Saturday’s socialist speak out
You may not have read about it in the ‘free’ press but in India there was a 2 day general strike on Wednesday and Thursday involving millions of workers. As IndustriALL put it:
Workers from all the major and strategic sectors participated, such as banks, insurance and other financial sectors, oil & petroleum, road transport (both public and private sectors) in many states, defence (civilian), postal, telecom, govt. employees in several states, several departments of Central govt., port & dock, coal & non-coal mines, power and plantation sectors. There was also a large presence of unorganized workers in the protest demonstrations.
The strike was against the Indian Government’s ongoing and deepening ‘free’ market ‘reforms’ in response to the slow down in the Indian economy. The 11 union confederations correctly identify these neoliberal changes as attacks on workers’ living standards.
You may not have read about it in the ‘free’ press but in Greece there was a general strike involving millions against further wage cuts, pension cuts, cost of living increases, job losses, massive attacks on public services and in defence of union bargaining rights which the government wants to remove. Reports say that 50,000 workers demonstrated in Athens alone.
You may not have read about it in the ‘free’ press but in Bulgaria the right wing Government fell after days of street protests against electricity price increases and falling living standards.
You may not have read about it in the ‘free’ press but a Republican Senator has revealed that the US drone war program has killed 4700 people, including innocent children. Here’s what Al-Jazeera says:
“We’ve killed 4,700,” [Republican Senator] Graham was quoted as saying by the Easley Patch, a local website covering the small town of Easley. “Sometimes you hit innocent people, and I hate that, but we’re at war, and we’ve taken out some very senior members of al-Qaeda,” he told the local Rotary Club.
In Australia hundreds turned out to peacefully protest against extreme right winger and racist Geert Wilders. Wilders managed to hold rescheduled meetings far from the city centres of Melbourne and Sydney. His Perth hate-a-thon was cancelled.
You may not have read about it in the ‘free’ press but respected Dutch academic Rob Riemen in The Eternal Return of Fascism describes Wilders and his Party For Freedom as “the prototypes of contemporary fascism.”
In Prototypical Fascism in Contemporary Dutch Politics Henk Bovekerk concludes that Wilders and his party are not only proto-fascists but fascists.
On the other hand in ‘Geert Wilders and the rise of the new radical right‘ Maina van der Zwan says:
Wilders stands apart as an extreme racist, an aggressive neoconservative, and according to several commentators and activists, a modern fascist. This last argument is mostly made by comparing the current situation to the 1930s, Islamophobia to anti-Semitism and thus Wilders to Hitler. There is obviously ground for the comparison. The PVV systematically dehumanises Muslims and minorities, rejects universal values, displays a deep-seated hatred towards anything that resembles the left, and its elected officials have a high level of acceptance for violence (with a quarter of its parliamentarians convicted of criminal activities).
However, because he doesn’t have troops on the ground – either a party with a mass membership or even branches or an outer circle of thugs – van der Zwan cautions against labeling him and his party fascist. It may become fascist and indeed that may be the trajectory it is heading in but is not yet there. van der Zwan argues:
It would therefore for the moment be most accurate to characterise the PVV as a populist party of the new radical right. The strategic consequence of this is that combating the PVV does not centre on physical confrontation to stop the movement on the streets. But like fighting fascism it does require a broad movement that can counter the racist ideology and unmask Wilders as an enemy of working people, of whatever colour or creed. This is a very urgent task for the left. Furthermore, combating the PVV calls for clarity in ideas, for an understanding of its historical roots, how its ideology functions and what the role of the mainstream parties has been in facilitating its rise.
And how does one fight against Wilders and his PVV party?
Fighting the rise of the PVV requires pulling together all forces from the Muslim communities, the left, trade unions and social movements to fight his racist ideas and policies through campaigns, demonstrations and meetings. This also calls for challenging ideological misconceptions that are still widespread on the left, such as the idea that Islamophobia is fundamentally different from traditional racism because it is a “critique of religion”. Furthermore, it is of the utmost importance to build opposition to the austerity politics that Wilders supports. Such strong opposition can undermine Wilders’s base among sections of the working class that believe he defends their interests, and at the same time lay the basis for creating solidarity among Muslims and non-Muslims by bringing them together for a common cause. Finally, because the growth of the PVV is partly based on the failure of the mainstream left, countering it requires building a new radical left that does not leave attacking the political establishment to Wilders.
Exactly. That’s why the radical left protested against the racist Wilders in Melbourne and Sydney but did not, unlike its treatment of say the fascist English Defence League in Britain, and with echoes of the great Cable St successful battle against the fascists marching through East London in 1936, try to shut him down. If their turn to fascism becomes clearer that would be the next step. There can be no free speech for fascists.
But it means we have to do all we can, with our limited resources and small size, to build the fight against labor’s attacks on social welfare, health and education and the Liberal government attacks on jobs and pay and conditions of public servants, teachers and nurses. It means activity to support building workers fighting for safety on site, for roles in the equal love and refugee campaigns, for activity around the environment. In short it means wherever any group is fighting back against specific rotten expressions of capitalism we socialists if we can have to be involved.
If you read the mainstream media in Australia you’d certainly know about Julia Gillard’s travails. But little of the analysis will go into the deep roots of this impending wipe out of Labor at the 14 September election – Labor’s embrace of neoliberalism, its long love affair with the market and consequent attacks on workers and the less well off.
The lack of a mass revolutionary workers’ party compounds the problem as the right and the ALP can dominate. The Greens of course don’t challenge the dominant paradigm – capitalism – although they may occasionally challenge some sectors of capital.
But even that is a problematic description of the Greens. At the same time Greens’ leader Christine Milne was breaking off the Alliance with the Labor Government because Labor had been captured by the big miners, she and the rest of the Greens were threatening to join with the Liberals to reject Labor’s changes to the Research and Development tax concession.
The changes would have meant that companies with a turnover greater than $20 billion would have to fund their own R&D without government support through the tax system. There are about 20 such companies in Australia.
So if Labor is captured by the mining companies, are the Greens capture by the big capitalists undertaking subsidised R&D?
And why not do something concrete like organise mass rallies in defence of refugees and develop a mass civil disobedience campaign to defeat the anti-refugee reaction both major parties have adopted?
The big story in Australia will be about the bonding session the 4×100 men’s relay team had in Manchester 12 days before the Olympics. Some of them took the prescription sleeping tablet Stilnox. They were tucked up in bed by 10.30 pm evidently. However some of them knocked on the doors of female swimmers, or phoned them, possibly after the 10.30 tucked up in bed story.
Stilnox looks like an excuse for rampant sexist behaviour, behaviour that is ingrained in Australian society and is a large part of male experience and expectation. Certainly the concept of male bonding sessions both express and reinforce sexism.
Like racism and homophobia, sexism divides the working class amongst itself and benefits only the ruling class because it weakens our unity against the real enemy – the bosses.
It is unclear why the swim team came forward. Are they fall guys for some greater outrage, or cover for inaction? Certainly the Stilnox angle seems a diversion, even if the Australian Olympic Commission had banned it prior to the Olympics. It is not a WADA banned substance.
Last week the mining companies sent a shot across the bows of the Labor Party government with advertisements purporting to show how they really do pay a lot of tax. According to the ATO statistics for 2009/10 73% of mining companies were non-taxable. The mining industry has the highest percentage of non-taxpayers of any industry – about 12% higher than the average.
Tell me again Labor why we can’t tax these corporate bludgers as they plunder our resources?
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