Saturday, December 31, 2011
Comrades and fellow-citizens,
As we begin a new year we send greetings and extend our solidarity to the working men and women and the oppressed mass of humanity around the world struggling against imperialism and its allies, both secular and religious. We also extend our solidarity to those countries and peoples building socialism, and especially to the Cuban people, who, under very difficult and complex conditions as well as against great odds, continue to transform their society in a more socially just and humane, people-centred course of development.
To the working class in Europe: let us make 2012 the year of resistance to the policies and diktat of ruling-class forces and the corporate-state institutions of the European Union. We reiterate our solidarity with the Greek working class, who are in the front line of resistance and who have shown great tenacity throughout 2011.
Here in Ireland we witnessed small but nevertheless important expressions of opposition and resistance organised by the trade union movement to the austerity measures being imposed by both the Irish and British governments. The biggest and best organised were carried out by the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU throughout the North as well as the demonstration against the budget organised by the Dublin Council of Trade Unions. We also had community-based resistance and opposition, while debt activists kept up their campaigns against the odious debt and continue to publicise weekly its anti-democratic and anti-people nature.
We stand at a moment when the forces of monopoly capitalism have unleashed unprecedented attacks throughout the capitalist world on the rights and conditions of workers. They are attempting to make workers, the poor, the sick, the unemployed, pensioners and children, small business owners and family farmers pay for the growing and deepening crisis of their system.
It is clear that 2012 will be an important if not a decisive year in the life of the Irish people, for working people in particular. The deepening crisis, centred on the odious and anti-people debt, permanent and growing mass unemployment, mass emigration, growing poverty and a collapsing health service are the outcome both of the crisis within the system itself and of the policies being pursued by the Irish ruling class and its international allies, in particular the European Union, to make the people pay for that crisis.
2012 will be a pivotal point for the European Union as it attempts to grapple with the growing crisis of an insolvent banking system, spiralling “sovereign” debt, and a currency that is collapsing. The ruling classes of the member-states have no answers to this crisis except deeper and deeper austerity. Workers will face further attacks.
Working people need to build their organisations of resistance, in particular to rebuild a trade union movement still unable to break free from the mind-numbing demobilising and de-organising effect of decades of “social partnership.” There are no solutions the system can offer workers that will not undermine and destroy all that workers and their families have struggled for over many generations.
Our people showed great resistance to colonialism and exploitation over the centuries. The Irish people need to draw deeply from this well of experience to gain the courage and the strength for the struggles ahead.
The struggle of today will shape our future. The empowering of the people is central. We need to establish people’s democratic control
• over capital and its social use and priorities,
• over the natural resources of the country and their planned, sustainable use, and
• over a planned industrial strategy to give a future to our youth and bring our people home.
The ruling forces are marginalising and weakening themselves with the anti-people policies they are pursuing. We need a stronger militant party of the working class—a stronger Communist Party. We need to make 2012 the year of fight-back and resistance. The odious debt must be dumped off the people’s back to save our country from a future of debt-slavery.
Communist Party of Ireland
Friday, December 30, 2011
Dear sisters and brothers,
This year 2011 is reaching an end, and we want to take this special time to send you all our love, with warmness and the gratitude of the Five, for all that you give every day for the cause of Cuba; that is our cause.
You are our greatest virtue, our strength and the main reason we can maintain our optimism that someday the big miracle of our freedom will happen and we will all celebrate together in victory.
With those of you who have always been there along our side for these 13 years of unjust imprisonment, we are fulfilling the prophecy that all work of love overcomes the adversity and in the end that will prove to be the case.
We wish you happy holidays, a 2012 with peace, love, health and victories.
The love of the Five is with you every second of the year and of life!
On behalf of our five families, of the Cuban people, and from each one of us, we wish you
!!!!!!!HAPPY 2012!!!!!!!Ramón Labañino
The 8th ordinary session of the National Assembly of People's Power which ends today has approved the economic plan and the Budget Law for the year 2012. At the same time, deputies received abundant information on the progress made in the implementation of the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the [Communist] Party and the Revolution approved by the 6th Congress. The President of the Supreme People’s Court and the Attorney General of the Republic also reported to Parliament.
This session was preceded by the expanded meeting of the Council of Ministers on December 16 and that of the 3rd Plenum of the Central Committee of the Party on Wednesday 21st, as well as the work of the 12 permanent parliamentary commissions since last Tuesday. Given all of this, I will not go into the issues discussed at length and will only refer to certain basic questions.
In the midst of the ups and downs of the global financial crisis, the Cuban economy has shown an acceptable and sustained performance; the gross domestic product grew 2.7%, less than the 3% planned, basically due to the non-execution of investments and the shortfall of certain agricultural and food industry products and construction materials.
At the same time, the gradual recovery of sugar production was initiated in 2011, the record number of foreign visitors was exceeded, internal monetary balances and a favorable dynamic in the productivity-average wage relationship have been preserved. Structurally, the economy is improving on the basis of better adjusted proportions in relation to investment, prioritizing those of a productive and infrastructure nature.
We are continuing to move forward in reestablishing the international credibility of our economy, strictly meeting financial obligations resulting from debts to principal creditors, a policy which we shall continue to strengthen in the future.
Addressing this Parliament on December 18 of last year, I stated that before the end of 2011 we would end limitations on transfers from Cuban banks to other countries, to the benefit of foreign suppliers.
Today we are in a position to confirm that we have met this commitment and, moreover, procedures directed at avoiding new retentions in the future – except in exceptional circumstances – have been put into effect.
The economic plan for next year was drawn up in line with the guidelines approved by the 6th Party Congress and is qualitatively better in terms of the reconciliation of demands between producers and clients. However, financial tensions will be maintained, obliging us to continue reducing expenditures of all kinds, as these potential savings are still one of the primary sources of income at our disposal. The gross domestic product should grow by 3.4%.
Despite a planned increase in national production of foodstuffs, including rice and beans and thus a reduction in quantities imported, as a result of high prices in relation to food imports these will rise to more than $1.7 billion. This reality eloquently demonstrates the need to make significant advances in plans to cultivate all land remaining idle or insufficiently exploited.
The state budget deficit will remain at the same level as in 2011; in other words, 3.8% of the gross domestic product, rationally assuring free services to the population in the areas of health, education, culture and sports, as well as social security, subsidized basic items for families and individuals with insufficient means for the acquisition of construction materials, among others.
I AM CONVINCED THAT CORRUPTION IS CURRENTLY ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL ENEMIES OF THE REVOLUTION.
Moving on to another issue, very closely linked to the economic functioning of the nation. Despite the fact that this issue has been mentioned on various occasions, including in the central report to the 6th Congress, the guidelines themselves, concretely, No. 10, speeches to Parliament and in many Council of Ministers’ meetings, there has been no appreciable progress toward what is required. This is the primordial role of contracts in the interrelations of enterprises, budgeted entities and non-state forms of management, reflected in the deficient situation of receipts and payments with the consequent disruption in internal finances and propensity for criminal acts and corruption.
To cite just one example, the former was demonstrated by the fraudulent supply of agricultural produce to markets in the capital, produce which did not exist nor was cultivated, generating an embezzlement of more than 12 million pesos due to the criminal acts of directors, officials and other workers in state marketing enterprises, as well as small farmers who lent themselves as straw men, all of whom are to stand trial for administrative and criminal acts, given the gravity of the crime.
I have brought up this issue to illustrate the imperious need for all of us in leadership roles at different levels, from the grass roots to the highest positions in the country, to take a firm line in the face of indiscipline and lack of control in relation to receipts and payments, which constitute one of the principal causes and requisite conditions for crime. I am convinced that corruption is currently one of the principal enemies of the Revolution, far more damaging than the subversive and interventionist activities of the United States government and its allies within and outside of the country.
The Comptroller General of the Republic, the Attorney General and the specialized units of the Ministry of the Interior have instructions to combat this scourge with all the severity that our laws permit, as, in its moment, incipient drug trafficking was successfully confronted beginning in January of 2003.
In this strategic battle the levels of coordination, cohesion and rigor in confronting crime have been intensified, and certain results have been seen, both in relation to so-called white collar crime, committed by national directors and officials and outside elements linked to foreign trade and foreign investment, and crimes committed by ordinary criminals in conspiracy with administrative directors and employees in state
owned enterprises, in production processes, transportation and distribution units within the food industry, trade, gastronomy, the housing system and the ministries of Basic Industry and Agriculture.
Precisely in the agricultural sector, since August 1 of this year, there has been increased action against the theft and slaughter of cattle and the subsequent selling of beef on the illegal market, a phenomenon which has flourished with a certain impunity over the years, provoking serious affectations to state and private producers, not only from the economic point of view, but also in moral and social terms.
The Revolutionary National Police, in coordination with other Ministry of the Interior agents, and in close cooperation with the political and mass organizations have professionally and systematically taken on the task of definitively eradicating cattle rustling in the Cuban countryside, a crime involving the complicity of slaughterers, directors and specialists in the state sector, persons in the Basic Units of Cooperative Production, small farmers, veterinarians and municipal directors and other officials in the institution supposedly responsible for ensuring the growth of the cattle industry in the country – I am referring to the Agricultural Control Center, known as CENCOP.
I believe this is an opportune moment to clarify that this is not yet another campaign, as has certainly been the case in the past when, with the passing of time, actions to reestablish order were discontinued and routine and superficiality once again took over, allowing those who were waiting for everything to settle down, and return to normal, to continue prospering at the expense of our people’s heritage.
I can assure you that this time it is going to be all over for the country’s rustlers, as it was all over for the drug traffickers, and they will not reemerge because we are determined to ensure that instructions set out by the government and agreements of the Party Congress are fulfilled. I will say the same in relation to those corrupt bureaucrats, with posts obtained through simulation and opportunism, who are utilizing the positions that they still occupy to accumulate fortunes, betting on the possible defeat of the Revolution.
This Wednesday, in the Central Committee Plenum, we discussed these factors fully and showed a series of documentaries and interrogations of white collar criminals. These will be screened for all of you, comrade deputies, in due time, in the respective provinces, and also to other leaders.
We have very clearly in our minds Fidel’s warning of November 2005 in the Aula Magna of the University of Havana, a little more than six years ago, when he stated that this country could autodestruct; that today, while the enemy cannot destroy us, we can destroy ourselves, and it would be our own fault, the leader of the Revolution concluded on that occasion. For that reason, two days ago, we recalled in the 3rd Plenum of the Central Committee what I have just mentioned, that we are going to do away with that parasitical plague.
In the name of the people and the Revolution we are warning that, within the legal framework, we shall be implacable.
MIGRATION POLICY: I REAFFIRM THE UNCHANGED WILL TO GRADUALLY INTRODUCE CHANGES REQUIRED IN THIS COMPLEX ISSUE
Closely linked to this firm decision to restore social discipline in our homeland is the process of implementing the Economic and Social Policy Guidelines of the Revolution, which was discussed in the current session of the National Assembly, given the panorama I have been presenting to you, it is obvious that it would be very difficult to update our socialism.
The Implementation and Development Permanent Commission has given a full picture of the progress of its work and the adoption of a series of decisions to fulfill the Party Congress agreements. I will not take time to list them; they are only the first steps. The fundamental issues are pending, which does not mean that we are not advancing at the projected rate.
We shall continue making a reality of everything agreed upon, without haste, but without pause, with the comprehensiveness and gradual pacing required, without pressure or improvisation, by contributing to overcoming the old dogmatic mentality and opportunely correcting any errors that we might make. We shall not neglect – not for one second – the unity of the majority of Cubans around the Party and the Revolution, the unity which has served us to reach this point and to continue advancing in the construction of our socialism.
As was to be expected, well- or ill-intended exhortations to hasten our pace have not failed to materialize, as well as attempts to impose the sequence and reach of measures to be adopted as if this was something insignificant and not about the destiny of the Revolution and the homeland.
After the authorization of buying and selling of private motor vehicles and homes, more than a few people are pressing for the urgent implementation of a new migration policy, forgetting the exceptional circumstances in which we live in Cuba under a siege embodied by the interventionist and subversive policy of the United States government, always on the hunt for any opportunity to obtain its well known objectives.
On August 1 in this Parliament, I publicly addressed the issue and stated that we were working toward implementing an updated migration policy and advancing in reformulating and drafting the regulations, in line with present and foreseeable future conditions. Today, I guarantee each and every one of the proposals made on that occasion, while reaffirming our unchanged will to gradually introduce the changes required in relation to this complex issue, while continuing to comprehensively assess the positive and negative effects of each step we take.
I will now devote a few minutes to foreign policy.
This 2011 has been a year of upheaval for the world, constantly more dangerous and reactionary tendencies are currently revealing themselves, on a par with increasing expressions of resistance and popular protest against neoliberal capitalism. The United Nations mechanisms, created to preserve peace and security, have been manipulated in order to impose on the planet the dictatorship of the United States and NATO, which are assuming “regime change” as a model, violating principles of international law, and using financial-media emporiums to stir up hatred and violence.
Meanwhile, in dozens of U.S. and European cities, there is increasing support for the message of the “indignados”, directed at bringing to an end growing inequality in the developed countries.
We call on those governments, which preach so much about democracy, human rights, press freedom etc, etc, to listen to their legitimate demands, to consult with their peoples in the context of economic policies, adjustment measures and to take into account public opinion, without the brutal repression to which they frequently subject demonstrations by students, professionals, workers, immigrants and other minorities.
At the same time, Our America is advancing toward integration and regional sovereignty, one sign of which was the constitution in Caracas, on December 2, of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC), which represents the institutional event of greatest significance in the hemisphere during the last two centuries of independence.
Cuba received the honor of being unanimously elected to preside over CELAC in 2013 and host its third summit at the end of that year. This will vindicate all of Latin America and the Caribbean, whose peoples have invariably encouraged the heroic struggle of Cubans.
A few days later, at the CARICOM-Cuba Summit in Trinidad and Tobago, our country thanked the Caribbean sister nations for their solidarity.
IN A HUMANITARIAN AND SOVEREIGN GESTURE, THE COUNCIL OF STATE HAS AGREED TO PARDON 2,900-PLUS PRISONERS
Before Holy Week, we will be receiving the apostolic visit of His Holiness Benedict XVI, Head of State of the Vatican City and Pope of the Catholic Church.
Our people and government will have the honor of welcoming His Holiness with affection and respect.
We Cubans have not forgotten the sentiments of friendship and respect left in 1998 by the presence on our soil of Pope John Paul II.
At the same time, while our international reputation is growing and there is majority recognition of the Cuban Revolution, there has never been such a degree of discredit of the United States policy toward our region and condemnation throughout the world, within U.S. society itself and in the Cuban émigré community, of the genocidal economic, political and media blockade of Cuba.
At the same time that we are updating our socialism, changing everything that must be changed, the United States government is still anchored to the past.
Barack Obama, the eleventh U.S. President since 1959, seems not to understand that Cuba made enormous and prolonged sacrifices to win its independence in the 19th century and to defend its freedom at Playa Girón [Bay of Pigs] in 1961, in the October 1962 Missile Crisis, in the beginning of the Special Period in the last decade of the 20th century and in all these years of the 21st century. At times, he gives the impression of not even being informed of the fact that, faced with this reality, his government has had to renounce its most reiterated pretexts to justify the blockade and invent others which are constantly more unsustainable.
With equanimity and patience, we shall dedicate ourselves to fulfilling the Congress agreements while the U.S. elections are taking place. We know that the blockade will continue and that the financing of and attempts to convert a handful of mercenaries into a destabilizing opposition will increase, but that does not produce sleepless nights for a revolutionary people like ours, educated, armed and free, who will never renounce their defense. (Applause)
Although the immobility of the U.S. government and its lack of political will to improve relations are encouraging the most reactionary sectors to promote new provocations and acts of aggression, Cuba maintains its objective of advancing toward the normalization of relations with the United States and to develop cooperation in all spheres which could be to the benefit of both peoples.
Family ties and the limited interchange which exists between the two countries demonstrate how positive their expansion would be for the well-being of everyone, without the obstacles and conditions imposed by the United States government, which subordinates any progress to its policy of hostility and intervention aimed at reestablishing its dominion over Cuba.
Before concluding, I must inform this Assembly that, in a humanitarian and sovereign gesture, the Council of State has agreed to pardon more than 2,900 prisoners.
These include women, sick individuals, those over 60 years of age and also young people who have raised their educational levels and possibilities of social reintegration.
Not included in this pardon, with very few exceptions, are individuals convicted of crimes of espionage, terrorism, murder, homicide, drug trafficking, pederasty with violence, rape and corruption of minors and robbery with violence in inhabited homes. However, certain individuals convicted of crimes against the security of the state, who have completed a large portion of their prison terms with good behavior, will be released.
In a systematic way and in annual figures higher than those included in this pardon, in accordance with existing legal regulations, the People’s Supreme Court, the Attorney General of the Republic and the specialized units of the Ministry of the Interior will be evaluating and arranging the early release of prisoners, taking into account conduct, characteristics of acts committed and family and health situation, in addition to many requests from family members and a number of religious institutions, among them the Council of Churches of Cuba and the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, through its president.
The announced visit to Cuba by Pope Benedict XVI and the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the image of the Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, have also been taken into account.
The pardon will become effective in the next few days, as another demonstration of the generosity and strength of the Revolution.
At the same time, we have stated our willingness to grant the early release of 86 foreign citizens from 25 countries, including 13 women convicted in the courts for crimes committed in Cuba, on the prior condition that the governments of their countries of origin accept their repatriation.
Through diplomatic channels, the required information will soon be reaching those governments via appropriate authorities.
Finally, a few days before ending this year of intense work, I send all our people, in the first place our courageous five heroes and their brave families, warm greetings for the New Year and one more anniversary of the triumph of the Revolution.
The 1st National Party Conference is already awaiting us in January, so there will not be much time to rest.
Thank you very much.
Wednesday, December 28, 2011
The Irish Government continues to hand over billions in corporate welfare while cutting social welfare to fund these cheques to big business.
- 25th January, 2012, Anglo Irish Bank will pay out a single unguaranteed, unsecured bond to the value of €1.2 billion;
- 28th June, 2012, Anglo Irish Bank will pay out a single unguaranteed, unsecured bond to the value of €454 million; and
- and twenty four additional unguaranteed, unsecured senior bonds with a combined value of €800 million will be paid out from January 2012 through to April 2018
Tuesday, December 20, 2011
COMPAÑERO Hugo Chávez Frías, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;
Dear Presidents, Prime Ministers, and Heads of delegations:
In the first place, we greet the Venezuelan sister people and the Bolivarian Revolution. Venezuela has received us today with hospitality and pride, in the year celebrating the bicentenary of its independence and is offering us this opportunity for the governments of all of Latin America and the Caribbean to meet together.
We have the privilege to be present at a founding event of great significance. With the decisions we are adopting here and the joint work of the last three years, we are vindicating more than two centuries of struggles and hopes. Coming thus far has cost effort, but also blood and sacrifice.
The colonial metropolises of the past and the imperial powers of today have been the enemies of this undertaking. They have attempted to defy the body of ideas of Simón Bolívar who, with farsightedness, affirmed, "The unity of our peoples is not a simple illusion of men, but the inexorable decree of fate."
The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States is our most precious work. Symbolically, it consolidates the concept of a united and sovereign region, committed to a shared destiny.
In strategic terms, it gives us the political instrument required for combining our resolve, respecting diversity, solving differences, cooperating for the wellbeing of our peoples and acting in solidarity with one another. Its success will depend on the nature and wisdom of its members, the 33 independent nations situated between the Río Bravo and Patagonia.
Our strength will lie in sovereignty, development and equity and the prosperity with justice of the citizens of this vast and rich region will depend on that. We do not have a fully homogenous body of ideas, nor do we agree on all political positions. This is part of the reality and we must work with that in a climate of respect and cooperation.
We live in an area free of nuclear weapons, a privilege enjoyed by very few regions of the world. It is a fundamental contribution to the cause of humanity for the total elimination of this threat, which is endangering human survival.
We must aspire to also declare ourselves, one day in the not too distant future, a territory free of foreign military bases, as an additional contribution to regional identity.
The common heritage of our lands and seas emcompasses exceptional natural riches which, utilized in a sustainable way, with responsibility and solidarity, offer future generations the basis for a future of prosperity and justice. We have a diverse and interrelated culture, with indigenous ancestral values. There also exists an insufficiently utilized technical and scientific potential.
Despite all of this and not insignificant economic growth figures, Latin America and the Caribbean, with more than 20 million square kilometers of area and more than 580 million inhabitants, is advancing slowly and has not managed to overcome the deformations blocking its development.
We inhabit the region of the world considered to have the greatest inequality in terms of distribution of wealth. Together with the recognition that we have borne the effects of the global economic crisis in better conditions, there also exists the great breach signified by the extreme concentration of wealth in a few hands in the face of the immense poverty of the majority.
The prosperity of our region is dependent on a solution to this problem.
Currently, there are 180 million poor Latin American and Caribbean people, 72 million of them living in extreme poverty. This is a tragedy which will not be solved even if we meet all the Millennium Development Goals established by the United Nations.
Today, poverty is affecting 81 million of our children and 13 million of them do not even have access to adequate nutrition, in a region which produces more food than it requires. These children are the creditors of this region’s future. We are their debtors.
The recent economic development of Latin America and the Caribbean shows that, despite the profound crisis, revenue from exports has grown, principally of basic products; that the burden of the foreign debt, although unjust and crushing, has been lighter; and that the accumulation of reserves has increased.
This panorama gives us an opportunity if we act with responsibility and a genuine spirit of solidarity.
And it is in this spirit that we must face the situation in Haiti, which represents a test for all of us. Latin America and the Caribbean have a historic and ethical responsibility to this sister republic, the first to attain its independence from the colonial yoke in our region where, led by slaves, the first revolution in the history of humanity took place. Haiti requires and deserves our efforts to contribute, with more substantial contributions, to its reconstruction and development, with strict adherence to the will of its government and the needs of its people.
In our case, as we stated at the last Cancun Summit in February 2010, and confirm today, "Cuban collaboration and its modest effort will remain in Haiti for as many years as necessary, if the government of this nation wishes it. Our country, heavily blockaded, has no excess of resources, rather it lacks everything, but it is disposed to share its poverty with those who have less, in first place with those who currently most need it on the continent."
I recall that on one occasion when I visited Ecuador, during one of the many international meetings which we have convened, I took advantage and visited the Chapel of Humankind, founded by that magnificent painter of the continent, Osvaldo Guayasamín, and was very impressed by a sign expressing a thought which wasn’t his – according to his older son – and which was on one of the walls of this extremely important cultural and historical center. The sign read, "When I was a child, I cried because I had no shoes, until one day I saw a child who had no feet." I wish to say that, however difficult a country’s situation is, however complex and great our poverty is, there is always someone poorer than us, there is always a child without feet who doesn’t need shoes.
We have assumed the commitment to firmly oppose any attempt at the destabilization of the constitutional order in our countries.
This is not a fortuitous statement, but one of genuine response to the coup d’état against Venezuela in 2002, and then the oil coup, the Santa Cruz sedition in Bolivia, the military coup perpetrated in Honduras, the attempted coup in Ecuador and constant acts of destabilization against legitimately constituted governments, firmly committed to their people’s demands for social justice, defenders of the sovereignty of their countries and expressions of the purest and most effective democracy.
The nature and motivations of those who promote those attacks on sovereign institutionalism and against the constitutional rights of the peoples are known to us. It is also known that they receive the support of the United States and certain European governments, as well as the complicity of powerful private organizations in the information and advertising industry.
I recall that during a meeting we had in Nicaragua, in the capital, Managua, related to similar recent events in Central America, I realized when I spoke, what a coincidence that all these attempts have been against ALBA countries! And I turned to President Correa, who was on my left, and said, "You’ll be the next one." He looked at me in surprise, as if to say, "But, why?" he himself and you know why.
It is the fight between materialistic oligarchical interests, supported by transnational capital, and the legitimate rights of the peoples. It would be a serious error to ignore the fact that Latin America and the Caribbean have changed, that they cannot treat us as in the past. It has cost us hard work to confront the burden of colonialism and neocolonialism and a strong regional determination to defend our hard won independence must be expected. The Bicentenary Charter which we adopted today must be assumed as an expression of this reality.
Beyond our regional environment, we share a complex world in upheaval, in which the peoples are rebelling against injustices – what we are seeing in Europe and in other parts of the world and in the United States itself demonstrates that – imperialist policies of plunder, the concentration of wealth, corruption and the abuse of power. It is a phenomenon particularly expressed in the North of Africa, the Middle East, almost all of Europe and North America. It is an expression of the collapse of merciless neoliberal economic models already experienced and repudiated in our region.
It is also a world in which the major powers are violating international law, exercising their domination through the use of force and attacking sovereign nations hiding behind pretexts and manipulation.
In Libya, NATO has committed an international crime which is now threatening to become a model. (Firework explosions are heard)
That’s the war Chávez is waging on mosquitoes or I don’t know what! (Chávez tells him that it is a firework display in Caracas in honor of CELAC)
To the shame of the United Nations, defenseless cities have been bombed for eight consecutive months, massacring civilians, destroying social services, mutilating the infrastructure and making hundreds of thousands of people homeless or refugees.
For Cuba, the attitude of the United States is nothing new. It is the same as always. We have spent more than 50 years standing up to hostility and aggression. We are enduring the most all-encompassing and lasting economic, commercial and financial blockade ever imposed on any country. Our region knows that and has resolutely and consistently spoken out against it, for which we Cubans express our gratitude to all of you.
I am going to end by reading a paragraph I included, then took it out, but after what Chávez has said, I shall read it.
I wish to thank yesterday’s meeting of foreign ministers for their generous statements about Cuba and the recommendation of a future Cuban presidency of CELAC in 2013. I was going to leave it until tomorrow or after you, presidents, prime ministers and heads of delegation had spoken; but Chávez, the president of Venezuela, the host country, pulled out agreements here, made me vote, I agreed, I voted and now I interpret… I already asked Correa if he is in agreement with this kind of vote, on granting Cuba the celebration of the next CELAC [Summit], after Chile.
In this case, I give thanks not only to the foreign ministers, but to all the presidents, prime ministers and heads of delegation present.
Finally, how were things left, Correa? You are in agreement, as Chávez would say, right?
Are you all in agreement or shall I withdraw this paragraph? I do not want to express my thanks and after that have someone put up their hand and say, No, I am not in agreement.
(Chávez confirms that they will be in Cuba in 2013).
Well, then we will keep it in. Many thanks to all of you. (Applause)
We acknowledge the tremendous effort displayed by Venezuela in creating the bases for and organizing this Summit, as well as the leadership of President Hugo Chávez Frías in bringing us to this point, toward such promising results for the future of the region, and his contribution to the integration of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Within the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Cuba will work with dedication, altruism and commitment for the unity of our peoples, for a future of peace and social justice, and for the irrevocable undertaking of consolidating the full independence of what José Martí defined for the future as "Our America."
Thank you very much (Applause)
Translated by Granma International
Havel just died and the mainstream press is filled with adulatory obits.
Here is what I wrote about him about 15 years ago which might give readers a more substantive picture:
From Michael Parenti's Blackshirts and Reds (USA, 1997) pp. 97-99:
Must We Adore Vaclav Havel?
No figure among the capitalist restorationists in the East has won more adulation from U.S. officials, media pundits, and academics than Vaclav Havel, a playwright who became the first president of post-Communist Czechoslovakia and later president of the Czech Republic.
The many left-leaning people who also admire Havel seem to have overlooked some things about him: his reactionary religious obscurantism, his undemocratic suppression of leftist opponents, and his profound dedication to economic inequality and unrestrained free-market capitalism.
Raised by governesses and chauffeurs in a wealthy and fervently anti-communist family, Havel denounced democracy's "cult of objectivity and statistical average" and the idea that rational, collective social efforts should be applied to solving the environmental crisis. He called for a new breed of political leader who would rely less on "rational, cognitive thinking," show "humility in the face of the mysterious order of the Being," and "trust in his own subjectivity as his principal link with the subjectivity of the world."
Havel called for efforts to preserve the Christian family in the Christian nation. Presenting himself as a man of peace and stating that he would never sell arms to oppressive regimes, he sold weapons to the Philippines and the fascist regime in Thailand. In June 1994, General Pinochet, the man who butchered Chilean democracy, was reported to be arms shopping in Czechoslovakia - with no audible objections from Havel.
Havel joined wholeheartedly in George Bush's Gulf War, an enterprise that killed over 100,000 Iraqi civilians. In 1991, along with other Eeast European pro-capitalist leaders, Havel voted with the United States to condemn human rights violations in Cuba. But he has never uttered a word of condemnation of rights violations in El Salvador, Columbia, Indonesia, or any other U.S. client state.
In 1992, while president of Czechoslovakia, Havel, the great democrat, demanded that parliament be suspended and he be allowed to rule by edict, the better to ram through free-market "reforms." That same year, he signed a law that made the advocacy of communism a felony with a penalty of up to eight years imprisonment. He claimed the Czech constitution required him to sign it. In fact, as he knew, the law violated the Charter of Human Rights which is incorporated into the Czech constitution. In any case, it did not require his signature to become law. in 1995, he supported and signed another undemocratic law barring communists and former communists from employment in public agencies.
The propagation of anti-communism has remained a top priority for Havel. He led "a frantic international campaign" to keep in operation two U.S.-financed cold war radio stations, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, so they could continue saturating Eastern Europe with their anti-communist propaganda.
Under Havel's government, a law was passed making it a crime to propagate national, religious, and CLASS hatred. In effect, criticisms of big moneyed interests were now illegal, being unjustifiably lumped with ethnic and religious bigotry. Havel's government warned labor unions not to involve themselves in politics. Some militant unions had their property taken from them and handed over to compliant company unions.
In 1995, Havel announced that the 'revolution' against communism would not be complete until everything was privatized. Havel's government liquidated the properties of the Socialist Union of Youth - which included camp sites, recreation halls, and cultural and scientific facilities for children - putting the properties under the management of five joint stock companies, at the expense of the youth who were left to roam the streets.
Under Czech privatization and "restitution" programs, factories, shops, estates, homes, and much of the public land was sold at bargain prices to foreign and domestic capitalists. In the Czech and Slovak republics, former aristocrats or their heirs were being given back all lands their families had held before 1918 under the Austro-Hungarian empire, dispossessing the previous occupants and sending many of them into destitution. Havel himself took personal ownership of public properties that had belonged to his family forty years before. While presenting himself as a man dedicated to doing good for others, he did well for himself. For these reasons some of us do not have warm fuzzy feelings toward Vaclav Havel.
--- Michael Parenti
Monday, December 19, 2011
Monday, December 12, 2011
Comrades and Friends,
We received sad news from Germany earlier today. Hans Heinz Holz, life long Communist, Anti-fascist and Marxist thinker passed away. He became a communist while in Jail during Nazi rule having being locked up for his anti-fascist activism. In prison he came into contact young communist and anti-fascist workers.
He was best known for his work as a Marxist philospher, his work published in various publications and translated into various languages. He worked as a University lecturer at both Marburg and the University of Groningen.
Irish communists were privileged to have Comrade Holz speak at the 90th anniversary of the October Revolution in both Dublin and Belfast in 2007.
He is a loss to the communist movement.
How the October Revolution brought the countries of the USSR into modernity in a historically short period through heroic advances in industry - Socialist Voice, November 2011 There is a reason why I am covering historical ground in this article—not that we don’t have enough economic and social problems to contend with in Ireland today, but it is my opinion that the socialist construction that took place in the USSR in the twentieth century needs not only to be defended but advanced in the labour and left movements.
In this era that we live in, when labour is on its knees and the international communist movement has been weakened, at such a critical juncture we need to respond and challenge not only the ideologues of the imperialist and capitalist forces but also those who label themselves as socialist, the revisionists and the opportunists who don’t recognise the achievements of the first attempts at socialist construction in history.
My goal in this article is simply to relay some basic facts about Soviet industry in the fields of power (electrification), metallurgy, fuel, and engineering, which had a profound positive effect on the livelihood of the citizens of the socialist systems. These types of industries are the classical “hard” industries. I am focusing on them because (a) they formed the basis for socialist construction, (b) without the revenue and the products of these industries the advancement and expansion of “light” industries would never have materialised on a mass scale, and (c) space does not allow me to go beyond this field.
For those who still question the intent, nature and advancement of socialist construction in the USSR, let me bend your ear on this fact. Remembering that the newly formed state was blacklisted by the industrialised countries in regard to investment finance, “the Soviet people had to build the country’s heavy industry entirely with their own resources . . . All the profits of state-owned factories and mills, transport, banks, state internal trade and foreign trade remained in the hands of the state and could be used for the development of socialist industry.”
In other words, the means of production were now publicly owned, and it was in the people’s interest to continually and heavily invest, build and expand in all industrial areas, which is what they did. The table below illustrates this fact, and the figures also show that industries were becoming much more efficient and less labour-intensive and therefore needed a more technically skilled labour force.
Data comparison from 1922 to 1974
|Electric power output (billion kWh)||0.8||48.6||91.2||292.3||850||975.8|
|Output of steel (million tons)||0.3||18.3||27.3||65.3||116||136|
|Output of pig iron (million tons)||n.a.||14.9||19.2||46.8||85.9||99.9|
|Output of iron ore (million tons)||n.a.||29.9||39.7||106||195.5||225|
|Oil extraction (million tons)||4.7||31.1||37.9||148||353||459|
|Gas output (billion cu.m)||0.03||3.2||5.8||45.3||198||261|
|Coal production (million tons)||11.3||166||261||510||624||685|
|Production of metal-cutting lathes||300||58,400||70,600||156,000||202,200||224,000|
|Forging and pressing machines||n.a.||4,700||7,700||29,900||41,300||48,900|
|Production of motor cars||840|
We can also look at the fact that “the proportion of individual peasants and non-co-operated handicraftsmen, who amounted to 75.4% of the population in 1924, had dropped to 0.3% by the end of the 1950s . . . Since 1970, they have ceased to be statistically significant” (Golikov).
One cannot over-emphasise the qualitative difference this would have made for those who previously lived as peasants and in constant poverty. Electricity, lighting, running water, hot water, solid housing, social care, free health care, free education, guaranteed jobs—all these were made universal. These and many more progressive schemes were the result of the construction of heavy industries, continuing into light industries, that characterised socialist economic planning.
It is important that in all the anti-communist and anti-Soviet propaganda from those on the right and the left, we must take account of these empirical statistics, which demonstrate just how effectively a planned economy functions, and without doubt it greatly enhanced the lives of the greatest number of people living in the Soviet Union.
The idea of electrification contained in Lenin’s GOELRO (1920) was the beginning of what became the Soviets’ five-year plans for economic development, the first one being that of 1928–1933, which brought electricity and light to every corner of the Soviet Union.
Electrification was the basis of all industry; and, as we can see from the figures, power capacity went up in unison with the expanding productivity levels. In terms of economic growth it is observed that “in 1940 the GNP of the Soviet Union was 410% higher than in 1913, the national income 430%, industrial output 670% and gross agricultural output 40% . . . In 1974, the Soviet GNP was more than 10 times that of 1940, the national income 10.9, industrial output 15.8 and gross agricultural output 2.4 times higher.”
The figures I have included here go up to the ninth five-year plan, because of the source I am citing. But, contrary to the idea of stagnation in the Soviet economy, industrial growth in the Soviet Union after this period continued, but at lower levels. It wasn’t until Gorbachev’s reign that the wheels of this historical juggernaut were stripped. In Roger Keeran and Thomas Kenny’s book Socialism Betrayed: Behind the Collapse of the Soviet Union, one of their main conclusions was that it wasn’t the socialist system of a planned economy that failed: on the contrary, we have noted how successful it had been. It was in those final years of Gorbachev, with the seeds planted in Khrushchev’s tenure, that the planned economic structures of the Soviet Union, its publicly owned industries and the political structures of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union were dismantled piecemeal, dismembered, and ultimately helped lead to the collapse of the first attempt at building a socialist state.
I have defended the achievements of Soviet industry here because the ideas and implementation of Marxist-Leninist theory can withstand the assaults and falsifications conjured up by right and left-wing theorists and their stooges. Conversely, this is not to endorse an idealist impression of the USSR. Mistakes were made aplenty, and these, just as importantly, need to be examined and learnt from. What is important, though, is that we here in Ireland can have faith in another way to organise our industrial forces, one that seeks to strip the monopolists of their hegemony and price-setting power, so that the greatest number of citizens can reap the benefits of a planned economic system.
In these most turbulent times it is imperative that we defend and advance the title of socialism and the attempts made to create a more equal and just society. Failure to do so most certainly will bring us from the light into the darkness.
Saturday, December 10, 2011
9 December 2011
The agreement reached at the EU summit meeting is a clear victory for Germany. The decision to hand over more powers in relation to budgetary priorities and on greater supervision will further undermine the sovereignty of this state and the ability of the Irish people to effect change or to reverse the policies being imposed by the external EU-ECB-IMF troika in alliance with the internal troika of Fine Gael, the Labour Party, and Fianna Fáil.
The proposal to impose stricter rules and controls on budgetary deficits is a clear victory for German monopoly capitalism. It will produce little of real substance and certainly no relief in the massive debt and austerity measures being imposed on the Irish people. The main objective of the summit was to protect the interests of banks, financial speculators and bond-holders over those of the people.
The Irish Government asked for little and got nothing.
The further transfer of powers to such unelected bodies as the EU Commission and the notoriously anti-worker European Court of Justice—whose primary function is to protect the interests of big business and to prevent any “distortion of the market”—is a grave step towards unelected corporate control over the lives of hundreds of millions of people and a major assault on democracy and national sovereignty.The decisions flowing from this meeting can only lead to permanent austerity measures upon the Irish people. It is the people who are being asked to pay the price, and any new treaty must be put to the Irish people in a referendum.
There have passed 20 years since the flag with the hammer and sickle, the red flag of the October revolution and of socialism was taken off the Kremlin. There have passed 20 years since the counter revolution and the overthrow of socialism in USSR and the other socialist countries of Europe. This fact meant a social backward movement, not only for the peoples of the socialist countries, but also for peoples of entire world. The peoples of socialist countries saw the drop of their level of living, they faced new phenomena such as unemployment, insecurity and immigration. The peoples of capitalist countries lost support for their struggle against the capitalist barbarity.
During all those years there has been proved that capitalism not only can't solve any social problem, not only can't satisfy the needs of the workers and the youth, on the contrary, tries to get over their irremediable contradictions, by augmenting the exploitation of peoples, condemning them to poverty, unemployment and to wars.
Today, we are witnesses of new manifestations and deepening of the capitalist crisis of overaccumulation and overproduction.
As a result, all predatory aspects of capitalist mode of production in its final stage, i.e. imperialism, are sharpened. Accumulation of monopoly capital is accelerated by means of its centralization and concentration. On the other side, population which is relatively surplus with regard to the needs of capitalist accumulation, the evidence of ineffectiveness of capitalism, is growing and manifests itself in massive unemployment, proletarization of masses and poverty, especially among young people. At the same time, part of the workers is overloaded by longer working hours for lower wages. With growing productive forces, large part of them is unused. Unequal effects of crisis in capitalist centers (Germany, France) and so-called periphery (Greece, Italy, Portugal...) are results of uneven regional and national development inside imperialist structures.
The crisis is taken also as a pretext for attack on every advance of working class, which was gained by history of hard working class struggles, of which most significant is establishing of workers power in part of Europe. At the same time, the implementation of anti-peoples measures that have been decided by both social democratic and neoliberal governments is accelerating and aims at making the price of labor power in Europe decrease. Labor rights, such as limitations of working day, collective agreements, protection in work, and against the vagary of employers, are now in danger. Precarious work has become one of the main means of exploitation among young workers, being also used to bring limitations to the workers capacity of organizing themselves and participating in the working class organizations, like trade unions, and as consequence a tool to weaken the working class struggle. The free health care and education is being destroyed and the price of them grows. The retirement age is rising. Social security system and other responsibilities of state toward working class are canceled. All these changes move in direction of privatization, i.e. new spheres of profit for capital, and larger stratification of society: high quality of health care, education, social security for bourgeoisie and no for working and other popular classes.
The capitalist rulers implement and enforce the dominance mechanisms over peoples. The mass-media propaganda, no matter whether it is financed by states or capital, promotes anti-communism, blames the whole parts of population and peoples of the crisis, and supports racism, chauvinism and xenophobia. Any illusion of democratic character of EU institutions is being thrown away. This development shows the imperialist character of EU and disproves any illusion of change to "more social" EU that due to its class nature isn't possible to reform. Rivalries between capitalist countries for the share of the capital loss, which is the inevitable result of the crisis, are sharpening. Rivalries within the EU and Eurozone are reflecting precisely this fact. At the same time, they are united in their attack against the workers, they ask them to make sacrifices in the name of the salvation of Eurozone, EU and their profitability. Peoples should not make any sacrifice. Their future and their prosperity cannot be found in the imperialist institutions.
The falsification of history and anti-communism is financed and promoted by EU institutions and bourgeois states both in former socialist and other countries. The peoples' victory over fascism, the historical significance of the Soviet army in this victory, and the progressive development in socialist countries are disparaged. Communism is being equalized with Nazism. The reactionary forces of the past are propagated, even the openly terrorist and fascist ones. Even the trade-union movement is slandered and state mechanisms - such as bans and organization of strike-breaking - are used against strikes. The criminalization against the Communist Parties and Communist Youths is being promoted.
NATO confirmed its aggressive stance in its summit in Lisbon. The new imperialist attack in Libya under a pretext of civilians' protection, employing of UN in its plans to occupy the country and exploit its oil reserves, and planned attacks on Syria and Iran clearly show the dangerous imperialist offensive which can be resisted only with the gathering of the anti-imperialist forces. The inter-imperialist contradictions are growing between the old as well as the new imperialist powers.
The effects of the crisis create new movements of youth and workers in European countries. We salute the brave struggles of workers and youth, among which the recent struggles of workers in Greece, Portugal, Spain and other countries, where young communists stand in front of defense and counter-attack against the capital.
We highlight the necessity of reinforcing the intervention of the Communist Youths within the youth and the youth movement, of reinforcing the contribution of young communists to the empowerment of the class worker movement. Only in that way, accumulated anger of young people, who face the enlargement of the dead ends, will find a way out. Only in that way such anger will not get trapped within the framework of the "new movements", promoted by the system, which, using slogans such as "down with the parties, down with the trade unions", are trying to calumniate the organized class revolutionary struggle.
The attempts to intimidate the working class movement are caused by the capitalists' fear of comparison between the current capitalist development and successes of socialist construction. The socialist system proved its superiority over capitalism. It guaranteed to the citizens right to work in planned socialist economy which develops capabilities of a country proportionally, social security, free health care and education. It canceled exploitation and inequalities between peoples, regions, races, nations, and genders. Socialism promoted social ownership of means of production, both in country and in towns. On the international scale, the world socialist system was decisive for peoples' defeat of fascism and Nazism, and for destruction of colonialism. It constituted the only effective counterweight to imperialism. It supported progressive and anti-imperialist forces in the world.
The Communist Youths compromise to enforce their struggle, especially today that the capitalist crisis sharpens and this may cause unforeseeable consequences for the peoples. The Communist Youth Organizations bare the great task of organizing the struggle of the youth to secure the satisfaction of its contemporary needs. Today, the produced wealth, the productivity of labor and the development of science and technology can meet all the contemporary popular needs, can reduce the working time, can eliminate unemployment, can raise the cultural and educative level of workers. In order to achieve this, the means of production can no longer be private property, used to exploit workers. It is necessary to transform them into social property and developed them into favor of the working people. We highlight that the people must not recognize the capitalist debt. The real debt was created to the working people, by their exploitation and dispossession by the monopoly capital. There is no unity with exploiters facing the crisis, no sacrificing of people, which should bring even more surplus value to the big capital and strengthen its rule.
The Communist Youth Organizations have great responsibility for future of the peoples. Their ideological work will tell the truth about the glorious history of socialist construction in 20th century. Their strengthening and coordinate actions will bring the consciousness of possibility and necessity of building superior society - socialism and communism - the idea the capital wants to erase from youth's minds. Their organization of militant youth will reinforce the working class and people in their struggles against imperialism.
The prospect of socialist construction and future of communism is the only real alternative to current system of exploitation.
20 years after it is clear that the defeat of socialism was temporary. Social evolution cannot stop.
The youth's future is Socialism!
Communist Youth of Austria (KJÖ)
United Democratic Youth Organization (EDON)
Communist Youth Union of the Czech Republic (KSM)
Socialist German Workers' Youth (SDAJ)
Communist Youth of Greece (KNE)
Communist Youth of Poland (KMP)
Portuguese Communist Youth (JCP)
Revolutionary Communist Youth Union of Bolsheviks (RKSMb)
Union of Young Communists of Spain (UJCE)
Collectives of Young Communist (CJC)
Youth of Turkish Communist Party (YTKP)
CPI General Secretary, Eugene McCarten, at the Communist University, London
Thank you very much for the invitation to speak at this year’s Communist University here in London. The title of this rally, “Overthrowing capitalism in the twenty-first century,” is certainly a challenging one but a most important one.
If there was one simple answer we would long since have found it. But, as we know, life does not always offer simple or easy solutions; it does not offer pain-free solutions. It is the question of who the pain is inflected upon, and for what outcome.
We are certainly gathering at an extremely important point in history, particularly as events are now unfolding in Europe. What appeared unstoppable and solid three decades ago, two decades ago or even five years ago, and was perceived by millions as the natural order of things, is now very fluid. People are beginning to question things that they once solidly believed in. Not alone is monopoly capitalism in deep crisis but we are also on the possible edge of a global environmental catastrophe.
The European Union is now in a “state of chassis,” as Seán O’Casey’s character called it. There is a clear division and a redivision of power and influence now under way within the EU. The old order of France and Germany deciding and the rest following is now being changed, with Germany deciding and the rest awaiting word from the Chancellery in Berlin. The ECB disagrees with the Commission, while the EU Parliament continues to play at being a parliament and maintaining that façade and still attempting to fool the gullible.
The crisis is deepening and is exposing deep fractures in the system as well as inter-imperialist tensions and rivalries. The recent G20 summit came and went and delivered nothing. The EU heads of government appear to be in permanent crisis session. Like constipated bull-frogs, they croak without any relief from the trapped wind from all the hot air generated, as each meeting is presented as the most important since the last most important one. The continuing and deepening crisis within the EU, centred on the euro and debt, and the imposition of socialised corporate debt on working people, appears to be their only answer. After each EU, euro-zone, G8 or G20 summit the politicians, media and “experts” all tell us we will have to wait to see how the markets respond. Clearly a case of the tail wagging the dog.
The growing crisis of the euro and what they call the “sovereign” debt crisis has all the hallmarks of being beyond them. They have now constructed a structured debt relationship between the core states and the heavily indebted peripheral countries, which will result in massive transfers of wealth from the periphery to the centre. Germany is attempting to extract maximum political advantage from the situation, demanding further rigid controls of the fiscal and budgetary governance of member-states by EU institutions, including the EU Commission and the European Central Bank. Clearly they are attempting to close off any potential alternative economic and social strategy by the people.
The austerity measures being imposed by the external EU-ECB-IMF “troika,” in co-operation with the internal troika of Fine Gael, the Labour Party, and Fianna Fáil, is imposing massive cuts in public spending: $3.5 billion this year, €3.7 billion next year. There are cuts in children’s allowance and unemployment benefit, hospital closures, levies, and an increase in value-added tax, which always affects poor people and workers most. In Ireland and all the peripheral countries there is a massive fire-sale of public companies, and public services will be privatised, narrowing the space and role of public capital so as to create areas into which private, corporate capital can expand, and control and exploit. Yet the rich and powerful remain aloof from the crisis; their life-styles, their villas remain untouched.
The French elite want the peripheral countries to pay back their debts to French banks at whatever cost to the people of those countries while demanding that the Germans bail out the rest of the French banking system in the form of euro debt bonds. German monopoly capital does not want the noose of debt hung around its neck, which would be the case if the euro debt bonds were created. This is the nature of the present divisions within the EU.
The European banking system is in deep trouble, which began in the periphery and has now moved into the core countries. Each solution gives temporary relief, to be followed by further crisis and a further turning of the screw on the people. The crisis of the system is being used by national governments and monopoly capitalism to drive back the rights of workers and their families, to take back much of what we gained in the last half of the twentieth century in our wages and our terms and conditions.
In Ireland we await the budget—it hasn’t been sent from Germany yet—from a coalition government not yet a year in office and already bankrupt of ideas. They will carry on the same policies as the previous government, stamped with the seal of the EU and marked “non-negotiable.” Because that is what they have been told to do, and it is also in their own class interests.
But we know that this is not necessarily the case—that things can be changed. The Greek government also said things were non-negotiable, but, through great resistance and against great odds, the Greek working class have resisted and forced the social democrats to scurry back to Brussels, looking for concessions and a cut in interest rates etc. Their resistance created conflict and tension at the heart of the EU.
When Papandreou ran out of road, in a vain hope of placating enough of the people and stabilising the situation, he decided in a last throw of the dice that he would consult the people in a referendum on the austerity pact. This was the final straw that broke the patience of his political masters in Berlin and Paris and the ruling class in Greece. Papandreou had to go, and he went, in the first of two virtual coups d’état, to be replaced by what is euphemistically called “technocratic” government.
This was quickly followed by a coup against Italian democracy and the replacement of the Italian government with a new one with not a single elected member. The assaults on the democratic will of the Greek and Italian people are among the first public manifestations and a real expression of the EU corporatist state now under construction. The reality that bourgeois democracy will be truncated to meet the needs of capital when in crisis is becoming more open and visible.
European monopoly capitalism is using the crisis to further tighten its grip. If they succeed in further eroding the ability of peoples and member-states to take independent decisions in relation to economic and social policies, and that budgets must first be cleared through Brussels, this will in effect turn elected governments into mere lobbyists, looking for concessions here and there, one set of lobbyists among more powerful lobby groups.
Since the bourgeoisie took power and established their state institutions and governance, they have carefully constructed a consciousness and belief among people that democracy and capitalism are inseparable, indeed synonymous: that no other social and economic organisation of society was or could be democratic. Yet we have two governments removed in as many weeks, replaced by quisling governments. They loudly proclaim that the crisis in each country is different and that we must prevent “contagion,” yet they impose similar cures for what they claim are different illnesses.
We believe capitalism is incompatible with democracy: capitalism insists that social control is undesirable, bad, and impossible.
We are living in a period when many myths are exploding and are ceasing to have an influence on how the people see the world around them.
Myth 1: That the independent state is redundant in the era of globalisation. False! The first port of call when the situation moved into crisis was the resources of the state to bail it out, in Ireland to the tune of €140 billion—that is, nearly €40,000 per person.
Myth 2: That the EU is a union of equals. Since the crisis it has been a case of the weakest having to go to the wall.
Myth 3: That monopoly capitalism has overcome its contradictions of boom and slump.
Myth 4: That democracy and capitalism go hand in hand. Clearly not true. What we have in the EU is a form of corporate state, one becoming more reactionary as the crisis deepens.
Myth 5: That there is no alternative either to capitalism or to the solutions being imposed to get it out of this crisis.
We clearly need a strategy for building and strengthening working-class solidarity throughout Europe, to find unity on shared goals and demands.
Decades of revisionism and opportunist influences, a non-class approach, a non-anti-imperialist approach to central economic and political questions among sections of the communist movement in Europe have left a deep legacy of confusion and division within the ranks of working-class forces. It has left the working class in some countries leaderless. It has left the working class confused and lacking in clarity about the nature of the crisis, about the class character and the role of the EU, thereby hindering the building of resistance and presenting clear anti-monopoly demands and strategies for a way out of the crisis on working-class terms.
But we see around us the small shoots of resistance beginning to develop, in the form of the Occupy movements around the world. Yes, they display anti-communist, anti-left, anti-trade-union features; but nothing will emerge from the swamp of the capitalist system fully developed or without the scars of the system affecting how they see the world. The working class is beginning to resist, as we witness in the growing number of strikes by workers throughout Europe, including here in Britain and back home in Ireland.
The gravediggers of the system are slowly awakening from the decades of Cold War propaganda freezer. The leaders of imperialism wish that the spring that gives birth to new life to the people’s struggles will be confined to places far from their own doorsteps, a spring that will give them new opportunities to exploit and dominate, while at home they hope they can keep the people under control with a daily diet of manufactured fear about the ATM machines running out of money, or people losing their homes, so as to manufacture their consent to having what generations struggled for taken away, because that is what is needed to get “us” out of the crisis.
The question facing us all is, How do we turn the economic crisis of the system into a political crisis of the system?
Our struggle is both national and international. It is is a struggle against imperialist domination and control.
On the European level it is clear that we need greater co-operation. We have many shared demands: No to privatisation, No to the debt burden, No to the imposed austerity schemes of the EU, ECB, and IMF, and actions of solidarity with workers when they are on strike.
At the national level we need to harness the people’s anger at not having any control or influence over events affecting and shaping their lives.
In many ways it is the crisis of the system that is exposing the nature and the limitations of the system itself. We have to take advantage of this and try to create greater ideological space for us to present a people’s alternative way forward.
Their lack of democracy and their efforts to corral and to narrow the people’s options are their Achilles heel. This means leading people from the straitjacket of bourgeois democracy, where workers and citizens have no real democratic control, to real democracy, where there is full social control over politics, society, and the economy.
We communists want to empower working people to democratise all areas of life.
Democracy, which is centred on working people, is the fertile ground that we have to cultivate and develop. It is about the democratic control of capital, about democratic control over the means of production.
Once again the hammer and sickle can be seen in their thousands on the streets of cities around Europe. They thought they had exorcised the spectre, but they have not.
This is not a time for pessimism or defeatism but rather for optimism and resistance. The twenty-first century belongs to the forces of democracy and socialism.