Saturday, June 28, 2014

Student protests in Iran

WFDY stands in solidarity with the struggle of the Iranian youth for peace, democracy and social justice

WFDY has been following the difficult struggle of the Iranian democratic youth and university students for peace, democracy and progress. Truthful to their historic revolutionary traditions the Iranian university students have been in the forefront of the struggle for democratic rights and have tried to break the walls of silence and the repressive atmosphere imposed by the theocratic regime in universities.

Playing a major role in the popular protest movement in recent years raising the banner of the fight for freedom, democracy and social justice. Iranian left, progressive and communist students have a central place in this fight. Tudeh Youth of Iran, WFDY member organization and ODYSI (organisation of Democratic Youth and Students of Iran), working under clandestine conditions, are actively involved in these struggles.

WFDY is dismayed that the security forces of the Iranian regime continue to suppress the university students and has imposed tight security conditions in the university campuses across the country. We are aware of the disciplinary action taken by the security authorities against 9 student of the Amirkabir University of Technology (Tehran Polytechnic) as a reaction to the protest organised by the students inside the university campus.
As well as concerned about the continued incarceration of a number of leading Iranian university students, leaders of the democratic nationwide student movement in Iran, who are languishing in prison. And about the well-being of a number of them including female university students and progressive activists Bahareh Hedayat and Maryam Shafipour and also well know Iranian student leader, Majid Tavvakoli, who are all serving long prison sentences for engaging in legitimate, democratic and peaceful activities as in relation to the democratic and progressive movement. Ms Bahareh Hedayat, imprisoned in 2009 and sentenced to 9.5 years imprisonment, is a well-known women rights campaigner and a member of the Executive Committee of the Dafter Tahkim Vahdat (Office for Consolidation Unity), Iranian nationwide university organisation. Majid Tavvakoli is a progressive student leader at the Amirkabir Technology University.

WFDY insures the necessity of democratic freedoms among the people, in the anti-imperialist struggle. Uplifting the democratic political participation and unity of the Iranian youth and peoples. We stand in solidarity in solidarity with the brave, progressive and democratic young people and university students in Iran. Moreover, call for release of all political prisoners in Iran.


Budapest, 28 June, 2014

Friday, June 27, 2014

The Russian and Cuban Relationship

IN an interview with Granma International, Mikhaíl Kamynin, Russian ambassador in Cuba, stated that Russia is a great friend of Cuba, in reference to the current state of bilateral relations between the two nations.

"Our countries occupy similar positions on key issues of the international agenda and are together, defending the principal values of humanity," said the diplomat referring to the more than 50 years of fraternal ties between the two nations.
He considers this type of alliance as beneficial to other countries because "we are bearers of clear and authentic values, an example which serves other governments, which is why our ranks are expanding."
Kamynin commented on the different bilateral agreements which have been signed over the last few years in areas such as oil, referring in particular to Russian corporations Rosneft and Zarubezhnetf which have an agreement with Cupet (Cuban Oil Union). Both companies are undertaking crude oil exploration projects, with plans for a logistical base in the Mariel Special Development Zone, 45 kilometers northwest of Havana.
Other accords relating to diverse sectors such as economy; science; education; pharmacy; culture; tourism; shipping; telecommunications; radio communications; electronics and postal activities, among many other have been established.
"There are many plans for joint work, both bilateral and in the regional integrationist blocs. I am also referring to the agreements on production on offshore rigs. Cuba is the principal importer of modern Russian civilian aircrafts. We have cooperation agreements and programs in different spheres of civil society," said Kamynin.
The Russia-Cuba connection was established many years ago, when in 1829 the Emperor Nicolás I founded the first Russian consulate in Havana. Since then a growing interest in trade has been noted.
Three young Russians, Piotr Streltsov, Eustafi Konstantinovich and Nikolai Melentiev, fought in the Mambi Army next to Major General Antonio Maceo, for Cuban independence. In July 1902, Cuba and Russia established full diplomatic relations as a result of an exchange of credentials between President of Cuba Tomás Estrada Palma, and Emperor of Russia, Nicolás II. Russians acquired a taste for Cuba’s sugar and tobacco.
Diplomatic relations between Cuba and the Soviet Union commenced in October 1942, with significant alignment during WWII, supporting the Soviets in their fight against fascism and Hitler’s Germany. Cubans fought in the ranks of the Red Army, with the Cuban people undertook numerous efforts to send supplies to the front.
Shortly afterward, in the early years of the Cold War, the dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista, under the aegis of the United States, broke relations with Russia on April 2 1952, which would later be reestablished on May 8, 1960 after the triumph of the Revolution. From that moment on, Cuba and Russia’s relationship became an eloquent example of active and multilateral cooperation, based on friendship and mutual benefit.
The 1990’s marked a forced parenthesis with the decline in economic cooperation, as a result of the historic circumstances, but today that stage has been overcome, and relations are based on equality of rights and mutual benefit, or rather, there exists a strategic alliance to the benefit for both countries.
Kamynin concluded his dialogue by recalling the creation of the solidarity organizations (Russian-Cuban and Cuban-Russian) between the countries, founded by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and revolutionary leader Ernesto Che Guevara, both of whom "Promote the spirit of friendship and fraternity between the peoples of our two countries."
In different international courts the Russian government has expressed its position in opposition to the economic, commercial and financial blockage imposed by the United States on Cuba, and has demanded the immediate release of Gerardo Hernández, Ramón Labañino and Antonio Guerrero, the remaining three of five Cuban anti-terrorists unjustly incarcerated in U.S. prisons, whose two brothers in the cause - René González and Fernando González - have already completed their full sentences. In Russia there are three friendship societies, 32 affiliated groups and 30 independent organizations working in support of the Cuban Revolution, as well as 26 committees calling for the freedom of the Cuban Five. Resolutions in opposition to the unjust economic blockade and in support of the Cuban Five have been unanimously approved in the Russian parliament.
Thus, Mikhaíl Kamynin´s final words to Granma International were, "Solidarity is a genuine undertaking, an excellent way to continue working together on common interests, to the benefit of both countries."

Fidel writes to Maradona

Unforgettable friend:
Everyday I have the pleasure of following your program on Telesur, about the Football World Cup. Thanks to that, I have been able to observe the extraordinary level reached by this universal sport.
I do not believe it is possible to offer youth an adequate education, in any country, without sports; and in the specific case of boys, without the inclusion of football.
I am a politician, but as a boy, adolescent and young man, I was a sports athlete, and devoted the largest part of my free time to this honorable practice.
I admire your conduct for numerous reasons. I had the privilege of meeting you when the most just ideas of our people triumphed, and no power could suppress them.
Nothing strengthened our relationship as Latin Americans to this degree. You have overcome difficult challenges as an athlete and as a young man of humble origins. I likewise salute Messi, a formidable athlete who brings glory to the noble people of Argentina. Nothing can take away the glory and prestige you two have, despite the mean-spirited efforts of gossipers.
I congratulate Telesur, as well, for brightening this hot summer and I fraternally salute, as I have you, the excellent, prestigious footballers of Our America, without, of course, forgetting the magnificent, visionary Víctor Hugo Morales, who discovered your ability and who has promoted the noble value of the sport, and the Argentine people who you honorably represent.
Of course, Diego, I will never forget our friendship, and the support you always showed the Bolivarian leader Hugo Chávez, a promoter of sports, the Latin American Revolution, and subjugated peoples of the world.

Over 110,000 flee Ukranian fascism

OVER 110,000 Ukrainians have fled for Russia this year and another 54,000 have left home but stayed in Ukraine, the UN refugee agency revealed today.
Only 9,500 of those Russia-bound have sought refugee status but many are too afraid of future reprisals if they return to Ukraine to make a formal request, said agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming.
Another 750 Ukrainians have requested refugee status in Poland, Belarus, the Czech Republic and Romania.
The number of those internally displaced in Ukraine represents a huge increase in the past week. About 12,000 of them are from Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in March and the rest are from eastern Ukraine.
The single largest concentration of refugees inside Ukraine is in Svyatogorsk in the Donetsk region, which has declared independence from the government in Kiev.
“The rise in numbers of the past week coincides with a recent deterioration of the situation in eastern Ukraine,” said Ms Fleming. 
“Displaced people cite worsening law and order, fear of abductions, human rights violations and the disruption of state services.”
Many of the latest Ukrainian arrivals in Russia are clustered in the Rostov-on-Don region, where 12,900 refugees including 5,000 children have fled, and in Byransk, which has 6,500 refugees.
EU leaders in Brussels said yesterday that they had prepared fresh sanctions against Russia but would not impose them before Monday, allowing Moscow and rebels in eastern Ukraine to engage with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko’s “peace plan.”

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The compliant state

It is appropriate at this time, nearly a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War, when there will be commemorations around the country glorifying the slaughter of workers from 1914 to 1918, that we bear in mind Lenin’s book The State and Revolution, written in August 1917.
      At a time when many socialists had lost their way, Lenin reiterated the Marxist view of the state:
The state is the product and the manifestation of the irreconcilability of class antagonisms. The state arises when, where and to the extent that the class antagonisms cannot be objectively reconciled. And conversely, the existence of the state proves that the class antagonisms are irreconcilable.
      Previous issues of the Voice have shown that the current campaign of austerity has been used to attack collective bargaining, diminish if not completely erode the right to strike by threats of litigation in the courts, reduce pay rates, lengthen the working day, and in general dismantle any progressive elements of Irish society.
      The proposed legislation on collective bargaining announced before the local elections was like a crumb from the rich man’s table, allowing the Labour Party to think it carried some weight in the Troika.
      The Action Plan for Jobs, 2013, endorsed by the OECD, gives the lie to any idea of pro-worker reform. Part of the Action Plan is to introduce what it calls “disruptive reforms.” Among these would be a Workplace Relations Commission, which will merge into two the five bodies that at present deal with work-place complaints under the Employment Equality Acts and Equal Status Acts. It is to be operational by the second half of the year and has the objective of “reducing costs and regulations for doing business in Ireland.”
      Ireland will be a low-cost, non-union, light-regulation economy, highly attractive to transnational corporations, especially American firms wanting access to European markets.
      The “Blueprint for a World Class Workplace Relations Service,” dated 5 April 2012, sets out the Government’s proposals for reforming the industrial relations machinery. This follows an earlier document published in July 2011, after which submissions were sought from interested parties.
      It should be emphasised that the changes are still at the proposal stage, and no actual legislation has been introduced so far. The blueprint clearly sets out the Government’s thinking on why the changes are required. According to the document, it is a Government requirement to “get Ireland back to work,” and it sees “harmonious relations” in the work-place as an important factor in “achieving lasting growth and creating and sustaining jobs.”
      The existing structure can be complex, it costs in the region of €20 million, and there are considerable delays in hearing cases and making decisions. In effect, the improvement in time and the processing of complaints through the system is one of its principal selling-points. This is to be achieved by having one form for all complaints, encouraging more on-line applications, and having a gatekeeper to monitor incoming complaints and to direct complainants towards early-resolution procedures. Essentially there would be a “one-stop shop” for industrial relations. The aim, according to the minister, Richard Bruton, is to “encourage the early resolution of disputes, the vindication of employees’ rights and minimisation of the costs involved for all parties—employers, employees and Government—in terms of money, time and work-place productivity.”
      The exiting industrial relations system arose over time. The Blueprint regurgitates the typical prejudices of capitalists, that workers are shopping around between different bodies and if not successful in one will try another. This is not true, as pointed out by SIPTU.
      Another capitalist prejudice is the idea of vexatious complaints: workers making complaints are just troublemakers and are costing capitalists profits. Again, no evidence is produced. (No mention of blacklisting, of course.) The Kilkenny Council of Trade Unions pointed out that if the employers were law-abiding it would reduce the number of complaints.
      If the provisions in the Blueprint become law, the most vulnerable sections of society, such as the homeless, will be excluded from any access to fair hearing. For trade unionists, the whole industrial relations machinery will be more expensive, more opaque, and definitely more “employer-friendly.”
      The Blueprint, if it is enacted in its present form, would be a return to a wage-slave economy, minimal public services, the erosion of a role for trade unions, and every obstacle put in the way of exercising employment rights.
      In other words, the type of economic environment loved by the free-market anarchists.


A step towards the implosion of the European Union


The European elections, may 25; a step towards the implosion of the European Union

1.The European construction was conceived in order to perpetuate unconstrained economic liberalism. As Giscard d’Estaing put it after the signature of the Maestrich treaty (1992): “socialism is now illegal”. That construction was non democratic from the start; it deprives the elected parliaments from any hope to be allowed to move out of the diktats of the non elected Brussel’s bureaucracy. With the emergence of financialized globalized monopolies, the European Union has become the instrument of the exclusive economic and political power of small oligarchies.
2.Yet this extreme liberal system is not viable. Its only motive is to perpetuate the endless concentration of wealth and power. At the cost of continuous austerity for the majorities, deterioration of public services, growing financial deficits and even stagnation. The exception (Germany to day) can only be so as long as the others accept their sad fate. The slogan “do like Germany” makes no sense; it cannot be reproduced.
3.The European elections of may 2014 reflect the reject by the majorities of “that” Europe, even if the people are not aware that “another Europe” is not possible. More than half of the electorate abstained, more than 70% in Eastern Europe; 20% voted for Europhobic extreme right parties who headed in Britain and France; 6% voted for the radical left. But indeed the formal majority of those who voted still expressed their naïve belief of a possible reform of the system, a reform that the European constitution makes impossible.
The ultra right vote is dangerous, for sure. As usually fascists do not address their critique to those who are responsible of the disaster, i.e. the monopolies; they transfer the debate to other areas and blame an escape goat, i.e. the immigrants! But that sad victory is for a good part the result of the lack of audacity of the radical left in their critique of the European system and proposals for change. They irrigated the wishful thinking hope for a reform.
4.In my book “The implosion of contemporary capitalism” (2012) I have drawn the lines of that dramatic drift of Europe back to the 1930s. We would have a small “German” Europe, with the Eastern European semi colonies; France choosing a Vichy attitude and accepting to relate to it (but a later Gaullian reject remains possible); Britain more distant then ever from the European problems, deepening its integration into the Atlantic system dominated by the US; Italy and Spain hesitating between the submission to Berlin or looking toward London. The European elections express a step ahead in that direction.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Election Fallout!!!!!

Freedom and Dignity!

Strike of freedom and dignity… Under this slogan, tens of Palestinian administrative detainees entered a hunger strike, since 24 of April 2014. Against the administrative law used by the Israeli authorities to detain Palestinians with no trail or charges. With tens of detainees transferred to hospitals due to their critical medical conditions that may lead to their martyrdom.
One cannot find a better description of imperialism than through the acts of the Zionist entity. Occupation, displacement, attacks, settlements, wars, and economic sanctions against the Palestinians. Intervention in the whole region of Middle East, mainly in Lebanon and Syria. Destroying all aspects of rejection and life against occupation of Palestine and some part of Lebanon and Syria. As well as control of the region.
The World Federation of Democratic Youth, calls for the immediate release of the Palestinian prisoners from the Israeli jails, and the end of the Israeli occupation, settlement building, and attacks. We salute peoples of Palestine in their resistance and steadfastness for a Palestinian state.
In the same manner, the World Federation of Democratic Youth calls its member organizations to show solidarity with the Palestinian Administrative Detainees and the resistance of Palestinian peoples.
In a period where the aggressions of imperialism sharpens, our solidarity and unity is a fight against all forms of oppression of the destructive manner of imperialism and its tools.

Maduro Unveils Policy to Eradicate Extreme Poverty in Venezuela

Mérida, 9th June 2014 ( – Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro unveiled a new policy to focus on the needs of the least well off as part of his pledge to eradicate extreme poverty in the country by 2018.

The policy involves creating almost 1,500 special attention points that group together various social programs in areas where extreme poverty still prevails, in order to meet the basic needs of these communities.

The attention points, called Social Mission Bases, will house government social programs such as free community food kitchens, subsidised food stores, and free medical clinics. They will be spread out over the 255 of the country’s 1163 local districts where households experiencing extreme poverty still exist.

Venezuela’s National Institute of Statistics estimates that 5.5% of Venezuelan households still experience extreme poverty. This is calculated using the regionally based Unsatisfied Basic Needs (UBN) structural poverty indicator, which considers as extremely poor those homes where two or more basic needs, such as access to basic services, adequate living conditions, or schooling, are not met.

The percentage of households in extreme poverty has decreased steadily over the previous decade from 12.7% in 2003 to 5.5% currently. In the same period, overall structural poverty has decreased from 30.5% to 19.6%.

President Nicolas Maduro has vowed to eliminate extreme poverty altogether by 2018, the end of his current term of office, as well as to continue to reduce overall structural poverty.
“In the year 2018 I’ll be…able to say that we’ve achieved the goal of zero misery in Venezuela…the Bolivarian revolution must end poverty to establish a system of equality [and] justice,” he said as the first Social Mission Base was founded in the coastal state of Miranda.

Maduro also informed the country that the Social Mission Bases will be complemented with multidisciplinary teams of social program workers, such as community doctors, sports therapy trainers and cultural promoters, who will visit deprived communities house by house to assess living conditions and attend to differing needs.

“The great battalion [multi-disciplinary team]…won’t have another objective but to fight a strong battle along with our people to eradicate extreme poverty,” the president said, while also encouraging supporters to participate in the work of the Social Mission Bases.

The policy announcements come amid a debate over poverty in Venezuela, with government critics pointing to an increase in income-based poverty between the second half of 2012 and the first half of 2013, in the context of a sharp increase in annual inflation.

“The days when poverty was a winning issue for chavismo are over. Official statistics now show that poverty is rising rapidly,” wrote anti-government blogger Juan Nagel for Foreign Policy magazine recently.

Nevertheless income-based poverty actually decreased in the second half of 2013 to lower than it was in early 2012, and in keeping with the level of income-based poverty recorded in recent years, at 32.1%, down from 62.1% a decade earlier.

The Social Mission Bases policy also comes not long after Maduro announced reforms to the country’s national system of welfare programs, in order to improve their performance and reduce bureaucracy and overlapping functions.

The programs, known as “missions”, include free health clinics, free educational programs, subsidised food outlets, and the construction of heavily subsidised housing. They are held as one factor behind the large reduction in poverty since the Bolivarian government was elected to power in 1999.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

A Tenants' Manifesto

  • Bring all existing and new council and other rented housing up to highest energy efficiency standards
  • Investment for existing and new council housing development and write off historic debts to clear way for councils to build more
  • Regulation of private-rented sector (PRS) to include repair standards and rents and an end to unfair fees and charges by letting agents
  • Councils to have necessary powers and resources to apply regulation of PRS, including powers to take over housing that fails to meet standards, to be improved and let as council housing
  • Powers to enforce the occupation of empty properties needed to meet housing need — squatting and occupations must be decriminalised
  • All new housing development to include 50 per cent really affordable housing for rent
  • All public land used for housing to create 100 per cent publicly owned, really affordable housing
TENANTS across Britain announced plans yesterday to join forces to ramp up the campaign for sweeping changes to end the country’s housing crisis.
Campaign group Defend Council Housing (DCH) is set to bring together trade unions, politicians and tenants groups to launch a new tenants’ manifesto.
DCH chairwoman Eileen Short told the Star: “We are hoping to unite and galvanise tenants and put politicians under pressure to turn words into action to build the houses that we need.”
The policy document confronts the Con-Dem government and its class-war policies head-on, demanding an end to the bedroom tax, welfare caps and the criminalisation of squatting.
South-east London private renters’ group Southwark Tenants welcomed the project.
“We are particularly interested in the expropriation of properties owned by bad landlords to allow the extension of council stock,” spokesman Tom Gann told the Star.
Mr Gann added that it was important to highlight the issues facing both public and private tenants.
At the core of the manifesto is the demand for a “new generation” of council homes.
“Most people now know they cannot rely on the market when it comes to getting a house,” added Ms Short.
DCH argues that all public land should be used to build “100 per cent publicly owned” accommodation. 
Long-standing campaign backer the GMB union echoed the sentiment.
“Many GMB members will not be able to buy due to the wages they get and the increasing cost of housing,” said general secretary Paul Kenny.
“We need to cut out the middle man, the housing agents, and we need to build the council houses our members require.”
The policy document will be finalised at a Britain-wide event on June 28 at the GMB offices, 22 Stephenson Way, London NW1 from noon to 5pm.
The campaign also urged activists to flock to the People’s Assembly march against austerity in London on June 21.

Capitalists, Technocrats and Fanatics: The Ascent of a New Power Bloc

By James Petras

The sweeping electoral victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in India is the latest expression of the world-wide advance of a new power bloc which promises to impose a New World Order harnessing ethno-religious fanaticism and narrowly trained technocrats to capitalist absolutism.

The far-right is no longer at the margins of western political discourse. It is center-stage. It is no longer dependent on contributions by local militants; it receives financing from the biggest global corporations. It is no longer dismissed by the mass media. It receives feature coverage, highlighting its ‘dynamic and transformative’ leadership.

 Today capitalists everywhere confront great uncertainty, as markets crash and endemic corruption at the highest levels erode competitive markets. Throughout the world, large majorities of the labor force question, challenge and resist the massive transfers of public wealth to an ever reduced oligarchy. Electoral politics no longer define the context for political opposition.

 Capitalism, neither in theory nor practice, advances through reason and prosperity. It relies on executive fiats, media manipulation and arbitrary police state intrusions. It increasingly relies on death squads dubbed “Special Forces” and a ‘reserve army’ of para-military fanatics.
The new power bloc is the merger of big business, the wealthy professional classes, upwardly mobile, elite trained technocrats and cadres of ethno-religious fanatics who mobilize the masses.

 Capitalism and imperialism advances by uprooting millions, destroying local communities and economies, undermining local trade and production, exploiting labor and repressing social solidarity. Everywhere it erodes community and class solidarity.

Ethno-Religious Fanatics and Elite Technocrats

Today capitalism depends on two seemingly disparate forces. The irrational appeal of ethno-religious supremacists and narrowly trained elite technocrats to advance the rule of capital. Ethno-religious fanatics seek to promote bonds between the corporate-warlord elite and the masses, by appealing to their ‘common’ religious ethnic identities.

The technocrats serve the elite by developing the information systems, formulating the images and messages deceiving and manipulating the masses and designing their economic programs.

 The political leaders meet with the corporate elite and warlords to set the political-economic agenda, deciding when to rely on the technocrats and when to moderate or unleash the ethno-religious fanatics.

 Imperialism operates via the marriage of science and ethno-religious fanaticism- and both are harnessed to capitalist domination and exploitation.

India: Billionaires, Hindu Fascists and IT “Savants”

The election of Narendra Modi, leader of the BJP and long-time member of the Hindu fascist Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) para-military organization was based on three essential components:

(1) Multi-billion rupee funding from corporate India at home and abroad.

 (2) Thousands of upwardly mobile IT technocrats mounting a massive propaganda campaign.

 (3) Hundreds of thousands of RSS activists spreading the “Hindutva” racist doctrine among millions of villagers.

 The Modi regime promises his capitalist backers that he will “open India”– namely end the land reserves of the tribes, convert farmland to industrial parks, deregulate labor and environmental controls.

 To the Brahmin elite he promises to end compensatory quotas for lower castes, the untouchables, the minorities and Muslims. For the Hindu fascists he promises more temples. For foreign capitalists he promises entry into all formerly protected economic sectors. For the US, Modi promises closer working relations against China, Russia and Iran… The BJP’s ethno-religious Hindu fanaticism resonates with Israel’s notion of a “pure”Jewish state. Modi and Netanyahu have longstanding ties and promise close working relations based on similar ethno-racist doctrines.

Turkey: The Transition to Islamic-Capitalist Authoritarianism

 Turkey under the rule of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party has moved decisively toward one-man rule: linking Islam to big capital and police state repression. Erdogan’s ‘triple alliance’ is intent on unleashing mega-capitalist projects, based on the privatization of public spaces and the dispossession of popular neighborhoods. He opened the door to unregulated privatization of mines, communications, banks – leading to exponential growth of profits and the decline of employment security and a rising toll of worker deaths. Erdogan has shed the mask of ‘moderate Islam’ and embraced the jihadist mercenaries invading Syria and legislation expanding religious prerogatives in secular life. Erdogan has launched massive purges of journalists, public officials, civil servants, judges and military officers. He has replaced them with ‘party loyalists’; Erdogan fanatics!

 Erdogan has recruited a small army of technocrats who design his mega projects and provide the political infrastructure and programs for his electoral campaigns. Technocrats provide a development agenda that accommodates the foreign and domestic crony corporate elite.
The Anatolian Islamists, small and medium provincial business elite, form the mass base – mobilizing voters, by appealing to chauvinist and ethnocentric beliefs. Erdogan’s repressive, Islamist, capitalist regime’s embrace of the “free market” has been sharply challenged especially in light of the worst mining massacre in Turkish history: the killing of over 300 miners due to corporate negligence and regime complicity. Class polarization threatens the advance of Turkish fascism.

Israel and the “Jewish State”: Billionaires , Ethno-Religious Fanatics and Technocrats

 Israel, according to its influential promoters in the US, is a ‘model democracy’. The public pronouncements and the actions of its leaders thoroughly refute that notion. The driving force of Israeli politics is the idea of dispossessing and expelling all Palestinians and converting Israel into a ‘pure’ Jewish state. For decades Israel, funded and colonized by the diaspora, have violently seized Palestinian lands, dispossessed millions and are in the process of Judaizing what remains of the remnant in the “Occupied Territories”.

The Israeli economy is dominated by billionaires. Its “society” is permeated by a highly militarized state. Its highly educated technocrats serve the military-industrial and ethno-religious elite. Big business shares power with both.

 High tech Israeli’s apply their knowledge to furthering the high growth, military industrial complex. Medical specialists participate in testing the endurance of Palestinian prisoners undergoing torture (“interrogation”). Highly trained psychologists engage in psych-warfare to gain collaborators among vulnerable Palestinian families. Economists and political scientists, with advanced degrees from prestigious US and British universities (and ‘dual citizenship’) formulate policies furthering the land grabs of neo-fascist settlers. Israel’s best known novelist, Amos Oz condemned the neo-fascist settlers who defecate on the embers of burnt-out mosques.

 Billionaire real estate moguls bid up house prices and rents “forcing” many “progressive” Israelies, who occasionally protest, to take the easy road of moving into apartments built on land illegally and violently seized from dispossessed Palestinians. ‘Progressives’ join neo-fascist vigilantes in common colonial settlements. Prestigious urbanologists further the goals of crude ethno-racist political leaders by designing new housing in Occupied Lands. Prominent social scientists trade on their US education to promote Mid-East wars designed by vulgar warlords. Building the Euro American Empire : Riff-Raff of the World Unite!

 Empire building is a dirty business. And while the political leaders directing it, feign respectability and are adept at rolling out the moral platitudes and high purposes, the ‘combatants’ they employ are a most unsavory lot of armed thugs, journalistic verbal assassins and highly respected international jurists who prey on victims and exonerate imperial criminals.

 In recent years Euro-American warlords have employed “the scum of the slaughterhouse” to destroy political adversaries in Libya, Syria and the Ukraine.

 In Libya lacking any semblance of a respectable middle-class democratic proxy, the Euro-American empire builders armed and financed murderous tribal bands, notorious jihadist terrorists, contrabandist groups, arms and drug smugglers. The Euro-Americans counted on a pocketful of educated stooges holed up in London to subdue the thugs, privatize Libya’s oil fields and convert the country into a recruiting ground and launch pad for exporting armed mercenaries for other imperial missions.

 The Libyan riff-raff were not satisfied with a paycheck and facile dismissal: they murdered their US paymaster, chased the technocrats back to Europe and set-up rival fiefdoms. Gadhafi was murdered, but so went Libya as a modern viable state. The arranged marriage of Euro-American empire builders, western educated technocrats and the armed riff-raff was never consummated. In the end the entire imperial venture ended up as a petty squabble in the American Congress over who was responsible for the murder of the US Ambassador in Benghazi.

 The Euro-American-Saudi proxy war against Syria follows the Libyan script. Thousands of Islamic fundamentalists are financed, armed, trained and transported from bases in Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Libya to violently overthrow the Bashar Assad government in Syria. The world’s most retrograde fundamentalists travel to the Euro-American training bases in Jordan and Turkey and then proceed to invade Syria, seizing towns, executing thousands of alleged ‘regime loyalists’ and planting car bombs in densely populated city centers.
The fundamentalist influx soon overwhelmed the London based liberals and their armed groups.

 The jihadist terrorists fragmented into warring groups fighting over the Syrian oil fields. Hundreds were killed and thousands fled to Government controlled regions. Euro-US strategists, having lost their original liberal mercenaries, turned toward one or another fundamentalist groups. No longer in control of the ‘politics’ of the terrorists, Euro-US strategists sought to inflect the maximum destruction on Syrian society. Rejecting a negotiated settlement, the Euro-US strategists turned their backs on the internal political opposition challenging Assad via presidential elections.

 In the Ukraine, the Euro-Americans backed a junta of servile neo-liberal technocrats, oligarchical kleptocrats and neo-Nazis, dubbed Svoboda and the Right Sector. The latter were the “shock troops” to overthrow the elected government, massacre the federalist democrats in Odessa and the eastern Ukraine, and back the junta appointed oligarchs serving as “governors”.

The entire western mass media white-washed the savage assaults carried out by the neo-Nazis in propping up the Kiev junta. The powerful presence of the neo-fascists in key ministries, their strategic role as front line fighters attacking eastern cities controlled by pro-democracy militants, establishes them as central actors in converting the Ukraine into a military outpost of NATO. Euro-America Empire Building and the Role of Riff-Raff

 Everywhere the Euro-American imperialists choose to expand – they rely on the ‘scum of the earth’: tribal gangs in Libya, fundamentalist terrorists in Syria, neo-Nazis in the Ukraine.

 Is it by choice or necessity? Clearly few consequential democrats would lend themselves to the predatory and destructive assaults on existing regimes which Euro-US strategists design. In the course of imperial wars, the local producers, workers, ordinary citizens would “self-destroy”, whatever the outcome. Hence the empire builders look toward ‘marginal groups’, those with no stake in society or economy. Those alienated from any primary or secondary groups. Footloose fundamentalists fit that bill – provided they are paid, armed and allowed to carry their own ideological baggage. Neo-Nazis hostile to democracy have no qualms about serving empire builders who share their ideological hostility to democrats, socialists, federalists and culturally ‘diverse’ societies and states. So they are targeted for recruitment by the empire builders.

 The riff-raff consider themselves ‘strategic allies’ of the Euro-American empire builders. The latter, however, have no strategic allies – only strategic interests. Their tactical alliances with the riff-raff endure until they secure control over the state and eliminate their adversaries. Then the imperialist seek to demote, co-opt, marginalize or eliminate their ‘inconvenient’ riff-raff allies. The falling out comes about when the fundamentalists and neo-Nazis seek to restrict capital, especially foreign capital and impose restrictions on imperial control over resources and territory. At first the empire builders seek ‘opportunists’ among the riff-raff, those willing to sacrifice their ‘ideals’ for money and office. Those who refuse are relegated to secondary positions distant from strategic decision-making or to remote outposts. Those who resist are assassinated or jailed. The disposal of the riff-raff serves the empire on two counts. It provides the client regime with a fig leaf of respectability and disarms western critics targeting the extremist component of the junta.

 The riff-raff, however, with arms, fighting experience and financing, in the course of struggle, gains confidence in its own power. They do not easily submit to Euro-US strategies. They also have ‘strategic plans’ of their own, in which they seek political power to further their ideological agenda and enrich their followers.

 The riff-raff, want to ‘transition’ from shock troops of empire into rulers in their own right. Hence the assaults on the US embassy in Libya, the assassination of Euro-American proxies in Syria, Right Sector riots against the Kiev junta.


 A new power bloc is emerging on a global scale. It is already flexing its muscles. It has come to power in India, Turkey, Ukraine and Israel. It brings together big business, technocrats and ethno-religious fascists. They promote unrestrained capitalist expansion in association with Euro-American imperialism.

 Scientists, economists, and IT specialists design the programs and plans to realize the profits of local and foreign capitalists. The ethno-fascists mobilize the ‘masses’ to attack minorities and class organizations threatening high rates of returns.

 The Euro-Americans contribute to this ‘new power bloc’ by promoting their own ‘troika’ made up of ‘neo-liberal clients’, fundamentalists and neo-Nazis to overthrow nationalist adversaries. The advance of imperialism and capitalism in the 21st century is based on the harnessing of the most advanced technology and up-to-date media outlets with the most retrograde political and social leaders and ideologies.

EU election shows up core-periphery divide

We have all heard the superficial analysis presented by the media and so-called political analysts who talk about an anti-establishment vote only in the sense of a vote for opposition parties against existing governments, and about a rise of the “extremes” throughout Europe—essentially equating a vote for the Communist Party of Greece with a vote for UKIP!
      But these analysts dare not delve deeper into the reasons why working people voted in the way they did and into the class politics of the parties they voted for.
      Working people throughout Europe voted against the establishment but voted in very different ways, reflecting the uneven development of capitalism in Europe and the core-periphery divide of the European Union.
      In Ireland, Sinn Féin (part of the progressive GUE/NGL group) received 23 per cent of first-preference votes in the EU elections, capturing a seat in each constituency, including the North. Add to this the progressive and EU-critical candidate Luke (Ming) Flanagan, who has championed the cause of national sovereignty from a rural workers’ standpoint, who topped the poll in Midlands North-West. Equally, the Ballyhea Says No independent Diarmuid O’Flynn did incredibly well in the South, achieving 40,000 first-preference votes and only narrowly missing a seat.
      In Spain the two leading parties, centre-right and social-democratic, saw their vote drastically reduced, with smaller, anti-austerity parties and movements picking up seats in the EU parliament, some of whom are likely to join the GUE/NGL group.
      In Greece the “anti-establishment” vote did not go en masse to the fascist Golden Dawn, which received 9 per cent of the vote and three seats, but went to Syriza, with 26 per cent and six seats, and the Communist Party, with 6 per cent of the vote and two seats. Likewise in Portugal, the patriotic broad-left alliance CDU received 12 per cent of the vote, winning three seats.
      This compares with the 27 per cent (24 seats) received by UKIP in Britain, the 24 seats won by the Front Natonal in France, and the 7 seats won by the right-wing Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany).
      Clearly, the frustrations and anger of working people in Europe have been captured differently in the periphery and in the core. Those countries most subject to the diktats of the Troika, and whose economies are most subject to the needs of the core, have returned progressive EU-critical candidates, whereas those core countries, such as Germany, France, and Britain, that shape the EU and its direction and who flood the periphery with their surplus capital, distorting their economies, returned narrow-nationalist far-right parties alongside the pro-EU parties.
      This, of course, is nothing new. As Georgi Dimitrov put it, “fascism is the open terrorist dictatorship of the most reactionary, most chauvinist and most imperialist elements of finance capital.” Fascism is once again being used by core imperialist countries in Europe to stave off the threat of socialism and the progressive mobilisation of working-class people.
      These recent elections appear not only to confirm the uneven development of capital in Europe and the political reflection of this but also that progress for working people will come from the struggle in the weakest link of imperialism—the peripheral countries—and their peoples’ struggle for national democracy and sovereignty, in opposition to the increased control of corporate Europe and big business.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

US Policy on Ukraine: Follow the Money

By Stephen Gowans
May 9, 2014

A favored leftist explanation of the United States’s and European Union’s intervention in Ukraine revolves around the geopolitical imperative for Washington of containing a US military rival, Russia, and bringing NATO up to its borders by integrating Ukraine into the US-led military alliance. What’s rarely mentioned is that the role played by the United States and its European subalterns in supporting the Maidan uprising and the consequent rise to power of the pro-Western coup government has also been motivated by the goal of building a more congenial climate in Ukraine for the profit-making activities of Western corporations and investors.

While Ukraine’s economy is understood by leftists to be capitalist and therefore not to raise a red flag at the US State Department, it is far from true that Ukraine’s economic policies under the ousted former president Victor Yanukovych were warmly accepted, even tolerated, in Western foreign policy circles. Indeed, from the point of view of the West, Ukraine’s economy left much to be desired. It needed, IMF managers said, to be reorganized by “structural reforms” to “improve the business climate.” [1] What’s important here is not that Ukraine was viewed as infertile ground for capitalist profit-making—but that it was viewed as infertile ground for the profit-making activities of Western corporations specifically.

The Heritage Foundation-Wall Street Journal 2014 Index of Economic Freedom rates Ukraine’s economy as “repressed” along with those of such perennial US regime change targets as North Korea, Cuba, Zimbabwe, Venezuela and Iran—all unfriendly to the idea that economic policy should be formulated to pad bank accounts and bottom lines in New York, London, Frankfurt and Paris. [2] Ukraine’s economic freedom—that is, its adherence to the free enterprise, open markets, free trade agenda favored on Wall Street—is even ranked behind that of Belarus, a country reviled in Western foreign policy circles for its nostalgic attachment to Soviet economic forms. Of 43 countries in Europe, the US ruling class foundation and newspaper rank Ukraine’s friendliness to Western corporate interests dead last, and only a little better than that of communist North Korea and Cuba, socialist Venezuela and economically nationalist Zimbabwe and Iran. So where, in the view of the West’s corporate elite, has Ukraine gone wrong?

The Heritage Foundation and its Wall Street Journal partner have a number of complaints. “Contracts are not well enforced, and expropriation is always a possibility.” “The labor code” they grouse, “is outmoded and lacks flexibility,” meaning it offers too many protections to workers. Government procurement policies are denounced for sometimes favoring domestic firms, and hence, limiting the profit-making opportunities of North American and European corporations. Exception is taken to Ukraine’s state-owned firms, which crowd out private (mainly Western) enterprise, and Kiev’s restrictions on foreign investment, which give a leg up to domestic businesses but cut foreign corporations out of the action.

Some of these noxious-to-Wall-Street barriers to Western profit-making would have been dismantled had Yanukovych not backed away from an agreement with the European Union that would have seen Ukraine get preferential access to EU markets in return for turning over Ukraine’s labor, markets and resources to Western business interests. But, alas, Yanukovych balked and Washington took advantage of the ensuing protests to foment an uprising to bring a biddable pro-foreign-investment stooge to power, backed by fascists and militant Russophobes.

The coup government quickly signed on to an IMF economic reform program which promises to replace the set of economic policies Washington and Brussels have long derogated for being unfriendly to Western investors with one aimed at pushing Ukraine into Wall Street’s good books. Reza Moghadam, director of the IMF’s European Department, explained that “the program…is expected to…help restore confidence among private investors,” to which he might have added, investors of the sort who own mansions in and around New York City and other Western financial capitals. Moghadam adds that “Ukraine needs to undertake deep-reaching structural reforms” to improve Ukraine’s business climate. That roughly translates into holding the line on wages, laying off public sector workers, gutting protections for employees, hiking taxes on ordinary people while bringing them down for businesses, rolling back social services, and throwing open the doors of the economy to Western corporations.

Here are the details. Public sector wages will be held in check while increases in the minimum wage will be capped. At the same time, “expenditure restraint will be exercised through the suspension of” (what the IMF calls) “unaffordable wage and pension increases planned by the previous” (i.e., Yanukovych) “government, public employment reduction…and rationalization of social assistance spending.” So far this is shaping up to mean that “24,000 state workers and 80,000 police officers nationwide are set to be laid off,” [3] with more austerity to follow.
And while public expenditures are being reined in in the interests of creating an improved business environment, tax revenues will be hiked, not through increases in corporate taxes and income tax, but on regressive consumption taxes, which fall most heavily on those with the lowest incomes. The wealthy will be spared the burden of contributing to state coffers by measures to “facilitate value-added tax refunds for businesses.” And while ordinary Ukrainians are being squeezed to give more to businesses and investors, a new procurement law will be adopted to deny domestic firms preferential treatment in the awarding of government contracts. North American and European firms will be the principal beneficiaries.

The coup government’s principals, explains Moghadam, “believe there is a window of opportunity for bold and ambitious reforms in order to transform Ukraine” into “a vibrant business environment”—yes, and one that pays dividends to foreigners on the backs of Ukrainians. The sole reason for the existence of Ukrainians (and most of humanity) under the logic of the US-superintended system of global capitalism is to be screwed over in order to make a thin upper layer of Western society fabulously wealthy.

If we accept that the United States’s wealthiest citizens as a class exercise inordinate influence over public policy—a point supported by research presented in an upcoming paper in Perspectives on Politics by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page [4]–it follows that the principal function of the US State Department and the Pentagon is to support the overseas profit-making activities of US corporations. Hence, what likely lies at the root of US interventions abroad is the defense and promotion of US investor and corporate interests contra the economic nationalist (Ukraine, Zimbabwe, Iran), socialist (Venezuela) or communist (Cuba and North Korea) economic policies of foreign states. Yanukovych’s government gave too many breaks to Ukrainian investors, businesses, and even ordinary citizens, and therefore committed the cardinal sin in the church of US global hegemony: interfering in the profit-maximization of US corporations. That, perhaps more than US geopolitical and military interests, explains why the United States backs the coup in Kiev and opposes the forces arrayed against it.

Russia’s repatriation of Crimea—backed by the peninsula’s largely Russophone population, as it had also been overwhelmingly backed in a 1991 plebiscite [5]—was simply a defensive reaction by Moscow against the danger that the coup government in Kiev would seek to eject it from its naval base on the Black Sea. It was not the aggressive act Western figures of state and their mass media echo-chambers have made it out to be. The true aggressor here is US foreign policy in pursuit of its principal function of promoting the overseas profit-making interests of corporate America.

1. Interview with Reza Moghadam: Ukraine Unveils Reform Program with IMF Support, IMF Survey, April 30, 2014
3. Anthony Faiola, “In Ukraine, a crisis of bullets and economics,” The Washington Post, April 16, 2014
4. Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” forthcoming Fall 2014 in Perspectives on Politics.
5. Peter Hart, “Radioactive Putin is ‘Stalin’s Spawn’”, Extra!, May 1, 2014

The Ukraine Crisis and the New Cold War

UE General Officers
May 30, 2014
United Electrical Workers Union, UE

We reaffirm UE's historic position. We favor peace and friendly, equitable economic relations between nations. We favor negotiations rather than military confrontation to resolve disputes, including this one. We believe the countries that defeated Nazism in World War II, including the U.S. and Russia, should work together against any resurgence of racism, anti-semitism and fascism in Europe.
United Electrical, Radio & Machine Workers of America, (UE)

On February 22, the elected president of Ukraine was overthrown in a coup which was supported by the Obama administration. Since then, the country has been torn apart and violence has escalated. On May 2 in the southern city of Odessa, supporters of the new unelected Kiev government, including members of the violent extremist Right Sector party, surrounded peaceful, unarmed anti-government protestors who had taken refuge in the city's main union hall. The right-wing crowd then set the union hall on fire, and 46 people died by being burned alive or jumping to their deaths trying to escape.

We are troubled by this horrific atrocity, and by the fact that mass murder was committed by burning a union hall. We are concerned about the conflict in Ukraine, by the massing of Russian troops near Ukraine's eastern border and U.S. and NATO troops and planes in neighboring Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, which signal the return of the Cold War and the threat of a much hotter war.

A defining period in the history of UE was our union's courageous opposition to the Cold War. At the end of World War II there was great hope among union members and other Americans for a continuation of FDR's New Deal, with progressive social and economic policies including national healthcare, expanded Social Security, and progress against racial discrimination in employment. What we got instead was the anti-union Taft-Hartley Act and the Cold War. Military spending, including the nuclear arms race, continued to trump all other priorities. Local conflicts all over the world were treated as global showdowns between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. In the name of "fighting communism," the U.S. sided with the French and British colonial empires against independence movements, and backed many brutal dictators against their own people.  The 40-year-long Cold War included some very hot wars - notably Korea and Vietnam. The CIA organized coups that overthrew democratic governments that dared to disagree with the U.S. government or corporations. On the domestic front, the Cold War was a massive attack on civil liberties and an effort to wipe out organizations, including UE, that refused to enlist in the Cold War.

UE said the U.S. government should direct its resources toward making life better for its own people. UE favored negotiations to resolve differences between the U.S. and the Soviets, and to end conflicts such as Vietnam. UE said the arms race robbed human needs on both sides of the Cold War divide. As UE President Albert Fitzgerald often said, "You can't have guns and butter."

The Cold War supposedly ended with the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, which had been composed of the U.S.S.R. and its Eastern European allies. A key event was the 1990 agreement between the U.S., West Germany and the Soviet Union allowing the reunification of Germany. In those negotiations, President George H.W. Bush promised Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev that NATO - the U.S.-led anti-Soviet military alliance - would not expand any further east than Germany.

Yet despite that promise, and despite Russia and its former allies no longer having communist governments, NATO has moved steadily eastward toward Russia. NATO now includes the former socialist states of Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria, as well as three former republics of the U.S.S.R. which border Russia - Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. Two more former Soviet republics, Ukraine and Georgia, have been promised eventual NATO membership. NATO is now clearly an alliance against Russia, sitting on Russia's doorstep.

In late 2013 the U.S. began expressing hostility toward Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, and sympathy with the often violent anti-government protestors in Kiev. Yanukovych was not an exemplary leader - we now know that he'd been feathering his own nest - but he was elected in a fair election, and the U.S. supports many governments that are more corrupt and undemocratic than his.

What made Yanukovych a target for regime change was his decision in November to reject harsh loan terms from the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF) - including the kind of pension cuts and austerity that have driven Greece into poverty. Yanukovych instead accepted a more favorable offer of economic aid from Russia. His proposal that Ukraine have good economic relations with both Russia and the EU was rejected by the EU and the U.S., which wanted a Ukrainian government hostile to Russia.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland met in December 2013 with Oleh Tyahnybok, head of the far-right Svoboda Party. In a 2012 resolution the European Parliament had called Svoboda "racist, anti-Semitic and xenophobic" and appealed to democratic parties in Ukraine "not to associate with, endorse or form coalitions with this party." In May 2013 the World Jewish Congress labeled Svoboda "neo-Nazi" and called for the party to be banned. Svoboda leader Tyahnybok has called for ridding Ukraine of the influence of "the Moscow-Jewish mafia." Svoboda is also anti-gay, anti-black, and hostile to equal rights for women.

But since the overthrow of Yanukovych, Svoboda holds four cabinet ministries in Ukraine's "provisional government" (including deputy prime minister.) In a Feb. 4 conversation caught on tape, Nuland and the U.S. ambassador to Kiev discussed who would get which positions in the new government, including cabinet seats for Svoboda.

In Europe since the end of World War II, there has been a political taboo against allowing fascist and neo-Nazi parties into any government. The Obama administration has now broken that taboo and allied our country with fascists in Ukraine. According to German media reports, about 400 elite mercenaries from the notorious U.S. private security firm Academi (formerly Blackwater) are taking part in Ukrainian military operations against anti-government protesters in southeastern Ukraine. News that Vice President Joe Biden's son Hunter Biden has joined the board of directors of Ukraine's largest private gas company adds the element of conflict of interest. Obama's policies toward Ukraine and Russia have significantly increased the chances of military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia, the world's two nuclear superpowers. This threatens world peace.

It is unclear whether the presidential election conducted on May 25, under conditions of near-civil war, will help to defuse the crisis in Ukraine.

We reaffirm UE's historic position. We favor peace and friendly, equitable economic relations between nations. We favor negotiations rather than military confrontation to resolve disputes, including this one. We believe the countries that defeated Nazism in World War II, including the U.S. and Russia, should work together against any resurgence of racism, anti-semitism and fascism in Europe.

Bruce Klipple, General President

Andrew Dinkelaker, General Secretary-Treasurer
Bob Kingsley, Director of Organization

Right to Strike Backed by International Law

New Legal Report:  Right to Strike Backed by International Law
Brussels, 3 June 2014 (ITUC OnLine): A new 122-page ITUC legal report, confirming that the right to strike is protected under international law, has been released today as employers try to overturn decades of jurisprudence at the International Labour Organisation.  Employer representatives at the ILO are continuing their efforts to strip back ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association, which guarantees workers the right to take strike action, as the UN agency holds its 103rd International Labour Conference in Geneva this month.

Sharan Burrow, ITUC General Secretary, said from the ILO Conference, “Employers have been holding the ILO system to ransom, trying to discard more than 50 years of international law by removing the guarantee of one of the most fundamental human rights.  ILO standards are increasingly important as benchmarks in international trade and investment agreements as well as guidelines for responsible business, and ultra-conservative employer groups want to remove any real meaning from them.  The ITUC and its member organisations are determined to see this challenge off and ensure that workers everywhere cannot simply be forced to keep working when their bosses refuse to ensure fair pay and dignity and safety at work.”

As the ITUC’s new Global Rights Index shows, the right to strike is frequently restricted in law and violated in practice around the world.  In Cambodia, employers even recently called on the government to denounce ILO Convention 87, while bringing lawsuits against union that took to the streets to protest against poverty wages in the garment industry.

“The employers’ arguments at the ILO are legally unfounded. I am confident that the ITUC’s case, set out in our new report, would prevail before any international tribunal,” said Burrow.

To access the ITUC Global Rights Index in:

The ITUC represents 176 million workers in 161 countries and territories and has 325 national affiliates.

June Socialist Voice out now

June issue of Socialist Voice.   It can also be view/downloaded at


  1.     A changed, and changing, political landscape [EMC]
  2.     The re-emergence of dark forces [TMK]
  3.     EU election shows up core-periphery divide [NL]
  4.     Government proposals on the “right to bargain” [NC]
  5.     The class war intensifies [TMS]
  6.     Spain moves to the left [TMS]
  7.     Solidarity with the Communist Party of Ukraine
  8.     Welcome to the new Ireland [NOM]
  9.     The compliant state [NOM]
  10.     Léirmheas: Tomhas maith ar Bono [CDF]
  11.     Films: Humanity and humour [JF]
  12.     Poems from Strabane
  13.     Frontier Soil

1.   A changed, and changing, political landscape

The election results have produced a changed and changing political landscape. There was a solid rejection of “austerity” by hundreds of thousands of working people throughout the country, with both Fine Gael and the Labour Party suffering heavy losses. The Labour Party has paid the heaviest price for its opportunism and its active support for anti-worker policies.

2. The re-emergence of dark forces

In Ireland we are often so wrapped up with our own election dramas that developments abroad may be overlooked and their impact on us missed. The remarkable rise of Sinn Féin, coupled with the equally spectacular plunge of the Labour Party and its leader, has predictably mesmerised the Dublin media. North of the border, where the story from the ballot boxes has offered little change, attention focused on the titillating travails of the recently formed and already collapsing NI21 party.

3. EU election shows up core-periphery divide

We have all heard the superficial analysis presented by the media and so-called political analysts who talk about an anti-establishment vote only in the sense of a vote for opposition parties against existing governments, and about a rise of the “extremes” throughout Europe—essentially equating a vote for the Communist Party of Greece with a vote for UKIP!

4. Government proposals on the “right to bargain”

The Government recently unveiled plans for addressing the fall-out from the 2007 Supreme Court ruling in the Ryanair and Impact dispute. This ruling undermined the operation of the Industrial Relations Acts (2001–04), known as the “Right to Bargain” legislation. The purpose of this legislation was to assist unionised workers in non-union firms where employers refused to collectively bargain in drawing on the support of the Labour Court to determine terms and conditions of employment.

5. The class war intensifies

Juan Moscoso del Prado is a young deputy of the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Labour Party) for Navarra. A phrase from a book published by him in April, Ser Hoy de Izquierdas (To Be of the Left Today), summarises the trendy anti-Marxist position of social democrats everywhere: “La izquierda debe olvidar el discurso de clases” (the left must forget class discourse). Señor Moscoso and Éamon Gilmore sing from the same hymn sheet.

6. Spain moves to the left

Bucking the rightward drift of France and other European countries, Spain has moved decisively to the left. In the recent EU and provincial elections both the social-democratic PSOE (Spanish Socialist Labour Party)—the main opposition party—and the ruling Partido Popular (People’s Party) took a trouncing. The secretary-general of the PSOE, Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba, assuming responsibility for his party’s debacle, resigned, and the party will elect a new leader in July.

7. Solidarity with the Communist Party of Ukraine
Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
The Communist Party of Ireland expresses its solidarity with the Communist Party of Ukraine in its struggle against the imperialist coup d’état and in defence of the working class.

8. Welcome to the new Ireland

Last year Valeant Pharmaceuticals Ltd of Canada took over Bausch and Lomb, manufacturers of the famous aviator glasses, for €6.4 billion. Its plant in Waterford, which makes contact lenses, has been there for about thirty years and employs 1,100 people.

9. The compliant state

It is appropriate at this time, nearly a hundred years since the outbreak of the First World War, when there will be commemorations around the country glorifying the slaughter of workers from 1914 to 1918, that we bear in mind Lenin’s book The State and Revolution, written in August 1917.
      At a time when many socialists had lost their way, Lenin reiterated the Marxist view of the state:

10. Tomhas maith ar Bono

Harry Browne, The Frontman: Bono (In the Name of Power) (London: Verso, 2013; ISBN 978-1-781-68082-7; £9.99)

Is é Bono rí na gceiliúrán in Éirinn, i dTeach Uíbh Eachach, ceann­áras na Roinne Gnóthaí Eachtracha, go háirithe. Nuair a theastaigh ón roinn Éireannach mór le rá a chur ar fáil mar chomhluadar lóin do Michelle Obama agus dá clann iníonacha, cé a roghnaigh siad ach na tUasal Bono. (Nárbh ghránna an t‑ualach é sin a chur ar bheirt chailíní óga!)

11. Humanity and humour

The film-maker Ken Loach won the Golden Bear for Lifetime Achievement at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. In his acceptance speech he stated that “while the rich get richer, the poor get poorer.” His films have illustrated this for nearly fifty years.
      Which Side Are You On? is a documentary Loach made about the British miners’ strike of 1984–85.

12. Poems from Strabane

These two poems were written by a Christian activist in Strabane, Co. Tyrone.
      “The first one is in response to the problem of hunger, welfare reform, and how churches, corporations and others feed into the myths of poverty that perpetuate the misery that programmes like the one I work with are trying to help.”
      Richard B. is an active and committed Christian working and living by his beliefs in Strabane.

13. Frontier Soil

Wei Chuang
(China, ninth century)