Saturday, June 30, 2012

CP Public Meetings coming up

Dublin, Saturday 14 July, 2 p.m.

Ireland outside the euro

Speakers: Anthony Coughlan (National Platform), Dr Conor McCabe (economist)

▸James Connolly House (43 East Essex Street)


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Dublin, Saturday 28 July, 2 p.m.

Drugs: a working-class response

Speakers: Cllr Cieran Perry; Pepe Gutiérrez (the Latin American experience); Cllr Anna Quigley.

▸James Connolly House (43 East Essex Street)

Public Meeting on marketisation of the NHS

Belfast, Saturday 30 June, 10:30 a.m.
The business of health: Marketisation and the NHS
A discussion on the future of the National Health Service
▸Samuel Irwin Lecture Theatre, Royal Victoria Hospital (Grosvenor Road)
Registration: ellie@trademarkbelfast.com

Organised by Trademark and the Northern Ireland Trades Councils

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Syrizia paid for its ambiguity


Syrizia paid for its ambiguity. The problem is that Tsipras’ position was clearly contradictory.

by Emiliano Brancaccio and translated and republished at the Revolting Europe website
 
Syriza, the main party of the Left, lost the elections in Greece. The first real opportunity to launch a clear political message about the unsustainability of the European monetary union has thus been lost. Consequently, save surprises, the agony of the single currency is destined to endure, and with it the suffering of the peripheral countries and social groups most affected by the economic crisis.

Syriza: Why did you lose? The prevailing view is that the party presented voters with a programme that was too ‘radical.’ This programme, as is known, was based on the intention to repudiate the ‘Memorandum’ imposed by the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF and demanded the renegotiation of all agreements on debt financing in Greece.

On reflection, however, it is not evident that Syriza paid for being too ‘radical’. It’s possible that Syriza was defeated for a quite different reason, namely that the request to renegotiate the conditions of foreign borrowing was accompanied by the declaration that it wanted Greece to remain in the euro. This position, as is known, was spelled out clearly by the leader of Syriza, Alexis Tsipras, in the letter entitled‘I will keep Greece in the eurozone’, published in the Financial Times on June 12.

The problem is that Tsipras’ position was clearly contradictory. It highlighted the inability of the leadership of Syriza to explicitly address the possible consequences of failure in the request to reschedule the debt. What would Tsipras do if Germany and the European authorities had confined themselves to propose marginal revisions to agreements and had refused to initiate a thorough renegotiation of debt?

The leader of Syriza has evaded the issue. He has refused to admit that, at that point, Greece would have been forced to confront the crisis by abandoning the single European currency and questioning, if necessary, the single market for capital and goods. Many Greek voters may have noted this ambiguity, this inability to Syriza to process a sequence of successive actions that were logically sensible and politically credible. The few points Syriza trailed behind the rival party, New Democracy, may be explained in these terms rather than any excessively radical position that will surely prevail in comments in the coming days.

The ambiguity, however, is not limited to Syriza. The appeal in Syriza’s favour promoted by Etienne Balibar and Rossana Rossanda* contained similar elements of opacity and lack of clarity. In many ways similar, the appeals of debt campaign movements have also so far failed to clarify that any unilateral any decision to repudiate the debt would lead to the problem of debts to other countries and therefore would require the abandonment of the euro and / or the restriction of the free movement of capital and goods.

And that’s not to mention the European Left, which has appeared in too many cases ready to sacrifice their constituents on the altar of unconditional loyalty to the euro and the single market and therefore can do no better than launch generic appeals for European solidarity. In short, we are faced with a further variant of the politics of liberoscambismo di sinistra (left-wing free traders) that has raged for over three decades among the more or less direct heirs of the workers’ movement, and we have tried to critically examine the book Austerity is Right-Wing. It is destroying Europe

However, regardless of Greek voters’ decisions, the current structure of European monetary union remains technically unsustainable. The gap between interest rates and growth will come back to haunt many European countries, and will certainly not be solved by minor adjustments to loan agreements or through European banking guarantees. Therefore, in the absence of significant changes in European economic policy, the final speculative attack against the euro zone may be delayed but not averted.

The question remaining is, therefore: with the Left paralyzed, who is to handle a possible collapse of the single currency?

Emiliano Brancaccio: “Syriza paga per la sua ambiguità” (06.18.2012)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The works of James Connolly





Works of James Connolly Over the years the CPI has kept in print the principal writings of the Irish Marxist pioneer James Connolly, including the classic Labour in Irish History (1910) and more recently a two-volume Collected Works (1987).

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Labour in Irish History
Labour, Nationality and Religion
The Reconquest of Ireland
Socialism Made Easy
Erin's Hope
James Connolly, Collected Works Volume 1 and 2

All available at Connolly Bookshop, 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2 or by email from cpoi@eircom.net



Socialist Voice and Unity subscriptions

Take out a subscription to Socialist Voice by sending €15 (£10) to Socialist Voice, 43 East Essex Street, Dublin 2, for one year (10–12 issues). (This rate includes postage within Ireland; rates for other countries on request.) Or get a free subscription to the e-mail edition of Socialist Voice by sending us an e-mail request to cpoi@eircom.net
Take out a subscription to Unity by sending £17.50 (€19) for 6 months or £35 (€38) for 12 months to Unity, PO Box 85, Belfast BT1 1SR, for one year. (This rate includes postage within Ireland: rates for other countries on request.)

CPI Pamphlets available at Connolly Books












 Communist Party of Ireland pamphlets available from Connolly Bookshop
From Connolly Books, 43 East Essex Street, Dublin 2. (Postage free within Ireland.)Ó Connolly Books, 43 Sráid Essex Thoir, Baile Átha Cliath 2. (Postas go haon áit in Éirinn saor in aisce.)
Or call in.

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The Equality Delusion
Build the people's resistance: 24th National Congress Document
Repudiate the debt: For a better future
The Challenge for trade unionism
The European Union: New Developments in Imperialism
Public Transport: Keep it public or lose it
Women and the European Union
Madge Davison: Revolutionary Firebrand
The Making of an Irish Communist Leader
Nationality, Nations and Imperialist Globalisation
Saving the planet or saving capitalism?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Excellent article from last issue of SV

Explaining the crisis: A response


In the April and May issues of Socialist Voice an opinion article raised a number of questions about an article on economics in the January issue. It proposed that the review of Andrew Kliman’s book The Failure of Capitalist Production counterposed the “declining rate of profit” thesis with the Monthly Review thesis of “financialisation.” It proposed in turn that distinctions between the competing explanations are exaggerated and are reconcilable. Yet this misses important points of demarcation. Furthermore, the subsequent counter-explanation advanced has a number of shortcomings for understanding crisis in capitalism.
Too much or too little surplus value?

The first matter is whether there is indeed a significant difference between the Monthly Review approach and those scholars who emphasise profit cycles. Fundamentally, the Monthly Review thesis represents a theory of “under-consumption.” As a consequence, this thesis views the cause of economic crisis in capitalism as emanating from the excessive exploitation of workers: that is, crisis and stagnation are a result of the rate of surplus value being too high. According to the “under-consumptionist” thesis, capital has appropriated lots of surplus value but it cannot ultimately find enough buyers for the vast quantity of commodities it is able to produce; the spread between surplus and variable capital is highly skewed towards the former.

     So it is a problem of investment realisation. The result is either acute economic crisis at periodic intervals or long-term economic stagnation, with many workers and machines lying idle. This is pretty close to the Monthly Review thesis, although it should be noted that in their explanatory framework they do not use core Marxist economic categories such as surplus value or indeed the labour theory of value. In contrast, other radical economists, from Henryk Grossman to Andrew Kliman and Alan Freeman, have tended to emphasise a different set of variables in explaining capitalist crisis.

     Crucially, this school sees the cause of crises as being the exact opposite of what the Monthly Review school and other under-consumptionists claim it is. The “falling rate of profit” school holds that it is an insufficient rate of surplus value that leads to acute capitalist economic crises. Too little, as opposed to too much, surplus value is being produced for the needs of the capitalist system. The problem is not that there is too much surplus value, with few profitable investment outlets, but the realisation of surplus value itself.

Conceptual demarcations matter

Conceptually, these two theses of crisis theory are completely opposed to one another. Furthermore, the two theses might lead to quite different political conclusions.

     The “under-consumption” thesis implies that if a more equal distribution of the national income can be achieved under capitalism—a lower rate of surplus value—the problem of crises and mass unemployment can be overcome within the capitalist system.

     This indeed was the position of Paul Sweezy, the intellectual founder of the Monthly Review school. Writing in 1995, he argued:
If my analysis of the performance of the U.S. economy during the last sixty years is accepted, to what policy conclusions does it point? . . . Public ownership of the means of production and planning to meet the needs of all the people [won’t be] a serious option . . . any time soon. The question should therefore be reformulated: what could be done within the framework of the private-enterprise system to make it work better?
The second indispensable change needed to make the private-enterprise economy work better is a redistribution of wealth and income towards greater equality. We live in a period in which an unprecedented and growing share of society’s income accrues to corporations and wealthy rentiers, while the share of the underlying population stagnates or declines.
This implies a permanent imbalance between society’s potential for adding to its stock of capital and its flagging consumer power . . . Would the capitalist class as a whole, in extremis, be willing to give up half of what it has to save the other half? I have a feeling that the fate of the private-enterprise system may depend on the answer to this question. [“Reminiscences,” Monthly Review, May 1995.]
There is indeed continuity with this political stance in the current efforts of Monthly Review to project a “21st-century socialism” that, unpacked, is more radical social democracy rather than Marxian socialism. The “falling rate of profit” thesis, in contrast, implies that the only way out of a capitalist crisis is through an increase in the rate of exploitation of workers.

     Here too the crisis problem might in theory be overcome within the framework of capitalism, but only by greatly increasing the rate of surplus value. This, however, implies an explosive intensification of the class struggle (which is precisely what we are seeing now in Ireland and beyond).

Misspecifying demand

Aside from this, other issues are evident in the opinion article that are worth revisiting. One is the argument advanced about the notion of falling consumption capacity on the part of the working class, which in time—admittedly in confluence with other variables—leads to a generalised crisis of capitalism. Intuitively, there is some logic to this argument: if workers’ pay or share of income (or both) are falling, personal consumption demand will tend to fall (unless it is offset by something else, such as credit).

     This reduces profits, and sets the stage for an economic crisis or recession. However, this thesis is problematic when we consider that a decline in personal consumption demand can be offset by a rise in another component of demand, for example investment demand. Investment demand consists of spending by businesses to build such things as factories, machinery, and so on.
So if investment demand rises, and the increase is large enough to offset the fall in personal consumption demand, a decline in wages, or workers’ share of income, does not lead to a decline in total demand and therefore does not lead to an economic crisis.

     Of course “under-consumptionists” would counter that investment demand cannot grow faster than personal consumption demand in the long run: ultimately, consumers have to buy the stuff. This, however, ignores the fact that a significant section of demand within capitalism is internal to capital, i.e. capitalists selling to each other within “closed circuits.” Mining companies, for example, sell iron to companies that use the iron to make steel; steel companies sell the steel to companies that use it to build mining equipment; companies that build mining equipment sell to the mining companies.

     The production of consumer goods and the demand for them typically rises less rapidly than the production of and demand for investment goods. Indeed, if we take the empirical evidence from the world’s largest capitalist economy—the United States—this is what has happened. Since the 1980s (and up to 2009) real investment demand or productive demand grew 73-fold; personal consumption only 15-fold (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov). So investment demand grew five times as rapidly as consumption demand. Thus consumption demand is not wholly pivotal to the workings of capitalist crisis.
Furthermore, productive investment has not stagnated irreversibly since the late 1960s but has fluctuated in line with wider profit cycles.

Financialisation, fictitious value, and the dangers of one case

Questions might be raised about the idea that capitalism has reached a new stage, defined not by commodity production but by money simply creating more money (M—M′). If this is so, then we are no longer living in a capitalist mode of production.

 Capitalism is commodity production (which is why the first chapter of volume 1 of Capital begins with commodities). If capitalism is not predominantly characterised by M—C—M′ exchange, then it ceases to exist as we know it. If we live in an economy predominated by M—M′ then we live in a fairyland of fictitious value, where everything is ethereal and no value is created.
Of course the only reason M—M′ can exist is if it is grounded on M—C—M′.

No economy can exist on M + M′ alone: fictitious value at some point must have recourse to real value in the economy, real value being based on commodity production. In any case, much of the financialisation activity over the last twenty years or so has been rooted in actual productive investment, in utilities such as telecoms, for example, which belies the notion that financialisation must exclusively be indicative of some profit strategy at odds with real production.
Ultimately, financialisation and financial crisis have always accompanied capitalism (tulip mania in 1637, for example). Financialisation at some level indeed is necessary for lubricating the system of productive capitalism. To claim that it represents a new stage is to simply conflate what has been a process of intensification brought about not by stagnant productive investment (which is subject to cyclical waves) but by the deregulation of capital flows in the search for greater profitability.

     Of course it is well known that financialisation profits have risen sharply compared with non-financials in the United States; but there has been an even more significant increase in profits from overseas production. Profits from productive sectors overseas have quadrupled since the 1950s, while financial profits have only doubled. (Source: Bureau of Economic Analysis, www.bea.gov).

     In any case, we should be cautious about extrapolating evidence from the single case of the United States to make wider generalisations about the trajectory of international capitalism. Capitalism at the global level operates unevenly; and while American capitalism might be faced with a secular decline in profitability, this is hardly true of some of the other large economies in the world: India, Brazil, Russia, or China.

Conclusion

The thesis advanced in the opinion article, while containing much validity, is not without problems. Firstly, the conceptual demarcations between the Monthly Review school and the “falling rate of profit” thesis are not as superficial as implied. This is true at both the conceptual and the political level.

     Secondly, the wider argument about the trajectory of contemporary capitalism and the genesis of the present crisis is based on three problematic features. The first is arguably based on a misspecification of effective demand by inflating the importance of personal consumption to capitalist growth.

     The second problem is arguably based on misconceptualising fictitious value within capitalism; the third is based on an exaggeration of the significance of financialisation as a new stage within the development of capitalism. [NC]

New Irish Times website

The new Irish Times website http://www.top1000.ie/ reveals the true extent of monopoly penetration into the irish economy. A majority of the top 50 companies in terms of turnover are foreign monopolies and even those Irish companies that make it into the top 50 are more dependent upon overseas activities for their turnover and profit rather than the domestic market.

According to the IT:

This database contains details on all these companies with the capability to search by industry, company and key employees, and to sort the information by turnover, assets, profit and employees.

The data has been compiled and verified by The Irish Times’ journalists and will be updated continually by the The Irish Times’ business team.

The site will also provide the latest news from irishtimes.com on the companies profiled.
Top1000.ie is an invaluable resource for anyone doing business in Ireland.

It is an also an invaluable resource for those analysing the irish economy and seeking to build an alternative economy that meets the needs of the people rather than the monopolies.

The Debt Dilemma, Bankrupt Policies, and Europe's Future

The Debt Dilemma, Bankrupt Policies, and Europe's Future
The reason for virtual disappearance of great depressions is the new attitude of the electorate… [E]conomic science knows how to use monetary and fiscal policy to keep any recessions that break out from snowballing into lasting chronic slumps. If Marxians wait for capitalism to collapse in a final crisis, they wait in vain. We have eaten of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and, for better or worse, there is no returning to laissez faire capitalism. The electorate in a mixed economy insists that any political party which is in power—whether it be the Republican or the Democratic, the Tory or the Labor party—take the expansionary actions that can prevent depressions. Economics, 8th Addition, Paul Samuelson (1970, McGraw-Hill), p. 250.
 
Since Samuelson---probably the most influential bourgeois economist of the post-war era---died at the end of 2009, we will never know if he would now retract these statements. Every claim in the above quote is false, and false in a way that sheds light on where we are today. And because every claim is false, policy makers are in a hell of a mess.
 
The reason for virtual disappearance of great depressions is the new attitude of the electorate…… [E]conomic science knows how to use monetary and fiscal policy to keep any recessions that break out from snowballing into lasting chronic slumps.
 
In 1970, when the 8th edition of Samuelson’s iconic textbook was published, nearly everyone did share the belief that government had access to tools that could reverse any slump. Even the old red-baiting Cold Warrior President, Richard Nixon, embraced Keynesian prescriptions at that time.
 
But matters changed quickly in the 1970s. A long period of inflation and stagnant growth settled in, seemingly immune to fiscal and monetary therapy. The loss of the “stimulus” of the war in Vietnam and a restructuring of energy prices challenged the consensus celebrated by Samuelson. Many economists identified the soaring inflation with union and other cost-of-living escalators; consequently, a dampening of wages and benefits was urged, a tendency that continues unabated today. By the end of the 1970s, Treasury Secretary Volker’s shock therapy to contain inflation brought the US economy into deep recession. The Reagan victory in 1980 signaled a loss of confidence in government intervention and the rise of a competitive ideology. Some called it “voodoo economics,” but it proved to have amazing resilience: it turned away from the Keynesian toolbox, and it established a new consensus.
 
We have eaten of the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and, for better or worse, there is no returning to laissez faire capitalism.
 
By 1980, the “Fruit” was less than appetizing. Reagan’s election (and Thatcher’s before him) signaled a return to the gruel of laissez faire under the cheery brand description, “neo-liberalism.” A whole new set of popular terms like “supply side,” “trickle down,” etc. were created to sell the new thinking, while the “deep” thinkers of academia, cast off the economics of aggregates and the priority of demand for the micro-foundations of Hobbes and his selfish, but rational animal dominating his/her living space. By 1992, with both the collapse of European socialism and the election of a “New Democratic” President, the “Tree of Knowledge” was a mere stump and neo-liberalism had penetrated nearly every aspect of life in the most advanced capitalist countries. Laissez faire returned with a vengeance and enjoyed even greater dominance than in its original incarnation. And the restored economic doctrine saw no need for the tools of repair since it saw the capitalist market as self-correcting.
 
The electorate in a mixed economy insists that any political party which is in power—whether it be the Republican or the Democratic, the Tory or the Labor party—take the expansionary actions that can prevent depressions.
 
This unassailable truth of 1970 has proven to not only be assailable, but down right false. The political parties mentioned by Samuelson – the dominant parties in the US and UK – did not vigorously defend the value of “expansionary actions;” rather, they fled from the policy as though it were radioactive. With William Clinton’s ascendancy to the Presidency at the head of the old New Deal party, advocates of expansionary government intervention had been largely purged from prominence in the Democratic Party. Likewise, Tony Blair’s rise to Prime Minister in the UK signaled the Labour Party’s wholesale embrace of neo-liberalism.
 
Of course Samuelson’s claim that the “electorate… insists…” on these policies was never tested because the electorate was never asked — elites settled the matter for them. In 1970, prominent intellectuals still believed that important matters were decided through the electoral process; surely few share that illusion today, when political actors persistently ignore the will of the electorate on matters like taxing the rich or shoring up social programs.
 
It bears reflecting upon the words of the Nobel committee in awarding the prize in economics to Samuelson in the same year as the publication of the 8th edition: “More than any other contemporary economist, Samuelson has helped to raise the general analytical and methodological level in economic science. He has simply rewritten considerable parts of economic theory.” Unfortunately, the “general analytical and methodological level” has proven to be unhelpful in understanding the course of economic history.
 
If Marxians wait for capitalism to collapse in a final crisis, they wait in vain.
 
Samuelson’s peculiar coinage of the term “Marxians” suggests that he seldom engaged Marxists to solicit their opinion. Of course one does encounter Marxist-poseurs who frequently and loudly predict an apocalyptic final collapse of capitalism just as one hears of half-baked fans who believe the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series—it’s possible, but not likely.
 
Capitalism will assuredly disappear as a result of “a final conflict” (“C’est la lutte finale” in the original words of the Internationale) and not a final economic crisis. Yet there is a relationship between economic and social crises and the final conflict that will push capitalism into the fabled historic dustbin. That is just to say that wars, economic calumnies, or political paralysis are almost always the immediate and decisive causes of revolutionary risings.
 
We cannot give Samuelson this point, however, because he meant to deny both that (1) economic crises will not alone bring down capitalism and that (2) no economic crisis – like the Great Depression—can again shake the foundations of the capitalist edifice. On the later, all (authentic) Marxists are in agreement: capitalism cannot, from its internal logic, escape serious economic turmoil; crises are inescapable partners of the accumulation process.
 
With capitalism’s foundations seriously buffeted by the last four years of bank failures, housing foreclosures, mass layoffs, financial scandals, shrinking wealth, stagnant incomes, dwindling social services, and a host of other blows, few would want to stand on the ground carved out by Samuelson in 1970. What may have appeared to be transparently obvious in 1970 is now decidedly questionable in the light of the protracted economic crisis that we have endured since late 2008.
 
The Next Step?
 
I have written often and confidently that we have only seen the first act of a continuing severe structural crisis of global capitalism. Regardless of policy initiatives, there is much more pain and economic chaos ahead. Contrary to the most esteemed minds of the economic profession, there are no quick or decisive solutions to be found from either the market fundamentalists or the Keynesian heretics opposing them. And their political expressions—conservative and social democratic parties – are equally bankrupt, offering no real exit from the looming disaster. Thus, both the seriously damaged economic engine and impotent political institutions combine to guarantee that the crisis will be with us for some time to come.
 
For the moment, Europe is the locus of the global crisis. The European Union project, realized in an era of great optimism and capitalist triumphalism, is in imminent danger of collapsing; its vulnerability to predatory financial capitalism has left its constituent countries, particularly its weakest countries, in immediate danger of reversion to nineteenth century standards of development and living. The global market mechanism has determined that Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Spain and probably Italy have no essential role in the global economy except for nostalgic tourism and retirement villas.
 
The illusion of a unified Europe, devoid of borders and with a shared standard of living, is just that—an illusion. The old economic and social relations of dominance and exploitation did not evaporate in Europe because politicians voted in idyllic times to create a union. And with a profound global crisis, the weaknesses of this unsteady union became the target of the bond vultures that turn hardship into profits. In the beginning, these bond vultures swooped down upon Greece, capturing its economy for the big banks and handing its sovereignty to the European imperial centers. I wrote of the weakness and vulnerability of this union often in 2008 and 2009. I returned to this theme in November, 2011: “one might conclude that unification – mutually beneficial combinations of national entities—is extremely unlikely to be successful with capitalist social and economic relations intact. Conversely, socialist social and economic relations, linked with an internationalist perspective hold the only real, lasting opportunity for unity among diverse states.”
 
The Great Debt Dilemma
 
The foreclosing of a bourgeois solution to the European crisis arises from the dominance of finance capital in the world economy. That is to say, no real solution is available through policy initiatives crafted by bourgeois economists or advocated by politicians who are intent upon keeping state-monopoly capitalism unchanged while ignoring the predatory role of the financial sector. Those who hope to return to the capitalism of Samuelson’s time are simply delusional.

Market fundamentalists who thought that the Euro-crisis would dissipate with a bit of budget discipline, a heavy dose of government austerity, and perhaps a few emergency loans have been thoroughly discredited by shrinking growth, even greater debt burdens, and intense human suffering. The wholesale dumping of political incumbents has signaled the bankruptcy of conservative answers to those ruling elites who first chose this road.
 
In the trail of this failure is the “I told you so” of the Keynesians and social democrats. In truth, liberal economists were loud and outspoken about policies that hung on a thin strand of hope rather than rational thought (Despite the fact that policies of austerity made absolutely no sense, it drove the media and politicians into a frenzy of advocacy—a tribute to the power of elitist wishful thinking over common sense). Krugman, Stiglitz and a host of other economists seek to bolster the social democratic case by advocating robust deficit spending to re-kindle growth in the Euro-zone. They argued sensibly that austerity and reduced government spending would only make matters worse. And they assumed that the converse—more government stimuli—would therefore make matters better. But this is a non sequitur.
 
Certainly more government spending when directed towards programs that benefit those suffering from the economic crisis is a justifiable social good and urgently needed, though it does not follow that it is necessarily a prescription for recovery. Neither the historical record nor theory demonstrates that government spending is a sure-fire recipe for restoring capitalist growth and profitability. It may help, it may not. And it will not in this case unless we excise the influence of financial markets upon the fate of the Euro-zone.
 
To hear the social democrats, the answer to the European debt crisis is to reject austerity in favor of growth. But they forget or choose to ignore the elephant in the room: the international debt market. Bond vultures, their accomplices --the credit rating agencies, and lending institutions-- pounce on even a hint of deficit spending. The entire contemporary history of the European crisis is that of a crisis engineered by debt holders who view any additional credit extension or currency deflation as a threat to their existing debt holdings. And they hold the power to enforce their interests through debt markets. Equally, they have nearly all the European political forces in a strangle hold that places the interests of the financial sector ahead of all else. That is the demonstrated dominance of finance capital in the twenty-first century. We ignore this at our peril.
 
The facile answer of the social democrats—from the recent successful electoral campaign of the “socialists” in France to the ascendancy of SYRIZA in Greece—is to reject austerity and endorse growth. But this is no answer at all if it depends upon the “good will” of financial markets that neither have a “will” nor respect the social “good.” The dominance of finance capital cannot be wished or negotiated away.
 
Nor is exit from the Euro an option without a radical break from international finance. Credit markets will be closed to any country that departs the zone without guaranteeing the integrity of existing debt, a burden that leaves an exiting or exiled country exactly where it was before it left.
 
Doom or Promise?
 
The debt dilemma poses an impossible challenge to those who wish to see Europe governed as usual. It forecloses both a conservative and social democratic answer to the current crisis ravaging Europe. Understandably, the habits of decades of complacency and relative stability leave the electorate with a desire to find an easy way out within the confines of the known rather than a leap into the unknown. Embracing solutions beyond the habitual ones comes with great difficulty even among the victims. But for four years, the habitual solutions have failed and the debt dilemma gives us every reason to believe that they will continue to fail.
 
Only a vigorous people’s movement determined to overthrow the dominance of finance capital will lead Europe (and the rest of us) out of the death grip of financial markets. Central to that overthrow is the establishment of public ownership and control over financial institutions and the removal of those institutions from the market place. It is a nascent movement; we see its stirrings in the growth of the Communist movement emerging around the ideological pole established by the Greek Communist Party, a Party that refuses to compromise by joining a doomed-to-fail coalition government with no answer to the debt dilemma. The era of smug, smooth, and easy recoveries from the capitalist business cycle, as announced by Paul Samuelson, is over. Likewise, the era of economic tinkering and political self-satisfaction is inadequate for this moment. We enter a new era with fear and uncertainty gripping most of the world’s population. Therefore, the realization of the promise of the new era may be a while in coming, but it's surely coming.
 
Zoltan Zigedy
zoltanzigedy@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

KKE on election results


First Assessment of the election result of 17th June 2012

The CC of the KKE met on 18th June 2012 and discussed the first assessment of the results of the elections on the 17th of June as well as the developments after the elections. The position of the CC will be discussed in the Party Base Organisations, the organizations of KNE, in meetings with supporters, friends and people who work alongside the party in order to gather opinions and suggestions. The CC will conclude its assessment after gathering the views, the suggestions, the observations regarding both elections (May-June) which will also set the immediate tasks of the party.

A. Basic assessments regarding the election result

The CC summarizes its first assessment and tables it for discussion:

The election result is negative for the people, which has suffered significant blows by the consequences of the economic capitalist crisis in Greece. The following negative elements are visible:

The significant losses of the KKE which do not reflect the impact of its positions and its activity, in light of the negative developments which had been predicted. It took place under the pressure of the current of illusions and the rationale of the alleged lesser evil, the painless and easy path through which it is allegedly possible to form a government to manage the crisis on the terrain of the monopolies’ power and the assimilation in the EU, which will manage to stop the deterioration of the position of the people. At the same time, there was the impact of the atmosphere of fear and intimidation concerning the expulsion of Greece from the Eurozone. It occurred in conditions of a systematic and underhand offensive by the ideological-political mechanisms of the system, even through the systematic use of the internet. The main goal was the weakening of the KKE in order to prevent the rise of the labour movement in conditions when the position of the people is deteriorating.

The CC salutes the thousands of working people who withstood the pressure and the blackmail, voted once again for the KKE and responded to the call of the party to prevent the attempt to weaken it. It appreciates and salutes the heroic activity of the members of the party and KNE during this difficult electoral battle.

The increase of ND’s votes which enabled it to become the first party and have the basis to form a coalition government.The policy of ND is anti-labour, anti-people. ND will seek to place the burden of the sharpening of the crisis on to the people ensuring the recovery of capital’s profitability. ND has given to the bourgeoisie and the EU all the necessary assurances concerning its “EU one way-street strategy”. The truth is that the worst is yet to come and not the opposite, as Mr. Samaras claimed. The apparent coalition government will follow the line of the “EU one way-street”, the line of the bourgeois management of the crisis.


The increase of SYRIZA in the second electoral battle despite the fact that its management logic was exposed by its governmental programme. In this programme it omitted any slogans with a radical phraseology concerning the abolition of the Memorandum and the loan agreement, the abolition of privatisations etc which it had put forward in its programme for the elections on May 6th. Thus it became a programme of bourgeois management. It demonstrated that it has a flagrantly accommodating stance in relation to the foreign powers.

In conditions of an intense manipulation of the people it was supported by popular forces that wanted a negotiation of the memorandum, without any confrontation with the EU and the Eurozone.

The consolidation of the electoral strength of the fascist “Golden Dawn”, its transformation into a parliamentary party. In conditions of crisis the “Golden Dawn” constitutes a significant weapon of the bourgeois political system in order to break the workers’ and people’s movement, to facilitate the dangerous equation of fascism with communism as a state ideology and consequently a statepractice against the KKE.

The conclusion is that the election result as a whole reflects the tendency of the containment of the class oriented radicalism that developed during the period of crisis, under the pressure of the current of the rising petty-bourgeois radicalism, guided by the bourgeois ideology and propaganda. It is obvious that the struggles which developed did not manage to deepen and consolidate radicalism as they did not take on such a mass character and they did not achieve the organisation and the political orientation that the current conditions require. In the final analysis, any positive tendency that developed was influenced by the narrow anti-memorandum content, by the lowering of the expectations in conditions of the expansion of poverty and mass unemployment.

The election result contributes to the promotion and the reinforcement of the plans of the bourgeois class of the country concerning the substitution of the system of the two party rotation by a new bipolar system, the centre-right with ND as its core and the centre left with SYRIZA as its core, which absorbed a large part of the organised cadres of PASOK. The plans for the reorganisation of social democracy are being facilitated. Social democracy has proved to be useful for the bourgeois class regarding the erosion of the radical consciousness in favour of the “EU one way- street”, and in order to attack and control the labour movement.

The CC calls on those people who this time preferred to vote for other parties instead of the KKE and especially for SYRIZA to think hard on this even if it is in retrospect. It calls on the working people in general to think in a calm way about a series of events that took place from the 6th of May until 17th June, which attributed special and unprecedented elements to this electoral battle, which we have notexperienced in the post-dictatorship period. Specifically:

a. the unprecedented direct, provocative, blatant intervention of the EU Commission in the electoral campaign through its leadingfigures from Germany, France, Italy, the IMF, the USA, the international media. All of them express the opposing interests of monopoly groups, therefore, they sought the intimidation of the Greek people in order for it to abandon even the demand for the abolition of the Memorandum and the loan agreement which was at the centre of the May 6 electoral campaign.

Although the people’s movement in Greece has significantly risen over recent years and its demonstrations have had an impact acrossEurope, it did not have the necessary orientation and the required mass character – organisational capability so as to challenge the power of capital. Although the size of Greece is very small within the framework of the EU, its deep assimilation into the Eurozone, the deep and prolonged crisis combined with the recession in the Eurozone made the intervention of the international alliances within and outside of the EU imperative in order to impede any tendency for the radicalisation of the movement n Greece as well as its international impact.

In this framework there has been a systematic effort to form a bipolar system based on ND and SYRIZA. At the same time the Greek elections in June were used as an experiment and a tool serving the competition between Germany, France, Spain, Italy in the light of a new sharpening of the crisis. The discussion about amendments to the EU austerity formula did not begin with the Greek elections on 6th May. It had started before in the light of the inter-capitalist contradictions within the EU with the participation of the USA and President Obama in particular.

The Greek elections and the developments were utilised as a lever for the contradictions between them given the EU Summit on 28-29 June, the G7 Summit and the G20 Summit on 18-19 June. The rhetoric of SYRIZA against Merkel was utilised by a section ofGermany’s competitors as well as by the US, against the other section that supported that the abolition of the Memorandum would leadGreece outside the Eurozone and possibly cause its dissolution.

b. The statement of SEV (The Hellenic Federation of Enterprises) concerning the necessity for the formation of a coalition government with the anti-memorandum SYRIZA. The obvious support for SYRIZA from a section of the monopoly groups and outlets in the mass media, and from the state radio and TV channels.

c. The organized move to SYRIZA of a large section of PASOK cadres especially from the former state enterprises, the banks, public administration as well as other central cadres from PASOK’s apparatus, who took an active part in organizing its electoral struggle and the organized transfer of a large part of PASOK’s electoral base to SYRIZA.

d. The unanimous position of all the parties of the “EU one-way street” that a positive wind of change is blowing in Europe and that the amendment of the Memorandum and even of the Loan Agreement could bring relief and a positive prospect for the Greek people and more generally, despite the fact that alternative reactionary outcomes are being planned for so that the reactionary reforms can proceed in its member-states in a unified way: Strengthening of the super powers of the Commission and the sharpening of the contradictions which cause a intensification of the unevenness and centrifugal forces, and even the disintegration of the Eurozone.

The last two electoral campaigns, especially that of 17th June turned out to be an unparalleled operation for the manipulation of the voters, with blackmails, disinformation, attacks against the party because of its denial to participate in a government of bourgeoismanagement, a manipulation which was unprecedented. The attack against the party was aimed at its strategy, at its denial to participate in a government for the bourgeois management of the crisis.

It is certain that after the elections much more evidence will come to the fore concerning what went on behind the scenes regarding the competition amongst the monopolies and the utilization of SYRIZA in this.

B. BASIC ASSESSMENTS REGARDING THE WORK OF THE PARTY

The political line and predictions of the KKE, which have been borne out by the developments themselves will be a support and significant assistance for the people’s struggle. The people will have the opportunity to draw conclusions. The radical left-wing people will also have the opportunity to draw conclusions regarding how important it was for them to support the KKE at the ballot box so that it continues to struggle from a stronger position for the regroupment of the movement and to repel the new offensive.

The KKE struggled against the current of fear and fatalism, of the various threats (from the expulsion from the Eurozone to the fear regarding the lack of a government) and the illusions which were systematically fostered by SYRIZA. It explained to the people the character of the crisis and the pre-conditions for a way out in favour of the workers, the pre-conditions regarding the KKE’s participation in a government, which are connected to disengagement from the EU, the unilateral cancellation of the debt, and socialisation i.e. the government of working class-people’s power. It conducted this struggle taking into account the danger of the electoral cost.

But even the slightest retreat on the part of the party in the face of the pressure for it to participate in a government to manage the crisis would have led to the disarming and retreat-defeat of the labour movement, to the cancellation of the effort for the formation of a strong socio-political alliance, which comes into conflict with the political line of the monopolies, the imperialist unions of the EU and NATO. It would have negated every effort for the rallying of the people in the struggle for the everyday problems, which are increasingly sharpening, for the prospect of working class-people’s power.

In practice the KKE would have found itself negating the consistency and solidity of its words and deeds, as it would have been asked to carry out damaging and mistaken retreats of a decisive character both regarding its programme and its immediate tasks for the struggle. It is of great importance that in such conditions, when a series of other communist parties are not represented in parliament or have been diffused into social-democratic and opportunist left formations in Europe, the KKE remained standing with less electoral strength in comparison to its wider political influence.

Its strategy regarding the two paths of development, regarding the necessity of the socio-political alliance and the struggle for working class-people’s power, the expansion and deepening of its ties to the working class, the poor popular strata, remains an element of its activity amongst the people so that they remain upright and are not broken by the new hazards which await them.

The large reduction in the electoral strength of the KKE in conditions of severe pressure cannot and must not be interpreted only on the basis of the existing objective reasons. Of course it was decisively influenced by the level of the development of the class struggle, which is not exclusively determined by the party, but by the more general correlation of forces.

The CC and the whole party through a substantial discussion must examine the general subjective factors which in the medium term have influenced the political influence of the party or the subjective weaknesses during the election period regardless of their impact or the extent of their impact on the results of the elections. We must not be comforted by the fact that our political line has been borne out by the developments. We must examine the level of the party’s ability according to the criterion as to how we respond to the challenges in all conditions.

The 18th congress and the decisions of the CC which followed had underlined those factors, which determine the ability of the party to meet the needs and demands of the struggle: how it operates and works in the working class and popular masses, in the movement and in its organizations, for the building of the party in the working class, in the workplaces and sectors, for the social alliance, in its work amongst the youth and women. It is also connected to issues of ideological-political work in the party and the working class and youth.

The electoral battle can offer more complete conclusions, regarding new aspects which must be better examined and which had an influence to a certain extent on the elections. It is not enough to have a correct strategy and militancy, it is necessary for us to better study how we can acquire the greatest possible competence, which corresponds to the level of our tasks and the rapidlyunfolding developments. We must become more demanding and exacting regarding questions of political guidance, organization, practical orientation and activity in the working class and popular masses.

These weaknesses may not have played a decisive role in the result of the elections, in the specific electoral conditions where it was difficult to stem the current of fear and the chiefly the current of illusions, but they play a substantial role concerning the preparation, readiness, and effectiveness in the face of the new and very complex tasks we have before us.

C NEW TASKS FOR THE ACTIVITY OF THE PARTY

The KKE will fight and seek to meet with radical working class and popular forces so that the people are not burdened with and do not pay for the political bankruptcy of the government, which they are getting ready to form. Hope must not be lost, the people must acquire strength to impede the new measures to fight for concessions to achieve their own power. The working class, the poor popular strata, youth and women are at the centre of its attention.

The KKE will fight in order to tackle the wave of disappointment from the continuation of the anti-people political line. In order to prevent the prevalence fear and disappointment, against the consolidation of a reactionary political scene within the framework of parliamentary illusions, in conditions of the deepening of the capitalist economic crisis and the sharpening inter-imperialistcompetition.

The hope, the militant stance is a matter of personal responsibility for everyone who follows the path of radicalism, and has a leftwing political outlook. It is an issue for which the working class is responsible for.

The historical responsibility of the KKE is not to support a government for the management of the crisis at the expense of the people.

The KKE possesses valuable historical and contemporary experience, the endurance and the ability to adjust the struggle in the conditions of a sudden upsurge of the movement, and also in conditions of the retreat of the labour movement. It can combine the immediate and more general demands, to unite the militant forces around a unified political goal.

a. It will struggle together with the people and youth so that Greek territory will not be used and that there will be no Greek participation in a war against Syria and Iran, which is perhaps being prepared for after the US elections.

b. The KKE with a compact parliamentary group will table draft laws and amendments regarding the critical problems of the people. Amongst the first of these will be the abolition of the memorandum, the Loan Agreement and all the related laws which were passed by the previous Parliament.

c. It will directly support the organization of the labour movement and its allies to deal with the absolutely urgent problems such as the funding of EOPYY (National Organization for the Provision of Health services), the social security funds, the functioning of the health centres and hospitals, the protection of the unemployed, of the households in debt, the relief of the popular families from the heavy indirect and direct taxation, the sharpening problems of the youth, women, elderly and disabled. In the instance of an uncontrolled bankruptcy and a new internal devaluation it will support every popular initiative, solidarity and rally which will help the people to tackle their pressing needs.

d. It will seek to rally the people regarding the EU decisions which will meet on the 28-29 of June so that the discussion concerning the super powers of the Commission can begin.

e. The CC calls on the workers and employees, the self-employed, the poor farmers to take immediate action through the democratic electoral processes in order to drastically change the negative correlation of forces in the third and second level trade union organizations, and for millions of workers, who up to now have not participated, to take an active part in the base-level trade unions.

The CC calls on the members, friends and supporters of the party and KNE to contribute by studying and tackling the moregeneral weaknesses and shortcomings of a subjective character, which exist regarding our activity in the movement, in the workplaces, and neighbourhoods, in the villages, and in the places of education for the regroupment of the movement. Without this regroupment of the movement and the construction of a stronger socio-political alliance the people cannot achieve anything and take matters into their own hands. So that they can face the attack, which will intensify against the party on many levels and on many fronts under the pretext of the electoral result.

Athens 18/6/2012 The CC of the KKE

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Joint CPI/CYM letter of protest to the Lithuanian Embassy

13 June 2012

To:

Dalia Grybauskaitė, President of the Lithuanian Republic
Andrius Kubilius, Prime Minister of the Lithuanian Republic
Irena Degutienė, Speaker of the Seimas of the Lithuanian Republic

Re: The prosecution of Algirdas Paleckis
The Communist Party of Ireland and the Connolly Youth Movement strongly protest against the renewal of legal proceedings against Algirdas Paleckis, chairperson of the Socialist People’s Front and a member of the board of World Without Nazism.

After conducting a detailed investigation into the events of 13 January 1991 in Vilnius (the clashes around the television tower), Algirdas Paleckis stated in a radio interview that “it appears that in January 1991 our own people were shooting at their fellow-citizens.” We maintain that this statement has a substantial basis in the facts, in material evidence, and in eyewitness testimony.

     He has already been declared innocent at his first trial on 18 January 2012. Following an appeal by the state he is now facing the threat of two years’ imprisonment in accordance with paragraph 170 of part 2 of the Lithuanian Penal Code for the “denial of Soviet aggression against Lithuania.”

This case is a scandalous example of the violation of basic civil and democratic rights in Lithuania. We ask you, where is the freedom of speech so praised by the opponents of socialism? Where is the people’s right to express their opinions?

We condemn both this case and the unjust law under which it is being held, which contradicts article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

     To us and to all progressive sections of the Irish people Algirdas Paleckis has become a symbol of the struggle for historical truth in Europe against attempts to criminalise the heroic people who dared to challenge right-wing manipulation and propaganda.

Communist Party of Ireland
Connolly Youth Movement

Climate and Capitalism website

New website worth checking out launched in cooperation with the Monthly Review journal.

http://climateandcapitalism.com/

Saving the planet or saving capitalism

Friday, June 8, 2012

June Socialist Voice


June Socialist Voice

A hollow victory [EMC]

Important role of the People’s Movement in the referendum campaign

Vote No Campaign welcomes Donegal result

Noonan is off getting his orders

Survey shows retail workers’ reduced conditions

What we need is a party of a new type! [EON]

Youth unemployment to worsen as austerity hits harder [MA]

Oration at the graveside of James Connolly

Frank Conroy: Kildare communist killed in Córdoba, 1936” [MA]

Colombians march for peace and justice [SE]

United States preparing for possible attack on China

Reinforcing the US blockade of Cuba

Explaining the crisis: A response [NC]

Books: A singing labour man [NL]

Letters

Dont get fooled again ... by SYRIZA

On Wednesday the 6th of June, the President of SYRIZA, A. Tsipras met with ambassadors and diplomats from the member-states of the G20. The newspaper “Rizospastis”, organ of the CC of the KKE, on the 7/6/2012, made the following comment on this:

“Mr Tsipras handed over his “letter of credentials”, at a really ceremonial event, to an official of the US embassy and diplomats from the planet’s 19 strongest capitalist countries! The meeting of SYRIZA’s President with the ambassadors of the G20 countries gave us a reminder of the recent past, specifically it reminds us of the former Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou, who has vanished without trace in recent weeks… The same slogans regarding “a new multi-facetted peaceful foreign policy”, the same references to “international initiatives for the democratization of the system of international relations” and the need to “upgrade the role of the UN.”
And at the same time, no mention of NATO. The lips are sealed! NATO which recently met in Chicago and took new dangerous decisions for the expansion of its activity, for the repression of every force. of every people that seeks to take control of its own future. Mr Tsipras’ silence concerning the continuing intervention against Syria was astounding. No mention, as if plans for a military intervention in the region are not being drawn up. As if the use of US base at Suda is not part of the plans regarding this intervention, and the use more generally of the ports, the airspace, and the sea of our country. The President of SYRIZA said nothing as to how the “left” government, which he promises to form, would react in such a situation!

Why? It is obvious! When it does not pose the issue of the country’s departure from the imperialist plans, from the imperialist organization of NATO, in the name of “alliance obligations”, the country will be dragged into this new bloody imperialist war, under a “left” government. But Mr Tsipras did not omit to mention that he would play a leading role in a “nuclear-free Middle East”, pointing to Iran’s nuclear programme, which is in any case the pretext which will be used by the USA and Israel to justify a possible military attack against Iran, a new war. Not a word about the nuclear weapons Israel already possesses!

SYRIZA’s President made a point of once again declaring his loyalty to the imperialist EU, and the need for Turkey’s assimilation into it, something which the Turkish communist and labour movement are opposed to! Finally, he considered it appropriate in front of the foreign ambassadors to unhesitatingly spew his poison against the socialism humanity knew in the USSR and other countries in the 20th century, and which, despite its weaknesses, was for over 50 years an irreplaceable support for the peace and security of the peoples and a thorn in the side of the imperialists.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yes victory even more hollow


Yes victory even more hollow

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

5 June 2012

Martin Kotthaus, spokesperson for the German minister for finance, Wolfgang Schäuble, has called it as it is. There will be no change in regard to the debt: we will have to pay all the debt owing to German and French banks.

The options open to this government keep narrowing by the day, despite all their blather about a Yes vote “strengthening their hand” in negotiating a better deal on the socialised corporate debt. This was all just empty rhetoric.

Being a “model bail-out student” is simply no longer an option for our people and our country. We can’t keep on feeding German and French banks and saving the euro and at the same time feed our children. We have to put the people first. There is no other option but to repudiate this odious debt.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Feile an Phobail, August 11


Madge Davison Memorial Lecture
Socialist Republican Declan Bree to speak at the Feile an Phobail, Belfast
August 11