Saturday, October 31, 2015

Greek workers’ resistance and the EU

On Wednesday 21 October a successful public meeting was held in Swords, Co. Dublin, on the theme “Greek workers’ resistance and the EU.” The meeting was addressed by Sotirios Zarianopoulos (Communist Party of Greece), a member of the EU Parlia­ment, and Eoin McDonnell, Dublin district chair­person, CPI.

Interview with Sotirios available at

17th Inter­national Meet­ing of Com­mun­ist and Workers’ Parties

Ankara, November 2015

Eugene McCartan
General Secretary, Communist Party of Ireland

Dear comrades, 
     We are moving into a period of change as well as a period of great danger to world peace. The US-EU imperialist bloc is deepening its permanent war strategy in its continuing struggle to maintain its global domination. They cynically use the Islamic terrorist groups operating both in the Middle East and in North Africa, just as they use fascist groups in Ukraine. The atrocities committed in their own territories are regarded as “blow-back,” a price worth paying. This is coupled with the real dangers posed to the planet by the destruction of the global environment by monopoly capitalism. 
     We can see this permanent war strategy being played out today in the Middle East, with its war against Syria and its support for despotic regimes, like the Zionist settler-colonial state of Israel, now slipping into fascism, and the neo-mediaevalist Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Their brutal wars against the people of Palestine and Yemen have the full support of their patrons. 
     Russia has been provoked into intervening in the Syrian crisis, an intervention that may shift the balance of forces within that country. The Russian intervention does not fit so easily into the neat box of inter-imperialist rivalry. We need to study developments in the very real concrete conditions. It is important that ISIS and the other forces of reaction promoted by US-EU imperialism are defeated in the region. This would be a strategic defeat for the imperialist powers. 
     The United States has not abandoned the megalomaniac project of “full-spectrum dominance.” With its partners, the EU and Japan, it is now attempting to encircle Russia and China. In fact this is its main strategic objective; the interference in Ukraine and the South China Sea can only be understood in this context. 
     The drive for global domination is accompanied by a continuing assault on working people. This is now facing a growing but largely confused and disjointed resistance. The “austerity” measures have met with a large protest movement; however, the majority of protesters are not yet ready to challenge the system itself and are open to opportunist forces promising an easy solution, a return to social democracy—a solution that is not available. 
     Nevertheless, we can see throughout Europe and in many developed capitalist countries the emergence of new social forces, albeit forces that come from a petit-bourgeois background and understanding, a movement of protest against austerity, with large numbers but without a clear strategy. Without an understanding of the nature of capitalism, this movement is open to manipulation and is headed for defeat, as the recent experience of SYRIZA in Greece has shown. 

The weakening of ideological hegemony

It is clear that the ideological hegemony is weakening. Throughout the European Union more and more workers are taking the first step towards asking whose interests the EU serves. There are small shoots of questioning of the very legitimacy of the EU itself. 
     We need to continue to step up our ideological attacks against the EU and also to expose opportunism, to show that this talk of “reforming” the EU weakens and confuses workers, blunting the resistance of the workers’ movement throughout Europe. The struggle against TTIP can also be used to expose not only the nature of that treaty but also the forces behind it and the EU itself. 
     The possible emergence of political fractures gives us more scope for engaging in and intensifying the ideological struggle among this strata. While many are imbued with the bankrupt ideology of social democracy, and have been fed on decades of vicious anti-worker anti-communism, and while some of this resistance is ideologically and organisationally confused, we should distinguish between those who are genuinely confused by the crisis and those who are spreading confusion. 
     It is clear that these movements have not, and will not, spontaneously or automatically come to the same understanding as communists or the workers’ movement; our class has decades of experience in resistance to draw upon. 
     We may have come to different conclusions and solutions from that resistance, but we need to find the ways and the means, as well as the political courage and, most importantly, the confidence in our ideology, to engage with these forces. Without a good defence there is little chance of a successful counter-offensive. 

Growing resistance in Ireland

After many years of imposed austerity—cuts in wages, pensions, health and education services—we are now experiencing in Ireland the emergence of mass resistance to the introduction of water charges, under the unifying banner of Right2Water. This is one of the most positive developments since the civil rights movement in the late 1960s, which shattered unionism—British imperialism’s main ally in the north of our country. 
     Water charges, along with other charges and levies, form part of the agreed “Programme for Ireland” imposed upon the Irish people by the external troika, in alliance with the internal troika of the main Irish establishment parties. 
     The people in the northern part of our country, still under British control, also experience some of the same brutal social and economic realities and policies of the British state as well as those flowing from the EU. The current attempt to impose “welfare reform” demanded by the British state lies at the heart of the present political crisis within the institutions established under the Belfast Agreement. 
     We characterise the situation facing the people in the North of Ireland as one in which they are triply marginalised: they have little if any influence on British government policy that so directly affects their lives; they certainly have no ability to effect change in or to oppose policies imposed by the EU; and they have little influence on the Irish government. 
     What is clear is that there is no lasting solution within the existing political institutions and continued British imperialist control. 
     In the south of Ireland what has now emerged is a mass movement of resistance against the imposition of water charges, which has had a significant impact politically. What began as a small resistance in one housing estate has grown into a national movement. This movement has had a significant impact on sections of the trade union movement, a movement demoralised and greatly weakened by decades of “social partnership” and class collaboration. 
     A number of trade unions came together and formally established Right2Water. Within this movement are three pillars: trade unions, communities, and political parties. Trade unions play a central role in sustaining the unity of the movement, and in keeping political opportunism in check. It has allowed for the reconnecting of community-based struggles with trade unions, and vice versa. What lessons have Irish communists drawn from this mass struggle? Firstly, it has reaffirmed that the active involvement of working people in direct, mobilising struggles is the only real basis on which political and class consciousness can be developed. 
     Secondly, it is essential that the trade union movement is centrally engaged and involved in the wider people’s struggles. 
     Thirdly, that mass struggle can force the government to retreat far more successfully than endless parliamentary procedural debates. 
     Fourthly, during the course of this struggle those trade unions have also developed politically. Recently four of the trade unions involved in Right2Water launched a political initiative, called Right2Change. We consider this an important development, even if we have concerns about some of the formulations and positions, an over-emphasis on elections, and a lack of understanding of the central necessity for mobilising the working class independently of the controlling institutions and mechanisms of the state. The electoral campaigns of the political parties involved could take the emphasis away from the issue of water charges and privatisation. 
     Our experience has also shown us that nothing emerges from decades of class collaboration that is fully formed and class-conscious. The name of Right2Change is itself also interesting, because it presents the possibility of change; it extends the hand of hope and solidarity. This runs counter to the other, demoralised sections of the labour movement and of itself is a challenge to the dominant ideology of “There is no alternative.” 
     As part of the wider debate and engagement with the forces within Right2Change, our party issued a discussion paper entitled “Democratic Programme for the 21st Century,” in recognition of the Democratic Programme of the Irish independence struggle. We presented a radical transformative strategy, a strategy that presents a different way forward for the Irish working class and working people. It is a strategy for challenging imperialism, for challenging the European Union and its mechanisms of control, such as the euro and the many treaty obligations. 
     Our strategy is one that is radical in content and that has the potential to challenge EU-US-British imperialism’s triple-lock grip on our people. We believe it presents positions that will appear to working people to be winnable and reasonable. It is a strategy for shifting the balance of forces away from capital to labour, for building the consciousness and unity of the class in the course of the struggle. That is the lesson we have learnt: to advance demands and strategies that are not so far ahead of where the people are but advanced enough to bring them forward and allow them to grow politically and ideologically and, most importantly, to grow in confidence about where they need to go. 
     While our ultimate goal is socialism, the stage or phase of struggle that we understand where our people are at today, given the concrete material conditions and balance of forces, is one that is centred around the reassertion of the struggle for national independence under the leadership of the working class—the only class that can bring that struggle to its final victory: in other words, linking the struggle for national freedom, for political and economic sovereignty with social emancipation, led by the Irish working class. 
     We also argue for a political and economic strategy that is on an all-Ireland basis. This is the only way to break the marginalisation experienced by our people and to weaken, undermine and challenge the continued imperialist control and interference in the affairs of the Irish people. 
     What we are campaigning and mobilising for is to present a vision of an alternative social and economic system and a way forward that can inspire hope and that is rooted in the people’s own experiences, to challenge the narrow and limited version of democracy on offer and to bring forms of democracy into all spheres of life: political, economic, social, and cultural.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Greek Communist MEP meeting in Swords, Co Dublin

Greek KKE MEP visiting Ireland


Greek MEP on speaking tour of Ireland

The Communist Party of Ireland will be hosting a visit to Ireland by Kostas Papadakis of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE), a member of the EU Parliament. As you are aware, Greek communists have been one of the most consistent political forces inside Greece in opposing the “memorandums” imposed by the European Union and of the harsh effects those policies have had on the lives of the Greek people.

The KKE was deeply critical of SYRIZA and accurately predicted that it would capitulate in the face of pressure from the European Union. For many years the Greek communists have been been to the fore in the struggles of the Greek people, organising numerous general strikes and other forms of social resistance.

The KKE, like the Communist Party of Ireland, does not adhere to the view that a “social European Union” has any credibility.

Mr Papadakis will be addressing meetings in, Swords (Co. Dublin), Galway, and Belfast, as well as meeting activists of the campaign against water charges.

He is visiting Ireland from the 20th to the 22nd of October.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

October Socialist Voice

The refugee crisis, housing and the IMF.

Check out October's Socialist Voice

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Putin kicks Obama's ass

Freedom Rider: Putin Trumps Obama at the U.N.

by BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley

Obama can no longer expect to carry out his international dirty work without effective opposition.”

If the peevish expression on Barack Obama’s face was any indication, Vladimir Putin is a force in the world who cannot be ignored. Ever since Russia annexed Crimea in response to the United States- and NATO-backed coup in Ukraine, Obama and the corporate media have falsely declared that Putin is isolated from the rest of the world. They claim he is a monster, a despot and an irrelevance on the world stage.

While the G8 member nations turned themselves into the G7 in order to snub Russia, president Putin was making friends elsewhere. He may have been isolated from the United States and its clique, but not from China and the other BRICS nations or Syria or Iran or Iraq. While western nations use the Islamic State (ISIS) as a ruse to exact regime change in Syria, Putin has formed an alliance to carry out the task of eradicating that danger which was created by western intervention.

Presidents Obama [3] and Putin [4] both made their respective cases before the United Nations General Assembly at its annual meeting. Obama’s speech was an apologia for imperialism and American aggressions. He repeated the lies which no one except uninformed Americans believe. If he calls a leader a tyrant he claims the right to destroy a nation and kill and displace its people. Despite the living hell that the United States made out of Libya, Obama continues to defend his crime. He blandly adds that “our coalition could have and should have done more to fill a vacuum left behind.” Apparently he hopes that no one is paying attention to the horrors inflicted on Libya or the ripple effect which created numerous other humanitarian crises.

If Obama calls a leader a tyrant he claims the right to destroy a nation and kill and displace its people.”

Not content to defend the indefensible, the president made it clear that the Obama doctrine of regime change and terror is alive and well. “I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

In contrast, the man labeled a dictator acknowledged the importance of respecting every nation’s sovereignty. “Rather than bringing about reforms, an aggressive foreign interference has resulted in a brazen destruction of national institutions and life itself. Instead of the triumph of democracy and progress, we got violence, poverty and social disaster. Nobody cares a bit about human rights, including the right to life.” Making good use of his time in the spotlight, he made clear that he wasn’t fooled or cowed by the United States. “I cannot help asking those who have caused the situation, do you realize now what you've done? But I am afraid no one is going to answer that. Indeed, policies based on self-conceit and belief in one's exceptionality and impunity have never been abandoned.”
Obviously Putin has self-interest in supporting his allies in Syria and for fighting ISIS. He acknowledged that his country is at risk from some of its own citizens who have sworn an allegiance to that group. Nonetheless, it is important that at least one nation in the world is capable of standing up to American state sponsored destruction and is willing to take action in that effort. Before the United Nations proceedings took place, Russia announced that it would share intelligence with Iran, Iraq and Syria in order to combat ISIS. If the United States were true to its word, that alliance would be welcomed instead of scorned.

It is important that at least one nation in the world is capable of standing up to American state sponsored destruction.”

Not since the late Hugo Chavez declared that George W. Bush left a “smell of sulfur” has an American president been so openly confronted at the United Nations. Putin’s presence makes it clear that Obama can no longer expect to carry out his international dirty work without effective opposition.

While the corporate media noted the tense photo opportunity between the two presidents they neglected to mention the real issues behind the bad feelings. At a press conference after his address Putin was asked about French president Hollande’s insistence that Assad leave [5] the Syrian presidency. "I relate to my colleagues the American and French presidents with great respect but they aren't citizens of Syria and so should not be involved in choosing the leadership of another country.”

That simple statement explains the totality of American enmity towards Russia. The NATO nations claim a right to choose leaders, create and support their own terrorist groups and destroy anyone who doesn’t do what they want. Putin is making a case for non-interference and that makes him persona non grata in the eyes of the supposedly more democratic West.

The world ought to fear pax Americana, not a Russian military presence in Syria. There cannot be true peace and stability unless nations and peoples are left to their own devices. The helping hand of United States democracy is anything but. It is a recipe for disaster and requires forceful opposition. If Russia can be a reliable counterforce the whole world will benefit, even if Barack Obama frowns before the cameras.
Margaret Kimberley's Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BAR, and is widely reprinted elsewhere. She maintains a frequently updated blog as well as at [6] Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)

Trade Union School on TTIP this Saturday

An establishment figure speaks about inequality

Last months television programme on the state-controlled RTE dealing with inequality in Ireland, presented by David McWilliams, was of interest by virtue of the fact that an establishment figure spoke about inequality. 
     Any regular reader of Socialist Voice, the monthly paper of the CPI, would have been well aware of the nature of the economic crisis and the strategy of past and present governments: of making working people pay for the crisis of the system. 
     We would like to remind people that the CPI was alone of all political parties and “alliances,” represented in the Dáil or otherwise, to argue the following: 
     1. That austerity is working. It was imposed to transfer wealth from working people to the rich. It was for the transfer of wealth upwards to the rich and outwards to the coffers of the international finance houses. 
     2. That the debt was the weapon of choice for attacking workers’ rights, terms and conditions and their living standards; that austerity would be permanent for working people. 
     3. That the Irish ruling class and Irish governments are gatekeepers for the interests of the EU, transnational corporations, and the rich and powerful. 
     4. That NAMA was for socialising toxic assets, and that the people would pay the debt while the rich and powerful would get away scot-free. 
     5. That NAMA was for re-establishing the Golden Circle. 
     6. That the strategy of both the government and the EU was to socialise debt and risk, while profits would remain firmly in private or corporate hands. 
     7. That the majority of economic and social policies are skewed in favour of transnational companies. 
     8. That repudiation of the debt was necessary to make those who created the debt pay for it, and not the people. 
     9. That membership of the EU, and in particular of the euro zone, is a political straitjacket, the means of imposing external political and fiscal controls, to make austerity permanent. 
     10. That water charges were primarily for establishing the means of privatising this resource. 
     11. That precarious employment would become the norm throughout large sections of the economy. 
     To quote James Connolly, “governments in capitalist society are but committees of the rich to manage the affairs of the capitalist class.” 
     We could go on. 
     The battle of ideas is a central part of the intense class struggle that is going on in our country. This ideological struggle is for shaping how people understand the world around them. 
     The role of the elite’s mass media is to weave the illusion that we all partied so we all must share the burden. Their role is to protect the system, not to present objective news or to enhance your understanding.

Communist Party of Ireland

October issue of SV out now

October's Socialist Voice out now and available online.

This issues looks at precarious work, the irish language, right2change and the homeless crisis amongst other issues of concern to the working class.

Check it out and share it amongst your family and friends.