Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Inhumanity Unbound: the Case for Socialism

Chinese health workers celebrate by removing their masks for the first time in months as the last of the temporary Covid-19 treatment centres closes in Wuhan, China.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Nothing exposes the hypocrisy, arrogance, and selfishness of capitalism and its backers like a major threat or catastrophe. 
Three hundred Chinese doctors began arriving in Italy on Wednesday, March 18 to help the local effort against the coronavirus  (Fifty-two health professionals also arrived from socialist Cuba last week). In addition, PRChina (PRC) is sending testing kits and protective clothing. PRC has sent kits and gear to Spain, Greece, and Poland as well.
While The Wall Street Journal (3-19-2020) grudgingly reports this international solidarity, it is also compelled to admit that “many people feel let down by the European Union… No other EU countries responded to an Italian plea for masks earlier in March, and German authorities temporarily impeded deliveries of medical supplies to Italy.” The head of a European think tank remarked: “This is a shocking failure of European solidarity. The impression in Italy, Spain, and Serbia and so on is that the weaker links will be left alone.” 
The Italian and Chinese governments announced that PRC will supply needed ventilators and face masks. Balkan countries unable to acquire supplies from the EU are also getting assistance from the PRC, according to the WSJ. Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic bitterly commented: “European solidarity does not exist. It was a fairytale.”
Contrast this commentary on European indifference with the arrogant self-righteousness of the policy of “open-borders” as formerly proclaimed by EU leaders. When workers expressed their reservations about unlimited immigration eroding wages and benefits in the EU, the Euro-leadership indignantly charged “xenophobia.” Waving the banner of human rights, the EU chiefs welcomed immigrants-- mostly the victims of imperialist aggression-- desperately looking for jobs at any cost, while appearing to take the moral high ground.
Once the “reserve army” overflowed to create stress on the EU safety net, the welcome mat was quietly removed. 
European workers understood the simple fact that in a capitalist economy the labor of workers is a commodity like any other element in the productive process and that capitalists seek to purchase that commodity as cheaply as possible. They anticipated that humanitarian sentiments were too often a cover for cheapening the cost of labor.
The formerly putative human rights crusaders of an EU without borders are now panicked in a mad dash of self-preservation, hoarding resources and closing borders. Today’s pandemic crisis exposes their hypocrisy.
But neither neglect nor arrogance is a monopoly of the capitalist European Union. It is now widely acknowledged that the austerity imposed upon the US public sector since the crash of 2007-2009 bears a responsibility for the lack of funding for the agencies, like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), that needed to address the threat from the coronavirus.
In addition, the CDC displayed an unforgivable hubris, ignoring the international efforts to contain the virus and the lessons learned. In accounts from as diverse sources as National Public Radio and The Wall Street Journal, we learn that the CDC chose to develop its own testing kits for the virus, ignoring the existing technologies of the World Health Organization and the PRC.
When their own kits went into production, they proved faulty, setting the program back. Rather than turning to existing internationally used designs, the CDC sought to make its own corrections, further delaying production. The CDC vastly underestimated the virus’s deadliness and its contagion. The spread of the virus is rapidly outstripping the availability of testing kits, attesting to the conceit of Make America Great Again.
Despite the lack of testing kits in the US, many have noticed that celebrities, sports figures, politicians and others of our “betters” have cut the line and acquired tests before the most needy-- the ugliest side of the inequality of class society. 
Also, reliable accounts have surfaced that some US elected officials have used their privileged information to enable them to liquidate their equity portfolios before the great March stock market collapse.
Workers employed in low-wage, service-sector jobs are the most vulnerable to intensive and persisting human contact and potential infection and are the least able to sustain the economic consequences of the pandemic.
It is not true that we are all in this together. Some are in it for themselves.
For any thinking observer, the coronavirus pandemic is fast becoming an argument for socialism. Even a bitter enemy of public ownership, planning, and economic equality like The Wall Street Journal caustically acknowledges that the PRC’s remarkable defeat of the coronavirus epidemic was achieved with the quickly mobilized, effective state-owned-enterprises (SOEs). In a tellingly titled article (China Steps Back From Market Economy, 3-19-2020), Lingling Wei cites the 20,000 SOE construction workers and supportive public enterprises that built two hospitals with 2,600 beds within two weeks, an achievement impossible in the capitalist West. Lingling cites an official: “It’s like in a battlefield, and state-owned enterprises are the ones who can act fast and decisively.”
The coordination of SOEs was formidable, with petrochemical enterprises working to produce materials for masks and pharmaceuticals. State-owned housing ordered reduced rents by “tens of millions of dollars.” Despite the reduced production necessitated by social isolation, the central government pressed SOEs to maintain employment, even “hire more, especially college graduates.”
The WSJ concedes that “Many private manufacturers are struggling to restore production, yet more than 95% of some 20,000 industrial companies controlled by the central government are churning out masks, medicines, steel, heavy machinery and other products-- keeping workers on the job.”
Western commentators bemoan the success of the SOEs, interpreting it as a setback for the hope of privatization (so-called “market reforms”) in PRC. One former WSJ writer complained: “If and when the outbreak fades, the conclusion is inevitably going to be that the overwhelming exercise of state power saved China.”
In exemplary acts of solidarity fully consistent with its long history of internationalism, tiny socialist Cuba, suffering a criminal US blockade and brutal sanctions, is offering doctors and drugs to several stricken countries.

When the US refused to allow the British cruise ship, MS Braemer, to dock, Cuba met its humanitarian duty and allowed its passengers to disembark and travel home by air. 
The contrast with Western, capitalist efforts is striking. The PRC (and Democratic Republic of Vietnam) have largely arrested the virus. As of March 21, the total cases per million of population is lower in the PRC than in the US and the UK, countries only at the beginning of their infection cycle. Italy had 6,557 new cases compared to only 41 in the PRC (4,759 in the US). 

Chinese health workers celebrate by removing their masks for the first time in months as the last of the temporary Covid-19 treatment centres closes in Wuhan, China.
In the US, there are far too few test kits, masks, and ventilators. New York City hospitals are overwhelmed. State administrations and the Federal government are in dispute over responsibilities while disaster looms. 
And tragically, the political and economic elites are more determined to rescue markets and corporations than humans. Trillions have been earmarked to bail capitalism. 
The idiocies, irrationalities, and unnecessary injuries of twenty-first-century capitalism are coming into full, tragic view. 
Greg Godels

Monday, February 3, 2020

Declaration of the Regional Office of the World Federation of Trade Unions in the Middle East on the so-called “Deal of the Century”

The US administration, represented by the head of its pyramid, presented by the US President Donald Trump with a hostile and provocative step has announced in public at a press conference with the Prime Minister of the Israeli entity, “Beniamin Netanyahu” that Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the Zionist entity and that the occupied Syrian Golan has become part of what is called the State of Israel, and that the Palestinians have to accept the fait accompli and to join the peace process in order to have a state recognized by the American administration that has no borders, but rather is based on separate and fragmented cantons. On the other hand, they will have investments that make their promised state a paradise on earth, otherwise they will face more and more isolation.
We at the World Federation of Trade Unions stress the following:
1- Jerusalem is the eternal capital of the State of Palestine.
2- The American administration should stop stoking hostility in the region by imposing a fait accompli policy, in contradiction to the United Nations resolutions that affirm the necessity of the Zionist entity withdrawing from all the Arab lands it occupied, otherwise what is the purpose of the United Nations and international law if each country violates it?
3- The right of return for the Palestinians is a sacred right that no one has the right to violate, and it is a right that does not lapse by default.
4- The Syrian Golan is Syrian occupied land, whose reality cannot be changed in any way.
5- The necessity of uniting Arab and international forces opposing the policies of domination and colonialism pursued by successive American administrations and the need for a global front to confront and expose these policies at all levels, and to organize protests in front of American embassies in the world.
6- The necessity to unify the Palestinian trade union forces at home and abroad, because what was leaked from the Deal of the Century has become a dangerous matter.
Long live the heroic struggle of the Palestinian people
Jerusalem and the Golan are Arab Lands
Long live the World Federation of Trade Unions

Friday, January 10, 2020

Cyprus must not get involved in US-Israel-Saudi Arabia warmongering plans

Statement by AKEL C.C. Spokesperson Stefanos Stefanou on developments in the Middle East
AKEL C.C. Press Office, 9th January 2020, Nicosia
Developments in the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean are causing concern among the peoples of our neighborhood and all over the world. At the same time they provoke justified outrage because the offender is once again the same. The offender is the United States that in the previous years has together with its allies steeped Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria in blood. Today they are yet again targeting Iran.
NATO’s deeper involvement in the Middle East – as the US President and NATO Secretary-General announced yesterday – will only add new dangers. The continuation of the foreign interventions in the Middle East and the escalation of tension will trigger uncontrolled and dangerous situations with the prospect of a new war in the Middle East visible; a war that the countries and peoples of our neighborhood will pay the heavy price for with blood, suffering and a new uprooting and displacement of the peoples.
Cyprus will find itself targeted if it is involved in any way whatsoever in the warmongering plans of the US, Israel and Saudi Arabia against Iran and other states and peoples of our neighborhood.
Those forces and circles who claim that Cyprus’ accession to the US-NATO war machine – as sealed by the notorious Menendez-Rubio bill – strengthens our country, must give explanations to the Cypriot people about the dangers that are being created for our country and its security.
As for the provision of facilities that the Anastasiades government has decided to grant to the American forces, we express the hope that these are truly about what the government is stating, namely, for the evacuation of diplomatic missions from neighbouring countries. They mustn’t be or evolve into anything else that might involve our country in dangers.
Our people’s interest lies in peace and the defence of international law, and not by choosing which camp to belong to, and in particular to Donald Trump’s camp, which literally represents a danger to the whole world. This is what must guide the foreign policy of our country.
AKEL joins its voice with the peoples of our region, with the peace movements in Europe, the US, Israel and around the world that are demanding respect for international law and the sovereignty of states, global nuclear disarmament and lasting peace.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Statement by the AKEL Environmental Bureau on the COP25 UN climate change conference and 2019 “European Green Deal”

AKEL C.C. Press Office, 16th December 2019, Nicosia
The disappointment with the results of the talks on the climate could not be better illustrated than by the words of the UN Secretary-General himself. Mr. Guterres said that “The international community lost an important opportunity to show increased ambition on mitigation, adaptation and finance to tackle the climate crisis.” The only outcome after two weeks of talks was the official recognition of the need to bridge the gap between the 2015 greenhouse gas targets set in Paris and the scientific data that demand much larger cuts.
The majority of the Summit’s time was wasted om the issue of creating a mechanism that would allow richer countries and companies to buy from poorer emission pollution rights and in doing so be relieved of the obligation to make the necessary reductions. It is now proven that such efforts to resolve the environmental problem with solutions that serve the interests of the rich countries through carbon trading have not only not improved the situation, but have made it worse.
The EU is committed to climate neutrality by 2050. Despite the fact it is claiming that it is promoting investment in environmental protection, there is no reference whatsoever to climate justice, to the way poorer states should be supported and at the same time the EU is introducing new “green” taxes.
The absence of an agreement for yet another year, condemns hundreds of millions of people to the effects of climate change. The US, Brazil, India and China have refused to support even more ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. The biggest danger comes from the US who have withdrawn from the Paris Agreement, following the decision taken by Donald Trump, who has already called global warming a “farce”.
Unfortunately, so long as a global agreement isn’t concluded and international cooperation is mainly forged, the UN Climate Summits will achieve the same result every year. The solution to the economic, social, political and environmental problem is a single interconnected issue and a collective effort is demanded to solve it, with real commitments and radical changes.
Cyprus must contribute its own share in the increase of the percentage of renewable energy from Renewable Energy Sources, in protecting areas of significant biodiversity, taking all those measures that will protect our country from the effects of climate change. It is not enough for the Anastasiades-DISY government to pompously present initiatives for climate action while remaining bottom of the table regarding Renewable Energy Sources and energy saving issues. We note that as Cyprus we are paying fines and are bottom of the table as regards the implementation of environmental legislation in our country.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

MK Odeh: No FM Will Change the Fact — The Settlements Were Built on Occupied Palestinian Land

The American foreign minister, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, announced on Monday, November 18, that the US is softening its position on Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Pompeo renounced a 1978 State Department legal opinion, known as the Hansell Memorandum, that held that civilian settlements in the occupied territories are “inconsistent with international law.” “Calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace,” Pompeo said. “The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace.”
Pompeo’s announcement is the latest in a series of Trump administration moves that have weakened Palestinian claims to statehood and efforts to reach a negotiated including Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the movement of the US Embassy to that city and the closure of the Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington.
Monday’s move angered Palestinians and immediately put the US at odds with other nations working to end the conflict. Spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdeneh, condemned Pompeo’s announcement and said settlements are illegal under International law. “The US administration has lost its credibility to play any future role in the peace process,” he said.
Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee Saeb Erekat slammed the announcement by Pompeo, saying that the Trump administration has “completely lost all credibility and no longer has any role in the peace process,” the Jerusalem Post reported. Erekat stressed that the US administration has put itself on the side of extremist-settlers and is defending the private settlement interests of some of its own officials.
In a statement released to the press on Monday evening, Erakat called on the advisers of the US administration to review the provisions of international law and international humanitarian law, and said: “All the tools of international law condemn settlement, starting with Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the transfer of civilian population to the occupied territory, passing through The Rome Statute, which considers settlement as a war crime, the ICJ’s [International Court of Justice’s] advisory opinion, and the recent decision of the European Court of Justice, with its documented legal competencies, confirms this clear position of all instruments of international law regarding settlements, which is irrefutable or uncertain.
“The United States is looking at this and other positions in many areas and in various regions of the world, and is putting itself in direct defiance of international law and international will, and trying to undermine its pillars and replace it with the law of the jungle, and thus eliminates its role as a responsible international player and factor acceptable in solving international crises.”
Erekat called on the international community to respond to these illegal declarations. “Because this behavior poses a threat to international stability, the international community is required to address it, and hold the US administration accountable for these flagrant and continuing violations of international law and consensus, and the rumors that could lead to chaos and turmoil in the relations between the nations of the world.”
In Jordan, Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine were in breach of international law and international legitimacy, a measure that would kill the two-state solution and undermine chances for a comprehensive peace. Safadi, in a tweet on Monday evening, saud that the Kingdom’s position in condemning the settlements firmly fixed, warning of the seriousness of the change in the US position on the settlements and its implications for all efforts to achieve peace.
The international community overwhelmingly considers the settlements illegal. This is based in part on the Fourth Geneva Convention, which bars an occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population to occupied territory.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement on Monday night that the EU still believes that Israeli settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories is illegal under international law and reduces the chances of a lasting peace. “The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity in the light of its obligations as an occupying power,” said Mogherini.
“Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal,” declared US Senator Bernie Sanders following the announcement by the US Secretary of State. “This is clear from international law and the various UN resolutions,” said Sanders, a leading candidate for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. “Once again, Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy, by appeasing his extremist base.” Just three years ago, in the final days of the Obama administration, the US allowed the UN Security Council to pass a resolution declaring the settlements a “flagrant violation” of international law.
Even though the latest US decision is largely symbolic, it could give a boost to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fighting for his political survival after he was unable to form a coalition government following recent elections. The Netanyahu government was dealt a blow on settlements just last week when the European Court of Justice ruled products made in Israeli settlements must be labeled as such.
Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, head of the Joint List tweeted in response to Pompeo’s announcement Monday: “No foreign minister will change the fact that the settlements were built on occupied land on which an independent Palestinian state will be established alongside the State of Israel.”

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Iraqi Communist Party : Victory to the People’s Uprising

Statement of the Iraqi CP’s Central Committee (on 15th November 2019):

The uprising of our people did not start last month and made enormous sacrifices in pursuit of partial solutions or cosmetic reforms, but directly raised the goal of salvation from the existing system of governance, the power-sharing quota policy in all its forms and the rampant corruption. It has clearly declared that the time for comprehensive change has come, and that it is necessary to launch a new phase in the country's march and open up the way for the establishment of a state based on citizenship, true democracy and social justice.
After all the deliberate killings and the bloodshed in an unprecedented brutal and horrific manner, with hundreds of peaceful protesters and security forces injured, and campaigns of detention, kidnapping and forced ‘disappearance’, and after the support for the valiant people's uprising from various popular and social sections, as well as professional, trade union and religious organisations .. After all this, the peaceful protesters are adamant that there will be no return to what had existed prior to 1st October 2019.
We stress that any procrastination or delay by the Government, the Parliament and dominant ruling forces in complying with the demand for real change, will only inflict harm on our people and our country.
While noting that the Uprising, which is effectively an unparalleled popular referendum, has entered its 45th day with great momentum and vigour, and with great determination to achieve its objectives, we reiterate support for it by all peaceful means, and reaffirm the demands we already made:
  1. The resignation or dismissal of the existing government in accordance with constitutional procedures. There should be no more excuses given in order to cling to power.
  2. To start the formation of a new government composed of competent, impartial and national figures who are known for integrity. This government should have exceptional powers and be formed away from the abhorrent quota system and corruption and in accordance with the Constitution. Its term should not exceed the period necessary to prepare the requirements for transition, and in all cases not more than six months.
  3. The President of the Republic, in accordance with the Constitution, shall immediately take the necessary steps to select the Prime Minister, on the basis of criteria of patriotism, competence, integrity, independence and decision-making ability away from regional tendency, political sectarianism and narrow partisanship.
  4. The principal functions of the new Government should be:
A- To accomplish the immediate and urgent steps to secure the people's livelihood and satisfy their urgent needs, and implement the economic and social demands of the participants in the Uprising.
B- To bring just retribution to those who committed the crimes of killing the demonstrators and those who issued orders to them. To release all the ‘disappeared’, the detainees and the kidnapped, and to stop the campaigns of pusuing and harassing other participants in the Uprising.
C- To act on the cases of corruption, starting with the worst cases, to bring the corrupt to justice and recover the looted money.
D- To prepare for early elections provided that it is preceded by:
  1. Legislating a new democratic and fair electoral law, which enshrines the principle of citizenship, expands representation and convinces citizens about the importance of elections and participation in them. This law must not be formulated to please the ruling blocs.
  2. Amending the Political Parties Law to ensure a healthy democratic political life, and to effectively implement the provisions that do not allow having armed wings. Transparency regarding the financial resources of the parties must be ensured.
  3. Electing a new High Electoral Commission, which is truly independent, composed of qualified individuals from outside political parties and blocs, and is supervised by the judiciary.
  4. Ensuring effective international supervision.
Upon completion of the above tasks and legislations, the Parliament must dissolve itself. The Government would then be a caretaker government. The constitutional amendments that need to be made will then be one of the first tasks of the new elected Parliament.
E- To restrict the possession of weapons by the State.
F- To preserve the sovereignty of the Iraqi state, ensure the independence of national decision-making and prevent external interference in its affairs.

Let us work diligently to sustain the momentum of the peaceful Uprising until its objectives, the goals of the people, have been fully realized.

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Postal workers issue ‘call to arms’ after court bars workers from their right to strike

The Communication Workers' Union says the judgment is a ‘genuine outrage’

The Royal Courts of Justice
Photo: David Castor/Creative Commons

POSTAL workers issued a “call to arms” to the trade union movement today after a court barred workers from striking against the casualisation of the Royal Mail.
After a two-day hearing at the Royal Court of Justice, Mr Justice Swift ruled today in favour of a Royal Mail application to stop Communication Workers’ Union (CWU) members from going on strike.
The CWU sent out a brief tweet immediately after the ruling, saying: “Genuinely this is an utter outrage. 110,000 workers vs the establishment.”
Mr Justice Swift said the CWU’s actions amounted to “improper interference” with the vote on strike action.
He said: “What the CWU did in this case was … a form of subversion of the ballot process.”
The judge said the union “took advantage” of members’ employment as postal workers to “encourage” them to take their voting papers from work before they were delivered to their homes and vote while in the workplace.
CWU members overwhelmingly supported taking action, with 97 per cent voting to strike on a turnout of 75 per cent.
It was one of the largest votes for industrial action in history and was only the third time that the threshold for national strike action set by the 2016 Trade Union Act was met.
The dispute is related to concerns amongst Royal Mail employees about the 2018 Four Pillars Agreement.
The agreement established a common understanding between workers and management over securing the future of the postal service, preserving decent pensions and working conditions and to move towards a 35-hour working week.
CWU members have expressed serious concerns that their management are not respecting the agreement and that a culture of bullying is being cultivated in depots and sorting offices across the country.
But Royal Mail claimed in court that the ballot was unlawful and has said that CWU officials “planned and orchestrated” breaches of industrial-relations law during the balloting process.
Royal Mail’s lawyers told the court that CWU officials and activists encouraged their members to intercept their ballot papers at work, vote immediately, then share footage and images of themselves sending off their votes on social media.
They also accused union officials of interfering with the ballot and alleged that there was a “de facto workplace ballot” — which would go against industrial actions law requiring that ballots must be cast in a worker’s home.
A Royal Mail statement admitted last week that it launched the challenge “because of the damage industrial action would do to the company and its customers in the run-up to Christmas.”
Following the result, CWU general secretary Dave Ward said that postal workers are “extremely angry” and “bitterly disappointed that one judge has granted Royal Mail an injunction to invalidate our ballot for strike action.”
Pointing out that not a single one of the 110,000 workers who were balloted complained to Royal Mail or independent scrutineers about the ballot, Mr Ward said: “This injunction is not only a massive injustice to our members — it’s also an injustice to every worker in the country.
“We all need to wake up and recognise that this Tory government has deliberately stacked the rules against workers in favour of the constituency they were born to serve — which is big business and the establishment.
“We appeal to the TUC and workers everywhere — in what is a call to arms — that it’s time for us to fundamentally shift the balance of forces in this country back to working people and remove these draconian laws once and for all.”
Mr Ward also told Royal Mail CEO Rico Back that this is not the end of the CWU’s fight, warning him: “You cannot face away from the reality that your victory in this court will be short-lived.
“You cannot face away from the reality that you have completely lost the confidence of the workforce and as a result there is no way you will ever be able to fully implement your plans for the future.”
He reassured CWU members that the union will be “doing everything” in its power to oppose both the decision and the company’s plans to casualise Royal Mail and will not only appeal the judgement but will launch a campaign against the company.
Royal Mail’s managing director of regulation and corporate affairs Shane O’Riordain said: “We are very pleased with the outcome today.”