June 30, 2010

City of Springfield Workers Reach A Tentative Agreement

City of Springfield workers who are represented by SEIU Local 503 have won a big advance in union bargaining. Their contract was opened last year and after very difficult bargaining, the union bargaining team signed a one year contract and returned to the table this year with the goal of winning a cost of living adjustment. They did that and more. This is the first time they have settled their contract without needing to go to mediation. Highlights of the 3 year tentative agreement include:

Wages
Year 1: Implementation of Class and Comp Study
Year 2: 1-1/2% COLA
Year 3: 1-1/2% to 3% COLA based on CPI
1 additional floating holiday in first year
Health Insurance: status quo on premium share with increases in employer contribution to employee HSA accounts
Language improvements on filling of vacancies; work out of class; creation of joint Labor-Management Committee

June 29, 2010

A Tragic Vote

Thursday, June 24 will be remembered as an especially shameful day in US history. After a Senate roll call vote, 1.3 million unemployed US citizens were to lose their unemployment benefits the next day. Counting those already scheduled to exhaust their benefits, over two million will be denied benefits by July 10. Thursday evening, Senators left their posts to enjoy a pleasant evening with friends or families – some with the smug satisfaction that they had voted right, still others clinging to some “higher” principle that they were holding the deficit in rein. There was none of the histrionics associated with the brutal attack on September 11, 2001, though undoubtedly many more lives will be affected negatively by this cruel vote. Families will have to make dramatic decisions over the next few weeks: let the car go and pay the mortgage; drop the COBRA health care program, accept foreclosure on the house; cancel college for the kids; sell personal effects on e-bay; etc. etc.

Does any one care?

Read more here.

Socialism and Sustainability: People and Nature Before Profits

Socialism has its material roots in the inability of capitalism to solve humanity's problems. Working people gravitate toward a radical critique of society out of necessity, out of a sense that the existing arrangements of society fail to fulfill their material and spiritual needs.

Thus, the gravitation towards socialism expressed in public opinion polls is closely connected to the end of an era in which U.S. capitalism was relatively stable and provided reasonable economic security.

Economic crises alone, however, do not prepare the soil for revolutionary change, though they're important. The soil is prepared via the cumulative impact of a series of crises (economic, political, social, cultural, and moral) taking place over time that together erode people's confidence in capitalism's capacity to meet humanity's needs and sustain life on our planet.

Read more here.

Crisis in the Gulf of Mexico - How shall we respond?

From Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism:

The Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico can only be characterized as horrendous. But what can be done about it?

Read more here.

June 28, 2010

Toronto's G-20 Weekend

If you ask me, the the recent Toronto G-20/G-8 is a harbinger of things to come. Over the weekend there were around 600 arrests of demonstrators. More striking, Canada spent almost $1 billion on Summit security alone. And all of this is happening in Canada, a civilized country!

The Toronto G-20/G-8 demonstrations were not a focused one-issue protest. Anti-poverty and anti-globalization groups were out in numbers. So were Canadian labor unions and the Canadian left. And of course, there were the anarchist kids. Toronto's protesters seemed an accurate cross-section of all the people who are being flushed down capitalism's toilet. And all were met with cyclone fences, police cordons and tear gas.

"Black-Clad Anarchists"

As a political force, I don't think too much of these masked anarchist kids. They don't have an analysis, a program or a plan. The anarchists don't particularly care what the rest of the people think and they aren't particularly interested in communicating with anybody.

All the same, there is one thing these kids know very well. Capitalism offers them nothing. Options are narrowing and these kids have figured it out, that they are being faced with radically decreasing educational opportunities and a lifetime of unemployment and crap jobs in the context of a failed capitalism and ecological collapse.

No wonder these anarchist kids are into property destruction and revenge! Personally, I'm glad they made a mess out of Toronto's weekend affair. Any nation willing to spend $1 billion to keep their own people shut-up and out of sight deserves to have their party trashed and leaders embarrassed.

The G-20 Summit Itself

Coming out of this weekend, the post modern "first world" had one reflexive mantra. The word is "austerity". Europe especially has announced that it is ready to declare war on its own working class. Drastic budget cuts will lead to drastic cuts in social entitlements, collective bargaining agreements dissolved, workers soon to be presented everywhere with seriously reduced wages and benefits; a whole lot more work for a whole lot of less of everything else.

The cabal of heads of state, finance ministers and the bankers they represent have a plan. The final G-20 communique means this; the capitalist world is ready to gut 80% of their populations in order to shift even more wealth to the top 1% of the population and the institutions they own and control (banks and corporations). This is necessary to do in order to save our economies, or so we are told. The reality is that this is necessary to save capitalism, but we don't need to be told that; those little details of policy are best left to the experts.

What austerity really means is seriously decreased standards of living and a capitalism that survives by eating its own populations. Even many capitalist oriented economists will tell you that such a recipe as the above can lead to nothing but stagnation. Wealth isn't being created, instead capitalism is shifting and eating up all the social wealth it can... To keep itself fed. This is what Marx meant with the phrase about capitalism being its own grave-digger.

Things to Come?

There is no quick fix and there will be no recovery, at least for 80% of our populations. The proof is in the pudding; every recession since 1980 has lead to the downgrading of living standards for working people (those who live paycheck to paycheck) with little or no resulting recovery. So, here we are in the second Great Depression and the only thing being offered to the people who actually do society's work, making goods and providing the services, are decades of impoverishment and chronic economic insecurity.

To date, a number of European nations have passed harsh austerity plans. Here in the USA we have the red-herring "deficit" panic creators. However, to date the plans passed and intents agreed upon have largely not yet been implemented.

So what will happen as the capitalist agenda is implemented? It's one thing to hear and anticipate what capitalism will do to you. However, there's a whole different mindset when these kinds of agendas are actually implemented and folks feel these effects in their day to day lives. The difference here is between anticipated hardship, fear and a sense of hopelessness on one hand, and the raw anger that results when the harm is actually done on the other.

Harbinger of the Future?

Economically, things are much worse than they seem. As the capitalist agenda is being implemented and as people feel the pain, resistance will rise. G-20 type demonstrations will get bigger and will turn uglier as things get worse... And things will get worse. Increasingly, such demonstrations of working class wrath will not be reserved only for G-20 Summits. I'm going to take a leap here and suggest that what's coming are Toronto kinds of events happening over and over at the national level where the capitalist agenda will be implemented piece by piece, blow by blow.

Resistance however does not guarantee a desirable outcome. Real improvements in the well-being of our societies' will not occur unless the capitalist agenda is known for what it is and is firmly rejected for what it is.

June 27, 2010

Current Issues of the Communist Movement (KKE)

Via Marxism-Leninism Today, here is a collection of articles and contributions by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) detailing its analysis of the state of the international communist movement. This collection is very relevant to the state of the CPUSA as well.

June 24, 2010

Aghjayan: Embracing the Global Reparations Movement

From The Armenian Weekly and part of our on-going work on issues relating to the Armenian genocide and our thinking on national self-determination:

The nature of the pursuit for justice for the genocide committed against the Armenian people has changed at an ever-increasing pace. As we look back over the years since the horrific crime was committed, there have been many successes and some failures, but the altered environment is unmistakable. As we approach the 100th anniversary in 5 years, we must be prepared for further acceleration and remain vigilant in defending our rights.

Unfortunately, a number of slogans, often repeated by our adversaries, have become accepted as truths even within the Armenian community. These misconceptions often sound reasonable on the surface but actually are nonsense and, worse, convey a dangerous cynicism.

For instance, particularly offensive is the notion that use of the term genocide is a barrier to dialogue between victim and perpetrator. In the halls of the United States capitol and repeated mechanically in the media, this justification has been used to scuttle legislative recognition of the Armenian Genocide. The offensiveness of this becomes even more apparent when one realizes that the current “dialogue” between Turkey and Armenia has been manufactured with the sole purpose of delaying the inevitable just resolution.

Logic demands recognition as a prerequisite to the process of healing. The demise of the misnamed Turkish Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) and the recent protocols between the governments of Armenia and Turkey, as well as other such initiatives over the past decade, are proof of that. Sincere dialogue can only begin with proper acknowledgment of the crime.

Read more here.

Nigeria and Oil Spills: Fifty Years of Solitude

Translated Monday 21 June 2010, from l'Humanite by Isabelle Metral

For decades on end this African country has been confronted with oil slick after oil slick without anything being done to put an end to them, or even to clean up the mess.

Oil spills do not provoke the same sense of outrage everywhere. On May 1st, as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico mobilized the whole planet, an oil pipe broke off the Nigerian coast, and four million litres of crude oil leaked out in one week, spelling disaster for the local population whose shores are devastated. Yet, for the Niger delta, this was only one in a continuous series. In fact, last July Amnesty International published a report in which the disaster was called a “tragedy for human rights”. “The estimate is that every year now and for fifty years as much oil as leaked from the Exxon Valdez has been spilt over the delta,” the report noted, adding that “the pollution is there for all to see.” Thirty one million people “squelch about in the oil while air and water are polluted by flaring [1], and fishermen catch fish poisoned by heavy metals.”

N’Nimo Bassey, president of Friends of the Earth (Nigeria), is furious: “We are getting new oil spills practically on a daily basis,” he explains. “Some have been going on for several months without anything being done to stop them or to clean the coasts.”

The largest maritime reserve on the African continent, the Niger delta is also one of the three largest offshore drilling areas in the world. Total, Exxon, Chevron, and above all, Shell, all jostle for a share; but these oil companies put the blame for the spills on sabotage and attacks by local rebel groups. To Amnesty, this poor version only serves to hide the fact that corroded oil pipes are generally to blame for the leaks, and that safety regulations are not observed. As the report also pointed out, “oil companies take advantage of the lack of adequate regulations in Nigeria.”

Indeed, there are no international regulations for offshore drilling. “While the transport of oil is subject to a convention set up by the International Maritime Organization,” Yann Rabuteau, a specialist lawyer explains, “legal instruments for regulating offshore operations are almost non-existent.” It belongs to each state to lay down its rules and enforce them and the same is true as concerns the repair of damages. “Thirty years ago, a convention (called the Clee convention) was drafted by the IMO,” but never got finalized, owing to the persistence of conflicting interests.

Informational picketing and leafleting outside "Our Budget, Our Economy Town Hall"

What: Informational picketing and leafleting outside "Our Budget, Our Economy Town Hall"
When: This Saturday, June 26th, 7:45-8:45 a.m. (start gathering 7:30)
Where: Oregon Convention Center, 777 NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Portland
(Public transport: #6 bus, Red, Green & Blue Max lines; street parking nearby)

Why:
As many people are aware, the right wing and corporate media have been ginning up a scare over federal budgetary deficits. The scare is being used in the short term to obstruct extension of unemployment benefits and more vigorous efforts to create jobs and bring the "recovery" to ordinary people.

In the long term, it is being used to set up an attack on Social Security and Medicare, despite the fact that these programs have their own revenue streams through payroll taxes and in fact subsidize other federal spending, notably the bloated military with its thousands of bases and destructive, wealth-draining wars.

The "Our Budget, Our Economy Town Hall" organized by a group called America Speaks as part of a national series of events is susceptible to misuse to advance this deficit scare agenda with its attacks on economic recovery spending, unemployment benefits and human needs spending. The purpose of the actions on Saturday outside of the "town hall" is to demonstrate rejection of the deficit scare agenda and to demand protection of human needs spending and cuts to destructive and bloated military spending.

These actions are part of a national response being coordinated by Social Security Works and Healthcare-NOW!

Contact: For more information or to RSVP (useful though not required), or if you would like to have a quote included in a press release, contact Chris at or 503 788 2543.

------------

Background:
A key vehicle for the attack on Social Security and Medicare (as well as Medicaid and other human needs programs) will be the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, appointed by President Obama in February, and stacked with known enemies of "entitlements" (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid).

On June 26th, in 20 cities across the country, including Portland, America Speaks is running free "town hall" meetings called "Our Budget, Our Economy" to bring together people from a wide variety of backgrounds and views to deliberate about priorities for future budgets and for reducing the federal deficit and the growth of the national debt. America Speaks is a non-partisan organization which has run similar kinds of events on various issues going back to the mid-1990s. For general information about them, see http://www.americaspeaks.org/ . For information on the June 26th "town halls" see http://usabudgetdiscussion.org/ . The results of these deliberations are to be delivered to the National Commission on June 30th, according to America Speaks.

America Speaks as an organization appears to try to play an "honest broker" sort of role in discussions it organizes. It explicitly aims to foster serious public engagement in important issues, a worthy goal, and attempts to define itself as neutral on the issues. Even more so, the people who are participating in the "town hall" on Saturday are doing so on those terms, honestly according to their own views. Many of them will be progressive people taking part in order to defend funding for human needs. Therefore the action this Saturday is not a criticism of those who choose to participate, nor an attempt to disrupt the event.

For a useful perspective on the context from the Portland Jobs with Justice Economic Crisis Committee, see
http://www.jwjpdx.org/jwjnews/2010/beware-the-201cbalance-the-budget201d-hype


Concerns about pre-slanting the results:
Despite America Speaks' apparently sincere efforts at neutrality, and the undoubted goodwill of local organizers, the funding, process and materials for the "town hall" raise troubling issues that appear likely to pre-slant the results against Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid

Funding: A key source of funding, though not the only one, is the Peter G. Peterson Foundation. Peterson is a prominent enemy of "entitlements" (Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid) who uses exaggeration and misrepresentation as scare tactics to advance his views.

Process: The "town halls" actually will be composed of many small groups, like focus groups. Groups will work through a series of questions and choices that are presented to them, seeking to reach agreement on answering them, with answers recorded using electronic technology that will allow all of the answers to be collated. In order for this technology to work, only ideas and approaches that are in the choices offered can be chosen. So, for example, there is no option to choose to cut military spending by more than 15%, nor is there an option to choose either a national improved Medicare for all single payer system (on the left side) or medical vouchers (on the right) as ways to address rising health care costs, because the organizers pre-determined that these choices were "off the table." Participants thus will not be allowed full deliberation.

Materials and assumptions: Participants will work with two main documents, a "curriculum" called "Budget 101" and an "Options Workbook" which defines the actual choices available. These materials contain many assumptions that tend to pre-slant the results against Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other human needs: Among the most important are:

1) Definition of fundamental problems as mainly rising health care costs and aging population (implying cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security).
2) Downplaying overall military spending, confusing it with Iraq and Afghanistan war & occupation spending, & lack of clarity about whether "black budget" military/intelligence/security spending is included.
3) Assumption that Bush tax cuts will never be sunsetted ever because President Obama is delaying doing so in the depths of the recession.
4) Assumption that expenditures and revenues will rise at the same rate
5) Putting single payer/improved Medicare for all "off the table," despite its advantages for cutting massive annual private bureaucratic waste and insurance company profits costs as an option for discussion, on the claim of being politically unrealistic (self-fulfilling limitation of discussion) -- even though the date aimed for 2025.

Astrology vs. Astronomy: A Vindication Of Science

Marxists prize science. Here is the beginning of a scientific critique of modern-day astrology.

Maybe it’s just the way I was trained in science — I think that if stuff moves, you move with it. It doesn’t make sense to me to use something as it was 2500 years ago when everything else has changed. To me, it seems the same as, say, starting to write on a piece of paper 15 minutes ago, and you still writing away in the same spot even though someone has moved the piece of paper far away from you. You’re just writing in air now.

Read more here.

Newly Elected UAW President Bob King on the Role of Social and Environmental Justice in Union Organizing

From Bob King speaking on Democracy Now:

"Well, I’m very excited that Ford and GM and Chrysler, I think, are on their way back. A lot of our members’ and a lot of our retirees’ future is tied into these companies being viable, and the fact that they’re gaining strength and gaining market share and gaining sales is really important. A problem, though, is that so much of the industry is not organized. And it’s not even so much that it’s not organized; it’s that so many workers in the industry in the US today are not paid fair wages and benefits. These corporations are making billions of dollars. They have for a number of years. And they want to keep pushing workers’ wages down lower and lower. Where at one point everybody in the industry made a good middle-class wage and we built the middle class off the wages in the auto industry, today there’s a great growing disparity of pay amongst workers in the industry. And why it’s so important that we refocus on organizing is to make sure that all workers in the industry get a decent pay and have a decent standard of living."

Read more here.

Labor’s Role in the Obama Era: A Troublesome and Unreliable Ally?

A great article from the dead-quiet Dissent magazine:

WITH A perilous set of midterm elections on the horizon, it would be understandable if labor and its liberal allies just closed ranks with President Obama and the Democrats, downplayed any disappointment they might feel, and muted their critique of his often lukewarm liberalism. After all, if the Republicans take one or both houses of Congress, then the whole Obama presidency will be in danger.

As every good unionist knows, solidarity is a great thing, but in this case it is the wrong prescription for the American labor movement. Instead, the unions and other labor partisans should be difficult and demanding allies of our president. History shows that such a posture would generate the greatest political and organizational dividend, for labor as well as any insurgent group that seeks to transform American politics and policy. To show what I mean, let’s take a look at two eras of labor and social movement success—the 1930s and the 1960s—in order to win a few insights that might be useful for our own times. As Mark Twain once wrote, “History never repeats itself, but sometimes it rhymes.”

Read more here.

THE TYRANNY OF BONDS

The World Federation of Trade Unions has called for an international day of action of the trade union movement on September 7, 2010. Every effort must be made to build for this action over the summer. Every effort must be made to mobilize working people against the financial oligarchy.

Popular uprisings are what we need.

Read more here.

Militarism and democracy: the implications of the McChrystal affair

The political crisis in Washington, sparked by the publication of inflammatory comments by General Stanley McChrystal, the overall commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, culminated in the firing of McChrystal Wednesday morning and his replacement by General David Petraeus, the former US commander in Iraq.

Read more here.

BLUE GOLD: WORLD WATER WARS

Glenn Beck did a series of shows telling people to check their church website to see if the words "social justice" (which means socialism) appears. If it does - leave the church and report the minister. To Whom? It doesn't seem to be working.

Here in Salem, Westminster Presbyterian Church is starting its first monthly "Peace and Justice Film Series". Which includes post film discussion. The first film will be Friday June 24th. It is "Blue Gold: World Water Wars". The film examines the problems created by privatization of water. It includes coverage of the Bolivian 'Water Wars" which successfully stopped privatization of Bolivian water. The film is at 7:00pm. For anyone who wants to arrive earlier there will be a potluck salad bar @ 6:30.

June 23, 2010

Communist Party of Greece Speaks to Workers Everywhere

The below is a speech recently delivered by Alika Papariga, Chair of the Communist Party of Greece, to working class militants and members of the Greek Communist Party (KKE). So why publish Alika Papariga's speech here, in America? After all Greece is a small country thousands of miles away, right?

Yet I must say I was struck as I read the speech. The social/political/economics gestalt which Greek workers are rebelling against, the assault on and impoverishment of the working class as describes by Alika Papariga extends far beyond Greece and is indeed an accurate descriptor of the problems facing working class people throughout Europe and North America. As such, the below speech is an international document relevant far beyond the borders of Greece.

__________________________________________

Mass and militant counterattack till the victory

We would like to welcome all of you, as well as the comrades from the fraternal communist and workers’ parties to this common, class, patriotic internationalist struggle.

Every day we face the big dramatic questions of millions of workers and employees in public and private sectors, of the owners of small businesses, poor farmers, youth and women who struggle to cover the family expenses.

What should we do to save ourselves from poverty and the insecurity of tomorrow? How long will the agreement and the supervision of the troika last? What can we do against unemployment? What will happen with the owners of small businesses who cannot afford their contribution to their insurance fund? How can the poor farmers tackle the merchants and the industrialists who demand to buy their produce for nothing? What about the banks that mortgaged our land? What is going to happen with the thousands of university and TEI (Technical Education Institutes) graduates as well as with the graduates of other public and private schools who see that their degree cannot guarantee a stable job or an income that will enable them to be independent from their families and start their own family? What are we going to do with the increasing social criminality, with the spread of drugs? Until when will we work hard, will the productivity increase and despite that the people will still live on the verge of misery? Are there any threats against the territorial integrity of our country; is there any danger for our country to be involved in wars in the region?

Do not trust, do not believe, and do not pay any attention to the allegations and the promises of the government.

Do not believe and do not trust those who alternate in government with PASOK, those who told you that the European capitalist integration was a “one-way road”; those who cover up their compromise and retreat with a mantle of “renewal” and modernisation.

The government lies shamelessly when it claims that the measures for the working class and the self-employed in the city and the countryside will last for three, maximum four years and that afterwards economy will recover; they lie when they claim that the people’s sacrifices will yield fruits.

They elaborate barbaric measures that will last for a lifetime, they are ready to take additional, even worse measures that will apply for the children of our grandchildren.

This system, which is rotten to the core, is not eternal. The people’s sacrifices will yield fruits only for the capitalists, the monopolies. And even if we assume that the Greek economy will soon exit the cycle of the crisis and recover, things will be equally worse for the people. Unemployment will be stabilised and exacerbated, flexible working relations will be extended, salaries and wages will be decreased further; workers will be forced to work 40 and 50 years to receive a poverty level pension, the living cost will be intolerable and likewise the cost of healthcare, education and all social services.

Being part of the capitalist barbarity of the EU, interwoven with the IMF, involved in the imperialist rivalries among the EU, the US, China and Russia, involved in the race for a share in the markets, the Greek economy will always be considered less productive and competitive.

Greece lies among the imperialist hard core of Northern and Western Europe and their rival centres in Eastern Europe and Eurasia in general. Due to its geopolitical position, Greece will always be affected by contradictions and military conflicts.

They prepare a new assault on the people’s movement

In order to exonerate the capitalist system and the reactionary character of the EU, the government attributes the causes of the crisis to issues of corruption, lack of transparency, favouritism and immorality. Thus, it paves the way for the most reactionary barbaric, conservative actions.

But who are those who talk about the eradication of corruption and transparency? It is those who rejected the proposals of KKE on the abolition of the business secrecy, the registration of shares, the abolition of MPs’ pensions and allowances for their participation in the committees of the parliament. It is not a coincidence that they use the rotten, reactionary provocative action of LAOS for this dirty work.

The leadership of PASOK returns us to the past by posing to KKE the misleading, intimidating question “do you respect and obey the constitution or not?” It prepares new “national loyalty” certificates. It pursues to penalise communist ideology, even the mere declaration and defense of socialism-communism. But this time it does not reckon an important factor, namely, the possibility of working class’s counterattack.

Anyway, who are those who talk about respecting the constitution?

It is those who export their capital abroad in order to further increase their profits leading the workers to the dole.

It is all those, who many times since the establishment of the Greek State violated the constitution paving the way for the abolition of their own product, namely the bourgeois parliament.

It is the successors of the politicians who invited the British army to slaughter the Greek people in order to defeat the national resistance that defeated the German-Italian fascism.

It is those who invited the US to step into the shoes of the British imperialism in order to confront the so-called danger of communism even with napalm bombs.

It is the very bourgeoisie and its politicians, its very parties that bargained with the Greek junta so as to restore the bourgeois parliamentary democracy in Greece, after the junta had fulfilled the goals it served.

It is the Greek bourgeoisie and its parties that signed the participation and integration of Greece to the EU and the NATO by conceding sovereignty rights and competences.

It is all of them, who in the 1990s permitted the NATO troops to pass through the Greek territory so as to shed the Yugoslavian people’s blood, in order to dissolve and divide Balkans, without taking into consideration the bourgeois constitutional legitimacy.

It is them who privatised the ports e.g. the port of Astakos, giving the green light to the US weapon systems to pass without being controlled, so as to send military support to Israel and aid the crimes against the Palestinian people.

It is them who are ready to sign an agreement with Turkey handing over the defense of the Greek islands to NATO. In other words, it is those who constantly concede sovereignty rights and competences to imperialist centres at their own will. It is them who thanked the USA during the crisis in Imia which has been a turning point as it led to the establishment of the grey zones.

It is those who establish a professional, in fact a mercenary army under the pretext of the reduction of military service.

It is those who buy weapon systems, complementary to the Turkish ones that serve the interests of the NATO; it is those who say “yes” to the weapon dealers of the various allies in the imperialist world order.

People’s sovereignty is incompatible with capitalism

ND agrees with PASOK as regards the exit from the crisis. It keeps its distance regarding issues of tactics in order to feed the conflict between the two parties and promote the bipartisan alternation. Have you heard ND saying it will abolish the agreement with the EU and the IMF in case it comes to power, or that it will abolish the laws of PASOK that demolish the last gains achieved literally with blood? NO.

It criticises several measures, for being anti-social; however, its main goal is to manipulate the justified indignation of the people and exonerate itself from its responsibilities, while at the same time it says that it will respect the agreements of PASOK because government needs continuity.

This is exactly what we are saying: that each party continues the policy of the other; that their differences, even if they appear as a verbal war, are in fact an internal war between two parties that serve the capitalist system.

The recent statement of the secretary of the parliamentary group of ND at the Parliament is revealing. He criticised the bourgeois parties in Greece and PASOK for having been tolerant towards KKE from 1974 till nowadays. He called from the parliament podium on all parties to act jointly against KKE. Namely, he called to prevent the rise of the people’s movement.

Sirs, we tell you clearly: the bourgeois system has never been tolerant towards KKE, neither in the post-dictatorship period. You use either the carrot or the stick according to the possibilities that you have each time, according to whether you have the ability to draw people to anti-communism which is a totally undemocratic and negative development.

We declare once again, clearly, our firm and self-evident orientation since 1918: to struggle at any cost, not merely for a solution to the daily people’s problems, but also to convince the people that their future is socialism communism.

The constitution is the product of the balance of forces at each period. When the situation tends to be reactionary, then the constitution changes to the worst. When there is a tendency for the balance of forces to be in favour of the people, then it can improve and when the people win they will make their own constitution.

The term “democracy” is adjusted in order to aid the propaganda of the covert dictatorship of the monopolies, in order to conceal the inconceivable blackmails of the capitalists.

There has never been, neither will be in the future, a bourgeois government, neither a one-party government or a coalition government, which has not violated specific fundamental articles of its own constitution. People’s sovereignty is incompatible with capitalism.

When you defend constitution, you defend the right of the capitalists to exploit the wealth that the people produce, to possess the most important commodity, namely the labour force, the ability of man to work. You defend the supreme law, the law of surplus value.

LAOS plays a key role in contributing to this vile political game against the people. It is a two-faced party which drips poison when it sees the seed of the movement’s emancipation. It does not hesitate to change its slogans and propaganda in order to divert people’s consciousness. It plays a leading role in the propaganda against KKE, in the provocations against the people, in the spread of racism and nationalism.

Social political alliance from the bottom.

Which is the way out of the crisis?

The other parties, the government, the European and global capitalism also seek a way out of the crisis. The question is to find a way out that will serve the interests of the people, the people to overcome the incurable disease of the capitalist periodical crises.

All imperialist institutions as well as the EU the IMF and the OECD predict that the recovery of the capitalist economies and capitalism in general will be weak compared to the past. They also predict reshufflings in the imperialist pyramid. Therefore, the rivalries between the capitalist states and centres will intensify even more. All these entail military interventions and conflicts where the peoples will be the victims.

As regards Greece, everything indicates that the crisis will continue and that the recovery will be too weak in the best case; that public debt will increase and bring a new wave of anti-people measures, while a new cycle of economic crisis will break out more quickly than ever.

Due to this very prediction, namely that all social contradictions, above all the main contradiction between capital and labour, will intensify, there is an attempt to reform and disguise the political landscape. They even try to create new parties in place of the old ones, though with the same role and mission as the old ones. Furthermore, they choose a new, allegedly incorruptible, political staff that will do the same dirty and even dirtier work. They will not hesitate to sacrifice their own “children” in order to give the impression that the system has changed. All scenarios are possible. People must thwart their plans as soon as possible.

The working class must not expect solutions from above, that will emerge without its action and will be against its interests.

The way out is a new political choice that should be prepared distinctively through the processes of the movement and the social political alliance from the bottom up. The streams of resistance grow; they must merge into a big precipitous river.

We support an alliance which by means of its consistent planned action manages to win smaller or bigger battles and at the same time heads for the only solution that serves the interests of the people, the people’s economy and power proposed by KKE. The people should not expect anything from the alternation of the bourgeois parties in the government, or from their coalition with conservative or pseudo-left wings. Monopolies’ violence must be defeated by a mass, unitary social-political current that will sweep them.

Of course there is another solution which is a deliberately ambiguous and verbalistic proposal, the so-called “unity of the left”. It is the proposal of SYN/SYRIZA which is a strange though not at all unusual formation; an ambiguous proposal that seems to appeal to everyone and is adapted to the audience. It constitutes an obstacle to the emancipation of the people’s movement against the ruling policy. Actually, all versions of “the unity of left” have the same core, the bankrupted line of social democracy. In other words, the recipe that led us to this point appears as an allegedly modern innovative solution.

Of course, one cannot expect a radical alternative from a political formation that betrayed the class struggle, the anti-imperialist anti-capitalist struggle, that supported the slander of the communist movement and the socialist construction as a left alibi, that judges the socialist construction and the mistakes that were made based on the criteria of the bourgeois ideology and propaganda.

We cannot follow a tactic that might have been suitable in the past. Nowadays, it is not enough the people to project a list of demands, appeals and requests. The demands, the goals of struggle, the concrete proposals should demonstrate the possibility to solve people’s problems. However, they can acquire dynamics and be effective only if they are part of the strategy, of the struggle for the overthrow of monopolies, of the struggle for people’s power and economy. The creation of an alliance with KKE to conduct a joint struggle, does not presuppose the agreement with KKE’s perception on socialism, communism.

Nowadays, there are objective conditions that enable a different organisation of the society characterised by the decision of the people to transform the ownership of monopolies to social ownership. However, the subjective social-political factor, which will initiate these developments, when the bourgeois political system has suffered so many blows and is incapable of ruling, lacks in strength and organisation.

Development in favour of the people

What does people’s economy mean?

The sector of natural resources processing, manufacturing, production of mechanisation, energy, transport, telecommunications, concentrated trade come under the ownership of the people aiming at an independent economy, reducing its dependence from foreign trade and the relations with the capitalist economies and the interstate monopoly groups in such crucial sectors.

The land will be socialised, as will the large capitalist agricultural businesses. State productive units for the production and processing of agricultural products as raw materials or as articles of consumption will be set up.

Complementing the socialised means of production, productive cooperatives for small commodity production in the cities, and productive cooperatives for small and medium sized farmers will be set up. The small and medium sized farmers participate initially taking into account, the amount of land and the number of animals by which each of them was integrated into the cooperative.

The new achievements in technology and science will be used, with the aim of reducing labour time, the increase of free time, which can be used for upgrading the educational-cultural level, for the acquisition of the ability to fully participate in the control of management, and in the institutions of state-power.

Every form of private-business activity in the sectors of health, welfare, social security, education, culture and sports will be immediately abolished.

The socialisation of the means of production creates the possibility to form a central planning for the utilisation and the distribution of the man power, for the eradication of unemployment.

This planning and this distribution cannot be not ensured by monopoly capitalism since each monopoly makes a short term or at most a medium term individual planning based on profit and under the conditions of general capitalist anarchy.

The central planning of the economy is based on the utilisation of all development possibilities of the country for the human needs, without any unevenness and without any restriction resulting from the interweaving of the Greek economy with the imperialist EU and the various mechanisms e.g. the troika. It is specialised in each sector and branch, in each region and category.

Scientific research will be organised through state institutions - higher education bodies, institutes, etc- and will serve Central Planning, the administration of social production and social services, in order to develop social prosperity.

Emergence of new people’s institutions

All workers should have access in an equal fashion and according to need, to public and free services- healthcare, education, social security, leisure, protection of children and the aged, cheap (and in some cases free) transport, telecommunications services, energy and water supply for popular consumption, etc.

A state social infrastructure will be created which will provide high quality social services in order to meet needs which are tackled today by the individual or family households (e.g. restaurants in the workplace, in schools).

All children of pre-school age will be provided with free, public and compulsory pre-school education. The exclusively public, free, general (basic) 12-year school education will be ensured for all through a school with a unified structure, programme, administration and functioning, technical infrastructure, trained specialised staff. Exclusively public and free professional education will be ensured after the completion of the compulsory basic education. Guaranteed work on the basis of each one’s studies will be ensured for all students before the completion of their studies. An exclusively public and free healthcare system will be set up.

People’s economy is not compatible with participation of the country in imperialist unions such as the EU and NATO. People’s state-power, depending on the international and regional situation, will seek to develop inter-state relations, with mutual benefit, between Greece and other countries.

The Greece of people’s power will seek to utilise every available rupture, rivalry and contradiction among imperialist powers in order to safeguard and strengthen people’s power and economy, the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the country.

People’s power will be based on the institutions that will be borne by the struggle and the initiatives of the workers’ and people’s movement. As a consequence, new institutions will emerge.

The basis of working class state-power will be the units of production, workplaces, through which working class and social control of the administration will be exercised. The workers’ representatives to the organs of state-power will be elected (and when necessary recalled) from these “communities of production”.

The small commodity producers and farmers are established as allies of the working class and elect their representatives through respective bodies from bottom up.

Young people who are not engaged in production (e.g. students in higher education) will take part in the election of representatives through the educational units. The participation of non-working people and retirees will take place in a special fashion, through mass organization and units providing special services.

People’s state power will create institutions and take practical measures so as to ensure the exercise of workers’ and social control and the unhindered criticism of decisions and practices which obstruct socialist construction. The unhindered denunciation of every kind of arbitrariness and bureaucratic behaviour of officials, and other negative phenomena constitute a vital need.

The highest organ of state power is elected from the bottom up. The representatives are not permanent, they can be recalled, and they are not cut off from production. Furthermore, they can be on leave from their work for the duration of their term, according to the requirements. The representatives, “the members of the parliament as they say nowadays” have no special economic privileges from their participation in the organs of state-power. The government, the heads of the various executive authorities (ministries, administrations, committees etc.) are chosen by the highest body.

A corresponding Constitution, Labour law, Family law that establishes the new relations are to be formed. The judicial corps will be made up of elected and recallable people’s lay judges, as well as of permanent staff, accountable to the institutions of working class state power.

Joint action and alliance with KKE

This is the political proposal of KKE for the state power the joint action and cooperation. It appeals to the working class, the self-employed, to the poor farmers, to the movements of the youth, the women, to each movement and form of struggle that is willing to resist monopolies and imperialism.

We want to initiate a debate with all those who seek a realistic and just solution for the people, who want to be emancipated from PASOK and ND. Today their number increases.

We do not claim that our political proposal can be easily realised. Either way you are asked to make sacrifices; but if you accept to make these sacrifices they will be at the benefit of the plutocracy, of businessmen and of the rotten political system that cannot be repaired. It is worth making sacrifices only for a new society without class exploitation and oppression.

Do not expect that the system of the monopolies’ power will decay; that it will corrode and collapse. It will stand firm, no matter how rotten it is as long as the people do not play a leading role in the developments.

Which is the starting point for the struggle for a new life in a new, human society, for the workers’ and people’s state power?

The starting point lies in the joint struggle and alliance with KKE, with KNE, in the joint action with mass popular class oriented organisations that struggle consistently against the monopolies.

Above all this struggle must be reflected in unitary, radical anti-monopoly activity in each workplace, enterprise, office, in public and private sectors, in the neighbourhoods, in municipality, in prefectures; in an action that leads to the change of the correlation of forces in the workers’ trade union movement, in the movement of the small sized self-employed, tradesmen, craftsmen, in the farmers’ movement in the students’ and school students’ movement.

In all electoral battles people’s vote must lead to the isolation of the yellow forces, who have compromised with the employers and the governmental policy.

Before us are the local and regional elections and the reform “Kallikratis”. The merging of the municipalities increases even more the general political character of the elections.

It offers the chance to the people to change their vote, to express through their vote their discontent and indignation, the developments that take place in the consciousness of the people and the youth.

We should not allow the government and the political system in general to utilise people’s vote as a consensus or defeatism towards this barbarous policy.

The lists of KKE can express the rising people’s discontent; the dynamics of the developments, the cooperation with KKE. The support of its electoral lists will make the difference. It will be a strong response; it will show in practice that people defy intimidation, extortion and manipulation.

Everybody join the coming struggles! Our weapons are our just demands and our untapped peoples’ forces!

They will not defeat us! Sooner or later, we shall win! They will not deceive us, they will not make fools of us again. They will not turn us into cowards, fatalists or weak-minded. Massive and militant struggle for the counterattack till the victory! We owe it, first of all, to the youth, to whom we will be definitely accountable if we fall behind.

It takes a lot of hard work to make the sun rise up again.

Are we all determined?

Yes, we are and nothing can stop us!

June 22, 2010

Greek General Strike Scheduled for June 23rd

The Greek government recently announced a series of draconian measures aimed at radically reducing labor rights and workers' standard of living. Low lights of the recent government moves include:

1. Abolition of all collective bargaining agreements.

2. 50% reduction in unemployment benefits

3. Reduced minimum wage. No minimum wage for youth under 25. Workers aged 21 to 25 will receive 85% of the lowest wage contained within a wage agreement.

4. New laws making mass layoffs easy and desirable for employers.

The Greek Communist Party and labor unions will hold a 24 hour nationwide general strike on June 22rd against the above measures. Meanwhile strike activity continues on a daily basis.

Underlining ongoing worker resistance, the Greek government in a recent move to quell upset in the Greek tourist industry announced it would reimburse tourists who lose out on their vacations due to labor unrest.

June 17, 2010

Meg Whitman's $200,000 Shove

On Tuesday I tripped across a little blurb on Google News. Seems that e-Bay CEO and Republican candidate for Governor of California, Meg Whitman shoved an employee around. In a mediated settlement Ms. Whitman ended up paying $200,000 to the employee.

Physically assaulting an employee might not be an epidemic sized problem but it is not as infrequent as one might think. In my 25 odd year career as a shop steward and union organizer/rep two cases (not the only cases mind you) immediately come to mind. The first is a boss who threw things at employees; things like pens and staplers and whatever was on his desk. The second involves a supervisor who man-handled an employee while having a work-related temper tantrum.

My daughter has recently got me hooked into watching the Shotime series, The Tudors. There was a particularly hard episode the other night where Henry VIII absolutely thrashes a messenger who brings unwanted news. Henry apologized for the thrashing, and maybe Meg Whitman apologized too, I don't know? There is however something naturally abhorrent about somebody who thrashes somebody else when that somebody else can't lift a finger to defend themselves.

An employee of the boss who threw things at employees told me that this boss defined her job and other employees' jobs in this way: "Your job is to make me look good." I still think about what this guy said. Not to stretch the Henry VIII stuff too far, but I find it odd, almost feudal to describe an employee's work in such a personal way. No talk about function and job duties, no reference to a position within a wider process. Instead, this boss described the job in terms of a personal master to servant relationship.

Oddly, even though many employees are not beaten, there still seems to be this common mentality where employees see their function in terms of servitude to a more exalted personality... Called the boss. This is unfortunately the mentality which allows bosses to demean, bully and even beat an employee. In this sense many workplaces function as a royal court for the boss. Which de facto makes every employee a servant, and all too often a willing servant.

In the above sense, maybe John Lennon was right when he sang:

Keep you doped on religion, sex and TV
Think you're so clever and classless and free
But you're still f-ing peasants as far as I can see

June 16, 2010

Why BP US operations should be Nationalized -- now

Why BP US operations should be Nationalized -- now
John Case

Two weeks ago, Robert Reich wrote:

"It’s time for the federal government to put BP under temporary receivership, which gives the government authority to take over BP’s operations in the Gulf of Mexico until the gusher is stopped. This is the only way the public can know what’s going on, be confident enough resources are being put to stopping the gusher, ensure BP’s strategy is correct, know the government has enough clout to force BP to use a different one if necessary, and be sure the President is ultimately in charge."

Since that time, the scope and scale of the Gulf oil leak, and it environmental, economic and political consequences, have steadily grown.

Stopping the spill, and beginning recovery, is beyond the capacity of a private corporation. So why didn't President Obama call last night for placing British Petroleum -- at least its American subsidiary -- in receivership until all claims are processed? Why did he not order that the government clearly and unambiguously assume control and responsibility for the crisis -- especially since taxpayers will be footing a huge portion of the many "bills" that will come due. Bills whose scale we can barely glimpse. As a private corporation, BP's liability will certainly be capped at some limit less than the real cost, and some limit less than that beyond which the company would just go out of business. That's the whole purpose of limited liability law that created the corporation as a legal entity. Society permits, even encourages ventures and permits limiting liability. If liability is not limited, investors simply do not invest. In addition, only the assets of the corporation, in this case its American entity, can be assessed. Receivership would give the president full disposal of BP assets to fight the crisis and pay the victims. This formula, designed in the 19th century, works well as long as the overall innovation and efficiency benefits are greater than the social costs of failed endeavors. The BP spill shows that, for deepwater drilling, the formula is in shreds.

The receivership Robert Reich argues for is probably not enough. BP employs 26,000 Americans, and its workers and engineers, including contractors, are a key resource for mastering and ultimately exploiting the great deepwater oil and gas reserves. The declining proven reserves of fossil fuel in shallower areas of the globe makes deepwater drilling necessary for the immediate future, at least. But clearly, the risks associated with the very complex technologies required to exploit these resources, or at least with the 'human interface' to these technologies, are too high to be entrusted to giant private corporations competing with each other to see who gets the oil out of the deep faster. Anyone familiar with the work pressures on the teams working the deepwater rigs knows that ideal safety procedures will inevitably be sacrificed to beating the competitor.

A government takeover of this technology and process will, its true, slow down the innovation curve and take a little longer to get the the deepwater oil. But until the techniques and safety requirements of this technology are more perfected, we have to go slower, slower on oil. If we try and force giant private multinational corporations to do whats needed on their own -- they will fight it every inch of the way, and conspire (in exchange for more regulation) to drive up prices to protect their bottom lines.

Prices are likely to rise no matter what or who runs deepwater drilling going forward. But a public takeover -- now -- seems the only sane, and the most economical, way to go.

A Rising Tide of Syndicalism?

My personal conventional wisdom has been that the major fight-back against a failing capitalism would be political. I think my conventional wisdom has been off.

Last week and other recent occurrences have instead pointed to towards a labor upsurge; a very welcome labor upsurge. Consider this, Last Thursday around 12,000 Minneapolis/St.Paul nurses struck for one day. These nurses are voting now on an open-ended strike which in the Twin Cities would amount to a city-wide health care strike. And then there's the pilots' strike against Spirit Airlines. Consider too that cabin crews have been striking against British Airways for three weeks now. And it should be noticed that Chinese workers are forming independent unions and are striking across the Chinese auto industry against low pay and brutal working conditions.

When I think about it, that the fight back is job actions and labor based should be no surprise. In the early stages of this second Great Depression it was the Republic Door and Window workers who conducted the first plant occupation in the U.S. for a long time, and Hart-Marx workers who threatened to occupy their plant should it be closed. In Europe there has been a steady stream of labor activity in the form of occupations against plant shut-downs; and of course that great French innovation, boss-napping.

Causes?

There seems to be two prevalent factors with the current strike activities. The first involves protracted over-work and other unsafe working conditions as the corporation continue to avoid hiring and working too small staffs right into the ground. The second factor involves corporate demands for worker concessions.

Twin City nurses for instance are strongly objecting to staffing patterns that clearly threaten the health and safety of patients. U.S. airline strikes such as against Spirit are against brutal scheduling and near minimum wage pilot salaries; this is a place where the poor economics and threats to passenger safety perfectly meet. And in China, industrial workers frequently die of over-work...

Local Developments:

Here in Salem and in Central Oregon a fight is brewing at Fred Meyer's stores. Fred's management is looking for major givebacks in health care and other benefits concessions. So far, Fred's demands are being actively opposed by workers and their union, The United Food and Commercial Workers' Union. A strike against Fred's is a distinct possibility.

Likewise, State of Oregon workers with both SEIU and AFSCME have refused to open their contracts and thus have refused to have the State's budget balanced on workers' backs.

Big Picture?

Workers did not cause this second Great Depression. Employers however do seem to think that workers should pay for this second Great Depression by working harder for less and thus bailing their bosses out. Fortunately, workers seem to be less and less inclined to cooperate with their bosses agendas.

This is all to the good!

June 15, 2010

McCarthyism In Oregon

Tuesday, June 29, 2010
6:30 pm
"The Experience and Legacy of McCarthyism in Oregon," presented by Dr. Michael Munk. McMenamins Edgefield Power Station Theater
2126 S.W. Halsey Street
Troutdale, OR 97060

Learn more about one of Portland's most politically contentious eras--the post world War II period when HUAC and the Portland police Red Squad, enabled by most Oregon public and private employers, suceeded in supressing the state's radical movements. Those movements grew during the "Red Decade" of the 1930s and the major wartime population shifts but were tuirned back by the domestic impact of the Cold War.

June 14, 2010

America's Future: Call to reassemble the Obama coalition to fight for jobs

WASHINGTON

Leaders from core components of the diverse coalition
that elected President Obama declared here today that
"it's time for us to do it again" to win jobs and
justice. They called for a revival of "progressive
populism" that puts jobs at the top of the agenda.

It was a unity-in-action call to the 1,000 progressive
leaders and activists gathered here on day two of the
three-day 2010 America's Future NOW! conference.

Read more here.

Position Statement of Old Revolutionaries on the Present Upsurge of Worker Action in China‏

Translator’s note: “Regarding the present upsurge of worker action in China, liberals have used their discursive power in the overseas media to frame the strike wave as a tale of workers’ struggle for ‘independent unions,’ as if this were a repetition of Solidarnosc. What do Chinese workers want? What is the direction of the Chinese workers movement? Those who support the movement and are concerned about the fate of the working class should provide an account matching the reality of the movement. This letter of support provides a perspective different from those predominant in the mainstream media.”

Uphold the Constitution, Respect and Ensure Human Rights,

Support Honda Workers’ Just Struggles,

Condemn Foxconn’s Inhumane Management

(June 6, 2010)

To:
General Secretary Hu Jintao and Members of the Central Party Committee,
Chairman Wu Bangguo of the People’s Congress
Premier Wen Jiabao, Vice Premiers, and Members of the State Council
Compatriots throughout China, and all Media Outlets:

There have recently occurred numerous incidents in our country that signal intensified social contradictions. According to media reports, Shenzhen-based Foxconn with Taiwanese investment have treated workers as machines (or worse, just spare parts!) to generate profit for the company and instituted an inhumane management system that destroys the health and spirit of workers to the extent that some have felt that life is not worth living. Thirteen workers in this company have jumped to their own deaths in a short period of time. Their tragic deaths break our hearts. It is a situation that has shocked the world!

Based in Foshan, Guangdong, Honda Auto Parts Manufacturing Co., Ltd. is a Japanese-owned company. While the capitalist owner has made a huge profit, the wages are too low to support workers’ livelihoods and the company’s union does not represent the interest of the workers. Nearly two thousand workers have gone on strike in their struggle for wage increases and to initiate a reform of the union. But the Japanese management only agreed to a small increase, far from what the workers have asked. Moreover, the management unjustifiably demanded workers to sign a “no strike” commitment and threatened to fire workers who take part in the strike. They indeed fired two leaders among the workers.

Other incidents in the media also show increased conflict between capital and labor. Some workers in Chongqing Qijiang Gear Transmission Co. Ltd were forced to work overtime during weekends and died from overwork. The long-term exhaustion, low pay and management corruption led workers to strike. Close to 1700 workers from Taisheng Furniture Company, based in Dongguan, Guangdong Province, had a three-day strike to protest against overstress and low pay. Over a thousand workers in the spare parts factory that supply Beijing-based Hyundai went on a strike to demand a pay raise. Workers at Lanzhou Vinylon Company went on strike because they cannot sustain a basic livelihood. In Datong City (Shanxi Province), the state-owned enterprise Xinghuo Pharmaceutical Company was forced into bankruptcy and its laid-off workers had their numerous petitions refused. Following this, over 10,000 people staged a sit-in at the municipal government building; some of them were beaten up by armed police. Workers on strike from Pingdingshan Cotton Spinning Mill (Henan Province) were brutally beaten by thugs brought in by police vehicles, resulting in injuries of many women workers. In Shenzhen workers who are taking the lead to demand back pay or protect workers’ rights have had their names placed on various blacklist, which makes it difficult for them to obtain employment. These are just some of the recent incidents that illustrate the scope of the problem.

On the whole, the bourgeoisie have transferred the burdens of the economic crisis onto the workers and have waged a more fierce attack on them. The working class is forced to rise up and resist. But as workers have become a weak social group in recent years, and with the deprivation of basic rights prescribed by our country’s constitution, they are in the sad situation where their deaths are unanswered, their strikes unsupported, and their grievances unheard. According to our country’s constitution, particularly the four basic principles and the basic rights accorded to citizens, we issue the following appeal to address the current situation and problems.

First, we should firmly support workers in Foshan Honda and other factories in their just struggles for survival and against oppression. Article 33 of our country’s constitution states, “the state respects and ensures human rights.” The right to strike is an inseparable part of human rights and is also a basic civic right prescribed by constitutions around the world. We firmly support all reasonable demands that Honda workers have raised so as to change their harsh working conditions and low wages. We are strongly opposed to the management’s threat to fire workers. The two leaders who were fired should be immediately given back their jobs. We believe that our call will be supported by all those who uphold the authority of the constitution, respect human rights and stand for justice.

Second, we should demand Foxconn and other similar enterprises to immediately stop their inhumane and harshly exploitative management methods. We demand that the management respect workers’ integrity and dignity, obey the state laws, improve working conditions, strictly implement a 8-hour working day and compensate workers’ for overtime. They must ensure that workers are paid wages that are enough for their own sustenance and their reproduction. This is the only way to ameliorate labor-capital conflicts and reduce or prevent the so-called “psychological” problems. To elide the fundamental labor-capital contradiction by one-sidedly emphasizing “psychological counseling” is to intentionally cover up the contradiction and to confuse cause with effect. It has been reported by the media that some who committed suicide also showed signs of bodily injuries caused by beating. There was also suspicion of some being pushed off buildings. These already warrant a criminal investigation. Government agencies should deal with it seriously and find out the truth.

Third, unions should clearly stand on the side of the working class to represent and uphold the interests of the working class as prescribed by the constitution. If any union organization ignores the constitution and “take the boss’ shillings and do the boss’ bidding,” then they will be spurned by the working class. The leadership of the union in each enterprise must be democratically elected by its members. Relatives and representatives of the bosses should not be allowed to take any leadership position in the union. If such a case is found, it should not be approved by the union at higher levels. The union at higher levels should instead help such enterprise-based unions organize an all-members meeting and help rebuild the enterprise’s union through democratic election.

Fourth, government at all levels, particularly the local government should protect civic rights by strictly following the law, earnestly resolve labor-capital conflicts and ensure citizens’ freedom of speech. Government should administer according to the law and should prevent and stop incidents that violate basic civic rights prescribed by article 33 of the constitution and other related regulations. It should actively deal with cases of labor-capital conflicts according to the law. Ignoring workers’ reasonable demands either through inaction or siding with management should be resolutely corrected. In order to ensure people’s right to information and right to supervision, media should be allowed to freely and truthfully report on labor-capital conflicts and other cases and convey people’s voices without obstruction and interference.

Fifth, we call for the restoration of the working class as the leading class of our country and the re-establishment of socialist public ownership as the mainstay in our national economy. Article 1 of our country’s constitution states, “The People’s Republic of China is a socialist state led by the working class on the basis of a worker-peasant alliance.” Article 6 of the constitution states, “The basis of socialist economy of the People’s Republic of China is socialist public ownership of means of production, that is, all people’s ownership and laborers’ collective ownership.” “In the primitive phase of socialism, the state should build an economic system with public ownership as the mainstay and co-development of the economy through other ownership forms. Distribution should be based mainly on each according to his/her labor, with co-existence of other distributive methods.” The Chinese Communist Party must be the real vanguard of the working class, strengthen its leadership of the people’s polity, and reinforce the people’s democratic dictatorship. We call for a reestablishment of public ownership as the principle part of the national economy. Only in this way can workers, peasants and people in general become masters of enterprises and the country and truly implement a distribution system primarily based on labor contribution. At present, it is imperative to improve working conditions and increase wages and benefits in the private economy (funded by domestic and foreign investments). It is completely just to actively support workers’ struggles towards that end. But in so far as the capitalist privately-owned economy rather than the socialist publicly-owned economy dominates, the working class cannot change their weak position under structures of exploitation, nor the unfair distribution system and the disparity between the rich and poor. Under this condition, it is also impossible to transform our export-oriented economy to one that is independent, self-reliant and seeks to satisfy the material and cultural needs of people in the country.

Based on the present conditions, it will only be through a long-term struggle that the working class can restore its leadership position and the national economy can be transformed into one primarily based on public ownership. We have the guidance of Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought and have the constitution, particularly the four basic principles at its core, as our legal instrument. All members of the Communist Part and all people should abide by the constitution. The socialist modernization that we uphold fits the interest of the broadest range of people and corresponds with historical development of mankind. If all people who support socialism, love their country, and abide by the constitution are united and persistent, then through a long-term struggle, we will be able to realize our goal.

Signatories:
Li Chengrui (Former Director of the State Statistic Bureau)
Gong Xiantian (Professor of Beijing University)
Han Xiya (Former Alternate Secretary of the Secretariat of All-China Federation of Trade Unions)
Liu Rixin (Former Researcher at the State Planning Commission)
Zhao Guangwu (Professor at Beijing University)

June 11, 2010

Since when is racism funny? A socialist looks at Sex And The City 2

From socialitworker.org:

OH SURE, I know what you're thinking. Do I not have anything better to do than pick on Sex and the City 2? What was I expecting, insightful political commentary? A feminist classic? Don't I realize that no one likes this movie anyway?

But there's a very important reason to pile abuse on the latest incarnation of the Sex and the City franchise: It's incredibly racist.

Read more here.

Determining Your Philosophy Dialectically

Philosophy, as it exists officially (academic and institutional), has a professional relationship to the sciences: it defends them, elucidates them, and provides a framework through which we can think them, especially in their combination. It tries to tell us what they mean, in human terms: how should we live our lives, according to science? You might say this is the function or purpose of philosophy today, it is its job.

Philosophy as we know it comes in two main strands, materialism and idealism.

Materialism is opposed to Idealism in the "theory of knowledge" - in the theory of how knowledge is derived. In the jargon, the "theory of knowledge" is called epistemology. For a Materialist, being (existence) comes before thought: you must be, first, in order to think. Idealists hold the contrary view: ideas come before existence. Note that we must not confuse the strict philosophical meaning of materialism with the casual sense of love of money and the things it can buy.

Marxism is essentially a materialist theory, but added to its theory of knowledge is always the dialectic, which furnishes the conception of development and change. This idea of development is known in philosophy as ontology, the theory of being or existence. So we have epistemology and ontology: materialism + dialectics, or dialectical materialism.

Read more here
.

June 10, 2010

Cascade AIDS Project Workers Advance

Tentative agreement was reached today on a compensation reopener at Cascade AIDS Project (CAP) in Portland. Union organizer Molly Malone and the CAP bargaining team –Marc Kochanski, Shyle Ruder, Daniel Schollaert, Chris Kramer and Joseph Sedillo – held firm in pushing for across the board increases (management wanted merit) and achieving substantial wage victories during tough economic times. The bargaining unit pushed management with petitions, members observing bargaining and members reinforcing our arguments away from the table that wage increases should be across the board. Once again workers took action and won when conditions and an organization were in place to help. Workers can win victories even now. The more active and militant, the greater the victory.

Summary of contract changes:

Cost of Living/Base Salary increases: 3% effective July 1, 2010 and 2.5% effective July 1, 2011. The add-ons will also be increased by the same amounts!

Add-Ons: A new one – Justifiable Additional Compensation – up to 10% of an employee’s salary, to help management with recruitment and retention. And, as noted above, add-ons will be increased each year by the COLA amount.

Merit Bonuses: Replacing the old, and seldom-used merit language – this new system would allow management to give one-time merit bonuses based on their performance evaluation, at the end of fiscal years where there is extra money on the books.

Longevity Bonuses: A new system to reward employees who have worked at CAP for 4/8/12 years with extra paid time off. Employees would get an extra 2/4/6 weeks of paid time off at each interval and would have two years to use it. Employees that already work at CAP will be given some credit for time already worked, making some employees eligible for a bonus as soon as 2011.

The union's top priorities going into bargaining were to restore the 1.5% pay cut from last year and get across-the-board raises for all employees. Thanks to the great work of the bargaining team and worker action and involvement--they won! Great job everyone!

TIME TO RE-OPEN THE USS LIBERTY CASE:

FORTY THREE YEARS AFTER THE ATTACK, US POLITICIANS STILL COVER FOR ISRAEL

By Ed Hunt

In the wake of the bloody Israeli attack on the Turkish humanitarian aid ship bound for Gaza, I am reminded of an earlier Israeli attack on another ship that took place several decades ago.

June 8th marked a little noticed anniversary date that should live in infamy in the annals of modern US history. It was the day, during the 1967 war, that the state of Israel attacked the US spy ship, the USS Liberty, off the coast of Egypt. Thirty four US servicemen were killed and one hundred seventy two were wounded in this well documented unprovoked attack.

“Accidental” is what Israel, and her defenders proclaim. It was an Egyptian ship, they “mistakenly” thought. Specifically, an out-of-service Egyptian horse carrier, the Israeli government later explained, with the most ‘heartfelt regret.’ It’s their story and they’re sticking to it. How many Egyptian vessels were flying an oversized US flag (riddled with bullet holes from Israeli weapons fire) the Israelis are at a loss for words.

According to the ‘Independent Commission of Inquiry into the Attack on the USS Liberty’, this accidental air and naval attack lasted two hours “during which time unmarked Israeli aircraft dropped napalm canisters on the Liberty’s bridge, and fired 30mm cannons and rockets, causing 821 holes, more than 100 of which were rocket size; survivors estimate 30 or more sorties were flown over the ship by a minimum of 12 attacking Israeli planes which were jamming all five American emergency radio channels.”

This ‘accident’ happened after only eight, yes eight, hours of aerial surveillance, on the Liberty, which had unmistakable American markings.

Amazingly, the response of the US government to this attack has been unprecedented. The Johnson White House recalled a Sixth Fleet military rescue en route toward the scene while the attack was still in progress. The victims, the survivors and their families were betrayed by their government. Surviving crew members were threatened with “court-martial, imprisonment or worse” if they revealed the truth, and the USS Liberty “incident” was the subject of an official cover-up by the Johnson administration. Every US administration since has given Israel a free pass on the attack and no standing administration, including the Obama administration, has even uttered a word publicly about it.

The truth about this attack and cover-up continues to be officially concealed from the American people, although many of those who have since retired from political, military and diplomatic circles have acknowledged it. However, to no ones surprise, the mainstream media to this day have largely maintained an unofficial blackout policy on the subject.

Now is the time for speaking truth to power. It is a very opportune moment to revive the issue. Over the years there have been numerous attempts to press the US government to come clean and to hold the Israeli government accountable.

Due to the influence of the pro-Israel lobby, the White House and/or the Congress, no matter which party is in charge, have continued to shield Israel, from any measure of accountability. Perhaps it’s time to turn up the volume, and turn on the spotlight, in a very public way.

We've armed Israel, provided billions of dollars in aid and shielded them diplomatically for decades. US taxpayers have been subsidizing the occupation of the Palestinian Territories since the beginning.

After the recent public embarrassment of Vice President Biden in Jerusalem over the ever expanding settlement construction, and recent statements by US Military brass asserting that the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestinians actually puts US troops at risk, a shaken Israel Lobby has continued to flex its muscle. Pro-Israel stalwarts in the House and the Senate put the Obama administration on notice by “reaffirming” their support for the US-Israel alliance. Pro-Israel statements delivered to the Obama White House contained 76 US Senators and 333 House members respectively.

That number is pretty overwhelming, but I suspect that there is far greater diversity of opinion on the Israel-Palestine conflict among the US public than is tolerated in the US Congress. I would venture to predict that if the details of the USS Liberty case were be placed before the US public, we might see a drastic rise in opposition to the billions in US aid that Israel rakes in every year. It might be just what the Congress needs to find its backbone and the courage to snub the powerful pro-Israel interests that continue dictate US Middle East policy.

On this occasion of the 43rd Anniversary of the Israeli attack on the Liberty, I will be contacting my US Senators and my Congressperson. I will bring them up to speed on the Liberty case, so that they cannot claim lack of knowledge of this atrocity. I will make clear that their failure to support the re-opening of the Liberty case will be an affront to the memory of the victims of Israel’s murderous assault. Politicians love to posture as to how much they love the troops. With your help, we can break down what has seemed like an insurmountable obstacle: Israel’s untouchable status in US politics. In the process, perhaps we can get a little recognition and justice for the crew and families of the Liberty, as well as justice for the Palestinians, who have been denied a homeland for far too long.

Ed Hunt is a veteran labor activist who follows political developments in the Middle East and in international affairs. He has visited Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Coast Range Association---The Our Ocean coalition is sponsoring a field trip to the Cape Perpetua/ Heceta Head proposed marine reserve site on Saturday

Cape Perpetua-Heceta Head field trip to learn about a proposed marine reserve for the area.

The Our Ocean coalition is sponsoring a field trip to the Cape Perpetua/ Heceta Head proposed marine reserve site on Saturday, June 26.

The day will include a hike in the ancient forest at Neptune State Park, participation in Hands Across the Sand event, a trip up to the Cape Perpetua lookout, presentations by members of the local state-sponsored community team considering the reserve proposal for the area. The day will also include several scientists speaking and answering questions and best of all - a yummy barbecue.

Vans will be leaving Saturday morning from Eugene and Corvallis to meet up with supporters from the central coast at Neptune State Park. Food and transportation (if needed) is free but space is limited. If you wish to attend you will need to register at the Our Ocean website. When you register, be sure and let Our Ocean know you heard about the event from the Coast Range Association. Here's the web address for registering:
http://www.facebook.com/l/e1e7b;www.ouroregonocean.org/tour_RSVP_26June2010.html

COMMUNIST PARTY OF INDIA (MAOIST)---CONDEMN THE CONSPIRACY OF THE RULING CLASSES

CONDEMN THE CONSPIRACY OF THE RULING CLASSES AND THE MEDIA HYSTERIA TO IMPLICATE MAOISTS IN THE JNANESWARI EXPRESS TRAGEDY!!

The removal of panroles on the railway track near Jhargram in West Bengal leading to the accident of Kurla-bound Jnaneswari Express and consequent deaths of 150 innocent civilians and injuries to over 200 passengers is highly condemnable. The CC, CPI(Maoist), expresses its deep sorrow at the tragic incident and shares the suffering and pain of the families of the deceased. Strangely, the tragic incident which took place on the intervening night of May 28/29 is being used by West Bengal government, the police and some ruling class parties like the Hindu fascist BJP and the social fascist CPI(M) to tarnish the image of our Party—CPI(Maoist)— and gain legitimacy to the counter-revolutiona ry war unleashed by the Indian State against the poorest sections of the Indian society led by the Maoists.

Baseless accusations against the Maoist revolutionaries are part of the dirty disinformation campaign let loose by the reactionary rulers through their police-intelligence agencies and their pet media. For two days after the incident the police did not even confirm whether a blast had occurred at the site let alone finding any clue about the involvement of the Maoists or the PCAPA. However, they came up with the theory of Maoist involvement with the argument that the area is a hotbed of the Maoists, and Maoists had been targeting trains for some time. The entire media has been playing to the tune of the conspirators by running banner headlines that "Maoist terrorists" had taken the lives of innocent people, Maoists are blood-thirsty hounds and such trash which only insane people can say. Would anyone in his senses ever imagine that the CPI(Maoist), which had been fighting for land, livelihood and liberation of the people for over four decades, which had sacrificed thousands of its leaders and cadres for the cause of the oppressed, which has no other interests than the interests of the people, can harm the lives of those very people?

It is the reactionary rulers who would stop at nothing to acquire power and retain it. They would set fire to their own houses to discredit others and gain the sympathy of the people. It is universally known how Hindu fascists like Narendra Modi had engaged VHP, RSS and Bajrang Dal hoodlums to unleash attacks on Muslims; how a Sri Ram Sene is hired to create riots in Karnataka; how a Raman Singh kills adivasis and accuses the Maoists of having committed the crimes. A fascist Hitler had set fire to the Reichstag, to put the blame on the Communists and begin a witch-hunt. Likewise, these reactionary rulers themselves had organized the sabotage of railways with the aim of discrediting the Maoists. With an eye on the elections and unnerved by their fast-eroding social base, the social fascists think they can gain sympathy through such dirty tricks. The reactionary ruling class parties have degenerated to such a low level that they will go to any extent to be in power.

Strange is the manner in which most of the media had reported on the tragic incident. While they ran headlines attributing the cause of the sabotage to the Maoists, they report in their columns that the enquiry is on and that Maoist involvement is suspected. How can the media deliver its judgement even before any evidence is found or enquiry conducted? What morality do these reporters, some of them quite renowned at that, possess when they pass judgements based on their own ideological biases? Worse, some media sources have not even published or aired the statement issued by our Party representative in West Bengal denying our involvement. The media is becoming increasingly anarchic, irresponsible and unaccountable. While propagating falsehoods without investigation, the media does not even have the courtesy to admit its gross mistakes and irresponsible accusations when the truth comes out in the open. It had done the same kind of false propaganda against the Muslim community after the blasts in Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad, Ajmer Dargah blast, Goa blast and so on and remained unapologetic about its false and biased reporting even after it was clearly proved that these blasts were the handiwork of Hindu fascist gangs.

The CC, CPI(Maoist), condemns this kangaroo trial by the media and its irresponsible accusations against our Party's involvement in the train tragedy. We consider this as a deep conspiracy by the rulers to defame the Maoist revolutionaries and gain legitimacy to their suppression campaign. We warn the reactionaries who have been vomiting venom against Maoists to stop their vicious campaign and hurling false allegations. We call upon the democratic and progressive forces, civil rights groups and people at large to see through the intrigues and diabolic designs of the reactionary rulers in spreading such lies and falsehoods against the Maoist revolutionaries. We demand an impartial enquiry into the incident to bring out the truth. Our Party will never hide the truth from the people. When we commit a mistake we frankly admit it, apolgise to the people from the depths of our hearts, and assure them that we would not repeat such a mistake. This has been the hall-mark of our Party in all its history. In this particular incident of the Jnaneswari express the Party leadership so far is not aware of any involvement of its cadre but if it is found that anyone close to our Party had indeed carried out the sabotage of the railways, then we will take stringent action against them and openly admit the lapse on our part. We will investigate into the incident and come out with the facts in the shortest time. We assure the people of our country that there will not be any attacks on trains in future and we will instruct our Party cadre to abstain from such acts as they can cause loss of ordinary lives.