Friday, March 30, 2012

100 years of Woody Guthrie

This year marks the centennial of the birth of Woody Guthrie, who many have argued is perhaps one of the most influential songwriters and performers of the 20th century. Guthrie’s name is synonymous with a style of music that people through the years have called “country,” “folk,” “hillbilly” to name a few, but that is distinctly American. And though his career was as turbulent as his life and times, his music reflected the best in the man and his world. Today, the name Woody Guthrie resonates with musicians and music lovers, as well as among many of the working people whom Woody’s music championed.

While Woody Guthrie is a beloved figure in much of the world, he continues to be a source of controversy in his home state of Oklahoma because of his Communist sympathies. Few will forget the signs placed in bank windows in Okemah, Okla., Woody’s hometown, reading, “Woody is no son of ours!” – a message to those who made the pilgrimage for the annual Woody Guthrie music festival there.

But many more Oklahomans are proud to call Woody one of their own, as recently erected roadside billboards boast, “OKLAHOMA: HOME OF WOODY GUTHRIE!”

This year, in an ironic twist, the Woody Guthrie archives, currently stored in New York City, are being moved to a permanent location here in Tulsa, after what Woody’s daughter describes as “a fortuitous meeting with the folks at the George Kaiser Foundation.” While many Oklahomans are delighted that Woody’s archive will become accessible to the many Okies too poor to travel to New York, some are dismayed over the fact that the Tulsa-based George Kaiser Family Foundation, representing one of the wealthiest billionaires in the world, has been instrumental in moving the archive.

The proposed home for the archive is known in Tulsa as “the Brady District” – named after the notorious Tulsa politician and business mogul with well-established ties to the Ku Klux Klan. But even African Americans here see the move as an overall positive. One Tulsa resident said, “What better way to start moving our local culture away from the dominant reactionary narrative and start reasserting our progressive history. And who better to usher in that change than our own Woody Guthrie.”

Woody has been claimed as the inspiration of many now-great artists like Bruce Springsteen and The Clash’s Joe Strummer who openly admired Guthrie’s devotion to real stories about real working people. Bob Dylan was so enamored with Guthrie’s mystique that he pretended to have been born in Oklahoma. But unlike Dylan, Woody’s music was never contrived and spoke to the authentic heart of the Dust Bowl experience.

Many are aware that popular music owes a great debt to Woody’s influence, but few know much about what inspired Woody. Certainly his music was shaped by his experiences as he traveled with Oklahoma’s migrant workers attempting to escape the desolation and poverty of the 1930s. But Woody was more than just a singer and songwriter. He was a true “organic intellectual.” He not only sang about social problems, injustices, the struggle against fascism during the Second World War – he also studied these problems deeply and worked as a sort of people’s journalist.

Woody’s work was regularly featured in the Communist Party’s newspaper the Daily Worker under a column titled, “Woody Sez.” During the Depression, Woody performed for Communist Party events throughout California and, after the onset of the Second World War, was an unapologetic supporter of the united front against fascism. He felt so strongly about the need to unite against Nazi Germany and the ultra-right forces of fascism that he wrote and recorded a classic workers’ anthem titled “All You Fascists Bound to Lose.”

Woody’s sympathy for working-class movements, unions and the Communist Party is also apparent in his most famous song, “This Land is Your Land.” The song was written in 1944 as a direct response to Irving Berlin’s “God Bless America,” which Woody criticized as being nationalistic and against the spirit of the anti-fascist united front. As a testament to Woody’s sympathies for a Marxist critique of capitalism he included a verse in “This Land is Your Land” that is often omitted in popular renditions of this classic:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn’t say nothing;
This land was made for you and me.

While many have attempted to revise and reinterpret Woody’s controversial legacy since his death, Woody himself was never afraid to let his true colors shine. In addition to writing for the Communist Party’s newspaper, he openly fraternized with Communists and attended Communist Party events. Although there is some debate over whether or not Woody was ever a “card-carrying member” of the Communist Party, there is little doubt about his sympathies and support for the work of the party. As Guthrie himself once said, “The best thing that I did in 1936 was to sign up with the Communist Party.”

The International Role of China

The International Role of China

by Elisseos Vagenas,
member of the CC of KKE,
responsible for the international section of the CC

published in Communist Review 6th issue 2010

The rise of a new global power, China, has provoked a great deal of interest from analysts and ordinary workers all over the world. This interest is even more intense amongst politicized people, who understand the era of social revolutions which began with October 1917 in Russia and which led to a series of important socio-political struggles and revolutions in the entire world, among them the Chinese revolution. The interest concerning the rise in China’s power is contradictory, as the increase of its power is taking place under the red flag and with the CP of China in power.

Nevertheless, one of the “lessons” of the counterrevolution in the Soviet Union is that communists should not have accepted unquestioningly whatever the CPSU said but that every CP, while remaining true to the principle of proletarian internationalism, should study with its own resources the developments, the experience of the international communist movement and must attempt to form its own opinion concerning these things, utilizing Marxist-Leninist theory as its tool. The KKE reserves its right of criticism within the international communist movement with the aim of strengthening it and the strategy of the communists. The KKE confronts deviations from the principles of Marxism-Leninism and the laws of socialist construction, while maintaining bilateral relations with communist parties which have different approaches.

On this basis the KKE, while it continues to maintain bilateral relations with the CP of China, systematically follows developments and forms its own assessments which it expresses both publicly and to the CPC. As is well-known, the KKE already from its 17th Congress (2005) noted the expansion of capitalist relations in China. In the period since then this tendency has been reinforced and is even more evident.

Read on at

Noonan's Cruel Joke

Press Release


29th March 2012 Noonan's cruel joke

The announcement by the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan in the Dáil today that the promissory note due to be handed over on Saturday 31st March for €3.06bn to Anglo-Irish Banks now known as IBRC has been deferred.

This move is nothing more than window dressing. The announcement that payment will now be financed through the issue of a long-term Government bond will place an even greater burden upon the people and will cost our people possibly nearly €90 million every year in additional interest when it is refinanced by the Bank of Ireland.

It is clear this government has no strategy to solving the debt crisis other than to follow orders from the EU/ECB/IMF and that is to make the people shoulder the burden of this odious debt.It is increasingly clear to more and more people that the massive austerity inflicted on working people and especially upon the old, the sick, on our children, and the massive cuts in public spending will only increase.

This is a cruel joke being played upon working people by the internal troika of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Fianna Fail who have no intention of ever confronting the EU and defending the interests of the Irish people.

Pól Ó Deoráin
087 6837650

Monday, March 26, 2012

The roads leading to disaster

"If we do not learn to comprehend, we will never learn to survive."

Reflections of Fidel
 The roads leading to disaster

This Reflection could be written today, tomorrow or any other day without any risk of being mistaken. Our species is confronting new problems. When I stated 20 years ago at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, that a species was in danger of extinction, I had fewer reasons than today to warn of a danger, one which could
perhaps be perceived as 100 years distant. At that time, a few leaders of the most powerful countries were managing the world. They applauded my words out of mere courtesy and placidly continued digging our species’ grave.

It appeared that commonsense and order reigned on our planet. For some time, economic development supported by technology and science seemed to be the Alpha and Omega of human society.

Today, everything is much clearer. Profound truths have gradually come to light. Close to 200 states, supposedly independent, constitute, in theory, the political organization responsible for governing the destiny of the world.

Approximately 25,000 nuclear weapons in the hands of allied or antagonistic forces prepared to defend the changing order - out if self-interest or necessity - are virtually reducing to zero the rights of billions of people.

I will not disingenuously assign responsibility to Russia or China for the development of this type of weapons, in the wake of the monstrous slaughter of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered by Truman after the death of Roosevelt.

Neither will I fall into the error of denying the holocaust, which signified the death of millions of children and adults, men and women, principally Jews, Romanies, Russians or people of other nationalities who were the victims of Nazism. For that reason the infamous policy of those denying the Palestinian people their right to exist is repugnant.

Does anyone think that the United States will be capable of acting with the independence that could preserve it from the inevitable disaster awaiting it?

Within a few weeks, the $40 million which President Obama committed himself to raise for his election campaign will only serve to demonstrate that his country’s currency is very devalued, and that the United States, with its unprecedented and growing public debt, approaching 20 trillion dollars, is living off the money it issues and not off what it produces. The rest of the world is paying for what they are squandering.

Neither does anybody believe that the Democratic candidate will be better or worse than his Republican opponents: whether they are called Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum. Light years separate the three from figures as outstanding as Abraham Lincoln or Martin Luther King. It is really extraordinary to observe a nation so powerful technologically and a government so bereft of both ideas and moral values.

Iran does not possess nuclear weapons. It is accused of producing enriched uranium, which serves as fuel for generating energy or as a component for medical use. Like it or not, its possession or production is not equivalent to the production of nuclear weapons. Dozens of countries use enriched uranium as an energy source, but it cannot be used in the manufacture
of a nuclear weapon without a prior, complex purification process.

However Israel, which with the help and cooperation of the United States manufactured nuclear weapons without informing or making itself accountable to anyone, today has hundreds of these weapons, without acknowledging possession of them. In order to prevent research development in neighboring Arab countries, it attacked and destroyed the reactors of Syria and Iran. It has also declared its intention to attack and destroy Iran’s nuclear fuel production facilities.
International politics have been revolving around this crucial issue in this complex and dangerous region of the world, where a major portion of the fuel which moves the world economy is produced.

The selective elimination of Iran’s most eminent scientists on the part of Israel and its NATO allies has become a practice which foments hatred and sentiments of revenge.

The Israeli government has openly declared its intention to attack the enriched uranium production plant in Iran, and the government of the United States has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in manufacturing a bomb for that purpose.

On March 16, 2012, Michel Chossudovsky and Finian Cunningham published an article revealing that "A top U.S. Air Force general has described the biggest conventional warhead – the 30,000-pound bunkerbuster bomb – as ‘great’ for a military strike on Iran.

Such glib comment about a massive killing device comes in the same week that U.S. President Barack Obama appeared to caution against ‘loose talk’ about war in the Persian Gulf.

'The massive ordnance penetrator [MOP] is a great weapon,’ said Lieutenant General Herbert Carlisle, the U.S. Air Force deputy chief of staff for operations, who added that the bomb would likely be used in any attack on Iran ordered by Washington.

The MOP also referred to as The Mother of All Bombs is designed to drill through 200 feet of reinforced concrete before detonating its massive warhead. It is believed to be the biggest conventional, non-nuclear, weapon in the American arsenal.

The Pentagon is planning on a process of extensive destruction of Iran’s infrastructure and mass civilian casualties through the combined use of tactical nukes and monster conventional mushroom cloud bombs, including the MOAB and the larger GBU-57A/B or Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP), which surpasses the MOAB in terms of explosive capacity.

The MOP is described as "a powerful new bomb aimed squarely at the underground nuclear facilities of Iran and North Korea. The gargantuan bomb—longer than 11 persons standing shoulder-to-shoulder or more than 20 feet base to nose—"

I beg readers to forgive me for this tortuous military jargon. As can be noted, such calculations are based on the assumption that the Iranian combatants, which include millions of men and women known for their religious commitment and traditions of struggle, will surrender
without firing a shot.

Recently, over a period of just three weeks, Iranians have seen how United States soldiers occupying Afghanistan have urinated on the bodies of murdered Afghans, burned copies of the Koran and killed more than 15 defenseless citizens.

Imagine United States forces dropping monstrous bombs, capable of penetrating 60 meters of cement, on industrial facilities. Never before has such an adventure been conceived.

Not another word is needed to comprehend the seriousness of such a policy. Following this path, our species will be led inexorably toward disaster. If we do not learn to comprehend, we will never learn to survive.

As far as I am concerned, I do not harbor the slightest doubt that the United States is about to commit, and lead the world toward, the greatest error in its history.

Law of worldwide value - A review

Samir Amin has been an important participant in the conversation among Marxists for decades. His many books, his articles and his partisanship for the peoples of Asia, the Middle East, and
Africa are acknowledged and respected by all those who strive for a world without capitalism. He has associated his views with Marxism and enthusiastically interprets those views through the prism of the Monthly Review theoretical triad of Paul Sweezy, Paul Baran, and Harry Magdoff.
Perhaps he adheres even more faithfully to these views than the current editors
f this influential journal. He shares with Immanuel Wallerstein the World Systems approach, with its emphasis on the “core” and “periphery” distinction in the global economy. Both views have, at different times, exerted great influence among Marxist thinkers and activists, especially in the West. These views have revealed important insights into the mechanism of global capitalism and imperialism. Yet these views are inadequate for a coherent understanding of
our world today.

In his new book (The Law of Worldwide Value, Monthly Review Press, 2010), Amin offers a rich, thought-provoking update of his 1978 book The Law of Value and Historical Materialism (Monthly Review Press, 1978) designed to defend his views with respect to the developments leading us into deeper crisis in the twenty-first century.

Much has changed since 1978: the rise and total dominance of neo-liberal thinking and policy in the evolution of capitalism; the dramatic demise of the European socialist community; the rise of the Peoples’ Republic of China as a global economic power; the rise of powerful “emerging” economies in Brazil, India, Russia, and the Republic of Korea; the stagnation of the once-mighty
Japanese economy; the rise and possible fall of the European Community; and most important, a profound crisis of capitalism generated by the ascendancy of finance capital in the US. In short, the world is vastly different than the world that Amin wrote of in 1978.

To his credit, Amin offers a vigorous defense of his earlier views in light of the dramatic changes experienced over the last three decades. Unfortunately, events have swept these once persuasive perspectives off the table; capitalism has moved on.

Fundamental to Amin’s perspective is a partisan defense of Marx’s law of value. The law of value for Marx engages a theoretical construct that demonstrates the fundamental relationships inherent in capitalist commodity production. Its import is to expose the components of productive activity and explain how they interact. With that understanding, the basis for commodity exchange is bared as an expression of uniform, embodied labor. As such, the law holds up well through the long evolution of capitalism from its competitive stages, through the emergence of monopoly capitalism, and its current expression as state-monopoly-capitalism.

To continue reading check out

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A weak bourgeois government means a strong people

A weak bourgeois government means a strong people

The GS of the CC of the KKE spoke at a large rally of the party in Syntagma Sq., outside the Parliament, Tuesday the 20th of March, when the bourgeois parties inside the parliament approved the country’s new loan agreement, through which the coalition of government of social-democratic PASOK and liberal ND and the Troika seek to chain the people for the next 30 years.

Similar rallies of the KKE, which in their majority were transformed into mass marches, took place in the capitals of all the regions and other cities in the country. Thousands of people of toil took part in them-workers, self-employed, women, and young people. With slogans such as: “No to the Loan Agreement- We will not live in chains!” “We do not consent, we do not retreat” “Onward workers, now as one fist, tear down the memoranda and the bosses!”

It should be noted that the election period has already begun in Greece despite the fact that the official date for the elections has not yet been announced but has been fixed for the 19/4 or at some point in the first two weeks of May. In Athens, the GS of the CC, Aleka Papariga underlined in her speech “that the conflict is total. Two strategies are coming into conflict: On the one hand the strategy of capital’s interests and on the other the one which represents the interests of the working class and the poor self-employed in the cities and countryside(…) What will make the difference in this election battle will be the vote the KKE receives. Because only in this way will a real people’s message be conveyed that will intimidate the terrorists of reaction and those ready to compromise at the right moment. (…) The Papademos government and the partners ND and PASOK have undertaken the obligation, until the elections are held, to work hard for the implementation of the many new barbaric measures which have been taken and to take new ones. Regarding the question “the EU or chaos” we respond that: you are bringing chaos, we have the strength to teach you a serious lesson at the ballot box and chiefly so that the count down begins for our liberation from every form of capitalist exploitation and imperialist tie.”

Regarding the Loan Agreement the GS of the CC of the KKE mentioned that “It constitutes, together with the PSI, the old and new memoranda is the first act of a multi-act tragedy, which to begin with will last until 2042, in the framework of which a long term offensive will escalate, month by month, quarter by quarter, against the popular social forces, the workers, the poor popular strata of the city and countryside. A united offensive, a united response and counterattack, one for all, and all for one.”

Regarding the renegotiation of the debt and the measures which have been taken, something which all the bourgeois and opportunist parties regurgitate, Aleka Papariga posed the question: How will they combine the improvement of the workers’ lives with the observance of what has been agreed? And she added: “Of course they are not negotiating for the good of the workers. They are negotiating sometimes in a more exacting way and sometimes less so for the interests of one or other section of capital, according to whether this section is strong and expand into the international markets. Such negotiations will be carried out by the leaders of the bourgeois and opportunist parties. Let’s say that they possess this ability to negotiate despite the fact that they will achieve nothing despite their negotiation abilities Competitiveness means a race over which country is the champion in taking anti-worker measures. Competitiveness is nothing other than a race which will deepen unevenness. In any case, they are talking more and more about the countries of the Balkans, Eastern Europe, Northern and Southern Europe.

It is not a question of geography but a question of class. What do the supporters of the EU say about the nonsense they had been peddling to the people for years? What do all those who spoke of convergence, social solidarity, stable development and prosperity say to them? Indeed certain left-wingers find it convenient to explain unevenness and uneven relationships in moral terms, without political and class references. Because it is convenient for them to mock the people in this way that there is a solution inside the system, that there can exist both a humane form of capitalism and a barbaric one.

Also certain people exclusively attack the Troika because it deprives us of national sovereignty, as if the Troika arrived on its own, as if it is above the EU, IMF and ECB. The signing of the Maastricht Treaty and the statement that we will remain in the EU whatever happens legitimises the Troika (…) The accession to the imperialist EU, the EU of the capitalist states, means the acceptance of unevenness, of the sharpest competition inside the predatory alliance, as well as the decisions which on each occasion the strongest capitalist countries in the imperialist chain inside and outside the EU make”. This was noted amongst other things by the GS of the CC of the KKE.

A. Papariga in conclusion stated that: “We do not conceal from the people that neither a better defence nor a better attack are sufficient. The struggle must be waged until its end, until working class-people’s power, disengagement from the EU with socialisation, planning at a national level, working class-people’s control and a unilateral cancellation of the debt. Of course no one is voting for working class power at the ballot box, consequently full agreement is not necessary, however the people must vote to gather together strength, experience and courage in order to impede new tragedies, to fight for what belongs to them and their children.”

Class bankruptcy PCP

"Class bankruptcy"

19th March 2012

Translated "Avante!" article by Jorge Cadima, member of the PCP International Department

During months, one was told a debt renegotiation was not to be mentioned and any deviation from the Troika’s programme fulfillment would, inexorably, lead to bankruptcy and catastrophe. And when, last week, Greece settled its inability of paying - on what the Financial Times (12.03.09) described as “ the greatest sovereign inability ever”. This is the consequence of the Troika’two year policies, which destroyed the Greek economy, leading an important part of the population unto poverty and to the explosion of its public debt - making it impossible to accomplish the respective obligations. The Greek default formalising took the form of an agreement with the majority of private creditors.

Trusting the newspapers headlines, this Greek debt restructuring involves important losses concerning the private creditors - the so-called hair-cut. Instead of mentioning a catastrophe, the EU great capital leaders praised the agreement. Sarkozy states: “ I am very happy a solution was found concerning the Greek crisis”. […] Currently, the problem is resolved” (in the Daily Telegraph, 12.03.10). Schaubel, the German Minister of Finance, declared it had been “ a historical opportunity” for Greece (in Daily Telegraph, 12.03..09). But the Financial Times has a different opinion: “ in spite of the optimism, the markets are currently betting Greece will again be in default, in the future” (12.03.09).

As usually, to understand these apparent disagreements, a class point of view, is demanded. Nouriel Roubini - a system economist - reveals part of the mystery, in a Financial Times article (12.03.07): “ The truth is that the private creditors achieved a soft agreement, at the same time the majority of the current and future damages were transferred to the official creditors [ public - NT]. And why?

The 110 thousand million Euro in private bonds supported by an increase of 130 thousand million Euro of the Greek debt, regarding official creditors. A significant amount of this increase of Greece’s official debt is intended to [bail out] the private creditors[…]. Loans of at least 25 thousand million Euro coming from the European Financial Stability Fund unto the Greek government are intended to recapitalize the banks, under a scheme in which they remain in private hands and allow their shareholders to buy any of the public capital injections with the guarantee of sweet prices.[…]

With three quarters of the Greek debt held by official creditors in 2014, the Greek public debt ought to have been almost socialized. The official creditors will have to face most of the huge further damages which carry on to be probable in the future, given the yet unsustainable levels of Greece’s debt”. In other words, Roubini says : “ The reality is that during the good times, the majority of the profits […] were privatized, whilst the majority of damages are currently socialized. Greece’s official creditors will be paid off by the tax payers, and not the private shareholders, which will end up by paying the majority of the damages”.

Roubini has the merit of talking in clear terms.. But there is more to it. The major victim of all this, are the workers and the people of Greece, which, in a short period of two years, watched their salary levels being cut, in many cases, in half, for the sake of “Europe with us”, work posts evaporate and the social and labour rights destroyed by the “social and economic cohesion”.

Hundreds of thousand Greek small retailers and industrialists , already bankrupt or about to yield to shady class transactions of “ our European partners”. On what concerns the “private creditors” - the great international finance, which had a central role within the crisis explosion - also profits with the limited credit lines at 1% tax, for many months, the ECB has conferred, leaving behind, as “guarantees,” Greek debt bonds of the Greek debt which value was currently cut off.
The great patronage seeing the return of work from sunrise to sunset and the new XXI century day’s work journey markets, profits.

Its class instrument - that imperialist EU which, with new Treaties has been transformed into a command centre of colonial nature for the distant peripheral “provinces”, inhabited by the PIGS,profits.

Our country is the next great victim ( in Evans - Pritchard, 12.03.08). But if they accomplish to bend the peripheral workers, they will soon attempt to extend it unto the European great powers workers back to the XIX century, in the name of this decrepit capitalism’s “modernity”. The answer is urgent.

Within Portugal, the next great battle is the 22nd March general strike.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Sale of state assets underway

Roll up, roll up! The great sale of state assets is now on

It was hardly a surprise when the news broke in February that the Government intends selling off numerous state assets. Their plans will see parts of An Bord Gáis and the ESB sold off, followed by the sale of Coillte and the remaining 25 per cent stake in Aer Lingus when “market conditions are favourable” for an “acceptable price.” They claim the money will be used to write down debts and for investing in job-stimulus schemes.

This may not be surprising but is yet another deeply flawed and ill-conceived policy. The €3 billion expected from the sale of state assets will hardly put a dent in what has become a colossal debt.

They claim it will help stimulate the economy. It will not. Privatisation will undoubtedly lead to the loss of jobs, increased prices, a worsening service for consumers, and big profits for those who purchase them. After all, why would investors invest if not for a profit?

Of course the “jobs” angle is being used to soften up what is essentially the continuation of the failed neo-liberal agenda that fuelled capitalism’s latest crisis.

Government policy for the past four years has been one of aggressive austerity, cutting government spending any way it can in an attempt to make the economic environment more conducive to private-sector investment. They seem to see their role more as managers of the Irish economy than as an authority. They tinker here and there, all the while diminishing the role of the state in the economy and opening it up to private capital.

So far, private capital has appeared rather unwilling to play along and deliver the magic beans the Government seeks.

On the other hand we have politicians who are only too happy to nationalise corporate debt and bail out a failed banking system into which they continue to pour billions. The taxpayers’ money may have been sacrificed, but nothing considerable has changed. The taxpayer essentially owns these banks, yet neither we nor the Government has a say in how they’re run, and there’s no sign of the Government being interested in changing this dynamic any time soon.

Are Fine Gael and the Labour Party so naïve that they believe private investors will ride in to to save the day when the heartbeat of finance capital, the banks, required the state to step in and save the ailing system? Perhaps; but they are also driven by the ideology of cuts and privatisation.

The Government should increase rather than diminish its role within the economy, invest in existing state and state-sponsored companies and establish new ones to provide real, meaningful jobs, rather than offering tax breaks to big corporations and job bridge schemes.

This is only the beginning. It will be followed by future sales of state assets at the cost of further jobs, and future control over vital services and infrastructure will be jeopardised. It must be resisted, and it is time the trade unions stepped up, showed some leadership before it is too late, for them as well as the people of this state.

taken from March Socialist Voice

Repudiate the debt campaign

Communists rally in West Bengal

Massive communist rally in West Bengal organised by the CPI (M)

check out the viedo

Friday, March 16, 2012

Joint Statement on Company attack on strikers

The German Communist Party, the Communist Party of Luxembourg, the New Communist
Party of the Netherlands and the Workers’ Party of Belgium jointly condemn the brutal
assault by an armed gang, ordered by the company Poppe und Potthoff (Werther), on the
workers who were on strike in their Belgian branch, Meister Coordination Center, in Sprimont,

The workers were on strike to protest against the planned move of important orders to other locations. When the negotiations with the management came to naught, the workers blocked a few vehicles. On Sunday afternoon [26 February] they were attacked by some twenty security people from Germany. Dressed in black, without company insignia but some of them with Lonsdale caps (popular in neo-Nazi groups), they were armed with batons, baseball bats and tear gas and were wearing balaclavas and bullet-proof vests. They were to carry material from the factory on the orders of the management. In doing so they hit workers and destroyed sitting-rooms and PC rooms of the company. Some workers had their mobile phones confiscated, and some of the occupiers were put under guard in a room.

Following an appeal from the union they were confined in the factory by some two hundred workers and union members from the region. In the night of Sunday to Monday the gang was led out of the factory under police guard.

In a letter, IG Metall [Metalworkers’ Union], Bielefeld, protested "most sharply against the brutal assault of a gang of thugs against striking union members.”

We condemn this use of a private militia, and we ask for the application of Belgian laws against private militias. We demand serious sanctions and prosecution against the police of Sprimont. The police were present at the premises right after the assault but did not disarm nor arrest the gang. They did not confirm their identities and took them back to Germany in a police car, no questions asked. They refused to hear the complaint of one of the workers who was beaten and advised him to draw the conclusions by himself.

These are all failures of the Belgian police system. The Minister of the Interior, Turtelboom, admitted this in the Belgian Parliament.

We demand that the complaint that was registered by the unions get prompt and serious attention. This incident with a private militia, more or less under the protection of the police, stirs up memories from a dark episode in European history. This action must be seen in the light of the Europe-wide campaigns, sponsored by entrepreneur circles, against labour unions. The goal is clear: to break social rights and the opposition against the draconian budget cuts, also by anti-democratic means.

With this assault a new and dangerous chapter opens. We will make effort everywhere to defend the right to strike and to strengthen the unions in their just struggle.

Like a Conquered Province… Part 2

Like a Conquered Province…

Irish Echo, New York

My wakeup call on Irish sovereignty was the report that German politicians in Berlin were discovered -- accidentally, by visiting Irish parliamentarians -- to be scrutinizing the details of the yet-to-be-released Irish national budget -- before anyone in Ireland had seen the budget.

Who put the Irish budget in German hands? Is this the behavior of a self–respecting sovereign state, or a conquered province?

As in the 1930s, the inherent instability of this capitalist system is asserting itself. But Ireland has special weaknesses, never overcome in the years since formal independence of the 26-county state, making Ireland far frailer.

Raymond Crotty (1925-1994) was one of Ireland’s most original economic thinkers. A Kilkenny farmer who gave up farming to study political economy, Crotty embarked on a career as a UN development economist.

His work on Ireland addressed one fundamental question. Why is it that, since the Great Famine, Ireland has not been able to provide a living for half its people? They had to starve or emigrate.

He answered: the root cause was the economic legacy of the colonial era, preserved in post–colonial times in two main policies - the export of live cattle to Britain and keeping the link to sterling. These policies were in the interest of the two social classes – “Leinster big farmers” and Dublin bankers -- that dominated the state in 1922-32.

Subsequent attempts under DeValera to build an independent Irish economy failed. The goal was given up. By the 1950s, Dublin business elites staked everything on luring inward investment by multinational companies by means of low taxes. Today, that long-term economic development strategy lies in ruins.

“The sins of the father are visited upon the heads of the children,” a verse from the Book of Exodus means, of course, that people in the present pay for the blunders, crimes, and shortcomings of past generations.

So it is with the Irish economy. A brilliant new book by Irish writer Conor McCabe The Sins of the Father: Tracing the Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy (The History Press, Ireland, 2011) builds on the insights of Raymond Crotty. McCabe teases out the implications of the last four years of crisis and blunder.

…business activities that dominated the Irish economy in the twentieth century -- cattle exports to Britain and financial investment in London; the development of greenfield sites and construction of factories and office buildings to facilitate foreign industrial and commercial investment, the birth of the suburbs and subsequent housing booms predicated on an expanding urban workforce saw the development of indigenous moneyed class based around cattle, construction, and banking.

These sectional interests were able to control successive government policy, much to the detriment of the rest of the economy which had to rely on whatever scraps it could pick up from quasi-committed multinationals and government-funded grants and tax breaks. In 2008 the construction and banking sectors of that class closed ranks in order to protect themselves from oblivion, resulting in the bank guarantee and the creation of the National Asset Management Agency.

What should we do? A few tentative ideas:

We must put the defense of Irish sovereignty on the agenda. Irish-America has always campaigned on the national question. It must expand its understanding of the national question.

This is no big leap. If the South foolishly takes steps towards a Eurozone fiscal union, accepting France and Germany as permanent overlords of every line in its budget, while the North remains with Britain inside the sterling area, it will aggravate the partition of Ireland.

It is not for Irish Americans to decide whether Ireland should remain in the Eurozone, or in the European Union itself, or whether it should repudiate its debt or not. On the other hand, it will do no harm for us to point out that brave little Iceland (population 311, 000) repudiated its debt and is now in better shape than Ireland is, by far.

On this side of the Atlantic, we have no power to overcome the deformities of the Irish economy unaddressed since 1922. That is a task for people in Ireland.

Our job is solidarity. With whom? Not the leaders of the parties represented in Government Buildings, Fine Gael and, alas, Labour (I regret to admit) , and the preceding government. They are part of the problem, not part of the solution.

They have taught us who really runs Ireland, an “indigenous moneyed class based around cattle, construction, and banking,” which serves transnational corporate giants. We may discover, however, many non-leadership individuals in these parties who can handle the truth.

We must show solidarity with Eurocritical forces in Ireland. The Republican Movement offers the best hope for carrying forward the national cause. If Irish America weighs in on sovereignty, it can help the best in Sinn Fein and other progressive forces in Ireland to reverse policies that have made a shambles of the country.

Republicanism stands for a genuinely independent united Irish state in which the people of Ireland decide policies democratically. People on the left, right and center can support this objective.

We must educate ourselves, so we can educate the US public.

The US government -- to which we pay taxes -- is not guiltless in the economic bludgeoning of Ireland and its sentencing to a long stretch in debtor’s prison.

It is astonishing there has been so little discussion of this. The “Troika,” imposing misery on the Irish people is the EU, the ECB and the IMF. The US Treasury Department still controls the IMF. Don’t take my word for it. The US president gives speeches where he declares, “I will direct the IMF to….”

The most important and urgent task is for the Irish people to reject the Fiscal Stability Treaty, the foulest assault on Irish freedom since the Act of Union in 1800.

Irish sovereignty will be at risk for years. Irish sovereignty, no abstraction, is what generations of valiant Irish patriots have labored for it and shed blood for. It is what we have worked for.

Once it grasps the stakes, Irish America will rise to the occasion.


Joe Jamison is president of the Irish-American Labor Coalition. He writes in a personal capacity.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

ICTU dodges a definitive position despite being 'anti-austerity'.

ICTU dodges a definitive position despite being 'anti-austerity'.

To date the ICTU's rhetoric has been anti-austerity in their 'Better, Fairer Way' campaign yet when it comes to an EU treaty that will impose austerity as the legal economic doctrine for the country they can't seem to make up their mind. Unfortunately the pro-imperialist 'redmondites' looking for the crumbs off the EU's table seem to cripple the ICTU's decision making body. Even the EU funded and blatantly europhile ETUC has come out against the treaty.

Its time time pick your side ICTU.


9 Mar 2012

The Executive Council of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions has agreed to reconvene at a later date in order continue its discussions on the Fiscal Compact and the proposed referendum.

At today's meeting the Executive Council heard a number of presentations on the key issues, including from economist Karl Whelan and from Bernadette Segol, the General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), to which Congress is affiliated.

Executive Council members agreed that a detailed briefing paper would be drawn up on Fiscal Compact and the proposed referendum, which would be used to inform and shape debate across the trade union movement.

No date has yet been set for the convening of another meeting.

Mapping the golden circle

TASC map the 'golden circle' in a detailed analysis of board membership and the elite

TASC report on State assets

Report from TASC on our assets and the imposed sale of them by the EU and IMF. Any sale of these assets is robbery of our wealth. It is not FG/Lab's to sell.

TASC is an independent, progressive think-tank dedicated to promoting equality, democracy and sustainability in Ireland through evidence-based policy recommendations.

The Battle for China’s Future

The Battle for China’s Future


Suppose your favorite basketball team leads by twenty points at half-time, with more rebounds and steals and far fewer turnovers than its opponent. The athletic director rushes into the locker room and announces to the coach and players that unless they radically change the game plan, they will suffer a devastating defeat. Your first thought would likely be that the athletic director has taken leave of his senses. Or that he or she has been bought off by the rival.

Yet this is exactly like the advice that The World Bank and the Development Research Center urged upon The Peoples’ Republic of China on Monday, February 27. In a report entitled “China 2030,” the two entities—one a notorious cheerleader for free markets, privatization and meager social spending and the other an arm of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China—concede that the PRC has enjoyed 30 years of an average of nearly 10% annual growth. Besides this stunning achievement, the PRC negotiated the treacherous shoals of the world-wide economic crisis far better than any other large economy.

One would think that the study would probe the basis for this remarkable achievement and urge its continuance. Perhaps The World Bank would even suggest a similar approach for other countries. But instead, the authors of the report issue dire warnings of rough times ahead and prescribe urgent changes.

They warn that the average growth rate for the next 19 years will only be 6.6%. Assuming that the projection has some theoretical justification (World Bank predictions have fallen on hard times), the PRC economy would, at this rate, double in GDP every 11 years. Indeed, the report notes that it would become the world’s largest economy before 2030. Apparently, the authors of China 2030 are not impressed.

This warning is even more puzzling when we remember that most mainstream developmental economists project a declining growth rate as economies mature. Following W. W. Rostow’s heralded theory, high growth rates are only a feature of economies experiencing a “take-off.” Necessarily, growth slows, they agree, after the initial rapid expansion. Such a theory justifies the relatively low growth rates of the most advanced capitalist nations.

The PRC’s “friends” evade these questions by raising the dangers posed by the “middle-income trap,” a theoretical construct first suggested by economists in 2007. Noting the difficulties that many emerging market economies had in the 60’s and 70’s, they offer a muddled explanation of their failings, ignoring their political turmoil, dependencies, resource deficiencies, etc. Of the rare thirteen proclaimed “successes”—countries that elevated to the high-income category – four are now spiraling into the low-income ghetto. Greece, Portugal, Ireland, and Spain dutifully followed the prior prescriptions of The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund and are now choking on the Kool-Aid. The authors of China 2030 see no irony in this.

The report comes at a particularly opportune time, a week before the PRC’s annual meeting of the National People’s Congress. Media reports signal a heightening of tension between political leaders who wish to press forward with privatization and market de-regulation and those who want to preserve or even expand the socialist elements still extant in the economy and social life. A recent article in The Wall Street Journal (Fate of Two Chiefs Gives Clues on China, 3-3/4-12) embodies this struggle in the views of two rising leaders, Bo Xilai and Wang Yang. Clearly, China 2030 is ammunition for the rightists typified by Wang Yang.

While the Western media anticipated a lambasting of the state-owned sector, a boost for privatization, reduced government intervention and more doors open to Western corporations (see New Push for Reform in China, WSJ, 2-23-12 for a lengthy discussion), the report complied in somewhat veiled, measured econ-speak. Its primary recommendation was to implement structural reforms to:

…strengthen the foundations for a market based economy by redefining the role of government, reforming and restructuring state enterprises and banks, developing the private sector, promoting competition, and deepening reforms in the land, labor, and financial markets. As an economy approaches the technology frontier and exhausts the potential for acquiring and applying technology from abroad, the role of the government and its relationship to markets and the private sector need to change fundamentally. While providing relatively fewer “tangible” public goods and services directly, the government will need to provide more intangible public goods and services like systems, rules, and policies, which increase production efficiency, promote competition, facilitate specialization, enhance the efficiency of resource allocation…

In case the point was not made emphatically enough, the report goes on:

In the enterprise sector, the focus will need to be further reforms of state enterprises (including measures to recalibrate the role of public resources, introduce modern corporate governance practices including separating ownership from management, and implement gradual ownership diversification where necessary), private sector development and fewer barriers to entry and exit, and increased competition in all sectors, including in strategic and pillar industries. In the financial sector, it would require commercializing the banking system, gradually allowing interest rates to be set by market forces, deepening the capital market, and developing the legal and supervisory infrastructure to ensure financial stability and build the credible foundations for the internationalization of China’s financial sector.

Why these “reforms” are necessary and how they will improve prospects is never fully explained, except through blatant appeals to the neo-liberal manifesto. Since the state-owned industries represent 45% of non-agricultural GDP and they almost tripled their contribution to gross industrial output from 1998 to 2009, something beyond dogma is wanted.

The West and its accomplices in the PRC have their eyes on key state monopolies in petroleum, chemicals, electricity, and telecommunications as well as the state-dominated banking system. Under the guise of stimulating competition, the report argues for “breaking up state monopolies or oligarchies in key industries,” the first steps towards privatization. Undoubtedly, foreign capitalist monopoly corporations are lusting after these assets.

As I argued several months ago (The Chinese Puzzle, ZZ’s Blog, 12-14-11), the future of the PRC remains a mystery, with the leadership walking the thin, risky line between emerging capitalism and the remaining socialist institutions. But, clearly, The World Bank and its Chinese allies are determined to influence that direction. And there should be no doubt which direction China 2030 is intended to push those leaders.

Zoltan Zigedy

Greece can do without crocodile tears

Greece can do without crocodile tears

by Elisseos Vagenas

The capitalist crisis in Greece has been accompanied by an unprecedented assault on the rights of the working class and its allies and a correspondingly intense sharpening of the class struggle.

This has caught the attention of workers in other countries. Within this framework even bourgeois political forces that bear enormous responsibility for this anti-people offensive claim to “sympathise” with the Greek people.

But they take good care to conceal the true causes of the problems people are experiencing – capitalist crisis, the entrapment of the country in imperialist bodies such as Nato and the European Union and capitalist exploitation.

Representatives of the “new left” are making statements within this context. The letter published in the Morning Star on February 21 from European Left Party (ELP) president Pierre Laurent, who is also general secretary of the French Communist Party, is a case in point.

In reality the problem the working class and its allies face in Greece is not a problem of “democracy” – that is, it isn’t due to the imposition of anti-people measures from outside by “European leaders and the International Monetary Fund” as Laurent writes.

That would imply that the coalition government of social-democratic Pasok (the Socialist Party) and the liberal New Democracy Party is a “victim” of these outside forces.

The truth is that the “austerity” measures taken under the pretext of reducing public debt have the goal of strengthening capital’s profitability in Greece through the dramatic reduction of the price of labour power.

We should not forget that at this very moment €600 billion – almost double Greece’s public debt – can be found deposited by Greek capitalists in Switzerland’s banks alone.

The government’s policies fully correspond to the interests of capitalists in order to foist the crisis onto the people, so that Greece can enter a course of capitalist development and the capital which has been accumulated in the previous period can find a profitable outlet.

They are measures jointly agreed within the framework of the EU by the Greek government and the bourgeois class which is served by both governing parties. They were not imposed by “some European leaders and the IMF.”

All of them existed to a greater or lesser extent in the programmes of Pasok and New Democracy and moreover they were timetabled by EU treaties beginning with Maastricht.

This is why the working classes of Greece and Britain – and of course others – have amassed such a negative experience of the EU and its anti-people role.

The ELP representative in Greece, the Coalition of Left Movements and Ecology better known as Synaspismos, voted for the Maastricht Treaty.

It has always fostered and continues to systematically foster illusions regarding the EU – presenting Greece’s participation in the EU as the only possible path, in opposition to the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) which struggles for the disengagement of the country from the EU and people’s power.

The ELP president talks of Greece being “supervised” by the “troika” – the EU, IMF and European Central Bank. But Greece’s bourgeois class has consciously preferred active participation in the imperialist unions of Nato and the EU for decades.

This participation and the interdependent relations which result provide for the cession of sovereign rights to the EU and Nato.

For example, the common agricultural policy (Cap) does not leave any room for developing the agricultural sector of the economy in the people’s interests.

Before it joined the European Economic Community which turned into the EU Greece had a trade surplus in agricultural products, while today due to the Cap it even imports those agricultural products that are cultivated in Greece.

Hundreds of thousands of small and medium farmers have been added to the army of the unemployed.

The ELP avoids mentioning the accession of Greece to the EU and chooses to blame “some European leaders” in general terms.

Along with exorbitant military spending on Nato and the policy of tax exemptions for capital to make the country “competitive” – both followed by Pasok and New Democracy governments – it is the source of inflated public debt and deficits for which the Greek people bear no responsibility.

The ELP president’s oversight is not surprising, since the ELP swears allegiance to the EU and is generously funded by it as a “European party,” that is to say a party which accepts the principles of capitalist exploitation that distinguish the EU – a predatory alliance of the monopolies.

The ELP has even made commitments to the alliance in its statutes and founding documents.

The ELP proposals regarding “development,” an allegedly “pro-people social fund,” do not call capitalist power into question at all.

In fact the ELP and international opportunists play the leading role in creating illusions by prettifying imperialist organisations such as the EU and the Central Bank and claiming that they can become “pro-people.”

But more and more workers, not only in Greece, understand that capitalism cannot solve the basic problems of the people.

By supporting the EU and the exploitative system, the ELP has chosen sides. The Communist Party of Greece believes that it constitutes a tool for the mutation of communist parties and the eradication of their communist characteristics. It does not challenge the opponents of the working class and the poor in Greece, however many appeals it may make.

Nevertheless the experience and course of the working-class struggles in Greece – at the forefront of which are the communists and the class-oriented trade union movement Pame – highlight that more and more workers are being radicalised.

They are bypassing the sermons of the bourgeoisie and the opportunists who preach class collaboration and “social cohesion” and learning to ignore their crocodile tears at the burdens shouldered by the working class.

It is on this path that the working class can achieve the ultimate goal of its struggle – the abolition of capitalist power and the construction of socialism.

Elisseos Vagenas is the KKE central committee member responsible for international affairs.

L’Humanité interview...

L’Humanité interviews the author of la Finance imaginaire, anatomie du capitalisme: des “marchés financiers” à l’oligarchie, Arden publishers (Fantasizing about Finance – an Anatomy of Capitalism: “Financial Markets” or Oligarchy?).

The Belgian academic dissects the intricate logic of political discourse based on facile but factitious “opposing positions” that actually hides the structural links between finance and the State.


HUMA: In this book you demolish a number of commonplaces everywhere to be found in the public sphere: finance is elusive, beyond the reach of political governance… It is “faceless”, as François Hollande said in his famous speech in the Bourget [1], for it “never stands for election”… What do you think of that kind of political statement?

GEUENS: That speech of François Hollande’s is truly extraordinary because it sums up the dominant ideology, the doxa, in a most striking way. It is indeed difficult to have a critical approach to the trite concepts that the most ossified political science keeps harping upon and to the interpretative perspectives that go unchallenged in the public debate like the opposition between the State and the markets, the public and the private spheres, politics and the economy….The opposition between those contrasting entities holds only as long as you keep to generalities, but if you move closer to the ground these academic concepts eventually hamper reflection. At ground-level, these air-tight partitions become far more porous. When you look from a sociological perspective into the working of the State and the market, you realize that biographical narratives show those at the top crossing borders from one professional sphere to another. Statesmen turn businessmen, businessmen turn statesmen. As a consequence, their common objective is to consolidate the ruling class. Behind the “conflict” between the “financial markets” and the State I myself perceive the unity of a class whose members skip effortlessly from one sphere to another…

HUMA: What makes you describe as fictive those “financial markets”, which you place in quotes?

GEUENS: I actually don’t know what “the market” is …. I know what companies are, and the great families, or investment funds, or shareholders, or pressure groups and so on. All those do exist. But markets-that- rule-the-world, as anti-globalization movements claim, I am not clear what the phrase really designates… Now the idea, they say, is to enable the State to “regain control over those markets”. What the “State” itself is, is no clearer to me: I know what institutions are, and central banks, Parliaments, executives, politicians… On looking closer into those two groups of disembodied and distant abstract entities you find extremely tight connections between them.

For ten years at least the critique of capitalism has in the main been limited to the denunciation of “financial markets” or “neo-liberalism”. Now these two notions are irrelevant. “Neo-liberalism” does not exist outside its legitimizing function as an ideological discourse. For it to exist, the market and the State should be separate entities, and unbridled competition the absolute paradigm in a totally deregulated world. Now, as a matter of fact, the system does not function like this at all: capitalism remains centred around the States, with a lot of cartels, and interpenetration between the two. The resulting confusion between, say, “capitalism” and “neo-liberalism” seems to me to have quite a detrimental effect at a time when, in such a critical period as this, our main task is to identify and create social groups, to sharpen political awareness, to identify our enemies and to do battle.

“Finance, my enemy, has no face and does not stand for election,” the Socialist presidential candidate said. It is easier to denounce finance than to take on the real actors in the banking sectors and the big industries. If that was his aim François Hollande would be obliged to attack the privileges of some of his own counsellors and former European colleagues who have crossed over into the business world.

HUMA: So you think that spotlighting those “markets” leaves the real enemy, the oligarchy, under cover?

GEUENS: Well the basic principle in a democracy is the head-on confrontation of conflicting interests, but when the targeted enemy is so distant as “financial markets” are, what ever is to be done? I personally adhere to the critical sociology that has come in a direct line both from Bourdieu and from Marx. And like Monique Pinçot-Charlot and Michel Pinçon, whose works I hold in great esteem, I use the notion of “oligarchy” to designate the hegemonic fraction of the dominant class.

Try and convince the steel-industry worker of Arcelor Mittal in Liège or in Florange that he must fight against finance! This talk about “financial markets” can prove quite discouraging for mobilization because it hides the social groups that rule over the common people and a major part of the middle classes…That may sound old hat, but if the aim is to be heard by all those to whose struggles we owe all the social breakthroughs in our countries, you’ve got to start from the real facts and persons and not allow yourself to be carried up and away into the ether of financial globalization, and you’ve got first to put up a good fight within the limits of the Nation-State, because capitalism still structures itself at this particular level, not on a global scale!

HUMA: You mentioned the Pinçon-Charlots right now….How useful are the concepts of their sociology of the dominant class in the opaque world of investment funds for instance?

GEUENS: Investment funds and hedge funds constitute a kind of terra incognita: they are presented as some kind of digital money that circulates in the dark all over the world, but in fact they are companies with managers. And in that world too, managers and CEOs cross over from one world into the next. ..There is not on one side an aggressive capitalism – the capitalism of hedge funds – and another civilized brand of capitalism on the other: it’s one and the same world. The greatest hedge-funds manager in the US is J.P.Morgan, the American trust par excellence.

In Europe the logic is the same: here too we have families, and connections between rulers. A good example of those old industrial families that change in order that nothing should change is the Wendels, who passed from ironworks to capital-investment. In the world of financial capitalism, everything has a political dimension, very close to the State, and it is neither more nor less savage than traditional capitalism nor less intricately connected with political rulers. .. In a branch that seems typically Anglo-Saxon when seen from the outside, what you also find there is the most classical reproduction of the French oligarchy.

HUMA: Another glaring example of that interpenetration between markets and States is that of rating agencies…

GEUENS: When you scrutinize their share-holders and the profile of their rulers, you find a close mix of politicians, businessmen, whether Leftist or Rightist… Those agencies are not disembodied either, they are private companies that make the most of inside information. Whereas, before the crisis, as economist Jacques Généreux observes, nobody cared what they were doing, rating agencies have become key actors because they provide alibis to impose austerity. This does not mean there is a plot, but it is simply the expression of structural affinities within the dominant class.

HUMA: To judge by your critique of the intricate links between the State and the markets, what should we make of the rise of “technical governments” following the public debt crisis?

GEUENS: Mario Monti’s government is presented by the media as the government of “experts”, of “civil society”, of “sages” (wise men). Now this is magnificent! It is composed of one banker, the CEO of a financial establishment, then of a bunch of Economics professors. And those are the “sages”! But on studying their careers you find that they all sit on the banks’ boards of directors… So instead of government by civil society, it is government by the bankers! Those tags are only used to sugar-coat the pill. Business is in office. And it’s the same movement in Greece with Lucas Papademos… Masks come off in times of crisis: in Greece it’s blatant enough, Social Democrats govern with the Right and only a short time ago with the Far-Right, and impose austerity. Under cover of expertise and government by the “sages”, democracy itself is confiscated to the immediate and exclusive benefit of the ruling class…

HUMA: What’s most interesting about your book is the rich information it gives on all oligarchies worldwide… If you were to name but a few, which ones would you mention?

GEUENS: Jacques de Larosière is a good example. He was chosen by the European Commission to write a report on the 2008 crisis. In the current situation European institutions do as in the US: they pick a member of the politico-financial establishment that has all the outward signs of public, political, institutional respectability. And Jacques de Larosière is a statesman, being a former governor of the Banque de France and boss of the IMF. He is a “sage”. He has presided over other committees that were already in charge of market surveillance – even if this obviously had little effect! But what they will not say is that at the time he drafted the report for the European Commission he was also the BNP-Paribas president’s counsellor, and counsellor of the BMB financial trust as well– BMB is controled by some of the Gulf petro-monarchies – and former counsellor of AIG, the insurance world leader that was rescued on the brink of bankruptcy by the Federal Reserve Bank [2].

That shows the real dimension of the oligarchy: a Frenchman defending the interests of French financial groups whose foothold and share capital are international.

In Great Britain Paul Myners whom under Gordon Brown’s government had been appointed State Secretary for Financial Services came under attack when it became known that he sat on the boards of hedge funds that had their headquarters in fiscal havens (the Bermudas, Jersey…) That’s extraordinary. It’s just can’t be a trivial incident, no more than a misguided appointment: you just can’t believe that! That blows the gaff on what all the talk about regulation really is: rubbish! In times of crisis, it’s the minimum ideological platform the oligarchies’ syndicate will sell; but scratch the surface ever so little and the knavery appears.

As for those that appear to be real politicians rather than technicians, it’s one surprise after another. All of the last twenty years’ former leaders who embodied the “third way” and social-liberalism, all those people who dismantled the Welfare State in their own countries, and targeted social rights one after another, men like Tony Blair, Gerhard Scrhöder (Rotschild, TNK-BP), Wim Kok (Shell, ING), Göran Persson (JKL/Publicis) crossed over into the business community for services rendered.

With his friendly grand-dad’s face, Romano Prodi, the technician par excellence, a centre-Left figure and former Italian prime minister, is a member of the BP oil company’s international committee, where he sits next to Javier Solana and George W. Bush’s former principal private secretary. Koffi Annan, the former UNO general secretary, has just joined JPMorgan Chase’s international Committee, which is chaired by Tony Blair, after marrying besides a Wallensberg, heiress to one of Sweden’s greatest business dynasties.

HUMA: Let’s come back to France. A few weeks after his resounding declaration in the Bourget [3], François Hollande declared to the Anglo-Saxon press that it needn’t worry since the French Socialists had liberalized the markets… Is this a sudden turnabout?

GEUENS: François Hollande declared on several occasions that he would also stand for “fair rigour” ; now everyone knows what that means…

Today, what we should do is stand united against austerity: point-blank. Austerity policies have not been implemented by ”financial markets” but clearly, they’ve been implemented by governments, including Social Democratic governments…To denounce “financial markets” during the campaign, the better to sugar-coat the austerity pill afterward, is an age-old trick. And yet, once more, some will fall into the trap…

Where are those who dominate?

As Instructor in the Department of Arts and Sciences of Communication at the University of Liège, in Belgium, Geoffrey Geuens takes seriously, or at least “as serious”, the public discourse of a left-wing banker, Jean Peyrelevade. “To break with capitalism is to break with whom?”, Peyrelevade asked in 2005. “To put an end to the dictatorship of the market, which is fluid, worldwide, and anonymous, is to attack which institutions? (…) Marx is powerless, since the enemy has not been identified.”

In his fascinating study [4] of the boards of the great financial institutions, their composition, the tangled career paths mixing the politics and financial affairs of their directors, the marriages that create links between the different national oligarchies, the university researcher relies on the tools of sociology in order to draw up a precious map of the dominant classes in Europe and in the world, with the chosen objective to no longer “leave any doubt as to the true beneficiaries of the system and of the crisis of public debt”.

[1] at the Socialist presidential candidate’s first major meeting, on January 22nd, 2012.

[2] On September 26, 2008.

[3] In that speech François Hollande said that his enemy was “finance”.

[4] La Finance imaginaire. Anatomie du capitalisme: des “marchés financiers” à l’oligarchie, by Geoffrey Geuens. Éditions Aden, Bruxelles, 368 pages, 25€.

ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Geoffrey Geuens : “Les marchés fianciers ont un visage, celui de l’oligarchie”

Translated Wednesday 7 March 2012, by Isabelle Métral and reviewed by Henry Crapo

Socialist Voice March 2012

Socialist Voice March 2012

March 2012

* An austerity pact to fleece and rob the people [EMC]

* It’s all a con [COM]

* People should be wary of learned “experts” [EMC]

* Workers in struggle

* Further progress of the Trade Union Left Forum [TR]

* Services for the elderly under further threat [MA]

* Roll up, roll up! The great sale of state assets is now on [BH]

* The impact of the recession on women [LOR]

* Assault on credit unions [TM]

* “Kildare says No to household taxes” [MH]

* Why Cuba must produce the food it needs [Freddy Pérez Cabrera]

* In defence of Shakespeare [DF]

* Haïti events in Dublin [MNM]

* Films: Frank Ryan and Harry Belafonte [MNM]

* Letter: Poll tax mark 2

People’s News No. 65

People’s News No. 65

From now to the forthcoming referendum we should be informing and organising ourselves, our neighbours and friends, trade unions, social and community groups about what the grandly named “Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union“ means for the future of this country and about the antidemocratic and anti-social dangers that it poses.

The treaty has been quite properly renamed the “Permanent Austerity Treaty.” It provides for a permanent balanced-budget rule or debt brake of 0.5 per cent of GDP in any one year to be inserted in euro-zone members’ constitutions or the equivalent.

But it has an equally obnoxious brother—the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Treaty—which the Government will not be holding a referendum on and will be trying to push through the Oireachtas in the next few weeks with an absolute minimum of public scrutiny. It is in fact a virtual coup, with equally disastrous consequences for the country.

Democrats of all political persuasions should be very concerned.