The Iranian Revolution of 1979 overthrew the absolute monarchy and replaced it with a autocratic theocracy based on Shia-Islam. It took almost 13 months before the pro-western; Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (Shah of Iran) fled the country. The Shah was installed by a CIA coup in 1953. Pahlavi ruled as absolute autocrat from the 1953 until 1979. His regime was rejected by many Iranians for his authoritarianism and support for western imperialism. American president’s however supported the Shah because he was anticommunist, they trained his personal security service (SAVAK) which was feared for its brutality. However on 11 February 1979, Iran turned and became very hostile to imperialism and the USA!
The revolution did overthrew the monarchy and its corrupt-capitalist supporters. However those who took power after the Shah was removed were not at all revolutionary. Ruhollah Khomeini installed himself as Supreme Leader of Iran on 3 December 1979. He spent more than 15 years in exile for his opposition to the last Shah. Khomeini was a deeply conservative ayatollah (religious leader), who stood against democratic and socialist values. His rise to power was made possible because the Iranian left-wing made the mistake of supporting him during the 13 revolutionary months. Only few leftists understood that Khomeini was not aiming for liberation!
Today the USA and Iran are still enemies and consider the evil the Americans did, it is understandable that many Iranians do not like the USA. This all started when the CIA and British Secret Intelligence Service, staged a coup in 1953 to destroy the Iranian democracy and replaced it with the absolute monarchy of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. British imperialism supported the destruction of democracy because the Iranian government wanted to nationalize the oilfields. Britain controlled them and did not wanted to lose their lucrative monopoly on Iranian oil. American imperialism wanted a pro-western leader, one who would stand with the USA against the Soviet-Union. Pahlavi was their man and therefore he was made ruler, with the approval of Washington DC and London!
Pahlavi introduced reforms (called the White Revolution) that diminished the power of religious leaders like Ruhollah Khomeini. The Iranian imperial government relied on oil profits to carry out their modernization and this led to bizarre economic fluctuations, in the last five years of the Pahlavi regime. The gap between the rich and poor was huge. While the capitalist elite enjoyed a western lifestyle, the peasant and lower working class (80% of the country) were excluded. They felt abandoned and betrayed as traditional Islamic values were put aside for western ideas such as pornography, drugs, gambling and woman’s rights. By the 1970’s, the top 20% of Iranian society owned over 70% of all wealth. Mohammad Reza Pahlavi had crowned himself King of Kings in 1967. While he and his wife enjoyed wealth and international support, the brutal SAVAK (under CIA eyes) arrested and killed off anybody who criticized the imperial regime!
There were three factions that fought the Pahlavi regime in the 13 months of the revolution.
- The conservative Ayatollahs around Ruhollah Khomeini, who stood strong among the petty-bourgeoisie and upper-middle class
- The Iranian middle bourgeoisie, organized in nationalist and liberal-religious parties, such as the National Front, the Freedom Movement and the pro-Soviet Tudeh Party of Iran.
- The revolutionary left, organized in two urban guerrilla parties, the Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas (Marxist-Leninist) and People’s Mujahedin of Iran (Islamic-Marxist).
Khomeini did not wanted a revolutionary overthrow of the Shah. He had in secret started to talk with western imperialism. The USA was willing to abandon the Pahlavi regime and accept a government led Khomeini. However the revolutionary situation forced the Ayatollah to support the complete destruction of the Imperial State of Iran. On 11 February 1979, clashes happened between pro-revolutionary junior officers and monarchists in the imperial army. The Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas started a major protest, it led to strikes and demonstrations. However because Ruhollah Khomeini was portrayed as the leader of the opposition, millions started to have the illusion that he was their revolutionary leader.
The revolutionary left allowed Khomeini to take power after the Shah fled. Both the Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerrillas and the People’s Mujahedin of Iran gave their support to the Ayatollah, a costly mistake. After December 79, the clergy would turn on the revolutionary left-wing and started major purges in the 1980’s. It took two years before the conservatives had carried out their counterrevolution. What also played in their favor was the fact that Saddam Hussein (with western support) invaded Iran on 22 September 1980. Khomeini used revolutionary slogans against his opponents, who’s biggest mistake was that they had voted YES on the December 1979 Iranian constitutional referendum!
Under this Islamic constitution, Iran became a republic with a Supreme Leader as highest ranking political and religious authority. This leader stands above all elected officials, including the president. He can annulled any law introduced by parliament or government. Ruhollah Khomeini was the first Supreme Leader and died ten years after the revolution. He was succeeded by Ali Khamenei, who was President of Iran between 1981 and 1989. Khamenei carried out austerity cuts and deregulation, this he did to strengthen the Iranian capitalist class, proofing that the Ayatollahs favored capitalism. Despite their neoliberal economics, the USA refused to lift the trade embargo. This is because the propaganda of the theocracy was still very much anti-American!
During the Iran-Iraq war, many revolutionary leftists supported Saddam Hussein against Ruhollah Khomeini. The People’s Mujahedin of Iran was armed by Iraq and able to form the National Liberation Army of Iran (NLA). At the end of the Iran-Iraq war, this 7.000 man strong force invaded Iran with support from Iraqi airplanes. The NLA was however defeated by the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran. That the NLA had been armed by Hussein gave Khomeini the perfect excuse to hunt down and murder all leftist critics of his theocracy. By a secret fatwa, he ordered mass executions and coordinated extrajudicial killings. It is reported that at a minimum: 10.000 were murdered. Khomeini claimed that all who opposed him were spies for Iraq or the USA. He died on 3 June 1989 at the age of 86!
One faction of the Iranian left-wing who had supported the conservatives since 11 February 79 was the Tudeh Party of Iran (Party of the Masses of Iran). This communist party was formed in 1941 and supported the Stalinist line set out by the Kremlin. Tudeh was banned in 1949 after a failed assassination attempt on Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The Iranian stalinists stood positive towards the nationalist government of Mohammad Mosaddegh. Still they were met with repression and violence as the conservative ruling class demanded police brutality in dealing with strikes and demonstrations. After the 1953 coup, it would take 26 years before the Tudeh Party of Iran would be legalized. This happened after the Shah had fled and the imperial system collapsed!
When the theocratic government of Khomeini turned on liberals, nationalists and many leftists, the Tudeh Party of Iran supported this ”purge of revolutionary enemies”. The Stalinist party shamelessly cheered the repression of the opposition, until the Ayatollah turned on the Tudeh Party in 82/83. Many brave members of the party got tortured and murdered at the hands of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, the brutal enforces of the theocracy. At the time of Khomeini’s death in 1989, all opposition in Iran was driven underground. Only political parties loyal to Shia-Islamism are allowed to compete in elections and participate in the government!
The reactionary politics of the Ayatollah found support among the petty-bourgeoisie and peasant class. The White Revolution of the Shah had given women a lot more freedoms. Many male Iranians rejected these freedoms as ”western”. Because of the oppressive nature of the imperial regime, many men regarded women rights as something that was imposed on them by the western capitalist world. Even many young Iranian women rejected the idea of equality and many capitulated before the Ayatollahs extreme patriarchal ideology. We see this in the fact that before 1979 it was rare to see women wearing a headscarf. After 1980 until this day, women are forced to cover their head by Islamic law!
Few revolutionary leftists survived the purges, arrests and executions. At a minimum it is reported that 10.000 died, other say that 30.000 were murdered. Most leftist opponents of the Iranian theocracy now live in exile. One of them was Mansoor Hekmat, who (unlike many) rejected collaboration with the Ayatollahs in 1979. Hekmat was born under the name: Zhoobin Razani. He moved to London in 73 and became a revolutionary socialist. Unlike others he rejected the top-down methods of stalinism and the pseudo-revolutionary propaganda of Mao Zedong. Hekmat also rejected the theory of Leon Trotsky and was a strong opponent of social democracy. By 1978, he was back in Iran to participate in the revolution against the King of Kings. There Hekmat founded the Union of Communist Militants. As a strong opponent of political Islam, Mansoor Hekmat rejected the theocratic government!
After the revolutionary left was purged, Mansoor Hekmat and Abdullah Mohtadi founded the Communist Party of Iran, the first communist party named this way. Hekmat however broke with the CPI in 1991 and founded the Worker-communist Party of Iran, a party that is build around the ideology of workerism. Mansoor Hekmat died in his London home of cancer in 2002. He is buried only a few meters away from Karl Marx. His Worker-communist Party of Iran soon splintered as factions fought over who was the better follower of Hekmat. Today they are just one of the many small Iranian leftist groups operating in exile!
Iran is still suffering under the American trade embargo. Barack Obama was willing to end the sanctions, but far-right idiot Donald Trump reinstated them under advice of Israel. The embargo has hurt Iranian workers and it has kept the Ayatollahs in power, despite their oppressive nature. 40 years after the Iranian Revolution, the Islamic Republic of Iran is still portrayed by right-wing propagandists as the enemy of the west, despite the fact that the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia is far more brutal when it comes to enforcing political Islam on people. We know this from a fact that Osama Bin Laden (Al-Qaeda) was a Saudi national, the majority of 9/11 hijackers were Saudi’s and Saudi-Arabia is funding Islamic rebels in Syria!
In his State of the Union address last night, Trump said that “America will never be a socialist country.” We, along with millions of American workers, completely disagree. Since 2013, when Council member Kshama Sawant was elected as the first socialist member of the Seattle City Council in a century, the hunger for an alternative to pro-corporate, pro-capitalist politics has only grown. A recent Gallup poll found that less than half of young Americans view capitalism positively, down 20% since the beginning of the 2008 financial collapse.
American workers and young people are rising up against corporate politics and capitalism. In the three years since Trump’s election, we’ve seen the biggest days of action in U.S. history. From the women’s marches, to the airport shutdowns against Trump’s anti-Muslim ban, to a resurgence in labor struggle with the #RedforEd movement, we’ve proven over and over again: when working people get organized, we can beat back racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-worker attacks.
With Trump calling in his speech for increased “bipartisanship” to fund his racist border wall, we should be clear about what really caused Trump to retreat on the government shutdown and what type of approach will be needed to stop his attacks. Under pressure from below, the Democrats refused to accept his demand for wall funding, but they were in no way prepared to mobilize the forces needed to win that fight. Ultimately, it was the threat of working-class action from TSA workers and air traffic controllers that forced Trump’s hand.
We also can’t forget: last year, when DACA was under attack, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer said they would consider billions in funding for a border wall in exchange for protecting Dreamers. And while it’s positive that Democrats pushed back this time, we should be clear that fighting Trump can’t mean throwing one section of the working class under the bus to protect another. This actually feeds into Trump’s “divide and rule” agenda.
Instead, what’s required is building movements alongside working people against the Billionaire in Chief. That’s why Kshama Sawant called for the need to resist Trump from day one, and her organization, Socialist Alternative, organized protests that helped bring out hundreds of thousands of people immediately after his election. That’s why we worked alongside other activists to organize mass nonviolent civil disobedience at SeaTac against Trump’s racist Muslim ban, with 5,000 people shutting down the airport and helping to block the ban.
In the era of Trump, we need elected officials who will build fighting movements against Trump’s bigoted, billionaire-backed agenda to defend those in the crosshairs of his attacks.
Last night, Trump bragged about the state of the economy, pointing to raises in wages and conveniently leaving out the fact that one of the only reasons for raises amongst the lowest paid workers was our successful struggle for the $15 minimum wage – spearheaded by Kshama Sawant and Socialist Alternative right here in Seattle in 2014.
Trump also claimed credit for a “massive tax cut for working families.” In reality, his tax plan overwhelmingly benefits the super rich and gives major handouts to corporations and his billionaire buddies while slashing social programs. In a world where six billionaires have accumulated as much wealth as the poorest half of the world’s population, these tax cuts make the super rich even richer at the expense of growing hardship for working people.
Nowhere is the failure of “trickle-down economics” more apparent than right here in Seattle. The world’s two richest billionaires live in King County at the same time that working people, small businesses, people of color, and LGBTQ people are being rapidly gentrified out of our city. Our transportation systems, schools, healthcare, and other vital social services have long been at the breaking point, while Amazon threatened to take away 7,000 jobs over a small tax on big business only last year.
We stand with other socialist politicians like NYC’s Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in calling for a 70% tax rate on the super rich nationally, and we think we need bold action to eliminate these gross inequalities right here in Seattle. Our city has been the national leader in the number of construction cranes three years running, yet the crisis of affordable housing in Seattle remains among the worst in the country, with the average rent now over two thousand dollars a month.
We need rent control and a massive expansion of social housing – paid for by taxing Amazon and big business – to provide an alternative to the broken private development system.
With unprecedented environmental disasters becoming the new norm and climate change getting worse, Trump’s fossil fuel friendly approach – boasting about how the US has ramped up up production of coal and natural gas – will impact working people hardest. That’s why we’re fighting for a Green New Deal with a just transition for all fossil fuel workers – to make Seattle 100% renewable by 2025, with a free, world-class mass transit system in Seattle.
Because unlike Trump and the billionaire class, we know that a socialist America and a socialist world is possible. The fight for a different kind of society, based on the needs of working people and the environment, is one of the many reasons you should join the grassroots movement to re-elect Kshama Sawant.
For 10 years now we see a rise in right-wing populism. People and political movements who claim to represent the ”voice of the people”. Many workers are attracted to charismatic leaders who claim to stand against the ”liberal elite”. Populism from the right-wing is a growing problem because it uses racism and ethnic nationalism to divide the working class. Muslim hate is a key factor as many white workers are still drilled with fear of Islamic refugees. Right-wing populists may claim to reject the establishment, but far to often they vote with austerity and cuts to social services!
Populism is not new, but it became a powerful force after the economic crisis of 2007/2008. Many workers were fired, lost their incomes and entered an uncertain time. Many looked towards the old social democratic parties for help, after all they were told that social democrats are leftists and pro-worker. Millions got disappointed again and again as these so called ”leftists” carried out the same austerity as the traditional right-wing does in politics. Angered by the betrayal of the social democratic ”left”, working class people turned to charismatic leaders from the populist right!
Right-wing populists are well entrenched in Austria, France, the Netherlands and Sweden. Austria has a long history of right-wing populism even before the crisis of 2007/2008 began. The Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) is the main far-right party that combines populism with white German nationalism and opposition to none-German cultures. On the outside the FPÖ presents itself as a ”people’s party” for ordinary Austrians. It opposes the European Union and migration from Muslin countries. In the 1980’s and 1990’s, the party was very opportunistic and called for deregulation and privatization. After this did not became popular with the masses, the FPÖ made a turn and suddenly claimed to support social welfare. In reality the FPÖ is part of a typical conservative government that remains royal to EU imposed austerity and dismantlement of social services!
French right-wing populism is rooted in a far-right party that began as a antisemitic nationalist force called the National Front (FN). Today however the French nationalists have re-branded themselves, in the hope that workers would forget that they used to be antisemitic and supportive of the French colonialist legacy. Under the leadership of Marine Le Pen, the FN is now named National Rally since March 2018. However they cannot hide their origins as Marine is the daughter of the antisemitic Jean-Marie Le Pen, who led the FN from 1972 until 2011. Like the Freedom Party of Austria, the National Front used to support austerity and deregulation in the 80’s and 90’s. Jean-Marie Le Pen supported scum like Thatcher and Reagan as they privatized huge sections of the British and U.S economy. Today however the National Rally calls for a welfare state, how opportunistic!
In the Netherlands the picture is almost the same as in Austria and France. Austerity governments (supported by Dutch social democracy) led to the rise of a (ex-communist) professor called Pim Fortuyn. This man combined anti-migration rhetoric with populism and rejection of the political establishment. Fortuyn was murdered in 2002 and soon replaced as icon of right-wing populism by Geert Wilders. He was a former liberal who supported austerity and cuts to social welfare in the 1990’s. Wilders founded the Party of Freedom (PVV) and won a lot of support for his opposition to almost all Dutch governments. However the PVV is getting competition from a more nationalist alternative called: ”Forum for Democracy” (ironic since it is neither a forum nor democratic). This party is led by Thierry Baudet and he aims of building a mass movement, something that Wilders never did!
Sweden Democrats (SD) are the party that won 17% during the last elections in the Kingdom of Sweden. This SD started as a neo-nazi party in 1988. The party was violent, openly antisemitic and praised Adolf Hitler. In 1996, a new leadership under Mikael Jansson banned the use of uniforms, but that did little to end the white nationalist ideology of the SD. Jimmie Åkesson is the guy who turned the party into a ”acceptable mainstream” alternative by denouncing neo-nazism. This did not hide the fact that Åkesson started his career in the Sweden Democratic Youth, the youth section of the SD which turned out to be still neo-nazi. This forced the Sweden Democrats to distance themselves from their own youth in 2015, after it was reported that many young SD members were still loyal to antisemitism, neo-nazism and Adolf Hitler!
Right-wing populism also won in Brazil. This was possible because the leading social democratic party failed to change anything for working class Brazilians. Lula Da Silva’s Workers Party (PT) did not build socialism, Lula even expelled those PT members who called for it in 2004. By refusing to build an alternative to the inequality of capitalism, the PT lost the election to a far-right lover of militarism: Jair Bolsonaro. This new president has already made clear that he will enforce the laws of the ruling class and destroy any social programs for the poor that existed under the Workers Party. Now why did so many workers voted on this far-right militarist? Because of massive state-corruption and the fact that Bolsonaro claims to be a ”man of the people”. Like all right-wing populists he plays on the fact that the official social democratic ”left-wing” has done nothing to help working class Brazilians!
Let us be clear: workers are not voting against their interests out of love for privatizations and deregulation. They don’t vote for these issues. It is because the right-wing is able to mask their horrible plans under a cloak of populism. In countries like Austria, Italy and Brazil, populist leaders are part of the government. They will proof to be just as elitist and pro-capitalist as the forces of social democracy, liberalism and conservatism. In Hungary, president Viktor Orban (a right-wing populist), owns many media outlets who put up wild stories of hordes of refugees invading ”Christian” Hungary. The reality is that there are only 5.500 Muslims in a country made up of 9,7 million people. Also 73,4% of all Hungarian Muslims are not Arab migrants, but indigenous to the county. Still the right-wing media keeps saying that Muslims will invade and destroy the Hungarian way of life!
Anti-Muslim bigotry is part of almost all right-wing populists. There are few populists from the right who do not spread racism. Because of this, many Muslims feel discriminated and rejected in their home lands. This is why the far-right ideology of wahhabism became popular. The terrorists who attacked France did not come from the Arab world, neither were they refugees from Syria. All terrorist attacks were carried out by European Muslims. Anti-Muslim hatred however keeps rising and this is a problem that must not be ignored. Still the right-wing populist parties ignore this. They rather speak of growing antisemitism among Muslim youth, which is a fact due to the 50 year occupation of Palestine and the uncritical bias the western media has towards Israel!
The failure of the left-wing to fight right-wing populism has to do with their inability to build a socialist alternative. Despite the massive betrayal of social democracy, the remnants of Stalinist communist parties and moderate socialists also do not help. Ex-Stalinist parties often turn towards social democracy and those who are still loyal to marxism-leninism, have the tendency to support dictators and regimes that oppress workers, like the fact that many communist parties still are friendly to Asian ex-Stalinist regimes. China, Vietnam and Laos have moved towards state-capitalism and even Cuba with its new president is heading towards more capitalism. Nepal is also under control of a communist party since 2008. But is the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal a socialist democracy under workers-councils? No, it is not as the Nepal Communist Party wants to build capitalism instead of socialism!
What is needed are new workers parties. Parties that have the political will to brake with capitalism, austerity, the market, nationalism and populism. The traditional right-wing may start to adopt more populist ideas, but at its core it will always remain an ideology of the ruling class. Social democracy is not the alternative because the capitalists will never allow regulations again. The world is now one big market and unlike the period before Thatcher/Reagan, many big companies operate now in all parts of the world. This is why socialism cannot be build in one country. It must be constructed international and in all countries of the world. This is not easy because many leftists have proven not be willing to brake with a system they have been indoctrinated with. Schools do not teach young people about alternatives. They are told that capitalism works and anything else failed. This propaganda is repeated on the internet and on television each day!
The left-wing must not embrace populism but socialism. Not the so called vague ideology of the people. Because there is no people, there are only classes and the working class and capitalist class will always be at war. Under a capitalist system the rich who owns the means of production will be protected by laws and the government. Since the capitalists are a tiny minority they have created global institutions to guard their privileges and wealth. Populists ignore class struggle and claim that they will do good for the ”people”. Far to often however it turns out that populists either do not dare to brake with the establishment or they join it. We have seen this in Greece with SYRIZA or Venezuela with the PSUV. Hugo Chavez’s populism failed and there is a real possibility that his ”Bolivarian Revolution” is overthrown by the forces of capitalism in Venezuela with help from the USA!
Almost five years after Hugo Chavez died, the bourgeoisie is finally ready to remove the last remnants of the Bolivarian Revolution. This is a process that started under Chavez and is now in its final stage. The capitalists and right-wing forces in the Venezuelan parliament have selected Juan Guaidó as new interim president. The Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) is clear what it wants: a return to the market dictatorship, an end to price control and privatization of nationalized sectors. After failing to build socialism, the supporters of Chavez led by president Nicolas Maduro face alienated and outright rejection by a huge section of the working class. Revolutionary socialists warned Maduro for years, but his top-down centralism and authoritarianism have now led to this coup!
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is not a socialist nation and no workers state. Despite the propaganda spread by both the late Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela never moved beyond capitalism. What the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) did build was a failed model that tried to mix social democracy with leftist nationalism and elements of stalinism. After 2013, the Maduro administration even started to make compromises with sections of the bourgeoisie. These ”patriotic” capitalists are given privileges as are the top members of the PSUV and military, who are called the ”Bolivarian Bureaucracy”!
Poverty is now very high with 90% suffering from a lack of food, medicine and basis human needs. To blame are three major forces. One is the government led by Maduro, who’s politics have contributed to the massive growth of poverty since 2013. The second force responsible is the bourgeoisie, who’s economic sabotages led to a shortage of goods. The final element that caused the economic crisis is the United States of America. Under Barack Obama, sanctions were imposed that have harmed the economy of Venezuela. These three elements are responsible for the suffering of millions. In the western capitalist media you only hear that Chavez and Maduro are to blame. They ignore the role the capitalist class plays and the sanctions imposed on the country by the US!
Juan Guaidó is hailed as a ”people’s hero” by anti-socialist media outlets. Venezuela has one state media network and numerous private broadcasters. During the 2002 April coup against Hugo Chavez, the private media fully supported his removal. They spread one lie after the other, even claiming that Chavez was a secret communist and working with Fidel Castro to build ”communism”. We knew that was not true as the first four years (1999-2003) of Chavez were very modest and not at all revolutionary. It was only after this failed coup that the Chavez administration became more hostile to the bourgeoisie and western imperialism. Now the private media will once again support a counter-revolution. They have been the mouthpiece of the capitalist class because the private media is owned by Venezuelans who belong tot the bourgeoisie!
MUD is a coalition of different capitalist parties. Most are not publicly right-wing, they hide their pro-capitalism under cloaks of social democracy and progressivism. MUD parties like ”Justice First” speak of human rights, direct democracy and an end to centralism and authoritarianism. ”Popular Will” is the party of Juan Guaidó. It is a member of the ”Socialist International”, a pseudo-leftist group of social democrats who have allied themselves with capitalism for almost 30 years. ”Popular Will” is speaking a leftist language which attracts young students, intellectuals and sections of the working class. We know however that MUD as a coalition is calling for an end to the Bolivarian Revolution and it plans to serve those who pay them: the capitalist class of Venezuela!
Nicolas Maduro is supported by the Great Patriotic Pole (GPP), a coalition set up by Hugo Chavez in 2011 to support his Bolivarian Revolution. Parties inside the GPP include the United Socialist Party of Venezuela, the Communist Party of Venezuela, the Alliance for Change, ”Fatherland for All” and many smaller leftist parties. It is ironic that there are almost no openly conservative or right-wing parties active in Venezuela. This is because the capitalist class has been using leftism to attack both Chavez and Maduro. Revolutionary socialists understand this tactic as we too criticize the government from a leftist point of view. We reject the top-down state-bureaucracy and the dictatorial way Maduro has behaved since the GPP lost the majority in the National Assembly!
The situation for workers in the country is very severe. Most if not all social programs that Chavez set up have stopped due to a lack of funding. Public services have shut down and many hospitals are closed. This forces people to seek help from private medical centers who charges a lot of money. Most workers have no access to food, water and medical services, because they cannot afford them. The government has tried to increase the minimum wage but this fails to cover the fact that prices for basic goods have only gone up since 2013. Maduro tried to print more currency but this only increased the inflation. His desperation comes from a lack of understanding how capitalism work. As Chavez never removed the capitalists from power, they now stop producing goods as there is no profit to be made!
If Juan Guaidó is able to defeat Nicolas Maduro it will be a great victory for the ruling class. They will start with brutal austerity and privatization to restore the trust of capitalists and the world markets. MUD has also stated that they will privatize the national oil company which is responsible for 95% of the economic export. Working class people who support MUD have no idea how a counter-revolution would impact their lives. However we must not forget that in the name of socialism, they have been oppressed by an administration that failed in almost all ways. Maduro has made deals with elements of the bourgeoisie and given them privileges for political loyalty. This is not uncommon as Venezuela before 1999 was build on corruption. Chavez also played on favoritism and gave his army a lot of benefits for their loyalty!
There is massive anger and rejection of Maduro. Workers feel betrayed and abandoned. They showed this the first time when MUD got a majority in the National Assembly in 2015. Nicolas Maduro then moved against the parliament by introducing a Constituent National Assembly. The opposition boycotted the election to this new bureaucratic layer and revolutionary socialists said it would change nothing. Indeed it did not, it only gave Maduro a rubber-stamp as a clear majority of the Constituent National Assembly are members of the PSUV. The National Assembly has been put aside and can do little as Venezuela is a presidential state with a lot of power centralized in the presidency!
Is a civil war possible? Yes and working class people need to reject both sides. They cannot support Juan Guaidó, who works to restore the bourgeoisie to power and they cannot support Nicolas Maduro, who’s politics have not help them. Some will choose the lesser of two evils, but it depends on who you calls the lesser of two evils. Many students and workers will say that Juan Guaidó is a lesser of two evils, because he promises them freedom and liberty. Others will say that Nicolas Maduro is a lesser of two evils, because he stands up to foreign imperialism and the attempts to restore capitalist rule in Venezuela!
Revolutionary Socialist Media stands with the ideas of Izquierda Revolucionaria (Revolutionary Left) who say:
The experience of recent years shows that we cannot have the slightest confidence in the Maduro government, the bureaucracy or the senior army officers if we want to prevent the victory of the reaction. It has been Maduro’s policies, his bureaucracy and his corruption that have opened the way to the right wing and the coup.
Guaidó is like a wolf in a lambs clothing and speaks of a government for all and reconciliation. Yet if this right-wing reactionary and the forces that support him come to power, the result will be a nightmare for millions of workers and peasants, who are suffering from the social and economic crisis. Their political and economic agenda can only be applied with even more massive layoffs, brutally cutting social spending and repressing unions, social movements, and activists on the left, on an even more brutal and bloody scale than they do in the countries of their sponsors – Duque, Bolsonaro and Macri.
The USA is not a full democracy, Japan is not a full democracy, Israel is not a full democracy and even Belgium and Italy are not fully democratic. These countries do not score as fully democratic on the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit, a part of the British: Economist Group. In fact only 20 countries in 2018 are described as full-democracies. The top of the Democracy Index are dominated by the Nordic nations. Norway ranks Nr. 1, Iceland Nr. 2 and Sweden Nr. 3. Meaning these nations are the most (bourgeois) democratic!
Revolutionary socialists know the limits of the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit. After all, this index comes from a capitalist company that is promoting market research. Their Democracy Index is limited to democracy within the framework of capitalism (bourgeois democracy). Norway, Sweden and Iceland used to be social democratic nations, meaning that capitalist exploitation was limited by state regulations. However the Nordic states are not immune to the dogma’s of market fundamentalism as deregulation and privatizations also happen in Scandinavia!
The social democratic model was introduced in Scandinavia after 1945. It was able to raise the standards of living and created a welfare state. This model however is under siege as the dogma’s of neoliberalism became the new gods of capitalism after the collapse of stalinism. In the 1990’s, world social democracy abandoned its leftist critic of the market economy and fully embraced the right-wing view that the markets should regulate themselves. They started to support the very ideas social democracy used to oppose: regulation, privatization, lower taxes for the rich!
Scandinavia was more slowly in enforcing these ideas compared to countries like Britain and Germany. Still the social democratic parties of Norway, Sweden and Denmark have alienated themselves from their working class electorate by enforcing the new dogma’s of world capitalism. This led to the rise in far-right populism as foreigners were branded as ”enemies” and ”thieves of white jobs”. In Denmark, the far-right: Danish People’s Party is now the second largest force in the country. Also the ”Sweden Democrats” (a racist party) won 17% of the vote in the Kingdom of Sweden, making them the third biggest party!
Countries like the USA have always been flawed. Why? Because money dominate politics there. In America, over 1 billion dollar are wasted by presidential candidates from both the far-right Republican Party and right-wing Democratic Party. These two political parties of capitalism are masters of wasteful spending, trying to defeat each other only to rule as puppets of Wall Street. Third party candidates are excluded from the American media and are not asked to participate in national debates. They are also not shown in the polls. Most Americans never hear of candidates who are not Republican or Democratic. This is why the USA is a flawed democracy!
You would think that nations like Belgium, Italy, Estonia, Greece, France and even Japan to be fully democratic, they are not. Despite having free elections these countries have: ”Significant faults in other democratic aspects, including underdeveloped political culture, low levels of participation in politics and issues in the functioning of governance” as described by the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit. Since capitalism does not care about democracy, it is no surprise that the majority of world nations are either flawed or hybrid regimes, that have some aspects of democracies but fail to be called fully democratic!
Hybrid regimes are those who stand between flawed democracies and authoritarian systems. A country like Ukraine is a hybrid with elements of democracy mixed with authoritarianism. In the former Soviet republic, revolutionary socialists are not free to say that they support Karl Marx. Because Ukraine has banned the communist ideology, which makes it a crime to say that you support a class less and state less society. Turkey still has relative free elections, but is moving closer to a authoritarian society each year. With the arrest of many opponents of Turkish nationalism, president/dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is slowly destroying the last elements of the already deeply flawed Turkish democracy!
Authoritarian states are not democratic in the bourgeois way. But capitalism does not care about that and neither does the western world. Both full and flawed (capitalist) democracies work with authoritarian countries and even have friendly relations with them. Saudi-Arabia is the most important ally of western imperialism in the Arab world. We all know the Saudi’s to be a totalitarian monarchy that enforces wahhabism, a dogmatic Islamic doctrine. Venezuela has also moved from being a hybrid regime to a authoritarian one. President Nicolas Maduro’s inability to build socialism turns him more and more into a dictator, to save-guard the remnants of the so called Bolivarian Revolution!
The puppet regimes of the west in Afghanistan and Iraq are also neither democratic nor hybrid. Despite the propaganda told by western media outlets, the governments of Iraq and Afghanistan are not free and they use brutal means to stay in power. American presidents have known this, but they did not care. George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump ignore the fact that ordinary Afghans and Iraqi’s are forced to live under dictatorial regimes fully supported by Washington DC. Western imperialism is also on good therms with the state-capitalist regime in Beijing. Despite calling itself a people’s republic, China is not a republic of people (not even in the bourgeois way)!
Revolutionary socialists do not think that full democracies as portrayed by the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit, are the ultimate form of a free society. True democracy cannot be build under a capitalist system because all important decisions are made by those who own the economy. Democratic elected officials are often bribed and then carry out politics that favor the ruling class. This is why Revolutionary Socialist Media supports the idea of getting money out of politics in all countries of the world. This is easier said then done as money controls all aspects of human lives. Those with less money die earlier as they do not have access to proper medical care. In many African nations the life expectancy is not higher then 60 years!
Our alternative to the bourgeois parliamentary democratic model is workers-democracy. We call for democracy not only in politics, but also in the economy. Working class people need to elect their own representatives in businesses. We do not need a Donald Trump or Mark Zuckerberg. Workers self management is possible as examples proof this. Many businesses in Greece who are abandoned by their capitalist owners, came under control of workers. The downside is that many of these broken companies are forced to compete in a market economy that Greece remains. Despite that a so called ”Coalition of the Radical Left” rules the Hellenic Republic, the economy remains capitalist. Another example of workers self management is the Hotel Bauen in Argentina!
However all these self managed companies still have to compete with other capitalist run enterprises. Although the owners may have abandoned the business, they are still entitled to ownership by the laws of the capitalist state. Workers owned businesses can face costly legal battles when their former owners decide to reclaim their ”property”. Competition is portrayed as good for consumers, in fact it is a waste of money and creates a Darwinian system where the strong win and the weak perish. This is why we call for a socialist society with no private ownership of enterprises. All means of production are to be nationalized and put under the management of workers councils!
Socialism does not needs competition, we need democratic planning to satisfy human need. The need of the rich and capitalists will be replaced by the needs of the billions. No longer shall we produce luxury goods only for the wealthy. Socialism will uplift the lives of those who are now marginalized and excluded. This can only work under a democratic socialist system of planning. The Stalinist model has proven to be a failure and a good propaganda weapon for the capitalist media. Our democratic model will be far superior to what the Democracy Index of the Economist Intelligence Unit calls full-democracies!
We want a full democracy under socialism. That can only be build if working class people take power for themselves. No socialist revolution can work unless the majority of workers participate in it. Yes, there will be workers who’s privileged jobs makes them supportive of the capitalists. They will reject the revolution and might even fight it to protect their elite status. But since a huge majority of the worlds population earns less then 30.000 dollars a year, those who support the capitalist class will be a tiny minority. If a genuine socialist democracy is build then the 1% will have no choice but to give up their power freely. Unless they choose violence to stay in power. In such a situation the working class will have no choice but to use force in defense of the democratic majority!
Still, we would not opt for violence. Socialism must be build peacefully with no forced arrests of those who reject it. However should the supporters of capitalism choose terror and murder as they have done in the past, the revolution will not hesitate to use violence in defense of workers rule, we are not pacifists. This is why many Cubans choose to fight with Fidel Castro against the American led invasion of their island. Despite that Castro was following the dictatorial Stalinist ideology, working class Cubans choose to defend the gains of the Cuban Revolution during the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961!
On 15 January 1919, Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht were murdered by far-right: Free Corps forces in Berlin. They were leaders of the young: Communist Party of Germany. The far-right Free Corps were used by the anti-revolutionary Social-democratic Party of Germany, to crush the socialist revolution and to safeguard bourgeois rule. Even after 100 years the capitalist SPD still dares to celebrate the day when their forces crushed the German Revolution and killed Luxemburg and Liebknecht!
Rosa Luxemburg was a German-Polish revolutionary. She was born in Russian Poland and her family was German-Jewish of origin. They moved to Warsaw and the young Rosa learned to speak Polish and Russian. Since 1886, Rosa Luxemburg was a member of the Proletarian Party, a party that was banned for organizing a workers strike. In 1889, Rosa fled to Switzerland to avoid jail as the czarist police had arrested many members of the Proletarian Party. There she attended the University of Zurich!
In 1893, Luxemburg became a strong opponent of the nationalist line, which grew in the new Polish Socialist Party. As a revolutionary Marxist, Rosa rejected the idea of Poland becoming independent win-out a socialist revolution in Germany, Austria or Russia first. Vladimir Lenin disagreed with her. He believed that revolutionaries should support those leftist nationalists who struggle against their colonialist oppressors, in Poland that was czarist Russia!
In the late 1890’s, Rosa wanted to move to Germany. However she was not able to get a permanent resistance in the empire of Wilhelm 2. The Germans knew of her revolutionary ideas, her activism was not tolerated by the conservative ruling class of the German Empire. She was able to settle in Berlin after living in Paris a few years. Finally in the heart of Europe, Rosa Luxemburg started her fight against the pro-capitalist leaders in the Social-democratic Party of Germany, back then a workers party with a reformist leadership and a proletarian base!
Luxemburg taught Marxism and economics at schools of the social democratic party. One of her students was a man who would be (politically) responsible for her murder in 1919. Friedrich Ebert studied under Rosa Luxemburg and in 1913 became leader of the SPD. He rejected the revolutionary socialist ideology and called on workers to be nationalist and support the Kaiser’s war plans in 1914. Rosa was furious after the so called ”party of German workers” turned chauvinist and supported the war credits called on by the emperor. She only had one major ally in her opposition to the war, that was the son of the party’s founder: Karl Liebknecht!
Liebknecht is a name linked to the German workers movement. Wilhelm Liebknecht was the man who co founded the Social-democratic Party of Germany in May 1863. Back then the party was called the General German Workers Association. This first German socialist party fused with another one to form the Socialist Workers Party of Germany in 1875. The name Social-democratic Party of Germany was adopted after the end of the anti-socialist laws, when emperor Wilhelm 2 fired the iron chancellor (Bismarck). It was Bismarck who had set up the anti-socialist laws, but with his removal from office the laws were not renewed by the Reichstag (parliament)!
Wilhelm and his son Karl were supporters of Karl Marx. This exiled revolutionary socialist lived in London and his work made the Liebknechts believers in the cause of revolutionary socialism. Marx died in 1883, seven years the SPD won 20% of the votes during the first elections after the end of the anti-socialist laws. On 7 August 1900, Wilhelm Liebknecht died at the age of 74. Over 50.000 people attended his funeral service. Karl Liebknecht set out to carry on the struggle for a socialist revolution in Germany. He was however opposed by a growing number of socialists who wanted to make compromises with the capitalist establishment!
The reformists won an important victory in 1913. With the election of Friedrich Ebert as leader, the pro-establishment wing got control over the Social-democratic Party of Germany. They sided with the bourgeoisie and called for war. Karl Liebknecht was the only elected member of the Reichstag who opposed the war credits and who voted NO. He and Rosa Luxemburg founded the Spartacus League, an anti-war socialist party in opposition to the chauvinist SPD. The German imperial government was not happy that Liebkecht had voted NO on the war credits debate. They arrested him and conscripted Liebknecht into the German Imperial Army, despite his parliamentary immunity!
Rosa Luxemburg was deeply affected by the betrayal of the SPD, after her party choose to support the first world war. She got depressed that reformism had won the struggle inside the SPD. Rosa started thinking about ending her life, but with the support from anti-war activists Luxemburg decided to fight on. With Karl Liebknecht she called on German workers to reject the war, which was illegal in the German Empire. In June 1916 she was arrested and imprisoned for two years. During her captivity Rosa kept on writing against the war. She also criticized aspects of the Russian revolutionary socialists led by Lenin. However on the whole, Rosa Luxemburg supported Lenin’s revolution and the Bolsheviks!
In November 1918 the war was going very badly for the German Empire. Famine killed many innocents and soldiers had enough. Emperor Wilhelm 2 however refused to accept defeat. He wanted another offensive against the allied power. Field-Marshall Paul von Hindenburg understood that the emperor had lost. He was more concerned about the revolutionary mood in Germany. As a conservative militarist, Hindenburg feared a proletarian uprising. Therefore he gave full support to the reformist socialists led by Friedrich Ebert, who took control over the imperial government after Wilhelm fled to the Netherlands!
Paul von Hindenburg was not a democrat, but he knew that the SPD would not support a socialist revolution. He was willing to support their parliamentary model as long as it kept the ruling class of Germany in power. In October 1918 however the imperial government had released both Luxemburg and Liebknecht from prison. The two anti-war socialists started to rally workers against both the SPD and the German Imperial Army. In December 1918, red banners were flying over Berlin. Workers were looking towards the SPD in the hope that would be their party that would build socialism. Few had understood the deep betrayal of social democratic leaders like Ebert!
Friedrich Ebert and his reformists worked with the revolutionary workers and participated in the councils set up after the imperial government imploded. However neither Ebert nor the SPD wanted a workers democracy like Soviet Russia. They wanted the workers councils dissolved as soon as the German Republic was proclaimed. Meanwhile the Spartacus League was renamed into Communist Party of Germany on 1 January 1919. The new party called on workers to rise up and overthrow the government of Ebert. Alarmed by the revolutionary mood, the reformist SPD turned to the Free Corps for help. This Free Corps was formed in December 1918, by anti-revolutionary soldiers and officers in the former German Imperial Army!
SPD minister of defense: Gustav Noske ordered the army and Free Corps into Berlin to crush the revolutionaries. After ten days of bloody fighting the capital was purged. Thousands were shot as soldiers kept on killing anybody in the name of fighting ”Jewish Bolshevism”. Luxemburg and Liebknecht were captured by Free Corps soldiers on 15 January 1919. Waldemar Pabst was the far-right officer who was in charge of their capture. He ordered his thugs to torture that ”Jewish bitch” as Luxemburg was called. Three soldiers tortured Rosa with their rifles, before she was shot in the head. During her interrogation and final hours she never surrendered her revolutionary believes and said:
“Order prevails in Berlin!” You foolish lackeys! Your “order” is built on sand. Tomorrow the revolution will “rise up again, clashing its weapons,” and to your horror it will proclaim with trumpets blazing: I was, I am, I shall be!
Karl Liebknecht was also tortured and then forced into a car. As the Free Corps ordered him out of the car, they shot Karl in the head. Just before the execution of the two revolutionaries, Waldemar Pabst had called SPD minister Gustav Noske on what to do with them. Noske replied that Pabst knew what to be done. With this final act of betrayal the Social-democratic Party of Germany ceased to be a party for ordinary workers. Never would its leadership call for socialism again as the SPD compromised more and more with the German bourgeoisie, degenerating into the capitalist party it is today!
The bodies of Karl Liebknecht and Rosa Luxemburg were later recovered. They were given a martyr funeral together with other victims of the White Terror. The far-right Free Corps evolved into Hitler’s Storm Detachment (SA). Their violent attacks against workers and leftists would be famous in the 1920’s. On 30 January 1933, the Nazi Party took control over Germany with the support from the bourgeoisie and the army. Adolf Hitler became chancellor and banned all political parties with the exception of his Nazi Party. The tombs of Luxemburg and Liebknecht were violated, their remains destroyed as the Nazi’s destroyed their burial site in 1935!
After the second world war, the Communist Party of Germany was no longer the party of Luxemburg and Liebknecht. Joseph Stalin had killed off any communist who was not loyal to him. During the purges in the Soviet-Union, many exiled German communists ended up dying in the Gulag camps. Those who were allowed to return with the Red Army in 1945, had to have a slave obedience to the Stalinist system. Wilhelm Pieck became president of the German Democratic Republic in 1948. However it was Walter Ulbricht who led the Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED), the party that was to be the true base of power in East Germany until November 1989!
The Stalinist GDR worshiped Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht as hero’s of their own. Revolutionary socialists have always rejected this claim as Liebknecht and Luxemburg would never have accepted the militarism, dogmatism and totalitarianism of people like Pieck and Ulbricht. Also we must not forget that Stalin had demanded that the German communists recruited conservative (Free Corps!) officers to their cause during the war. Luxemburg would have been furious at Stalin for resorting to old czarist ways as the USSR embraced Russian chauvinism. She also would have hated the National People’s Army of the GDR, which marched in the same grey uniforms of the old imperial army!
Karl Liebknecht may have known Wilhelm Pieck, but he could not have supported what his former comrade had build on Stalin’s orders. Because the GDR was build to look like a parliamentary democratic republic, something Liebknecht opposed. He favored a council-democracy under the international red flag. Pieck and Ulbricht however choose the colors of Ebert’s Weimar Republic for their German Democratic Republic. Although the red banner was always used next to the tricolor, the official flag was black-red-yellow. Symbol of the 1848 Frankfurter bourgeois parliament and SPD government that murdered Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. By 1988, many East German workers started to realized that Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht would not have been loyal comrades of the SED!
The German capitalist media of 2019 portray the two revolutionaries as tragic figures. They use the GDR period as a weapon against the revolutionary socialist ideas of Luxemburg and Liebknecht. Capitalist commentators say that communism is undemocratic and that is what matters. The murder of the early German communist leaders is overshadowed by the crimes of the GDR and the role Karl and Rosa played in its propaganda. Revolutionary Socialist Media however reject what the SED did to their legacy. The two icons of the German revolution are not guilty of the Stalinist crimes and were murdered by far-right thugs under orders of Gustav Noske (SPD). Once hated and rejected by the capitalist class, now called a ”decent” political party, by the capitalist media because the SPD abandoned socialism!
Today the SPD is still around. During the 100 anniversary of the German revolution in 2018, the social democrats had the audacity to claim they were defending ”democracy” in 1918, when the former imperial army and Free Corps attacked those who fought for workers rule. The tragedy is that many still believed that the SPD was a workers party in November 1918. Only a few revolutionaries knew of the massive betrayal of people like Friedrich Ebert and Gustav Noske. Mass media was limited as television was not in use until the mid 1950’s. Radio broadcasting did not start until 1920. Printed media was the only way workers could be informed. In the revolutionary months, few papers were printed that promoted workers rule as all SPD papers stayed loyal to Ebert!
100 years after their murder we honor Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht. Despite the fact that their image and ideas were hijacked by the GDR and misused. The capitalist class should fear people like Luxemburg and Lieknecht. Because they can still inspire revolutionaries for the cause of socialism. Social democracy betrayed them in 1919, proofing again why we need genuine socialism and not moderate reforms to a system that is build on exploitation, war and injustice!
There is one man in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea who should be honored for surviving three dynasties. The old dinosaur of the party and state is called Kim Yong-nam, the President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, a position he has held since 1998. At age 90, this man has served Kim Il Sung (1948-1994), Kim Jong Il (1994-2011) and Kim Jong Un (2011-present). It is very rare for a bureaucrat like him to stay in such a high position of power for so long!
Yong-nam was born in Pyongyang, occupied Korea in February 1928. He is the only member of the North Korean ruling caste who has clear memories of the Japanese occupation. Kim Yong-nam studied in the Soviet-Union in the 1950’s and became chairman of the DPRK’s Committee for Foreign Cultural Affairs. He also led the National Committee for the Protection of Peace. After 1956, Kim was promoted and allowed to work for the politburo of the Workers Party of Korea (WPK), a prestige position in the hierarchy of the Stalinist state!
Five years after his first promotion, Yong-nam became the WPK boss of the South Hamgyong Province. In Stalinist states the function of a local party leader is more important then the actual elected official. Kim Yong-nam served as party leader in South Hamgyong from 1961 until 1970, when Kim Il Sung made him a member of the Central Committee of the WPK. At age 42, Kim Yong-nam had made it to the top of North Korean society. Like many bureaucrats, he is completely loyal to the Great Leaders. His absolute obedience to both Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un may be part of the reason for his long survival in the totalitarian system!
The old dinosaur is not stupid. Yong-nam knows how to navigate the politics of the DPRK and he has kept himself in a prestigious position for the last 21 years. After Kim Il Sung died in 1994, his powers were divided in three. Kim Yong-nam’s position as President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, makes him an equal to prime minister: Pak Pong-ju and supreme leader: Kim Jong Un, according tot the constitution of North Korea. However it is a clear reality that both Kim Yong-nam and Pak Pong-ju are underdogs and obey ”monarch” Kim Jong Un in all matters. With the 2016 amendment to the constitution, the head of state became the chairman of the State Affairs Commission, which is headed by Kim Jong Un!
In 1983, Kim Yong-nam was made Minister of Foreign Affairs under Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il until 1998. In that year, the Kim dynasty made him President of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly. Officially this makes him the head of state de jure, after the death of Kim Il Sung in 94. Yong-nam has been the face of the DPRK in foreign affairs, as it was very rare for Kim Jong Il to leave the nation. This meant that the old dinosaur was representing North Korea in many world events. His experience in foreign affairs is likely the reason why the Kim dynasty kept him around. Even at the age of 90, Kim Yong-nam is still walking behind the Great Leader as number two of the regime!
Kim Ki-nam is the younger brother of Kim Yong-nam. At age 89, the ”younger” old dinosaur is the WPK propaganda leader and a creator of the country’s political slogans during the reign of Kim Jong Il (1994-2011). After the second Great Leader died, Ki-nam was given the task of supporting ”crown-prince” Kim Jong Un’s succession drive. He was one of the two civilian leaders who was allowed to carry the coffin of Kim Jong Il in December 2011. Like his older brother, this ”younger” dinosaur of the regime became a key supporter of Kim Jong Un. For his loyalty, the Great Leader made him a member of the State Affairs Commission in 2016, the true base of power in the DPRK!
With the election of Moon Jae-in as President of the Republic of Korea, it was Kim Yong-nam who represented the DPRK at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang South Korea. This was the first time the number two of the Kim dynasty had entered the south. The world media however was not focused on Kim Yong-nam. They looked towards the youngest sister of the Great Leader: Kim Yo-jong. She was the unofficial representative of the DPRK as a member of the North Korean ”royal family”. Still the old dinosaur has enough credit as he attended most affairs on his own. Like his father, Kim Jong Un has rarely left the nation, which is why it is up to the 90 year old to remain the face of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the world!
Those who have met the old dinosaur say that Kim Yong-nam is highly intelligent. It is clear that he knows all dirty secrets of the regime and the massive abuse of human rights. How far his own role in these crimes are is unknown since North Korea is a isolated nation. Yong-nam knows that he owns all of his prestige, power and privileges to the Kim dynasty. They have given it to him and they can remove it as the case of Jang Song-thaek proofs. This uncle of Kim Jong Un was executed in December 2013!
Despite his long life and high position, Kim Yong-nam never had to think for himself. He was always a man who did what his masters demanded of him. A typical Stalinist bureaucrat, who has a slave like obedience. Some say that Yong-nam would believe anything his master said to him, despite the fact that he knows it to be wrong. This kind of people are the real enemies of the working class as they carry out the commands of those in power. People like Kim Yong-nam are what makes dictatorships possible. They are the bureaucrats of the oppressive state, who do the actual work!
The liberals have been defeated in the local elections in the Republic of China (Taiwan) on 24 November 2018. They lost over 1 million voters to the conservatives of the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang – KMT). Worse, they lost a referendum on the issue of gay marriage. A clear majority voted to restricting marriage under Civil Code to one man and woman. This is a clear defeat for Tsai Ing-wen, the first female president of the ROC. She decided to step down as leader of the Democratic Progressive Party!
Revolutionary socialists are not surprised by the defeat of the liberals. Despite their victory in January 2016, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) has not fundamentally changed Taiwan for the benefit of working class people. The liberals still control the Legislative Yuan, but have lost local councils to the conservatives of the Kuomintang (KMT). Their inability to bring changes are because of their capitalist ideology. Liberals in Taiwan were born in the 1980’s, during the struggle against the right-wing dictatorship (which was supported by the USA)!
The present day Democratic Progressive Party was founded in 1986, at the end of the military regime imposed by KMT leader Chiang-Kai-Shek. Liberals were prosecuted by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) and named ”communist spies” as all opponents of dictator Chiang were called. The criminal CIA supported the KMT regime and trained them in maintaining an anticommunist state. After the USA started to recognize the People’s Republic of China, the Republic of China on Taiwan lost its international recognition as ”China”. However the anticommunist dictatorship remained ever after the death of Chiang!
A military regime kept the country dictatorial. The first free elections of 1991 ended the period of absolute conservative rule. However it would take many years before Taiwan would become a free society. Anticommunist dogmatism had brainwashed the working class of the island with a false picture of socialism and communism. By 2010, advancement in democratic thinking allowed for the the formation of socialist organisations like the Taiwan Socialist Alliance. This party became: International Socialist Forward in 2016, they are the Taiwanese section of the Committee for a Workers’ International!
Voter turnout is the reason why the referendum on LGBT rights was lost. Only 34% of all Taiwanese choose on vote, this gave the opponents of gay rights a clear majority. Despite the brave work by socialists from International Socialist Forward, there was little desire to go and vote. The capitalist media loves to portray Taiwan as a social-conservative country, that rejects liberal values. In reality many have refused to vote because of bitter disappointment in the government of Tsai Ing-wen. In late 2015, the conservatives had become deeply unpopular due to their capitalist politics. Many workers hoped for change under a DPP government. Tsai Ing-wen was voted into office and her liberal party defeated the KMT, winning a clear majority!
International Socialist Forward also noted that the conservatives were very active in their rejection of LGBT rights. Their propaganda was the loudest and their supporters everywhere. However the liberals refused to campaign hard enough, they showed weakness as they were defeated during the referendum. This strengthened the nationalist party (KMT) and they already plan to take back the Legislative Yuan at the next elections. Revolutionary socialists always said that Taiwanese workers cannot expect any genuine changes from either the pan-green coalition (liberals) or the pan-blue coalition (conservatives)!
There is another conservative-nationalist party that was happy with the defeat of the Democratic Progressive Party. On the mainland, the Chinese ”Communist” Party (CCP) has not only embraced Chinese nationalism, but also social-conservatism. This has moved the former Maoist party into the camp of the Chinese Nationalist Party. Also the liberals on Taiwan used to be in favor of Taiwanese independence, something the KMT has rejected. For the conservative-nationalist party, Taiwan is a part of China and this is also what the CCP on the mainland supports. Therefore both the CCP and KMT have grown together as a force for Chinese nationalism in opposition to Taiwanese independence!
The struggle for gay rights in Taiwan cannot be fought independently of livelihood issues facing grassroots LGBT people and the whole working class. The Taiwanese capitalist class wants the island to be closer to the Chinese mainland. Right-wing forces, including those inside the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), point out that Taiwan needs China. This is also what the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is saying. If Beijing was not this conservative dictatorship promoting the same values of Chiang-Kai-Shek (state-capitalism, authoritarianism, Chinese nationalism), then the KMT would never advocate closer relations with the mainland. Although the PRC is willing to use force if the country declares itself independent as the Republic of Taiwan, both the pan-green coalition nor the pan-blue coalition are willing to risk an open conflict!
It proofs again that neither liberals nor conservatives offer any genuine alternative for young people, workers and pensioners. In order to balance the budget, the liberals have already cut pensions by 20%, this is why many retired government workers have now turned against the DPP and its former leader. Tsai Ing-wen wanted to reform the pension system because it would ”bankrupt” the nation she said. Former government workers are now hit hard as they will get -20% less monthly income in 2019. The right-wing KMT has already won their support, despite the fact that the conservatives also carried out massive austerity cuts under Ma Ying-jeou (president of Taiwan between 2008-2016). It is sad that people seem to forget that the Chinese Nationalist Party is part of the same rotten capitalist class as the DPP is!
It is very possible that the KMT returns to power in both parliament and the office of president. Despite the populist rhetoric of the conservatives, history has shown that the Chinese Nationalist Party is the party of the rich and the (conservative) establishment. The DPP may support liberal values, but they too support the bourgeoisie and not the working class. A more radical leftist populist party is the New Power Party. A political party born out of the Sunflower Student Movement (2014). It has attracted the support of younger Taiwanese who advocate independence and left radicalism. Still this populist party does not have a socialist ideology nor the will to brake with the liberal establishment. They did win five seats in the 2016 Legislative Yuan election!
On the issue of Taiwanese independence, International Socialist Forward has always put socialism central. Their slogans are: “Strive for national self-determination, abandon fantasy! Don’t rely on the DPP to give up! Rely on workers’ struggle for independence”. Meaning that the workers movement cannot rely on the Democratic Progressive Party to bring fundamental changes. It is up to Taiwanese workers to build a party for their own and fight both coalitions (pan-green and pan-blue) of capitalism. Only then can a Socialist Republic of Taiwan be constructed. This might also show workers on the mainland what socialism genuinely is. It would expose the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese ”Communist” Party as liars, enemies of working class people and anticommunist, de facto!
The USA will remove all of its troops from Syria. This is what Donald Trump plans to do. It proofs that U.S imperialism is deeply involved in the civil war. While Russia supports the dictatorial regime of the Syrian Ba’ath Party, the western world supply weapons and special forces to both Islamic rebels and the Syrian Democratic Forces. The removal of American troops is a positive step, but the Kurds have a genuine reason to fear the future. Because U.S forces prevented Turkish imperialism from completely destroying the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS)!
Turkey is an imperialist nation that has taken control over the Syrian opposition. Ankara offered the Syrian Interim Government more than just solidarity. It has armed Arab groups fighting against both Bashar Assad, the Islamic State and the Kurdish led DFNS. In January 2018, the so called ‘’National Army of Syria’’ was used by Ankara to attack and occupy the Afrin Canton. The Arab troops were supported by Turkish tanks and special forces. Although Afrin city was captured, they did not move beyond the canton. This is because U.S forces are stationed in the city of Manbij and are allied to the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the army of the DFNS!
It is said that over 2.000 American soldiers are stationed on the ground in Syria. They were send by the Obama administration, to fight both IS and support the SDF. Turkey and Russia have never liked this, because these American troops supported opponents of Moscow and Ankara. The Russians stand with Bashar Assad and the Turks hate the Syrian Kurds for the fact that the DFNS is build on the ideas of Abdullah Öcalan (PKK founder). If those 2.000 Americans are withdrawn, the Turks and their Arab puppets will have a window of opening, to attack the remaining Kurdish regions. Russia would win because Assad might work with the Kurds against Turkey, this will strengthen the Ba’ath regime!
Revolutionary socialists have criticized the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria for its secret talks with the Syrian Arab Republic since 2015. We remind them that it was dictator Assad who used to oppress the Kurds and anybody who stood against his Ba’ath Party. The idea that the DFNS would accept Damascus again is a slap in the face of those who gave their lives for the Rojava Revolution. It also shows the inability of the Democratic Union Party (leading party of Kurds) to build a socialist society. Their democratic confederalism remains vague on key issues like who owns the economy!
Abdullah Öcalan used to be a Stalinist leader. He led the Kurdistan Workers Party with the clear intention of building an independent ”socialist” Kurdistan. After Öcalan was captured by the Turkish secret police in Kenya (with help from the Criminal Intelligence Agency), he moved from dogmatic stalinism to a left-libertarian anti-nationalistic ideology called democratic confederalism. The DFNS has been called a libertarian-socialist society, although elements of tribal, ethno-sectarian, capitalist and patriarchal structures remain. Also the whole economy is not nationalized and put under democratic control of workers councils. Instead private property and entrepreneurship are protected under the principle of “ownership by use”!
The region needs a socialist perspective. Unity of the working people and the poor, a struggle against all reactionary forces, be they Islamist or Baathist, and opposition to imperialism must be the principles of this perspective. Rojava is a ray of sunshine in the “Arab” winter, but it must make the transition to a genuinely democratic council democracy and socialist policies, if it is to survive and show the region a way out
It is reported that only 1/3 of the DFNS economy is owned and run by society. The private ownership of land and means of production is a fact and market mechanism are in place. This makes the DFNS not a true socialist society. Although capitalists are told to work for the interests of all, we know that this is not the mentality of this class. Capitalists only work for themselves and will do whatever it takes to increase their wealth at the expense of workers. Price controls are however in place and local councils do have control over food and medical supplies. On the political front, the DFNS has banned forced marriage, polygamy and underage marriage, which were common in the Syrian Arab Republic before the Rojava Revolution!
Due to the war with Islamic State, the Kurds had to mobilize its people’s. They started with the People’s Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party. In 2015, the YPG formed the Syrian Democratic Forces with other ethnic militias such as the Al-Sanadid Forces, the Syriac Military Council, the Raqqa Revolutionaries Brigade, certain factions of the Free Syrian Army and the Army of Revolutionaries. The YPG remains the biggest force in the alliance, they also include the Female Protection Units (YPJ) a fully women combat group!
The 2.000 Americans supported the SDF against Islamic State. However with the liberation of Raqqa and the fall of IS as an organized nation, the American presence in Syria became less idealistic. Officially, Washington DC under Barack Obama denied that U.S troops were fighting on the ground. It was always said that the SDF only got air support. Donald Trump now wants to move out of Syria. That is good, Americans should not be in Syria at all. But the removal of one imperialist power could make the others more aggressive. Because Turkey is willing to destroy the whole DFNS. Dictator Erdogan fears what the Syrian Kurds have build. This is why he created this ”National Army of Syria” to act as his storm-troopers!
Revolutionary socialists call for the full withdraw of all foreign powers. Russia, America, Turkey and others need to leave Syria. Also we call on the DFNS not to trust either U.S imperialism, Russian imperialism or the Ba’ath regime in Damascus. If the Rojava Revolution wants to survive it needs to unite working class people from all ethnicities. Turkey has already started an artillery bombardment on SDF positions, just hours after Donald Trump announced that he would order his troops to leave Syria. The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria is in serious danger as Turkish tanks and special forces have already invaded and occupied the Afrin Canton!
The leaders of the DFNS feel betrayed by Trump, but they should not be surprised. American made weapons are used by Turkey to oppress the people of Afrin. NATO tanks and air planes were used in the 80’s/90’s to destroy Kurdish towns. American imperialism is not the friend of the Kurds, Arabs, Assyrians and even the Turkish working class. Dictator Erdogan is part of NATO and he has recycled Arab rebels to fight on his behave. Some report indicate that Turkey had recruited Islamic fundamentalists (even ex-Islamic State fighters) into their ”National Army of Syria”. After Afrin City fell in January, they looted the city and started to repopulate it with ethnic Arabs, since many Kurds fled eastward to the others cantons of the DFNS!
It is up to the Syrian Democratic Forces to unite all people’s of Syria against Turkish imperialism. If the leadership of the DFNS tries to work out a deal with the Syrian Arab Republic, it will alienate many anti-Assad Syrians who are struggling against the Ba’ath regime since 2011. For 7 years, 9 months and 5 days, they fight against both Islamic fundamentalism, Ba’ath authoritarianism and foreign imperialism. Some have rejoined the Ba’ath regime because the Syrian Interim Government became a puppet of Erdogan, after Islamic fundamentalists took over as the majority of rebel fighters. Fear of Islamism is the central reason why Bashar Assad won back the support of many Syrians!
Only the Kurds were able to build a democratic alternative to Bashar Assad and his Syrian Arab Republic. Revolutionary socialists have been critical supporters of the DFNS, despite our concerns over the ideology of the Democratic Union Party and the cult of personality around Abdullah Öcalan. We welcome the anti-capitalism of many YPG fighters and we support those who want to build socialism. But our socialism is not what the PKK used to support. We call for decentralize planning and democratic rule of workers councils. The DFNS is not a socialist state, it is very similar to the early Soviet-Union of December 1922. Just after the Russian civil war, the new USSR was in fact capitalistic with a market economy set up under Lenin called the New Economic Politics!
Like early Soviet Russia between 1917 and 1922, the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria is still at war and under siege. It will need to use all resources to defeat the remnants of Islamic State and the puppets of Ankara. After the Americans pull out, the Syrian Democratic Forces stand alone against a force supported by Turkish tanks and airplanes. The DFNS lacks modern tanks and has no air-force to protect itself. Its leaders might turn to Russia for help and we know that Putin is a die-hard supporter of Bashar Assad!
What will Russia demand for help? That the DFNS accepts Ba’ath rule? Surrender their cantons? Capitulate? It is very possible that Moscow will allow Ankara to move in and slowly destroy the Rojava Revolution. Manbij is the next major city and Erdogan will not stop there. He will march all the way to Qamishli in the east, to destroy the state build on Abdullah Öcalan’s ideas. The Turkish dictator would then rule the north of Syria through his Arab puppets. This must not be allowed, but the Kurds and their allies cannot expect help from NATO or western imperialism. For America and Europe, Turkey is a ally in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They don’t care that Ankara is a authoritarian nationalist dictatorship. NATO never cared about that in the past and does not today!