Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Step up the pressure on the government, demand TUC set the next date for action

So as another big day draws to a end N30 will go down as a big day estimates of 3 million public sector workers out on strike on one day at the same time. Most schools were shut many council facilities were crippled and hospitals were badly affected too. Strikes were solid despite what David Cameron likes to say it was not a damp squib from where i was marching and standing shoulder to shoulder with ordinary working people facing an attack on their pensions to pay for the mistakes of the bankers.

I felt proud today to join this big day of action but be under no illusion this will have done nothing if we dont put pressure on the trade union leaders to call further days of action and further escalation if this government does not back down.

That does not look likely this is as i have said before out and out class war and the tories are acting on the behalf of the 1% making the rest of us, the 99% pay for the mess the bankers caused. They are intent on making ordinary workers pay driving down wages, benifits, public services, opportunities, education you name it it is all up for grabs.

Just yesterday we heard in the autumn review that the tories are off course in hitting their deficit reduction targets so you guessed it more austerity for the public sector and ordianry working people to suffer more, for longer than previously thought.

Well enough is enough quite frankly with the possibility of now 750 thousand public sector workers may loose their jobs its time the trades unions and the TUC took the bull by the horns and called a urgent meeting to decide the day or days as i wouldnt rule out any action as long as what we have said before in the socialist party and the NSSN that is it is on a mass scale and it is a escalation. be that another 24 hour strike or a 48 hour strike or rolling regional strikes something else will be needed to defeat this government over pensions and hopefully tumble them to the ground.

Today N30 would have shaken this incrediably weak government a series of strikes would harm their plans and would seriously damage their reputation. I dont think reputation comes into it with this government on a mission to make us ordinary people pay but it may play a factor in the eyes of their friends in the city of London.

So yes a great day of action march's strikes, pickets the lot but this cannot be the end we must demand more action from our union reps, union leaders and as a part of that continue the demands for a new workers party to speak and represent ordinary working peoples voices as Ed Miliband and his pathetic Labour party have ceased to stand for ordinary workers in failing to support todays and Junes strikes.

Well done all that took strike action too for possibily the first time ever you did yourselves well and hopefully will give the whole class confidence that it knows it can fight back and win if we stand together with our fellow workers.

Monday, 28 November 2011

How a victory over public sector pensions can give all workers a boost in confidence

This wednesday 30th of November its been well documented that up to 4 million public sector workers will be out on strike first time this many on one day since the 1926 great general strike. But this could be a game changer.

If and its a big if the government of millionaires are foced back and have to retreat which is not impossibly given their record of u-turns already. Mass action of working people can give huge confidence to other workers in say the private sector and to young and old workers.
An opinion poll commissioned by BBC News suggests 61% of people believe public sector workers are justified in going on strike over pension changes.
The research also indicates differences between men and women in their outlook on the strikes and the economy.
The polling firm Comres interviewed 1,005 adults by telephone across England, Scotland and Wales one week ago.
The poll indicates greater sympathy for the industrial action among women - at 67% - compared with men, at 55%.
Younger people, it also suggests, are considerably more supportive of the strikes than pensioners; almost four in five 18 to 24-year-olds back the action, a little under half of over-65s do.

No doubt much of this support has come through student demonstrations and demonstrations like the Jarrow march drawing attention to youth in struggle and how the young are being hit hard by this crisis in capitalism.

But a only a complete withdraw of the pension reforms and a change back to RPi from CPI which this government cynically changed when they came in will only do for ordinary workers who are due to loose out big time.

As i've said before ordinary working people did not cause this crisis so they should not have to pay for it. Not a single cut is nessesary as i've pointed out if the 120 billion estimated pounds of evaded tax from rich corporations and business's was properly collected.

Failing that the banks should all be nationalised under democratic workers control. These key demands must be started to be taken up by workers in struggle i feel.

But the sense of confidence a win in this dispute will given workers and unions alike will be huge. Just imagine if we push teh government back on this. We will be able to say look our unions pushed back the gov on this and strike action works now lets go further and push for more and more.

Lets be under no illusion this government forged together in the cellar of teh city of London a government of austerity and misery for working people who have no mandate are extremely weak and can be defeated.

For this to happen we must stand united public and private sector workers. No flinching from any trade union leaders. No to any secret deals everything must be done all out in the open.

The fact is public sector pensions are affordable and actually go down as a percentage to GDP over the years according to the Lord Hutton report.

Lets not buy the arguements that private sector pensions are poor so public sector should be too. That is a recipe for a race to the bottom. It is a arguement that private sector pensions should be decent aswell.

If the government says it cannot afford this then we must say we cannot afford your system and call time on capitalism and the 1%. Its time to look for alternatives. That alternative is socialism.

A system based on peoples needs before profits. A system that looks after the 99% not just the 1%.

The labour party on N30 and beyond

Alot of talk this week will be on the big one day public sector general strikes this wednesday of course but many including Len Mcklusky are still hoping the Labour party will back these strikes.

In this piece in the Morning Star :

Len tries to make out Labour can be workers friends and that it can be reclaimed and will hopefully support the unions on strike this week. Sorry Len i do not share this optimism with you pal.

Len speaks a good game but i am yet to be convinced he is serious a bout taking back the labour party. The fact he thinks he can convince Ed Miliband who condemned the strikes on June 30th this year already means nothing to him clearly. It will be interesting to see if Len changes his mind if Ed fails to back these strikes which i suspect he will not.
The pension reforms being force fed to workers by this Con-Dem government and being threatened all the time with taking away any offers and increasing anti trade union laws is as thick and fast as ever from the tories.
But also dont forget these proposals were drawn up by a Labour lord Lord Hutton who suggested these cuts to workers pensions after the Labour government had negotiated a deal not so long ago that was fair.
Ed Balls yesterday on TV admitted that Labour would be having to do something similar making workers in the public sector work longer, pay morea nd get lessas a result of their agreement that workers must pay for a crisis that they did not cause.

With the labour leadership Balls and Miliband together workers do not have a ally at all in fact Miliband was photographed laughing and joking with David Cameron and Nick Clegg on 30th of June this year disgustingly.

I hear that many labour councils and labour members are supporting this week's strikes. I think this is great of course i'm not dogmatic against la bour if their membership supports striking workers that is a good thing but be under no illusion this is easy for the members to back as they hold little influence on the leadership and are many ordinary public sector workers too.
For them to be serious about opposing this government they must urge their councillors and MP's to move to a no to all cuts position and refuse to make cuts at a local council level next year.

As public sector workers prepare for the planned 30 November one-day strike, the question of a political voice of opposition to cuts, along with their strength in the union, is posed.

Pieces like this on Labour List only set to underline many socialist party members views that Labour cannot be reclaimed and a new workers party is needed.
In the piece the new labour member claims that strikes damage labours electorability and Labour should not be backing strikes instead siding on the side of the public. Not bothering to mention ordinary public sector workers are not only members of that same public but are also tax payers who can vote. This blairite writes them all off in one fail swoop.
I would think it is sufficient to say that as the Labour Party currently stands, it is not really possible to openly campaign for socialist policies, and even if we could, it wouldn't sound plausible to the electorate, bearing in mind the policies carried out over the 13 years of the previous Labour governments. So we see the clear need to independently put socialist policies before the electorate, and try to build a pole of attraction around which the unions can organise politically.

TUSC and the Socialist Party could and should be playing the part of exerting a gravitational pull on the labour movement (and party) towards socialism. But to be able to do that requires a medium (field) of comradely debate and approach.

On the other hand, we do believe that the few socialists who are labouring away to change the Labour Party are pursuing a futile task. Never in its history has the left been so weak both in the Parliamentary Labour Party and among the rank-and-file.

We have pointed out many times that they are like prisoners smuggling the occasional note between the bars to workers outside. Very few workers participate in what is increasingly an empty shell. In fact even the 'shell' may no longer exist if Miliband gets his way and further dissolves the party, particularly the influence of the trade unions within it.

Small cabals - who have no connection with the radical and heroic periods of Labour - run a machine totally alien to working class people. Any socialist - inside or outside the Labour Party, and it is mostly the latter - is bound to come into collision with them.

This would be the case if the LRC or Socialist appeal our comradely cousins still inside the Labour party from our militant days every organised properly into a serious force instead of working largely as individuals. If they took a stronger stance on cuts and fought the labour leadership and appealed to workers to rejoin the party on mass. But so far this is not happening.

It is unrealistic to think that workers who are losing their jobs - some of them never to work again - and many seeing vital services destroyed should engage in polite exchanges with 'Labour... Yes Labour councils and councillors'. It is legitimate to express anger and, yes, rage - not just against the Tories and Liberals - but against a Labour caste at local level which is inflicting terrible punishment on working people.

It is also necessary to forcefully take up and oppose those who seek to excuse Labour sell-outs. Some on the left refused to endorse the Socialist Party's implacable opposition to 'all cuts'. But we were at one with those like Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the PCS civil servants union and Bob Crow, leader of the RMT transport workers union. Those who are prepared to accept 'some cuts' are acting as a left flank, apologists for Labour councillors and councils who are betraying everything which the Labour Party originally stood for.

For instance, Waltham Forest council - controlled by Labour - has inflicted £3 million of cuts to wages and conditions of its workers yet £18 million has been paid to 'consultants' whose main job is to make these cuts to jobs and services! And this is as typical of 'Labour' councils as Tory or Lib Dem.

Will local government emerge at the end of the 'cuts programme' in the absurd position of the NHS where "in 2006, Accountancy Age reported that the NHS was spending more on consultants than all Britain's manufacturers put together"? [London Review of Books.]

This scandal was pushed through by the likes of New Labour health ministers Alan Milburn and Patricia Hewitt, who then got cushy, well-paid jobs in the health private sector!

On reclaming the Labour party we can never say never where politics are concerned. Nor is it theoretically excluded that if a mass workers' party is not urgently built, the impulse for a new party could come from within even a bourgeois party.

Such is the depth of the present economic and social crisis that, in time, this can find an expression even in such a party leading to a left split, out of which could come the basis of a radical or even a new mass workers' party.

Something like this happened in Greece where the 'left-wing' of the liberal capitalist party the Centre Union - led by the late Andreas Papandreou - came out of that party following the overthrow of the Greek military junta in 1974.

Such was the sweep of the revolution in the post-1974 period and the colossal changes in consciousness which this evoked that the objective basis for the new mass socialist party Pasok was created. The present 'Pasok' is a million miles removed from its socialist origins.

But we do not think that it is likely that Labour could be transformed in Britain in the next period. We cannot just 'wait' for future events to hopefully change the Labour Party, while in the meantime the working class goes to hell in a handcart.

We have to seek to exert pressure now through a new workers' party, no matter how small initially. The Labour party has been transformed under the New Labour counter-revolution carried out first by Blair, then by Brown and today by Miliband into a capitalist formation.

In fact, Tony Blair recognised this when he declared that New Labour was an entirely 'new party'. Conversely if Labour is to be 'transformed', as some still hope, then this would effectively mean setting up a new party, which by standing on clear socialist policies would represent a clear break.

Labour's current policies are a continuation of Blair's pro-capitalist agenda. This is expressed in terms of policy; witness Miliband's completely pro-capitalist assault on the trade unions at the TUC. It is reflected also in the internal organisation and character of the Labour Party which is fundamentally different from what existed in the past.

The old Labour Party, of which we were a significant force (through Militant - now the Socialist Party), involved the participation of the working class and the trade unions. It was a 'bourgeois workers' party' - with a pro-capitalist leadership at the top but a base among workers below. But it was also very open and democratic, and the leadership was forced to take account of the rank-and-file and its views.

Those who seek to argue that 'nothing has fundamentally changed' in the character of the Labour Party are mistaken. Compare the present situation in the Labour Party to the 1960s. Harold Wilson, supported by Barbara Castle the Labour minister at the time, tried to push through anti-union legislation.

This was massively opposed by the rank-and-file of the party and the majority of the National Executive Committee. If Wilson had not retreated he would have been compelled to resign. Neither could he militarily support US imperialism on the Vietnam War- despite the urgings of the then US President Johnson - for the same reason.

Tony Blair, however, got the support of Labour's conference delegates - who in the past were solidly to the left of the leadership - for the obscene and criminal Iraq war.

Some object that to describe New Labour as 'capitalist' is an 'exaggeration', because workers are still voting Labour. This, it is argued, indicates that Labour - 'warts and all' - is 'different' from the other two capitalist parties.

Yes, Labour is 'different', in the same way as the Democratic Party in the US differs from the right-wing Republican Party. The Democrats are more 'liberal' but are still a pronounced capitalist party.

So also was the Liberal Party in the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century. Sections of the working class and the trade unions in Britain saw it as an alternative until mighty events - the decline of British imperialism and its inability to continue to grant concessions to the working class - undermined this. This prepared the way for the rise of the Labour Party itself as a mass political expression of the trade unions.

Those who furnished the mass basis for the Labour Party were the sons and daughters of workers who previously voted Liberal. This will happen with the building of a new party.

Even to those who hope that Labour can be changed, we pose the questions: 'What do we do now in the political and electoral arenas? How does the labour movement exert pressure on Labour in order to defeat and change its present craven capitulation to big business, which is disheartening its former and present supporters? By propaganda or vague hopes for the future alone? The bureaucratic caste which dominates Labour is totally impervious to this.

But Labour's reaction could be different if a new party was formed, with a solid base among trade unionists. Electoral success for such a party could force change in the current anti-working class, anti-union stance of New Labour. More importantly, it would provide a political voice to millions who are effectively disenfranchised.
We face much ridicule from others on the left and even from some within the Labour party which i accept is enivitable while people still feel the labour party can be changed.
But Keir Hardie in Britain and James Connolly in Ireland - who were pioneers, like we are today for workers' parties - were also ridiculed. They got very small votes initially (Hardie gained 8% of the vote in his first parliamentary election in the Lanarkshire coalfields). They were proven to be correct and their critics silenced by the development of the kind of parties they campaigned for.

What is TUSC ?

The trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) was set-up last year to enable trade unionists, community campaigners and socialists who wanted to resist the pro-cuts consensus of the establishment parties to stand candidates in the 2010 general election.

By registering TUSC with the electoral commission, candidates could appear on the ballot paper as Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition rather than as 'Independent' which they would otherwise have to do under electoral law.

TUSC came out of a series of discussions by participants in the No2EU-Yes to Democracy coalition, which contested the 2009 European elections with the official support of the RMT transport workers' union, the Socialist Party, and others - the first time a trade union had officially backed a national electoral challenge to Labour since the party's foundation.

TUSC is a coalition with a steering committee which includes, in a personal capacity, the RMT general secretary Bob Crow, and fellow executive member Owen Herbert; the assistant general secretary of the PCS civil servants union, Chris Baugh, and the union's vice-president, John McInally; the president of the National Union of Teachers, Nina Franklin; and the recently retired general secretary of the Prison Officers Association, Brian Caton. The Socialist Party and the Socialist Workers Party are also represented on the committee.

TUSC is a federal 'umbrella' coalition, with agreed core policies endorsed by all its candidates but with participating organisations accountable for their own campaigns. Its core policies include, among others, opposition to public spending cuts and privatisation, student grants not fees, and the repeal of the anti-trade union laws.

It makes a clear socialist commitment to "bringing into democratic public ownership the major companies and banks that dominate the economy, so that production and services can be planned to meet the needs of all and to protect the environment".

Saturday, 26 November 2011

why socialists support the robin hood tax, but know it does not go far enough

We hear all the time from reformists of the capitalist system that a few more tax'es her eand there will sort things out. Especially from new labour who claim a bankers bonus's tax will save us from everything. They seem to support this idea of a robin hood tax which yes as socialists we support too but recognise the fact it does not go far enough in our view.

In a nutshell, the big idea behind the Robin Hood Tax is to generate billions of pounds – hopefully even hundreds of billions of pounds. That money will fight poverty in the UK and overseas. It will tackle climate change. And it will come from fairer taxation of the financial sector.

A tiny tax on the financial sector can generate £20 billion annually in the UK alone. That's enough to protect schools and hospitals. Enough to stop massive cuts across the public sector. Enough to build new lives around the world – and to deal with the new climate challenges our world is facing.

As a result of the financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has calculated UK government debt will be 40% higher. That 40% equates to £737 billion pounds, or £28,000 pounds for every taxpayer in the country. Having to pay back that debt means cuts in vital services on which millions of people around the country rely.

Total cost to the UK of financial crisis in terms of lost output according to the IMF was 27% of 2008 GDP.

Capitalism is a social system based upon production for profit not social need. A 'rational' organisation of production is impossible because it is also a blind system. Workers will be thrown out of jobs when there is no 'demand' for their products.

In reality there is always a need for their products - but social need is subordinate to whether or not it is profitable for the capitalists.

Then when production increases in another field after a period of unemployment, some may be integrated back into industry.

Contrast this to the way production would be organised under socialism, especially through democratic workers' control and management.

If there was a surplus of workers and capital in one field and a deficiency in another, a democratic planned organisation of industry would just involve a voluntary transfer of goods and labour from one sector of the economy to another.

Karl Marx showed that this is what happens already, within a single factory or today even with multinational and transnational companies: "...That same [capitalist] mind denounces with equal vigour every conscious attempt to socially control and regulate the process of production, as an inroad upon such sacred things as the rights of property, freedom and unrestricted play for the bent of the individual capitalist.

"It is very characteristic that the enthusiastic apologists of the factory system have nothing more damning to urge against a general organisation of the labour of society, than that it would turn all society into one immense factory." [Karl Marx, Capital, vol 1, chapter XIV, section 4.]

Economic and political power must be taken out of the hands of the destroyers of wealth, the handful of capitalists who control industry and society.

In Britain, this would involve the taking over of a handful of monopoly firms that control 80-85% of the economy.

Compensation would be given to the ex-owners and particularly to the small shareholders on the basis of proven need.

Imagine what would then be possible by utilising the full potential of production! The famous capitalist economist John Maynard Keynes estimated in the 1930s that by the beginning of this century, by utilising the full potential that remained unused under capitalism, the average worker would work no more than 15 hours a week and therefore gain "freedom from economic cares"!

Such a prospect only appears 'utopian' because of the character of modern capitalism with its philosophy of a dog-eat-dog society combined with a programme of 'work til you drop' without respite or enjoyment, repression of wages and ever increasing poverty and unemployment.

Searing inequality - which has deepened and extended during this crisis - has fuelled the revolt of the working class, which in turn has sparked the worldwide 'Occupy' movement.

Its ringing denunciations of the 1% of the population that controls an unprecedented hoard of wealth to the detriment of the 99% majority have found a wide echo.

But the laudable attempts to close and eliminate the 'wealth gap' are likely to be stillborn under capitalism.

We support a 'Robin Hood tax' on the transactions of big business. But history shows that the capitalists always find a thousand and one ways to circumvent any law which seeks to claw back some of the wealth and eats into their profits.

When the Labour government of Harold Wilson attempted to do something similar through a corporation tax in the 1970s, such was the opposition of big business it was completely watered down and rendered largely ineffective.

The only way to prevent this is through the nationalisation of the banks and finance houses.

Similarly, the 'dictatorship of the market', which is holding the whole of Europe to ransom, should be met with the cancellation of the debt to the bond parasites.

This in turn could only succeed if nationalisation was carried through not just in one country but on a continental and world basis.

Inequality is intrinsic to capitalism. The exploitation of the working class - the capitalists garner what Marx called 'unpaid labour' in the form of profits - is the very foundation of the system.

From this flow all the inequalities and the class antagonisms which shape this society.

The system can go ahead for a while as long as the surplus is invested in productive industry to create more factories and thereby the production of more goods and services.

But it stagnates and falls back when the restricted incomes of the working class - particularly marked in the last few decades - mean they cannot buy back fully the goods and services they produce.

This results in 'overproduction', a glut of unsold goods and redundant workers and capital. This, in turn, can produce a 'death spiral' reflected in the paralysis of production evident throughout the world today.

Combine all this clear evidence of the wasteful character of the system with the extraordinary mass movements - Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain on 30 November, etc - and it is clear that capitalism faces one of its greatest threats in its long history.

In fact, a new social system is knocking at the door of history. This is the idea of a socialist democratically planned and organised economy and society. To usher it in requires a movement and the urgent building of a mass workers' party.

Ironically, this current threat to capitalism arises from its very triumph following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the downfall of Stalinism.

The consequent dismantling of the planned, nationalised economies and their replacement by 'wild capitalism' represented a big ideological victory for capitalism.

This in turn moved the leaders of parties such as the old Labour Party, at its base a 'workers' party', and the trade unions to the right, leading to the transformation of these parties largely into pro-capitalist formations.

This meant that the capitalists no longer needed to look over their shoulders at a threat posed by the working class. There is no check on their actions as there had been previously.

Capitalism was therefore unrestrained in pursuing the policies of financialisation which were already underway in the late 1970s and 1980s.

In this sense, it became its own gravedigger, manifested in the economic madness of debt-driven capitalism; financial bubbles on top of financial bubbles, which collapsed like a house of cards in 2007-2008.

The consequences of this are evident in the idle factories, workplaces and the tragedy of the millions of 'idle hands' which presently litter the economic landscape of world capitalism.

"Hang on a moment! This idea of socialism is nothing new. It has been tried before and failed miserably in Russia, and elsewhere," argue the representatives of capitalism.

Winston Churchill, Tory prime minister in the Second World War and the 1950s, got it right, they say, when he asserted: "Capitalism has many faults but it is better than the other alternatives on offer." This threadbare argument is all that the capitalists can now fall back on.

Firstly, the Russia they refer to was a Stalinist regime not a genuinely socialist workers' democracy.

It was totalitarian in character and dominated by a bureaucratic elite, although resting ultimately on a nationalised planned economy.

Where the first attempts were made to lay the foundations of socialism, for instance in Russia between 1917 and 1923 this did not 'fail', as our critics argue.

On the contrary, the establishment of a nationalised planned economy with democratic control exercised by the working class and the poor peasant masses through 'soviets' - workers' councils - gave us a glimpse of what was possible on the basis of socialism.

Russia, a poor, culturally backward society, did not have the material base in terms of industry to immediately establish socialism alone.

However, the 'chain' of capitalism broke at its weakest link, and this inspired a worldwide workers' revolutionary wave.

Through the immediate shortening of the working day, working people will be allowed to participate in managing and controlling nationalised industry through a plan. Now, the working day is being extended under capitalism.

The Russian revolution and its aftermath indicated the direction in which society could develop, particularly if socialism was rooted in the advanced industrialised countries.

Great efforts were made to establish a collective, solidarity type of consciousness. Industry and society were under the control of the workers and poor farmers.

This allowed the setting up of communal laundries and eating places in the first period after the revolution.

However, it is unlikely that the organisation of a new social society in today's conditions will be like this.

Given the widespread use of technology today - domestic washing machines - communal laundries are probably not necessary.

On the other hand, such is the intensity of the working day - for instance in America - that a form of 'communal' eating already exists in the form of 'diners'.

These tend to be widely used by working people during the working week, with families eating at home at the weekends.

It is impossible to prescribe exactly how a plan of production, with all the details and priorities to be worked out, will be implemented in today's society.

This will be best left to the initiative and intelligence of the working class organised through their own collective power.

But the present horrors of capitalism will continue to exist, indeed, will be perpetuated, if this system is not replaced by socialism.

So we do support such a tax but stress this is not it and will not solve all our concerns as working people. only the end of this rotten capitalist system will do for us.

Tunisia : what has changed since the revolution, elections helping ?

This excellent piece examining how things have changed for ordinary people in Tunisia reveals some stark revlations. From the CWI who have reporters in Tunisia who have fed this back to the outside world reveal not much has changed at all.

Is the revolution over?

CWI reporter in Tunis

Elections for the Constituent Assembly held in Tunisia on 23 October was a hard-won reform following a mass struggle earlier this year and a second, determined occupation of Kasbah square, in the capital Tunis.

Yet the vast majority of the new politicians elected in this Assembly did not play any role in the revolution and only stopped opposing it at the last minute.

Compared to the rigged elections over the last decades these elections were more transparent, which is not really difficult. However, the power of money, support from big business circles, vote-buying practices, activity by networks of the old ruling party, the RCD, and a media still in the hands of people close to the former regime, accompanied the electoral campaign.

These elections were a propaganda opportunity for the Western media about the supposed “spectacular” participation of the electorate. The imperialist rulers - who earlier this year were uncritical of the deadly crackdown against Tunisian protesters, even in some cases offering their services to the dictator Ben Ali - all applauded what they called ‘a model of democracy’. Exagerated numbers of “over 90%” voter turnout was circulated.

All this propaganda had a clear purpose: to present the election as the episode closing for good the revolutionary chapter and paving the way for a ‘legitimate’ and ‘democratic’ power. And, it is argued, now that the masses have supposedly got what they wanted, everyone should go back to work.

A participation not so “spectacular”
In reality, while a significant number of voters decided to go to the polls to reclaim a basic democratic right, which they had always been denied, a serious analysis of the results shows that an equally important part of population abstained.

The overall turnout, based on the whole electorate, is only of 52%. Of those who voted, 31.8% (almost 1,300,000 persons), ‘lost’ their votes because they voted for lists which didn’t get a vote high enough to win a seat. Also, given the highly volatile mood of many amongst those who voted – which was reflected in a number of opinion polls published preceding the elections - it seriously limits the social support for the new Assembly, and consequently the government that will soon emerge from it.

The closer you get to the people who have been at the heart of the revolutionary struggles (the youth and in the poorer interior regions, in particular), the bigger the abstention rate was, reflecting a deep defiance of the political establishment.

Who does this new power really represent?
Indications of this mood of defiance were present on the very day of the opening session of the new Constituent Assembly on 22 November, when thousands of people demonstrated in front of the parliament building - protected by a heavy police presence - to make their numerous grievances heard.

Those present included: families of martyrs killed in the revolution, left and human rights groups, angry youth and workers calling for a “new revolution” and targeting imperialist interference in the country, and also many women worried about the threats on their rights following Ennahda’s (the Islamist party) victory. The protesters did not want the revolution to be hijacked by the new political class.

‘New’ is a relative term as important figures from the old regime were present inside the building to celebrate this so-called ‘historic’ day, including the hated prime minister Caïd Essebsi, and Rachid Ammar, chief of staff of the Tunisian armed forces. The session was opened by the old president Fouad Mebazaâ –a dinosaur of the RCD and of the old Tunisian dictatorship, president of the chamber of deputies during 14 years of Ben Ali’s rule. The presence of these figures from the old regime symbolised the ‘continuity of the state’.

This ‘continuity of the state’, so cherished by many politicians and media, is nothing else than the continuity of the capitalist state machine, with its army, police, bureaucracy and judicial system, all there to preserve the interests of the rich.

The level of the salaries and other advantages of the new politicians will convince even the most reluctant ones that this is their main job. The president of the republic will earn 30,000 dinars (*) the prime minister 8,000, the other ministers 4,500 dinars, the secretaries of state 3,400 dinars, while each member of the Constituent Assembly will receive 2,500 dinars a month. This does not include, in addition to their salaries, a free phone line, a car with a driver and petrol bills covered, free access to public transport, a hotel room, and so on…

This means that the new president, Moncef Marzouki, also leader of the ‘Congress of the Republic’ (CPR), the second largest party in the assembly, despite declaring that he will “not change but will remain a son of the people”, will earn a salary equivalent to the income of about 40 working class families!

In a country where the minimum wage is just above 200 dinars, with the growing difficulties experienced by many, the exorbitant rise in prices and the number of unemployed increasing by the day, these large salaries increases people’s resentment. It shows the class-motivated policy of the new rulers and their disconnection with the social reality and aspirations of the mass of the people.

During the inaugural ceremony in the assembly, the names of people killed in the revolution were read out. But some of the victims’ names from Kasserine - a town 300 kilometres southwest of the capital, which suffered the highest number of martyrs and casualties - were omitted.

On the following day, more than 3,000 protesters took to the streets in Kasserine, because they refuse to remain marginalised and feel that the country’s new authorities fail to recognise local people’s contribution to the revolution. The demonstration started peacefully but turned violent following an attempt by the military to suppress the movement by using tear gas and live ammunition shot in the air.

This electric atmosphere continues to dominate the situation, with a growing resentment at the fact that it is not those who have carried out the revolution, the poor people, the workers and the unemployed, who are getting the benefits of all their sacrifices.

Women’s rights under threat
This is also the case in relation to the position of Tunisian women, who played an instrumental role in the revolution, and who are now fearful that the ground gained during their struggle might be stolen from under their feet.

Women did not make the revolution to see their gains being reversed and their rights being undermined. Nevertheless, the rise to power of the Islamist party Ennahda, combining a neo-liberal approach in the economic field with a conservative approach on morals and culture, could actually mean exactly this.

Outside the Constituent Assembly, one of the female leading figure of Ennahda, Souad Abderrahim, was targeted by a group of demonstrators, who shouted at her the now famous slogan “dégage” (= "leave").

The reason for this was that a few days before, she had made a public speech in the media declaring that “it is inconceivable to draft a law on the protection of single mothers in an Arab-Muslim society, except in cases where the birth of the child has occurred as a result of rape”, adding that single mothers are “an infamy for Tunisian society”, and “ethically speaking, they don’t have the right to exist”.

As the only woman of Ennahda’s 42 elected female representatives not wearing a veil, Abderrahim had become the public face for Ennahda’s ‘moderate’ image and its supposed tolerance of women. Before the elections Abderrahim said: “choosing me as a candidate is a commitment by Ennahda that it supports modernism. …If Ennahda goes back on them (all commitments to defend women rights), I will be the first to oppose it”. This highlights the dangers ahead and shows that Ennahda’s pledges cannot be trusted.

Although the party leadership is now engaged in a ‘charm offensive’ vis-à-vis the major imperialist powers, displaying a moderate line for their policy in terms of moral and religious values, Ennahda remains made up of, and pressurised by, ultra-conservative layers who, encouraged by the election victory of the party, have increased their reactionary activities in the recent period. This includes verbal and physical assaults on women who do not wear the veil or do not conform to a certain dress code, blaming working women as a cause of high unemployment, or arguing for the segregation of schools or other public spaces based on gender.

In early November, a strike by staff and students from a university faculty in Tunis was held to protest against the harassment some teachers and students have been subjected to for similar reasons.

Such protests should be the response whenever women rights are the target of religious bigots.

The UGTT union and the workers movement in particular, who played historically a very important role in fighting for women rights and gender equality, should put boldly its stamp on the situation, engaging a mass campaign on this issue, by linking up the necessary defensive struggle to protect the existing women rights, with an offensive battle to push them further forward.

As women are the hardest hit by mass unemployment, and working women are the first to be found in insecure and very low paid jobs, such a struggle should be linked with a general struggle for mass jobs creation, better wages and working conditions for all, and against economic insecurity that puts women in an even more vulnerable position.

“Capital is welcome”
It is increasingly clear that Ennahda leaders will be drawn into acting on different playing fields. While Rached Ghannouchi, president of Ennahda, recently launched a diatribe against the French language describing it as “a pollution”, the party leaders are cosying-up to the French capitalists and government. On the one hand, the party profiles itself as a ‘party of the people’, on the other its economic policy is inspired by the ultra-neoliberal Turkish ‘model’, ie mass privatisations and systematic attacks on the democratic and social rights of the working class.

It is one thing to win elections, it is another to satisfy the demands of people who have just made a revolution. The main concern of Ennahda party leaders since 23 October has only been to circulate their pledges of allegiance to the market, in an attempt to demonstrate that political Islam and big business can go well together. “Domestic and foreign capital is welcome” insisted Abdelhamid Jelassi, director of Ennahda’s executive office.

This concern for the interests of the capitalist class cannot but conflict with the desire for social change that continues to animate broad sections of the population.

Nothing has really changed
Popular anger is apparant everywhere, as nearly one year after the self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, [whose tragic protest against unemployment detonated the revolution] the social situation has only deteriorated for the majority of the population. Bouazizi has been posthumously awarded the “Sakharov prize for freedom” in the European Parliament; but the imperialist powers, who have been quick to make Bouazizi into a helpless icon, remain silent over the situation of despair for most young Tunisians that drove Bouazizi to set himself on fire.

“Jobs or death” was for example the slogan of a recent sit-in at the Bizerte (in the north) oil refinery. Tens of thousands of jobs have actually been destroyed since the beginning of the year, sharpening an already critical social situation for many poor families. And the economic crisis hitting the eurozone, the main commercial outlet of Tunisian production, means that things will not get better. As long as production is based on the profits for a few private big shareholders and speculators, and not on meeting human needs, then nothing will fundamentally change.

Many of the objective reasons which prompted the Tunisian population to make the revolution are still present in their daily lives. The refrain “nothing has changed” is more and more audible. The demand for a “second revolution”, played down in the recent elections - which have brought a certain hope among some sections of the population - is not on the same level as in Egypt right now. However, it can come back quickly onto the agenda.

Democratic freedoms remain precarious, and are regularly challenged by bouts of violence by security forces. The huge police apparatus continues to hang like a sword of Damocles over the revolution. The ‘Occupy Tunis’ protest, which took place on 11 November, which saw the largest demonstration in the streets of Tunis since August, was violently attacked by the police, for no apparent reason except the desire to intimidate all those people who still want to protest.

And protests are numerous, as anticipated in our last article. Since the election, a new series of strikes and social protests have erupted onto the scene. Workers in the tourism sector, iron miners in Le Kef (in the north west), workers of the brewery ‘Celtia’, employees of the social security, railway workers, pharmaceutical workers in Sfax (on the eastern coast), and many others, have experienced successive solid strike actions. Despite the incessant propaganda of the strikers being “irresponsible”, the recent report by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) in September 2011 has confirmed that “wages in Tunisia remain low despite rising profits.”

These social movements, however, continue to suffer from a lack of coordination, due to the refusal of the leadership of the UGTT (the main trade union federation) to give these struggles any concrete support and a more generalised character. The union bureaucrats, former friends of the dictator Ben Ali, have been involved in all the petty manoeuvres of the transitional government to make workers and poor pay for the economic crisis and for the old regime’s debt, and to try to restore the situation in favour of the capitalists, multinationals and banks.

The Congress of the UGTT, which will take place on 2 December, should be fully transparent, with publicity of the debates, and full accountability of the new elected leadership. It must also be seen by unionised workers as the beginning of a massive purge, at all levels of the trade union, of all the "leaders" who have collaborated with the bosses and with the old regime in the past period, and have attempted to block the aspirations of the working class.

A well prepared one-day general strike, for example on the date of the anniversary of Bouazizi’ self immolation that sparked the revolution (17 December), and supported by local strike committees, democratically elected by the rank-and-file, could be a positive way to re-start the social battle on a healthier basis, and give a boost to the confidence of all workers.

Such a campaign should include the following demands:

•A plan of large scale public investment in the interior regions
•A massive programme of decent jobs creation for young people
•For the reduction of the working week without loss of pay
•For the bringing into public ownership and workers’ control of all Ben Ali and Trabelsi’s wealth
•An end to police brutality
•For the unconditional defence of women rights
•For a refusal to pay the old regime’s debt
•For workers’ control on industry and banks
•For a government of the workers and the poor
Any party relying on the continuation of the rotten capitalist system, ie on the submission of the Tunisian economy to the benefit of large private companies and banks, and on the payment of the debt to financial institutions, will not have any solution to all those who sleep hungry at night, who survive on low wages, or to the endless queues of young people who have never been given the chance to know what is a real job.

None of the parties involved in talks to form the new government (Ennahda, the Congress for the Republic, and Ettakatol) address this question. All are preparing to continue with the same disastrous economic policy of the old regime. There is an urgent need to build a mass party of the workers and poor to fight for their interests.

The combination of crises facing the country, and the experiences of the masses in the last year - the most important of which being the break in the ‘wall of fear’ - will inevitably crystallise into new outbreaks of mass struggle. These struggles must have their own political extension, through a mass party that fights for a revolutionary government of working people, the poor and the youth.

Instead of offering the companies and shares previously owned by the mafia families to the stock exchanges, as suggested by Ennahda, such a government would take immediate action to nationalise them, under the democratic control of workers and the wider public, as a starting point towards a broader plan to shift production and the economy as a whole to develop the country and improve the living standards of the masses.

The seeds of such a society - a democratic socialist society, based on the cooperation and solidarity of working people, instead of profit, corruption and exploitation of labour - have been asserted through the great Tunisian revolutionary movement. A further, decisive, mass struggle by the majority in society will have to be fulfilled to make these seeds germinate, and to make the revolution succeed, permanently.

*1 Dinar is worth 0.51 Euro/ 0.44 Pound/ 0.68 US Dollar

Friday, 25 November 2011

The markets rule

"Can there be any doubt but that we are witnessing a full frontal assault on democratic rights by European bondholders, bankers and speculators facilitated by the leadership of the European Union?"

Joe Higgins, TD (member of the Irish Parliament), Socialist Party (CWI Ireland)

As recently as a year ago when I and others on the Left wrote and spoke about ‘the dictatorship of the financial markets’ many people thought we were exaggerating. However after the events of the past few weeks, can there be any doubt but that we are witnessing a full frontal assault on democratic rights by European bondholders, bankers and speculators facilitated by the leadership of the European Union?

The political and financial establishment in the United States responded to the financial collapse caused by the insane, greed driven, speculation in the sub prime housing market and the toxic debt packages that were traded among the world’s most ‘prestigious’ banks, by allowing the very same authors of the disaster to write their own bailout terms and ram them down the throats of the American people.

Former and serving chiefs in the world’s biggest investment bank, Goldman Sachs, were centrally involved. Goldman Sachs made a fortune on the sub prime scene at its height and then, with consummate cynicism, made another fortune speculating on the inevitable crash of this gigantic pyramid scheme built on the exploitation of poor and middle income Americans.

The first thing you need to know about Goldman Sachs is that it is everywhere’, wrote Matt Taibi in Rolling Stone Magazine two years ago. Comparing it to a vampire squid sucking the economic lifeblood of humanity, he continues, ‘…the history of the recent financial crisis which . . .doubles as a history of . . . the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who’s Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.’

After the dramatic events of the last few weeks, The Rolling Stone writer could now say much the same of the European Union response to the disaster in the Eurozone.

Silvio Berlusconi has just been peremptorily removed from office at the diktat of the speculators in the European financial markets, not because he was a despicable charlatan, but because they weren’t confident he had the authority to force through the drastic austerity on the Italian people which they see to be necessary to recovering their gambling debts. The replacement they have secured as the new Italian Prime Minister, Mario Monti, is a ‘graduate’ of Goldman Sachs, having been an international adviser to the bank.

The new President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, is also a graduate, a very senior graduate in fact. He was a Vice Chairman and Managing Director of Goldman Sachs. This is the same bank which conspired with a right wing Greek government to falsify the national accounts so that Greece could join the Eurozone. The same Goldman Sachs also which specialises in speculating against the currencies and debt of weaker economies in order to make massive profits oblivious to the social dislocation and human suffering which this activity causes to working people and the poor in the affected countries.

Mario Draghi

In Greece former Prime Minister Papandreou has also been removed at the diktat of the markets and the leadership of the EU. The new Prime Minister Lucas Papademos was a major banker, Governor of the Bank of Greece in fact from 1994 to 2002. He is now tasked with bludgeoning the Greek people with a savage intensification of austerity and massive privatisations. Like Mario Monti in Italy, he is really a direct representative of the very sharks in the financial markets whose activities caused the current frightful crisis in the first place.

Monti and Papademos are both members of the Trilateral Commission a secretive organisation founded by US oligarch, David Rockefeller, to coordinate the strategies of US and European big business. In addition Monti is a member of the Bildergerg group an even more secretive and sinister strategising body for the world’s major capitalists.

Monti and Papademos have been foiseted on the Italian and Greek people respectively without ever having been elected. Monti is joined in the new Cabinet by an equally unelected conglomerate of representatives of big business and banking interests.

In all this we see the reality of what it takes to ‘satisfy the markets’, ‘give confidence to the markets’ and ‘reassaure the markets’, phrases faithfully repeated without questioning by just about every establishment commentator and journalist in Ireland and all over Europe. Shamefully the political establishment of this State, like their European counterparts,connive in this crushing of the democratic rights of millions of Europeans in the interest of the private profit of the private financial corporations which orchestrated these ‘coups d’etat’.

There is only one solution to the present crisis that is so destructive of society. The power of the financial markets must be challenged and broken by mass action of the ordinary people of Europe. The financial institutions must be brought into public ownership and democratic control and run for the benefit of the big majority.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

We will not pay for their crisis, join the fightback on N30

We now stand at 28 trade unions who have balloted and voted yes for strike action next wednesday the 30th of November. This could possibly be the biggest day of action since the first day of the 1926 general strike.

The titanic strike of 30 November in Britain will display the colossal power of the working class through the trade unions, to resist the savage cuts demanded by the capitalists and their political representatives, the Con-Dem austerity coalition.

It also presents a unique opportunity that must not be lost for the leaders and ranks of the trade unions to reach big audiences of working people.

Many will be involved in mass action for the first time and therefore can be receptive to discussion and debate about a real alternative to the future of unrelieved misery, 'planned poverty', promised by Osborne and Cameron with Clegg and Co in tow.

The PCS civil service union has already proposed an immediate alternative to Osborne's £81 billion worth of cuts over four years.

It demands the collection of the massive £120 billion unpaid tax of big business which, if implemented, would render the cuts completely unnecessary. The Socialist Party and the whole labour movement support this demand.

However, the speed and depth of the present crisis of capitalism and its devastating effect on the lives of millions of workers in Britain and worldwide poses sharply the issue, not just of immediate measures that offer some relief for working people, but of more profound solutions, of 'system change'. This means outlining and fighting for a democratic socialist alternative.

The powerful and inspirational mass movements of the Greek workers have heroically battered away at the foundations of rotten Greek capitalism.

Their counterparts in Spain, Portugal, Italy and here in Britain, in this decisive movement of 30 November, seek to emulate them.

It is also articulated in the tremendous 'Occupy' movement, which in the last months has swept through 1,000 cities worldwide and touched every continent.

Moreover, this first breeze of the class struggle - which foreshadows the storms and hurricanes to come - has even touched the summits of capitalism.

A founder of the far from radical Independent newspaper, Andreas Whitham Smith, recently stunned readers by telling them that the threat of "revolution" was stalking "Western capitalism".

However, this was not the deathbed repentance and repudiation of a former stalwart of capitalism but a warning to the capitalists themselves of the need for 'change' in the structure and organisation of their system in order to avoid such a 'nightmare'.

Not one of the leaders of the main political parties in Britain is proposing serious change. David Cameron, pressed on all sides by the increasing unpopularity of the venal system he presides over, poses as an alternative, mythical 'moral markets', a contradiction in terms.

Obscene bankers' bonuses, eye-watering and growing inequality, sky-rocketing poverty and unemployment are to be underpinned by the cement of a new capitalist 'morality'.

This represents an attempt by the apostles of capitalist slavery to reconcile us to the perpetuation of this failing system.

We can imagine Cameron's reply: "The talent and ability of bankers and the chief execs of top companies should receive their due rewards. Without them, we are doomed."

Ed Miliband, the New Labour leader, fares no better with his appeal for a "better capitalism", counterposing "productive" capitalism, which is 'good' to "predator" capitalism, which is 'bad'.

In reality, these are just different wings of the brutal profit system and are linked together in perpetuating the current deadly paralysis of society.

at least 200 million unemployed in the world who increasingly form a substratum of the poor, homeless and dispossessed.

Eighty-one million of this figure is composed of young people - who are condemned to a life of 'worklessness'. There is almost a 50% rate of unemployed young people in Spain and 40% in Greece.

Added to this are the seven million in Britain and 1.6 billion worldwide in part-time 'precarious' jobs.

They are a 'precariat', a modern manifestation of Marx's "reserve army of the unemployed". This is a pool of cheap, sometimes almost slave labour - including young people working as 'interns' for nothing.

They may be drawn into work when needed and then conveniently tossed aside like an old boot when the economic cycle of capitalism deems they are 'surplus to requirements'.

It is important we turn out in our numbers on the day and not just make this a nice day off work but a real show of solidarity across the working class. Bringing together public and private sector workers. Linking up teh occupations with teh construction workers and sparks who are facing struggles too.

We support a 'Robin Hood tax' on the transactions of big business. But history shows that the capitalists always find a million and one ways to circumvent any law which seeks to claw back some of the wealth and eats into their profits.

When the Labour government of Harold Wilson attempted to do something similar through a corporation tax in the 1970s, such was the opposition of big business it was completely watered-down and rendered largely ineffective.

The only way to prevent this is through the nationalisation of the banks and finance houses. Similarly, the 'dictatorship of the market', which is holding the whole of Europe to ransom, should be met with the cancellation of the debt to the bond parasites.

This in turn could only succeed if nationalisation was carried through not just in one country but on a continental and world basis.

Inequality is intrinsic to capitalism. The exploitation of the working class - the capitalists garner what Marx called 'unpaid labour' in the form of profits - is the very foundation of the system.

From this flow all the inequalities and the class antagonisms which shape this society. The system can go ahead for a while as long as the surplus is invested in productive industry to create more factories and thereby the production of more goods and services.

But it stagnates and falls back when the restricted incomes of the working class - particularly marked in the last few decades - means they cannot buy back fully the goods and services they produce.

This results in 'overproduction', a glut of unsold goods and redundant workers and capital. This, in turn, can produce a 'death spiral' reflected in the paralysis of production evident throughout the world today.

Combine all this clear evidence of the wasteful character of the system with the extraordinary mass movements - Greece, Italy, Spain, Britain on 30 November, etc - and it is clear that capitalism faces one of its greatest threats in its long history.

In fact, a new social system is knocking at the door of history. This is the idea of a socialist democratically planned and organised economy and society. To usher it in requires a movement and the urgent building of a mass workers' party.

Ironically, this current threat to capitalism arises from its very triumph following the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the downfall of Stalinism.

The consequent dismantling of the planned nationalised, economies and its replacement by 'wild capitalism' represented a big ideological victory for capitalism.

This in turn moved the leaders of parties such as the old Labour Party, at its base a 'workers' party', and the trade unions to the right, leading to the transformation of these parties largely into pro-capitalist formations.

This meant that the capitalists no longer needed to look over their shoulders at a threat posed by the working class.

There is no check on their actions as there had been previously. Capitalism was therefore unrestrained in pursuing the policies of financialisation which were already underway in the late 1970s and 1980s.

In this sense, it became its own gravedigger, manifested in the economic madness of debt-driven capitalism; financial bubbles on top of financial bubbles, which collapsed like a house of cards in 2007-2008.

The consequences of this are evident in the idle factories, workplaces and the tragedy of the millions of 'idle hands' which presently litter the economic landscape of world capitalism.

It is true support for a socialist alternative will not develop easily or automatically given the relentless anti-socialist, pro-capitalist propaganda of the last two decades.

It has to be argued for and explained, particularly when the working class is on the move, as it will be on 30 November.

But support in the polls for the 'Occupy' movements has demonstrated the broad support for a better world.

The '99%' does not yet have a full understanding, consciousness, of how to achieve that alternative. Even those involved in the 'Occupy' movement know what they don't want but do not have a clear alternative.

Yet their aims can only be realised through real 'system change', socialism. Brutal capitalism is demonstrating daily the blind alley which this system is in and is preparing the ground for millions to search for an alternative.

Capitalism is incapable of satisfying human requirements in today's world. Socialism is the idea which will dominate the 21st-century.

extracts taken from this excellent article by Peter Taaffe on the socialist party website bits of which he talked about in his speech at socialism 2011

Political representation on and beyond N30

So as we near the biggest strike in decades next wednesday workers wil be wondering who do we have to vote for ? who can we rely on to speak up for us apart from our unions ?

The very same question cross's my mind regularly and i do not think it is the labour party any longer. Despite what some of their more left wing members say they cannot disguise the fact their leadership have been silent on the strikes and the public sector pensions dispute till now. On June the 30th Ed Miliband was quoted as saying these strikes are wrong while negotiations are still going on. Of course there were no negotiations going on Ed and his condemnation of the strikes angered many ordinary working people.

There is a change going on and if Ed fails to support next wednesdays action where up to 4 million workers could be downing tools and striking he will loose all credibility he ever had in the labour movement. He'll be a dead force and have no respect left.
So then who will support workers you ask. I think TUSC although a small force at the moment can gain hugely if we place ourselves on the picket lines offering an alternative to the big 3 pro capitalist parties putting greed before workers need everytime.

TUSC - Trade Union and Socialist Coalition were formed a year or two ago and stands against all cuts and no privatisation a stark contrast to labours pathetic too far too fast line to cuts.

It is interesting to note Unite the Union are operating a completely opposing policy to the labour leadership now and oppose labours too far too fast line. We dont believe there should be a single cut made and a explicit no to all cuts stance is needed. Afterall what is a fair cut ?

to us in the socialist party there is no such thing as a fair cut. Why should we dictate who looses their job over another. Why should we decide who is a more important worker. We shouldnt be and that is another reason why i'm against all cuts.

There is plenty money in our society plenty of money at the top of society. 14 billion in bankers bonus's alone last year and you tell me there is no money left to keep local youth centres open, keep our valuable libraries open for all to enjoy and benifit from ?

Nonsense and if you hear labour tell you we need to make the cuts there is no alternative tll them to look up Liverpool city council in the 80's where the Militant influenced council refused to make any cuts and had great success in building 5000 new affordable social housing, new sports centres, pulled down old delaperdated areas and invested in construction and new jobs. Not a single worker lost their job back then despite what people say and that is the route all labour councils shuld be at leas c onsidering. If one labour council refused to pass on the cuts it would have a huge affect on the movement. But just like this year i do not see this happening. Not on a mass scale anyhow. Maybe one or two labour councillors who still have principles may vote against the cuts. But understand they will be expelled for going against labour party policy. What does that say about a Labour Party who expells their own members and councillors who dare to fight for the working class ? absolutely shocking.

So it is essential TUSC is put forward on N30 as a alternative to the capitalist parties and we stand strong against all cuts as we must be providing a beacon to workers who are looking for an alternative to labour who sell them out time after time.

In stevenage this year we stood candidates in every ward and recieved a very good vote. Granted we did not get anyone elected yet but if we compare the Labour party's figures back when they first formed they were getting 1%'s and the like back then and some still supported the liberals for a time . So we need a new break from the pro capitalist parties and i believe TUSC is that force and can be built on and broadened out to bring in all workers in struggle, all anti cuts groups and anyone who opposes this rotten capitalist system.

To find out more about TUSC and how you can support us please visit

Monday, 21 November 2011

Egypt: protesters and army battle for streets, defend the revolution !

As a follow up to my earlier post on the recent happenings in Egypt over the weekend the CWI have put out this excellent article on recent happenings and i thought i'd share it with you here.

you can read more excellent articles like this at

Defend the revolution! For mass struggle to overthrow army rule!

David Johnson, Socialist Party (CWI England & Wales) and Niall Mulholland, CWI

Thousands of activists fought running battles with security forces for control of Tahrir Square, Cario, last weekend, and at the start of this week. At least 33 people were killed and over 1,750 injured. There have also been big protest demonstrations in Alexandria, Suez, Mansoura and other cities. Street fighting continued last night in central Cairo, turning parts of the city into “a war zone”. Today, Monday 21 November, clashes are reported as armed state forces try to clear Cairo’s Tahrir Square of protesters.

"The military promised that they would hand over power within six months," one protester said. "Now 10 months have gone by and they still haven’t done it. We feel deceived."

On Friday 18 November, a massive demonstration took place in Tahrir Square – the biggest for several months. The majority taking part in those protests were reportedly supporters of Islamist parties. But in the evening a few hundred youth set up a new occupation on the central roundabout. The state forces launched a brutal attack against the camp early Saturday morning. This led to tens of thousands of protesters returning to the Square to defend their right to protest. “The people demand the overthrow of the regime,” was the slogan chanted, as it had been before the former dictator, Hosni Mubarak, fell earlier this year. Indicating some splits at the top about how to respond to the latest street protests, Culture Minister Emad Abu Ghazi reportedly resigned in protest at the government’s handling of the demonstrators.

The Guardian newspaper (London 21/11/11) described the scene, “By Sunday morning, following 24 hours of fierce street fighting and the conquest of Tahrir by revolutionaries, the furniture of the anti-Mubarak uprising was once again wheeled into place in the capital. Civilian checkpoints dotted the square, corrugated iron sheets were torn down for barricades, and the makeshift field hospital...

“When the military attack finally came, dissolving once and for all any lingering boundaries in protesters’ minds between the army on the one hand and the hated black-clad riot police that symbolised Mubarak’s security apparatus on the other, it was brutal and ephemeral…” But “outnumbered and outfought, the soldiers fled, though not before some had been captured by protesters. Fires blazed in all directions, but Liberation Square – the plaza’s name in Arabic – had once again been liberated, although how long for, no one dares predict.

“’We’ll stay here until we die, or military rule dies,’ said 27-year-old Mahmoud Turg with a matter-of-fact intensity.”

Army clings onto power
Last weekend’s events come after growing anger at the role of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), which is trying to retain its grip on power. The council, led by Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, is supposedly charged with overseeing the country’s transition to democracy after three decades of dictatorial rule under Mr Mubarak.

Elections are to be held on 28 November, but it is becoming clearer to many that the SCAF will do everything to hold onto power, whatever the human toll. Instead of repealing Egypt’s hated emergency laws, the generals have extended it, while protecting their own privileges. An estimated 12,000 people have been brought to military tribunals over the last 10 months, a higher figure than under Mubarak’s 30 years of rule.

Calls for Tantawi’s resignation were heard during the weekend’s protests. The BBC reported that the demands of the protesters “have changed over the course of the weekend”. Crowds gathered last Friday demanded the military set a date for the handover of power but now “they want the military leaders to resign immediately and hand over to a civilian administration.”

The longest continuous street protests since President Hosni Mubarak was removed in February has raised questions over whether elections due to start next week will take place.

Several opposition parties are reported to have stated they will not take part in the coming elections. Mohamed ElBaradei, a pro-capitalist opposition figure, has offered himself to lead a ‘national government of salvation’.

Scenes of demonstrators in Tahrir Square being brutally attacked by police baton charges, tear gas (made in the USA), bird shot and rubber bullets were reminiscent of the days following the January 25th demonstration. It was those demonstrations that began the 18-day movement that forced the former president, Hosni Mubarak, from power.

Over the past few months, there have been deepening and unbearable tensions between the SCAF regime and the masses seeking democratic rights and a better life. Now these deep-seated and mutually incompatible differences have burst asunder, in what many activists are calling “the Second Revolution”. Like other revolutions, the Egyptian revolution is not a single act but a process. The masses fought hard to remove Mubarak at the cost of many lives. After he was overthrown, strikes broke out in many sectors and protests continued by youth, students and other layers. For big swathes of the population, exhausted by struggle and yearning ‘stability’, they put hopes in the new regime to oversee democratic elections and a better life. But now big sections of the population have correctly concluded that the SCAF is an attempt to continue the Mubarak regime in new clothes and that a new revolutionary upsurge is needed to win real and long-lasting democratic rights and fundamental social and economic changes.

In September, there were massive strikes - national strikes of teachers and postal workers, 62,000 Cairo public transport workers - and even low-rank police officers, who were protesting against corruption and privileges of senior officers. Workers were drawing the conclusion that they could not rely on the new government and would only get improved living standards and real democratic rights by organising and taking action.

On 9 October, there were attacks on a Coptic church that led to a protest demonstration of 10,000 to Maspero, the state TV broadcasting centre. The demonstrators were attacked by troops driving armoured cars in to the crowd, killing scores of protestors. Television reports blamed the demonstrators for the violence. Continuing military trials of civilian opponents of the regime have been highlighted by the arrest of blogger Alaa Abd El-Fattah for reporting the role of the military in the Maspero attack.

Meanwhile, Michael Nabil Sanad continues his hunger strike in protest at the three-year prison sentence he received in April. He had written an article accusing the new government of continuing the corruption and anti-democratic practices of Mubarak.

On 27 October, a prisoner, Essam Atta, was horribly tortured to death. The photo of his dead body was a gruesome reminder of Khaled Said, a young blogger killed by two policemen in Alexandria in 2010. The ‘We are all Khaled Said’ Facebook group was one of the movements that called the January 25th demonstration. Many had hoped that such scenes had ended with the end of Mubarak’s rule.

Over the weekend of 19/20 November, there were huge protests in the delta port of Damietta against continuing pollution from the Mopco fertiliser factory. Twenty thousand demonstrators blockaded the port and roads into the city. They were attacked by army and police, with two people killed. At the other end of the country, in Aswan, a mass rally of Nubians protested against the shooting of a Nubian boatman by a policeman.

Same methods of repression as Mubarak regime
These incidents have shown that SCAF are using the same methods of repression as the old regime. This is only to be expected, as these same senior officers served Mubarak for decades. They have massive economic interests, with large companies owned by the armed forces. They are determined to protect these interests, as well as those of the rest of the Egyptian ruling class.

This is why the CWI argued on 11 February, the day of Mubarak’s removal, that the working class and youth should have, “No trust in the military chiefs!” and needed to build an independent movement that fights for “a government of the representatives of workers, small farmers and the poor!”

The forthcoming elections are to the lower house of a parliament that will draw up a new constitution. Two thirds of the seats are elected on a local list basis, with individuals elected to the remaining seats. The election process will strengthen supporters of the old regime, many of whom are running as ‘independents’ or members of the ‘loyal opposition’ parties that Mubarak allowed to give a democratic veneer to his regime.

The government have now declared that the new parliament will not have control over the armed forces, which would continue to control their own budget and policy. After initial outcry, the SCAF ‘compromised’ and said it would be accountable to a National Council. Half would be elected from the parliament and half from SCAF, with the president as chairman. This would leave the armed forces with effective control over themselves.

While Islamists are expected to become the largest bloc in the new parliament, its supporters are divided between several parties. The biggest is the Muslim Brotherhood’s (MB) ‘Freedom and Justice Party’, which claims to model itself on the AKP that forms the Turkish government.

Young Muslim Brotherhood members broke away in frustration at the older leadership, reflecting pressure from youth activists they had worked with following the January 25th revolution. These younger Muslim Brotherhood members were expelled from the Muslim Brotherhood and set up four new parties. Increasing numbers of conservative Islamists support a number of more hard-line Islamic Salafist parties.

The electoral support of the Islamist parties is based on their record of charitable work, filling some of the massive gaps in social support under Mubarak, as well as their record of opposition to Mubarak and perceived lack of corruption. There have been reports of these parties handing out meat and half price medicines at some election rallies. Arguments over candidates’ lists between these different parties have taken place over the past few months. With growing class conflict, some of these Islamist parties will reflect differing class interests.

Revolution hijacked
The demonstrations across Egypt this weekend show an increasing number of youth and workers understand the SCAF is intent on hijacking their revolution. The youth and workers are courageously resisting the army and police on the streets of Cairo and elsewhere. The movement needs to urgently create democratically-elected and run committees of mass struggle and defence against state repression. The army rank and file can be won over, with a firm and decisive appeal to join the uprising. The soldiers’ grievances about low pay, bad conditions and treatment by their senior officers need to be addressed by the mass movement, alongside calling for the right of soldiers to organise a free independent trade union, to form soldiers’ committees and the election of officers. This can help win the rank and file of the army and sections of the police to the side of the masses. Mass workers’ action, including a general strike, to overthrow Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces and the whole rotten, brutal regime needs to be organised alongside an offensive to moblise and organise the masses as the basis for a government formed by representatives of workers, the youth, small farmers and the poor that can take immediate action against counter-revolution and for democratic rights, immediate steps to improve living standards and break with capitalism.

The masses are instinctively opposed to a constitution approved or drawn up by the military. The CWI calls for the rapid election of a real democratic parliament, a revolutionary constituent assembly, which not only agrees rules for elections but also a programme to change the conditions of the Egyptian masses. Such a parliament can only be convened – if it is really to represent the majority of the population – under the control of democratic workplace and neighbour committees. Representatives of the workers and poor farmers should form the majority in this parliament or constituent assembly.

Real change in the interests of workers, the poor and the youth requires genuine democratic change. Democratic popular committees in workplaces and neighbourhoods can re-develop or spring up anew in the cauldron of events now taking place on the streets. Such bodies, linking up at city, regional and national level, can form the basis for a revolutionary constituent assembly and a government with a majority of workers and poor.

A workers’ and poor people’s government would introduce genuine democratic reforms, including regular elections for representatives, on average workers’ wages and subject to recall should they act against the interests of workers and the poor. It would also guarantee the right to organise independent trade unions, the right to strike and the right to organise political parties.

These are needed to struggle for decent pay and working conditions, guaranteed jobs, and also decent housing, education, pensions and healthcare. The newly formed independent trade unions need to build their own independent workers’ party to campaign for these ideas.

Such a government would nationalise all the major companies and banks under democratic workers’ control, so that the economy could be planned in the interests of the big majority of the population, instead of being run for benefit of the rich.

The struggle between revolution and counter-revolution continues as the working class strives to complete what it began on January 25th – winning full democratic, social and economic freedoms. A workers’ party putting forward a socialist programme, linked to the daily needs of millions of workers and poor, could gain mass support, and undercut the false alternative of the Muslim Brotherhood. Linking up with workers and youth across the region, such a mass movement could lead to a federation of democratic socialist states, ending poverty, corruption and oppression.

The CWI says:
•Defend the revolution: Clear out Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi and the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
•No compromise with the old remnants of the regime - No to rule by the military chiefs or the elite.
•No trust in any new ‘national unity’ regime based on the interests of the ruling class and imperialism
•For the urgent formation of democratically-elected and run committees of mass struggle and defence against state repression
•No to sectarianism – For the unity of all workers across religious lines
•Immediate lifting of the state of emergence. Immediate freeing of all political detainees and prisoners. No prosecution or victimisation of activists in the revolution
•Full political freedom. Freedom to publish and organise. Democratic control over the state media and opening up of state media to publish the views of all political trends supporting the revolution
•No restriction of the right to strike and take other industrial action. Full freedom to form trade unions and conduct trade union activity. For democratic, combative trade unions
•Formation of democratic rank and file committees in the armed forces and police
•Arrest and trial before popular courts all those involved in the SCAF regime’s repression and corruption. Confiscate the assets of the looters and corrupt.
•For the immediate elections to a revolutionary constituent assembly supervised by committees of working people, the poor and the youth
•For a government of representatives of workers, the youth, small farmers and the poor
•Nationalise the major companies and banks under democratic workers’ control, so that the economy could be planned in the interests of the big majority of the population, instead of being run for benefit of the rich

The need for a second Egyptian revolution to hand workers power

There has been some brutal scenes over the weekend of riot police violently clamping down on protests rising up in the squares of the city from the people who helped over throw their previous dictator Hosni Mubarak

From the BBC:

Clashes are continuing between demonstrators and security forces in the Egyptian capital as protests enter a fourth day.

At least 13 people died and hundreds were injured over the weekend as troops launched a major assault to clear Cairo's Tahrir Square of protesters.

Efforts to clear the square appeared to continue on Monday, with tear gas canisters being thrown at protesters.

The unrest casts a shadow over elections due to start next week.

It is the longest continuous protest since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted in February.

Demonstrators say they fear Egypt's governing Supreme Council of the Armed Forces is trying to retain its grip on power.

The council, led by Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, is charged with overseeing the country's transition to democracy after three decades of autocratic rule under Mr Mubarak.

Calls for his resignation could be heard during th
Parts taken from CWI committee for workers international.

Eight months after the overthrow of Mubarak, workers and youth still face poverty, unemployment, corruption and repression

The court trial of Mubarak continues, together with his sons, Gamal and Alaa, and some of their cronies. Ahmed Ezz owns 70% of Egypt’s iron and steel production (bought cheaply when state-owned industries were privatised) and 50% of ceramics. He was a leading member of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, senior member of the National Assembly and friend of Gamal Mubarak. On 14 September, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a fine of LE660million ($111m = £70m) for corruption. For a man reported to own $1.5billion in 2008, the fine is small change. All privatised industries should be renationalised, without compensation to the owners, who made fortunes while paying low wages.

It is estimated that corruption - including bribery, tax evasion, theft, nepotism and extortion – may have cost the economy as much as $57 billion in 2000-2008, or an annual average of $6.4 billion. That’s about $800 a year for every man, woman and child while 40% live on less than a dollar a day.

Unemployment rising
The economy has been hard hit by the fall in tourism, one of Egypt’s largest employers. Revenues are down $1billion a month. Egypt Air is losing 56% of its passenger traffic. This is partly because of fears of insecurity following the violent attempt of the old regime to hang on to power, but also because of the global financial crisis, with falling living standards in many countries.

Withdrawal of foreign capital in the six months after the revolution totalled about $16 billion. A 7% fall in GDP during the first quarter of the year was the equivalent of a $30 billion loss to the economy. These factors have resulted in unemployment, already high, growing to anything between 10-20%. Rising prices also make life a growing struggle.

An opinion poll, last April, found that 63% felt unemployment was the biggest issue facing society. Eighty percent expected their household’s financial situation to get better in the next year. Seventy five percent were confident that the new government was able to address the main issues facing the country. Of those who participated in protests during the eighteen days that overthrew Mubarak (one quarter of respondents), 64% said unemployment and low living standards were their main reasons for doing so, compared to 19% who said lack of democracy and political reform.

Now that it is becoming clearer to working and middle class people that the economic situation is getting worse, and that the government is unable to improve living conditions, growing numbers of workers are taking strike action. They are realising that it is only by their own action that conditions are going to improve and that they cannot rely on the government to change their lives for the better.

Many are angry at the slowness of change and how the military rule are hanging on to power an d the democracy they were promised is simply not happening as far as they can see.
Some weariness after eight months of weekly demonstrations, many of them enormous, is to be expected. But there is also a growing realization that demonstrations are insufficient by themselves to change the situation. Working class solidarity and struggle by striking, and in some cases occupying workplaces, is growing and has the power to force concessions from government and employers. Momentum towards a national general strike needs to be built, to draw all sections of workers and youth together to win real democratic, workplace and social gains. This entails rank and file, democratic control of mass action and creating mass committees of action in the workplaces, communities and colleges that are linked up at local, regional and national levels.

Democratic socialist programme
But wage rises will not last long while prices continue to rise, and do not directly benefit the unemployed, poor farm workers and other sections of the poor. The capitalist system will always try to take back whatever it is forced to concede, while ever it remains in place. The task of active trade unionists, youth and socialists is to raise the idea of a government of workers and the poor to complete the revolution started on January 25th.

The strike wave raises the need for workers in different industries, both public and private sector, to organise their own mass workers’ party. Activists from different struggles need to join together. Youth and students, those fighting for democratic rights and other social and community campaigns also need to join with organised workers.

A democratic socialist programme would include a decent minimum wage of at least LE 1200 linked to rising prices, decent education and healthcare systems, a massive house-building programme and a shorter working week to provide jobs for the unemployed. These must be linked to nationalisation under democratic workers’ control and management of all big companies, large estates and banks. The economy could then be planned to meet the needs of the majority instead of the profits of a tiny minority.

It is time the Egyptian people were given what they demanded in the first place. Freedom, real freedom. Freedom from capitalism and repression .

Sunday, 20 November 2011

End the dictatorship of the market

The dictatorship of the markets has become a practical reality in Italy and Greece with the imposition of technocrats as Prime Minister in each country. This anti-democratic move is being portrayed as putting a ‘safe pair of hands’ in charge in each country. This is simply untrue. Lucas Papademos and Mario Monti, are the banking sector’s choice of leader rather than the people’s. Monti was an as advisor to Goldman Sachs until last weekend. Papademos was a former vice-president of the European Central Bank, and has publically been opposed to the write down of Greek banking debt as it would hurt the banking sector. These technocrats represent the interests of the banking sector and have been put in place to make sure that austerity is forced through so that the banks can be paid back their bad gambling debts at the expense of the working class in these countries and internationally.

you can watch Paul Murphy MEP of the socialist party in Ireland part of the CWI oppose these new technocratic governments in Greece and Italy when he speaks in the European Parliament. No one else is speaking up about this and how undemocratic imposing a government of bankers on a country. I feel it will only be a matter of time before people realise what is going on and fightback. As paul says in the clip we need a european wide fightback and a european wide struggle a general strike across europe even.

Where in the world 300 families control 40 % of the worlds wealth it is a hugely unfair system where the wealth of many is held in the hands of a few families and super rich elite.

You can even look back to last year in the UK where there was a period of negiotiating with the political class to decide who joins with who to form a government based on austerity. We did not vote for that government of lib dems and tories it was imposed on us so again you can say it is another government acting on the interest of the 1% and the city. We were told that the markets need political unity and not instability so a decision had to be come to.

At the moment the markets rule and the political elite bow down to their paymasters in the markets. It is a worrying sign that unelected governments are taking control in places like Italy and Greece. It is a dangerous route to start eroding democracy. Even what little democracy we had before.

It is time to end the dictatorship of the market and build a working class alternative. With mass workers parties dedicated to ending the rule of the market and putting peoples needs before profits. Ending the idea of greed and moving towards a new, farier, socialist society.

Friday, 18 November 2011

The undemocratic nature of the monarchy

As a socialist i stand for a class less society with a end to inequality and greed. The monarchy which we have in Britain do not fit in to this new socialist world i'm afraid and as i will explain are simply undemocratic and there above the sta te to rule over us. This is undemocratic and we have little say over who rules us.

there is no place in a democratic society for an unelected institution which possesses inherited powers.

The UK does not have a written constitution which sets out the rights and duties of the Sovereign, they are established by conventions. These are non-statutory rules which can be just as binding as formal constitutional rules. As a constitutional monarch, theoretically the Sovereign must remain politically neutral.

However, the Sovereign retains an important political role as head of state, formally appointing prime ministers, and approving certain legislation. She has other official roles to play, such as head of the armed forces and head of the police, and can be seen as having two roles: Head of State, and 'Head of the Nation'.

In circumstances of a fundamental conflict of interests between capital and labour it is not inconceivable that, under pressure from capitalism, the monarch could refuse to sign an Act which, for instance, nationalised the commanding heights of the economy under workers' control and management.

In November 1975 the Queen's representative Governor-General of Australia, Sir John Kerr, dismissed Labour's Gough Whitlam as prime minister and appointed right-wing Malcolm Fraser as a caretaker prime minister. Thus an unelected vice-regal representative had removed from office a government which commanded a majority in the House of Representatives.

Royal estates are worth big money in terms of rent income. Prince Charles made £1.1 million more from the Duchy of Cornwall estates last financial year than he did the previous year. This money came largely from rising interest rates, the recently departed boom in the stock market, property prices, and rising prices of food from his farmlands.

At the same time, he is paying £5,000 less tax and can afford to run his Aston Martin on surplus wine from English vineyards.

Then there's the trips - a charter flight for the Queen and Prince Philip to the US for six days cost £381,813. How many OAPs get that? Prince Charles and Camilla took the overnight train from Ayr to Euston last autumn and the bill came to £23,949. Well, that's privatisation, I suppose. As for Prince Andrew's trips, even royal apologists find them hard to justify.

The Royals might think of themselves as public employees of sorts, though possibly not the kind that joins a public-sector union. Most socialists would prefer to abolish the monarchy as a clapped-out institution that is used by papers like the Mail to try to justify the growing class divisions of society.

So i feel as do other socialists we simply cannot have a monarchy ruling over us in a new socialist society which we are working towards creating. It is undemocratic and prehistoric in many ways. They must go and have their assets liquaidated to be put to use for the benifit of all the people not a family who are in charge just because they were born to a particular family.