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Archive for November, 2009

Venezuela’s Chavez Calls for International Organisation of Left Parties

Posted by sorev on 28/11/2009

Originally found on Venezuela Analysis on November 23, 2009.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez called for the formation of a “Fifth International” of left parties and social movements to confront the challenge posed by the global crisis of capitalism.

The president made the announcement during an international conference of more than fifty left organisations from thirty-one countries held in Caracas over November 19-21.

“I assume responsibility before the world. I think it is time to convene the Fifth International, and I dare to make the call, which I think is a necessity. I dare to request that we create my proposal,” Chavez said.

The head of state insisted that the conference of left parties should not be “just one more meeting,” and he invited participating organizations to create a truly new project. “This socialist encounter should be of the genuine left, willing to fight against imperialism and capitalism,” he said.

During his speech, Chavez briefly outlined the experiences of previous “internationals,” including the First International founded in 1864 by Karl Marx; the Second International founded in 1889, which collapsed in 1916 as various left parties and trade unions sided with their respective capitalist classes in the inter-imperialist conflict of the First World War; the Third International founded by Russian revolutionary Vladimir Lenin, which Chavez said “degenerated” under Stalinism and “betrayed” struggles for socialism around the world; and the Fourth International founded by Leon Trotsky in 1938, which suffered numerous splits and no longer exists, although some small groups claim to represent its political continuity.

Chavez said that a new international would have to function “without impositions” and would have to respect diversity.

Allo Presidente

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in San Carlos.

Representatives from a number of major parties in Latin America voiced their support for the proposal, including the Movement Towards Socialism (MAS) of Bolivia, the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) of El Salvador, the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) of Nicaragua, and Alianza Pais of Ecuador.

Smaller parties from Latin America and around the world also indicated their support for the idea, including the Proposal for an Alternative Society (PAS) of Chile, New Nation Alternative (ANN) of Guatemala, and Australia’s Socialist Alliance, among others.

Sandinista leader Miguel D´Escoto said, “Capitalism has brought the human species to the precipice of extinction… we have to take control of our own destiny.”

“There is no time to lose,” D’Escoto added as he conveyed his support for the proposal of forming a fifth international. “We have to overcome the tendency of defeatism. Many times I have noted a tendency of defeatism amongst comrades of the left in relation to the tasks we face,” he continued.

Salvador Sánchez, from the FMLN, said “We are going to be important actors in the Fifth International. We cannot continue waiting – all the forces of the left. The aspiration of the peoples is to walk down a different path. We must not hesitate in forming the Fifth International. The people have pronounced themselves in favour of change and the parties of the left must be there with them.”

Other organisations, including Portugal’s Left Block, Germany’s Die Linke, and France’s Partido Gauche expressed interest in the proposal but said they would consult with their various parties. A representative of the Cuban Communist Party described the proposal as “excellent,” but as yet the party has made no formal statement.

Many communist parties, including those from Greece and Brazil, expressed strong opposition to the proposal. The Venezuelan Communist Party said it was willing to discuss the proposal but expressed strong reservations.

The Alternative Democratic Pole (PDA) from Colombia expressed its willingness to work with other left parties, but said it would “reserve” its decision to participate in an international organisation of left parties.

Valter Pomar, a representative from the Workers Party of Brazil (PT), said its priority is the Sao Paolo Forum – a forum of various Latin American left, socialist, communist, centre-left, labour, social democratic and nationalist parties launched by the PT in 1990.

A resolution was passed at the conference to form a preparatory committee to convoke a global conference of left parties in Caracas in April 2010, to discuss the formation of a new international. The resolution also allowed for other parties that remain undecided to discuss the proposal and incorporate themselves at a later date.

Chavez emphasised the importance of being inclusive and said the April conference had to go far beyond the parties and organisations that participated in last week’s conference. In particular, he said it was an error that there were no revolutionary organisations from the United States present.

The conference of left parties also passed a resolution titled the Caracas Commitment, “to reaffirm our conviction to definitively build and win Socialism of the 21st Century,” in the face of “the generalized crisis of the global capitalist system.”

“One of the epicentres of the global capitalist crisis is the economic sphere. This highlights the limitations of unbridled free markets dominated by monopolies of private property,” the resolution stated.

Also incorporated was a proposed amendment by the Australian delegation which read, “In synthesis, the crisis of capitalism cannot be reduced to a simple financial crisis, it is a structural crisis of capital that combines the economic crisis, with an ecological crisis, a food crisis and an energy crisis, which together represent a mortal threat to humanity and nature. In the face of this crisis, the movements and parties of the left see the defence of nature and the construction of an ecologically sustainable society as a fundamental axis of our struggle for a better world.”

The Caracas Commitment expressed “solidarity with the peoples of the world who have suffered and are suffering from imperialist aggression, especially the more than 50 years of the genocidal blockade against Cuba… the massacre of the Palestinian people, the illegal occupation of part of the territory of the Western Sahara, and the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, which today is expanding into Pakistan.”

The conference of left parties also denounced the decision of the Mexican government to shut down the state-owned electricity company and fire 45,000 workers, as an attempt to “intimidate” the workers and as an “offensive of imperialism,” to advance neoliberal privatisation in Central America.

In the framework of the Caracas Commitment, the left parties present agreed, among other things, to:

  • Organise a global week of mobilisation from December 12-17 in repudiation of the installation of U.S. military bases in Colombia, Panama and around the world.
  • Campaign for an international trial against George Bush for crimes against humanity, as the person principally responsible for the genocide against the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Commemorate 100 years since the proposal by Clara Zetkin to celebrate International Women’s Day on March 8, through forums, mobilizations and other activities in their respective countries.
  • Organise global solidarity with the Bolivarian revolution in the face of permanent imperialist attacks.
  • Organise global solidarity with the people of Honduras who are resisting a U.S.-backed military coup, to campaign for the restoration of the democratically elected president of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya and to organise a global vigil on the day of the elections in Honduras, “with which they aim to legitimise the coup d´etat.”
  • Demand an “immediate and unconditional end to the criminal Yankee blockade” of Cuba and for the “immediate liberation” of the Cuban Five, referring to the five anti-terrorist activists imprisoned in the United States.
  • Accompany the Haitian people in their struggle for the return of President Jean Bertrand Aristide “who was kidnapped and removed from his post as president of Haiti by North American imperialism.”

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The Berlin Wall Bonanza!

Posted by sorev on 12/11/2009

The Red Flag Over the Reichstag

The Red Flag Over the Reichstag

By Evan Bury

We must celebrate! Just yesterday, thousands poured out to celebrate the great blow to communism, the fall of the Berlin Wall. At last, after a long forty years, the people of Germany finally had self-determination and unity.

Think I’m wrong? Just ask the very credible corporate media. They were all chanting praise of the fall of the most brutal oppression ever seen in Europe! The colonization of Germany was over. Clearly we should celebrate.

And let’s not forget that while we celebrate, we must at every turn viciously hack at socialism, for the evil Soviet Empire brutally colonized Germany.

But I must ask, while we celebrate the achievement of autodetermination for the German people, why can we not demand the same for others? In fact, shouldn’t the German people, afflicted by a whopping 40 years of being divided and be standing in solidarity with others afflicted by oppression.

Well, let’s not forget that the oppression of Germans was especially bad. Not only were German capitalists not permitted to make a profit, but during the division of Germany, the people in the East had access to full employment, housing, medicine, education from childcare through university and food.

But of course, the absolute worst part of it all: that the great German people, those of an ancient, Western civilization who had conquered overseas in Africa and the Pacific, were subjected, brutally, to the same denial of freedom usually reserved only for the Africans, First Nations, Arabs, Kurds, Indians, Tamils, Puerto Ricans or East Asians. To think: the great Aryan people reduced to the status of the Irish.

After all, how unbearable could it be: the Irish have been occupied for 800 years! The Québécois for more than 200. The Aboriginals for 500. The Tamils for 500 too. The Puerto Ricans for over 100. The East Asians and some Arabs and Indians have got independence. But let’s remember, that these people are just not civilized enough, so occupation isn’t as hard for them to go through.

That’s why when Palestinians, Tamils or Irish demand the tearing down of walls and the right to self-determination, they are terrorists. When the Québécois, Aboriginals, Puerto Ricans and Kurds demand freedom and their own states, they are ingrates who would be best off assimilated.

So my friends, lets be happy for the Germans, united, independent, in control of their own destiny after a rough 40 years. And I guess the rest of us will just have to wait until we reach the same pinnacle of superhuman progress as the Germans before we can hope for self-determination.

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Some Thoughts on John McCrae and In Flanders Fields

Posted by sorev on 11/11/2009

One of the most famous poems in all of Canada is In Flanders Fields by the late Lt.-Col. John McCrae.  For those who are not aware, In Flanders Fields was inspired by the death of the young Lieutenant Alexis Hannum Helmer.  According to the official account held in Canadian archives, Lt. Helmer and his colleague Lt. Hague were shredded into pieces by a direct hit from a German artillery shell during the second battle of Ypres on the Second of May, 1915.  The remains of the two young men were collected by a close friend of Lt. Helmer, a one Major John McCrae.  When Major McCrae (later Lt.-Col. McCrae) went to retrieve the remains of the young Lieutenants, he could only find parts of their bodies.  What remained of the two young men was brought back to a place of burial in blood soaked blankets.  The next day, he held a funeral service for his former friend and it is understood that shortly thereafter, he took some time to write out a poem on the steps of an ambulance.  That poem eventually became In Flanders Fields.

Here is the last stanza of In Flanders Fields:

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Essentially what this poem is saying is that Canadians need to hang in there and continue to fight the feud between the parasitic aristocrats, money changers, and exploiters in Europe.  Never mind the fact that working people from Canada have no reason to quarrel with German or Austrian working people, the Empire of which we were a constituent part represents all that is good and holy and we must defend it to the point where our friends are shredded into pieces by artillery shells fired by people who are most likely of similar circumstances to the Canadians they were firing upon.

Unfortunately, most Canadians did not seem to share the view that we’re espousing today, and it is of little consequence to us now as the past has already happened.

The good news in all of this is that we do not have to continue to repeat the mistakes of the past.  We can break faith with the mistakes of our ancestors and choose to stop fighting to make the world safe for exploitation by the parasites who own international banking and manufacturing firms.

In closing, we present you with a more appropriate poem for a day of Remembrance.

Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro patria mori

By Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!– An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.–
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,–
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

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Ontario Students Take to the Streets to Protest Poverty

Posted by sorev on 05/11/2009

Stay tuned to Social Revolution for more coverage of today’s events.

Ontario students march to protest poverty

Students slow traffic to a crawl as they march in downtown Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009.

Students slow traffic to a crawl as they march in downtown Toronto, Thursday, Nov. 5, 2009.

TORONTO — Protesting students forced road closures and brought traffic to a crawl as they marched in downtown Toronto during a “Day of Action” held in 13 Ontario cities to demand an end to poverty in the province.

The students gathered at the University of Toronto and wound their way to the Ontario legislature on Thursday afternoon. In Ottawa, students marched to the Human Rights Monument.

The Canadian Federation of Students is calling on Premier Dalton McGuinty to invest more in social services and equity measures.

The federation says record-high student unemployment coupled with record-high tuition fees have placed students in a particularly precarious position.

Students are also calling for Employment Insurance and social assistance reform, a livable minimum wage, good jobs for all and reduced tuition.

Rallies were also scheduled in Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Mississauga, Guelph, London, Sault Ste. Marie, Peterborough, Scarborough, St. Catherines, Kingston and Windsor.

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