary Leadership

Mothers against fascist dictatorship

The rise of the extreme right and the election of a Bonapartist figure like Bolsonaro are the result of the aggravation of the crisis of capitalism in Brazil. This signifies the exhaustion of the Workers' Party (PT) and the Popular Front (PF) in their function of pacifying the workers who fight against the attacks of the bourgeoisie and imperialism. Global capitalism, faced with its terminal crisis, resorts to Bonapartism and fascism as a means of getting workers to pay the price of the crisis.

With a populist and conservative discourse, Bolsonaro exploited the discontent of the petty bourgeoisie and the unemployed with the current crisis situation. As a characteristic of Bonapartism, it has placed itself above the parties and institutions that are demoralized and worn out in the eyes of the population. Corruption, the privilege of politicians and bargaining in the spheres of power, as the population suffers from unemployment and falling living conditions, was the main reason for the votes for an "anti-system" candidate. The PT was the party most associated with this system. "Anti-petismo" (anti-PT) was the flag in the election campaign of Bolsonaro and several candidates to the parliament and to the state governments. However, all the major parties that have governed the country since the re-democratization, especially PSDB (Brazilian Social Democracy Party) and PMDB (Party of the Brazilian Democratic Movement), suffered with rejection in these elections.

Corruption, privileges of a political oligarchy and attacks on workers. This is the "system" established with the 1988 Constitution and the bourgeois democratic regime. This is what capitalism can give in its imperialist epoch. Obviously, the PT is not responsible for corruption and for this "system" as the bourgeoisie and Lava-Jato want to believe, but the PT entered this system when joining the bourgeoisie to govern the country for more than 13 years. Lula / PT and the so-called "progressive" governments of Latin America rose to power in a moment of world economic growth, boosted by the sale of commodities to China. Far from breaking with capitalism, these governments were able to give crumbs to the workers and poor people while applying neoliberal measures. Far from being "anti-imperialist," these governments lined up and increased their dependence on Chinese imperialism.

Bolsonaro was elected by a great feeling of change and promising to end the corruption, that the population sees as cause of the worsening of the conditions of life. We know that neither the inherent corruption of capitalist relations nor the economic crisis will resolve itself, and it will have to attack the working class hard. The instability generated by the capitalist crisis has already led to the impeachment of Dilma and the unpopular government of Temer who had moments on the tightrope. Bolsonaro is a veteran of the military regime and has announced several military personnel to compose his ministry. Ending the illusion of Bolsonaro's promises, a regime of exception may be the only "change" the bourgeoisie will have to offer.

The biggest challenge of the working class to fight Bolsonaro and fascism is to break with the Popular Front. For what divides the working class is the bourgeoisie. The working class will remain divided as long as the opportunist leadership directs large numbers of workers to join the bourgeoisie and abandon class independence, shifting the struggle to illusions in parliament. Workers need a united front, to organize the class in an independent and democratic way, to assume the traditional methods of direct struggle, the only way to combat fascism and imperialism.


The PT and a large part of the left are today the greatest defenders of the demoralized bourgeois democratic regime to combat Bolsonaro and the threat of fascism. In the second round of elections, almost all leftist organizations supported the Popular Front (PF) by voting for the PT. Including organizations claiming to be revolutionary, such as PSTU (Unified Workers' Socialist Party), MES (Socialist Left Movement), CST (Socialist Workers' Current) and MRT (Revolutionary Movement of Workers). These false Trotskyists evoked the struggle of the Bolsheviks against Kornilov's fascist coup to justify their support for the Popular Front. Lenin and Trotsky were relentless combatants against the PF. While fighting Kornilov, they called for the One Front precisely to expose the betrayal of the Mensheviks who were part of the provisional government of the PF!

The left abandoned any prospect of struggle for the Brazilian revolution. The main policy of these organizations for the elections, and now after the elections, is the call for the "Broad Front" of the PT to defend (bourgeois) democracy! That is, the only way out for the working class against Bonapartism and fascism would be the alliance with so-called "democratic" or "progressive" sectors of the bourgeoisie.

Guilherme Boulos and the PSOL (Socialism and Liberty Party) leadership capitulate to the PT and have been the major mouthpieces of the populist front politics. With the electoral process polarized between Bolsonaro and the PT, Boulos's candidacy was the true auxiliary line of the PT. Boulos and PSOL spent the year 2017 constructing the "VAMOS" platform on a front with PDT (Democratic Labour Party), PSB (Brazilian Socialist Party) and other bourgeois sectors that they say are "progressive". In the second round he called a vote for the PF, consistent with his defense of bourgeois democracy vs. fascism. The PSOL is a split from the PT and was opposed to its government, but it is a reformist party and, in fact, never was against the policy of popular front. Socialism is a word that does not exist in the vocabulary of Boulos. The program advocated by him and the PSOL leadership on the VAMOS platform is openly reformist, posing as the greatest advocates of "better" capitalism and accusing as divisive and sectarian those defending class independence, the Frente Única and a revolutionary strategy.

The PSTU supported the bourgeoisie's maneuver to overthrow the PT as a "democratic right," and Lava-Jato as a "fight against corruption." For the PSTU, to stand against impeachment was to support the PT and the PF, as there was no threat from the extreme right and fascism in Brazil. In the second round they supported the popular front by calling for a PT vote against the far-right candidate who "defends a dictatorship project for our country", a threat that a few months ago they said did not exist! We warned that the PSTU was only masking its opportunism with sectarianism and its logic would lead to the defense of the PF against fascism. We said that the rise of the extreme right and fascism is fought with class independence and methods of direct struggle of the workers and not with the PF that serves to demobilize the workers and open the way to fascism. We did not support the PT and the PF and were against the impeachment and maneuvers of the bourgeoisie. We are against the narrative of the coup that disarms the working class in the struggle against a real coup and a fascist regime. The PSTU did this disarming denying a fascist threat and then supporting the PF in the elections.


The new president defends a policy of alignment with American imperialism. Following the anti-China line of Trump, he says that the Asian country is not investing but rather "buying" Brazil. The editorial of the Chinese government aligned newspaper was considered a warning against some of the new government's plans to cancel deals with China. Bolsonaro's nationalist rhetoric contrasts with his economic team of notables led by economist "Chicago boy" Paulo Guedes who hastily said that business with China is important to the country and will not be affected. Bolsonaro's statements against China were also seen as a risk by businessmen and sectors who fear for their business. While Bolsonaro says he does not understand economics and Paulo Guedes is the one who decides in this area, the other ministries have been filled with conservative and military figures, closer to his far-right politics. Bolsonaro's nationalism cannot go beyond its subordination to imperialism.

The global crisis of capitalism shakes the hegemony of US imperialism established in World War II and stirs up the dispute with the ascendant imperialisms of China and Russia. The actual crisis, of commercial and military wars, affirms Lenin's Marxist theory of imperialism which explains the destructive character of capitalism in the imperialist era, when the world is already divided between the great powers that must go to war to survive. The dispute between the US/EU and China/Russia blocs is an inter-imperialist one in which workers must maintain their class independence and the unity of the workers of the world in the struggle for socialist revolution, the only revolution capable of defeating both imperialist blocs, avoiding their wars and the destruction of the environment.

Much of the left, especially the Stalinists, defend the China/Russia bloc claiming an "anti-imperialist" struggle for a "multipolar" world. We say that this is nothing more than revisionism of a traitorous left. We affirm Marxism and Trotskyism that there was no "progressive" bourgeoisie in the imperialist era and that the democratic demands and independence from imperialism can only be achieved by the workers with the permanent revolution. It is not possible for a semi-colony to become imperialist. China and Russia were able to develop their productive forces with the expropriation of the bourgeoisie, so they returned to the capitalist sphere as imperialist countries. The reactionary national bourgeoisie are unable to develop the productive forces and fear the working class and the revolution more than they fear imperialism.

For the reformist left, Bolsonaro and fascism were fought on the national level, by means of a PF with the "progressive" national bourgeoisie. On the international scene, they are part of a big PF with China and Russia to fight against American imperialism. Defending Chinese and Russian imperialism as an alternative to the US is to take sides in the imperialist dispute and abandon class independence and revolutionary strategy.


Contrary to what the reformists say, the workers and poor people have staged various struggles and resistance. However, these struggles are becoming subordinate to the reformist strategy of struggle within parliament and the PF. Class independence and traditional methods of struggle are boycotted and impeded by the opportunist leaderships of the movement.

With the outbreak of the crisis in 2008 and the announcement of thousands of layoffs in the metallurgical sector, the CUT (Central Única dos Trabalhadores) rushed to defend the PT government and dismantle the resistance, while the main leader of the PSTU metallurgists in São José dos Campos, got on the sound truck with the well-known union bureaucrat Paulinho Da Força, beginning his policy of alliance with the trade union bureaucracy and their bourgeois parties that lasts until today. In the years that followed, teacher strikes spread throughout the country and the need to unify these struggles was diverted by CUT/CNTE into a 3-day general strike in defense of the National Education Plan (PNE) and this diversion was supported by the entire left. The PNE was precisely the neoliberal plan for privatization or outsourcing of education throughout the country! In 2012, the university strike and more than 400,000 federal workers were isolated and demobilized by the CUT/PT with the help of the left, which was said to be opposed to the PT government but was not politically independent of the PT and the union bureaucracy.

In 2013, during the rise of the youth against the increase of bus fares, which led to mass demonstrations and became known as the June Days, again the left that claimed to be the opposition to the government, such as PSTU and PSOL, did not have any independent policy from the PT and many ended up supporting the government and the media by calling the demonstrators "vandals".

The June Days followed with numerous strikes all over the country, some historic, including in Porto Alegre, Rio de Janeiro (RJ), such as Rio’s bus drivers and teachers, in the middle of the "Não Vai Ter Copa". All this movement of resistance of the workers was attacked and boycotted by the central trade unions, CUT and CTB. So did the left that claimed to be opposition to the government, keeping the strikes isolated by category, with economist guidelines and preventing any attempt to include "Não Vai Ter Cup" in the strike agenda, a slogan that was shouted at the assemblies and raised in posters by workers. On the eve of the opening of the World Cup in São Paulo, the leadership of the subway union, led by PSTU and PSOL, ended the strike, and the MTST (Homeless Workers' Movement) leadership ended the occupation of the "People's Cup", two movements that brought the city to a stop.

On the opening day of the World Cup there were marked demonstrations throughout the country. In Porto Alegre, striking municipal workers who had concentrated in the center of the city a month before were diverted to a distant action, in a clear example of the union's leadership isolating the movements. In Sao Paulo, demonstrators were attacked by the police who prevented them from entering the subway and receiving shelter from the transit workers union. The workers' strikes were isolated and defeated, and the youth and some independent movements were left alone in the resistance against the World Cup and the government, resulting in 23 convictions under the Anti-terrorism law approved by Dilma. The true United Front formed in strikes, school occupations, Block of Fights in Porto Alegre or the Fight Forum in Rio were dismantled all over the left.

However, the struggles did not end and 2016 was marked by school occupations by high school students. After Temer's inauguration, the "Out With Temer" movement took to the streets of the cities, and in Porto Alegre there were 50 thousand demonstrators, as well as in São Paulo, Rio and several cities across the country. The demonstrations were all controlled by the PT and its allies and diverted by the strategy of pressuring the government and contesting the bourgeois elections. At that moment, the capitulations to the PT and the PF of the currents that claim to be to the left and in opposition to the PT government were already enormous and the total absence of an alternative policy by these organizations became clearer. The struggles against the Reformation of Secondary Education, the PEC of the Ceiling of the Expenses and Labor Reform of Temer were subordinated to the "unity of action" of the opportunist leaderships in a bureaucratic bloc among the union federations. CSP Conlutas, which emerged as an alternative to the CUT's governing bureaucracy, is today the largest advocate of this unity with the opportunist leadership of the movement. In the metalworkers' union led by CSP Conlutas, while keeping strikes isolated by factories and with an economist agenda, the CSP leaders leave the agenda of the General Strike and Against the Reforms and government attacks in the hands of the trade union bureaucracy and their Popular Front alliances.

The minority movement is another example of struggle and resistance that is also controlled by the opportunist leaderships that lead the working women's movement to subordination to bourgeois feminism. The #EleNao movement, which generated demonstrations throughout the country with thousands of women against Bolsonaro's candidacy and fascism, was channeled into the bourgeois elections and the defense of Haddad’s PT candidacy.

Faced with the deep crisis that the country is going through, it is not only the workers and the poor and oppressed people who show their revolt and indignation. Sectors of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie are also dissatisfied and outraged by the situation. This outrage was capitalized on by the right and extreme right in 2015 in the move that led to Dilma's impeachment. Reactionary sectors are also dissatisfied, leading to "police strikes" generating chaos in the states and getting support from several leftist currents! But the most emblematic movement was the truckers' strike in May, 2018. The indignation of the autonomous truck drivers who cannot keep their livelihood was led by transport entrepreneurs who are also not at all pleased with the high fuel prices. These reactionary sectors also wanted a "solution" to the crisis, but their solution had nothing to do with the interests of the workers, demonstrated by the number of factions in the truckers' strike that called for "Military Intervention Now".

The truck drivers' strike lasted 10 days, causing a supply crisis bringing the country to a stop with great popular support, threatening the already weakened Temer government. All the left came out in support of the "strike," consistent with its policy of unity with "progressive" bourgeois sectors. The CUT was paralyzed in the first week of the strike and after the movement rejected the unions' agreement with the government to end the strike, the CUT then began to mobilize the tankers, the sector it organizes, and to raise the slogan of "against Petrobras' price policy" and “Down With Parente" (the president of the oil company) and there followed 3 days of strike by the trade. The slogan of the CUT / PT became a force in the movement and were picked up by the truck drivers, including the fall of Parente. On the day marked for the strike of the oil tankers, the leadership of the truck drivers' movement ended the strike. The roads that had been taken by trucks on the first day of the oil tankers' strike were totally empty. The oil tankers' strike did not last the 3 days, and was totally demoralized.

Does the fact that the truckers' strike was a movement of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie mean that the workers should not mobilize and strike? No, on the contrary. Popular support for the truckers' strike showed the feeling of indignation of the population, especially the workers and the poorest people and showed the need for an independent movement of the working class. The phrase most heard on the days of the truckers' strike was "have it for everything," it was a great moment for an independent movement of the working class for a General Strike to call on the workers to break with the bourgeois sectors and unite the sectors of workers. The support of the CUT and the call to join in the strike was not a call for class unity, but to unity with bourgeois and petty bourgeois sectors, which left the movement in the hands of the bosses of transport and the bureaucracy of the truckers' unions, inevitably leading to the defeat of the movement.


The new government has not yet assumed office and already shows all its fragility. The formation of its team of ministers is surrounded in several controversies of dispute between its allies and Bolsonaro’s party, showing that the "give and take" that it said it would fight continues. Just as the allegations of corruption, which shakes his future minister of the civil house, and in recent days, the denunciations made by the media involving his son who is a deputy, and the undue receipt of money by his wife, while his deputy, General Mourão makes statements saying that Bolsonaro has to explain the origin of the money. Police in the state of Roraima are on strike, the government has announced federal intervention in the state and the truckers who threaten further paralysis.

There is no way out for the workers within capitalism. And to defeat capitalism, class independence and its traditional methods of struggle are required. Workers need to form committees for workplace, study and housing and organize self-defense committees. A true united front is needed that brings together workers and social movements for State and National Congresses, with delegates elected at the base, to discuss a program of struggle for the working class.


Reblogged from

Class Struggle 127 Summer 2018/19

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Brazil Elections: Part Two

Mothers against Bolsonaro

In Brazil right now, a perfect storm of the worsening crisis, the exhaustion of the Workers Party (PT), and the populist elevation of Bolsonaro, has created the conditions for a Bonapartist figure based on the petty bourgeoisie and one sector of the national bourgeoisie that wants to privatise all state owned property, to rise to power by using the electoral process. And when his electoral legitimacy is challenged by organised workers, Bolsonaro’s military ties guarantees him the loyalty of at least part of the military high command in mounting a military coup and creating a fascist regime.

In the semi-colonies we see one after another national leader exploit the anger of the petty bourgeoisie and unemployed to ride a ‘populist’ wave into power. In Brazil, the crisis is extreme and the rising anger of the petty bourgeois has pushed Bolsonaro, a career marginal politician of the far right, a captain in the army during the period of Military rule, and long-time advocate of a return to military rule, to the brink of power. His sudden rise to popularity is no mystery to Marxists.

The likely victory of Bolsonaro represents a trend of global capitalism facing its terminal crisis resorting to Bonapartism based on a maverick politician rallying the votes of the disaffected petty bourgeois to solve the crisis by removing all obstacles to making the workers and peasants pay for the crisis. It signifies the exhaustion of right-wing social democracy’s role in pacifying workers who fight back against all attacks to smash their resistance to imperialism’s drive to increase its super-exploitation of the weaker imperialist powers and semi-colonies.

The jailing of Lula and the impeachment of Dilma has shown that US imperialism does not favor the PT and favors the reactionary government. Even if the PT wins the second round, though highly unlikely, thinking that the Workers Party (PT) will do anything more than deliver for their imperialist masters is delusional.

The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) current in Brazil has jumped on the bandwagon calling for a vote for the PT in the second round. We expect the Unified Workers’ Socialist Party (PSTU) to make a similar decision this week. Should they do so they will abandon the fig leaf of class political independence they maintained in the first round.

This is where the centrists show their true colors. Their illusion in the parliament and the RCIT call for a “revolutionary” constituent assembly in all semi-colonies at all times overshadows the retailing of illusions in what can be wrung from the bourgeoisie without regard to the state of the economy. What was possible when the economy was riding high is not possible at all times with a miraculous ballot, and in fact the PT without a bourgeois suitor party at this moment is no more class-independent than it ever was. As a matter of program it is committed to popular fronts. For centrists to say this is not the issue now is a reflection of their bankruptcy, since they are staking the entirety of their ‘anti-fascism’ on the second round outcome. For them, without a PT victory the sky will fall and it will be useless to have other plans of struggle. They show their complete lack of confidence in the working class’s ability to defeat fascism with its own methods and without surrendering leadership to alien class forces who ultimately have NO STAKE in fascism’s defeat. Quite the contrary, in fact, as history ought to have shown these modern Kautskys. We reject all this centrism as middle class muddle headedness.

Look at this RCIT shamefaced excuse for supporting the popular front posing as worker revolutionism!…,
"As we said in our last article on the presidential elections: “ In the past the CCR didn’t call for critical support for Lula or Rousseff because their candidature always had a popular front character symbolized by the fact that the Vice President was from the PMDB, an open bourgeois party.” We also said that “this time in presidential elections 2018 is different, since they have a vice-president of PCdoB, who is clearly a small bourgeois labor party”. In such a situation, it is important that the revolutionaries call for the critical vote for PT candidate Fernando Haddad. We know Haddad is a reformist politician. But this election reflects a significant class polarization and the PT and its candidate reflect – in a reformist way – the aspirations of the working class and of all the anti-putchist segments of society. Revolutionaries need to patiently explain to workers why the reformist policy of the PT and its old alliances inevitably lead to failure and why a revolutionary program with a truly revolutionary party fighting for a workers’ government in close alliance with the urban and rural poor, is the only way forward!” – “Brazil: Vote Haddad – Defeat Bolsonaro! The Challenge for the Working Class in the Second Round of Presidential Elections
Contrast the RCIT position above with our comrades’ of the Grupo de Trabalhadores Revolucionários do Brasil (GTR-BR) position…,

"The PT deceived workers that the reactionary 1988 constitution and bourgeois democratic regime could provide a good living for the working class and spent 20 years creating the illusion that a “left” government could change their lives. After 13 years governing with the bourgeoisie, it is linked to the inherent corruption schemes of the capitalist state and is the main supporter of the Popular Front, which is the biggest obstacle to working class independence.” – “Brazil elections: Down with the Popular Front! For class independence in the struggle against imperialism and fascism!” [1]
The Chinese state did not come to Dilma’s rescue. The BRICS bank did not and didn’t have the money to bail Brazil out. The international dimension to the PT’s popular frontism was and remains lost on our centrists’ understanding of Brazil’s experience of the world capitalist crisis. To sell illusions in the PT as victims of the “car wash” and a “coup d’etat” that did not happen is to deceive the working class. It is a betrayal equal to the 1952 SWP (U.S.) call for support for Paz Estenssoro’s MNR in Bolivia!

Are the centrists oblivious? Even the BBC sees…,
“Above all, Mr Haddad has been trying to portray himself as more of a moderate than the firebrand, working-class Lula. Part of Mr. Haddad’s campaign strategy has been to try to woo the wider electorate with promises of gradual reforms.

These promises come after turbulent years in which Brazil has been rocked by an increase in violent crime and a huge political bribery scandal that has tainted the entire political class, ensnaring not only Lula but several other senior figures in the Workers’ Party.” – “Brazil candidate Fernando Haddad: Betting on moderation
Facing the rise of fascism in Germany in 1931, Trotsky wrote…,
“The Communist Party must call for the defense of those material and moral positions which the working class has managed to win in the German state. This most directly concerns the fate of the workers’ political organizations, trade unions, newspapers, printing plants, clubs, libraries, etc. Communist workers must say to their Social Democratic counterparts: ‘The policies of our parties are irreconcilably opposed; but if the fascists come tonight to wreck your organization’s hall, we will come running, arms in hand, to help you. Will you promise us that if our organization is threatened you will rush to our aid?’ This is the quintessence of our policy in the present period. All agitation must be pitched in this key.

“The more persistently, seriously, and thoughtfully … we carry on this agitation, the more we propose serious measures for defense in every factory, in every working-class neighborhood and district the less the danger that a fascist attack will take us by surprise, and the greater the certainty that such an attack will cement rather than break apart the ranks of the workers.” – “The United Front for Defense A Letter to a Social Democratic Worker (February 1933)

“It is necessary to show by deeds a complete readiness to make a bloc with the Social Democrats against the fascists in all cases in which they will accept a bloc. To say to the Social Democratic workers: “Cast your leaders aside and join our “nonparty” united front” means to add just one more hollow phrase to a thousand others. We must understand how to tear the workers away from their leaders in reality. But reality today is-the struggle against fascism. There are and doubtless will be Social Democratic workers who are prepared to fight hand in hand with the Communist workers against the fascists, regardless of the desires or even against the desires of the Social Democratic organizations. With such progressive elements it is obviously necessary to establish the closest possible contact. At the present time, however, they are not great in number. The German worker has been raised in the spirit of organization and of discipline. This has its strong as well as its weak sides. The overwhelming majority of the Social Democratic workers will fight against the fascists, but – for the present at least – only together with their organizations. This stage cannot be skipped. We must help the Social Democratic workers in action – in this new and extraordinary situation – to test the value of their organizations and leaders at this time, when it is a matter of life and death for the working class.
Election agreements, parliamentary compromises concluded between the revolutionary party and the Social Democracy serve, as a rule, to the advantage of the Social Democracy. Practical agreements for mass action, for purposes of struggle, are always useful to the revolutionary party. The Anglo-Russian Committee was an impermissible type of bloc of two leaderships on one common political platform, vague, deceptive, binding no one to any action at all. The maintenance of this bloc at the time of the British General Strike, when the General Council assumed the role of strikebreaker, signified, on the part of the Stalinists, a policy of betrayal. [4]

No common platform with the Social Democracy, or with the leaders of the German trade unions, no common publications, banners, placards! March separately, but strike together! Agree only how to strike, whom to strike, and when to strike! Such an agreement can be concluded even with the devil himself, with his grandmother, and even with Noske and Grezesinsky. [5] On one condition, not to bind one’s hands.” – Leon Trotsky, “For a Workers’ United Front Against Fascism (December 1931)

[1] The vast majority of the left is defending the popular front to fight against fascism. The PT is terrorizing those who do not vote for the PT, accusing everyone of being on the side of fascism. Huge pressure, and ALL the left capitulated.

The PT is in a formal coalition with PCdoB and a small bourgeois party (PROS). Informally, it is allied and rising on palanques with various MDB cadres and “colonels” of politics.

Reblogged from Class War

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Brazil elections: Down with the Popular Front! For class independence in the struggle against imperialism and fascism!

Jair Bolsonaro candidate of the Social Labour Party (PSL) who has a current lead in the polls of approx. 10% over the Workers Party (PT) candidate Fernando Haddad

There are only a few days left before the elections and instability and unpredictability lie not only in the outcome but in the electoral process itself. Most likely the polarization between PSDB and PT of the last 24 years will break when PSDB supporters in the second round must choose between the PT (Workers' Party) candidate and the extreme right represented by Bolsonaro (Social Liberal Party).

The instability of political regimes is a constant in the semi-colonies, like Brazil, exploited and subordinated to the dictates of imperialism. The current economic and social crisis puts in check the bourgeois democratic regime established in the 1988 constitution. The greatest expression of this crisis is the emergence of Bonapartist figures such as Bolsonaro (standing above classes, parties and institutions, supported by middle class discontent and lumpenproletariat, with a racist, macho and homophobic narrative) and in the threat of a real military coup.

The more the crisis of the regime deepens, the more the reformist left proclaims the old formula, bourgeois democracy vs. fascism, defending the alliance with "progressive" sectors of the bourgeoisie, the Popular Front (FP), in defense of the dying bourgeois democratic regime. This formula leads us today to look at the "left", to fight Bolsonaro's Bonapartism, to deal with the Globo network and with the "democratic" sections of the bourgeoisie. The biggest example is the left going along with the PSDB, PDT, etc., in the feminist movement, "against fascism".

Despite the deepening political and social crisis and the unpredictability of the electoral process, the reformist left promising to end the crisis through bourgeois elections has proclaimed its entire "repudiation" of the attack on the far right presidential candidate in defense of the " democracy "and" dialogue ". This attack strengthens the reactionary sectors supported by the racist, sexist and xenophobic narrative, who are also unhappy with the crisis, and their "remedies" are to defend civil war methods against the working class. These sectors are not just present in the elections represented in the Bolsonaro candidacy, they are in the fascist police bands that control the militias in the favelas, they are in the paramilitary groups that defend landowners and kill indigenous leaders, quilombolas and rural workers every day! They are in the bourgeois state and in the torturers of the armed forces that until now are unpunished! They are in groups that have called for "military intervention" for years. The PT, with the narrative of "coup" and the struggle through parliament, disarms the workers for the struggle against fascism and the threat of a real coup.

These "revolutionary" leaderships, for whom the revolution "is not possible," are the opportunists who defend the moribund bourgeois democratic regime and demoralize, demobilize and divert the direct struggle of the single working class with its committees of the rank-and-file and self-defense, from a general strike and a revolutionary insurrection capable of defeating fascism and imperialism and giving the only remedy of interest to the oppressed workers and peoples in the face of the deep global crisis of capitalism. The PT deceived workers that the reactionary 1988 constitution and bourgeois democratic regime could provide a good living for the working class and spent 20 years creating the illusion that a "left" government could change their lives. After 13 years governing with the bourgeoisie, it is linked to the inherent corruption schemes of the capitalist state and is the main supporter of the Popular Front, which is the biggest obstacle to working class independence.

The current global crisis affirms the destructive character of the capitalist system. The rivalry of the decadent American imperialism with the ascendant imperialism of China / Russia is increasing, from commercial wars to the military. Brazil and Latin America are being hit hard by the global crisis of capitalism. They are also the target of the inter-imperialist dispute between the US and China. In Argentina, as in Brazil, workers have been suffering from unemployment, inflation, loss of rights and repression. In Venezuela, the masses endure the country's worst capitalist crisis and workers suffer from hunger, misery and xenophobia in neighboring countries where the search for a better life drives them to migrate. Class independence and unity of the continent's workers is necessary to defeat this destructive system! Latin American workers need to get rid of Castro-Chavism and its opportunist leaderships that advocate oppressive regimes like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Syria, and an alliance with Russian and Chinese imperialism as "anti-imperialism" and an alternative to American imperialism. These populist leaderships divide the class and put the weight of the crisis on the workers' backs.

The strength of the PT (Workers Party) and the FP (Popular Front), and the capitulation of the leftist currents

PSOL's candidacy with Guilherme Boulos is demoralized, with militants declaring a vote for the PT and for the bourgeois PDT party (Presidential candidate Ciro Gomes) "against fascism", and Boulos appealing to do so in the second round! Boulos and PSOL spent the year 2017 constructing the "Vamos" platform, along with PT and bourgeois parties like PDT and PSB, saying "unite" the left and the "progressive" sectors, "against fascism". Today, the PDT candidacy gains strength postulating the oligarch Ciro Gomes as the "left", and Boulos and the PSOL reap the bitter fruits of their opportunist politics, capitulation and the populist front. These bitter fruits will not disappear after the crisis of these elections and the PSOL runs the risk of not electing important parliamentarians.

The MRT (Revolutionary Movement of Workers) has launched candidates with the PSOL legend. Its main policy is to defend Lula's freedom for a "normal" electoral process, with the "democratic" right of the people to decide who to vote for. A shameful capitulation to the popular front and the rotten bourgeois democratic regime! The MRT policy, which is the brother party of the PTS in Argentina, shows the capitulation of the leftist currents in the FIT to the bourgeois democratic regime, reflected clearly in Brazil where these same currents have brother parties and are unable to unify the struggles, and often even fail to provide solidarity.

In these elections we call a critical vote for the PSTU for not being allied with the bourgeoisie. In a moment of so much pressure for the FP popular front, where bourgeois sectors such as PDT and PSB are placed in the left field, it is fundamental of class consciousness to NOT VOTE FOR THE BOURGEOISIE. But we show that the PSTU program is reformist. Unlike the PT and PSOL that replace the direct struggle of the class with the fight in the parliament, the PSTU substitutes for the union bureaucracy, making alliances with the bourgeoisie and the bureaucracy in the unions and workers' movement. What they call a "unity of action" is actually a bureaucratic popular front bloc.

There is no capitalism without machismo! Working women need their own organizations. They must be in the struggle with their organizations independently, at the forefront of working-class organizations, at the forefront of the revolutionary struggle, the only one capable of defeating fascism. The multi-class bourgeois feminist movement, this great popular front "against fascism", divides the working class, it drives women away from their allies to stand next to their class enemies! Workers need to organize independently and with their traditional methods of struggle, the only way to combat the bourgeoisie and fascism!

It is important that Brazilian workers have no illusions in the capitalist system and bourgeois elections. The Brazilian crisis is part of the global crisis of capitalism that is deepening. Whatever the outcome of the electoral process, the bourgeoisie, imperialism and its agents have nothing for the workers unless they pay for the crisis with unemployment, loss of rights, more taxes, pension reform, privatization, and with increasing repression and fascism. This left populist Front does not fight against imperialism and fascism, it opens the way for it! The deeper the crisis and the instability, the more the false left proclaims the Popular Front as the "struggle" against fascism, and multiplies pressure for alliances with the "progressive" bourgeoisie. The FP is the biggest barrier to the necessary class independence of the workers. Left-wing currents who say they are revolutionary must break with this reformist policy and capitulation to FP. Brazilian workers need class independence, which prioritises the traditional methods of working class struggle, organization of workers' committees and self-defense, pickets and general strike, to fight against the bourgeoisie and all imperialist powers, overthrowing the bourgeois state and building socialism. It is urgent to build a revolutionary leadership!

Translated from the original Portuguese 

Sunday, July 29, 2018

How to Fight Fascism in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Fascism is back on the agenda with a vengeance. Not merely because two Canadian ‘alt-right’ activists want to spread their message in Aotearoa. Of course ‘alt-right’ is a euphemism for fascism. But when someone actively attempts to stop refugees from Africa and the Middle East from reaching Europe by attacking their boats there is no denying fascism is ‘alt-right’.

Today, capitalism is dying and is thrashing about destroying everything it touches. It deserves to die, but not to take us with it. Fascism is the political response of last resort against the overthrow of capitalism by the working class. It will not give up its fight peacefully, logically, rationally, but resorts to undemocratic and illegal actions, wars and genocide.

Yet it wants its working class enemy to fight peacefully and respect bourgeois human rights – including ‘free speech’. Never mind the right to life of African refugees. It wants fascism to be normalized as just another ideology that deserves equality before the law. Meanwhile it builds and organizes a reactionary social movement against refugee rights, workers’ rights and socialist revolution.

The denial of a platform to fascists is a longstanding question, first raised with the rise of the fascist movement in Germany in 1920, rapidly followed by Italy and then Spain. If you look at these movements its clear that they took advantage of the pacifism and disorganization of the workers to put up resistance to its armed shock troops.

Remember Bertolucci's film, 1900, set in Italy during the early 1900s. The communists were a powerful political force but no match for armed fascist bands that attacked their union halls and murdered labour leaders defeating their movement. In Germany the same methods were used to weaken, divide and destroy the labour movement. Revolutionary leaders like Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were assassinated and workers armed uprisings put down.

The fascists succeeded because workers were divided along ideological lines. Social Democracy was committed to parliamentary socialism and the rule of law. It looked to the state to protect them from fascists, denying the fact that the state supports fascism in defending capitalism against socialist revolution. Since social democracy prefers fascism to communism the Communists were isolated. Fascists even appealed to workers and declassed petty bourgeois as ‘socialist’ to deceive them.

Fascism is the militant, violent, undemocratic and unlawful instrument of brutal bourgeois class rule. It doesn’t defend bourgeois freedoms even while it attempts to hide behind them. Its main purpose is to smash the working class as the only class that can overthrow capitalism and build a new society free from exploitation and oppression.

Therefore, since we must learn from history or die, it is stupid to ignore that lesson and fall for the ploy that fascism is somehow an aberration that is equally at home on the ‘alt-right’ and ‘alt- left’ against the law-abiding, pacifist, moderate middle. That is to separate the symptoms of fascism from its cause.

The only language that fascists understand is that of force – class force. Either they use that force against us and win the class war, or we organize our own class force and defeat fascism in its embryo before it gains the upper hand.

Marxists do not call on the bourgeois state to ban fascists because we have learned that historically the state sides with fascism to smash the working class. We organize as a class to use every bourgeois freedom that advances our class interests in socialism. That is why we do not fetishize ‘freedom of speech’ when it disarms us in the face of the rise of fascism.

Those who want to survive capitalism’s decline and fall need to work out where their class allegiance lies now before it is too late, and build a working class anti-fascist movement to defeat fascism on the streets.

See also
Leon Trotsky summary of key writings on fascism: What is Fascism and How to Fight It.

The Helsinki Deal and the American Empire

Helsinki Trump Putin

There is a lot of confusion about Trump’s behavior in Helsinki. Is he crazy, a traitor, or dupe of Putin? Nah. It’s not that hard. It’s still about the Great Game for Eurasia. Trump is picking a fight with China which is the main economic threat to US imperialism. China has said it will ignore the sanctions on Iran. Trump wants to test the loyalty of Putin to Xi in the hope of weakening the China/Russia bloc. He wants a new deal.

The confusion is compounded by making this about Trump-the-man and not US national interests. It’s not an oligarch love fest. It’s not about the world conspiracy of White Supremacists or about Trump’s private business empire. It’s about the future of the US Empire.

But empires are passe you might ask, thinking about historical examples like Ancient Greece or Ancient China. You would be wrong. Empire today means a capitalist empire which has its own special characteristics that can be summed up as ‘state monopoly capitalism’.

As the main capitalist nations industrialized in the 19th century, they grew too big for their national markets and began to evolve strong states to aggressively expand at the expense of their rival empires. They had to export capital to escape falling profits at home. The object was to grab global resources and markets from their colonies to boost their profits by any means necessary including trade wars and military wars.

The template was set early in the 20th century as the Great Game between capitalist imperialist Britain and feudal imperialist Russia for control of Eurasia and then the world! It was the rivalry between the European powers to re-divide the colonial world that led directly to World War 1. Britain and France had stolen a march on their rivals pouring capital into pre-capitalist Russia leaving Germany and Japan behind the game.

World War 1 did not resolve this clash of interests – the Russian Revolution created the Soviet Union, and the draconian peace terms imposed on Germany created deep resentments which led ultimately to World War 2.

In both wars the US remained isolationist until its economic interests were directly threatened. In April 1917 the US reacted to the loss of its merchant ships to German submarines, and the threat of Mexico joining the Axis.

In December 1941, the US reacted to Japan’s attack on Peal Harbor. But by this time the US was the dominant global power and assumed that role in framing the post-war settlement at Yalta.

The dominant US occupied Europe and Japan setting the terms of the peace by forming a military ring around the USSR and soon-to-be ‘Red’ China. US isolationism was over and the epoch of US as the global hegemonic power began. The mission of the post-WW2 US imperialism was to defeat the USSR and China and add them to its global domain.

Yet despite its steel ring around Eurasia and the ‘cold war’, which eventually brought the USSR and China to their knees in the 1990s, neither the US nor its EU and Japanese ‘allies’ succeeded in converting them into neo-colonies. On the contrary they re-entered the global capitalist economy largely on their own terms.

Decades of bureaucratic state planning allowed both Russia and China to develop the centralized state economies able to resist penetration and domination by the Western imperialist powers. The usual methods of imperialist penetration of capital to subordinate weaker powers to Western finance capital came up against well buttressed state capitalist regimes. Military domination was checkmated by nuclear weapons. Both Russia and China emerged as new imperialist powers threatening to limit and even challenge US hegemony.

The US responded by doubling down on its aggressive expansionism as the neo-conservatives pushed for war with Russia and China to contain the ‘red menace’. From Reagan to Bush Junior, NATO expanded to the Russian borders, but this together with wars against Afghanistan, Iraq and Iran failed to isolate the Russia/China bloc. In the East, the ring of military bases around China from Japan to Guam was reinforced.

All failed to break down the political and economic barriers to Western imperialist penetration and domination. The neo-conservative mission to recover Eurasia had timed out. Obama’s ‘Pacific Pivot’ was largely a propaganda exercise.

Under Obama, the US Democrats pulled back on expensive military invasions, in preference for limited special ops adventures, standing by while both Russia and China expanded their imperialist spheres of influence in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America.

With the neoconservatives seething over the Ukraine and the Democrats stuck in the swamp of unresolved conflicts, neither could halt the erosion of US hegemony. Along came Donald Trump as a cartoon amalgam of former US presidents both isolationist and expansionist to make America Great Again. His brief was to drop the failed policies of the neo-conservatives and the globalisation of the Democrats by balancing the costs and benefits of imperialist hegemony in a period of global capitalist terminal crisis.

As Michael Klare on “Trumps Grand Strategy” points out, this brief fitted with the Russian and Chinese plan for a tripolar world.

Klare argues that Trump for all his bizarre behavior is into a serious bid to solve US imperialism’s problems by joining the Putin and Xi in a trilateral deal between Russia, China and the US. He thinks that there is nothing stopping the US from ending both neo-liberal and Democratic ‘imperialism’ as bad policy options, and that with the ‘good will’ of Putin and Xi Jinping he could persuade the US to join this deal to end the threat of nuclear war.

However ironic it might seem, this is, of course, the gist of the Sino-Russian tripolar model as embraced and embellished by Donald Trump. It envisions a world of constant military and economic contention among three regional power centers, generating crises of various sorts, but not outright war. It assumes that the leaders of those three centers will cooperate on matters affecting them all, such as terrorism, and negotiate as necessary to prevent minor skirmishes from erupting into major battles.
Read more:
This left-liberal analysis, drawing on Henry Kissinger, at least gives Trump the credit for having a geopolitical strategy. But it is limited by its focus on geopolitics separated from the laws of capitalist economics. It does not trace Trump’s ‘strategy’ back to the limits of US of post WW2 economic expansion and assumes that it has nothing to gain from military aggression and can realize its national interests in such a peace pact.

Yet this is misreading the nature of imperialism as outlined above and assumes that with good advice Trump can join with Putin and Xi Jinping in a new epoch of world peace. This would mean that the history of wars over the last two centuries were the results of bad leadership and that all that is needed is some good leadership. Here the author indulging in magical thinking in place of the reality that imperialist powers cannot survive in rational Kissinger-type ‘win-win’ deals but must defeat their rivals to survive the ‘zero-sum’ game.

It fails not only to account for the underlying US economic expansionism that pushed Presidents like Wilson and Truman from isolation towards globalism. It also misunderstands Putin’s and Xi’s imperialist interests in promoting their ‘globalist’ policies. And it misreads Trump’s own ‘strategy’ of seeking new methods of restoring America’s greatness by penetrating and dominating its rivals. One can only understand his policy moves towards other imperialist powers and other nations as designed to reduce the costs and boost the gains of the US Empire.

So, for Trump it’s about how much of the globe you can still dominate by making weaker states and the worlds’ workers pay for the declining US economy. His intervention over Brexit shows he wants the UK out of EU so he can weaken both. He wants to force a re-alignment of his former ‘allies’ and ‘foes’ to see how US can come out on top.

Specifically, he is testing Putin on his alliance with China to see if he can weaken it and play them off against each other. Iran is likely to be a big test, as China is ignoring US sanctions. The EU has caved on US pressure to observe the sanctions. Will Putin follow or offer a hand to the EU to evade the sanctions? The latter is most likely as Iran is now part of the Security Cooperation Organization- the Eurasian military bloc led by Russia and China.

Can they reach agreement on the Middle East? The Syrian revolution has seen a realignment of the region towards the Russia/China bloc. The US bloc has been reduced to Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The Russia/China bloc now includes Syria, Turkey, Iran and Qatar. Al Monitor has a theory that Trump is subcontracting the Syrian war to Russia to allow a further US disengagement.

Maxim Suchkov reports that “prior to the Helsinki meeting, Russia had been expected to deliver primarily three things: guarantee Israel’s security from what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sees as a growing Iranian presence on the Syrian-Israeli border, curb Iranian influence in the rest of Syria and open up to some kind of engagement with the United States and interested European states — all to ensure America’s own military pullout from Syria. Hence, the statements and moves Russian officials have made in the few days following the Helsinki meeting are meant to signal that Moscow has been delivering on what appears to have been its promises to each party: security for Israel, cooperation with Iran and engagement with the West.”
Read more:
This may be one part of the new tripolar deal. But what’s in it for the US? Will Kurdistan be traded for a united Korea on terms set by Trump? And how will the two rival blocs deal with the current threat of a working class uprising in Iraq? Can that be managed as part of a Tripolar world? Certainly, they will collaborate in suppressing any renewed Arab revolution as part of the war on terror. But such regional cooperation cannot survive any real test of the core interests of the rival great powers.

This, as ever, is the Great Game between the great powers. It cannot be a “win-win” game. There can be no benign tripolar deal that unites Israel and Iran any more than their imperialist backers. Facing an unstable crisis ridden global economy the rival imperialisms are inevitably locked into a “zero-sum” game. Today it is between the US and a reborn Russian empire, in a bloc with the new Chinese empire, with the EU powers pulled in two both directions.

The imperialist powers are driven by falling profits into trade and military wars which download their crises of falling profits onto the backs of their rivals and everywhere onto the backs of the working people. Workers everywhere must organize internationally to get ahead of the game and fight all such imperialist maneuvers.

Protesting Trump is a start, but it will go nowhere unless it becomes a global anti-imperialist movement against all imperialist trade wars, hot wars, genocides, climate collapse, and for a global socialist revolution. And for that to happen we all need to wake up and realise that for humanity to live, capitalism and all of its destruction to lives and planet, must die. We must organize internationally for survival socialism!

First published: