Turkmenistan: The North Korea of Central Asia

Hidden from the major politics of the world, in Central Asia lies a relative large country. This nation is totally unknown to most people. Like Uzbekistan, the Republic of Turkmenistan has little saying in world politics and imperialist conflicts. The country is relative young as it was founded in 1925 as part of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics. Turkmenistan was then called the Turkmen Socialist Soviet Republic or Turkmen SSR. In December 1985, Saparmurat Niyazov was made leader of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan. He was a die-hard Stalinist and supported the August coup of Stalinists against Soviet president Gorbachev. After the failed attempt to save the USSR, Niyazov quickly declared Turkmenistan independent of Moscow and became its first president. In this role he created a country that can be called the North Korea of Central Asia!  

The Khanate of Khiva was the name of the state that ruled parts of modern day Turkmenistan from 1511 to 1917. Like many feudal societies the Khanate was an absolute monarchy. Its monarchs were called Khan’s and they regarded themselves ”superior” to ordinary peasants. The Russian Empire took control over Khiva in 1873, but allowed the Kungrad dynasty to remain in power. Khiva became a protectorate of Saint Petersburg (capital of the empire)!

In February 1917, the last czar was forced to abdicate. A power struggle began between the Provisional Government and local councils (soviets) of workers and peasants. The conflicts led to the second revolution called the October Revolution in November 1917. As the soviets took control of Russia, the Khanate of Khiva faced an uprising of Turkmen tribesman who rebelled against the absolute monarchy of Sayid Abdullah. By the end of 1919, the Red Army of Soviet Russia overthrew the regime of the Khan. On the territory of the former Khanate, a soviet republic was build called the Khorezm People’s Soviet Republic. This republic lasted five years before the administration of Joseph Stalin started to divide Central Asia among ethnic lines!

On 13 May 1925, the Turkmen Socialist Soviet Republic was founded with Ashgabat as its capital. As a backward feudal country it was not on the top list for massive industrialisation. Stalin would however relocate many factories and means of production to Central Asia during world war 2. Like all republics of the USSR, Turkmenistan suffered under the regime of the red czar. Hundreds of mosques were destroyed and many deeply religious Muslims were prosecuted by the state-atheist government. Stalin however changed his attitude towards religion during the war. His army started to use Muslim soldiers from Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. So he reopened the mosques and allowed Islamic blessings to be given to Red Army soldiers!

In urban areas such as towns and cities, the old way of life changed rapidly. The nomadic lifestyle of many Turkmen ended with Soviet rule. However in rural Turkmenistan, the traditional ways were kept. Despite all the revolutionary propaganda from the communist party and the totalitarian culture it forced down, many farmers remained traditional. Moscow ordered many ethnic Uzbeks and Russians to migrated to the Turkmen SSR. Soon the Russian language and culture were becoming dominate. Administration work was done in Russian and most Turkmen were raised to speak Russian and see Soviet Russia as the ”revolutionary center of the world”. This great Russian chauvinism would remain until Saparmurat Niyazov became president of the Republic of Turkmenistan!

Muhammetnazar Gapurow was the Stalinist boss in town from 1969 until 1985. Under his administration the standards of living both rose and fell. Turkmenistan was relative underdeveloped, its factories were outdated by the 1960’s and were in need of modernisation. Moscow gave little attention to the needs of Turkemenistan. For them it was a far-away republic and unlike the Baltic states not within sight of western propaganda!

Gapurow worked as leader of the local All-Union Leninist Young Communist League in the 1950’s. This was the place were all members of the nomeklatura (name for the elite) started their political career. Corruption, nepotism and bribery is how you got power in Stalinist Turkmenistan. As the 60’s began, Gapurow supported Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev. His unconditional loyalty to the big boss in Moscow made him popular with the neostalinists. They made Muhammetnazar Gapurow leader of the Communist Party of Turkmenistan to serve their interests!

When gas and oil was discovered, the Turkmen SSR started a major modernisation program. Factories were overhauled and new buildings were constructed. Workers were given apartments to live in which was a luxury as few had homes with electricity or warm water. However the economy soon faced the limits of its capacity under a bureaucratic top-down system. A planned economy requires democratic participation for workers and consumers. The Soviet economy was neither democratic nor were workers asked to participate in the planning process. Government bureaucrats were in control and they made all economic decisions. Naturally this ineffective way of planning led to mismanagement and stagnation. By the dawn of the 1980s, the living standards were dropping as the economy was stuck in red tape and bureaucrats who cared little for working class needs!

Party boss Gapurow did not cared. Like his master Brezhnev, he lived the life of a small king. His circle of nepotistic friends had the good life, enjoying western (capitalist) products, good homes and a nice car. Gapurow’s family were also given important positions inside the Turkmen SSR, strengthening the big boss. When Mikhail Gorbachev was elected General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet-Union, he noticed that the ruling caste of Turkmenistan were totally out of touch with reality. So he ordered Gapurow to be replaced by somebody more loyal his Glasnost and Perestroika program. Gorbachev used a cotton-related corruption scandal to force Muhammetnazar Gapurow into retirement!

Saparmurat Niyazov replaced Gapurow. He was however no ally of Gorbachev as the Communist Party of Turkmenistan was among the most most hardline and unreformed party organizations in the Soviet Union. The ruling caste of the communist party was slow to implement Glasnost and Perestroika. Niyazov himself never liked the idea of giving the people freedom to criticize him or his administation. Like all Stalinists he only cared for himself and like his predecessor loved the power and wealth that came with it. Corruption and nepotism did not ended, in fact it kept growing in the Turkmen SSR. In January 1990, Niyazov was ”elected” Chairmen of the Supreme Soviet of the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic. As general sectary of the communist party he was already de facto leader of Turkmenistan, but as chairman Niyazov also made himself state leader, a position held by a political puppet in the past!

On 19 August 1991, the KGB and Stalinist hardliners tried a coup to prevent the collapse of the USSR. Saparmurat Niyazov supported the coup and the removal of Soviet president Gorbachev. However after 48 hours it became clear that the working class of Moscow rejected the coup. They rose up and demanded the return of Gorbachev. Boris Yeltsin (who was leader of Soviet Russia) used this moment to declare Russia’s independence from the Soviet-Union. Knowing that the Soviet façade was over, Saparmurat Niyazov turned from a hardline Stalinist into a hardcore nationalist. He adopted Turkmen nationalism as his new ideology and Turkmenistan declared its independence on 27 October 1991. Mikhail Gorbachev was left with an empty union, betrayed and abandoned by his comrades. However in a final act of poetic justice, his government did what nobody ever held possible. They banned the Communist Party of the Soviet-Union because it had tried to overthrow the Soviet government, how ironic!

1992 in Turkmenistan was a year of rapid changes. All symbols of revolutionary socialism had to be removed and replaced by symbols of Turkmen nationalism. Niyazov wasted no time, he renamed the Communist Party of Turkmenistan into Democratic Party of Turkmenistan. He changed the state symbols and named his country: Republic of Turkmenistan. However very little actually changed in the political field. The single party state was kept, opposition to the new ”democratic” party remained banned. Turkmen KGB officials remained in office and were now called KNB, Committee for National Security. In 2002, this KNB was dissolved. Its members were put to work as part of the Ministry for National Security. This changed little as the Ministry for National Security is just as cruel and dictatorial as the Committee for State Security of the USSR and the Committee for National Security!

In the center of the new regime was ”Great Leader” Saparmurat Niyazov. His self-given title Türkmenbaşy, meaning Head of the Turkmen referred to his position as the founder and president of the Association of Turkmens of the World. Türkmenbaşy wrote a holy book called the Ruhnama (The Book of the Soul). In this book he told the Turkmen people how to live. The book was forced down on all sections of society, from schools to workplaces. Niyazov’s cult of personality grew enormous. As party boss during Soviet times he was powerful, but now Niyazov could play GOD which he did!

On his orders the names of months were changed and named after his family. He also banned the use of lip syncing at public concerts, banished dogs from the capital Ashgabat, outlawed opera, ballet, and circuses in 2001, decreed that men should no longer wear long hair or beards, banned news reporters and anchors from wearing make-up on television. All libraries outside of the capital were closed, Türkmenbaşy believed that the only books Turkmen needed to read were the Quran and his Ruhnama!

Golden statues were constructed for Türkmenbaşy, they are built to always face the sun. Meanwhile the opposition to this Turkmen: Kim Jong Il was prosecuted. The police is using the same brutal methods as used in Soviet times. Any criticism of the ”Great Leader” was enough to be arrested and sentenced to spend years in prison. To benefit from both the west and the east, Turkmenistan remains a strict neutral nation. It benefited from both Russian and American markets and is able to buy products (with American technology) even Iran and North Korea are not allowed to own!

In 2006 the European Commission and the international trade committee of the European Parliament, voted to grant Turkmenistan “most favored nation” trading status with the European Union, widely seen as motivated by interest in natural gas. Because the country has gas, the western world has never been critical about the massive human rights abuses. Turkmenistan is favored by both American and Russian imperialism!

However the President for Life did not have the eternal life. Türkmenbaşy died on 21 December 2006 due to a heart attack. His death day is exactly the same date on which he was declared leader of the Turkmen SSR in 1985, ironic indeed. The presidency went to his prime minister, a guy named: Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. He had been second since March 2001 and leader of the Health Ministry. It was Berdimuhamedow who was forced to close all hospitals and healthcare clinics outside the capital on orders of Türkmenbaşy. The ”Great Leader” only wanted Ashgabat to have access to healthcare!

Berdimuhamedow was a loyal servant, but choose to end the most bizarre aspects of the Niyazov cult of personality after he died, like reopening the closed healthcare clinics outside the capital. Unlike the secret speech of Nikita Khrushchev, there was no massive denunciation of Saparmurat Niyazov. Instead the cult of Türkmenbaşy was slowly replaced by that of Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow himself. Many golden statues and monuments to the Niyazov regime can still be seen in Turkmenistan. But they lose value as the current president works hard to build a legacy of his own!

In 11 years since the death of the first dictator, Turkmenistan has reversed many of the decrees carried out by Türkmenbaşy. This does not mean that nepotism or political corruption have been reduced. The family of Berdimuhamedow is profiting massively from the fact that he controls the country. As one of the most dictatorial leaders of the world, Berdimuhamedow hold absolute political power like the Khan’s of the Khanate of Khiva. To fool the Europeans into thinking that he would bring democratic reforms, the dictator ”ended” the single party state and allowed the formation of political parties. The first party registered is the Party of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, a capitalist party!

Other formations that make up the rubberstamp parliament are the Organization of Trade Unions of Turkmenistan (only allowed trade union, loyal to the government not workers), Women’s Union of Turkmenistan and the Magtymguly Youth Organisation (former communist youth league). The banned opposition is made up of parties like the Republican Party of Turkmenistan, Communist Party of Turkmanistsan (made up of stalinists who rejected Niyazov’s turn to Turkmen nationalism) and the Turkmen Union of Democratic Forces!

Out of all former Soviet republics, Turkmenistan remains the most dictatorial and oppressive. Niyazov and Berdimuhamedow both showed their true colors when they abandoned their Soviet façade in 1991. Together with other ex-Stalinist scum they deserve our biggest contempt and hatred. The goal of revolutionary socialists is simply, the complete revolutionary overthrow of the Democratic Party of Turkmenistan and Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. A peaceful revolution would be ideal, but the regime has shown that it does not believe in dialogue. This is why the working class of Turkmenistan need to unite in a workers party with a socialist program. A workers party will be the vanguard in the revolt against the corrupt-nepotistic government. Turkmen workers have suffered long enough. They have nothing to lose and a lot to win!

 

Niyazov (in white) and Berdimuhamedow (on the right).

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Venezuela: NO TO THE CAPITALIST CLASS

Venezuela is in a state of violence. The capitalist opposition led by the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition is trying to remove president Nicolas Maduro from power. After winning the parliamentary elections in late 2015, MUD won a majority in the Venezuelan parliament. The leftist populist: United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) lost millions of voters, because it failed to build socialism in the nine years that it ruled the country. The opposition is mobilizing its supporters, playing on the desperation of poor working class people as the economy remains in crisis. Maduro’s failure to move his country into a socialist direction is fueling a counterrevolution. Therefore the Boliviarian Revolution is at a crossroad. Its survival will depend on the will of its supporters to build genuine socialism!

Capitalist commentators and news outlets call the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela a ‘’socialist’’ dictatorship. The opposition is already calling Nicolas Maduro a ‘’Cuban communist’’ style dictator. Now it is true that the president has become more authoritarian and the state is using police brutality to silence protestors. However we must not ignore that the opposition is just as violent. They want to return all economic and state power to the capitalist class. This you don’t hear them saying, but MUD is made up of political parties that act as vehicles for the ruling class. Despite 18 years of Chavismo, the government of Venezuela under Chavez and Maduro never abolished capitalism. Their Bolivarian Revolution stagnated with the inability of Hugo Chavez to move beyond a mixture of capitalism with social democracy, leftist populism and state intervention in the economy!

Revolutionary socialists understand that many working class people are very critical of the PSUV and the government. When Hugo Chavez founded the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 2007, many Marxists hoped it would become a vehicle for workers, poor and youth. However Chavez wanted a political party that worked as his mouthpiece. The PSUV was to be his vehicle, not a worker’s party. Socialist critics of the growing cult of personality were soon confronted by party bureaucrats and expelled because they were critical of the ‘’Great Commander’’. The Democratic Unity Roundtable was founded a year later to unite the antisocialist (and pro-capitalist) opposition to the Chavez government!

Although MUD calls itself ‘’democratic’’ it is not a force for freedom. The opposition has grown more violent since 2016. This is not reported in the western capitalist media, who only portray Maduro’s use of force. Western viewers get a biased picture and will think that Venezuela is led by a ‘’socialist regime’’ that is using police brutality to attack ‘’innocent’’ protestors. Again, nothing is reported on the violence carried out by the supporters of MUD. Out of 108 people killed since the demonstrations began, only 13 were killed by security forces. 20 victims were murdered by the protestors, 8 people died indirectly due to opposition forces blocking streets and harming traffic. 14 were killed due to looting, 3 died as a result of pro-government supporters and 3 were killed by accident. The deaths of the remaining 47 people remain unaccounted for or are disputed!

But is the American and European media saying the only 13 protestors were killed by Maduro’s police forces? No, they say that over 100 people died since the demonstrations began. You get the picture that all victims were killed by the police while demonstrating against Maduro. This is simply not true. Yes, there is police brutality and this must be rejected. Also the actions of the government are ineffective and counterproductive. Worse, Nicolas Maduro is making deals with the capitalist establishment to carry out austerity cuts. Proofing his incompetence and inability to be president of a supposed ‘’socialist’’ country.

In the last 85 days, anti-Maduro mobs have been attacking buildings of the PSUV and supporters of Chavismo. This is also not reported by CNN and other western media outlets. They report stories on government supporters attacking the parliament and the politicians of MUD. Nothing is reported about MUD supporters lynching Chavez supporters in the streets. This is how the capitalist media of America and Europa tries to portray Venezuela as black/white issue. Revolutionary socialists reject the violence of the ruling class and we denounce MUD as a reactionary political force, disguised as a ‘’liberal democratic’’ coalition!

At the same time we give no political support to the government. We are not supporters of Nicolas Maduro nor his ineffective and deeply bureaucratic regime. But we are willing to defend the limited gains of the Chavez era. Because if MUD wins they will privatise wholly or partially the state owned oil company PDVSA, they would destroy labour rights currently enshrined in law, they would privatise social housing (the 1.6 million homes built and delivered by Mision Vivienda), they would privatise state-owned companies and return expropriated factories and landed estates to their former capitalist owners. This is what the opposition wants to do, this is why we must stand with the working class against the pseudo-Democratic Unity Roundtable. It is regrettable that many middle class workers have joined the opposition. They don’t understand how they play right into the hands of the rich and wealthy, who have waited 18 years for a counterrevolution to happen!

Socialists are implacably opposed to the reactionary offensive of the opposition as it represents a mortal threat to the Venezuelan workers and poor as well as to the gains of the Bolivarian revolution.

There are only two options out this hell for workers:

Option 1: A massive adjustment which makes the workers and the poor pay the price. This would involve freeing exchange rates, reducing the budget deficit through cuts and lifting any regulations and protections (workers’ rights, environmental rights, etc.) from the “normal” functioning of capitalism!

Option 2: Abolish the capitalist system by bringing banks, industries and the land into public ownership and democratic control, that is, to make the oligarchy pay. That would not bring the price of oil back up, of course, but at least it would put the country’s resources in the hands of working people!

Revolutionary socialists stand with option 2. But at the present time (July 2017) Nicolas Maduro remains paralyzed and unable to move either forward towards socialism or backward towards capitalism. Some actions made by Maduro seem to follow a path into the direction of option 1. We have seen this behaviour in Cuba too. Raúl Castro could have put the Cuban economy under democratic control of workers. But as leader of a centralized (and privileged) bureaucracy, he would never give away power to the working class. This is why Cuba moves towards option 1, because the Communist Party of Cuba does not want to give up power. It also wishes to embrace the capitalist world market, like China and Vietnam!

Maduro’s government has chosen a policy which does not advance towards socialism but also does not fully allow the functioning of the capitalist market. It makes all sorts of concessions to the capitalists, but these are not enough for them. They want a full return the situation as it was before 1999, before Hugo Chavez. Back then the absolute poverty rate stood at 23% of the total population. 9,5 million Venezeulans were living in shaks and had no access to basic human needs. A very small minority was living in absolute wealth. Enjoying millions in oil profits that were given to them by a corrupt capitalist state. Chavez ended this and the ruling class never forgave him!

The biggest mistake the Bolivarian Revolution made was their believe that they could build a fair and just society under capitalism, with the ruling class ‘’controlled’’ by laws. This proofed to be disastrous because with the economic crisis starting in 2014, the politicians of the ruling class were able to portray themselves as ‘’fighters for the poor and weak’’. Since many social security programs have been stalled or abandoned due to a lack of funds, poverty has been growing. This is exploited by MUD who has won the support of millions. They even won support among leftists who feel disillusioned by the supposed ”failure of socialism”. We must not deny that there is a crisis, that poor people are getting hit the hardest. Maduro cannot wait any longer, either he abandons price controls and returns economic power to the so called ”free market”, or he moves beyond capitalism and the dictatorship of the ruling class. Venezuela has been in a state of limbo far too long!

Meanwhile, oil and corruption have been working hand in hand ever since it was discovered in Venezuela. The government is deeply corrupt and this has not been improved nor destroyed by Chavez. In fact both Chavez and Maduro used corruption to win the support from the army and state bureaucracy. The military is kept loyal with high salaries and certain ‘’benefits’’. Like the privileged members of the Communist Party of Cuba, bureaucrats in Venezuela are also bribed for loyalty to the presidency. MUD calls the government out on this corruption, but we know that it is an empty outcry. Under a full MUD administration corruption will not die out!

Will the PSUV and Maduro be overthrown? Not if the working class comes to its defence. Unless Maduro turns into a socialist direction the future looks very dark for him. A full civil war is possible if some army units decide to join the opposition. To prevent this Venezuela needs a socialist plan out of the crisis. It requires the full expropriation of all millionaires (who fund MUD) and a brake with the capitalist system. The wealth of Venezuela must be fully controlled by revolutionary activists, the workers, the peasants and the poor. No privileges to army officials or government bureaucrats. No compromises with the capitalist class!!

 

Liu Xiaobo 1955-2017

Liu Xiaobo has died in a Chinese hospital. He was one of the most famous dissidents, rejecting the autocracy of the Chinese ”Communist” Party from a liberal democratic perspective. Liu was jailed since 2009, the state declared him ”guilty” of trying to overthrow the government by his writhing. In fact Liu has only called for basic human rights and a China governed by a democracy, instead of a single party state. Although revolutionary socialists disagree with Liu Xiaobo on his support for American imperialism and George W. Bush, we respect him as a fighter for human rights and a China free from this corrupt ”communist” party!

Since the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, the Chinese ”Communist” Party has moved further to the right-wing. Not only embracing (state)capitalism, but also a very aggressive form of Chinese nationalism. This nationalism is deeply rejected by revolutionary socialists, but also by liberal democrats like Liu Xiaobo. The revolutionary left understands that the Beijing regime needs radical nationalism to hide its betrayal of Marxist principals. Not only has the People’s Republic of China more millionaires then the USA, it has also permitted the new class of super rich to join the Chinese ”Communist” Party. So we have a state party that claims to be loyal to Marxist and Leninist ideas, yet at the same time allows ”patriotic” capitalist exploiters to join them as members. Lenin would call this the ultimate betrayal. Even the Mensheviks did not allow the ruling class from joining their party!

Liu Xiaobo was not a critic of capitalism. He supported the free market as a liberal. Why he choose to support the administration of George W. Bush is unclear. Maybe he remained blinded by the American propaganda about this lie that the USA is the bastion of liberty and freedom in world. Although a liberal democrat, Liu Xiaobo supported the conservative regime of Bush and its criminal invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. This shows that Liu was a big lover of westernization. His love for western imperialism may have originate from the natural inability of liberals and conservatives to see beyond their own rhetoric. Americans have this drilled into them. Both those who are liberals and conservatives still have this misguided idea that the USA and the ”Free World” are the beacon of democracy. It is a arrogance that Liu shared in his rejected of the CCP regime!

Revolutionary socialists do support Liu when he stood for workers rights and basic human rights in general. This is what made this man good. He may have had principals that can be rejected and criticized, but unlike Chinese conservatives and even some liberals he defied the ruling party. While many world liberals work with the state-capitalist regime and praise it when Beijing carries out more market based politics, Liu Xiaobo remained a critic. Conservatives in China are not at all interested in human rights. They praise the might of the state and its willingness to become a imperialist superpower. Most of not all members of the Chinese ”Communist” Party can be called conservatives. Remove the red banners, the hammer & sickle and you would see a party that is very close to the American: Republican Party or British: Conservative Party. Especially on the fact that ethnic nationalism is now the dominate ideology of the CCP!

In the 1990’s it was possible for Liu Xiaobo to go into exile. He could have moved to Taiwan, which was undergoing a rapid transformation. But Liu choose to return to the mainland and kept on writing. This was not accepted by the Beijing regime who arrested him again. He was sentenced to three years of forced re-education through labour. In 1996, while he was still imprisoned in the labour camp, Liu married Liu Xia. Because she was the only person from the outside allowed to visit him in prison, she was called his most important link to the outside world. After his release in 1999, Liu could have stopped writing. Agian he choose not to and this angered the regime. For supporting the Charter 08 manifesto of 350 Chinese intellectuals and human rights activists, he was arrested again in 2009 and sentenced to spend 11 years in prison!

At his trial Liu Xiaobo said:

China’s political reforms should be gradual, peaceful, orderly and controllable and should be interactive, from above to below and from below to above. This way causes the least cost and leads to the most effective result. I know the basic principles of political change, that orderly and controllable social change is better than one which is chaotic and out of control. The order of a bad government is better than the chaos of anarchy. So I oppose systems of government that are dictatorships or monopolies. This is not ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Opposition is not equivalent to subversion.

Still Liu was found guilty of trying to ”overthrow the state” and got 11 years in prison. The world reacted very sharply but none of the major capitalist powers dared to do anything against the might of capitalist China. Despite criticism and calls for his release, nothing was done as the western world did not want to harm its lucrative business deals with Beijing. In 2010, China was already a world economic power. Most if not all plastic and electronic products are assembled in factories located in the PRC.

For his bravery in rejecting the dictatorship, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the 2010 Noble Peace Price. Chinese media were ordered not to report this. The CCP regime demanded that all information about Liu was to be censored. However they could not keep the information away from the public. So the Chinese ”Communist” Party started a dirty smear campaign. They claimed that the party made unremitting efforts to promote and safeguard human rights, while Liu was harming the nation with his ”bold and untrue” statements. The international allies of China agreed with the vision of Beijing. Venezuela, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates have sided with the PRC against the criticism of the western world!

Revolutionary socialists agree with one criticism of Liu made by the Chinese government. The western world has indeed sensationalized the story of Liu Xiaobo. He was a liberal democrat, a firm supporter of western imperialism and capitalism. This is why he was the perfect person for western media outlets in attacking China. Revolutionary socialists know that since 2010, the Chinese state is also arresting Marxists and trade unionists. But these people are never seen on western television. Especially when we talk about Marxists getting arrested by a government still called ”communist” by media outlets in America and Europe!

Zhang Shujie is another dissent who fled the PRC in 2012. Unlike Liu Xiaobo, Zhang is a Marxist and very critical of capitalism. His story is even more dramatic then that of Liu. He was arrested by the ”People’s Police” because they believed he was linked to the Committee for a Workers International (CWI). After 30 hours of interrogation Zhang agreed on becoming a spy. He was told to infiltrate the socialist group: Socialist Action in Hong-Kong. Should he refuse the police said they would jail him for years like Liu Xiaobo. Zhang Shujie however had no intentions of betraying his socialist principals to a corrupt capitalist state. After he arrived in Hong-Kong he told Socialist Action what Beijing had demanded of him. With the help from Irish socialist: Joe Higgins, Zhang was smuggled out of China and ended up in Sweden. There he got political asylum and was able to tell his story. Although Zhang Shujie was allowed to speak in front of the Swedish parliament, the media of the western world had little interests in his story!

In May 2017 while living in jail, Liu was diagnosed with cancer. At the end of his life the regime he fought against granted him medical parole. They send him to the Shenyang’s First Hospital of China Medical University. There he died on 13 July 2017 at the age of 61. On the early morning of 15 July, Liu’s body was cremated in accordance with the will of his family members and local customs. The first female president of the Republic of China (Taiwan) said in a statement: ”Tonight, together with everyone that cares about human rights in China, we mourn the tragic passing of Liu Xiaobo. I want to pay my highest respects to this tireless advocate for human rights. I also wish to express my deepest condolences to his family, particularly Ms. Liu Xia who is currently still under house arrest. In 2010, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. At the ceremony, the attention of the whole world was drawn on the empty chair. Sadly, he will never have a chance to claim his seat”

 

Anti-G20 protest

Revolutionary Socialist Media stands in full solidarity with all brave activists who defy the German capitalist government. Unlike the media of the establishment we do not center our reporting around some anarchists who destroy and burn cars. Our protest is not about needless destruction, but resistance to the G20 capitalist forces. Meanwhile the city of Hamburg has been turned into a fortress. Activists from the Netherlands have already been stopped at the border. The German police has completely forgotten EU rules about freedom of movement. No, they see a violent anarchist in anybody who wishes to protest against the G20!

Meanwhile 122 nations of the world have come out in the United Nations against the ownership of nuclear weapons. Although these 122 make up 2/3 of the world’s countries, their rejection of nuclear weapons is more symbolic. Because none of the actual nations who own these weapons of mass destruction, voted in favor of the resolution to ban them. Revolutionary socialists are not surprised. Many NATO countries who don’t own nuclear weapons still voted against the resolution, why? Because of NATO rules, countries like the Netherlands voted NO because they are bound by NATO rules to stock American owned nuclear weapons. Other imperialist forces like France claim that they need these weapons of mass destruction to protect themselves!

Back to Hamburg were protesting is becoming more difficult. Angered by injustice and brutality of the police, some protesters have become violent. This individual terrorism is very counterproductive as it gives the capitalist media a wonderful weapon. Members of the black anarchist circles decided to attack shops and cars. This is something revolutionary socialists fully reject as these small shops and cars do not harm the ruling class. They harm working class people. News-outlets in the world soon portrayed the anti-G20 protests as ”violent”. Their camera’s only showed the battles between police and black masked individuals. Few media attention was given to those who protested peacefully against the G20 countries!

Peaceful protesting is however not hot news. Battles between police forces and anarchists are. Also the media loves to point out how many ”innocent” police officers were wounded. They do not tell you how brutal force was used by the police against even peaceful protesters. The Hamburg police became so paranoid that they saw 76.000 anti-G20 demonstrators as ”violent” and ”dangerous”. You get the impression that all who stand against the G20 summit are ”violent street-thugs”, at least that is why you see on television. Many looters turned out be young people who took advantage of the riots to get ”free stuff”. They gave the protests a bad name by attacking small shops and looting them, all in the name of anti-capitalism!

The true criminals however are the G20 themselves. Especially the USA under Donald Trump, who’s imperialist aggression is now reaching a critical level. Russia and China may have their own imperialist agenda, but Trump’s America is escalating the situation on the Korean peninsula by threatening to use force against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea). This is a very foolish move as it only reinforces the propaganda of Pyongyang that America is their biggest enemy. In the latest UN security council meeting, the USA openly said that it can and will use its army against North Korea to ”protect” itself. Not that North Korea has ever been a actual threat to Americans. But Trump’s war machine would love another war. His greedy military contractors make billions in profits by selling guns to the government. Guns that will be used to destroy North Koreans and make the contractors rich!

Meanwhile another G20 member is carrying out mass murder in Yemen. Armed with American made bombs the criminal Saudi Royal Air Force has been bombing the Yemeni people since 2015. Over 10.000 have died in bombing raids carried out by western build war planes. More than 3 million people have been driven from their homes in the last two years. 17 million people are in desperate need of food. More than half of Yemen’s health facilities are out of service or dysfunctional. A cholera outbreak is spreading fast since April, with hundreds of thousands of suspected cholera cases already spotted across the country. Yemen is now a failed state and its people need help. However unlike Iraq, Libya and Syria, Yemen has been completely ignored by the western media. Maybe this is because western made weapons are killing innocent people. Weapons that America and Europa have willingly sold to a Islamic theocracy!

While the G20 enjoy themselves in their fortress city of Hamburg, people across the world are suffering because of them. This is why there is massive anger and outright rejection of the G20. Russia and China may play on anti-American feelings, but revolutionary socialists are not fools. We do not see these two imperialist states as any different then the USA. Russia is intervening in Ukraine and China is already controlling many world markets, especially in Africa.  The Kremlin and the Chinese ”Communist” Party have capitalist interests of their own. Their goal is to compete with the old imperialist forces of the west. Russia under Putin has masked its huge gap between the very rich and the poor. Russian workers may be blinded by nationalism and false patriotism, but this cannot hide that poverty is widespread. The People’s Republic of China has become a superpower, but only because the CCP regime is exploiting millions of workers. We all know that Chinese factories are building most plastic and electronic products. Made in China is on almost any product today.

In July 2017 it is 100 years ago that the Russian Social Democratic Workers Party (Bolsheviks) became a mass party of working class Russians. After the collapse of the czarist government in February 1917, political parties were legalized. Lenin’s party was rather small before the revolution. But because of their work in the workers councils (soviets) the Bolsheviks were able to win large sections of the working class over. When the All-Russian Congress of Soviets came together the RSDWP of Lenin had 1/5 of the total vote. They were a minority, but would soon grown thanks to their anti-war stand and their call for a socialist revolution. The pro-war Provisional Government led by moderate socialists, Mensheviks and liberals did not liked the calls for peace and socialism. Soon they started to attack the Bolsheviks, calling them ”agents of Germany”. A lie that is repeated 100 years later by people like Sean McMeekin (New York Times), who claims that Lenin was a German spy!

Despite police brutality in Hamburg, it is good that many brave leftists have come to defy the G20 summit. The capitalist media may call them ”violent thugs” but reality is that they true criminals are the once who call themselves the G20.  Revolutionary Socialist Media calls for a socialist revolution in each country of the G20. For this to work we need workers parties. Parties who work as vehicles of the working class. Not centralized parties, but open and democratic forces. 100 years ago, social democracy was fighting for workers rights and socialism. But all social democrats have abandoned this idea and many moderate socialists (like Alexis Tsipras of Greece) also betrayed the working class by collaborating with the right-wing. Many political parties who call themselves ”socialist” are not actual fighting for socialism. This is why the left-wing has lost the support of workers in many countries. When leftists collaborate with the class enemy they lose their own base!

Right-wing populism and far-right nationalism grown because of the left’s inability to present a socialist alternative. Populists like Trump only won because the capitalist media presented the 2016 presidential elections as a two way fight. Despite that four candidates were competing only two got all media attention. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein were (as always) fully ignored. The Libertarian candidate and Green candidate could not debate the candidates of the two establishment parties. Most Americans never have heard of the Green Party and Libertarian Party in a national elections. Because of the two party system, the ruling class is always winning in the USA. Trump’s pseudo-populism made it possible for him to beat Hillary Clinton. Had Jill Stein faced him she would have defeated not only Trump, but also Clinton who was deeply disliked!

A socialist world is possible. Working class people are the ones who can defeat the capitalist class. They only need to unite, to remove the G20 rulers who poison our planet with their wars and greed. In the end the G20 leaders are pawn of the true masters.  In 2017, there are only five individuals who own 50% of all monetary wealth.  Millions live in poverty, while these rich enjoy what is denied to the majority of the planet. This is all possible thanks to the capitalist system. A system that must be destroyed and replaced by socialism, revolutionary democratic socialism!

 

Oxfam’s Big Heads depict G20 leaders take part in protests ahead of the upcoming G20 summit in Hamburg,

FARC-EP disarmed

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army has been disarmed. After 53 years the guerrilla group is abandoning the armed struggle. Last year the government of Columbia and the FARC-EP reached a peace agreement. This agreement however was rejected by the population in a referendum. Because of the very low outcome and massive media attention from the right-wing, a very small majority voted against peace. The government had no choice but to renegotiate with the FARC-EP. Another peace deal was signed and this time only parliament had to approve. Now in June 2017, the 7.000 guerrilla fighters have abandoned their guns and are waiting to be reintegrated into Colombian society!

Capitalist media outlets portray the FARC-EP as this pure ”evil, greedy terrorist” group. Also they love point out the crime of the ”Marxist” army and how they caused death and destruction. The reality is not so black and white. It is true that many FARC-EP soldiers and commanders have committed crimes against the people of Colombia. These crimes must be investigated and those responsible should be called out. Revolutionary Socialist Media however would like to point out that most killings between 1964 and 2017 were not carried out by the FARC-EP. In fact most deaths were caused by right-wing paramilitary groups and government soldiers. The so called ”democratic” government and their far-right terror squads killed more innocent people then the FARC-EP and the ELN (National Liberation Army). The United Nations has estimated that 12% of all killings of civilians in Colombian conflict were committed by FARC-EP and ELN guerrillas, with 80% committed by right-wing paramilitaries and the remaining 8% committed by Colombian security forces!

This is a fact never reported in the western capitalist media. In the west we only see and hear the crimes of the leftist guerrilla’s. In the 1980’s, a peace deal was singed between the FARC-EP and the government. To work in a ”democratic” environment (which Colombia is not) the guerrilla’s founded a political party called the Patriotic Union (UP). It seemed that the conflict would have ended by the late 1980’s. But the central government never wanted peace. They allowed far-right terror groups to murder thousands of UP members and leaders. It is said that over 10.000 members, supporters and sympathizers of the Patriotic Union were killed by forces loyal to the capitalist establishment. Because of the many killings, the FARC-EP abandoned the peace deal and resumed the fighting. As the USSR collapsed, they needed a new source of income and so the drug trade became a vital part of the FARC-EP’s operation!

The USA is also to blame for the fact that this conflict started in the first place. Like Guatemala, Colombia was regarded as the backyard of American imperialism. The American hypocrites were key supporters of the corrupt political establishment. They supported any government that claimed to be ”democratic” and anticommunist. Millions of dollars were given and the CIA trained the special ”anti-terror” units, who later would become part of far-right squads. The most famous of these anticommunist terror groups was the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC). Although the AUC was independent of the government, human rights groups have pointed out the close connection between army officials and the drug lords who founded the militia!

Colombia allowed the AUC to kidnap, torture and murder anybody they called a communist. In the first ten months of 2000 the AUC conducted 804 assassinations, 203 kidnappings and 75 massacres with 507 victims. The crimes of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia went so far that even the USA started to call them a terrorist group. But the Colombian government allowed the right-wing to carry out its bloody campaign against the FARC-EP and the ELN. In 2002, the conservative president of the country claimed he would destroy the leftist guerrilla. For his violent rhetoric he was awarded the Freedom Medal by the American president George W. Bush, who praised the president for his desire to destroy the FARC-EP. Despite the rhetoric, the Colombian government was unable to defeat the guerrilla’s. Instead it faced the AUC who started to blackmail American companies by demanding ”protection money”. American imperialism was happy when far-right terror groups killed and murdered thousands of leftists in the 80’s, but when its own creation turned on them they demanded government action!

In 2006 the bulk of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia was demobilized. But smaller pockets kept on terrorizing the poor and leftist communities. Two years before in 2004, the main leader of the AUC was murdered which led to the brake up. Carlos Castaño Gil was 38 years old when his own brother killed him in a argument. Win-out a central authority, the AUC started to fight themselves for drug money and other minor issues. It allowed the government to disarm the bulk in 2006. The formal disbanding of the anticommunist army was carried out in 2008, when Colombia extradited 13 AUC commanders to the USA. Meanwhile the FARC-EP was also losing members. It had lost the support of the urban proletariat who grew to reject their drug trade and kidnapping of innocent Colombians for ransom. Poor peasants offered the last base of support as the country side had always been neglected by the government. As FARC-EP territory became smaller and smaller, the guerrilla’s were showing signs of fatigue. After 2014, no major combat operations were carried out anymore!

Juan Manuel Santos became the next president of Colombia in 2010. He replaced the war-hawk loved by the USA. Santos is a member of the Social Party of National Unity, a liberal conservative party. Unlike his predecessor, the current president was willing to start peace talks in Cuba. These talks led to a treaty which was rejected by the population in a national referendum (due to a very low turn out). Although the polls had indicated a major YES vote, the liberal establishment had underestimated the supporters of the former right-wing president. The opponents of peace pointed out that the treaty gave too much to the FARC-EP and too little to its victims. Many urban workers choose to side with the right-wing on this. Mainly because Colombia has no genuine left-wing to fight far-right populism and nationalism. To be a leftist is still dangerous as former AUC members are still walking with their guns around, ready to kill anybody who calls himself/herself a Marxist!

A rewritten peace deal was past in parliament and led to the disarmament of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia – People’s Army. This was finished in June 2017. Now over 7.000 to 10.000 unarmed former guerrilla fighters are waiting in camps in their former zones. Waiting to return to a society that is still very divided. Some will have to answer for their alleged crimes. Revolutionary socialists would also love to see former AUC members and government ministers to stand trial. Because the FARC-EP is not responsible for the bulk of the killings in this 53 year conflict. The guerrilla’s were founded as a response to the undemocratic corrupt political establishment in the 1960’s. Had Colombia been a free and open society in the 60’s, the FARC-EP would not haven been founded. But the ruling class and their American allies never cared for democracy or human rights. The extermination of the Patriotic Union in the 1980’s, enforced the vision of the guerrilla’s that peace was impossible. It remains to be seen what will happen now that the FARC-EP is gone. Some say that its demise will lead to a vacuum on the drug trade. The smaller National Liberation Front (ELN) could enter the void. However it is unlikely that the 1.500 fighters of this smaller guerrilla army are able to take full control of former FARC-EP territory!

What Colombia needs is a workers party. Former guerrilla fighters need to understand that this is the only way. Guerrilla struggle was a popular idea in the 1960’s, because it worked in Cuba. But we must not forget that the Cuban Revolution was not a proletarian revolution. Fidel Castro himself said in 1959 that he was not a communist. Revolutionary socialists call for class struggle instead of armed struggle. United action of workers is the only way the ruling class of any country can be defeated. It will not be easy to win back the trust of workers in the cities. Years of anticommunist brainwashing have resulted in the fact that many Colombians think that socialism and communism are ”totalitarian” and undemocratic ideas. It is up to a workers party to show them that trusting in capitalist politicians will not change the fact that Colombia is a very unequal society. A society were the rich guard their mansions and villas against millions of poor living in slums!

Openness should be the next step. Former FARC-EP fighters and government officials must play open book. Crimes by the guerrilla’s and government forces must be made public. The working class needs to know who did what in this conflict. It is important that the people learns that most killings were carry out by groups like the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia and other militias of the drug cartels. Because few Colombians actually know this fact. They were raised with the propaganda of the government, the anticommunist lies about ”communist killers, who love to abduct and execute poor people”. The United Nations has already concluded that the FARC-EP only killed 12% of all civilian deaths. However this does not excuses the drug trade and the needless kidnapping of people like Íngrid Betancourt, who was held prison by the guerrilla’s for six years. Betancourt was not a right-wing politician, she was a member of the Oxygen Green Party. However she is deeply against the drug trade and therefore not liked by those who made millions by selling drugs. Revolutionary socialists condemn the FARC-EP for its trade in drugs and their kidnappings for ransom!

We call for a socialist Colombia to be build. A Colombia under control of workers, peasants and poor people. If  the ex-guerrilla members have any ideological commitment to socialism they will join leftists and trade unionists. However it remains to be seen if the new political formation set up by the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, is actually a formation for revolutionary socialism. The Patriotic Union was set up as a leftist nationalist party, with no clear socialist program. This we have also seen in Venezuela were Hugo Chavez build a party called the United Socialist Party of Venezuela in 2007. Although millions joined, the united socialist party did not became a workers party. Chavez died and never made the move towards socialism. Venezuela then entered a crisis. With a economic collapse and a capitalist opposition rioting in the streets, the government of Nicolas Maduro is becoming more and more paranoid and authoritarian. Revolutionary socialists call on workers in Colombia to learn from the mistakes made in Venezuela. You cannot build socialism by keeping the ruling class alive as Chavez did. Socialism means the full expropriation and the nationalization of all means of production under democratic control of workers councils, not a bureaucratic state!

 

The tower of death

A burned building, dark and empty. Over 600 working class people used to live here. 78 are now confirmed death (although this number will most likely go up) . They died as their tower burned in the night, unable to escape. Now we would not be surprised if this happened in a African country. We all know how little care is given to safety regulations in corrupt African nations. Although many black people and Muslims lived in the tower, the building was not located in poor Africa. Instead it stood in rich Great Britain. A country with high safety standards when it comes to protecting buildings from fire. Yet the Grenfell Tower fire proofed again how capitalist greed led to the death of many innocent people!

Grenfell Tower is located in North Kensington on the western edge of Inner London, in a mainly working-class housing complex. The tower was build in 1974 and owned by the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Its operators were the Kensington and Chelsea TMO, who runs more then 10,000 properties on behalf of Kensington and Chelsea London Borough Council. Most of the 600 people who lived at the Grenfell Tower were low income working class people. It was a multicultural tower with people from many religions and cultures. Renovation was not decided until 2012 when the council agreed on renovating the tower. Studio E Architects carried out the work which costs around 8,7 million British pounds. The concrete structure received new windows and new aluminium composite cladding to improve the appearance of the building. After the work was done in 2016, the Grenfell Tower looked ”modern” which was nice for the wealthier British classes!

The people who lived at the tower were not happy with the work. They organized themselves in the Grenfell Action Group and have criticized not only the conservative led council but also the organisation that operated the Grenfell Tower. In 2013 a fire broke out which should have been a warning . Although the action group demanded major changes to be made, the Conservatives who dominated the city council refused to listen. They fully trusted Kensington and Chelsea TMO and this trust has now resulted in the deaths of at least 78 people. Working class people who would not have died had they been rich whites. Because we all know that a tower for rich white people would not have been neglected!

Grenfell Action Group wrote in November 2016:

It is a truly terrifying thought but the Grenfell Action Group firmly believe that only a catastrophic event will expose the ineptitude and incompetence of our landlord, the KCTMO, and bring an end to the dangerous living conditions and neglect of health and safety legislation that they inflict upon their tenants and leaseholders. We believe that the KCTMO are an evil, unprincipled, mini-mafia who have no business to be charged with the responsibility of looking after the every day management of large scale social housing estates and that their sordid collusion with the RBKC Council is a recipe for a future major disaster.

Unfortunately, the Grenfell Action Group have reached the conclusion that only an incident that results in serious loss of life of KCTMO residents will allow the external scrutiny to occur that will shine a light on the practices that characterise the malign governance of this non-functioning organisation. We believe that the KCTMO have ensured their ongoing survival by the use of proxy votes at their Annual General Meeting that see them returned with a mandate of 98% in favour of the continuation of their inept and highly dangerous management of our homes. It is no coincidence that the 98% is the same figure that is returned by the infamous Kim Jong-un of North Korea who claims mass popularity while reputedly enslaving the general population and starving the majority of his people to death.

On 14 June 2017, at 0:54 British time, their greatest fears became a reality. A small electrical fire led to a huge blaze. After only 15 minutes, the whole side of the tower was engulfed. It is said that the fire started on the second floor and moved its way up. Because KCTMO had used cheap materials when they renovated the building in 2016, the fire worked its way up on the recently installed cladding. As the plastic melted it ignited new fires on new floors. Only 30 minutes after the inferno began, the apartments on the 25th floor were also burning!

The only reason why not hundreds of people were fast asleep was due to Ramadan. Many Muslims were up at night, celebrating their right to eat again after sunset. When the fire broke out at 0:54 a.m, the Islamic residents were able to wake up and warn their neighbors. Escape proofed difficult as the stairways were soon smoke-filled. Also the fire warning note provided by KCTMO told the people to stay in their apartments. Many were waiting while the fire slowly destroyed home after home. More then 200 firefighters were fighting the blaze and tried to save residents at the same time. In all it said that 65 people were rescued from the fire. Out of 600 it is very possible that 100 or more are death. The official number on 19 June is 78. But many remain missing and firefighters have not yet entered all burnout apartments!

One thing is very clear. The renovation of 2016 only made Grenfell Tower look modern, its poor safety record was not improved. Revolutionary Socialist Media understands why the disaster happened. It happened because the pro-capitalist city council and Kensington and Chelsea TMO just did not care about these working class people living in a 43 year old tower. A tower that was in need to renovation, but because its residents were poor and not ethnic British (white), few officials really cared. London has more towers which houses migrant workers. 1/3 of the capital is said to be living in poverty and 48% of all poor in London belong to the Islamic religion. Yet at Grenfell Tower it was thanks to Islam that people were awake at 0:54 am. Had the Muslim population not been up it is possible that the fire would have surprised many  in their sleep. Heroic stories can be told of people from all religions and backgrounds, working together to save lives!

The anger at the council and the landlord is understandable. People died because of capitalist neglect. Now workers want answers. But revolutionary socialists point out that the destruction of the Grenfell Tower is just one symptom of capitalism. The fact that flame able material was used because it was more cheaper, shows why the capitalist mentality of KCTMO contributed to the deaths. It is very possible that the fire had not reached the upper apartments so fast, if the tower had not been renovated with new external cladding. The Socialist Party in West London has made the following demands after this terrible disaster. They rightfully link the austerity cuts of the conservative government to the neglect at Grenfell Tower.

  • It is essential that the 400-600 people made homeless are rapidly rehoused locally in secure and affordable accommodation. Tenants must have permanent secure tenancies, not assured shortholds or other tenures, and leaseholders must have proper arrangements as well. The government must move fast and no talk of lack of money can be accepted in this situation.
  • We need a major investigation into Grenfell House and the implications for housing around the country. That investigation must be genuinely independent of government and must be free to draw out the implications of spending cuts and to make recommendations that do not compromise safety because of austerity. It must be led by trade unions and residents groups drawing on independent expertise. There must be criminal prosecutions where appropriate.
  • All councils should immediately inspect safety on every housing estate and invest urgently, with no excuses about cuts, in ensuring safe materials, adequate exits and space, etc
  • Labour councils should refuse to pass on any further cuts. Stop all privatisation of housing, repairs and renovation!
  • London mayor Sadiq Khan should reverse all cuts to the London fire service.
  • The site must remain publicly owned – no concessions to vulture property speculators.
  • Residents in nearby housing must have their concerns over safety near the ruined tower answered. They must be rehoused safely if there is any danger – and if there is not, urgent maintenance and upgrade work must be carried out due to the damage to the estate.
  • The decision on whether to keep or demolish high-rise blocks must lie with the residents themselves. Tower blocks are safe if properly built and maintained. If, however, residents would prefer low-rise accommodation, the council must build it and fight for the funds to do it properly – like the Liverpool Labour council of 1984-87 did, led by Militant (now the Socialist Party).

Simply changing the building regulations would not be an adequate response as existing buildings would need to be reviewed. The cost implications could be significant but austerity cannot be allowed to delay a response

Statement of the Socialist Party

 

The renovated entrance after the fire.

Collapse of the French: Socialist Party

49 years after the foundation of the French: Socialist Party (PS) the future of this former leftist party is deeply dark. The party of social democrats was reduced to 7,4% of the total vote at the French parliamentary elections. While the PS lost millions of voters, the organisation of Jean-Luc Melenchon (France Insoumise) won over 11%. However the biggest loser in this election is democracy itself. Only 48% of all French decided to vote, proof how deep the distrust has grown between politicians and the working class. La République En Marche, the organisation of French president Emmanuel Macron seems to have won most seats in the first round. His pro-capitalist agenda however will offer no alternative for working class people!

Only one social democratic party in Europe has been able to win a recent election. The British: Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn did what believed to be impossible. Despite the distrust towards social democracy around the planet, Corbyn was able to turn the Labour Party back on the leftist road. This change in course proofed to be popular as many working class British hated the conservative government. Jeremy Corbyn’s party is not yet a workers party, but its victory at the British parliamentary elections shows that with a clear anti-austerity leftist program, you can win elections. Social democracy seems to have forgotten this. Because in France and in the Netherlands, social democratic parties were reduced to minor political formations!

The Socialist Party (PS) in France did not follow Corbyn’s model. They remained loyal to their neoliberal course and paid the price. After five years in power, the PS exposed itself as a typical establishment party. François Hollande’s politics favored capitalists over workers, as he carried out their will. His leftist promises were washed away as yet another social democratic president, demonstrated why working class people cannot trust social democracy anymore. Five years later, the French choose a pro-capitalist president again because the alternative would have been a far-right person running the French Republic. Emmanuel Macron is a right-wing politician and has made his loyalty to capitalist law and order more then clear. He will attack workers rights in the name of ”making France more competitive”!

French workers have abandoned the PS because it refused to fight for their interests. Instead the social democrats (once again) favored the owners of the economy. Meanwhile the capitalist media is portraying Macron as a moderate, a president that is not left-wing nor right-wing. He is painted a liberal, a centrist and a moderate. In reality, the president has already begun his attacks by lowering taxes for the super rich and attacking the French social security programs. Macron’s intentions are very clear. As former minister in the government of François Hollande, he supported the austerity of the former president. Now Macron himself is in command and with ”La République En Marche” behind him, he does not need the old political parties!

The French Communist Party (PCF) refused to ally itself with ”France Insoumise”, the organisation behind presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon. Only 600.000 French decided to vote on the PCF, in 2012 they got almost 1,7 million voters. Had the communist party joined Melenchon, those 600.000 voters would have strengthen the only true leftist political force in France. Revolutionary socialists agree that ”France Insoumise” is not revolutionary and we criticize their moderate leftist program. But unlike the PS and their allies, the organisation around Melenchon is willing to fight for workers and against the power of the French capitalist class. The unwillingness of the PCF to participate in ”France Insoumise” is a mistake. Now the communist party is almost erased!

Will there more more voters in the second round? That remains to be seen. As the French section of the Committee for a Workers International explained:

There can be all sorts of deals and realignments for the second round on June 18th. There will be a big push for more people to go out and vote. But, as Gauche Revolutionnaire has said, given the mass discontent amongst workers, the continuing industrial battles taking place, the counter-reforms in education and the lack of jobs for young people, the more important battles will be in the workplaces and on the streets.

The political follow-up consists in elaborating how a new left force can build on the success of Melenchon’s movement, in pushing for a clear lead on mass mobilisation against the government’s attacks and arguing for clear socialist policies that can gather support and destroy the apparent invincibility of the Macron phenomenon.

 

Upcoming British elections

In June 2017, the British people can vote for a new parliament. This time there is a choice between a pro-austerity conservative government and a more leftist direction with the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Although Labour has a bad reputation as the party who betrayed British workers, Corbyn’s program is the most leftist one in 30 years. Therefore a vote for Labour would show that working class people reject the austerity regime of the Conservative Party. It would also strengthen Jeremy Corbyn’s position against the Parliamentary Labour Party, the right-wing section!

Revolutionary socialists have not called for a Labour vote in many years. This is because the Labour Party abandoned working class politics in the 1980’s. With the rise of Tony Blair the party moved away from even classic social democratic ideas. Blair as party leader embraced not only neoliberalism but also American imperialism. British social democrats were key supporters of George W. Bush and his Republican Party in the USA. In the last 20 years, the Labour Party embraced austerity rules and the demands of the European Union. This led to massive alienation and disillusion among working class people, who abandoned Labour!

Jeremy Corbyn was one of the last true leftist voices in the Labour Party. He was however always marginalized and stood alone against a apparatus that is still massively right-wing. Also the elected representatives of the party are not friendly to the current Labour leader. Most social democrats in parliament belong to the right-wing or PLP (Parliamentary Labour Party). These politicians are not only pro-capitalist, they are also very corrupt and serve their wealthy donors. There is very little difference between a conservative member of parliament and a social democratic member of parliament. Both are rotten, both are pawns of the rich and both support British capitalism!

With the victory of Corbyn at the leadership elections, a new wave of young leftists joined the party. They hope for a new course under Corbyn. But the old Blair wing is not working along. The right-wing hates the current Labour program and rejects it as ”too leftist”. Although it has some good ideas, the program is still very much classic social democratic and not socialist. It does not call for a socialist Britain were the means of production are nationalized and put under workers self-management. However it does does call for an end to austerity and the re-nationalization of key sectors. Revolutionary socialists support these ideas but we also call for workers self-management, not state control with bureaucrats replacing capitalist bosses. Still the current Labour program is regarded as the most leftist one since the 1980’s!

A big problem for Labour is their trustworthy. 30 years of betrayal and collaboration with capitalist forces has alienated many workers. Right-wing populism grew because of the betrayal by the social democrats. Jeremy Corbyn also failed to provide a socialist exit out of the EU. Instead the Labour leader supported the current neoliberal union and called for Britain to remain inside. This is not what many working class people want, they see the EU as a bureaucratic force that is enforcing right-wing ideas. Many workers are also poisoned with nationalism and blame the EU for the fact that they lost their jobs to cheap workers from eastern Europe. Right-wing nationalists from the United Kingdom Independence Party were successful in dividing the working class among ethnic and religious lines. UKIP is a right-wing party that promotes capitalism and British nationalism, it tries to hide their racism and intolerance under a cloak of populism!

The Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition decided to support Labour in this election. This is done to give Jeremy Corbyn the best chance to beat the Conservative Party. This does not mean that TUSC will always call for a vote on the social democrats. In city councils were right-wing Labour politicians enforce austerity and cuts to social services, TUSC will put up a fight. The Parliamentary Labour Party is a powerful force and must be destroyed if the Labour Party wishes to become a workers party again. Corbyn must remove all those right-wing scumbags who stand for austerity and collaboration with the establishment. A workers party cannot tolerate pro-capitalist members enforcing viewpoints the party tries to fight against. If the members of the PLP wish to have a pro-capitalist right-wing social democratic party, they are free to leave Labour. But the Labour Party today is no longer their toy to play with. The election and reelection of Corbyn proofs that the party base wish a new direction, a leftist direction!

A big weapon for the conservatives is their support for Brexit. The Conservative Party is far more nationalistic then the Labour Party. In the last local elections, the social democrats were severely beaten. They lost hundreds of councilors, while the conservatives won. The fact that the social democrats support the EU and rejected Brexit made them unpopular. Also we must not forget that many councilors of the Labour Party have carried out austerity cuts in local councils. The TUSC is standing against cuts from both parties. British revolutionary socialists are calling for a Corbyn government with socialist politics. Labour has always called itself a democratic socialist party. It is up to Jeremy Corbyn to carried out a socialist program and to rebuild Britain after years of abuse by right-wing governments!

If all working class people would vote for Corbyn, then he can easily defeat the conservatives. But even among working British, the Conservative Party has won some support by playing on ancient antisocialist lies. They claim that Jeremy Corbyn would destroy the economy by wasteful spending. Like all right-wingers, the conservatives portray themselves as the party of a ”balanced budget” and ”decent government”. The capitalist media is working overtime to portray the Labour leader in a negative light. Tabloids like The Sun portray him as a ”dangerous communist” or a ”crazy Marxist”. We are not surprised that the media is so hostile to the leftist course of the Labour Party. They fear that a Great Britain under Corbyn would not be so loyal to capitalist law and order. The owners of the economy indeed fear a return to a time when the government had the power and authority to regulate the economy. Capitalists of today hate this idea that there will be regulations in place, to protect working class people from their greed!

British workers have a choice to make. If the Conservative Party wins then Britain will become more unequal and the gap between the rich and poor will continue to grow. There is already massive poverty among working class people in London. Recent reports tell that at least 25% (2,5 million people) of the capital can be regarded as poor. Poverty among migrants is high which fuels dangerous thinking. Because radical Islam prays on poor neighborhoods. Small criminals with a Islamic background are now more at risk of becoming radicalized. The attack in Manchester which killed 23 people at a concert was carried out by a petty criminal turned extremist. Religious extremism has grown in the last 10 years. With right-wing politicians stigmatizing Muslims and blaming them for capitalist exploitation, many British with a Islamic believe feel not at home in their own country. In France the neglected neighborhoods of migrants form Africa, are now breeding-grounds for radical Muslims. Ten years ago this was impossible to think. Back then religion was not that strong among young Muslims. This all changed now that the western world is bombing the middle east again by intervening in Iraq, Syria and Libya!

Revolutionary socialists will give critical support to the Labour Party in this election. Jeremy Corbyn must be given the chance to proof himself. Should he win Corbyn must start with a massive purge of all those Labour officials, who carry out politics that harm the working class. Jeremy must also look beyond the limits of social democracy and move towards genuine democratic socialism, meaning a full rejection of capitalist economics. Should Corbyn fail to win he must do his best to turn his party into a workers party. The PLP must be expelled together with all Labour councilors who support austerity. Yes, that would weaken Labour at first. But in the long run, the party would grow as working class people will realize that a socialist: Labour Party is their party. The right-wing social democrats would lose public support and their seats in councils and parliament to true socialists. A new party can and must be build. Young members have proven this by electing Jeremy Corbyn. Revolutionary socialists will work with any Labour member who is willing to build a Britain free from capitalism!

 

Jeremy Corbyn is leading the Labour Party.

Trump loves Saudi-Arabia

Trump is one the move and his first nation of visit is the: REACTIONARY TERROR FOUNDING THEOCRACY OF MEDIEVAL MONARCHISTS called: The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia. Out of all nations Trump choose this Arab kingdom led by Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud. There is however a business reason why the far-right president visits the absolute monarchy. The Saudi’s are buying 100 billion dollars worth of U.S made weapons. Also they plan to invest in the USA, especially in Trump’s daughter Ivanka. She is setting up new businesses with Saudi money. This is so ironic because 11 months ago, Trump attacked Hillary Clinton for taking millions in donations from the Saudi royal family. Yes, the Arab kingdom wanted Clinton not Trump. Because back then Trump played the populist, the anti-establishment figure. Now the Saudi’s know it was all an act, Donald Trump is their ally and uncritical like all U.S presidents!  

When Barack Obama visited the absolute Islamic monarchy, he bowed to the Saudi king. Conservatives were outraged and attacked the president on Fox News, Breibart and Infowars.com. They called him a ”coward” and a ”servant of Islam”. Now Donald Trump has done the same thing and many conservative websites remain either silent or try to downplay the fact, that their leader bowed to the Saudi king. The hypocrisy of far-right conservatives proofs how much they hatred Obama and his administration. Trump shows that he is not that macho male chauvinist, conservatives think he is. He remains a capitalist and secures a major trade deal with the reactionary islamists. America is selling over 100 billion dollars worth of military hardware to Saudi-Arabia. In return the oil rich theocracy is ”investing” their billions in America and in Ivanka Trump!

Nothing critical has been said about the fact that Saudi-Arabia is a deeply undemocratic country. A medieval theocracy run on the same ideology as the Islamic State, the terrorist group that has spread death and destruction in Iraq and Syria. Although Saudi-Arabia claims to be an enemy of IS, they share the same ideology. The only reason why Islamic State rejects Saudi-Arabia is because of the absolute (and deeply corrupt) monarchy. IS wishes to build a caliphate of Islam, they reject a monarchist system. They also know that behind the mask of Wahhabism, Saudi-Arabia’s kings and princes do not have a Islamic lifestyle. They drink alcohol, have wild parties with nude woman and consider themselves holier then the holy book of Islam. On the outside the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia portrays itself as a Islamic nation, but the laws of the Koran are often ignored for personal greed!

Wahhabism is a deeply sectarian ideology, it rejects any other interpretation of Islam. Shia-Islam is hated the most by the supporters of Wahhabism. In Saudi-Arabia it is forbidden to be a Shia-Muslim. Those who dare to be Shia face discrimination, expulsion, arrest and even execution. Last year in January, the kingdom executed: Nimr Baqir al-Nimr. This Shia clerk was calling for free elections in the absolute monarchy. The government arrested him which led to massive protests by Shia youth. After clashes with the police, Al-Nimr was sentenced to death. In January 2016, he and 40 others were murdered. This caused a diplomatic conflict between the (Shia) Islamic Republic of Iran and the kingdom. Iran remains deeply hostile to the Saudi regime!

Woman are regarded as lesser to men. Not only are females forced to cover themselves in public, they also need a male guarding at their side. This system is supported by some conservative woman too, who praise their enslavement to male chauvinism and dominance. In 2017, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud relaxed some laws on male guardianship. Woman no longer need a male while dealing with officials and medical professionals. However on many other fronts, woman are still forced to have a male at their side!

The death penalty is brutally enforced in the kingdom!

Saudi-Arabia is killing people for things like:

  • Rejecting religion
  • Rejecting the absolute monarchy
  • Converting from Islam to any other religion
  • Adultery
  • Sorcery (they believe in witchcraft too)
  • Homosexuality (including lesbianism)
  • Treason
  • Blasphemy
  • Waging war on God (militant atheism)
  • Fornication (killing none married couples for love in public)

The Islamic State in Syria and Iraq is murdering people for exact the same reason as the Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia. But the imperialists of the USA never had any problems with these facts. They have armed the Saudi state with modern American made weapons. Tanks, planes and machine guns, used to suppress anybody who dares to stand against king Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and his 2.000 male family members. It is true that the Saudi Royal Family has over 15.000 members. But only 2.000 can be called extremely rich (multi-billionaires). These male members control all the oil profits. They are the ruling class of the kingdom and are positioned on all important positions in the government!

American presidents have praised the Saudi’s for their uncritical support of U.S imperialism. The Kingdom of Saudi-Arabia remains a loyal ally of the Americans against Iran, Russia and China. In the cold war, the theocracy played on anticommunism and was supplied with a lot of material from the USA. Thanks to billions in oil money, the kingdom was able to build a modern infrastructure. Although many western people think every Arab in the kingdom is wealthy, this is not the cause. In fact the wages for ordinary workers are much lower then in the USA. Workers in Saudi-Arabia do not have access to the oil wealth, that money is owned by the 2.000 male members of the royal family. On average a worker earns around 35.000 U.S dollars a year. But they do have the luxury of subsidized fuel, as car gas is very cheap. Only Venezuela is more cheaper in gas prices!

George W. Bush, Barack Obama and now Donald Trump, all have danced with the princes and kings. All have bowed their heads to this criminal kingdom and received awards and luxurious items. Michelle Obama was given a huge diamond and Ivanka Trump is getting donations in the millions. 11 months ago, the far-right billionaire that is her father attacked Hillary Clinton. The candidate of the Democratic Party was given millions in donations by the Saudi Royal Family. Trump was not happy that Saudi money was given to his political opponent. He demanded that Clinton rejected it as Saudi-Arabia was a evil nation that oppresses woman and kills gays. Trump was not wrong on this fact, but 11 months later, President Trump bows to the same people he rejected. It proofs again how little is left of the populist of 2016. Donald Trump is not the anti-establishment guy. He is the establishment!

Meanwhile the Saudi Air Force keeps bombing Yemen with American made planes. 10.000 civilians have been murdered since the civil war broke out in the Republic of Yemen in 2015. Unlike the Libyan and Syrian civil wars, this one remains largely ignored by the world capitalist media. Yemen is divided between a Sunni-Islamic government (supported by Saudi-Arabia and the USA) a Shia-Islamic: Revolutionary Committee also called ”Houthis rebels” (supported by Iran) and a radical Sunni-Islamist group called: Partisans of Sharia. The official government has lost control of the capital and relies on Saudi air support to attack the Shia-Islamic ”rebels”. The Partisans of Sharia have abused the situation and established a Islamic theocracy in 1/3 of the country. They control some towns and coastal regions to the south.

A big European supplier of guns to the conflict is the Federal Republic of Germany. The western world is arming the reactionary theocracy to destroy their political/religious enemies in Yemen. The fact that over 10.000 civilians died proof that the Saudi’s have little care for human life. Their pilots are raised with religious sectarianism and hatred of Shia-Muslims. They gladly bomb Shia homes as they are told. In the Yemen civil war, western made bombs kill thousands of innocents. The Saudi’s bomb anything that they call a target. In two years, the air force of the medieval kingdom has killed around 10.000 civilians. Despite protests from civil activists and human-rights groups, Donald Trump has given the green light to supply the absolute monarchy with new military hardware!

Revolutionary socialists call for the overthrow of the Saudi Royal Family. The whole rotten monarchy must be replaced by a socialist workers democracy. The billions in oil profits belong to the whole population, not to 2.000 corrupt male members of one family. Trump and the western world are responsible for keeping this regime in place. They arm it, they supply it, they keep the regime in power. If Saudi-Arabia would be under a full trade embargo like Cuba, it would soon lose its grip on its population. Many young Arabs are already rejecting the dogmatic ideology of Wahhabism. Behind the walls of religious obedience a underground youth culture is growing. A new generation may look conservative and loyal, but like the woman of Saudi-Arabia they too want to be free from the dogma’s of religious conservatism!

 

Trump bows his head to be given a golden Saudi necklace.

Green Youth kicked out of Austrian mother party

The Green Youth of Austria has been kicked out of their mother party. Austrian greens are united in what they call: The Greens – The Green Alternative, a party that abandoned many core leftist ideas over the last 25 years. Its youth had been critical of the moderate course, which was not liked by the pro-capitalist party-leaders. One of the propaganda slogans of the Austrian greens has been that they are ”basic democratic and anti-bureaucratic”. With the purge of its youth section, The Greens have proven to the bourgeoisie that they are capable to silence dissident voices, just like any other establishment party!

The expulsion of the youth wing reminds us of the witch hunts inside the communist parties in the late 1920’s. Back then the Stalinist leadership of the Communist International, demanded that all critics of marxism-leninism (stalinism) to be purged. Stalin also wanted all supporters of Leon Trotsky removed, because they were most critical of his bureaucratic counterrevolution. In Britain the Labour Party started a similar witch hunt against revolutionary socialists in the 1980’s, who operated inside the former workers party. The Stalinist communist parties and the right-wing of the Labour Party were successful in removing critical leftists from their ranks.

In Austria, the greens were united in 1993. The current party was founded after two leftist formation joined forces. Current Austrian president Alexander Van der Bellen, was the party leader and also a moderate politician. Under his leadership the party moved away from a activist party into a party of the establishment. In his youth Van der Bellen was a ”arrogant anti-capitalist” as he called himself. As he grew older he changed his views and embraced liberalism.  Today Van der Bellen is a typical capitalist president, who serves the interests of the Austrian ruling class. His party never entered a coalition government, this is why the greens were able to play on some popular leftist issues. Unlike the Social-democratic Party of Austria (SPÖ), The Greens have not yet lost their electorate. Revolutionary socialists however noticed that the pro-capitalist leadership of The Greens, would abandon many leftist ideas just to prove to the media that they can govern under capitalism!

Young Greens were the youth section of The Greens since 2010. Their slogans are ecology, feminism, anti-fascism, egalitarianism, non-violence, self-determination and basic democracy. Many young members were very critical of their mother party, who had embraced the idea that you cannot change the system, let alone the ruling class. The youth leadership was less critical then most members, however the fact that they tried to turn the mother party to the left was not tolerated. The party-leaders wanted a centrist green party that promotes eco-capitalism (which is incompatible). Revolutionary socialists had abandoned the idea that the greens in Austria could return to their original anti-capitalist roots. Like the social democrats, the greens have embraced too many bourgeois ideas. They are not a radical party, but a moderate party with some ecological ideas, ideas that do not challenge capitalist dominance at all!

Now outside their mother party, the Young Greens of Austria need a new direction. Revolutionary socialists of the Socialist Left Party (SLP) call for the formation of a new workers party. The Young Greens could participate in the building of this new party for working class Austrians. All green activists, anti-capitalists and ecological socialists are welcomed to join the debates of the SLP to build this new leftist force. Because Austria is in need of a workers party. The social-democratic party and the greens have proven to the proletariat that they are not on their side. Social democrats have worked with conservatives too many times to be called leftists. The Young Socialists (JUSO) of the SPÖ are also more on the left. But unlike the young greens. the young social democrats never dare to stand against the SPÖ. They may speak the leftist language, yet when it comes to elections the JUSO always sided with the party leaders, who are pro-capitalist. The Young Greens were not afraid to stand against their right-wing dominated green party and because of that they were expelled!

 

No human is illegal. The Young Greens reject the hatred against immigrants.