Sunday, March 23, 2014

Social media: Whose interests do they serve?

I can’t help but wonder if the internet and all its “social media” outlets, such as Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, blog sites, Instagram, etc., have been the biggest help or the biggest hindrance in fostering unity among left political forces and in creating new narratives of events happening around the world.
     There has been a definite increase and shift in how stories are breaking; and in the age of digital technology and the arrival of broadband internet there has been a transformative shift in how the public interact, receive and relay information on an almost infinite number of topics. This has enabled them not only to enter but in fact to shape the traditional media discourse. Before the arrival of the digital revolution, this had been under the exclusive ownership of institutions of the mass media.
     So, on the face of it, this can’t be a bad thing. The public have taken some power back from the private and state-run media monopolies, and have the capability to create new or different narratives that surround current and historical events.
     Just as an example of how social media have exploded, in 2003 there were fewer than 1 million active English-language blogs; today there are an estimated 450 million. Facebook, the largest social networking site, which relays a lot of the current events and political information, has gone from nil to more than 1.3 billion users in the space of ten years. The figures are staggering.
     The rise of social media was met with an initial optimism for a more democratically owned and controlled media discourse. Some writers enthused that “these personal publishing systems have given rise to a phenomenon that shows the markings of a revolution—giving anyone with the right talent and energy the ability to be heard far and wide on the Web.”¹
     The rules of the old institutionalised media game have dramatically changed with the explosion of citizen and participatory journalists. The citizen-journalists are the people who research, create, produce and publish their own media content, whereas participatory journalists contribute content to an established media entity, which frames and shapes the discourse. Many heralded it as the new dawn of media production—“out with the old and in with the new”—where media production would be decentralised and content would not be manufactured by large corporations but would be created by the citizens themselves.
     The only problem with this is that the establishment newspapers, television news channels, experts, pundits, magazines and the rest have adapted to the new climate of public participation. It’s not that the established media institutions have brought about this shift themselves, or even that they wanted it, but it has forced them to take heed of the technological advances and how the public are interacting and using them.
     The bigger picture would suggest that it is just as fundamentally about maintaining control in generating and framing content in order to manufacture consent as it is about adapting to new markets to meet the bottom line of profit-creation. They have caught up with the technology-savvy citizen and are employing and swallowing up the very spaces people created for expressing alternative views—blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, and the rest—to their own advantage, both for profit and for manufacturing consent.
     Even more worryingly and sinister, something that has only recently been coming to light since the Snowden archives opened, is the fact that intelligence agencies such as the American NSA and British GCHQ are manipulating, infiltrating and disrupting the flow of social media discourse. Classified documents are revealing the extent of this manipulation. “Among the core self-identified purposes of JTRIG [Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group] are two tactics: (1) to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet in order to destroy the reputation of its targets, and (2) to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate on-line discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable.”²
     This has never been so clear as it is today. Think of such recent events as the “Arab Spring,” the London riots in 2011, the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya, the “rebel rising” and foiled invasion attempt in Syria, and the events unfolding in Ukraine and Venezuela.³ Why is it that in one country protesters are labelled as criminals while in others they are freedom-fighters? And whose interests does it serve to quickly put a label on them?
     More and more of the information being fed to the media is coming from participatory journalists. But who can say they are a legitimate or a trustworthy source? To paraphrase an article I read recently on Venezuela, authoritative reporting is about fact-based accounts, not recycled and unchecked tweets from Twitter, or Youtube videos appealing for help against “dictatorships.” These are mechanisms that are used to promote confusion and delusion among the general population.
     Unfortunately, the people’s class-consciousness is at its lowest point at the present time, and so the proven right-wing, pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist and outright fascist elements that have been the driving force in many violent demonstrations against elected governments in Venezuela and Ukraine, or going back to Syria and Libya, are hidden. The anti-government and reactionary forces have funds and support from the United States and the European Union and their agencies, with their agenda, their content and their ability to manufacture consent being employed in their interests through the social media and among the more traditional media outlets.
     Let us be clear, though: we can’t say that all those governments are bastions of progress. However, it is the aggressiveness of the imperialist states, their willingness to ally themselves with fascists for their own benefit and their clear utilisation of media manipulation that is of greater concern. Of course history will tell us that this is nothing new.
     So has anything changed with the digital revolution? Has that initial optimism of democratised media been realised? Has the revolution been televised, “liked,” and shared? Has anything changed?
     It would be naïve to think that vast swathes of the Irish population (never mind the rest of the world) would have suddenly turned their back on traditional media, as the general population tends to trust these over other, new media sources. Arguably what it has led to is a widening of the debate or the media discourse. Where once the monopoly of the media would go unchecked, or the content they produced and reproduced could not be questioned in any large-scale, interactive medium so as to cast doubt on their trustworthiness, it is now open to public scrutiny, which has coincided with the rise of citizen and participatory journalism.
     This new-found freedom has led to a wider expression of ideas, some highly critical of the establishment, some supportive of it. Blogs and social media sites have become a forum that has developed and enhanced citizen journalism, giving a voice to the otherwise voiceless in a monopolised industry. This, we can say, is a positive development.
     But there is a serious cautionary label that those on the left should always be aware of when dealing with social media, and that is that class warfare will always find an expression in any place where class conflict and the battle of ideas exist. Social media are just the latest arena of class struggle. All too easily people and groups can be seduced by the human story without looking beyond the individual and seeing the deeper social, economic, political and class forces at play. For those who lack political or class consciousness this can be forgiven.
     Publications of the CPI, such as Socialist Voice, are trying to educate and build that class-consciousness among working people so that the narrative created by the establishment media can be contradicted and countered. What cannot be forgiven is the support by any groups on the left for the forces of reaction, fascism, and Imperialism. This sows confusion within the working class, weakening and splitting the consolidation of forces on the left. What it ultimately illustrates is a lack of a concrete analysis of concrete situations.
     You can’t, on the one hand, advocate socialism while on the other strengthen the hand of imperialism. How the left here in Ireland and elsewhere perceive and publicise the situations in Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Iran, Palestine or Cuba illustrates how confused and disunited the left are.
     For example, North Korea, with all its faults, is without doubt one of the most explicitly anti-imperialist states, and has had plenty of social media attention over the past year or so but with very little in the way of support for its anti-imperialist position. This isn’t to say we must drape ourselves in the North Korean flag, or that we can’t be critical of particular governments. To put a cat among the pigeons, the next time North Korea is under attack from imperialism will we on the left send our message of solidarity to them on Facebook, Twitter or in any other way, or will we hang them by “liking” and sharing western media propaganda, which has a proven agenda of destroying “the reputation of its targets”?
     Will we support the US and Saudi-backed rebels in Syria one day, while the next share our videos of protesting against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands? Should we condemn the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but ignore the role of British imperialism in both the north and south of our own country? Will we always hold the goal of socialism high for all to see while underneath we scorn the revolutionary achievements and advances of the Soviet Union, Cuba, and other socialist states? If we do, whose interests do we serve?
     This should be food for thought. However, given the stepping up of violence and of extreme right-wing, reactionary and overtly fascist groups organising on a number of continents, with direct support from the EU and the United States, and the fact that they are able to conceal this so well under social media pretexts of freedom and democracy, we can no longer sit on our hands and choose a bit from column A and a bit from column B.
     It’s time to stop the pretence. The left either takes a critical and disciplined anti-imperialist, anti-capitalist stance, uniting under the banner of the working class, warts and all, promoting national and international solidarity, or we continue in this charade of mistrust, of sectarian, disjointed and disillusioned politics.

  1. Shayne Bowman and Chris Willis, “We media: How audiences are shaping the future of news and information,” at
  2. Glenn Greenwald, “How covert agents infiltrate the internet to manipulate, deceive, and destroy reputations,” at Another good article on this subject is “The secret playbook of social media censors: The ‘counter reset’,” at
  3. Julia Buxton, “Venezuela: The real significance of the student protests,” at—student protests.

The new liberal imperialism - reprint

This is a reprint of an Observer (UK) article from 2002 but is well worth reading to get a sense of the prevailing ideology within social democracy and many NGO's on global affairs.

Senior British diplomat Robert Cooper has helped to shape British Prime Minister Tony Blair's calls for a new internationalism and a new doctrine of humanitarian intervention which would place limits on state sovereignty. This article contains the full text of Cooper's essay on "the postmodern state", written in a personal capacity, an extract from which appears in the print edition of The Observer today. Cooper's call for a new liberal imperialism and admission of the need for double standards in foreign policy have outraged the left but the essay offers a rare and candid unofficial insight into the thinking behind British strategy on Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.
In 1989 the political systems of three centuries came to an end in Europe: the balance-of-power and the imperial urge. That year marked not just the end of the Cold War, but also, and more significantly, the end of a state system in Europe which dated from the Thirty Years War. September 11 showed us one of the implications of the change.

To understand the present, we must first understand the past, for the past is still with us. International order used to be based either on hegemony or on balance. Hegemony came first. In the ancient world, order meant empire. Those within the empire had order, culture and civilisation. Outside it lay barbarians, chaos and disorder. The image of peace and order through a single hegemonic power centre has remained strong ever since. Empires, however, are ill-designed for promoting change. Holding the empire together - and it is the essence of empires that they are diverse - usually requires an authoritarian political style; innovation, especially in society and politics, would lead to instability. Historically, empires have generally been static.

In Europe, a middle way was found between the stasis of chaos and the stasis of empire, namely the small state. The small state succeeded in establishing sovereignty, but only within a geographically limited jurisdiction. Thus domestic order was purchased at the price of international anarchy. The competition between the small states of Europe was a source of progress, but the system was also constantly threatened by a relapse into chaos on one side and by the hegemony of a single power on the other. The solution to this was the balance-of-power, a system of counter-balancing alliances which became seen as the condition of liberty in Europe. Coalitions were successfully put together to thwart the hegemonic ambitions firstly of Spain, then of France, and finally of Germany.

But the balance-of-power system too had an inherent instability, the ever-present risk of war, and it was this that eventually caused it to collapse. German unification in 1871 created a state too powerful to be balanced by any European alliance; technological changes raised the costs of war to an unbearable level; and the development of mass society and democratic politics, rendered impossible the amoral calculating mindset necessary to make the balance of power system function. Nevertheless, in the absence of any obvious alternative it persisted, and what emerged in 1945 was not so much a new system as the culmination of the old one. The old multi-lateral balance-of-power in Europe became a bilateral balance of terror worldwide, a final simplification of the balance of power. But it was not built to last. The balance of power never suited the more universalistic, moralist spirit of the late twentieth century.

The second half of the twentieth Century has seen not just the end of the balance of power but also the waning of the imperial urge: in some degree the two go together. A world that started the century divided among European empires finishes it with all or almost all of them gone: the Ottoman, German, Austrian, French , British and finally Soviet Empires are now no more than a memory. This leaves us with two new types of state: first there are now states - often former colonies - where in some sense the state has almost ceased to exist a 'premodern' zone where the state has failed and a Hobbesian war of all against all is underway (countries such as Somalia and, until recently, Afghanistan). Second, there are the post imperial, postmodern states who no longer think of security primarily in terms of conquest. And thirdly, of course there remain the traditional "modern" states who behave as states always have, following Machiavellian principles and raison d'ètat (one thinks of countries such as India, Pakistan and China).

The postmodern system in which we Europeans live does not rely on balance; nor does it emphasise sovereignty or the separation of domestic and foreign affairs. The European Union has become a highly developed system for mutual interference in each other's domestic affairs, right down to beer and sausages. The CFE Treaty, under which parties to the treaty have to notify the location of their heavy weapons and allow inspections, subjects areas close to the core of sovereignty to international constraints. It is important to realise what an extraordinary revolution this is. It mirrors the paradox of the nuclear age, that in order to defend yourself, you had to be prepared to destroy yourself. The shared interest of European countries in avoiding a nuclear catastrophe has proved enough to overcome the normal strategic logic of distrust and concealment. Mutual vulnerability has become mutual transparency.

The main characteristics of the postmodern world are as follows:

· The breaking down of the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs.

· Mutual interference in (traditional) domestic affairs and mutual surveillance.

· The rejection of force for resolving disputes and the consequent codification of self-enforced rules of behaviour.

· The growing irrelevance of borders: this has come about both through the changing role of the state, but also through missiles, motor cars and satellites.

· Security is based on transparency, mutual openness, interdependence and mutual vulnerability.

The conception of an International Criminal Court is a striking example of the postmodern breakdown of the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs. In the postmodern world, raison d'ètat and the amorality of Machiavelli's theories of statecraft, which defined international relations in the modern era, have been replaced by a moral consciousness that applies to international relations as well as to domestic affairs: hence the renewed interest in what constitutes a just war.

While such a system does deal with the problems that made the balance-of-power unworkable, it does not entail the demise of the nation state. While economy, law-making and defence may be increasingly embedded in international frameworks, and the borders of territory may be less important, identity and democratic institutions remain primarily national. Thus traditional states will remain the fundamental unit of international relations for the foreseeable future, even though some of them may have ceased to behave in traditional ways.

What is the origin of this basic change in the state system? The fundamental point is that "the world's grown honest". A large number of the most powerful states no longer want to fight or conquer. It is this that gives rise to both the pre-modern and postmodern worlds. Imperialism in the traditional sense is dead, at least among the Western powers.

If this is true, it follows that we should not think of the EU or even NATO as the root cause of the half century of peace we have enjoyed in Western Europe. The basic fact is that Western European countries no longer want to fight each other. NATO and the EU have, nevertheless, played an important role in reinforcing and sustaining this position. NATO's most valuable contribution has been the openness it has created. NATO was, and is a massive intra-western confidence-building measure. It was NATO and the EU that provided the framework within which Germany could be reunited without posing a threat to the rest of Europe as its original unification had in 1871. Both give rise to thousands of meetings of ministers and officials, so that all those concerned with decisions involving war and peace know each other well. Compared with the past, this represents a quality and stability of political relations never known before.

The EU is the most developed example of a postmodern system. It represents security through transparency, and transparency through interdependence. The EU is more a transnational than a supra-national system, a voluntary association of states rather than the subordination of states to a central power. The dream of a European state is one left from a previous age. It rests on the assumption that nation states are fundamentally dangerous and that the only way to tame the anarchy of nations is to impose hegemony on them. But if the nation-state is a problem then the super-state is certainly not a solution.

European states are not the only members of the postmodern world. Outside Europe, Canada is certainly a postmodern state; Japan is by inclination a postmodern state, but its location prevents it developing more fully in this direction. The USA is the more doubtful case since it is not clear that the US government or Congress accepts either the necessity or desirability of interdependence, or its corollaries of openness, mutual surveillance and mutual interference, to the same extent as most European governments now do. Elsewhere, what in Europe has become a reality is in many other parts of the world an aspiration. ASEAN, NAFTA, MERCOSUR and even OAU suggest at least the desire for a postmodern environment, and though this wish is unlikely to be realised quickly, imitation is undoubtedly easier than invention.

Within the postmodern world, there are no security threats in the traditional sense; that is to say, its members do not consider invading each other. Whereas in the modern world , following Clausewitz' dictum war is an instrument of policy in the postmodern world it is a sign of policy failure. But while the members of the postmodern world may not represent a danger to one another, both the modern and pre-modern zones pose threats.

The threat from the modern world is the most familiar. Here, the classical state system, from which the postmodern world has only recently emerged, remains intact, and continues to operate by the principles of empire and the supremacy of national interest. If there is to be stability it will come from a balance among the aggressive forces. It is notable how few are the areas of the world where such a balance exists. And how sharp the risk is that in some areas there may soon be a nuclear element in the equation.

The challenge to the postmodern world is to get used to the idea of double standards. Among ourselves, we operate on the basis of laws and open cooperative security. But when dealing with more old-fashioned kinds of states outside the postmodern continent of Europe, we need to revert to the rougher methods of an earlier era - force, pre-emptive attack, deception, whatever is necessary to deal with those who still live in the nineteenth century world of every state for itself. Among ourselves, we keep the law but when we are operating in the jungle, we must also use the laws of the jungle. In the prolonged period of peace in Europe, there has been a temptation to neglect our defences, both physical and psychological. This represents one of the great dangers of the postmodern state.

The challenge posed by the pre-modern world is a new one. The pre-modern world is a world of failed states. Here the state no longer fulfils Weber's criterion of having the monopoly on the legitimate use of force. Either it has lost the legitimacy or it has lost the monopoly of the use of force; often the two go together. Examples of total collapse are relatively rare, but the number of countries at risk grows all the time. Some areas of the former Soviet Union are candidates, including Chechnya. All of the world's major drug-producing areas are part of the pre-modern world. Until recently there was no real sovereign authority in Afghanistan; nor is there in upcountry Burma or in some parts of South America, where drug barons threaten the state's monopoly on force. All over Africa countries are at risk. No area of the world is without its dangerous cases. In such areas chaos is the norm and war is a way of life. In so far as there is a government it operates in a way similar to an organised crime syndicate.

The premodern state may be too weak even to secure its home territory, let alone pose a threat internationally, but it can provide a base for non-state actors who may represent a danger to the postmodern world. If non-state actors, notably drug, crime, or terrorist syndicates take to using premodern bases for attacks on the more orderly parts of the world, then the organised states may eventually have to respond. If they become too dangerous for established states to tolerate, it is possible to imagine a defensive imperialism. It is not going too far to view the West's response to Afghanistan in this light.

How should we deal with the pre-modern chaos? To become involved in a zone of chaos is risky; if the intervention is prolonged it may become unsustainable in public opinion; if the intervention is unsuccessful it may be damaging to the government that ordered it. But the risks of letting countries rot, as the West did Afghanistan, may be even greater.

What form should intervention take? The most logical way to deal with chaos, and the one most employed in the past is colonisation. But colonisation is unacceptable to postmodern states (and, as it happens, to some modern states too). It is precisely because of the death of imperialism that we are seeing the emergence of the pre-modern world. Empire and imperialism are words that have become a form of abuse in the postmodern world. Today, there are no colonial powers willing to take on the job, though the opportunities, perhaps even the need for colonisation is as great as it ever was in the nineteenth century. Those left out of the global economy risk falling into a vicious circle. Weak government means disorder and that means falling investment. In the 1950s, South Korea had a lower GNP per head than Zambia: the one has achieved membership of the global economy, the other has not.

All the conditions for imperialism are there, but both the supply and demand for imperialism have dried up. And yet the weak still need the strong and the strong still need an orderly world. A world in which the efficient and well governed export stability and liberty, and which is open for investment and growth - all of this seems eminently desirable.

What is needed then is a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values. We can already discern its outline: an imperialism which, like all imperialism, aims to bring order and organisation but which rests today on the voluntary principle.

Postmodern imperialism takes two forms. First there is the voluntary imperialism of the global economy. This is usually operated by an international consortium through International Financial Institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank - it is characteristic of the new imperialism that it is multilateral. These institutions provide help to states wishing to find their way back into the global economy and into the virtuous circle of investment and prosperity. In return they make demands which, they hope, address the political and economic failures that have contributed to the original need for assistance. Aid theology today increasingly emphasises governance. If states wish to benefit, they must open themselves up to the interference of international organisations and foreign states (just as, for different reasons, the postmodern world has also opened itself up.)

The second form of postmodern imperialism might be called the imperialism of neighbours. Instability in your neighbourhood poses threats which no state can ignore. Misgovernment, ethnic violence and crime in the Balkans poses a threat to Europe. The response has been to create something like a voluntary UN protectorate in Bosnia and Kosovo. It is no surprise that in both cases the High Representative is European. Europe provides most of the aid that keeps Bosnia and Kosovo running and most of the soldiers (though the US presence is an indispensable stabilising factor). In a further unprecedented move, the EU has offered unilateral free-market access to all the countries of the former Yugoslavia for all products including most agricultural produce. It is not just soldiers that come from the international community; it is police, judges, prison officers, central bankers and others. Elections are organised and monitored by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Local police are financed and trained by the UN. As auxiliaries to this effort - in many areas indispensable to it - are over a hundred NGOs.

One additional point needs to be made. It is dangerous if a neighbouring state is taken over in some way by organised or disorganised crime - which is what state collapse usually amounts to. But Usama bin Laden has now demonstrated for those who had not already realised, that today all the world is, potentially at least, our neighbour.

The Balkans are a special case. Elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe the EU is engaged in a programme which will eventually lead to massive enlargement. In the past empires have imposed their laws and systems of government; in this case no one is imposing anything. Instead, a voluntary movement of self-imposition is taking place. While you are a candidate for EU membership you have to accept what is given - a whole mass of laws and regulations - as subject countries once did. But the prize is that once you are inside you will have a voice in the commonwealth. If this process is a kind of voluntary imperialism, the end state might be describes as a cooperative empire. 'Commonwealth' might indeed not be a bad name.

The postmodern EU offers a vision of cooperative empire, a common liberty and a common security without the ethnic domination and centralised absolutism to which past empires have been subject, but also without the ethnic exclusiveness that is the hallmark of the nation state - inappropriate in an era without borders and unworkable in regions such as the Balkans. A cooperative empire might be the domestic political framework that best matches the altered substance of the postmodern state: a framework in which each has a share in the government, in which no single country dominates and in which the governing principles are not ethnic but legal. The lightest of touches will be required from the centre; the 'imperial bureaucracy' must be under control, accountable, and the servant, not the master, of the commonwealth. Such an institution must be as dedicated to liberty and democracy as its constituent parts. Like Rome, this commonwealth would provide its citizens with some of its laws, some coins and the occasional road.

That perhaps is the vision. Can it be realised? Only time will tell. The question is how much time there may be. In the modern world the secret race to acquire nuclear weapons goes on. In the premodern world the interests of organised crime - including international terrorism - grow greater and faster than the state. There may not be much time left.

· Robert Cooper is a senior serving British diplomat, and writes in a personal capacity. This article is published as The post-modern state in the new collection Reordering the World: the long term implications of September 11, published by The Foreign Policy Centre.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Report on the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students

Just hours after the passing of Nelson Mandela in December 2013, young people from across the word gathered in, Quito, Ecuador for the 18th World Festival of Youth and Students.  The Festival brought together over 8,000 young people from 88 countries.

The festival is organised by the World Federation of Youth and Students and began in the wake of World War Two when young people from across the world came together to demand international solidarity and peace.  The first festival held in Prague in 1947 had 17, 000 participants from 71 countries under the slogan “Youth Unite, Forward for Lasting Peace”. 

Young communists in Ireland have been involved in WFDY and the world Festival since its inception and former CPI National Executive member, Edwina Steward, recounts attending the 3rd Festival in Berlin in 1951 as being one of her most formative experiences helping her to develop her world outlook and put her own experiences of political activism in Belfast into the context of the international struggle against imperialism. 

This year the theme of the Festival was “Youth Unite against Imperialism, for a world of peace, solidarity and social transformation” and the CYM was delighted to represent Ireland in debates on this theme and to re-new the tradition of young Irish communists being involved in this important international event.

The opening ceremony of the event was addressed by Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa  who reminded delegates that there can be no peace in the world without justice.  Members of the Ecuadorian cabinet and the Mayor of Quito was also present at the ceremony which demonstrates the level of importance the Ecuadoran government placed the festival.

Workshops, debates, cultural and solidarity events went on throughout the week allowing delegates from all countries to participate and discuss the impact of imperialism in their country and the resistance being organising to these attacks.  Each day of the conference focused on a different region of the world which provided an educational back drop for the debates. 

The CYM took part in a number of workshops and debates to explain the struggles of young communists in Ireland and outline the problems being faced by Irish young people including, unemployment, Austerity, emigration, re-productive rights, sectarianism and the legacy of the conflict in the North.  The CYM also pointed to the work being done at building a resistance to attacks on working class young people by groups such as the We’re Not Leaving Campaign.

In a special session called the ‘Anti Imperialist Court’ delegates offered testimony, describing the ways in which corporate and political imperialism was impacting on their countries and destroying their local communities.

Importantly during the course of the festival the various Communist Youth Leagues used the opportunity to hold bi-lateral discussions and exchange strategies for developing broad movements of young people and building the world communist movement.   The Connolly Youth Movement took part in discussions which fraternal groups from countries including, Colombia, Mexico, United States, Canada, India and others.  

Solidarity was another major focus of the festival, which had been dedicated to the life of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.  Solidarity meetings were organised each evening with a focus on countries such as Colombia, Palestine, Western Sahara and he demand for an end to the US Blockade of Cuba.
In addition to the intense political debate there were also a range of cultural events which included displays of traditional music and dance from many different countries, Samba Bands, Andean Flutists and Ecuadorian Punk Bands. 

A mass cycle was organised with delegates from each county riding from the Festival Grounds through the streets of Quito in a call for action against Chevron for its disgraceful treatment of the ecology and inhabitants of the Ecuadorian Amazon. 

The festival closed with an open air concert which included a tribute to Nelson Mandela, music from many of the countries present and a gig by Italian Communist Ska-Punk Band, Banda Bassotti.
The importance of this festival and the role it plays in educating and developing international solidarity cannot be underestimated.  In a world where imperialist attacks on working people are more intense than ever before and were fascism is again on the march only international solidarity and class conscious struggle by the peoples of the world can hope to stop the descent into barbarism.
In WFDY’s call to for the youth of the world to take part in the festival they stated,
“In the past and present youth has always played a vital role in the struggles of all societies for progress and social justice.  The youth was militantly present in the greatest struggles of the peoples for peace, solidarity, and social transformation.  In a world where imperialism presents itself as inevitability, the anti-imperialist struggle proves that the youth chooses its own future.”

There is no doubt that the 18th World Festival successfully created a space which allowed young people to develop their challenge to global imperialism, nor is there any doubt that this is needed now more than ever.

If we want to see the development of a vibrant world movement against capitalism and imperialism then it must be the youth of today who build and lead that movement.

For the CYM attendance at the festival is only the beginning of a renewed campaign by young Irish Communists for the social transformation required to build a united socialist Ireland.     

We look forward to sending a large delegation to the 19th World Festival and commend the invaluable work of WFDY in keeping this festival alive.



He was a fearless leader of his union

Death of Bob Crow

The Communist Party of Ireland expresses it deepest sympathy to the family of Bob Crow and the members of the RMT. Bob was one of the most outstanding trade union and working class leaders of this generation.

He was a fearless leader of his union, shying away from the usual trappings of power and life style that far too many trade union leaders fall victim to.

He was a great friend of Irish workers and the cause of Irish unity. He was a frequent visitor to Ireland, especially to the annual Jim Connell Red Flag Festival, Crossakiel, Co Meath.

He stood out from most of the contemporary trade union leaders with his strong opposition to the European Union and imperialism. A strong supporter of Cuba and Venezuela. He followed in and filled the footsteps of the giants of the workers movement in Britain and in particular of the railway workers.
A passionate, principled and modest workers' leader. He led from the front, challenging those who wish to limit the vision and destiny of the British working class.

Eugene Mc Cartan
General Secretary

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Students endorce Israel Boycott

Galway, 8ú Márta/8 March 2014

The NUI Galway Palestine Solidarity Society commends the decision of NUI Galway students to mandate their Students’ Union (SU) to join the international Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel, which was decided in an SU referendum held in NUI Galway on 6 March 2014. The Palestine Solidarity Society motion, “That NUI Galway Students’ Union actively supports the campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against the State of Israel”, was passed by a sizeable student majority of 1,954 to 1,054.

Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird, Auditor of the NUI Galway Palestine Solidarity Society, said, “This is a landmark victory in Ireland for the growing international campaign to boycott Israel until it complies with international law and ends its illegal occupation of Palestine, and no doubt NUIG SU is just the first of many SU’s in Ireland to endorse such a campaign. During the referendum campaign, NUI Galway students saw through considerable misinformation and lies from pro-Israeli off-campus groups and decided that, in the footsteps of the successful international boycott campaign against South Africa’s apartheid regime in the past, we will not be silent towards international racism and colonialism in our own time. Alongside promoting awareness of the BDS movement more broadly, NUI Galway SU should now stand unambiguously against instances of institutional collusion between NUI Galway and Israeli oppression, such as NUI Galway’s use of G4S, the international security company notorious for its provision of security and incarceration 'services' to Israel's inhumane prison regime “.

The BDS movement, called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005, advocates non-violent punitive measures against Israel until it complies with the precepts of international law towards Palestine. This consists of ending its occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall, recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality, and respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.


            For further information contact Fionnghuala Nic Roibeaird at 0863007019 or the NUI     

           Galway Palestine Solidarity Society at  

Venezuela, Ukraine, and North Korea: Targets of Failing American Imperialism

In every part of the globe, the world’s sovereign nations are feeling the wrath of a US imperialist system in decline.  US imperialism is losing its grip as the most dominant capitalist economy on the planet.  To reconcile its humiliation and maintain its waning economic dominance, US imperialism has resorted to building a vast military empire abroad to submerge independent states under its thumb.  From 1945 and through the GW Bush era’s call for a “New American Century”, the overthrow of democratically elected governments and overt acts of war either had to gain popular consensus in the US first or be done covertly by the CIA. Now, with the global capitalist economy in permanent crisis, the US and its allies are sponsoring so called “protest movements” and “opposition” groups to wage wars most Americans no longer support.
 Nowhere is this clearer than in Venezuela, North Korea, and Ukraine. As in Libya and Syria, Venezuela and Ukraine are struggling to defeat Washington-backed “opposition” groups looking to install US-friendly regimes. Venezuela’s democratically elected government was never forgiven for betraying the wishes of the neo-colonial oligarchy and completely reforming its electoral and economic basis to align with the interests of Venezuela’s poor majority.  The Bolivarian government has made important gains in the areas of poverty reduction, healthcare, literacy, and education.  But the corporate media and US political leaders are having us believe that “anti-government” protesters funded at 5 million per year by the US government itself somehow represent the interests of the Venezuelan majority.  Undoubtedly, the Venezuelan oligarchy and their sugar-daddys in Washington are bitter that their representatives lost over 70 percent of municipalities in the local elections and failed to become the ruling party in what Jimmy Carter called the most democratic Presidential election process in the world in 2012.

 In Ukraine, a fascist “protest” movement has been growing with armed support from NATO and the US.  These “protesters”, armed with heavy artillery and shwastika banners, are demanding the Ukrainian government open up relations with the EU and allow their economy to become a nest for finance capital. The Ukrainian government has defied the wishes of fascists and their Western allies by swearing allegiance to Russia. The US-NATO-EU alliance sees Ukraine as a possible NATO military base and an economic asset to mend the austerity and crisis ridden European capitalist order. Only a coup at this point can achieve these ends. The replacement of President Yanukovych with a EU friendly government would exacerbate economic woes and set back the hopes of Russia and its allies for a multi-polar economic and military global order.

 At the level of soft power, a new report emerged from the UN that used interview data from exiles residing in the West and South Korea. The report concluded that the leader of the DPRK, Kim Jong Un, should be referred to the International Criminal Court for “crimes against humanity.”  Hypocrisy stains this report from top to bottom. The US never ended its war against Korea, only signing an armistice in 1953 that kept the country divided between socialist DPRK and the neo-Colony South Korea.  The US has never been referred to any international body for its war crimes let alone for its horrific bombing campaign that left Korea in ruins and forced thousands into death or homelessness. Nor will the UN report admit that US-imposed sanctions on the DPRK beginning after the fall of the Soviet Union is a blatant act of war. The US, not the DPRK, uses “food as a weapon” on the people of North Korea by blocking its ability to receive needed resources abroad to increase its foodstuffs.  Lastly, The UN remains silent on the crimes of the South Korean government, which presides over masses of impoverished people and imprisons dissidents of its fascist regime. The UN and its ruler, the US, never criticize South Korea’s military operations, which violate of North Korea’s sovereignty. Indeed, the UN report was conducted for the sole purpose of justifying further US intervention against North Korea in pursuit of geopolitical dominance.

The reality is that the US imperialist system is in such a terrible economic state that it must rely on waging war in every corner of the globe to maintain its relevancy.  No longer is US imperialism able to conduct widespread bombing campaigns or overthrow democratically elected governments through the CIA with impunity.  In order to bypass Russia and China in the United Nations, US imperialism must resort to mass manipulation through the corporate media and a network of intelligence agencies, private military contractors, and allied nations in imperial organizations like NATO to train and fund so called “protest movements” and “opposition” groups.   Venezuela, Ukraine, and North Korea have fallen victim to media deception and mercenary terrorism sponsored by the Wall Street ruled US-Western alliance.  Anti-imperialists in the United States need to defend these countries right to sovereignty and organize resistance to US imperialism at home.  Furthermore, anti-imperialists residing in the US must explain to the people the connection between US imperialism abroad and the increased austerity, poverty, racism, and massive prison and police state at home.

Danny Haiphong is an activist and case manager in the Greater Boston area.

Communist Youth Organisations on Ukraine

The developments in Ukraine are particularly crucial and dangerous, first of all for the people and the youth of the country, who are being transformed again into victims of the intense antagonisms between the USA-EU and Russia, for the control of markets, of natural resources and the transportation networks of the country.

The open intervention of the EU-USA-NATO, the utilization of  fascist groups and organizations which are the descendants of the SS and spread fascist and Nazi venom and anticommunism, the planned persecutions and banning of political parties primarily against the communists, and the racist laws that are being prepared against the Russian-speaking population and other minorities, all demonstrate the character of the developments, and uncover the lies about the “triumph of democracy in Ukraine”.

            The youth – especially in Europe – can now see more clearly the real face of the EU: it's a union of the capitalists and of the monopolies of Europe and serves their interests; that is why the EU is reactionary in its  nature. It is a union of military interventions, wars, support of the fascist groups, of anticommunism which is its official ideology. All those  cultivating the illusions that the EU can transform into a force of peace and stability in favor of the peoples, have a great responsibility here.  

The Communist Youth Organizations that sign this announcement:

Ø  Denounce the intervention of the EU-USA-NATO in the internal affairs of Ukraine, the direct support that they are providing to the armed fascist groups, the menaces of a foreign military intervention.

Ø  Express our solidarity with the Communists of Ukraine. We denounce the persecutions and the attempts to ban the Communist Party of Ukraine.


The young people of the working class and of the popular strata must not fall in the trap of nationalist dilemmas, in choosing a side in the antagonisms over who will exploit them. On the contrary, the youth have  an interest in organizing and struggling along with the working class, to open their own way: the way of the struggle in favor of our modern needs, so that the wealth remains in the hands of those who produce it, so that we rid ourselves from the imperialist unions and their antagonisms.  



1.    Communist Youth of Austria KJOe

2.    Union of Communist Youth Brazil UJC

3.    Communist Youth Avancando Brazil JCA

4.    YCL Britain

5.    Communist Youth of Bolivia JCB

6.    YCL Canada

7.    EDON Cyprus

8.    Young Socialists Croatia

9.    Young Communists of Denmark - Ungkommunisterne i Danmark

10. Communist Youth of Ecuador JCE

11. Movement of Young Communists France MJCF

12. Socialist German Worker Youth - SDAJ

13. YCL Georgia

14. Communist Youth of Greece KNE

15. Left Front Hungary – Baloldali Front

16. Young Communist Front of Italy FGC

17. Connolly Youth Movement Ireland

18. YCL Mexico – LJC Mexico

19. Young Communists of Norway – UngKom i Norges 

20. Paraguayan Communist Youth – JCP

21. Portuguese Communist Youth – JCP

22. RCYLb Russia – RKSMb

23. YCL Yugoslavia (Serbia) – SKOJ

24. Collectives of Young Communists, Spain – CJC

25. Union of Communist Youth of Spain - UJCE