Saturday, February 28, 2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

The establishment shows its contempt for the people

Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland
21 February 2015

The crowing from the establishment and its tame media about forcing a climb-down by SYRIZA over the Greek debt and the continuing austerity programme barely disguises the complete contempt that they have for the people.

     It matters little whether one thought that SYRIZA would inevitability have surrendered to the demands of the European Union or had hoped they would stand up and challenge it and defend the Greek people and blaze an alternative direction from within the European Union and oppose the IMF. Those who are anxious to advance the people’s interests need to reflect more seriously about what these past few weeks have demonstrated.

     One of the lessons must be that the treaties governing the European Union have in effect outlawed not only a radical people-centred solution but have effectually outlawed even tame Keynesian policies, and that the controlling forces are determined to solve the crisis of capitalism at the expense of the working people.

     A second thing is clear: that people can vote at the national level for whoever they like, but this is not decisive, as the European Union will impose TINA (“There is no alternative”) and the economic and political straitjacket of what is in the interests of capitalism.

     The debt is still the weapon of choice to be used against the people; democracy has been trumped by the overriding needs of the European monopolies and the big finance houses and banks.

     Those in Ireland who still labour under the illusion that the European Union can be transformed into something that it is not need to look long and hard at the events of the last few weeks. The blocking minority that is built in to the EU decision-making process means that the big powers—those with real economic power and therefore real political power—can block anything that is not in the interests of the monopolies and finance houses.

     The Irish government, once again demonstrating its abject servility towards the imperialist powers, did nothing to support the Greek people apart from expressing a vacuous sympathy, and voted to defend the interests of the ruling class.

     Those who continue to peddle the illusion, whether here in Ireland, in Greece or in Spain, that they can solve the people’s problems within the confines of the European Union and controlling mechanisms such as the euro are only leading our people down a blind alley. There are simply no solutions to be found to debt or austerity within the European Union.

     The struggles of the Greek people have exposed the true class nature of the European Union and its institutions. They have shown that it can be resisted—a lesson that needs to be learnt by working people throughout Europe.

All Must Stand United

The decision of the High Court to imprison Bernie Hughes, Michael Batty and Derek Byrne for 28 days and Damien O’Neill and Paul Moore for 56 days is a blatant attempt by the state to bully communities that are resisting the water charges, in particular those opposed to the installation of water meters. The jailing of these five activists is the latest attempt by the state to break the resistance of working-class communities throughout the country.

     The trade union movement and all those opposed to the water charges must now mobilise in the defence of community activists and community resistance and to oppose these attempts to criminalise activists and whole communities.

     The imposition of water charges, preparing the ground for privatisation, is part of the Europe-wide attack on public services and assault on working-class communities.

     The Communist Party of Ireland calls for the maximum unity to ensure that these activists and the communities they represent are not isolated but rather to let them know that they are not alone and that they have the support and solidarity of all those who oppose water charges.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The Arrests, Why Now?

When people woke up on Monday morning to the news that 4 people had been arrested – AAA/SP TD Paul Murphy, AAA Cllr Kieran Mahon, AAA Cllr Mick Murphy and the now airbrushed Scott Masterson of Éirigí, there was an initial state of bemusement. Since then more arrests have taken place and more will come in for questioning over the alleged 'imprisonment' of Joan Bruton. These events are without a doubt hugely politically motivated.
The question that people need to be asking is why now? The CYM recognise and agree that this has the hallmarks of a maneuver to discredit the R2W and anti-water charges protesters. Tensions will begin to mount among those families, residents and protest groups of the detainees, while the wider movement will rightly condemn these arrests.
It is quite clear that the government's tactics of trying to appease the public by making changes to the Irish water package have failed, with wide-scale refusal to sign up to Irish water now a reality. These arrests in this context are clearly then a new tactic to try and raise tensions, with the possibility of violence breaking out among the water protesters. These arrests therefore are a new attempt at trying to draw out anti-social behaviors so as to be able to generate headlines, in order to demonise the R2W and anti-water charges movement.
However there is another element to the arrests which the CYM believe has to be raised – the next general election. It is quite clear that the arrests were a very well thought out and orchestrated political stunt, devised by the government, carried out by the Gardai and played out in the media, with the immediate goal of trying to discredit the water campaign among those that are sitting on the fence about it.
CYM pose the question, in whose interests then do these arrests serve? Who is to gain and who will lose? The one thing that is for certain is that Paul Murphy and the Anti Austerity Alliance/Socialist Party have just been gifted a national platform and could not have asked for much more, as their public profile will have skyrocketed from all the media attention.
People may believe that this was a stupid and strange move by the government but actually when you look at who is likely to be hurt the most by a rise in AAA/SP support you have to conclude that it will be Sinn Féin. This episode has been a political exercise in vote splitting in the anti-water charges camp, which in turn will weaken the overall chance for a Sinn Féin led government at the next general election.
There can be no questioning that the Irish state is looking both at the immediate water mobilisation and at the next general election. In both cases they are looking to divide and conquer. In both cases they see a very real threat to their party votes and in terms of the international context they have every reason to fear a mobilisation of people away from the Troika parties.
On this basis the CYM urge those that are engaged and work with R2W, not be tempted to fall into their trap. We urge that R2W protests remain peaceful and that those that try to instigate violence be condemned. Discipline and solidarity is needed by all groups within R2W at this time. The propaganda war will be in full swing and it wont take much to create sensationalist headlines that will look to isolate the protesters from the general public.
The CYM would have hoped that AAA/SP would have extended their solidarity to Éirigí member Scott Masterson, but it seems that by omitting him in their official statements they are taking a narrow party line to advance their position politically. It seems the seeds of division have sprouted stems.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

James Connolly Festival, 2015

Dublin, 4–10 May 2015
Poetry, music, theatre, and debate
Organised by Socialist Voice, in association with the New Theatre
     Baile Átha Cliath, 4–10 Bealtaine 2015
Filíocht, ceol, dráma, agus díospóireacht
Á eagrú ag Socialist Voice, i gcomhar leis an New Theatre

Foward #18 out now

Real Existing Capitalism #2

CPI Political Statement

At its first meeting of 2015 the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland discussed and evaluated the political and economic situation as experienced by working people, north and south.
     It is clear that the imposition of “austerity” is still the central plank of both the British and the Irish governments as well as a requirement of the European Union. It is the means of continuing to attack and undermine workers’ conditions and of ensuring the survival of the monopoly-capitalist system itself.
     The party expresses its solidarity and support for the campaign of industrial action beginning on 13 March by the public-sector trade unions in the North of Ireland in opposition to the implementation of the “austerity” budget by the Stormont Executive.
     There is an absolute necessity for the unity of all working people, trade unionists and community organisations in rallying alongside public-sector workers in a fight that is in everyone’s interests. Workers are being presented with false choices, choices aimed at creating divisions between those in the public sector and those in the private sector and between those employed and the unemployed.
     This is a struggle to defend jobs, pensions, wages, and public services. It is not a struggle that can be left to working people in the North but requires the solidarity and support of workers throughout Ireland. The party calls on workers to organise actions of solidarity on 13 March.
     The loss of nearly a thousand jobs in Gallaher’s factory is yet another significant blow to an already precarious economy and reflects the global nature of capital and its strategy of pitching workers against each other in its drive to maximise profits. The recent pension dispute at NI Water shows how, despite years of setbacks and a low level of industrial struggle, it is possible to win important gains for workers. NI Water workers have significant leverage, but all too often we have seen advantages squandered or multi-union disputes end in recriminations. We now have an example of a trade union dispute that took on political arguments and, crucially, was organised and strategic. By challenging the Northern Ireland Assembly’s restrictions on pay and its policy on public-sector pensions, and combating an anti-union media agenda, the Water Group of Trade Unions have shown that austerity can be resisted. This could not have been better timed as we approach public-sector strikes on 13 March.
     The Stormont House Heads of Agreement are an agreement for further attacks on working people, for further job losses and the privatisation of public assets, such as Belfast Harbour—an agreement enthusiastically championed by the various brands of unionism and the SDLP, with a weak defence by Sinn Féin with its highlighting of the establishment of a “hardship fund” as the basis for accepting it. The agreement has the imprimatur not only of the parties in the Assembly but also of the British and Irish governments, all united in making the people pay.
     The demand for a reduction in corporation tax can only benefit transnational corporations and will not lead to the projected growth in jobs that the parties in the Assembly claim. Experience shows that it will lead to a downward spiral, with the Northern Ireland Executive pitching workers, north and south, against each other and with big business the ultimate beneficiary.
     The Stormont House Agreement will reinforce the controlling hand of the British state and the dependent relationship that is already a central feature of the current political settlement, locking an already weakened and dependent economy into a straitjacket, with the belt-tightening mechanisms in the hands of the British state.
     Despite the hype from the government in the Republic, the economic “recovery” is more spin than substance. It has more to do with the forthcoming general election than with real changes in the harsh economic and social reality experienced daily by working people. Recent figures reveal the stark reality experienced by working people and their families: 12 per cent of children experience consistent poverty; 37 per cent of young people—400,000 people—experience deprivation; 1.4 million people, or nearly a third of the population, suffer deprivation, being unable to afford basic necessities. This deprivation is most acute among lone parents, the unemployed, the long-term ill, and the disabled. A quarter of the population are unable to heat their homes.
     The CPI reaffirms its support for the Right2Water campaign, under trade union leadership, and calls on local communities to continue to resist water charges. There is a clear need to maintain the broadest unity of all those opposed to these regressive charges. The proposal of a constitutional amendment to enshrine in the Constitution of Ireland the public ownership and control of water can be an important issue in the forthcoming general election and could provide an effective focal point for campaigning by communities throughout the country linked to non-payment and those who are preventing meters being installed.
     The CPI also affirms its view that water charges, the growth in poverty, declining wages and poor working conditions cannot be separated from the massive socialised corporate debt and the general economic and social strategy of the government, a strategy actively promoted by the European Union.
     The recently announced strategy by the EU Central Bank on quantitative easing is designed to maintain share prices and buttress the euro as it steadily declines against the dollar. It will have limited economic effect, as the euro-zone banking industry is already dependent on ECB lending to the tune of approximately €1 trillion, with interest rates of virtually nil.
     The ruling classes throughout the European Union have no strategy for dealing with the growing indebtedness of the peripheral countries but will continue to extract massive flows of capital from these countries to European and global finance houses. The present strategy of the monopoly bankers, a strategy whereby wealth is becoming more and more concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, has not created the desired growth in the economy, nor has it reduced unemployment or growing mass poverty. They offer the people little hope but rather what is on offer is more despair, hopelessness, a future of more of the same.
     The CPI expresses its solidarity with the Greek working class and the Communist Party of Greece as they enter a new phase in the resistance to the European Union. What is needed now as never before is closer co-operation between communist parties throughout Europe and all workers’ organisations that wish to resist the European Union. There is an urgent need to build united resistance and to campaign on areas of common understanding. We need to build workers’ unity and resistance outside the controlling structure and institutions of the European Union itself.
     The CPI again draws attention to how the European Union continues to facilitate transnational corporations by negotiating two far-reaching trade agreements, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) with Canada and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with the United States—treaties drafted by and for big corporations. These treaties will give further impetus to the drive to the bottom and will carve in stone the power of global monopoly capitalism over the people.
     These developments further underline the need for the Irish trade union movement to become more political and more radical in defence not only of its members but of the wider working class, or to become redundant.
     Workers’ resistance and workers’ consciousness have been growing but need to be built on and not sidelined or channelled into purely electoral politics. Building the people’s resistance is still the only way that independent working-class political and economic interests can be sustained.

January/February Socialist Voice out now

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