Friday, September 30, 2011

Belfast Trade Union Conference


To Government Austerity Measures

Saturday 15th October, 9:30am - 1:00pm

UNISON Offices, Galway House, Belfast

Speakers will include:

Patricia McKeown

Unison, Regional Secretary

Andrew Murray

Unite, Chief of Staff

John Douglas

Mandate, General Secretary

And speakers from the: Community sector, And, Greek Trade Union Federation, PAME

Please Note:

Due to limitations on numbers we must ask people to register via the attached form.

The form can be emailed to:

or via post to:

Belfast Trades Council, Belfast Unemployed Resource Centre
45-47 Donegal Street, Belfast. BT1 2FG

Thursday, September 29, 2011

New videos up on CPI TV

Check them out:

Latest from Greece


Eurozone trader tells it like it is

The Raymond Crotty Lecture

Sunday, September 25, 2011

International Communist Review

New edition out now:

Repudiate the Debt Statement


25 September 2011

An elite completely out of touch

Congratulations to the twenty-seven members of both houses of the Oireachtas for their letter (Irish Times, 23 September) calling for a referendum on the European Stability Mechanism, which, if enacted, would create a permanent euro-zone fund and plunge this state deeper into debt.

Under the proposed ESM, this bankrupt state of ours would “irrevocably and unconditionally” contribute €11 billion to the ESM when it is established in 2013. It is also most probable that additional funds will need to be handed over when contributions come up for regular review. No doubt we will borrow this from the same banks to which we already owe about €300 billion.

In their letter they also state that “weaker economies like Ireland would have to put up cash immediately to cover any shortfall of paid in capital that might arise,” while Germany and France would be able to fulfil their obligations by way of a “guarantee.”

The ESM will give priority to the stability of the euro above everything else. No matter what type or make-up of government the citizens of member-states or the Irish people elect, they have no other choice but to give priority to the “stability of the euro area.” Democracy has been turned on its head.

The cliques who run both the EU and this state of ours have clearly lost touch with the daily reality faced by tens of millions of people in the peripheral countries, whose lives and very existence have been turned into a nightmare in order to pay off private corporate debts assumed by their governments without the consent of their people.

Lewis Carroll could not have dreamed up this kind of skewed view of the world in his wildest fantasies. Alice in Wonderland has nothing on these people.

Eoghan O'Neill

Thursday, September 22, 2011

CPI Message to PAME Greece

International Day of Solidarity with the Greek People

Message to the All-Workers’ Militant Front (PAME) of Greece

22 September 2011

Dear comrades,

On behalf of the Communist Party of Ireland I wish to express our profound solidarity with all the Greek working class on this day of solidarity. The people of Greece, and in particularly the working class and other oppressed social masses, once again challenge the power of monopoly capitalism, the European Union, and its lackeys in the Greek bourgeoisie.

The Greek people, and Greek workers in particular, have shown determined resistance and fearless opposition since this current crisis erupted. By your resistance you have slowed up the implementation of the austerity measures, thwarted the plans of the European Union, and accentuated the deep contradictions at the heart of the system.

Your tenacity and forbearance must be emulated by all workers in showing that with resistance we can sow the seeds of a new tomorrow.

Once again we reiterate our solidarity.

For working-class solidarity and anti-imperialist unity,

Eugene McCartan General Secretary

EU IMF Imposed Budget on Ireland

Ministers have been ordered to identify potential spending cuts worth €10½ billion from their departmental budgets, including reductions in staff numbers and social welfare in a three-year plan being prepared on foot of demands from the EU and IMF.

Read more

People's News No.55

Conference Ireland and the EU

The EU in crisis: Prospects for regaining Ireland’s sovereignty.

Friday-Saturday 7-8 October 2011
Ireland Institute
27 Pearse Street Dublin 2

Friday 7 October 7.30pm - Was ‘Social Europe’ a con?
Speakers: David Begg, Gen Sec ICTU, Alex Gordon, Gen President RMT
Chair; Seamas Ratigan, Campaign for a Social Europe

Saturday 8 October 11.00am - Should Ireland stay in the Euro?
Speakers: Frank Keoghan, People’s Movement, Joe Higgins TD
Chair: Padraigh Mannion, PANA

Saturday 8 October 2.00pm - The EU’s emerging superstate
Speakers: Roger Cole, Chair of PANA, Declan Power, Security and Defence Journalist
Chair: Michael Youlton, Campaign for a Social Europe

Saturday 8 October 4.15pm - The struggle to regain Ireland’s sovereignty
Speakers: Alex White TD, Robert Ballagh, Peoples Movement, Aengus O’Snodaigh TD.
Chair; Mick O’Reilly, People’s Movement

Sunday, September 18, 2011

CPI Speech in Lisbon

Dear comrades,

First of all I would like to that the Portuguese Communist Party for the invitation to attend and speak at this important meeting as part of the Avante festival.

The workers' movement in Europe is now facing unprecedented challenges. The much-heralded recovery from the 2007/08 economic crisis has proved short-lived, and the policies pursued by the Obama administration of quantitative easing and the European Union's continuing attempts to prop up a collapsing financial system have been shown not to provide any long-term solution. The cyclical crisis is becoming more complex with the period between boom and slum now almost indiscernible. The deepening crisis is exposing as never before that monopoly capitalism has long passed its sell by date and is in deep, possibly terminal, decline.

The political establishments in Ireland, Brussels and Berlin or across the Atlantic have no answers nor solutions other than to continue to undermine and roll back workers rights, wages, and working conditions. We now face the prospect of growing mass unemployment, mass poverty, and the repossession of family homes.

Currently, the crisis in the EU is centred on the euro and the permanent structural debt that has been imposed by the dominant central powers on the countries of the periphery. This debt-bondage bears a striking resemblance to the conditions imposed on former colonies by the imperialist powers. It enables the creditor states to dictate the most minute details of economic policy on the debtors and to supervise its implementation, in their own interest. This is resulting in a massive transfer of wealth from the periphery, in particular from workers in the periphery.

It has not, however insulated the central powers from the crisis, as they struggle to save the euro.

As history shows us, and as Milton Friedman proclaimed, a crisis provides an opportunity for the ruling classes to drive back working people, to take back economic and social advance that workers gained through decades of struggle. This is true in current conditions as we witness the dominant forces within the institutions of the EU, the Commission and the European Central Bank and within member-states wishing to use the crisis to deepen the EU's control over national budgetary strategies and fiscal policies. We have heard right-wing Irish politicians and economists , for example, advocating the issuing of euro-bonds, which would necessarily entail even greater control from the centre.

Their strategy is to strengthen the economic and political power of monopoly capitalism. in particular that of German monopoly capital. If they succeed their strategy can and will weaken substantially the people's ability to effect political and economic change at the national level, thereby further subverting democracy and taking another major step in the construction of a corporate European state across national boundaries.

While it is clear there is a deep economic crisis of the system what is also clear at this time is that ideologically it is still able to maintain a deep reserve of political and cultural influence upon the minds of working people.

The Irish crisis arose out of the need of European finance capital to find an outlet for the vast amount of surplus profit on its hands. The Irish banks became willing agents, fueling an orgy of speculation, not only in Ireland but throughout the European Union. Ireland became the fifth-largest lender in the world to Italy, Greece and Portugal and seventh largest lender in the world to Spain, exposing Irish banks—and now the Irish people—to debts of €5.1 billion to Portugal, €25.3 billion to Spain, €40.9 billion to Italy, and €7.8 billion to Greece.

Currently what the Irish establishment, in agreement with the EU/ECM/IMF, calls Irish Sovereign debt stands at €150 billion It is further estimated that the growing mortgage crisis could take a further €40 billion to solve That is if the state take action to prevents tens of thousands of home owners losing their homes. This could bring the state indebtedness to close on €200 billion and that does not take into account interest rates and the growing cost of borrowing to service this massive debt.

Throughout the developed capitalist system there continues to be vast sums of money swilling about, with no productive avenues for investment open to them, because of the persisting deep crisis of oversupply and the stagnation in the productive economy. The monopolies and the imperialist states are more desperately than ever looking for new areas of investment, hence their greed for privatising public services and national resources, hence also their drive to re-conquer the world's resources, Libyan oil, for example. The drive to war is inherent in the capitalist system; it is exacerbated by the present crisis.

The Irish Government pathetically follows the orders coming from the European Union. The strategy of austerity is not designed to rejuvenate the economy but instead to squeeze enough capital from working people to transfer it to finance houses to try and shore up the systems last investment avenue: finance.

The Irish government, like other governments, is making working people, the poor and the sick, pay the price for a system that is now caught in a downward spiral of irreconcilable contradictions. They do not have any choice, other than to impose this strategy, as it is their system that they are struggling to save. In the interest of the working class and working people in general, we argue that there can be no lasting solution to the systemic structural crisis. But rather as the crisis has presented greater scope for monopoly capitalism to attack us, it also provides us with the opportunity, and confronts us with the necessity of engaging in a deeper ideological struggle.

This is a political and ideological weakness of the system of their hegemonic control. They cannot convince working people of the justice of this unbearable, unpayable and odious debt. Working people, even those with no experience of political organisation, have expressed their anger and frustration that saving the banks and financial houses has become the absolute priority of government, above all human considerations. It is up to us to find the way to turn this anger and frustration into action. So far in Ireland the economic crisis has not created a political crisis, but it has the potential to do so, to weaken the political and ideological hold of bourgeois, individualist thinking on the minds of working people.

That is why our party adopted from the very beginning the demand for repudiation of this debt imposed upon the Irish people. We proposed that the banks which had gambled their way into bankruptcy should not be rescued, but should be replaced by a national development bank, and let the European financiers take the consequences. It is the view of the CPI that the only way forward is through repudiation of this debt. It is not owned by the people, nor is it our responsibility. To repudiate it is to assert our national sovereignty and the sovereignty of the people above all else.

Why say "repudiate" rather than "default"? To default would continue to place the obligation upon the Irish people to pay some or all of this corporate debt. Default would allow the European Union and international finance houses to determine the terms and conditions of a restructuring of the debt. Debt is so central to the consumption strategy of monopoly capitalism that its very financialisation has become its weakness.

There are many obstacles to be overcome for the left and workers' movement to take the lead in the struggle which could attack the weakest link in the imperialist chain of control. The struggle is national insofar as that is the basis from which the working class can struggle to take power, it is anti-imperialist as it directly confronts state monopoly capital, it is democratic in content because it is mobilizing the people to defend their interests and national democracy and it bring the class nature of bourgeois
society into stark relief.

Sean Edwards
Communist Party of Ireland
3rd September 2011

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Challenge for Trade Unionism

The CPI has published a new pamphlet, The Challenge for Trade Unionism, which examines the crisis in the trade unions and puts forward suggestions for overcoming it. The pamphlet was launched on 8 September at a seminar in the head office of the TEEU in Dublin.

“UN statehood initiative”

IPSC statement on the Palestinian “UN statehood initiative”

IPSC National Committee,
15th September 2011

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign fully supports the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination as guaranteed by UN General Assembly Resolution 3236. This right is the foremost and most fundamental human right of the Palestinian national liberation movement, and is an inalienable right of all Palestinians – those in the Occupied Territories, Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinian refugees and others in the Diaspora.

The Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign, as an organisation in solidarity with the Palestinian people, does not see our role as intervening in internal Palestinian discussions on statehood, or advocating solutions based on ‘one’ or ‘two’ states. It is our view that these are issues for Palestinians to resolve, free from outside interference.

It is now clear that the PLO’s UN statehood initiative does not enjoy the unanimous support of Palestinian society. Furthermore, no call has emanated from our partners in the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) to support, or oppose, the statehood bid. The BNC is the main coalition of Palestinian civil society and trade union groups promoting the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. Therefore, the IPSC is neither supporting or opposing this initiative.

Individual members of the IPSC are free to advocate support or opposition to the statehood bid as they see fit, so long as it is clearly done in a personal capacity, and not on behalf of the IPSC.

Regardless of the outcome at the UN this September, Israel’s decades old occupation of Palestine will not end anytime soon – a fact admitted to by the Israeli Ambassador to Ireland, when he stated that even in the event of statehood being granted “nothing will change on the ground for ordinary Palestinians”. Indeed, for Palestinians the brutality of the occupation will continue, irrespective of whether the UN decides that they live in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” or the “State of Palestine”.

It is doubtful that a change in the UN designation of the areas occupied by Israel since 1967 will any practical effect on Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. In fact, as things currently stand, Palestinians are denied their already guaranteed UN-mandated rights – the right to self-determination, the right to freedom of movement, the right to development, the right of residency and the right of return for refugees. Israel is in breach of tens of UN resolutions, and ignores international laws such as the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling that deemed illegal both its land-grab Apartheid wall and colonial settlements on Palestinian lands.

Therefore, in line with the most recent call by the Palestinian BNC, the IPSC believes our task is to build support for the just demands of Palestinian people, as crystallised in the 2005 unified call for a campaign of BDS against Israel until it ends its occupation of Palestinian lands, ceases its apartheid practices, and complies fully with its obligations under international law. This call, for a struggle similar to the international campaign that hastened the fall of South African apartheid, has been endorsed by over 200 Palestinian political parties, trade unions, NGOs and civil society organisations.

As the most recent BNC statement makes clear, “the key lesson learned from South Africa is that, in order for world governments to end their complicity with Israel’s grave and persistent violations of human rights and international law, they must be compelled to do so through mass, well organized grassroots pressure by social movements and other components of civil society. In this context, BDS has proven to be the most potent and promising strategy of international solidarity with the Palestinian people in our struggle for self determination, freedom, justice and equality.”

For those who wish for a just and peaceful solution to the Palestinian-Israeli question, it is imperative to continue the efforts to apply pressure on the apartheid state of Israel through the BDS movement and to support Palestinian resistance to Israeli Apartheid on the ground. The Irish Government, too, should support the call for BDS by ending the trade in technology, arms, goods and services with Israel; investigating and prosecuting companies in Ireland which profit from the occupation; ensuring that taxpayer-funded educational, cultural and sporting institutions do not collaborate with Israel; and diplomatically boycotting the Israeli state. At the European level it should demand the suspension of the Euro-Med agreement which grants Israel favourable trading status, and all EU projects that involve funding or collaboration with Israel.

Ultimately, the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign believes that, statehood or no, the struggle for the inalienable rights – human, political and national – of the Palestinian people will continue until they are secured.

Indeed, this struggle must be intensified regardless of the UN’s decision later this month, and the IPSC will be at the forefront of this movement on this island, and with our partners internationally.


Message from the Miami 5

Dear sisters and brothers around the world,

Today, September 12, 2011, thirteen years of an unjust and prolonged incarceration have been completed, where the manipulations, lies and concealment of evidence engaged in by this country's government, have made this legal odyssey an endless and even more painful one. However, on the other side of the equation, without so much as a single second's hesitation throughout this beautiful and already epic battle, are all of you, sisters, brother, family, eternal friends, who fill us with a sense of pride and privilege.

Thanks to all of you, to the entire international solidarity movement, we've made small steps forward, such as a re-sentencing for three of us, although the sentences remain exaggerated and unjustifiable. The struggle continues.

Our brother, Gerardo Hernández, still remains under a double life sentence plus 15 years, for crimes he never committed, whose exculpatory evidence the government refuses to hand over, making a mockery not only of justice and universal ethics, but of the very laws and constitution of the United States. For him, there has been no rest whatsoever in this battle, and against him, every kind of punishment and disparagement have been and continue to be used.

On the other hand, René Gonzáles is finally at the point of completing his unjust sentence and still must fight for the recognition of his legitimate right to reunite with those who love him most, and return to his homeland.

We all continue in the fight for truth and justice. Now our final legal appeals are being presented to obtain some kind of remedy that might rectify so much injustice. The "Habeas Corpus" petitions of Gerardo, Tony and Ramon have been presented. We can say that they are marvelous documents, with a strong legal basis and with real evidence of our innocence, as well as the aberrations of this entire process. But we are not naïve. As in many prior moments, we know that this is a totally and uniquely political cause, and that is behind the decisions of judges and prosecutors. Our families, brothers, friends also suffer from this situation.

We must not permit this injustice to continue any longer, that other brothers should be forced to complete undeserved sentences, that Gerardo should continue to be treated with such cruelty.

This is the reality and the scene that we are facing on this, the thirteenth anniversary of captivity.

But we are continuing and shall continue struggling until victory is achieved, because there is nothing more beautiful than the defense of the dignity and right of our country to be free, independent and sovereign.

And we are proud, knowing that we can count on this wonderful solidarity that someday, ever closer, will free us and bring us home.

Thank you to everyone for your faithful companionship!

Our love and affection remain with you!

We shall be victorious!

Ramon Labanino Salazar
Sept. 12, 2011, 11:50 a.m.
FCI Jesup, Georgia

Mode 4? What does it mean?

By Linda Kaucher

The fight against the proposed European Union/India Free Trade Agreement and the widespread social dumping it would create is gathering pace and the issue will now be debated at this year's TUC Congress.

One union, RMT, is now campaigning against the most secretive aspect of this deal - the labour liberalisation concept, called Mode 4, which allows corporations to drive down wages.

At its annual general meeting, RMT delegates were warned that EU Mode 4 commitments would hand transnational corporations the power to bring in cheap labour from outside the EU to work on extremely low rates of pay.

"The UK is the main and very willing target for these corporations and it will undermine UK labour conditions and displace workers.

"These workers will not be classed as immigrants and the company will be holding their visas," RMT delegate Gary Abbott warned.

The union is now seeking to publicise how British workers are being sold out in EU international trade deals and to challenge the British government's complicity in this.

Public debate on economic recovery always acknowledges the central importance of employment and of workers earning and spending.

But if transnational corporations displace earning and spending workers with a reserve army of cheaper, temporary migrant workers, recovery will be undermined. Yet this is not so readily recognised, and neither are the government measures that allow this to happen.

In particular, trade concessions that encourage such social dumping are being deliberately hidden. Workers who are earning and spending - in the process allowing others to earn and spend - is what Keynes called the multiplier effect.

While temporary cheap migrant labour may benefit individual companies and their shareholders, it cuts across the earn and spend cycle and the multiplier effect.

This means that wages leave the country, tax and national insurance income drops, the welfare bill increases as resident workers are displaced and become unemployed, young workers are denied work opportunities and there is an ominous and irretrievable loss of skills.

And then transnational corporations cream off profits from moving cheap labour across borders.

There is a continuum of measures allowing big business to capitalise on transnational wage differences. Free movement of workers inside the EU, but particularly free movement of services allows EU firms to bring in their own cheaper labour from wherever they choose.

Two categories in the British points-based system allow trans-national firms to bring in workers with no numerical limits.

The EU's Mode 4 offers - included in all EU trade agreements - allow transnational firms to bring in temporary workers.

The British points-based system categories of "intracorporate transferees" (ICTs) in tier 2 and "international agreements" in tier 5 have been set up for the international trade agreement commitments, though the British government does not draw attention to this.

Government regulations actually encourage the use of tier 2 ICTs. Transnational corporations bringing in skilled workers for less than a year can pay them just the minimum wage, made up to a low industry level wage with tax-free expenses and no national insurance. So British regulations ensure that ICTs are overall a cheap labour source, and because these workers are brought in temporarily and rely on the corporation for their visa, they will not become organised.

The EU's Mode 4 trade concessions are the most sinister measure because of the secrecy, the implications for workers and particularly for their permanence.

They allow corporations to bring in workers for their own established operations but also to supply workers into other firms, relieving those firms of all employer responsibilities.

Under Mode 4 the corporate right to displace workers with cheaper temporary migrant labour becomes irreversible and fixed in international trade law.

India is the main country asking for Mode 4 access so that Indian corporations such as Tata can supply cheap labour into the EU, though Britain is actually the main target.

In the EU/India Free Trade Agreement - expected to be completed in December this year - Mode 4 labour access is the single demand that India is making.
Here is another one for your blogg. From the morning star.

Thus this trade agreement hinges on British workers' jobs being sacrificed in exchange for investment opportunities for transnational financial services firms.

Yet while the EU/India trade agreement is being heavily contested in India because of the effects there, British workers have not been told about it.

There has been deliberate secrecy throughout the four years of negotiations.

Tory, Lib Dem, Labour, Green and UKIP politicians - as well as high profile journalists - have all known about Mode 4 commitments but have failed to tell British workers.

The BIS House of Commons select committee, overseeing the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills which connects with EU trade policy, has similarly failed in its role.

Despite the committee's extensive and expensive enquiries on trade, the labour aspect has not emerged in its reports.

This supposed watchdog committee has chosen to ignore it, despite the effects on workers and on the national economy, both now and in the future.

Workers in many sectors and at all skill levels will be affected by the Mode 4 commitments, especially in combination with existing internal EU labour liberalisation measures.

Transnational corporations will cash in on importing cheap workers as long as the government measures allow and facilitate it while disregarding the negative effects.

Clearly workers have to act for themselves to bring this to public debate. RMT has recognised the urgency of the threat of Mode 4 labour commodification, especially in the EU/India Free Trade Agreement, and is campaigning to bring it to public attention and to hold the government accountable.

Why Mode 4?

The World Trade Organisation categorises the modes in which cross-border services can be delivered

Mode 1: eg by internet

Mode 2: client crosses border eg tourism, foreign student market

Mode 3: company established cross border

Mode 4: workers are moved as "service suppliers"

Debt report

For a full copy of the report check out:

Audit of Irish Debt

Debt and Development Coalition, Afri and Unite the Union

An Audit of Irish Debt

An Independent Analysis Revealed:

This is an audit of Irish sovereign debt, and as such seeks to quantify and explain the debts, both real and contingent, for which the Irish people have become responsible. As such, our main focus is bonds issued directly by the Irish government and long-term liabilities of the banks which are guaranteed by the Irish government. In addition to this we examine some market activity including short selling and credit default swaps, in order to explain how they impact on the market for sovereign debt. We have three aims. As an audit, we aim to collate and verify data to produce as comprehensive and accurate a picture of Irish debt as possible, including the origin and scale of the debts. There is a public education role, in which we seek to create an accessible, comprehensible description of Irish debt to help people to understand a very complex situation. Finally, through the provision of detailed references to source material, we hope this provides a useful foundation to others for future work in the area.

Irish government debt, the total of bonds issued directly by government, has increased sharply in recent years, as the domestic banks were recapitalised. The Irish state has not borrowed on the markets since September 2010, but the bonds continue to be traded among investors on the secondary market. Because of the way in which this is done, through a clearing house, the identity of the bondholders at a given time is not known. This anonymity is discussed in the conclusion to this audit, and contrasted with the position of shareholders. The limited information available on the identity of the holders of Irish government bonds, as discussed in Section 2 of the report, indicates that most are not Irish resident.

Apart from directly issuing bonds, the Irish government has contingent liabilities for other debt, including deposits in Irish banks, bonds issued by NAMA, and the bank guarantees of 2008 and 2009. This latter guarantee, known as the ELG scheme, guarantees some of the bonds issued by the covered banks. These are dealt with in Section 4 of the report. It is worth noting at this point that there are other bonds issued by Irish banks, commonly referred to as the unguaranteed bonds, which are not specifically covered by the government guarantee. These may be further divided between senior and subordinated bonds, the latter being higher-risk instruments, which reduced rights to repayment. To date, the state-owned banks have continued to make repayments to the senior bonds.
As well as guaranteeing bonds under the ELG scheme, the Irish state has provided support to the covered banks through the issue of promissory notes throughout 2010 to Anglo Irish Banks, Irish Nationwide and to a lesser extent the EBS. These promissory notes are treated as an asset on the books of the bank, enabling them to use them as collateral to borrow. From the perspective of the Irish government, they are a liability, similar to an IOU, and so need to be repaid to the bank over a period of time.

In addition, the Irish government provides Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) to the covered banks. This is a very short-term lending facility, providing liquidity to the banks for periods from 1 day to a week or two. ELA lending effectively transfers risk away from the banks to the Irish state.

There are several potentially confusing circular relationships in the ownership of bank and government debt. For example, the Irish banks covered by the government guarantee (the "covered institutions") themselves hold Irish government bonds, making them lenders to the government as well as borrowers. It seems likely that the promissory notes issued to the banks by the government are also used by the banks as collateral to borrow more under the ELA scheme. The ECB has been buying Irish bank bonds under their Securities Markets Programme. The covered institutions also hold each other's bonds, and also issue bonds to themselves. These "own use bonds" are both a liability and an asset, and in the latter capacity are used as collateral to borrow money overseas.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Housing Charge Campaign

Comrades and Friends,

Campaing Notice:

There will be a meeting next Saturday 10th September to build a national campaign against the governments proposed universal house hold charge in the Teachers Club, Parnell Square Dublin, starting at 1-30pm.

Italian bosses of the European Central Bank (ECB)

Article taken from the Morning Star

Dino Greco is the director of Italian communist daily Liberazione and a long-time figure in the Italian General Confederation of Labour, the country's main trade union.

He warns that the Italian bosses of the European Central Bank (ECB) are taking advantage of the weakness of Silvio Berlusconi in order to continue their undermining of the remnants of the welfare state.

A decisive turning point or a banal exercise?

With regard to the ECB's letter to the Italian government, Greco is very clear: "There's absolutely no doubt that the bank is behaving in an new manner. What it's proposing isn't an indication of a general policy but a veritable kit of the interventions that must be made - cuts in the welfare state, in social protection, in health care, an attack on the status of workers, the status that sets fundamental social relations, an attack on labour market guarantees, on retirement pensions.

"It's a kit that is perfectly inspired by free market ideology and which is akin to the social butchery that's already been tried in Greece. And, in passing, let's point out that what this neocon broth produces is so disastrous that it should incite us to the greatest prudence, given that none of us can guarantee that Greece will succeed in paying her debts with such an austerity programme."

Greco points out that the financial technocracy is now in the seat of power.

Finance is governing, it dominates and dictates its unconditional measures to governments and politicians, and it leeches assets like a vampire.

The fundamental political constant in this period is the ability of big finance to impose its free-trade dogma with neither limit nor perimeter.

In Italy this rests in a particular context - that of the extraordinary weakness of the Italian government, a corrupt clique for the rich.

Greco is keen to point out that it's not just his position as director of a left-wing newspaper which drives him to say this, but also as a citizen: "The abyss is really impressive - it's hypocrisy, cynicism and political inconsistency that characterise the country's rulers today. I think that you have to go way, way back in Italian history to find a situation that's as catastrophic as the one we're experiencing today."

So, in light of the fat cats and inner circles of ultra-business applauding the intervention of the ECB and lambasting Berlusconi's weakness, what does this domestic confrontation signify?

"Within financial powers like the Italian bosses' confederation Confindustria there is presently a lot of agitation. For them it's a question of getting rid of Berlusconi and his court, but in terms of an alternative, it's a shell game.

"They're envisaging substituting a free-trade alternative to this character, and what they're trying to do is to catch the ball on the rebound to dismantle everything that remains of the welfare state in Italy. They want to get their hands on the remnants of labour protection in this country. They've never accepted the status of workers."

Through 48 atypical contracts, the employers of the labour market are achieving flexibility - workers get into a company by going through this difficult and humiliating trial, practically on their knees, to the point at which employers are free to lay them off without any further obligation.

"The wider market is mimicking what Sergio Marchionne is doing in Italy's biggest factories - the Fiat factories," Greco continues. "It's an operation that's using the economic crisis to make the workers, the citizens, pay - and they're already paying a high enough price."

All of this begs the question of who's really governing Italy today? "There's been a lot of very hypocritical talk these days about a 'government of national solidarity.' Names are going around to run it. It might be Mario Monti, the former European Commissioner for Internal Market, Financial Services and Financial Integration, Customs and Taxation, rather than Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the former head of the bosses' confederation and director of Ferrari. Be that as it may, this government of national solidarity will undertake exactly the recipe demanded by the ECB - that is to say a perfect free-trade catalogue.

"Today they're talking about raising the retirement age, so all pensions begin at age 65, increasing indirect taxes like value added tax - which are as you know the most unfair taxes - and reducing budgetary transfers to local government, which means an attack on public services and social protection."

Those who, in business circles, are envisaging replacing Berlusconi have absolutely no intention of adopting measures that would be very useful, such as going after tax evaders - over 230 billion euros vanish into this black hole every year - or instituting a tax on property holdings.

All that's needed is a 0.1 per cent tax on property holdings worth over a million euros to reap over 15 billion euros.

Obviously - since that won't happen - the Italian peoples' challenge is to promote and to produce a radical change.

To do that, all forces will have to come out on the playing field.

Italy's trade union movement is dramatically failing.

The biggest of the trade union confederations - the Italian General Confederation of Labout (CGIL), the one which has continually been targeted by Berlusconi these past few years - is in an absolute wait-and-see mode, incapable of envisaging effective action.

Greco is bitter about the lack of stance of this body. "What surprises me on the part of the CGIL is that it hasn't got its own position in this situation. It's been boxed into a scenario in which it backs up the proposals put forward by the Italian bosses.

"The left needs a proposal and it needs to make it come to life in a mass relationship. It's a sure thing that our forces have been marginalised, that they're still limited and shaken by the splits, which have not helped to reinforce the left in Italy.

"But there are also big movements which have succeeded in meeting together in the last few months. I'm thinking of the precarious workers, of the students, of the workers who, with the FIOM-CGIL - the metalworkers trade union - have had very strong mobilisations. I'm thinking of the militants of the movement for assets that are held in common who, by winning an overwhelming victory in the referenda on nuclear power and on water, have made a deep impression on people. To my mind, all this shows that in society there is more reason, more of a sense of reality, more consciousness that we cannot continue on this deleterious route, than there is in the field of political representation, even, obviously, on the centre-left.

"What we can do with our forces - which aren't extraordinary - is to produce counterinformation as a newspaper and to share with the citizens the certainty that it is possible to do otherwise, that this is not a passing fancy, that it is not the expression of an ideological thought that is cut off from reality. There are possible alternatives.

"Of course those who hold power today naturally can also dictate the agenda, but I have the impression that in September, when the accounts are going to have to be presented and when the balance sheet of this new, oh-so-cruel free trade acceleration is going to have to be drawn up, the renewal of social struggles will be absolutely necessary.

"I don't want to conclude with a slogan, but all the same - for a Greek-style recipe, a Greek-style answer is needed."

This article first appeared in l'Humanite.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's a crisis of the system, stupid!

The great financial crisis has exposed the shallowness of the system and its general stagnation. This crisis is not a unique or one-off event: it is another bubble burst (many others having burst before this one), leaving exposed a very weakly based economic system that has little room for growth and little investment opportunity and therefore little avenue for capital to re-create itself and so prevent stagnation.

The system itself is in continual crisis, and all the wars, privatisation, deregulation, financial products and credit cards can only temporarily hide that crisis.

It is not merely a crisis of neo-liberalism, as neo-liberalism itself is only a way to try to hide the general crisis in monopoly capitalism. The system has no long-term answers and can only go further down the road of war and privatisation to provide temporary relief.

Those who believe that the system can be managed in a way that will prevent crisis are deluding themselves as well as deluding many working people. They misunderstand the crisis. They see it only as a crisis of neo-liberalism, and they see neo-liberalism purely as a consequence of political decisions rather than as a consequence of both the political and the economic system. Neo-liberalism developed as monopoly capitalism’s response to the stagnation of the system and as a means of providing new avenues for growth and profits.

As this article is being written, the crisis is continuing to deepen and is moving into a more critical economic and also political phase.

In Europe the euro is now seriously damaged; in the United States the sheer scale of their debt has resulted in their downgrading and a scathing attack from their biggest creditors, the Chinese.

Only days after the European Union announced its response to the crisis and renegotiated rescue packages, the situation has greatly worsened, leading the president of the EU Commission to seek another meeting of the European Council to discuss another attempted rescue.

Nothing they are doing is working, and the capsule some of them appear to be in with regard to the seriousness of the systemic crisis was best exemplified by none other than Silvio Berlusconi when, on 20 July, he began to realise that “the world has entered a global financial crisis that concerns all countries.”

In recent days the establishment’s growth estimates have been lowered in Ireland, Britain, Italy, and Spain, with central banks and governments only now beginning to acknowledge that we are in for many years of little or no growth—something readers of Socialist Voice knew a long time ago.

Meanwhile some people on the left—the same people who misunderstand the crisis as merely a crisis of neo-liberalism—will cry that this is evidence that austerity is not working, because it’s sucking growth and investment out of economies. They also misunderstand austerity, for austerity is not designed to create growth: it is designed to free capital to pay the debts of private banks to private banks.

The downgrading of US long-term federal debt to AA+, one notch below the top grade of AAA, by Standard and Poor’s (a credit rating agency with very poor standards, given its previous AAA rating for sub-prime securities) merely reflects the very obvious fact that the American state is bankrupt, heavily dependent on Chinese loans, and cannot afford the massive tax credits and freedoms it provides to capital.

The debt of15 trillion, with the debt ceiling now raised by a further couple of trillion, is evidence of the complete bankruptcy of the state and the fundamental weaknesses of the American economy.

For the left to make gains out of this crisis and begin to tip power back in the direction of labour and shift the cost of the crisis back onto those responsible, the mass confusion that exists needs to be cleared up.

The crisis is a crisis of the system, not a crisis of the management of the system. The response—austerity—is not to help the Irish economy but to save the euro. The answer is not more power to Europe but less. The answer will not come from politicians but from people.

President Patronise!

"There's already a quiet crisis going on in the lives of a lot of families, a lot of communities across the country. They're looking for work and they have been for a while." President Obama

Unemployment has reached 9% in the US. The number of people out of work for six months or more hit 6.4 million in June. That's 44% of all 14 million unemployed Americans. This is the most since 1948, when the data was first recorded, according to the US Department of Labor.

Output from the manufacturing sector has slowed for the 6 month in a row reaching the figure it was back in August 2009. The contradictions of needing to expand production in a flooded market place with decreasing consumption will mean the US will struggle to avoid slipping back into recession or barely maintain stagnation.

With US debt levels at breaking point a sustained state-led stimulus package is unlikely and private investment will only lead to another bubble.

The contradictions at the heart of the monopoly capitalist system are unavoidable and war does not appear to be the solution it once was - despite increased US-led wars.

But a quiet crisis! That must change. The world over, working people are suffering as a result of the greed, inequality and irrationality of this system. But we must suffer in silence no longer.

Take inspiration from the public sector struggles of unions in the US, from the constant fight of the Palestinian people for dignity and their own state, from the heroism of Cuba in standing up for its socialism and humanity and from the Greek workers in their opposition to austerity and the EU.

Lets find our voice so that so-called leaders can no longer patronise as Obama so often does.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Economic briefing document

Repudiate the debt economic briefing document
May 2011

The economic system has developed from competitive capitalism in the nineteenth century to monopoly capitalism in the twentieth century, with monopolisation greatly accelerating from the 1950s and with a growing role for finance.

The main characteristic of the system is the concentration of power in the hands of fewer companies as the big take over the small...

check it out

Adrift in treacherous waters...

Top US blogger and analyst Zoltan Zigedy writes exclusive article for the Socialist Voice

Adrift in treacherous waters

by Zoltan Zigedy

The mass euphoria associated with the presidential election of Barack Obama is now a faint memory in the United States. For most US citizens the last three years are a lost opportunity for changing economic and political course. Today, the dominant mood is of fear and desperation.

The recovery from the collapse of the economy never came; instead, the public suffers high and persistent unemployment, stagnant or declining wages, intensified exploitation in the work-place, and inflated prices for basic goods.

The restoration of civil liberties, the stepping back from the fear-mongering associated with the Bush administration and the reversal of the coarseness of public life never came either. US foreign policy became, if anything, more aggressive and nasty, signalled by new wars and with sanctioned assassination as the order of the day.

Granted, the tarnished image of the United States was buffed internationally by the new president’s eloquence and manners, which seduced many.

Even a casual look back at the interests and priorities of the American public revealed by opinion polls just before the 2008 election demonstrates a current administration out of touch with those concerns and devoted primarily to corporate welfare and to re-election. In short, what the people wanted they did not get.

Instead the United States is mired in a deep economic and political crisis, a critical and decisive component of the global capitalist crisis but with its own distinct and novel features.

A sinking economy

Denial comes easy to bourgeois economists and capitalist policy-makers. Driven more by wishful thinking and rigid dogma than by facts and trends, they have forecast a reliable exit from the slump of 2008. Blind to the deep structural contradictions of 21st-century capitalism, these present-day wizards see only a momentary setback to capitalism’s inevitable march forward. They were wrong, and they are wrong.

For decades, US capitalism has sought new mechanisms for generating profits from an economy surrendering commodity production and services to low-wage areas through technological change and unfettered labour markets. At the same time the concentration—the over-accumulation—of capital in fewer and fewer hands proceeded at an even faster pace; wealth and income inequalities in the United States reached levels even greater than those existing before the Great Depression.

But this enormous accumulated pool of capital struggled to find investment opportunities with an adequate return. As any good Marxist knows, capitalists accumulate only to invest and accumulate more. This challenge of over-accumulation was met by investing in riskier and riskier endeavours and by retooling the financial sector into an enormous leveraging behemoth, fitted out with new exotic and shaky financial instruments.

In mid-decade this colossal financial super-accumulator accounted for more than 40 per cent of corporate profits in the United States. By running far ahead of real material wealth production, it was bound to run out of steam. And it did.

With the collapse of profits, US capitalism turned to the tried and true method of intensified exploitation. Millions were cast off from their jobs, leaving the same work to be done by far fewer employees. Consequently, over the last two years labour productivity soared at unprecedented rates. With little game-changing investment in labour-saving technologies, this amounted to equally unprecedented exploitation: sweated labour. A weakened and compliant labour movement gave little resistance. Predictably, profits soared and served as the basis for the Pollyanna projections of swift recovery.

But it was not to be. Because little attention was paid to the profound structural contradictions of US capitalism, cracks began to appear early in 2011 in the false recovery: labour productivity began to decline in the first two quarters; unemployment proved obstinate, with many losing their benefits and their buying power; wages were stagnant or declining, further reducing buying power and consumer spending; growth in GDP was sagging; exports were off; and profits showed slippage. The weak “recovery” ran out of steam.

Today the signs continue to point to decline. Delinquent mortgages are again on the rise; new home sales are declining; banks are in trouble; manufacturing is slowing; and growth projections are trending downwards. More ominously, American policy-makers have eagerly joined the rest of the world in embracing public-sector debt hysteria. At a moment when the American economy desperately needs jobs and consumer spending, political leaders are chopping public-sector jobs, wages, and benefits. This insanity will only add to the downturn. Public-sector shrinkage, coupled with slowing growth, leads to even greater debt as a percentage of GDP and even slower growth and deeper crisis.

A crisis in the economy begets a crisis in society
The US two-party system has been honed into a well-oiled vehicle for advancing corporate interests while pacifying liberals and the fringe right. The two parties have successfully subordinated critical economic and social issues to a less substantial contest between authoritarian Christian fundamentalism and liberal tolerance and diversity. While this fight often decides issues of life-and-death importance to many, it diverts attention from the crucial questions that most profoundly shape the daily lives and prospects of the masses of workers, women, and minorities.

For the Democrats, only matters that avoid challenging corporate dominance and the rule of wealth are admitted to their action agenda, with labour and minority interests relegated to platitudes and campaign speeches.

Similarly for the Republicans, their corporate agenda is masked by the rhetoric of prayer, “family values,” and anti-government demagogy. This charade gives free play to the interests of corporations and the wealthy. In effect, the two parties have mounted intense, money-driven campaigns only to dissipate dissatisfaction by taking turns at the helm of government.

But today this mechanism of elite rule is faltering. The brutal economic disaster has discredited the two-party system. The incumbent president—thought to be a shoo-in for re-election—has seen his approval rating drop below 40 per cent. The Congress has earned an approval rating approaching 15 per cent, declining rapidly and beating all previous records.

The Republicans sense an opportunity to best a floundering incumbent but are saddled with candidates with shrill, extreme-right positions that especially frighten corporate Republicans. While the much-ballyhooed “Tea Party” faction of the Republican Party has served as the anti-Obama storm-troopers over the last three years, it represents no more than the same 15 to 20 per cent of the electorate that always fester on the margin of American politics. Nonetheless their media-driven, outsize impact on politics threatens to foul the two-party nest.

Recently, in a feature article in the Wall Street Journal on 27 August 2011, one of the most astute, thoughtful voices of the right, Peggy Noonan, warned the Republican front-runner, Rick Perry, to tone down the Tea Party bluster. As a spokesperson for corporate Republicans, she fears the “know-nothing” rhetoric of the Tea Party as well as electoral prospects. Tellingly, she also warns that with this extremism “the left will be on fire. The only thing leashing them now is the fact of Mr. Obama [emphasis added].”

Noonan unintentionally puts her finger on the great failing of the American left during the Obama presidency. American leftists eagerly welcomed the leash that Noonan observes. They put aside independent political action and joined the Obama bandwagon. Like the labour movement, the left counted on corporate Democrats to press forward a progressive agenda, a confidence that was naïve and unwarranted.

For those of us in the Marxist-Leninist left, we must do everything to sever the leash and take bold, independent political initiatives. It is time to return to the streets against wars and aggression, for jobs, and for social justice. There are no others who grasp the depths of this crisis. There are no others disposed to lead it.

September Issue of SV

New edition of Socialist Voice out

Check it article on:

* Social partnership is dead [CA]
* The myth of a middle-class majority [CMC]
* The shallowness of monopoly capitalism exposed [NL]
* The elderly suffer as more nursing care is privatised [MA]
* The financial crisis and the impact on women—Part 1 [AC]
* London burning [NW]

* “Slow-motion moral collapse” [SW]
* Adrift in treacherous waters [Zoltan Zigedy]
* NATO’s proxy war secures the recolonisation of Libya [EMC]
* Congress of the Communist Party of Venezuela [SE]
* Books: Shaping the Irish economy [TR]
* Lies, damn lies, and anti-communism [TR]

Thursday, September 1, 2011

WFDY Statement

Call for youth to struggle in Europe and North America

From Athens to Madrid, from Lisbon to Paris, Rome and Dublin, governments inflict Europeans populations with unprecedented austerity cures. The challenge is clear: making peoples, especially the young, kneel down while only a few still gets fatter.

Everywhere in Europe, we undergo the same logic and the same consequences : 300,000 young
Spanish expelled from their housing ; 65,000 teaching appointments eliminated in France ; the soaring unemployment rate in Ireland that reaches 31,5% of those under 25 of age, more than 39% in Greece, youth unemployment higher than 28% in Portugal. In North America the peoples are also suffering these imperialists and capitalists’ policies.

Paying for them: NO WAY !

Since the beginning of "their" crisis, that they provoked themselves by their antisocial politics, the states of the European Union have lent the banks almost 700 billions euros, spoiling our money.

Private debts became a public charge also aggravated by the numerous tax breaks granted to big companies and worldwide shareholders. Credit rating agencies and financial marketplaces now keep speculating on this very debt. This crisis is not a product of bad administration of the system or a bad moment of economy, but is deeply connected with the irrational and unfair nature of the capitalist itself.

Today, as capitalists lose their mind, governments impose us austerity in the name of bankruptcy: dismantling public services, calling for an increase in the working hours, contracting the national staff, reducing wages, breaking down the fair standards labor acts... Moreover, they want this austerity written in stone with the “Euro Plus” pact, elaborated behind our back. We blame them: they wish we never opposed and presented an progressive policy for our countries in Europe and North America. But we won't be a lost generation!

The young people call for RESISTANCE !

Young Europeans and North Americans are mobilizing at the forefront, like across the
Mediterranean, refusing austerity and demanding a better redistribution of wealth and public policies in such areas as education, employment, quality housing, for general policies in favor of the peoples’ interests, not of the bank and big corporation owners... Therefore, we, young people throughout Europe and North America call for the young people to participate in all the many and diverse struggles taking place in the coming weeks and months in each and every country, as the day of action on Saturday October 15th, with which WFDY stands in solidarity for peace, justice and revolutionary social transformation!

CPI Political Statement

Political statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

30 August 2011

The National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland at its regular meeting discussed the present political and economic situation in the country, evaluating the effects of the deepening crisis of monopoly capitalism and its increasing impact on working people, north and south.

In the South the coalition Government led by Fine Gael continues with the same failed policies as the previous coalition led by Fianna Fáil, policies they willingly co-operated with, which reflect their own immediate class interests and those of their alliance with European monopoly capital, as expressed through the European Union. They continue to pursue the policy of making working people pay for the massive corporate debt that the state took responsibility for at the behest of the EU, in particular under pressure from German and French monopoly capital.

The crisis in the EU is centred on the euro and the permanent structural debt relationship that has been imposed by the dominant central powers on the countries of the periphery. This is resulting in a massive transfer of wealth from the periphery, in particular from Irish workers.

The crisis, which first emerged in the periphery, is now beginning to be experienced at the centre of the EU itself. This crisis is providing an opportunity for those forces within the institutions of the EU, the Commission and the European Central Bank and within member-states that wish to deepen the EU’s control over national budgetary strategies and fiscal policies. These are policies that will strengthen the economic and political power of German monopoly capitalism and weaken substantially the people’s ability to effect political and economic change at the national level.

Workers, together with their families and the growing ranks of the unemployed, continue to bear the brunt of the savage cuts both in public spending and in their terms and conditions. Education and social welfare (both under the control of Labour Party ministers) will come under increased attack, though the continued resistance of local communities to hospital closures and the withdrawal of school-bus services show that our people are willing and able to resist.

The attacks on joint labour committees and the renewed assault on registered employment agreements, together with the very weak response from the ICTU, can only encourage further attacks on workers and thereby further undermine workers’ rights and the morale of organised labour.

Leading trade union elements appear to be unwilling or unable to mount any political or industrial challenge to these attacks. The leadership of a number of unions have shown courage and leadership on this issue, but they need the support and solidarity of others. It is through united, determined struggle that workers can recover lost rights and can advance. It is clear now that the trade union movement must become either radical or redundant.

What is also increasingly clear is that many leading elements of the trade union movement are all too willing to wait and hope that the Labour Party in government will protect them from further attack. They wish to turn their face away and ignore the fact that the Labour Party leadership are willing and active collaborators in these attacks on working people.

In the North the straitjacket of the fiscal policies and budgetary control asserted by the British government is resulting in further cuts and growing attacks on the public sector. Plans are being developed to make unprecedented cuts in health services, which, if allowed, will lead to the closure of hospitals and other services.

The CPI calls on workers throughout Northern Ireland to support the action by trade unions planned for later this year to defend jobs, pensions, and services. This is an example that trade unions in the South could follow.

The Democratic Unionist Party, the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP are enthusiastic supporters of the cuts and are willing collaborators in this process. Sinn Féin, while expressing opposition to the cuts, appears to be unable to articulate any serious alternative that has the potential to win allies within the Protestant section of the working class. It is trapped by its lack of an alternative to the dominant economic and political system; nor will the reduction in corporation tax deliver the jobs that its supporters, including Sinn Féin, claim.

At this time it is important that all those affected by the policies being imposed by the British government attempt to find and build common cause and solidarity to force a change of direction.

The crisis has exposed the deep underlying dependence of both the Northern and the Southern economy to external fiscal and economic controls, which are major obstacles to building a sustainable, people-centred economy and progressive social development and to getting the hundreds of thousands back to work and stemming the tide of immigration.

The building of an all-Ireland economic and political strategy that includes democratic control of economic and fiscal powers, the public ownership of natural resources, repudiation of the debt and breaking the connection with the euro are central areas of struggle for all workers, a strategy that also needs the solidarity of workers in Britain.