Saturday, December 19, 2009

200,000 Protest Unemployment in Spain

With a 38% unemployment rate after the construction boom busted as a result of the global financial crisis, Spain is at a turning point:
Last Saturday 12 December, 200,000 people attended a mass demonstration in Madrid organised by Spain’s biggest trade unions, the UGT and CCOO. The demonstration represented the first opportunity for the working class and young people in Spain, a country devastated by the crisis, with over 4 million unemployed, plummeting living standards, to give a national expression of the boiling anger that has developed in the last period. Despite a relative blackout in the capitalist media in the build up to the demonstration, the massive turnout, with thousands-strong delegations from all of the Spanish state’s regions, was an impressive show of strength. However, a striking feature of the demonstration was the veritable gulf separating the protest’s participants from the union leaders, as far as militancy and the willingness to fight is concerned.

14-Dec-2009. Byrne, Danny. 200,000 take to the streets in Madrid. Socialist World.Net

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Evo Morales Reelected in Bolivia

President Evo Morales of Bolivia, the first indigenous president elected in the post-Columbus Western Hemisphere, has been reelected to a second term. His MAS (Movement Towards Socialism) party also captured a two-thirds majority in the Bolivian congress, according to the Los Angeles Times. In light of the turmoil caused by the para-military resistance by the Bolivian elite minority, and forces of international capitalism, this election is a true victory for democracy and the people of Bolivia, Latin America, and the world.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez congratulated his Bolivian counterpart Evo Morales for his landslide electoral victory on Sunday saying it was a victory for all of Latin America.

“Yesterday there was jubilation throughout the continent,” Chavez said Monday during his speech at the First International Conference celebrating 10 years since the adoption of the Bolivarian Constitution of Venezuela.

Chavez said he was sure Morales would continue “fighting without rest to diminish poverty” and improve the welfare of his people, “based on indigenous philosophy.”

Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, was re-elected with 63% of the vote, 35% ahead of his nearest rival Manfred Reyes Villa.

8-Dec-2009. Janicke, Kiraz. Chavez: Morales’ Electoral Victory in Bolivia, a Victory for Latin America.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Towards a Fifth International

Excerpts from an article by Alan Woods reporting from the first congress of the PSUV (United Socialist Party of Venezuela). The emphases are mine:
At the opening session of the PSUV congress Chavez made a very radical left-wing speech, calling for the setting up of a new international, explaining that it was necessary to destroy the bourgeois state and replace it with a revolutionary state, but also referring to the bureaucracy within the Bolivarian movement itself. It was clearly a speech that reflects the enormous pressure from the masses below who are getting tired of talk about socialism, while real progress towards genuine change appears to be frustratingly slow.


The main emphasis of the first part of his speech was the need to set up a new revolutionary international, which he referred to as the Fifth International. Chavez pointed out that Marx had set up the First International, Engels participated in the founding of the Second International, Lenin founded the Third International and Leon Trotsky the Fourth, but that for different reasons, none of these Internationals existed today.


Chavez pointed out that the state in Venezuela remained a capitalist state and this was a central problem for the revolution. Waving a copy of Lenin’s State and Revolution (which he recommended all the delegates to read), he said that he accepted Lenin's view that it was necessary to destroy the bourgeois state and replace it with a revolutionary state, and this task remained to be carried out.

23-Nov-2009. Woods, Alan. First Extraordinary Congress of the PSUV - Chavez calls for the Fifth International. In Defense of Marxism.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Love Police

Please check out this video compilation of clips by the ‘Love
Police’ (Also known as the ‘Everything is OK guys’).
In my opinion, this is the most effective form of truth
activism because it uses humor, which helps to temporarily
bring down people's mental barriers, allowing glaring truths,
injustices and hypocrisies to become self evident.

Please do everything you can to circulate this video far and
wide. Post it in blogs, bulletins, forums, chain emails…
Upload it to your YouTube channel… Use your imagination…

- Operation Mind Seed

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Vivá Venezuela!

Obama has failed to fulfill the hopes of the majority of the global population. He has not and will not change foreign policy for the better - the United States remains an imperial power bent on exerting its political and economic will on a global basis.

The most recent round of Venezuela/ALBA bashing is full of lies, half-truths and is nothing more than pure propaganda. Whether it be FOX, the NY Times, or the Washington Post, all of these media outlets and many others are marching to the same orders - a smear campaign by the international elite against Venezuela/ALBA and, by extension, socialism in general.

Nevertheless, the facts are clear. From an article by professor Anthony DiMaggio:
[Hugo] Chávez's popularity, as American journalists begrudgingly admit, is based upon his willingness to put the needs of Venezuela's poor masses ahead of those of business elites. This does not mean that he's a saint or that political repression should not be a serious concern for those living throughout the hemisphere. No political leader deserves a blank check to consolidate political power. But what seems to escape U.S. leaders is that Venezuelan democracy assigns the task of holding leaders accountable to the people of Venezuela, rather than to "enlightened" U.S. elites.

Chávez's "Bolivarian Revolution" is indeed wildly popular in amongst Venezuelans. He is succeeding in promoting a plethora of social welfare programs paid for by the country's oil export revenues. Chávez is spearheading efforts to promote gender equality, government sponsored health care, universal higher education, increased state pension funding, land redistribution, and an expansion of public housing, amongst other programs. Chávez's welfare revolution is significantly improving the lives of the citizenry. A 50 percent increase in social welfare spending from 1999-2005 (in the first 6 years of Chávez's presidency) was accompanied by decreases in infant mortality, an increase in school enrollment an increase in individual disposable income, and a decrease in poverty. From 1997-2005, the national poverty rate fell from 56 to 38 percent of the population. By 2005, an estimated 50 percent of the Venezuelan people enjoyed government health care, while the same number also enjoyed government food subsidies. The Bolivarian Revolution, one should remember, also took place under fairly stable economic growth, ranging from 6-18 percent of GDP a year from 2004-2008. This trend stands on its head the assumptions of U.S. reporters that socialist policies are a major obstacle to economic stability and prosperity.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Which side are you on?

The crisis in Iran rumbles on. It is an irrelevancy whether the incumbent or the loyal opposition won the Iranian presidential "election". The charade which took place under the watchful eye of the Islamic theocracy was in no way a democratic exercise - no one can "win" an election conducted under a system of government repression and religious intolerance, whichever candidate received the most votes. To consider this the main issue is to ignore the other great camp involved in the ongoing struggle - that of the Iranian people themselves, by definition unrepresented by other faction of the autocratic Islamic regime, however much some now identify with one side's victory.

The position of revolutionary socialists must be support for the Iranian people and support for their uprising against the Islamic Republic, regardless of the election results. We cannot and should not give support to the moderate elements of the Iranian ruling class centred around the butcher Mousavi; but it is not his installation as president of Iran that we seek, it is the complete transformation of Iranian politics and society. Whether they know it or not, this is the logical conclusion to the mass movement of the Iranian demonstrators emerging as we speak: the recapturing of the state by civil society and the growth of national democratic structuers and an independent space for the development of the Iranian workers' movement.

The confusion hampering the British left's response to the Iranian revolt is understandable. Ahmadinejad is often lazily touted as an anti-imperialist figure, the beloved of Iran's rural poor. His popularity, not to mention the specific policies of his rule (regardless of how welcome his redistributive domestic agenda may be, compared to the alternative) is, if not unimportant, then a small matter when compared to the other side of the coin. The Iranian state remains a cruel and oppressive regime, its army and police and medieval ideology an obstacle not simply to the prospect of a humane and democratic socialist society, but also of the basic human rights - whether to trade union organisation or cultural expression - which serve as the threatened but surviving bedrock of the modern liberal state.

A friend of mine who helped set up a proxy server for the protestors, while looking through images of Iran's popular culture before the downfall of the Shah, was pleasantly surprised by the familiar, even Western images he saw. Although in the glorious perspective of an English liberal student he hoped "we'll get Iran back into miniskirts and cocaine" as a result of the current struggle (having 'missed out' on the 1980s, he's hoping Iran undergoes the full-blown revolution of discos and yuppies) there was considerable truth to his remark that Iran is "more modern and revolutionary give than most give them credit for". Prior to 1979, and even now despite the last thirty years of fundamentalism, Iran's status as one of the most economically developed and culturally 'Westernised' societies in the Middle East is obvious. The Islamic Republic has not changed this; despite its problems, Iran is more than suited to liberal democracy, a possibility brutally cut short by the Islamists during the revolution.

But a full-blown Westernisation of Iran is not the 'best' the people can hope for. The choice does not lie between the thugs of Ali Khamenei and complete integration into the world market as a 'democratic' supplier of oil and regional support to the United States. Indeed, it is to the early days of the Iranian revolution that we in the left can look for hope that Iran will realise the falsity of this choice. Then, the shuras emerged as embryonic centres of popular power and decision-making. Perhaps in their massive mobilisation against the regime's lies, the people of Iran will once again realise that the same strength which allows them to defy the regime can also be wielded to run society itself - that the democracy of the street and the mass meeting can not only topple governments, but replace them.

Nevertheless, the immediate hope of the left throughout the international community must be the fall of the mullahs, and the disarming of its police forces and its soldiers by the people. So long as the protests enjoy the support of hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, they can risk ignoring the possibility of direct repression - but to resolve the conflict it is necessary that the weapons of the Islamists are neutralised. Too often, the 'support' extended by Western revolutionary socialists to struggling peoples in the Global South does not extend beyond words, however important they may be. But there are things we can do. Whether that is to help make internet access and communication available to the demonstrators, send messages of support to the Worker-communist Party of Iran's 24 'New Channel TV' (via, lobby our MPs and governments to isolate the regime (not ignore its problems, as Obama's administration has done, in the expectation of the uprising's defeat and his unwillingness to hamper future negotiations over Iran's nuclear programme) or to join protests against the Islamic Republic outside its embassies in our own states, we have a responsibility to lend a helping hand.