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From Resistance to Counteroffensive 
to the Struggle for Workers Power 

Focal Point Europe: 

in Crisis, 

le Erupts 

Greece on the Razor’s Edge. ... 
France: Worker-Student Upsurgi 



U.S. War on North Korea Never Ended... 39 

Mobilize Against Attacks on Muslims .. 81 

Australia $2, Brazil R$3, Britain £1.50, 
Canada $2, Europe €2, India Rs. 50, 
Japan ¥200, Mexico $10, Philippines 50 p, 
S. Africa R10, S. Korea 2,000 won 

Claude Platiau/Reuters 


The internationalist 

January-February 2011 

in this issue... 

Denounce FBI Raids on Leftist Antiwar 
and Solidarity Activists.4 

Focal Point Europe: Capitalism in 
Crisis, Class Struggle Erupts.5 

Fury of Student Revolt Shakes Up Britain... 8 

Greece on the Razor’s Edge.16 

Free Julian Assange! Drop All Charges!.... 28 

U.S./South Korean Provocations 
Could Ignite New Korean War.33 

U.S. War on North Korea Never Ended .39 

France: May in October? 

The Spectre of a New ’68.51 

To Drive Out Sarkozy & Co. 

Fight for Power to the Workers.56 

Guadeloupe on Strike!.60 

And Now Comes the Stab in the Back.62 

Brazilian Elections: The Bourgeoisie 
Goes For More Lula.65 

Quebec: What’s Needed to Defeat 
Privatization and Defend 
Public Services.69 

Police State in Toronto.73 

No Justice in the Capitalist Courts 
Mobilize Labor/Black Power 
to Free Mumia Now!.74 

Healthcare “Reform” Law: Bonanza for 
Wall Street, Attack on Working People... 76 

CSEW on the Healthcare Crisis.77 

We Can Stop the School Closings.79 

Mobilize Against Racist Attacks 
on Muslims and Immigrants!.81 

Revolution: The Dream Act Swindle.84 

Abolish the Board of Trustees! For 
Student-Teacher-Worker Control 
of CUNY!.85 

Haiti: Occupation Elections 
In Times of Cholera.88 

Front page photo: Unions demonstrate 
before French Senate, October 20. 

Subscription blank graphic based on a 
poster by V.A. Rodchenko, Books (1925). 


This bulletin contains the 

analysis by Karl Marx of 
slavery under capitalism 
and his key writings on 
the second American 

Revolution. The new 
edition adds articles 
by George Novack 
on slavery and the 
plantation system in 
North America, as well 
as polemics on the 
policy of communists 
on the Civil War. 

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r 7^ internationalist 

A Journal of Revolutionary Marxism 
for the Reforging of the Fourth International 

Publication of the Internationalist Group, 
section of the League for the Fourth International 

EDITORIAL BOARD: Jan Norden (editor), Mark Lazarus, Abram Negrete, 
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Subscriptions: US$10 for five issues. 

No. 32 


January-February 2011 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


U.S./South Korean 
Provocations Could ignite 
New Korean war. 33 

U.S. war on North Korea 
Never Ended. 39 

Never Ended. 39 

‘ v " ■■ "■‘•g 

/ - 

Sinister Attack on 


Free Julian 

Drop All 
Charges! 28 


Denounce FBI Raids on Leftist 
Antiwar and Solidarity Activists.4 


Mobilize Against Racist Attacks 
on Muslims and Immigrants!.81 


No Justice in the Capitalist Courts 

Mobilize Labor/Black 
Power to Free Mumia 

NOW! .74 

Healthcare “Reform” Law: Bonanza for 

Wall Street, Attack on Workers. 76 

CSEW on the Healthcare Crisis. 77 

We Can Stop the School Closings. 79 

Mobilize Against Racist Attacks 
on Muslims and Immigrants!.81 

The Dream Act Swindle.84 

Abolish the Board of Trustees! For Stu¬ 
dent-Teacher-Worker Control of CUNY!...85 


Focal Point Europe: 
Capitalism in Crisis, 
Class Struggle Erupts 

Fury of Student Revolt 

Fury of Student Revolt 
Shakes Up Britain. 8 

Greece on the Razor’s Edge.16 


^ \ 


May in October? 

The Spectre of a 
New ’68.51 

To Drive Out 
Sarkozy & Co. 

Fight for Power to 
the Workers.56 

Guadeloupe on 

And Now Comes the Stab 

in the Back.62 


Haiti: Occupation Elections 
in Times of Cholera.88 

Quebec: What’s Needed to Defeat 
Privatization and Defend 
Public Services.69 

Brazilian Elections: The Bourgeoisie 
Goes For More Lula .65 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Feds Break Into Homes, Seize Documents, Subpoena Activists 

Denounce FBI Raids on Leftist 
Antiwar and Solidarity Activists 

28 SEPTEMBER 2010 -At around 7 a.m. Friday, September 24, 
agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force of the Federal Bureau of 
Investigation (FBI) barged into eight homes in Minneapolis, Min¬ 
nesota and Chicago, Illinois, breaking down doors in a coordinated 
raid against leftist activists. Agents seized papers, computers, cell 
phones and personal items of Hatem Abudayyeh, Joseph losbaker 
and Stephanie Weiner in Chicago, and served Thomas Burke of 
Chicago with a subpoena ordering him to appear before a grand 
jury investigating “material support to terrorism.” In the Min¬ 
neapolis/St. Paul area, agents raided the homes of Meredith Aby, 
Mick Kelly, Tracy Molm, Anh-Thu Pham, Jessica Sundin, and the 
offices of the Twin Cities Anti-War Committee. FBI spokesmen 
said that “interviews” were being conducted across the country. 
No arrests have been made or charges reported, yet about a dozen 
activists have been subpoenaed to appear before a federal grand 
jury, whose proceedings are secret. 

In Minneapolis on Friday evening, over 100 gathered at 
an emergency meeting at a church to express their solidarity 
with the targeted activists. Protests outside of federal offices 
across the U.S. are planned for this week. These raids are a 
blatant attempt to criminalize leftist politics, antiwar and soli¬ 
darity advocacy and political dissent generally. Those targeted 
include University of Minnesota and University of Illinois staff 
members and unionists who have been outspoken in opposition 
to U.S. policies. They include activists associated with Students 
for a Democratic Society, the Colombia Action Network and 
the Freedom Road Socialist Organization (FRSO-Fightback) 
group. The labor movement and all defenders of democratic 
rights should respond with powerful mobilizations to denounce 
this political persecution, the latest in the “home front” of the 
imperialist “war on terror.” An injury to one is an injury to all! 

One of the warrants authorizes search and seizure of papers, 
property and electronic records related to alleged violation of the 
1996Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA). 
The warrant bandies about charges, citing no evidence whatso¬ 
ever, of having “supported, attempted to support or conspired to 
support” the Revolutionary ArmedForces ofColombia (FARC), 
the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and 
Hezbollah, the Islamist political party in Lebanon. But the 
main object of the FBI’s fishing expedition appears to be to 
the finances, members, recruiting and structure of the Freedom 
Road Socialist Organization. The Internationalist Group defends 
the activists targeted by these raids and demands a halt to the 
grand jury and the government “investigations,” spying on and 
attempts at intimidation of leftists and anti-war activists! 

prescribes up to ten years in prison for anyone who “know¬ 
ingly provides material support or resources to a foreign ter¬ 
rorist organization, or attempts or conspires to do so.” These 
deliberately vague terms are used to suppress political dissent 
and erase democratic rights that are supposedly guaranteed by 
the Constitution. The Center for Constitutional Rights, which 
issued an 88-page report on The Policing of Political Speech: 
Constraints on Mass Dissent in the U.S. the same day as the 
raids, notes that the AEDPA’s “material support” clause has 
been construed to include “humanitarian aid, expert advice, 
and political advocacy, to any foreign entity that the Executive 
branch decides to designate as a ‘terrorist’ group.” 

Thus courageous civil liberties defense attorney Lynne 
Stewart is in federal prison today for supposed “material sup¬ 
port” to her client - holding a press conference! The AEDPA 
is also infamous for restricting the right of prisoners on death 
row from suing for their freedom even when new evidence 
of innocence and judicial misconduct comes to light. These 
provisions have been used against the renowned black radical 
journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal, an innocent victim of a racist 
political frame-up on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last 
quarter century, among many others. 

This is a classic red squad frame-up job, from the fed¬ 
eral police organization that began in the first “red scare,” 
Woodrow Wilson’s police raids and deportations of thousands 
of union organizers, radicals and socialists during the first 
imperialist world war. The Twin Cities Anti-War Committee 
played a central role in organizing the demonstrations against 
the Republican Party convention in St. Paul in 2008. Before 
and during that event over 300 activists were arrested, some 
charged with felony “conspiracy to commit riot” charges, while 
Minneapolis/St. Paul was transformed into an armed camp. The 
only rioters to be found were the riot police, who assaulted 
peaceful protest marchers with tear gas, concussion grenades, 
and pepper spray. While most of the trumped-up charges have 
been dropped, some defendants go to trial on October 25. 

The U.S. “war on terror,” which has brought nine years 
of mass murder and chaos to the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq 
and now Pakistan, has been from the beginning an assault on 
elementary democratic rights “at home.” In the weeks fol¬ 
lowing 11 September 2001, the FBI rounded up thousands of 
Arab, South Asian and Muslim immigrants, subjecting them 
to indefinite detention without charges. This was soon ac¬ 
companied by the U.S. A. PATRIOT Act, a wholesale assault 
on civil liberaties which was rammed through Congress with 

The AEDPA, signed by Democratic president Bill Clinton, continued on page 38 

Imperialist War Abroad Means Police-State Repression “At Home” 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


From Resistance to Counteroffensive 
to the Struggle for Workers Power 

Focal Point Europe: 
Capitalism in Crisis, 











French high school students, rail and postal workers mobilize in the port of Marseille, 
October 21, against government attack on pension rights. 

Over the past year, a wave of class struggle has swept 
across Europe. In country after country, working people are 
facing devastating attacks on their livelihoods, their past gains, 
and their futures. And they are fighting back. On December 15, 
Greece had yet another one-day nationwide strike - its eighth 
this year. On November 25, more than 3 million workers walked 
out in the biggest strike in Portugal’s history. All fall, France 
was in turmoil as millions of workers and students repeatedly 
mobilized against the government’s pension “reform,” with 
numbers and militancy not seen in years. In Ireland, Italy and 
Spain as well there have been huge marches of hundreds of 
thousands trade unionists, students and youth. Now in Britain, 

angry student protests against drastic fee hikes could spark 
working-class resistance to the government’s program of vicious 
cuts. But demonstrations in the streets, no matter how massive, 
have not stopped European governments - whether of the right 
or “left” - from proceeding with their onslaught. Nor will they 
in the future, for this is not a matter of pressuring over budget 
priorities, it is a concerted capitalist assault on the working class. 
To defeat it, we must go from resistance to a struggle for power. 

The burning question is how to get there. 

The particular issues involved vary from country to coun¬ 
try. In Greece, the battle was set off in December 2009 when 
so-called “bond vigilantes” drove up interest rates on loans 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

On November 24 more than 3 million Portuguese workers struck against the 
Socialist Party government in the largest one-day general strike in the coun¬ 
try’s history and the first in 28 years (since 1982). 

after a ratings agency downgraded 
the country’s credit rating over the 
size of the budget deficit. As part 
of a €110 billion (US$ 140 billion) 
bailout by the International Mon¬ 
etary Fund and the European Cen¬ 
tral Bank, the “socialist” Greek 
government ordered a draconian 
austerity program, slashing public 
sector wages by 30 percent and 
threatening tens of thousands of 
public workers’ jobs. In France, 
the fuse that lit the explosive 
worker-student revolt was a plan 
by the right-wing government to 
raise the retirement age. This was 
understood as the opening wedge 
for a drive against social security 
and other hard-won labor gains. 

In Britain, the detonator was the 
Conservative-Liberal coalition’s 
plan for tripling university tuition 
and eliminating student mainte¬ 
nance grants, the first of a series of 
planned cuts supposedly aimed at reducing the deficit (mostly 
the result of bailing out the banks and war in Afghanistan). And 
in Ireland, Portugal and Spain, workers are up in arms over 
austerity programs aimed at pleasing bond holders. 

The attacks are rooted in the global capitalist economic 
crisis that came to a head in 2008 with the financial panic set 
off by the fall of the Wall Street banking house of Lehman 
Brothers. As major banks faced bankruptcy, housing prices 
collapsed, industrial production plummeted, unemployment 
shot up. Now often referred to as the Great Recession, it is in 
fact a depression which like those of the 1930s or after 1876 
will take years to overcome. At present, numerous governments 
are insolvent and the capitalist financial system could come 
crashing down. Yet after an initial period in which high-flying 
bankers sought trillions in government aid to survive, they are 
now back to business as usual, paying themselves billions in 
bonuses. Of course, someone has to foot the bill to pay off the 
mountain of debt. For the capitalist masters and their politi¬ 
cians, it is the working class that must pay. Using the crisis as 
an excuse, they are attacking workers’ rights and jacking up 
the rate of exploitation to fatten profits. So even though the 
“free market” policies of “neo-liberalism” set off the crisis, 
the neo-liberals are back on the offensive. 

While bourgeois economists spoke of an “upturn” earlier 
this year, it didn’t feel like one to hard-hit workers. Long-term 
unemployment continued to rise in the “jobless recovery,” 
which soon fizzled out. Anger spread over the obscene bonuses 
financiers paid themselves with billions from the public trea¬ 
sury. In the politically backward United States, where there 
is no mass political representation of workers and the labor 
movement is beholden to the Democrats, who currently hold 
the reins of power, the rage has been siphoned off by right¬ 

wing “Tea Party” populists bankrolled by leading billionaires. 
In Europe, with its left-wing, socialist and Labourite political 
traditions, protests against the ravages of the economic crisis 
and government attacks have been led in many cases by the 
unions. As millions poured into the streets to protest, capital¬ 
ist governments, bourgeois media and reformist labor leaders 
have all been caught by surprise at the size, militancy and 
determination of the mobilizations. 

Using time-honored ruses, right-wing regimes in Italy 
and France tried to divert the disgust by launching chauvinist 
attacks on immigrants, Muslims and Roma (gypsies). But the 
“security” offensive fell flat. In France the unions came out 
in defense of the Roma. So bourgeois opinion-makers tried 
another tack, railing against “violence” by “hooded anarchists.” 
They sought to capitalize on the deaths of three workers trapped 
in a bank in Athens that had been firebombed during the May 
5 Greek national (“general”) strike. To no avail: the strikes 
kept on coming. Likewise with the sacking of Conservative 
Party headquarters in London on November 10 accompanied 
by thousands of protesting students. Despite howls of horror 
from the government and mainstream media - as well as “of¬ 
ficial” student leaders - campus occupations and mass student 
marches intensified. A month later, the British heir apparent 
and his consort drove into a crowd of demonstrators, some of 
whom decorated their vintage Rolls-Royce while the shaken 
royals were treated to a chorus of “off with their heads.” But 
all the government/media fear-mongering over “feral mobs” 
of anarcho-“yobs” had zero effect. 

The scare tactics aren’t working because the assault on the 
livelihoods of working people is so severe. Millions of workers, 
students, youth and even many in the middle classes see that 
their lives are being ripped up in order to pay off the banks and 


Aris Messinis/AFP 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Police flee charging demonstrators in Athens, May 5. 

giant corporations - in short, the capitalists - who set off the 
economic crisis. Yet after months of demonstrations and one-day 
nationwide strikes, it’s clear that the usual means of pressure from 
“the street” have no effect, it’s common to hear protesters remark 
that the mobilizations must be “radicalized,” that the struggle 
must be taken to a higher level. But how, and led by whom? The 
labor tops have no intention of waging a serious struggle against 
capital, and instead hold one march after another, hoping to run 
them into the ground. While the unions are workers organizations, 
the bureaucracy that sits atop them is a privileged petty bourgeois 
layer that serves as a transmission belt for the bosses, to make sure 
the ranks don’t get out of hand. The bureaucrats are, in Daniel De 
Leon’s phrase, the “labor lieutenants of capital” and the name of 
their game is class collaboration. 

To wage a serious fight, the labor fakers must be ousted 
by a leadership committed to class struggle with a program 
and the determination to see it through to victory. To defeat 
the attacks on the working class will require the revolutionary 
overthrow of capitalism, as the severity of the economic crisis 
should underline. Yet the vast majority of the European left 
presents a reformist platform that differs at most quantitatively, 
if at all, from that of the pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy. With 
ever-so-slightly different formulas, they call for competing 
coalitions to “fight the cuts” or “fight the right,” when the task 
at hand is to defeat the capitalist attack. Seeking to gain cred¬ 
ibility, these “popular front” type coalitions tie the workers to 
sections of the ruling class. If they talk of “fighting politically” 
or “winning the battle ofpublic opinion,” they mean channeling 
the struggle into the straitjacket of bourgeois parliamentarism. 
But playing by the bosses’ rules is a ticket for defeat. 

The reformist social-democratic and Communist parties of 
West Europe have long been cogs in the machinery of capital¬ 
ist rule, integrated into the state through local administration, 
national parliaments and the mechanisms of the “welfare 
state.” With the latter under full-scale attack by “free market” 

forces, this traditional left has 
been caught between the pressures 
of their capitalist masters and the 
demands of their working-class 
base. So they do nothing (as in 
Britain, so far) or call ritual pro¬ 
tests to blow off steam (Greece, 
France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal). 
The erstwhile “far left,” while 
maintaining a distinct political 
profile, are no longer the radicals 
of 1968, having become com¬ 
fortably ensconced in the labor 
bureaucracy, electoral politics and 
the bourgeois media. But whether 
seeking to build “anti-capitalist” 
parties and coalitions (the NPA in 
France, ANTARSYA in Greece) 
or calling for “new mass (or 
socialist) workers parties,” these 
are reformist political formations 
operating in the confines of bourgeois 
electoralism. They talk of resistance, but they cannot lead a 
revolutionary class struggle to bring down the ride of capital. 

The present crisis highlights as seldom before the urgent 
need for a program of transitional demands such as that put 
forward in the founding document of the Fourth International, 
“to help the masses in the process of the daily struggle to find 
the bridge between present demands and the socialist program 
of the revolution” (Leon Trotsky, The Transitional Program 
[1938]). Over the decades, Trotsky’s program has been dis¬ 
torted by opportunists in myriad ways: classic demands such 
as a sliding scale of wages and hours are watered down to turn 
them into contract demands (an escalator clause and limits on 
layoffs) or appeals to capitalist governments; workers control 
is translated into “self-management” under capitalism; calls for 
workers militias are disappeared. Above all, they leave off “the 
final conclusion: the conquest ofpowerby the proletariat.” In the 
hands of pseudo-Trotskyists, it becomes a “bridge” to nowhere. 
Yet what is required today is precisely to mobilize the power of 
the working class on a program to turn defensive struggles into a 
proletarian counteroffensive on the road to socialist revolution. 

So far the rulers have been able to muddle through, while 
keeping a vigilant eye on the “spreads” (between interest rates 
for German or U.S. bonds and those of country x) as they 
once watched opinion polls. In the imperialist “democracies” 
the vote of “the market” can topple governments, wielding 
far more power than the electorate ever had. The stakes are 
high. Greece, Ireland and Portugal can be “bailed out,” a run 
on Spain or Italy could spell the end of the euro. Trotskyists 
have always opposed the European Union as an imperialist 
alliance. But while national tensions between the rulers could 
blow apart the EU, this is the time to counterpose the Europe 
of the workers to the Europe of the bosses. Until now “inter¬ 
nationalism” for the Euroleft consisted of inviting a couple 
of speakers from other countries to address marches. Today, 
continued on page 38 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

50,000 March in London Against Conservative/Liberal Cuts 

Student Revolt 
Up Britain 

Students outside Parliament in Westminster, London, November 10 protesting tripling of tuition fees. 

19 NOVEMBER 2010 - Finally! When an estimated 52,000 
students marched through London on Wednesday, November 
10, their mobilization ended up shattering not only the windows 
of Conservative (Tory) Party headquarters at Millbank Tower 
but also the eerie calm that had enveloped the country following 
elections last April. The incoming cabinet of Conservative prime 
minister David Cameron and Liberal Democrat deputy PM Nick 
Clegg vowed to impose “painful” cuts to what’s left of Britain’s 
once extensive social programs. Already badly tattered after 18 
years of Tory rule beginning under Margaret Thatcher, followed 
by 13 years of “Thatcher II” under the “New Labour” Party of 
Tony Blair and then Gordon Brown, the “welfare state” was 
about to receive the death blow. So where was the resistance? 
Labour was passive, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) put off 
national protest until March 2011 (!). Except for several solid 
one-day London Tube (subway) and firefighters’ strikes, silence 
on the social front had settled in. Would the Con-Dem coalition 
get away with their program of budget axe murder? 

Not if the students could help it. Organised by the National 

Union of Students (NUS) and University and College Lecturers 
Union (UCU), tens of thousands came by coach from all over 
the country. They even travelled from the farthest reaches of 
Scotland, which will be spared this round of cuts - but students 
could read the handwriting on the wall. As they marched down 
the Strand past the government ministries in Whitehall and 
Parliament in Westminster, they chanted “Tory, Tory, Tory 
- scum, scum, scum.” When they reached the Conservative 
headquarters at Millbank, the pent up anger exploded. About 
500 broke away from the “official” demonstration and began to 
lay siege to and take over the building. With few police to stop 
them, windows were kicked in, the lobby received a thorough 
ransacking, some office furniture was burned in an impromptu 
bonfire. This brought out the riot cops but they were dwarfed 
by the crowd that had grown to several thousand cheering on 
the action. Some protesters managed to reach the rooftop, from 
where they sent a defiant text message: 

“We stand against the cuts, in solidarity with all the poor, 
elderly, disabled and working people affected. We are against 

Workers: The Time for Strike Action Is Now! 
Break with Labourism - Build a Leninist-Trotskyist Party! 

Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Protester delivers swift kick to window of Conservative Party central office 
in Miilbank Tower, London, November 10. Government, media and official 
student leaders piously intoned against “destruction,” but demonstrators 
furious over cuts that could destroy their lives, cheered. 

all cuts and the marketisation of 
education. We are occupying the 
roof of Tory HQ to show we are 
against the Tory system of attacking 
the poor and helping the rich. This 
is only the beginning.” 

“This is only the beginning .” We 
hope so, a lot of the bourgeois political 
establishment fear so. The Guardian 
(11 November) splashed the phrase 
across its front page. It was repeated 
by MPs (Members of Parliament) and 
cabinet ministers as they shuddered 
with recollections of the 1968 demo 
against the U.S. embassy in Gros- 
venor Square over the Vietnam War, 
and the much larger 1990 “riots” over 
the Tories’ “poll tax.” For students 
facing a drastic increase of university 
tuition fees, their lives are at stake: 
tens of thousands will be driven out, 
and many of the rest will be saddled 
with a lifetime of debt. After venting 
against the Tories on Wednesday, much 
of the anger is now directed at Nick 
Clegg and his fellow Lib-Dems who 
pledged during the election campaign 
to “vote against any increase in fees” 
even as secret documents show they were planning to raise 
them. But to really defeat the cuts and fee hikes, it is neces¬ 
sary to mobilize working-class power to take on not only the 
government parties but the capitalist system itself, among 
whose most ardent defenders over the century have been the 
Labour Party, “New” and old. 

The Occupation of Tory Headquarters: An 
“Unrepresentative Minority” of Thousands 

The government and media have sought to divert attention 
from the issue of cuts and fees by expressions of feigned out¬ 
rage over the trashing of the Conservative party HQ, blaming 
it all on an “unrepresentative minority” of “anarchists” and 
assorted riffraff and ne’er-do-wells. The press all ran the same 
photo of a protestor kicking in a window at Miilbank. “Hijack¬ 
ing of a Very Middle Class Protest,” screamed the Daily Mail 
(11 November). The same theme came from official protest 
leaders: UCU general secretary Sally Hunt denounced the 
“actions of a mindless and totally unrepresentative minority.” 
N US president Aaron Porter tweeted his “disgust” at the actions 
of “a minority of idiots.” Before TV cameras he “absolutely 
condemn[ed] the actions of a small minority who have used 
violent means to hijack the protest,” calling them “despicable.” 
What’s truly despicable is this support for the rulers. But what 
else coidd one expect from a right-wing Labourite like Porter 
anxious to use his NUS position to launch his political career, 
as generations of Labour MPs before him have done. The fact 
is, and everybody knows it, that nobody in power would have 

paid the least attention to the students’ march, no matter how 
large, if it weren’t for the Miilbank occupation. 

Time and again, all over the world it is claimed that the 
most militant actions are the result of a “handful of outsiders.” 
Nonsense. John Harris in the Guardian (12 November) quoted 
a colleague who described the scene at Miilbank as “ordinary 
students who were viscerally angry,” adding that this was “an 
early sign of people growing anxious and restless, and what a 
government pledged to such drastic plans should increasingly 
expect.” Damage to property? Please spare us the cynical hand- 
wringing. Cameron and his fellow members of the Bullingdon 
Club at Oxford used to regularly smash up pubs and the like 
in their drunken sprees. Likewise for threatened charges of 
“attempted murder” against demonstrators. In fact, very few 
people were hurt, far fewer than in the G20 protests last year 
where riot police of the Territorial Support Group sought to 
terrorise protesters and killed newspaper vendor Ian Tomlinson 
(for which no cop has been prosecuted, or even disciplined). 
Some 58 protesters have been arrested for the occupation of 
Conservative Party headquarters. There should be an outcry 
demanding that they all be released and all charges dropped. 
The criminals are the government and the ruling class it serves. 

Not all NUS and UCU representatives had the same 
belly-crawling response as their top leaders. Student union 
presidents at the University of London, Sussex University 
and others issued a statement saying: “We reject any attempt 
to characterise the Miilbank protest as small, ‘extremist’ or 
unrepresentative of our movement. We celebrate the fact that 

Dominic Lipinski/Press Association 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Thousands of protesters cheered the occupation of the hated Tories’ HQ. 

thousands of students were willing 
to send a message to the Tories that 
we will fight to win. Occupations 
are a long established tradition in 
the student movement that should 
be defended.” Several thousand 
activists have added their names 
to this statement. Certainly the 
police will use this incident to 
ramp up repression in the next 
round. A “senior police figure” 
was quoted as saying “In the past 
we’ve been criticised for being too 
provocative. During the next demo 
no one can say a word.” But more 
fundamentally, lashing out at such 
symbols of an upper class elite, 
while thoroughly understandable 
and justified, cannot break its power to cause misery for the 
masses. Much more is needed to hit the capitalist rulers in their 
pocketbooks where it counts. To really fight to win, it will be 
necessary to mobilize the power of the working class in ac¬ 
tion. And despite the treachery of the trade-union misleaders, 
millions of British workers are ready to fight. 

Although the government and police commissioners were 
reportedly “caught by surprise” by the size and militancy of 
the students, which far exceeded their expectations, such angry 
protest has long been in the cards. A “senior Tory aide” was 
quoted back in May saying that “if we win, this is going to 
be a deeply unpopular government. They have six months at 
maximum” to get their program of cuts in place. Now, writes 
Michael White in the Guardian (11 November): 

“Right on cue, exactly six months into David Cameron’s 
premiership, the ancient British roar of ‘Tory scum’ echoed 
across central London again. In honour of the coalition’s deal 
on higher tuition fees, student protesters spliced their message 
with cheerful abuse of Nick Clegg. After almost 100 years of 
apathy Lib Dems can hold their heads high - hated at last.” 
And the hatred they are harvesting is not limited to “professional 
protesters,” as Tory spokesmen claim. All accounts agree that 
for many if not most of the students who marched on Novem¬ 
ber 10, including the thousands who cheered the occupation of 
Millbank, this was their first demonstration. It won’t be their last. 

Fee Hikes: A Class Purge 
of Higher Education 

The Con-Dem cabinet’s plans will drastically change 
British universities and schools. University tuition fees are 
set to be tripled to £9,000 (US$14,500) a year! At the same 
time, government expenditure on university instruction is to 
be cut by 40 percent. Not only is this paying “more for worse” 
education, the only way it could be accomplished is if there is 
a big fall in enrolment, which is exactly what they are aiming 
at. The intent, and not only the predictable consequence, is to 
deprive tens, possibly hundreds of thousands of young people 
of a college education. And by cutting as well the £30-a-week 

Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for 16-19 year 
olds and slashing budgets for FE (Further Education) colleges 
(similar to community colleges in the U.S.) by 25 percent, 
universities are set to be places just for the wealthy, leaving the 
working class either unemployed or stuck in dead-end McJobs. 

The responsibility for this class purge of Britain’s universi¬ 
ties is not confined to the Tories and Liberal Democrats who 
are carrying out the horrendous program. This was, after all, the 
outcome of a review by Lord Browne - what better “expert” on 
education than a former CEO of British Petroleum! - that was 
commissioned by the previous Labour government of Gordon 
Brown. The expansion of higher education courses and the 
student population by New Labour under Tony Blair after 1997 
was deliberately under-financed. The costs of paying for it were 
shoved onto students and their families by cutting student grants 
and introducing tuition fees in 1998. While they were at first 
means-tested and many working-class students still studied for 
free, this changed drastically in 2004 when Blair/Brown intro¬ 
duced top-up fees, tripling the maximum of £1,250 to £3,290. 
Like previous Conservative measures, they were mainly aimed at 
expanding the pool of skilled labor: according to the 2003 New 
Labour white paper, “The Future of Higher Education,” students 
are to attend universities merely for the “acquisition of skills.” 

Seeking to one-up Labour’s extreme business-friendly 
policies, the Con-Dem coalition has come out for all-sided 
privatization. Culture secretary Jeremy Hunt announced budget 
cuts with the idiotic claim, “The changes 1 have proposed today 
would help us deliver fantastic culture, media and sport, while 
ensuring value for money for the public” ( Guardian, 26 July 
2010). But “value for money” is hardly an invention of this 
coalition. Commenting on government spending cuts in 1922, 
the historian R.H. Tawney observed: “consider the philosophy 
behind its proposals. It does not actually state, in so many words, 
that the children of the workers, like anthropoid apes, have fewer 
convolutions in their brains than the children of the rich. It does 
not state it because it assumes it.... While most decent men have 
viewed with satisfaction the recent considerable development 
of secondary education, they deplore it as a public catastro- 

Carl de Court/AFP 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


phe, and are indignant that 
education ... is sold ‘below 
actual cost’” ( Guardian , 21 
February 1922). 

The rhetoric of the au¬ 
thors of the 1922 cuts has 
now resurfaced unchanged, 
with talk of the undeserv¬ 
ing poor who commit a 
“sin” by not working for 
starvation pay. Such Social 
Darwinism inevitably has 
a racist character. This was 
recently expressed in its 
crudest form by the Social 
Democrat banker Thilo 
Sarrazin in Berlin, who 
has made waves by openly 
bemoaning the destruction 
of German Kultur by Turk¬ 
ish immigrants. Sarrazin 
argues, as the New York 
Times (13 November 2010) 
summed up his views, that 
“since Muslims are less 
intelligent (his conclusion) 
than ethnic Germans, the population will be dumbed down (his 
conclusion).” That this is not just some crackpot talking was 
underscored by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s pronouncement 
last month that “multiculturalism is dead.” And as Sarkozy in 
France goes in for mass expulsion of Roms and threats to cancel 
immigrants’ citizenship, the Con-Dem government in London 
shares the same worldview, vituperating against an “out of 
control” immigration system. 

This cabinet of 18 millionaires (by the Guardian’ s count) 
really has it in for Britain’s working people. The day after the 
student protest, the government announced plans to replace 
hardship payments (to the unemployed whose benefits have 
been held up) with loans (to be repaid), and to ban anyone who 
refuses a job or “community service” from receiving benefits for 
up to three years. According to the spending review by Chancel¬ 
lor of the Exchequer George Osborne, some £18 billion is to 
be slashed from the welfare system. Public sector workers are 
to be hit with a pay freeze and a 3 percent increase in pension 
contributions - in other words, a pay cut. Local council grants 
are to be slashed by 27 percent. Planned cuts of 500,000 public 
sector jobs could lead to an equal number of private sector job 
losses, adding one million more people to the dole queues (un¬ 
employment lines). While the health service is supposed to be 
exempt from cuts, nurses say 10,000 jobs are threatened. It’s all 
supposed to reduce a budget deficit of £ 149 billion. Yet as a result 
of the world capitalist economic crisis, the Labour government 
funnelled ten times that amount - £1.5 trillion - into the coffers 
of Britain’s banks to stave off collapse. 

But Britain’s students aren’t taking it. The London protest 
was the latest in many in Europe over the austerity measures 

being pushed by the capi- 
0 talists to make the working 
i. class pay for the economic 
S' meltdown. Repeated one¬ 
s’ day “general strikes” in 
5. Greece during the winter 
and spring, mass protests 
in Portugal, a strike by 
Spanish unions against the 
Socialist government in 
Madrid, and now two and 
a half months of weekly 
“days of action” by French 
unions and students 1 : the 
working people of Eu¬ 
rope have demonstrated 
their readiness to do battle. 
Barely three weeks ago the 
New York Times (23 Octo¬ 
ber 2010) was contrasting 
Britain - “stiff upper lip,” 
“inherent stoicism,” “bull¬ 
dog resolve in the face of 
hardship,” and all that - to 
the strike-prone French for 
whom taking to the streets 
is a “rite of passage” for the young. Confronting “five bleak 
years of austerity, the British barely seemed to blink,” the 
writer sagely opined. But now British students are accused 
of “acting French,” and the deputy editor of the Wall Street 
Journal Europe suggests that perhaps French president Nicolas 
Sarkozy would lend Cameron his CRS riot police. 

The fury of British students over the fee hikes and cuts 
was all the more fierce as they had been pushed through by 
the recently elected Lib Dem/Conservatives. After the broken 
promises of Tony Blair/Gordon Brown’s “New” Labour which 
oversaw the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq and repeated at¬ 
tacks on immigrants and the working class, many young people 
(especially students) voted for Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats 
hoping that they would be a ‘progressive’ alternative. They 
have been disappointed - big time. Yet Labour is no opposi¬ 
tion. Even today, while needling Clegg in Parliament, Labour 
spokesmen have not flatly opposed the cuts. They mainly differ 
over the pace, and Labour local councils will be administering 
the cuts. As for the student fee hikes, Labour is now toying 
with a “graduate tax,” which only means that students will 
have to pay off the £9,000 a year fees later. They may quibble 
about specifics, but all the parliamentary parties support the 
attacks on working people in Britain. And that is because all 
of them - including Labour, which Russian Bolshevik leader 
V.I. Lenin long ago characterized as a “bourgeois workers 
party” - uphold the capitalist order. 

1 See our articles “French Students and Workers Strike: May in Oc¬ 
tober? The Spectre of a New ’68” (page 51), “To Drive Out Sarkozy 
& Co., Fight for Power to the Workers” (page 56) and a series of 
reports from Paris on the web site. 

The coalition government of Prime Minister David Cameron 
(Conservative), left, and Deputy PM Nick Clegg (Liberal- 
Democrat), posh twins in a millionaires’ cabinet. Shown 
here in front of No. 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s 
office, after taking office on May 12. Luckily they are wear¬ 
ing different ties so you can tell them apart. Politically they 
are united on a program to make the working class pay for 
the capitalist economic crisis. 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Liberal-Democrat leader Nick Clegg in April 2010, holding up 
his signed pledge to vote against any increase in university 
fees. The entire Lib-Dem parliamentary slate signed the pledge. 
Now they will vote to triple fees as part of coalition government. 

“Broad Coalitions” vs. 
Worker-Student Struggle 

So what is to be done now? British students 
are energized, even exhilarated. NUS leaders want 
to pull back and limit themselves to embarrassing 
Liberal Democrats who signed the “no fee rise” 
pledge. However, the Labourite student bureaucrats 
of the NUS and UCU are hardly in control of the 
protests. On November 10, there was a “free edu¬ 
cation bloc” of assorted left social democrats and 
a “radical students and workers bloc” of a more 
anarchist and syndicalist bent. Now, over opposi¬ 
tion from the NUS, the National Campaign Against 
Fees and Cuts (NCAFC) has called for university 
walkouts and occupations on November 24 and a 
central national demonstration at Trafalgar Square 
to be accompanied by “direct action.” Already an 
occupation has begun at Sussex, after a one-day 
occupation at Manchester U. 

There are a host of leftist student groups in Britain, usually 
led by one or another socialist group, ranging from Communist 
Students of the CPGB (Communist Party of Great Britain) 
and Socialist Students of the SPEW (Socialist Party of Eng¬ 
land and Wales, led by Peter Taaffe) to the Education Activist 
Network (EAN) led by the SWP (Socialist Workers Party, 
followers of the late Tony Cliff). The EAN is a follow-on to 
the SWP’s earlier Student Respect and Another Education Is 
Possible ventures, and of course the Stop the War coalition. 
Where Che Guevara called for “two, three, many Vietnams,” 
the SWP’s variant is two, three, many front groups, one (or 
more) for every “movement” it is tailing at the time (Muslim, 
anti-globalisation, antiwar). It has been noted that while the 
parent organizations may have some differences, the programs 
of their student affiliates are virtually interchangeable. This 
reflects the fact that at bottom they are all part of the social- 
democratic reformist milieu. 

As always, the SWP places itself squarely on the right 
flank. Positioning itself one baby step to the left of the NUS 
leadership, which calls for the graduate tax, the SWP, while 
itself formally in favour of “free education” (that is, the 
abolition of all fees), insists that the EAN should not raise 
this fundamental demand, as that might hinder its opportunist 
manoeuvring in the NUS. Following November 10, the SWP 
decided to pose as the biggest defenders of the Millbank oc¬ 
cupation, crowing that “First through the doors of Millbank 
Tower were members of the Socialist Workers Party...” 
(Socialist Worker, 20 November). The SWP’s perspective 
was set out in a pamphlet calling for “a huge campaign 
that turns every college into a centre of resistance.” This is 

2 Though often referred to in the British press as a Trotskyist, Cliff 
broke with Trotskyism at the start of the Cold War, declaring the 
Stalinist-ruled Soviet Union to be “state capitalist” rather than a bu¬ 
reaucratically degenerated workers state, and in 1950 refusing to 
defend North Korea and the USSR against imperialist attack, an act 
of class treason for which his supporters were rightly expelled from 
the Revolutionary Communist Party. 

bread and butter for the SWP, which looks to everyone from 
CIA-run unions in Poland to mullahs in Iran, but never the 
working class (though while calling for everyone to “build 
the fightback,” it does say that they could “invite local trade 
unionists to come along”). 

Other groups have their own profile. The SPEW calls 
for “building a mass, sustained and determined movement 
that can stop the Con-Dem onslaught” - carefully avoiding 
any attack on Labour - that would be “joined by the power¬ 
ful organisations of the working class.” Meaning they want 
the TU bureaucrats to sign on. Alan Woods’ Socialist Appeal 
(SA), which bills itself as a tendency in the Labour Party, calls 
for “a movement that can bring this government down” - and 
thus pave the way for a return to Labour. They all have their 
criticisms of the “New Labour” of Blair and Brown, and they 
may say that the recently elected Labour leader is not the “Red 
Ed” (Miliband) portrayed in the media. But, the SWP writes, 
“the movement will be looking to Miliband to speak up for 
all those who will be hammered by coalition cuts” (Socialist 
Review, November 2010). And there they and their various 
coalitions all were, lobbying the Labour conference in Brighton 
September 27, “to tell the Labour Government that they must 
change direction,” as the UCU put it. 

Whether in the SWP’s “student power” version or the 
more Labourite SPE W/SA variant, these social democrats act 
as pressure groups on the Labour stewards of capitalist Britain. 
Lobbying Labour, especially now that it is out of office, cannot 
stop the cuts. Only powerful worker-student class struggle, 
independent of all political ties to the bourgeois state, can take 
the struggle forward. 

Dreams of a New Poll Tax Revolt and 
Social-Democratic Support for the Police 

In the wake of the November 10 occupation of Millbank 
Tower, the bourgeois press harked back to the 1990 “poll tax 
riots” as a harbinger of what could be in store. At the same 
time, several socialist groups saw that as a model of how 

National Union of Students 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Poll tax “riot,” 31 March 1990. Bloody police attack on demonstrators sealed 
Margaret Thatcher’s fate. 

mass struggle could bring down this Tory government, as the 
revolt over the poll tax led to the downfall of “Iron Lady” 
Thatcher. SWP: “This is a sign we can resist. The poll tax 
riots show it is possible.” SPEW: study “the lessons of the 
poll tax struggle and how we took on the Tories and won last 
time round.” Socialist Appeal: “The anti-poll tax movement 
... shows that the government can be defeated if a serious and 
effective struggle is mounted.” This is at best a partial truth. 
While hatred of this tax on the poor and working people and 
revulsion over police brutality eventually led to Thatcher’s 
resignation and abandonment of the tax, she was succeeded 
by the Tory John Major ... and eventually by Tony Blair, 
whose “New Labour” government continued the anti-worker 
polices of Thatcher. 

The “poll tax” replaced graduated local taxes (based on 
the rental value of houses) by a single head tax for every 
adult, whether earl or pauper, a capitalist or an unemployed 
worker. Those who didn’t pay would go to jail, bringing 
back the debtors’ prisons of centuries past. The Militant ten¬ 
dency in the Labour Party, from which both Socialist Appeal 
and the Socialist Party devolved, initiated a national Anti- 
Poll Tax Federation. Eventually 14 million people refused 
to pay the tax, making it effectively uncollectible. On 31 
March 1990, some 200,000-plus people jammed into central 
London to protest the tax. They were met with a wanton 
cop attack. Police vans drove into crowds at high speed, 
police horses trampled on demonstrators, police batons 
rained down on old ladies. Millions were shocked as they 
watched the spectacle on TV. The Tory barons concluded 
Thatcher had to go if they were to avoid defeat in the next 
elections. A few months later she was out. And the Tories 
got seven more years in office. 

Bringing down a hated government in a palace coup 

by fellow Tories, though it may 
have given a measure of belated 
satisfaction to those who were 
defeated in the epic coal min¬ 
ers’ strike and other hard-fought 
labour battles, hardly counts as 
a victory for the working class. 
Moreover, when the poll tax 
battle is held up as an model for 
how to struggle today, it is an 
argument that it is possible to go 
around the obstacle of the Trades 
Union Council. In particular 
circumstances, mass civil diso¬ 
bedience may be a possible tactic 
- such as when 14 million people 
are willing to risk jail rather than 
pay the heinous tax. But to actu¬ 
ally defeat Thatcherism, it was 
necessary for the trade unions to 
undertake political strike action 
against the poll tax, as Trotskyists 
called for at the time. Today it 
will take workers action on a national basis to defeat Cameron 
and Clegg’s cuts and fee hikes. And that means a fight within 
the labour movement. 

Akey issue is the nature of the police. Various left groups, 
but particularly the heirs of Militant (SPEW and SA) charac¬ 
terize the cops as “workers in uniform.” But there is a vital 
difference between workers conscripted into the army and 
the police, who are strikebreakers and professional agents of 
repression. “We have to distinguish ordinary police officers 
from Chiefs of Police,” write Socialist Appeal supporters 
Adam Booth and Ben Peck about the recent student march (In 
Defense of Marxism web site, 12 November). But did chiefs 
of police kill Ian Tomlinson at the G20 protests in 2009; or 
execute Jean Charles de Menezes with shots to the back as he 
entered the London Underground in 2005; or beat anti-fascist 
demonstrator Blair Peach to death in 1979? No, these were 
the acts of “ordinary police officers,” who are the armed fist 
of the capitalist state. 

Not surprisingly, the authors of the article sought to 
distance SA from the “attack” on Millbank Tower, saying 
it was “initiated by a minority of ultra-lefts” and was “not a 
method that the labour movement would adopt.” An article 
by the SPEW criticized the NUS leadership for denouncing 
the protesters at Millbank, but remarked elliptically that 
“stewarding of the protest was inadequate - particularly at 
the end.” Meaning that had SPEW “stewards” been there, 
they would have tried to prevent the occupation of Tory 
headquarters? Naturally, the SA does not call to defend 
the arrested protesters, and the SPEW has only a mealy- 
mouthed reference to “no victimisation of students involved 
in the demonstration.” What constitutes victimisation, and 
what about non-students? The SPEW scandalously includes 
a leader of the Prison Officers Association among its mem- 

Coalition of Resistance 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Coalition of Resistance march protesting cuts, October 20. What welfare 
state? Defending remaining social gains will require hard class struggle, not 
“popular-front” coalitions with minor bourgeois parties and politicians. 

bers, in total contradiction to Leon Trotsky’s insistence 
that “The worker who becomes a policeman in the service 
of the capitalist state, is a bourgeois cop, not a worker.” In 
contrast to the SA/SPEW, the League for the Fourth Inter¬ 
national calls for cops out of the unions (see our article, 
“Her Majesty’s Social Democrats in Bed with the Police,” 
The Internationalist No. 29, Summer 2009). 

Class Struggle vs. Class Collaboration 

Clearly there needs to be a massive mobilization against 
the war on the working class spearheaded by the Conserva¬ 
tive/Liberal Democrat coalition government. Mobilize on 
what basis? Campus occupations and mass marches are 
necessary, but with the strategic aim of mobilizing workers’ 
industrial power on a program of class independence. Talk 
of “student power” is illusory - by themselves, students do 
not have the social weight to bring down the government, 
although they can play a key role in sparking struggle. And 
marching alone will do little. A million people demonstrated 
against the Iraq war, but it didn’t sway Labour PM Tony Blair, 
who kept right on wagging his tail for poodle master George 
Bush. What is called for is joint strike action pointing toward 
a general strike , based on elected strike committees , to break 
the stranglehold of Labour and a trade-union bureaucracy 
beholden to capitalism. 

There must be a struggle to mobilize labour’s strength, in 
the factories and on the streets, now, not some time next year, 
in a sharp class battle against the capitalist rulers. This will 
face opposition from the Trades Union Congress tops, who 
have been dragging their heels - and not just from open right¬ 
wingers like Unison, which clearly wants to avoid a showdown 
with the government. Tony Woodley, general secretary of 
Unite, Britain’s largest union, and one of the “awkward squad” 
who sought to “reclaim” Labour for “socialism,” saluted the 
“anger and passion” of the students, but would only commit to 
"linking up with the broadest range of other groups, including 

students, to make the government 
change its mind.” Like how? Even 
Bob Crow, general secretary of 
the Rail, Maritime and Transport 
Workers, which earlier appealed 
to the TUC for “coordinated strike 
action,” now says only that the 
RMT seeks “the strongest possible 
co-ordinated and peaceful resist¬ 
ance in the coming months.” 

What they are aiming at is to 
build yet another “broad” coali¬ 
tion of a popular-front character 
that would tie workers, students, 
immigrants and others to minor 
bourgeois forces and a program 
of cosmetic reforms, in order 
to ensure that any protest does 
not challenge capitalist rule. An 
example was the no 2 eu coali¬ 
tion, initiated by Crow and the 
RMT, an alliance with the thoroughly bourgeois splinter 
Liberal Party for the June 2009 elections to the European 
parliament. One of the coalition’s top candidates was John 
McEwan, a Socialist Party supporter and leader of the chau¬ 
vinist 2009 strike by Lindsey oil refinery workers whose 
main demand was “British Jobs for British Workers.” (The 
strike committee tried to prettify this disgusting demand 
as hiring of “locally skilled union members” instead of the 
Italian and Portuguese workers employed there.) This year a 
popular-frontist Coalition of Resistance has been launched 
by former Labour left MPTony Benn last August to fight the 
cuts and “defend the welfare state.” This is also what most 
groups on the British left are angling for. But such “coali¬ 
tions” are vehicles for class collaboration and roadblocks 
to militant class struggle. 

After World War II, the Labour Party under Clement 
Atlee and Aneurin Bevan enacted a series of measures to 
salvage bankrupt British capitalism. As Britannia no longer 
ruled the waves, having lost its Empire, the bourgeoisie 
hoped to stave off the “communist menace” by nationalizing 
unprofitable but vital branches of the economy (coal, rail, 
steel, docks, electrical energy), and providing some social 
services to the workers, notably the National Health Service 
and council housing. Following the counterrevolution in 
the Soviet Union and East Europe during 1989-92, capital¬ 
ists the world over no longer felt the need to make conces¬ 
sions to the workers they exploited. In Britain the process 
of dismantling the “welfare state” had already begun under 
Margaret Thatcher. It continued apace under “New Labour” 
and now the bourgeoisie is determined to finish it off under 
the Con-Dem cabinet. 

No “broad coalition” is going to stop this wrecking ball, 
only mobilizing workers’ power and the students’ militancy 
in sharp class struggle can do the job. To stop the purge 
of higher education, the mass redundancies (layoffs), the 

Solveigh Goett 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


London tube strike, 7 September 2010. RMT must not 
stand alone! Urgently needed: all-out strike action 
to defeat the cuts. 

destruction of local services will take a battle far surpassing 
the 1984-85 coal strike in scope and intensity. What then? 
In the 1978-79 “winter of discontent,” British workers un¬ 
dertook widespread strike action, but since they had nothing 
to replace the Labour government of James Callaghan, the 
forces of reaction won, in the figure of Margaret Thatcher. 
A general strike would starkly pose the question of which 
class rules. If the workers movement is not prepared to fight 
for power, as the TUC was not in the 1926 general strike, 
the result will be a colossal defeat. Today, the only way to 
defend the remaining gains of the “welfare state” of distant 
memory is by fighting to overthrow capitalist rule. 

To Defeat the Cuts, Fight for 
International Socialist Revolution 

The struggle against the class war on the workers cur¬ 
rently being waged by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat 
coalition is no isolated national battle. Across Europe, 
workers and students are confronting a drive by govern¬ 
ments and business to make the working class and large 
sections of the middle classes pay the costs of the capital¬ 
ist economic crisis. The bankers who triggered the new 
Depression are demanding that the bailouts be paid for by 
massive elimination of social programs such as they have 
sought for years. They have no compunctions. Last week, 
Barclays Bank announced it was anticipating paying out 
£2.24 billion in bonuses in 2010, an amount equal to the 
entire planned cuts in government expenditures on uni¬ 
versity teaching budgets. Meanwhile, market speculators 
hold entire countries hostage. Earlier this year Greece was 
targeted, today it is Ireland, tomorrow Portugal, and the day 
after tomorrow.. .Britain? 

If the Con-Dem cabinet does not succeed in ramming 
through the cuts, the impersonal forces of “the market” will 
take their revenge and push the country into sovereign bank¬ 
ruptcy, which would make the collapse of the Wall Street 
banking house Lehman Brothers in September 2008 seem 

small potatoes. When social-democratic leftists speak of a 
“socialist transformation” of Britain through an enabling 
act, as Militant did in the 1970s and ’80s, and their offspring 
do today with programs for “socialist nationalisation” and 
“public ownership” of 150 top companies under “demo¬ 
cratic workers’ control and management” (SPEW, “Where 
We Stand”) they are peddling democratic illusions. Such a 
“transformation” would be no more socialist than the post- 
WWII nationalisations by Labour, and in any case a peaceful 
transition to “socialism” through parliamentary channels is 
impossible. It will take nothing less than socialist revolution 
on an international scale to expropriate British capital, and 
only by fighting for that goal can British workers hope to 
defend what’s left of their past gains. 

The starting principle of Marxist politics is the class 
independence of the workers from the bourgeois exploiters. 
Thus the League for the Fourth International opposes vot¬ 
ing for any bourgeois candidate, party or coalition - even 
for workers parties in “popular fronts” - no matter how 
leftist their rhetoric may be. In Britain, after a dozen years 
in office, Labour was thoroughly discredited and no class¬ 
conscious worker or genuine Marxist could have voted in 
the 2010 elections for these warmongers and loyal servants 
of British (and U.S.) capital. But class independence is only 
the beginning. To obtain decent housing, quality health care, 
free and accessible education for all, capitalism must go. 
And it is necessary to build a workers party to lead that 
struggle, by putting forward a transitional program leading 
to socialist revolution. 

Workers should mobilize to force British troops out of 
Afghanistan - and Northern Ireland - with proletarian ac¬ 
tion, including strikes, such as heralded by the West Coast 
U.S. port strike against the war on May Day 2008 (which 
was endorsed by the RMT). Fight mass unemployment by 
demanding a shorter workweek, with no loss in pay, to divide 
the available work among all hands. Government attacks 
on Travellers must be vigorously opposed, and the anti- 
“foreigner” backlash combated by demanding/)/// citizenship 
for all immigrants. The growing threat of the British National 
Party, the English Defence League and anti-Muslim attacks 
should be met by workers defence guards to disperse the 
fascist scum. In the face of all the hoopla over the upcoming 
wedding of Prince William of the House of Windsor (will 
his swastika-loving brother Prince Harry attend in full Nazi 
regalia?), we call to abolish the monarchy and the House of 
Lords, and for a voluntary federation of workers republics 
of the British Isles and a Socialist United States of Europe. 

It is necessary to struggle within the unions as well as 
among students, the black and immigrant populations and all the 
oppressed to break from Labourism, the heritage of an all-em¬ 
bracing social-democratic reformist party, and forge a proletarian 
revolutionary vanguard. The LFI seeks to build the nucleus of a 
workers party such as Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, to educate 
and lead (in word and deeds) the fight for a workers government, 
as part of the struggle to reforge the Fourth International as the 
world party of socialist revolution. ■ 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Workers Revolt: Government Wage Slashing, Jobs Massacre 
“Could Lead to Civil War” 

Greece on the Razor's Edge 

Some 300,000 marched in Athens on May 5 to protest anti-worker austerity program of “So¬ 
cialist” government of George Papandreou. 

Economist Trade Unionism, Left Electoral Coalitions No Answer 
Build a Leninist-Trotskyist Party to Fight for Socialist Revolution 

On December 15, more than 100,000 angry demonstra¬ 
tors rallied outside the Greek parliament in Athens shouting 
“thieves, thieves” and “no sacrifice for the rich.” Workers 
were protesting drastic anti-labor legislation by the “Socialist” 
government which would effectively eliminate the minimum 
wage, throw out collective bargaining agreements, privatize the 
state railways and fire thousands of workers. Bus drivers went 
on a three-day strike, tying up traffic throughout the capital; 
piles of trash, uncollected due to a sanitation workers strike, 
burned; TV, radio and newspapers were shut down; workers 
occupied the Acropolis where 300 are due to be sacked. Police 
fired tear gas and flash grenades at demonstrators. Hundreds 
of youths used sledgehammers to break paving stones, hurling 
them at the cops. Police, “rioters,” journalists and cameramen 
all wore gas masks. It was by one count the tenth one-day 
“general strike” in a year, and certainly the largest and most 
militant since May ... when workers tried to storm parliament. 

Greece is where the current wave of European workers’ 
struggles against a massive capitalist assault on their livelihoods 
first broke out this past January. It is also where they have gone 

the farthest, bordering on a full-scale revolt. With a population 
of 11 million - the same as the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil - Greece 
has a cultured, leftist and militant working class. Despite facile 
talk of Greece as “the birthplace of democracy” (in the slave 
society of Athens!), it also has a long history of oppression. From 
the fascistic Metaxas dictatorship in the 1930s, Nazi occupation 
and an anti-Communist bloodbath in the st-WWII civil war in the 
’40s to a U.K./U.S.-imposed monarchy in the ’50s and a military 
junta in the ’60s and ’70s, a weak but bloodthirsty ruling class 
backed by the leading imperialist powers held Greece in thrall 
for decades. This means that Greek workers have a long history 
of struggle against repression, and that the threat of bonapartist 
dictatorship is never far off - including today. 

Greek capitalists have been living in fear of an uprising 
threatening their rule since the December 2008 youth revolt 
over the police murder of 15-year-old Alexandras Grigoropou- 
los. The center of Athens was aflame as hundreds of youths 
clashed with the militarized riot police; police stations were 
attacked around the country. In succeeding days, thousands 
demonstrated in protest, with the support of some trade unions 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Athens in flames, December 2008, as thousands protested police murder 
of 15-year-old Alexandros Grigoropoulos. 

and many trade-union militants. After 
the global economic crisis hit in 2008, 
the ruling class decided they needed 
some protection from the left to stave 
off worker unrest. In October 2009 
elections the Panhellenic Socialist 
Movement (PASOK) ousted the right- 
wing New Democracy (ND), under 
fire even in bourgeois circles for its 
rampant corruption and budgetary 
finagling. Despite its name, PASOK 
is a liberal bourgeois-nationalist party 
founded by former prime minister An¬ 
dreas Papandreou, the son of Giorgios 
Papandreou who was installed as a 
puppet prime minister by the British 
in 1944 to crush the Communists, and 
father of the present prime minister 
George Papandreou. 

Many voted for PASOK expecting that it would at least be 
more worker-friendly than the ND spokesmen for big business. 
But in office, Papandreou has defended the interests of Greek 
and European capital to the hilt, imposing vicious austerity 
programs of mass layoffs, drastic salary cuts and tax hikes on 
working people far worse than the rightist New Democracy 
even proposed. He has been able to do this so far because of 
the support of PASOK trade unionists who lead the ADED Y 
(public employees) and GSEE (the General Confederation of 
Greek Labor, including private sector workers) federations. 
When Papandreou announced in November 2009 that the 
projected budget deficit was actually 12.7 percent of the gross 
domestic product (GDP) instead of the 3.7 percent earlier 
predicted by his ND predecessor, and total government debt 
was over €300 billion (about US$430 billion), the markets 
went bananas. Ratings agencies downgraded Greece’s credit- 
worthiness, raising the rates it would have to pay to borrow 
money to finance the deficit (and to roll over existing debt). 

Bowing before finance capital, in December 2009 Papan¬ 
dreou announced a pay freeze for government employees and 
sharp cut in twice-annual bonuses, which make up a large part 
of their pay. In response, public sector unions called a strike 
on February 10, declaring “We won’t pay for their crisis.” A 
February 24 one-day general strike included private sector 
workers as well. But the austerity plan was not sufficient to 
satisfy the bond speculators. So the government announced 
further cuts, including an additional 10% public sector wage 
reductions and raising the value added (sales) tax, just to pay 
the €32.5 billion in interest due this year. This sparked an 
even larger one-day general strike on March 11. Still it was 
not enough for “the markets.” So the Greek government asked 
the European Union and International Monetary Fund to bail it 
out, and on May 2 ordered massive cuts to public sector pay, 
eliminating bonuses for many government workers, raising 
the VAT to 23% for most goods, slashing pensions and raising 
the retirement age from 61 to 65. The EU and IMF agreed to 
provide €110 billion in loan guarantees. 

This devastating attack on workers’ living standards pro¬ 
voked rage in the population. While German chancellor Angela 
Merkel and the financial press scold “the Greeks” for "living 
beyond their means,” Greek workers have a longer workweek 
(over 42 hours on average, compared to 38 in France) and are 
among the lowest paid in the Eurozone (earning just over €800 
a month, as opposed to €1,250 in France), while the cost of 
living is higher even than in Belgium. Pensions average €700 
(less than US$ 1,000) a month. And now with the cuts imposed 
by the “socialist” government, teachers, for example, have 
seen their already low pay slashed by a staggering 30%. In 
addition, the unions calculate that unemployment has shot up 
to 1 million, out of a workforce of under 5 million. Attacks of 
this magnitude threaten the vital minimum necessary for the 
very survival of the proletariat, and have seldom been achieved 
except under the iron heel of military rule. It’s not surprising, 
then, that a new general strike broke out whose size and fury 
haven’t been seen in Greece since the fall of the hated “colonels 
regime” in 1974. 

The protests kicked off at daybreak on May 4 as support¬ 
ers of the Communist Party (KKE) took the Acropolis and 
unfurled giant banners in Greek and English proclaiming, 
“Peoples of Europe Rise Up.” Public sector workers went out, 
shutting schools and government offices and bringing air, rail, 
maritime and public transport to a halt. The next day, May 
5, up to 300,000 demonstrated in the streets of Athens, with 
huge marches in Thessaloniki, Patras and elsewhere around 
the country. In the capital, the PASOK-controlled unions kept 
their march away from the center, yet GSEE leader Giannis 
Panagopoulos was loudly booed by his own ranks (on March 
6 he was physically attacked by irate workers). The KKE-led 
PAME (Militant Front of All Workers) labor front rallied in 
front of Parliament. As their rally was breaking up, thousands 
of angry demonstrators showed up. According to the London 
Guardian (6 May), “hundreds tried to storm the building, 
screaming ‘let the bordello burn’.” Riot police then savagely 
attacked the crowd. Soon battles were raging between cops 

Aris Messinis/AFP 

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

and protesters all over central Athens. 

The KKE denounced those who tried to enter parliament. 
But the angry demonstrators who surged across Syntagma 
Square were not the “black block” or “far left.” The Guard¬ 
ian reported that many were “once-stalwart supporters of the 
governing socialist PASOK party.” Others observed that most 
came directly from the PAME rally. In the course of the fight¬ 
ing, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the Marfin Bank, where 
workers were trapped inside: three employees tragically died 
in the blaze. Was the firebomb thrown by provocateurs (as 
some anarchists claim), or by proponents of “direct action” 
who had no concern for the potentially lethal consequences 
of their acts? The fact is, as a bank worker reported, that the 
employees had been required to work that day or lose their 
jobs, there were no adequate fire extinguishing devices, and 
the boss had locked the doors. While lamenting the tragedy, 
bank workers did not let themselves be deterred and struck 
the next day, rightly blaming the police and management for 
the deaths, while distancing themselves from the anarchists. 

It may be a tad overheated to describe the May 5 general 
strike as “semi-insurrectional,” as some have done. But it 
certainly showed that the anger of Greek workers had reached 
the boiling point and large numbers were prepared for radical 
action going far beyond the ritual marches that have achieved 
nothing. The government and the capitalist rulers breathed 
a sigh of relief when subsequent one-day general strikes on 
May 20, June 29 and July 8 were less tumultuous, though 

still huge. After the August holidays (which many 
families saw as perhaps their last summer vacations 
for years to come), thousands of workers protested 
a speech by Papandreou at the Thessaloniki trade 
fair in September, where he announced a lowering 
of corporate taxes on profits to the lowest rate in the 
EU, while the VAT (mostly paid by workers) is now 
one of the highest. Some “socialist”! Most of the fall 
was taken up with campaigning for local elections 
on November 7, in which the PASOK lost 1 million 
votes. While the KKE and an “anti-capitalist left” 
coalition advanced to over 12% of the vote, the big¬ 
gest increase was for abstention. 

But after a brief electoral interlude, the battle 
continues. Papandreou and the PASOK have carried 
out every step that the “troika” of the IMF, European 
Commission (EC) and European Central Bank (ECB) 
have required - to no avail. In December 2009, after 
the first downgrade of Greece’s credit standing, 
speculators pushed the spread between interest rates 
on a German and a Greek ten-year government bond 
to 2.5% (250 basis points). Today, the spread stands 
at 10%! And the day after Parliament voted, Moody’s 
rating agency, while congratulating the government 
for “significant progress in implementing a very 
large fiscal consolidation effort,” announced it was 
considering lowering Greek notes to junk-bond status 
if it concluded that the country’s debt-to-GDP ratio 
(currently 125%) was not stabilizing. 

In fact, every reputable economist knows - and 
many have said publicly - that Greece cannot possibly pay the 
amounts demanded by the international creditors. As the auster¬ 
ity measures sink the country deeper into economic depression, 
lowering the gross domestic product by 4 percent this year, 
probably more in 2011, the debt will soon rise to 150% of GDP. 
Even with EU/IMF loan guarantees, no commercial bank will 
lend to it. Only a dramatic return to prosperity would enable 
Greece to grow its way out of this morass, and there’s no sign 
of that on the horizon. As the prominent German economist 
Hans-Werner Sinn of the IFO Institute in Munich remarked 
to an elite gathering at Lake Como, Italy in early September, 
“The policy of forced ‘internal devaluation,’ deflation, and 
depression could risk driving Greece to the edge of a civil war. 
It is impossible to cut wages and prices by 30 per cent without 
major riots.” In any case, the present course will inevitably 
(and possibly soon) lead to a blowup. 

I. KKE: “Communists” 
vs. Revolution 

This excruciating situation cries out for revolutionary 
leadership. Instead, most of the Greek left and labor movement 
are responding in their usual manner, ranging from economist 
trade unionism to bourgeois electoralism, opportunist maneu¬ 
vering and coalition-building. The Stalinist-reformist Com¬ 
munist Party, by far the largest group on the left, has attracted 
support in recent months mainly for its name, symbolizing 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Demonstrators of the PAME (All Workers Militant Front), the trade-union ten¬ 
dency led by the Greek Communist Party (KKE) during May 5 general strike. 

rej ection of capitalism, rather than 
its actual policies, which prop up 
bourgeois rule. In the November 
local elections, the KKE raised its 
share of the vote from 7.5% in the 
October 2009 parliamentary elec¬ 
tions to 10.7% today, picking up 
60,000 votes, many from former 
PASOK voters. The KKE-led 
PAME trade-union front has also 
gained strength at the expense of 
the PASOK-controlled ADEDY 
and GSEE, of which it is formally 
a part. But what does the KKE/ 

PAME do with this increased sup¬ 
port? Basically they call for more 
one-day general strikes 1 , just as 
the French reformist union and 
left leaders keep holding “days of 
action” that go nowhere. 

In the “general strikes” that 
have taken place on a nearly 
monthly schedule in Greece over the past year, with August 
off for summer vacation and another break for the fall local 
elections, PAME has insisted on organizing separately from 
PASOK-controlled unions. But while criticizing the auster¬ 
ity measures of the Papandreou government, the Stalinists 
have blocked any protest going beyond usual marches. The 
ritualistic character of these parades can be seen in the march 
routes: typically PAME will start at one point (e.g., at Syn¬ 
tagma Square in front of Parliament) then march to another 
spot a couple of kilometers away (e.g., Omonoia Square, where 
GSEE headquarters are located). Meanwhile, ADEDY/GSEE 
will go the opposite route, avoiding contact by marching along 
separate avenues. For the next march, they reverse itineraries. 
The clear purpose, both for PASOK and the KKE, is to avoid 
at all costs united working-class action in the streets, which 
could lead to the fall of the Papandreou government. That, for 
all their “opposition” to its policies, they don’t want. 

Sometimes, however, unable to control the workers’ 
anger, the bureaucrats miscalculate and get caught up short 
in their attempts to stage-manage militancy. What that hap¬ 
pens, as on May 5 when hundreds of thousands of protesters 
poured into the streets, the KKE doesn’t hesitate to denounce 
the ranks of its own trade-union front as “provocateurs” and 
even “fascists.” For what? For trying to enter parliament hop¬ 
ing to prevent the despised bourgeois politicians from voting 
for austerity measures that will ruin the lives of millions of 
Greek workers. This craven denunciation is nothing new for 
the KKE, which dismissed the “petty-bourgeois” youth revolt 
in December 2008 as “Talibans,” “gangsters,” “drug dealers,” 
“pimps” and “police agents”! The same KKE condemned the 

1 What passes for a “general strike” these days in most of Europe 
is a one- or at most two-day walkout by the most militant sectors 
plus a big parade - one more pressure tactic rather than a showdown 
between the capitalist government and labor. 

student sit-ins at the Athens Polytechnic in November 1973, 
even though its leaders now lay wreaths on the monuments 
commemorating the uprising against the colonel’s regime (as 
do representatives of the ND!). 

It is the same Stalinist party that betrayed the Decem¬ 
ber 1944 uprising against the British occupiers, begging 
Churchill at the Flotel Grand Bretagne for a “government 
of national unity.” Meanwhile, its OPLA hit squads hunted 
down and killed hundreds of Trotskyists in order to head off 
the possibility of the struggle turning into a revolution. 2 It is 
the same KKE that joined a coalition government under the 
rightist New Democracy in 1989. The same KKE which in 
its December 2008 “Theses on Socialism” hails “the leader¬ 
ship of Stalin,” defending his nationalist dogma of building 
“socialism in one country” against Trotsky’s Marxist critique. 
It even justifies the bloody Moscow Purges of 1936-37. 3 To¬ 
day, the KKE calls for a “social popular front” to “repel and 
undermine the barbaric measures” of the government and the 

2 Vassilis Bartzotas, a KKE central committee member, boasted in 
a message to Stalin’s GPU secret police that the OPLA killed 800 
Trotskyists. See the article by Loukas Karliaftis (who barely es¬ 
caped assassination himself), “Stalinism and Trotskyism in Greece 
(1924- 1949),” in Revolutionary History, Spring 1991. 

3 The draft theses made an elliptical reference to “some excesses in 
the measures taken” in the purge trials, while quoting the approval 
of U.S. ambassador Joseph Davies as “proof’ of the correctness of 
the verdict. In fact, the purge trials were a blood sacrifice to im¬ 
perialism, hoping to achieve “peaceful coexistence” by killing off 
the entire remaining political bureau of the Bolshevik Party which 
made the revolution, except for Stalin who played only a marginal 
role in October 1917 (after earlier opposing a workers revolution). 
The theses also cited as an authority the Belgian “ice-axe Stalin¬ 
ist” Ludo Martens who justified Stalin’s assassination of Trotsky. In 
the final “Resolution on Socialism,” the reference to “excesses” was 
dropped, so the KKE is on record as giving uncritical support to the 
bureaucracy’s murderous anti-communist purge. 


Athens News Antonis/Citizenside 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Hundreds of workers from the PAME demonstration 
parliament, for which they were denounced by KKE 
vocateurs” and “fascists.” 

tried to occupy 
leaders as “pro- 


nist Party 

“plutocracy.” 4 While talking of “people’s power” and “social¬ 
ization of the banking system,” there is no mention of socialism 
or revolution. What the KKE is angling for is a new edition 
of Salvador Allende’s Popular Unity government in Chile. 
We have seen that film before, and know its bloody ending. 

For these arch-Stalinists, popular-front class collabora¬ 
tion and patriotic appeals go hand in hand. The KKE calls on 
a nationalist basis for Greek withdrawal from the European 
Union and the Eurozone, rather than opposing this imperialist 
alliance with workers action (see below). It fails to mention 
that the attraction of leaving the euro is that it would allow 
Greece to devalue its currency, which while making its exports 
cheaper would make imports more expensive and inevitably 
lead to a sharp drop in workers ’living standards through infla¬ 
tion. And while today KKE spokesmen rail against capitalism, 
should Greece exit the EU, you can bet your last drachma that 
the Stalinists will hold out their hand to a mythical “patriotic 
bourgeoisie,” offering their services for another “government 
of national unity.” Media propaganda to the contrary, the last 

4 Aleka Papariga, "KKE’s Proposal - Solution for the Crisis” (12 

thing the KKE wants is to organize for revo¬ 
lution. Savas Michael-Matsas of the EEK 
(Revolutionary Workers Party) 5 reports 
(Prensa Obrera, 11 November): 

“In a recent parliamentary debate, Prime Min¬ 
ister Papandreou (president of the Socialist 
International) challenged the secretary gen¬ 
eral of the KKE, Aleka Papariga, saying that 
‘her party wished Greece to default in order to 
promote world revolution,’ Papariga rejected 
the accusation, noting that her party saw no 
possibility of defeating capitalism and didn’t 
support the idea of world revolution like 
‘Trotsky, Pablo 6 , Castoriadis 7 or Marcuse 8 ’!” 
Last May, Gen-Sec Papariga laid out the 
KKE’s aims: “since the political balance 
of forces does not permit us effective in¬ 
tervention in favour of the people, we put 
priority on the movement,” i.e., “for work¬ 
ing people to disassociate themselves from 
PASOK.” Translation: since we can’t stop 
the attacks, we’ll use the opportunity to win 
over PASOK’s working-class supporters. 

But what about the KKE leader’s claim that nothing can be 
done about the attacks on workers’ rights and living standards, 
except to try to limit the damage? The germ of truth in this lie 
is that little can be effected within the framework ofcapitalism 
and bourgeois parliamentary “democracy, ” whose limits the 
KKE scrupulously respects. Nothing to be done? Papariga’s 
May 15 statement came only ten days after the biggest, most 
militant working-class mobilization in Greece since the fall 
of the junta in 1974, after a demonstration in which hundreds 
of militants of the KKE’s labor front tried to storm parlia¬ 
ment (for which the KKE denounced them). There is plenty 
that a genuinely communist, revolutionary party could do. It 
could prepare for a general strike until the anti-worker laws 
are withdrawn by calling for the election of strike committees 

5 The EEK is affiliated with the Coordinating Committee for the Re¬ 
foundation of the Fourth International led by the Argentine Partido 
Obrero of Jorge Altamira. 

6 Michel Pablo (Mikhailis Raptis) became the main leader of the 
Fourth International after many of its leading cadres were killed by 
the Nazis or the Stalinists during World War II. In the 1950s his ca¬ 
pitulatory policies toward the Stalinsts and other non-revolutionary 
leaderships, abandoning the struggle for an independent Trotskyist 
vanguard, led to a deep split of the FI and its destruction as the world 
party of socialist revolution. 

7 Kornilius Kastoriadis broke with Trotskyism in 1948, declaring 
the Soviet Union under Stalinism to be “bureaucratic capitalism” 
rather than a bureaucratically degenerated workers state which must 
be defended against imperialism while fighting for a proletarian po¬ 
litical revolution to oust the parasitic bureaucracy, as Trotsky held. 
Kastoriadis founded the Socialisme ou Barbarie group in Paris and 
definitively broke with Marxism in the 1960s. 

8 Herbert Marcuse was a philosophy professor and writer originally 
associated with the Frankfurt School of “academic Marxism.” His 
Hegelian idealist views (as opposed to Marxist materialism) were 
influential in the 1960s, and he gained fame as the father of the New 
Left in the United States. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


everywhere; it could organize the permanent occupation of 
central Athens by thousands of workers; it could call on bank 
workers to open the books, to find out what happened to the 
€100 billion in bailout money given to the banks to prevent 
their default. Etc. 

All of this, of course, would bring into question the foun¬ 
dations of capitalist rule. And that the “Communist” Party 
will not do. 

II. Left Electoral Coalitions: 
Antechamber to a Popular Front 

In addition to the KKE, there are quite a number of 
would-be socialist and communist organizations in Greece, 
grouped together in two main coalitions, SYRIZA (Coalition 
of the Radical Left) and ANTARSYA (Anti-Capitalist Left 
Cooperation for the Overthrow). Both the “radical” and the 
“anti-capitalist” left coalition are electoral fronts running on 
platforms of reforming capitalism that, with a little finessing, 
could be accepted by a bourgeois “partner” - a split-off from 
PASOK, or some minor party, perhaps an eco-capitalist Green 
varietal. Each of the left coalitions is made up of a dozen or so 
smaller groups, many of which have been in prior coalitions 
with each other. Such electoral combinations are made possible 
by the fact that the actual political programs of the various 
components are not all that different from each other. And in 
the struggle against the assault on the working class by the 
PASOK government on behalf of the EU/IMF/ECB “troika,” 
neither SYR1ZA nor ANTARSYA call for a counterattack 
against capitalism. Their laundry lists of demands are entirely 
on the bourgeois parliamentary terrain. 

SYR1ZA is the older of the two alliances, dating from the 
2004 elections and an earlier “Space for Dialogue” going back 
to 2001. Its leading party, Synaspismos (which itself began 
as the Progressive Left Coalition), traces its lineage to the 
“Eurocommunist” split from the KKE, originally called the 
KKE-interior (later called the Greek Left). 9 Far from represent¬ 
ing a “radical left” alternative to the Stalinist reformism of the 
KKE and the bourgeois Hellenic Socialist Party government, 
SYRIZA’s politics are traditional reformist social democracy. 
As such, it has had a hard time deciding whether it wanted 
to be an opposition to or a pressure group on PASOK. This 
contradiction reached a breaking point this summer, when the 
right wing of Synaspismos split to form the Democratic Left, 
which in the November 2010 elections ran candidates on the 

9 A 1968 split in the Greek CP produced the KKE-interior which 
rejected Kremlin tutelage, prefiguring and later aligning with the 
Eurocommunists. The latter was a current that arose in the West 
European Communist parties, led by the Spanish PCE under San¬ 
tiago Carrillo and the Italian PCI under Enrico Berlinguer, which 
broke with Moscow in order to integrate themselves more fully into 
capitalism through popular fronts with bourgeois forces. Eurocom¬ 
munism was a stage in the social-democratization (and in the case 
of the PCI, liquidation) of these parties. In the guise of rejecting 
Stalinism, they discarded the last vestiges of Leninism, including 
democratic centralism and the dictatorship of the proletariat. When 
the second anti-Soviet Cold War broke out in 1980, the Eurocom¬ 
munists refused to defend the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. 

leader of 

PASOK ticket. SYRIZA, on the other hand, ran a slate in the 
Attica regional elections, including Athens, headed by Alexis 
Mitropoulos, a founding member of PASOK who recently 
resigned from the government party’s national council over 
differences with its “neo-liberal policies.” 

While SYRIZA mostly consists of ex-Stalinists (and 
Mao-Stalinists of the KOE) who have become social demo¬ 
crats, a couple of ostensibly Trotskyist outfits are also part 
of this coalition. This includes Xekinima, the Greek section 
of the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) led by 
Peter Taaffe, while Marxistiki Foni, part of the International 
Marxist Tendency (IMT) of Alan Woods, is a current inside 
Synaspismos. Both the CWI and IMT come out of the Militant 
tendency of Ted Grant in Britain, notable for its decades- 
long submersion in the Labour Party. The whole Militant 
tradition is one of “entrism,” burying themselves in the big 
social-democratic or Stalinist reformist parties and seeking 
to pressure them to the left. Another component of SYRIZA 
is the DEA (International Workers Left), which is linked to 
the International Socialist Organization in the United States. 
Several of these groups joined SYRIZA in 2007-08, after a 
slight “left turn” in Synaspismos and when the coalition was 
up to 18% in the opinion polls due to a crisis in PASOK. Now 
that SYRIZA has split, its candidates got barely 4.5% in the 
2010 local elections, and the opportunists are lamenting that 
they may have picked the wrong horse. 

Just as they were forever calling on the Labour Party 
in Britain to adopt a “socialist program,” the CWI and IMT 
groups in Greece call for Synaspismos/SYRIZA to commit 
to a “clearly left-wing program” for a “left government” (Xe¬ 
kinima), or alternatively for a “truly socialist government” 
(Marxistiki Foni), in fighting the right wing of this coalition 
which yearned to join a “center-left” government with PASOK. 
Yet when the pseudo-Trotskyists talk of a “left” or “socialist” 
government, this would be a government of the capitalist state. 
Even if it commits to a program for “full employment” and 
“nationalise the big monopolies, all the commanding heights 
of production,” etc. - as the British Labour Party under Clem¬ 
ent Atlee and Aneurin Bevan did in the late 1940s - such a 
government would remain subject to the capitalist market. 
Genuine Trotskyists explain to the masses that no bourgeois 
government, no matter how left it talks, can provide full em¬ 
ployment or expropriate the capitalists (as distinguished from 

Athens News 

Athens IMC 

The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 


ANTARSYA banners (foreground) in 100,000-strong 
strike demonstration in Athens, December 15. 

nationalizing the losses of certain bankrupt sectors). That can 
only be done by a revolutionary government based on workers 
councils that bring down the state of the capitalist exploiters. 

The second alliance, the “anti-capitalist left coalition” 
ANTARSYA, was formed in early 2009, also as a combination 
of previous coalitions. Its components include the NAR (New 
Left Current) 10 ; the OKDE-Spartakos; * 11 and the SEK (Social¬ 
ist Workers Party). 12 If SYRIZA’s openly social-democratic 
policies can sometimes place it to the right of the Stalinist 
KKE, ANTARSYA assumes a more radical posture - while at 
bottom it is no less reformist. And if SYRIZA’s vote has been 
declining, ANTARSYA has picked up steam electorally, qua¬ 
drupling its 2009 score to 98,000 in the November 2010 vote, 
giving it about 1.8% of the vote and eight local councillors. 
This led SEK leader Petros Constantinou (who was elected to 

10 Originating in a split of KKE youth members in 1989 in opposi¬ 
tion to the KKE joining (along with PASOK) an all-party govern¬ 
ment led by the right-wing New Democracy. 

11 Greek section of the United Secretariat (USec), the heirs of Ernest 
Mandel who claim to be the Fourth International although their poli¬ 
tics are counterposed to authentic Trotskyism. 

12 Linked to the British SWP and the current founded by Tony Cliff 
which labeled Stalin’s Soviet Union “state capitalist” and refused to 
defend the USSR in the imperialists’ anti-Soviet Cold War. 

the Athens city council) to wax lyrically about how “the anti¬ 
capitalists have a big opportunity to help lead the whole of 
the left and the movement to a victory of historic dimensions” 
{Socialist Review, December 2010). To draw such grandiose 
conclusions from this modest result shows ANTARSYA’s 
parliamentarist nature. 

ANTARSYA is seen by various of its components as a 
precursor to some kind of “anti-capitalist” left party, along the 
lines of the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) in France, where 
Mandelites and Cliffites amiably cohabit in the leadership. 
Where the pseudo-Trotskyists in SYR1ZA orient toward the 
periphery of the Stalinist KKE and its offshoots, their coun¬ 
terparts in ANTARSYA look to the “anti-globalization” move¬ 
ment which, as in France, also includes bourgeois elements. 13 
But politically, their programs are pretty much interchange¬ 
able, so much so that if someone hacked into the websites of 
SYR1ZA and ANTARSYA and switched their programs in the 
dead of night, it is doubtful that anyone would notice. The lat¬ 
ter’s program includes: nationalization of banks under workers 
control; stop payment of the foreign debt; a ban on layoffs; 
“secure and decent jobs for all”; wage increases; tax capital; 
“cuts to military expenditures”; health care, social security and 
public education for all; legalizing immigrants; refusal to obey 
EU and IMF directives; exit from the Eurozone and European 
Monetary Union, and “an anti-capitalist exit from the EU.” 

In a statement of the “European radical left” on the 
economic crisis and in solidarity with the struggle in Greece, 
these demands are watered down to: stop pension “reform”; 
“health and education are not for sale”; for a “public bank¬ 
ing service and financial system under public control”(!); a 
guaranteed right to work, etc. (see Socialist Worker [Britain], 
8 May). In either version, nothing in this platform goes be¬ 
yond the limits of capitalism, and deliberately so. The call to 
“tax the rich/capital” was raised by none other than the head 
of the IMF, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (“Greece Urged to Tax 
the Rich,” Financial Times [London], 8 December). And any 
number of bourgeois governments have pledged themselves 
to achieve full employment, though few have and then only 
temporarily. These are essentially democratic demands to be 
implemented by a more left-wing bourgeois regime. It is a 
program geared toward a popular front including elements in 
and around PASOK disappointed by the conversion of these 
“Hellenic socialists” to free market “neo-liberalism.” As such, 
this “radical left” platform is in reality a program to salvage 
bankntpt Greek capitalism when it is on the point of collapse. 

III. A Revolutionary Program to 
Defeat the Capitalist Offensive 

Thus in the face of the existential threat to the Greek 
proletariat, while hundreds of thousands repeatedly take to 
the streets to show their anger and will to struggle, what the 
Greek left offers instead of a revolutionary mobilization of 
workers’ power, is the usual reformist pablum and hunting 
for votes in the framework of bourgeois “democratic” parlia- 

13 In France, the ecologists symbolized by Jose Bove and the Attac 
movement of Le Monde Diplomatique director Ignacio Ramonet. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


mentary politics. 

In Greece as in France, the reformists’ demands and their 
whole mode of struggle reflect the basic fact that they seek not 
to overturn capitalist rule, but rather to find a niche within it 
as a pressure group. Unfortunately for them, the bourgeoisie 
has launched a frontal attack on the working class in order to 
stave off its own collapse. So when old-line social democrats, 
pseudo-communists and even younger “anti-capitalists” try to 
divert resistance to the capitalist assault into electoral politics 
or siphon off anger with endless marches, they have no crumbs 
from the capitalist table to hand out, hoping to buy off sections 
of the workers. In this situation, with the manifest willingness 
of the working class to fight back against capitalist attack and 
the equally clear incapacity of the reformist left, resolving the 
crisis of leadership is key, as Trotsky insisted in the Transitional 
Program. Revolutionary Marxists put forward a program oftran¬ 
sitional demands to turn defensive struggles into a proletarian 
counteroffensive leading to international socialist revolution. 
We seek to build a vanguard workers party to lead the exploited 
and oppressed from resistance to a struggle for power. 

The clash between reformist and revolutionary programs 
is constant. Take the demand for nationalization of the banks, 
which is put forward by the KKE, the “radical left” and “anti¬ 
capitalist left” coalitions and all their components. At the pres¬ 
ent time, the Greek banldng system - at least in its operations 
within Greece - is essentially bankrupt. Its debts to European 
and North American banks and the imperialist agencies (IMF, 
ECB, etc.) vastly exceed its assets and any income it expects 
to receive from outstanding loans. Certainly the savings and 
accounts of working- and middle-class depositors should be 
guaranteed. But for the government to take over the banks today 
would be to rescue the leading Greek capitalists and financiers 
from collapse: it is a pro-capitalist not an anti-capitalist demand. 
Look at what happened with the nationalization of the banks by 
Mexican president Jose Lopez Portillo in 1982 at the time the 
famous “debt bomb” exploded. This was a measure that saved 
the Mexican bourgeoisie from utter ruin. A dozen years later, 
after recapitalizing the bankrupt financial institutions, they were 
reprivatized. Trotskyists do not call for “trash can socialism” or 
socializing the capitalists’ losses, but for expropriation of the 
banks - and the entire bourgeoisie -by a workers government. 

As a step in that direction, Greek workers today should 
occupy the banks, instituting workers control, and “open 
the books’’ so everyone can see the financial swindles that 
have been going on. This is a very different demand than the 
reformists’ talk of “public ownership” under “public control,” 
or even “socialization” of the banks. What they are presenting 
is a program for a “left” bourgeois government. Thus an article 
by the editor of Marxistiki Foni (IMT), “The EU, Greece and 
the Demands of the Left” (29 June), after listing a series of 
demands, concludes: “To implement this program as a whole, 
requires the election of a leftist socialist government .” If he 
adds “based on self-organization of workers in every workplace 
and every neighborhood,” etc., this is just to cover the fact that 
he is calling for a government installed by a bourgeois election. 
Likewise, when the reformists refer to “workers control,” they 
mean the revisionist distortion of this transitional demand into 

“ self-managemenf ’ under capitalism. 14 But having a union 
commission occasionally glance at some fraudulent statement 
cooked up by the capitalist bankers is very different from the 
workers effectively taking control of the banks, on the road 
to workers revolution. 

Similarly with the international demands of the various 
left groups. ANTARSYA calls for “immediate stoppage of 
foreign debt payments,” some left groups call for a “morato¬ 
rium,” SYRIZA leader Tsipras wants to “restructure the terms” 
of Greece’s public debt (and “perhaps write off some of the 
debt”), KKE leader Papariga says only that “The public debt 
will be re-examined under people’s power.” These wishy- 
washy demands, each more feeble than the last, all present a 
program for a “left government” trying to work out a deal with 
the creditors. Temporary debt moratoriums and “restructuring” 
debts have been common in Latin America, although this still 
leaves the debtor country chained to the imperialist banks. The 
SEK raises the correct demand to “abolish Greece’s debt” to 
the imperialist bankers (but then waters this down to stopping 
payment for the purposes of its electoral coalition). Yet even 
in this “left” version, the reformists don’t make clear that the 
dominant imperialist powers would oust any government and 
subject to a devastating embargo any country that dared to 
cancel their debt. Abolition of the imperialist debt requires 
workers revolution, as the Bolsheviks did in 1917, and inter¬ 
national extension of the revolution. 

What about Greece’s relation to the euro and the European 
Union? ANTARSYA and the KKE call for Greece to leave the 
EU, various components of SYRIZA do not. For Trotskyists, 
our opposition to the imperialist European Union is not nation¬ 
alist but internationalist, opposing the Europe of the capital¬ 
ists by fighting for workers rule - a socialist united states of 
Europe. To call for Geece to exit the EU and drop the euro 
in favor of the drachma is quite different - this is a bourgeois 
nationalist demand, with negative consequences for Greek 
workers. What concretely would be accomplished by Greek 
withdrawal from the Eurozone? It would be able to devalue its 
currency, making Greek exports and Greek vacations relatively 
cheaper. It would increase tourist income; whether it would 
enable Greece to export more is debatable, since much of its 
industrial capacity has been destroyed. But it would also make 
servicing Greece’s euro-denominated debt more expensive, and 
imports more costly - producing serious inflation. In fact, a 
principal effect and main purpose of currency devaluations is 
to slash wages through inflation, which is a lot easier for the 
bosses than imposing a direct pay cut. 

Thus in calling for Greece to leave the European Union, and 
drop the euro and even to abolish the debt, leftists are angling for 
a political bloc with a section of the bourgeoisie, and the PASOK 

14 Ernest Mandel carried out this revisionist operation in 1968, just 
when a fight for workers control as Trotsky defined it - dual power 
in the factory - was eminently possible as a means to combat the 
Stalinists’ sellout of the French general strike. Mandel’s embrac¬ 
ing of self-management (“ autogestion ”) served as a basis for his 
French followers’ alliance with the Unified Socialist Party (PSU) 
of the long-time bourgeois Radical and ex-prime minister Pierre 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

~ ' ' T? 1 ■ 

Greek troops participate in the U.S./NATO war/occupation of 
Afghanistan. Trotskyists say: Drive out all imperialist forces! 

government in particular. In an article on “How can 
Greek workers beat the IMF?” ( Socialist Worker, 15 
May), the British SWP argued that: 

“The ruling class is vulnerable. It could decide that 
the best way out of the crisis—and to protect its 
power—is to abolish Greece’s debt. 

“The Greek government could pull out of the euro, 
take charge of its own currency and defy the IMF’s 
demands for cuts.” 

This is not just the opinion of the British Cliffites. 
Supporters of the SEK in Athens argued the same 
pro-capitalist line. 

Calls for Greece to leave the EU are not limited 
to left-wing Greek nationalists. Mainstream bourgeois 
economists like Paul Krugman, Nouriel Roubini 
and Hans-Werner Sinn have stated that as part of a 
“controlled default,” Greece will have to abandon the 
euro. 15 No matter how severe the austerity, they argue, 

Greece will never be able to pay the full amounts owed 
to the international bankers as long as it is tied to the 
euro. Moreover, if bankers don’t have confidence in 
Greece’s ability to pay, it won’t be able to get loans to 
finance its annual budget deficit of 13% of GDP - or 
even its unattainable target of 3%. If Greece does abandon the 
euro, Krugman writes, “it will play something like Argentina in 
2001, which had a supposedly permanent, unbreakable peg to the 
dollar.... [I]t will send shock waves through Europe, possibly 
triggering crises in other countries” {New York Times, 7 May). In 
Argentina, the abandonment of the U.S. dollar peg led to the fall 
of five governments in the space of a week, factory occupations 
and movements of laid-off workers (the piqueteros). Capitalism 
is still intact on the Rio de la Plata, but Argentine workers paid 
the price with a devastating fall of their living standards. 

Many on the left, particularly in and around the KKE, speak 
of Greece as being subject to “imperialist oppression,” thereby 
portraying withdrawal from the EU as an “anti-imperialist” 
step. Yet Greece is not some semi-colonial country struggling 
for independence. It is a sub-imperialist power whose capitalists 
own the largest shipping fleet in the world (though mostly not 
sailing under the Greek flag); whose banks have historically 
had a privileged position in the eastern Mediterranean and are 
now buying up banks and companies throughout the Balkans; 
and which economically dominates Macedonia and Albania. 
Moreover, there are small Albanian and substantial Macedonian 
minorities in northern Greece. The KKE calls to “defend the 
territorial integrity and the sovereign rights of our country” and 
joins the Greek government in referring to its northern neighbor 
as FYROM (Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) while 
calling to “safeguard Greece” from the “irredentist views of the 
leadership of FYROM.” 16 In contrast. Trotskyists support the 

15 Sinn: “All the alternatives are terrible but the least terrible is for 
the country to get out of the eurozone, even if this kills the Greek 
banks.” Krugman: “What remains seems unthinkable: Greece leav¬ 
ing the euro. But when you’ve ruled out everything else, that’s what’s 
left.” “Roubini Says Greece May Lead Euro Exodus,” Bloomberg 
BusinessWeek, 12 May. 

16 “About the situation in the Balkans and the issue of the FYROM 

Macedonian right to self-determination and fight for a socialist 
federation of the Balkans. 

Significantly, some who call for Greece to exit the EU do 
not call for Greek withdrawal from NATO. Why not? Because 
that could weaken Greece militarily in its eternal jousting with 
Turkey, both over Cyprus and the Aegean Sea, where Ankara 
claims that several islands held by Greece belong to it. The 
Stalinist-nationalist KKE, while opposing NATO, vociferously 
upholds “The struggle for sovereign rights in the Aegean, for the 
territorial integrity of our country.” 17 This is no abstract issue for 
the KKE: as recently as last July Greek F-16 fighter jets inter¬ 
cepted Turkish F-16s near the island of Ikaria, the only locality 
where the Greek Communist Party has close to a majority. 18 
But as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels wrote in the Communist 
Manifesto, that “the workers have no country (fatherland)” so 
long as the bourgeoisie rules. Genuine Marxists support neither 
side in Greek-Turkish disputes over the Aegean and Cyprus, 
and call instead for unity with Turkish and Turkish-Cypriot 
workers in struggle against capitalism. 

While ANTARS YA calls in its program for “cuts to military 
expenditure” and several of its components call for withdrawal 
from Afghanistan, the League for the Fourth International says 
“not one euro for the imperialist military” and calls to drive all 
U.S./NATO occupation forces (including the 125-man Greek 
contingent) out of Afghanistan. Domestically, the economic 
crisis has been accompanied by the growth of ultra-rightist 

name,” KKE statement, 8 November 2007. 

17 “Report of the Central Committee of the KKE to the 17th Con¬ 
gress,” February 2005. 

18 Ikaria, located near the Turkish coast, was used as a prison island 
under the Metaxas dictatorship, and again for Communist prisoners 
during the post-WWII Greek Civil War. A number of Communists 
stayed on the relatively underdeveloped island and in the November 
2010 municipal elections the KKE received 48 percent of the vote. 
However, all the other parties joined together to prevent it from con¬ 
trolling the local government. 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


EU chief Barroso threatens dictatorship in Spain, Greece, Portugal if auster¬ 
ity is rejected. From left: Gen. Francisco Franco, caudillo who ruled Spain 
from 1939 to 1975; Col. Giorgios Papadopoulos, who led military junta that 
ruled Greece from 1967 to 1974; and Antonio Salazar, who established 
right-wing authoritarian regime that ruled Portugal from 1932 until 1975. 

forces such as the Popular Orthodox 
Rally (LAOS) and openly Nazi-fascist 
groups such as “Golden Dawn,” which 
ominously got 5% of the vote in Athens 
and which has mounted virulent anti¬ 
immigrant campaigns. In the face of 
right-wing attempts to whip up chauvin¬ 
ist hysteria, ANTARSYA calls vaguely 
to “legalize immigrants,” Trotskyists 
fight for full citizenship rights for all 
immigrants and for workers defense 
against anti-immigrant attacks. 

The same clash between reformist 
and revolutionary politics is manifest 
in the question of methods of struggle 
to be employed. With one-fifth (or 
more) of the labor force out of work, 
with less than one youth in four hav¬ 
ing a job (and most of those being 
part-time, temporary or for short-term 
contracts), and now with looming mass 
layoffs, the issue of unemployment is 
a key battleground for Greek workers. 

The call for a shorter workweek with no loss in pay (a sliding 
scale of hours), to provide jobs for all through distributing 
the available work among all takers, is a classic demand of 
Trotsky’s Transitional Program. Likewise with the call for 
indexing pay to inflation (a sliding scale of wages), which will 
be vital should Greece abandon the euro. But in the programs 
of the reformists, these demands - which prefigure a socialist 
planned economy - are to be implemented when a future “left/ 
socialist government” gets elected. In contrast, revolutionary 
Trotskyists call on the workers movement to mobilize its power 
today to impose these demands against the resistance of the 
bourgeois rulers. 

Thus under the batch of anti-labor laws just voted by 
the PASOK majority in Parliament, the government plans to 
privatize the state railway OSE, and in preparation for that, to 
fire 2,500 rail workers (40 percent of the total). The POS rail 
union has staged repeated strikes over the last six months to 
protest the privatization/layoff plan, but only for one or a few 
days at a time. Faced with this death threat from the capital¬ 
ists, rail workers should strike and occupy the OSE until the 
government’s plan is withdrawn, including cancelling all 
layoffs and wage cuts. Kick out management, stop all freight 
traffic, perhaps maintain passenger service. Ask government 
workers to help them inspect the state railroad’s books. If that 
is not enough, occupations could be extended to include, say, 
the Acropolis, where workers have not been paid for months 
(and riot police recently attacked union pickets). Their example 
would soon be followed in other sectors facing the massive 
jobs slaughter by the PASOK budget axe murderers. 

The growing brutality of police attacks on demonstra¬ 
tors points to the danger that the ruling class could resort to 
bonapartist measures in enforcing its anti-worker offensive. 
Indeed, the head of the EU, former Portuguese prime minister 

Jose Manuel Barroso, told trade unionists several months ago 
that if austerity measures were not approved, Greece, Spain 
and Portugal “could virtually disappear in the way that we 
know them as democracies.” The London Daily Mail (15 June) 
portrayed Barroso’s warning as “an ‘apocalyptic’ vision in 
which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim 
to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and 
public services collapse because their governments run out of 
money.” Clearly this is blackmail, yet the bonapartist threat 
is real. The workers movement must build up its defensive 
capacities. Unions should initiate worker defense guards to 
defend strike pickets and protests, including flying squads 
to come to the aid of workers under attack - and immigrants 
threatened by fascist gangs. However, the rare mentions of 
workers defense guards in the reformist left press have called 
for their formation to protect workers demonstrations from 
... the anarchists! 19 

What will it take to defeat the bosses’ attacks? Accounts of 
the “general strike” mobilizations in Greece as far back as last 
February quote demonstrators complaining that such marches 

19 Following the deaths of the three bank workers in the May 5 gen¬ 
eral strike, Xekinima (the CWI affiliate) issued a press statement the 
next day declaring, “the first task to which the organised workers’ 
movement and particularly the mass parties of the Left should re¬ 
spond to, is the defence of the rallies and mass actions of the work¬ 
ing class, by all means, from these ‘anti-state’ groups.” They were 
echoing the KKE and SYRIZA tops and along with them were ca¬ 
pitulating to the hysteria whipped up by Papandreou and the bour¬ 
geois media. Trotskyists are against the capitalist state, including 
when it is administered by sniveling social democrats like Militant 
- in Liverpool, England between 1983 and 1987 - who consider 
cops to be “workers in uniform” and support police “strikes.” While 
taking necessary precautionary measures to protect the integrity of 
demonstrations, th e first task for revolutionary communists would is 
to defend them against the murderous bourgeois state. 

AP and EPA 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Workers march in Moscow during during general strike, October 1905. 

are not about to force the govern¬ 
ment to back down, and more mili¬ 
tant tactics are needed. Yet what 
does the “radical/anti-capitalist” 
left offer? Essentially more of 
the same. Thus an article by Fred 
Weston of the IMT and Stamatis 
Karagiannopoulos of Marxistiki 
Foni states: “The fact is that the 
bourgeoisie can live with a few 
general strikes and protests as long 
as these don’t seriously challenge 
their power.” 20 Quite true. Their 
conclusion? “What is required is 
a 48-hour general strike of all sec¬ 
tors, both public and private, with 
mass rallies all over Greece.” Yet 
the May 4-6 mobilization already 
amounted to a 72-hour strike by 
key sectors! “After that the move¬ 
ment needs to be taken to a higher 
level,” namely an “all-out struggle 
... to stop the PASOK government 
in its tracks.” Flow is not specified. 

But the situation cries out for a real 
general strike to defeat the capitalist attack and open the way 
to workers revolution. 

Many would-be socialists and anarcho-syndicalists make 
the general strike into the be-all and end-all of class struggle. 
(The anarchist equivalent is a fetish for occupations: “Occupy 
Athens, London, Rome,” read a slogan on a wall during the 
December 15 strike.) Some point to Rosa Luxemburg’s en¬ 
thusiasm for the mass strikes that swept Russia in 1905. But 
by itself, the strike (withholding labor) is essentially a passive 
form of defensive struggle. Trotskyists stress that while the 
general strike poses the question of power, it alone cannot 
resolve it. The general strikes in Russia ultimately led to the 
Moscow uprising of December 1905. In his article summing 
up this experience, Lenin wrote: “A peaceful strike and dem¬ 
onstrations immediately ceased to satisfy the workers. They 
asked: What is to be done next? And they demanded more 
resolute action.” Recalling Marx’s observation that the prog¬ 
ress of revolution also produces strong counterrevolutionary 
tendencies, Lenin spelled out: 

“The strike was growing into an uprising, primarily as a result 
of the pressure of the objective conditions.... Over the heads 
of the organizations, the mass proletarian struggle developed 
from a strike to an uprising. This is the greatest historic gain 
the Russian revolution achieved in December 1905.” 
-“Lessons of the Moscow Uprising” (March 1906) 

The organs of struggle thrown up in such a battle could 
become workers councils, like the soviets in tsarist Russia, and 
eventually become the framework of a proletarian state. That 
depends centrally on the leadership of a vanguard workers party 
like the Bolsheviks, taking the struggle in the direction of social- 
ist revolution not in the distant future but in the here and now. 
20 “Greece: What Now?” In Defense of Marxism (18 June) 

The IMT article does say that “the question of who is to 
govern the country, and in the interests of which class, would 
be posed.” But what is their answer? As “a political alternative 
to the present government,” they call for “a united front of the 
KKE and Synaspismos/SYRIZA aimed at the wider labour 
movement.” They add: “Unless these two parties adopt a fully 
worked out socialist programme, come together and direct their 
propaganda at the ranks of the labour movement who support the 
PASOK, then the present stalemate will continue.” This is not 
calling for a united front for workers action , but an appeal to 
the sellout party/union bureaucracies to form a propaganda hloc 
with “socialist” rhetoric. The OKDE-Spartakos, for its part, calls 
for “united mobilization to defeat the government’s measures,” 
noting that the KKE/PAME “go to great lengths never to call 
actions jointly or in the same place as the majority unions.” 21 
Others cite as a precedent Trotsky’s appeal for a workers united 
front in France in 1934, following a violent fascist demonstration 
against the bourgeois Radical government. Yet while saying that 
Marx and Lenin were prepared “to make practical agreements 
with any mass organization for the defense of the daily interests 
of the proletariat,” the Bolshevik leader emphasized: 

“[I]t is not true that the proletariat is in need of unity in and of 
itself. It needs revolutionary unity in the class struggle _Op¬ 

portunistic ‘unity’ has proven itself to be the road to ruin.... 
Such unity is a rope around the neck of the working class. 
“We need genuine, revolutionary, fighting unity: for the resis¬ 
tance against fascism, for the defense of our right to live, for 
an irreconcilable struggle against bourgeois rule, for the full 
conquest of power, for the dictatorship of the proletariat....” 

21 Tassos Anastassiadis and Andreas Sartzekis, “Workers against 
the so-called stability programme,” International Viepoint No. 423, 
April 2010. 

Hulton Archive 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


- “France Is Now the Key to the Situation” (March 1934), 

Writings of Leon Trotsky (1933-34) 

The reformist misleaders of the unions can sometimes 
be forced by pressure from the ranks and the severity of the 
attacks to undertake defensive actions: this is what happened 
this past spring in Greece and in the autumn in France. But 
even then, they place themselves at the head of mobilizations 
only to sell them out. That is why Trotskyists direct their 
appeals for an all-out general strike to the workers organiza¬ 
tions themselves, including but not focusing on the leaders; 
and also why we call for the formation of elected strike com¬ 
mittees to take control of the struggle out of the hands of the 
pro-capitalist bureaucrats. In fact, the general strike with the 
greatest revolutionary potential in recent times, in France in 
May 1968, came about largely because of the initiative of 
the masses overcoming bureaucratic resistance. And in any 
case, the KKE, SYR1ZA or ANTARSYA, whether separately 
or united, cannot be an alternative to PASOK, for they also 
ultimately support bourgeois rule, having been thoroughly 
integrated into the capitalist electoral apparatus. Calling on 
committed reformists to be transmogrified into revolutionaries 
can only breed illusions. 22 

As for the anarchists, their repertoire consists essentially 
of endless skirmishes with the police that, in the absence of a 
revolutionary mobilization of the working class to defeat the 
guardians of bourgeois “law and order,” can only be a form 
of street theater. It makes for dramatic photos, and sometimes 
tragedy, while offering ample opportunity for police provo¬ 
cation. While pseudo-socialist reformists see their number 
one task as “protecting” demonstrations from the likes of the 
“black bloc,” Trotskyists defend anarchist and autonomist 
militants against capitalist state repression. At the same time 
we underline that “direct action” by small groups, a program 
born of desperation and despair, undercuts the struggle to 
raise revolutionary consciousness among the proletariat and 
promote the self-organization of the workers and oppressed 
in overthrowing capitalism. 

There can and should be “popular uprisings” in Europe 
against the breakdown of services and against the bourgeoisie’s 
austerity plans, but it is crucial that such upheavals be led by the 
working class, and that they aim at bringing down capitalism 
and instituting workers rule. This prospect is still distant, but 
when hundreds of thousands of Greek working people repeat¬ 
edly strike and occupy Athens, when thousands of trade union¬ 
ists boo their leaders off the stage, when hundreds of workers 
attempt to storm the Greek parliament, the union bureaucrats 
as well as spokesmen for the bourgeoisie can see quite clearly 
where this is heading. Their response is to try to head it off, 
for like their social-democratic predecessors in Germany in 
1918-19. they fear revolution like the plague. The formation 
22 Note also that the “radical/anti-capitalist” left’s opposition to PA¬ 
SOK is only conditional (“so long as the right-wing PASOK leader¬ 
ship continues to collaborate in these crimes being carried out by 
the international capitalists against the working people of Greece,” 
as the IMT put it [In Defense of Marxism, 24 February]). Let Papan- 
dreou nationalize a couple of banks and these pseudo-Trotskyists 
would eagerly offer their support, “critically” of course. 

of politically undefined “new mass workers parties” - even if 
you add the adjective “socialist” - cannot defeat the capitalist 
attack. To turn the present defensive struggles of the Greek 
working class into a proletarian counteroffensive and to lead it 
forward to the overthrow of bourgeois rule, the central need is 
for a genuinely communist, Leninist-Trotskyist workers party. 

In a resolution on Europe from its recent international 
congress, the CWI writes: “But what has saved capitalism, 
so far, has been the political weakness of the working class, a 
result of the past decades’ falling back in class consciousness, 
that has meant there has been no general counter-posing of 
socialism as the alternative to capitalism” (posted CWI web 
site, 23 December). Actually, no: what has saved capitalism 
has been the betrayals of the leadership. This same argument 
has been proffered by opportunists the world over, in order 
to excuse their own failure to fight for revolution. 23 (It must 
be admitted that in the case of the CWI, IMT, USec and the 
rest, the argument has a certain twisted logic: since their own 
policies consist of chasing whatever is popular, if there is no 
“mass movement” for socialism, how can they tail after it?) As 
Lenin emphasized - and Marxists from the then-revolutionary 
Karl Kautsky to Leon Trotsky also held - consciousness of 
the need to fight for socialist revolution to overthrow capitalist 
rule does not arise spontaneously, it results from a dialectical 
interaction between the masses’ experience of class struggle 
and the intervention of the revolutionaries. 

Instead of the “class patriotism” of the KKE, a Leninist- 
Trotskyist party would be animated by proletarian interna¬ 
tionalism. Waging the struggle on a Europe-wide rather than 
a national basis is indispensable, as the capitalist offensive 
against the working class is continental in scope. Even a lim¬ 
ited victory in Greece, or anywhere else, would have to spread 
internationally or soon be overturned. Such a revolutionary- 
internationalist leadership of the working class does not now 
exist in Greece. Should one therefore throw up one’s hands 
and say that, alas, until such a leadership arises nothing can 
be done? Or seek to pressure the existing anti-revolutionary 
leadership to change its spots? Both would be a betrayal of the 
workers’ cause. Instead we must build a Bolshevik vanguard 
party through intervening in the struggles of the working class 
on the program of Lenin and Trotsky, fighting for a socialist 
united states of Europe and to reforge the Fourth International 
as the world party of socialist revolution. ■ 

23 Notably the International Communist League, or Spartacist tenden¬ 
cy, in expelling long-time cadres in 1996-97 who went on to found 
the Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International, 
rejected the IG’s assertion: “The central thesis of the 1938 Transi¬ 
tional Program of the FI fully retains its validity today: ‘The historical 
crisis of mankind is reduced to the crisis of the revolutionary lead¬ 
ership.... the crisis of the proletarian leadership, having become the 
crisis in mankind’s culture, can be resolved only by the Fourth Inter¬ 
national.’ ” Trotsky’s thesis, the ICL wrote in revising its program a 
year later, was outdated by “the present deep regression of proletarian 
consciousness” so that today the backwardness of the working class is 
key. Fora discussion of how this claim has been raised by a host of ex- 
Marxists, see our article, “In Defense of the Transitional Program,” 
The Internationalist No. 5, April-May 1998) 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Sinister Attack on WikiLeaks to Cover Up Imperialist Crimes 

Free Julian Assange! 
Drop All Charges! 

Julian Assange, presenting WikiLeaks’ release of files on Afghanistan war in 
London, July 26. 

9 DECEMBER 2010 - The De¬ 
cember 7 arrest in London of Julian 
Assange, the founder and editor- 
in-chief of the Internet investiga¬ 
tive site WikiLeaks, is a threat to 
freedom of the press and an attempt 
to silence critics who expose the 
bloody deeds of imperialism. We 
are convinced, along with many 
others, that Assange is innocent of 
the trumped up accusations of the 
crimes of rape and sexual molesta¬ 
tion that are being manipulated by 
Swedish authorities to request his 
detention and extradition. It is clear 
that sinister forces are pushing the 
persecution of this courageous man, 
and his life could be in danger. 

We have no hesitation in 
naming the criminal forces who 
are behind this frame-up: first and 
foremost, the United States government of Barack Obama and 
its military and spy agencies. They have enlisted U.S. corpora¬ 
tions such as Amazon, MasterCard, PayPal and others, Swiss 
banks and the complaisant Swedish, British and Australian 
governments in their war on WikiLeaks. They seek to silence 
whistleblowers who have not only caused them diplomatic 
embarrassment but also lifted a corner of the veil on Wash¬ 
ington’s Murder, Inc. If the would-be masters of the world 
cannot stop the leakage of information through judicial/police 
methods, they will surely resort to other means. 

Despite the arrest of its leader, the shutdown of some of 
its websites by service providers due to U.S. threats and cutoff 
of donations by payments companies, WikiLeaks has vowed to 
keep publishing. It is urgent that all defenders of civil liberties 
and opponents of imperialist war stand up in defense of Julian 
Assange, demanding that he be immediately freed and that all 
charges against him be dropped , including those that are in the 
works. It is also necessary to defend his comrades who are at 
risk for their dedication to shining a light into the dark corners 
where the capitalist rulers hide their dirty secrets. And we must 
oppose all efforts by the U.S. and its allies to enact gag laws to 
enforce police-state controls. We demand: Hands off WikiLeaks! 

For the last nine months, U.S. imperialism has been smarting 
over a series of revelations of a small proportion of its crimes by 
WikiLeaks. The website won global fame and attention when it 
released the video “Collateral Murder” last April, showing the 
crews of U.S. helicopter gunships nonchalantly mowing down with 

machine-gun and rocket fire two reporters, several first aid respond¬ 
ers and even children in Baghdad in 2007. Millions of viewers 
watched in horror as they saw the massacre unfold before their eyes. 

The Pentagon, stung by the worldwide outrage, responded 
by arresting Private First Class Bradley Manning, a military intel¬ 
ligence analyst stationed in the Iraqi capital, charging him with leak¬ 
ing the incriminating footage. In our article, “Defend PFC Bradley 
Manning!” (The InternationalistNo. 31, Summer 2010), we wrote: 
“If Bradley Manning did indeed help to uncover evidence of U.S. 
imperialism’s war crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq, and if he did try 
to bring to light the secret dealings of U.S. diplomats and spies, 
these were justified acts evidencing rare moral courage. Class¬ 
conscious workers and all defenders of democratic rights should 
hail Manning as a hero. Exposing U.S. imperialism’s crimes and 
tearing the curtain of secrecy from its plots can save the lives of 
innocent people by helping to put an end to the Pentagon’s reign 
of terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world.” 

We also warned that Julian Assange, the founder and editor-in- 
chief of WikiLeaks, was at risk of arrest or even assassination: 
“Make no mistake, J ulian Assange is in real danger from the 
same imperialist war criminals that have Bradley Manning 
in a military jail. Hands off Julian Assange and WikiLeaks /” 
In July, WikiLeaks followed up by releasing over 90,000 
documents from the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan spanning 
the six-year period from 2004 through 2009. The Afghanistan 
War Logs were provided in advance to several leading news 
media, including the New York Times, the London Guardian 

Getty Images 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


and the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel, which published 
excerpts. Naturally, the Times downplayed some of the most 
egregious war crimes - for example, suppressing a story by its 
correspondent on the hit squads of Task Force 3 73, professional 
assassins responsible for numerous massacres in Afghanistan 
- alleging lack of space and other implausible excuses. Der 
Spiegel (26 July), at least, put the story on its cover. 

In October, Wikileaks released 350,000 documents about 
the Iraq war, showing, as Assange summarized them, that it 
was “a bloodbath on every corner.” It also documented 15,000 
civilian deaths that the U.S. never publicly admitted. Then at 
the end of November, WikiLeaks began releasing documents 
from a trove of251,000 secret State Department and CIA cables. 
As rad-lib journalist Alexander Cockbum noted in an article 
titled “Julian Assange: Wanted by the Empire, Dead or Alive” 
(i Counterpunch , 3-5 December), the “communications released 
by WikiLeaks contain no earth-shaking disclosures that under¬ 
mine the security of the American empire.” The latest stash of 
documents published so far mainly illustrate the prejudices and 
stupidities of the diplomatic corps. Most of the yelps are coming 
from the governments being reported on, not from the U.S. If 
anything, as a columnist for an Israeli liberal Zionist paper noted: 
“They depict the fall of the American empire, the decline of 
a superpower that ruled the world by dint of its military and 
economic supremacy.... The days when American ambassa¬ 
dors were received in world capitals as ‘high commissioners’ 
are long since gone. The diplomats who wrote the WikiLeaks 
documents are tired bureaucrats: Nobody rises in their honor 
and clicks their heels when they enter a room. They spend 
their days listening wearily to their hosts’ talking points, 
never reminding them who is the superpower and who the 
client state that needs military or financial aid from America.” 
-Aluf Benn, “WikiLeaks Cables Tell the Story of An Empire 
in Decline,” Haaretz, 1 December 
That certainly describes Israel’s dismissal of any pressure from 
the Obama administration. 

No doubt, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton felt put-upon 
to excuse U.S. envoys’ denigrating comments about their 
“allies,” and to explain why the Foreign Service and even 
ambassadors had been tasked with ferreting out the cellphone, 
credit card and frequent flier numbers of their counterparts. 
Or to explain about the list of facilities in other countries that 
the U.S. considers its own (“critical foreign dependencies”). 
Moscow was irate about a secret NATO treaty to defend Es¬ 
tonia, Latvia and Lithuania. “Against whom else could such 
a defense be intended? Against Sweden, Finland, Greenland, 
Iceland? Against polar bears, or against the Russian bear?” 
asked the Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin. Rus¬ 
sian president Dmitri Medvedev suggested perhaps Assange 
should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. 

U.S. spokesmen keep repeating that the leaks will get 
their secret informants killed, for which there is not a shred 
of evidence. After getting heat for releasing the names of 
Afghan informers collaborating with the NATO occupiers 
(what about the identities of Nazi collaborators in occupied 
Europe?), WikiLeaks is so intent on appearing responsible that 
it has taken to excising the names of such covert operatives 

themselves. At least former CIA agent Philip Agee named 
names when he broke with “The Company” in the 1960s. Still, 
official Washington is fit to be tied. Democrats and Republicans 
alike fear that the U.S.’ ability to dictate to the world will be 
gravely compromised unless it clamps down on “unauthorized 
disclosures.” “The empire can’t exist without secrecy,” said 
Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers history of the 
Vietnam War, in defending Assange and WikiLeaks. 

Democrat Dianne Feinstein, head of the Senate Intel¬ 
ligence Committee, notorious for covering up CIA torture, 
called for Assange to be prosecuted under the 1917 Espionage 
Act. Democratic turncoat Joe Lieberman, head of the Senate’s 
Homeland Security Committee, wants to investigate the New 
York Times as well. And Attorney General Eric Holder vows 
to “close the gaps in current U.S. legislation” by enacting new 
laws infringing on freedom of speech. But that may take some 
time. They yearn for an Official Secrets Act like in Britain, 
so they could stop publication of anything by slapping a “D 
Notice” on it. They wish they were back in the post-9/11 days 
when they rammed through the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act with a 
near-unanimous vote before anyone bothered to read it. 

For now, they want to defame the WikiLeaks founder, to 
take away Assange’s moral authority by smearing him so that 
he looks dirtier than they are - a pretty tall order. So we get this 
persecution on sex charges. Not prosecution yet, for curiously no 
charges have been filed. In fact, the allegations against him were 
not even described to Assange and his lawyers before he was 
arrested on an Interpol alert and held for deportation to Sweden. 
No evidence has ever been presented. Everything about this legal 
vendetta stinks to high heaven of state provocation. Briefly: 

• Assange is supposedly being held only for questioning. Yet 
he stayed in Sweden for 40 days after the allegations were first 
made, seeking to speak to the prosecutor, who would not see 
him and finally let him leave the country legally. He offered to 
be questioned at the Swedish embassy in London, to no avail. 

• The allegations were first made on August 20 by a pros¬ 
ecutor in Stockholm. But, as Assange’s attorney in London, 
Mark Stephens, said in an interview with Channel 4 News (7 
December), “the most senior prosecutor in all of Sweden looked 
at them, and she said there is not a shred of evidence here that 
warrants an investigation” of rape or sexual harassment. So in 
less than a day, the main accusations against him were dropped. 

• Weeks went by, and then “a politician got involved with 
these women and took them off to another prosecutor, in Go- 
thenberg, and we’re now seeing these warrants coming out 
suspiciously close in time to the date of the release of the cables.” 
This kind of “witch-hunt,” Stephens said, suggests that this af¬ 
fair is “politically motivated, there are darker forces at work.” 

Indeed there are. And what are those “darker forces?” the 
interviewer asks. Assange’s lawyer responds that “Sweden is one 
of those lickspittle states that allowed for ‘extraordinary rendition’ 
and torture flights to go through their country.” Good point. Not 
only did Sweden dispatch asylum seekers to Egypt where they 
were imprisoned, beaten and tortured, as well as allowing CIA 
“rendition” flights, under Prime Minister Goran Persson of the 
Social-Democratic Labor Party (SAP), despite its professed neutral- 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

ity, Sweden sent troops to join in the occupation of Afghanistan. 

This points to the crucial social-democratic connection in 
this affair. Sweden’s social democracy has long been a hand¬ 
maiden of U.S. intelligence agencies. During the 1980s, much 
of the CIA’s clandestine aid to the anti-Soviet Polish Solidarnosc 
was channeled through Sweden with the blessing of SAP prime 
minister Olaf Palme. This was hardly novel. The CIA financed 
social-democratic parties throughout Western Europe after 
World War II in order to break their wartime alliances with the 
pro-Moscow Communist parties. It is particularly significant in 
the case of Assange, because the politician/lawyer who contacted 
the prosecutor in Goteborg was Claes Borgstrom, who is the 
SAP’s chief spokesman on gender equality issues. 

This brings us to Anna Ardin, one of the two women 
who made the accusations against Assange. Ardin is a well- 
known feminist activist who was a gender equality officer for 
Uppsala University, the Harvard of Sweden. She is also the 
press secretary of the Christian Social Democratic Association, 
commonly referred to as the Brotherhood Movement. Former 
prime minister Persson is likewise a member of this associa¬ 
tion. Anna Ardin worked at the Swedish embassy in Buenos 
Aires for a time when the Social Democrats were in power, and 
also reportedly at the Swedish embassy in the U.S. But most 
particularly, Ardin has been active on the issue of Cuba, as a 
social-democratic operative keeping in touch with anti-Castro 
“dissidents” (see box on “Anna Ardin’s Gusano Connection”). 

Anna Ardin was the person who invited Julian Assange 
to speak at the Stockholm meeting on August 14, hosted by 
the Christian Social Democrat Brotherhood organization. An 
article by Israel Shamir and Paul Bennett (“Assange Besieged,” 
Counterpunch, 14 September) noted that while Assange went 
to Stockholm hoping to shield WikiLeaks from legal perse¬ 
cution, “the moment Julian sought the protection of Swedish 
media law, the CIA immediately threatened to discontinue in¬ 
telligence sharing with [SAPO], the Swedish Secret Service.” 1 
It turns out that Ardin has a brother who works in Swedish 
intelligence, and who was a liaison in Washington to U.S. spy 
agencies. Nothing but a strange coincidence? 

Ardin offered to let Assange stay at her flat, and the night 
before the meeting they had sex. This sure smells like a classic 
intelligence agency “honey trap,” but with a Swedish twist. 

1 Since this article was first published on the Internet, it has come to 
our attention that Israel Shamir is a Holocaust denier, which could call 
into question his credibility. However, on the charge of pressure from 
U.S. spy agencies on their Swedish counterparts, Assange himself re¬ 
ports that WikiLeaks had “two reliable intelligence sources that state 
that Swedish intelligence was approached last month by the United 
States and told that Sweden must not be a safe-haven for WikiLeaks” 
(AFP dispatch, 8 September). When the Swedish news agency Tid- 
ningamas Telegrambyra asked a top official of Sweden’s Migration 
Board whether in denying Assange a residency permit it had been 
advised by the Swedish intelligence agency SAPO, the official re¬ 
sponded: “I cannot go into the details” — a “non-denial denial” in clas¬ 
sic Watergate fashion. As for the report of Anna Ardin’s activities with 
the U.S.-funded group Damas de Blanco and other anti-Conununist 
“dissidents” in Cuba leading to her effective expulsion from the coun¬ 
try (see page 33), this is amply documented, including by Ardin her¬ 
self in her master’s thesis, which is available on her website. 

The usual pattern is to lure the target into bed with an attrac¬ 
tive woman, photograph the tryst and then use the pictures to 
blackmail the mark into cooperating. In this case, after the sex 
come accusations of rape and howls about male chauvinism. At 
this point it’s sounding like the plot of a Stieg Larsson novel, 
perhaps “Wikileaks: The Man Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest,” 
as the London Guardian (8 December) titled its editorial. 

Although no formal charges have been brought, or evidence 
presented, the content of the prosecution dossier against Assange 
were handed over to a major Swedish tabloid, Aftonbladet , which 
published a special supplement detailing the accusations. The 
affidavit read in court in London provided some detail of the 
allegations, but although it claimed to buttress accusations of 
a sexual assault, they could also be interpreted as “a frivolous 
case of miscommunication during consenting sex acts,” as the 
Toronoto Globe & Mail (7 December) put it. There are numer¬ 
ous aspects that cast doubt on the claims by the two women. 

Ardin now asserts that Assange has a “warped view of 
womanhood and can’t take no for an answer.” Yet by all 
accounts their sexual encounter was consensual, although 
apparently the condom split. Still, the two appeared to be on 
friendly terms at the meeting the next day. That same day 
Ardin twice posted “tweets” on her accounts gushing about 
“Julian” and a party she threw for him, telling the world at 2 
a.m. that she was “with the world’s coolest smartest people, 
it’s amazing.” Later, when she went to the police she deleted 
the tweets from one account, but forgot another. In any case, 
cybersleuths retrieved them from the Google cache. 2 

The second woman admits that she actively pursued As¬ 
sange, landing an invitation to the meeting, sitting in the front 
row, hanging around afterward like a groupie to get invited to 
dinner, calling him repeatedly for two days, then taking him 
home where they had sex in the evening, and again in the morn¬ 
ing, first with a condom then without. They parted amicably. 
She asked Assange if he would call again, he said he would. But 
two days later when he didn’t, she called Ardin to say she was 
worried about getting pregnant or a sexually transmitted disease. 
Earlier both women sent out text messages that police describe 
as “exculpatory” toward Assange. Now the two text each other 
about going to the scandal sheet Expressen to get back at him. 

Then they go to the police. The second woman tells police 
that Assange “had sex with her against her wishes” while she 
was asleep. Ardin now tells the police that Assange “deliber¬ 
ately” ripped the condom during their sexual encounter. The 
police officer and prosecutor on duty classify the former as 
rape, the latter as sexual molestation, and open an investigation 
(only to have it dropped in 24 hours, and then suspiciously 
reopened weeks later). Details of the case are immediately 
leaked. Editors are tipped off, top reporters are called in the 
middle of the night to hop on the story. By the next morning it 
is splashed across the pages of Sweden’s tabloid press. Within 
a day the news is shot around the world via the Internet. 

That there was calculation here seems clear. Ardin’s dele¬ 
tion of the “tweets” from her blogs looks like an effort to make 
her story more pla usible. Call it cover-up. The fact that the 

2 “Assange Case: Evidence Destroyed Over and Over Again,” Rad- 
soft, 1 October. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


women don’t make a formal complaint and let the police do 
it shows that the Uppsala gender equity officer knows how the 
law works. Is there more to it? On her blog, Ardin has posted 
a “Seven-Step Program for Getting Revenge,” for women 
whose boyfriends have been unfaithful. Step 7: “Ensure that 
your victim will suffer the same way he made you suffer.” That 
much they have achieved, whether it’s what they were after or 
not: Assange is certainly suffering now. 

Assange is accused of (but not yet charged with) rape, 
sexual molestation, and molestation. Rape is an extremely seri¬ 
ous crime, overwhelmingly against women, involving violence 
and coercion. For centuries, women have been intimidated from 
bringing charges of rape, fearing that they will be subjected to 
humiliation, or far worse persecution (as in U.S.-occupied Af¬ 
ghanistan, where a woman who has been raped can be stoned to 
death for her “sin”). However, under Swedish law, a complaint of 
sex without a condom can be the basis for a charge of rape - of 
the lowest of three categories, which is what is alleged against 
Assange (but which still carries a sentence of up to four years 
in jail). This trivializes the horrible nature of this crime. And 
as a spokeswoman for the British group Women Against Rape 
wrote to the Guardian (9 December): 

“Many women in both Sweden and Britain will wonder at 
the unusual zeal with which Julian Assange is being pursued 
for rape allegations.... Though Sweden has the highest per 
capita number of reported rapes in Europe and these have 
quadrupled in the last 20 years, conviction rates have de¬ 
creased. ... In 2006 six people were convicted of rape though 
almost 4,000 people were reported.... 

“There is a long tradition of the use of rape and sexual assault 
for political agendas that have nothing to do with women’s 
safety. In the south of the US, the lynching of black men was 
often justified on grounds that they had raped [the Scottsboro 
Boys] or even looked [Emmett Till] at a white woman. Women 
don’t take kindly to our demand for safety being misused, while 
rape continues to be neglected at best or protected at worst.” 
Criminal cases involving sex are notoriously difficult and 
messy (often no witnesses, complex relations between the in¬ 
dividuals). However, in this case it is evident that there was no 
violence or coercion. None has been alleged, and whatever they 
may have felt afterwards, indications are the sex was consensual 
at the time. Add to this the judicial mishandling of the case: im¬ 
mediately leaking it to the press, switching prosecutors in order 
to reinstate the investigation, refusing to meet with Assange, then 
demanding his extradition. Throw in a connection with intel¬ 
ligence agencies, and Cold War anti-Communist connections via 
Swedish social democracy. Plus the overriding determination 
of the U.S. empire to strike back at, and shut down, WikiLeaks. 

The conclusion can only be that Julian Assange is the 
victim of a political frame-up. The purpose of that frame-up: 
to staunch the flow of information about imperialism’s crimes 
and machinations. 

Was it a “honey trap”? Was it two women who felt they 
had been wronged getting “revenge”? We don’t know. At the 
very least, the two are being used by sinister forces who will 
use any excuse to nail the founder of WikiLeaks: start by 
defaming him, and go from there. 

Julian Assange is not guilty of rape, but there is plenty of 
serious criminality here. There have been highly publicized 
death threats against the WikiLeaks founder. A former aide to 
Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, Tom Flanagan, said 
on CBC Television that “Assange should be assassinated.” 
Former Nixon staffer and convicted Watergate criminal G. 
Gordon Liddy says that Assange should be put on a “kill 
list.” Conservative pundit William Kristol calls to “neutralize 
Assange and his collaborators.” Another, Jonah Goldberg, 
asks “Why isn’t Julian Assange dead?” A Washington Times 
columnist calls to “treat Mr Assange the same way as other 
high-value terrorist targets: Kill him.” 

People who make such death threats should be behind 
bars. They would be if they made them against top capitalist 
politicians. But they won’t be when they are made against the 
man who is No. 1 on the Obama administration’s “enemies 
list.” Moreover, while liberal luminaries headed up by Noam 
Chomsky are circulating an open letter to Australian prime 
minister Julian Gillard citing these threats by vicariously 
murderous conservatives, the real danger to Assange comes 
from the liberal Democrats now wielding state power in the 
U.S. - and from their “lick-spittle” social-democratic allies, 
and partners in war crimes in Afghanistan, from Australian 
Labor Party to Swedish social democracy. 

Assange is in potentially mortal danger. As the material 
published by WikiLeaks shows, and as he is well aware, the 
U.S. government is in the assassination business big time. It 
has multiple apparatuses to “terminate” opponents “with ex¬ 
treme prejudice,” as the Nixonians used to put it. Alexander 
Cockburn recently published excerpts from the CIA’s 1950s 
“how to” guide to pushing people out of windows. Then there 
was the Reagan administration’s illustrated Everyman’s Guide 
to “Selective Violence,” issued in Spanish for the Nicaraguan 
contras and subsequently translated into Arabic for use by 
A1 Qaeda. Or the Bush administration’s secret Waterboard¬ 
ing for Dummies memos. One way or another, the masters 
of American imperialism would dearly like to “take out” the 
troublesome website’s founder and editor-in-chief. 

The work that WikiLeaks has been doing has been useful 
in exposing a tiny proportion of the bloody crimes of U.S. rul¬ 
ers. But there should be no illusion that “leakers” from within 
the government will ever be able to show in all its horror what 
the imperialists are up to. For that, it will be necessary to carry 
out a revolution, as in October 1917 when the Russian workers 
seized power, and opened the archives and the dungeons of the 
tsarist autocracy. Bolshevik leader Leon Trotsky was named 
Commissar for Foreign Affairs and proceeded to publish the 
secret treaties of the tsar and the other Great Powers. Only 
when U.S. imperialism is brought down by international so¬ 
cialist revolution will we be able to really delve into the vast 
secrets of Washington and Langley. 

For now, it is urgent to demand that Assange be immedi¬ 
ately freed and all charges against him be dropped, and that 
Bradley Manning be freed. They will be awarded their justly 
earned medals for uncommon valor, and the war criminals 
brought to justice, when the workers rule. ■ 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Anna Ardin’s Gusano Connection 

It has been known for some time that Anna Ardin, one 
of the accusers against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, 
has been involved with counterrevolutionary anti-Castro 
dissidents in Cuba (see the article by Israel Shamir and Paul 
Bennett, “Assange Besieged,” Counterpunch, 14 Septem¬ 
ber). Shamir and Bennett called attention to articles by Ardin 
denouncing the “dictator Fidel Castro,” which appeared on 
the website of the Revista de Asignaturas Cubanas ,' a well- 
funded anti-Communist exile outfit based in Sweden which 
puts out a glossy magazine, Miscelaneas de Cuba. 

Ardin’s anti-Communist articles speculating about 
prospects for Cuba when the “dictator Fidel Castro” dies 
highlight the Corriente Socialista Democratica Cubana, 1 2 3 one 
of the numerous Cuban “dissident” groups bankrolled by 
the U.S. government. A main spokesman for the Corriente 
is Miami-based exile Orlando Patterson, who specializes is 
bashing the Cuban regime for racism. 3 The Corriente was 
founded in 1992 as an expression inside Cuba of the exile 
Cuban Democratic Platform (PDC) of Carlos Alberto Mon- 
taner 4 , a notorious CIA agent. In 2008, after several years of 
infighting in the tiny fragmented Cuban social-democratic 
milieu, the Coordinadora founded the Arco Progresista. 5 
Shamir and Bennet also report that: 

“In Cuba she interacted with the feminist anti-Castro group 
Las damas de bianco (the Ladies in White). This group 
receives US government funds and the convicted anti-com¬ 
munist terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is a friend and supporter. 
Wikipedia quotes Hebe de Bonafini, president of the Argen- 

1 For a Spanish translation of Ardin’s January 2005 articles, see http:// and http:// 

2 For information about the Corriente’s subversive activities in 
Cuba and ties to the U.S. embassy in Havana, see the book by Rosa 
Miriam Elizalde and Luis Baez, The Dissidents (Havana, 2003). 

3 For a denunciation of U.S. government sponsorship of counter¬ 
revolutionary Cuban blacks, including Patterson and Carlos Moore, 
see the article by Esteban Morales Dominguez, “El tema racial y la 
subversion anticubana” in La Jiribilla, 8 September 2007. 

4 Carlos Alberto Montaner, son of a major in the army of dicta¬ 
tor Fulgencio Batista, was convicted in Cuba of terrorist action 
in 1962, and after escaping was selected by the CIA for training 
in Fort Benning, Georgia. He operates out of Madrid, posing as 
a “moderate” opposition to the Castro regime, more palatable to 
European social-democratic and liberal sensibilities. But his Cuban 
Democratic Platform (PDC) is bankrolled by the U.S. (via the Na¬ 
tional Endowment for Democracy) and he participates in various 
enterprises with the Cuban American National Foundation (FNCA) 
of hard-line batistiano exiles in Miami, including the RECE (Cu¬ 
ban Exile Representation). The notorious CIA terrorist Luis Posada 
Carriles is also part of the PDC. 

5 In addition to the Corriente, the other main component of the 
Arco is the Coordinadora Social-Democrata Cubana, an exile 
group even more closely associated with the CIA and one of the 

founding components of Montaner’s Democratic Platform. 


tine Madres de Plaza de Mayo as saying that ‘the so-called 

Ladies in White defend the terrorism of the United States’ .” 6 

Now important new information has come to light. 
According to Juan Tamayo writing in the Miami Herald 
(8 December), “Ardin visited Cuba about four times be¬ 
tween 2002 and 2006 as a representative of Swedish social 
democrats, said Manuel Cuesta Morua, head of Cuba’s Arco 
Progresista, a social-democratic dissident group.” Her mas¬ 
ters thesis, Tamayo reports, was on the subject, “The Cuban 
Multi-Party System. Is the democratic alternative really 
democratic and an alternative after the Castro regime?” What 
he doesn’t mention is that Ardin was expelled from Cuba 
for her activities with the pro-imperialist gusanos (worms). 

While giving no political support to the Castro regime, 
which is introducing measures which greatly strengthen 
pro-capitalist tendencies, Trotskyists resolutely defend the 
bureaucratically deformed Cuban workers state against 
imperialism and internal counterrevolution, whether from 
such U.S.-funded “dissidents” or from within the bureau¬ 
cracy. Cuban social democracy is a wholly owned subsidiary 
of the CIA, and those who aid it are doing the work of the 
Yankee imperialists. 

Ardin is no babe in the woods. Four visits in four years, 
“as a representative of Sweish social democrats”: Ardin is up 
to her neck in the swamp of anti-Communist subversion in 
Cuba, and not just as a wide-eyed tourist. So much so that, 
according to the Herald article, an annoyed Cuesta Morua 
complained that she “wrongly alleged that some European 
funds for Cuban dissidents had been mishandled.” Question: 
How would she even know to make such an accusation, 
accurate or not? Answer: She was tasked to do so, she was 
acting as their control. 

The main accuser of Julian Assange is an anti-Commu¬ 
nist social-democratic operative. ■ 

6 Luis Posada Carriles is a Cuban-born terrorist and CIA agent who 
in 1963-64 was trained in sabotage and the use of explosives at the 
U.S. Army’s base at Fort Benning (the same period when Montaner 
was there). Operating out of Venezuela, he was responsible for - 
and convicted of- bombing a Cubana de Aviacion airliner in Octo¬ 
ber 1976, killing 73 people, including an entire sports team. After 
escaping from prison, in the 1980s, he was involved in the U.S.’ 
clandestine supply of anns to the Nicaraguan contras. In 1997 he 
organized a dozen bombings in Havana aimed at discouraging the 
tourist trade. In 2000, he was arrested in Panama with 200 pounds 
of explosives and convicted of attempting to assassinate Fidel 
Castro. Pardoned by Panama in 2004, he now lives comfortably, 
protected from deportation in the U.S., where he marches together 
with Cuban American pop singer Gloria Estefan in Miami dem¬ 
onstrations for the damas de bianco. The damas receive $1,500 
a month from Rescate Juridica [Legal Rescue], the foundation of 
Santiago Alvarez Femandez-Magrina, who is also Posadas Car¬ 
dies’s financier ( Machetera , 26 March 2010). Estefan’s father was 
a bodyguard for the dictator Batista. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Defend North Korea and China Against 
Imperialism and Counterrevolution 

U.S./South Korean Provocations 

South Korean navy hovercraft coming from military garrison island of Yonphyong, November 24. 

For Revolutionary Reunification of North and South! 

5 DECEMBER 2010 - American imperialism and its South 
Korean militarist ally have embarked on a dangerous course of 
escalating actions against North Korea and China. Washington 
and Seoul invent North Korean “provocations” and hide their 
own role in provoking reactions by Pyongyang. Three times 
in the last nine months, aggressive U.S./South Korean military 
exercises have been held in the Yellow Sea. Now a “crisis sum¬ 
mit” ofU.S., South Korean and Japanese foreign ministers is to 
be held to plot a joint strategy against the Democratic People’s 
Republic of Korea (DPRK). 

Bogged down in a losing war in Afghanistan, despite 
tripling U.S. forces there, and having lost the midterm elec¬ 
tions to right-wing Republicans who deride him as weak, U.S. 
president Barack Obama may delude himself into thinking he 
could score points by striking a hawkish pose on North Ko¬ 
rea. For his part. South Korean president Lee Myung-bak, a 
virulent Cold War anti-Communist, won office railing against 
“appeasement” of the North and has since staged one incident 
after another. 

Judging from diplomatic correspondence recently pub¬ 
lished by Wildleaks, decision makers in Seoul and Washington 
seem to have convinced themselves that North Korea is about 
to collapse (as they have often miscalculated in the past). They 
want to push it over the brink. In the process, they may bring 

the region - and the world - to the brink of war. In this perilous 
situation, we reiterate our call to Defend North Korea against 
imperialist war provocations and sanctions, and demand: All 
U.S. troops out of Korea! 

The latest casus belli (cause of war) was an exchange of 
artillery fire on Yonphyong Island just off the western coast 
of North Korea. According to the account broadcast around 
the world, at 2:30 p.m. local time on November 23, North 
Korean artillery shells suddenly began raining down on the 
island, held by South Korea. Two South Korean soldiers were 
reported killed, and two bodies of island residents were later 
found. After 100-plus rounds were fired from the North, the 
South Koreans responded by lobbing scores of shells at a North 
Korean military base. 

The Western press screamed bloody murder about North 
Korea targeting civilians. South Korean legislators demanded 
heavy-duty retaliation. A White House statement quoted 
President Obama saying he was “outraged,” and that the North 
Korean government is “an ongoing threat that needs to be 
dealt with.” Liberals and conservatives in the U.S. joined in 
denouncing the North’s “belligerence.” “Diplomats” (usually 
a codeword for spies) speculated about effects of leadership 
transition in the North. Korea “experts” psychoanalyzed DPRK 
leader Kim Jong 11. 

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images 



The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

U.S. secretary of state Hillary Clinton and war minister Robert Gates 
at the DMZ for some nuclear sabre-rattling, July 21. 

The whole rigamarole is one big smokescreen, to create 
a fog of war. 

Repeating a common refrain, British foreign secretary 
William Hague condemned the North Korean government for 
its “unprovoked attack.” Yet provoked is exactly what it was. 
The North Korean salvos came just one hour after the South 
Koreans unleashed a massive artillery barrage from Yonphyong 
Island, as part of the “Hoguk” military exercises. (The island is 
home not only to 1,350 fisher folk but also to a South Korean 
military base with 1,000 soldiers.) 

The DPRK had warned repeatedly, including in an urgent 
telephone message to South Korean military leaders at 8 a.m. 
that morning, that “if even a single shell of the enemy is fired 
inside the territorial waters of the DPRK, it will take a prompt 
retaliatory strike.” Moreover, days later, the South Korean 
National Intelligence Service admitted it knew from electronic 
surveillance that the North was preparing to respond to the 
South Korean artillery by shelling the island. But the South 
Koreans went ahead anyway, daring the North to respond. 

The New York Times did have a story reporting a North 
Korean statement that “the South ‘recklessly fired into our sea 
area’,” and that “The North blamed the South for starting the 
exchange; the South acknowledged firing test shots in the area 
but denied that any had fallen in the North’s territory.” The 
story went on to say that “The attack on Yeonpyeong came as 
70,000 South Korean troops were beginning an annual nation¬ 
wide military drill called Safeguarding the Nation. The exercise 
has been sharply criticized by Pyongyang as ‘simulating an 
invasion of the North’ and ‘a means to provoke a war’.” But 
after a few hours this dispatch disappeared from the Times’’ 
web page, so one could only find it by searching. It was never 
published in the paper. 

“Senior American officials” said the North Korean attack 
was “premeditated,” since the South Korean maneuvers were 
announced in advance. Premeditated is right - about the U.S. 

and South Korean provocation. They knew 
what the consequences would be of holding 
war “games,” including artillery barrages, 
just off the North Korean coast in its territo¬ 
rial waters, and they went ahead anyway. 

South Korean spokesmen ridiculed the 
North’s assertion that the Hoguk exercises 
were simulating an invasion. Yet photos 
of the drill show soldiers practicing land¬ 
ing exercises. Where do you suppose they 
might be preparing to land? Is the South 
Korean military perhaps planning to invade 
... South Korea? 

The media accounts have also passed 
over a basic fact: Yonphyong Island is 
located just seven miles off North Korea’s 
coast. The South Korean artillery shells 
fell even closer. That’s roughly the distance 
from Wall Street to the tip of Staten Island. 
What do you expect would happen if an 
enemy power staged a live-fire military 
exercise in the New York harbor? 

And Yonphyong sits at the mouth of the North Korean 
deep water harbor of Haeju. What would be the response if 
the North unleashed artillery barrages from an island facing 
the South Korean port of Incheon? The fact that South Korea 
occupies this and other coastal islands is a standing military 

U.S. spokesmen accused the DPRK of violating the 1953 
armistice agreement that ended combat in the Korean War. Yet 
North Korea never agreed that the islets hugging its western 
coast belonged to South Korea. The “Northern Limit Line” 
claimed by the South is just a few miles offshore, well to the 
north of the Military Demarcation Line. It was unilaterally 
imposed by the United States at the end of the Korean War. 

The DPRK was unable to prevent South Korean occupa¬ 
tion of the islets, now turned into a string of military outposts 
targeting the North, because in 1953 it didn’t have a navy or 
air force. But it has always insisted that these islands belong 
to North Korea, being well within its territorial waters, as they 
certainly are. 

Washington and Seoul linked this incident to the sinking 
of the South Korean naval vessel Cheonan last March, claim¬ 
ing both are North Korean “provocations.” Not only does the 
DPRK vehemently deny having anything to do with the sink¬ 
ing of the Cheonan, the available evidence upholds its denial. 
This was discussed in a previous article (“Defend North Korea 
Against U.S. War Threats and Sanctions,” The International¬ 
ist ~Ho. 31, Summer 2010). Since then, an independent South 
Korean newspaper, The Hankyoreh, has done an independent 
investigation that makes mincemeat of the government’s 
claims (see article, “What, Sank the Cheonan ?” on page 37). 
Opinion polls in South Korea report that less than one-third 
of the public believes the official story. 

Adding up the Cheonan and Yonphong Island incidents, 
the imperialists and their South Korean auxiliaries have been 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Baengnyeong island 

South Korean ship sunk 
near the island In March 

Northern limit line 

(established 1953) 

Disputed border 

Yeonpyeong island lies near the disputed 
maritime border between the North and 
South, which has been a source of 
contention between the countries. 

pressuring the Chinese govern¬ 
ment to pin the blame on North 
Korea, which it has refused to do. 

Both China and North Korea are 
bureaucratically deformed work¬ 
ers states, and China is the main 
trading partner for the North, 
enabling the DPRK to circumvent 
the imperialist sanctions orches¬ 
trated by the United Nations. For 
Beijing to abandon Pyongyang 
would be an act of class treason of 
the highest order - and suicidal as 
well, for the imperialists’ ultimate 
target is the People’s Republic of 
China, which they avidly seek to 
reconquer for capitalism. 

Beijing issued a statement ob¬ 
jecting to the U.S./South Korean 
military exercises because they 
were being held within China’s 

“economic zone.” Indeed, in the area where the South Ko¬ 
rean and U.S. navies held joint maneuvers last March before 
the Cheonan sunk, North Korea is barely 200 miles from 
China’s Shandong peninsula. Last week’s U.S./South Korean 
maneuvers involving the U.S. nuclear supercarrier George 
Washington were held in the East China Sea. Next week’s U.S./ 
Japanese operations will be in the Yellow Sea, between Japan 
and China. All these “war games” are aimed at containing the 
rising influence of China, and with one false (or deliberate) 
move, the “games” coidd easily turn into the real thing. 

The background to the current crisis is U.S. imperialism’s 
longstanding vendetta against North Korea over nuclear weap¬ 
ons. The DPRK has sought to develop the capacity to generate 
nuclear power because since the demise of the Soviet Union it 
is chronically short of fuel, lacking hard currency to buy oil on 
the capitalist world market, while it does have uranium. It has 
sought to develop nuclear weapons as a deterrent to the impe¬ 
rialists, who devastated the North during the Korean War (see 
“U.S. War Against North Korea Never Ended,” on page 38), 
who subject North Korea to punishing sanctions, who refuse to 
sign a peace treaty and are constantly plotting counterrevolution. 

While giving no political support to the Stalinist rulers 
of the DPRK, we defend North Korea s right to have nuclear 
weapons to defend itself. Why should the United States, the 
only power ever to use atomic bombs in war, slaughtering 
hundreds of thousands of Japanese civilians at Hiroshima and 
Nagasaki, have a monopoly on “weapons of mass destruction”? 
The purpose is to subjugate the world to the diktat of U.S. 
imperialism. And Washington wants to deprive North Korea 
of its nuclear deterrent so that the U.S. can finish the Korean 
war by destroying the DPRK with impunity. 

Skirmishing over North Korea’s nuclear program has 
been going on for almost two decades. Prior to the 1990s, the 
main deterrent to imperialist conquest of North Korea was 
the certainty that this would mean war with the Soviet Union. 



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With the USSR destroyed by counterrevolution, the regime 
headed by Kim II Sung and his son Kim Jong 11 rightly figured 
it had better get the bomb to ward off attack. It did, to great 
consternation in the White House and the Pentagon. 

In the latest installment of the ongoing saga, Pyongyang 
invited an American scientist, Siegfried Hecker, the former 
head of the U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories at Los Alamos, 
to visit the DPRK’s most sensitive nuclear site, the reactor at 
Yongbyon. Hecker had been there before, and certainly could 
recognize a weapons lab if he saw one. He reported that the 
North was building a 25-30 megawatt electric light-water reac¬ 
tor, and that it had a small, quite modern industrial facility with 
2,000 centrifuges producing low-enriched uranium for the new 
reactor. The North Koreans wanted to show this to a qualified 
nuclear expert before U.S. intelligence agencies announced 
that they had “discovered” another “secret bomb factory.” 

Instead, the imperialists screamed that this was another 
“provocation,” it was Kim Jong 11 bragging that he had a 
“second route to making nuclear weapons.” Yet Hecker in his 
report on his November 12 visit made clear that North Korea 
had shut down its plutonium producing reactor and “has ap¬ 
parently decided not to make more plutonium or plutonium 
bombs for now.” And while a light water reactor could produce 
some nuclear fuel, it is “much less suitable” for bombs than 
what they had before. In fact, when the U.S. tried to stop the 
DPRK from getting nuclear weapons in the 1990s, it offered to 
build a light-water reactor to supply the North’s power needs! 

So officials in Washington and Seoul add up the sinking of 
the Cheonan, centrifuges at Yongbyon and the North Korean 
shelling of Yonphyong Island to make a case for ... what? 
Following the last incident, South Korea president Lee sacked 
his minister of defense and announced “robust” new rules of 
engagement would be forthcoming. Yonhap news agency said 
the South was “planning further artillery drills, ‘including 
waters close to the Yellow Sea border’” with the DPRK. The 

Map: AP 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

clear intent is to provoke a new “attack” by the North. 

Some imperialist geostrategists worry about where this is 
all headed. The New York Times (24 November) noted early on: 
“[F]or Mr. Obama, much stronger responses, including a 
naval quarantine of the North, carry huge risks. A face-off 
on the Korean Peninsula would require tens of thousands of 
troops, air power and the possibility of a resumption of the 
Korean War, a battle that American officials believe would 
not last long, but might end in the destruction of Seoul if the 
North unleashed artillery batteries near the border.” 

Yet the U.S. government still seems to be caught in the “brief 
bubble of sole superpower fantasy,” as one analyst (Robert 
Rothkopf) put it. Whatever Washington’s intentions are, 
full-scale fighting could easily break out. The threat by the 
new South Korean war minister on December 3 to “retaliate 
immediately” against the DPRK, including air strikes in the 
North, “until they completely surrender,” would do it. The U.S. 
boarding a Korean freighter on the high seas could also set it 
off. This is a war waiting to happen, and a new Korean war 
would not stay limited to the peninsula for long. 

In response to the stepped-up imperialist onslaught against 
North Korea, China called for resumption of the six-party talks 
including South Korea, Japan, the U.S. and Russia. This was 
contemptuously dismissed by the White House, whose spokes¬ 
man declared that the U.S. is “not interested in stabilizing the 
region through a series of P.R. activities.” The Chinese English- 
language newspaper Global Times (2 December), wrote: “The 
Cold War ended 20 years ago.... But the US, South Korea 
and Japan are still dealing with Pyongyang with an old Cold 
War mentality.” The Beijing bureaucrats are still pursuing the 
Stalinist pipedream of “peaceful coexistence” with imperial¬ 
ism, an illusion that contributed greatly to the demise of the 
USSR. They fail to see, or pretend not to see, that Washington 
views Beijing through the same lens. 

On the left in the United States, some reformist groups that 
follow the political line of Pyongyang call on the U.S. to “sign 
a peace treaty with the DPRK” (Workers World Party state¬ 
ment, 1 December). The Party for Socialism and Liberation 
says that “normalization of relations” between Pyongyang and 
Washington “seemed like a realizable goal in the last months of 
the Bill Clinton administration in 1999 and 2000” (ANSWER 
Coalition statement, 26 November). Wrong. It wasn’t about to 
happen under Democrat B. Clinton, and it sure won’t under 
Democrat Obama and H. Clinton. Faced with a challenge to 
their class domination, the imperialists will go for “peace” only 
when they have been defeated, as in Vietnam. 

The fact that Washington refuses to sign a peace treaty is 
certainly indicative of its “Cold War mentality,” but for left¬ 
ist opponents of U.S. imperialism to call for that reveals the 
same dangerous illusions that Washington and Seoul can be 
pressured into peacefully coexisting with North Korea. The 
war threat comes from the South Korean militarists and U.S. 
imperialists, who are bent on the destruction of the DPRK. 
Revolutionaries and class-conscious workers should defend 
North Korea s right to nuclear weapons, call for an end to 
the imperialist sanctions against North Korea and demand 
immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Korea, Japan, 

Okinawa, Philippines, Indochina and all of East Asia. 

Above all, a real defense of the deformed workers states of 
North Korea, China and Vietnam cannot be successful on the 
narrow nationalist program of the Stalinists. What is ultimately 
required is the international extension of the revolution to the 
imperialist centers of Japan, North America and Europe. In 
the immediate crisis, it is urgent for South Korean workers to 
mobilize against the looming war threat. Spokesmen for the 
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) joined with 
other labor and civic groups in a press conference December 
1 calling for “no war” and calling “dialogue the only way to 
recover stability and peace on the Korean Peninsula” ( The 
Hankyoreh [Seoul], 1 December). The vast majority of South 
Korea’s population opposes war moves against the North. 
But what’s needed is to bring the power of the militant labor 
movement into the streets to stop the drive to war. 

South Korean workers have demonstrated repeatedly that 
they have the strength to bring the capitalist economy to a grind¬ 
ing halt. In December 1996 over a million workers walked out 
and stayed out to protest anti-labor laws and increased powers 
to spy and police agencies. Another general strike in June 2001 
protested austerity measures ordered by the World Bank and the 
International Monetary Fund, as well as calling for abolition of 
the infamous National Security Law. Again in 2006, the KCTU 
(and particularly the militant transport workers) struck against 
a law increasing the use of temporary workers. Most recently 
Korean workers held militant protests against the G20 summit in 
Seoul, and have repeatedly demonstrated against the just-signed 
Korean-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. What’s needed to mobilize 
this tremendous force against the South Korean militarists and 
chaebol capitalists is a class-struggle leadership. 

The League for the Fourth International calls for revolu¬ 
tionary reunification of Korea under workers rule, through a 
proletarian political revolution against bureaucratic misrule in 
the North and a social revolution overturning capitalism in the 
South. Such a struggle would send shock waves to Japan, where 
antiwar sentiment among the population remains strong due to 
the experience of Hiroshima and Nagasaki; to Okinawa, where 
a labor-led struggle could drive out U.S. military bases; and to 
China, where it could inspire tens and hundreds of millions of 
workers to rise up against capitalist exploitation in the special 
economic zones and the threat of capitalist counterrevolution 
engulfing the entire country. 

And in the United States, the Internationalist Group warns, 
as we did even during the 2008 election campaign when the 
left caved in to the popularity of Barack Obama, that Demo¬ 
crats, Republicans and all capitalist parties and politicians are 
responsible for the endless imperialist wars. The war machine 
can only be stopped through proletarian action (of which the 
May Day 2008 West Coast port strike against the Iraq and 
Afghanistan war was a small token) to defeat U.S. imperial¬ 
ism and bring down the whole imperialist system through 
international socialist revolution. 

To lead such a struggle we must build revolutionary work¬ 
ers parties on the internationalist communist program of Lenin 
and Trotsky, fighting to reforge the Fourth International. ■ 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


What Sank the Cheonan? 

Earlier this year, the sinking of a South Korean navy 
corvette Cheonan off the North Korean coast and the deaths 
of 46 sailors on board led to a chorus of accusations from 
Washington and Seoul that it was sunk by military forces of 
the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). North 
Korea categorically denied having anything to do with the 
March 26 sinking of the South Korean warship. Numerous 
technical experts also questioned the charge of North Korean 
responsibility. After a so-called “international commission” 
claimed the Cheonan was sunk by a North Korean torpedo, 
the U.S. announced new sanctions against the DPRK and 
provocative naval maneuvers led by the nuclear aircraft car¬ 
rier USS George Washington. We wrote about the incident 
and analyzed the contradictory claims against the North in 
the article, “Defend North Korea Against U.S. War Threats 
and Sanctions” (The InternationalistNo. 31, Summer2010). 

Since our article was published the imperialists have 
continued to use the Cheonan incident in their escalating 
war propaganda, routinely alleging that North Korea was 
responsible, as if this were an established fact. However, 
a Los Angeles Times (24 July) article, “Doubts Surface on 
North Korea’s Role in Ship Sinking,” reported that the of¬ 
ficial version of events was being challenged in South Korea 
itself. One of the doubters is Shin Sang-chul, a former ship¬ 
building executive who was appointed to the investigating 
commission by the opposition Democratic Party. Shin was 
peremptorily removed from the commission when after in¬ 
specting the vessel he said that in his opinion, the Cheonan 
ran aground in the shallow water, and then damaged the hull 
trying to get off a reef (which is what the South Korean navy 
originally reported). The defense ministry accused him of 
“lack of objectivity and scientific logic” and “intentionally 
creating public mistrust.” 

Numerous elements of the official story have been chal¬ 
lenged. One is the piece of a torpedo propeller fortuitously 
discovered weeks after the sinking. A physics professor, 
Seunghun Lee, questioned why there was so much cor¬ 
rosion after less than two months in the water, while the 
supposed North Korean marking was very clear and on 
top of the rust. “You could put that mark on an iPhone and 
claim it was manufactured in North Korea,” Lee scoffed. 
Also, the marking used an abbreviation common in the 
South, not in the North. Many asked why the government 
was refusing to let the press or outside investigators speak 
with surviving crew members. The Hankyoreh (21 May), a 
liberal Seoul paper, questioned how it could be that no North 
Korean submarine or torpedo launch was detected, either by 
the Cheonan, which is an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) 
vessel, or by the South Korean ASW base on the nearby 
Baengnyeong Island, or by U.S. ships that were present in 
the area following ASW maneuvers (codenamedCoo/ Eagle) 
with the South Korean navy. 


As the controversy continued, more questions have been 
raised. The South Korean government invited Russia to send 
a team to investigate, which it did in early June. However, 
the Russian team concluded that damage to the propellers on 
the salvaged Cheonan indicated it had scraped the shallow 
ocean floor; that the torpedo propeller was dubious (mark¬ 
ings and rust); that there were significant time discrepancies 
between sailors’ reports of an explosion and the time code 
recorded on closed circuit TV images inside the ship; and 
that the corvette could have touched the antenna of an ocean 
mine (Hankyoreh, 27 July). This would jibe with a report 
from Beijing suggesting that the South Korean warship 
could have been sunk by a bottom mine laid by the U.S. 
The report noted the presence in the U.S.-South Korean 
maneuvers of a diving support ship, USNS Salvor, of a type 
frequently associated with the Office of Naval Intelligence 
(“Did an American Mine Sink the South Korean Ship?” New 
American Media, 27 May). 

The National Union of Media Workers and Korean 
Federation of Journalists set up their own committee to 
investigate the Cheonan incident. On November 11, Ha- 
niTV, a video production unit of The Hankyoreh, put up a 
documentary on the Internet with material from that inquiry 
providing a detailed critique of the government’s story. In 
addition to the questions about the Cheonan 7 s propellers, the 
alleged North Korean torpedo propeller fragment and the 
various times given for the explosion (suggesting tampering 
with the tape), it questioned the location where the sinking 
reportedly occurred based on coast guard reports, and noted 
that based on NASA experiments, a torpedo blast sufficiently 
strong to slice the ship in two would have mangled sailors’ 
bodies. Yet none of the survivors or the recovered bodies 
show signs of this; the sailors who died were drowned, not 
blown apart. (The video can be seen on the Internet at http:// 

At this point there is still insufficient public evidence 
to determine who or what sank the Cheonan, which was a 
warship engaged in hostile military maneuvers against the 
DPRK. But it can be said with certainty that the account 
presented by the South Korean government and backed by 
U.S. authorities is a concocted story. Its purpose is to whip 
up a war hysteria against North Korea. As noted in our earlier 
article, “There is a long history of imperialist governments 
staging provocations or seizing on unrelated events to jus¬ 
tify launching a war. Recall how ‘Remember the Maine!’ 
became the battle cry for the U.S. occupation of Cuba in 
1898, after an explosion sank the American battleship in the 
Havana harbor.... [I]f the provocative U.S.-South Korean 
military maneuvers escalate into war against North Korea, 
the war cry will no doubt be ‘Remember the Cheonan! ’” In 
opposing the war moves against North Korea, it is important 
to expose the fabrications being used to justify them. ■ 

___ / 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Denounce FBI Raids... 

continued from page 4 

the bipartisan support of both capitalist parties. The Demo¬ 
cratic Obama administration picked up where the Republican 
George W. Bush left off, blocking investigations of torture, 
vastly expanding warrantless wiretapping, and now demanding 
unfettered access to everyone’s e-mail. The behemoth of the 
Department of Homeland Security, which includes the FBI and 
the ICE immigration police, deports nearly 400,000 immigrants 
annually, a number which has increased sharply under Obama. 

This war is a war to ensure world domination by U.S. 
imperialism. It goes hand in hand with the war on working 
people, immigrants and democratic rights here. The goal of 
Democrats, Republicans and their FBI goons is to make all 
resistance to the capitalist order illegal. They target anyone who 
is seen to be on the side of the working class, the oppressed 
Black minority and immigrants. In justifying a violent police 
attack on San Francisco Bay Area longshoremen and antiwar 
protesters on 7 April 2003, a spokesman for the state’s Anti- 
Terrorism Information Center argued “if you have a protest 
group protesting a war where the cause that’s being fought 
against is international terrorism, you might have terrorism at 
that.” Yet the longshoremen and protesters refused to be intimi¬ 
dated, and on May Day 2008, dock workers shut down every 
port on the West Coast to stop the war on Iraq and Afghanistan. 

On Sept. 27, the San Francisco Labor Council unani¬ 
mously passed a motion condemning the recent raids, noting: 
“The FBI raids are reminiscent of the Palmer Raids, McCarthy 
hearings, J. Edgar Hoover, and COINTELPRO, and mark a 
new and dangerous chapter in the protracted assault on the 
First Amendment rights of every union fighter, international 
solidarity activist or anti-war campaigner....” 

The real terrorists are the Pentagon generals and Wall Street 
CEOs, and their politicians of both capitalist parties. To these 
warmongers, “terrorism” is the watchword under which they 
shred democratic rights and condemn millions around the world 
to the horrors of war. They use the indiscriminate terror attacks 
of “9/11” as a ploy to justify an expanding war to intimidate 
the world into submission. Their evidenceless insinuations that 
the FRSO provides “material support” to those the U.S. brands 
as terrorists are a cynical device to hide the real intent of these 
raids: to disrupt an organization that protests and opposes the 
ongoing terrorism against civilian populations committed by the 
U.S. and its allied regimes, the states of Israel and Colombia. 

The Internationalist Group defends the FRSO and all those 
targeted for political persecution under the U.S.’ terrorist “war 
on terror.” We seek to mobilize the power of the international, 
multiracial working class to defeat “our own” imperialist rulers 
- and to put an end to the capitalist system that produces endless 
war - through international socialist revolution. Our defense is 
based on the principle of non-sectarian defense of all victims of 
capitalist state repression, irrespective of political differences. 

In fact, while the IG opposed both Obama and McCain 
in the 2008 actions, most reformist left groups tried to sidle 
up to the Democratic nominee. The FRSO went further than 

most and openly supported Obama. It claimed in an editorial 
(“2008 Presidential Elections: Defeat McCain,” 5 June 2008) 
that: “The facts are plain; Obama parts ways, to a degree, with 
Clinton on the Iraq War, free trade agreements and racism. He 
has a message of hope with wide appeal.... his election will 
create a better political climate for the anti-war, immigrant 
rights, labor and national movements.” Not so. 

In reality, as genuine Marxists warned, a vote for Obama 
was a vote for more war, more domestic repression, and more 
attacks on the labor movement. That is what happened, and 
now this is thrown into stark relief as the Obama administration 
takes aim at some of its leftist supporters, with more to come. 
We call to unchain its power to defeat this latest attack on 
our rights. Working people should break with the Democratic 
Party of racist police repression and imperialist war, and forge 
a revolutionary workers party that champions the struggle of 
all the oppressed. ■ 

Focal Point Europe... 

continued from page 7 

the attack on workers’ gains throughout the continent should 
be met with Europe-wide strike action. The action last fall by 
unionists at Belgian refineries stopping exports in solidarity 
with striking French refinery workers points the way forward 
to a socialist united states of Europe. 

Collapse of the euro would produce international financial 
chaos. Soon the “bond vigilantes” may train their sights on the 
British pound and the American dollar, for the finances of the 
United Kingdom and United States are just as shaky as those 
of the second- and third-tier capitalist countries currently under 
siege. Plus the U.S. imperialist superpower (along with its Eu¬ 
ropean NATO allies) is bogged down militarily in a losing war 
in Afghanistan and endless occupation of Iraq. If the holders of 
U.S. T-notes and T-bonds ever decided to cash in their paper 
holdings, it would be all over. But with this “debt bomb,” the 
only thing stopping them is the doctrine of nuclear deterrence, 
mutual assured destruction (MAD): in the ensuing global eco¬ 
nomic meltdown, bondholders would lose big as well. 

A decaying capitalist order in the throes of the deepest eco¬ 
nomic crisis in three-quarters of a century is seeking to ensure 
its survival by impoverishing the proletariat and destroying its 
ability to resist. From Athens to London, the ruling classes have 
launched an across-the-board offensive against the working 
class, taking aim at every social gain and even, in some cases, 
threatening its very existence. But no matter how severe the 
crisis, capitalism will notfall by itself. To defeat this onslaught, 
the usual fare of bourgeois pressure politics (“coalition build¬ 
ing,” “peaceful protest,” electoral politics and limited defensive 
struggles) is wholly inadequate. It is necessary not only to resist 
the particular attack but to turn the tables and direct the fight 
not merely against the policies of “neo-liberalism,” but the 
capitalist system itself. To lead that struggle, we must begin 
to build a party of the proletarian vanguard like the Bolsheviks 
of Lenin and Trotsky, reforging the F ourth International as the 
world party of socialist revolution. ■ 

January-February 2011 

The Internationalist 


Beginning in 1945, at the End of World War II 

U.S. bombing of port of Wonsan in 1951. U.S. saturation bombing flattened 18 of North Ko¬ 
rea’s 22 cities, an unequaled level of destruction in modern wars. 

The American media have demonized North Korea ever 
since the start of the anti-Soviet Cold War following the end of 
World War II. It is typically portrayed like something out of a 
comic book - an irrational, paranoid regime constantly engaged 
in provocations, behaving like a petulant child, lashing out in 
order to get attention, immersed in a never-ending succession 
crisis, a hermit kingdom bent on incinerating the South and 
nuking Japan, if not Hawaii, while deliberately starving its own 
population. This caricature is nothing but crude war propaganda. 
In fact, it is North Korea that was incinerated by U.S. imperial¬ 
ism in the Korean War, and which ever since has been the object 
of endless provocations and nuclear threats from Washington. 
Even before the official start of the war in June 1950, the U.S. 
government vowed to “roll back Communism” in the Korean 
peninsula and elsewhere. During the war, it officially adopted 
the goal of “destruction” of North Korea. And despite the 1953 
armistice, the Korean War has never stopped. 

During the fighting, General Douglas MacArthur prepared 
to hit North Korea with dozens of atomic bombs; in 1951, 
President Harry Truman signed off on the plan to nuke the 
North if Communist forces pushed further South. In 1969, 
Richard Nixon put nuclear-armed warplanes on 15-minute 
alert and had Henry Kissinger order the Pentagon to come up 
with scenarios for using the hundreds of U.S. warheads pre¬ 
positioned in South Korea. In the 1990s, Bill Clinton weighed 

a nuclear strike against North Korea’s nuclear facilities and set 
up task forces to plan for “end game” in North Korea, which 
Hillary Clinton is still pursuing as Secretary of State. In 2002, 
George W. Bush listed North Korea as one part of his so-called 
“axis of evil,” a hit list of “rogue regimes” slated for annihila¬ 
tion once Washington had bumped off Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. 
Currently, the Obama administration is escalating its pressure 
on North Korea, tightening an economic blockade and stag¬ 
ing provocative U.S.-South Korean war “games” just off its 
Western coast. No matter whether Democrats or Republicans 
are in office, U.S. rulers have been scheming about how to 
destroy North Korea for more than six decades. 

Contrary to its political supporters, the Democratic People’s 
Republic of Korea is not socialist but a bureaucratically de¬ 
formed workers state modeled on the Stalinized Soviet Union. 
It is similar in its fundamentals to China, Vietnam and Cuba, 
albeit with its own peculiar features - notably an extreme “cult 
of the personality” that has morphed into a dynastic succession. 
Its official ideology of juche - self-reliance - is but an extreme 
version of the national autarky inherent in the Stalinist dogma of 
“building socialism in one country.” But the relatively privileged 
position of the Northern bureaucracy and the vagaries of the Kim 
family hardly bother U.S. rulers, who have for decades propped 
up a regime of mass murdering colonial puppets in the South. 
North Korea’s original sin, in the U.S.’ eyes, was overthrowing 

U.S. National Archives 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 


Leftist mass meeting in Seoul, South Korea on May Day 1947. 

capitalist rule - for which “crime” Washington has constantly 
sought to topple the regime, or failing that, to obliterate the 
entire country. Trotskyists, in contrast, unconditionally defend 
North Korea against imperialism and internal counterrevolu¬ 
tion, while seeking to oust its conservative, nationalist Stalinist 
ruling stratum through a proletarian political revolution in the 
North and revolutionary reunification of Korea. 

1945-49: Imperialist Occupation 
and Massacres in the South 

As World War II ended abruptly 
after the horrific U.S. atom-bombing 
of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, 
the Soviet Army rapidly pushed the 
Japanese army out of Manchuria and 
northern Korea. It stopped at the 38th 
Parallel north of Seoul, in accordance 
with the August 1945 Potsdam agree¬ 
ment that carved up Soviet and Western 
spheres of interest worldwide. At the 
same time, Korean Communists led 
by Kim 11 Sung, who had fought the 
Japanese colonial occupiers in guer¬ 
rilla struggles since the 1930s, rapidly 
expanded their influence throughout 
the peninsula, even setting up a short¬ 
lived People’s Republic of Korea 
(PRK). The U.S. military government 
brought in Syngman Rhee from the 
U.S. to head a right-wing “democratic 
council” in the South, whose appa¬ 
ratus consisted of the puppets who 
ran Korea as a Japanese colony from 
1910 to 1945. The U.S. proceeded to 

repress the left, banning strikes 
and outlawing PRK authorities in 
December 1945. 

But this didn’t stop the spread 
of unrest in the South. Unlike other 
countries occupied by the U.S. 
after WWII (Germany, Japan, 
Austria), Korea was not a defeated 
imperialist power but a colonized 
nation yearning to throw off for¬ 
eign rule. In 1946, an Autumn 
Uprising broke out with a peasant 
revolt against hated landowners, a 
railroad strike and mass assaults on 
police stations. The U.S. military 
government declared martial law. 
Although in 1945 it was agreed 
that after a five-year “trusteeship,” 
Korea would be reunited and inde¬ 
pendent, with the start of the Cold 
War, Washington reneged on this 
pledge. In March 1948, the U.S. 
announced elections for an anti-Communist government in the 
South. When the Workers Party of Korea (WPK) held rallies 
to oppose this, the U.S. arrested 2,500 Communist cadres. In 
April, South Korean police on the island of Cheju (or Jeju) 
fired on a demonstration commemorating the struggle against 
Japanese rule, touching off a mass rebellion that was put down 
with bloody terror: 

“Over the next year, the soldiers burned hundreds of ‘red vil¬ 
lages’ and raped and tortured countless islanders, eventually 
killing as many as 60,000 people - one fifth of Cheju’s popu¬ 
lation. They committed these atrocities in 
plain view of the highest authority then 
in southern Korea - the U.S. military, 
which had occupied the peninsula south 
of the 38th parallel following the World 
War II defeat of Japan. The Americans 
documented the brutality, but never 

-“Ghosts of Cheju,” Newsweek, 19 June 

For the next 50 years, it was a 
crime to even mention the Cheju 
Massacre in South Korea, but it was 
only one of several. A new Republic 
of Korea quickly passed a National 
Traitors Act outlawing the WPK, 
forcing Communist militants to head 
to the hills to begin guerrilla struggle. 
In October 1948, a rebellion in the 
southwestern cities of Yeosu and Sun- 
cheon was crushed by U.S.-led forces 
which killed up to 2,000 civilians. In 
December 1949, South Korean troops 
in Mungyeong executed scores of 
prisoners (mostly children and elderly 

Carl Mydans/Life Magazine 

Captured rebels in Suncheon, 1948. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Suspected “communist collaborators” arrested in Yongdong. 

people) accused of collaborating with Communist bands. 
Meanwhile, the U.S. authorities were revamping their world¬ 
wide strategy for the Cold War, shifting from “containment” 
of Communism, the watchword of the early years, to “rolling 
back” the Soviet bloc, a policy embodied in National Security 
Council Report 68 (NSC-68), issued in April 1950. The first 
place this doctrine was tried was in the Korean War, which 
broke out that June. 

Newsweek quoted University of Chicago historian Bruce 
Cumings on the origin of the Korean War: 

“Americans remember it as a lightning bolt in the morning, 

like the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.... In fact, the war 

began as a civil conflict in 1945 - and still hasn’t ended.” 
In response to the proclamation of the Republic of Korea 
(ROK) in the South, a Democratic People’s Republic (DPRK) 
was established in the North. Later in 1948, Soviet troops left 
North Korea, and in mid-1949 U.S. troops pulled out of the 
South. However, South Korean strong man Rhee (who op¬ 
posed the U.S. withdrawal) was acutely aware that his survival 
depended on an American military presence, especially fol¬ 
lowing the victory of the Chinese Communists against Chiang 
Kai-shek that October. So throughout 1949 and early 1950, the 
ROK army staged provocative raids across the 38th Parallel 
which everyone (including North Korea and U.S. officials) 
understood were intended to provoke a DPRK counterattack 
that would force the return of U.S. troops. 

At the same time, Kim 11 Sung and Korean nationalists, 
angered at the Americans’ ripping up of the 1945 agreement for 
a reunified Korea in five years’ time, saw the departure of U.S. 
troops as an opportunity to reunify the country by sweeping 
away the hated landlord/militarist regime in the South. When 
its forces were sufficiently built up, and assured of Soviet and 
Chinese backing, on 25 June 1950 the Korean People’s Army 
(KPA) launched the attack. The “ROK” army, which had been 
a garrison police force under the Japanese, was no match for 
the KPA, which included 60,000 battle-hardened soldiers who 
had fought with the Chinese Communists in the just concluded 
civil war. As the KPA rolled south, they were welcomed by 

uprisings in several provinces. 
Rhee responded as always, or¬ 
dering the execution of 30,000 
prisoners accused of Communist 
ties, as well as tens of thousands 
more who had been forced into an 
official “re-education” campaign, 
called the Bodo League. Adding it 
up, just this past summer the New 
York Times (10 July) reported that 
a South Korean commission: 
“...confirmed that during the first 
chaotic weeks of the war, when 
North Korean troops barreled down 
the peninsula, the South’s military 
and police rounded up thousands of 
suspected leftists - historians say 
as many as 200,000 - and executed 
them to prevent them from aiding 
the invading forces.” 

Korean War: More U.S. Massacres 
in South Korea 

The prewar (1946-49) massacres by the U.S.’ South 
Korean flunkeys (sometimes overseen by American officers) 
were only the warm-up to the wholesale slaughter of Koreans 
carried out directly by the U.S. military during the Korean War, 
as American warplanes and troops returned, this time suppos¬ 
edly as “United Nations” forces. In the name of “freedom” and 
“democracy,” the United States engaged in mass murder in 
Korea on an industrial scale from 1950 to 1953. This included 
leveling virtually every city in North Korea with carpet bomb¬ 
ing; targeting civilian population centers with firebombs and 
dropping huge quantities of napalm (jellied gasoline), burn¬ 
ing inhabitants to a crisp; executing vast numbers of peasants 
and “suspected Communists” in cold blood; and deliberately 
murdering thousands of refugees. This was a policy of mass 
extermination. The United States wiped out one fifth of the 
entire North Korean population at the time. In addition, 
Washington prepared to drop scores of atomic bombs on the 
North and turn the country into a vast radioactive cemetery. 

For years, there was a curtain of silence about the mas¬ 
sacres in the South. But in 1999, a team of reporters for the 
Associated Press - Sand-Hun Choe, Charles J. Hanley and 
Martha Mendoza - published a series of groundbreaking ar¬ 
ticles laying out in horrific detail a massacre on 26 July 1950 of 
up to 400 Korean refugees at a bridge outside No Gun Ri , near 
the city of Yongdong. 1 The reports were based on testimony 
from Korean survivors and from a dozen U.S. soldiers who 
had participated in or witnessed the slaughter. The reports had 
a profoundly shocldng effect. The Pentagon had been denying 
this and similar reports for years. At first it claimed that no 
troops were even in the area of No Gun Ri. But faced with the 
testimony of a dozen American veterans, it had to backtrack. 

1 The reports were later published as a book by Choe, Hanley and 
Mendoza, The Bridge at No Gun Ri: A Hidden Nightmare From the 
Korean War (Henry Holt, 2001). 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Long lines of refugees fleeing from Yongdong on 26 July 1950. The day be¬ 
fore, hundreds of refugees were massacred by U.S. soldiers and warplanes 
at bridge at No Gun Ri, eight miles away. 

The AP stories won a Pulitzer 
Prize for investigative reporting. 

Fifteen months later, the Pentagon 
issued a report acknowledging 
that large numbers of civilians 
were killed by soldiers of the 7th 
Cavalry Regiment at No Gun Ri, 
though claiming it was less than 
100. Nevertheless, it concluded 
that the carnage was “not a delib¬ 
erate killing” but “an unfortunate 
tragedy inherent to war.” 

The right-wing U.S. News 
& World Report tried to discredit 
the AP story, as did a former 7th 
Cavalry officer, Robert Bateman, 
who published a book seeking to 
refute it. With information from 
Pentagon records, they focused 
on one of the vets, Edward Daily, 
who it turned out had fabricated 
his story in order to claim benefits 
for post-traumatic stress disorder. 

But the detractors admit that numerous refugees were killed, 
and cannot explain the testimony of 30 Korean survivors or the 
eleven other U.S. soldiers who had indelible memories of the 
massacre. “We just annihilated them,” said ex-machine gunner 
Norman Tinkler. “It was just wholesale slaughter,” ex-rifleman 
Herman Patterson told the reporters. Vets reported that a Cap¬ 
tain Melbourne Chandler, “after speaking with superior officers 
by radio, had ordered machine-gunners 
from his heavy-weapons company to 
set up near the tunnel mouths and open 
fire.” “Chandler said, ‘The hell with 
all those people. Let’s get rid of all of 
them’” (“War’s hidden chapter: Ex-GIs 
Tell of Killing Korean Refugees,” AP 
dispatch, 23 September 1999). 

A BBC report on the Korean War 
quoted 7th Cavalry vet Joe Jackman 
about No Gun Ri: “There was a lieu¬ 
tenant screaming like a madman, fire 
on everything, ‘kill ’em all’.... I didn’t 
know if they were soldiers or what. 

Kids, there was kids out there, it didn’t 
matter what it was, eight to 80, blind, 
crippled or crazy, they shot ’em all.” 

But this was not the action of some 
panicked soldiers - they were acting 
on orders. The original AP story quoted 
retired Colonel Robert Carroll, then 
a lieutenant, who witnessed aircraft 
strafing the refugees and then riflemen 
opening fire on the refugees: “This is 
right after we get orders that nobody 
comes through, civilian, military, no¬ 

body.” That very morning, July 26, the U.S. 8th Army radioed 
orders throughout the Korean front that began, “No repeat no 
refugees will be permitted to cross battle lines at any time.” 
A day earlier, the headquarters of the Fifth Air Force issued 
a memo (labeled “Secret”) on “Policy on Strafing Civilian 
Refugees.” In cold bureaucratese, it read: 

“3. The army has requested that we strafe all civilian refugee 
parties that are noted approaching our 

“4. To date, we have complied with the 
army request in this respect.” 

And on July 24, the 1st Cavalry Divi¬ 
sion HQ sent out an explicit order: “No 
refugees to cross the front line. Fire 
everyone trying to cross lines. Use dis¬ 
cretion in case of women and children.” 

The slaughter at No Gun Ri was 
only one of scores of such mass mur¬ 
ders. The slaughter at No Gun Ri 
was only one of scores of such mass 
murders. A far larger massacre took 
place outside the city of Daejeon in the 
first week of July 1950, when South 
Korean police executed over the space 
of three days at least 1,800 jailed left¬ 
ists and other prisoners. Altogether 
some 4,000 civilians were murdered in 
Daejeon by the retreating ROK forces. 
This was known at the time by the top 
U.S. authorities. Nevertheless, when 
reports of this atrocity were published 
by Communist journalists, the United 
States government denounced them as 

USAF aerial photo, from U.S. Department of the 
Army, No Gun Ri Review [January 2001] 

Scene of the crime: railroad bridge 
where hundreds of South Korean refu¬ 
gees were massacred by U.S. troops 
on 25 July 1950. 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Some 1,800 South Korean leftists and other prisoners were massacred near 
Daejeon by the ROK police over the space of three days in July 1950. 

“fabrications.” The Pentagon also hid photos of this massacre for 
half a century by classifying them secret. Even larger numbers 
of South Korean leftists were executed, an estimated 10,000, in 
the city of Busan (Pusan) during this same period (July-August 
1950). Documents show that a U.S. advisor to the ROK military 
authorized the machine-gunning of 3,500 prisoners in Busan. 
An extensive presentation of evidence about the Daejeon mas¬ 
sacre, using material uncovered by the South Korean Truth and 
Reconciliation Commission, “Mass Killings in Korea: Com¬ 
mission Probes Hidden History of 1950,” was prepared by the 
Associated Press and is available on the Internet. 

Meanwhile, in the South Korean countryside as well there 
was a reign of terror. On 26-29 July 1950, U.S. soldiers and 
planes slaughtered more than 100 people in a massacre at Chu- 
gok village in Yongdong county. On August 3, the commander 
of the 1st Cavalry Division, Maj. Gen. Hobart Gay ordered a 
bridge crossing the Naktong River in South Korea blown up 
in order to stop refugees crossing it. Gay later wrote to a mili¬ 
tary historian, “up in the air with the bridge went hundreds of 
refugees.” The same day, 25 miles downstream at the village of 
Tuksong-Dong, army engineers blew up a second bridge over 
the Naktong. The detonation "lifted up and turned it sideways 
and it was full of refugees end to end,” said Leon Denis, one 
of the engineers (“Other Incidents of Refugees Killed by GIs 
During Korea Retreat,” AP dispatch, 13 October 1999). More 
incidents kept coming to light. On 20 January 1951, in Youngc- 
hun American bombers dropped incendiary bombs at the mouth 
of a cave, killing 300 local villagers huddled inside. “Earlier that 
week, 60 miles to the west, another 300 South Korean refugees 
were killed by a U.S. air attack as they jammed a storage house 
at the village of Doon-po" the AP journalists reported in a third 
dispatch (28 December 1999). A colleague reported seeing “the 
frozen bodies of at least 200 Koreans in civilian clothes” on 26 

January 1951 on a road near the 
village of Yong-in. 

Infantry massacres, aerial 
bombing, even the Navy got in 
on the indiscriminate slaughter. 
Years later, researchers found 
records in the National Archives 
of a massacre on a beach near the 
southern Korean port of Pohang. 
On 1 September 1950, the de¬ 
stroyer USS DeHaven “received 
orders from the SFCP [shore fire 
control party] to open fire on a 
large group of refugee personnel 
located on the beach,” according 
to the ship’s log. The ship’s of¬ 
ficers questioned the order, but 
then complied. The AP (13 April 
2007) reported: ‘“The sea was a 
pool of blood,’ said Choi 11-chool, 
75. ‘Dead bodies lay all over the 
place.’ Witnesses say 100 to 200 
civilians were killed in the Navy 
shelling.” On 20 August 1950, a U.S. air attack on 2,000 refu¬ 
gees assembled at Haman, near Masan, killed almost 200 (AP 
dispatch, 3 August 2008). On 10 September 1950, the air force 
dropped 93 tanks of napalm on Wolmi Island, killing 100 or 
more residents, according to survivors (International Herald 
Tribune, 21 July 2008). 

No Gun Ri, Daejeon, Busan, Chugok, Tuksong-Dong, 
Youngchun, Doon-po, Yong-in, Pohang, Haman, Wilmi 
Island, the bridge over the Naktong River: these names 
should be seared into the collective memory as horrendous 
massacres committed by U.S. forces in the Korean War. And 
these are only some of the ones in which 100 or more dead are 
reported. There are countless others in which dozens and scores 
were machine-gunned, strafed, napalmed and fire-bombed. 

Like the infamous 1968 My Lai massacre in Vietnam, 
these were not the actions of some lone lieutenant - they were 
the result of official policy. In 2006, a former Harvard historian 
now at the National Archives, Sahr Conway-Lanz, discovered a 
letter from the U.S. ambassador to Korea, John Muccio, to his 
superior, Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk, sent the night 
before the No Gun Ri massacre. It reported on a high-level 
meeting with military commanders and outlined the policy: 
“If refugees do appear from north of US lines they will receive 
warning shots, and if they then persist in advancing they will 
be shot” (see “U.S. Policy Was to Shoot Korean Refugees,” 
AP dispatch, 29 May 2006). So there is not the slightest 
doubt that the top U.S. military authorities in Korea directly 
ordered the deliberate killing of non-combatant refugees, an 
unambiguous war crime, and that this was known by civilian 
authorities in Washington. Yet no one has ever been tried, or 
even charged, for this mass murder. 

For decades, right-wing dictatorships in South Korea and 
the United States government kept a lid on all reports of mass 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 



U.S. president Truman decorates Gen. MacArthur, October 1950. In 
the background, U.S. ambassador to South Korea John Muccio. 
MacArthur planned to wipe out North Korea with atom bombs. Muccio 
sent letter (below) saying it was official policy to fire on refugees. 

1. Leaflet drops will be cade north of US llne#®n/fj 
the poop le not to proceed south, that they risk being Sired 
upon If they to so. If refugees do appear from north of US 
lines they sill receive warning shots, and If they then 
persist In advancing they will be shot. , 

The Honorable 
Dean Rusk, 

Assistant secretary of State, 
Department of State, 

killings by their armed forces. But in December 2005, under a 
liberal government in Seoul under President Roh Moo-hyun, a 
Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to investigate 
mass killings going back to the period of Japanese colonial 
rule. It had more than 200 wartime cases on its docket. Last 
summer, it was reported that the Commission had found that 
“American troops killed groups of South Korean civilians on 
138 separate occasions during the Korean War.” But now a 
right-wing government headed by Lee Myung-bak is in office 
determined to wrap up the commission without antagonizing 
the U.S. So with new commissioners in charge, the slaughter 
was written off as due to “military necessity.” No compensa¬ 
tion will be sought or criminal charges filed in 97 percent of 
the cases brought before the body, and the survivors will get 
nothing. So much for “truth” and “reconciliation. 

Napalm and Nuke Threats in the North 

In the South, the U.S. forces engaged in retail level mass 
murder, mowing down hundreds of civilians at a time. As the 
U.S. Army (along with ROK troops and contingents from Britain 
and Turkey) crossed the 38th Parallel invading the North, they 
turned to wholesale slaughter of thousands and tens of thou¬ 
sands of North Koreans, treating the entire population as “the 
enemy.” This was billed as a “limited war” but it was under the 
command of Gen. MacArthur, who advocated total war against 
Communism - and had waged it against Japan. Even after he 
was relieved of his command for insubordination in April 1951, 
MacArthur’s policies were continued. The preeminent historian 
of the Korean War, Bruce Cumings, has written: 

“The air force dropped 625 tons of bombs over North Korea 
on 12 August [1950], a tonnage that would have required a 
fleet of 250 B-17s in the second world war. By late August 
B-29 formations were dropping 800 tons a day on the North. 
Much of it was pure napalm. From June to late October 1950, 
B-29s unloaded 866,914 gallons of napalm.” 

-“Korea: Forgotten Nuclear Threats,” Le Monde Diploma¬ 
tique (English edition), December 2004 
From the outset, the aim was to wipe out every urban center 
in the North. In his recent book, The Korean War: A History 
(Modem Library, 2010), Cumings notes: 

“The United States dropped 635,000 tons of bombs in Korea 

(not counting 32,557 tons of napalm), compared to 503,000 
tons in the entire Pacific theater in World War II.... [ A]t least 
50 percent of eighteen out of the North’s twenty-two major 
cities were obliterated.” 

Responding to apologists for this devastation, Cumings points 
to the implicit racism behind it: “note the logic: they are sav¬ 
ages, so that gives us the right to shower napalm on innocents.” 

To comprehend the scope of the destruction of North 
Korea by U.S. air power, consider some comparisons. In Ger¬ 
many, estimates of the number of civilians killed in the Allied 
air war range from 305,000 (U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey) 
to 600,000, out of a total German population of 78 million. 
The bombing aimed at destroying the Reich’s industrial ca¬ 
pacity and breaking morale (which it notoriously failed to do) 
through sheer terror. (This, from the “democratic” imperialists 
who today claim to be waging a “war on terror”!). Where the 
civilian population was targeted with firebombing - notably 
Hamburg and Dresden - this was widely denounced as war 
crimes. In Japan, due to racist prejudice the U.S. rulers had 
fewer compunctions about indiscriminately slaughtering Asian, 
rather than European (“white”) civilians (see John Dower, War 
Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War [Pantheon 
Books, 1986]). Some 100,000 people were killed in a single 
firebombing raid on Tokyo in March 1945, and more than 
200,000 were murdered in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima 
andNagasaki that August. In Japan, estimates of civilian deaths 
range up to 600,000, out of a total population of 72 million - 
the same scope as in Germany, but over a much shorter time 
period of nine months. 

In North Korea, in contrast, the U.S. bombing went on 
for three years, and its purpose was not terrorizing the popula¬ 
tion, it was annihilation. Cumings quotes Curtis LeMay, the 
architect of the aerial bombing that incinerated Japanese cites 
(and who later advocated bombing Vietnam “back to the Stone 
Age”). LeMay says he argued with his Pentagon superiors at 
the outset to “let us go up there . . . and burn down five of the 
biggest towns in North Korea.” While there were objections 
about civilian casualties, he said, in the end “over a period of 
three years or so ... we burned down every town in North 
Korea and South Korea, too.” The number of civilian dead 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Napalm bombing of village near Hanchon, North Korea, 10 May 1951. Use of napalm on villages later became 
infamous in Vietnam, but much more was dumped on North Korea. 

in North Korea during the war was over 1 million, and total 
casualties were 1.5 million-plus, out of a total population at 
the time of 8-9 million: almost 20 percent of the population. 
Plus another million killed in South Korea. 

When the revelations came out about the massacre at 
No Gun Ri and other cases of mass murder by U.S. forces in 
South Korea, the ministry of foreign affairs of the DPRK put 
out a memorandum (21 March 2000) detailing the slaughter 
carried out by the imperialists in the North. A main target was 
the capital, Pyongyang, which was 75 percent destroyed by 
aerial bombing. The memo reported: “During the war, the 
U.S. aggressors made more than 1,400 air raids on Pyongyang 
dropping over 428,000 bombs, destroying all industrial estab¬ 
lishments, educational, health and public service facilities and 
dwelling houses and killing many innocent civilians.” In just 
one of those raids, on 11-12 July 1952, U.S. planes dropped 
over 6,000 napalm bombs, killing some 8,000 people. They 
also hit other Northern cities repeatedly, including Nampho, 
Hamhung, Hungnam, Sinuiju and Chongjin, burning them 
to the ground. Overall, the memo stated, “Napalm and other 
bombs dropped by U.S. warplanes totaled nearly 600,000 tons, 
which was 3.7 times the 161,425 tons ofbombs they dropped 
over Japan proper during the Pacific War,” although North 
Korea is only one-third the size of Japan. 

While the North’s KPA rapidly defeated the South Korean 
army early in the war (July-August 1950), as soon as the United 
States reinvaded in force in September (in the guise of a United 
Nations “police action”), the balance of forces shifted dramati¬ 
cally. In a few weeks, the U.S./“U.N.” army pushed the overex¬ 
tended KPAback to the north. But when Americans crossed the 
partition line at the 38th Parallel on 1 October 1950, the military 
balance shifted again. China sent a People’s Volunteer Army of 
1 million troops to aid their North Korean comrades. Under the 
illusion that they were still advancing, the U.S. Eighth Army 
launched a “Home by Christmas Offensive” on November 25. 

Instead, by December 25 the entire U.S./U.N. force had been 
pushed out of North Korea. As it retreated, it adopted a scorched 
earth policy, destroying everything and everyone in its path. 

During its brief (October to mid-December 1950) occupa¬ 
tion of the North, the U.S. escalated the indiscriminate mas¬ 
sacres it had carried out in the South. A museum in Sin eh on t 
where the slaughter was particularly intense, documents many 
of these, including over 1,500 people blown up or burned to 
death in air raid shelters in the city from October 17 to 20; 
2,000 people shot, bayoneted and pushed off Sokdang Bridge 
over a period of three weeks; and another 900 (including 500 
women and children) massacred on December 7. Altogether, 
over 35,000 civilians were killed in the Sinchon region, a quar¬ 
ter of the entire population. Elsewhere, on November 7, they 
shot to death more than 500 civilians on Mt. Sudo in Haeju, 
and another 600 in Haugogae valley in Kumsan. On Decem¬ 
ber 5 in Sariwon City they arrested and took 950 inhabitants 
to Mt. Mara, then machine-gunned them to death. When the 
U.S. military entered the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, 
they jailed 4,000 civilians and shot 2,000 of them in the prison 
yard. For a listing of these horrific murders, see the section on 
the DPRK of the report of the Korea International War Crimes 
Tribunal (held on 23 June 2001 in New York). 

But that’s only (some of) what the U.S. did. What it was 
preparing to do was far worse. After MacArthur had been pushed 
out of the North, on 24 December 1950, the U.S./U.N. com¬ 
mander made a formal request for 38 atomic bombs accompa¬ 
nied by a list of 24 targets, to turn North Korea from a wasteland 
(which U.S. bombing had already made it) into an uninhabitable 
moonscape. In posthumously published interviews, MacArthur 
claimed he had a plan to win the war in ten days: “I would have 
dropped 30 or so atomic bombs . . . strung across the neck of 
Manchuria,” leaving “behind us - from the Sea of Japan to the 
Yellow Sea - a belt of radioactive cobalt... it has an active life 
of between 60 and 120 years. For at least 60 years there could 


Photos: AFP 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Above: U.S. and South Korean forces cross the 38th Parallel, invading North 
Korea, on 12 October 1950. Below: U.S. forces hightail it back across the 
38th Parallel in retreat, on 25 December 1950. 

have been no land invasion of Korea from the North.” 2 Or any 
human life in Korea north of the 38th parallel. 

This was a program for genocide on a scale surpassing 
Hitler Was it just bluster from a general known as a braggart? 
Not at all. On 30 November 1950, President Truman (who had 
ordered the A-bombing of Japan) threatened in a news confer¬ 
ence to use any weapon in the U.S. arsenal. Many considered 
this a slip of the tongue. It was not. The same day, an order was 
issued to the Strategic Air Command to prepare to dispatch 
bomb groups to the Far East with “atomic capabilities.” Earlier, 

2 Quoted in Bruce Cumings, “Korea: forgotten nuclear threats,” Le 
Monde Diplomatique (English edition), December 2004. 

the Joint Chiefs of Staff had estimated that 
atomic bombs could establish “a cordon 
sanitaire ... in a strip in Manchuria immedi¬ 
ately north of the Korean border.” This was 
exactly MacArthur’s doomsday scenario, 
minus the cobalt bombs (which didn’t exist). 

Cumings reports that “The US came 
closest to using atomic weapons in April 
1951, when Truman removed Mac Arthur 
[as commander in chief in Korea].... Tru¬ 
man traded MacArthur for his atomic poli¬ 
cies.” In March, the atomic bomb loading 
operation at the U.S. air base on Okinawa 
became operational; the bombs were there, 
and only had to be assembled. On April 5, 
the Joint Chiefs of Staff ordered immediate 
atomic retaliation against Manchurian bases 
if large numbers of new Chinese forces en¬ 
tered the fighting. That same day, the head 
of the Atomic Energy Commission began 
the process of transferring Mark IV nuclear 
capsules to the Ninth Air Force for use in 
Korea. Only Chinese restraint apparently 
stopped this operational plan. In June 1951 
the JCS again considered using A-bombs, 
this time for tactical battlefield purposes. 
And in October 1951, U.S. forces carried 
out “Operation Hudson Harbor,” a simu¬ 
lated atomic bombing including weapons 
assembly and sending lone B-29 aircraft 
from Okinawa to North Korea to drop 
dummy A-bombs or heavy TNT bombs as 
a trial run for using nuclear weapons. 

Plans for nuking North Korea didn’t 
stop with the 1953 armistice, which ended 
the fighting but left tens of thousands of 
U.S. troops occupying South Korea (29,000 
are still there). This past June, on the 60th 
anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean 
War, the National Security Archive (a group 
dedicated to “piercing the self-serving veils 
of government secrecy”) published a series 
of documents on planning by the Nixon 
administration following the North Korean 
shootdown of a U.S. EC-121 spy plane in April 1969. Code- 
named “Freedom Drop,” the plan called for “the selective use of 
tactical nuclear weapons against North Korea,” with warheads 
ranging from 10 to 70 kilotons each against a dozen airfields. 
This was hardly abstract: in 1967, the U.S. had 950 nuclear 
weapons stockpiled in South Korea, in flagrant violation of 
the Korean Armistice Agreement which banned (in Paragraph 
13d) the introduction of any new weaponry. During the 1969 
crisis, “nuclear-armed U.S. warplanes stood by in South Korea 
on 15-minute alert to strike the north” (AP dispatch, 9 October 
2010). The plan was eventually shelved after concluding that it 
would likely lead to all-out war, bringing in the Soviet Union. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 



Intelligence Report 

(b) (1) 
(b) (3) 

Ujpct dj Ksum racyic ana luiw American Analysis 

21 January 1998 

Exploring the Implications of Alternative North Korean Endgames: 
Results From a Discussi on Pa nel on Continuing Coexistence Between 
North and South Korea j - 

An Introductory Note j 

(Group recently convened a panel of Northeast Asian 
specialists to rentier examine some issues that arose from the March 1997 Intelligence 
Community crisis simulation on alternative Korean endgames. In that simulation, 
regional dynamics were examined in response to a limited North Korean invasion of 

U.S. Imperialists Going for 
“Endgame” in North Korea? 

Again in the 1990s, the Clinton administration 
considered “surgical strikes” against North Korean 
facilities after the DPRK threatened to withdraw 
from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty 3 . Ulti¬ 
mately the plan was dropped in favor of negotiation. 

Why? First, the North Korean army is a formidable 
force of 1 million soldiers, backed up by another 8 
million reservists. It has double the manpower, more 
armor and substantially more artillery than the South 
Korean and U.S. forces in the theater. If full-scale 
fighting broke out, the South Korean capital, located 
only 35 miles from the Demilitarized Zone, could be 
pounded to smithereens by well dug-in North Korean 
artillery. The war would be fought not in the desert like the 
1991 attack on Iraq, but in the suburbs or in the center of Seoul, 
producing millions of refugees and a staggering death toll. 
Second, even the right-wing South Korean government was 
not eager for a war. It worried about the tremendous economic 
cost to it of a collapse of the DPRK. Moreover, some in the 
ROK military were not adverse to North Korea developing 
nuclear weapons, figuring they would inherit them in the event 
of reunification. And an all-out war would likely bring in China 
on the other side, with untold consequences. 

So once again, the U.S. attack plans were archived, but 
the threat remained. The Clinton administration negotiated 
an “Agreed Framework,” promising a regular supply of fuel 
oil and delivery of two light-water reactors in exchange for 
North Korea abandoning its plutonium enrichment efforts. 
However, the funds for the reactors were never appropriated, 
and the oil supply was soon cut off. In response, North Korea 
began a uranium enrichment program and eventually left the 
Non-Proliferation Treaty, a toothless pact aimed at keeping a 
monopoly of mass destruction in the hands of the dominant 
imperialist powers, mainly the U.S. The DPRK has developed 
atomic weapons and carried out at least two successful tests, in 
October 2006 and April 2009. It has a range of short, medium 
and long-range rockets capable of delivering nuclear warheads. 
In short, North Korea’s nuclear deterrent exists and is credible. 
Yet despite this, the South Korean and U.S. rulers have in the 
last two years sharply stepped up their pressure on the North. 
Again, the question must be asked: why? 

On the U.S. side of the equation, Barack Obama has repeat¬ 
edly pointed to North Korea as a “threat” that should be focused 
on. In his 2006 book Audacity of Hope, Obama asked, “Why 
invade Iraq and not North Korea or Burma?” (He later “clari¬ 
fied” this to say he wasn’t advocating invasion ofNorth Korea.) 
In an article in Foreign Affairs (July-August 2007), candidate 
Obama called for a “strong international coalition to prevent Iran 
from acquiring nuclear weapons and eliminate North Korea’s 
nuclear weapons program.... In confronting these threats, 1 will 
not take the military option off the table.” Mired in a losing war 

3 See our article, “Defend North Korea Against Nuclear Blackmail 
and War Threats!” The Internationalist No. 15, January-February 
2003 for a detailed analysis. 

in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is in no position to 
wage another war in northeastern Asia. Yet it is systematically 
stepping up military and economic pressure on the DPRK in the 
evident belief that “endgame” for North Korea is near. 

In South Korea, the relatively liberal governments of Kim 
Dae-jung (1998-2003) and Roh Moo-hyun (2003-2008) pursued 
a “sunshine policy” of “engagement” with the North. But after a 
decade out of office, during which the liberals never dared touch 
the military, the right returned under President Lee My ung-bak, 
in the shape of the Grand National Party. This is the political 
instrument of the military command, which ruled South Korea 
uninterruptedly until the late 1990s, and the powerful chaebol 
conglomerates (Samsung, Hyundai, LG, etc.) who dominate 
industry and finance. Lee perfectly embodies this capitalist 
fusion of militarists and industrialists, having been installed in 
Hyundai by the dictator-president, Gen. Park Chung-hee. In the 
2007 campaign Lee accused his predecessors of “appeasement” 
of the North. Since coming to office he has shown unremitting 
hostility to the DPRK, cutting off aid and rattling sabers at 
every chance. In the summer of 2009, at a meeting of Korean, 
Japanese and American left-wing trade-unionists, the South Ko¬ 
reans alerted us that following consultations in Washington and 
Tokyo - about whose results nothing was said publicly -South 
Korean president Lee had embarked on a course of provocations 
that could lead to war with the North. 

The right-wing regime in Seoul is acting aggressively to 
push North Korea over the brink, on the supposition that with 
enough pressure the DPRK will implode. That is what is behind 
holding provocative South Korean live fire military exercises 
barely seven miles off the North Korean coast. A “confiden¬ 
tial” diplomatic dispatch by the U.S. ambassador to South 
Korea, Kathleen Stephens, dated 12 January 2009, published 
by Wikileaks in December 2010, reports that Lee is “quite 
comfortable with his North Korea policy and ... prepared to 
leave the inter-Korean relations frozen until the end of his term 
in office, if necessary. It is also our assessment that Lee’s more 
conservative advisors and supporters see the current standoff as a 
genuine opportunity to push and further weaken the North, even 
if this might involve considerable brinkmanship.” One of those 
advisors is the former vice foreign minister Chun Yung-woo, 
who has now been promoted to Lee’s national security advisor. 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong II (right) and son Kim Jong Un, 
his heir apparent, with North Korean generals reviewing troops, 10 
October 2010. 

A Wikileaks cable from Ambassador 
Stephens (22 February 2010) quotes Chun 
saying that “The DPRK ... had already 
collapsed economically and would collapse 
politically two to three years after the death 
of Kim Jong-il.” Chun also “claimed [Chi¬ 
nese] Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai 
and another senior PRC [People’s Republic 
of China] official from the younger genera¬ 
tion both believed Korea should be unified 
under ROK control,” and that they “were 
ready to ‘face the new reality’” that “the 
DPRK now had little value to China as a 
buffer state.” Chun argued that while China 
would “not welcome” U.S. forces north 
of the DMZ, he “dismissed the prospect 
of a possible PRC military intervention in 
the event of a DPRK collapse, noting that 
China’s strategic economic interests now 
lie with the United States, Japan, and South 
Korea - not North Korea.” 

Saner observers have ridiculed these reports, saying “much 
of the information in the outed memos amounts to little more than 
dinner party chatter that reflects outdated opinion or wishful think¬ 
ing” (Barbara Demick, “Beijing support for Korea reunification 
not so clear, despite leaked cables,” Los Angeles Times, 30 No¬ 
vember). For China to stand by as an army of 1 million is removed 
that is the main obstacle standing between it and front-line U.S. 
forces, would be militarily suicidal. Moreover, counterrevolution 
on its doorstep would be a direct threat to the Chinese deformed 
workers state - something that the imperialists (and quite a few 
leftists) who think that China has already gone capitalist cannot 
grasp. China’s refusal to condemn North Korea over the recent 
incidents, driving Hillary Clinton into a frenzy, show that the 
Stalinist leaders in Beijing have some grasp of this reality. But the 
U.S. and its South Korean allies may believe that their chitchat 
about Chinese acquiescence to a South Korean takeover of the 
North is accurate, and are acting accordingly. If so, the chances 
of renewed military aggression against the DPRK have sharply 
escalated, and with it the danger of a third imperialist world war. 

U.S. strategists have often predicted the imminent collapse 
of North Korea in the past. In 1997, a CIA panel of experts 
concluded that “the Kim regime cannot remain viable” - due 
to its deteriorating economic condition - “beyond five years.” 
(In 2006, the National Security Archive published this paper, 
“Exploring the Implications of Alternative North Korean End¬ 
games,” and a series of other documents from the Clinton admin¬ 
istration under the skeptical title, “North Korea’s Collapse? The 
End Is Near - Maybe.”) Likewise, an article by Robert Kaplan 
reported that “Middle- and upper-middle-level U.S. officers 
based in South Korea and Japan are planning for a meltdown of 
North Korea” (“When North Korea Falls,” The Atlantic, October 
2006). 4 The prevalent opinion among imperialist liberals has for 

4 Kaplan is not just another liberal journalist. His book, Balkan 
Ghosts (1993), reportedly influenced Bill Clinton’s two wars on 
Yugoslavia (1995 and 1999). He is currently on the Pentagon’s De¬ 
fense Policy Board. 

some time been that the North Korean economy is a shambles, 
and now that that the ailing Kim Jong 11 has introduced his son 
Kim Jong Un as heir apparent they see a succession crisis. This 
view is repeated as well by social-democratic reformists such 
as the International Socialist Organization (ISO), which writes 
of North Korea that “its economy is on the edge of collapse” 
(Socialist Worker, 29 November). 5 

The accuracy of this picture is open to question. A number 
of recent reports from the North indicate that markets are func¬ 
tioning, the population is making do as they have done for years 
under U.N. sanctions, most consumer goods are domestically 
produced, and while there are still food shortages they had a 
fairly good harvest this year. Over the years there have been 
numerous premature announcements of the impeding collapse 
of North Korea. In fact, the dispatches released by WikiLeaks 
from 2009 and early 2010 bear an uncanny resemblance to the 
U.S. diplomatic and intelligence analyses from the last time 
power changed hands in Pyongyang, in 1994, when Kim Jong 
11 succeeded his father, Kim 11 Sung. And the analysts all agree 
that the North Korean bureaucracy shows “no signs of losing its 
political will to stay the course” (CIA analysis, 1998). Unlike 
the Soviet bloc Stalinists, DPRK leaders can have no illusions 
that they could emerge as leaders of a capitalist North Korea. 
They are faced with an economically and militarily powerful 
capitalist South Korea, whose leaders are bent on revenge - 
sort of Cuban gusanos with state power - and would rather see 
DPRK leaders shot than make any kind of a deal. 

Whether endgame is looming for North Korea is debatable. 
What is true is that the Stalinist regime ultimately has no way 
out. What’s posed is a struggle for revolutionary reunification. 

5 The intellectual godfather of the ISO, Tony Cliff, broke with the 
Trotskyist Fourth International in declaring the Soviet Union to be 
“state capitalist” at the onset of the anti-Soviet Cold War, and then in 
1950 refusing to defend North Korea against the U.S.-led imperial¬ 
ist forces in the Korean War. 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


For Revolutionary Reunification of Korea: 
Political Revolution in the North, 
Social Revolution in the South 

It is impossible to learn anything about North Korea 
from the bourgeois press, which has demonized the country 
and the Kim regime like no other. Even serious imperialist 
publications like the London Economist (27 November) write 
such utter nonsense as, “No government anywhere subjects 
its own people to such a barbarous regime of fear, repression 
and hunger.” Similarly for statements like “North Korea is the 
poorest country in the world.” Like poorer than Somalia? (To 
the extent that such absurd claims are intended seriously, they 
are statistical flim-flam, comparing the DPRK, where housing, 
transportation and food are distributed by social mechanisms, 
with countries based on a capitalist market. Thus according to 
the Economist, using black market exchange rates, the aver¬ 
age North Korean wage in 2008 was US$1 a month - a sheer 
impossibility.) No one reading this drivel would have a clue 
that the DPRK is a modern industrial country, where people 
work in factories and offices, have TV sets and VCRs, live in 
high-rise apartments, play in parks, ride in subways and on 
locally manufactured trolleybuses, etc. 

And who exactly is subjecting the North Korean popula¬ 
tion to hunger? In the first place, there are wild claims that 2 
million or even 3 million people died (the latter figure from the 
demonic North Korea-basher Jasper Becker) in famines in the 
mid-late 1990s. There certainly was widespread hunger at the 
time, some 60 percent of North Korean children under 5 years 
of age were underweight. But while the U.S. government’s 
Centers for Disease Control (CDC) spread blatant lies that that 
food consumption had fallen to under 1,000 calories a day, the 
Food and Agricultural Organization of the U.N. estimated the 
caloric intake at between 2,100 and 2,200: seriously deficient, 
but hardly mass starvation. As we have written, 

“Contrary to imperialist propaganda about the North Korean 
population being reduced to eating grass, due to food ration¬ 
ing there have been no credible reports of mass starvation, 
as there certainly would have been in any capitalist country 
facing similarly drastic food shortages.” 

-“U.S. Tries to Starve North Korea Into Collapse,” The 
Internationalist No. 15, January-February 2003 
Yes, there was a famine and widespread malnutrition in the 
1990s, but the reports of millions of North Koreans starving to 
death are pure invention. The food shortages were the result of 
a combination of bad weather (severe flooding made much of 
the limited farmland unusable) and the cutoff of oil supplies and 
export markets as a consequence of the counterrevolutionary 
collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea’s main trading partner 
and source of aid. Prior to that, the DPRK had a productive, 
highly mechanized agriculture, using tractors and industrial 
fertilizer. With energy supplies cut off, industrial production 
shut down and tractors sat idle in the fields. And yes, there was 
someone deliberately trying to starve the North Korean people: it 
was U.S. imperialism under Bill Clinton, which cut off delivery 
of heavy oil supplies the United States was obligated to deliver, 
in the midst of the brutally cold Korean winter. 

U.S. gearing up for its next invasion. U.S. and South 
Korean military stage dramatic reenactment of’1950 
Inchon landing, using 14,000 troops, September 15. 

We Trotskyists of the League for the F ourth International are 
no fans of the Stalinist North Korean regime. As we have written: 
“The Kim dynasty is surely one of the most bizarre nationalist 
varieties of Stalinism on the planet. The ‘cult of the personality’ 
in North Korea rivals that of Stalin or Mao. For sheer capricious¬ 
ness and intrusiveness the Kims rivaled the Ceausescu family in 
Romania, although the latter’s bloody downfall was due in good 
part to its efforts to pay offloans from Western bankers, plunging 
the country into darkness for lack of energy.” But our opposition 
to the bureaucratic regime of the Korean Workers Party is the 
exact opposite of that of the imperialists and their South Korean 
allies. The latter want to get rid of the Kims and the KWP in order 
to restore capitalism; in contrast, we warn that the bureaucracy’s 
attempts to appease the capitalists endanger revolutionary gains. 

After years of an “Army First” policy, the DPRK has 
declared its focus is on building a strong economy and expand¬ 
ing consumer goods production by 2012. But its attempt at an 
economic reform in November 2008 was a fiasco, wiping out 
functionaries’ savings with a currency reform which limited the 
amount that could be exchanged while leaving intact private 
traders’ hoards of dollars and euros. As a result, the architect 
of the reform, Pak Nam Ki was reportedly executed by a firing 
squad after being found guilty of “deliberately ruining the na¬ 
tional economy” (Los Angeles Times, 25 March). No doubt this 
was intended by the bureaucracy to show that they took seriously 
popular discontent over the botched reform, but it does tend to 
dampen discussion of policy differences if the consequence of 
having the wrong line means getting shot. One more reason why 
Trotskyists oppose the death penalty not only under capitalism 
- where it serves as a measure of racist repression - but also in 
countries where capitalist ride has been overthrown. 

By abolishing capitalist exploitation and establishing a col¬ 
lectivized economy, the DPRK was able to make tremendous 
strides in recovering from the utter devastation of the Korean War. 
Pyongyang and other cities were rebuilt from the ground up, with 
modern housing and facilities. Up to the mid-late 1970s, North 
Korean workers had a higher standard of living than those south 
of the DMZ, as Korean capitalists accumulated capital through 
ruthless superexploitation of South Korean workers under the 
iron heel of the military regime. But ultimately, as Marx and 
Engels insisted as long ago as 1847 and as Bolshevik leader 
Leon Trotsky stressed from the early 1920s on, it is not possible 
to build socialism in national isolation from the world (capitalist) 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

South Korean workers march against G20 meeting in Seoul, November 11. 

market. A classless society can only 
be built on the basis of abundance, 
for otherwise “want is generalized” 
and some kind of police regime will 
arise to decide the distribution of 
scarce goods. That is the origin of 
the bureaucratically degenerated (in 
the case of the Soviet Union) and 
deformed workers states, ^“social¬ 
ism in one country” could not last in 
the case of the USSR with its vast 
resources, it certainly won’t work in 
a tiny half-country like North Korea 
starved of vital inputs. 

That is why the very real gains 
from the overthrow of capitalism in 
North Korea - which lay the basis 
for a rationally planned economy - 
can only be defended by extending 
the revolution to the South, and 
to the industrial powerhouse of 
imperialist Japan. This requires a 
proletarian political revolution to 
oust the bureaucracy, whose capricious mismanagement un¬ 
dercuts the social gains in order to protect its privileged status. 
An authentic, Leninist-Trotskyist communist party is needed to 
establish a regime of egalitarianism and revolutionary workers 
democracy, based on councils (soviets) that can recall officials 
at any time. In a divided land like Korea, such an upheaval in 
the North can only succeed if it goes hand in hand with a social 
revolution in the capitalist South, to break the power of the kill- 
crazed militarists and expropriate the profit-crazed chaebols and 
other capitalists. Apolitical revolution in Pyongyang would also 
send a powerful stimulus to the Chinese workers to rise up and 
smash the growing danger of counterrevolution as capitalist 

exploitation takes root and spreads. 

Meanwhile, with North Korea having been subjected to 
countless massacres by the U.S. and its Southern puppets; 
having already lived through a U.S. war of annihilation 
that engulfed the northern half of the peninsula; and having 
been repeatedly threatened with nuclear attack by the U.S., 
it’s hardly surprising that the DPRK should seek to develop 
nuclear weapons in self-defense, as it has prudently done. As 
internationalist communists, Trotskyists defend North Korea’s 
acquisition of a nuclear deterrent and emphasize that the cur¬ 
rent war hysteria makes the defense of North Korea against 
imperialism and counterrevolution all the more urgent. ■ 


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January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Students and Workers Strike 

France: May in October? 
The Spectre of a New '68 


0 - 








0 ^ 






Striking workers block fuel depot in Donges, 15 October 2010. 

The Big Obstacle: Pro-Capitalist Union Misleaders 
and the Now-Reformist “Far Left” 

18 OCTOBER 2010 - A national “day of action” on October 12 
brought 3.5 million French workers and youth into the streets 
to protest the conservative government’s bill to push back 
eligibility for retirement and pension benefits. It was the fourth 
day of nationwide strikes and marches against the pension law 
since the beginning of September. Although even more came 
into the streets this time. President Nicolas Sarkozy and his 
cabinet figured the demonstrations had run out of steam and 
they could go on to their next anti-working-class “reform.” Big 
mistake. Instead, worker-student protests continue to mount, 
along with some heavy-handed repression by the cops. By 
Friday, after several days of roiling student protests, a police 
“union” complained (with some exaggeration) of “scenes of 
urban guerrilla warfare” in cities around the country. 

Strikes have continued on the railroads and at the country’s 
oil refineries. On Friday, riot police dispersed pickets at several 
fuel depots, only to see the last two refineries walk out in re¬ 
sponse. Several hundred service stations have run out of gas, 

while long lines of motorists are forming to fill up their tanks. 
The pipeline servicing the Orly and Roissy airports outside Paris 
closed down and then reopened, although where the aviation 
fuel is to come from is unclear. Meanwhile, the government is 
telling airlines to fill up their planes outside France. Ferries to 
the Mediterranean island of Corsica are not running. And starting 
Sunday night, the French truckers union called on its members 
to stage “operations escargof (driving at a snail’s pace to tie 
up traffic on the main highways), blocking intersections with 
their rigs and other actions against the pension law everywhere. 

A fifth mass mobilization was called for Saturday, October 
16. The unions reported that 3 million people participated in 
264 marches around France (325,000 in Paris), roughly the 
same as in the October 2 mobilization. Police estimates claimed 
that the numbers were slightly less than two weeks ago, but 
in any case it’s clear the mass protests have not let up. A sixth 
day of action has been called for Tuesday, October 19, the day 
before the Senate is scheduled to vote on the pension “reform.” 

Boris Horvat/AFP 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

High school students march in Paris against pension “reform” law, October 12. 

This will likely be as large or larger than previous protests, 
as new sectors join in. So far, despite the radicalization of the 
protests, media propaganda about “violent” youth and tough 
talk from government ministers about forcing the law through 
no matter what, a large majority of the population “support” 
the strike action (52 percent in a recent poll) or “sympathize” 
with it (19 percent). But the key question is, what happens 
next? Some unions are hinting that they will pull out once the 
law is approved, in order to look “responsible.” 

One “day of action” after another will not stop Sarkozy, 
nor will a few walkouts here and there. By endlessly repeating 
these tactics, union leaders are actually aiding the government 
in wearing down protest. What’s urgently needed is to mobilize 
the entire working class, private and public, in militant strike 
action to shut the country down , beginning with key sectors 
and leading quickly to a nationwide general strike until the 
anti-worker pension “reform ” is dropped. But the attack on 
pensions is only part of the ruling-class offensive against work¬ 
ing people. Students and youth are going into the streets as well 
to protest the unpaid internships, low wages, precarious jobs 
and massive unemployment they face. Hundreds of thousands 
of undocumented immigrants are demanding legalization, and 
the government’s racist attacks against the Romany people and 
French “travelers,” shutting down their camps and carrying out 
mass deportations, are a taste of the police-state repression it 
has in store for everyone. The power of the workers movement 
must be brought out to defend all the exploited and oppressed. 

Students Unite with Workers in Struggle 

The last week marked a significant change in the protests 
as the struggle entered its decisive phase. Instead of one-day 
walkouts continuing strikes were called, notably on the rail 
system and at refineries. In addition, students and youth mo¬ 

bilized for the first time in significant numbers. On October 
12, there were walkouts at over 400 high schools and 90 were 
totally blockaded. More than 150,000 students participated 
in the demos. A popular sign read: “Youth toiling in the slave 
galleys, older people living in poverty, this isn’t the society 
we want.” In the universities there were assemblies of several 
hundred students to discuss what action to take. In succeed¬ 
ing days the number of schools “mobilized” rose to 1,000 as 
student protests spread around France. 

The largest were in provincial cities including Toulouse 
(20,000 marchers), Rennes (7,000), Bordeaux (5,000), Orleans 
(2,000), Le Havre, Montpellier, Nunes, Lens and elsewhere. In 
Paris, several thousand rallied outside the headquarters of the 
employers association (Medef). A lead banner said, “Neither 
kids nor puppets,” responding to government claims that they 
were too young to protest about a pension law and were being 
manipulated. Students’ signs read (in reference to Sarkozy’s 
model-wife Carla Bruni), “Carla, we’re like you, the head of 
state is screwing us too.” A favorite chant: “Sarkozy, you’re 
screwed, the youth are in the streets.” And: “Put youth to work, 
send oldsters to the cafes” (“ Les jeunes au boulot, les vieux 
aux bistrots ”). One protester’s sign put it personally: “Mom 
and Dad, I’ll get your right to retire at 60 for you.” 

Government spokesmen complain about the “irresponsi¬ 
bility” of “bringing 15-year-olds into the streets” for “some¬ 
thing that doesn’t concern them.” But students pointed out that 
as a result of the law, a million potential jobs will be eliminated, 
as older workers are forced to stay on, aggravating the astro¬ 
nomical (26 percent) youth unemployment. The government, 
media and trade unions all agree that if the students and youth 
go out, this fundamentally changes the battle, widening it 
into a general social conflict rather than a strictly union issue. 
They recall 2006, when after two months of student strikes, 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


the right-wing government of Jacques Chirac was forced to 
withdraw the law for a lower minimum wage for youth (the 
CPE). Sarkozy remarked, “you have to watch them [the youth] 
like heating milk on the stove” (i.e., they may boil over). A 
Paris newspaper ( Liberation , 12 October) wrote: “Experience 
shows, when you say the youth are in the streets, you’re saying 
withdrawal of the law is in the cards.” 

Police responded to the youth mobilization with heavy-duty 
tactics in a number of cities. In Montreuil, in the working-class 
suburban district of Seine-St. Denis outside Paris, cops shot a 
16-year-old high school student in the face with a flash-ball gun - 
a French anti-riot weapon that fires rubber bullets - breaking his 
cheekbones and detaching his eye from the retina. Several times 
in recent years, youths have lost an eye when cops shot them 
point-blank with flash-ball guns. This police provocation only 
angered the students more and spread the walkouts. A student 
leader pointed out that the more the government tells youths 
they don’t belong in the streets, the more they come out. The 
government poured oil on the fire by sending letters to parents 
telling them to keep their offspring from demonstrating. This, 
too, backfired. The main parent-teacher association, FCPE, is¬ 
sued a statement denouncing police running amok and calling 
for parents to join the student demonstrations to stand in the 
way of clashes with the “forces of order.” 

Key to a Fight for Victory: 

A Revolutionary Program 

At present, “public opinion” is running heavily against 
Sarkozy. Three-quarters of the population is opposed to the 
pension “reform” and 54 percent said they wanted “the unions 
to organize a general strike as in 1995” to force the government 
to back down. On October 13, Le Monde headlined an article 
on its web site, “What’s needed is an insurrectional general 
strike,” quoting a retired woman trade-unionist. One recently 
publicized survey reported that a quarter of French youth 
agree that “it’s necessary to radically change the social order 
by revolutionary action” (up from 6 percent in 1990). So the 
“radicalization” of the struggle is not simply in terms of tactics. 
In the face of the most severe capitalist economic crisis since 
the 1930s - a new Depression, in fact - and the evident impo¬ 
tence of the usual trade-union protests, we are seeing renewed 
receptivity to calls for class struggle and even revolutionary 
agitation. This is what the ruling class and its labor lieutenants 
are deathly afraid of in the battle over pensions. 

it will take more than massive strikes “like in 1995” to 
bring Sarkozy to his knees. In December of that year, a series 
of millions-strong mobilizations of public sector workers 
along with continuing walkouts by rail, metro, postal, gas, 
telephone and other public workers, brought France to the brink 
of a general strike. But the union tops were afraid to call it. 
Eventually, Prime Minister Alain Juppe dropped his “reform” 
of public sector pensions (which would raise the number of 
years service to 40) but not his attack on social security, which 
has led to years of cuts in France’s public health system. 
With its chants of “tous ensemble ” (all out together) the 1995 
struggle infused new spirit in a trade-union movement shaken 

“Carla, we’re like you, the head of state is screwing 
us too.” Paris, October 16. 

by counterrevolution in the Soviet Union and East Europe. 
But it did not provide a revolutionary program to combat the 
bourgeois offensive. In 2003, Chirac was able to push through 
the rest of the Juppe Plan on public sector pensions, aided by 
the defection of the leadership of the CFDT union federation. 

If 1995 doesn’t provide a model, no one in France, least 
of all government and trade-union leaders, can help recalling 
1968 - particularly since the entry of large numbers of stu¬ 
dent youth onto the scene. Last week, as high-school protests 
spread, Olivier Besancenot, the young postal worker who ran 
for president on the ticket of the Ligue Communiste Revo- 
lutionnaire and is now (since the LCR dissolved) the main 
spokesman for the “New Anti-Capitalist Party” (NPA), issued 
a statement calling “For a New May ’68.” The reference to the 
1968 student-worker revolt that brought France to the brink of 
revolution and sent shock waves around the world produced 
a chorus of yelps from supporters of the conservative govern¬ 
ment. But while the so-called “far left” races to catch up with 
the student-youth protesters, there are problems with this call. 
First and foremost, the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy stands 
in the way of any serious radicalization of the struggle. They’re 
looking for the exit, for a way out without losing face. 

Many union leaders are privately worrying to the press 
about the participation of youth. Liberation (16 October) quoted 
the head of one labor federation saying, “It’s a real pain to man¬ 
age the youth ... it will take some time to separate them.” A CGT 
leader remarked, “We didn’t ask them to come out,” but said it’s 
probably better they are there, while worrying about “security.” 
Another union leader complained of “things getting out of hand 
and the violence discrediting the movement, turning off public 
opinion.” And the more right-wing union tops, notably of the 


Frederick Florin/AFP 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

“Youth toiling in the slave galleys, older people liv¬ 
ing in poverty, this isn’t the society we want.” Youth 
demonstrate in Strasbourg, October 12. 

CFDT and UNSA, have hinted that once the law is passed by 
the Senate, “other forms of action” will be called for - “in other 
words, the end of the movement,” as Le Monde (17 October) 
put it. They may hesitate to break ranks; Jean-Claude Mailly of 
Force Ouvriere may invite youth into FO contingents; Bernard 
Thibault of the CGT and Francois Chereque of the CFDT may 
do their unity dance; but ultimately the union bureaucracy will 
bow to the pressure of the bourgeoisie, for they are all commit¬ 
ted to working in the framework of capitalism. 

Meanwhile, the once-upon-a-time far left that came out of 
May ’68 has long-since become thoroughly reformist. In the 
recent protests, groups like Lutte Ouvriere (Workers Struggle) 
and the NPA did not initially call for a general strike (LO still 
doesn’t), but only for massive participation in the marches. As 
students joined in this month, one of their main chants was for 
a “general strike until the law is withdrawn.” So now the NPA 
and unions it influences (notably Sud-Rail, Sud-Education and 
the Solidaires union federation) are calling for “extendable 
strikes until victory.” But what do they mean by “victory,” 
withdrawal of the law, or just some changes? When they’re 

feeling pressure from the students, they sometimes call for an 
“extendable general strike” (greve generate reconductible). 
In other words, one that isn’t limited to a single day, which 
amounts to a big parade combined with work stoppages in 
places where the unions are strong. But to call a general strike 
without a clear objective, voting daily on whether to continue, 
is to ask for defeat. Like the bureaucrats’ endless “days of ac¬ 
tion,” it’s a pressure tactic. 

The kind of tame parades that have taken place repeatedly 
in the last year in France, Spain and particularly Greece are 
hardly general strikes, which as Leon Trotsky pointed out, pose 
the question of who is the master of the house, which class shall 
rule ? Naturally, the reformists and pro-capitalist union bureau¬ 
crats have no desire to raise the struggle to that level, because 
they have no intention of fighting for power, for workers revolu¬ 
tion. Thus everyone from the union tops to the “anti-capitalist” 
left are dead-set opposed to a real general strike, which they 
dismiss as “unrealistic,” “dreaming” (a “reve generate ,” a gen¬ 
eral dream) and the like. But the reformist ex-“far left” is caught 
in a bind: they are afraid to raise slogans too far out in front of 
what the CGT-FO-CFDT-UNSA union tops find acceptable, 
yet if they lag too far behind the students, they risk losing their 
potential recruits. So they try to find somewhere in between. 

That hardly amounts to revolutionary leadership that can 
prepare people for the struggle that is posed. Instead, these 
tailist politics will “lead” protesters into a dead end. Even the 
bourgeois press knows perfectly well what should be, and isn’t 
being, done. An editorial in Liberation (14 October) referred 
to the “phony strike,” pointing out that the union leaders are 
fighting against a bill but not calling for it to be withdrawn, 
that while the marches are huge the actual strikes are limited 
to a few sectors, not including some of the historically most 
militant. “One could imagine a ‘proxy’ strike, led by a minority 
but valiant vanguard” (meaning, militants could set up strike 
pickets that other workers would not cross). “Rail workers are 
ready, on paper, to open the way by blocking the rails. But they 
are not candidates to be kamikazes for the social movement.” 
(Rail workers are mainly organized in the CGT, influenced (but 
no longer tightly controlled) by the Communist Party, and in 
the “far left” SUD-Rail.) 

For this struggle to win a real and lasting victory, it is 
necessary to raise not just vague “anti-capitalist” demands but 
to put forward a transitional program leading toward socialist 
revolution. A serious struggle for a real general strike would 
call for the formation of elected strike committees, as a way 
to wrest control from the pro-capitalist union bureaucrats. 
Because of the division of the union movement into several 
competing labor federations, serious strikes often produce 
joint coordinating committees on the local or regional level. 
At the time of the last big truckers strike, Le Monde (5 No¬ 
vember 1997) noted that in 1992, “the unions lost control of 
the movement to spontaneous coordinating committees and 
‘jusque ’au-boutists ”’ (those who want to “go all the way”). 
Strike committees elected by the ranks of all the federations 
as well as non-members would be greatly strengthened, and 
would be a real step toward industrial unionism. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Students join with workers outside Renault auto factory at Billancourt, 

17 May 1968. 

To strengthen ties between labor and youth and mobilize 
the heavily immigrant working-class banlieues (suburbs), 
class-struggle trade-unionists should fight not only to stop 
the pension “reform” law, but also for a drastically shortened 
workweek, at no loss in pay, to pro vide jobs for all. They should 
fight the explosion of temporary jobs and “disposable” work¬ 
ers by demanding job security and equal rights for all work¬ 
ers, from the moment they begin working. And they should 
mobilize union power to demand an end to expulsions of the 
Roms', to block the destruction of their camps, including with 
workers defense guards', and to demand freedom of travel and 
full citizenship rights for all immigrants. A number of leaders 
of the CGT, CFDT and FO union federations as well as spokes¬ 
men for the NPA have signed a “citizens’ appeal” in defense 
of the Roms (which, however, upholds “republican security” 
and the “necessary respect for public order”). Yet on October 
12, the same day that the National Assembly voted the racist 
Bresson immigration and nationality law, this was hardly (if 
at all) mentioned by the various union and far left groups in 
their leaflets and signs in the protest over the pension law. 

A Liberation article talked of elements of a “pre-revolu¬ 
tionary situation” today, and a quote from Lenin on the role of 
the youth in revolution was highlighted. But when a reformist 
like Besancenot of the NPA talks of a “new ’68,” in good part 
he is engaging in the old French sport of “epater le bourgeois ” 
(throwing a scare into the bourgeoisie), as Baudelaire put it. In 
contrast, the former soixantehuitard (68er) Daniel Cohn-Bendit 
dumped cold water on talk of a new ’68, or even a general 
strike. Instead, “Danny the Green,” now a respectable deputy 
in the European parliament, called on the unions to organize “a 
Crenelle together with the left.” (In 1968, the Grenelle Agree¬ 
ment between the union tops and De Gaulle’s prime minister 
George Pompidou was massively rejected by the striking work¬ 
ers!) May 1968, when students joined with up to ten million 
workers in a general strike which went on for more than two 

weeks, is definitely a point of reference. 
The situation today is different in many 
ways, particularly coming in the middle 
of a deep capitalist economic crisis. But 
this only heightens the revolutionary 
potential. The real problem with this 
call is that May ’68 was defeated. The 
reformist Communist Party clambered 
on board the general strike to put an 
end to the agitation, and the “far left” 
did not have the revolutionary program 
to fight them. 

In 1968, rather than agitating for 
workers control and occupation of 
factories throughout the country, as 
Trotsky called for in the mid-1930s 
and as had already begun in mid-May, 
Ernest Mandel and his followers in 
the JCR (Revolutionary Communist 
Youth) joined with left social demo¬ 
crats in calling for “anti-capitalist 
structural reforms” and “self-manage¬ 
ment.” Other pseudo-Trotskyists such as the followers ofPierre 
Lambert abandoned the barricades at the height of struggle, 
and Lutte Ouvriere limited itself to the same-old, same-old of 
factory-based struggles, while lambasting students for “fight¬ 
ing in the streets”! (Today, LO’s main banner reads, “What a 
Parliament Decides Can Be Reversed in the Streets.” Yes, but 
how?) A genuinely communist leadership would be calling for 
a defensive general strike against the Sarkozy government’s 
attack while putting forward the perspective “a new May ’68 
that goes all the way ” to a struggle for power, for workers 
revolution. And key to that struggle is forging an authentically 
Leninist-Trotskyist workers party. ■ 

C ■ \ 

For Unconditional Release of 
Everyone Arrested in the Protests - 
Drop the Charges! 

Over the last several weeks, police have re¬ 
sponded to high school demonstrations against the 
pension law with ferocious repression. Some thou¬ 
sands of youth have been detained and hundreds ar¬ 
rested on the accusation of being “casseurs” (smash¬ 
ers). Many of those detained are youth of immigrant 
origin from the suburbs, who are always the target of 
racist attacks by the cops, and who are referred to 
in the bourgeois press as the “other youth.” The real 
casseurs are the police, the armed fist of capital and 
professional anti-worker repressors. We say: police 
out of the unions! The workers movement must 
demand immediate and unconditional release 
of all the detained and dropping of all charges. 
Down with the “Republican” racist repression! 

\ ___ J 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

French Battle Over Attack on Pensions Continues 

t Sarkozy & Co. 
to the workers 

Union demonstration outside the French Senate, Paris, October 20. What’s needed is to bring to bear the power 
of the workers in a general strike to block the economy and defeat Sarkozy’s anti-working-class offensive. 

PARIS, 26 October 2010 - In the last week, the battle lines 
in the conflict over the conservative government’s pension 
“reform” law have hardened. On Tuesday, October 19, once 
again some 3.5 million people responded to the call of unions, 
striking and demonstrating in cities around France in the sixth 
“day of action” in the last seven weeks. In some places, such 
as Toulouse, the marches were the largest yet. Meanwhile, the 
two-week-old strike of French refineries and the blockade of 
fuel depots are beginning to bite. Despite government imports 
of 100,000 tons of fuel a day, a third ofFrance’s 12,000 service 
stations have run out of fuel. And while the number of pas¬ 
senger trains has been cut in half by strikes on the SNCF, the 
national railways, rail transport of freight has been slashed by 
90 percent while go-slow actions by the truckers unions have 
tied up major highways. As a result, a number of key industries 
are running out of supplies. Yet public support for the strikes 
and protests is still overwhelming. 

The response of the President Nicolas Sarkozy has been 
to crack the whip. On government orders, the Senate shut 
off debate on the 
pension “reform” 
just as opposition 
Communist and 

Socialist parties were presenting amendments. Its passage 
on Friday evening [October 22] was pre-ordained, given 
Sarkozy’s presidential majority in both houses. The final law, 
combining Senate and National Assembly versions, may be 
voted as early as today,. While ramming the bill through parlia¬ 
ment, the government ordered the CRS riot police to dissolve 
strikers’ blockades around the fuel depots. At the Grandpuits oil 
refinery about 100 km. outside Paris, the departmental prefect 
(an agent of the national government) requisitioned strikers 
to get the fuel supplies moving. On Friday morning, riot cops 
attacked the pickets, injuring three strikers. When a judge ruled 
this military measure illegal, for violating the constitutional 
right to strike, the prefect simply issued a second requisition 
order. Yet while fuel stocks are drawn down, no additional 
amounts are being produced by the struck refinery. 

This has been the first time since the 1968 general strike 
that all ofFrance’s refineries have stopped production. More¬ 
over, oil imports at the Mediterranean ports of Marseille and 
Fos-sur-Mer have been halted since dock workers there went 

on strike at the end 
of September over 
the government’s 
privatization plans 

Build a Revolutionary Workers Party 
on the Program of Lenin and Trotsky 

Claude Platiau/Reuters 

Laurent Cipriani/AP 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Gendarmes arrest youth during protests against pension law in Lyon, 
October 19. 

which threaten their jobs. (Simultaneously, Marseille garbage 
workers struck for the last two weeks.) Car owners consult 
Internet sites desperately looking for stations that still have 
fuel. Yet despite the inconvenience, public support is strong: 
a survey on Saturday, October 23 showed fully 69 percent in 
favor of the strikes and protests even after the Senate passed 
the law. French working people understand that the pension 
“reform” is a frontal attack on their living standard and indeed 
way of life. A big majority have come to despise Sarkozy for 
his high-handed measures, his cavalier treatment of parlia¬ 
mentary opposition, his brutal repression, his catering to the 
rich and contempt for the common people. One of the most 
expressive photos of last week was a sign in a demonstration of 
high school students, “Stop with the Contempt.” Another read: 
“Take a Good Look at Your Rolex, It’s the Hour of Revolt!” 

Millions have had it with Sarkozy, and this raz-le-bol 
(roughly, being fed up) is a major factor fueling the protests. 
Last summer, there was a huge scandal because his labor min¬ 
ister, Eric Woerth, had proposed Liliane Bettencourt, heiress 
of the L’Oreal fortune and the second richest person in France, 
for the Legion of Honor just when she was revealed (on a tape 
recorded by her butler!) talking with her financial advisors 
about how to avoid $ 100 million in taxes by sending money to 
Swiss banks, and making illegal payments to key politicians, 
notably in Sarkozy’s party, the UMR One of Bettencourt’s 
main financial advisors was none other than Woerth’s wife, 
while the labor minister himself was treasurer of the UMP 
and organizer of his quarterly meals with rich supporters at 
the three-star Hotel Bristol. Yet this didn’t stop the president 
from having Woerth present and defend the pension law to 
parliament. Everyone could see that Sarkozy was catering to 
the rich while stealing workers’ retirement. 

According to Saturday’s poll, 70 percent of the French 

public is dissatisfied with Sar¬ 
kozy’s performance, the highest 
figure for rejection of any presi¬ 
dent since General Charles De 
Gaulle founded the Fifth Republic 
in 1958. The Journal du Dimanche 
(24 October) published the survey 
under the headline, “An Anti-Sar- 
kozy Movement.” But this doesn’t 
faze him. The French president 
fancies himself like De Gaulle as 
a “savior” of the bourgeois nation 
against the forces of disorder and 
dissolution, and presents the battle 
over pensions as the opening of his 
campaign for reelection in 2012. 
He wants to be known as having 
the “courage” to enact an un¬ 
popular law, that is, thwarting the 
democratic will of the majority. 
Sarkozy’s bonapartist appetites 
are notorious, and in many ways 
he imitates the style of Berlusconi 
in Italy - although, so far, without the neo-fascist squads and 
Lega Nord thugs. Those he intends to pick up by grabbing the 
electoral base of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s fascist National Front, 
which is a major reason behind his “security” offensive and 
racist repression against the Roms, and immigrants generally. 

Many bourgeois commentators have asked incredulously 
why high school students take to the streets and youth of im¬ 
migrant origin from the working-class suburbs invade the 
elegant city centers to protest a law about pensions, and why 
the mobilizations keep up even though they have almost no 
chance of success in the usual terms of parliamentary politics. 
Sarkozy has made it clear he will not back down no matter 
what, and with his “presidential majority” he has the means 
to ensure that. This arrogance is a good part of the reason 
why Sarkozy has earned the kind of massive and deep hatred 
among French working people and particularly the youth that 
U.S. president George W. Bush had in the last years of his 
presidency. But while this has swollen the ranks of demon¬ 
strators, and helps explain why weeks of mobilizations and 
strikes have not diminished popular support for the protests, 
it also has the potential to undercut the very real possibility of 
winning a genuine victory. Why? Because rather than bring 
strike battle to a head, the reformists (including the so-called 
“far left”) are looking to electoral politics. 

The Socialist Party (PS) in particular wants to channel 
the protests into the 2012 elections. Its leaders march in, and 
even at the head of the mobilizations, but don’t want them to 
“go too far.” And they waffle on the substance of Sarkozy’s 
attack on workers’ pension rights: they are for a “reform,” just 
not his. PS first secretary Martine Aubry last January at first 
accepted the proposal to raise the retirement age to 62, then 
backed down ten days later, promising to restore the right to 
retire at 60 if Sarkozy took it away. Now she has once again put 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

“Down with the Contempt.” Sign in a demonstration by high school students 
in Paris, October 21. 

this pledge in question. A leading 
contender for the Socialist presi¬ 
dential nomination is International 
Monetary Fund head Dominique 
Strauss Kahn, whose IMF earlier 
this month issued a report backing 
the French government’s pension 
“reform” - for which minister 
Woerth effusively thanked him. 

Strauss-Kahn is an actual bour¬ 
geois figure in this social-dem¬ 
ocratic bourgeois workers party 
that has followed Tony Blair’s 
“New Labour” in abandoning its 
support for the “welfare state” and 
increasingly distancing itself from 
the labor movement. Bottom line: 
if the PS returns to office in 2012, 

French workers will have to work 
longer to get the right to retire, just 
as under Sarkozy. 

There is a long history in 
France of reformist misleaders 
holding back struggles, and then some time later claiming 
victory when they get a turn in office managing the affairs 
of the bourgeoisie for a few years. The 1968 general strike 
was sold out, but De Gaulle ended up resigning (handing the 
presidency over to his prime minister Georges Pompidou). 
When in 1981 Mitterrand finally became president, this was 
hailed as a belated victory for the ’68ers. But the popular-front 
coalition led by the refounded Socialist Party in conjunction 
with minor bourgeois parties like the Left Radicals fully sup¬ 
ported NATO in its imperialist drive against the Soviet Union 
and carried out dirigiste (capitalist state planning) economic 
policies similar to those of its conservative predecessors. After 
the 1995 mobilizations only partially stopped Prime Minister 
Alain Juppe’s pension “reform” plan, the election of Socialist 
Leonel Jospin as president two years later was again hailed by 
the reformists. Yet Jospin’s policies were just as “neo-liberal” 
as those of his conservative predecessors and successors, and 
under the Socialist-led bourgeois coalition government France 
fully supported NATO’s 1999 war on Yugoslavia. 

Sabotaging struggles in the factories and on the streets 
so that they are defeated and then channeling the discontent 
into the swamp of parliamentary politics is a main purpose 
of popular fronts, which organizationally chain the workers 
movement, along with other movements of the oppressed, to 
sections of the bourgeoisie. In 1968, the French Communist 
Party wanted to call off the general strike in order to build 
support for a popular front on a “common program,” with Mit¬ 
terrand as its potential leader. In Mexico today, the struggles of 
the electrical workers and miners against union-busting attacks 
by the government of Felipe Calderon have been limited to 
petitioning Congress and begging the Supreme Court, and are 
now subordinated to the 2012 election campaign of a popular 
front around Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. In a different 

“Take a Good Look at Your Rolex, It’s the Hour of 
Revolt!” Sign at demonstration in Lyon, October 19. 

context in the United States, leftist organizers tied protests 
against the invasion of Iraq to the Democratic Party via a 
popular-front antiwar “movement,” feeding into the election 
of Barack Obama, who then continued the U.S. occupation of 
Iraq and escalated the war on Afghanistan. 

The current struggle in France presents tremendous pos¬ 
sibilities for a revolutionary break with bourgeois politics 
and trade-union reformism, which is a dead-end in this epoch 
of capitalist decay where genuine reforms in the interest of 
the working people are no longer possible and past gains are 
being systematically ripped up. What’s needed is a revolu¬ 
tionary leadership to defeat the politics of class collaboration 
and lead the way forward on the road of class struggle. This 
not only means breaking with the Socialists, but also with 
the Communist Party (PCF) which has been pushing the Left 
Front as the core of a new popular front. The most prominent 

AFP Stephane Mahe/Reuters 

Bob Edme/AP 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 



(D . P . A.) 


Despite police action to remove blockades, the refineries strike could have shut 
down the capitalist economy. Above: fuel depot at Bassens, near Bordeaux. 

presidential hopeful for this front is Jean-Luc Melenchon, the 
head of the Left Party (PG), which split from the Socialists 
after the last election. Melenchon’s politics borrow liberally 
from the rhetoric of Latin American nationalist populists like 
Hugo Chavez in Venezuela and Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, 
taking over the latter’s slogan for a “citizens’ revolution.” In 
terms of French politics, he describes himself as “a child of 
the Common Program” of Mitterrand’s NATO popular front 
(see Liberation, 20 October). 1 

Melechon’s Left Party has largely eclipsed the so-called 
“far left” formations, the New Anti-Capitalist Party (NPA) and 
Lutte Ouvriere (L.O.), whose 2006 presidential vote scores 
were a flash in the pan and have since dwindled to a little over 
1 percent. While occasionally saying that a general strike would 
be nice, the thrust of the NPA’s position in the present struggle 
is to simply keep on mobilizing. Thus the 14 October issue of 
the NPA’s paper Tout Est A Nous argued that “it is necessary to 
prolong the mobilization with extendable strikes where possible 
but also by all forms of capable of bringing together the largest 
number [ofpeople].” (No general strike in that issue.) The 21 Oc¬ 
tober issue of TEAN headlines, “Victory Is Possible!” gushing: 
“In a few days the climate has changed. It’s a turning point! 
You can sense everywhere that it could tip over, that the 
mobilization could carry it off, that there is a chance to be 
seized upon: that it is possible to win.... 

“It is a social and political crisis, a deep-going movement 

1 Mitterrand, the model for both the “leftist” Melenchon and the 
rightist Socialist Strauss-Kahn, was the French Socialist president 
in the 1980s and early ’90s, who in an earlier incarnation was a pe¬ 
rennial bourgeois minister during the Fourth Republic, notoriously 
in charge of the interior ministry (i.e., police repression) at the out¬ 
break of the Algerian war for independence. This supposed socialist 
started out his political career as an official in the Nazi-collabora- 
tionist regime of Marshal Philippe Petain during World War II. 

demanding the resignation of Sar¬ 
kozy, [Prime Minister Frangois] 
Fillon and the other Woerths! They 
should give in or get out!” 
Meanwhile, according to today’s 
DirectMatin, NPA spokesman Ol¬ 
ivier Besancenot, “who has had to 
... put a damper on his call for ‘a 
new May ’68,’ has proposed a sum¬ 
mit meeting of the left parties,” an 
open door for a new popular front. 
But this also has gone nowhere. 

From a battle to stop an at¬ 
tack on workers’ rights, these 
“anti-capitalists” are now posing 
it as a “movement” calling for 
resignation of the government. 
To be replaced by what? Another 
capitalist government. The NPA’s 
sometime talk of an “extendable 
general strike” and a “new May 
’68” is just that - talk to keep any 
radicals and would-be revolutionaries in its ranks content. When 
the former LCR abandoned its last pretenses to “communism” 
and “revolution” by dissolving and reinventing itself as the NPA; 
when it ditched references to the dictatorship of the proletariat 
in favor of (bourgeois) “democracy,” when NPA spokesman 
Besancenot says he is anything but an admirer of Lenin and 
Trotsky, at least they are being consistent with their actual 
program of “reforming” capitalism. But seeking to reform the 
unreformable - a system based on exploitation of workers, racist 
repression and imperialist war - is a ticket for defeat. 

It’s clear that Sarkozy, Fillon, Woerth & Co. are not about 
to give in or get out. Nor can the present mobilizations do the 
job: endless marches, even if they are extended (a seventh “day 
of action” is scheduled for Thursday, October 28, and an eighth 
for November 6), will eventually run out of steam. With his 
command of the machinery and tremendous resources of the 
capitalist state, the hardline rightist president will either try 
to wait them out or to crush them. Yes, it is possible to bring 
down a bourgeois regime, especially one as widely hated as 
this one, but this can only done by driving it out through sharp 
class struggle leading to a fight for a workers government. 
Simply replacing one bourgeois government with another 
anti-working-class regime, even if it is decked out in “left” 
clothing, is no victory. 

A real general strike requires solid preparation for a con¬ 
frontation with the capitalist state. To be successful, even at 
the level of a defensive struggle, it must become a proletarian 
counteroffensive, raising transitional demands - from a shorter 
workweek with no loss in pay to workers control - that are not 
vaguely “anti-capitalist” but incompatible with capitalism, pos¬ 
ing a struggle for socialist revolution. Breaking with reformism 
and popular-frontism to begin the arduous task of forging the 
nucleus of a Trotskyist vanguard party of the working class to 
lead that struggle is the key task in France today. ■ 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

For Independence and a Socialist Federation of the Antilles! 

Guadeloupe on Strike! 

Demonstrators in Pointe-a-Pitre, Guadeloupe during October 26 [2010] strike 
and mobilization called by LKP demanding implentation of accords that ended 
historic 44-day general strike in 2009. 

PARIS, 27 October 2010 - Today’s 
papers report on a strike and protest 
in France’s Caribbean colonies 
of Guadeloupe, Martinique and 
Guyane. According to the accounts, 
the demonstrations were largest 
in Guadeloupe, where a historic 
44-day general strike took place in 
February-March 2009. This time, 
some 20,000 demonstrators came 
out in the capital of Guadeloupe, 

Pointe-a-Pitre, according to the 
unions (6,500 according to the 
police), in response to the appeal 
of the Liyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon 
(LKP - Collective Against Super¬ 
exploitation), and it was mainly 
public sector workers such as the 
post office that struck. The main 
demands of the mobilization were 
for carrying out the settlement 
reached at the end of the 2009 strike, named after Jacques Bino, 
a trade-unionist shot to death on the eve of that strike. 

The Bino Accords called for a wage increase of200 euros 
a month for the lowest-paid category of workers, as well as 
for controls on inflation for basic necessities, most of which 
(including foodstuffs) are imported and cost much more than in 
metropolitan France, even though income levels are at least 50 
percent lower. According to Elie Domota, the spokesman of the 
LKP and general secretary of the General Union of Guadeloupe 
Workers (UGTG), the government has tried to shortchange 
the agreed-upon wage increases. Moreover, the employers’ 
association, the Medef, representing the local ruling class 
descended from the white settlers (known in Creole as bekes), 
who own a number of sugar refineries and superstores such 
as Carrefour, refused to sign the agreements in the first place. 

In the union-led mobilization yesterday, demonstrators sang 
the theme song of the 2009 general strike, “La Gwadloup se tan 
nou, la Gwadloup a pa tayo ” (Guadeloupe belongs to us, it doesn’t 
belong to them). While the militancy and consciousness of that 
struggle remains, the March 2009 Bino accords have remained 
pretty much a dead letter. A commission was set up to oversee the 
implementation of the accords, but it hasn’t met since November 
2009 and government officials refuse to even talk with representa¬ 
tives of the LKP. If there is no change by December 5, Domota 
declared, an open-ended general strike will begin on December 
14. 1 The LKP supports the struggle of French unions against the 
pension “reform” law, Domota said, but he would rather have 

1 On December 14-15, the LKP held a two-day work stoppage pro¬ 
testing the failure to implement the 2009 accords and announcing an 
“Operation to Root Out Superexploition” in early 2011. 

seen a ten-day strike against it than ten separate “days of action.” 

In an interview published in today’s L ’Humanite, Domota 
called the LKP “an anti-capitalist and anti-colonialist organi¬ 
zation.” The popular-front-type coalition is led by the UGTG, 
which calls for independence for Guadeloupe, and includes 
the CGTG union federation (historically linked to the Com¬ 
munist Party and headed since 2002 by Jean-Marie Nomertin, 
a supporter of Lutte Ouvriere), CFDT, F.O., and a host of petty- 
bourgeois nationalist political and cultural groups. The LKP’s 
demands include the right to use Creole in official matters. 
Recently, judges refused to hear union officials in their own 
language after being arrested in protests. “It’s as if we were back 
in the days of the Code Noir [the Black Code, which held sway 
in French colonies prior to the abolition of slavery in 1848] when 
you couldn’t speak, sing or express yourself in your own culture 
without the permission of the master,” commented Domota. 2 

In Guadeloupe, after upsurges of nationalist struggle follow¬ 
ing the massacre of dozens of workers in May 1967 and in the 
mid-1980s, overtly anti-colonial protests died down. In 2003, a 
referendum on increased autonomy for local governments was 
defeated. However, Guadeloupe and Martinique remain colo¬ 
nies, and pro-independence unions have increased their strength 
- mainly the UGTG, which has majority support, but also the 
CTU (United Workers Federation). Even the Guadeloupe Com¬ 
munist Party (PCG) calls for “support for independence for the 

2 Since this article was written, the LKP issued a statement on Novem¬ 
ber 6 calling for freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. A public meeting 
sponsored by the Guadeloupe Collective to Support Mumia was held 
on November 3 and addressed by Jacky Hortaut of the French Uni¬ 
tary National Collective “Together We Will Save Mumia Abu-Jamal.” 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


people of Guadeloupe.” PCG general secretary Alain Flemin told 
a gathering in Cuba last year, “France tries to make-believe that 
Guadeloupe is not a colony but a French department. Our people 
has never been consulted about its political status and therefore 
has not been able to exert its right to self-determination” ( Pam- 
bazuka News , 4 June 2009). The supporters of Lutte Ouvriere, 
are more reticent, saying only that “workers will not counterpose 
their own goals to anti-colonial and national aspirations, if they 
appear” ( Combat Ouvrier, 18 April 2008). Flow big of them! 

One group that explicitly does not call for independence for 
France’s Caribbean colonies is the Ligue Trotskyste de France 
(LTF, part of the International Communist League). In an article 
on the 2009 general strike, the LTF claims that it “would be in 
favor of independence” but ... “we do not currently call for 
independence for Guadeloupe and Martinique, notably because 
the large majority of the population is currently opposed” to it ( Le 
Bolchevik, March 2009). To back this up it cites a poll published 
in Le Figaro Magazine. So the position of these intrepid would-be 
Trotskyists depends on opinion polls, or perhaps a colonial refer¬ 
endum! The LTF says it is against “‘unconditionally’ imposing 
a separate state on a people.” This is a red herring. Just who is 
proposing to “impose” independence on the Antilles islands? The 
French government? Hardly. Leftists? Absurd. This “argument” 
is a cynical justification for its failure to oppose colonial rule. 

The LTF is not alone. In fact, during a visit of Segolene Royal 
in 2007, a local nationalist group asked the former Socialist Party 
presidential candidate how is it that she calls for independence for 
Quebec, but not for Guadeloupe? The LTF has the same policy as 
Royal. And while the question of independence for Quebec, an op¬ 
pressed nation in a multi-national state (Canada), is greatly influ¬ 
enced by the actual state of opinion, Guadeloupe and Martinique 
are colonies. Genuine Trotskyists and Leninists are duty-bound 
to oppose colonial rule anywhere and everywhere, and to sup¬ 
port national independence from the imperial power. Once upon 
a time, the LTF called for “Immediate, total and unconditional 
independence for Guadeloupe, Martinique and the other French 
colonies” (Le Bolchevik, September 1985). But that was when it 
upheld revolutionary Trotskyism and before it discovered a sup¬ 
posed qualitative regression of workers’ consciousness, which 
it now uses as a “theoretical” excuse for its own opportunism. 

Refusing to call for independence of France’s colonies is a 
betrayal of the class interests of the proletariat and a capitulation 
to imperialism. So was the abandonment in 1998 by thelCL’sU.S. 
section, the Spartacist League, of its previous call for indepen¬ 
dence for Puerto Rico (see “ICL Renounces Fight for Puerto Rican 
Independence,” The Internationalist No. 6, November-December 
1998). It only takes one more step to go from this “socialist” tol¬ 
eration of colonialism to outright support for imperialist invasion, 
as the ICL did in backing the U.S.’ “humanitarian” occupation of 
Haiti following the earthquake last January. After three months 
of loudly accusing the Internationalist Group of “nationalism” 
because we demanded that all U.S. troops get out of Haiti, the 
ICL did an about-face and admitted that its line was a betrayal, 
that we were right to call it “social-imperialism,” and that it had 
lied about the aims and actions of the U.S. military and even about 
the ICL’s own position (see the ICL’s 27 April 2010 confession, 
“A Capitulation to U.S. Imperialism”). 

The class struggle is not like the Catholic church where 
you can confess to your sins and a priest grants you absolution. 
Who can trust a “leftist” group that supports an imperialist 
invasion, and then lies about it? Today the LTF argues that, 
“in Guadeloupe and Martinique the crucial task is to break 
the hold of nationalist false consciousness.” The is a key task, 
but what about the struggle against the national oppression 
inherent in colonial status? 

That oppression is very real and concrete. After the 2009 
general strike, the French government charged Domota in court of 
fomenting racial hatred for saying that “we will not let the bekes 
reestablish slavery.” Why did he say that? Because a leading spokes¬ 
man for the bike bosses, Alain Huyghes-Despointes, said in a TV 
interview broadcast in February 2009 that “Historians only speak 
about the negative sides of slavery, which is regrettable,” adding 
that bekes “want to preserve the [white] race.” Currently, the police 
are demanding DN A samples from unionists arrested during demos 
and strikes, as if they were criminals.. .or escaped slaves. 

The LTF and ICL have formally repudiated their admitted 
social-imperialist support for U.S. occupation of Haiti. Will they 
renounce their social-colonialist refusal to call for independence 
for Guadeloupe and Martinique? Don’t hold your breath. 

To be sure, supporting independence of French colonies 
is no be all and end all. Some petty-bourgeois Guadeloupe 
nationalists adopt a frankly chauvinist hostility to Haitian 
refugees, who constitute as much as 10 percent of the island’s 
population. Some no doubt support independence because they 
want to reap the profits of the superexploitation of Guadaloupe 
workers. And while the UGTG and other independantiste 
unions have waged sharp class struggles (as in 2009), they do 
not advocate socialist revolution. 

If many in Guadeloupe do not favor independence today it 
is because they rightly fear that under capitalism it would mean 
increased poverty, as they see in other small islands around them. 
Does this mean we abandon the call for independence? Not at 
all. Trotskyists, who stand for proletarian internationalism and 
permanent revolution, say that the liberation of the colonial 
peoples of the Caribbean poses the need for a voluntary social¬ 
ist federation of the Antilles and extension of revolution to the 
imperialist metropoles, France and the United States. ■ 

Dateline Paris: Reports on the 
French Worker-Student Upsurge 

In addition to the articles printed here, additional on-the- 
spot reports are available on our web site, www.interna- 

• French Students Mobilize: “Sarkozy, You’re Screwed, 
The Youth Are In the Streets!” (26 October 2010) 

• With the Paris Student Blockades, Assemblies and 
Marches (27 October 2010) 

• Seventh Day of Action in France: 2 Million in the 
Streets Against Sarkozy Attack (29 October 2010) 

• Paris Workers’ Assemblies Declare “We’re Continu¬ 
ing to Fight,” Call for General Strike (3 November 2010) 

• Eighth Day of Action in France: The Unions and the 
“Interpro” Assemblies (8 November 2010) 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Union Tops Call Off Strikes in Refineries, Port of Marseille 

And Now comes the Stab in the Back 

PARIS, 31 October 2010-The very 
next day after millions marched in 
the streets of France to oppose the 
government’s pension “reform” 
law, top union leaders moved to 
end the strikes which had shut 
down all 12 of France’s oil refin¬ 
eries and blocked the key port of 
Marseille. Early on Friday, October 
29, the five refineries still on strike 
held almost simultaneous votes 
on whether to continue the strike. 

Leaders of CGT and CFDT union 
federations, historically close to the 
French Communist Party (PCF) 
and Socialist Party (PS), told refin¬ 
ery workers that the strikes could 
not be maintained. The ranks then 
voted to call them off. 

Later on Friday, the workers 
of the oil terminals at the port of 
Marseille also voted to return to 
work after 33 days on strike. “A 

certain number of elements have made it possible to propose 
resuming activity, which was acted on by the workers,” accord¬ 
ing to Pascal Galeote, the head of the CGT union representing 
port workers at the terminals in the Marseille area (Le Monde, 

31 October). The strike had been totally effective, with 79 oil 
tankers and 4 barges sitting in the harbor waiting to be un¬ 
loaded, some of them since the end of September, blocking five 
refineries (one in Switzerland), at a cost of €10,000 to €20,000 
(roughly US$14,000-$28,000) a day per ship and losses of 
€35-40 million (US$48-55 million) to the oil companies. 

Anyone with any critical faculty had to ask: 

• What were these “elements” which “made it possible” to 
overcome the bargaining impasse and lift the siege of the 
port? Neither the port authority nor the unions would say, 
although management said the deal allowed it to pursue 
“port reform.” Yet it was precisely against that “reform” 
that the unions had struck, objecting to plans to allow 40 
percent private investment in a subsidiary to operate the 
terminals. So what’s the story? 

• “Why this strange defeat of the refinery strike?” asked a 

blogger, noting that all 12 refineries had gone back in the last 
two days (Bellaciao, 31 October). “What land ofblackmail 
or intimidation were the heroic strikers subjected to?” he 
asked, noting that everyone who visited a struck refinery 
recently reported they were “extremely motivated.” More¬ 
over, the strikers were “firmly determined not to give in at Striking worker from Grandpuits refinery at 

this moment, at the beginning of November, when they were Paris mobilization, October 28. The next day the 

finally going to see the country’s gasoline supply dry up.” union bureaucrats moved to call off the strike. 

Striking workers at the Grandpuits refinery outside Paris during attack by 
gendarmes (paramilitary riot police) on October 22. Strikers held firm, shut¬ 
ting down fuel production until union tops moved to end strike a week later. 

Benoit Tessier/Reuters 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Above: Tankers waiting offshore to unload at struck oil terminals in the port 
of Marseille, October 17. Port and refinery strikes were solid until union tops 
called them off. Below: Empty gasoline pumps in Nice. 

At the Feyzin refinery of the 
French Total oil company outside 
Lyon, CFDT delegate Damien Gal- 
era declared: “The situation was no 
longer tenable. We made a balance 
sheet of our forces and observed 
fatigue, weariness. We also see 
what’s happening elsewhere: the 
mobilization on Thursday brought 
out fewer demonstrators, the other 
refineries are going back to work, 
the same with the rail workers. It 
couldn’t be Total against the rest 
of France.” This defeatist evalua¬ 
tion sharply contradicted the actual 
facts. Even Le Monde (29 October) 
quoted the CGT delegate at the 
plant, Michael Lavastrou, saying 
sadly, “They were told to leave their 
jobs to mobilize, and now they’re 
being told that it’s all over. That’s 
not at all clear.” 

In fact, we saw workers from 
the Grandpuits refinery about 100 km. outside Paris brimming 
with energy and determination during the march on Thursday 
(October 28) that brought out some 170,000 demonstrators 
in the capital, according to the unions. The Grandpuits van 
became a focal point for union militants at the end of the 
march. Refinery workers and rail workers chanted, sang, 
blew whistles, danced and vowed to keep up the struggle. 
The amount of popular support they received from everyone 
was unimaginable, they said. So many people brought food to 
the pickets that they didn’t know where to put it. At the same 
time, they added, other sectors had not gone out, and they were 
under pressure to call off the strike. 

Strikes Were at the Point of 
Paralyzing French Industry 

The fact is that the refinery workers had a powerful 
stranglehold. The effects of their two-week-long strike were 
threatening to bring much of French industry to a halt. The 
oil companies said it had cost them “hundreds of millions of 
euros.” This was the first time since the 1968 general strike that 
the whole of the country’s oil refining capacity was shut down. 
Despite imports of 100,000 tons of fuel a day, stocks were 
rapidly dwindling (the strategic reserves are mostly unrefined 
oil). And Belgian unions blockaded a refinery to stop it from 
supplying tankers from France. What happened was not that the 
strikes were running out of steam, but that the union bureaucra¬ 
cies were frightened by the prospects of an “uncontrollable” 
struggle and the mounting denunciations by the government 
and bourgeois spokesmen. So to show their “responsibility” 
(to French capitalism), they called off the strikes. 

To justify their betrayal, the union tops cited a declining 
number of demonstrators, and the fact that other sectors hadn’t 
joined the refinery and port workers. Nonsense. Everyone knew 
beforehand that the demonstrations on Thursday would be 

smaller than earlier marches because they came in the middle of 
a two-week school vacation when many families had left town. 
The fact that close to 2 million came out anyway for the seventh 
day of action in as many weeks, full of energy and determina¬ 
tion, was remarkable. As for the fact that other sectors didn’t go 
on open-ended strikes, this was the result of the decision by the 
labor misleaders not to call them out, and instead leave it up to 
each group of workers to decide on their own. 

At the beginning of the month, union leaders began talking 
of “renewable” or open-ended ( reconductible ) strikes. At first, 
Le Monde (3 October) reported: 

“In fact, the CGT doesn’t consider the political and social 
terrain propitious for open-ended strikes any more than the 
UNSA and CFDT do, and even less for the general strike 
which the Solidaires and Force Ouvriere federations say 
they would like if they had their way.... As for the CGT, it 
suffered some setbacks in the SNCF (railways) and RATP 
(Paris Metro) which inclined it toward caution.” 

But following the mobilization on October 2, which once again 
was unexpectedly large, CGT leader Bernard Thibault declared 

Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

that “in certain sectors, workers are available for strikes that 
wouldn’t be limited to 24 hours.” If the government didn’t lis¬ 
ten, he said, “the movement could take on a new configuration” 
after October 12. But, he added, this would be “on the basis of 
decisions made by the workers” (AFP, 4 October). By putting 
the responsibility for striking on the workers in the different 
sectors, rather than calling out the ranks in a united show of 
force, the union leaders virtually ensured that the walkouts 
would be restricted to certain sectors. 

On Friday, union leaders used the classical excuses of 
reformists everywhere to justify their sellout. Charles Foulard, 
the head of the refinery section of the CGT, argued, “We came 
close to the objective, we only needed a few more occupational 
sectors to join the strike,” but in any case, “the unions have 
won the battle of ideas,” because their “arguments on the pos¬ 
sibility of having another reform ... have been heard” (AFP, 29 
October). “The government lost the battle for public opinion,” 
said CFDT head Francois Chereque. This is the same claim 
put forward by spokesmen for the PS to argue that accounts 
with Sarkozy can be settled in the 2012 presidential election. 
Sarkozy himself cynically issued a statement saying “Worries 
have been expressed, some of them legitimate. I have heard 
them and am reflecting on them. 1 will take some steps.” Mean¬ 
ing precisely nothing. 

At a local level, the CGT delegate at Feyzin, Lavastrou, even 
as he doubted that it was all over, repeated the famous phrase of 
Maurice Thorez in selling out the June 1936 general strike, “7/ 
faut savoir terminer une greve ” (you have to know how to call 
off a strike), although the PCF leader added “once its essential 
demands have been met.” But today, said Lavastrou, “Going back 
to work under these conditions,” when refinery workers won noth¬ 
ing after two weeks on strike, “is not going to be pretty.” Even 
so, said David Faure, the CFDT secretary of the plant committee, 
“people are only waiting for a sign from the union organizations 
to go into the streets. The next step is a general strike. And at that 
point, the response of the workers will be violent.” 

It has been an open secret for weeks that the union leaders 
have been looking for the exit door, but no one wanted to be the 
first to throw in the towel, for fear of being labeled a traitor, as 
the CFDT’s Chereque was rightly called for breaking ranks and 
selling out the 2003 battle over public sector pensions. Now 
the sellout has begun, “all together” ( tous ensemble) this time, 
as the striking union leaders act in concert to end the refinery 
and port strikes. Everything indicates that the lntersyndicale 
is planning to do the same and call off mobilizations of any 
sort after the November 6 day of action. “If unity has lasted 
so far,” Liberation (22 October) wrote last week: 

“it is also and above all due to the determination of the dem¬ 
onstrators, who are still quite numerous. Because secretly, 
a number of leaders of national union federations wouldn’t 
look askance at the mobilization running out of steam in order 
to call an end to the match.... And the longer the movement 
goes on, the harder it will be to manage the frustrations of 
the militants internally.... 

“On the other hand, some of the rank-and-file militants are 
beginning to believe in it [the possibility of winning]. And 
in the absence of a victory, they could end up demanding an 

accounting from the respective union leaderships. The end 
of the movement is looking to be difficult.” 

Urgently Needed: A Revolutionary 
Opposition in the Unions 

But who is going to challenge the pro-capitalist union lead¬ 
ers? So far not a word of criticism from the New Anti-Capitalist 
Party (NPA) or the Solidaires union federation associated with 
it against the CGT and CFDT for calling off the refinery and 
oil terminal port strikes. Nor, of course, from the leadership of 
the Force Ouvriere labor federation under Jean-Claude Mailly, 
close to the Independent Workers Party (POI) led by ostensibly 
Trotskyist followers of the late Pierre Lambert. If the “far left” 
were serious in its occasional references to a general strike, 
it would loudly denounce this betrayal. But since its actual 
politics are reformist and its support for a general strike is 
merely platonic, complicit silence is to be expected. 

The World Socialist Web Site of the followers of David 
North claims that this betrayal only proves “the treachery of 
the unions” (WSWS, 30 October). By deliberately conflating 
the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy, who are literally agents 
of the bosses within the workers movement, with the unions 
themselves, which are the largest existing mass organizations 
of the working class, these frauds frequently use leftist lan¬ 
guage to literally do the work of the employers (for example, 
opposing union organizing drives). In this case, their calls for 
organizing “committees of action independently of the unions” 
means undercutting the urgent necessity to wage a struggle 
within the unions to oust the sellout bureaucracy. 

To pretend, as the WSWS does, that “the unions” are 
simply capitalist institutions and do nothing but oppose the 
struggle against the pension reform is to hide the contradictory 
character of the labor movement, whose pro-bourgeois leaders 
while acting as conduits for the bourgeoisie are also are subject 
to pressure from the working-class ranks. All the recent mass 
mobilizations in France were called by the unions, indeed by 
the same treacherous bureaucrats who are now stabbing the 
struggle in the back. The strikes in the refineries and the ports 
were called by local union bodies. What this struggle shows is 
not that unions must be opposed, but that even reputed hard¬ 
liners, such as Pascal Galeote of the Marseille dockers and 
Charles Foulard of the refinery workers, are still bureaucrats, 
beholden to the capitalist system, and when the chips come 
down, they will do the bidding of the bosses. 

That is why it is crucial to fight within the unions to 
defeat and drive out not just particular individual leaders but 
the whole parasitic layer that sits atop, holds back and when 
called upon betrays the membership they claim to represent. 
In calling for the formation of elected strike committees as 
part of the struggle for a real general strike, the League for 
the Fourth International does so as a means for combating the 
union misleaders’ stranglehold and fighting for a revolutionary 
leadership of the workers movement. This requires above all 
building the nucleus of a proletarian vanguard party to lead the 
struggle for a workers government based on workers councils, 
and to fight to reforge the Fourth International as the world 
party of socialist revolution. ■ 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Profits Are Rising - Army, Military Police and Landowners Are Killing 
In Haiti, in the Slums of Rio and in the Countryside 

Brazilian Elections: The 
Bourgeoisie Coes For More Lula 

28 SEPTEMBER 2010 - in the current 
Brazilian election campaign, the dominant 
tone has been that of praising the “stability” 
of the eight years of the presidency of Luiz 
Inacio Lula da Silva, the historic leader of 
the Workers Party (PT). The big bourgeoisie 
is enamored of the fabulous profits they 
have raked in and of the country’s rapid 
economic recovery after only two quarters 
of recession amid the world financial crisis. 

Irasil segi 



We Need to Build a Workers Party That 
Fights for International Socialist Revolution 

srasu seguir 

The “left-wing” supporters of Lulaism cite 
a reduction of extreme poverty due to the 
government’s welfare programs. The PT 
candidate, Dilma Rousseff, presents her¬ 
self as a guarantee of the continuity of the 
policies of the popular front government. In 
order to govern, the PT struck alliances with 
bourgeois sectors, mainly the Party of the 
Brazilian Democratic Movement (PMDB), 
which supplied Rousseff’s running mate, 

Michel Temer. Even her main opponent on 
the right, Jose Serra of the Party of Brazilian 
Social Democracy (PSDB), broadcast tele¬ 
vision commercials showing him with Lula, 
and the other bourgeois competitor, Marina 
Silva of the Green Party (PV), declared that her candidacy was 
not against Lula’s project. On every side, these elections are 
one big celebration of Lulaism. 

Everything points to a big victory by the PT candidate, 
possibly on the first round of voting on October 3. The opinion 
polls give Rousseff close to a majority and a big lead among 
low-income voters, while registering almost 80 percent 
approval of Lula’s presidency. However, despite its huge 
popularity, the government of the “worker president” has been 
anything but a “fiesta” for working people the way it has been 
for the capitalists. The current boom is not the result of some 
economic “model” but rather of a (temporary) spike in the 
export demand for commodities, fundamentally due to China’s 
economic growth. While the profits of big companies went 
into the stratosphere, wages have only progressed slowly and 
have been accompanied by a drastic increase in jobs filled by 
subcontracting or short-term contracts. During the first year of 
his first term, Lula carried out a “reform” of the social security 
system which was a frontal assault on government workers’ 
pensions. Now Dilma is announcing a new “reform,” to raise 
the retirement age for public and private sector workers. 

Contrary to the slogan “another world is possible,” 









Brasil seguir 


Dilma Brasi ‘ 


Dilma B 



Dilma Rousseff at the Workers Party (PT) convention in June 2010. 

In the October 3 first round of the Brazilian presiden¬ 
tial elections, Dilma Rousseff, the candidate of the PT won 
47% of the votes, while Jose Serra of the PSDB received 
33% and Marina Silva of the PV got 19%. Although Rous¬ 
seff’s first-round score was higher than her predecessor 
and mentor Lula ever received, this was portrayed as a 
defeat by the right-wing bourgeois press, which launched 
a last-minute campaign to stop the “former guerrilla Dilma” 
from gaining a majority on the first round. 

In the month between the first round and a second 
run-off election, conservative forces stepped up pres¬ 
sure on Rousseff to renounce any support for the right 
to abortion (which she did). The PT candidate also reaf¬ 
firmed her support for the pro-capitalist policies followed 
by Lula, which won the backing of key bourgeois sectors, 
while maintaining the PT’s base of support among poor 
and working people. In the final round of voting, on Octo¬ 
ber 31, Rousseff won 56% compared to 44% for Serra. 
Altogether the four left-wing candidates (PSOL, PSTU, 
PCB and PCO) received barely 1% of the votes on the 
first round, while 3 percent cast blank ballots, a traditional 
way to register a protest vote. Rousseff was inaugurated 
president on 1 January 2011. 

Valter Campanato/Agencia Brasil 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

for Brazil’s workers and peasants, the urban poor, blacks, 
women and other sectors of the oppressed and exploited, 
Lula’s regime has been just another capitalist government. 
His economic policy of “neo-liberal developmentalism” 
doesn’t differ qualitatively from that of his predecessor, 
Fernando Henrique Cardoso of the PSDB except for raising 
the minimum wage. While in the rural areas the Bolsa Fa- 
milia (family stipend) alleviated somewhat the incidence of 
extreme poverty, the peasant population continues to live in 
miserable conditions; and in the cities, due to the higher cost 
of living and the elimination of other welfare programs, it 
did not cut down on poverty in the favelas (slums). The main 
difference with Henrique Cardoso, aside from the economic 
conjuncture, was that the popular front in power managed 
to diminish strikes and worker/peasant protests which under 
the previous government had multiplied and radicalized. Lula 
was able to do this because of the ties linking the PT tops 
and of the reformist PCdoB (Communist Party of Brazil) to 
the pro-government union bureaucracy of the CUT (Unitary 
Labor Confederation) and the MST (Movement of Landless 
Rural Workers) in the countryside. 

But the relative “social peace” during Lula’s two-term 
presidency was also due to the absence of a hard class op¬ 
position to the bourgeois popular front. The left-wing union 
and party bureaucrats refused to carry out an all-out struggle 
against the capitalist government which they elected. Thus 
the PSTU (United Socialist Workers Party), the main force 
in the leadership of the Conlutas labor federation, called to 
vote for Lula on the second round of the 2002 elections. At 
the time, the future founders of the PSOL (Party of Socialism 
and Freedom) and leaders of the Intersindical union federa¬ 
tion were still PT functionaries and parliamentary deputies. 
When they were chucked out over their timid opposition to 
the first social security reform, the expellees continued their 
parliamentarist and electoralist course in the new party. From 
the outset, the reformists - both of the PSTU and the PSOL - 
have pursued a policy of pressuring the mother party, the PT, 
from the left. Some internal tendencies in the Workers Party 
call for a return to the “original PT,” which in fact is the policy 
of the overwhelming bulk of the Brazilian left, ft’s just that the 
original PT, like today, was the party of Lula who (along with 
Henrique Cardoso) began his political career in the Brazilian 
Democratic Movement and today shares out ministerial posts 
with its continuation, the PMDB. 1 

The umbilical cord which ties the parties to the left of the 
PT to the “PT family” partly explains its lack of mobilization 
during electoral season. Where are the combative strikes or 
tumultuous demonstrations of metal workers, oil workers, 
bank workers, teachers and other public employees? There 
are only negotiations in the corridors. If any left-wing force 
intended to disturb the tranquil cruise toward a third term for 

1 The Brazilian Democratic Movement (MDB) was a house “oppo¬ 
sition” group set up by the military dictatorship in 1965 in order to 
keep a rein on dissidents. In 1979, it became the Party of the Brazil¬ 
ian Democratic Movement (PMDB) and has since functioned as the 
bourgeois political instrument of govermnent functionaries, based 
in the federal ministries and city and state administrations. 

“Lulaism,” they would be in the streets loudly denouncing the 
anti-worker plans of Dilma Rousseff and her vice-presidential 
running mate Michel Temer of the PMDB. Instead, every two 
years when elections roll around the supposed class-struggle 
trade unionists and parties of the former “far left” abandon 
workers’ struggles and devote themselves to the campaign 
hustings. After the Supreme Electoral Tribunal excluded 
what the bourgeois media have dubbed “midget parties” (all 
of them on the left) from the televised debates between Rous¬ 
seff (PT), Jose Serra (PSDB), Marina Silva (PV) and Plinio 
Arruda Sampaio (PSOL), the excluded parties were invited by 
the left-wing news magazine Brasil de Fato to a September 
21 debate broadcast on the Internet. Yet during the one-and-a- 
half-hour-long chat between Jose (Ze) Maria de Almeida of the 
PSTU, Rui Costa Pimenta of the PCO (Workers Cause Party) 
and Ivan Pinheiro of the PCB (Brazilian Communist Party) 
there was not a single call for workers action. 

Rather than a hard-hitting denunciation of the fraudulent 
and anti-democratic character of bourgeois elections, which 
any revolutionary candidate would be duty-bound to make, 
during the debate we only heard some soft-spoken complaints 
about discrimination against them. Each of the participants 
ticked off a list of almost identical reforms (a program of pub¬ 
lic works, agrarian reform, tax the rich, abolish the sales tax, 
state takeover of the banks, cheap credit), none of which went 
beyond the limits of the capitalist system. They made ritual 
mentions of socialism and uttered pious wishes for the unity 
of the left. In truth, those following the debate on the Internet 
(“internauts”) would have had a hard time understanding why 
there were three different tickets if not for the competition for 
organizational influence (which is in fact the case). However, 
real unity of the working people against capital is only pos¬ 
sible on the basis of a revolutionary program, which was the 
big missing factor in these elections. 

We in the Liga Quarta-lnternacionalista do Brasil are 
opposed to voting for any candidate, party or member of a 
bourgeois coalition, such as the PT’s popular front with capi¬ 
talist parties. We didn’t vote for Lula or his allies in 2002 or 
2006. As opposed to the anarchists and some ultra-leftists, we 
do not reject participation in capitalist elections on principle 
- it can serve as a platform for revolutionary propaganda. We 
seek to cast a class vote. Unfortunately, but predictably, as in 
the past elections, none of the candidates to the left of the PT 
puts forward a class opposition to the bourgeois parliamentary 
game. Therefore, the LQB calls on working people to CAST 
A BLANK BALLOT in the October 3 elections and prepare 
for the coming struggles. 

The Candidacies of the Left - 
PTers of the Second Mobilization 

Since the end of2009, like clockwork, the entire political 
life of the Brazilian left turned to the electoral contest. Trade- 
union struggles, those of slum dwellers, of landless peasants 
were relegated to second or third place. The main large-scale 
strike, of the APEOESP, the union of public school teach¬ 
ers in the state of Sao Paulo, took place in March and April 

Sergio Moraes/Reuters 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


The police are the armed fist of the bourgeoisie. Here, Rio de Janeiro state 
military police using counterinsurgency techniques perfected in policing 
Haiti for U.S. imperialism to occupy the Mandela 2 favela (slum), 23 November 
2010. Drive Brazilian police and military out of Haiti and out of the Rio slums. 

of 2010. After 30 days on strike, the paulista teachers were 
betrayed by the pro-Lula leadership of the union, the Articu- 
lagao caucus, which capitulated in the face of the onslaught 
by the governor and PSDB presidential candidate, Jose Serra. 
The governor dispatched the police to brutally repress the 
strikers, and there wasn’t resistance capable of combating it. 
However, one has to say as well that the various opposition 
groupings inside the APEOESP were also unable to wage a 
class-struggle fight against the popular-front leadership. The 
PSTU (through Conlutas) and PCO were also immersed in their 
election campaigns, and both of them - along with the POR 
(Revolutionary Workers Party) - defend the police, claiming 
that these professional repressors are part of the working class 
and not, as Marxists insist, the armed fist of the bourgeoisie 
and backbone of the capitalist state. 

The concerns of the PSTU were concentrated on the 
definitive collapse in December 2009 of its coveted Frente de 
Esquerda (Left Front) with the PSOL. In the 2006 elections, 
this Front supported the presidential candidacy of Heloisa 
Helena, who at the time was a senator for the PSOL from the 
northern state of Alagoas. But this candidacy could hardly be 
considered leftist, and certainly didn’t constitute a working- 
class opposition to the class collaboration of the popular front. 
In playing footsie with various bourgeois politicians, notably 
with the “labor” sectors of the PDT (Democratic Labor Party) 2 

2 The Partido Democratico Trabalhista is a bourgeois party generally 
classified as “middle-of-the-road” (rather than right- or left-wing), 
whose ideology harks back to the populist “laborite” tradition of 
Brazilian strong man Getulio Vargas’s Estado Novo in the 1940s 
and ’50s. The PDT was founded in 1970 by Leonel Brizola, who 
provided more of a European social-democratic tint of support for 
“welfare state” programs. 

and “progressive” elements of 
the Catholic church, the coalition 
headed by the PSOL candidate 
ended up being, as we said at 
the time, a “mini-popular front.” 
Moreover, Heloisa attacked wom¬ 
en’s right to abortion, criticized 
Lula for “lacking firmness” in not 
insisting on compensation from 
Bolivian president Evo Morales 
for his nationalization of two oil 
refineries belonging to Petrobras, 
denounced landless peasants for 
invading Congress in Brasilia, and 
said that due to a constitutional 
prohibition it was not possible 
to expropriate productive land 
(see our article, “Brazil: Lula vs. 
Alckmin, Candidates of Capital 
Against the Workers,” The In¬ 
ternationalist No. 25, January- 
February 2007). 

The Left Front disappeared 
right after winning 6.8 percent on 
the first round of voting in 2006. Sectors of the PSOL, includ¬ 
ing its current candidate Plinio Arruda Sampaio, announced 
they were voting for Lida on the second round. However, in the 
run-up to the 2010 elections, the PSTU wanted a second edi¬ 
tion of the Heloisa Helena campaign, this time with its own Ze 
Maria for vice-president. These hopes vanished in December 
2009 when Heloisa announced her support for Marina Silva of 
the Green Party. In her campaign, Silva, who was environment 
minister for the PT in Lula’s government from 2003 until 2008, 
repeatedly declared her personal opposition to abortion, and 
the eco-capitalist party included among its candidates depu¬ 
ties who had been expelled from the PT for supporting a law 
for the rights of the unborn (Estatuto do Nascituro), which 
would turn abortion into the crime of homicide. Even today 
the PSTU wants to hold the door open for a turnaround by 
Heloisa and is not running a candidate against her campaign 
to return as senator for Alagoas. At the beginning of 2010, the 
PSTU’s hopes of forming a new Left Front were focused on the 
PSOL itself, but in vain, as the PSOL launched the candidacy 
of Arruda Sampaio. 

The PSTU is following in the footsteps of its mentor, 
the late Nahuel Moreno, who from the start of his political 
career always sought to tail after other larger political forces. 
He began as the “socialist wing” of Peronism, a bourgeois 
nationalist movement in Argentina, then went on to chase after 
Guevarism, Maoism, Sandinismo [in Nicaragua] and finally 
ending up as a plain old social democrat. Although Moreno 
claimed to be a Trotskyist, his policies were diametrically op¬ 
posed to the struggle of genuine Trotskyism to forge a Marx¬ 
ist vanguard on the program of permanent revolution. The 
Russian revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky fought against the 
nationalist and conservative dogma of the Stalinist bureaucrats 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

of building “socialism in one country” and rejected any politi¬ 
cal alliance with bourgeois forces. Trotsky insisted only with 
the conquest of power by the working class, supported by the 
poor peasants, could bourgeois-democratic tasks be achieved 
by going directly over to socialist tasks and extending the 
revolution internationally. In Brazil, ever since its origin in the 
Convergencia Socialista current inside Lula’s PT, the PSTU 
has always following the capitulatory line of Moreno rather 
than the revolutionary policy of Trotsky. Today the Brazilian 
Morenoites are divided, including some tendencies inside the 
PSOL (the CST and MTL), but they are all reformist social 
democrats to the core. 

Faced with the repeated failure of its project of a new Left 
Front with the PSOL, the PSTU is now brandishing a “Socialist 
Program for Brazil,” which in the space of 80 pages offers a 
catalogue of electoral proposals. It criticizes the popular front 
for having “a class character as bourgeois as the previous” par¬ 
ties and “creating the illusion that the workers had conquered 
power” - only leaving out that the PSTU fed those illusions by 
calling for a vote to Lula on the second round in 2002. It insists 
on the need for a socialist answer to the right-wing candidates, 
but only a few months earlier it was seeking an alliance with 
the PSOL, which promotes the same “popular democratic” 
and explicitly non-socialist project which has characterized 
the PT since its beginnings. Moreover, the grab-bag of “social¬ 
ist” proposals of the PSTU contains nothing that breaks the 
framework of the capitalist regime. Above all, the Morenoites 
are ever-ready to abandon any socialist pretensions in order to 
form their desired front. Thus in the state of Goias, the PSTU 
made an alliance with the MTL, the right wing of the PSOL, 
led by Mariniano Cavalcante, putting forward Washington 
Fraga as candidate for governor. The platform of the PSOL/ 
PSTU candidate explicitly admitted that it was “a program 
within the framework of capitalism.” 

The laundry list of measures cited by Ze Maria during 
the cyber-debate - agrarian reform, nationalize the land, tax 
reform, program of public works, low-cost public transport, 
construction of public housing, suspending debt payments, 
changing the economic structure - all have been carried out by 
one or another bourgeois government. The call for a “respect¬ 
able minimum wage and decent pension” are utterly vague. 
“State ownership of the large enterprises, beginning with the 
multinationals” may sound very radical; however, in Mexico 
during the reign of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) 
the economy was dominated by state companies. If the bank¬ 
ing system is bankrupt, as the PSTU candidate insisted, then 
calling for “state ownership of the banks” would not be an 
anti-capitalist measure but rather one to save capitalism from 
the danger of collapse, as was the case of the nationalization 
of the Mexican banks in 1982. And it is not so, as the standard- 
bearer of the PSTU claims, that with these measures “we 
will see to it that all the wealth will be channeled in order to 
attend to the needs of the working people.” Even under state 
ownership, the enterprises will be subject to the iron hand of 
the world capitalist market. 

As for the other tickets to the left of the PT, they don’t 

differ substantially from the program of the PSTU. Ivan Pin- 
heiro of the PCB also calls for state ownership of the financial 
system, although with more honesty, presenting this measure 
as part of a democratic program, to be sure, of a Stalinist- 
style “new democracy.” Even though the PCO is a centrist 
organization, with socialist rhetoric, in practice it has the same 
catalogue of reformist measures as the PSTU: no consumer 
sales tax, agrarian reform, state takeover of the banks, etc. 
Of course, Rui Costa Pimenta spoke in his summary remarks 
about a struggle against capitalism and for a “government of 
the working people built on its organizations” in the struggle 
for socialism. But in the absence of an insistence on bringing 
down the capitalist state or regime, a “government of the work¬ 
ing people” which carries out the above-mentioned measures 
would only be a regime slightly to the left of other bourgeois 
governments. This is the classic vocabulary of social democrats 
who struggle day-to-day for a minimum program of reforms 
under capitalism and reserve their hosannas to socialism (the 
maximum program) for Sunday speechifying. 

Any real Trotskyist candidacy would insist on the need 
for an agrarian revolution carried out by the peasants them¬ 
selves, not by the bureaucrats of some agrarian reform agency. 
It would emphasize that ripping the financial system out of 
the hands of capital can only be the result of the seizure of 
the banks by the workers themselves in the course of a work¬ 
ers revolution which would go beyond the state takeover of 
large companies to expropriate the bourgeoisie as a class. We 
fight for transitional demands, such as a substantially shorter 
workweek with no loss in pay, to create jobs for all. It would 
seek to unite the working class by defending subcontracted 
workers and workers on short-term contracts, demanding the 
same rights for all. Rather than dropping the campaign for 
withdrawal of troops from Haiti during the electoral period, 
as the PSTU has done, it would fight to drive the military out 
of the Caribbean country and out of the hillside slums of Rio 
de Janeiro, where they use the “counterinsurgency” tactics 
which they tried out as mercenaries for Yankee imperialism in 
repressing the population of the first-ever black nation. 

A proletarian Marxist would explain that the conquest 
of power by the working class may begin the revolution 
within the national framework, but there is no program for 
a solitary “socialist Brazil.” It is necessary to extend the 
revolution internationally throughout Latin America and 
into the imperialist heartland of North America, Europe and 
Japan. A revolutionary intervention would use the bourgeois 
elections as a platform to denounce the systematic fraud of 
capitalist “democracy” and its electoral machinery, and in 
accordance with this it would present its candidacy in the 
framework of a campaign for mobilizing the workers and 
peasants, in the factories, in the streets, on the haciendas 
and modern “agro-businesses,” in preparing the working 
people for a struggle for power. In order to do so, it would 
focus its intervention on emphasizing the need for a Lenin¬ 
ist and Trotskyist revolutionary workers party, built in the 
struggle to reforge the Fourth International as the world 
party of socialist revolution. ■ 

January-February 2011 

The Internationalist 


Build a Workers Party to Fight for a Workers Government! 

Quebec: What's Needed to 
Defeat Privatization and 
Defend Public Services 

75,000 workers participated in the demonstration called by the trade unions’ 
Front Commun in Montreal on 20 March 2010. 

The following article is trans¬ 
lated from L’Internationaliste No. 

7, April 2010. 

March 31 marks the end of the 
no-strike, wage-freeze “contract” 
imposed by decree on 550,000 em¬ 
ployees of the Quebec government 
by Liberal Party prime minister 
Jean Charest in December 2005. 

Across the province, the Common 
Front of public sector unions will 
be sending a message to the popula¬ 
tion on the need for fight for public 
services. On April 1, a coalition of 
labor, community and student or¬ 
ganizations will be demonstrating 
in the business district of Montreal 
against schemes for privatization 
and introducing or raising fees on 
services and social programs. But 
on the eve of the mobilizations, the 
government announced a budget 
attacldng worldng people, public 
services and social programs down 
the line. The battle lines are drawn. 

A real show of strength could be a warning to Charest and 
the federal government of Conservative Stephen Harper. Already 
on March 20 [2010], more than 75,000 workers went into the 
streets of Montreal in response to the call of the Common Front. 
However, for months the leaders of all three labor federations 
(FTQ, CSN and SISP) have repeated that they are only asking 
the government to “negotiate,” and they are prepared to “target” 
(reduce) their demands accordingly. Nothing about the possibil¬ 
ity of a strike. Yet the Liberal cabinet is wedded to its program 
of privatization and raising/introducing fees, and it is backed by 
the official opposition of the Parti Quebecois (PQ). They will 
not be stopped by discussion and appeals to reason. 

The real stakes are political, and workers, students and 
community activists urgently need a party representing the 
mass of working people. Not an electoral party but a workers 
party to lead hard class struggle to chase out the privatizers 
and freemarketeers in Quebec and Ottawa in the fight for a 
workers government. Going back to the Common Front of 
1972 and before, Quebec unions have been hamstrung by 

ties to bourgeois parties, from the Liberals to the PQ, and the 
refusal of the labor bureaucracy to challenge the capitalist 
state. This means that professions of socialism and talk of 
independence will remain a dead letter. To win real victories 
will require a workers leadership that fights for international 
socialist revolution. 

Battle of the Budget - 
“Re-Engineering” the Capitalist State 

In October 2009, the Common Front of public sector 
unions opened negotiations with the government by calling for 
all percent raise spread over three years. A month later, the 
government responded with a counter-offer of 7 percent over 
five years - less than half as much. After stalling for months, on 
the eve of the March 20 Common Front mobilization, the head 
of the Quebec Treasury Council, Monique Gagnon-Tremblay, 
called on the unions to engage in a “blitz of negotiations” to 
arrive at an agreement by March 31. But on March 30, the 
government issued a budget calling for a freeze on the total 
wage bill until 2014. Any raises would be paid for by shrink- 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

ing the workforce through attrition - increasing the workload 
of those who remain. 

The Charest government is using the economic crisis as an 
excuse to ram through plans he has been pushing since 2003 
for “re-engineering” the state in order to lighten the “burden” 
of social services on the capitalists. But it is not alone. Earlier 
this year, PQ leader Pauline Marois declared that the unions’ 
minimal wage demands were “a little high,” and the bourgeois 
nationalist party focused its March 13-14 congress on calls for 
an economic policy centering on “individual enrichment” and 
opposing a welfare state. Marois & Co. are clearly chasing 
after the votes of the right-wing populist-chauvinist electoral 
clientele of Mario Lamont’s ADQ (Action Democratique 
du Quebec), which has made free-market economics and 
anti-immigrant chauvinism its calling card. But even the ban 
on the SPQ Libre, a political club trade-unionists in the PQ 
hasn’t stopped bureaucrats from continuing to support this 
bosses party. 

The budget announced on March 30 includes a 30 percent 
increase in the sales tax (TVQ), raising $1.5 billion; a tax on 
fuel; a increase of electricity rates of 20 percent over five years, 
raising $1.6 billion, to be paid to the banks to cover Quebec’s 
debt; and the introduction of a fee for using Quebec’s health 
care system, up to now free, rising to $200 per adult, bringing in 
another $1 billion and opening the door to hefty co-pays (ticket 
moderateur). The spokeswoman for the Quebec Employers 
Council approved, saying “at least there are no new fees, new 
harmful taxes”! True enough, for the bosses - the new taxes 
will by paid by poor and working people, and the electricity 
rate hike only affects consumers and small companies, not 
large enterprises. 

There will also be an increase in university student fees, 
already rising by $ 100 a year, how much to be determined later. 
Earlier this year, a committee of the Finance Ministry called 
for raising fees by a staggering $3,000, a 150 percent increase 
over the present level, already up by a third since 2007 (ASSE, 
Ultimatum Express, 4 March 2010). These hikes could lead 
to tens of thousands of students dropping out. A committee of 
political, business and private university leaders headed by 
former PQ prime minister Lucien Bouchard went even further, 
calling for all increases in university financing to be paid for 
by students. In 2005, Bouchard issued a manifesto “Pour 
un Quebec lucide” calling for rate hikes, consumers taxes, 
increasing student fees and a series of privatization measures 
which are now being carried out by the Charest government. 

Accompanying the privatization and “tarification” of 
public services, Quebec workers have come under increasing 
attack. 2009 opened with the lockout of 253 workers of the 
Journal de Montreal, owned by the conglomerate Quebecor, 
one of the largest printing companies in the world, based in 
Quebec, whose CEO (Karl Pierre Peladeau) is a former Maoist. 
Using loans from the Quebec provincial pension fund (Caisse 
de depot et placement du Quebec), whose board includes 
union representatives, Quebecor bought up Videotron, the 
main cable TV distributor in the province, and then broke a 
strike by Videotron employees. While the CSN is circulating 

petitions calling on Quebecor to bargain in good faith with the 
locked-out employees, the unions should mobilize thousands of 
workers to shut down operations of the union-busting company. 

A second hot spot are the workers of Quebec’s health 
care system, particularly nurses. Recently there has been an 
explosion of overtime and use of outside agencies to fill in 
for the system’s refusal to hire more full-time nurses. Over 
the last month, nurses at the Maisonneuve-Rosemont, Haut- 
Richelieu and Charles-Lemoyne hospitals refused the forced 
overtime that has obliged many to work 16-hour shifts. This is 
a particular hardship for the many single mothers (98 percent 
of the nurses are women). As the refusals spread, the ministry 
of health called for urgent negotiations with the health workers 
union, FIQ. But when they arrived at the bargaining table, they 
were met with demands to increase the nurses work loads. The 
unions slammed the door and issued orders to prepare a list of 
essential services, in case of a walkout. 

Meanwhile, after working without a contract for six 
months and attending 20 fruitless negotiating sessions, some 
2,500 adjunct professors (charges de cours) at the Universite de 
Montreal have been on strike since February 24. The university 
has been demanding a number ofgivebacks, including loss of 
seniority, and wants to exclude a whole sector of the workforce 
that recently joined the union. The adjuncts are fighting a two- 
tier academic labor system which superexploits the majority 
of university instructors, who receive poverty-level salaries. 
Class Struggle Education Workers and CUNY Contingents 
Unite, an organization of adjunct faculty and staff at the City 
University of New York, are publicizing the Montreal strike, 
and the CUNY faculty union, Professional Staff Congress 
raised it with leaders of the American Federation of Teach¬ 
ers and the National Education Association, who are issuing 
statements of support. 

Key to all these labor struggles, to the fight against privati¬ 
zation and tarification, and to the battle of the budget, is build¬ 
ing a proletarian leadership, the nucleus of a workers party, 
on a program of revolutionary class struggle against all wings 
of the capitalist rulers, whether “federalist” Liberals and even 
more right-wing forces, or the bourgeois-nationalist PQ which 
long ago stopped talking of independence and has increasingly 
left even its “pro-sovereignty” pretensions behind. The experi¬ 
ence of seven years of the Charest government underlines that 
it is necessary to bring down the entire bourgeoisie, which is 
firmly united in defending its fundamental class interests, and 
to gird the working class for battle with the capitalist state, 
which our class enemies will not hesitate to use against us. To 
defeat such powerful forces, the revolutionary vanguard must 
act as the champion of all the oppressed under the banner of 
proletarian internationalism. 

Building an Class-Struggle 
Workers Leadership Is Key 

The struggles that are posed this April 1 [2010] are a direct 
outcome of the fight against the Charest government in 2005, 
which the unions lost, and along with them allied sectors, such 
as the students. Under Law 142, which was rubber-stamped in 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Adjunct faculty of the SCCCUM union at the University of Montreal struck from 
late February to mid-April 2010 against takeback demands by the adminis¬ 
tration. By maintaining solid picket lines with up to 400 union members, the 
adjuncts managed to defeat the takebacks and win a modest raise. 

a one-day session by the National Assembly in Quebec City, 
hospital workers, teachers, school support staff and other 
state employees were subjected to a three-year wage freeze, 
followed by minimal raises, far below the rate of inflation. 
Under the decree, labor unions lost the right to bargain over 
wages and working conditions while strikes in the public sec¬ 
tor were outlawed. Any workers who walked out were subject 
to loss of two days pay for every day on strike and a fine of 
up to $500; union officials faced fines of up to $35,000 a day, 
and the unions would be subject to potentially crippling fines 
of up to $125,000 per day. 

The labor leadership had carried out a series of rotating 
strikes from late November to early December, region by 
region and sector by sector, notably by health and education 
workers. These were intended as pressure tactics to induce 
the government to make concessions at the bargaining table, 
leading up to a last-minute showdown in Quebec. But when 
the final face-off arrived, the Charest government refused to 
budge and used its majority in the National Assembly to im¬ 
pose its anti-labor law. The effect on the union tops and public 
employees was that of an “electrical shock,” as La Presse (15 
December 2005) headlined. They thought they were playing 
by the usual rules. “The government has gone over the top 
and set off a psychodrama,” said Henri Masse of the Federa¬ 
tion de Travailleurs du Quebec. “The government mocked the 
democratic process,” said Claudette Carbonneau of the Confe¬ 
deration des Syndicats Nationaux. A spokeswoman for the PQ 
opposition said the government’s tactics were “preposterous.” 

But the union tops did nothing. They had not prepared 
the ranks for such a struggle, not could they, for their entire 
“strategy” is to pressure and use the capitalist state, not to 

combat it. They see their role as 
working within the system, pos¬ 
sibly winning a few crumbs and 
social programs, or not, depend¬ 
ing on the political winds. As the 
bosses’ union-busting offensive 
escalated during the last years of 
the anti-Soviet Cold War and then 
continued without let-up, these 
“labor lieutenants of the capital¬ 
ist class” would preside over the 
destruction of “their own” unions. 
This occurred to many unions in 
the United States, and if the pro¬ 
cess has been somewhat delayed 
in Quebec, it is because the labor 
movement is stronger there (over 
40 percent of the work force, 
compared to less than 10 percent 
in the U.S.). But the same forces 
are at work. 

It was even worse than in 
2003, when on another fateful De¬ 
cember 15 thousands of unionists 
ringed the National Assembly to 
oppose the government’s bill to end the ban on outsourcing. 
Yet even though they could have easily taken the parliament, 
they stood by as the mortal threat to the labor movement was 
approved. Today, if the government cracks down, it will be 
no different. The Common Front has already made it clear 
that it has no intention of striking. The CSN even feeds into 
the government’s phony argument that it has no money by 
proposing other cuts and sources for increased revenue. CSN 
president Carbonneau commented that “clearly we must share 
the bill, but in function of justice and equity among citizens” 
(Ultimatum, November-December 2009). Yet the issue here 
is not budget priorities but class power. 

And to wage a struggle for power, the workers move¬ 
ment must defend the oppressed. At present a debate over the 
government’s Bill 94, introduced in late March, which would 
ban women wearing Islamic veils such as the burka or niqab 
which cover the face from employment in government offices, 
public services, health care and education. Marois of the PQ 
wants to go even farther and ban the Islamic headscarf, the 
hijab. Even in the petty-bourgeois “left” nationalist coalition, 
Quebec Solidaire, some wished to ban all religious insignia 
from public services. In practice, what this would mean is 
an anti-Muslim witchhunt, as has occurred in France with 
the ban on the hijab in public schools. While claiming to be 
about “secularism,” this measure is in fact an act of religious 
exclusion by the capitalist government and must be opposed 
by all defenders of democratic rights. 

Certainly, the Islamic veil symbolizes the subjugation of 
women, which is institutionalized in the family and ideolo¬ 
gized in different ways by Christianity and Judaism as well. 
As atheists, Marxists fight the obscurantism and subjugation 

Internationalist photo 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Montreal demonstration against privatization, 1 April 2010. 

of women ingrained all organized religion and inherent in 
capitalist society. But to do away with the retrograde effect of 
religion, it is necessary not only to promote a scientific under¬ 
standing of the world but also to provide social institutions that 
can fulfill the needs that are filled by religious reaction. And 
it is necessary for the entire workers movement to combat all 
forms of religious discrimination. Union federations like the 
CSN, which has a strong presence in the public sector, cannot 
duck this issue. Genuine class-struggle militants would fight 
for the unions to defend their Muslim members and oppose 
this discriminatory bill. 

Likewise the workers movement must be in the fore¬ 
front of defending immigrants against discrimination in the 
name of “Quebec values.” Hypocritical “reasonable accom¬ 
modation” that leaves immigrants without equal rights is no 
answer - labor must fight for full citizenship rights for all im¬ 
migrants. The unions should massively mobilize their ranks 
to protest against police brutality, such as the cop assault that 
killed Freddy Villanueva in Montreal-Nord in August 2008. 
Labor must oppose discrimination against homosexuals. The 
workers movement must also come to the aide of indigenous 
peoples under attack by the state, such as the police/army 
assault on the Kahnawake Mohawk Warriors no further from 
downtown Montreal than Chateauguay on the other side of 
the St.-Lawrence River. 

And workers should use their power against imperialist 
war and occupation, such as Canada has been carrying out for 
years in Afghanistan and Haiti, and which has been a staple 
for the Quebec police and military units who put on U.N. blue 
helmets in “peacekeeping” missions in Africa. Such a struggle 
can forge powerful links with the sizable Haitian and North 
African immigrant populations in Montreal. There have been 
innumerable and very large antiwar demonstrations in Mon¬ 
treal and elsewhere in Quebec. But workers strikes against 
imperialist war , of which the May Day 2008 port shutdown 
by the ILWU dock workers union on the Pacific Coast against 
the war on Iraq and Afghanistan was a small taste, would pose 
a fundamental challenge to the capitalist state. Internationalist 

communists seek defeat the imperialist war in fight¬ 
ing for socialist revolution. 

The League for the Fourth International 
calls for independence for Quebec, an oppressed 
French-speaking nation within the Canadian state. 
All talk of “sovereignty-association” and other PQ 
circumlocutions only serves to disguise continued 
subjugation. The persistence of national oppression 
of the Quebecois has made separate states necessary 
in orderfor the working people to fight the respective 
bourgeoisies who use the nation to organize their op¬ 
pressive class rule. From the early 1970s on, militant 
trade-unionists and much of the left supported the 
Parti Quebecois, a capitalist party. Even today, as 
the PQ stands exposed as a class enemy of Quebec 
working people, most of the reformist left and some 
sectors of labor support Quebec Solidaire, a petty- 
bourgeois nationalist electoral vehicle that can only 
be an obstacle to united class struggle against all wings of the 
ruling class. As proletarian internationalists the LFI supports 
Quebec independence in order to overcome national oppres¬ 
sion to the extent possible under capitalism and thereby more 
easily defeat nationalism in all its variants. 

Quebecois nationalists of various hues have periodi¬ 
cally sought to make their peace with U.S. imperialism as 
a counterweight to Anglo Canadian domination. (For its 
part, the CIA has also considered whether an independent 
capitalist Quebec with suit U.S. imperial interests.) Hydro 
Quebec was set up in order to provide a source of riches 
for the Quebecois bourgeoisie so it could compete with the 
Toronto banks by supplying the New York energy market. 
It is no accident that the future PQ founder Rene Levesque 
played an important role in nationalizing the hydroelectric 
companies, as minister of natural resources in the Liberal 
government of Jean Lesage. But as the saga of Quebecor 
strikebreaking shows - or Bombardier downsizing and 
outsourcing, or the Alcan buyout by Rio Tinto, or the 
bankruptcy of AbitibiBowater - having Quebec-based 
companies does not alter the exploitation of the workers 
that is the motor force of capitalist production, whatever 
the nationality of the bosses. 

A struggle against privatization, “tarification” of public 
services, cutbacks of social programs and all forms of the capi¬ 
talist offensive against working people can only be successful 
through a socialist revolution that expropriates the bourgeoisie 
as a class and extends the revolution internationally. In fighting 
the effects of “free trade” in destroying trade unions and liv¬ 
ing standards, Quebec workers must ally with working people 
throughout Canada as well as with their U.S. and Mexican 
sisters and brothers. While Quebecois nationalists may look 
back to Louis-Joseph Papineau and the Patriotes of 1837-38, 
communist internationalists are inspired by the example of 
Lenin and Trotsky who tore asunder the tsarist prison house 
ofpeoples. We seek to build a Quebec workers republic as part 
of a socialist federation of North America, in alliance with a 
socialist United States of Latin America. ■ 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


G20 Protests: Largest Mass Arrests Ever in Canada 


State in Toronto 

On June 26 and June 27 
[2010], an army of 20,000 troops 
and cops turned downtown To¬ 
ronto into a police state, arresting 
over 1,100 demonstrators. It was 
the largest number jailed at one 
time in Canadian history, twice 
as many as when the Canadian 
army occupied Quebec in 1970. 

The excuse for this exercise in 
naked police power was the sum¬ 
mit of the leaders of the world’s 20 
largest economies (G20). While 
Barack Obama tried to browbeat 
China into accepting the competi¬ 
tive devaluation of the U.S. dol¬ 
lar, a form of monetary warfare, 
finance ministers talked about 
how to slash budget deficits by 
making working people pay for 
the capitalist crisis. 

Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper decided to use 
the occasion to stock up on “riot control” weaponry and try out 
the latest repressive tactics. As at the April 2009 London G20 
summit, crowds of demonstrators were “kettled” for hours in 
the rain, turning Queen’s Park into a giant holding pen. As in the 
2004 Republican Convention in New York City, hundreds were 
arrested at a time to get them off the street. The police bought 
water cannon and an ear-splitting Long Range Acoustic Device. 
To facilitate this, the Ontario cabinet secretly passed “enhanced 
arrest powers” allowing police to grab anyone they wanted near a 
three-metre high fence that snaked through the financial district. 
Protesters’ chants of “This is what democracy looks like” soon 
became “This is what a police state looks like.” 

Labour leaders held a large (30,000) march early in the af¬ 
ternoon on June 26, bragging that they worked closely with the 
cops. But all it took was a few smashed bank windows and some 
torched police cruisers for the defenders of capital to launch a full 
scale assault on the protesters. Tear gas was used (a Canadian 
first) along with rubber bullets and paintballs filled with pepper. 
Youthful demonstrators and random passers-by were set upon at 
every turn by the uniformed thugs. Even before the protests began, 

scores of demonstrators from Quebec were picked up. Of those 
arrested, 800 or so were eventually released without charge, many 
after spending days in the degrading “Prisoner Processing Center,” 
while another 200 had charges dismissed or stayed. 

In the aftermath, various social-democratic left groups 
such as the International Socialists have joined with liberals 
in calling for a public enquiry into the police brutality and for 
the resignation of the Toronto police chief. This only fosters 
illusions that the police - the backbone of the capitalist state 
- can be reformed. But the reformists saved their real venom 
for the anarchists of the Black Bloc, claiming they “gave the 
cops ammunition to brutalize and jail over 900 innocents” 
(Barry Weisleder of Socialist Action). Fightback was even 
more foam-flecked, saying the anarchists “used our move¬ 
ment in order to highjack it” and “comparing” them to “agents 
provocateurs.” Quite a statement from an outfit (part of the 
International Marxist Tendency) which considers cops to be 
workers! Against the police occupation and assault on civil 
liberties, we demand that charges against everyone detained 
in the G20 protests be dropped. The criminals were the police, 
not the protesters. ■ 

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images 

Christinne Muschi/Reuters 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Hundreds Come Out for Mumia at Philly Federal Court Hearing 

No Justice in the Capitalist Courts 

Mobilize Labor/Black Power 
to Free Mumia Now! 

Mumia Abu-Jamal 

On November 9, some 500 demonstrators con¬ 
verged on the federal courthouse in Philadelphia to 
defend Mumia Abu-Jamal, the renowned radical 
journalist and former Black Panther who has been sit¬ 
ting on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last 28 years, 
sentenced to die for a crime he did not commit. It was 
the first large mobilization for Mumia in more than two 
years, and was accompanied by demonstrations else¬ 
where. In France, where 300 demonstrated in Paris, 
the left-wing daily L ’Humanite devoted its front page 
to Mumia. The occasion for the worldwide protest was 
a hearing on Mumia’s case by a three-judge panel of 
the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, on orders of the 
U.S. Supreme Court. In July 2008, the appeals court 
had upheld a ruling by federal judge William Yohn 
which, while dismissing every challenge to the gro¬ 
tesque frame-up trial that declared Mumia guilty, set 
aside the death penalty on the grounds that the judge’s 
instructions to the jury on sentencing were confusing. 

Then in January 2010, after earlier refusing to hear 
Mumia’s appeal on the exclusion of black jurors and 
other instances of flagrant racism during the trial, the 
reactionary high court instructed the appeals court to 
reconsider its earlier verdict and possibly reinstate 
the death penalty. 

Jamal, the author of Live from Death Row and several 
other books on the racist injustice system and hundreds of 
commentaries on the crimes of capitalism and imperialism, 
was convicted of the December 1981 killing of police officer 
Daniel Faulkner. In fact, Mumia, an innocent man, nearly bled 
to death from a cop bullet to his lung. He had been in the cops’ 
gun sights for years, ever since he was Minister of Informa¬ 
tion for the Philadelphia Black Panther Party at the age of 15, 
and then later reported on the murderous police siege of the 
predominantly black MOVE organization. The trial judge, Al¬ 
fred Sabo, was notorious as a “hanging judge” who sentenced 
more defendants to death than any other sitting judge in the 
United States. Sabo was a lifetime member of the Fraternal 
Order of Police (FOP) and was heard by a court reporter to 
say of Mumia that he was going to help the prosecution “fry 
the n—r.” The judge helped the prosecution shield cops from 
testifying, and during the 1995 appeal (which he presided over) 
of his earlier verdict, Sabo even had a witness arrested on the 
stand after she recanted her earlier coerced testimony, as well 
as ordering the arrest of a defense attorney. 

The narrow issue now being heard in the Third Circuit 
Court is whether Judge Sabo’s instructions to the jury during 
the sentencing phase of the trial suggested that they would 
have to unanimously agree to any mitigating circumstances 
favoring life imprisonment over execution, when a majority 
is sufficient. The Supremes told the appeals court to use as its 
guideline a case they decided a week earlier concerning a Nazi 
in Ohio, Frank Spisak, who murdered three people because 
they were black or - he mistakenly believed - Jewish. The 
Philadelphia district attorney argued on November 9 that the 
case of Jamal and Spisak were essentially the same. Mumia’s 
attorney pointed to big differences: aside from the fact that the 
Nazi bragged of his guilt in his trial while Mumia has stead¬ 
fastly upheld his innocence, the jury in the Ohio case wasn’t 
told explicitly that unanimity was required for mitigating 
circumstances, whereas in Jamal’s trial Judge Sabo repeatedly 
said jurors had to be “unanimous.” This was noted by two of 
the judges on the panel. But that only means that if they do 
reinstate the death penalty, it will be knowing full well that 
Jamal was railroaded. The rulers’ goal is to silence the “voice 

© Lou Jones 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


IG marches for Mumia in Philadelphia, 9 October 2010. 

of the voiceless.” 

On the eve of the November 9 hearing, 
the defense legal team was thrown into 
commotion when attorney Robert Bryan 
refused Mumia’s request that Judith Ritter, 
a law professor who had previously argued 
the issue of jury instruction and mitigating 
circumstances to the same panel, make the 
presentation - whereupon Jamal fired him. 

In his submission to the court withdrawing 
from the case, Bryan disgustingly claimed 
it was because he had been “threatened” 
by Jamal’s supporters. Earlier, in 1999, 

Jamal had to fire his then-attorneys Leon¬ 
ard Weinglass and Dan Williams after 
Williams published a book saying he had 
“no idea whether Mumia Abu-Jamal is 
innocent or guilty.” Bryan, like Weinglass 
and Williams, focused exclusively on the 
legal issues of the trial and refused to pres¬ 
ent evidence of Mumia’s innocence or the 
confession of Arnold Beverly that he, and 
not Mumia, was one of two killers who shot 
police officer Faulkner in a contract “hit.” Bourgeois liberal 
lawyers simply refuse to recognize the fundamental fact about 
the legal lynching of Mumia Abu-Jamal: that the bourgeois 
state is trying to kill an innocent man because it considers him 
a dangerous black revolutionary who it must silence. 

The issue of the capitalist state has sharply divided Mu¬ 
mia’s supporters for years. Liberals and reformist leftists want 
to argue that this was a “miscarriage of justice,” all due to a 

L’Humanite, formerly the newspaper of the French 
Communist Party, featured Mumia on its front page 
the day of the appeals court hearing in Philadelphia. 

racist judge, an aberration which could be rectified by insist¬ 
ing that the law be fairly applied. They refuse to admit that 
the relentless persecution of Jamal is part of a system of racist 
injustice rooted in the bedrock American capitalism. Black 
people have been subjected to this “lynch law” since the days of 
slavery, from which the barbaric death penalty stems. A decade 
ago, the issue was the liberal/reformist call for a “new trial,” 
which implied that a different verdict would result. Presenting 
new evidence to a different judge won’t save Jamal any more 
than appealing for a new trial by the apartheid judges would 
have won freedom for Nelson Mandela, to whom Mumia has 
often been compared. Revolutionary Marxists insist that while 
lawyers should pursue every avenue of legal defense, there is 
no justice for the oppressed in the capitalist courts. The key is to 
mobilize the power of the working class and the black, Latino 
and immigrant population to demand that Mumia be freed. 

Lately, as a string of adverse court decisions has made the 
call for a “new trial” ever more illusory, the liberals and re¬ 
formists are petitioning President Barack Obama and Attorney 
General Eric Holder to pardon Mumia or conduct a civil rights 
investigation. (A petition being circulated in France calls on 
Obama to initiate a new trial.) Yet black Democrats Obama 
and Holder are capitalist rulers who depend on the machinery 
of repression to maintain their class domination. Obama has 
said, specifically in reference to Mumia, that he supports the 
death penalty for “cop killers” - which is what Jamal was 
wrongly convicted of. And the FOP endorsed Holder as the 
nation’s “top cop.” Some liberals may believe that a new trial 
or intervention by Obama could actually save Mumia from the 
executioner. Most reformists know better, but instead of telling 
the truth, they promote illusions in bourgeois “democracy,” 
calculating that when it doesn’t deliver justice people will be 
radicalized. Instead, most will become demoralized, lacking 

continued on page 78 

Internationalist photo 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Healthcare “Reform” Law: Bonanza for 
Wall Street, an Attack on Working People 

The following articles are reprinted from Class Struggle 
No. 2 (October-December 2010), the newsletter of Class 
Struggle Education Workers (CSEW), a trade-union tendency 
active in the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) represent¬ 
ing public primary and secondary’ school teachers and staff 
in the New York City public schools, and in the Professional 
Staff Congress (PSC), representing faculty and staffat the City 
University of New York. The program of the CSEW, which is po¬ 
litically supported by the Internationalist Group, is published 
in The Internationalist No. 28 (March-April 2009). 

By Class-Struggle Education Workers/UFT 

March 24, 2010 

President Obama and the Congressional leaders say 
they’ve just passed a “historic” healthcare reform. It’s not. 

• It’s not historic, it’s not a reform, and it’s not even a step 
in the right direction. The healthcare “reform ” is an 
attack on working families and a gift to the insurance 
companies, the drug companies and the private hospital 
corporations. It’s going to hurt our healthcare coverage 
in the UFT. It’s a setback in the struggle for universal 
healthcare coverage. 

• If people aren’t aware of that, they haven’t been reading 
the fine print. Just like many people didn’t pay attention 
when Obama said he had the same education program as 
John McCain, and when he said he wasn’t going to pull 
all the troops out of Iraq and he was going to escalate the 
war in Afghanistan. 

• First, it won’t mean anything like universal health cov¬ 
erage. Even by the most optimistic estimates 23 million 
people will remain uninsured, many of them immigrant 
workers in dangerous and low-paid jobs. Not only are 
undocumented immigrants not covered, the care they 
now receive in emergency rooms will be cut back because 
the government is slashing $40 billion out of funds to 
“disproportionate share hospitals” to cover the uninsured. 

• Probably many more will remain uninsured. Why? Be¬ 
cause the insurance plans they will be required to buy are 
so expensive and provide such lousy coverage. In Mas¬ 
sachusetts the basic plan costs $2,800 for an individual 
and has a $4,000 deductible, so people will pay almost 
$7,000 before they see a dime of benefits. As a result many 
people, especially younger people, may figure they’re 
better off paying a fine. 

• Second, this is the biggest government attack on women’s 
right to abortion since Jimmy Carter signed the Hyde 
Amendment in 1976. Yet “pro-choice” Democrats in 
Congress knuckled under and women’s organizations like 
NOW and NARAL didn’t say boo. The ban on abortion 
will now apply to community health centers, and abortion 

coverage will be dropped from all insurance plans. 
Third, this “reform ” is a giant subsidy to the insur¬ 
ance companies, the drug companies and the for-profit 
hospitals. The insurance companies are supposed to pay 
$70 billion in taxes, but in return they are going to get 
subsidies of $450 billion and hundreds of billions more 
in new customers who are going to be forced to buy their 
defective products. 

The right wing pretends that this is a government take¬ 
over of medical care. Wrong. It’s the consolidation of 
corporate control of medicine. Rather than socialized 
medicine, it’s going more towards the corporate state, just 
like all the corporate “education reform.” 

Fourth, a main way this “reform ” is going to be paid 
for is by taxing our insurance plans. The excise tax on 
so-called “Cadillac health plans” is the biggest source of 
additional funds to pay for the subsidies. Yet individual 
high cost health insurance plans like Wall Street execs 
have are exempt from this tax, it’s the union plans they’re 
going after. 

The Senate bill originally said the tax would bring in $140 
billion by 2019. Richard Trumka of the AFL-CIO did some 
last minute horse-trading and reduced that to “only” $32 
billion. He must be taking lessons from [Randi] Weingar- 
ten [the former UFT president, now head of the national 
American Federation of Teachers]: hand over two-thirds 
of the givebacks the bosses are demanding, then claim 
“victory” because you didn’t give away the whole store. 
In any case, this is an illusion. The AFL-CIO tops just 
postponed the tax, so that it starts in 2018 instead of2013. 
It’s still going to be a whopping tax and the main outside 
source of funding, and it will be taking an increasing bite 
out of our health plans as medical inflation increases. 
Employers won’t agree to a 40 percent increase in cost, 
instead they’ll cut benefits to come in under the ceil¬ 
ing. Since dental and vision care were exempted, it will 
probably be cut from long-term hospitalization and major 
surgery. People don’t go into the hospital for a month or 
have a major operation frivolously. So now we will have 
to pay out of pocket or buy super-expensive additional 
private insurance. 

What it comes down to is they are taking tens of billions 
of dollars from the pockets of working families and giv¬ 
ing them to the capitalists of the medical industry. That’s 
the bottom line of this health insurance “reform.” On top 
of that they plan to cut “hundreds of billions of dollars” 
out of Medicare payments. 

And they’re not stopping there. Next up is “reform” of 
the Social Security system. The New York Times reported 
on March 23 that the administration plans to raise the 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


retirement age and reduce benefits for Social Security, 
which is “the other big entitlement benefits program and 
one that Mr. Obama has suggested in the past that he is 
willing to tackle.” 

• Many younger teachers don’t grasp the role of a union 
because they’ve never seen a real union struggle. Many 
tend to see the UFT as an agency for providing health 
insurance. Why? Because that’s how the union leadership 
acts. When Trumlca goes to the White House to negoti¬ 
ate to postpone the tax, he’s just following the insurance 
company execs’ playbook. 

• A fighting union leadership would insist on national 
health insurance as a first step. And it would not only 
refuse to support Obama and the Democrats’ corporate 
healthcare “reform, ” it would bring tens of thousands of 
union members out into the streets to oppose it. Instead, 
the union leaders leave opposition to the ultra-rightist 
Tea Party racists. 

• What we need is exactly what the right wing and the 
corporate interests and the Tea Partyers fear - real so¬ 
cialized medicine, so that universal healthcare is a right , 

not a commodity. And to do that, it’s necessary to break 
with the Democrats and build a class-struggle workers 
party that fights for a society in which the working people 
rule, not the corporations. 

• So when you find your health insurance premiums 
going up and your coverage cut, when your Medicare 
benefits and Social Security payments are slashed, don’t 
be shocked. The UFT bureaucracy’s Unity caucus and the 
reformist ICE-TJC opposition don’t warn about this be¬ 
cause neither is prepared to go up against the Democrats. 
They are blocking a real fight against corporate takeover 
of the schools and healthcare. 

• Whether it’s education “reform ” or healthcare “reform, ” 
it’s all an attack on working people. And it’s all coming 
straight from the top, from the White House and Wall 
Street. Until labor is ready and willing to fight those forces, 
it will just go from defeat to defeat, losing membership and 
sacrificing union gains piecemeal until the unions them¬ 
selves are destroyed (or become an empty shell), as has 
happened with many already. That’s one more reason why 
we need to build a class-struggle opposition in the unions. 

Class Struggle Education Workers Statement 

On the Healthcare Crisis 

The CSEW issued the following statement on 16 Septem¬ 
ber 2009. 

1. A burning issue in class struggles in the United States 
is the crisis of healthcare, with an estimated seventy million 
people uninsured or underinsured, untold numbers pushed 
into bankruptcy by medical costs, and millions more bound 
to unsatisfactory jobs for fear of losing their costly and insuf¬ 
ficient healthcare. With its grotesque class and race inequali¬ 
ties, denial of medical care to millions of poor and working 
people, and domination by outright criminal insurance and 
pharmaceutical monopolies, the “healthcare system” is a 
dramatic condemnation of American capitalism. We call for 
full socialized medicine, while recognizing that only through 
a socialist revolution in the U.S., and in the most powerful 
capitalist countries throughout the world, can full access to 
high-quality comprehensive healthcare be provided for all. 

2. The current spectacle in Washington underscores the 
need for class-struggle militants to oppose the attacks of Oba¬ 
ma’s healthcare plan on immigrants, unionized workers and 
Medicare benefits. Clearly, the Democratic administration’s 
objective is not to see that healthcare is available to all, but 
to respond to major capitalist forces concerned about rising 
health-care costs at the same time as it seeks the favor of the 
insurance and pharmaceutical giants, who were major contribu¬ 
tors to Obama’s election campaign and who stand to rake in 
billions from the extension of insurance under his plan. 

3. The reactionary nature of the “debate” between the 
capitalist parties is illustrated by Obama pledging that “illegal” 
immigrants woidd not be covered, only to be interrupted by 

a frenzied Republican congressman screaming “You lie!” As 
bourgeois politicians compete over who is the most effective 
enemy of the oppressed, it has never been more urgent to fight 
for labor to break from all wings of the ruling class. 

Having worked overtime to spread illusions in Obama, 
the unions’ bureaucratic leadership preaches submission, pas¬ 
sivity and collaboration in the face of escalating attacks on 
the working people. Key to defending the most basic rights 
and conquests of the workers and oppressed is the building 
of a class-struggle opposition in the unions, committed to the 
struggle for a workers party and workers government. 

4. The demand for a “national single-payer healthcare 
system” has been put forward as a call for providing compre¬ 
hensive healthcare, including to undocumented immigrants, 
within the present U.S. capitalist system. Although it leaves 
the providing of healthcare in private hands, if actually carried 
through, such national health insurance would substantially 
benefit millions of working people, and would also represent 
a political defeat for the enormously wealthy private health 
insurance industry that profits from death and disease. Thus, 
the Class Struggle Education Workers (CSEW) gives critical 
support to this demand. While rejecting “popular-front” strat¬ 
egies which would tie this struggle to the Democratic Party, 
we will participate where appropriate in united-front actions 
and protests around this issue. At the same time, we recognize 
that were the single-payer plan to be implemented, the capital¬ 
ist system would continue to place profit-seeking pressure on 
it such that, even on its own terms, the call for comprehensive 
coverage would be distorted. Access to healthcare is further 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

impacted by systems of oppression that are manifested in the 
allocation of both power and resources within a given society: 
for example, housing, education, the criminal injustice system, 
and the limitations on democratic rights inherent in capitalism. 

5. Although every other advanced capitalist country has 
such a system, given the sway of “free market” ideology in 
the U.S., even national health insurance, let alone socialized 
medicine, would likely not be won short of a mass upheaval 
threatening the bourgeoisie with the spectre of socialist 
revolution. Having long since become a brake on human 
progress, capitalism rips up past gains of the working class 
and proves incompatible even with lasting reforms. This 
fundamental aspect of capitalism in the “imperialist epoch” 
has been demonstrated with particular force since the 1970s 
- a striking example being the case of open admissions at 
CUNY, a significant gain which the rulers of New York City 
began to dismantle almost as soon as it was won. When the 
bourgeoisie is forced to “give” concessions with one hand, 
it seeks to take them away with the other. Thus, while sup¬ 
porting every real, even partial gain, we link this always and 
everywhere to the question of power, that is, for the working 
class to take power into its own hands in alliance with all 
the oppressed. 

Free Mumia Now! 

continued from page 75 

a revolutionary perspective to bring down racist U.S. capital¬ 
ism which, with 2.3 million people behind bars and more than 
3,200 on death row, jails and executes a far higher percentage 
of its population than any other country on Earth. 

The attitude toward the capitalist state underlay the scan¬ 
dalous action by some leading U.S. members of the World 
Coalition Against the Death Penalty, who sent a secret memo 
to the organizers of the February 2010 WCADP congress in 
which they opposed highlighting the case of Jamal, who has 
come to symbolize the struggle against the racist death penalty 
around the globe. “Continuing to give Abu-Jamal focused 
attention unnecessarily attracts our strongest opponents and 
alienates coalition partners,” they declared. Noting that the 
FOP calls for a boycott of anyone who supports Mumia, these 
lily-livered liberals declared: “The support of law enforce¬ 
ment officials is essential to achieving abolition in the United 
States.” So in order to get police to oppose the death penalty, 
they want to “throw Mumia under the bus,” as one leader of 
Murder Victims Families for Human Rights put it. Outraged 
death penalty abolitionists rejected the secret memo, but the 
fact that its authors could achieve prominence in such a move¬ 
ment is due to the fact that it only attacks “flaws in the capital 
punishment system” and “reprehensible actions” by the police, 
not the racist “justice” system itself. 

The question of the capitalist state is also key in two re¬ 
cent movies on Mumia Abu-Jamal. A well-financed pro-police 
film. The Barrel of a Gun, by Tigre Hill, whose specialty is 
producing pseudo-documentaries for Philly Republicans, was 
shown to a crowd of several hundred cops and family mem¬ 
bers on September 21 while a police motorcycle gang, the 

Centurions, cruised up and down Market Street to intimidate 
the population. Hill’s movie is police propaganda. The liberal 
Philadelphia Inquirer (21 September 2010) showed where it 
stood by celebrating the film with a major article titled “The 
Case Against Mumia.” Meanwhile, a few blocks away at 
the National Constitution Center the second film, Justice on 
Trial, by Johanna Fernandez, a professor at Baruch College, 
and filmmaker Kouross Esmaeli was being shown. The movie 
goes over the many glaring contradictions in the prosecution’s 
story, shows ballistic and photographic evidence belying their 
claims, reports the several witnesses who saw two shooters 
fleeing, and has valuable footage about the FBI war on the 
Panthers. But while dissecting the legal frame-up, Justice 
on Trial leaves out the key evidence of Mumia’s innocence, 
weakening an otherwise strong presentation. 

The film doesn’t mention the confession of Arnold Bev¬ 
erly, who has stated in detail that he and another mob hit man 
were hired to gun down Faulkner, who corrupt Philly cops 
suspected was acting as an informant to a federal investigation 
going back to 1979 of center city police involvement in drug 
and prostitution rackets. Liberals and reformists don’t want to 
deal with this because they feel that it would not be “believ¬ 
able” to their audience that the police were acting as a gang of 
criminals. Another revealing incident, the police firebombing 
of the MOVE commune on Mothers’ Day 1985, authorized 
by black Democratic mayor Wilson Goode, which murdered 
eleven black men, women and children and burned down the 
entire neighborhood, destroying 61 homes, is touched on only 
briefly in the film. Yet to understand the vendetta against Jamal 
it is necessary to come to grips with how the racist cops, courts 
and capitalist politicians act in concert to “serve and protect” 
the interests of the ruling class against the population it rules 
over. “Speaking truth to power” will not save Mumia - it is 
necessary to mobilize a superior force to stop the machine of 
state murder. 

The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth 
International seek to mobilize labor/black power in fighting 
for freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal. Our Brazilian comrades 
sparked the first-ever strike action for Mumia, in April 1999, 
stopping work in schools of the state of Rio de Janeiro to hold 
teach-ins about his case, in conjunction with the International 
Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) which the next day 
shut down every port on the U.S. West Coast declaring “An 
injury to one is an injury to all, Free Mumia Abu-Jamal!” This 
fall IG comrades from New York traveled to Philadelphia to 
help in providing security at the September 21 showing of 
Justice on Trial, which we have also shown at Hunter College 
in NYC. We sent a team to an October 9 march for Mumia in 
Philly and attended the November 9 hearing. We also highlight 
the case of Troy Davis in Georgia, another innocent black man 
on death row, whose appeal was turned down by the Supreme 
Court in October. Against the capitalist parties of death. 
Democrats and Republicans alike, we fight for a revolutionary 
workers party. And to the many trade-unionists, unions and 
labor bodies who over the years have defended Mumia we 
say: the time to act is now. ■ 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


LIFT, Students, Parents and Working People Have the Power 

We Can Stop the School Closings 

By Class Struggle Education Workers/UFT 

15 DECEMBER 2010 - As he heads toward the door, New 
York City’s departing schools chancellor Joel Klein (aka 
“The Terminator”) is still at it. After announcing at the end of 
October a total of 46 schools it wanted to shut down, at the 
beginning of December the Department of Education issued 
a list of 25 public schools to be closed starting next fall. The 
hit list includes major high schools such as Columbus and 
John F. Kennedy in the Bronx, Norman Thomas in Manhattan, 
Jamaica and Beach Channel in Queens and Paul Robeson in 
Brooklyn. Altogether 15 of the 19 schools Klein tried to shut¬ 
ter last year are back on the list, despite the court suit by the 
United Federation of Teachers, the NAACP and others which 
temporarily stayed the dead hand of the DOE. 

The rich and powerful forces who are behind the “strat¬ 
egy” of “turning around” schools by closing them hope to 
wear down the opposition. Last January 26, thousands of 
parents, students and teachers came out to Brooklyn Tech to 
loudly voice their opposition to the last round of school clos¬ 
ings. In a marathon meeting that went until 3 a.m., only one 
of the 300+ speakers supported Klein’s demolition plan. Then 
[NYC mayor Michael] Bloomberg’s hand-picked majority on 
his puppet “Panel for Educational Policy” voted to close the 
schools anyway, without a word of explanation for why they 
were ignoring the clear voice of the largely black and Latino 
as well as white working-class and middle-class families who 
pay the price for the DOE’s crimes. 

A couple of months later, a sympathetic judge ruled in 
favor of the UFT/NAACP court suit to hold off the closings 
because the DOE didn’t follow the state law on public notifica¬ 
tion. But that didn’t stop Klein. The very afternoon the court de¬ 
cision came down, the DOE sent out ninth-grade assignments 
excluding the affected schools. So the schools stayed open, but 
with tiny incoming freshman classes. And now they’re on the 
chopping block again. The billionaire mayor (the tenth richest 
man in the U.S.) and the well-heeled hedge fund moguls who 
bankroll the charter schools think they are the masters of the 
world and can do as they wish. They’re wrong. The fact is that 
we have the power to stop Bloomberg’s wrecking ball But 
we have to use that power or lose it. 

By now, the battle lines have been drawn and the argu¬ 
ments made. The claims by the advocates of wholesale school 
closings have been shown to be false. A study of schools that 
were closed during the five years of U.S. education secretary 
Arne Duncan’s tenure as CEO of the Chicago public schools 
showed that most students saw little or no benefit, even on 
the standardized tests that are now the holy grail of the edu- 
crats. “Most students who transferred out of closing schools 
re-enrolled in schools that were academically weak,” said 
the report by the Consortium on Chicago School Research. 
Furthermore, there was a precipitous drop in reading scores in 

the six months after the closings were announced (New York 
Times, 29 October 2009). 

In New York, Mayor Mike Bloomberg claimed last year 
that for the 91 schools that he has already closed since tak¬ 
ing office in 2003, graduation rates in the new schools that 
replaced them went up 15 percent over the citywide aver¬ 
age. This is lying with statistics, as the DOE does regularly, 
with their inflated scores on state tests, the unfathomable 
methodology behind the school report cards, etc. The char¬ 
ter “replacement” schools raise test scores and graduation 
rates by excluding English language learners and special ed 
students. And of displaced students, up to half from the last 
two classes at closing schools are forced to transfer to GED 
programs or disappear from school records. 1 They are forced 
out to boost Bloomberg/Klein’s “metrics.” 

Bloomberg has proclaimed his goal of closing another 
10 percent of NYC’s 1,450 schools in the remaining three 
years of his term, while opening 100 new charter schools. 
Arne Duncan wants to close 1,000 schools a year nationwide 
in the next five years. This goal is accompanied by a bribe of 
$3 billion in “stimulus” money to be doled out as part of the 
“Race to the Top” to school districts that buy into this scheme. 
This is not about improving education. It is part of a wreck¬ 
ing operation against public education, in New York City and 
around the United States. 

Former mayor Rudolph Giuliani famously vowed to “blow 
up” the NYC Board of Education, and that is exactly what his 
successor Bloomberg has been doing. There are various fac¬ 
tors going into how they choose which schools to close. Real 
estate interests who want to grab some juicy properties are an 
element in Manhattan. Making room for hedge fund-backed 
charter schools run by mayoral favorites such as school space 
imperialist Eva Moskowitz is another. Shutting down big 
high schools has been a key goal of the corporate education 
“reformers” for years. Instead of having campuses offering 
a rich range of educational opportunities, they want to pare 
down secondary education to basic skills training, tracking 
and regimenting students in small schools. 

This strategy has the special attraction, from the bosses’ 
standpoint, of targeting schools that are bastions of teacher union 
militancy. In New York, the big high schools have often been 
opposition strongholds in the UFT (possibly a reason why the 
bureaucracy has done so little to defend schools like Jamaica, 
Norman Thomas, etc.) The capitalist education “reformers” 
want to destroy the unions on the road to privatizing what they 
can of the public schools via charters and corporatizing what’s 
left, turning them into profit platforms for vendors and the like. 

1 See the study by Columbia sociologist Jennifer Jennings 
and Leonie Haimson of Class Size Matters, “Fligh School 
Discharges Revisited” (30 April 2009) at: http://www.dass- 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

But a key factor is that closing schools is part of a rac¬ 
ist agenda to destroy public education. Just look at a map 
of where the schools on the closing lists are located and see 
what student populations they serve. The billionaires pushing 
this campaign, such as Microsoft’s Bill Gates and real estate 
mogul Eli Broad, want to turn the black and Latino population 
against the unions, like the Ford Foundation did in the 1960s 
over community control. That’s why Bloomberg reportedly 
first offered the schools chancellorship to Geoffrey Canada, 
but the black capitalist education entrepreneur of the Harlem 
Children’s Zone turned him down. 

This time, however, the cynical ploy is backfiring. Black 
parents have seen through the lies and realize it’s their kids’ 
education that is being ripped up. Voters dumped Mayor 
Adrian Fenty in Washington, D.C. and his broom-wielding 
schools chief Michelle Rhee is gone. From Harlem to Rhode 
Island, virtually every candidate supporting charter schools 
was defeated in elections this fall. In NYC black and Latino 
parents and education advocates have been in the forefront 
of the struggle against Bloomberg’s new chancellor, Cathy 
Black. Today there is a historic chance to unite the oppressed 
majority population of New York City with the unions in a 
labor/black struggle that can actually defeat the charterizers 
and school closers. 

The UFT Delegate Assembly will be voting on a resolu¬ 
tion presented by the leadership calling to “build a grassroots 
movement of opposition to school closures.” While that is 
certainly needed, the resolution fails to demand that all school 
closings be stopped now (instead it has a mealy-mouthed call 
for a moratorium on closures where the DOE has not given the 
school adequate resources and support). It leaves each school 
on its own, instead of bringing teachers, parents and students of 
the threatened schools together. And while calling for the D. A. 

to march today to DOE headquarters at Tweed Courthouse, and 
for a mass demonstration at the February PEP meeting, it does 
not call for a citywide mobilization well before the vote that 
could bring out the forces that can actually stop the closings. 

The rhetoric in the resolution is tougher than the usual 
mushy fare from the UFT bureaucracy (aka the Unity Caucus 
and its hangers-on). Union militants and education activists 
should call on the UFT to actually lead a mass labor/black 
and immigrant struggle against the racist school closings and 
the “educational apartheid” of the charter schools. But what’s 
centrally needed is to build a class opposition the pro-capitalist 
union bureaucracy, which has given up vital rights such as 
seniority transfers, and let Bloomberg/Klein introduce “merit 
pay” (on a school basis), teacher evaluations using student test 
scores, and is now caving in on teacher tenure (see below). 

Class Struggle Education Workers seeks to build such an 
opposition, to fight the privatizing education “reform” agenda. 
While teachers union leaders (both AFT and NEA) and many 
union oppositionists and education activists backed Obama 
in 2008, either openly or tacitly, the CSEW warned from 
the outset that the Democrats’ and Republicans’ education 
agendas (as well as their support for imperialist war in Iraq 
and Afghanistan) were identical. We say the assault on public 
education is coming straight from the top, from the Democrats 
in the White House and Congress, to Democrat Cuomo in the 
New York statehouse (elected with the votes of the UFT-backed 
Working Families Party). 

In waging this struggle, we rely not on the courts (which 
enforce the bosses’ law and order, such as the anti-strike Tay¬ 
lor Law) or on capitalist politicians but on the power of the 
working people and the oppressed, building a workers party 
that fights for a workers government that can revolutionize 
education under teacher-student-parent-worker control. 

The DOE Goes After Teacher Tenure 

They’re on a tear: one day, it’s closing schools, the next 
day it’s trying to blast teachers names across the tabloid press. 
On Monday (December 13), the DOE announced new tenure 
“guidelines.” They are bad news. Among the new provisions 

• Principals will use a four-point “effectiveness frame¬ 
work,” not just “S” (satisfactory) or “U” ratings as until now. 
This rating will be based, among other things, on student test 
scores. This is the wedge for bringing in their “value added” 
model, which they want to use to bust union wage scales and 
seniority job protection. 

• New “expanded” data will be considered, like whether 
or not you are an ATR. This is victimization - teachers do not 
control when/if their school is closed and they become ATRs. 

• Instead of a check list, principals now have to write several 
paragraphs justifying granting tenure. It’s a transparent attempt 
to make it easier to deny, or delay than to grant tenure. And for 
some of these principals just out of the "leadership” academy, 
we wonder if they can even write an essay. 

• Most sinister is the financial incentive for denying 

tenure: if a principal denies a teacher tenure, they are per¬ 
mitted to hire a new teacher and ignore the hiring freeze. 
This will also be used to intimidate teachers - stay in line, 
work through lunch, do cafeteria duty etc., or we’ll get 
somebody who will. 

For years the teacher-bashers, the chancellor, the mayor, 
the New Teacher Project, et al. have been screaming about ten¬ 
ure. New chancellor Cathleen Black says tenure is a “lifetime 
guarantee.” This is false. What tenure does is give teachers 
“due process” after three years probation. In order to fire a 
teacher, the DOE has to provide “cause” (which can include 
successive annual U-ratings, charges of “insubordination” 
and the like). 

The DOE intends to keep teachers on lengthy probation, 
so they are free to fire at will. In response, UFT president 
Mike Mulgrew rushed to say that the UFT has no role in the 
process of granting tenure. While complaining about DOE 
“pontificating,” he ends up saying he hopes that the new 
procedure “can help solve the system’s real problems.” A 
continued on page 86 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Let NYC Muslim Center Be Built! 

Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants! 

Mobilize Against Racist Attacks 
on Muslims and immigrants! 

Internationalist Group, CUNY Internationalist Clubs and Class Struggle Edu¬ 
cation Workers at September 11 demonstration against racist anti-immigrant 
attacks on plans for an Islamic center near NYC’s World Trade Center. 

5 SEPTEMBER 2010 - Over the 
last few months and particularly 
in recent weeks there has been 
a concerted drive by reactionary 
forces to whip up hysteria against 
a project to build a Muslim com¬ 
munity center in New York City, a 
few blocks from the World Trade 
Center, target of the 11 September 
2001 (9/11) attack. It is cynically 
claimed that building a “mosque” 
in proximity to “Ground Zero” is 
somehow an affront to the 2,700 
people who were killed in that 
attack. How so? The implicit 
message: that Muslims were re¬ 
sponsible for the indiscriminate 
terror. The same rationale pres¬ 
ents the U.S. imperialist war on 
Iraq and Afghanistan as part of a 
“Judeo-Christian” crusade against 
Islam. What do these bigots care 
that the organizers of the Muslim 
center chose the site in order to 
promote “multi-faith dialogue”? 

The hysteria is part of the violent 
racist campaign targeting Muslims and immigrants for attack 
ever since 9/11. Thus a couple of days after an August 22 anti¬ 
mosque hate fest, a passenger stabbed and slashed a NYC taxi 
driver after he confirmed to the would-be murderer that he was 
a Muslim. Now the bigots plan an even bigger Muslim-bashing 
event at the WTC site for September 11. This provocation must 
be met with a vigorous labor/immigrant countermobilization 
to defend Muslims and drive out the racists. 

As the mid-term election campaign heats up, right-wing 
forces are vituperating against immigrants. In a number of 
states, bills have been introduced imitating Arizona’s racial- 
profiling law, SB 1070, instructing police to stop and question 
anyone on “reasonable suspicion” of being an “illegal alien” 
- which in practice means anyone who "looks Mexican.” This 
was followed up by a manufactured frenzy over so-called 
“anchor babies,” alleging that immigrant women come to 

the United States to give birth so that the parents can obtain 
residency (a total myth, particularly as the U.S. govermnent is 
deporting tens of thousands of parents of U.S.-born children). 
This morphed into a frenzy over “terror babies,” product of 
the fevered brain of Texas congressman Louis Gohmert, who 
claimed Muslim moms come to the U.S. to have children 
who grow up to be terrorists. From there it was only a short 
step to the mid-summer mania about abolishing the post-Civil 
War 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which grants 
citizenship to anyone born in the United States. (Many of the 
anti-immigrant racists would no doubt like to get rid of the 
13th Amendment as well and bring back slavery.) Against the 
xenophobes, the Internationalist Group calls for full citizen¬ 
ship rights for all immigrants. 

The uproar over the Muslim community center in lower 
Manhattan is also a blatant electoral ploy by the reactionary forces 

Defeat U.S. Imperialist War on Afghanistan, Iraq! 

Internationalist photo 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

that coalesced in the so-called Tea Party movement. These are the 
people who during the 2008 election campaign staged rallies for 
Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin who accused 
Barack Obama of “palling around with terrorists,” and where 
death threats against the black Democrat were yelled from the 
crowd. Now right-wing Republicans want to get their Christian 
fundamentalist base mobilized to vote out Democrats in the 
November 2010 elections. Newt Gingrich compared building a 
mosque to support for Nazi Germany and the genocide of Jews. At 
the August 22 anti-mosque rally there were loud chants of“Obama 
Must Go!” and references to “Imam Obama.” Time magazine (30 
August) reported that nearly a quarter of Americans think Obama 
is a Muslim. Yet Obama, as president and commander in chief of 
the U.S. military, is responsible for waging and escalating the war 
that is slaughtering Muslims in Afghanistan and Iraq. As usual 
Obama equivocated on the Islamic community center, first com¬ 
ing out for the “right” to build a mosque there, then backtracking 
the next day on the “wisdom” of doing so. This only emboldened 
the anti-Muslim bigots. 

Other Democrats were even more explicit in pandering to 
the right-wing mob, including Senate majority leader Harry Reid 
(who said the mosque “should be built someplace else”), liberal 
darling Howard Dean (who said a mosque near the World Trade 
Center would be an “affront”) and New York governor David 
Paterson, who proposed a “compromise” by building the center 
away from the WTC area. Looking to Democrats and bourgeois 
liberals to oppose the anti-Muslim hysteria is a recipe for disas¬ 
ter. New York’s billionaire mayor Mike Bloomberg has opposed 
attempts to stop the mosque, on the grounds that this kind of 
virulent Muslim-bashing is bad for business - and bad for war. 
Same concern from Obama, who needs Muslim allies to justify 
the U.S. terror war and occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan. 
But as the polls show two-thirds of New Yorkers opposed to 
construction of a mosque at “Ground Zero,” no doubt the push 
for moving the Islamic center will grow. It should be clear to 
all that any such riding-class “compromise” would hand the 
bigots a victory and constitute an assault on freedom of speech, 
supposedly enshrined in the 1 st Amendment. 

The racist instigators of the anti-Muslim protests spew 
out wild claims that this would be a “Ground Zero victory 
mosque,” a “command center for terrorism,” a center to “train 
and recruit Sharia law advocates who become terrorists,” etc. 
Yet the sponsors of the Park51 project (named for its location 
at 51 Park Place), Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and Daisy Khan 
(his wife and founder of the American Society for Muslim 
Advancement), stated as their purpose “to promote inter¬ 
community peace, tolerance and understanding.” Rauf and 
Khan have also sponsored the Cordoba Initiative, recalling 
when a thousand years ago “Muslims, Jews, and Christians 
coexisted and created a prosperous center of intellectual, 
spiritual, cultural and commercial life in Cordoba, Spain.” 
Their brand of Sufi Islam is considered heresy by the Salafi 
and Wahabi Sunni Islamists such as the World Islamic Front 
(A1 Qaeda) of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri. So 
why the over-the-top rhetoric about a “terror mosque”? Be¬ 
cause the promoters of the anti-mosque frenzy are pushing a 

war on Islam, and anything that goes against that undercuts 
their warmongering. As an Internationalist Group sign at a 
counterprotest on August 22 stated, “Imperialist War Abroad 
Breeds Bigotry ‘At Home’.” 

Right-wingers complain that Imam Rauf commented (on 
the CBS-TV 60 Minutes program, 30 September 2001) that 
“United States policies were an accessory to the crime that 
happened.” Despite U.S. espousal of democracy and human 
rights, he noted, “we ally ourselves with oppressive regimes 
in many of these countries” and “in the most direct sense, 
Osama bin Laden is made in the U.S.A.” Nothing radical 
about this, these statements are undeniable facts. Imam Rauf is 
currently speaking on a tour of the Middle East sponsored by 
the U.S. State Department, as he has done before. Some have 
complained that he did not forcefully oppose the U.S. attack 
on Afghanistan or the round-up of thousands of Muslims in its 
wake. In fact, the Cordoba Initiative reports, “At the request of 
the F.B.I. after 9/11, he provided cultural training to hundreds 
of F.B.I. agents”! Far from denouncing the war, Rauf ends his 
book What’s Right with Islam is What’s Right with America 
(2005) with a ruling by five Islamic clerics titled, “Fatwa 
Permitting U. S. Muslim Military Personnel to Participate in 
Afghanistan War Effort.” To top it off, Rauf declares: “I am a 
supporter of the State of Israel” (New York Times, 22 August). 

Many “progressives” argue that Muslims have a right to 
build a mosque, the issue is where. Chris Mathews on MS¬ 
NBC’s Hardball argued with an opponent of the mosque that 
the issue is “location, location, location.” The whole brouhaha 
over the location of the cultural center is phony. In fact, Imam 
Rauf has led a mosque located only 12 blocks from the WTC 
site in Tribeca for the last 27years. There is another mosque 
only two blocks away from the Park51 center. On the other 
hand, there have been right-wing protests against a mosque in 
Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn and plans to turn a Roman Catholic 
convent into an Islamic community center on Staten Island. In 
the latter case, a meeting of a civic association this past June 
erupted into an orgy of bigotry. Anti-mosque rallies there have 
taken on the quality of lynch mobs, with the few defenders 
of the mosque who showed up in physical danger. And all 
the talk of the “Ground Zero” area as “hallowed ground” is 
hogwash, the area is full of strip joints and betting parlors: a 
block away are the “gentlemen’s clubs” New York Dolls and 
Pussycat Lounge, an OTB location is only a few doors down 
from 51 Park Place. (Just to be clear, we have no objection to 
those business establishments being there either.) 

Politically, we are no friends of Imam Rauf, who is a 
supporter of U.S. imperialist and Zionist war and occupation 
which communists seek to defeat. As Marxists and atheists, we 
are ideologically opposed to all religions - whether “moder¬ 
ate” or “extremist” Islam, evangelical, mainstream Protestant 
or Catholic Christianity, the different varieties of Judaism, 
Buddhism, Hinduism - which throughout history have served 
to justify the rule of exploiting ruling classes and blind the 
exploited population to a real solution to their misery. As 
Marx noted, at the same time that it serves as the “opium of 
the masses,” religion can be an illusory refuge for those seek- 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


ing salvation from distress. To finally overcome religion, it is 
necessary to abolish the oppressive conditions that produce it, 
through international socialist revolution, and lay the basis for 
the masses to achieve a scientific understanding of the world. 
From Afghanistan and Iraq to Egypt and Algeria, we oppose 
Islamism as a political movement while fighting to mobilize 
the working class and the oppressed to defeat the imperialist 
occupiers and “secular” dictatorships. Back when the U.S. 
(and much of the Western left) was backing the likes of Osama 
bin Laden in Afghanistan, Trotskyists hailed the Red Army 
intervention against the Islamists. 

Various leftist groups have taken up the cause of the 
Park51 Islamic cultural center. For the most part, however, they 
have done so not on a class basis but by joining in political 
coalitions with various liberal and supposedly “progressive” 
bourgeois forces, and even appealing to outright reactionar¬ 
ies. The International Socialist Organization (ISO), which in 
the 1980s praised the Iranian Islamic “revolution” and hailed 
the victory of the CIA’s anti-Soviet Afghan cutthroats, is now 
campaigning against Islamophobia. Recently the ISO has 
helped initiate an NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia which 
issued an appeal, stating in part: 

“We call upon the leaders of hate groups such as Stop Is- 
lamization of America (SIOA) and their supporters to end 
their campaign of venomous falsehoods, intimidation, and 
hate speech against the Park51 project and its supporters, as 
well as against the Muslim community more generally.... In 
particular, we call upon SIOA to stop politicizing the grief 
that all New Yorkers will feel this September 11th.... 
“Finally, we call upon both local and national politicians, as 
well as media outlets, to stop using the so-called ‘Mosque 
Controversy’ for partisan political ends, and to take a strong 
and unequivocal stance against Islamophobia.” 

There is certainly a good deal of hatred of Islam as a religion 
among the opponents of a “Ground Zero mosque.” Televange¬ 
list Franklin Graham has for years vituperated against Islam as 
“a very evil and wicked religion,” a “religion of violence,” and 
fundamentalist Christian evangelicals make up a sizeable part 
of right-wing forces in the U.S. But the current hysteria goes 
beyond religion. As Daisy Khan remarked on ABC’s This Week 
(22 August), “This is like a metastasized anti-Semitism.... It’s 
not even Islamophobia, it’s beyond Islamophobia - it’s hate 
of Muslims.” And this organized anti-Muslim bigotry will 
not be stopped by appealing to the conscience of the bigots or 
municipal unity (“all New Yorkers”). The idea that the SIOA 
and right-wingers will stop bashing Muslims is an illusion. 

This coming September 11, another orgy of chauvinist 
hatred is in the works. A Florida pastor says he will burn 
the Koran. In New York there will be a larger anti-mosque 
mobilization at the Islamic community center site. Dutch 
ultra-rightist politician Geert Wilders has announced he will 
speak there. On the other hand, while many liberals inveigh 
against bigotry, most are loath to publicly protest the bigots. A 
left-wing version of this is the Spartacist League (SL), which 
published a front-page article on the chauvinist anti-mosque 
mania. The article notes that on August 22 anti-mosque protest¬ 
ers outnumbered counterprotesters, but doesn’t mention that 

the SL only bothered to send a couple of newspaper salesmen. 
The Internationalist Group came out on August 22, as seen in a 
Newsweek video where our spokesman recalled the attacks on 
Jews in Nazi Germany and denounced the racists for seeking 
to stigmatize Muslims. We will be there again this September 
11 with our signs calling for workers defense guards against 
racist anti-immigrant attacks. For the IG, this is not an abstract 
issue. Starting the day after 11 September 2001, when there 
was a danger of anti-Arab attacks, we patrolled at night for an 
extended period in Arab neighborhoods of Brooklyn. When 
the City University of New York tried to carry out an “anti¬ 
immigrant war purge” of undocumented students by doubling 
their tuition, we led a struggle that resulted in substantially 
rolling back this chauvinist measure. 

The current anti-Muslim frenzy in the United States is 
whipped up by bourgeois rightists. Nobody was bothered by 
the Islamic center until the New York Post and Zionist bloggers 
seized the issue. It is of a piece with anti-Muslim mobilizations 
by the Lega Nord and other government parties in Berlusconi’s 
Italy, or the current hysteria against Romanis (Roma) in France. 
The media have fed the hysteria by exaggerating its popular sup¬ 
port. While noting that polls in New York City show a majority 
against building the mosque, they do not highlight that this is 
of registered voters , which excludes a huge percentage of the 
population in a city which is 40 percent foreign born, nor that a 
majority of those in Manhattan, where the cultural center is to 
be built, support it. At bottom, the witchhunt against Muslims 
is an integral part of the anti-immigrant campaign fostered not 
only by Republican conservatives but also by the liberal Demo¬ 
crats. While media attention and protests by immigrants’ rights 
groups focus on the Arizona law, the Obama administration has 
sent more than 1,200 troops to patrol the U.S.-Mexican border, 
500 of them in Arizona. And while among the racists there are 
fascistic forces involved in the anti-mosque mobilizations, the 
far greater threat to immigrants and Muslims is the U. S. imperi¬ 
alist government, currently controlled by the Democratic Party. 

Thus the fight against the Muslim-bashing hysteria over the 
New York mosque must be part of a struggle to build a revolution¬ 
ary workers party that champions the cause of all the oppressed. 
Communists vigorously defend bourgeois democratic rights 
including freedom of assembly and the separation of church and 
state (which were united under feudalism and in theocratic Islamic 
regimes). While expropriating the holdings and breaking the 
secular power of the church and its control of education, as well 
as combating religious prejudices among the masses and the use of 
religion as a cover for counterrevolution, the Russian Bolsheviks 
under Lenin and Trotsky upheld the freedom of religious belief 
and worship. As Leninists and Trotskyists, the Internationalist 
Group defends the building of an Islamic cultural center and place 
of worship (mosque) near the World Trade Center and anywhere 
else, and comes to the defense of immigrants and religious mi¬ 
norities under attack. Rather than looldng to the Democrats and 
bourgeois liberals, who are supporters of the imperialist rulers, we 
defend democratic rights through mobilizing workers, oppressed 
minorities and immigrants against the entire ruling class and its 
racist capitalist system. ■ 

Full Citizenship Rights for All Immigrants! 

The Dream Act Swindle 

OCTOBER 2010 - Recently there has been a campaign on 
campuses and in immigrant communities to push for passage 
of the DREAM Act. This legislation, which has been around 
for a number of years, would make some undocumented im¬ 
migrant youth eligible to apply for citizenship after complet¬ 
ing two years in college ... or two years in the military. The 
latest device to get it past anti-immigrant forces in Congress 
was to attach it to the military appropriations bill. But in late 
September, it failed in the Senate (despite a majority vote in 
favor) because the Democrats said they couldn’t overcome 
a Republican filibuster against it. El Diario-La Prensa (23 
September) headlined a report on a rally at New York’s City 
Hall, “Students Feel Used.” 

Immigrant students are indeed being used, not only by 
rightist opponents but also by promoters of the DREAM 
Act. This supposedly pro-immigrant bill is supported by 
the Pentagon as a way to make up for the fact that fewer 
young people are signing up to kill and be killed in the 
U.S. war and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq. As we 
wrote in “CUNY and the Imperialist War” {Revolution No. 
4, September 2007), 

“With the help of the ICE (Immigration and Customs En¬ 
forcement branch of Homeland Security) Gestapo, and the 
new drive for segregation in education, the imperialists are 
scheming ways to beef up their dwindling recruiting totals. 
One example of this is the DREAM (Development, Relief 
and Education for Alien Minors) Act. Many reformers hope 
this proposal will help undocumented immigrant students 
to continue with their higher education once they are out of 
high school, but the Pentagon has its own reasons to look 
forward to this ‘immigration reform’: a ‘hidden provision in 
the DREAM Act... would tie permanent legal residency to 
military service.’ Offering oppressed immigrants the ‘choice’ 
of racist persecution or ‘earning’ citizenship by serving as 
cannon fodder for the class enemy is a tried-and-true recruit¬ 
ing method for the U.S. war machine.” 

Recently, the Class Struggle Education Workers newsletter 
(October-December 2010) published a note on “DREAMS 
of Citizenship, Nightmare of War,” saying that this deceptive 
bill in reality “is a Trojan Horse for the Pentagon to target 
the already vulnerable Latino population, together with ad 
campaigns like ‘Yo Soy el Army’.” 

In case anyone had any doubts about this, USA Today (24 
September) spelled it out, noting that in “the less publicized 
part” of the DREAM Act, “the Pentagon is pushing for it as a 
means to staff the armed forces” in the face of a looming “cri¬ 
sis in military manpower.” The article quotes Jorge Mariscal, 
director of Latino studies at the University of California-San 

Diego, who stressed that many families of undocumented 
students are too poor to pay for college education: “Our con¬ 
cern is that people are just going to get trapped for economic 
reasons into the military.” 

Several statements by Latino immigrant youths are 
being circulated saying they no longer back the DREAM 
Act, for a number of reasons. A September 17 letter by 
Raul Al-qaraz Ochoa, “My Painful Withdrawal of Support 
for the DREAM Act,” noted how the Democrats are using 
it “as a political stunt to appeal to Latino voters for the 
November elections.” Raul’s letter was greeted by many. 
One Latina wrote: “thanks a million for voicing... these 
feelings and reflections out. 1 think many of us have felt 
afraid and impotent to hold this conversation.” Latino youth 

r No Alliance with Democratic Pols! ^ 

Last March 4, the CUNY Internationalist Clubs 
participated in protests in New York as part of a na¬ 
tional day of action in defense of public education 
(see reports in Revolution No. 7, April 2010). We 
warned, however, that the coalition calling for the 
March 4 rally was a “platform for class-collaboration,” 
the purpose of which, farfrom organizing a powerful 
worker-student struggle, was to unite students and 
workers with supposed allies in the capitalist Demo¬ 
cratic party. This is the war party that from Albany 
to the White House is leading the charge to destroy 
public education in the service of Wall Street! Sure 
enough, the star speaker at the March 4 citywide rally 
was Democratic city councilman Charles Barron, 
who called on the protesters to “support” Democratic 
governor and budget-cutter-in-chief David Paterson! 

Now Barron is officially part of the October 7 pro¬ 
test coalition. While currently running for governor on 
the ballot line of the recently formed Freedom Party, 
he remains emphatically a Democratic member of the 
New York City Council. The inclusion of Democrats 
by the protest organizers (many of whom claim to be 
socialists) is a promise that the “movement” they are 
building won’t go beyond the limits of what’s accept¬ 
able to the capitalist class. Such a coalition can only 
be an obstacle to any serious attempt to mobilize the 
kind of class power needed to stop the attacks on 
public education. Any real fight against tuition hikes, 
budget cuts, union-busting and imperialist war is 
centrally a fight against the Democratic Party with 
whom the phony socialists want to ally. 


January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


in the Vamos Unidos group in the Bronx wrote that they 
now oppose the DREAM Act as a “de facto, military draft” 
targeting undocumented immigrants. 

The October 7 NY C demonstration “in defense of public 
education” originally called for passage of the DREAM Act. 
In the face of mounting opposition to it, that demand mysteri¬ 
ously disappeared from some e-mail messages for the demo. 
However, it is still on the official flyers and call. The organiz¬ 
ers knew long ago what the DREAM Act was about, but they 
went along with it because as always they tail after Democratic 

liberals, just as they did in organizing a “socialist contingent” 
for the pro-Democratic Party get-out-the-vote mobilization in 
Washington on October 2. 

The Internationalist Clubs oppose the draft (military 
conscription) for the imperialist army, and have taken the 
lead in defending undocumented immigrant students, as 
we did in the fall of 2001 in initiating the several-hundred- 
strong mobilization against CUNY’s “war purge” of im¬ 
migrant students. We demand: full citizenship rights for 
all immigrants! 

Abolish the Board of Trustees! 

For Student-Teacher-Worker Control of CUNY! 

Part of the revolutionary program of the CUNY Inter¬ 
nationalist Clubs that sets us apart from those who just want 
to reform the system is our attitude toward the university 
administration. As we exposed in “Look Who’s Trusteeing 
at CUNY” (Revolution No. 5, September 2008), the CUNY 
Board of Trustees (BoT), like similar “public” governing 
boards nationwide, is a den of union-busters, McCarthyite 
witch-hunters, police-state enthusiasts and other ideological 
opponents of public education. 

It is this BoT that has been campaigning longest and 
loudest to raise tuition at CUNY and eliminate remedial Eng¬ 
lish and math programs, effectively driving out many poor, 
working-class, minority and immigrant students. Recently, 
CUNY Trustee and former FBI counter-intelligence agent 
Jeffrey Wiesenfeld signed onto the hate campaign against the 
so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.” We internationalists dem¬ 
onstrated in defense of the proposed Islamic center against the 
Muslim-bashing bigots. 

The CUNY Internationalist Clubs call for the BoT and its 
campus administrations to be abolished, and for CUNY to be 
run by democratic bodies of students, teachers and workers! 
Moreover, the private universities, those bastions of class and 
race privilege, should be expropriated and annexed to a free 
and universal public university system. 

We noted: “[The BoT’s] composition corresponds to its 
function: to run CUNY in the interests, not of the people who 
work and study here, but of the parasitic elite of money-men, 
speculators, real-estate moguls and ruling-class politicians.” 
The reformist organizers of the October 7 rally carefully avoid 
the issue of who controls education, no doubt figuring it would 
cause problems with their desired Democratic Party “allies.” 

In fact, one of the first things the International Socialist 
Organization (ISO) did in response to the current round of 
cuts and tuition hikes was to author a petition to Hunter Col¬ 
lege President Jennifer Raab, who was a political flack for 
Republican former mayor Rudolph Giuliani, calling on her to 
“come out against tuition hikes and support student activities 
in opposition to tuition hikes.” Like calling for a boss to sup¬ 
port a union organizing drive. 

Recently one prominent campus leftist, Frances Villar, a 
former NYC mayoral candidate for the Party for Socialism and 

Liberation (PSL) and spokesman for its ANSWER Coalition, 
went a step further. Villar, a student bureaucrat at Lehman 
College who is on the University Student Senate (the tame 
“student government” owned by the CUNY administration) 
ran for the token student seat on the BoT. (Only USS delegates 
can vote in this election.) 

No mention of socialism, though. Her election platform 
was full of calls for things like “university pride & parties,” 
including a CUNY-wide senior ball and “CUNY-wide mas¬ 
querade ball.” More importantly, her program was pro-admin¬ 
istration, pro-U.S. military, and pro-police. She promised to 
“work with” the anti-student, anti-union CUNY administration 
and to “help advocate and get the DREAM Act” being pushed 
by the Pentagon as a way to fill a “manpower gap” with im¬ 
migrant youth (see above). 

But that’s not all: Villar’s manifesto stated she would “Support 
our CUNY Public Safety Ofticer[s] in their struggles, because they 
are one of us!!” Really??!! We’ve seen the CUNY cops “strug¬ 
gling” - like when they savagely beat Hostos Community College 
student leader Miguel Malo for the “crime” of holding up a sign 
during a campus protest against cuts to ESL classes in 2001. Or 
when they attacked parents with pepper spray at a graduation 
ceremony at Medgar Evers College in 2003. 

No, the campus cops are not “one of us” - they’re one of 
them, the oppressors. CUNY “Public Safety” officers are armed 
with a staggering weapons stockpile with “100,000 rounds of 
ammunition, including at least 4,000 rounds of nine-millimeter 
hollow point bullets” which even the NYPD are not supposed 
to have ( Village Voice, 5 May 1999). Anyone who’s been to a 
campus protest should know which side the cops are on: they 
are the armed fist of the capitalist government and its school ad¬ 
ministrations whose job is to repress us if we fight for our rights. 

PSL/ANSWER has its own experience with the police at 
student-faculty demonstrations: this group called the cops on 
a protest by CUNY Contingents Unite and students against 
tuition hikes, budget cuts and layoffs outside a BoT meeting at 
Baruch college in December 2008 (see “What Program to Fight 
the Crisis” in Revolution No. 6, April 2009). 

The Internationalist Clubs demand: All cops off campus! 
Abolish the Board of Trustees! For Student-Teacher-Worker 
Control of CUNY! 


The Internationalist 

January-February 2011 

Teacher Tenure... 

continued from page 80 

fighting union leadership would point out how the new pro¬ 
cedures can be used to victimize teachers. Instead the UFT’s 
leader washes his hands of a crucial decision determining a 
teacher’s future. 

On one issue after another, the UFT bureaucrats bow to the 
initial step in the offensive on teachers’ rights, then complain 
they were “betrayed” when the assault keeps on coming. They 
accepted linking teacher ratings to student test scores, on an 
“experimental” and “confidential” basis of course, then scream 
when the DOE wants to publish the teachers’ individual scores 
in the press and use them for tenure decisions. Administrators 
will go after teachers by pushing them down the “effectiveness 
scale” increments until they are pushed out the door. 

The UFT must stand up to defend teacher tenure instead 
of how it didn’t defend seniority transfers. Already chancellor- 
designate Black is saying that she wants to lay off experienced 
teachers so she can get “younger, newer, fresher ideas” (Daily 
News, 6 December). The handwriting is on the wall. ■ 

Haiti Elections... 

continued from page 88 

From Earthquake to Cholera 

Despite all the hoopla about providing shelter, more than 
1.3 million Haitians are still living in tents and (mostly) under 
tarps in 1,376 camps strewn about the ruins of Port-au-Prince. 
Very little of the rubble has been removed. After the quake 
Haiti was inundated with missionaries and “non-governmental 
organizations” (NGOs) financed by various governments, in¬ 
ternational agencies, capitalist foundations and humanitarian 
telethons. In a much publicized “donors’ summit” at the United 
Nations at the end of March, presided over by Hillary and 
Bill Clinton, almost US$10 billion in reconstruction aid was 
pledged, half of that in the first two years. However, not even 
30% was ever concretized in firm commitments, and altogether 
less than a tenth of the amount promised has arrived in Haiti. 

The U.N.-appointed Haiti Interim Reconstruction Com¬ 
mission (H1RC) headed by Bill Clinton approved $1.6 billion 
in projects last August, but these are still mostly on paper. 
Another meeting of the H1RC was scheduled to be held in 
Port-au-Prince in mid-December, but Clinton decided to move 
it to the Dominican Republic because of fear of cholera: result, 
no Haitians attended. But one form of “humanitarian aid” is 
functioning: the city of Petion-Ville, home to a camp managed 
by Hollywood film star Sean Penn, has set up a “clearance 
plan” offering inhabitants of the camp at Place Saint-Pierre 
15,000 gourdes (about US$400) to get out. “The amount is not 
enough to relocate, but those who refuse are being forced to 
leave anyway” (Ouest France, 21 December). 

During the June-September hurricane season, the camps 
were regularly inundated. Health officials repeatedly warned 
of the danger of an epidemic due to lack of sanitation and 
contaminated water supplies. Then in October, a cholera 

epidemic broke out in the central Haitian region of Artibo- 
nite. Once again much emergency aid was promised by the 
“international community,” but very little delivered. At last 
count (26 December 2010), the U.N. Health Cluster says that 
almost 150,000 cholera cases have been reported, more than 
80,000 have been hospitalized and more than 3,300 have died. 

Cholera was an unknown disease in Haiti, which had not ex¬ 
perienced a case in over a century. The panic-stricken population 
and medical professionals alike wondered where it came from. 
Soon the finger was pointed at a MINUSTAH base. U.N. of¬ 
ficials issued denials and refused an investigation. Still, Haitians 
demonstrated with signs proclaiming “MINUSTAH = Kolera,” 
blaming the occupation troops for bringing in the disease. The 
U.N. troops shot down demonstrators, claiming “self-defense.” 
Imperialist media cautioned against ignorant suspicion. 

But a month and a half later a suppressed report by an 
epidemiologist dispatched by the French government, Renaud 
Piarroux, revealed by Le Monde (5 December 2010), placed the 
origins of the outbreak at the MINUSTAH base. No longer able 
to deny it, on December 9 the Centers for Disease Control in 
Atlanta, a U.S. government agency, which until then had said 
tracking down the source was “not a good use of resources,” 
finally admitted that the strain of cholera in Haiti, a particularly 
virulent form, was virtually identical to one that hit Katmandu, 
Nepal last summer, shortly before the Nepalese troops departed 
to join the MINUSTAH base in Artibonite. 

The MINUSTAH occupation troops should be driven out 
of Haiti, not only because they are responsible for the cholera 
epidemic which has killed more than 3,000 Haitians in two 
and a half months, but also because the “mission” of these 
“peacekeepers” from the outset has been to “stabilize” Haiti 
by brutally repressing the population in the interests of U.S. 
imperialism. The Brazilian-led force was brought into Haiti to 
replace the U.S./French/Canadian forces who had invaded in 
March 2004 in order to oust populist president Jean-Bertrand 
Aristide, who was bundled off to Central Africa. Although in¬ 
stalled as president by Democrat Bill Clinton a decade earlier, 
Aristide was persona non grata to the Republican conservatives 
around President George W. Bush. 

While some on the left scandalously supported the U.S. 
military invasion of Haiti following the earthquake, buying the 
Pentagon lies that its aircraft carriers and paratroops were sup¬ 
plying humanitarian aid, 1 and various reformists called on the 
U.S. imperialism to supply “aid not troops,” the Internationalist 
Group and League for the Fourth International have called 
throughout for U.S. and U.N. troops and police to get out of 
Haiti. Our comrades of the Liga Quarta-lnternacionalista do 
Brasil have campaigned for this, winning the support of Rio 
de Janeiro state and national teachers unions for resolutions 
calling for the expulsion of the Brazilian military from Haiti - 
and from th efavelas (slums) of Rio, where troops and officers 
use counterinsurgency techniques perfected in occupying the 
shantytowns of Haiti. 

1 See “Spartacist League Backs U.S. Imperialist Invasion of Haiti” 
and “SL Twists and Turns on Haiti” in The Internationalist No. 31, 
Summer 2010. 

January-February 2011 

The internationalist 


Sham Elections Ordered by Washington 

Barely ten days after mass demonstrations in a number of 
Haitian cities demanding that U.N. troops get out, “elections” 
were held on November 28 in which the country’s main party, 
Fanmi Lavalas, was excluded and less than a quarter of the vot¬ 
ers cast ballots. It was absurd from the outset to hold elections 
in such conditions, but the vote was ordered from Washington 
in order to provide a veneer of “democratic” legitimation to 
the U.S./U.N. occupation under the MINUSTAH mercenaries 
and imperialist donors’ protectorate under Bill Clinton’s H1RC. 

Various personalities joined the contest, including the 
Haitian American hip hop star Wyclef Jean who was barred on 
the grounds that he hasn’t lived in Haiti for years. Washington 
likely favored Mirlande Manigat, the wife of Leslie Manigat 
who was briefly president under a military junta in 1988. The 
candidate sponsored by the Inite (Unity) party of the current, 
widely despised president Rene Preval was a non-entity, Jude 
Celestin, the head of the government road construction unit. 

Another entertainer, Michel (“Sweet Mickey”) Martel- 
ley, was a leading contender. The imperialist media focused 
on Martelly’s tendency to drop his pants on stage during 
performances. They neglected to mention that he was a close 
associate of the head of Haiti’s death squads, Lt. Colonel 
Michel Francois; was a prominent supporter of the 2004 coup 
against Aristide; was a close associate of U.S. military officials 
and intelligence operatives; was a defender of the “Tontons 
Macoutes” thugs who terrorized the poor under the Duvalier 
dictatorship; and during the years of military dictatorship ran 
a nightclub frequented by the miltiary elite. 

Unrest broke out during the voting itself as thousands 
of voters were prevented from voting because their names 
were not on the official lists (although many who died in the 
earthquake were listed). The protests got serious when Preval’s 
hand-picked Provisional Electoral Council announced that the 
official candidate Celestin had nudged out Martelly for second 
place, so that he would run against Manigat in the runoff elec¬ 
tion. Crowds of Martelly supporters took to the streets, burning 
tires and calling to “hang Preval.” But the anger over the phony 
elections (which many called a “selection”), the non-existent 
reconstruction, the U.N. occupation and everything else was 
so great that the protests turned into a more general revolt. 

Now the Organization of American States (OAS), that 
imperialist agency which Che Guevara rightly called a “Yankee 
ministry of colonies,” has taken control of the election process, 
displacing Preval and his electoral council. The second round has 
been put off until February, to permit a recount of the fraudulent 
November 28 vote, thus prolonging the political impasse. With 
everyone from right-wing Macoutes like Martelly to left-wing 
organizations like Batay Ouvriye protesting the election mess, 
there has been a good deal of political maneuvering. 

Today, while opposing the bourgeois populist wing of the 
Haitian bourgoisie around Preval, as well as the business elite and 
death squad supporters around Manigat and Martelly, B.O. talks 
of the need to organize a second “camp” on the program of “au¬ 
tonomy,” with “the goal of a regime in the interests of the popular 
masses, of the working masses, of the working class” (Declaration 

No. 2, “On the Electoral Process,” 2 December 2010). But the 
struggle is one of classes, not of “camps,” and what’s needed is a 
struggle for workers power, supported by the vast masses of rural 
and urban poor, for a workers and peasants government. And to 
lead this struggle what’s needed is a revolutionary vanguard party 
of the working class, built on not on some nebulous concept of 
“autonomy” but on the program of permanent revolution, that 
proceeds from democratic to socialist tasks. 

Beset by earthquakes and cholera, with more than a mil¬ 
lion people living on the street, blocked from rebuilding by a 
government of kleptocrats, exploited by avaricious capitalists 
who profit from the misery of the workers, groaning under an 
imperialist occupation by U.N. mercenary troops, and facing 
the guns of a “national” police force made up of former death 
squad members, the weakness of the tiny Haitian working 
class in the face of the enormous forces arrayed against it 
is obvious. But that only means that it must look to its class 
allies, fellow workers on the other side of the border in the 
Dominican Republic and in North America, where hundreds 
of thousands of Haitian emigres reside. 

The Internationalist Group, which has been active in de¬ 
fending Haitian immigrants in the Dominican Republic and the 
U.S., urges that even relatively modest forces can make a start in 
building sorely needed working-class solidarity by mobilizing 
against the threatened deportation of Haitian refugees to their 
ruined homeland - an act of such spectacular cruelty that it could 
be blocked, even in the present atmosphere of racist hysteria over 
“illegal immigration,” by a determined opposition that brings 
out the Haitian immigrant population while appealing the most 
conscious sectors of the U.S. labor movement. ■ 

League for the Fourth International 

LFI, Box 3321, Church Street Station, New York, NY 
10008, U.S.A. E-mail: 

Internationalist Group/U.S. 

Internationalist Group, Box 3321, Church Street 
Station, New York, NY 10008, U.S.A. 

Tel. (212) 460-0983 Fax: (212) 614-8711 

Liga Quarta-lnternacionalista do Brasil 

Brazil: write to Caixa Postal 084027, CEP 27251- 
740, Volta Redonda, RJ, Brazil 

Rio de Janeiro: write to Caixa Postal 3982, CEP 
20001-974, Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil 


Germany: write to Postfach 74 06 41,22096 Hamburg, 

Grupo Internacionalista/Mexico 

Mexico: write to Apdo. Postal 70-379, Admon. de 
Correos No. 70, CP 04511, Mexico, D.F., Mexico 

January-February 2011 


A Year After the Earthquake, Over a Million Still Homeless 

Haiti: Occupation Elections 
in Times of Cholera 

On November 18, anniversary of the last battle for Haiti’s independence, thousands demonstrated in Port- 
au-Prince demanding that the MINUSTAH occupation forces leave. 

Drive Out U.N. Troops, Police - Bill Clinton Keep Out! 

Almost a year after the monster earthquake that killed 
upwards of 300,000 people and flattened Haiti’s capital last 
January (2010), the hard-hit Caribbean nation is in truly dire 
straits. Already one of the most impoverished countries in the 
world in “normal” times, it has had to deal not only with the 
vast destruction - almost none of which has been rebuilt - but 
also with a deadly epidemic of cholera, a crudely rigged elec¬ 
tion that is still dragging on, a corrupt and barely functioning 
government, and a mercenary occupation force that has brutally 
repressed the Haitian population for the last six years. And 
now, adding insult to injury, two days before the January 12 
anniversary of the quake, the United States government plans 
to start deporting Haitians back to the devastated island! 

Haiti, the first black republic in the world, resulting from 
the only successful slave revolution in history, is oppressed 
by capitalism and imperialism like nowhere else on the planet 
today. Blockaded by the former colonial masters for most of the 
19th century, repeatedly invaded and occupied by the U.S. in 

the 20th and 21st, it has been saddled for decades with rulers 
selected by the imperial overlords. The latest is Bill Clinton, 
the former U.S. president who is now Haiti’s neocolonial 
gouverneur, controlling the billions in promised reconstruction 
aid - little of which has materialized. And while the U.S. troops 
who seized control of Haiti last January using the pretext of 
providing humanitarian aid are now gone, the United Nations 
Mission for the Stabilization of Haiti (MINUSTAH) remains. 

Haiti today is in desperate need of a new revolution led 
by its workers and backed by the huge numbers of urban and 
rural poor. And Haitians are fighting back. In November tens 
of thousands went into the streets denouncing the MINUSTAH 
for bringing cholera to Haiti and demanding that the occupa¬ 
tion troops and cops leave. In December, thousands protested 
the sham election. But ultimately, the key to any revolution 
is in the United States, seat of the empire as well as home to 
hundreds of thousands of Haitian immigrants and refugees. 
continued on page 86 

Haiti Liberte