Sunday, May 20, 2018

The Communist Manifesto. Have You Read It?

Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired
The Capitalist Pyramid

"The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere."

This short excerpt from the Communist Manifesto is important in that it explains the madness we are witnessing around us. The school shootings, the wars, the starvation. We are animals, and animals are conditioned by our environment. What this passage describes is an environment that is unhealthy, insecure and savage. Chickens on the range are chickens of one type. In the industrial farms they are chickens of another. Change the environment and you change the chicken. The same with humans. We are just chickens with an advanced consciousness. This is why Marx is demonized.

Workers can plough through pages upon pages of religious texts written millennia ago, (Millennia is not the name of Trump’s trophy wife) the Judeo Christian bible, the koran, themselves connected to older texts, the Sumerian, the Epic of Gilgamesh and who knows what else. Humans have attempted since our beginnings to explain the world around us and ancient texts are interesting, but tales nevertheless. But mention the Communist Manifesto and most will never have read it, particularly in the US.

But what of this passage above that has its roots firmly planted in reality, the material world. It is a description some 160 years ago of historical development and the human organization. Unlike religious mythology it is hated, demonized, savaged and most importantly feared by the ruling classes.

I was taught that a supernatural creature impregnated a Jewish woman without physical sex and she gave birth to its son and that's why were here.  Some time before that, this supernatural being had spoken to another man and made some sort of deal with him that promised him a territory and special favors if he did some nasty stuff to his male children. It’s a nice story but it’s not real. I know people that accept it don’t like this, but I cannot with all honesty say otherwise. I believe people have a right to believe this, and I have a right not to.  It is not that individuals accept this doctrine, it is that the state and its institutions give it credibility. Marx wrote very little about religion and for Marxists believing in a supreme being is a personal and very private matter.

I have a friend who is somewhat religious. She had broken from some of its worst trappings but we are taught that message from the minute we leave the womb so it’s hard for sure. We are terrorized with threats of retribution, pain  and suffering if we don’t toe the line. God is always watching you.  And the state and all its institutions back it up.  She has never read the passage above or the book from which it is taken, the Communist Manifesto, she cannot entirely caste off the hold the religious doctrine has over her and the prospect of being ostracized from this community in some way. Most importantly, she cannot overcome the stop in her mind, her own consciousness; she cannot liberate herself from it. 

It is a short book, not much more than a pamphlet really that attempts to explain how human society developed and each era is part of a connected process, a historical materialist view of the real world. It is not a perfect piece, but it strikingly prophetic when you look at where we are today. And what beautiful use of language. I should add that it was reading this little book that made me realize Stalinsm was not communism and Marx would not have fared well in Stalin's Soviet Union.

It doesn’t promise a heaven for good behavior and a hell for bad behavior but explains how human society develops and most importantly that things are not predestined, governed by some supernatural forces. It explains the forces at work in society gives a general outline as to how a conscious intervention in events can shape the future and how humanity organizes itself. “Philosophers have only interpreted the world…” wrote Marx, “….the point is to change it.” Heresy.

The struggle between classes based on their role in the production of the necessities of life is key. Which social grouping (class) owns the means of producing and distributing these necessities and which class, through its life activity and labor power actually makes them.

For the capitalist class (the bourgeois-- from the old term for urban communities----burghs) this little book is very dangerous. It is a key to the emancipation of humanity and a road to us developing our true human potential. We are not born sinners, evil people as Christian mythology teaches. There is not such a thing as a fixed “human nature” and a greedy one at that as we are taught.

"It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness." Marx wrote.

Every class-conscious worker should read the Communist Manifesto.

Gaza: Let Me Tell You About Them

Saturday, 19 May 2018 16:59

Let Me Tell You About Them

Let Me Tell You About Them
by Kevin Higgins

The teenagers we shot yesterday
were shot responsibly through the eye
with plain-speaking dum-dum bullets,
manufactured in Fife, or taken down
with SR 25 sniper rifles flown
heroically in from Orange County.
Many of these so-called protestors
specifically arranged to be shot in the back,
just to make us look bad.

The gas canisters our people threw
were entirely rational, and legal,
like the Boer firestorm the kaffirs
brought down on themselves at Sharpeville,
or the best-of-British ambush
that rubbish walked into at Derry.
The one rogue canister which lost
its mind and finished up in a tent
beside an eight month old baby,
who, sadly, also expired, is currently under investigation
and expects to be cleared of all wrong doing,
unlike the baby who we’ve already found guilty.

There is no such thing as Palestinians.
Just some Arabs who used to live here
and think they still do.
The keys they wave in the air
no longer open any doors.
They are a rumour you foolishly believed,
now we’ve moved our eternal capital
to what used to be
their front room.

Reprinted from Culture Matters

Kevin Higgins is a Galway-based poet, essayist and reviewer, and satirist-in-residence at the alternative literature site The Bogman's Cannon, www.bogmanscannon.com.
 

Saturday, May 19, 2018

French Students Protest Macron's Attacks on Education. Occupy Campuses



Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

Students throughout France have been occupying their campuses to protest attacks on education.  This video is interesting for those that are not familiar with the events of 1968 when the largest general strike in history took place in France.

The French General Strike did not take place in a vacuum of course. The colonial revolution was in full swing as they fought to expel direct control by the British French and colonial regimes. In the US we had the Civil Rights movement that shocked US capitalism to its core. Two of the greatest leaders on the 20th century Malcolm X and Martin Luther King were assassinated by the US state machine in this decade.

In Northern Ireland as well, the movement was in full swing as students and workers fought against the discrimination against Catholics and for unity. Ireland's events were very much influenced by the Civil Rights movement in the US and its most militant sections by the Black Panthers, Malcolm X and other socialist and left elements of the black revolt.

But in France the student movement ignited a General Strike that threatened to topple the state and capitalism itself. Some of the gains under attack today were won in 1968 as the video explains.

In 1968 the state was brought in and viciously attacked the students. Clare Doyle in her pamphlet on the French General Strike* describes it: "At the beginning of May some students from Nanterre including Daniel Cohn Bendit were to be tried in the university courts for 'disruptive behavior'. A battle between students and fascists loomed. On May 2nd  Roche, the Director, closed Nanterre University" 

"The next day students gathering peacefully with those fo the Sorbonne, were viciously attacked by the hated riot police----the CRS---and hundreds of students were arrested..."

As the state increased its repression the University teachers' union called a strike. The government banned demonstrations but the strikes spread to the secondary schools. The more repression, the more anger resulted and the working class, particularly young workers began to join the fray. There were mass demonstrations in Paris of more than one million and at its height ten million workers struck and occupied their workplaces.

The movement shocked not only the French ruling class and French President Charles De Gaulle but the ruling classes throughout the world including the Stalinist regimes that were also facing revolt in Czechoslovakia in 1968 12 years after a revolt in Hungary. In the US the student movement was fighting against the Vietnam war as were many French students. The post World War Two economic boom was coming to an end.

Contrary to the views expressed in the video, the 1968 French General Strike which was "detonated" by the student movement to be joined by the heavy battalions of the working class, threatened to overthrow capitalism itself. It was not, as the commentator in the video says, a battle between liberalism and conservatism. It became a movement to eliminate capitalism, to change the economic and political nature of society.  The workers and youth were betrayed by both the Communist and Socialist leadership that headed the French workers'' movement and things eventually returned to normal with some reforms.

That the strike was kicked off by the student demonstrations and the violent response from the state is to be expected. Workers are more conservative when it comes to moving in to struggle in a major way, have a lot more to lose. The bosses' and their politicians are aware of these dangers which is why movements are nipped in the bud using both the carrot and the stick. In the US during the Civil Rights movement they had to get the movement off the streets and in to the courts that they control introducing what we know now as Affirmative Action measures that have failed the US black population as a whole miserably. These measures were part of a conscious effort to build up a black petit bourgeois, a buffer against the revolutionary potential of the black working class holding them back, telling them that change can only come from limiting protests to within the confines of accepted norms, "look at us. The system works" .

This is just a short commentary to accompany this video but I am certain with some research the reader will see that the rise of the black middle class after the Civil Rights movement runs counter to the deepening crisis and violence affecting black working class communities. There are more black millionaires, and a few billionaires and more black politicians that has not resulted in significant changes in the conditions of life for the black working class.

The teachers strikes in the US have so far been dealt with mildly in the hope they will subside. The Democratic Party representing the liberal wing of the ruling class and the "official" trade union leadership will do their best to ensure the movement doesn't get out of hand as things did in France in 1969 and the movement of teachers doesn't spread to other protest movements that have arisen over the past period against racism, sexism, the environmental crisis etc. It took a month in France 1968 for a protest movement that was dominated by student and education reform that involved 10 million workers and a real threat to capitalism itself.

* France 1968: Month of Revolution: Lessons of the General Strike by  Clare Doyle

Note: I think Ms Doyle's brief account of the events of 1968 is an excellent introduction to this issue for workers. It is well written and easy to read giving a real feel of the explosive nature and mood in France at the time as well as the world situation as a whole. It is also available in Spanish at the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) website.   Correction: A previous posting mistakenly said that Ms Doyle was an expelled member of the CWI.

I am  a former expelled member of the CWI. One regrettable but all too common trait of  the author of this pamphlet and the self styled revolutionary groups like the CWI, is the claim that they and only they predicted any of these events and only they have the answers. Richard Mellor

Thursday, May 17, 2018

And the Architects of Death Assemble in Jerusalem

We republish this article from Mondoweiss

Dystopia: The Live Feed

Middle East
on  
Yesterday on the TV screen, I watched a beautiful black Israeli singer of Ethiopian origin sing ‘Halleluja’ as part of the festive opening ceremony of the US embassy in Jerusalem. Minutes later, the funeral of a local paramedic, led by an ambulance and flanked by two fire engines, passed by my house in the western region of Gaza City. Three minutes after that, another funeral, this time of a boy, maybe 14 or 15 years old, processed towards the cemetery, accompanied by the usual chants and wails of grief. In one of the cars that accompanied the funeral, I could see a man whose face was in utter shock and whose arms and hands were thrown on his knees in a posture of complete exhaustion.

Back in my living room, Netanyahu was giving his speech about how the greatest power in the world has just moved its embassy to Jerusalem and what a great place the State of Israel therefore was. The ceremony was like a scene from a dystopian science fiction movie, where the wealthy oppressor calmly unveils his latest symbol of cosmic oppression while far away, out of sight and thought, oppressed masses are being executed.

Less than an hour’s drive away, people were literally fighting iron with bare chests. What made this gathering more chaotic than previous marches was that it was specifically timed to protest the US embassy’s relocation. Days before, a general strike had been called for; and all sides of the Palestinian political spectrum had intensified calls for greater participation just the night before. In another dystopian scene, even the mosques’ minarets were broadcasting calls for greater participation in the same rhythmic style as traditional Eid chants.

The embassy relocation was planned to take place a day before Palestinians commemorated the greatest loss in their history. What we view as 70 years of humiliation, deprivation, oppression, and slow but effective ethnic cleansing has now been rounded off with this – and our objections to it have come at a high price: 56 lives to be exact, and nearly 1900 wounded, yesterday alone. Witnesses talk of young boys running directly into the barbed wire facing live bullets – they break free from history for a moment. They feel free and in control of their own lives for moments or seconds. These young men and women are not stupid or simply emotional (although nothing is wrong with being emotional in such a context), they are simply fed up. And they can see, very clearly, what is happening around them and what has been happening around them all their lives.They know that if they don’t run for their lives, nobody will save them from a brutal force that disregards their lives and basic rights.

This scene of sheer desperation that has enveloped the Gaza fences today can only remind us of the aftermath of the mass expulsion of the Palestinians in 1948, precisely what the march is trying to turn our attention towards. When 250,000 refugees first arrived in the Strip their immediate prospect was to starve, just as Gazans have been starved of basic supplies, medicines and clean water for the last 11 years. Then, like now, Israeli militants surrounded the Strip and prevented anyone from leaving: anyone who attempted to leave was shot on the spot, or captured and then released in an unknown location in the middle of Negev desert, left to die of thirst.

The TV screens’ smiles and the decorous speeches, drizzled with victimhood, were drowned out again, a few minutes later, by yet another funeral passing by. Kushner talked of his ancestors being Holocaust survivors who had fled the Nazis to the forests of Russia. The irony was almost unbearable. Kushner and his glamorous wife seem to be sleepwalking through the snipers’ guns, currently mowing down Palestinians in Gaza, which might very well be filled with the same bullets those Nazis would have fired at his ancestors: encased in nationalism, tipped with populist appeal back home.

Outside the embassy itself, protestors were being assaulted. In the West Bank too, protesters took to the streets only to be met by teargas canisters and more bullets. Israel’s arrogance and complete disregard for human rights and international law today is only a continuation of what this colonialist state has been doing since its existence.

The opening ceremony of the embassy, as well as the nauseating tweets of Trump and Netanyahu, confirm and conclude Israel and the US view Palestinians as unworthy of the basic right to live, let alone speak. Both confirm a complete incapability of engagement in any true diplomatic discussion with anyone of us about any of the facts surrounding their embassy move. If only Palestinians were not sub-humans, if only we had hundreds of millions of dollars to compete in lobbying efforts before heading to the border to demand our rights, as human beings. The families of those who were shot dead have buried their dead and will mourn them for the rest of their lives. Those who are injured will battle through their wounds maybe for a few months and maybe for life, disappointed with what the human race has come to.

For Gaza, it was a sad day from which people woke up in shock. Our lives only too real, not science fiction.

Rawan Yaghi is a Palestinian woman from Gaza. She graduated from Jesus College- Oxford, where she studied Italian and Linguistics and at which she was awarded the first Junior Members' Scholarship, a student led initiative to fund the studies of a student from Gaza. She is a Gaza-based writer. Fiction, journalism, and languages are among her interests. Follow her on Twitter at @larawanpal

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Capitalism in Crisis: McCain the Defense of Last Resort


Yes, the one on the left is their best anti-Trump weapon.
By Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

A not insignificant number of my friends have asked me why on earth the political establishment can’t get rid of Trump. It’s a fair question. Believe me, with a few exceptions, the dominant and more sober sections of the US ruling class wants to be rid of Trump. He is a liability, an embarrassment. He is destabilizing the global system of plunder they love so much. The big question for his class colleagues though, is how to be rid of him.

A major problem is that there is no genuine political opposition in the US and certainly no working class party. The Democrats and the Republicans are both political organizations of the US capitalist class and its imperialist aims which drives the assault on US workers at home. The capitalist class, of which Trump is a member albeit a rather crude and reckless one, funds and controls both political parties.

So it might seem like madness that despite Trump being a serial sexual predator, liar, racist, viciously anti-worker, anti-immigrant and a supporter of Nazi’s and the KKK, the best the Democrats can come up with in terms of offense is that he might have violated some campaign finance laws during his during his bid for the presidency in 2016. Isn't that's what's on every worker's mind, that Trump may have cheated the campaign finance laws?

But what can they do? Mobilize the working class and call on the trade unions to organize mass demonstrations and strikes? They are with Trump on that one and above all they have to defend the legitimacy of the system and its institutions.

So it’s not Trump they are defending; it is the institutions of capitalism itself. This is why there was a collective gasp from every wing of the ruling class in this country when Trump threatened during his debate with Hillary Clinton, that he might not abide by the election results if he were to lose. He can be a pimp, a racist, a sexual deviant but to reject the results of a democratic election in a bourgeois democracy is traitorous. It is sacrilege even to suggest such a thing. It undermines the legitimacy of their political system and their propaganda that elections are fair and free and Trump is doing that already. If Trump can trash the state and its institutions in this way, even ignore their hypocritical diplomatic relations and rules, so can we all.

Myself and other contributors to this blog have maintained that US capitalism is in an acute political, economic and social crisis. Millions of workers have abandoned the two capitalist parties and a political process they have no faith in at all.  Both its parties are in turmoil and it cannot be ruled out that both will split at some point in the not so distant  future with the possibility of new formations rising in the period ahead.  We have discussed the possibility of numerous candidates arising in the 2020 elections here on this blog.

The big bourgeois is desperately trying to find a way out of this. The thought of a Trump presidency so terrified them that many of them backed the dreaded Hilary Clinton in 2016. But conceding the right of universal suffrage has its downside; sometimes the voters don’t elect the candidates the ruling class wants.

McCain to the Rescue.
The situation is so dire that both left and right wings of US capitalism’s mass media and members of both parties are focusing attention on a dying member of the old guard; the old Reagan conservative Republican, John McCain. McCain has been ridiculed and humiliated by many in his own party despite being touted as a war hero due to the five years he spent as a prisoner of the North Vietnamese after his plane was shot down (a rare occasion for US pilots in colonial wars of aggression like Vietnam and Korea). We don’t refer to World War Two German or Japanese pilots as war hero’s for obvious reasons and by all accounts McCain isn’t one either as part of a force that, without provocation, waged a massive assault on a former colony of the French. 

One would think that McCain might be grateful to the North Vietnamese for not ripping him limb from limb when he hit the ground, after all, he was part of an aerial bombardment that dropped more than 7 million tons of bombs on Vietnam Laos and Cambodia including chemical weapons and napalm. The US war machine even poured this stuff on their own troops. The people of South East Asia are still suffering from this savage assault today as their children are often born deformed due to the chemical war and unexploded bombs that are still around. As the New York Times reported,
America dropped three times more ordnance over Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia than all sides did during World War II. Estimates are that at least 350,000 tons of live bombs and mines remain in Vietnam, and that it will take 300 years to clear them from the Vietnamese landscape at the current rate.” NYT 3-20-18.

While McCain is not the degenerate that Trump is, he was part of a war waged against a poor colonial nation.  The Vietnam War was not a just war but a war to maintain corporate profits and it cost some three million Vietnamese their lives as well as almost 70,000 Americans, mostly workers. In these wars workers are cannon fodder and our youth that are sent to fight in them are different than the people who send them. McCain was fighting for his class (being a pilot is a lot different to fighting on the ground), he is from an established bourgeois military family. He was not in Vietnam by force or because he had no other options.

Using McCain’s dying moments to portray someone they consider a bit of a fool as a symbol of America’s greatness shows how desperate they are. Politicians, warmongers all of them, are praising him and speaking about the recent disparaging comment from a White House staffer on McCain’s looming death. Bernie Sanders claims he cannot fathom why the White House hasn’t apologized, “It is beyond my comprehension. It is one thing in the White House for somebody to say something crude and stupid and disrespectful about an American hero. It is another thing for them not to apologize,”

Apart from glorifying an individual member of a family in the upper echelons of the military brass as a hero, why would Sanders be so surprised at the White House?  Didn’t he get a hint when the Predator in Chief mocked a disabled person? Is he not aware that Trump has aligned himself with Nazis and the KKK?

After losing to Obama in 2008 McCain said of US history in his concession speech that, “America today is a world away from the cruel and prideful bigotry of that time. There is no better evidence of this than the election of an African American to the presidency of the United States. Let there be no reason now for any American to fail to cherish their citizenship in this, the greatest nation on Earth.”

The election of Obama for many was historical, having a black figure at the helm and a cultured, educated black family in the White House as a counter to the usual racist images of the mass media. McCain went on to say that he, “…always believed that America offers opportunities to all who have the industry and will to seize it.”  But this is the same old nonsense that if you have the “industry” in other words, make the right choices, work hard, obey the law etc. you will prosper.  There are no class differences. Racism sexism, other forms of discrimination are no obstacle; it’s all down to your personal choices—we are in control of our own destiny.  If you fail it’s your own doing. What nationalist rubbish.

Last weekend’s long essay in the Wall Street Journal titled, Putin is an Evil Man is adapted from McCain’s deathbed book, The Restless Wave, and McCain comes to the rescue on this one. Putin wants to “defeat the west” “We must fight him as determinedly as he fights us” writes McCain.  The “Inhumanity of the Russian assault on Chechnya was stunning”, he says as if the US war machine isn’t the most destructive force on earth responsible for mass slaughter and the destruction of entire nation states.

The vast majority of the people on this planet with a breath of life in them give this no credibility at all, but it doesn’t matter here at home. The true believers, those that know nothing of history or have benefited significantly from it will feel proud of this hero. Those American families that suffered and lost loved ones from US capitalism's assault on Vietnam need to direct their anger at the US ruling class and people like McCain. We have to tell our children the truth about wars and why they’re fought.

McCain assails Putin for making a deal with what he calls the Oligarchs” (Russian capitalists) but goes on to praise one of those that crossed Putin, Mikhail Khordokovsky the former head of the oil giant Yukos and the most prominent and richest of them according to our hero.  Khordokovsky is a “well-regarded Russian businessman” says McCain.  Putin, Khordokovsky and most all the Russian capitalists are a bunch of former KGB thugs.  These former Stalinists were handed the wealth of the Russian people after Gorbachev handed over Russian state assets to them after the collapse of their murderous regime in 1989. McCain, like all of them, Russian or US, has no principles other than to defend imperialism and global plunder. They traipsed him out at Pat Tillman’s funeral where he lied about this heroic figure, honest and brave enough to speak his mind when the truth hit him in the face.

Using McCain’s dying moments to bolster a decaying empire and lift spirits at home as workers living standards continue to decline won’t help. We are in a new era. I see that North Carolina teachers took a day off to march on the state capital protesting pay and funding. Some one million students are affected according to the Wall Street Journal.
This all began with West Virginia teachers conducting an illegal strike, overcoming the narrow conservative straitjacket of their own leaders and winning a 5% pay raise for all state workers. Teachers and other sectors of the US working class are fighting an heroic battle against austerity in Puerto Rico as well.

In a sense, as Gideon Levy pointed out in this speech about the Israel/Palestine situation, the degenerate Trump has done us all a favor whipping people in to shape a bit. He has forced many who had hoped they could go on doing nothing, saying nothing, keeping their heads in the sand or nose to the grindstone, to get up and act. The many social networking pundits who wallow in their own quagmire of depression and disillusionment will point to all the mistakes and imperfect aspects common to a new movement filled with fresh layers----the Democrats are on the podium, celebrities are leading it. Some four million people turned out nationally during the women’s marches. They weren’t all celebrities and Oprah’s friends.

As expected, the Democratic Party and the union hierarchy will offer lame support for these movements in order to undermine their militancy and render them safe and secure within the confines of accepted protest. They may well succeed, but it will be a temporary victory for them. They may slow forward motion for a while but there’s no going back. The door has been opened; once solid taboos like the belief that we cannot violate the law have been broken, the dam has been breached.

Many Trump supporters see the hypocrisy of the opposition. They’re all liars. They are all thieving, preaching modesty as they use their public office for personal gain and the chance to get some sex on the side. At least Trump is brazen about it.

Yes, Trump in one sense might have opened the door to making America great again as we return to methods that worked; the direct action of the civil rights movement, the mass workplace and factory occupations of the 1930’s and the rise of the CIO. The heroic struggles of workers and all oppressed peoples that comprise true US history in the struggle against the most ruthless of the world’s ruling classes.

The pathetic opposition to Trump playing out in the glorifying of McCain, Palin’s running mate, is a reflection of the crisis US capitalism finds itself in. Despite their billions, it shows their weakness and our strength.

More reading on the teachers struggles:

Check the labels: Education, Teachers, Team Concept for more.

World outrage over Gaza massacre



By John Pickard, Brentwood Labour Party UK
(personal capacity) May 16, 2018

There is worldwide shock and revulsion at the appalling massacre in Gaza over the last few days. As many as 55 unarmed protesters were killed and, in what is an equally shameful figure, more than two thousand were injured, mostly by live ammunition. Among those killed have been a man in a wheelchair, a number of children, women and even a baby which died from the effects of tear-gas inhalation. Many of those shot were hundreds of metres from the fence that divides Gaza from Israel and they posed no threat to the lives of Israel soldiers. Workers across the whole world are entitled to ask, what kind of ‘civilised’ state uses live sniper fire against unarmed protesters?

Marie-Elisabeth Ingres, a representative in the area of  Médecins Sans Frontières , gave a statement, in which she said that what had happened was “unacceptable and inhuman”. The death toll, she said, was “staggering…It is unbearable to witness such a massive number of unarmed people being shot in such a short time”. Moreover, other reports from MSF doctors have describe the unusual severity of the gunshot wounds, suggesting that the Israeli army are using rifle rounds that expand and mushroom on impact, to increase the severity of internal injuries. 

The labour and trade union movement must unequivocally condemn the policies of the Israeli government in its treatment of the Palestinian people. It is not good enough to describe these events as a “tragedy” as if it were an unavoidable natural disaster. Nor is it good enough to excuse the slaughter of demonstrators for being “Hamas-led”. The demonstrations were in no way a threat to any Israeli lives. In the past month, while over a hundred Gaza residents have been shot dead, not a single Israeli civilian has been hurt in any way. This massacre – for that is what it was – will go down in infamy alongside the likes of Sharpeville in South Africa in 1960 and the killings in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in 1989.

Labour MPs
To their credit, many Labour MPs have been outspoken in their condemnation of Israeli actions, including Jeremy Corbyn. On the other hand, to their undying shame, some of Labour’s right wing – including a number who have been part of the artificial “anti-Semitism” campaign in the Labour Party – have had nothing to say on Gaza, or they have referred to “two sides” as if it were a dispute between factions with an equal degree of force. There were not two equal “sides” in this episode: there were unarmed demonstrators, posing no serious threat and there were battalions of heavily-armed soldiers, including snipers on raised earthworks, ready and willing to use deadly force. 

The nakba protests this week have been given sharper meaning in that they coincide with the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem. By moving its embassy from Tel Aviv, the Trump administration is signalling its complete disregard for Palestinian rights. At exactly the same moment that the VIPs and politicians were smiling and glad-handing one another at the opening ceremony in Jerusalem, men, women and children were in snipers’ cross-hairs fifty miles away. Even an Israeli newspaper columnist, in Haaretz, was prompted to ask of Netanyahu, “What kind of a man grins like that, knowing the Gaza Death Toll Is rising by ten an hour.” Just to add to the absurdity of the occasion, to say prayers at the ceremony, the new US ambassador to Israel had invited along a US evangelist pastor with a track -record of anti-Semitism, having said, among other things, that “Jews go to Hell.”

Since the nakba, the catastrophe of May 1948, the Palestinian people have suffered seven decades of these kind of agonies. Today, it seems, they are no further forward in achieving national and political rights than they were seventy years ago.  

The Gaza Strip is a sliver of land eighteen miles by four, almost wholly surrounded and policed by the Israeli military. A tiny part of the Gaza border connects to Egypt, but the regime of General Sisi collaborates completely with Israel. Gaza is deprived of all the basic requirements of decent social and economic development. The provision of water, electricity and other services is entirely dependent on the whims of Gaza’s Israeli masters. The majority of the population is unemployed and dependent on UNRWA aid. There is no economic development whatsoever. Movement in and out of Gaza, even leaving for study or medical treatment is rigorously policed and, as often as not, is denied. Not the least problem is the fact that Gaza is subject to frequent artillery and air raids, ostensibly at Hamas positions, but invariable killing civilians. 

Israel offers Gaza no hope whatsoever
.
It is not for nothing that Gaza is described as the largest ‘open prison’ in the world. Its population of nearly two million have no future. When there is no hope, it is as inevitable as night follows day that anger and despair will spill over into protests like those we have witnessed in the last few weeks. 

The situation for Palestinians on the West Bank is barely any better. Squeezed into what land that has not already been confiscated for Israeli military use or for Jewish-only settlements, the Palestinian economy and agriculture is strangled and prevented from developing. Modern roads built for the Jewish settlements are denied to Palestinian traffic. With hundreds of Israeli army checkpoints throughout the West Bank, the daily life of West Bank Palestinians is one of humiliation, indignity and frequent brutality. The Jewish settlers are well-armed, and they have had virtually a free-pass to commit acts of vandalism and harassment against local Arab villages and even mosques. 

Powder-keg of anger and resentment
In both Gaza and the West Bank, the policies of the Israeli government are building up a powder-keg of distrust, anger and bitter resentment. It is no accident that many labour activists have compared modern Israel to the Apartheid state of South Africa. There are significant differences, of course, but taking the total population under Israeli control – around 12 million, half of whom are Palestinians with no rights – there is indeed “separate development” of the two peoples. 

One side of this population is armed to the teeth, provided with at least some social investment – including the most modern air-conditioned housing for hundreds of thousands of settlers – and it enjoys a reasonably modern level of economic development, not to speak of democratic rights. The other half of the population have limited or no rights, no economic development and little prospect of either. With each passing year, more of their land is confiscated. In the long run, this is an unsustainable state of affairs.

Benjamin Netanyahu is leading the Israeli state and its Jewish population not towards ‘peace and security’ but towards an abyss of social upheaval, national and ethnic conflict and instability on and unprecedented scale.

Some sections of the Israeli population, albeit a minority at this stage, have come to realise that the current state of affairs is unsustainable. Even former army generally, in public speeches, have used the ‘A’ word – Apartheid – in condemning the policies of Netanyahu. The day after the killings in Gaza, hundreds of protesters flooded into the main thoroughfare in Tel Aviv, waving placards saying, “Stop the live fire” and “Arabs and Jews refuse to be enemies.” Internationally, the massacre has put Israel in a position where it can no longer lay claim to the ‘moral high ground’. “Israel faces diplomatic crisis after Gaza killings” reads a headline in the Haaretz

Seven decades of mis-leadership
The tragedy of the Palestinian people has been compounded by seven decades of mis-leadership. Netanyahu and Abu Mazen, the president of the ‘Palestinian Authority’ on the West Bank, need other as bogeymen. Likewise, Hamas and Netanyahu point accusing fingers at one another, but in effect, they prop each other up. Each is as corrupt as the other and they are mutually dependent politically. The Palestinian people are desperately crying out for some resolution to their national and social aspirations, but seventy years of ‘leadership’ by the PLO/Fatah and by Hamas have only succeeded in pushing them, to the delight of Netanyahu and the Israeli right – into a corner.

The fact of the matter is that there can be no resolution of the Palestinian issue if such a resolution is seen by the Israeli Jewish population as a threat to their well-being and especially if it is seen as an ‘existential threat’ to the state of Israel. The awful history of the Holocaust runs deep throughout all of Israeli politics and the Israeli right know how to exploit it to good effect. Every Palestinian or Iranian leader who calls for the “Jews” to be “driven to the sea” is aiding and abetting the most reactionary elements in Israeli politics. 

Too often in the British labour movement, where there is a discussion about Palestinian rights, the ‘elephant in the room’ is the Israeli Jewish working class. This working class has been utterly repelled over the years by a long-standing tradition of terrorism within the constituent parts of the Palestine Liberation Organisation and Hamas. They will recall in the 1960s and 1970s the hi-jacking of aircraft, cruise-ships and Olympic athletes and the frequent murder of hostages. From a policy of terrorism, the PLO veered towards a policy of supine diplomatic deals with the most reactionary Arab and world leaders. There has never been one iota of class politics in any part of the PLO political strategy or tactics over the decades and not at atom of politics designed or likely to appeal to Jewish workers. Netanyahu and the Israeli right know this and they exploit it well. 

Similarly, Netanyahu exploits the nearly universal absence of democracy among Arab states, including many of the financial and diplomatic backers of the PLO, like the Gulf states, Syria and Iraq. To be an active Marxist and atheist in Israel, for example, is to risk, at worst, the attention of Shit Beth, the Israeli secret service. But to be an active Marxist and atheist on the West Bank, and even more so in Gaza, is to risk arrest and a beating, or much worse. Israeli workers know this too, and the Israeli right exploits it to the full. 

Socialists must inscribe on their banners their full support for the national and social rights of the Palestinian people. Emergency resolutions and debates should be held in Labour Party and Momentum meetings on the Gaza massacre. But we must also explain that – as difficult and remote as it may seem today – a resolution of this question needs be a class movement, encompassing Arab and Jewish workers, Israelis and Palestinians, fighting for socialist change. The road to the national liberation of the Palestinians can only go through the road of socialist change; the road to a genuine security for Jewish workers can only go through the same road. That is the message that socialists must put forward with even more determination after the terrible events of Gaza this week.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Rising world inequality

by Michael Roberts

There is a book sweeping the popular media at the moment.  It’s called Factfulness.  It purports to argue that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the world is becoming a better place.  Poverty is falling, life expectancy is rising; health levels are improving; people have more things and better services.  Even violence and wars are in decline.

This is a hoary old message that has been expounded in the past by billionaire Bill Gates, among others.  Indeed, he gives this new book much praise – as it justifies his view that things are getting better for the majority and with the right policies on health, education, population, climate change etc, the world can progress without any change in its mode of production and social structure.

I have taken up this optimistic message in previous posts and my latest book, Marx 200, discusses the dialectical nature of the development of capitalism – something Marx recognised as early as 1848 in the Communist Manifesto.  Yes, capitalism has taken the productive forces forward like no other mode of production before (slave society, feudalism and Asian despotism) but it also carries with it a dark side of increased exploitation, dominance of the market and machine over people’s freedom and livelihoods; and global wars  and even the destruction of the planet.

In contrast to the optimistic Factfulness, the latest World Inequality Report is a sobering analysis.  Inequality between rich and poor is widening at an increasing pace.  The authors, the most highly respected experts on inequality of income and wealth globally conclude that the number of billionaires rose by the biggest amount ever in 2017, while over half the world’s population lives on between $2 and $10 a day. The report shows the share of wealth held by the top 1% of earners in the US doubled from 10% to 20% between 1980 and 2016, while the bottom 50% fell from 20% to 13% in the same period.

Kofi Annan, former head of the United Nations, called this scale of global economic inequality “staggering and shaming”.  The authors find that income inequality has increased in nearly all world regions in recent decades, but at different speeds.  Since 1980, income inequality has increased rapidly in North America, China, India, and Russia. Inequality has grown moderately in Europe.

At the global level, inequality has risen sharply since 1980, despite strong growth in China. The poorest half of the global population has seen its income grow significantly thanks to high growth in Asia (particularly in China and India). However, because of high and rising inequality within countries, the top 1% richest individuals in the world captured twice as much growth as the bottom 50% individuals since 1980.

When it comes to inequality of wealth as opposed to income, there are some startling findings in the report.  “Economic inequality is largely driven by the unequal ownership of capital, which can be either privately or public owned. We show that since 1980, very large transfers of public to private wealth occurred in nearly all countries, whether rich or emerging. While national wealth has substantially increased, public wealth is now negative or close to zero in rich countries.”

The authors reckon that the combination of large privatizations and increasing income inequality within countries has fuelled the rise of wealth inequality, even if it has not yet returned to its extremely high early-twentieth-century level in rich countries. The rise in wealth inequality has nonetheless been very large in the United States, where the top 1% wealth share rose from 22% in 1980 to 39% in 2014. Most of that increase in inequality was due to the rise of the top 0.1% wealth owners.

In my view, inequality of wealth and income is an inherent feature of class societies, and capitalism is no exception.  But that does not mean it would rise indefinitely, a point made by the Inequality report.  That depends on dynamics of capital accumulation and policy action by governments.

Naturally, the authors (or Kofi Annan) do not propose a radical restructuring of the capitalist system ie its replacement.  Instead, they look for progressive taxation of incomes; control of tax evasion and offshore havens for wealth; ‘more education’ and public investment.  The problem with these worthy policies is that they cannot be implemented if the interests of capital are to be protected, particularly when capitalism is struggling to sustain the profitability of capital precisely by holding down trade union strength (which is an important counter to rising inequality ignored by the authors); maintaining privatisations (not public investment) and ‘deregulating’ labour markets ie by increasing the overall exploitation of labour.

Moreover, recurring crises in capitalist production are not the result of rising inequality (although some leftists argue this); and so the real faultlines of capitalism will not be resolved by reducing inequality.

What is also missing from the report is why wealth inequality has risen – it is mainly the result of the increased concentration and centralisation of productive assets in the capitalist sector.  The real wealth concentration is expressed in the fact that big capital (finance and business) controls the investment, employment and financial decisions of the world.  A dominant core of 147 firms through interlocking stakes in others together control 40% of the wealth in the global network according to the Swiss Institute of Technology. A total of 737 companies control 80% of it all. This is the inequality that matters for the functioning of capitalism – the concentrated power of capital.

Trump, Kushner, Ivanka. Terror personified.

Israeli drones drop gas canisters on Palestinians
Richard Mellor
Afscme Local 444, retired

As the spoiled little rich boy Jared Kushner and his wife Ivanka Trump praised the Zionist regime at the opening of the new US embassy in Jerusalem, some 50 miles away 40,000 people protested the move and maintain their demand to be rid of the siege that keeps them contained in the largest outdoor concentration camp in the world and for the right to return to their homes from which they were driven in order to create the European colonial settler state of Israel.

Kushner, another pimp like his father and father in law, blames the violence on the victims like the domestic abuser, "Those provoking problems like we see today in Gaza are part of the problem and not part of the solution," he said. "Provoking problems"? Kushner is an investor in some of the settlements that are the front line in the Zionist regimes ethnic cleansing program. Some 55 people unarmed protesters were killed today by most accounts, many of them terrorists according to Israeli and US media.

Source
Trump caused this, he knew what would happen and did it anyway. Trump, Kushner and the entire US Congress is responsible for this. What a den of thieves and murderers that place is. The American Taleban are calling the events a glorious result of biblical prophecy which claims their god will be landing soon to take some of them to Nirvana.  So much for religion. People that claim to be Jews and Christians dressing themselves up 50 miles away from a scene where civilians, unarmed men, women and children are shot by snipers, many in the back and they get blamed for their own deaths. What scum these people are.

They demand from the victim complete submission just as the domestic abuser does of theirs. Don't resist or I'll hurt you more. I'll kill your children, just accept your fate. And the working classes of the main forces involved, the US as the driver and its sycophants in Westminster----where are you on this? There should be organized blacking of all Israeli goods. No Israeli product should be touched by dockworkers, no ship or plane unloaded, no train driven that carries Israeli goods to the stores. Workers in stores should  be organized to refuse handling of any Israeli products. This is what should have been done with regard to the South African Apartheid state,  workers in all industries refuse to handle goods of the offending country.

The people celebrating in Jerusalem have lost the right to even be classified as animals, that is an insult to all animal life, including humans. They reflect the decaying rotten flesh of a social organization that has reached the end of its historical shelf life.

We either put an end to this system or it will put an end to us.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Israel the Victim.

Reprinted from Mondoweiss

Israel distorts timeline of events to play victim in the dangerous escalation with Iran and Syria

on  



Here’s the actual order of events:

* Just one hour after Donald Trump violated the Iran nuclear deal on May 8, Israel launched missiles against targets south of Damascus, Syria, reportedly killing 15 people, at least 8 of them Iranians.

* In response, Iran early this morning apparently struck back with 20 rockets aimed at the Golan Heights, (which is occupied by Israel since 1967 but is still legally part of Syria).

* Hours later, Israeli warplanes attacked dozens of allegedly Iranian targets in Syria.

The mainstream Western media is falling into Israel’s propaganda trap. Most reports are treating the Iranian rockets as the original provocation, and framing Israel’s massive air strikes as the (understandable) response. Unusually, the New York Times coverage was actually moderately less biased than other outlets, such as the Washington Post and the BBC. The Times at least noted — down in paragraph 12 — that Israel had first attacked Syria right after Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran deal.

Nor, so far, are the major media connecting Benjamin Netanyahu’s belligerence to his desperate need to distract from the multiple domestic corruption investigations against him and his wife — an angle some of the Israeli press is not too squeamish to note. In the excellent online publication, +972, Dahlia Scheindlin notes today that Netanyahu’s strategy is working; he “appears to have inoculated himself against looming corruption charges due to the dramatic developments on the security front.” She adds that the latest Israeli opinion polls show Netanyahu’s Likud party with its highest level of support in a decade.

Larry Derfner, the American-turned-Israeli who is one of that country’s most experienced reporters, is hammering away at the truth on his Facebook page:
I’ve been arguing all day against Israel’s policy of continually bombing Syria, Lebanon and Iran, pointing out that they’re not bombing us, we’re bombing them, which means we’re not acting in self defense, we’re the aggressors. . . For [people with the opposing opinion] it doesn’t matter how many times Israel bombs the enemy and the enemy doesn’t bomb back — Israel is still bombing in self-defense and the other side is still the aggressor. Why? Because Israel is Israel and Iran/Syria/Lebanon is Iran/Syria/Lebanon. Israel is right because it is good and they are wrong because they are bad. . .

Pakistan: A Brief Look at History

Oppression of Pakistan’s caricatured feudalism

By: Farooq Tariq

Large swathes of Pakistan are in the stranglehold of caricatured feudalism. These feudal relations are increasingly penetrated by finance capital as it imposes itself on social relations, politics and the economy itself. It has made the lives of millions miserable, deepening and brutalizing class exploitation. Rampant inequality and poverty remain chronic issues as millions can still be considered bonded labour. Such a harrowing situation is revealed by the fact that only five per cent of agricultural households in Pakistan own nearly two thirds of the farmland.

In the Indian subcontinent the system prevailing before the advent of the British was known as Asiatic Mode of Production, or as Karl Marx put it, “Asiatic despotism.” The land was not privately owned but a common ownership of agricultural land. In this sense it was egalitarian. Feudalism was imposed by British imperialists through the Permanent Settlements Act. “Classical” feudalism, as described within the European context, never existed.

The Permanent Settlement Act was introduced first in Bengal and Bihar by the East India Company’s administrative head and later extended by Governor General, Lord Cornwallis over northern India in a series of regulations dated 1 May 1793. With it the British colonialists bestowed vast tracts of land mainly to the revenue collectors (zemindars) in order to raise land revenue. This grafted native Indians onto the British structure, insuring their loyalty to British authority.

After partition this class, along with the comprador bourgeoisie, became Pakistan’s hybrid ruling class. In their failure to carryout a national democratic revolution as the European bourgeois did in the 18th and 19th centuries Pakistan’s capitalists failed to abolish feudalism. Thus Pakistan was suspended in a hybrid model of feudal and capitalist relations.

Over the last few decades a new form of feudalism emerged particularly during the periods of military dictatorship. With the help of the state machinery, the poor, small landholders are forced to hand over their land to a particular family for insignificant sums. New feudal owners like Jahangir Tareen of Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf now own thousands of acres of land. He has become a typical Pakistani feudalist: a “well-educated” person who, with the help of military dictators, was able to buy sugar mills along with thousands of acres of land. It’s a vulgar combination of feudalism and capitalism.

The landlords’ base of power over local people is takes place at every step. Debt bondage is passed down "generation after generation" and the landlord controls the "distribution of water, fertilizers, tractor permits and agricultural credit." This in turn gives them influence over the "revenue, police and judicial administration" of local government and its officials. In recent times, particularly harsh feudalism has existed in rural Sindh, Baluchistan and some parts of Southern Punjab. It is a form of slavery in 21st century Pakistan.

The feudal system is not confined to the political arena. Land ownership links feudal lords to Pakistan’s various other patronage networks. Landlords, such as Shah Mahmood Qureshi, act as religious patron saints to thousands of peasant as their disciples, who loyally vote for their feudal lords in elections. The Pakistani army is also deeply entrenched in this hybrid economy. It is an important action particularly in the industry and services sector as well as in the parallel economy.

However its elite layers are also part of the landed aristocracy, amassing vast landed estates. Army officers are bequeathed agricultural lands for serving in the army, and these are often rented out to larger landowners. In Punjab alone 68000 acres of agriculture land is directly or indirectly occupied by the Military Farms administration. Any struggle for their rights by those tenants has been ferociously crushed by the state and its civilian administration.

Ayub Khan’s land reform failed to deliver after it was introduced in 1959. Similarly the landed aristocracy in connivance with bureaucracy avoided the execution of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s land reforms in 1972 and 1977. The idea of land reform was simple – take the land from the rich and distribute it amongst the poor free of cost.

However the broad based Land Reform Act of 1977 was challenged by Qazalbash Waqf. He sued, arguing that Islamic laws provide broad protection from expropriation if the owners’ property was acquired through legitimate means, and the Supreme Court of Pakistan agreed. A petition against this decision of the Shariat Applets Court has been pending since 2012, but a hearing has yet to be set. When the military dictator Zia ul Haq came into power in 1977 with his Islamization agenda he fully used religious edicts in the interest of landlords and capitalists.

After he took control, it was announced that 1) no law in Pakistan may be repugnant to the Holy Quran and the Sunnah and 2) federal Sharia courts were established to serve the interests of Pakistan’s property owners. Looking over the last seventy years it is reasonable to conclude that state structures reinforce the power of landlords and capitalists and oppose an agrarian revolution.

An urban solution to the poverty of peasants?
An increasing number of small and marginal farmers migrate to urban areas to escape poverty. In fact Pakistan is already the most highly urbanized country in South Asia. Clearly increasing migration from the rural areas will create more pressure on already stretched infrastructure of urban metropolises.

Additionally, as industrial growth in the country remains stunted, and much of the installed industrial base is already capital-intensive, most migrants will be forced to work in the services sector. Thus majority will probably end up working in the informal or black economy at extremely low wages and atrocious working conditions, reinforcing the cycle of poverty and exclusion.

Small farmers and peasants
Let’s look at some of the actual situation of small farmers and peasants. In 2017, Agriculture contributed about 24% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Pakistan and accounted for half of employed labour force. Important crops are wheat, cotton, rice, sugarcane and maize. The full potential of crop production is still a dream.

While over 60% of the population consists of small farmers, peasants and landless peasants, there is not a single school or a training center for hands-on-job farmers. [Is this actually true, or did I misunderstand something?] Extension Services that can educate and guide farmers with sound advice remain dormant. The knowledge gap is filled with the sales representatives of supply companies. Of course their advice is to urge farmers to buy inputs, driving them into greater debt while decreasing the quality of their produce and leading to greater environmental pollution.

Pakistan’s underground water level dropped an average of over 80 feet in the past 20 years due excessive pumping. This has caused wastage and salinity in the soil, resulting in reducing the land’s fertility. Both the quality and quantity of agricultural production is declining. Industrial agriculture, introduced in late 1960s, uses inorganic materials and genetically modified seeds.

Despite much opposition by peasant and civil society organisations (CSOs) and small farmers, the Senate of Pakistan approved the Seed (Amendment) Act in early 2016. According to the amendment, no unregistered person, whether farmers or institutions, will be allowed to stock, sell or exchange any seeds without official permission. It is a punishable crime with prescribed fines and imprisonment.

This is in contrast to the 1976 Seed Act, which was a farmer friendly. The earlier act made citizens sovereign over their seeds and placed responsibility for seed development registration on the public sector alone. In contrast, the present Seed Act allows multinational corporations to produce basic seeds for its multiplication and certification. Further the corporations are now in charge of accredited seed testing laboratories.

Industrial agriculture interrupts essential natural processes that sustain soil fertility. Instead of supplementing natural ecosystem dynamics, this kind of agriculture substitutes its inputs of energy and chemicals that disrupt and/or displace biological processes.

Agricultural productivity depends fundamentally on the sustained FERTILITY of soil systems and on the SUFFICIENCY of productive resources – land, water, labour, and capital. However, there are no mechanisms for helping the small farmers and peasants. They are the real losers at the hands of the corporate seed and fertilizer companies.

The situation of rural labourers is graver than for the peasantry. More than 80% of rural workers do not own their homes; they live under the age-old semi feudal system, which does not grant them right to shelter. Therefore all human settlements that are located on state land held by any civil and non-civil government departments or institutions remain unregistered. Government policies are designed to support landowners and those who own agricultural processing.

Peasant struggles
One of the most daring examples of peasant resistance has come from the tenants of the Okara Military Farms. They have constantly fought for their land rights over 18 years. However the repression of these tenants has also continued. Most of the leaders of Anjuman Mazarin Punjab (AMP) have been in jail since 2015. The main AMP leader, Mehar Abdul Sattar, is now locked up at the Pakistani “Guantánamo Bay detention center,” the High Security Jail at Sahiwal, which is meant for convicted religious terrorists.

The AMP, a component of Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee, has been advocating land rights specifically at the Okara Military Farms. The tenants and their ancestors have been working on these lands – which comprise 68,000 acres -- for the last 100 years. Successive civilian governments have promised them land rights but have been unable to fulfill these promises due to the pressure of the military.

The AMP was formed in 2000, when General Musharraf’s dictatorship tried to change the status of the tenants into lessee. This was a tactic to remove them from the land over the long term.. At that moment the tenants revolted and refused to pay the share of the crop that they were accustomed to pay. They told authorities that they had paid enough and would pay no more.

Since that time severe state repression has been unleashed. Eleven tenants have been killed in various incidents and hundreds arrested under anti-terrorist laws. Women are in the forefront of the movement and have also been subjected to arrests and physical beating by the police and rangers.

The task of ending feudalism and attaining rights of the poor peasants can be accomplished through a class struggle of the workers and the peasants under the leadership of the proletariat vanguard. Such a struggle by overthrowing this system through a socialist revolution can ensure the basic rights and collective ownership of the land, means of production and a democratic control of the state and society by the toiling masses.

By: Farooq Tariq
General secretary
Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee
farooqtariq@hotmail.com