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Archive of Communist Workers Group of Aoteaora/New Zealand up to 2006

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Venezuela: Congress of the Nation Workers’ Union (UNT)

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We reproduce here an edited version of the FLT statement on the recent UNT(1) 2nd Congress held in May.(2) What could have been a major step towards working class independence from Chavez ended in a split between several factions, all competing to be the best Chavistas. Most significant, it is clear that the so-called Trotskyist groups in the UNT are not fighting for political independence from Chavez. This confirms our analysis that the ex-Trotskyists in Venezuela are acting as they are in other countries as the left wing of the popular front in Latin America.

Workers struggle sacrificed to the petrodollar bourgeoisie

Between last May 25-27 at the Army Officer’s Club in Caracas, the Venezuelan capital, the second congress of the National Union of Workers (UNT)(3), was held. The UNT is the most important workers union in Venezuela with more than 2000 delegates representing a million or more Venezuelan workers.[i]

The resolutions of the 2nd Congress were of crucial importance for the working class not only of Venezuela, but of all Latin America. It offered the possibility of raising an independent working class program against the bourgeois government of Chavez.(4) Such a program would have been a hard blow against the politics of class collaboration which ‘expropriates’ the anti-imperialist struggle of the Venezuelan masses, strangles the Bolivian and Ecuadorian revolutions, and subordinates workers before the bourgeoisie of the whole continent.

But its resolutions, once more, put the masses at the feet of the exploiters and tied the hands of the Venezuelan and Latin American working class. It was also one more confirmation – if such were needed – of the complete bankruptcy of the fake Trotskyists who are “running a race” to see who can be a better Chavez than Chavez himself. Let’s see what happened in the Congress of the UNT and make some conclusions about the role of the fake Trotskyists organisations in Argentina.

“Ten million votes to re-elect Chavez!”

In the Congress, a minority led by Marcela Maspero, broke from the Congress and left the UNT. This sector, dominated by cadres and leaders of the old Bolivariana Force of the Workers (a failed attempt to build a Chavista central Workers Union), and adherents of Chavismo, refused to allow the election of UNT officers in September, arguing that the main priority was the campaign for “ten million votes for Chavez” to win the presidential election in December.

The leaders of the majority (headed by Orlando Chirinos of the UIT(5) to which both factions of the MST in Argentina belong (6) proposed elections in September, but they put as a condition the first resolution had to be… that the UNT and the workers must guarantee first of any other thing 10 million votes for Chavez. Moreover, these leaders denounce in their press a “provocation” by the minority, who set up the ridiculous argument that most of us, the majority delegates don’t support Chavez”. This they say is “a lie”. (Alternativa Socialista N° 431).(7)

Shamelessly, after urging the workers to vote that their main task is to guarantee the re-election of a bourgeois government, they then urged them to vote that “the UNT is a autonomous union, independent of the government”. What do these fake Trotskyists understand by “an independent” union federation? That “the re-election of president Chavez and the independence of the UNT must be simultaneously supported so as to criticize (Chavez) whenever it is necessary…” (ídem).

Imagine that the left groups were leading the Argentinean CGT (8) in 1973 and had launched a campaign for supporting the Peron-Peron slate. What would every class-conscious worker have said? A betrayal of the proletarian cause!. Exactly! The heroic working class militants of the Cordobazo (9), the Vivorazo (10), Sitrac-Sitram (11), the Villazo (12), would have said exactly what we say about the fake Trotskyists: Servants of the bourgeoisie! Enemies of the proletarian revolution!
 
There is no doubt. Today the fake Trotskyists in Venezuela are the UNT bureaucracy, playing at the same time the role of Stalinism and that of the treacherous union bureaucracies in the other countries of Latin America. Politically they support Chavez, that ally of Kirchner and Repsol.

MAS and PO: working to get ten million “critical” votes… for Chavez

It is impossible to deny that so far, the leaders of the UIT are winning the race to see who is the most “Chavista”. But stepping on their heels are all the other fake Trotskyists, for example the MAS in Argentina and its sister group inside the Venezuelan PRS (the Petare current).

The MAS says it wants to stand “independent worker candidates” but, as the PRS is not legal this “is not possible”. Besides, “most of the workers are politically Chavistas”, and that this cannot be ignored, in so far as “the vote is (something) tactical”. (Socialismo o Barbarie N° 80) (13). For that reason, it ends up calling for a “critical vote”… for Chavez, so that this bourgeois government is re-elected… “critically”.

On the other hand, the PO in Argentina tries to hide it is for “the critical” vote for Chavez. Thus, while it says that voting in the congress of the UNT for “the re-election of Chavez as an strategic policy shows that, despite the differences, the Workers Central Union is under the influence of bourgeois nationalism”, it ends up agreeing with the MAS, in that the vote “is tactical”. Moreover it declares: “it is not a question of our preference for one or another candidate, this is (merely) a tactical issue. It cannot become the main subject matter of a strategic campaign” (Prensa Obrera N° 950, June 15, 2006).(14)

At the end of the day, MAS and PO’s positions could be summarised in a single slogan: “For ten million critical votes… for Chavez”.

PTS: “Spoil your ballot”… sit on the fence, do not face Chavez even in the election

The PTS and its sister group in Venezuela –also a member of the PRS –criticizes those who call for a vote for Chavez as giving in to “bourgeois nationalism”. They prefer to “raise a workers and socialist perspective” by asking people to be very bold, and… spoil their votes.

But the spoiled vote has nothing to do with class politics in the context of bourgeois elections. Moreover, most of the pro-imperialist and pro-coup bourgeois opposition parties and groups will be campaigning for abstention or a blank vote in December elections. The PTS itself already called for a vote for Chavez in the August 2004 referendum; now in order not to appear as openly “Chavista”, it has decided to go for a blank vote. This formula has overall the “virtue” of letting them avoid a confrontation with Chavez. They also reneg on the obligation of telling workers “do not vote for him because he is a bourgeois”.

The politics of class independence in the Venezuelan elections

First we have to expose the deception of “tactical voting” used by the fake Trotskyists. They use this to justify setting up popular fronts or to support “progressive” bourgeois candidates. For revolutionaries, tactics in bourgeois elections are like all tactics, revolutionary tactics. They have to advance the proletarian principles and strategy: in the first place, the elementary principle of class independence. That is to say, it is possible to vote tactically for a workers party or workers candidate, but never for a bourgeois party or candidate.

Second, it is pure deception to call for a ‘tactical vote’ because “there are no conditions” that allow for independent worker candidates in Venezuela, when the UNT exists, a union federation with great authority among the workers! Here was a congress with 2000 worker delegates, one of them could have been chosen as candidate for president. Here is a workers organization which has all the authority to make a campaign for 10 million votes for a UNT worker president and a vice-president from the poor peasants. Such a campaign would have opened the road to a workers and peasants’ government able to break completely with imperialism, solve the land problem and meet the needs of the workers and the exploited people! No doubt that if this resolution had been passed by a show of hands in the congress of workers delegates of the UNT, no legal obstacle could have prevented that campaign for a workers candidacy from going ahead!

An independent working class program

Such a class campaign that raised with clarity a program and an independent workers strategy would had aroused the enormous enthusiasm of the Venezuelan, the Latin America and the United States working class:

· Not even a drop of Venezuelan oil to the US exploiters, slave-traffickers of Latin American immigrants!

· No oil to massacre our Iraqi brothers and sisters, and the workers and exploited from New Orleans!

· For the complete re-nationalization, without compensation and under workers control of oil, and the rest of privatized companies!

· Expropriation without compensation of all the large estates and land for distribution among the poor farmers!

· For decent jobs and living wages for all, with the sliding scale of wages and working hours!

· Minimum wage set at the level of the family shopping basket and indexed according to inflation!

· Down with all the antistrike laws!

· Free quality public Health and Education, on the basis of the expropriation of the private schools and hospitals, the repudiation of the external debt and the application of progressive taxes on the “31 families” (15) and the monopolies!

· A class campaign for a program that calls on the workers and the exploited to vote for a presidential candidate of the UNT, that is, not to vote for Chavez!
Who can doubt that this would galvanize the embattled Bolivian working class that has begun to resist Morales repressive government! It would also inspire the Argentinean working class that refuses to accept the miserable wages and work conditions imposed on them by the union bureaucracy. It would motivate the US working class which today begins to wake up only to be told by the WSF to kneel at the feet of the Democratic Party of Clinton and the Kennedys, so praised by Chavez!

None of the currents of the UNT or of the left in Venezuela want a class program

The ex-Trotskyists that lead the UNT know well that this is possible. But they want to avoid it at all costs. They have demonstrated, and continue to demonstrate, that they are the faithful subjects of Chavez; self-confessed reformists whose role is to prevent any move towards class independence by the workers, and to make the latter subservient to the “progressive” bourgeois and the “patriotic” military.

We are not then dealing with “a tactical” problem, but one of principles: because what these currents say to the working class is that the liberation of the workers will not be the work of the workers themselves, but of bourgeois leaders like Chávez.

The ex-Trotskyists supporting Chavez are the same tendencies that in Brazil called for a vote for the popular front of Lula-Alencar, and who are now supporting the class collaborationist government in Bolivia. They are the “theoreticians” who preach the need to create “worker parties based on the unions”. But then where they lead a union federation as the UNT in Venezuela, they refuse to put up a workers candidate for the presidential elections!

As Trotsky said, whoever gives even the slightest political support to a bourgeois government, renounces its revolutionary overthrow by the masses. That is, they renounce the workers’, socialist revolution. These servants of Chavez have deserted the proletarian revolution.

International Coordination Secretariat of the Leninist Trotskyist Fraction

Notes

(1) Workers National Union

(2) This statement first appeared in the paper of the Argentine group Workers Democracy.

(3) The UNT was born of the rank and file revolt against the pro-coup, pro-imperialist CTV, the old Workers Central of Venezuela, with a notoriously corrupt and bureaucratic leadership affiliated to Accion Democratica, once the most important bourgeois party, and totally subservient to the establishment.

(4) We say that Chavez is a ‘Bonapartist’ leader of a bourgeois state with a bourgeois constitution, balancing between imperialism, the national bourgeoisie and the working masses. Despite Chavez ‘left’ persona, the Venezuela state defends bourgeois property and ‘nationalised’ property remains that of the bourgeois state. Nevertheless we support Chavez in a united front against imperialism, arguing that only a revolutionary workers movement is capable of defeating imperialism and the Venezuelan national bourgeoisie.

(5) The UIT is one of the international fractions that came out of the Morenoist LIT-CI after the Argentinean MST split the MAS. The UIT was until recently the international organization of the MST and its “sister” groups.

(6) The MST now has split in two irreconcilable fractions, the fraction”2” (led by Pedro Soranz) has just taken control of the UIT, expelling the fraction “1”.

(7) Socialist Alternative.

(8) CGT: Central General de Trabajadores, or Workers Central Union federation. In 1973 it was led by the Peronist bureaucracy (and most of the second half of the 20th century). In 1973 the Peronist Party made the then president (also a Peronist, but of a somewhat left-leaning wing) resign, so that there could be new elections, and to allow General Peron to run for his third presidency. His wife Isabelita Peron ran as vice-president.

(9) Cordobazo: On May 29, 1969, and as a part of the worldwide revolutionary wave that was sweeping almost every country in Latin America and most of the world, there was a semi-insurrection in Cordoba, Argentina’s second city, and a main industrial center at the time. Having been preceded by very combative and persistent student revolts in several Universites all over the country, the Cordobazo began as a protest against the elimination of the so-called ‘English Saturday’ (any time over the half day was paid as time-and-a-half – 50% more) and ended with the defeat of the police that had been called to repress the demonstrations and marches that the workers the owners of Cordoba had made for two or three days. The police had to quit the city and the army was called to replace it. It is important to remember that in 1969, there was a military dictatorship in charge of the government. The Cordobazo opened way to a revolutionary period in Argentina and Latin America that came to an end with the bloody dictatorships of Videla and Co. in Argentina, Pinochet in Chile, etc.

(10) The Vivorazo was another semi-insurrection some time after the Cordobazo, that put Rosario (the third largest Argentinean city, also a main industrial center and the second port of the country) in the hands of the workers for a time.

(11) Sitrac and Sitram were two factory unions (initially set-up as “yellow” unions by the bosses and the bourgeois government to divide and defeat the auto-workers who were affiliated to the SMATA, or Autoworkers United Union). But they shot themselves in the foot. The young workers of the two most important factories in Cordoba –FIAT Materfer, that manufactured electric motors and electric train wagons, and FIAT Concord, that manufactured big electric motors for power stations, dams, etc.- in 1970 defeated the “yellow” bureaucracy in each factory, united the two unions, creating the SITRAC-SITRAM Union, and immediately called for a “working-class nationwide congress of the rank and file, with mandated delegates of every workplace in the country” to vote a working-class program to find a breakthrough for the crisis-ridden Argentina. The two congresses that were held under the name of “Classism”, convened hundreds of militant delegates. “Classism” as a phenomenon was very important, because up to that time, and from the late forties, the previous generations of workers had been mainly Peronist. Unfortunately most the ‘classist’ vanguard that it created were recruited to the various guerrilla currents inspired in Cuban ‘guerrillasim’ (including fake-Trotskyist ones). There were other centrist currents too, as well as left-Peronists, Stalinists, etc. All of them did their utmost to frustrate the opportunity for the workers to take the country in their hands.

(12) Villazo, a semi-insurrection in Villa Constitucion, one of the industrial towns that form the industrial belt running from Buenos Aires City (with its Great Buenos Aires Area) up to Rosario City, some 400km of factories, steelworks, oil refineries, ports, etc., along the coast of the rivers Parana and Plate. The Villazo was the last and most important semi-insurrection of the industrial workers taking a city and a series of big factories in their hands, before the military coup that put Videla and Co. in power. It was brutally repressed, in spite of the support and sympathy from the Argentine workers and students, thanks to the union bureaucracy leaving it isolated, and the left vacillating and capitulating to the pressure of the Stalinists, the Peronist bureaucracy, etc. The centrists in those years did not want to be labeled “guerrillas”, so they never raised slogans about self-defense, workers’ armed militia, etc., tending to raise mostly economic (unionist) slogans plus abstract socialist propaganda.

(13) Socialism or Barbarism

(14) Workers Press.

(15) “31 families”. Name for the richest group of Venezuelan families. They were closely intertwined with imperialist interests for centuries. Most of their members do not even live in Venezuela.

 
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Appendix

Unite! Organiser enthusiastic about Chavez and Morales

Auckland Unite organiser Mike Treen recently returned from a visit to Venezuela and Boliva. He spoke in Auckland to a meeting organised by GPJA. Treen was ethusiastic about Chavez. “He is ahead of the workers and is leading the revolution”. The same with Morales in Bolivia. “The revolution will not happen without Morales”. This is the Australian Green Left position.

In reponse to a question from a CWG comrade who stressed the need for the working class to be armed and politically independent of Chavez and Morales, Treen rejected the need for the independence of workers from Chavez and Morales. Despite the splits in the UNT recent congress, Treen said it was good that they all supported the re-election of Chavez.

A Socialist Workers speaker at the meeting spoke of a ‘sort of dual power’ in Venezuela. If this term is being used in the Leninist sense, this can only mean that the SWO thinks that Chavez represents the workers in the state, rather than representing the bourgeois in containing and suppressing the workers revolution.

Whatever their apparent differences, both Treen and the SWO speaker substitute Chavez and his political machine for the working class. This confirms our view that Unite and SWO, who have combined to form the Worker’s Charter in NZ, are following the Australian Green Left closely as a cheerleader for the Boliviarian Revolution and left wing of the popular front in Latin America. (see article above).

From Class Struggle 67 June/July 2006

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Written by raved

January 10, 2012 at 8:43 pm

May 1! Solidarity with US Migrant Workers!

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On this May Day, 2006 we recognise and honour the struggles of oppressed people everywhere. We must take as our own the cause all those of the Iraqi resistance, the Palestinean people, the French youth, the Nepalese masses, the Bolivian workers and peasants, among many others. All of these struggles are fighting the same global capitalist system faced by the US migrant workers who are calling for international action in support of their national stoppage on May 1. In many ways, these struggles will all be represented as one global class, one global fight, on May Day when the US migrant workers are calling for global solidarity against all US Corporations around the world!

Years of subordination to “their” imperialistic state has almost ended any internationalist consciousness in the US working class. For this reason the US workers celebrate their ‘Labour Day’ in September not on May 1st like the rest of the world. Nevertheless, May 1st for the worlds workers marks the commemoration of the “Martyrs of Chicago”, executed because they struggled for the 8 hour day in 1886. They were martyrs to the cause which has since been won by workers in many countries only by more strikes, mobilizations, actions and skirmishes with the police.

Now, the coalition of workers organizations, immigrants and anti-war groups have formed a movement against the reactionary law that seeks to criminalise migrant workers. They have called a “National Strike of Immigrants” for 1st May to prove that migrant workers do not ‘ruin’ the economy, but actually ‘run’ the economy, contributing billions of dollars more than they cost in welfare payments etc.

The undocumented workers have said “enough is enough” to the deaths at the hands of the border police and the “patriotic” para-military gangs that patrol the borders to defend their “American way of life”. Enough deaths in containers and trucks trafficked by dealers in human carcases with the complicity of governors and politicians. Enough of dying of hunger and dehydration in the desert.

They have said “enough!” to the discrimination that locks the undocumented workers out of the hospitals, the schools, and the right to be exploited “normally” like the rest of the workers. Enough of the wage slavery that allows employers to profit from their lack of rights.

The struggle of the migrants has aroused sympathy and support among the whole US working class as they joined with migrant workers in their massive marches and demonstrations in the last weeks. On April 10 another massive demonstration showed that the movement is growing.

The May 1st nationwide strike has adopted the slogans of “no work, no shopping, no school”, in an effort to mobilise many of the immigrants, legal and illegal. The call has also gone out to all those who support them to boycott all US corporations and their products in the whole of Latin America and the world.

This call must be taken up by all the rank and file of all workers organisations base and political parties that claim to be part of the working class to make May 1st a true international workers day! We must renew the demands of the the Million Worker march of December 1, sabotaged by the union officials.

  • Strike for the unconditional legalization of all the illegal immigrants! 
  • Smash all “anti-terrorist” persecution of immigrants! Oppose War, Racism and Poverty! 
  • Decent work for all! Free Public health, education and housing!


“We are America”, “We are those that you made walk to the U.S.A.”

Millions of protesters for weeks during March took to the streets in many US cities with placards carrying the above slogans, against the new law to criminalise migrants that is being debated in both Houses of Congress which is designed to control and to discipline the flow of migrants in the reserve army so it can be turned on the fill the available menial jobs, and turned off when the labour market is full with sacked workers from the closure of scores of plants and thousands of dismissals such as in the auto industry. Its purpose to keep an oversupply of labor necessary to ‘lower labour costs’ and so boost the falling rate of profit of US corporations to the level they can earn in low wage countries such as China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, etc.

Such workers are prevented from demanding decent wages, hours and conditions because they can be fired and replaced immediately without the wages due to them. The US imperialist state is so cynical it has recruited thousands of illegal immigrants in the armed forces to go to Afghanistan and Iraq in return for the promise of citizenship on their return. Recently Bush made a public relations event where he ‘granted’ in a ‘special act of grace’ citizenship to the families of soldiers who had been killed in the ‘war on terror’.

Added to the 12 million illegal migrants, are the “legalized” migrants and their families numbering about 24 million (around 12% of the population of the country), whose status is always subject to revision, thanks to the anti-terrorist laws,and other laws such as anti-strike laws, anti-union laws which can be used to ‘criminalize’ workers. The current law under consideration proposes to make it easier to revoke the ‘legal’ status and to deport workers (as in France). This law would hit “legal” Latino and Caribbean workers who are currently the majority in unionised workplaces, especially in the South, the West Coast and in New York, such as the dockworkers, food packers, processors and freezers of chickens, truck drivers, doormen, transit workers (as in New York), etc.

Many of these ‘legals’ came out on the marches because they could see that the attack on the ‘illegals’ is also an attack on them. Even the ‘middle class’ recognized that the attack on the immigrants was not about ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’ but about class, because “we are workers, one and all”. The strength of the demonstrations forced the mass media to take notice, if only to give most air time to interviews with vigilantes (“the Minutemen”) who “take care of the borders”, beating, maiming, and even killing those who try to come to the US to find a a job that allows them and their families to eat.

The revolutionary struggle of the Latin American masses arrives at the heart of Yankee imperialism!

In Latin America today there are great anti-imperialist struggles that have overthown the governments of the client state of imperialism, notably the revolutions in Ecuador, Argentina and Bolivia. While these revolutions have been diverted and tied up in dog collars by the Popular Front governments in those countries, they have nonetheless opened up a revolutionary road that goes to the heart of the US imperialist state.

It was these struggles, along with the Iraqi resistance, and the attacks on them at home, that forced the US working class to wake up from its American ‘dream’, and embark on a series of steps such as the Million Worker March; to condemn the Patriotic law; the war in Iraq; the war against jobs, health, education and housing at home; and more than anything, to express their anger at the disaster of Hurricane Katrina caused by US capitalism. This growing outrage resulted in the December 1 strike “against the war, poverty and racism”. It was such a threat to the ruling class that it was sabotaged by the Democratic Party. To add to this growing momentum of class struggle, the revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses has spread into the USA through the Latino immigrants who refuse to be treated as criminals as well as slaves.

Today, US migrants are entering the fight alongside the heroic Bolivian workers and farmers who have brought down three governments; the Ecuadorian masses that have overturned four governments; the hard fights of the masses who have many times stood up against the “progressive” governments praised by World Social Forum and Fidel Castro in Argentina, in Chile, in Peru; the mobilizations in Central America against the Free Trade Agreements; the Mexican protests against the killings on the border and the eviction of farmers from their land; and the ground-swell of workers opposition to Chávez’ “Bolivarian Revolution” that threatens to strangle the revolution in Venezuela.

The great uprising of the US migrants has so far survived the attempts by the church, the NGOs, the union bureaucracy and the fake Trotskyists, to divert and contain it. Within weeks it has become a massive challenge to the Government. The determination of the migrants is strong but to defeat the Government the struggle has to become taken up by the whole working class, migrant and non-migrant, ‘legal’ and ‘illegal’. It must become part of the same struggle to end the war against Iraq and US imperialist attacks on the Latin American masses!

But the dangers of diversion and containment are real. So far the leaders of the movement have directed its force against the corporate owners and the Democratic party in an effort to get the Democratic members of congress to vote against the proposed law. In Washington, the marchers surrounded the Capitol and celebrated a ‘victory’ even while the Senate was voting to make them ‘outlaws’! Of course, this is to be expected from the Catholic Church and the NGOs who led the protest.

But much more shameful were the actions of the union officials and parties of the ‘left’ including the fake Trotskyists. None of them demanded that all workers, regardless of their union or lack of union, legal or illegal, daily workers or contract workers, victims of Katrina, those engaged in strike actions, or protesting the war etc., should unite to fight!

But again this does not surprise us. They sabotaged the nationwide strike on December 1 last year; the Transit strike in New York was left isolated –not only by the bureaucrats but by the “revolutionary” groups of the World Social Forum. Many other disputes such as Delta Airlines, Eastern Airlines, the auto workers at Delphi, General Motors, Ford, etc. remain isolated. So it is to be expected that they will leave the struggle of the migrants in the reactionary hands of the Church, and reformists and pacifists of the NGOs.

And of course, not a single voice of these traitors has been raised in Mexico and the rest of Latin America to organize a massive struggle across the whole continent in support to the immigrants in the U.S.A. who are members of the same class! Nor to unite the struggle in Latin America and the Caribbean against the exploitation and plundering of imperialism and the FTAA, CAFTA, the IMF, etc!

How is it possible to fight the war in Iraq without also fighting for the rights of immigrants? A fight to legalize migrants and open the borders for all workers in need, would be a fatal blow to the war on terror, and to the US occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, because for one thing, it would release those immigrants who are forced to go to fight to get their citizenship.

Enough of the treacherous politics of the bureaucrats and reformists, who play the game of the bourgeoisie who threaten a tsunami so that the workers can live with a hurricane!

The result of so far is that this so-called “victory” has not shaken the Republicrat regime or big business. It continues to press ahead with criminalisation of those who employ or aid immigrants, enlists many more agents as migrant police with new detection technology, and continues to build the border wall between Mexico and the U.S.A.

But what is more perverse is that they are quite open in allowing a large proportion of illegals to be legalised to work for 5 years provided they do not leave their jobs and get no complaints from their bosses. Any breaches of these slave labor conditions, such as joining a union, will allow them to be deported. If they are ‘model’ workers for 11 years they can apply for a ‘green card’ and residence.

In other words this is a ‘slave charter’ for migrant workers. This creates a new non-unionised workforce able to scab on the workers in the airlinies, GM, Delphi etc who try to fight against the use of the Bankruptcy laws by their bosses with the complicity of the union officials, to cancel their agreements and force them to retire on reduced pensions or face wage cuts of two-thirds.

Many of these plants are being closed and transferred to Latin America, China and other countries of Asia. But the ‘transplants’ of Asian automakers like Toyota in the US are non-unionised, so US automakers will try to use the migrant reserve army to work in any new plants they build for the same low wages, with no social benefits union rights or labour protection.

The bureaucracy of the AFL-CIO and ‘Change to Win’ (the new supposedly “progressive” bureaucracy) as well as many of the ‘left’ cannot mobilise a united fight against the new migrant laws because they concentrate their attack on the Republicans instead of mobilising a movement independent of both the union bureaucracies and both bourgeois parties. In so doing they play into the hands of the ruling class that fears the emergence of a radical militant labor movement that mobilises its power in the workplace to challenge the class rule of the US imperialist regime.

At the same time, the ruling class is trying to capitalise on the fear of migrant workers in the labor aristocracy and the petty bourgeosie to create a social base for a fascist movement to smash any future radical militant movement in the working class. This is why it is Homeland Security that is attacking illegal aliens as “unpatriotic” (waving Mexican flags!) and potential “terrorists”. That is, they plan to recruit the racist, nationalist divisions that have always been used to isolate and smash the militant sections of the US working class, which when aligned with the growing anti-imperialist and revolutionary struggles of the Latin American masses, would become an unstoppable force.

  • For the legalization of all immigrants! 
  • Open borders for all those that want to work in the U.S.A. and any country of the planet! 
  • The struggle of immigrants in the U.S.A. is the same as immigrants in Argentina, in Europe, in Australia and everywhere, for work, education, housing, health, and all other rights!  
  • Unite the proletariat of North, Central and South America! 
  • Down with the union bureaucracies and the treacherous leaders of all kinds, organised in the World Social Forum, that keeps the proletariat subservient to the national bourgeoisies and imperialism!

There is nothing, apart from the treacherous leaders, that stops the unity of the struggles of North, Central and South American workers. These struggles are against the same class enemy trying to smash almost two centuries of workers struggles to impose new defeats and reduce wages and rights to the same level as the reserve army of cheap labor in Asia.

The oppression and super-exploitation of workers in the oppressed nations gives imperialism more power to defeat its own workers at home. Just as the Latin American struggles have strengthened the re-awakening of layers of the US working class, a strong campaign of US workers against the Republicrat regime, halting the ruling class offensive on its rights and conditions, against the anti-terrorist laws, for open borders, for the democratic organization of the unions, for the defense of the victims of the Katrina, for the defeat of the imperialist army in Iraq and Afghanistan), for the popular uprisings in Latin America, and for the young workers and students in France, etc., would give a huge impulse to the struggles in Latin America.

To make this happen we have to defeat the union bureaucracies – the ‘labor lieutenants’ of the bourgeoisie in the ranks of the working class. We have to defeat all the treacherous leaderships grouped in and around the World Social Forum. They perform a vital service for imperialism by organising a continental-wide Popular Front to contain and defeat these struggles, by dividing, isolating and subordinating the revolutionary energy of the workers, the students, the immigrants, the oppressed sectors, to the Democratic Party, the Greens, Fidel Castro, Chavez etc. separating them sector by sector (employed versus unemployed, casual versus career, young versus adult, “national” versus “foreign”, union from union, workplace from workplace, country by country).

We need a revolutionary leadership in the unions fighting for a workers’ program in defense of the work, housing, education and health. We need an action plan against the attacks of the bourgeoisie, for the proletarian leadership of the anti-imperialist struggles and for open borders. It is vital that North American workers understand that their fate is bound to the exploited masses of Latin America and the world. To make this possible we must build, in North America as in Latin America, an internationalist, Leninist-Trotskyist revolutionary combat party, a section of a new Trotskyist International.

Unite the fight from Alaska to Terra del Fuego!

For an internationalist struggle against the treacherous leaders to give the working class of the continent the leadership that it deserves!

Fraction Leninist-Trotskyist April 2006 Translated from the Spanish

From Class Struggle 66 April/May 2006

The "Bolivarian Revolution" expropriates the workers’ struggle!

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Caracas: Meeting of the 6th Counter-revolutionary World Social Forum

From the 24 to the 29 of January the Sixth annual meeting of the counter-revolutionary international the World Social Forum met in Caracas, Venezuela. The LOI of Argentina, a member of the Leninist Trotskyists Fraction, gives its verdict.

The WSF, along with the “left” of the US Democratic Party, was responsible for betraying the US national ‘day of absence’ against poverty, racism and war called for the 1st of December by a Committee of more than 700 worker and antiwar organisations. This was the first time for years that militant elements in the US working class had coordinated a counter-offensive against the Bush government and the US capitalist class.

It is this same collection of social democrats, Stalinists, “Greens”, Castroites, Maoists, and fake Trotskyists – all associated with the WSF – that have mobilised to contain the awakening US working class in response to the crisis of the Bush administration, such as we saw in the Transit strike in New York, to make sure it remains subordinated to the Democratic party of US imperialism.

At the Sixth WSF were all those dedicated to the suppression of US workers struggles and all the mass struggles in Latin America in the name of the much heralded ‘Bolivarian Revolution’.First up was Chavez declaring “it is necessary to go forward to 21st Century Socialism”, speaking of “socialism or death”, shamelessly singing the ‘Internationale’ to close the meeting, and taking photo opportunities with Cindy Sheehan – the mother of the US soldier killed in Iraq who fights for the return of US troops – while at the same time he continues to sell the US regime the oil it needs to occupy Iraq and kill its people!

Or course Chavez never calls on the oppressed workers of Iraq, or the mothers, wives, or daughters of the thousands of Iraqi resistance fighters killed by the invaders, to organise for the military victory of Iraq and the defeat of Anglo-Yankee imperialism!

Following Chavez were all the supporters of Evo Morales, the new president of Bolivia, just finished appointing to his cabinet millionaire industralists like the ministers of Defense and Public Works, and ex-state employees of the former government of the murderer Goni overthrown in a popular rebellion in 2003, as well as peasants, miners and ex-union leaders.

In other words, the Sixth WSF was a meeting for all those backing the class collaboration of Morales who has already announced that he will respect and defend private property, allow the private exploitation of the Mutún mine (the largest manganese deposit in the world), made deals with the Santa Cruz bourgeoisie (home of most of Bolivia’s oil and mineral wealth), with the Spanish firm Corona, and with the oil monopolies, to contine to plunder Bolivia’s gas wealth.

After the Morales cheerleaders were the supporters of the current Ecuadorian government of Palacios such as the Maoist MDP, the Pachacutik and the CONAIE. They had tried to prevent the removal of his predecessor, Lucio Gutiérrez, who fell at the hands of a revolutionary mass uprising. Today these same forces are once more trying to stop the new uprising of the workers and poor peasants led by students, who have been fighting for two weeks against the the signing of a FTA between the Palacios government and the US.

These same leaders went to the WSF to embrace Chávez, who only months ago openly lent millions of barrels of oil to Palacios, thus sabotaging the strike and a political uprising of the workers and farmers of the Ecuadorian provinces of Sucumbíos and Orellana against Oxy and other imperialist oil companies. With the aid of his friend Chávez, Palacios used the Ecuadorian army to fiercely repress the people and to militarize these two provinces.

They can both count on the support of the Cuban bureaucracy of Castro – as can Morales – which also comes to the rescue of the US client regimes of Lula, Kirchner, Tabaré Vázquez, Bachelet and Co., as it prepares to complete the restoration of capitalism in Cuba.

Not to be left behind, there were four ministers of the Brazilian government, representing Lula and the PT (Workers Party), one of the most servile lackey governments of the US (like Kirchner, who has paid off the billions owed to the IMF in cash) which allows its troops along with those of Argentina and Chile, to occupy Haiti in the service of the imperial master.

The Argentine delegation included the Kirchnerites of the FTV, Barrios de Pie, bureaucrats like Yasky of the CTERA and Gutiérrez of the UOM – today a supporter of Kirchner in parliament. During the WSF a number of workers were attacked and jailed by the police and local politicians in Tartagal and Mosconi (in the North of Argentina), while in Caracas the state servants of Kirchner, the ally of Bush, Repsol and the IMF, met with the union bureaucrats and pro-government officials of the piqueteros (unemployed workers movement), bosses’ politicians like Mario Cafiero, the mst, and Nestor Pitrola of the Workers Party which voted for the popular front government of Evo Morales.

Playing a key role in the WSF are the fake Trotskyists who destroyed the Fourth International and became reformists. Today, all are fervent defenders of Chávez, Morales, the Castro bureaucracy, and the “Bolivarian Revolution”. They have openly broken with the struggle for the workers and socialist revolution, and have adopted the old class collaborationist policy of “revolution by stages” of Stalinism, telling the workers to put their hopes in the “good”, “progressive” bosses, the “anti-imperialist” military, and the “democratic” and “pacifist” imperialists.

So the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’, the ‘star’ of the Sixth World Social Forum, is no more than a cover to disguise the sordid deals the national bourgeoisies make with each other and with the imperialistic monopolies, to decide who gets what share of the profits, according to what resources are available, and how each country is slotted into the global capitalist division of labor. It is also a cover for the politics of the Castro bureaucracy that wants to restore capitalism in Cuba and to re-invent itself as a new bourgeoisie.

Socialist revolution is the triumphant insurrection of the workers and poor peasants that seizes the power, overthrows the bourgeoisie and expropriates the imperialistic monopolies and all the bosses. That is the only way that the anti-imperialist struggle can be carried through to completion, breaking with the imperilialists and their national bourgeois junior partners and making a planned socialist economy possible.

That is why there are only two roads for the working class and the exploited masses of Latin America: either the ‘Bolivarian Revolution’ in which the proletariat submits to the continued exploitation, misery, massacres and imperialistic sacking of our nations; or, the struggle for a victorious workers socialist revolution on the road to the Socialist United States of Central and South America which can plan production where the gas, iron and managnese of Bolivia, the meat and the soyabean of Argentina, the copper of Chile, the minerals of Peru, the oil of Venezuela, the industry of Brazil, etc., are all used to meet the needs of the vast majority of the exploited and oppressed workers and poor peasants.

Today the most important step along the socialist road for all workers and poor peasants of the continent is the fight for the victory of the heroic revolution of the Bolivian workers and peasants which the popular front goverenment of Evo Morales, backed by the counter-revolutionary WSF, is today trying to destroy.

  • Against the WSF, expropriator of the struggles of the masses! 
  • For the Workers’ and poor Peasants’ Revolution! 
  • For a Socialist United States of Central and South America!

Translated and condensed from Supplement to Democracia Obrera 3rd February 2006


From Class Struggle 65 Feb/Mar 2006

French Youth Make Paris Baghdad!

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This article is a freely translated and adapted summary of parts of a longer article by the Internationalist Trotskyist Fraction (Fourth International).
We are grateful for the use of this material for which the responsibility of any errors of translation and interpretation is ours.

——————————————————————————————————-

FRANCE

Anti-Capitalist and Anti-Imperialist Youth Revolt opens new stage of struggle in Europe

For a General strike to defeat to the government of Chirac-Villepin- Sarkozy and to impose the demands of young workers, railworkers and all workers in struggle! Long live the heroic revolt of young workers and their slogan “Every night we make Paris a Baghdad”!

For more than three weeks in October, cars, police stations, schools, and factories burned every night in the working class dormitories, called “Cités” of greater Paris and in more than 300 cities all over France. The spark that set alight the fire was the fatal electrocution of two young people of 17 and 15 years when they hid from pursuing police inside a high-tension transformer in Clichy-sous-Bois (department of Seine-Saint Denis, district 93), Paris. On Friday 28 October, a revolt of young workers began all over district 93. On the Sunday the CRS (police anti-riot) tear-gassed women and children in a mosque, and the Interior Minister Sarkozy went on TV and promised to ‘clean up the rubbish’ and the ‘scum’ (“racaille”, or rascals) of the Cités. This reactionary response of the Government poured gasoline on the fire so that the revolt spread all over France.

This tremendous rebellion of young working people all over France was both anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist. To the shout of “This is like Iraq”, and “Every night we make a Baghdad”, youth took as their own fight the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses against the imperialistic occupation. It was also an anticapitalist revolt of youth for jobs that was inseparable from the resurgence of struggles of French, Belgium and Spanish working classes.

The rebellion was not Islamic. Islamic students did not join their rioting friends even when living in the same neighbourhood. Islamic Mullahs were brought in by the government to calm things down. The result was the burning of the main Mosque in Lyon. Nor is it the rebellion of the ‘marginalised’ or ‘poor’ that can be socially engineered out of existence. Capitalism does not exclude or create poor people, except as a consequence of exploiting and oppressing workers, employed or unemployed. You cannot eliminate poverty without eliminating capitalism; or for starters Sarkosy!

The youth revolt opens a new stage in the fight back of European workers against the boss’s reactionary attacks

It is clear that the rioting youth are one of the most oppressed sections of the French working class – the reserve army of labour made up principally of migrant worker or their descendants. It is no accident that the youth revolt comes at the same time as other major working class struggles are building up in Europe. In France, the transport workers of Marseilles went on strike for 46 days. They have been joined by sailors of the Merchant Marine (SNCM), electricity workers of the EDF , and many other industrial struggles.

On November 21 a national strike of railworkers against privatization and for a wage increase began. This national strike could have become indefinite, but after Chirac promised not to privatise rail the workers voted not to continue the strike on the 24th. In Belgium, also in October the working class made two enormous active general strikes, while in Spain strong struggles are developing in particular that of the workers of SEAT.

All of these struggles threaten to break the tenuous grip that the ruling class has on Europe thanks to the treacherous reformists, Stalinists and fake Trotskyists who so far have rallied workers to the utopia of a ‘social Europe’.

Down with the labour bureaucracies, servants of the European imperialistic bourgeoisies!

Those that give holiday speeches about the “Europe of the workers” and against the “Europe of Capital”, today, when the rebellion of the young workers threatens to join forces with the striking Belgian working class and raises the spectre of a united European workers movement, try to isolate the youth and douse its rebellious spark for fear that it might spread into a prairie fire that can destroy the Europe of Capitalist Imperialism!

But even as they desperately try to hold back independent workers struggles by defending capitalist ‘democracy’ against ‘fascism’, the democratic imperialists, Chirac, Sarkosy, Villepin etc have little faith in the ability of the reformists to hold back the rising tide of labour militancy. A year after calling on workers to vote for Chirac as the ‘democratic’ alternative to ‘fascist’ Le Pen, and months from the ‘victory’ of a ‘No’ vote against the ‘neo-liberal’ Europe, the Socialist Party, Communist Party, Workers Fight (LO) and the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR) etc now see that Chirac and Sarkozy acting like fascist Le Pen. In desperation the SP and CP are using the fake Trotskyists LO and LCR to lend a spurious ‘revolutionary’ credibility to ‘restoring order’ and maintaining ‘social peace’ to keep alive their fading utopia of a ‘social Europe’!

For a continental workers congress, of rank and file mandated delegates

But this fight has only just begun. The street fighting of rebellious youth has been suppressed for now. But it has already revealed ’emperor’ Chirac to be naked. Not only him, but the reformists are naked too. What drove the youth to spontaneously revolt, the terrorism of the French police state, has but one cause – the crisis of French and European imperialism. This cause will not go away and must make the bosses state use more force to suppress and smash the emerging workers struggles.

It is no accident that the state of ermergency came into force on 21 November the same day that the national rail strike began. It has been extended for three months. The French imperialistic bourgeoisie is preparing to use state force to smash the growing anger of the working class which threatens to come together in a single torrent. If the treachery of the reformist leaders manages to isolate the heroic fighters of the working youth of France from the other struggles of workers, and brings about its defeat, the result will be a new slavery and “apartheid” against youth in the reserve army of labour.

The imperialistic bourgeoisies in the US and in Europe are driven to go on the offensive against their own workers. They can use the world wide reserve army to drive down wages and conditions at home.

The restoration of capitalism in China has created a vast pool of cheap labour of many millions of workers. In the former worker states of Eastern Europe, new “assembly plants” have been build to take advantage of the cheap labour. Smashing Afghanistan and occupying Iraq strengthens imperialism’s hold over the middle East and Central Asia where in India and Pakistan there are huge reserves of enslaved manual labor. European Imperialism has within a few kilometers of its coasts a massive labour reserve of hundreds of million workers in black Africa and the Magreb – many from which, risk their skins on the fences of Ceuta and Melilla trying to enter Europe to find work.

But even with this huge world-wide reserve of labour at its disposal, the European imperialist bourgeoisies must go on offensive to take back the most important gains won by their own workers. The crisis of the world economy has revived the rivalry between the US and the EU. To compete with the US, the EU must cut its labour costs also. The revolt of French working youth, to the shout of “Every night we make of Paris a Baghdad”, it is a magnificent answer to these attacks, and joining forces with the railworkers strike, the two Belgian general strikes, the struggles of Spanish and German workers, makes it clear that the united fight of all European workers based on a Transitional Program must be the next step.


* Work for All! A sliding scale of working hours without loss of pay, equal pay for equal work, must be raised against the imperialistic regimes and governments.

* A great united action of workers over the continent, in support of the heroic resistance of the Iraqi masses and for the military defeat of the Anglo-Yankee troops! For the immediate withdrawal of NATO from Afghanistan!

* For the right to national self-determination of the oppressed peoples of Europe – Ireland, the Basque Country, Kosovo, Chechnya! For the right to self-determination of the colonies and semi-colonies of Europe in Africa and the Pacific!

* Smash the labour bureaucracy and its social imperialist parties that led to the betrayal of the former workers states, acting as bourgeois agents of the imperialists to make these countries capitalist semi-colonies!

* For the creation of a new world party of socialism to lead the fight for social revolution in Europe, and the recovery of the former workers states, and a Socialist United States of Europe, from Portugal to the Russian steppes!

From Class Struggle 64 Nov 05/Jan 06

Liaison Committee Formed: For a New World Party of Revolution!

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Liaison Committee formed

We reprint the (slightly edited) official statement of the Liaison Committee that was formed in Brazil, 10-11 July 2004. The Liaison Committee brings together different currents of principled Trotskyists including the CWGNZ, which despite their difference, agree to 5 basic programmatic points as a first step in a process of regroupment that we hope will lead to the formation of a new revolutionary international.

For a New World Party of Revolution!

Act of the pre-conference in Brazil 10 and 11 of July of 2004

Presentations of the attending groups: POM, CCR, FT (TCI), Workers Opposition, Marxist Trench, Revolutionaries in Fight, all of Brazil; POR Argentina; and (TCI) Bind Trotskista de Peru; Loi-ci of Argentina; COPOI (GOI/NOT) of Chile, FTI in Urus in Action in Bolivia, all members of the FTI-CI. (Trotskyist International Fraction – Fourth International).

Reading of messages of adhesion from the CRI of France and CWG of New Zealand. (see ‘Five Points for Revolution’ in Class Struggle #56).

Discussion began on the current world situation (conjuncture) and the 21 points document (see Class Struggle # 51).

From the communications of the different participants the following agreements arose:

(1) Facing the war in Iraq and the imperialistic war of aggression: we fight in the trenches alongside trench all oppressed nations attacked by imperialism, for their military victory and the defeat of imperialism. We fight for the revolutionary proletarian leadership of the national and anti-imperialist wars to transform them into the start of the socialist revolution in the oppressed country and in the aggressive imperialistic nation. Revolutionaries and anti-imperialists in the imperialistic countries are for the defeat of their own imperialism and of the victory of the working class and the nations oppressed by imperialism.

(2) To fight against the treacherous leaders of the working class: of social democracy, stalinism, the labour bureaucracy and workers aristocracy, the great majority of them grouped in World Social Forum.

(3) Against the popular front and the governments of the bourgeois-worker parties in power. Against all policies of class collaboration. To denounce and to face the conter-rrevolutionary role of the government of Lula, and Castrism, and its continental policy of containment which strangles the revolutionary struggles of the masses of Latin America and maintains the governments and client states of imperialism.

(4) Confrontation and struggle against the liquidators and renegades of Trotskyism. Against the pseudo-Trotskyist centrism that is subordinated to the reformist apparatuses, and that, for example in Brazil, is in alliance with ministers of the pro-imperialistic government of Lula as in the case of Socialist Democracy (United Secretariat), or who act like pressure groups on the same government like the PSTU.

(5) For the defense of the principles of proletarian and revolutionary morality: as it is stated in point 19 of the 21 points document: “the social democracy unions, stalinism and labour bureaucracies have eliminated the most elementary principles and working class morality. The liquidating centrists, revisionists and of Fourth International follow them to do the same. The proletariat is thirsty of frankness, honesty, devotion, and the fullest workers democracy. In order to discuss, to solve and to act, the workers and youth must renounce the workers organizations use leaders use the method of trying to dissolve or silence political differences inside the labor movement by means of the lies, distortions and the use of physical violence “.

In the debate, the following points also arose around which programmatic differences were expressed, that is to say:

(a) Method of understanding the current reality and to characterize the world-wide situation and concrete situations of the class struggle (Argentina 2001, Bolivia 2003) and tasks that derive from this method.

(b) In particular, in Iraq, divergences on the slogans ‘Arms for Iraq’ and ‘international workers’ brigades’.

(c) On the situation and the present program for Argentina. Precise divergences around the declaration on the massacre of the miners of Turbio River, as it is expressed in texts already written.

(d) On the tactics of Anti-imperialist United Front, expressed in the materials already written by the TCI, Fti-ci, Marxist Trench, POM, CCR, and on its application in Argentina; on the Proletarian Military Policy; the work inside the FFAA, [Free Trade Agreement of the Americas (in texts written of TCI and Fti-ci)

(e) On the position on the police, expressed in concrete discussions about events in Argentina, Brazil and Peru.

(f) On how the revolutionaries must act inside the unions.

(g) On Brazil, with respect to the characterization of the government of Lula, the divergence was over whether it is a pro-imperialistic bourgeois government in general, or if it expresses the characteristics of a popular front.

(h) A debate opened about what revolutionary program of action is necessary to intervene against governments, the capitalist state and all its institutions.

(i) All the participants agree to fight to construct Leninist parties with democratic centralism. Nevertheless, there is a debate opened about the conception of party and democratic centralism, as well as around the conception of constructing an international.

(j) It is necessary to deepen the debate on characterization of worker states, degeneration of such and capitalist restoration.

(k)There is a need to deepen the debate on the International Moral Court.

On the base of this development it was agreed that the present state of the programmatic differences and of the debate, and the fact that new organizations have only recently become involved in the formation of the committee, did not allow the constitution of a Parity Committee that could proceed to call an International Conference as had been anticipated for December of 2004 in Brazil.

Therefore, it was resolved to constitute a Liaison Committee on the basis of the points in agreements, and the recognised programmatic differences and areas of debate.

The Liaison Committee was charged to organize the debate with the objective to explore the possibility of increasing the programmatic agreements beyond those reached by the original organising groups, because the class struggle requires it, and to strike together with international campaigns, on those points where we have agreement.

Towards this end, the following resolutions were made:

(1) First, to communicate the resolutions of this pre-conference to the comrades of the CWG and the CRI, so that they can become members of the Liaison Committee.

(2) The production of a public Bulletin of common international debate of the member organizations of the Liaison Committee, in which all are committed to present their contributions in writing as briefly as possible.

(3) To invite to GB of France and the GG of Spain to join in this debate and the Liaison Committee, and to reverse their decision not to attend the Pre-Conference in Brazil, in spite of being specially invited, and in spite of being co-writers of the 21 points to convene the International Conference, turning their backs on the comrades who made a big effort to begin the task of building a new revolutionary international.

(4) To call on all groups to join the Liaison Committee and enter the debate if they agree with the 21 points, or agree on the five common points listed above in this document, and agree to the publication of the 21 points in its official materials.

(5) The members of this Liaison Committee are committed to guarantee a democratic discussion. Therefore, no current, group or tendency that is a member of the Committee can expel comrades who raise political differences that adhere to various positions of other groups, currents or tendencies of the same Committee.

(6) The Liaison Committee fixes its next meeting on 8, 9 of January 2005 in Buenos Aires, in order to make a balance sheet of progress over the previous six months of debate, and to explore if there has been a sufficient programmatic agreement to fix a date for an International Conference that, on the basis of a firm program with clear majorities and minorities, can form an International Center to advance the regroupment of principled Trotskyist and revolutionary workers’ organizations.

Approved international campaigns:

(1) For the freeing of comrade Tonhao, and his readdmissión to his work, as well as the other comrades sacked and persecuted by the bosses’ justice iin the fight against capitalist exploitation and the treachery of the labour bureaucracy.

(2) Campaign for the freedom of the political prisoners of Latin America and of the world.

(3) A tribute to the Trotskyist comrades who fell in the revolutionary fight, presented to the pre-conference of Brazil by comrades F and R

(4) International Campaign to call on the Brazilian workers to the fight against the Lula government that sells and sends arms to the imperialistic countries that massacre the Iraqi people, and to demand the removal of the Brazilian, Argentine and Chilean troops, and all the imperialistic troops, from Haiti.

Proposals of international campaigns for consideration, on the text base to present:

Proposal of the Fti-ci: International declaration against the popular front government in Brazil and with the program of action to face it in Brazil and its counter-revolutionary role in the continent.

Proposal of the Fti-ci: International declaration for the boycott to the referendum in Bolivia, and for a Congress of workers and farmers delegates of the COB and the organizations farmers.

Proposal of the Fti-ci: to all the constituent organizations of the Liaison Committee, to adhere and to work for international support of the declaration on the miners of Turbio River as has already been done by the FT and the POM of Brazil, the CWG of New Zealand and the Fti-ci.

Proposal of the Fti-ci: international declaration against the den of thieves of the European Parliament of the imperialistic oppressors, exploiters and murderers of the workers of the semi-colonies, the colonies and the oppressed peoples of the world, its own proletariats, and against all adaptation to the social-limperialist parties, as it is found in the texts of the CWG and the Fti-ci.

At the end of the pre-conference, all the participant organizations testified to the method of working class democracy that characterised the debates, and agreed that despite sharp political and programmatic discussions, nobody used moral accusations or lies or slanders to try to disguise political differences, setting a precedent for future meetings.

Editorial Board designated by Pre-Conference to consist of:

Gustavo Gamboa, Arg. (TCI) Antonio de Oliveira, POM Brazil; Andrade, CCR Brazil; Walter Towers, (delegated) FTI-CI; Otavio Lisbon, FT Brazil (TCI)

Act of the Pre-Conference in Brazil

10 and 11 of July 2004 

From Class Struggle 57 August-September 2004

Is Iran next on Bush’s Hit List?

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From Class Struggle 51 July-August 2003

Iran is now a prime target of Bush’s administration. The Islamic Republic is facing mounting domestic opposition. The US is openly supporting the opposition. But will it become the next item in Bush’s ‘evil axis’ hit list? We examine the historical causes of the current crisis in Iran, and put forward our view on how workers can defeat the US plans for ‘regime change’, and at the same time overcome all the barriers to the formation of a secular, socialist republic in Iran.

In Iran today the situation is very unstable. Since 1999 there has been a gradual build up of opposition to the Islamic Republic headed by Ayatollah Khamenei. In the last weeks tens of thousands of students have taken to the streets in opposition to the privatisation of the universities. In Tehran, Shiraz, Mashhad, Esfahan, and many other cities, they have been joined by workers protesting the shortages of water, electricity, prices rises, unpaid wages and poverty. Both students and workers are calling for the end of the Islamic Republic. The mounting unrest is being used by the US to demand a “regime change” from within. Not only has Bush named Iran as one of the rogue states in the ‘axis of evil’, after the victory in Iraq he has made direct threats of unilateral US intervention to stop the development of nuclear weapons in Iran. Not to be outdone, France is arresting and jailing exiled members of the Mujahadeen, a radical militant Iranian organisation.

Many Iranians after 24 years of Islamic rule do want a ‘regime change’.Some capitalist and petty capitalist elements believe that the US can rescue them from the Islamic Republic and reinstall a Western-aligned democratic regime. But the working masses are strongly opposed to US intervention.Others want the Islamic regime to become more moderate and democratic without reorienting itself to the West. What do we make of these positions?

Whatever is wrong with the Islamic Republic, ultimately imperialism is to blame.So the US cannot be the solution whether it intervenes directly or not. Nor has the crisis of the regime be solved by the politics of religious fanaticism. As we shall see, the very nature of the Islamic Republic as a clerical regime prevents it from reforming itself.We shall show that the unpopularity of the government flows directly from its origins in 1979 as a counter-revolutionary regime that rode to power on the backs of an insurgent working class and poor peasantry, only to turn on the masses and smash its leading organisations. That is why the demand “Down with the Islamic Republic” is becoming the catch cry on the streets with the students and workers. There can be no compromise between the interests of the emerging mass movement and the repressive Islamic regime. 

To understand why this is happening today, and why the opposition in Iran poses a potential threat not only to the regime, but also to the US and the other imperialists, we have to go back to the 20th century history of Iran.

[Much of the material in this article is drawn fromthe Worker-Communist Party of Iran’s webpage: http:///www.wpiran.org/ and “Khomeini’s Capitalism: the imperialists close in”inRevolutionary Communist Papers No 6 Theoretical Journal of the Revolutionary Communist Tendency (Britain) June, 1980.]

British Imperialism’s semi-colony.

[Semi-colonies are oppressed countries whose political independence does not mean that the national bourgeois has any control over the economy which remains dominated by imperialism. They can include neo-colonies like India, but in some cases because they emerged out of existing non-capitalist empires like Turkey and Iran, do not originate as capitalist colonies.]

After the Ottoman Empire collapsed during WW1, British and French imperialism divided up the Middle East and created artificial semi-colonies or client regimes with puppet rulers. Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Syria, Saudi Arabia etc were all born as the stunted children of imperialism who were destined to remain dependent and could never grow up so long as imperialism ruled. (We must not leave out Israel – in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 the British gave the Jewish capitalist class the green light to settle in Palestine.)The children were stunted because they were trapped in an international division of labour dominated by the imperialist powers, a division which made them exporters of cheap raw materials and importers of manufactured goods. Thus the semi-colonial capitalist ruling classes of the Middle East remained dependent on imperialism and could not follow the path of the US or Japan to economic independence.

Client regimes were delegated the task of managing the dependent semi-colonial development of capitalism so that the imperialists got the lion’s share of the oil and other wealth created by the workers in the region.While the local capitalists had an interest in negotiating with imperialism for as big a slice of the profits as they could get, they had to collaborate with imperialism for their class survival. Whatever their differences, both imperialists and the national ruling classes had a common interest in profiting from the super-exploitation of workers and poor peasants.

The difficulty for imperialism was to find semi-colonial regimes that could extract maximum super-profits without being overthrown by the masses. Because the national bourgeoisies were weak, they had to rely on regimes that formed alliances with the petty capitalists and to some extent the working class under the guise of ‘populism’ or ‘patriotic alliances’. Thus when the poor masses resisted their super-exploitation and demanded independence from imperialism, these regimes pretended to be anti-imperialist, and aided by reformist working class parties, made minor concessions to the masses to try to keep them quiet.

When the imperialists applied too much pressure this strategy failed and workers threatened to break through the controls of the reformists and overthrow the state.The regimes then had to appeal to traditional petty capitalists as a class base for radical nationalist regimes that posed as anti-imperialist, but whose interest was ultimately to protect national capital by eliminating the threat posed by the revolutionary masses.Not until the masses organised independently of both the bourgeoisie and the petty capitalists would there be a class alliance strong enough to win the poor masses, including the impoverished petty capitalists, to a class alliance that could liberate these semi-colonies from imperialism’s deathly grip.

Iran’s 20th century history followed this pattern. Under Reza Shah in the 1920’s and 1930’s Iran’s economy was dominated by Britain and the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (ADIOS). [AIOC later became British Petroleum, now selling itself as Beyond Petroleum, and soon to be Beautiful People.]

 
The Shah attempted to negotiate a better share for the weak Iranian bourgeoisie. Because Iran had little private capital, he used the state to develop the domestic economy, imposing import controls and creating public monopolies in sugar, tea, cotton, jute, rice and carpets.He then built large scale manufacturing plants for textiles, food processing, forestry and mineral production. But inefficiencies and low quality made these industries unprofitable.When the Shah failed to get financial support from Britain in the 1930’s to prop up the stagnating economy he turned to an alliance with Hitler. To secure the oil fields and a supply line to the Soviet Union the British and the US invaded Iran in the south, and the USSR in the north. This invasion brought to an end this first phase of Iran’s attempt at insulated economic development. 
 
The war and its aftermath gave a boost to economic protectionism from another quarter. From 1941 to 1951 the wartime economy encouraged the petty bourgeoisie of shopkeepers and small industry to expand to meet the domestic market, particularly the small businesses supplying the occupying military. But there was no large investment by imperialism to allow the economy to take off. This drove sections of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie to adopt a more radical ‘economic nationalism’.[Most semi-colonies experienced this expansion of the domestic economy under wartime conditions because they had to substitute domestic production for imports and got good prices for their exports from countries at war.] 
 
At the same time the working class which had begun to develop under the Shah’s protectionist policy in the 30s continued to expand during and after World War Two and developed a strong anti-imperialist sentiment. [At the turn of the century 90% of the labour force worked in agriculture. By 1945 this hadfallen to 75%, in 1966 it was 47% and 1980 less than 40%. By 1920 there were at least 12 unions with a total membership of over 20,000. Many of these were affiliated to the Red International of Trade Unions. In the mid-1940s the Tide-controlled Central Council of Unified Trades Unions (CCUTU) had more than half a million members who marched under its banner on May Day 1946.]
The rise of Tudeh
Now the national bourgeoisie had once more to steer a course between imperialism and the anti-imperialist sentiment of the masses. It tried to advance its national class interests by riding the anti-imperialist wave but still keeping the exploitative relationship between the bourgeoisie and working class intact. It was helped in this task by the Stalinist organisations that dominated the political leadership of the working class.

Rather than mobilise workers and poor peasants to overthrow the bourgeoisie, the Communist Party took the Stalinist view that Iran had to first develop as an independent capitalist country before it could become socialist. This was a convenient theory that allowed it to ally itself with the national bourgeoisie against imperialism to create a ‘democratic’ Iran as a ‘friend’ of the Soviet Union. But the price of this policy was subordination of the working masses and the nation minorities to the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie and to the inevitable counter-revolution.

[Trotsky condemned such patriotic popular fronts as leading to the destruction of the working masses at the hands of the national bourgeoisie and imperialists. He called for workers united fronts independent of the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie that could take the lead in the fight against imperialism and carry on to overthrow the national bourgeoisie as a ‘permanent revolution’. This was what happened in Russia, and had been prevented in China in 1927 by the Stalinist leadership’s popular front with Chiang Kai Chek (see Class Struggle # 46)]

As we have seen, the working class grew rapidly in Iran along with capitalist industry.It was mainly under the influence of the Stalinist Tudeh party. The Tudeh party was formed in 1941 by the survivors of the Communist Party of Iran. It quickly became the strongest force in the working class. But its policies were always tied to the USSR and to the Iranian bourgeoisie. While the USSR occupied the north of Iran, Tudeh supported the national independence movements of the Azerbaijanis and the Kurds as a means of prolonging Soviet influence and gaining oil concessions. By 1945 both Azerbaijani and Kurdish republics had been formed with the support of the Soviet troops and Iraqi Kurds. But once the interests of the USSR had been served the Tudeh was prepared to sacrifice the national rights of the minorities and the interests of the working class.

The Tudeh joined the government of the bourgeois liberal Prime Minister Qavam in January 1946. He promised oil concessions to the Soviets if they would withdraw their troops. The Soviets did so and the new republics were crushed. [The Azerbaijani republic was invaded in December 1946 and its leaders imprisoned or executed. The Kurdish republic fell soon after and its leader Qadi Muhammed was executed.] Qavam later reneged on his promise. The sell-out of the oppressed nationalities was hailed by the Tudeh as a victory.

Now Qavam could turn the screws on the Tudeh. He formed the Iranian Democratic Party (IDP) representing the landed aristocracy, the bourgeoisie, and a government-sponsored union. Tudeh joined an IDP-led government, providing three cabinet ministers. When the oil workers of Khuzestan staged a general strike in July 1946 and several casualties occurred on both sides, and the British Labour government threatened to invade Aberdan, the Tudeh general secretary Reza Rusta, who was also secretary of the CCUTU, [See note above] went to Abadan and persuaded the workers to call off the general strike without any of their demands being met. The betrayals of the national minorities and workers led to a falling off of Tudeh support at a time when the working class was still on the rise. Even so, its next task was to direct the working class in behind the economic nationalist policies of Mossadegh.

Nationalism serves US imperialism

Between 1949 and 1951 a series of strikes culminating in a general strike hit Iran. The Shah appointed Mossadegh to ‘re-establish social order’. As one Senator at the time observed:
“Class tensions have reached such a point that they threaten the whole fabric of society…The only way to save Iran is to unite all classes against the foreign enemy”. (RCP p 12).
Like the Shah before him, Mossadegh was an economic nationalist, but he went further in his attempts to insulate the Iranian economy. By 1949 he saw the need to harness petty bourgeois and worker support and formed the National Front for a sweeping nationalisation of industry. He calculated that Britain would even tolerate the nationalisation of the IAOC so long as it needed Iranian oil and could make a profit.

Mossadegh wasted no time in nationalising foreign industries including the IAOC. This suited the US which welcomed the loss of its rival’s oil assets.However, the IAOC called Mossadegh’s bluff, boycotted Iranian oil and shifted its operations to Iraq and Kuwait. Iran did not own a single oil tanker and its oil production fell to near zero. This crisis forced Mossadegh to retreat to his core support in the national bourgeoisie and working class against the Shah and the landed aristocracy.He took on more powers and sought to transfer control of the army from the Shah to the Prime Minister – i.e. himself.

This alarmed the US which saw the mobilisation of the poor working masses and the USSR gaining influence in Iran as a threat to its interests. When the Tudeh joined the National Front in 1951 in support of Mossadegh’s nationalisation plans, this was too much for the US. It started to move against him. The petty bourgeois were already opposed to Mossadegh’s radical plans for land reform and modern education. So the US cut off his loans and isolated him further by offering bribes to the petty bourgeois parties in the National Front.

“Most of the middle class and petit bourgeoisie soon realised that mass mobilisations against imperialism would eventually threaten their interests. They opted for a deal with imperialism rather than countenance any radical threat to their class position; Imperialism was quick to oblige. As soon as oil production was restarted massive American loans flowed into Iran. Economic policy once again fell into line with the requirements of imperialism” (RCP p 8). 

 
The CIA and the army replaced Mossadegh in 1953 and the workers organisations controlled by the Tudeh then paid the price of the Stalinist popular front with the national bourgeoisie, becoming the victims of the Shah’s anti-worker policies.[The Shah banned trades unions and imprisoned many militants. New labour laws in 1959 allowed state-run unions but no right to strike combined with paternalist social insurance and profit sharing schemes. The Shah’s secret police SAVAK had spies in workplaces and employed thugs to break strikes.] They had learned the hard way that the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie were more afraid of a insurgent working class and a poor peasantry, than of imperialism. The dominant US imperialism moved to bring the national regime back into line with its economic interests, and under the Shah, the bourgeoisie and petty bourgeoisie also fell into line. Thus ended of the second phase of economic nationalism. 
The Shah as US imperialist puppet

The Shah Pahlavi was installed and ruled Iran for 26 years as one of the many US–friendly dictators in the region. He instituted the ‘white revolution’ designed to eliminate the social barriers of pre-capitalist classes, such as the landlords and the petty bourgeoisie, to modern capital accumulation. His aim was to reorganise the state along efficient lines to allow the free flow of capital. This was not to be another phase of economic nationalism but rather state-assisted capitalist industrialisation dominated by imperialism.The state would invest in new ventures and then privatise them once they were profitable.

State investment in the economy grew rapidly in heavy industry notably the Esfahan steel mill, Arak heavy metals factory, Tabriz tractor plant, Ahwaz Aluminium works and the Khuzestan petrochemicals complex. [RCP page 8] Public spending on health, arms etc jumped from 27% in 1971 to 45% in 1976.ehi The traditional bazaar moneylenders were replaced by a state central bank and state banks in joint ventures with British, Dutch and Japanese banks. This period of rapid growth and expansion was possible only on the back of rising oil revenues to cover Iran’s balance of payments deficits.

The Shah opened up Iran to direct foreign investment and super-exploitation. Rising oil revenues fuelled economic development until the mid-1970’s. Growth rates went from 9% in the 1960s to over 35% in the early 1970s. National capital expanded into the production of consumer goods such as radios, refrigerators and cars for the domestic market. Foreign capital leaped over the import controls and invested heavily in rubber, chemicals, drugs, mining and aluminum.

While the Shah’s agricultural reforms failed to convert the landlords and peasants to capitalist farming, they created millions of displaced peasants.By 1977, Iran, which had been self-sufficient in food production in the 1950s, had to import 16% of its rice, 20% of its wheat and 25% of its meat. By the mid 1970s the increasing dependency on oil revenues left Iraq’s economy heavily indebted to foreign investors and unable to meet its debt repayments. Iran’s inability to escape the trap of imperialist super-exploitation by state-aided foreign investment in industry and agriculture was now obvious in its ballooning debt crisis.

The classes that bore the brunt of this crisis were the workers and poor peasants. The Iranian working class grew from 2.7 million in 1956 to 4.7 million in 1976, and the greatest increase was in the public sector. The failed agricultural reforms forced peasants off the land into the shantytowns around the cities. At the same time a shortage of skilled workers saw tens of thousands of foreign workers employed. Low productivity led employers to force workers to increase their output. In the 1970s opposition began to mount against the rising exploitation of the workers and peasants. More and more illegal strikes and go-slows occurred despite the harsh repression. The regime made concessions to skilled workers such as pay increases and profit sharing, but failed to stem the rising militancy of the working class. By 1978 the Shah was prepared to met this militancy with state force which in turn only produced more strikes culminating in mass demonstrations and the oil workers’ strike of October 1978.Here was a massive working class and poor peasantry, led by a section of militant state workers, ripe for social revolution. 

 
Meanwhile, what had happened to the petty bourgeoisie, that backward class which the Shah tried to eliminate as a social barrier to modern capitalism? As we have seen, the ‘white revolution’ failed to modernise agriculture. The landlords retained their dominance in the countryside. The bazaar which brought together small traders, craftsmen and businessmen, survived and grew, but increasingly came under threat from the Shah’s modernising policies.The petty bourgeoisie suffered at the hands of the foreign banks and resented the Shah’s plans to replace the bazaars with supermarkets.The Islamic mullahs as a traditional petty bourgeoisie were aligned to the bazaars. So the Shah’s attacks on the bazaars challenged the whole social system of which the mosque was the centre. As the economic crisis further undermined the economic existence of the bazaar, from the early 1960s opposition to the Shah rallied behind the Ayatollah Khomeini. 
 
So along with the emerging working class and poor peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie had became a force for change. However, rather than follow the course charted by the workers’ interests, the anti-Shah movement was taken over by a petty bourgeois radical Islam with its popular appeal to class unity against the repressive regime.How was it that the modern, expanding, and militantly led working class allowed itself to be dragged backwards into the reactionary Islamic Republic?
 
The left and the ‘revolution’
 
The ‘Islamic revolution’ has long been a highly contentious event for the revolutionary left. The basic sequence of events is clear enough. The Shah was overthrown by a bloc of the national bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie, workers, landlords and poor peasants in which the masses provided the troops, and the Islamic leadership, the officers.The bourgeoisie wanted to take back more control over the economy from imperialism but was too weak to do this alone. The petty bourgeoisie and the landlords were desperate to prevent the Shah’s reforms from wiping them out. They rallied to the Islamic opposition. The workers and poor peasants mobilised in their millions to get rid of the repressive regime. They lent their support to what they believed to be a genuine national revolution. 
 

The first phase of the revolution between 1979-81 was dominated by the workers movement which easily outweighed the petty bourgeois and bourgeois forces. The mass power of the insurgent workers owed nothing to the Tudeh which backed the Shah until September 1978! 

Khomeini had to make concessions and posture as an anti-imperialist to keep the masses’ support. But the revolution while it had the potential to be progressive and lead to socialism, rapidly turned into a counter-revolution.Why? Its ‘anti-imperialism’ was more apparent that real.Its real purpose was to subordinate the revolutionary masses to both the Iranian bourgeoisie and the imperialists. But to do this it had to keep the only revolutionary classes, the workers and poor peasants, on side. This required the collaboration of the political parties that represented those classes.To achieve this the regime had to convince the mass membership of these parties that it was genuinely ‘anti-imperialist’ and ready to break with imperialism and establish an independent, democratic, Iran.

 

The main parties of the left subscribed to the Stalinist or Menshevik position that the Shah’s pro-Imperialist dictatorship had to be overthrown and an independent bourgeois democratic nation created before the conditions for socialism could be built. As we have seen, this stagist view of history served the interests of the national bourgeoisie, but also imperialism, because no semi-colonial nation can become independent of imperialism unless it is lead by a workers and poor peasant’s revolution. 

[Tudeh’s collaboration with the Islamic regime was a total capitulation.It called Khomeini and co ‘progressive clergy… struggling for freedom and democracy’. Even after Khomeini turned on the workers, closing down party offices and banning left newspapers,the Tudeh was silent. It backed the reactionary Islamic constitution of December 1979. So slavish was its backing of the clergy that the Tudeh general secretary was contemptuously referred to as ‘Ayatollah Kianouri’.]
 

The main parties of the left – the Tudeh, the Mujaheddin and Fedayeen all supported the Islamic leadership of the revolution. [The two guerillaist groups the Mujahedin (Muslim Marxists) and Fedayeen (Castroists) believed that guerilla action could ‘detonate mass action’, but that action was still limited to a bourgeois democratic stage with an ‘anti-imperialist united front’ of all classes.]
 
They collaborated with the Islamic Revolution in the belief that it was more progressive than the Shah’s regime. But this was never the case.Khomeini’s forces were based on the Mosque and the Bazaar, the two main institutions that represented the surviving pre-capitalist social relations in Iran and whose adaptation to Iranian capitalism was to foster petty capitalism or a protectionist national state-capitalism.Inevitably, because of its weak position, the bourgeoisie had to rely upon the petty bourgeoisie Islamists to renegotiate a deal with imperialism. Initially this relationship was indirect and mediated by a ‘Bonapartist’ Islamic regime between 1979 and 1981. 
 
Bonapartism is a form of bourgeois state named after the French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte where power is held temporarily by a strong leader or powerful clique standing ‘above classes’ ruling indirectly on behalf of the bourgeoisie when the bourgeoisie is weak and under challenge from below. [Trotsky wrote: “In the industrially backward countries foreign capital plays a decisive role. Hence the relative weakness of the national bourgeoisie in relation to the national proletariat. This creates special conditions of state power. The government veers between foreign and domestic capital, between the weak national bourgeoisie and the relatively powerful proletariat. This gives the government a Bonapartist character. It raises itself so to speak, above classes’. Actually it can govern either by making itself the instrument of foreign capitalism and holding the p proletariat in the chains of a police dictatorship, or by manoeuvring with the proletariat and even going so far as to make concessions to it, thus gaining the possibility of a certain freedom toward the foreign capitalists”. (Writings, 1938-39, Pathfinder, p. 326)] 
 
The Bonapartist state cannot encourage the masses too much without itself being overthrown. Nor can it balance between the two main classes indefinitely so it must crack down on the masses sooner or later. From 1980 the interests of the petty bourgeois class base of the regime forced it to rapidly align itself with national capitalism and re-negotiate its relation with imperialism. [Khomeini deliberately used a populist mixture of radical Islam, Persian nationalism and the glorification of petty commodity production to activate the petty bourgeoisie as the social base of his regime. The mass base of the regime was the Committees for the Islamic Revolution, led by local merchants and mullahs which formed the Pasdaran (Revolutionary Guards) that have played such a reactionary role in attacking workers and women opponents of the regime.] The outcome was the consolidation of an extremist clerical capitalism in which the Islamic leadership became the dominant fraction of the national bourgeoisie. 
 
Khomeini’s Capitalism
 
As we have seen the Shah was overthrown by a workers’ revolution that had the potential to go on and become a permanent revolution for socialism. Instead it became a reactionary capitalist counter-revolution. At first Khomeini maneuvered towards the workers, the oppressed nationalities and women because he was too weak to smash them. Once he had contained them and consolidated his power he was able to establish a police state to secure bourgeois rule. Khomeini’s anti-imperialist rhetoric and his seizure of the US Embassy were ploys to deceive the workers and disarm them while he rallied the petty bourgeois forces for the counter-revolution. 
 
The US was prepared to pay the price of an Islamic Regime because it forestalled a socialist revolution in Iran. Like the Iranian bourgeoisie, the first consideration of the imperialists was to back a regime that could restore order. Besides it was impossible for the bourgeois government of a semi-colony to break all ties with imperialism. The most it could do was re-open negotiations with imperialism.It sought new contracts with the EEC and Japan to lessen its dependence on the US. Yet the US contracts that were cancelled received full compensation out of oil revenue. The only real worry for the imperialists was the Islamic regime’s ability to contain the workers’ revolution from below. A German businessman expressed this concern:
 
“Iranian workers seized six employees of a foreign company, locked them in an office and then demanded to see the company’s books. They showed that the company was bankrupt, but they also showed that the European parent company had a bank account in Switzerland. The workers refused to release their European hostages until the parent company dispatched funds to settle all wage claims at the plant.” (RCP, p 23)
As insurance against a workers’ revolution succeeding the US tried to win support in the Iranian army.This failed when Khomeini purged the army in 1984. The US also backed Iraq in an 8-year war with Iran that wasted the lives of millions of workers and peasants and allowed Khomeini to consolidate the counter-revolution. 
 
Rejecting the ‘white revolution’ of the Shah, the regime embarked on a road to economic nationalisation similar to that taken by Mossedegh in the early 1950s. But it was far too late for economic nationalism as a solution to Iran’s dependence. Under the Shah the Iranian economy had been integrated into the world economy. Cutting off important trade, finance and technical links to imperialism meant that the economy was doomed to stagnate. As a result the Islamic state managers became the most powerful section of the national bourgeoisie overseeing this decline. Stagnating state-owned industries became increasingly the property of ‘millionaire mullahs’ whose cronies benefited while the masses suffered increasing economic hardship. Mounting opposition was met by open repression. 
 
Over the 24 years of its existence the reactionary class character of the Islamic Republic has become clearer. The mounting reform movements and the militant student and workers’ oppositions of recent years show that once again a mass mobilisation against a repressive regime is building. This has given the US under its current neo-conservative leadership the opportunity to strike a pose as liberators once more in the never-ending war against the evil axis of terror. This time it is Iran’s nuclear arms program that is the pretext for targeting a ‘rogue’ state. But in reality, after 24 years, the Islamic regime has become expendable. Today US imperialism is embarking on military smash and grab raids to try to patch up its crisis-ridden economy. Iran’s oil reserve is nearly as big as Iraq’s, and US imperialism is desperate to make sure that its imperialist rivals, the EU and Japan, do not get access to this reserve of black gold.
The lesson of permanent revolution


What are the lessons for today? A potentially strong working class has existed in Iran since the onset of capitalist development after World War 1. It became a class capable of revolution by 1979 as we have seen. But in 1953 and 1979 workers were betrayed by the Stalinists (and the other left tendencies) who made deals with the national bourgeoisie and the petty bourgeois Islamists that led to the defeat and destruction of the most advanced layers of the workers’ movement.

Today these Stalinist and guerillaist parties will again collaborate with the bosses and the clerics and play their deadly treacherous role. They must be politically destroyed by healthy revolutionary forces. The masses are impatient with the Islamist dictatorship and are calling for democracy and human rights.Revolutionaries must back this struggle for the basic democratic rights necessary for any social progress. But we have to say that only a socialist revolution can win and defend such democratic rights.

That’s why these basic demands should be accompanied by a complete transitional program of demands that mobilises workers and poor peasants against not only the threat of US imperialist intervention, but the backward national bourgeoisie, the petty bourgeoisie and their reactionary Islamic leadership – for freedom of expression, freedom from the veil, release of political prisoners, the rights of the nationalities to self-determination, and the right of Iran to be armed with nuclear weapons to defend itself from imperialism.These demands must be accompanied by those calling on workers to organise and to occupy the factories and form workers’ councils and militias capable of taking power and creating a Workers and poor Peasants’ Socialist Republic as part of a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East. 

 

To take this program to the workers and poor peasants in Iran the urgent need is for and armed independent working class movement led by a Leninist/Trotskyist party as part of a revolutionary International.

For a Leninist-Trotskyist party in Iran!

For a Workers’ and Peasants’ state!

For a Federation of Socialist Republics of the Middle East!

 

WHO ON THE LEFT PASSED THE IRAQ TEST?

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From Class Struggle 50, May-June 2003
War concentrates politics even as politics concentrates economics. The US/UK attack on Iraq has brought to the surface all the contradictions and deep antagonisms of capitalism today. Who saw the war as the outcome of imperialism in crisis forced to recolonise Iraq to get its oil? Who on the left understood this and took the next step to defend Iraq against imperialism? Those who did are the core of a new revolutionary international. Those who didn’t must be condemned as betrayers of the socialist revolution.

We can dispense with the reformist left who looked to the UN to deal with Iraq. These forces already conceded that the UN had the authority to impose sanctions on Iraq.They wanted a UN backed invasion. In other words they rejected the fundamental revolutionary position that Iraq is an oppressed country and must be unconditionally defended against imperialism. The UN is a ‘den of thieves kitchen’ and represents the deals that the imperialists make to advance their interests.

But the thieves fell out when the US/UK invaded Iraq unilaterally instead of backing the French and German imperialists plan of using the UN to disarm Iraq. So the reformist left championed the ‘peaceful’ imperialists against the US and UK. Thus the reformist left sides with one set of imperialist powers, with just as bad a history of colonial oppression, against another. In the event that the rivalry between these powers turns to open war, these reformist leaders would send their workers to war on the side of their imperialist bosses just as they did in 1914.

There was another more leftwing tendency however, which did not look to the ‘peaceful’ imperialists to deal with Iraq. This is the pacifist left who rejected the UN sanctions on Iraq as much as they rejected a UN backed invasion. They saw that the so-called ‘peaceful’ imperialists opposed the US and UK invasion because that would mean risking their own oil concessions in Iraq. This tendency therefore did not back the UN solution, but instead put their hopes in building a mass movement that would “stop the war”. They even attempted to mobilise workers in unions to take industrial action to prevent the ‘coalition’ military forces from being deployed in Iraq.

They saw that this was a war by the US and UK for oil. It was an attack by a rich and powerful country against a weak and largely defenceless country. Under the pressure of the war on Iraq, when millions marched against the war, and when thousands of Iraqis fought against the invasion, there was a move of some on the left, such as the CPGB, towards a ‘defence of Iraq’ position. But in practice the defence of Iraq was translated into ‘stopping the war’ at home. They said the best way to defend Iraq was to stop the invasion by a combination of sit-ins, marches and strikes. This fell far short of the necessary ‘defence of Iraq’ position of revolutionary Marxists. Why?

To turn the ‘defence of Iraq’ into ‘stopping the war’ at home fails to take the class logic of imperialist war to its necessary conclusion.The defence of Iraq means the ‘defeat’ of the imperialist oppressor not only at home, but also in Iraq. It means a ‘Victory’ to Iraq as an oppressed country.The responsibility of revolutionaries in the imperialist countries is to put their class before their country. They have to mobilise to smash the enemy at home, but they also have to try to smash the enemy wherever it goes to war against an oppressed country. Their duty does not stop at national borders. Class internationalism means that workers have no country.

The crucial test for revolutionaries in this war was to go beyond fighting the ‘enemy at home’ and to join with the oppressed in the trenches of Iraq. This meant entering a military bloc with the national leadership of Iraq, the Ba’athists, for the defence of Iraq. This meant worker volunteers siding with Iraq and being prepared to kill workers in uniform from the same oppressor country as themselves. And it meant doing so with a program that called for the workers to form an independent, armed force that would fight to take the lead in the defence of Iraq away from the Ba’athists and the Clerics.

Almost all the revolutionary left failed this test.Its ‘defensist’ position remained one that did not commit Western workers to class internationalism. The IST (SWO in NZ) took the opportunist position that Iraq should be defended by…its own people, which practically means under its existing leaderships. But should, or could, its ‘people’ defend it under such leadership? While the masses overwhelmingly wanted to defend Iraq, they did not have the means to do so.They were subordinated to a national reactionary leadership who disarmed them for fear that they would rise up against the oppressive regime.

That’s why revolutionaries do not sow illusions in clerical or bourgeois leaders being reliable anti-imperialist fighters. Their class interests are to compromise with imperialism not defeat it. Therefore, to call for the ‘people’ of Iraq to defend their country without putting forward any means of freeing the masses from their treacherous leaders, is not to defend Iraq at all.

Others, like Workers Action, took a defensist line that refused a military block with Saddam. They said that there was no “mass progressive nationalist movement” to support against Saddam. This made a united front to defend Iraq impossible. In other words revolutionaries should abstain from the struggle inside Iraq until Saddam was removed and some progressive nationalist movement came into being. How do these ‘revolutionaries’ think this was going to happen?

This is an ultra-left position similar to the Iraqi Workers’ Communist Party that was for the simultaneous defeat of Saddam and the US/UK forces. In effect this meant sitting out the war away from the fighting and waiting until history was ready for them to intervene.This ultraleft position is in reality no different from the opportunist one, imperio-centric, because ‘history’ by default is the victory of ‘democratic’ imperialism, overthrowing the Ba’athist regime and creating the conditions for the bourgeois democratic revolution.

What stopped these ‘revolutionaries’ from making a military bloc with the Ba’athists?The fact is that they are embedded in the racist, chauvinist,labour aristocracy or petty bourgeois layers of the labour movement.They will not side with the oppressed if this means that workers at home see them as unpatriotic or traitors. This means that their ‘internationalism’ is merely a mask for their ‘nationalism’.

In the case of the opportunists, their ‘internationalist’ tasks are defined to mean that they, the imperio-centric working classes alone, can defeat imperialism. Workers Action for example got completely carried away by the anti-war movement. “…we have seen the creation of a phenomenal political power across the globe that can start to challenge US imperialism. The anti-war demonstrations on February 15 have had an enormous impact throughout the world, and have opened up a new era in politics”.(Workers Action, 21, 2003 page 2). Shame this ‘new era’ in politics did not stop the war.

‘Talking up’ the anti-war mobilisation as a ‘serious challenge’ to US imperialism means ‘talking down’ workers going to other countries to kill workers in uniform from their own country and challenging colonial oppression as the material basis of the racism and chauvinism in the labour movement at home. If you cannot even confront racism and chauvinism in the imperialist working classes, how can you defeat imperialism?

The reverse side of this imperialist chauvinism is that it then becomes the national task of workers and peasants in the oppressed countries to resist imperialism. Why? Because that is their right to self-determination.

How, say the opportunists, can these peoples determine their own future if workers from other countries who are regarded as oppressors assert their duty to fight alongside them? Well, it doesn’t occur to these ‘internationalists’ that this is the surest way for workers from imperialist countries to prove that they are not oppressors but genuine internationalists.

In the case of the ultralefts, this is the flip side of the opportunist coin.Refusing to enter a military bloc with Saddam Hussein because he is a dictator is also a capitulation to the same imperialist racism and chauvinism at home that leaves the defence of Iraq to its own people. The fact that many in the IWCP are exiles in the ‘West’ and embedded in the same labour aristocracy as the Western left, underlines their ultraleft position. And it also explains why they then flipped to an opportunist line after the war calling for the UN to create a security force to allow Iraq to make the transition to democracy.For these pseudo communists, democratic imperialism is superior to an Iraqi dictatorship.

This is why in practice these ultra-lefts were prepared to leave the defence of Iraq to the Ba’athists and the clerical leaderships who would capitulate as soon as their class interests were threatened. This is exactly why these leaderships made the compromises they have made with the occupiers in the hope of doing deals with the US/UK to become the new rulers. This shows that, like the opportunists, the ultra-lefts are not serious about workers defending Iraq. They are prepared to leave the self-determination of Iraq to dirty deals between the Iraqi bourgeoisie, the Clerics and the imperialists.

The revolutionary way to fight the imperialist invaders was to mobilise the workers and peasants who were oppressed by the Ba’athists and Clerics to prove that only workers and poor peasants militias could defend Iraq. This meant calling on the Ba’athist and Clerical leaderships to arm the workers and peasants. When it became clear that the leaderships would not do this and instead would look after their own skins, workers could then decide how best to defend Iraq. But these questions of strategy and tactics could not even arise when the ultra-lefts did not offer any leadership to the masses under the oppressive control of the Ba’athists or Clerics.

Even those few groups that formally came out in ‘defence of Iraq’ such as Workers Power, and the International Bolshevik Tendency, did so in an abstract way.Workers Power quoted Trotsky on the “ duty of the international proletariat to aid the oppressed countries and their war against oppressors” but did not specify how that aid should be given.

(“The Left that Fails to Back Iraq” (http://www.workerspower.com/wpglobal/antiwarLeftfails.html)Not even a mention of arms to Iraq, and certainly no call for a military bloc with the Ba’athists.

The IBT, who condemn the Spartacists for ‘flinching’ in the face of charges of ‘treason’ at home, also took a defensist position. But nowhere in their statements on the war is there a call for a military bloc with Saddam, let alone a program for revolutionaries to take the leadership of the anti-imperialist struggle in Iraq (www.bolshevik.org).

We come to the conclusion that to our knowledge no Trotskyist groups other than the Group of 5 who signed the statement on Iraq lived up to their historic and revolutionary responsibility to fight for the defence of Iraq. (http://geocities.com/communistworker/iraq.html)

Who else called for the formation of a military bloc with the Ba’athists, with a program for workers to lead the defence of Iraq and for the formation of a Workers’ and Peasants’ state of Iraq in a Socialist Federation of the Middle East?If they exist and have put forward this position clearly, we want to contact them because they are principled communists.

Those who failed this test must be condemned as imperio-centric misleaders and betrayers of socialism. They are the rotten Stalinist and Trotskyist tendencies with opportunist/ultra-left positions that are a programmatic reflection of their integration into the racist, chauvinist labour aristocracy and petty bourgeoisie in the imperialist countries.

The healthy forces that blocked militarily with Iraq in its defence against imperialism with a program for permanent revolution have shown that they have the method and program to form the core of a new antiwar and anti-imperialist movement and open the way to the formation of a new revolutionary international.

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