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Μακάρι να γίνει αυτή η νέα καταστροφή πέρα από αφορμή πένθους και επίδειξης εθελοντισμού και κοινωνικής αλληλεγγύης (που πρέπει να ειπωθεί ότι είναι ανέλπιστα συγκινητική) και αφορμή προβληματισμού. Βαθύ προβληματισμού γύρω από την ποιότητα και την ιεράρχηση των κοινωνικών αξιών. Γιατί από τις προηγούμενες μεγάλες καταστροφές το μόνο που έμεινε ήταν δυστυχώς περισσότερα αυθαίρετα.

international / anti-fascism / non-anarchist press Wednesday August 15, 2018 16:51 byJohn Riddell

The following talk was given on 21 July 2018 to a two-day seminar at York University entitled “Historical perspectives on united fronts against fascism and the far right.”

The framework for our panel this morning is “Unity against the Right: A historical approach.”

There are in fact many histories of such united resistance, each with its own lineage. We could talk of how Louis Riel united Métis, First Nations, and many colonial settlers to battle for democracy and aboriginal rights. Or of how women debated how to find allies in their liberation struggle and the trade-off with partnerships with the sectors of the elite or of the subaltern masses. But I will not speak of this. I will also set aside the struggle of colonized peoples for unity against imperialism, so central to the socialist movement of the last century.

My topic relates to the origin of Fascism. It was born in Europe as an expression of the ideology of European supremacy, and my focus will thus necessarily be European as well. I’m going to speak of events in Italy a century ago, not simply because of their objective importance but because they carry great weight in our political memory and imagination.

Italy – Between the Wars


Italy then ranked as an imperialist power, although a weak and unstable one, the product of an incomplete bourgeois revolution in which owners of large estates and the Catholic Church held great power, while the majority of Italy’s immense peasantry were landless. A sizable industrial working class was largely socialist in conviction, and the Italian Socialist Party governed more than 2,000 municipalities.

Formally a winner in the First World War (28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918), the Italian ruling class had been weakened by the impact of great human and material destruction in this conflict. The war’s end brought economic crisis, the ruin of middle layers, a mass of discharged soldiers with no visible future, and a militant workers’ upsurge that for a moment seemed about to sweep all before it.

In September 1920 a great wave of factory occupations brought the country to the brink of revolution. However, the Socialists gave no leadership and the movement foundered, opening the gates to counterrevolution.

A wave of reaction was then sweeping across much of Europe. It brought many rightist dictatorial regimes to power, as in Hungary, where the regime executed 5,000 supposed Reds. The Hungarian regime was aristocratic in nature, a military dictatorship based on upper-class cadres. Italy was different: the reactionary movement seemed to emerge from among the masses themselves.

Commandos Right and Left

In Italy, after the war ended, the spearhead of reaction emerged: the Arditi, or “commandos,” a network of anti-labour mercenaries led mainly by former army officers. But the most successful such force, the Fascists, was plebeian. Its leader, Benito Mussolini, had been a left-wing Socialist; the group, founded in 1919, posed as supporters of strikes and workers’ management and of land to the peasants. Yet their ideology was pro-capitalist, rooted in worship of the state and the nation. They acted as murderous anti-labour militia, financed by elements of the ruling class and tolerated or supported by the police and army. The Fascists backed up violence with a forceful ideology rejecting reason and fact while appealing to mysticism and religious-like idolatry of the state and the “man from destiny.”

By mid-1921 Fascism was a menacing mass movement. How did its opponents respond?

  • The Socialist Party relied on the state to rein in the Fascists. Rejecting organized self-defense, it pressed the regime to take action against lawless Fascist gangs, while rejecting entry into government. At one point it signed a “truce” with the Fascists, which the latter quickly cast aside. (The Socialist refusal to join a bourgeois-dominated government, while consistent with Marxist principle, was out of step with the conduct of most Social Democratic parties in that period, which did often enter such governments.)

  • The democratic parliamentary parties did in fact pass laws and regulations aimed against the fascists. For example, guns were to be reregistered and seized if due cause for ownership was not produced. Barricades were to be erected on highways to block Fascist flying squads. However, implementation depended on police and judges mostly sympathetic to the far right. As a result, little was done to enforce such measures.

  • The Italian Communist Party, which separated from the Socialists early in 1921, did not perceive the distinction between fascism and the democratic forms of capitalist rule. The Communists were for self-defense against fascists, to be sure, but without alliances and only when attacked. In practice, the Communist Party as an organization largely stood aside from the struggle.

  • Meanwhile, a spontaneous rank-and-file self-defense organization the Arditi del Popolo (People’s commandos), sprang up and won wide support. Both the communists and socialists were hostile to the new organization, ordering their members to leave its ranks. Alone, the Arditi del popolo could not win against a fascist host financed and supported by the ruling class and aided by the regular army. Even so, the Arditi led and won pitched battles against the Fascists on several occasions, indicating the road by which a united working class could have got the upper hand.

    At the end of 1922, the Fascists consummated their one-sided civil war with a parliamentary deal, in which they were appointed to government by the king and mainstream capitalist parties. During the half-decade that followed, the Fascist regime hardened into a totalitarian dictatorship that lasted until 1943.

    Two conclusions jump out from this depressing story:

  • First, the Socialists were wrong to believe the bourgeois democratic state could provide effective protection from fascism.

  • Second, the Communists were wrong to believe that they could deal with fascism on their own.

    During the years of Mussolini’s rise, however, the policy of the Communist International on alliances evolved greatly in a direction that, if applied in Italy, might well have changed the outcome. Five stages in this process should be noted:

    a. First, in 1920, far-right generals in Germany carried out a coup against the republican government. Social-democratic trade union leaders called a general strike that swept the country, while workers in many areas took up arms and gained effective control. The coup lasted only four days. This outcome proved the power of united workers’ resistance to the far right.

    b. After the coup collapsed, workers refused to end their strike and demanded effective protection against the far-right conspirators. The social-democratic trade-union leaders then came up with a novel proposal: a workers’ government including all workers’ parties and based on the unions. Although that government did not come to be, the idea behind it gained support and the Communist movement took note.

    c. The next year, the Communist International (Comintern) adopted the policy that had found expression in resistance to the German putsch, calling on workers’ parties to unite in struggle against the far right and for basic demands they had in common. This policy was known as the “united front.” It was not applied in Italy. Internationally, it met with resistance from Social Democratic leaderships. Why was this policy not applied by the Italian Communists? Their failure to conform indicates that descriptions of the Comintern’s supposedly excessive “centralism” in that period are often exaggerated.

    d. Another year passed, and the Comintern adopted the workers’ government approach broached during the great German general strike of 1920. Such a government would be sustained by the workers movement, not the state, and could serve as a transitional stage to revolution. A workers’ and peasants’ government of this general type was actually established by the October 1917 Russian revolution.

    e. Finally, in 1923, the Comintern adopted a strategy for resisting fascism. It was elaborated and presented by Clara Zetkin, drawing on the experience above all of the German workers’ movement. Her plan consisted of four major propositions:

    i. Workers self-defence against fascist violence: not through individual terror, but through “the power of the revolutionary organized proletarian class struggle.”

    ii. United front action against fascism “involving all working-class organizations and currents regardless of political differences.” By endorsing the Arditi del Popolo, the Comintern indicated willingness to join in anti-fascist struggle with non-working-class forces. They rejected, however, the perspective of a bloc with capitalist parties for government.

    iii. An ideological campaign to reach the best of the young people influenced by fascism who, in Zetkin’s words, “are seeking an escape from deep anguish of the soul. We must show them a solution that does not lead backward but rather forward to communism.”

    iv. Demonstration of “absolute determination to fight to take power out of the hands of the bourgeoisie in order to resolve capitalism’s social crisis,” including by “cementing the alliances necessary to do so.” Zetkin insisted that the perspective of a workers’ and peasants’ government “is virtually a requirement for the struggle to defeat fascism.”

    Essence of Fascist Doctrine

    There’s something missing here: an analysis of the racist and xenophobic essence of fascist doctrine. It was the reverse side of the fascists’ worship of an aggressive nationalism, which rested on plans for conquest of south Slavs, Greeks, Turks, Africans – all viewed as inferior peoples. In German fascism, such racial stereotyping became more explicit, maturing into a project of genocide against Jews, Poles, Russians, Roma, and other peoples.

    Despite this weakness, Zetkin’s report and resolution, adopted by the Comintern in June 1923, stand as the outstanding exposition of a Marxist response to fascism during its heyday in the 1920s and 1930s. It theorized the lesson of the Italian Arditi del Popolo experience while fusing it with a perspective for workers’ power. Alternatively, the Comintern position can be seen, as Leon Trotsky later insisted, as an application of the Bolsheviks’ united front policies in the run-up to the Russian October revolution of 1917.

    Given the strategic force of this position, it may seem surprising it was applied during only two brief periods of Comintern history. Comintern anti-fascist policy proved to be unstable, going through no less than six reversals up to the International’s dissolution in 1943. Two of these turnabouts were particularly significant:

  • In 1928 the Comintern reverted to the sectarian stance of Italian Communists during Mussolini’s rise, refusing to seek alliances with non-Communist workers’ organizations. The Social Democrats, for their part, refused of united action with the Communists. The absence of workers’ unity in action, opened the door to Hitler’s victory.

  • In 1935 the Comintern switched to a policy of unity with Social Democrats while adding two significant innovations: first, unity was now to embrace progressive forces in the imperialist ruling class and, second, the project was now basically parliamentary in nature: to form a progressive coalition encompassing bourgeois forces.

    In my opinion, the 1935 policy, known as “popular frontism,” brought the Comintern into broad alignment with Social Democracy as regards the strategic alternative to fascism. The goal of socialist revolution was set aside in favour of a project for defense of democratic capitalism and alliance with forces within the imperialist ruling class.

    This occurred at the height of Stalin’s murderous repression of Bolshevik cadres, and this witch-hunt also infected the Comintern and its “people’s front.”

    To conclude, the responses of socialists to the first 15 years of fascism fall into three categories: sectarian isolation, an alliance for progressive reform, or a united front to bring working people to power. Despite the immense transformation in social structure and global geopolitics, these divergent impulses continue to find expression today, as we feel our way toward an effective defense against fascist dangers today. •


    A Note on Sources

    Some of the material in this text is also discussed in Fumble and late recovery: The Comintern response to Italian fascism.

    Clara Zetkin’s contribution to developing the Marxist position on Fascism is documented in Clara Zetkin, Fighting Fascism: How to Struggle and How to Win, Mike Taber and John Riddell, ed., Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2017. For the introduction to this book, see “Clara Zetkin and the struggle against fascism.”

    Sources for this text include:

    Tom Behan, The Resistible Rise of Benito Mussolini, Bookmarks: London, 2003.
    Jonathan Dunnage, The Italian Police and the Rise of Fascism: A Case Study of the Province of Bologna, 1897-1925, Westport Conn: Praeger, 1997.
    Georgio Galli, Storia del socialism italiano, Milan: Baldini Castoldi Dalai, 2008.
    Daniel Guérin, Fascism and Big Business, New York: Monad, 1973 (1939).
    Rossi (Angelo Tasca), The Rise of Italian Fascism 1918-1922, New York: Howard Fertig, 1966 (1938).
    Paolo Spriano, Storia del Partito comunista italiano, Turin: Einaudi, 1967.
  • américa central / caribe / imperialismo / guerra / comunicado de prensa Wednesday August 15, 2018 07:24 byFederación Anarquista Uruguaya

    El 19 de julio de 1979 (43 años después del inicio de la Revolución Española contra el golpe de Estado de Franco) triunfaba en Nicaragua una revolución de claro contenido popular. Se ponía fin así a la dictadura de 46 años de la familia Somoza, dueños de Nicaragua y personeros de Estados Unidos. Desde 1855, con la invasión del “filibustero” Walker, Nicaragua ha sido un enclave norteamericano, una especie de semi-colonia, un país “libre” e “independiente” sólo formalmente, donde el control de Estados Unidos era total en todas las actividades nicaragüenses.

    La gesta de Sandino con su “Ejército Rebelde”, cuyo principal objetivo era expulsar a los marines norteamericanos puso en jaque dicha presencia entre 1926 y 1933. El asesinato de Sandino a manos de Anastasio Somoza, en una verdadera emboscada, a traición, derrota al Ejército Rebelde y triunfa la reacción más asquerosa y vil al servicio del imperialismo norteamericano.

    Sin embargo, el pueblo nicaragüense continuó resistiendo. Con pequeñas acciones, incluso asesinando a Somoza, pero sin poder evitar que se entronara en dinastía su familia. Los Somoza eran dueños de media Nicaragua, literalmente. El resto del país estaba en manos de una lánguida burguesía y de los intereses yanquis. La Iglesia, siempre fiel aliada a los Somoza y al status quo.

    La Resistencia Popular se fue encauzando hacia pequeñas guerrillas, hasta que en 1961 se forma el Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, bajo el influjo de la Revolución Cubana, y con una perspectiva de desalojar a la dictadura de Somoza, independizar definitivamente al país y abrir un tránsito propio hacia el Socialismo. La incidencia del FSLN crecía a nivel popular: entre los estudiantes de la Universidad -donde fueron reclutados muchos de sus militantes- , organizando barriadas, a los campesinos y diversos sectores sociales.

    Así se llega luego de un largo trecho de combates, donde el FSLN gana una inmensa legitimidad entre sectores del pueblo, a derrotar definitivamente a la dictadura. Se iniciaba un nuevo período en la vida del país, donde se instalaban cooperativas de campesinos, experiencias donde convivían la propiedad colectiva con la pequeña propiedad privada, se organizaban y fortalecían sindicatos y demás organizaciones populares…

    La “contra”…

    Pero Estados Unidos no aceptó la Revolución Sandinista. Lógicamente. Se alborotaba su “patio trasero”. Cundía un mal ejemplo, justo cuando América Central estaba en llamas con el auge de varias experiencias guerrilleras en ascenso, lo mismo que Colombia.

    En 1981 asume Ronald Reagan la Presidencia de Estados Unidos, furibundo “anticomunista”. Dirige y organiza con su equipo de gobierno, la “contra” nicaragüense, es decir un ejército paramilitar, contraguerrillero, que hiciera las tareas de “guerra sucia” contra la Revolución Sandinista. Desde Honduras, histórica base en Centroamérica del imperialismo yanqui, las fuerzas de “la contra” invadían y atacaban Nicaragua, principalmente generando una guerra económica, arruinando cosechas, servicios públicos, pero también asesinando a hijos del pueblo para imponer el terror. Todo ello con el apoyo yanqui, que incluso quedó demostrado con el asunto “Irán -Contras”, por el cual EEUU le vendía armas a Irán (¿no está en el “eje del mal”?) para financiar a la “contra”. Una operación multimillonaria, ilegal, un negocio sucio para agredir al pueblo nicaragüense.

    En esos años ’80 la Revolución Sandinista había hecho importantes progresos: la campaña de alfabetización -ejemplo en toda América Latina-, las cooperativas, la formación de las milicias para hacer frente a la “contra”. A su vez, el “gobierno provisorio” surgido de 1979, se va transformando en un gobierno donde pisa fuerte el FSLN, dejando algún grado de participación a sectores de la burguesía que formaban parte de la alianza para derrotar a Somoza. En 1984, en un hecho inédito, la Revolución realiza elecciones y sale electo Presidente Daniel Ortega, quien ya estaba integrando y era figura relevante del “gobierno revolucionario”.

    En la lucha con la “contra” participaron y cayeron decenas de luchadores latinoamericanos, lo mismo que en el proceso revolucionario. La nicaragüense fue una revolución que concitó un gran apoyo y solidaridad latinoamericana. Compañeros de diversas tiendas políticas pelearon en los ’70 y ’80 en Nicaragua, muchos cayeron allí. Se defendía una revolución triunfante ante la amenaza y agresión del norte y de lo más rancio de la sociedad nicaragüense que intentaba volver al somocismo sin Somoza.

    Pero los principales peligros estaban allí: una burguesía vivita y coleando, con sus medios de prensa, buena parte de sus propiedades intactas ya que no eran somocistas, pero buscaban un cambio de régimen, una democracia liberal aliada a EEUU, y también, el hecho de que el Sandinismo haya dejado vivos y en funcionamiento, mecanismos y dispositivos fundamentales propios del sistema capitalista: no sólo cierta propiedad privada. Estaba ahí entonces esa institución tan valiosa al sistema, las elecciones en el marco de la “democracia” burguesa. De ese modo se hipotecaba la Revolución. Entre otras cosas porque si el FSLN perdía las elecciones, la llamada revolución caía de un golpe. Un mecanismo, una red atrapante, de pleno dominio del sistema capitalista.

    Y así fue, así ocurrió. En 1990, Violeta Chamorro gana las elecciones -con gran apoyo de EEUU- y pone fin al experimento revolucionario sandinista en curso. Se negoció el fin del conflicto armado con la “contra”, que en los hechos políticamente había triunfado. Se mantuvo parte del aparato militar sandinista en el Ejército de Nicaragua, el FSLN se transformó en partido político electoral y comenzó “la Piñata”, es decir, el asqueroso reparto de las propiedades (varias de ellas mansiones y empresas) de los ex somocistas que pasaron a manos de los líderes sandinistas. Algo de esto ya se venía dando en los años ’80, pero a partir de 1990 con el pretexto de que “se lo van a llevar otros” o “si no tenemos riqueza y poder nos van a matar”, la dirigencia sandinista se convirtió en una nueva burguesía y comenzó a pactar con los sectores que le fueron opositores y con “la contra”.

    Varias fueron las elecciones en que el FSLN fue derrotado en los años ’90. Vimos como a inicios de los años 2000 el FSLN dejaba la bandera rojinegra y asumía el rosado como su color, y como Daniel Ortega se casaba por Iglesia con Rosario Murillo, siendo Monseñor Ovando y Bravo quien oficiara la ceremonia. Monseñor Ovando y Bravo, cardenal de Nicaragua, máxima expresión de la “contra” en los años ’80, pasaba ahora a ser un fiel aliado del actual Sandinismo.

    La Nicaragua de Ortega

    Daniel Ortega fue tejiendo alianzas con los ex miembros y líderes de la “Contra” y la Iglesia Católica, los sumó como “aliados coyunturales” para las elecciones de 2006, pero lo cierto es que han sido los sectores que han estado en la base del gobierno del matrimonio Ortega -Murillo desde hace 12 años.

    No se puede negar: han ganado elecciones en forma consecutiva. Sin los clásicos fraudes tan comunes en América Latina hasta bien entrado el siglo XX. Pero esos triunfos electorales y el poder que concentra Ortega en sus manos, surgen de esas turbias alianzas con los sectores más reaccionarios de Nicaragua y de una fuerte alianza con el empresariado. Policlasismo puro y duro, “izquierda” y derecha entreveradas, la real política en extremo. Pero eso tiene sus consecuencias… “Cría cuervos y te arrancarán los ojos”, dice el refrán popular. Algo de eso hay.

    Es innegable que se efectivizó algo de política reformista, que se tomaron medidas de fortalecimiento de proyectos cooperativos a nivel popular, que el gobierno cuenta con una base social de apoyo estimable, que se ha elevado en algo el nivel de vida, aunque Nicaragua sigue siendo el segundo país más pobre de América Latina. No podemos dejar de mencionar, aunque sea de paso, el papel de las maquilas, la instalación de centenares de fábricas de trasnacionales en zonas francas y donde la explotación y las condiciones de salubridad de los trabajadores es un episodio infame. Pero también es notoria la concentración de poder en el binomio Ortega -Murillo, que son ya parte activa del sistema capitalista, y que variadas figuras del FSLN histórico se han alejado de esa formación con posturas políticas diversas.

    Pero los acontecimientos que se han desatado en los últimos meses han llamado poderosamente la atención sobre lo que se estaba incubando en Nicaragua. Ha estallado un verdadero volcán. Sin lugar a dudas, las victorias electorales del FSLN no podían esconder por mucho tiempo el descontento de sectores de la población que se iba arrastrando. Es más, estalla cuando el gobierno de Ortega afecta con una clara medida antipopular a las jubilaciones y las pensiones. Se desatan allí medidas de lucha de los estudiantes y de varios sectores populares.

    Inmediatamente ocurren dos cosas: una feroz represión del aparato policial estatal y se suman a las movilizaciones los sectores de la burguesía. Rápidamente hay barricadas y fuertes enfrentamientos. Nada diferente a lo ocurrido en las constantes luchas del pueblo nicaragüense. Pero lo que ocurre ahora, más allá de toda la desinformación que llega en torno al tema, es que la derecha junto al espectro de penetración y acción imperial que va de organismos “humanitarios”, “democráticos” Comando Sur a agentes de la CIA sin más, se han montado a estas movilizaciones para generar la posibilidad de quitar a Ortega del gobierno.

    De todas maneras a esta altura cabe preguntarse: si por más de una década de gobierno de Ortega no se dieron enfrentamientos importantes con la derecha y el imperio, si la política de Estados Unidos no hostigó y utilizó sus habituales técnicas contra este gobierno cuando sí lo hacía contra otros gobiernos “progresistas”. Porqué ahora. Porqué la ruptura de ese cierto romance con empresarios, Iglesia e imperio.

    Hay factores geopolíticos estratégicos de poder del Imperio que están pesando en el puzle que implicaron el cambio de actitud. Tenemos ahí la construcción del canal interoceánico con capitales chinos, vinculado a su estrategia de expansión económico-política. También la estación de investigación electrónica rusa instalada en Managua.

    Debemos ser precisos y separar las cosas: por un lado, es claro que EEUU pretende debilitar a todo gobierno latinoamericano que no se alinee a su política exterior. Hace tiempo que EEUU viene operando en Nicaragua en relación al gobierno de Ortega es sólo que ahora ya este gobierno no le es útil y hasta tiene líneas internacionales que no son de su agrado. Es lógico también que la burguesía y los sectores latifundistas del campo se movilicen contra cualquier tibia medida que favorezca en algo a los sectores populares. Tenemos claros ejemplos en nuestro país; recientes.

    Ante el ataque de la derecha y EEUU, ¿hay que salir a defender este proceso? No. Él no tiene nada que ver con los de abajo. Por supuesto que el imperio y la derecha vienen en malón contra los intereses populares y por el quite de aquellas reformas tibias, que significaron apoyo a gobiernos “progresistas” y con ello la contención que el sistema necesitaba en tal coyuntura. Ya no tolera gobiernos redistributivos de “capitalismo con rostro humano”. Considera que la etapa de más peligro ya pasó. Quiere tal vez otro Ortega que haga más rápido los mandados del F.M.I., del imperio y la derecha en general. Que no trabaje tanto para sí mismo. No hay en esta disyuntiva ninguna causa popular en juego.

    No caben aquí medias tintas ni hipocresías políticas. Tampoco esas “tácticas” de cubrir infamias y atrocidades porque se estime que ese gobierno tiene un lejano pasado de izquierda. Este gobierno se identifica totalmente con el capitalismo y su línea neoliberal. Ejerce dictadura brutal, tortura, asesina y desaparece gente del pueblo en lucha. Gente de esos barrios obreros y altamente empobrecidos que dicen ¡basta!. Militantes entregados a la causa de la Revolución Sandinista, que lucharon en todos los frentes y arriesgaron su vida por ella hoy se angustian por lo que ocurre y que es la negación total de aquello por lo que lucharon.

    La lucha vinculada a los verdaderos intereses populares, de los de abajo, está en otro lado, en otro camino. El pueblo nicaragüense independiente aspira a una vida mejor, lucha contra todas las medidas e injusticias vengan de donde vengan, como todos los pueblos.

    Por más que estén entreveradas las barajas en este conflicto, los anarquistas de FAU siempre hemos propulsado la construcción de Poder Popular por fuera y contra del Estado y todos los dispositivos sistémicos que lo sostienen, por fuera de las lógicas electorales burguesas, porque allí no se disputa poder, sino que allí se inserta y se transa con el poder real. Por estas vías ningún gobierno, ningún proceso social–político va a construir el Socialismo ni va a derribar al Capitalismo.

    Por eso, la alternativa, la de los de abajo, es la lucha, es la construcción de un Pueblo Fuerte en un proceso hacia el auténtico Poder popular. Y no hay otra. Son momentos entreverados, confusos, donde igualmente surgen espacios para la acción anticapitalista consecuente. Con estrategia y tácticas que hundan sus manos en los procesos y coyunturas presentes, pero con una perspectiva social de cambio profundo por delante. Los pueblos han buscado y buscarán alternativas de cambio ante la cruel situación en que viven, pero cuando eligen, bajo la influencia de los conocidos de siempre, el camino de las urnas todo el futuro está muerto.

    Con el pueblo de Nicaragua y su autodeterminación.

    Por un proceso consecuente con el cambio de las relaciones sociales. Donde el pueblo vaya decidiendo su futuro en la pelea de todos los días.

    ¡Arriba los que luchan!

    southern africa / repression / prisoners / appeal / petition Wednesday August 15, 2018 07:09 bySolidarity with the Boiketlong 4

    On the 21st April 2015 the Magistrates Court in Sebokeng sentenced 4 community activists from Boiketlong, to a total of 16 years in prison. The activists are: Dinah Makhetha, Sipho Mangane, Dan Molefe and Pulane Mahlangu. Key witnesses could not even identify the 4 but the courts sought to use the apartheid law of ‘doctrine of common purpose’ to jail them. They were found not guilty of ‘public violence’ but guilty of ‘assault, arson and malicious damage to property’.

    Pulane Mahlangu has run away and no one knows where she is or if she is in good health. Either way, she cannot come home.

    Dan Molefe died of stress-related illness in December 2017.

    Although released for a short period while the appeal process was underway, both Dinah and Sipho are back in prison as they lost the first level of Appeal. The magistrate is prepared to consider shortening the sentence but not the sentence itself. The appeal process remains underway.

    There is now an opportunity for a mediated process that may assist in a process of early release. There is an urgent need to cover the costs of mediation which we estimate could come to about R40 000. Appeals have been made to the community to raise funds as well to the broader movement.

    What is at stake?

    The state has used an apartheid law, the ‘doctrine of common purpose’, to attempt to crush the resistance of the masses. The law of common purpose is deliberately broad so as to be used to target leaders in the community and working class movement. If left unchallenged it extends the attack on the democratic right to protest. To petition for full Leave to Appeal and the higher processes are all very expensive and time-consuming. This places a huge burden on the families and community of Boiketlong. Ironically, sentences for murder and rape are quite often less than what the activists received. If you are rich and famous, you are likely to get a much reduced sentence but working class activists bear the brunt of this injustice. The infamous Oscar Pistorius was sentenced to only 6 years in prison, for killing his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. The sentence was later increased to 15 years, still less than what the Boiketlong 4 were sentenced to. He had been released on parole after serving only 10 months in prison. How many men, who kill their partners, are even locked up? Comrade Dinah’s granny passed away but the state denied her the opportunity to attend the funeral.

    The increase of repressive methods against community activists is part of a world-wide trend. As traditional leaderships are discredited and no longer able to control the masses, so there is an increase in repressive measures against the masses.

    If you are rich, the wheels of the ‘justice’ system turn. If you are a worker, you are locked up and the key thrown away. Thus the state is exposed as an instrument of big capital, an instrument of violence, to control the working class.

    This marks a new stage in the desperation of imperialism to control the masses- the same dropping of the democratic mask of the state and the criminalization of protest, is seen across Africa, from Cape to Cairo. Special fascist gangs such as the Chrysalis black shirts are springing up like mushrooms. The fascist attacks on immigrant poor are also similar signs of desperation by imperialism to use terror and force to attempt to break the resistance of the masses.

    The community of Boiketlong have long suffered from broken promises of the ANC government. Since the elections in 2006, the ANC has come with empty promises to upgrade the area that by then had already long suffered a lack of sanitation, lack of water, lack of electricity and lack of housing. The 4 are part of the collective leadership, assigned by the community to lead their struggle for houses. This is their only ‘crime’. They are political prisoners of the capitalist state. They are not criminals.

    It is reported in the Journal of Southern African Studies that the mining giants have accelerated their theft through transfer pricing after 1994 to such an extent that in 2007 alone about R600bn was taken out by imperialism through illegal means. (This is about $50bn, which is more than what is required to end world hunger for a year). The amounts that imperialism has stolen over the years is in the order of trillions of dollars, and this is from SA alone. If the entire Africa is also considered, we are looking at several trillions of dollars stolen by imperialism.

    Yet, across Africa, all the regimes, without exception, turn a blind eye to this and are instruments of keeping the masses in check while imperialist plunder continues.

    SA and Africa has enough wealth to meet all our needs, with decent housing, free education, free, quality health care, decent jobs for all. Yet everywhere there is poverty and suffering and only the imperialists and their paid hirelings benefit. Indeed, SA has enough wealth to care for the whole of Southern Africa, but it is a giant prison for the masses of Southern Africa.

    Boiketlong is a symbol of the capitalist injustice that there is. The imperialist who plunder and steal and cause the early death of millions, get off scot free. The masses and anyone who dares raise a question, are brutalised and suppressed.

    There should have been houses and proper facilities in Boiketlong but instead it is a slum. It is being kept a slum by the ANC government. That is why the 4 comrades were jailed: because they dared to challenge the slum conditions.

    The SA government dares to blame the other African regimes for their ‘nationals’ coming to SA. The very same imperialism that plunders SA, also plunders the whole of Africa. All these regimes are responsible for the enforced poverty of the African masses. The SA govt has more blood on its hands. In the DRC imperialism funds the wars that have killed 6-10 million people. After the lands are cleared and imperialism opens up its mining operations for Cassiterite (raw material for cell phones, tablets playstations and laptops- 70% of the world’s reserves are there). It is SA soldiers that are provided as a free security force for the plunder. Each soldier is paid R50 000 a month for this work of protecting Anglo American from the starving masses in the DRC.

    The spread of HIV-Aids in SA, according to credible research reports, was largely due to the collapse of the health system which led to the re-use of infected needles, among other unsanitary practices. Thanks to the ANC government.

    Yes, a lot of dwellings have been built but most of them are in the old group areas. In other words, the ANC government perpetuated apartheid housing policies.

    There is enough wealth for jobs for all, but due to the theft that the ANC (and DA) governments allow, there is mass unemployment and starvation everywhere.

    This is not peace but a sustained civil war against the masses which the ANC has continued from the old NP apartheid regime.

    We need to draw the lesson. Freedom will not fall from the sky. The working class needs to be organised. We need to tear down the artificial barriers that separate us.

    We call for a national and international programme of action against the criminalization of protest, for the freeing of the 4 Boiketlong activists.

    One more appeal

    We salute the activists from the Boiketlong and Sebokeng communities, from WIVL, SRWP, ILRIG, United Front, Giwusa, who have demonstrated their solidarity and/or visited the comrades in prison.

    We salute the cdes from various international groups, such as the Las Heras families and prisoners, the FLTI, CWG, LITCI, CSP Conlutas, ROE, CAB and others, who sent messages of solidarity and/or material support.

    It is necessary for one final round of solidarity to be sent. We call on the broader working class movement and the democrats in general to contribute, through renewed messages of solidarity and through financial contributions.

    For this, please contact us via:

    Jonathan Payn ph/whatApp +27 619925339 Email: sifuna.zonke@gmail.com

    Shaheed Mahomed ph/whatApp +27 822020617 Email: workersinternational@gmail.com 30 July 2018

    argentina / uruguay / paraguay / workplace struggles / opinion / analysis Wednesday August 15, 2018 02:55 byJonathan Payn

    Around the world the ruling class (capitalists, politicians and state managers) is trying to restore its profits by making the working class pay for the economic crisis. One way capitalists do this is by retrenching workers and making the remaining workers work harder to meet production targets, as well as by attacking wages, working conditions and benefits. States help capitalists do this, among other things, by increasing interest rates while giving corporations tax cuts, commercialising and privatising state owned enterprises and outsourcing the provision of basic services. States also help capitalists by undermining workers’ rights, such as the right to strike, in order to make it more difficult for workers to resist these attacks.

    Unions have failed to defend workers from the immediate threat of these attacks (by preventing dismissals and defending jobs, wages and conditions), as well as to mount an effective resistance that can prevent further attacks and begin to roll back the devastating effects of neoliberalism. Moreover, union bureaucrats are often complicit in these attacks through deals they make with governments and bosses. A recent example in South Africa is the National Minimum Wage and amendments to the Basic Conditions of Employment Act and Labour Relations Amendment Bill – all of which represent an attack on workers yet were agreed to at Nedlac (the National Economic Development and Labour Council) by the leaders of the three main federations: Nactu, Fedusa and Cosatu.

    Faced with this ruling class threat and with union bureaucracies that are either complicit or unwilling to fight, workers in Argentina have begun a process to build unity in struggle and a democratic worker-controlled alternative.

    In July 2017, workers at a PepsiCo factory in Buenos Aires arrived at work to find a sign posted on the factory entrance announcing its closure and the dismissal of over 600 workers. Production would be moved to another plant – where workers would be expected to work harder and longer to make up for production lost by the closure of the Buenos Aires factory.

    Left to their fate by union leaders that could or tried to do little to help, workers had no hope but to try defend their jobs through direct action. They collectively decided to occupy the factory to prevent its closure and keep their jobs. The occupation was violently evicted by a massive police operation after a few weeks; but the dismissed workers continued to fight for their jobs. They organised working class cultural ‘festivals of resistance’ to build solidarity, had mass marches and demonstrations, blockaded roads and even camped in tents in front of Argentina’s legislature to keep their struggle visible.

    At this camp the PepsiCo workers made an open call to all organisations that wanted to join them in building an independent pole of worker organisation and resistance. In contrast to the union bureaucrats, this initiative would be based on democratic decision-making by workers themselves in open assemblies, and combative class struggle in opposition to years of conciliation by union bureaucrats that try to make workers believe they have something in common with the bosses and government. Instead of being bought off, they chose to rely on their own collective strength; and they took it beyond their won struggles to fight for other demands. Thus they turned their struggle into an example for the entire Argentine working class.

    One group that heard the call, at a meeting in February, was that of 122 workers dismissed at the beginning of 2018 from the Posadas Hospital. As a dismissed nurse put it, “We are dismissed workers from different companies and establishments. The leaders of the big unions and federations have left us to fight alone. We have had strikes, blockades and mobilisations. Now we are uniting to fight, no matter what province or union we are from. We all struggle together and demand a national plan of action so that we can get our jobs back.”

    Another step was on 11 April when mineworkers from Río Turbio, dismissed PepsiCo and Posadas Hospital workers, workers from ‘recovered’ (de-bureaucratised) sections of the education workers’ union, outsourced aeronautical and rail workers, drivers, call-centre operators, dock-workers and others shut down a main avenue in the centre of Buenos Aires – demonstrating the possibility of coordinating struggles and building unity from below. They demanded an end to the stillness of the union leadership and raised the need for a national general strike and a real plan of action.

    This action was followed two days later by a general meeting where workers agreed that the central problem confronting them is the role of the bureaucratic union leaders that are either complicit in attacking workers, turn a blind eye or do everything they can to encourage conciliation and compromise. In opposition to this the meeting decided to continue the call for a national general strike and a plan of action; but also to develop a plan of action now specific to the various sectors in struggle, from below, through general assemblies of affected workers.

    The PepsiCo workers’ call responded to an urgent need – in South Africa as much as in Argentina – for workers to exchange experiences, discuss strategies, tactics and ideas and decide collectively how to build genuine unity and coordination of struggles from below. To take immediate steps to strengthen each local conflict, but also to take steps towards formulating a joint plan of action and compelling the leaders of all the union federations both to adopt the joint plan of action and call a national general strike.

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