ga('send', 'pageview');
John Passant

Site menu:

January 2011
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Tags

Archives

RSS Oz House

Share

Authors

Subscribe to us

Get new blog posts delivered to your inbox.


RSS Blog RSS

Site search

Miniposts

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
(0)

Sick kids and paying upfront

(0)

Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

I am not surprised
I think we are being unfair to this Abbott ‘no surprises’ Government. I am not surprised. (0)

Send Barnaby to Indonesia
It is a pity that Barnaby Joyce, a man of tact, diplomacy, nuance and subtlety, isn’t going to Indonesia to fix things up. I know I am disappointed that Barnaby is missing out on this great opportunity, and I am sure the Indonesians feel the same way. [Sarcasm alert.] (0)

Advertisement

Links:

Is it February in Tunisia?

The Tunisian revolution has only begun. While the dictator has fled, his regime remains in place, trying to manage a transition to some unknown, but bourgeois, future.

The massive demonstrations of the unemployed, the hungry and the angry – the victims of neoliberalism and imperialism –  and the state repression of those demonstrations saw the Tunisian Workers’ Union – the UGTT – call a two hour stoppage last Friday to, as the IUF put it ‘protest against the government’s violent suppression of the popular uprising in the face of the country’s economic problems, high unemployment and the corruption of the presidential family.’

According to Richard Seymour at Lenin’s Tomb in a good article called The rise and fall of Tunisia’s Ceauşescu it was the ‘..intervention of the trade union movement, its bureaucracy hitherto prepared to act in conjunction with and as a tool of the regime, that decisively changed matters.’

Until that time Ben Ali was perhaps going to tough it out. On the Thursday he had promised 300,000 jobs, not standing again in 2014 and democracy but at the same time repression of the ‘terrorist’ elements, that is demonstrators.

Those on the demonstrations on Friday were defiant and joined by striking workers. The police and army split over whether to kill more protesters. 

The ruling clique and the wider ruling class knew the game for Ben Ali was over.  The tyrant fled and his acolytes have attempted to construct a compromise which aims to retain the regime while accommodating the protesters. Three Presidents in 3 days shows that the contradictions may be impossible for the dictator’s cronies to overcome.

The revolution has only begun. Ben Ali’s security forces and police and army leadership remain in place. The first task must be to drive these butchers out.

The second must be to demand wage increases to redistribute wealth to workers, for jobs for all and to begin organising production democratically in the workplaces and for peasants to seize the land. 

Run the workplaces. Take the land.

There are reports of neighbourhood councils being set up to drive out the regime’s agents and protect property. Deepen the power of the local committees. Establish networks across the country.

The Tunisian Workers’ Communist Party (in French Le Parti Communiste Ouvrier de Tunisie or PCOT) is one of the few opposition groups relatively untainted by collaboration with the regime. Under the regime it was illegal to be a member and membership if caught meant imprisonment.

The Islamists are the other party without links to the regime, although at the moment the social composition of the revolution – unemployed, poor, workers and peasants and their economic and political demands – appears to have kept them on the outer of the movement.  That could change if the revolution does not move forward and intensify and express the class interests of workers. 

The PCOT has called for a national assembly of opposition forces to discuss the way forward. It also says (translated from a French language website)

The Tunisian people need a new democratic government, both national and popular and born of the will of Tunisians and representing their interests. A system of this type cannot emerge from the current system and its institutions or its constitution and its laws, but only on its ruins by a constituent assembly elected by the people in conditions of freedom and transparency, after ending the tyranny.

The task of a People’s Council is to draft a new constitution that lays the foundations of democratic republic, with its own institutions and its laws.

 A Party statement in Arabic can be found here.

Terry Townsend has provided a link to Links with 9 points from the PCOT in English. They say:

Tunisia: The 9 points of the Workers Communist Party
January 15, 2010 — Tunisia Solidarity Campaign, translated from Arabic by Nadim Mahjoub

1. The success achieved so far is only half of the way and the other half is achieving the wanted democratic change and implementing it on the ground.

2. The democratic change cannot spring from the same party, the figures, the institutions, the apparatuses and the legislation that maintained the dictatorship and deprived the people from basic rights for more than half a century, 23 years of which under Ben Ali.

3. The interim president is one of Ben Ali’s clique and a president of an appointed body which does not represent the people in any aspect whatsoever, and the plan to hold presidential elections in a 60-day time has no purpose but to maintain the continuation of the dictatorial regime through one of its former leaders.

4. The most dangerous of what could happen now is robbing the Tunisian people of their victory and their legitimate ambitions for freedom and a dignified existence and sacrifices through preserving Ben Ali’s regime without Ben Ali and through forming a democratic decor around it.

5. The democratic change, with its political, economical, social and cultural dimensions, requires a real end of the repressive regime by taking a direct step which consists of forming a provisional government or any other body that has executive powers and undertakes the task of organising free elections for a Constitutional Assembly which would establish the bases of a real democratic republic in which people would enjoy freedom, social equality and national dignity.

6. All the forces, whether they are political organisations, unions, human rights groups, cultural organisations, organised or non-organised and the people, who have played an effective and decisive role in toppling the dictator, have the task to decide on Tunisia’s future, and no one could replace them in their negotiations or contacts with the authority.

7. It is of a high urgency that the democratic forces form a national and unified body to carry out the democratic change and has the tasks to protect the gains of the revolting Tunisian people and to negotiate with the authorities to yield power to the people in a peaceful way

8. All the democratic forces all over the country have to unite in organisations, committees, or local, regional and sectoral councils in organising the popular movement and to undermine the manoeuvre of reaction and the acts of looting and vandalism perpetrated by hidden groups aiming at spreading fear among the citizens, threatening their safety and scaring them of a democratic change to compel the people to surrender to the repressive apparatuses.

9. The armed forces, which consists in the main of the sons and daughters of the people are required to provide safety for the people and the motherland and respect people’s aspirations towards freedom, social justice and national dignity, which requires lifting the state of emergency as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become an excuse that prevents the Tunisian people from continuing their struggle and achieving their goals.

For a provisional government

For a constitutional assembly

For a democratic republic

Hamma Hammami

Workers Communist Party of Tunisia

The thinking to an outsider like me looks somewhat like a two stage strategy – a bourgeois democratic revolution now and a socialist one unmentioned and sometime in the future.

Yet as Lenin recognised after the February revolution in Russia in 1917 the working class could not and should not limit itself to bourgeois demands.

The bourgeoisie in late developing capitalist countries is  incapable of undertaking the bourgeois revolution. The working class, in using its power to push the bourgeois revolution forward in furtherance of its own political and economic interests, will not and cannot limit itself to merely bourgeois tasks and will push on or be pushed, through the concrete circumstances and the existence of  a mass revolutionary workers’ party, to establish a workers’ government. 

Historical analogies are lies which contain a truth. There is one important difference between Tunisia today and Russia in February 1917. 

While it might emerge over time, there appears to be no Bolshevik Party in Tunisia, no party built up over the years of underground and other struggles with deep roots in the working class to lead the working class and learn from it, to argue for pushing the revolution forward, for workers’ councils, for seizing the land, for all power to the workers’ councils (once they are set up).

Trotsky’s analysis of the inherent conservatism of the bourgeoisie in late developing captialist countries is valid today. His idea that the working class in backward countries would of necessity be revolutionary is not. Revolutions after 1917, for example China in 1949 and Cuba in 1959, show that the working class as working class can be absent from history’s stage.

Sections of the petit bourgeoisie – peasants, declassed peasants, intellectuals – step in to take the place of the working class, often using the language of socialism.

That battle over the class as class appears to be going on in Tunisia now and will be vital for the future of the revolution.

Tunisia objectively is ripe for workers’ revolution. The task of the left in Tunisia must be to build that revolutionary impetus now, to help the process of the maturation of the class though working class political and economic demands and pushing for workers’ control of the workplace.

Lenin and Trotsky both understood that a successful workers’ revolution in one country could not survive unless it spread.

The Tunisian revolution is inspiring the Arab masses. The Tunisian revolution threatens the imperialist project, and its bourgeois allies, the dictators across the region.

The Middle East is the key region for US imperialism and its ability to control major competitors like China and Europe. Israel is its armed wing, and the dictators across the region its willing allies. The role of these brutal tyrants is to keep the Arab masses under control and prevent real support for the Palestinians.

The Tunisian revolution challenges this control by putting the Arab working class and peasantry and their needs at the forefront of the political and economic struggle, rather than the needs of local captial and US imperialism.

Already there have been demonstrations in Algeria, Egypt, Libya and Jordan over issues similar to those in Tunisia – jobs, prices, food, freedom. All have drawn inspiration from the overthrow of Ben Ali. 

To survive the Tunisian revolution must spread. It cannot survive on its own against US imperialism and the forces of reaction in the region and the country.

A successful workers’ revolution in Tunisia can inspire the working classes across the region to deal with their own ruling classes in similar ways and begin the next chapter in human history.

If it is February in Tunisia there is hope yet for October.

The victory of the Tunisian working class will provide hope and inspiration to hundreds of millions across the region. Their revolution is our hope and inspiration too.

Advertisement

Comments

Comment from Terry Townsend
Time January 17, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Just added to http://links.org.au/node/2101

Tunisia: The 9 points of the Workers Communist Party
January 15, 2010 — Tunisia Solidarity Campaign, translated from Arabic by Nadim Mahjoub

1. The success achieved so far is only half of the way and the other half is achieving the wanted democratic change and implementing it on the ground.

2. The democratic change cannot spring from the same party, the figures, the institutions, the apparatuses and the legislations that maintained the dictatorship and deprived the people from basic rights for more than half a century, 23 years of which under Ben Ali.

3. The interim president is one of Ben Ali’s clique and a president of an appointed body which does not represent the people in any aspect whatsover, and the plan to hold presidential elections in a 60-day time has no purpose but to maintain the continuation of the dictatorial regime through one of its former leaders.

4. The most dangerous of what could happen now is robbing the Tunisian people of their victory and their legitimate ambitions for freedom and a diginified existence and sacrifices through preserving Ben Ali’s regime without Ben Ali and through forming a democratic decor around it.

5. The democratice change, with its political, economical, social and cultural dimensions, requires a real end of the repressive regime by taking a direct step which consists of forming a provisional government or any other body that has excecutive powers and undertakes the task of organising free elections for a Constitutional Assembly which would establish the bases of a real democratic republic in which people would enjoy freedom, social equality and national dignity.

6. All the forces, whether they are political organisations, unions, human rights groups, cultural organisations, organised or non-organised and the people, who have played an effective and decisive role in toppling the dictator, have the task to decide on Tunisia’s future, and no one could replace them in their negotiations or contatcs with the authority.

7. It is of a high urgency that the democratic forces form a national and unified body to carry out the democratic change and has the tasks to protect the gains of the revolting Tunisian people and to negociate with the authorities to yield power to the people in a peaceful way

8. All the democratic forces all over the coutry have to unite in organisations, committees, or local, regional and sectorial councils in organising the popular movement and to undermine the manoeuvre of reaction and the acts of looting and vandalism perpetrated by hidden groups aiming at spreading fear among the citizens, threatening their safety and scaring them of a democratic change to compel the people to surrender to the repressive apparatuses.

9. The armed forces, which consists in the main of the sons and daughters of the people are required to provide safety for the people and the motherland and respect people’s aspirations towards freedom, social jutice and national dignity, which requires lifting the state of emergency as soon as possible so that it doesn’t become an excuse that prevents the Tunisian people from continuing their struggle and achieving their goals.

For a provisitional government

For a constitutional assembly

For a democratic republic

Hamma Hammami

Workers Communist Party of Tunisia

http://www.albadil.org/

Comment from John
Time January 18, 2011 at 7:53 am

Thanks Terry. I will add that in and the link.

Comment from Dave
Time January 18, 2011 at 10:26 am

Well written John. Perhaps, in the circumstances of a newly formed government composed of ministers active in the former regime and bourgeois opposition politicians placing a break on the reform process, if the movement on the streets and workplaces continues it might dramatically speed up the formation of a vanguard party or network of militants who see the need to go beyond economic demands.

Despite this not being evident at the moment, the whole situation is incredibly exciting.

Comment from John
Time January 18, 2011 at 1:42 pm

I agree Dave, and look forward to hearing more great reports about this historic and exciting event.

Write a comment