Saturday 26 February 2011

Permanent Revolution in the Arab world

The International Committee of the Fourth International at its annual meeting in late February 2011 unanimously adopted the following statement.

1. The extraordinary victory of the Egyptian people against Mubarak steps up the historical range of the Tunisian revolution that cut down the Ben Ali regime. In just a few days, the shock wave of these popular victories extended to the entire Arab region and beyond that, influencing the class struggle across the world. Demonstrations, strikes, assemblies, self-defence committees, mobilizations of trade unions, high-school pupils, democratic associations clashed with absolute determination against state apparatuses, most particularly the police. Millions of Tunisians and Egyptians came into activity to bring down the dictators, and continue to mobilize to keep control of their revolutions.

2. This is a process of permanent revolution, which combines social, democratic, national sovereignty dimensions, and is spreading internationally. The effects of the world economic crisis, combined with savage oppression and the shameless corruption of the dictatorships, brought together the most disadvantaged popular layers, the organized working class and the middle classes, young people and old, women and men. The Tunisian and Egyptian masses could no longer accept economic systems that marginalized them. As in many neighbouring countries, integration with capitalist globalization led to economic growth that did not create employment but rather an unprecedented concentration of wealth, an unequal development of the country and a general degradation of living and working conditions.

One of the main reasons for these revolutions has been the explosion of food prices in the last few years. The rapid process of climate change has led to the current world food crisis, particularly in countries like Tunisia. The economic liberalization imposed by the IMF, WTO and the EU has led to increased casualization of workers, drastic cuts in public services and mass unemployment particularly hitting young graduates. With the additional closing of the borders of the European Union to the possibilities of emigration, and the contraction of the labour market in the Gulf States, any prospect of escaping poverty has disappeared.

At the same time there was a drastic smothering of freedoms and democratic rights by police states which imposed generalized social control. The fact that the parliamentary representatives of the “opposition” parties were tolerated by the Tunisian and Egyptian dictatorships only as phantoms while civil associations were reduced to shells or prevented from functioning led to an impossibility of countervailing powers. This created a situation where, between the dictatorships and the populations, there was only the figure of an autocratic leader and a devoted and savage repressive apparatus. And the gangster-style functioning of the clans in power completed their delegitimization.

Lastly, these two regimes were characterized by their collaboration with the Zionist Israeli state, which exasperated their populations, who identify with the sufferings of the Palestinian people, even more.

Faced with all these injustices, strikes and social explosions had multiplied in recent years, allowing an accumulation of experience without however managing to break down the wall of fear for the majority of the populations. This wall was submerged in a few weeks, and in spite of the very many victims, the Tunisian people, then with their example in mind the Egyptian people, carried out an uninterrupted fight until the departure of the dictators Ben Ali and Mubarak.

3. With these victories, the people of the Arab area show their immense dignity, through their irruption onto the political scene of democracy and class struggle, no longer locked in the deathly alternative (or combination) of autocracies or Islamism in which they had been trapped for thirty years. The popular classes and, in first place, the working class of this region have won the means of asserting all democratic freedoms, women to assert their rights and equality with men. The workers have won the means of fighting back on a much higher level against the neoliberal programmes of overexploitation, and to profoundly destabilize the means by which both American and European imperialist maintain their hold on the region, articulated in the State of Israel. The Israeli regime, and all currents within it, made no mistake when it demanded Western support for the dictators up to the very end.

The revolutions in the Arab region show the potential for social emancipation of all mass struggles against injustice. The active role of women in these mobilizations is an unmistakable sign. It makes it possible to combat the racist and Islamophobic campaigns on the so-called “clash of civilizations” that try to make us believe that the mobilization of Arabic-Muslim peoples paves the way to fundamentalism.

This dynamic will have effects in the whole world. It has already immediately in Jordan, with Yemen, with Bahrain, in Syria, in Libya, in Algeria, with Morocco and in Mauritania, even if one cannot foretell the exact rhythm and in which order the regimes will fall, given that each struggle has its own specificities. Especially in Libya where the regime has attacked the population with military jets and helicopters and already killed more than 500 people there is a rapid escalation of the situation, which demands our full solidarity.

These revolutions create new more favourable conditions for the struggle of the Palestinians, a struggle that the Fourth International encourages and supports. The Egyptian revolution puts concretely onto the agenda an end to that crime against humanity known as the blockade of Gaza. Faced with this, the response of the Zionist state could become harsher and more brutal. Mobilizations to stop this should be stepped up.

The dynamic of these revolutions encourages also the fights against the dictatorships in Iran and as far as China, where the oppositions take as a starting point methods of coordination used in Tunisia and Egypt, like the use of social networks. It will inevitably encourage the mobilizations of migrant communities from the Arab region, who are overexploited and oppressed in the advanced capitalist countries. More than ever we have to stand shoulder to shoulder with these populations.

But these processes could have still more global consequences in the same imperialist countries where the workers and the young people clash more and more massively with austerity plans, without finding the way of success: they show that a revolution from the bottom up is possible in the 21st century, that it can cut down an apparently impregnable political regime and win conquests that appeared inaccessible as recently as yesterday!

4. The gains of these processes are certainly fragile in both Tunisia and Egypt, but essential for what follows. Being based on recent popular experiences, and the longstanding implantation of the radical left in the trade unions, self-organization developed massively when it was necessary for demonstrators and the inhabitants of popular districts to protect themselves from police exactions and the regimes’ militias, in Tunisia de Sidi Bouzid to the popular quarters of the big cities and the Kasbah in Tunis; in Egypt from Tahrir Square in Cairo to the popular districts of Suez, Mansourah or Alexandria. Unimaginable scenes a few days before, Muslims and Copts mutually protected their prayers; blue-collar workers and young Net surfers, women and clerics, writers and taxi drivers stood side by side at the points attacked by the henchmen of Mubarak. The people succeeded in destabilizing the army while systematically trying to fraternize with the soldiers.

The dictators fled, the leaderships of the parties in power were forced out under the pressure of the mobilizations, and the popular mobilizations continue. In Tunisia, the most corrupt leaders are being prosecuted, the funds and the goods of the RCD have been seized, and its buildings have become peoples’ houses. Most political prisoners have been released. Though they have not been dismantled, the police apparatuses of the two countries are disorganized. The ministry employees are starting to exert control on their leaders, like those in the Tunisian Ministry for Foreign Affairs who forced the resignation of their minister who had praised the French Foreign Minister Alliot-Marie. Many Tunisian governors, mayors and public officials have had to resign. The Tunisian masses are even demanding the departure of the newly-arrived French ambassador after his antagonistic statement! Many temporary employees in the civil service have been given permanent posts; the capital of the most corrupted enterprise leaders of Tunisia has been nationalized. In Egypt, these processes are also underway. Civil servants have obtained pay rises of 15%; many workers’ strikes are developing in spite of the threats of the new regime.

5. Of course, the dominant classes did not remain inert and will be increasingly active faced with the revolutionary processes. In Tunisia, the “neutrality” of the army and the departure of Ben Ali were counterbalanced by the maintenance in power of his Prime Minister Ghannouchi and many leaders of the RCD, which was to be legitimated by the arrival in the government of several opposition parties and major trade union UGTT. The refusal of this and the popular mobilization imposed a second government where only the Prime Minister remains among the executives of the RCD. But the new regimes is advised by executives of French imperialism, and it is putting all its energy to convincing, alongside the Tunisian capitalists and the army, the workers to resume work “like before”. It would be a question of closing a parenthesis… while simply announcing general elections in 6 months.

In Egypt, it is the army that is directly ensuring the “transition”, with the menacing Suleiman as Minister of the Interior, a proven torturer, friend of Israel and agent of the CIA of public notoriety. There too, the people are called upon to be reasonable, to allow the continuation of tourism and foreign investments, with the promise of elections in a few months… and threats of a resumption of repression.

The Sarkozy and Berlusconi governments, which did not see what was coming and made matters worse in their support to the bitter end for Ben Ali, are at the forefront of the European Union in now requesting the revival of business and a return to police blockings of migrants. The Obama administration is much more flexible: not having foreseen controlled the movement in Egypt, it pretends to overlap with it. But its close links with the army command weighs as a permanent threat on the Egyptian revolutionary process, and will require keeping the Palestinian border in Gaza closed. Above all the international institutions will demand guarantees concerning the traffic in the Suez canal and respect of the fundamentals of modern capitalism: payment of the national debt, however iniquitous; respect of total opening to foreign capital and products, continuing deregulation.

6. In this process, the whole system has to be eradicated in order to establish all democratic rights and freedoms: right to free speech, right to strike, right to demonstrate, pluralism of associations, trade unions and parties, liquidation of the presidential institution and introduction of a revolutionary provisional government. Today the opening of a process of free elections for a constituent assembly is necessary.

In order for this not to be halted by a new regime of the oligarchies, this process must be based on the organization of the popular committees, coordinations and councils that emerged in the population. In this process, the anticapitalists will defend the key demands of a programme breaking with imperialism and capitalist logic: satisfaction of the vital needs of the popular classes – bread, wages, jobs; reorganization of the economy on the basis of fundamental social needs, free and adequate public services (schools, health), women’s rights, broadening social protection for unemployment, health and retirement, radical land reform, socialization of the banks and key sectors of the economy, cancellation of the debt, national and popular sovereignty. This programme of a government that would be at the service of the workers and the population is proposed in Tunisia by the League of the Workers’ Left (Ligue de la Gauche Ouvrière). This is a component of the 14th of January Front which brings together the left forces rejecting the Ghannouchi government and fighting for all democratic freedoms, a Constituent Assembly and the satisfaction of fundamental needs. This programme is also defended in Egypt by the regroupment of revolutionaries that is in process.

7. The Tunisian and Egyptian peoples, and all the people of the Arab region still need our solidarity in the fight for democratic freedoms. They need even more our mobilization to loosen the grip of imperialism: non payment of the foreign debts of the former regimes, restitution of the goods and financial assets of the dictators, protection of the national sovereignty of the people against the pressures of international capitalism; cancelling of the international agreements signed by the former regime in the military, security and migration sectors. Revolutionaries throughout the world also have the essential task of making all possible links with the trade unions, people’s organizations and associations and anticapitalist organizations of these countries, to help with the consolidation of the revolutionary processes in progress, and to support the self-organization of the people concerned. The revolution underway in the Arab region is our combat!

We already support the following initiatives:

the appeal of the Assembly of Social Movement meeting at the World Social Forum in Dakar for a worldwide of solidarity with the revolution in the Arab region on the 20th March of (anniversary of the invasion of Iraq in 2003);

the conference of revolutionary organizations in the Arab region in Tunis called by the LGO from 25th to 27th March;

the Mediterranean anti-capitalist conference called by the NPA which will take place in Marseilles on the 7th and 8th of May.


22nd February 2011

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Days of Rage......and it's not over yet!

People march on Gadaffi after Friday prayers

Around 50 people attended an inspiring meeting in Brighton last night to hear about the Middle East insurrections.  Well done to the UCU for organising it at short notice.

There were eyewitness reports from Tahrir Square in Cairo from Egyptian student Hanna Elsisi, and John Rees from Stop the War.  We also heard from Libyan activist Abubaker Deghayes about the dreadful actions of a dying regime in Tripoli and about the Libyan Embassy demonstrations in London.  Abubaker reported that Gadaffi's mercenaries were turning anti-aircraft guns on protesters.

One of the most important messages that we heard was the revolution in Egypt was not over, and that the uprisings were spreading.  People are continuing to occupy Tahrir Square to demand the complete sweeping away of the old regime and for reforms.  We also heard of protests in Bahrain, Morocco, Iraq, Iran and even Saudi Arabia.  Martin Evans, a writer on Algeria, spoke about the fight of people in that repressed country against one of the most oppressive of the regimes.

People in Egypt have formed committees to runs services and keep society running, belying the myth that Arabs cannot rule for themselves without "strongmen" to tell them what to do.  John Rees told us a good trick for recharging a mobile phone while occupying Tahrir Square - it involves taking the front off a lamp post!

Links were made with the struggles in this country against tuition fees and cuts, and with the strikers in Wisconsin. People are losing their fear!

Wednesday 23 February 2011

The forest sell-off is stopped...but there's still much to fight for!

Dave Bangs writes......

The privatization of the entire Forestry Commission estate has been cancelled, and the legal powers for this massive disposal – 2% of England - have been dropped from the Public Bodies Bill.

The Forestry Commission must still go ahead with shedding about 40% of their English employee’s jobs. That means all the forest management plans will be in chaos. The Forest Research part of the Commission – doing crucial work to tackle plant disease, monitor climate change and promote timber productivity - faces 25 % cuts. East Sussex forests could be run from Thetford, Suffolk, and their already bare-bones staff of five slashed.
The Commission may have to sell 15% of the estate in the autumn, if the government demands it. Their DEFRA grant will still be slashed…and the panel of experts appointed by the government to pontificate over the future of our forests will include representatives of the same conservation NGOs who failed to campaign against the privatization, and partially endorsed it, as well as forest industry reps. Both groups are united in their potential interest in cherry-picking our public forests.

It harvests trees 150% more efficiently than the private sector and produces 60% of our home grown timber on only 18% of our woodland. It cherishes a vast range of ancient woodlands, whilst planting new urban fringe and brownfield community forests.
The Forestry Commission’s South East Region – from the Chilterns to Kent – own or lease 98 woodlands, ranging from the old royal forest of Alice Holt, to Bedgebury National Pinetum, and large downland beech forests. Most of these woodlands are ancient, with carpets of bluebells and a rich wildlife. The Commission plan to restore all their ancient woodlands to their former glory.
The proposed privatization of our national forests stirred public anger to boiling point. Opposition groups formed all across the country. The 38 Degrees on-line petition has over half a million signatures.


1. A positive role for an expanded state national forest service and public forest estate in delivering a range of public benefits. No land sales. No job cuts. No funding cuts.
2. Opposition to all conservation NGO acquisitions of privatized FC land. We will seek the compliance of the NGO's with this boycott position

3. If there is to be a public consultation we want it be grass roots-led. There should be representation from trade unions and grass roots forest defence organizations on any government advisory panel, and its meetings should be in public. There should be no representation on any advisory panel for organizations who stand to benefit from Forestry Commission disposals.
4. We need democracy in the Commission's management. There should be public and staff representation at district, regional, and national level in Forestry Commission decision making.

Western leaders and their contempt for Arab peoples

Cameron's been in Cairo doing business as usual this week. How fitting that a week after the Egyptian people throw off the shackles of the dictator, all Cameron and his team of "businessmen" want to do is sell some more weapons to the new management.

Like....that's what Middle East really needs is more weapons......

The popular western stereotype of Arabs as that of backward extremists incapable of democratic and progressive governance. The reality is somewhat different of course. Many Arab states had democratic and secular governments in the recent past (Kassem in Iraq and Mossadegh in Iran spring to mind). But such governments were overthrown with the help of the West, which has always preferred to deal with dictators, religious extremists and feudal monarchs in that part of the world all the better to safeguard their "interests".

Those days are at an end. The genie is out of the bottle.

And hopefully, as austerity measures bite in the West, the workers of the West will watch....and learn....

Rally - Revolution in the Middle East
Friday 25th February
Brighton University, Pavilion Parade (opp Pavilion)

John Rees (witness of events in Egypt)
Abubaker Deghayes (Libyan refugee)
Martin Evans

Wednesday 16 February 2011

The fat cat conundrum

Eric Pickles has high-earning council chiefs in his sights. Interestingly for a supposed "localist", he is very keen to lay down the law to local authorities on this one.

Even to the extent of getting his facts utterly wrong. Like muddling up the pay levels of the heads of the FTSE 200 companies with those of Council chief execs!

Of course, council workers and their unions have been drawing attention to the high pay of council chief executives long before the likes of Pickles found it politically expedient to do so. In fact it might be interesting to check how much Pickles was prepared to pay bosses to implement his cutting and privatising agenda at Bradford Council all those years ago.

But make no mistake - this is all about diverting attention away from the massacre of local services and jobs. Nothing to do with any sudden concern about municipal fat-cattery.

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Tuesday 15 February 2011

Paying for your own tax cut - Tories plumb new depths of cynicism with an electioneering con-job of a budget

So the Tories have engineered a council tax "cut" of 1% - about a pound a month on a Band D property.

Don't let it change your life!

They know this is a one-off - it cannot be replicated in the next couple of years at least.  But of more interest is how this tax cut is actually being financed.  Councils qualify for a grant to the value of a 2.5% increase in council tax - if they agree to freeze council tax.  So effectively the freeze on council tax is being financed through the money of the same taxpayers who are supposed to "benefit" from it.  The money is coming from rises in VAT and cuts in tax credits and benefits.

A version of the Great Money Trick that the late Robert Tressell could never have dreamed of!

The actual 1% cut is being financed partly through massive cuts in childrens's services and adult social care - £5.5 and £6.1 million respectively - and they are also finding money to cut the cost of parking permits by 5% (big deal).  They are also proposing to spend £1.1 million on removing - yes removing - two cycle lanes.

The £12.62 a year is little use to individuals, but it adds up to a million pounds - think what that could do.

This budget was certainly a major disappointment given the tiresome game of now-you-see-it-now-you-don't both the unions and opposition councillors had to endure from the Administration as meeting after meeting had to be cancelled last week while the Tories dithered over whether it was ready or not.

Hopefully, given the balance of forces on the Council, some of this nonsense can be stopped at the Council meeting on 3rd March

Defend multiculturalism. Oppose attacks on mosques

Mid Sussex Unite Against Fascism and other Sussex UAF groups are circulating the following statement, in response to the recent attack on the Mid Sussex Mosque, and David Cameron's speech attacking multiculturalism.

We would like trades unionists, political figures, community leaders and others to consider putting their name to it.

If you are willing to do so, please respond to with letting us know how you would like your name to appear - ie do you want us to include: title, political party, union, or other group, whether you are responding in a personal capacity.
MidSussex UAF

In a recent speech David Cameron claimed multi-culturalism had failed, he sought to scapegoat Muslims, and brand them as extremists.

Even more shamefully he delivered that speech on the same day as the racist organisation the English Defence League (EDL) was marching through Luton, spreading its message of hate against the town’s Muslim population.

The torching of the Mid-Sussex mosque on Sunday night shows the dangerous results of Cameron’s rhetoric. If the Prime Minister uses hateful language about Muslims, then it is no surprise others target the Muslim community in their own ways.

For the vast majority of people who live in Sussex our multicultural society brings us only benefits, and when the Mosque was opened in Haywards Heath, just a few months ago, it was greeted as a great development. The hard work of the Mid Sussex Islamic Society, in turning an empty ex-scout hut into a place of worship is an important and welcome addition to the area.

As the young men suspected of the attack on the Mosque are still awaiting trial we can only wait to discover their motives.

But Mosques and Muslims should not be targets for anyone, and when leading politicians scapegoat people for their faith or race it is just a nasty ploy to distract people from the very real attack we face, that upon our public services, and quality of life brought about by ideologically motivated cuts.

When the result is attacks like the one on Mid-Sussex Mosque, we must all stand against racists and racist rhetoric.
We live in a multicultural society, and we celebrate that and it makes us strong.

Mid sussex Unite Against Fascism can be contacted by emailing:

Also visit the Unite Against Fascism website to sign out petition opposing Cameron’s attack on multi-culturalism:

Friday 11 February 2011

Solidarity with Egyptian workers!

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Sunday 6 February 2011

Holier-than-thou secularists

I would describe myself as a moderate secularist.  I have no religious faith, but I recognise the civilising influence which people of faith have brought to the world at some points...and the less benign influence they have had at others.  I don't indulge in the lazy thinking that responsibility for all of the world's ills and conflicts can be laid at the door of religion, any more than I think that it is totally blameless.

So....maybe it's me, but isn't the "secularist movement" just a little bit of a disappointment?

It is the case with every movement (and the Left is certainly no exception) that wishes to be taken seriously needs to state clearly what is for as well at what it is against.  Secularists in thsi country seem to spend alot of time attacking religions (one in prizes....), but alot less time saying what secularism stands for.

I'm starting to agree with Jeremy Hardy, who posed the very apposite question, "If you could only listen to one specch, would you rather it be one by Martin Luther King........or Richard bloody Dawkins?"

Statement from the youth of the Tahrir Square sit-in

We the protesters who are currently in the sit-in at Tahrir (liberation) square in Cairo since January 25, 2011 strongly condemn the brutal attack carried out by the governing National Democratic Party's (NDP) mercenaries at our location on Wednesday February 2, under the guise of "rally" in support of President Mubarak. This attack continues on Thursday February 3. We regret that some young people have joined these thugs and criminals, whom the NDP is accustomed to hire during elections, to march them off after spreading several falsehoods circulated by the regime media about us and our goals. These goals that aim at changing the political system to a one that guarantees freedom, dignity and social justice to all citizens are also the goals of the youth. Therefore we want to clarify the following.

Firstly, we are a group of young Muslim and Christian Egyptians; the overwhelming majority of us does not belong to political parties and have no previous political activism. Our movement involves elderly and children, peasants, workers, professionals, students and pensioners. Our movement cannot be classified as "paid for" or "directed by" a limited few because it attracted millions who responded to its emblem of removing the regime. People joined us last Tuesday in Cairo and other governorates in a scene that witnessed no one case of violence, property assault or harassment to anyone.

Secondly , our movement is accused of being funded from abroad, supported by the United States, as being instigated by Hamas, as under the leadership of the president of the National Assembly for change (Mohamed El-Baradie) and last but not least, as directed by the Muslim Brotherhood. Many accusations like these prove to be false. Protesters are all Egyptians who have clear and specific national objectives. Protesters have no weapons or foreign equipment as claimed by instigators. The broad positive response by the people to our movement's goals reveals that these are the goals of the Egyptian masses in general, not any internal or external faction or entity.

Thirdly , the regime and its paid media falsely blame us, young demonstrators, for the tension and instability in the streets of Egypt in recent days and therefore for damaging our nation's interests and security. Our answer to them is: It is not the peaceful protesters who released the criminal offenders from prison to the unguarded streets to practice looting and plundering. It is not the peaceful protesters who have imposed a curfew starting at 3 o'clock PM. It is not the peaceful protesters who have stopped the work in banks, bakeries and gas stations. When protesters organized its one-million demonstration it came up in the most magnificent and organized form and ended peacefully. It is not the protestors who killed 300 people some with live ammunition, and wounding more than 2,000 people in the last few days.

Fourthly, President Mubarak came out on Tuesday to announce that he will not be nominated in the upcoming presidential election and that he will modify two articles in the Constitution, and engage in dialogue with the opposition. However the State media has attacked us when we refused his "concession" and decided to go on with our movement. Our demand that Mubark steps down immediately is not a personal matter, but we have clear reasons for it which include:

His promise of not to run again is not new. He has promised when he came to power in 1981 that he will not run for more than two periods but he continued for more than 30 years.

His speech did not put any collateral for not nominating his son "Gamal", who remains until the moment a member of the ruling party, and can stand for election that will not be under judicial supervision since he ignored any referring to the amendment of article 88 of the Constitution.

He also considered our movement a "plot directed by a force" that works against the interests of the nation as if responding to the demands of the public is a "shame" or "humiliation".

As regards to his promise of conducting a dialogue with the opposition, we know how many times over the past years the regime claimed this and ended up with enforcing the narrow interests of the Mubarak State and the few people who control it.

And the events of Wednesday proved our stand is vindicated. While the President was giving his promises, the leaders of his regime were organizing (along with paid thugs and wanted criminals equipped with swords, knives and Molotov bombs) a brutal attack plot against us in Tahrir square. Those thugs and criminals were accompanied by the NDP members who fired machine guns on unarmed protesters who were trapped on the square ground, killing at least 7 and wounding hundreds of us critically. This was done in order to end our peaceful national popular movement and preserve the status quo. Our movement is Egyptian - Our movement is legitimate- Our movement is continuing

The youth of Tahrir Square sit-in, February 3, 2011 at 11:30am