Tuesday, February 25, 2014

They portray the events as a struggle to secure democracy...

Events in Ukraine are indeed tragic. The death and destruction in the streets of Kiev are a senseless waste. The Ukrainian people will gain nothing from the violent upheavals of the last four months.

This assessment is in sharp contrast to the picture portrayed by the capitalist media in the US and Europe. With very few exceptions, they portray the events as a struggle to secure democracy for the Ukrainian people, a battle against official abuse and corruption. Of course we’ve heard this before; it is the same chorus that celebrated “heroic” opposition in Libya and now Syria.

One would think that the chaos that followed the overthrow of Gaddafi, the vigilante murders, the wide-spread militia banditry, the oil extortion, and the other expressions of civil breakdown in Libya would temper enthusiasm for more “nation building.”

One would think that frequent pictures of opposition thugs hurling Molotov cocktails and other potentially lethal weapons, of the destruction of public property, and the disruption of services might restrain the zeal of Western journalists and politicians; they certainly never identify with anarchists in their own countries!

One would think that the exposure of one-third of the oppositional leadership triumvirate, Oleg Tyagnibok, head of the fascistic Svoboda Party, would disconcert Western liberals. But they seem comfortable with the party’s antisemitism, anti-abortion stance, “pro-family” conservatism, and xenophobia.

Even with the biased picture one gets from the opposition-fawning media, it should be clear that the street fighters’ democratic credentials are slender. It is equally clear that the “struggle for democracy” masks another agenda.

Standing in the way of a deeper understanding on the part of most observers is the powerful remnants of Cold War thinking. Far too many, especially within the Western left, view the Ukrainian events through the lens of anti-Communist mythology. And the media does its best to reinforce this distorted picture of a contest between those in the Ukraine who hope to be a part of the freedom-loving West and those who want to surrender Ukraine to the Russian Empire. They crudely caricature public officials elected with Western-style bourgeois democracy as puppets of Russia and those violently seeking to overthrow the outcome of Western-style elections as true democrats. They posture an open door to European and US economic, political, and culture hegemony as somehow “liberating.”

This farce only gains traction with those who cannot or will not shed the old Cold War assumptions.

Ironically, a real understanding of the post-Cold War world, including events in Ukraine, comes through returning our thinking to the pre-Cold War paradigm of imperialism. In other words, Lenin’s 1916 pamphlet on Imperialism is a far better guide to today’s world than Cold War Neanderthals writing in The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal. Its clear exposition of the division of the world into spheres of influence, intense rivalries, and even war, illuminates far more than the vacuous theories of globalization, the decline of the nation-state, and the holy mission of imposing “human rights” advocated by neo-Marxists, social democrats, and anarchists.

Thus, the events unfolding in Ukraine are set against a struggle between imperial powers. On one side is the shaky alliance between the US and the European Union (the recent expletive-laced comments by a State Department official demonstrate the tenuousness of the alliance); while on the other side is the Russian Federation. Each is intent upon bringing Ukraine into its own bloc’s sphere of influence; both are engaged in an intense rivalry, with Ukraine’s economy as the prize. The political parties acting out this competition are bourgeois parties hoping to use the rivalry to further their own national and economic vision for Ukraine. Their relations with the respective imperial centers are marriages of opportunity. Elected President Yanukovych on one side and the oppositional gang of three, Klitschko, Yatsenyuk, and Tyagnibok, on the other, hope to accrue advantages from the backing of their imperial sponsors. The Ukrainian people are only an afterthought in this contest.

While drawing Cold War caricatures to choose sides in the conflict is misguided, there should be no question that the oppositional forces to the elected Ukrainian government include extreme right elements bent on establishing an ultra-nationalist, nativist, socially backward regime. Deliberately muting its fascist trappings for the moment, the Svoboda Party nonetheless may well be the political entity in Europe that most closely models itself after the original Nazi Party. The Western media moguls know this, but willfully and shamefully hide if from their followers.

Similarly, Western media intentionally hides the history of US and EU meddling in Ukrainian affairs. The so-called Orange Revolution of 2004-2005 brought down an earlier Yanukovych Presidency with the decisive help of numerous US-sponsored NGOs. As I reported at the time, over $65 million in influence peddling was executed through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute (IRI), the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI), and many other liberal-sounding instruments of imperialism. I also recounted how US officials of the Bush administration, Senator Lugar, and Senator McCain, met with a key Ukrainian political leader to undermine the Yanukovych Presidency (McCain seems to take a special interest in Ukraine since his presence is again ubiquitous in Ukrainian affairs).

Five years after the demonstrations in Kiev stoked the Orange Revolution, The Wall Street Journal made a candid admission. In a front page feature, writer Richard Bourdeaux exclaimed that “Rent-a-crowd entrepreneurs find people fast to cheer or jeer for $4 an hour.” This is the face of Ukrainian democracy. “’We’ll do business with any political party. Ideology doesn’t matter to us’ says the 21-year-old web design major at Kiev Polytechnic Institute. ‘It matters less to most students,’ he adds grinning. ‘They have become tired of politicians. They will rally only for money.’” Sixty-five million dollars buys a lot of demonstrators!

Nor does it present a problem for their Western supporters that the opposition’s last round of ruling the Ukraine ended in massive corruption, mismanagement, and unpopularity.

Western Leftists must be reminded of what the battle is over. Ukraine was once an industrial powerhouse with 90% of its enterprises publicly owned. Today all but 12% of those enterprises are in private hands. That fact is not lost on the capitalists in the US and the EU; it shouldn’t be lost on anyone who says that they are opposed to imperialism. All of us who live under governments with designs on Ukraine’s future have a duty to stand against interference in Ukrainian Affairs. They must stand with the interests of the Ukrainian people.

The latest news brings word of the apparent success of the overthrow– the coup– against the elected President of Ukraine. The Western imperialists have won. The Ukrainian people need our solidarity even more than ever.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Statement of the press office of the CC of the KKE about the developments in Ukraine

The bloody events in Kiev are linked to the intervention of the EU and the USA in the developments in Ukraine, are the result of the fierce competition of these powers with Russia over the control of the markets, raw materials and the country’s transport network. From this standpoint, the interventions of the EU and the USA in favour of the demonstrators of the opposition, who are allegedly fighting for “freedom” and “democracy”, for the accession of Ukraine to the EU, are extremely hypocritical . In reality, the EU and the USA support and utilize even armed fascist forces, which are active inside the Ukrainian opposition in order to promote their geopolitical goals in the Eurasia region.

Of course that attachment of Ukraine to the tank of contemporary capitalist Russia is not a solution for the people. The attempt to divide the Ukrainian people and to lead them to a bloodbath, with immeasurably tragic consequences for their country, so that they choose the one or the other inter-state capitalist union is entirely alien to the interests of the workers.

The KKE denounces the foreign interventions in the internal affairs of Ukraine. It denounces the activity of fascist forces, anti-communism and acts of vandalism against the Lenin monument and other Soviet monuments. 

We express our solidarity with the communists and the working people of Ukraine and the conviction that they must organize their independent struggle with their interests as the criterion and not with the criterion of the imperialist which is chosen by the one or the other section of the Ukrainian plutocracy. They must chart the path for socialism, which is the only alternative solution to the impasses of the capitalist development path.

The peoples, particularly of the countries of the former USSR, lived with peace and prosperity in the years of socialism. For this reason, in any case, the majority of the population fondly recalls socialism, despite the fact that over 20 years have passed and the younger generations have not experienced its achievements.


The Government of the Republic of Cuba strongly condemns the ongoing attempts to perpetrate a coup d’etat against the constitutional government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela as well as the violent incidents that caused several deaths and tens of wounded; attacks on public institutions; the burning of vehicles and destruction which were organized by fascists groups, as was denounced to the world by President Nicolás Maduro Moros.

The Cuban Government expresses its full support to the Bolivarian and Chavista Revolution  and calls for the broadest international solidarity, convinced that the Venezuelan people will defend its irreversible achievements, the legacy of Hugo Chávez Frías and the government that it freely and sovereignly elected, headed by President Maduro.

It is worthwhile remembering that the incidents occurred yesterday, while the Venezuelan youth and the entire nation were celebrating the bicentennial of the heroic battle of “La Victoria”, were similar to those occurred on April 11, 2002, which were then magnified by some accomplice governments, oligarchic circles and transnationals as part of the coup that was later on defeated by the people’s mobilization around the triumphant return of Chávez.

Likewise, Cuba reiterates its unconditional support to the indefatigable and evident efforts made by President Maduro and the political and military leadership of the Bolivarian Revolution to preserve peace, incorporate all sectors of the country and promote the economic and social development of that fraternal nation.

Havana, February 13, 2014.

Sunday, February 23, 2014


The Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Venezuela (PCV), reiterates that the activation of fascist groups and the offensive by transnational media corporations against our country respond to the international interests of U.S. imperialism, which are permanently conspiring against the process of changes that the Venezuelan people are building .
The actions of those small groups, which do not legitimately represent the conglomerate of the opposition forces, are not of a democratic and popular character, and rather seek to drag our country into a situation of lawlessness through the riots , vandalism , intimidation and murder of innocent bystanders .
For this reason, PCV reaffirms its steadfast support to the national government led by President Nicolás Maduro in defense of the sovereignty, independence and self-determination of our people, and expresses its commitment to carry out any struggle in the streets and workplaces, if need be, in order to isolate, weaken and defeat the fascist conspiracy, and consolidate the foundations for the development and deepening of the revolution.
PCV calls for the building of the strongest unity of the people and working class in order to respond to the actions of the imperialist right wing, without any arrogance, hegemonic intentions, unilateral impositions or false unanimity, on the understanding that the real are objective conditions in our country that are favorable to the fascist adventure.
It is within this context that PCV has decided to participate and join in the call by President Maduro for mobilization on Tuesday, February 18th, for the signing of the oil workers labor agreement 2013-2015, despite our standing criticism to the conditions and contents of such agreement and the exclusion of several legally organized labor unions carried out by the leadership of FUTPV, all of which has been denounced at the Ministry of Labor without reply.
Our Party, which has been fighting alongside the Venezuelan people for almost 83 years, being a revolutionary, autonomous and critical organization with its own program and agenda, will continue fostering classist unions, strengthening the labor movement, defending the rights of workers on a class standing , and promoting a genuinely revolutionary political and organic unity of the people and working class in order to build a new correlation of forces able to open up the true path to Socialism.
Politburo of the Central Committee

Saturday, February 15, 2014

WFDY Statement on putsch in Venezuala

In recent hours, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has come under attack from the fascist right-wing, as a the plan of imperialism against the revolutionary process; supported by the most reactionary sectors -inside and outside- of Venezuela, whose format is similar to the coup d'état driven in 2002 against the President Hugo Chavez.

This plan has the objective not only to end the Bolivarian process, but undermining the process of regional integration in Latin America. Today, a reverse in the process in Venezuela means to deal a blow to the rest of the democratic and progressive process on the continent.

We condemn and repudiate the deaths that have resulted from the concretion of these violent acts, generating disorder, attacks on public institutions and generally promoting a violent destabilization agenda in the country. We support the call for peace, defense of the revolutionary process and unit have different youth organizations in Venezuela.

Attending to the call for international solidarity we are asking to all members and partners of the World Federation of Democratic Youth to express solidarity with youth, people, workers and the Venezuelan Government continuation of the legacy of Commander Chavez.

Long live the unity of the People!

Political statement: National Executive Committee, Communist Party of Ireland

12 February 2014

At its first meeting of 2014 the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland analysed the economic and political situation in the country and its effect on the people, north and south.

      The Irish people, north and south, will face another year of cuts and austerity from the Irish and British governments. Austerity, their weapon of choice, will continue to take back concessions won by the working class over nearly a century of struggle and will further institute new inequality.
      Globally there has been very little growth in world output since 2009. With slow or stagnant growth in profits, monopoly capitalism and the Irish capitalist class will continue their offensive, to squeeze workers further and to reduce the share of wealth going to the working class.
      A growth in profits will be achieved by more intense exploitation of workers. There is also growing uncertainty among the elite about a possible way out of the crisis. Despite the Irish establishment talking of an economic recovery, with the state leaving the “bail-out programme” and the claim that we are in economic recovery mode and the only way is up, this is clearly a ruse to fool the people.
      Austerity will not end, as it is now structurally built in to the system itself with the myriad of EU treaties and laws and their continued attacks on our living standards. The continuing and deepening economic crisis will inflict further pain on our people, north and south. The ranks of the unemployed now number almost half a million, north and south. Most economic forecasts are predicting little if any growth and general economic activity very sluggish.
      The Irish Government is basing its hopes on recovery on both the American economy and the European Union. They are also hoping that the “emerging markets” will grow, providing export opportunities. The British government is relying on a similar strategy.
      The Northern Executive will have to find nearly £100 million in further cuts in 2014 alone. The Irish Government continues to massage the unemployment figures by claiming a drop in the numbers unemployed, which is due in the main to the continued emigration of tens of thousands of young people, many of whom have completed third-level education, with a similar process in the North.
      Our people are experiencing the emptying of our towns, villages and homes of the sound and activity of our youth. The Government can only offer young people the choice of emigration or Job Bridge “internships.” They are offering only low wages, no wages, or emigration.
      At the same time there have been small but important shoots of resistance, with the victory of the ESB workers in defence of their pensions and the pay increases won by Mandate for low-paid shop workers. The CPI calls on members of the TEEU to support their union’s call for a national stoppage in February to oppose the efforts by employers to smash the registered wage rates and institute wholesale cuts in wages.
      The efforts of Haass in the task he was given, of overcoming the deadlock and bringing forward solutions, failed to bridge the gap and overcome the impasse on the issues of flags, parades, and historical truth. What is becoming clearer is that the DUP is pursuing a strategy of squeezing the other unionist parties, including the Alliance Party, using Orangeism as the tool for strengthening their hegemony in the rebuilding of one united unionist bloc.
      There is no future for the Protestant section of the working class in Orangeism. It is a supremacist ideology, tied to the interests of imperialism. It will be defeated only when challenged by open, democratic politics.
      This year the Irish establishments, both unionist and nationalist, will offer the people north and south a diet of circuses regarding their “shared sacrifice” to commemorate the Inter-Imperialist War of 1914–18. They will beat their drums and parade their flags, not in homage to the dead but to continued imperialist adventure. We need to make 2014 a year of building the people’s resistance, building the people’s consciousness of what is happening. This is the only real and meaningful way to honour both the heroes of 1913 and those who opposed the imperial slaughter that began in September 1914. We must turn commemoration into resistance.

No recovery for working people

Has the time arrived for unrestrained rejoicing? Have those mighty men and women of the coalition rescued us from economic and social calamity? Can we trust indicators that are supposedly pointing to recovery?

      The Taoiseach gravely tells us we have exited the bail-out; hip hip hooray! Michael Noonan welcomes a report that the Republic’s government is no longer suffering under the lash of the Moody Blues, as our bond status has been upgraded from junk to investment level by the influential credit rating agency; more hip hooraying.
      Nor do the celebrations end there. Frank Daly, chairperson of NAMA, has boasted that the Irish property crash has ended; so hats in the air as well as hip hip hooraying.
      However, before we decide to put gilded images of Enda and Eamon on top of the Dublin Spire, let us enter a few words of caution. Eye-catching headlines about recovery are often misleading. A slight decline in the total rate of unemployment is heralded as proof of upturn but overlooks the reduction in the real value of incomes. The finding of the Irish League of Credit Unions that monthly disposable income increased by €50 in December 2013 masks its other discovery, that 1.6 million people had €100 or less left at the end of the month once all bills were paid, while half a million have nothing at all left after meeting their commitments.
      Even those who have regular employment are finding it increasingly difficult to make ends meet. Wages are not keeping pace with the cost of living. This situation has been exacerbated by the imposition of a universal social charge—a poll tax on homes—and this will soon get worse with an impending levy on water.
      Compounding these uncomfortable realities, there is a real threat that along with our many other woes, difficulties in the housing market will almost certainly get much worse. There is a looming crisis caused by converging factors, involving large numbers of mortgage-holders in financial difficulty while simultaneously pressure is growing on lenders to realise their assets.
      In spite of NAMA’s up-beat message, the reality is that an estimated fifth of all mortgages in the Republic are in arrears. In view of the floundering real economy experienced by working people, as distinct from the one enjoyed by the privileged class, it is likely that few of those in mortgage difficulties will find sufficient well-paid employment to service these debts. On the contrary, it is even possible that an unexpected economic tremor could lead to still more families experiencing problems with repayment.
      While many mortgages are in trouble, banks and building societies are sitting on a large stockpile of repossessed domestic properties, reported to be more than 1,500 houses and apartments. The indications too are that the financial institutions’ “grippers” will continue working in the days to come, adding to these already significant portfolios. All the while, NAMA, being the biggest property-holder in the Republic, holds an even larger portfolio than the banks.
      The question, therefore, is what NAMA and the financial institutions plan to do with their growing stock of houses and apartments. In spite of a professed reluctance by government TDs to speak of repossessions or forced sales, the Troika is pressing relentlessly for an accelerated programme of home-loan recovery. The Republic may have nominally left the bail-out, but the state remains locked into the Troika’s recommended course of action. Failure to do so risks “disturbing financial markets’ confidence”—a precarious concept on which the coalition has staked the people’s future and prosperity.
      With house prices again rising in Dublin, pressure will undoubtedly grow from the Troika to increase the rate of seizures (or forced sales) and thereafter additional pressure on banks and NAMA to sell these properties. Frank Daly insisted that NAMA would adopt a responsible approach when disposing of its holdings, though he did add ominously that he would adopt “an entrepreneurial approach.” The banks won’t even bother to dissemble.
      The question of where might NAMA and the financial institutions find buyers is, of course, an important one. In spite of high emigration levels, youth unemployment remains high, at more than 25 per cent among 15 to 24-year-olds, so there is little prospect of a significant uptake from that age cohort that is most frequently in search of a family home. Many within the 25 to 45-year-old category are already suffering mortgage hardship and are unlikely to provide a lucrative market for spare housing capacity. Nor is there any real prospect that the over-50s will be persuaded to invest their strained remaining resources (if they have any) in speculative house-buying.
      Put bluntly: if NAMA and other financial institutions are to monetise their domestic housing assets, they will be forced to find buyers abroad. This will most probably come in the form of cash-rich venture capitalists and private equity buccaneers who specialise in buying up distressed assets. We are seeing this already within Dublin’s commercial property sector, and there is no reason to believe that, under pressure from the Troika, it will not also happen to the domestic housing market.
      No-one can say with certainty what speculators would do with their acquisitions, but in the absence of local buyers the likelihood is that they will seek to rent property back to distressed (and by this stage dispossessed) occupants. Ireland would then be witness to a significant proportion of its population finding themselves tenants of absentee landlords.
      When this is taken in conjunction with the expanding private rented sector, we can begin to see the extent of a developing problem. Commercially driven landlordism, whether native or foreign, has no interest beyond maximising profit, with the inevitable consequence of no or minimal upkeep and of rent being continuously squeezed as high as possible. The result is that those citizens living under the most precarious of circumstances will find themselves dependent on the altruism of landlords.
      The answer is not to aim at restoring and expanding home ownership, as that lay at the heart of the crisis in the first place. Firstly, we have to win the argument that a home is not a privilege but must be a constitutionally guaranteed right. What is then required is to break the Thatcher-inspired dependence on private home ownership and create an unanswerable demand for an adequate supply of good-quality public housing.
      A necessary step must be to reject the notion that we, the people, owe those who created the crisis anything other than a short, sharp note to say we are repudiating as sovereign the debt they created, and that means all the debts they created.


Wednesday, February 12, 2014


The general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, Eugene McCartan, warns of the class interests behind calls by representatives of business for a national pay agreement.

“We have to ask ourselves why all of a sudden are the bosses are talking about a new national agreement on pay and income. What do they want out of this?

It’s clear that they are concerned about growing militancy by workers when it comes to pay claims. A number of pay increases have been won by unions in recent months, and this is obviously having a positive, mobilising effect on workers more generally.

The recent call by the head of IBEC, Danny McCoy, for a new national agreement, echoing something similar from Kieran Mulvey of the Labour Relations Commission, is a response to this. But they are not talking about pay increases to reduce inequality, or to increase labour’s share of national income.

No, they will try to use any national agreement to reduce income tax on the wealthy, with a buy-in for middle-income workers, further pushing the burden of tax onto workers’ shoulders through indirect taxes and a toll-booth approach to taxation.

This would then be used as an excuse for further cut-backs in public spending, attacks on social services, and privatization.

In addition to this, any percentage increase, on their terms, is likely to be around inflation levels, so in effect there would be no improvement for workers at all and in reality it would rule out wage increases over and above this. The option that the Irish capitalist class are offering Irish workers is low wages, no wages, or emigration.

Flat-rate across-the-board increases do little to address inequality or the needs of low-paid workers. Organised class-conscious workers need to rally inside the trade union movement against any return to national agreements on these terms.”

Monday, February 10, 2014

February Socialist Voice


Click above for the months issue. More on the euro crisis, the impact of austerity on working people and much more...

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism in Europe

The violence on the streets of Ukraine is far more than an expression of popular anger against a government.  Instead, it is merely the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich.
Recent months have seen regular protests by the Ukrainian political opposition and its supporters –  protests ostensibly in response to Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was seen by many political observers as the first step towards European integration.  The protests remained largely peaceful until January 17th when protesters armed with clubs, helmets, and improvised bombs unleashed brutal violence on the police, storming government buildings, beating anyone suspected of pro-government sympathies, and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Kiev.  But who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?
The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of ultra-nationalist (read fascist) right wing groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Ukrainian National Self Defense” (UNA-UNSO), and “Trizub”.  All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things.  In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.
While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets.  Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly.  The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue.  Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.
For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the opposition, regardless of its political character.  In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters.  However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent in recent days, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascist upsurge.  Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.”  In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal: regime change.
In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists.  Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States.  The mujahideen of Afghanistan, which later transmogrified into Al Qaeda, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia.  And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel.  There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.
The situation in Ukraine is deeply troubling because it represents a political conflagration that could very easily tear the country apart less than 25 years after it gained independence from the Soviet Union.  However, there is another equally disturbing aspect to the rise of fascism in that country – it is not alone.
The Fascist Menace Across the Continent
Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation.  Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world) – a trend which threatens the very foundations of democracy.
In Greece, savage austerity imposed by the troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) has crippled the country’s economy, leading to a depression as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression in the United States.  It is against this backdrop of economic collapse that the Golden Dawn party has grown to become the third most popular political party in the country.  Espousing an ideology of hate, the Golden Dawn – in effect a Nazi party that promotes anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-women chauvinism – is a political force that the government in Athens has understood to be a serious threat to the very fabric of society.  It is this threat which led the government to arrest the party’s leadership after a Golden Dawn Nazi fatally stabbed an anti-fascist rapper.  Athens has launched an investigation into the party, though the results of this investigation and trial remain somewhat unclear.
What makes Golden Dawn such an insidious threat is the fact that, despite their central ideology of Nazism, their anti-EU, anti-austerity rhetoric appeals to many in the economically devastated Greece.  As with many fascist movements in the 20th Century, Golden Dawn scapegoats immigrants, Muslim and African primarily, for many of the problems facing Greeks.  In dire economic circumstances, such irrational hate becomes appealing; an answer to the question of how to solve society’s problems.  Indeed, despite Golden Dawn’s leaders being jailed, other party members are still in parliament, still running for major offices including mayor of Athens.  Though an electoral victory is unlikely, another strong showing at the polls will make the eradication of fascism in Greece that much harder.
 Were this phenomenon confined to Greece and Ukraine, it would not constitute a continental trend.  Sadly however, we see the rise of similar, albeit slightly less overtly fascist, political parties all over Europe.  In Spain, the ruling pro-austerity People’s Party has moved to establish draconian laws restricting protest and free speech, and empowering and sanctioning repressive police tactics.  In France, the National Front Party of Marine Le Pen, which vehemently scapegoats Muslim and African immigrants, won nearly twenty percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections.  Similarly, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands – which promotes anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies – has grown to be the third largest in parliament.  Throughout Scandinavia, ultra nationalist parties which once toiled in complete irrelevance and obscurity are now significant players in elections.  These trends are worrying to say the least.
It should be noted too that, beyond Europe, there are a number of quasi-fascist political formations which are, in one way or another, supported by the United States.  The right wing coups that overthrew the governments of Paraguay and Honduras were tacitly and/or overtly supported by Washington in their seemingly endless quest to suppress the Left in Latin America.  Of course, one should also remember that the protest movement in Russia was spearheaded by Alexei Navalny and his nationalist followers who espouse a virulently anti-Muslim, racist ideology that views immigrants from the Russian Caucasus and former Soviet republics as beneath “European Russians”.  These and other examples begin to paint a very ugly portrait of a US foreign policy that attempts to use economic hardship and political upheaval to extend US hegemony around the world.
In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it.  Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could.  If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.com.  He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Greek farmers are on the path of struggle

“So we are back on the roads again. With the tractors of work and struggle, on the roadblocks in order to survive. We are struggling, tooth and nail, in order to keep our fields and our animals, so that we remain in our villages, so that we can sustain our families through our work in a decent way. 
This struggle is inevitable for us poor farmers. If we don’t struggle, they will drive us off our land, if we do not resist, they will throw us on the bonfire of unemployment and destitution. It is a just struggle. Indeed, this time we are not asking them to give us anything. We are demanding that they do not take way what little is left to us. 
Our accusers emerged the moment we went out onto the roads. Our old acquaintances, each time we carry our mobilizations, “spew bile” against us. They characterize us as “beggars”, “greedy”, “work-shy”, “instigated by political motives”. They have deeply insulted with words like “donkeys” and “terrorists”. (…) 
Now they are accusing us of being “freeloaders” and that we are going onto the roads because we do not want to pay taxes. And allegedly they ask us innocently and naively: As you have some income why don’t you pay the taxes, as the workers, self-employed and businessmen do? 
We answer them: you are wretched liars and dirty slanderers. What are the poor farmers saying no to? We are saying no to the decision of the coalition government of ND-PASOK to collect, through savage and unjust taxation, money from the poor farmers, the workers, the small businessmen and shopkeepers, in order to channel it into the “deep pockets” of big capital.” 
The statement issued by the farmers of Thessaly stressed this amongst other things. Over a thousand tractors have gathered in the “roadblock” in the country’s central motorway, in Nikaia, Larissa. They found the riot police lined up against then from the very first moment, who aim to suppress their struggle with batons and tear gas. 
Thousands of farmers in other regions of Greece, like Macedonia, the Peloponnese, Crete etc. are mobilizing.
The poor farmers are being wiped out by the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, which is being implemented, zealously and consistently, by the coalition government of ND-PASOK, as well as by all the previous governments, which had the direct or indirect support of the parties of the EU one-way street and which will become even worse through its revision for the period 2015-2020, the subsidies and funding will be further cut. Each year about 20,000 small landowners and small producers in our country are being thrown out of the farming profession and the land and production is being concentrated in fewer and fewer hands. 
The major agricultural businesses, the multi-nationals, the monopolies-as is happening in other EU countries-are taking agricultural production into their hands, as well as the dietary needs and clothing of the people. 
The poor farmers of Greece are going on to the roads in order to resist the political line of the EU and the government which was put in place to deal with them. At the same time they are struggling for a different agricultural development, which will utilize all the productive advantages of our country, will be based on necessary and vitally important infrastructure projects, on the producer cooperatives and the central planning of the economy. This requires the socialization of the country’s basic means of production, so that such an economy can be constructed, which will not operate on the basis of the capitalist’s profit, but will safeguard the satisfaction of the contemporary needs of the people, will provide the workers and farmers with a satisfactory income, cheap and quality products for our people’s dietary needs and raw material for the manufacturing industry. An economy that demands rupture with the inter-state capitalist union, the EU, as well as the corresponding overthrow at the level of power.

Corporation polluters make ‘sustainable’ a dirty word

taken from http://climateandcapitalism.com/2014/02/05/corporation-polluters-make-sustainable-a-dirty-word/

A list of the world’s 100 ‘most sustainable companies’ is packed with firms that profit from trashing the planet and are driving us toward climate disaster.

by Simon Butler

If you want evidence that the corporate rich are turning “sustainable” into a dirty word then consider the recent award won by Australian bank Westpac. At last month’s World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the bank was named the most sustainable company in the world.

Westpac also finances the Abbot Point Coal Terminal in Queensland, which is undergoing a huge expansion. When finished, Abbot Point will be the world’s biggest coal port. News broke on February 2 that three million cubic metres of spoil from the dredging will be dumped in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

The decision ignored a plea from 233 scientists to stop the port expansion. In an open letter to the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority the scientists said: “Sediment from dredging can smother corals and seagrasses and expose them to poisons and elevated nutrients.”

It’s not just that Westpac is part of a project that involves dumping sludge on one of the world’s great natural wonders. Since 2008, the bank has loaned at least $1.58 billion to expand liquefied natural gas plants and coal ports in Australia.

Westpac is also financing several open-cut coalmines planned for New Zealand’s Denniston Plateau. Climate activists opposed to the mines are campaigning for the bank to pull out of the project, saying: “Westpac is directly funding climate change.”

Calling a coal & gas-investing firm like Westpac “sustainable” is like calling a sick person healthy, or a poor person wealthy. It turns the word into its opposite.

The most widely accepted definition of “sustainable development” appeared the 1987 report of UN’s World Commission on Environment and Development, titled Our Common Future. It said: “Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Toronto-based media firm Corporate Knights, which put Westpac at the top of its list of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies, uses a very different definition of sustainability.

Toby Heaps, editor-in-chief of Corporate Knights, told Forbes magazine: “[Sustainable] means creating more wealth than we destroy … Sustainable firms are those doing the best job at creating net wealth – economic, social, and ecological – as compared to their peers.”

Corporate Knight’s redefinition of sustainable removes any concern about meeting present and future human needs and replaces it with an emphasis on the needs of private businesses to generate higher returns. It’s about what’s good for business, not what helps preserve and protect the planet’s natural life-support systems.

As a result, its list of the world’s 100 most sustainable companies is packed with firms that profit from trashing the planet and are driving us toward climate disaster.

Corporate Knights said Norwegian oil company Statoil is the world’s fourth most sustainable firm. Statoil is taking advantage of the climate change-induced retreat of the Arctic Sea ice to drill for more oil in the Arctic. In 2012, Statoil signed a deal with notorious Russian oil firm Rosneft to jointly develop offshore Arctic energy resources in coming decades.

Finland-based Netse Oil was listed as number six on the Corporate Knights report. Branded by Greenpeace as “professionals in rainforest destruction”, Neste Oil is one of the world’s biggest producers of biodiesel. Its biofuels are mostly sourced from palm oil plantations that have uprooted hundreds of thousands of hectares of rainforest in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Another Australian bank – ANZ – was listed at number 19. In the past few years, ANZ has been the biggest funder of coal and gas export plants among Australia’s banks, loaning out about $2.34 billion.
ANZ also finances the huge coalmine planned for the Leard State Forest near Maules Creek in New South Wales. Climate activists and local farmers opposed to the ANZ-backed coalmine have organised a community blockade to stop it, attracting international attention and support.
Notorious for its aggressive rollout of genetically modified food, Monsanto was labelled the “most evil corporation” of 2013 in a Naturalnews.com poll. Corporate Knights, however, said Monsanto was the 37th most sustainable company on the planet.

“Evil” Monsanto pipped “Killer” Coca Cola, which ranked 43rd on the list. This will be news to the many thousands of India farmers that live near Coke bottling plants. They say the company’s hugely unsustainable water use has created pollution and severe water shortages.

Duke Energy – the second biggest emitter of greenhouse gases in the US – is supposedly the world’s 47th most sustainable firm. The Charlotte Observer reported on February 3 that “an unknown amount of coal ash and water” had washed into a local river from a 27 acre pond at a retired Duke Energy power plant.

Royal Dutch Shell was named the 51st most sustainable corporation. The day the Corporate Knights list came out, 1000 people protested in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, against Shell’s failure to pay a court-ordered fine for an oil spill that took place 20 years earlier. A week later, a Nigerian court fined the multinational oil giant US$11.4 billion for another oil spill in 2011.

Corporate Knights said oil and gas firm Enbridge Inc, which wants to build a $6.5 billion pipeline in Canada to transport ultra-polluting tar sands oil, is the world’s 75th most sustainable firm. US climate scientist James Hansen warned in 2012 that if all the tar sands oil is exploited “it will be game over for the climate”.

Nestle – the world’s largest food company – was listed as the 86th most sustainable corporation. In a January 31 interview, Nestle CEO Peter Brabeck denied that climate change is caused by human activity. Brabeck is also on record saying that access to water is not a human right, but should be in private hands and regarded as a “foodstuff”.

Corporate efforts to hijack the term “sustainable” and use it to justify business-as-usual are hardly new, but they are pervasive – helped along by mainstream media that typically reports on such greenwash as legitimate news, without critical comment.

Given this it’s no surprise that some people are increasingly suspicious of the word itself. For example, in a recent interview US author Kim Stanley Robinson told Boom journal why he no longer liked to use it: “Sustainability is a captured word, and sustainable development is a captured phrase, a kind of greenwashing. Now it means, we can keep on doing capitalism and get away with it.”
But perhaps, like that other much-abused term “democracy”, it’s still worth fighting to rescue words like “sustainable development” from the PR hacks and return them their true, subversive, meaning.
Subversive because genuine sustainable development is simply not possible in a grow-or-die capitalist economy, which relies on short term gains and relentlessly concentrates wealth in so few hands. Those who seek to preserve the system are compelled to try to capture dangerous words like “sustainable” because they’ve been unable to bury them.

America's Secret War in 134 Countries

Nick Turse is a historian, essayist, investigative journalist, the associate editor of TomDispatch.com, and currently a fellow at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute. His latest book is The Case for Withdrawal from Afghanistan.

They operate in the green glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of South America.  They snatch men from their homes in the Maghreb and shoot it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa.  They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific.  They conduct missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep freeze of Scandinavia.  All over the planet, the Obama administration is waging a secret war whose full extent has never been fully revealed -- until now.

Since September 11, 2001, U.S. Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, from their numbers to their budget.  Most telling, however, has been the exponential rise in special ops deployments globally.  This presence -- now, in nearly 70% of the world’s nations -- provides new evidence of the size and scope of a secret war being waged from Latin America to the backlands of Afghanistan, from training missions with African allies to information operations launched in cyberspace.

In the waning days of the Bush presidency, Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed in about 60 countries around the world.  By 2010, that number had swelled to 75, according to Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post.  In 2011, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that the total would reach 120.  Today, that figure has risen higher still.

In 2013, elite U.S. forces were deployed in 134 countries around the globe, according to Major Matthew Robert Bockholt of SOCOM Public Affairs.  This 123% increase during the Obama years demonstrates how, in addition to conventional wars and a CIA drone campaign, public diplomacy and extensive electronic spying, the U.S. has engaged in still another significant and growing form of overseas power projection.  Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.        

Growth Industry

Formally established in 1987, Special Operations Command has grown steadily in the post-9/11 era.   SOCOM is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 personnel in 2014, up from 33,000 in 2001.  Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as its baseline budget, $2.3 billion in 2001, hit $6.9 billion in 2013 ($10.4 billion, if you add in supplemental funding).  Personnel deployments abroad have skyrocketed, too, from 4,900 “man-years” in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013.

A recent investigation by TomDispatch, using open source government documents and news releases as well as press reports, found evidence that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in or involved with the militaries of 106 nations around the world in 2012-2013.  For more than a month during the preparation of that article, however, SOCOM failed to provide accurate statistics on the total number of countries to which special operators -- Green Berets and Rangers, Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos, specialized helicopter crews, boat teams, and civil affairs personnel -- were deployed.   “We don’t just keep it on hand,” SOCOM’s Bockholt explained in a telephone interview once the article had been filed.  “We have to go searching through stuff.  It takes a long time to do that.”  Hours later, just prior to publication, he provided an answer to a question I first asked in November of last year.  “SOF [Special Operations forces] were deployed to 134 countries” during fiscal year 2013, Bockholt explained in an email.

Globalized Special Ops

Last year, Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven explained his vision for special ops globalization.  In a statement to the House Armed Services Committee, he said:

“USSOCOM is enhancing its global network of SOF to support our interagency and international partners in order to gain expanded situational awareness of emerging threats and opportunities. The network enables small, persistent presence in critical locations, and facilitates engagement where necessary or appropriate...”

While that “presence” may be small, the reach and influence of those Special Operations forces are another matter.  The 12% jump in national deployments -- from 120 to 134 -- during McRaven’s tenure reflects his desire to put boots on the ground just about everywhere on Earth.  SOCOM will not name the nations involved, citing host nation sensitivities and the safety of American personnel, but the deployments we do know about shed at least some light on the full range of missions being carried out by America’s secret military.

Last April and May, for instance, Special Ops personnel took part in training exercises in Djibouti, Malawi, and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.  In June, U.S. Navy SEALs joined Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, and other allied Mideast forces for irregular warfare simulations in Aqaba, Jordan.  The next month, Green Berets traveled to Trinidad and Tobago to carry out small unit tactical exercises with local forces.  In August, Green Berets conducted explosives training with Honduran sailors.  In September, according to media reports, U.S. Special Operations forces joined elite troops from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia -- as well as their counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Russia for a US-Indonesian joint-funded coun­terterrorism exercise held at a training center in Sentul, West Java.

In October, elite U.S. troops carried out commando raids in Libya and Somalia, kidnapping a terror suspect in the former nation while SEALs killed at least one militant in the latter before being driven off under fire.  In November, Special Ops troops conducted humanitarian operations in the Philippines to aid survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. The next month, members of the 352nd Special Operations Group conducted a training exercise involving approximately 130 airmen and six aircraft at an airbase in England and Navy SEALs were wounded while undertaking an evacuation mission in South Sudan.  Green Berets then rang in the new year with a January 1st combat mission alongside elite Afghan troops in Bahlozi village in Kandahar province.

Deployments in 134 countries, however, turn out not to be expansive enough for SOCOM. In November 2013, the command announced that it was seeking to identify industry partners who could, under SOCOM’s Trans Regional Web Initiative, potentially “develop new websites tailored to foreign audiences.”  These would join an existing global network of 10 propaganda websites, run by various combatant commands and made to look like legitimate news outlets, including CentralAsiaOnline.com, Sabahi which targets the Horn of Africa; an effort aimed at the Middle East known as Al-Shorfa.com; and another targeting Latin America called Infosurhoy.com.

SOCOM’s push into cyberspace is mirrored by a concerted effort of the command to embed itself ever more deeply inside the Beltway.  “I have folks in every agency here in Washington, D.C. -- from the CIA, to the FBI, to the National Security Agency, to the National Geospatial Agency, to the Defense Intelligence Agency,” SOCOM chief Admiral McRaven said during a panel discussion at Washington’s Wilson Center last year.  Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Library in November, he put the number of departments and agencies where SOCOM is now entrenched at 38.

134 Chances for Blowback

Although elected in 2008 by many who saw him as an antiwar candidate, President Obama has proved to be a decidedly hawkish commander-in-chief whose policies have already produced notable instances of what in CIA trade-speak has long been called blowback.  While the Obama administration oversaw a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (negotiated by his predecessor), as well as a drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan (after a major military surge in that country), the president has presided over a ramping up of the U.S. military presence in Africa, a reinvigoration of efforts in Latin America, and tough talk about a rebalancing or “pivot to Asia” (even if it has amounted to little as of yet).

The White House has also overseen an exponential expansion of America’s drone war.  While President Bush launched 51 such strikes, President Obama has presided over 330, according to research by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  Last year, alone, the U.S. also engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.  Recent revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden have demonstrated the tremendous breadth and global reach of U.S. electronic surveillance during the Obama years.  And deep in the shadows, Special Operations forces are now annually deployed to more than double the number of nations as at the end of Bush’s tenure.

In recent years, however, the unintended consequences of U.S. military operations have helped to sow outrage and discontent, setting whole regions aflame.  More than 10 years after America’s “mission accomplished” moment, seven years after its much vaunted surge, the Iraq that America helped make is in flames.  A country with no al-Qaeda presence before the U.S. invasion and a government opposed to America’s enemies in Tehran now has a central government aligned with Iran and two cities flying al-Qaeda flags.

A more recent U.S. military intervention to aid the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi helped send neighboring Mali, a U.S.-supported bulwark against regional terrorism, into a downward spiral, saw a coup there carried out by a U.S.-trained officer, ultimately led to a bloody terror attack on an Algerian gas plant, and helped to unleash nothing short of a terror diaspora in the region.

And today South Sudan -- a nation the U.S. shepherded into being, has supported economically and militarily (despite its reliance on child soldiers), and has used as a hush-hush base for Special Operations forces -- is being torn apart by violence and sliding toward civil war.

The Obama presidency has seen the U.S. military’s elite tactical forces increasingly used in an attempt to achieve strategic goals.  But with Special Operations missions kept under tight wraps, Americans have little understanding of where their troops are deployed, what exactly they are doing, or what the consequences might be down the road.  As retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, has noted, the utilization of Special Operations forces during the Obama years has decreased military accountability, strengthened the “imperial presidency,” and set the stage for a war without end.  “In short,” he wrote at TomDispatch, “handing war to the special operators severs an already too tenuous link between war and politics; it becomes war for its own sake.”

Secret ops by secret forces have a nasty tendency to produce unintended, unforeseen, and completely disastrous consequences.  New Yorkers will remember well the end result of clandestine U.S. support for Islamic militants against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s: 9/11.  Strangely enough, those at the other primary attack site that day, the Pentagon, seem not to have learned the obvious lessons from this lethal blowback.  Even today in Afghanistan and Pakistan, more than 12 years after the U.S. invaded the former and almost 10 years after it began conducting covert attacks in the latter, the U.S. is still dealing with that Cold War-era fallout: with, for instance, CIA drones conducting missile strikes against an organization (the Haqqani network) that, in the 1980s, the Agency supplied with missiles.

Without a clear picture of where the military’s covert forces are operating and what they are doing, Americans may not even recognize the consequences of and blowback from our expanding secret wars as they wash over the world.  But if history is any guide, they will be felt -- from Southwest Asia to the Mahgreb, the Middle East to Central Africa, and, perhaps eventually, in the United States as well.

In his blueprint for the future, SOCOM 2020, Admiral McRaven has touted the globalization of U.S. special ops as a means to “project power, promote stability, and prevent conflict.”  Last year, SOCOM may have done just the opposite in 134 places.

People's News

The EU commissioner for economic and monetary affairs and the euro, Olli Rehn, now says the blanket bank guarantee of 2008 was a catastrophic error.

read more at http://www.people.ie/news/PN-98.pdf

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Report on war crimes against the Syrian people

Upon the devastating Syrian Civil War, which now left behind nearly two and a half year, led to death toll of thousands of people, Peace Association and Lawyers for Justice in Turkey have prepared a comprehensive report to be used as a bill of indictment as well on the grounds of judging the figures and institutions that committed war crimes against Syrian people.


Take a stand with Margaretta D'Arcy

On Wednesday, January 15th, 79-year old Margaretta D’Arcy, writer, member of Aosdana which honours outstanding contributors to the arts in Ireland,  and widow of the late playwright John Arden, answered a knock on the door of her small Galway City terraced house. It was the Irish police. She was arrested and ferried by squad car to Limerick Prison to serve a three month sentence. Her crime: failure to sign a bond pledging to no longer trespass onto unauthorised areas of Shannon Airport.
Margaretta D’Arcy has been arrested twice for sitting on the runway at Shannon. Her first trial in December at Ennis District Court in Clare, found her and her co-defendant, Niall Farrell, guilty of interfering with the ‘proper’ use of Shannon Airport. Their second trial – the same charge,  – will probably be held next month. The defendants’ main argument is that Shannon Airport is not being ‘properly used’. It is supposed to be a civilian airport, yet it is being transited by US warplanes, military cargo and troop carriers as well as by planes implicated in the infamous ‘rendition’ flights, involving the kidnapping and transporting of people to secret detention centres for ‘interrogation’. Opinion polls have consistently shown that the vast majority of Irish people are opposed to Shannon being used by the US military.

Ireland  -- purportedly a neutral state – has allowed over 2m US soldiers to pass through Shannon Airport in the past decade, most on their way to wars in the Iraq and Afghanistan. Between January and September last year,  366 foreign military aircraft were allowed to land. The US Government is quite clear about the strategic importance of Shannon. A US Embassy briefing document in 2006, revealed by Wikileaks, stated that Shannon’s geography makes it a ‘key transit point for military flights and military contract flights carrying personnel and material to Iraq and the Middle East/Gulf theatre in the global war on terror, as well as to Europe and Africa’.

The Irish Government’s  rules on such flights are that the planes must be unarmed, carry no arms, ammunition or explosives. They must not engage in intelligence gathering ,nor form part of a military exercise or operation. The Irish have told the Americans what the rules are and expect the US authorities to conform. This is taken on trust. There are no checks.

There have been some embarrassing moments. The build-up to the Iraq War in January 2003 provided one of them. When US soldiers were seen at Shannon Airport  (and reported in the Observer newspaper)  carrying guns, the Irish Government had to implement a quick rule change: personal weapons were allowed but they weren’t allowed to have bullets. In September last year, when an attack on Syria seemed imminent, a US AC130 gunship with its 30mm side-mounted cannon in clear view, appeared on the runway at Shannon. The Irish Government complained but accepted the US Embassy’s assurances that this was an ‘isolated incident’ and the result of an ‘administrative error’.
Planes implicated in extraordinary renditions have also graced Shannon’s runway. Again, the planes have never been searched, despite revelations in Wikileaks that Ireland’s former foreign minister, Dermot Ahern, told the US Ambassador that he was ‘quite convinced’ that at least 3 flights involved in renditions had refuelled at Shannon. This was while the Minister was assuring the Dail and the Irish public that there was no need for concern. Many groups including the European Parliament, and the Council of Europe, have called on the Irish Government to institute an ‘inspection regime’ for such planes, something it is still resisting.

D’Arcy’s and Farrell’s first trial was complicated by the fact that an Aer Lingus and Ryanair plane had to circle overhead for 15 minutes because the two protesters were on the runway. This had not been intended. The two had been on the runway in daylight for half an hour, dressed in fluorescent Guantanamo Bay suits and carrying placards without being detected. They eventually rang the airport security on their mobile phones to inform them of their presence. The defendants were not the only ones on trial as the security systems at Shannon were also under heavy scrutiny, particularly given the military nature of much of Shannon’s traffic.

A campaign has now been launched for the release of Margaretta D’Arcy from Limerick Prison. Many artists, writers, her colleagues in Aosdana and a former UN Assistant Secretary General have spoken out on her behalf.  And the weekend after her arrest, Margaretta was visited by her old friend, Sabina Higgins, the wife of the Irish President, Michael D Higgins. This has caused some controversy, ensuring that  Margaretta’s case has remained in  the media.

But she has stated that the real call should be for the release of Shannon Airport from the US military, that the reason for her imprisonment should not be forgotten.

An anti-monopoly or anti-imperialist strategy?

At the international meeting of communist and workers’ parties in Lisbon in November a different emphasis emerged among the parties gathered there that could be summed up in the question “Do we describe our struggle at this stage as one against monopoly capitalism or against imperialism?” (bearing in mind that these are different descriptions of the same phenomenon).
      These differences reflect the different historical experiences and the specific nature of the immediate struggles that the parties are involved in. Furthermore, they arise from the different economic and social conditions and the balance of forces in our countries.
      The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) are always worth listening to and their views worth reflecting upon, not only because they are one of the biggest and most influential communist parties in Europe, and because they have spearheaded the workers’ resistance in Greece, organising many successful general strikes (through which the working class throughout Europe benefited), but, most importantly, because they infuse Marxist strategy and theory into all their statements and actions. They think before they act.
      The KKE raise many issues and provoke many questions for communists about the strategy for advancing the cause of socialism in Ireland—as opposed to a reformist programme for managing the affairs of the capitalist class, providing subsidies to private enterprise, managing the trade union movement and workers through minimal legislative protections and picking up the cost when private business discards its workers, along the Danish “flexicurity” model, which is the only thing social democracy can now offer.
      The KKE raise a number of important areas of concern.¹
      1. They are explicitly opposed to communist parties participating in social-democratic governments or “progressive” national governments with bourgeois forces. In the light of Marxist theory but also of the historical experiences of both France and Italy, and arguably now of the ANC in South Africa, communist parties would do well to heed this warning.
      2. They warn against electoral opportunism and alliances with opportunist forces. Again according to historical experiences—and recent experiences here in Ireland—there are clearly forces on the “left” that are far more interested in their own short-term electoral success than in building actual mass, class-conscious, worker-led movements, and these forces do far more harm than good to our class in sowing illusions and creating disillusionment.
      3. The KKE are clear and unambiguous in their opposition to the European Union as an imperialist alliance of capitalist states representing their monopoly interests. Too many on the left, and indeed some important communist parties in Europe, which correctly see their own national states as a class structure, confuse and misunderstand, or opportunistically avoid, the nature of the European Union as a class structure.
      4. Finally, the KKE reject any strategy of alliances with any bourgeois forces. They are clear that the alliances they are building are between workers and small farmers and, as they call them, the rural and urban petit-bourgeoisie; one presumes they mean family-run small businesses and farms and the self-employed. They don’t see any progressive bourgeois forces that could be part of their revolutionary anti-monopoly strategy.
      In regard to the bourgeois ruling class in Ireland, our own party has shown² that the big bourgeoisie are increasingly either leaders in monopoly capitalism, such as CRH, Ryanair, and Smurfit Kappa, or are dependent on monopolies and tied to the system, including (but not solely) a variety of speculative and parasitic finance operations.
      But even the big Irish bourgeoisie account for only 19 of the top 50 companies operating here. It is difficult to see any bourgeoisie of any significance in Ireland not tied to or dependent on monopoly and that might be considered a “national bourgeoisie,” such as existed at the beginning of the last century.
      The KKE appear to call for a single revolutionary strategy for workers’ movements globally when they propose “the necessity of a single revolutionary strategy which will empower the discrete struggle of the communist movement for the interests of the working class, the popular strata, all over the world.”
      This is problematic today in a world marked by such uneven development, uneven power relations between capitalist states within monopoly capitalism, and vastly different levels of communist and workers’ strength.
      The law of combined and uneven development, as it’s known, suggests that once the capitalist market became truly global and under the domination of finance capital the normal road of capitalist development was blocked off to colonies or underdeveloped (from a capitalist production point of view) countries. This theory was more fully developed by Lenin when he identified monopolies and finance capital as the essential feature of capitalism in his day and explained how imperialism was the highest stage of capitalist development.
      The futility of former colonies seeking development through an accommodation with international monopoly capitalism has been shown, in Ireland as elsewhere, as they remain subject to international finance capital.
      Note that Lenin did not say that imperialism, as the highest stage of capitalist development, would not find temporary solutions to crisis. It has done this through war (we now live in a state of permanent war), privatisation, stagnant wages, increased pauperisation and proletarianisation globally, increased indebtedness (of both states and working people), a global shift in production and a race to the bottom to attract foreign direct investment, taxation, subsidies, the destruction of the environment (including increasingly destructive acts, such as fracking), and a massive growth in speculative, non-productive finance capital.
      But this has only served to accentuate contradictions within the system, making uneven development more acute and more defining as a feature of the system.
      If we acknowledge that uneven development exists, and that there is an imperialist centre and periphery within the system (Samir Amin suggests there is a “core imperialist triad” of the United States, the European Union, and Japan), then we have to continue this logic through to the nature and make-up of the ruling class in these countries and what strategy will most effectively weaken imperialism and the state and strengthen the class-conscious movement for socialism.
      In this context it has been a Leninist position to seek to exploit differences between enemy forces, which at particular points in time has correctly called for alliances with bourgeois forces to weaken the imperialist system as a whole, something the KKE are now ruling out of their single revolutionary strategy.
      Imperialism, rather than equalising power relations among states and indeed among capitalist classes at different stages of development, which might warrant the convergence of communist strategies, accentuates and polarises even further the exploitative core and periphery relations within imperialism.
      In a core country, such as the United States, Japan, Britain, or Germany, the local monopoly bourgeoisie are big enough and powerful enough, with a local alliance with the smaller bourgeoisie, not only to dominate and control the state and other classes domestically but also to spread their influence and control overseas and to dominate other states and peoples. The communist movement in a core country’s primary enemy is domestic, is local.
      In a peripheral country, such as Ireland, the monopoly bourgeoisie are not strong enough locally to rule unhindered and so have the options of either a local alliance that would negatively affect their monopoly position or becoming integrated in the monopoly system globally and therefore becoming dependent on imperialism to prop up their position domestically.
      This was obvious when the IMF and ECB directly intervened and took control over the Irish state (though it existed long before this), which it continues now through the EU’s direct and increasing control over policy and the economy, through the continued British occupation in the North, through American direct investment and indirect influence, and through the continuing uneven financial, agricultural and commercial relationship that remains following independence in the South, with Britain and the United States in particular.
      This dependence makes our domestic ruling class too weak to rule on its own. This was typical of colonialism, and subsequently neo-colonialism, which have been correctly identified as weaker links in the chain of imperialism.
      However, it also means that, for a strategy for building socialism to be successful, the struggle must be against all forms of imperialist rule in Ireland, the domestic and foreign, against imperialism itself. To strengthen the struggle for socialism the working class in Ireland must lead the anti-imperialist struggle and place its demands at its core—a crucial part of which is regaining sovereign control over many areas of life.
      Historically, the petit-bourgeois and national bourgeoisie led the national liberation movement but subsequently abandoned progressive and anti-imperialist positions once their own rule and interests were secured.
      The correct class strategy will be different in a core imperialist country from that of a peripheral country, the one distorted and dominated by imperialism and subject to a dependent ruling class, the other influenced and shaped by chauvinist imperialist ideology.
      This will mean different communist strategies in Germany, the United States, Greece, and Ireland. This is not to say that all are now correct: it is merely to suggest that attempting to forge one single revolutionary strategy in vastly different countries at different stages of development is potentially counterproductive, and could damage the much-needed exchange of communist experience and analysis.
      The KKE call for an anti-monopoly strategy with the central demand for the socialisation of monopolies, interestingly a phrase and demand also raised by Samir Amin (and note its vast difference from the Keynesian demand for the socialisation of investment). This is an important demand that very few on the left are considering or discussing.
      However, this demand means something vastly different in, say, Germany than in Ireland. What monopolies will we socialise? Ryanair? Google? Citigroup? CRH? Smurfit Kappa, Intel, Pfizer? And what effect would it have here? If a workers’ movement in a core country socialises monopolies it socialises vast amounts of wealth and productive capacity. If we did this in Ireland what would we actually get? A fleet of dodgy aircraft and some office buildings?
      This is simplistic—yes; but there is no doubt that the socialisation of monopolies in core countries is of significantly more value than in peripheral countries. While imperialism is the highest and final stage of capitalism, does it mean one can jump from combating imperialism to building socialism without a transformative period?
      So is an anti-monopoly strategy, as it’s framed, adequate for a peripheral country dominated by both a local and foreign monopoly class? Are the fronts of struggle the same in a core and a peripheral country in this anti-monopoly strategy? Are the alliances sought the same? Are the points of weakness of the ruling class the same in a core and a peripheral country?
      And, therefore, are the strategic demands to be made by the class-conscious socialist movement the same? Fundamentally, is an anti-monopoly strategy for building socialism the same as an anti-imperialist strategy both for national liberation from imperialism and as a platform for building socialism?
      Certainly the KKE have posed important questions for the international workers’ movement. This issue in particular goes to the heart of the debate and requires deeper clarity and analysis from all concerned if we are to defeat imperialism throughout the world.