Friday, August 31, 2012

New issue out

New issue of Information Bulletin
The PDF edition of issue no. 21 of the Information Bulletin, containing the materials of the 13th International Meeting of Communist and Workers’ Parties, is now available.

CPI Statement

Repudiate the debt, instead of cutting services for the sick and the poor

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
29 August 2012

The announcement by the HSE—which in fact is a Government decision—that another €130 million in spending will be cut is a direct result of the forced “bail-out.” As its statement makes clear, the HSE “has been set clearly defined budget targets by both the Troika and Government.” This is nothing more than a direct attack on the elderly, the sick, and the poor.

     This year alone the government will hand over to international bankers and wealthy individuals nearly €5 billion in servicing the socialised corporate debt, a debt that is not the people’s debt nor their responsibility. The elderly, the sick and the poor are paying a heavy price.

     The government are sacrificing our people and the services they rely upon to feed the avaricious greed of international finance capital. We need a change of direction and a new departure from the current failed economic and social strategy, one that will put the people first.

Submission and poverty or struggle and survive
















Workers, unemployed, pensioners, poor farmers, self employed, young people

Years of toleration and illusions failed to secure even the basics for you and your family. Your children are in danger.
Fear DID not save you. It made you poor, it leads you to wretchedness.
Those who were saying and believed that sacrifices end, they were proved wrong.

You pay and you will pay a very high price for

The governments that were elected, the loans and the memorandums they signed
The European Union where the profits go to the few and poverty to the many
The debt that you did not create, but came from the unimaginable riches of the capital
The fraud that the wealth that YOU produce must stay in the hands of the bankers, industrialists, ship owners, businessmen in order to have jobs.

Now you have experience.
ANY sign of tolerance and retreat, ANY illusion is a step to wretchedness.
Now you have responsibility
To distinguish friends from enemies or those who pretend to be friends
To take matters in your own hands, to RISE UP

Either with governments of ND-neoliberals, or PASOK-social democrats, or coalition governments of ND and PASOK and DIMAR the “taste” remains the same.
The measures of the anti labour storm are here and will worsen
As long as the main goal of this policy will be to save the profits and the competitiveness of the bankers and the industrialists, the remaining in the European Union, they will always take new anti labour measures, they will always plan new memorandums
The new measures package of 11,5+2,5 billion Euros of the co-government, which was formed after the recent election, is even worse. They, again, attack against:
Salaries and pensions of the private and public sector, social benefits and social protection. Insurance funds, after being robbed for years, now are lead to stoppage of paying pensions and healthcare.
The salaries are cut more than 50% through the abolition of Collective Contracts, and the establishing of individual contracts, part-time and job rotation.
To the thousands lay offs of workers of the private sector they add the lay offs of thousand employees from the public sector, through the “work reserve program”.

They burden with new taxes and fines the popular families, who cannot survive anymore. Daily feeding has become, today, a mass issue.
They dissolve hospitals, cut drugs from patients who cannot afford to pay them. They endanger the life and the health of the people.
They disorganize the schools and the universities; they let tens of thousands of children out of child care centers.

They sell to private interests whatever is left from public property (ports, airports, public areas, the Public Electric Energy Company, Greek Posts, Greek Weapon Industry, Banks, Water Companies etc) by privatizing the Agricultural Bank they give the agricultural land to private interests, throwing out the small farmers with the “assistance” of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy.
Small shops shut down by the thousands because of the competition of the big corporations that raise the prices.
Unemployment strikes every household, especially the young, and exceeds 1,5 million.
AND ALL THESE, when with new tax cuts, benefits, privileges and antilabour laws they enrich the big capitalists.
The governments, the EU, the Troika, the capital know that they cause people’s anger. They try to control it, make it harmless.

They strike where they know they are in danger: against the organized, class struggles of the workers using riot police and the Justice system. They attack against the class oriented forces, PAME.
Oppression goes hand-in-hand with poverty.
The three-party government terrorizes so as to impose the new measures. It promises “lengthening” of the debt, that is lengthening of the memorandums and the measures.

The party of SYRIZA, as opposition, after forgetting the abolition of the memorandums, deceives on the possibility of “renegotiating” them. Is asks for the European funds for the bankers, but without the measures that come with them. This has not happened anywhere in Europe, where the same antilabour measures are imposed. It hides from the people that the complete bankruptcy of the people has been planned by the European Union, so as to support the recovery of capitalism and the capital’s profits over the lasting poverty, unemployment and pauperization of the people.

In spite of their conflicts on TV, ND-PASOK and SYRIZA cooperate with no troubles within the Greek General Confederation of Workers-GSSE, within the Unions, in the sectors. All together the co-sign traitorous Collective Contracts (such as in the sectors of Commerce, Tourism, Food Services, Private Hospitals and dozens factories) with wage cuts of 20%-40%. They say nothing for the lay offs, part-time and job rotation.
Under the argument of “lesser evil” they condemn the workers to deeper poverty. THEY IMPOSE THE MEMORANDUMS WITHIN THE WORKPLACES.
The employers’ trade unionism, of all shades, must be thrown away, from the necks of the workers. Fast and decisively must change the correlation in trade unions, to strengthen the class forces, PAME.

Whoever puts the profits of the businesses and the European Union over the survival of the people, no matter under which colour, he is enemy of the people.
The recent election did not solve the problems of the people, instead they worsen the situation.
When people’s survival is at stake, it is time for clear choices. Either right wing “lengthening” or “left wing renegotiations”, they are both frauds.

Abolish IMMEDIATELY all the loan treaties, the memorandums and the laws that implement them. The trade unions and the workers of all ideologies must support the bill that was proposed by the KKE-Communist Party of Greece, on this issue, because it concerns us all.
Organize NOW -and, first of all, within the work places and the sectors by alive, militant trade unions- the workers’-people’s struggle in order to stop the storm of new measures and to abolish the previous.
Without organization, plan, strength, politicization of the struggle nothing can be won. The struggle against lay offs, wage and pension cuts, taxation, benefits cuts, disintegration of healthcare, education, closing of small shops, the forced displacement of the poor farmers, the forced immigration of the youth, there is only one perspective of hope:

The social alliance of the workers, small farmers, self employed, women and youth that comes into life through the common action of PAME-PASY-PASEVE-OGE-MAS, through popular initiatives, people’s committees that must rise everywhere.
Under one common goal:
Abolition of the memorandums and the loan treaties
Unilateral cancelation of the debt
Disengagement from the EU. Radical overthrows and changes that will lead to workers’ - people’s power, with the people owner of the wealth he produces, for the planned utilisation of all the growth abilities of the country.

Under the knowledge that capitalism has rotten and can only give birth to unemployment, poverty, misery. For an economy for the people. In a society with the power in the hands of the people.

Cowardly attack on Daly memorial

A spokesperson for the Peter Daly Society, has condemned a cowardly attack by a tiny neo-nazi faction on the Vol. Peter Daly Monument, at Monageer Co. Wexford .

In the early hours of Thursday 30th August, a three man gang of racist boneheads attacked the memorial stone causing minor damage. The monument was spattered with paint and damaged with a hammer, while the Spanish republican flag was removed. Sickeningly the gang of neo nazi's painted a reference to former Ku Klux Clan leader Davin Lane at the back of the monument.

Speaking from Wexford, Steven Mc Cann said, 'The attack on the Vol. Peter Daly Memorial is the work of cowards. Peter Daly was an Irish Socialist Republican, and a veteran of the Tan War. Peter fought proudly for Irish Freedom and spent 18 Days on Hunger Strike. He is widely regarded as a hero across the country. The attack on his monument is an affront to the people of Wexford and to the people of Ireland.

Vol. Peter Daly heroically gave his life fighting against fascism in Spain, and is remembered with pride. Those behind this disgraceful act of vandalism are out of touch with people here in Wexford and wider Irish society. The cowards behind this attack would do well to remember that Irish republicans do not take attacks on our memorials lightly.'

Mc Cann Continued,' The monument has now been cleaned and restored. Undeterred by the attack by tiny fascist elements, the Peter Daly society will host the second annual Vol. Peter Daly Commemoration here in Monageer on Saturday, September 1st at 7pm. The main speaker will by ex- IRA Hunger Striker and socialist republican Tommy Mc Kearney. I would urge all republicans and socialists from the south east and further a field to show a united front against facists and come along and remember Peter Daly with pride.'

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Is it time for a mutiny against Hollande?

by Tom Gill

 French radical left leader Jean-Luc Melenchon has called for a mutiny by Socialist Party ministers disenchanted with the policies of President Francois Hollande. Melenchon, who stood against Hollande as a candidate of the radical Left Front in the presidential elections this year, said ministers who opposed Hollande’s policies should come out of the closet.

“You exist by being independent, not by being carried along by someone else,” he said. “We need you to come and help us in our battle.”

Melenchon took just over 11 per cent of the vote in the first round of the elections in April and his supporters helped Hollande defeat Nicolas Sarkozy in the second round.

He has been absent from national politics since losing a head-to-head battle with far-right leader Marine Le Pen for a seat in parliament in June. But Melenchon has once again grabbed the political limelight.

Melenchon’s radical left coalition, the Socialists and much of the country applauded early moves to introduce bold tax rises on the rich.

But timidness over an escalating manufacturing jobs crisis at home and agreements reached at series of EU summits ostensibly designed to tackle the eurozone’s debt and banking crisis has meant Hollande now stands accused of backtracking on key election promises.

Notably he’s seen to have dropped pledges to ditch his predecessor’s austerity medicine and instead promote jobs and growth.

He’s signed up to EU deficit-reduction targets that will force the government to slash public spending and further damage the country’s already stagnant economy.

Having opposed the EU fiscal pact, which ties governments to economically lethal deficit-cutting plans, in his election campaign, Hollande is now signed up to it.

Luckily for the president, earlier this month France’s Constitutional Council ruled that no change to the country’s constitution was necessary to adopt the EU’s fiscal pact.

This means no requirement for a two-thirds majority in parliament, but just a simple majority.
The Socialists and their Green allies have a majority in both houses of parliament.
Nevertheless, among Hollande’s Socialists there are those who are opposed to EU-mandated austerity in the constitution.

Some, like Socialist Senator Marie-Noelle Lienemann, who has denounced the move as the equivalent of “austerity for life,” have said they will vote against.

So will Jean-Vincent Place, the head of the Greens in parliament. He calls the pact an example of “extreme austerity and excessive stringency.”

Hollande may have to rely on the support of right-wing and centrist MPs and senators in order to ratify the pact, which will do the job, but could be embarrassing.

Melenchon and allies continue to demand a referendum so such a fundamental curtailment of parliament’s sovereignty to set budgets can at least enjoy the democratic backing of the French people.

“If you are so sure of your treaty, why not ask the views of the people?” asks Melenchon.
“After a comedy of negotiation [with Germany] it was a sellout. Should we accept the ‘Merkozy’ treaty?

“Lose the remaining room for manoeuvre left in the country? Austerity forever?”
Pointing to the country’s economic woes and unemployment of over 10 per cent, Melenchon accused Hollande of being “a market liberal like those who have already driven the Greek, Spanish and Portuguese disasters.”

He criticised the president for inaction over an industrial meltdown highlighted by the controversial plans to close a Peugeot Citroen factory in an already depressed area.
And he asked why a law – already tabled in parliament by the Left Front – that bans profit-making firms from making redundancies hadn’t been among the initial emergency measures enacted by the government. Hollande’s first 100 days in power have amounted to “almost nothing,” Melenchon concluded dismissively.

Mocking the president’s Mr Normal moniker, Melenchon said: “It is not because Francois Hollande wants to be normal that the situation will become so.

“Hasn’t anybody told him that capitalism is in crisis? And that the whole ecosystem is in turmoil? Europe is in the red and walking towards disaster. Wake up!”

Nervousness among Socialist MPs and ministers over the president’s policies has been heightened over the hard line Hollande and his Interior Minister Manuel Valls have taken on the issue of crime and security, notably in response to a riot in the northern city of Amiens last week and the dismantling of Roma camps around French cities.

Despite the message they delivered in the ballot box that they’d had enough of Sarko and his authoritarian austerity hawks, many in France may be concluding that Hollande’s new Socialist government is starting to look worryingly like its predecessor.

Tom Gill blogs at

Monday, August 27, 2012

Peter Daly Society Wexford



The Peter Daly Society Wexford will hold a comemoration and wreath laying ceremony to the Socialist Republican Peter Daly in Monageer (Enniscorthy) Co. Wexford on Saturday the 1st of September at 7.00 pm

Peter Daly fought and died with the Irish contingent of the International Brigade in the war against fascism in Spain in September 1937. He had been reared and went to school in Tinnacross and later Monageer. His life was spent in the republican and working class movement in Ireland and England before volunteering to fight for the Spanish Republic.

The guest speaker will be socialist republican Tommy McKearney former hunger striker and now member of the independant workers union The evening's entertainment will be provided by popular folk singer Pol Mac Adaim from Belfast.

all welcome

For further information contact ...........Steve McCann .....087 4132560

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The bottomless pit that is the national debt

Repudiate the Debt Campaign
Press statement
22 August 2012
The bottomless pit that is the national debt
The recently published report of the Central Bank of Ireland entitled
“Irish SME credit supply and demand: Comparisons across the surveys and
countries” exposes as never before what the bank bail-out is costing the
Irish economy, in particular small businesses.
 The whole of Irish society outside of the foreign monopolies is being
squeezed to death at the behest of the external EU-ECB-IMF troika. They
have given priority to the payment of what they term the “sovereign
Irish debt”—money owed to European banks, finance houses, and rich
 The internal troika of Fine Gael, the Labour Party and Fianna Fáil have
willingly gone along with this strategy. Despite the Government’s
majority stake in many of these banks and having representatives on
their boards, they are unwilling to break ranks with the external
troika, despite the massive cost to working people and the choking of
small businesses.
 More public money is squandered, being pumped into failing banking
structures, adding more and more to the massive corporate socialised
debt. It is a revolving door, with money coming in and then straight
back out of the country, while the bill for the people in the form of
growing debt becomes bigger and bigger and the services to the people
become fewer and fewer. This can only be seen as a massive transfer of
wealth from working people and their families to finance capital.
Tragically, it is transferring our wealth to the same institutions whose
speculation sparked the crisis.
 ISME is not representing the best interests of small businesses. It is
facilitating European big business and finance capital by supporting the
policies of the Government and the European Union. What businesses that
rely on the Irish market need is an end to “austerity” so as to boost
consumption and credit, to be directed towards Irish business. This is
not the troika’s strategy.
 Only a radical departures from the present strategy can break our
people free of the growing shackles of debt bondage. The Irish political
establishment are clearly part of the problem and not part of the

Saturday, August 18, 2012

SACP statement on shot miners

SACP North West Media Statement
17 August 2012

Arrest Mathunjwa and Steve Kholekile as the basis for stability in the Rustenburg mines and institute Presidential Investigation Task Team, says SACP North West.

The SACP NW joins all South Africans in mourning and passing our deep condolences to all Mineworkers killed in the platinum mines in Rustenburg as the result of anarchic, violent, intimidation, murder of workers and NUM shopstewards. The chaos has been initiated under the guise of salary increase demands when in real terms it is the chaos and anarchy we see is being used as the entry point of recruitment for AMCWU. As the SACP we want to state categorically that it should have not been allowed until when death rises for law enforcement agencies and the nation’s leadership to take serious this barbaric act co-ordinated and deliberately organized by AMCWU leader Mr. Mathunjwa and Steve Kholekile who both are former NUM members expelled because of anarchy though at different times.

Before proceeding to get into the detail of this tragedy, we call on an immediate arrest of both Steve Kholekile and Mr Mathunjwa as co-ordinators, planners and leaders of this anarchic and worker to worker violence that has left many lives dead and some injured, and this applies to where they started and not only the current Lonmin process. Mr Mathunjwa could present an innocent face and try to smooth talk himself out of the crisis but we know him for who he is. He should not be allowed to perpetrate violence and appear as an innocent mediator.

We therefore call for a special Presidential Commission to investigate but not limited to: violent nature and anarchy associated with AMCWU wherever it establishes itself (starting with the scars that it has left around Witbank/Mpumalanga where it started), possible breach of both the Labour Relations Act and the SA Constitution on the freedom of association and right to form or join a union of your choice, the role of management of both Impala and Lonmin in the current problems or as facilitating the breach of both the Labour Relations Act and the Constitution, the role of the department of Labour and CCMA, possibilities of amendments to strengthen the LRA on the formation of unions as opposed to the current situation where individuals are allowed to form union like opening personal accounts or joining insurance policies as the current case with AMCWU and Mathunjwa, and the comrades who when they were supposed to be disciplined by Satawu they then formed their own union.

The SACP NW calls on workers to remain united in their fight against the exploitation under the capitalist system. Workers must realize that the class enemy is the system and not a union of NUM’s caliber or other workers. Workers must desist any temptation to mobilise them against NUM or to mobilise them to attack each other. Workers must not kill each other on the basis of demagogy and lies. Employers count loses on production and mineworkers and the working class count loses on injuries on human lives.

Issued on behalf of the SACP North West.

Madoda Sambatha
SACP NW Provincial Secretary posting.

Friday, August 17, 2012

10 Marxist views on the crisis

If your interested in political economy, check out this summary of marxists views on the crisis:

What is missing is a view in line with the leninist tradition that places the crisis in the context of the overall General Crisis of Capitalism.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Demanding their release

With the cuban film showings coming up it is worth reminding ourselves of the case of the Cuban 5 and their support globally. Below is a recent show of support from the Canadian Trade Union Movement. For more generaly info on the 5 and the global support for them check out 

The following letter has been sent to U.S. President Barack Obama, from Ken Georgetti, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.
Dear President Obama, 
On behalf of 3.3 million members of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC), I am writing to protest the continued imprisonment of the Cuban 5 and to ask you to intervene so as to procure their release from prison and be allowed to return to their families in Cuba.
Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez, and René Gonzalez have been imprisoned since 1998. René Gonzalez was released from prison last October but must carry out three years supervised probation in Miami. He was recently denied permission on humanitarian grounds to return to his country for at least two weeks to see his dying brother, Roberto. 
These men were charged with multiple offences including conspiracy to commit espionage. In truth, they were in the United States unarmed and never posed a threat of any kind to U.S. national security. 
They were in the United States to monitor the activities of Cuban exiles who, operating from bases in Miami, were planning violent actions against innocent people in Cuba. In fact they were trying to prevent more brutal acts against their country and save innocent lives. The continued incarceration of these Cuban patriots is morally indefensible. 
I urge you to exercise the power of your office and grant a pardon to the Cuban Five, allowing them to return to their families in Cuba.
People's Voice,  Aug. 1-31, 2012 

Poster for Cuba film day

Progressive Film Club - Cuba Day!!!

Progressive Film Club
at the New Theatre, 43 East Essex Street, Dublin presents

Celebrating Cuban National Day
Saturday 25 August, from 12:00 (noon)

A documentary film based on a wide-ranging interview with Fidel Castro
by the acclaimed American independent filmmaker Oliver Stone, conducted
over several days in February 2002. It also follows Fidel through the
streets, where he mingles freely with Cuban citizens.

- In Spanish, with English subtitles.

- Running time: 99 minutes.

2 p.m.
A poster in Havana declares: “Our people will confront every type of
difficulty, and they will overcome them.” This film examines some of
Cuba’s achievements and some of the difficulties that still remain to be

- Produced by Radharc Films.

- Running time: 40 minutes.

3 p.m.
Considered a masterpiece of world cinema, this film depicts a drama that
takes place during a crucial phase in Cuban history, between the
mercenaries’ attack on Playa Girón in 1961 and the “missile crisis” of
1962. The use of newsreel, speeches and film from hidden cameras gives
the film a real sense of the momentous and revolutionary change taking
place at that time.

- Featuring Sergio Corrieri, Daisy Granados, and Eslinda Núñez. Written by Edmundo Desnoe (based on his novel Inconsolable Memories). Directed by Tomás Gutiérrez Alea.

- In Spanish, with English subtitles.

- Running time: 97 minutes.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

What's Really Happening in Syria?

What's Really Happening in Syria?   

Written by Jack A. Smith   
After several months of talking diplomacy while simultaneously strengthening rebel forces in Syria and demonizing the Damascus government, the Obama Administration has openly decided to go for the kill. Violent regime change will not happen immediately, but it is obviously President Obama's goal. The White House is now "redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down the government of President Assad al-Assad," the New York Times reported July 21. "Administration officials have been in talks with officials in Turkey and Israel over how to manage a Syrian government collapse."

McClatchy Newspapers stated July 23 that "Despite reports last week that suggested rebel forces were on the verge of major triumphs in Syria, the last few days of fighting there show that a long battle still looms. Forces loyal to Assad in recent days have tightened their grip on the Lebanese border, re-established control over at least one neighborhood in Damascus and perhaps reached an accommodation with the country's Kurds that will free up more troops for battle."

According to the U.S. and its NATO allies, the Damascus regime is engaging in a one-sided, murderous war against its own people, who simply seek democracy. At the same time, the Tehran government is characterized as a "terrorist" regime intent upon building and using nuclear weapons in order to destroy Israel and rule the Middle East. The U.S. news media, as expected, propagates without question Washington's campaign against Syria and Iran.

The United States suggests that its principal reason for seeking regime change in Syria is to promote "democracy" — a tarnished rationale often employed in recent decades to undermine or destroy governments that displease the U.S. superpower, such as in Iran in the 1950s, the Dominican Republic in the 1960s, Chile in the 1970s, Nicaragua in the 1980s, Yugoslavia in the 1990s, Iraq in the 2000s, and Libya in the 2010s, among other instances.

Democracy has nothing to do with Washington's objectives in Syria. America's closest regional ally in the anti-Assad endeavor is the repressive anti-democratic monarchy of Saudi Arabia, which finances and arms the rebel opposition in Syria along with resource-rich Qatar. Both Arab countries played a similar role last year in the U.S./NATO overthrow of the Gaddafi government in Libya.

Having learned a bitter lesson after agreeing to support a no-fly zone in Libya — and seeing that mandate illegally expanded by U.S.-NATO forces in order to wage a vicious war for regime change — both Russia and China have three times exercised their right to veto U.S. measures in the UN to escalate the conflict in Syria. The Security Council approved a 30-day extension of the UN monitor mission July 20, but Susan Rice, Washington's ambassador to the world body, implied it may be the last continuation.

Both Moscow and Beijing seek to bring about a negotiated solution to the crisis based on a cease-fire, talks and reforms. According to Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin "the only way to put an end to this tragic conflict is to get to the negotiating table." The Syrian government agrees, but the opposition forces — aware that Washington and its allies seek a swift regime change — reject negotiations.

Churkin warns: "Don't be duped by humanitarian rhetoric. There is much more geopolitics in their [U.S.] policy in Syria than humanism.... Our concern is that the Syrian people have to suffer the consequences of this geopolitical struggle."

There are two principal and interlocking reasons the U.S. and its NATO and Mideast coalition allies are conspiring to oust the Assad government.

(1) The first is to secure Washington's geopolitical position in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), particularly as President Obama prepares to focus additional military and economic resources on East Asia to contain the rise of China, and on Eurasia reduce Russian influence.

British news analysis Patrick Seale, whom we consider an objective source, wrote July 19: "The keys to the Syrian crisis lie outside Syria. Indeed, the Syrian crisis cannot be separated from the massive pressures being put on Iran. President Obama is now fully mobilized against both regimes.

He seems to have given up trying to secure a win-win deal with Iran over its nuclear program, and he is sabotaging Kofi Annan's Syrian peace plan by conniving in the arming of the rebels. He seems to want to bring down the regimes in both Tehran and Damascus — either because he sees Iran as a rival in the Gulf region or to win the favors of Israel's American supporters in an election year."

According to a July 10 report from Stratfor, the non-government commercial intelligence organization close to certain U.S. spy sources: "Human rights interests alone do not come close to explaining why this particular uprising has received a substantial amount of attention and foreign backing over the past year.

The past decade enabled Iran to wrest Baghdad out of Sunni hands and bring Mesopotamia under Shi'ite control. There is little question now that Iraq, as fractured as it is, sits in the Iranian sphere of influence while Iraqi Sunnis have been pushed to the margins. Iran's gains in Baghdad shifted the regional balance of power."

(2) The second reason is to enhance the power of Sunni Islam in MENA and limit possibility of a larger regional role by the Shia Muslim minority.

There are about 2 billion Muslims in the world today. Statistics vary somewhat, but about 87% are said to be Sunnis, and the remainder are Shia — a minority that has suffered discrimination from the majority. Iran has the largest Shia population in the world — up to 95% of its 75 million people. Iraq has the second largest Shia population — over 60% of its 30 million people.

About 87% of the 26 million Syrians are Muslims — 74% of these Sunni and 13% Shia — but members of the Shi'ite Alawite sect, led by the Assad family that dominates Syria's Ba'athist regime, have essentially controlled the country for over 40 years.

The principal Obama Administration target in this complex affair is Iran, not Syria. The Syrian government must fall because it is Iran's main Arab ally (as it also is Russia's, a not insignificant factor). Washington has been intent upon gravely wounding Iran after the Iraq war blew up in its face, resulting in the Shia assumption of power in Baghdad.

Until the 2003 U.S. overthrow of the secular Ba'athist regime in Baghdad led by President Saddam Hussein, Iraq's 30% Sunni minority historically dominated the state. Sunni Iraq was in fact Iran's biggest enemy. President Hussein launched a mutually devastating, unnecessary eight-year war against Iran in 1990 with tacit U.S. support. Now, while not yet an official ally, Baghdad is friendly to Tehran.

President Obama labored long to compel Shia President Nouri al-Maliki to allow tens of thousands of U.S. troops and government "advisers" to remain in Iraq after the bulk of forces were to withdraw at the end of 2011. One purpose was to monitor and reduce future Iranian influence. But the Iraqi leader ultimately refused at the last moment — a huge setback for the administration, though Washington no doubt is continuing its efforts to manipulate Baghdad covertly while crushing Iran's ally in Damascus.

The U.S. now views Iraq as positioned within neighboring Iran's sphere of influence, a significant shift in the regional balance of power. This can only be perceived as a serious danger to American hegemony throughout the region and particularly the Persian Gulf/Arabian Peninsula, from whence much of the world's petroleum issues. Washington's greatest fear is that Iran and Iraq — two of the world's principal oil producers — might develop a genuine alliance.

This is a chief reason why the Obama government has contrived pretexts to impose heavy sanctions and threaten military action against the Tehran government. This also explains why ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia so enthusiastically backs sanctions and threats against Iran and is investing heavily in overthrowing Assad. The Saudi royal family, devotees of a fundamentalist brand of Sunni religion, wants to expunge Shia influence throughout the region, as well as keep its own discriminated-against 15% Shi'ite minority under tight control.

One pay back for the Saudis is Washington's indifference to the cruelty toward the Shi'ite majority demanding a modicum of democracy in Bahrain, which is ruled by a dictatorial Sunni monarchy under the protection of Saudi Arabia.

Obama's immediate goal is to break up the developing relationship between three contiguous Shia-led countries — Persian Iran and Arab Iraq and Syria — covering some 1,600 miles from the Afghan border to the Mediterranean.

All other states in MENA circulate well within Washington's hegemonic orbit. The Arab Spring has not diminished U.S. hegemony in the region where regimes were overthrown —Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen. Indeed, U.S./NATO control of Libya and now the Syrian situation appear to have enhanced Washington's regional power. Last week the Arab League, representing all the Arab states, proposed Assad should resign and that the Free Syrian Army (FSA), which leads the armed struggle, should form a transitional regime. Iraq dissented, declaring that it was for the Syrian people alone to decide his fate.

Most Arab countries, and non-Arab NATO member Turkey as well — which flaunts the opportunity to flex its Sunni credentials as it strains to reassert its influence and even leadership in the Middle East — are part of the regime change coalition. Turkey is playing a key role, providing a reliable rear area for the FSA and as a transmission point for arms bound for the opposition.

Even Israel shows public signs of getting directly involved in Assad's downfall. Last week right wing Prime Minister Netanyahu told Fox News Israel "was ready to act" in Syria. Over the years, Tel-Aviv had been more than willing to tolerate the Assad government rather than a Sunni regime until the recent period when Tehran and Damascus began developing much closer ties.

Interestingly, Hamas — the Islamic organization elected to govern the Palestinian territory of Gaza — has recently announced its support for the Sunni rebels in Syria, after receiving decades of solidarity and support from the Assad government. Hamas is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood now leading Egypt which recently guaranteed it would maintain peace and commerce with Israel. Another branch of the Brotherhood is expected to acquire greater political power in Syria if regime change succeeds.

Syria is a strongly nationalist capitalist country which promoted pan-Arabism when it was in vogue in the 1960s. It has been ruled by the Ba'ath Party for over four decades. There are a number of other parties but they are subordinate to the Ba'athists. It is not a western-type democracy and the government is repressive toward dissent. Further, Syria dealt harshly with peaceful demonstrators before the armed opposition was a major factor.

The Damascus government also has positive aspects. The Assad regime is secular in nature, is opposed to colonialism and imperialism, and does not bend the knee — as so do many Arab governments these days — to the U.S. The Assad government strongly opposed America's war in Iraq. It materially and politically backs the rights of the Palestinian people and the Shia Lebanese political party Hezbollah, which is supported by Iran.

In addition, the government appears to have the allegiance of a substantial proportion of the population, including the several minority sects — Christians (10% of the population), Druze, Turkmen, Jews, Yazidis and others. All seem to prefer a secular government to the possibility of a more religious Sunni state, perhaps led by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The oppositional forces include various often contending civil and exile organizations and individuals associated with the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group, and the approximately 100 different armed urban guerrilla groups broadly identified with the Syrian Free Army. Disunity characterizes the relations between many of these groups, virtually all of which are Sunni. Major rivalries have been reported between a number of military commanders, and sharp splits have taken place within the SNC and between leaders within Syria and influential exiles largely based in Turkey and Egypt. The U.S. has been working for months to identify and promote the leaders it wishes to put into power.

According to Middle East correspondent Pepe Escobar writing July 24 in Asia Times, "There's no way to understand the Syrian dynamics without learning that most FSA commanders are not Syrians, but Iraqi Sunnis. The FSA could only capture the Abu Kamal border crossing between Syria and Iraq because the whole area is controlled by Sunni tribes viscerally antagonistic towards the al-Maliki government in Baghdad. The free flow of mujahedeen, hardcore jihadis and weapons between Iraq and Syria is now more than established.... As it stands, the romanticized Syrian 'rebels' plus the insurgents formerly known as terrorists cannot win against the Syria military — not even with the Saudis and Qataris showering them with loads of cash and weapons."

Repeated reports from many sources indicate that contingents of fundamentalist jihadists have joined the anti-Assad campaign. Stratfor comments that "The Syrian rebellion contains a growing assortment of Sunni Islamists, Salafist jihadists and transnational al Qaeda-style jihadists. Foreign fighters belonging to the latter two categories are believed to be making their way into Syria from Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq."

According to a report this week in the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, German intelligence estimates that "around 90" terror attacks that "can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups" were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July.

Despite such attacks, the Damascus government announced this week that it would not use its chemical weapons "against the Syrian people or civilians during this crisis, under any circumstances." It did, however, suggest it might deploy such weapons against foreign military intervention.

In the U.S. most liberals and Democrats support Obama's Syrian adventure as well Republicans, just as they approved of what little they knew of the White House involvement in the Libyan regime change. GOP candidate Mitt Romney and some Republican politicians demand "tougher action," but that's just for show.

Sectors of the U.S. left are split over America's role in Syria. Some groups support the uprising in the name of democracy, ignoring that Washington and the royal family in Riyadh will be the biggest winners. Those who identify with the anti-imperialist perspective strongly oppose U.S/Saudi involvement. (1)

Our view is that it is the responsibility of the people of a country, such as Syria — and not outside forces — to determine the political character of their government, up to and including armed revolution.

And the anti-Assad international coalition is not just any "outside force." It takes orders from the United States — the most powerful military state in the world responsible for violent aggression and millions of deaths in recent decades — and is also backed by a couple of anti-democratic monarchies and NATO, including two of the region's former colonial overlords, France and Great Britain.

The extent of American involvement with the opposition was partially exposed by the New York Times July 21: "American diplomats are also meeting regularly with representatives of various Syrian opposition groups outside the country to help map out a possible post-Assad government. 'Our focus with the opposition is on working with them so that they have a political transition in place to stand up a new Syria,' Patrick Ventrell, a State Department spokesman, said last week."

As such, in our understanding, the principal aspect of the struggle for power in Syria is not popular forces fighting for democracy but an international coalition led by imperialism seeking to overthrow a government allied to Iran in order to serve Washington's geopolitical objectives and Saudi Arabia's sectarian goal of diminishing Shia influence in the region.

July 25, 2012
The author is editor of the Activist Newsletter and is former editor of the (U.S.) Guardian Newsweekly. 
This piece was taken from ML Today 

FSA Brutality and horrific murders in Syria

“FSA” Brutality: Insurgents Throw Syrian Workers from Roof, Slaughter Another

Local Editor

The so-called “Free Syrian Army” is brutally committing horrific crimes against Syrians. Beschreibung: syria insurgents throwing workers

A recently posted video on YouTube, shows a crowd of people callously throwing the bodies of slain postal workers from a post office rooftop.

The video, the source of which could not be independently verified, shows several dozen people having surrounded the staircase of the building.

Also, several people got to the roof and were throwing down the apparently dead bodies of post servants.
As they hit the ground, the crowd rushes in to catch the appalling images on their mobile phones.

In another horrific video , a blindfolded man, with his hands tied behind his back, struggled as a group of men forced him to lie down on a pavement in Aleppo.

The man calls out: "I would rather die by a bullet." A man retorts: "Shut up."
The assailant forced what appeared to be a small knife repeatedly across his throat as his blood spurted onto the pavement.

"This is the fate of all the shabiha and those who support Bashar (al-Assad)," said the man filming the video.

Note : The links posted include horrible scenes!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Just how bad is Ireland's Oil & Gas Deal

Just how bad is Ireland's Oil & Gas Deal

(Johnston 2008)
A 2008 study of forty five international fiscal systems [1] by petroleum consultant Daniel Johnston shows that Ireland has the lowest returns from its gas and oil of all the countries studied. Ireland’s returns are half of US and UK and less that one third of Norway.
As the Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources once boasted ‘Ireland has had the best fiscal terms in the world for exploration and production’ [2] as apparent in the following diagram.

(Indecon 2007)

Here are 4 graphics from report done by the US Government Accountability Office in 2007 on Oil & Gas Royalties Worldwide [3]. They show Ireland as having the second worst deal in terms of Government Take, after only Cameroon.
Dick Spring - 20th October 1987 – then leader of the Labour Party on the introduction of the giveaway terms introduced by Ray Burke which were subsequently improved (for the oil companies) 5 years later by Bertie Ahern.
“We will now, as a result of the changes this Government have made, get absolutely no return whatever from the development of any foreseeable oil find .....
What is most serious about this development is that there has been, up to now, a certain level of national consensus about how we should view our natural resources — even parties that did not really believe it were prepared to pay lip service to the notion that the natural resources of Ireland belonged to the people of Ireland. In the breaking of that consensus, and in their cold-blooded decision to give those resources away, Fianna Fáil have committed what I have already described as an act of economic treason, one for which I believe they should not be forgiven by the young people and by the people at large.”

[1] Johnston, D. (2008). Changing fiscal landscape. Journal of World Energy Law and Business, 1 (1) , 31-54.
[2] Indecon International Economic Consultants, (2007). Expert advice on review of Irish petroleum E & P licensing terms. London: Indecon.
[3] US Government Accountability Office (2007). Oil and Gas Royalties: A Comparison of the Share of Revenue Received from Oil and Gas Production by the Federal Government and Other Resource Owners

This article was taken from the Shell to Sea campaing

Friday, August 3, 2012

The immediate tasks of communists and the struggle for socialism

Meeting in the context of the ever-deepening crisis of monopoly capitalism, we have an opportunity to assess each other’s experience and to share our assessment of the nature of the crisis, how it affects our different countries, and, most importantly, how we are resisting the onslaught on working people which is the ruling class strategy.

     The EU, sold to us as a free association of states, has repeatedly demonstrated its imperialist character. It is dominated by the old imperial powers, France, Britain, and Germany, and also by the USA. Whatever tensions exist between them, they share a common nature and, in general, implement a common strategy.

     The dominant issue is the struggle against US and European imperialism, which is seeking a solution to the crisis by attacking the working people and the poor countries, hoping to restore their profit margins by further impoverishing the poor. The “shock doctrine,” previously imposed on the former colonies and the former socialist countries, is now applied within the EU itself.

     As our party operates in two states, we are conscious of the different political and economic circumstances in which we work. Nevertheless, the convergence between the policies imposed by the British government on the North and those implemented by the Irish government in the Republic, in obedience to the Troika, is obvious.

     Both governments see the solution to their problems in austerity measures, with working people bearing the cost. Within the UK, Northern Ireland has been hit harder than any other region. Although the British government has not signed the treaties and is not in the euro zone, the general principles of its strategy are the same.

     In our country, though our party has understood the class nature and the imperialist character of the European Union from the beginning, many illusions persist, even among those who have opposed the succession of treaties that define the rules under which it operates.

     On the one hand, opponents of British imperialist rule often see the EU as something different, as a potential counterweight to British influence. On the other hand, with the influence of economism in the labour movement, those who do not recognise the class character of the state certainly do not understand who is running the EU. They see the behaviour of the agencies of the EU simply as a matter of policy.

     Even opponents of the Austerity Treaty, who are campaigning vigorously against it, accept the possibility of a “Social Europe,” if only we could oblige the EU to implement it. Some of them even propagate the idea of a socialist Europe. To my mind, a socialist Europe cannot be achieved without dismantling the European Union first.

     We also hear the slogan that “austerity is not working,” as if it was some sort of wrong medicine for a disease. Rather it is the strategy of the ruling-class forces to place the burden of the crisis on the back of workers. Austerity is their weapon of choice and necessity.

     The Irish Labour Party, which is promoting the treaty, uses the mirage of a “social Europe” in the hope that the unappetising dish can be made more palatable with a little Hollandaise sauce.
We are fortunate that the Irish constitution obliges the government to submit the Austerity Treaty to a referendum, and our energy is naturally at the moment focused on this.

     This treaty, along with the ESM Treaty, seeks to make permanent and unchangeable the current policies of the EU, which have already caused so much hardship to working people across the continent, not only in the PIIGS, where the crisis is most acute at this moment.
If the Irish people reject the treaty it will help the peoples of Europe to defeat it; there is no country in Europe where the people are in favour.

     The crisis in Ireland is a part of the worldwide crisis of capitalism, though it has specific characteristics of its own. For instance, German, French and British banks lent enormous quantities of money to Irish banks, which fuelled a massive and unsustainable building boom not only in Ireland but also for speculation abroad. Irish banks were the fifth-largest investor in Spain and Portugal and the seventh-largest investor in Italy.

     The Irish banks collapsed under the strain when the bubble burst; and the Irish state, acting under pressure from the EU, took over all the banks’ debts, thereby collapsing the economy. The banks they saved were not the Irish banks but the major European banks that created the problem in the first place.

     Acting under orders from the Troika, our internal troika of three political parties is intent on making working people pay for the crisis. The Irish bourgeoisie and its political representatives can see no other role for themselves than acting as gatekeepers and bailiffs for the imperialist powers. This was historically the ambition of the advocates of “home rule” one hundred years ago; there is a different empire now, but their character has not changed.

     Our government, which shamelessly proclaims the creation of jobs as its aim, presides over ever-increasing unemployment and emigration. By cutting back on public services it is directly creating unemployment. One thousand people leave every week. Thousands more have been forced into “internships”—in other words, working for nothing.

     Many thousands of workers have lost their jobs, and many self-employed and small business owners have gone under and are no better off. All the public money poured into the Irish banks has not been used to promote economic growth or new investment but rather to stabilise the banks, allowing them to hoard capital and to pay off their international debts. So billions in public money has left the country to pay foreign bank debts.

     New taxes are designed to levy the same amount on rich and poor equally. The household tax, in particular, has provoked considerable resistance; people are refusing to register for it or to pay it. The government refuses to increase taxes on high-income earners, or to tax the property of the rich appropriately to their wealth. The social-democratic Labour Party, the junior party in government, acts as the obedient servant of the bourgeoisie.

     Not alone is the working class experiencing an intense and sustained attack upon its living standards, wages, terms and conditions but it is coming under a sustained ideological terror from ruling-class forces. Fear is the main weapon used to disarm and to prevent workers engaging in resistance or showing solidarity with other workers.

     In their campaign for a Yes vote, and in all their propaganda, the internal troika parties constantly reiterate the uniqueness of the Irish situation. “Ireland is not Greece,” they proclaim. The suffering of the Greek people is held up not in an appeal for solidarity but as a horrible example of what happens to a naughty, disobedient country.

     We believe differently: that the attack on the Greek working class is from the same source as the attack on the Irish working class, and the institutions of the EU are the instruments being used. Of course Belgian, German, French and British workers have not escaped.

     The development of the crisis in Ireland demonstrates the common characteristics of our countries’ experience as much as the differences. The tactics of the ruling class and of the dominant states in the EU are driven by the same strategy. The social-democratic parties are the agents of capitalism within the working class; when pushed they will implement the same policies.

     The imperialist ruling classes are, in spite of their continuing rivalry, acting together more than ever, and very consciously waging the class war. The working class—weakened in our case, for example, by decades of “social partnership,” by the defeat of socialism, and by the betrayal by the social-democratic parties, has been unprepared for the systematic attack being mounted against it. In the defence of the working people the Portuguese and Greek communists have shown what a difference a strong and determined communist party can make.

     Our immediate task is to build the people’s resistance to this onslaught, in mutual solidarity and mutual respect, understanding the different conditions in which we work.

     Within the EU we must continue to expose the class character and the imperialist nature of its institutions, which determine its actions both worldwide and internally.

     As this gathering shows, we need a greater sharing of our experience in struggle through our papers and electronic media. We should explore the possibility of more united days of action by communists across the European Union and wider Europe.

Seán Edwards

National Executive Committee, Communist Party of Ireland
19 May 2012