Thursday, November 22, 2012

CYM Statement on Gaza

Connolly Youth Movement

The Connolly Youth Movement condemns, in the strongest terms, the murderous
actions of the Israeli government, and her armed forces, in Gaza. This latest act of
gross aggression against the Palestinian people is an antagonism for which there
can be no justification.

The CYM condemns the horrific killing of women and children in Gaza and calls on
the Israeli army and air force to cease these lethal attacks on the people of Gaza.
The death toll stands at 130, and there are over 1,000 injured. These crimes against
humanity must stop.

Israel’s actions in Palestine are serving as a campaign to boost Benjamin
Netanyahu’s “hard man” image in the upcoming elections (January). This form of
sadistic electioneering must end, and the lives of Palestinians must no longer be
used as a method to win votes.

Israel’s imperialist actions in Gaza coincide with a wider campaign of imperialism
in the region. Israel, the US and other NATO countries are savagely imprinting their
will upon the people in this region. The removal of governments in the Middle East
and North Africa through imperial intervention, like in Libya and Egypt, and the
continued support by Western states for the terrorist rebels in Syria, displays the will
of nations like the US and Israel to re-broker power in the Middle East and North
Africa in their favour.

The CYM calls now on the Israeli government, and all units of its military, to
immediately cease their brutal actions against the people of Palestine. All air strikes,
drone strikes and naval bombardment must cease. Humanitarian aid and medical
equipment must be allowed to reach civilians caught in the crossfire of this horrific

The CYM supports the right of self-determination for the Palestinian people.

Antóin Fletcher
General Secretary

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Greek workers in solidarity with Palestinians


The three-day celebration of the anniversary of the Polytechnic uprising in 1973, when the students and the workers in Athens rose up against the fascist junta, finished on Saturday 17/11/2012 with the big anti-imperialist march to the US and Israeli embassy. 

In spite of the enormous effort of the coalition government to prevent the anti-imperialist march by means of creating an atmosphere of intimidation and setting up police blockades, in spite of the provocative information which was spread on the internet and in the other media by various mechanisms, their plans were thwarted thanks to the persistence and the repeated protests of the KKE. The march continued, the people demonstrated their anti-imperialist sentiment in front of the US and the Israeli embassies!

The protesters of the KKE and KNE condemned the new Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip and supported the just struggle of the Palestinian People. In addition, they demanded that Greece must not be involved in the imperialist war which is being organized in the Middle East, not to allow the use of the military base in Suda nor to facilitate the predatory alliance of NATO.

The GS of the CC of the KKE made the following statement to the media: “Israel which has occupied Syrian and Palestinian territories is bombarding Gaza. It tries to create the basis , a bridgehead at the expense of the Palestinians to attack Syria and then Iran. At the same time, the Greek government has proceeded to a despicable military agreement with Israel which means that in any case Greece is willing to be involved in the war with the bases or something more. We are fundamentally opposed to this agreement because it has nothing to do with the interests of the two peoples but has to do with the active participation in the struggle for the energy routes, for the oil routes”. 

Anti-imperialist demonstrations were held in dozens of cities throughout the country while in the previous days the KKE organized mass events in the state universities in Athens and Thessalonica for the anniversary of the uprising.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Palestine under continuous attack

Palestine under continuous attack

With the new declaration of war from Israel against the Palestinian People, we are facing once again imperialism’s brutality: Israel is repeatedly proving its aggressive and violent ambitions against the Palestinian People.

An announcement of war on Gaza was declared on the 14

th of the month, by Israel. Gaza is bombarded and attacked again. Death and bombs are dealt to the Palestinian people and the imperialist allies of Israel are (as usual) covering up the crime with hypocritical statements.

In the perspective of the World Federation of Democratic Youth, the recent attack is not something to be viewed separately from the continuous occupation of Palestine. Since 1948 the people of Palestine are fighting for their right of self determination. Until today, the Israel settlements are increasing, the repression and the deprivation of the Palestinians people’s right to leave freely with dignity is continuing.

The later attack just proves the Zionist intentions of Israel. It proves their willingness to give back what rightfully belongs to the Palestinian people. It proves their complete disrespect and violation to the many UN resolutions that call for ending the occupation.

However, now as always the Palestinian people are resisting the attack as the occupation itself. They are resisting the Zionist aggression, defending themselves against the attacks and bombing of their lands and houses. They are refusing their exploitation and usage as tools in the interests of the imperialist monopolies. From inside Palestine, from Gaza and West Bank, from refugee camps outside Palestine, and from all over the World where the anti-imperialist youth struggles we are all standing to face this imperialist attack. The Palestinians are resisting in every mean they can against the fascist acts of imperialism against their life, and development. All the anti-imperialist forces support their rightful struggle.

The exploitations and aggressions against the people are refused. The continuous occupation and war on Palestine is condemned. This war is not only against Palestine, it is against the voices of liberation and independence worldwide; against all the peoples resisting and fighting oppressions, poverty, injustice and exploitation performed by imperialism.

In solidarity with the resistance and fortitude of the Palestinian people; WFDY salutes the comrades and people of Palestine who are struggling towards freedom, and against the impositions of imperialism and Zionism.

WFDY with persistence calls for the immediate halt of the Zionist usurpation of the Palestinian land. We call for the ending of the Israeli occupation and for the realization of the legitimate right of Palestine to be recognized as a free and independent state within the boundaries existing before 1967 and with East Jerusalem as its capital, and as a full member state of United Nations. WFDY expresses also its solidarity with the Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli jails .WFDY reaffirms its solidarity with the Palestinian refugees and their legitimate right to return to their homeland.


Budapest, November 18, 2012

New website on political economy

For those interested in political economy and the marxist critique of capitalism check out The website will store important reports on Ireland, provide a global marxist critique of monopoly capitalism and also interview a number of economists and activists on the subject of political economy.

Worth keeping an eye on.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

State of the Unions

The State of the Unions published in counterpunch
The AFL-CIO and most member unions went all-out for Obama, doing their usual get-out-the-vote phone banking, canvassing, and radio advertising. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) put 100,000 volunteers in the field the last few days of the campaign. Labor’s message spread fear of Romney’s overt anti-union, anti-worker views and praised Obama’s supposed pro-union, pro-worker policies. Obama’s propaganda, echoed by organized labor, claimed to have saved tens of thousands of jobs in the auto industry, and this resonated in states like Ohio, which has a heavy concentration of automobile-related employment. Labor supporters of Obama also emphasized his appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, Obamacare, and the expansionary fiscal policies that helped prevent a full-scale economic meltdown following the collapse of the housing markets. After Obama’s victory, AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said that labor’s efforts were decisivefor the president’s victories in Ohio, Wisconsin, and Nevada.
Unfortunately, neither Trumka nor SEIU president Mary Kay Henry demanded a quid pro quo for their members’ hard work.
We will never know what a Romney administration would have done to working people, and it is impossible to say what the exact impact of Obama’s policies on the working class has been. However, we can say two things. First, the labor movement has continued its march to economic and political irrelevance during the president’s initial term, faring slightly worse than during a similar period under George W. Bush. During the first three years of the Obama administration (2009, 2010, 2011), union density fell from 12.3% to 11.8%, a decline of 4.1%. For the first three years of the George W. Bush presidency (2001, 2002, 2003), density went from 13.3% to 12.9%, a drop of 3%. Union membership declined by 563,000 during the Obama years, and 520,000 for Bush.
So all of those wonderful things Obama did for workers didn’t translate into more union members or higher union density.
Second, the demise of the U.S. labor movement predates Obama and Bush by several decades, and the reasons for it have been much discussed. But what does the elimination of labor unions in much of the economy and the loss of power in most of the unions still standing mean for working people? For the society as a whole?
Let’s look at the economics. Unions improve wages and benefits not just for their members but for the working class as a whole. The latter effect occurs because nonunion employers might pay higher wages and benefits to avoid unions in their workplaces, and because union gains in such things as pensions, health and safety, and grievance procedures might become the standard for many other workers.
Lawrence Mishel and his colleagues at the Economic Policy Institute have documented the union impact on wages and benefits in the latest edition of The State of Working America. For all workers in the United States, the union wage premium in 2011 was 13.6%. That is, on average, union members earn this much more than their nonunion counterparts. The comparison is made especially significant since it holds the following wage-determining factors constant: experience, education, region, industry, occupation, race/ethnicity, and marital status. This means that if we compare those with the same education, race, occupation, etc., union workers still make more money. We get similar results if we look at benefits. Union employees are more likely to have employer-financed health insurance (28.2%), pensions (53.9%), and time off (14.3%). Union benefits are also better. For example, union workers have lower deductibles and copayments in their healthcare plans and are much more likely to be covered when they retire. They are more likely to have defined benefits pensions (in which they are guaranteed certain pension payments, as opposed to defined contribution plans in which employees pay fixed amounts into an individual retirement account but are guaranteed nothing in terms of pension pay-outs).
The collapse of union membership, especially in the private sector of the economy, has reduced the union advantage considerably. In terms of the impact of this decline, it is useful to look at specific categories of workers. Unions in the United States have always benefitted blue-collar and less formally educated workers the most (The same is true for racial minorities). The decline in union membership among these groups has been precipitous. For blue-collar employees, union density fell from 43.1% in 1978 to 17.8% in 2011, and for high school graduates, it dropped from 37.9% to 14.9%. These declines were associated with a weakening of the union impact on wages between these two years from 11.5% to 3.5% for blue-collar unionists and from 8.2% to 2.6% for union members with a high school education.
The weakening of the union impact on the wages and benefits of blue-collar and less formally educated workers doesn’t just lower their standards of living. It also leads to greater inequality in wages; the gaps between college-educated and high school graduates and between white collar and blue collar workers have been growing at the same time that union densities have been falling. According to The State of Working America, “. . . deunionization can explain about a fifth of the growth in the college/high school wage gap among men between 1978 and 2011.” And “[the] lessened effect of unionism can account for 76.1 percent” of the growth of wage inequality between white- and blue-collar employees. What is more, the growing disparity between those at the top of the income and wealth distributions—the infamous 1% justifiably vilified by the Occupy movement—and the rest of us has its roots in the rapidly growing power of the rich and the dwindling power of workers. As unions lose strength, so too do all those who labor. The unions themselves begin to make concessions that boost corporate profits and the incomes of those who own the businesses. It is a rare union in the manufacturing sector that has not agreed to a two-tier wage system in which new hires receive a fraction of what senior employees earn for the same work. Hard-won work rules are discarded, giving companies free reign to compel more work effort from those producing our goods and services. This is combined with brutal workforce reductions, which place heavier burdens on those remaining. Once unions make concessions, it is open season on nonunion workers. The “threat effect” of unions disappears, and employers have a free hand to impose draconian “lean production” techniques (such as kaizen or “constant improvement,” which relentlessly speeds up production by making fewer workers produce the same or greater output). Productivity and profits rise, but workers get no more money, and this further increases inequality.
As inequality rises, a host of social problems intensify. These are best exemplified by the old saying: “Them that’s got is them that gets.” Inequality diminishes democracy, as the rich come to rule the government with an iron hand. Those with bundles of money vet the candidates for public office, finance their campaigns, and place insurmountable pressure on politicians to put in place laws and regulations that benefit them and harm those without the requisite cash. The fortunes of the ultra-rich are so vast today that a handful of billionaires, including the infamous Koch brothers, can lead a successful assault on public education, or anything else they don’t like. By moving their money from country to country, they can bend most governments to their will, compelling them to abandon or privatize social welfare programs and the provision of public services. Their control of the mass media makes a mockery of public discourse and investigative journalism. The economic elite mass their power to make any attempts to slow the accumulation of capital—never-ending increases in profits and ever more rapid growth—impossible, which means, among other things, that our climate catastrophe will continue unabated.
Inequality has many socially harmful consequences that get little attention despite their serious nature. If we consider different places (for example, states in the United States or countries) with similar average incomes but dissimilar degrees of income inequality, those with greater inequality display less social cohesion and more individual pathologies. In a recent essay, I wrote that “inequality is also harmful to the formation of the social bonds so necessary for human well-being. It isolates us from one another; in effect, there are two worlds, that of the rich and that of the rest of us. The rich exert power over us and, by doing so, deny us our full humanity.” Eric Schutz, in his book, Inequality and Power: The Economics of Class, puts this in terms of alienation (see my review essay):
The concept of alienation clarifies both the extent and the significance of what is lost for those subordinated in social power structures. Not only is their full self-initiative denied … but the full development of their faculties and intentions in all other realms of life is thereby stifled and more or less permanently stunted. People . . . manifest behaviors ranging from withdrawal to social or intellectual incompetence, from distraction to aimlessness or apathy, from anger, confusion, depression and anxiety to obsession and neuroses and, in some, violence of one kind or another.
In one study comparing U.S. states:
States with greater inequality in the distribution of income also had higher rates of unemployment, higher rates of incarceration, a higher percentage of people receiving income assistance and food stamps, and a greater percentage of people without medical insurance. Again, the gap between rich and poor was the best predictor, not the average income in the state.
Interestingly, states with greater inequality of income distribution also spent less per person on education, had fewer books per person in the schools, and had poorer educational performance, including worse reading skills, worse math skills, and lower rates of completion of high school.
States with greater inequality of income also had a greater proportion of babies born with low birth weight; higher rates of homicide; higher rates of violent crime; a greater proportion of the population unable to work because of disabilities; a higher proportion of the population using tobacco; and a higher proportion of the population being sedentary (inactive).Lastly, states with greater inequality of income had higher costs per-person for medical care, and higher costs per person for police protection.
While the collapse of organized labor harms workers economically, both directly through lower wages and benefits, and indirectly by generating greater inequality, it also has other consequences for laboring men and women. Unions give employees a voice in their workplaces they otherwise wouldn’t have; they give you the power to fight your employer instead of quitting and finding another job. With a union, you can’t be legally discharged for standing up to the boss; without one, you are in most circumstances an employee at will, and your employer can get rid of you for any reason at all. If your supervisor told you to vote for a certain political candidate, and you said it was none of his business how you voted, he could discharge you on the spot. With a union, if this happened, you would have powerful legal recourse, and you would get your job back plus lost wages and benefits. The sense of collective empowerment that unions can give us at work helps build the solidarity necessary for any challenge we might want to make against those who wield power over us.
A union can also be an educator. We can learn valuable lessons about democracy, power, and our own capacities just by participating in union meetings, collective bargaining, strikes, picketing, and boycotts. In addition, a union can provide more formal and general education for its members, through its own education programs or by funding member enrollment in labor studies programs. Members can thereby learn things they didn’t in school and be better prepared to wage class war against their oppressors.
We see then that the entire U.S. working class has lost much as a result of the downward spiral of union membership. Therefore, a great deal would be gained if this spiral were reversed. Millions of words have been written about what needs to be done for this to happen. I have written some of them. Right now, I am not optimistic. I hope that the examples of the Wisconsin Uprising, the OWS revolt, and the Chicago Teachers strike will resonate with working people and they will build on them to revitalize the labor movement. However, our economic and political systems have a great talent for absorbing and deflecting protests, as the recent all-out support by labor unions for Obama clearly shows. And most unions have no interest in educating their members, in democracy, in building class solidarity, in waging war against their class adversaries, in political independence. Employers, on the other hand, are united and confident. They will continue to escalate their war on workers. Their goals are more sharp declines in union membership and the ultimate dismantling of what little power unions still have. For now, look for their victories to continue.
MICHAEL D. YATES is Associate Editor of Monthly review magazine.He is the author of Cheap Motels and Hot Plates: an Economist’s Travelogue and Naming the System: Inequality and Work in the Global Economy. He is the editor of Wisconsin Uprising: Labor Fights Back. Yates can be reached at

Friday, November 16, 2012

Theories about ‘independence and neutrality’ of trade unions

Theories about ‘independence and neutrality’ of trade unions 

George Mavrikos, General Secretary of the WFTU 

World Federation of Trade Unions in Copenhagen, Denmark, 14 November 2012

The reactionary changes globally over the last 20 years and the temporary dominance of the forces of capital and reformism at the political and ideological levels revived old theories about the “independence” and the “neutrality” of the trade unions. These perceptions claim that the coordination of the struggle of the workers in a class-oriented direction limits this struggle, subordinates it to political priorities and traps it into paths that are not serving the interests of the working class of each respective country. Naturally, the forces of capital and their supporters in the reformist trade unions are not only satisfied by such perceptions, but promote them and maintain them as, supposedly, modern and progressive.

In no case are these theories new theories. They are old theories. Such theories were expressed in the interior of the WFTU, even from the first Congress in 1945 in Paris, when the representatives of some trade unions, in particular the British and the Dutch, demanded that WFTU remain neutral towards the issue of colonialism, using the fraudulent excuse that “it is not a trade union issue”.

The confrontation was hard. The British and the Dutch were vehemently confronted by trade union leaders like the Indian S.A Dange, the Cuban Lazaro Pena, the Chinese Liu Chang Cheng, the Soviet Kuznetsov and others. After the vote, the resolution of the founding Congress of the WFTU says: “it would have been an uncomplete victory if the people of the colonies and the territories of all the countries were deprived by their rights in self-determination and national independence.”

At each historic turn and retreat, the trade union movement had to confront such voices that urged it to adjust to “the new realities”. Historical experience, however, proves that the great achievements of the trade unions and the working class have been accomplished when the trade unions were guided in their economic struggle by a clear orientation regarding the final objectives of the class struggle, when they strengthened their international proletarian coordination in opposition to the internationalized forces of capital and its agents in the trade union movement. The degeneration of trade union leaderships, such as the one of CGT France or CGIL Italy, who were once class-oriented and rooted in the factories and the working places, is a result of such a retreat from the historical lessons of the class struggle . And the problem is not the degeneration and bankruptcy of the trade union bureaucracy, but the illusions that it cultivated in the working masses, the disarming of honest militants, the orientation towards “social partnership” and “class conciliation and peace”.

This is why several specific questions are worth answering once more.

a) “Independence” and “neutrality” vis-a-vis the final goals of the struggle of the proletariat for the overthrow of capitalism and the abolition of the exploitation of human by human?

Although the trade unions can certainly not initiate such a revolutionary change, only through such a change will they accomplish their basic objective. The current full-frontal attack of capital against the achievements of the working class, its effort to exit from the economic crisis by shifting the burden on the workers, prove that any achievements and gains of the economic struggle can only be defensive, temporary and in danger of being reversed, if they are not linked to the broader class struggle for a different power which will work exclusively in favor of the working class and its allies.

Isolated from such a political struggle, the trade unions can only develop within the working masses an economistic consciousness, which is doomed to be subordinated to bourgeois ideology, as it aims only to improve the position of the working class within the framework of capitalism; as it exhausts the objectives of the working class only to the financial improvement, either of the salaries or of the pensions etc. Those are improvements that the governments can cancel at once e.g though the taxation of the working people. For this reason, the pioneer representatives of the working class, Marx and Engels, already in the middle of the 19th century, underlined the necessity for the workers to struggle not only against the consequences of the capitalist system, but, at the same time, against the system itself. They highlighted the role of the trade unions as “an organized force for the overcoming of the system of wage labour and capital”.

Historical experience itself has clearly shown that only where the economic struggle of the working class in the trade unions was harmoniously combined with the political struggle for power, in coordination with the respective revolutionary parties, was it possible to abolish the exploitation of human by human. Such a combination in the struggle, not only does not limit it, but it facilitates wider strata of the working class to overcome superstitions and illusions, to free themselves from bourgeois ideology, to help in the construction of a real United Front of the working class towards the promotion of its common interests. Such a unified movement cannot be built through artificial welding or high-level agreements, but only in a direction of revolutionary change of society.

b) “Independence” and “neutrality” vis-a-vis the proletariat of other countries and its class-oriented trade union organizations?

During the last two centuries, the needs of capital for more and more markets for its commodities pushed it to expand in all corners of the globe. “The bourgeoisie has, through its exploitation of the world market, given a cosmopolitan character to production and consumption in every country” (Communist Manifesto). The internationalization of capital, which has intensified and multiplied since then, in the era of the transnational monopolies and imperialism, has added new tasks and duties to the working class, aside from the old ones. The labour movement wrote in its flags, next to the slogan for the abolition of the exploitation, the slogan: “proletarians of all countries, unite.”

Does this erase the old tasks of the working class in each country? No! The struggle of the working class against capital is (at least in form) first of all national. The proletariat of each country must finish its “business” first and foremost with the bourgeoisie of its own country.

However, the internationalization of capital’s activities creates new necessities for an international coordination of the action of the working class to confront: the common global strategy of the capitalists against the workers (IMF, EU, World Bank, OECD etc.), the activity of the large monopoly groups in many countries globally, the intensified danger for armed conflicts and human sacrifices of the working class, due to rivalries between the different parts of capital.

Does this international coordination of the proletariat abolish the peculiarities and the particularities of the class struggle in each country?

The class-oriented trade union movement and its international organizations never underestimated the particular tasks that the uneven development of capitalism in the various countries forces upon them. However, they never feared to highlight the common principles and objectives that ought to be the background of each consistent class struggle and that determinately unify the interests and the action of the proletariat internationally.

In our days, the hypocrisy of all the opportunist forces in the trade union movement has been exposed. Look at the positions taken on the imperialist attack against Libya in 2011, when 135,000 people were killed. The leadership of ITUC, the trade union leaderships of CGT France, of CGIL Italy and others like the British TUC, the German DGB, trade unions from Netherlands, from Sweden, supported the imperialist war. Why? Their main goal was for the bourgeoisie in their own country to win a bigger share from the plundering of the oil, the natural gas and other wealth-producing resources of Libya. From this plundering of the wealth of another People, the opportunists take a small share, through privileges or through their salaries.

See the position of the sold-out leadership of CCOO Spain in the crisis that took place on April 2012 between the two states of Argentina and Spain, when there was a threat for a military confrontation triggered by the “nationalization” of the Spanish monopoly Repsol-YPF by the government of Argentina. This Spanish monopoly is stealing for 14 years the oil of Argentina. The CCOO agreed officially and in writing with the Spanish government, the capitalist owners of Repsol-YPF, with the European Commission and with all the other thieves involved! Why? Because it gains from the plundering of the natural resources and the exploitation of the working class of Argentina. Though salaries, though privileges, it gets a share of the loot.

In both the abovementioned examples, the hypocrisy of the opportunists who only in words talk about international solidarity and internationalism, while in reality they exploit the international proletariat, is obvious.

c) “Neutrality” of a class-oriented trade union towards the WFTU and the ITUC?

The necessity of struggle of the working class in each country against the power of capital itself (not only against its results) and the necessity of international coordination in the same direction make it clear that the above question must be answered in the negative. The position and the actions of ITUC and its basic organizations at the national level prove that they have nothing to do with the real defense of working class interests, even the immediate defensive ones, let alone the long-term ones. So, no class-oriented trade union that respects its role and its mission, no true trade unionist who wants to remain part of his class, can be captured in such a fraudulent dilemma.

No one can claim that “our union is.. independent and decides on its own”. This means it decides on its own to be with the servants of the IMF and the World Bank? What do all these excuses mean? Whom do they convince? No one!

The same mistake is done by some comrades who propose the unification of WFTU and the ITUC! This is as if someone would propose the unification of a revolutionary communist party with a social-democratic one, or even with an ultra right-wing one. Like someone would try to unite oil with water.

The workers have to realize that WFTU and ITUC have two different historic roots, two different strategies, different objectives, different ideologies and theoretical basis. It is impossible to unite these two distinct lines, the one promoting the struggle against Capital and Imperialism and the one leading to subordination to the objectives of Capital and of Imperialism.

However, if we do assume that at some point some bureaucratic leaderships would move forward with such a process of artificial welding, it is for sure that the next moment, the process for a new international class-oriented organization would begin, because its existence is an objective necessity.

A general conclusion

All these theories that come and go have as a central aim to justify the retreat, the compromises, the abandonment of the principles of the class struggle. They have as an aim to create excuses for the collaboration of trade union leaderships with the monopolies and their governments.

Finally, all these efforts aim to hide from the ordinary people the truth: that those trade union leaderships have lost any contact with the real interests of the working class and that, at the same time, they are dangerous for the working class of the other countries.

We have the duty to expose in the eyes of the workers those trade union leaderships and that political line. Until we drive away all those types of “leaders” from the trade unions, as Lenin was writing and underlining.

World Federation of Trade Unions
40, Zan Moreas Street, Athens 11745 Greece Tel. (+30) 2109214417, (+30) 2109236700, Fax (+30) 210 9214517 E-Mail: ,