Apr 17 2011

International Resistance To Public Sector Cuts

4 items

1. Resisting public spending cuts, the movement we need, the movement we don’t  – Emancipation & Liberation no. 20 editorial

2. Holyrood Cuts – Allan Armstrong

3. Resisting the cuts in Wisconsin – Eric Chester, Susan Dorazio, Jack Gerson, Socialist Party of the USA

4. The 1% Network – John O’Neill, Irish Socialist Network

Resisting public spending cuts, the movement we need, the movement we don’t

This Editorial from the latest Emancipation & Liberation (no. 20) is based on a discussion paper originally drawn up by Ewan Robertson, an RCN member and SSP candidate for Aberdeen North in the 2010 Westminster General Election. Ewan is currently in Venezuela.

Introduction

The neoliberal austerity agenda of the Con-Dem coalition government, in the form of massive cuts to public spending, has become today’s defining political issue. Physical and ideological resistance to cuts has already begun, including mass rallies and an insurgency among youth and students. However, in building a movement that is able to defeat cuts, a set of key debates are taking place among those who identify themselves as opposed to the government’s cuts agenda. This debate among the anti-cuts movement can be grouped into three points:

(1) Understanding cuts: what do they represent?

(2)Defeating cuts: what kind of movement and strategy?

(3)The Alternative: what alternative political and economic programme should we propose?

For those engaged in the struggle against cuts, it is imperative to think through and debate all of these issues. The movement that emerges to combat cuts and advance an alternative, and the political realignment on the left that may result, could have a significant role in shaping political and social change in Scotland, the UK, and further afield.  Indeed, it is vital that we look to the experiences of struggle, for example, in Greece, Ireland and Iceland, which have been hit much harder, and also from France, which has recently shown significant struggles too. Furthermore, the various ruling classes have shown their readiness to utilise the EU apparatus to impose their austerity drive, nowhere more obviously than Ireland.

(1) Understanding cuts: what do they represent?

In participating in building a movement against public spending cuts, it is important to understand and debate with others what they represent. Within the RCN, our understanding of cuts and the nature of our opposition to them are intimately connected to our wider politics. It is fairly straightforward to state that the broad majority of the anti-cuts movement would reject the Conservative interpretation of the necessity of the cuts: that they represent public spending being ‘out of control’ or specifically the ‘mess’ of the previous New Labour government that must now be ‘cleaned up’ by the coalition.

The current Con-Dem austerity measures can be understood as having two distinct elements:

a) Forcing workers to pay for the crisis in capitalism

The financial sector had run up toxic debts by over-lending in order to profit from low-income household mortgages, particularly in the US, but also in the UK as the Northern Rock collapse highlighted.  When the extent of these un-repayable debts came to light, the resulting “sub-prime loan” and “credit crunch” driven recession beginning in 2008 spread to the wider economy and created the risk of financial institutions collapsing.  To prop up the banks, the UK bought shares in the banks and paid them public cash in return, while the banks wrote off billions of their “toxic” debt. To pay for the capital that they were using to bail out the banks, the UK government issued bonds, which along with reduced taxation revenue due to the economic crisis has created a massive UK debt and concomitant budget deficit.

Thus, the private debt created by capitalism’s insatiable quest for profit has now become public debt. The cuts to public spending and increased taxation in order to balance the budget, in the form of cutting various services and benefits, regressive taxation such as the VAT increase, and privatising remaining state enterprises (i.e. the Royal Mail), therefore represent an attempt to force the working classes to pay for the capitalist crisis, while the wealthy and the bankers continue to accumulate their wealth despite the current recession. Indeed, the process can be understood as a massive redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich: with increasing poverty and falling standards of living for the majority, and increasing wealth for a tiny minority.

b) An ideological attack on the remains of welfare provision and collective values

Along with the cuts being a specific response of capitalism to its own crisis through making workers pay in order to maintain the system, the cuts also represent neoliberal forces using the opportunity of an economic crisis to push their free-market ideological agenda. Concretely this is taking the form of dismantling the remains of the welfare capitalist system, by attacking universal benefits (i.e. child benefit) and state provision in services (such as higher education or postal services). Ideologically, it is an attack on the collective values that underpin the workers’ movement and socialist ideas more generally.

However, it is important to understand that the pro-state sector neo-Keynesianism, peddled by much of the Left, does not represent a socialist response to the neo-liberalism associated with the business leaders of the private sector. The state and the private sectors represent two intimately connected wings of capitalism. Reagan’s ‘assault’ on the state sector in the 1980’s would have left the US private sector severely damaged if it hadn’t been buttressed by the massive state spending associated with ‘Military Keynesianism’, directed against the former USSR.  Similarly today, both the US and UK governments (whether Democrat or New Labour; Republican or Con-Dem) have been quick to resort to ‘Keynesianism for the Bankers’ to prop up private capital, and indeed to save a capitalism in crisis. The capitalists will always use their effective control of state spending to serve their interests. Yes, sometimes they have to make concessions, which may meet some of our needs; but, whenever they find the opportunity, these concessions will be snatched back – exactly as we have been seeing for the last couple of decades.

Therefore, we cannot interpret these cuts as simply the current government’s ‘bad’ economics in dealing with the economic crisis. The cuts are the mechanism by which capitalism makes workers pay for its periodic crisis and recessions; crises, which are themselves a fundamental reality of the instability of capitalism. During the current crisis, the cuts strategy is occurring across Europe and the wider world. While the Con-Dem government is perhaps the most unrestrained in its attempts to make the working classes pay, all of the pro-capitalist parties in the UK to one extent or another accept the capitalist logic that cuts are necessary and are prepared to implement them.

We have to recognise that what we are experiencing is a historical process whereby the gains made by worker’s and other popular movements over the 20th century are under attack and are being rolled back. Much has changed in the previous century, but the fundamental dynamics of capital have not. As Ed Pickford wrote in the final line of his ever-relevant The Worker’s Song, whenever wars or economic crises loom over the horizon, it is never the wealthy but rather the working classes who are “always expected to carry the can.”

(2) Defeating cuts: what kind of movement and strategy?

It is important to emphasise to others within the anti-cuts movement that we do not oppose cuts on the basis that they are “too fast” or “too deep”, or because they disproportionately affect one sector (i.e. students vs. claimants or pensioners), or because they are “Tory cuts”. Rather, we believe that we must oppose all the mainstream parties’ austerity drives for the following reasons, some of which have been touched on above:

  • Public spending cuts represent an attempt to make the working classes pay for a crisis in capitalism.
  • Public spending cuts are an ideological attack on the universal provision of services and benefits, and values of collectivism, solidarity and equality.
  • Public spending cuts will have a detrimental effect on the majority of people’s quality of life and human development. These effects include: increasing relative (and in many cases absolute) poverty, denial of opportunities, increasing inequality and economic insecurity in society.
  • Neither the current Con-Dems, nor for that matter, a continued New Labour austerity programme has any genuine democratic basis. The 2010 election proceeded as a carefully managed affair, with the issue of alternatives to spending cuts being largely absent from public debate, and the details of cuts also being withheld. The result is a Con-Dem coalition government with no popular-democratic input or support. This is particularly true in Scotland where recent polling put the combined Lib-Dem and Conservative support at 10%.

As participants in the wider anti-cuts movement, the above points distinguish the principled nature of our opposition to their whole austerity programme from those who purport to oppose cuts on grounds of speed or depth, or because of the political party making the cuts (i.e. Tory instead of Labour). However, they also indicate that our opposition to cuts are tied to a fundamentally different worldview and vision of society and the one that has produced both the current crisis and austerity programme. Our communist world-view is rooted in the struggle for universal human emancipation and liberation, characterised by the statements from each according to their means, to each according to their needs” and where “the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.

Highlighting this is important because an integral aspect of the struggle against cuts is the need to articulate and advance an alternative that can deal with the current economic crisis and budget deficit and move towards a society which no longer has the characteristics of the current capitalist society which caused the crisis and cuts in the first place. In developing our own alternative and advancing our values, we can counterpoise capitalism’s cuts with the cuts that we would make. These include the new Trident, military spending on imperial wars, exorbitant interest payments for PFI/PPP contracts, resort to overpaid private consultants and senior managers, and the bankers’ bonuses.

(3) The Alternative: what alternative political and economic programme  should we propose?

In the process of building a movement against austerity measures that is able to win, i.e. defeat the government’s program of austerity and dismantling the remains of the welfare provision, questions of organisation, strategy, and political content and aims are being debated. We argue that such a movement must be characterised by: Understanding, Democracy, Organisation from Below, Unity, and Militancy. In debating with the wider anti-cuts movement on these issues, we also have to criticise  strategies which are unlikely to defeat their austerity programme, strategies which are usually not based on a fundamental opposition to their whole austerity programme and what they represent.

a) The need for understanding:

The logic that cuts are necessary is accepted by Labour, the SNP, and to some extent the Scottish Greens.

From understanding this social reality, we can see that there are several strategies of resistance to public spending cuts that are not likely to succeed. These include:

  • Attempting to ‘convince’ the Con-Dem government (or just Clegg’s Liberal ‘betrayers in the coalition’) that the ‘moral majority’ of the population oppose cuts, and that the current cuts programme is regressive and unfair, that it could have negative economic effects such as increasing unemployment, and as a result their pace/scale should be slowed.
  • Following through solely on a strategy of ‘responsible’ mass demonstrations and lobbying/letter-writing organised ‘from above’ (NUS, TUC) to show the scale of opposition to cuts (again, to ‘convince’ the Con-Dem’s that the ‘moral majority’ oppose their unfair and regressive cuts) in the hope of creating a U-turn by the government.
  • Seeking to replace ‘nasty’ with ‘nice’ elected representatives: the main four parties will either propose or implement spending cuts. In Scotland, even the Scottish Greens accept that cuts are to some extent necessary and are prepared to implement them.
  • Pursuing purely ‘sectoral’ campaigns, i.e. opposing cuts to higher education instead of all cuts. This allows one group to be played off against another in a ‘divide and rule’ strategy.

Accepting this understanding of the cuts and thus what strategies are unlikely to bring the government’s plans into disarray allows us to also outline what type of movement and strategy is needed to defeat cuts.

b) The need for an international approach

For those of us fighting the cuts in Scotland, the need for an internationalist viewpoint is evident. The SNP government’s belief in social democratic reforms, financed from a buoyant financial sector, has been blown out the water. Scottish based bankers and other capitalists have been quick to rush into the arms of New Labour and Con-Dem governments at Westminster, either to bail them out, or to coordinate their austerity drive.

However, ruling class ‘internationalism from above’ does not stop at Westminster.  The whole EU bureaucracy is being mobilised to coerce governments in Greece, Portugal, Spain, and particularly in Ireland, to adopt vicious austerity drives, in a similar manner to the IMF structural adjustment programmes imposed on the developing world.

Our answer to the bosses’ ‘internationalism from above’ is working class ‘internationalism from below. We can take inspiration from the struggles of workers in Greece and France, in particular. It remains to be seen, whether the inspiring new movements in North Africa and the Middle East can be duplicated in Europe, or whether they remain the product of particularly repressive political conditions.

Furthermore, it was the actions of students in London, protesting against the imposition of university fees, which has inspired many workers throughout the UK. Indeed, just as Scotland was a beacon of the anti-poll tax protest in 1989, when this tax was imposed here first, so England (and Wales) has produced the possibilities of a wider movement due to the Con-Dem government’s proposals to introduce fees there first.

c) The need for democracy

The anti-cuts struggle, both in terms of its internal organisation and in struggling for the kind of society we want to have, has to be radically democratic. For our internal organisations, this means allowing the full creativity and ideas of everyone involved to be expressed and shape the structure, character, aims and strategy of the movement.

The negative effect of denying participatory democratic practices became clear at the launch of the Sheffield anti-cuts campaign, where there was a lack of mechanisms to allow all attendees to influence the agenda, discussion and decisions of the meeting, the result being that “the undemocratic form of the meeting was unable to channel the energy and intelligence of the people in the room.” Instead, the meeting organisers tried to shepherd participants’ efforts into building for an official TUC rally, with a participant from the commune observing that “the politics of this campaign will mobilise people behind the official movement and their campaign for a fairer capitalism, but not a campaign from below to transform capitalism in the fight against the cuts.”

Additionally, a movement that is participatory, where everyone is involved and the ‘base’ maintains control over organisational affairs, is superior than one with a centralised leadership and imposed line because (i) participants’ committment is higher when they have a stake in formulating the goals and strategy of an organisation, and (ii) because a leadership (to the extent that one exists) that is strictly mandated by the ‘base’ cannot have the authority or ability to ‘sell out’.

In terms of the wider anti-cuts movement, the practice of radical and participatory democracy means that both in dealing with the Westminster and Scottish governments, and organisations such as the NUS or TUC/STUC, we need to be wary of the limited democracy provided by periodic electoral representation. Such a system inevitably creates elites and bureaucracies above the movement leaving it open to co-option. To avoid this, mechanisms such as strictly mandated delegates rather than representatives, the ability to recall, and lack of special privileges above other members of an organisation, are necessary. Ultimately, developing participatory democratic forms also form the basis of structures of decision-making and relations between people and communities that would be the foundation of a post-capitalist society.

d) The need to organise from below

Connected to the need for radical democracy, is the need for people to be allowed the space to organise autonomously from below. This point is mainly aimed at avoiding the de-moralisation and de-mobilisation that may accompany movements if organisations such as the NUS and TUC try to organise people ‘from above’, setting their own limits of the content and strategy of a campaign, and limiting the militancy, autonomy, and creativity emanating ‘from below’. Rather, we need to encourage people to independently and critically think and act as part of a wider collective movement of equals. We must also guard against any of the capitalist political parties (ie Labour or the SNP) attempting to co-opt the anti-cuts movement, and limiting activity to opposing ‘Tory cuts’ rather than their own cuts programme.

A further pitfall to avoid is the celebrity politics of deferring to the voice and judgment of a celebrity leader’, such as George Galloway. A key strategy to avoid this is to encourage participatory and horizontal forms of organising, rather than leaders from ‘on high’ to come up with the answers and strategies: that is the direction of de-mobilisation, de-moralisation, and defeat. Rather, the anti-cuts movement needs to involve the self-organisation of workers, students, communities who collectively hold the power to shape the movement from below. As Barry Biddulph of the commune has argued, “The aim is not a million strong march but a million organised in their communities and workplaces.”

e) The need for principled unity

Different sectors of the population, be it students, trade unionists, pensioners, community campaigns or benefit claimants have to unite on the principle of opposing all cuts. As was emphasised by many students active in the anti-tuition fees increase campaign, and thousands of people around the country, if we allow ourselves to be divided against each other then we will be defeated. We cannot allow ourselves to fight only for our own sector or only against cuts affecting ourselves: to defeat all cuts, all of us must unite against all cuts. As  Aiden Kerr wrote recently in the Scottish Socialist Youth blog, “It is in my opinion however that the Scottish youth struggle should not be tied exclusively to education policy.  It should be part of the wider anti-cuts movement and come to the aid of workers on picket lines and strikes.  Imagine what we could do if workers, students and the unemployed united.  No government could cope with a sustained campaign between such large and powerful groups within society.  That startling fact surely would put any possible attack by whoever is in charge in Edinburgh or London into a cold sweat.”

f) The need for militancy

Along with being radically democratic, autonomous, and united, a successful anti-cuts movement will need to be militant: the point was made in interviews with Goldsmith’s students conducted by an RCN member in December that a government determined to push through a neoliberal austerity agenda is not going to listen to only peaceful (passive) protests, no matter how big they may be. In fact, there is a feeling shared among many that ‘peaceful’ protest has been trivialised by the ruling parties of the British state due to New Labour ignoring mass protests before the invasion of Iraq.

Rather, the anti-cuts movement will need to engage in strategies which involve mass-direct action, strikes, occupations, and civil disobedience. An anti-cuts activist in Aberdeen has argued that, in order to defeat the government, the country would need to be made ungovernable. That is, our strategy to defeat cuts is not to demonstrate that many of us morally oppose what the government is doing by marching along a route pre-set by police before quietly going home again. Nor is it to make enough of a noise that the government is forced to ‘listen’ to us. Rather, we need to be realistic with ourselves that the government is determined to push this agenda through, and will only relent if the cuts agenda is made impossible to implement. This raises wider questions about how best to pressure local councils, the Scottish parliament, and a wider poltitical strategy linked to forcing the government to relent on cuts.

g) The need for an alternative to capitalism based on human emancipation

In the fight against cuts, it is becoming clear to more and more people that passive or sectoral resistance is not enough. Nor is simply replacing one set of politicians with another, ‘better’ set.  It is not enough to change who runs the system: we must change the system itself. In fighting against capitalism’s cuts, we need to fight against capitalism itself, and articulate our alternative vision of society: one in which social rights such as universal health and education are not final bastions of welfarism constantly under assault from the logic of capital, but the fundamental and inalienable basis of society. One in which human needs and the bases for personal development are guaranteed to all. One in which people are emancipated from the exploitation of capital, and liberated to reach their full potential, rather than being oppressed by racism, bigotry, and discrimination. Ultimately, to defeat the impetus behind cuts, we need to conquer and transcend the logic of capital with the logic of human development, people not profit, by developing and advocating an emancipatory alternative to capitalism for the 21st century.

Conclusion: The On-going Strategy Debate and Advancing Communism

Ultimately, the anti-cuts movement will only have a chance of winning if we have something we are fighting for, as well as against. One of the most important ways we can engage with the wider anti-cuts movement is to help develop that alternative. This means on an open, comradely basis, advancing our arguments on the nature of the spending cuts and their link with capitalist society, and the necessity and desirability of socialist measures to deal with the budget deficit/capitalist crisis, linked to the necessity and desirability of moving towards a communistic society, encapsulated by the slogan “socialism or barbarism”.

Holyrood Cuts

The Con-Dem government is cutting back the Westminster block grant to Scotland by over £1 billion. The Holyrood general election will take place on May 5th and the signs are that the SNP will lose out to Labour. Just as in the run-up to last May’s Westminster general election, the governing party here is being very coy about announcing exactly how the full cuts would pan out.

Of course there have already been many cuts, but so far only very piecemeal and partial fightbacks. In the SNP/Lib-Dem controlled Edinburgh Council, the 216 year old Blindcraft workshop for the disabled was closed down in January. The council cultivated division amongst their employees by suggesting moving to a three day week, with no longer term guarantees. Individuals were asked to sign up to this ‘deal’. The able-bodied staff saw this as a method to cut redundancy pay. Many of the disabled staff, with virtually no prospect of future work, felt they had little option but to agree. The 53 employees were divided between three unions, and the council was able to get away with a closure that hit the most disadvantaged workers particularly hard.

However, in SNP-run Renfrewshire, the council has been forced to back down over its proposal to cut back primary school teaching hours by 2.5 hours a week. Parental opposition was made so clear that even the EIS backed the large demonstration outside the council chambers in Paisley on February 17th. Furthermore, the decision of EIS members to vote for strike action (97% for) in a ballot proved decisive in winning this particular victory, although the cuts will, no doubt, be made elsewhere, at the cost of a more vulnerable group.

Local councils in Scotland have taken advantage of long-standing social partnership agreements with trade union leaders. With their cooperation, more and more workers have been appointed, over the years, on a temporary contract basis. This now gives councils the flexibility to terminate these contracts, i.e. sack their workers.  Trade union leaders turn a blind eye, saying they only oppose compulsory redundancies (i.e. amongst permanent staff).

Yet the cuts being demanded over the next few years are so great that, instead of redundancies of permanent staff, Labour councils such as Glasgow, are also proposing massive attacks on existing employees’ conditions and suggesting pay freezes (i.e. big cuts in the light of escalating inflation). This is also bringing the council into conflict with such groups as the teachers. Yet EIS leaders are so deeply tied up in social partnerships that, without massive pressure from below, they will no doubt start to sell-off hard-won conditions. They already have form in this regard.  They allowed the last Tory government to break-up national agreements covering FE colleges. Instead, EIS leaders concentrated all their efforts upon targeting those members who attempted to resist this.

In Glasgow the council has also removed many services from its direct control to ‘independent’ organisations, often run by well-renumerated councillors. When these organisations go on to cut-back services, jobs, pay and conditions, trade union members can not legally ask for support from other council workers, since they are no longer directly employed by the council.  Meanwhile, the councillors involved in running these ‘independent’ organisations continue to do very well financially, with a personal vested interest in making cuts.

The STUC organised a very lacklustre rally against the cuts in the Pavilion Theatre in Glasgow on February 26th entitled ‘Organising for the Better Way’. There were speakers from all the major public sector unions, and even rhetoric from the platform about maintaining public sector unity and refusing to pay for the bankers’ crisis. Yet, although calls went out to support the lively lobby of the Lib-Dems Scottish Conference in Perth on March 5th, primarily in support of the disabled betrayed by the Lib-Dem government ministers; and for a massive representation from Scotland to the TUC-organised demonstration in London on Saturday March 26th, there were no proposals for industrial action beyond that date.

However, interestingly, in marked contrast to previous STUC events, nobody on the platform suggested that voting Labour on May 5th was any solution. Indeed there was no official Labour spokesperson. Tories in Scotland, even by their own admission, are seen as ‘toxic’; but neither is there any great enthusiasm for Labour. Votes for Labour are a sign of desperation. SNP government-promised social democratic reforms have been largely abandoned since the collapse of the Royal Bank and the Bank of Scotland; whilst socialists, who had 6 MSP’s as recently as 2007, remain hopelessly divided after the Sheridan debacle.

There only remains one openly socialist councillor in Scotland, the SSP’s Jim Bollan in the SNP-controlled West Dunbartonshire. He put forward an alternative no cuts budget, baked by local council workers’ unions, tenants and community groups.  It received no support from either the SNP or Labour councillors. Jim had already been suspended as councillor for nine months for his consistent support of workers taking action against the council.

Therefore, at present there is little to be gained from trying to build a campaign around councillors standing up for all the workers and service-users in their areas. Such councillors are scarcer than heatwaves in a Scottish January. Indeed, the pressure is all the other way. Breakaway Solidarity’s one elected councillor, Ruth Brown, defected to Labour in Glasgow, developing a close political relationship with its corrupt former council leader, Steven Purcell.

Some of the more imaginative actions being taken against the cuts have been very much encouraged by the student actions in London last December. Groups such as Citizens United have occupied banks in Glasgow, whilst Uncut has targeted tax-avoiding employers in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Perth. Students at Glasgow University have been in occupation of the Hetherington building for several weeks, and are using it as an organising centre for wider anti-cuts activity.

Cameron hopes to inflict the kind of defeats upon organised public service workers that Thatcher achieved over industrial workers. However, public sector workers enjoy a closer relationship with their service users, than industrial workers do with consumers. Developing these links will mean breaking out of the political limitations and organisational barriers in existing trade unions.  It will also certainly mean organising independently of those trade union leaders so wedded to social partnership and the maintenance of their own privileges, that all they ever look for is some face-saving deal.

Furthermore, providing people with the confidence to take on the state/employer austerity drive means that socialists need to be involved in showing there is real alternative. This means preparing the ground now for moving beyond reactive defence actions to building a movement based on meeting our real social needs, and showing that this is only possible when our class takes control of the production of goods and the provision of services. Political boldness now will develop an anti-cuts movement with much greater potential in the future.

Allan Armstrong, Republican Communist Network
edited versions of this article have already appeared in the commune and in the new pamphlet from Permanent Revolution

Resisting The Cuts In Wisconsin

It’s Our Turn!  Greece, Spain, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Wisconsin Are Showing the Global Working Class the Way to Revolution

The streets of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the US midwest are filling up with people sick of capitalism and US imperialism.  And the message is clear.  We want grass-roots democracy.  We stand together in revolt against the entrenched power of corrupt governments, unprincipled trade union bureaucrats, and thoroughly compromised politicians.

Our path to replacing global capitalism with worldwide democratic socialism is being forged by the converging actions of many groups and individuals courageously speaking out on a host of interrelated human rights and workers’ rights issues.

Here in Wisconsin, a Republican governor and state legislature have pushed through legislation that will significantly reduce the pay and benefits of public sector workers while, at the same time, attacking the right of these workers to join unions and collectively bargain their wages and benefits.  Democratic legislators sought to block this attack on public sector unions, but were more than ready to accept the pay cuts. Union officials opted to subordinate themselves to the Democratic Party, and thus no serious effort was made to protest the drastic cuts in pensions and health benefits previously won by public sector workers.

As long as unions continue to rely on Democratic Party politicians, we are bound to see further cuts in social services and the pay of public sector workers. The Democrats will continue to demand shared sacrifice — which means more cuts to public programs, to jobs, and to pay and benefits. The union bureaucrats will continue to say that workers must accept these “economic concessions” because there is no alternative.  But there is an alternative: Tax the Rich! Tax the banks, corporate and private wealth!  No Cuts, No Concessions!

Together, we must stop the war at home.  This can happen only by reversing the attack on the public sector, not only by opposing budget cuts but by putting forward our own program of fully-funded health, education, and social services– one that goes well beyond the meager services we have today.  In the case of education, we must demand free tuition for care and schooling from infancy through adult education; well paid and well trained staff, guaranteed the right to organize and the right to strike; low student-teacher ratios; maximum class sizes; a full range of course offerings and support services; a safe and healthy environment for staff and students; and worker, student, and community control of centre and school curriculum and management.

It’s time for public sector workers to take an active role in the global drive for the creation of, and full participation in, truly democratic systems and structures where human rights and social justice for all workers and communities come first.  And time for democratic socialists to reach out to people being side-tracked by complacent and complicit leadership.

We must demand what we deserve!  Through international solidarity and coordinated actions we can create a global movement for democratic socialism based on principles and practices that will bring out the best in us and future generations.
Eric Chester, Susan Dorazio, Jack Gerson, Labor Commission members, Socialist Party USA

The 1% Network

Ireland is undergoing neo-liberal shock therapy as a result of the Government decision to guarantee the debts run up by speculators in our hyper-inflated housing market that went down the proverbial tubes. The Fianna Fail government, now in its death throes, embarked on pay cuts and reductions in the public sector as its principal strategy for getting out of the mess. It has cut the pay of the 300,000-strong public sector workforce, reduced the minimum wage by €1 per hour and reduced all social welfare payments, pandering to their pals from the Irish Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) who demand a 10 percent reduction in pay for all workers (except themselves!), and the retention of our low corporation tax rate, their ‘holy grail’ of economic recovery.

The game plan is clear to all on the left: by inflicting a major defeat on the public sector, where the vast bulk of unionised workers are concentrated, the state and employers hope to launch a new and devastating series of severe wage cuts which it is claimed will increase Ireland’s competitiveness. Translated for workers this means working for less pay, paying more tax, with the introduction of a plethora ‘non income’ taxes like water charges, tolled roads, etc. They display not the slightest shame when a comparison is made between these cuts and their bailout of the banks. In 2009 about €13 billion of public (workers’) money was spent propping up Ireland’s banking system. This is equivalent to the total amount spent on the Irish health service for a whole year.

Back in 2007, the Bank of Ireland’s ‘Wealth of the Nation’ report revealed that 1% of the population owned 34% of the wealth. In October of 2010, Cork Institute of Technology lecturer Tom O’Connor analysed what has happened to this wealth. His figures showed that the total ‘net worth’ (excluding the value of their principal residences and allowing for any borrowings) of the 33,000 Irish millionaires is still a massive €121billion. This fact has largely been ignored by our media who have decided almost unanimously to advance the Fianna Fail/Green Party mantra that we are all collectively responsible for the ‘economic crisis’; therefore all will have to pay for our supposed over-indulgence and that a wealth tax would be counter-productive as ‘high earners’ are already paying proportionally more than everyone else.

The 1% network is a coalition of socialist groups which came together to oppose the cut-back agenda of the government and to promote a socialist alternative to the current socio-economic system. The name of the coalition was chosen to highlight the fact that just 1% of the population control in excess of 34% of the wealth of the nation. Organisations within the coalition include éirígí, Workers Solidarity Movement, Revolutionary Anarcha-Feminist Group, Seomra Spraoi collective and the Irish Socialist Network along with individual activists. The 1% Network is mindful that the immediate beneficiary of Fianna Fáil’s decline is an even more right-wing rival Fine Gael, who will implement a vicious neo-liberal agenda destroying any remnants of the public sector and the trade union movement – with the support of the Irish Labour Party who will probably be the junior partner in the next administration.

The 1% Network is a democratic forum. Organising and planning activities, press statements, all decision making is made at meetings open to all. Although some organisations have activists at meetings they don’t attempt to dominate them, preferring to have collective agreement from all. This is an important aspect of the Network which encourages greater involvement of progressive individuals who are not aligned to any particular organisation.

The 1% network is driven by the belief that it is clearly both wrong and corrupt that a small number of people should hold onto such vast wealth while the majority of people face savage attacks on our living standards and on our public services. More importantly, this concentration of wealth in a tiny number of hands means that political power is also concentrated in the hands of this elite. The Network exists to highlight the fact that Government and opposition solutions to the capitalist economic crisis are deeply unequal – for instance a 5% cut to social welfare payments isn’t the same as a 5% cut in pay for someone earning €150,000 per annum no matter how much media spin is put on it. The Network wants to promote the fact that capitalism is the cause of our economic woes and capitalists should be both held accountable and made to pay for their crisis. It also wants to instigate a discussion on how to re-shape and build a new society based on equality and real democracy, to find a way to take political power away from the wealthy elite.

Since its inception the 1% network has carried out a number of activities including a educational walking tour of the private mansions, corporate headquarters, secret meeting spots and private banks of the business elite. The trip through Dublin’s Georgian and business districts included stops outside the townhouses of Dermot Desmond, Johnny Ronan and Sir Tony O’Reilly, as well as sites linked with gross inequality or the state’s economic collapse. They also organised a well-attended protest focusing on zombie banks at Hallowe’en.

Gregor Kerr, one of the founding members of the 1% Network said on the walking tour that there was a concerted attempt to pretend that wealth didn’t exist anymore, but the tour was designed to disprove this. “The reality is that not everyone is sharing the pain. Those most responsible for this crisis are escaping relatively unscathed,” he said. The network wants to make the 1% of the rich pay for the crisis: we are not content to demand ‘fairer’ cuts for the working-class majority. When the Irish Congress of Trade Unions called a national demonstration on 27th November 2010 in Dublin, the 1% Network decided to become active in promoting and participating in it despite the fact that the ICTU leadership called the march on the basis of ‘fairer’ cuts and a return to the disastrous policy of ‘Social Partnership’. Unfortunately the current Trade Union leadership, with some notable exceptions, have accepted the government’s cuts agenda and are limiting their activities to campaigning for the cuts to be implemented over a longer period of time.

The 1% network took part in the demonstration – not to support the demands of the ICTU leadership, but to outline an alternative, not in the expectation that the ICTU leadership would be convinced but because we want to make the argument to the thousands of workers who took part that it is up to all of us to organise what is needed, a general strike against Government austerity measures that are being imposed without any mandate from the Irish people. The 1% network had the slogan ‘The 1% have the Wealth – We have to take the Power’. The Network argued for the Trade Union movement to instigate a grassroots resistance to the cuts in workplaces and community associations, to begin to build a strong, united campaign and to begin the process of working towards that general strike.

The union bureaucracy, which is joined at the hip to the Labour Party, is scared stiff of the movement that is welling up beneath it. During their ongoing negotiations with the Government on alternative ways of cutting the public sector budget, they suggested they could offer “more for less”, and were willing to trade up to 15,000 public sector redundancies and ‘worker flexibility’ if pay cuts were withdrawn. The union bureaucracy even offered to give up over-time rates in hospitals by allowing its members to be rostered to work anytime from 8am to 8pm. But even after they had got on their knees, the Fianna Fáil-Green government arrogantly replied “Not nearly enough”.

This rebuff has signalled the death of social partnership and means that the union leaders are now under the spotlight as many ask: will they lead a fight? Up to now they are showing extreme reluctance to do so. They are reeling from the collapse of a cosy 22-year relationship with the State and are desperate to avoid a strategy of national stoppages to drive a deeply unpopular government out of office. The 1% Network is trying to raise consciousness amongst the working class that Capitalism is the cause and socialism is the cure, and that Tweedledum (Fianna Fail) being replaced by Tweedledee (Fine Gael) will only further erode workers’ living standards and increase the wealth of the exploiting class.

This article is by John O’Neill of the Irish Socialist Network. It appears in the current issue of Emancipation & Liberation (no. 20) where it is wrongly attributed (our apologies to John).

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Apr 17 2011

Opposing the imperialist suppression of the revolution in North Africa and the Middle East

Here are 4 items relating to the current situation in Bahrain and Libya

1. SSP Conference motion, 3 April 2011

2. Article by Moshe Machover – The long road of the Arab revolution

3. Article by John McAnulty (Socialist Democracy – Ireland) the test of Libya

4. Article by Pepe Escobar – Exposed the US-Saudi Libya deal

Motion proposed by the SSP Executive Committee (before the UK intervention in Libya)

The Scottish Socialist Party stands fully behind the struggles taking place. We fully support the demands to create a new Arab world on the principles of democracy, secularism, civil rights and in particular the rights of women.

We support the demands for social and economic policies which promote equality and social justice and for the elections of governments which challenge imperialist ambitions in the region and which demonstrate active solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Amendment initiated by RCN members and proposed by Glasgow North East SSP branch

1 – Conference notes its enthusiastic support for the wave of mass protests sweeping through the Arab world, as people fill the streets demanding the end to entrenched dictatorships and the defence of democratic rights. So far, these protests have led to the toppling of Mubarek in Egypt and Ben Ali in Tunisia. We look forward to more victories for the democratic insurgents throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

Toppling dictators can only provide the first step in the creation of a genuinely democratic and just society. The SSP stands in solidarity with the progressive democratic forces in the Arab World as they organise to secularise these societies, advance the rights of the working class as it endeavours to form viable trades unions and narrow the vast differentials in income and wealth, and press demands that undermine the autocratic patriarchy that oppresses women and distorts gender relations for all.

2 – The occupation of Bahrain by troops from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States is an ominous development. Unable to suppress popular demands for greater democracy, the Bahraini elite, totally corrupt and discredited, has turned to the theocratic rulers of Saudi Arabia, with its sizeable military forces equipped by the US and UK. The SSP calls for the immediate withdrawal of all foreign troops from Bahrain. We demand that the British government stop selling arms to Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and any other government which has contributed troops to the occupation. We join with the people on the streets of Bahrain demanding the overthrow of the monarchy and its replacement by a democratic government responsible to all of the people.

3 – The SSP opposes the military intervention in Libya of the US, Britain and France in Libya, and will actively participate in wider coalitions that demand an immediate halt to the air strikes, while opposing the extension of military operations to the use of ground troops. Western imperialist powers have no interest in promoting democracy in Libya, or anywhere in the Arab world. Their sole goal is to obtain greater control over Libya’s oil resources.

At the same time, the SSP supports he struggle of the Libyan people to topple the Gadaffi regime. The Libyan government was an entrenched, brutal dictatorship and a corrupt one also. In these essential characteristics, it differed little from many other autocratic regimes in the region, which have become the target of popular insurgencies. Our opposition to military intervention in any form by the Western powers in no way implies support for the Tripoli regime.

Passed overwhelmingly by the SSP Annual Conference in Dunfermline on 3.4.11

The Long Road Of The Arab Revolution

by Moshé Machover, a long-standing international socialist now exiled from Israel

Libya: Saving the revolution killed the revolution

It is very difficult to talk in a coherent way about a process which is unfolding and where things are changing all the time. What I would like to do is to initiate a discussion and explore some ideas about where the revolution is going, and what we should expect in both the short term and longer term.

But, given the contention on the left, I think we should start with Libya. There is a lot of confusion, and I think that this is partly for understandable reasons. I am not referring here to the ‘confusion’ of those who effectively cheer the imperialist intervention. Groups like the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty are in my opinion simply social-imperialists.

I am actually talking about socialists – people I regard as comrades, such as Gilbert Achcar, who is not a social-imperialist and is very critical of western intervention and of this ‘coalition of the willing’ (and partly unwilling!) that is being sent to ‘protect’ the Libyan revolution.

There is a genuine problem, and it would be unfortunate to appear callous and uncaring about the fate of those in Benghazi who were penned in and faced the terrible prospect of being massacred. Given the despair they are in, I would not actually be too critical of them for calling on the so-called ‘international community’ for help.

We have to be clear that the ‘international community’ is itself an ideological construct, a term used in order to conflate the US-led global hierarchy of states on the one hand and global public opinion on the other. There is world public opinion – civil society – which has real humanitarian concerns, and then there is the so-called ‘international community’, which is the nom de guerre of the US and its followers.

Why Libya?

Why did they go for Libya and not other places? For me there are three main reasons. Firstly, there is the question of oil. Do not underestimate this factor. Of course, the quantity of oil Libya offers is next to nothing in comparison to Saudi Arabia, but it is its quality which makes them interested in it. It is just about the best oil you can find, particularly for aircraft fuel.

Secondly, they have been asked to intervene this time around, which is crucial in providing them with an ideological and political cover: nobody asked them in Egypt or in Yemen; nobody even asked them in Bahrain.

Thirdly, although Gaddafi’s Libya ceased to be a ‘rogue state’ from around 2003, there is some truth in the claim that, from the standpoint of the imperialists, Gaddafi is still a rogue. Why? Well he is obviously a little bit crazy and very unreliable for them. So, although he is ‘our friend’ now (or was until very recently!), he was never somebody who could be fully trusted, as he is unstable in every possible manner – including mentally. How anybody can take him seriously after hearing him speak is simply beyond me.

The Saudis are also cautiously in favour of intervention in Libya because they do not like Gaddafi either. They remember all his leanings towards Islamic Maoism, the Little green book and his own conception of jamahiriya (people’s power). The Saudi regime is very traditionalist and as such they find all of this stuff very unsettling. Gaddafi has created his own ideology – even his own version of Islam! This has also been a factor in ensuring that he has very few allies in the Arab world more generally.

Anyway, I would like to comment on Achcar’s remarks about Libya. Whilst he is wrong to lend support to the intervention, he has a few sensible things to say on the situation and I would recommend reading him.[1]

But he omits some important things. It is my view that the Libyan revolution is already defeated. From the moment the Interim Transitional National Council felt it had to invite this intervention it became clear that it was unable to overthrow the regime. As Marx observed a long time ago, revolution is needed not only to overthrow the powers that be, but also to transform the people who are making it – the process of revolution is a transformative one which gives the masses confidence in their ability to change things and to be masters of their own fate. Once you call on other forces to intervene, all this is lost, and in this sense it is a defeat.

The second remark which I think I would add to Achcar’s analysis is this. It may well be that inviting these forces into Libya is the lesser evil, compared to being slaughtered. But it is still an evil. Sometimes one must accept and put up with the lesser evil, but one must never demand it. The people who are not only demanding, but cheering the intervention are renegades to the revolutionary idea. If it is a lesser evil but it comes to pass anyway, then you have to protest against it, you have to denounce it.

I have made the analogy before, but imagine that there is a group of people surrounded by the Ku Klux Klan and are about to be slaughtered. They then invite protection from the Mafia. The Mafia will, of course, give you protection – but will then install a protection racket if it can. The Mafia that is the so-called ‘international community’ is not even sure if it can institute this protection racket anyway; but it will do its damnedest.

Moreover, the no-fly (now no-drive?) zone is dangerous not only in its immediate effect on the outcome in Libya. It also sets a worrying precedent. Once you give these forces the legitimation to act as the global policeman, then next time they will use it as they please – not for the lesser evil, but the greater one. Giving such forces legitimacy is in the worst interests of revolution both in the Arab world and beyond – it is in the best interests of counter-revolution, because that is how they are going to use it. It is not simply this situation on its own, in isolation, but what it implies for the future as well.

Also, when our rulers make war it is very bad for us – this is a point made by Marx. Think back to Thatcher and the Falklands war – her government was set to lose the general election.

I think the reason why there was less opposition to Libya than Iraq was because the latter was obviously going to be a land invasion. A ‘no-fly zone’ appears to be a much safer, less risky version of war, which is more like a computer game than anything else, so it is more popular – especially if you can justify it on ‘humanitarian’ grounds – without the risk of getting bogged down in a long and drawn-out war.

Not only is the left divided in its reaction, but so too are the imperialists. In each of the countries where people are free to express divergent opinions you see some maintaining that this move is not a good idea and that one can never know how it will end. It is certainly going to be a messy situation.

Whilst I have claimed that this moment marks the defeat of the Libyan revolution, I have not said that it is the defeat of the Arab revolution. I certainly hope it is not! This is just one sector of it, but it is not accidental that this defeat happened in a country like Libya. The reasons are quite clear.

Libya is one of the largest countries in Africa, most of which is desert. But it has a very small population of around six or seven million people, most of whom are divided along tribal lines. This is important. Compare it, for example, to Iran. Both are oil-producing countries that receive a large revenue from oil. This has led some to characterise Iran as a kind of ‘rentier state’ that does not depend too much on tax revenues from its own people. This allows it to provide handouts and sweeteners. Yet its population is around 11 times that of Libya, so even with the inflow of royalties from oil it cannot bribe that many people. As we know, the economic situation in Iran is dire.

This is different in Libya, where the revenue (or some of it) is spread out amongst far fewer people and thus leads to phenomena like low unemployment, etc. Indeed, the fact that Gaddafi made peace with the imperialist order back in 2003-04 (who will forget that handshake with our very own Tony Blair?) actually increased his ability to use this enormous wealth, even after siphoning off much of it for himself and his family. After all, he is a kleptocrat – just like his colleagues, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Ben Ali in Tunisia, etc. We should also mention the Saudi royal family, who do not even have to steal to get their wealth because there formally the oil is actually theirs – there is no distinction between the public purse and the private purse of the king. (In Britain this identity was abolished in medieval times.)

But even after deducting all of this kleptocratic rent, there is enough left over for Gaddafi to bribe enough of the population, to hire mercenaries and so on and thus try to prevent what happened in Egypt and Tunisia. Libya’s social structure is also less developed, less advanced than in those neighbouring countries. I think you can also notice this in the composition of the opposition – it is much more dominated by people who were tribally opposed to Gaddafi’s regime, and there is a much higher proportion of Islamists than in both Tunisia and Egypt.

It would be foolish to predict how exactly things will pan in out in Libya. There might be a situation where it is divided between east and west and there is a civil war of attrition lasting for some time. Or it could end one way or the other. But, to the extent that there was a popular uprising, I think the people have lost ownership of this process and thus the revolution is defeated.

Other hot spots

This is not so in other parts of the Arab world. There are still very positive dynamics in Syria, for example. Syria is the second most important Arab country after Egypt. If Egypt had, by virtue of its large population, been the leader of the Arab people up to the time when it made peace with the US and Israel, then Syria is now the claimant to this role.

In fact, I recently looked back at theses I had co-written in the mid-1970s, and what we said back then was that the Syrian Ba’ath was making a bid for the leadership of the Arab world. Iraq, the other large Arab country, has never managed to stake a claim on this role. Saddam Hussein had a project to do so, but for various reasons he did not achieve this.

Events in Japan and Britain have squeezed the reporting of Yemen, but things are going forward there too. And very few people mention Bahrain, which is in a catastrophic situation. What some feared would happen in Libya is happening right now. There the regime – aided by forces it invited from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states – has actually invaded the hospitals. So if you are wounded on a demonstration and taken to hospital you are likely to be killed. We are seeing a massacre of unimaginable cruelty.

Bahrain is the source of the pearls of Arabia. Now these forces have demolished the symbolic pearl in Pearl Square, where enormous demonstrations took place. This is a huge insult to the people who occupied the square – some still risk their lives demonstrating there. Here there are signs of the revolutionary process receding, whilst Yemen and Syria are still going forward. This is no coincidence: it can be traced back to social structure.

Yemen is the product of a forced union of the north and south – two areas with a vastly different social composition. North Yemen is tribal and very backward in its economic and social development. South Yemen is mostly made up of the former British colony of Aden. Politically it was also very developed. For a time there was a self-styled socialist republic here, which was then overthrown by an internal coup and external forces from other countries and from North Yemen. This localised would-be socialism had some very democratic ideas. In the heyday of socialist revolution in South Yemen it said and did a lot of things which went beyond Stalinism. There was a real struggle which took place there between Stalin-style communists and real communists. Of course, they were very limited as to what they could achieve and in the end they were defeated. But in terms of its political development, South Yemen was probably the most advanced country in the Arab world.[2]

Whilst it is now merged with the very different North Yemen, we can still see this influence of working class struggle and organisation today: we see a radical intelligentsia and the heritage of a well-organised workers’ movement making its mark on the events unfolding there.

There were only a few countries in which there was a sizeable working class movement in the Arab world beyond South Yemen. The largest Communist Party, which was highly Stalinised, was in Iraq. But when the monarchy was overthrown in 1958 it was the only party to emerge intact from the underground. The coup to remove the monarchy was a military one, but on the civilian political scene the Communist Party almost had a monopoly. Of course, this was wasted because of its policies and so on. I am old enough to remember when Anastas Mikoyan came to ‘advise’ the Iraqi Communist Party following the fall of the monarchy in 1958-59. He actually told them not to rock the boat and to maintain the Soviet policy of ‘peaceful co-existence’ with the west – a revolutionary policy in Iraq would have undermined this and was thus to be avoided. This marked the beginning of the decline of the CP, and what remains now is really shameful. It is not even an anti-imperialist force, let alone a force for socialism.

The third country where there was a strong movement, albeit a Stalinist one, was Syria. Syria had a fairly sizeable Communist Party led by the Kurd, Khalid Bakdash. It is a very mixed country with quite a lot of Christians, Jews, Armenians and all sorts. Again because of its Stalinist policies the CP declined. But, once again, traditions have been retained which survive to this day.

Those like me who had been in a Stalinist Communist Party will perhaps understand what I am trying to describe. These parties were tools of Stalinist foreign policy. Nevertheless, they organised the working class and a lot of their members were true, genuine working class militants who learned a little bit of Marxism (of course, in a rather doctored version). But they were called on to read some of the classical writings and this did leave something behind, in spite of all the betrayals and so on. Wherever there were powerful CPs there is a tradition which lives on today. This is not true of Iraq, but that is partly because of other factors, such as the complete destruction of the country following the invasion. So there is a sense in which these organisations have left behind them a heritage which is still worthwhile.

Qatar is a genuine exception in all of this. It is a very rich place and its ruling family is playing a very clever game. There have been calls for demonstrations there too, but very few people have turned up. There is opposition, of course, as there is everywhere. But for the time being business is business – and part of the business of the Qatari ruling family is Al-Jazeera! They are actually profiting from the Arab revolution and – for the moment at least – they do not feel threatened by it. Whether they will succumb to it or not remains to be seen.

As for Al-Jazeera itself, it is interesting to look at how in many ways it presages Arab unity. It is not a coincidence that what symbolises Arab unity is one of the most modern forms of communication. It is Arab unity in the form suited to the 21st century. It has Arab workers from all over the region.

It originally started as an offshoot of the BBC World Service, but the BBC turned out to be too conservative and restrictive, too bound up with American and British interests in the region. Al-Jazeera actually broadcasts much of what the Arab masses want. Let us not overstate this: the station is hardly the voice of Arab communism! Nonetheless, it is run by secular democrats whose coverage is not based on sound bites like the BBC World Service. On Al-Jazeera they actually have discussions, where people are allowed to develop their positions – not just those who support the Arab revolution, but also Israeli politicians and American conservatives, for example. This is very educational, making it in my opinion the most informative news service in the world (especially now that the BBC World Service is being cut).

Expectations

It would be foolish to prophesy. Things are still unfolding and numerous options are presenting themselves. But it would also be foolish to expect too much. I think it is unlikely that we will see even a progressive kind of bourgeois democratic regime emerge, or some kind of social democratic arrangement. These things do not come about with just one push. This revolutionary movement is only the first of a whole historical process, which is only in its infancy.

History is important. In 1848 there were revolutions throughout most of Europe, which on the face of things did not succeed: they did not actually overthrow all the reactionary regimes. Nevertheless, it did not come to nothing. It left a certain tradition and a certain heritage which was then taken forward in the next step.

Look at what happened in Portugal in 1974-75. The revolution took on a very left-wing and radical direction, but a lot of it was reversed. What we have in Portugal now is not that much different to what exists in many other European states. However, if you speak to people who took part in this revolution then you will notice that it lives on in their consciousness – it matters when you have experienced the overthrow of a dictatorial regime and lived through a period of people’s power, etc. It forms the basis of the next step.

So even the most realistically optimistic scenario is not for all the old regimes to be overthrown and replaced by liberal, social democratic administrations. It will probably be far short of this. But the longer-term effects will be more profound. The world has changed already in many ways. First of all, from the point of view of the US-led imperialist order the Middle East is no longer something you can regard as a safe zone. The whole policy of the US in the region – the most strategically important in the world due to oil and the Suez Canal – was based on the fact that, whilst US policy-makers were very clearly aware of the discontent of the masses, they believed in the ability of the rulers to keep it under control and repress it.

There was actually a non-conservative project to introduce the imperialist version of democracy to the Middle East. The neocons (not George Bush, by the way, who simply provided patronage for the whole project) realised that the Saudi Arabian situation was no longer sustainable and were thinking very far ahead. They knew that there would eventually be some sort of revolt or uprising there, and thus came to the conclusion that it would be better for them to instigate and control the impending transformation. This is certainly true. The whole project foundered because the first stage failed so miserably – Iraq proved not to be the beginning of a smooth transition to western democracy but a very bloody mess. The whole thing became discredited.

Conspiracy theory fans like the remnants of the Workers Revolutionary Party, who tend to uphold Gaddafi as some sort of ‘anti-imperialist’, actually infer from this that what is going on must be the product of neocon plans. But this is completely wrong. They were hatched precisely in order to pre-empt what is actually taking place – ie, instead of something driven by the initiative of the people, something they could instigate and manipulate themselves.

Indeed, this revolutionary wave was not without previous tremors – even in Libya. In 1995, for example, there was a local uprising in Benghazi – no coincidence, of course. It was drowned in blood. But there have been uprisings in every one of these countries – protests that the regimes were able to suppress. But that period is now over. Nothing is the same. This is also reflected in US lack of confidence in relation to the unfolding events. They are no longer sure if they can keep this region under control. With the exception of Syria, all of the countries gripped by revolution are allies of the United States and, at least implicitly, of Israel.

Although in the Egyptian and Tunisian protests you did not see many slogans such as ‘Down with the United States’ or ‘Down with Israel’, this was because the protests were dealing with the immediate task at hand – ie, overthrowing the regime. If you actually watch journalists talking to ordinary people, as Al-Jazeera did, then it becomes clear that they were not simply protesting about unemployment or the corruption of the various regimes, but about the fact that those like Mubarak are lackeys of imperialism, and the shameful conditions of the peace treaty with Israel imposed on them.

When you hear interviews with Syrians though, they assert that one thing they do not mind about the regime is the fact that it is opposed to the US and does not toe the Israeli line. It is hated because of repression and the state of the economy, but not for foreign policy. It is important to observe what people are saying, rather than just what is on their placards.

All-Arab

I would like also to point out that we are witnessing an all-Arab revolution. The Weekly Worker has been quite correct on this. Whilst I would rather call it an all-Arab revolution than a pan-Arab revolution, as the Weekly Worker does, this is simply a matter of terminology.

I am slightly puzzled by the fact that many from the Trotskyist tradition refuse to accept the idea of an Arab revolution. One good example of this is Stuart King of Permanent Revolution. Whenever I have spoken on Arab unity and he has been present he has raised a number of rather odd objections. On the one hand, he says, the Arab world is far too disparate and there are many national minorities (the Kurds, the Israelis and so on) and further nationalities which he invents, such as the Maronites (a religious denomination).

On the other hand, he then questions why we should be opting for Arab unity: why not opt for regional unity, which would include Turkey and Iran? Of course, in the long run we will have a united socialist world. But the affinity between England and Scotland, for example, is not the same as the affinity between England and Japan. You would not expect unification to proceed at the same rate everywhere. In the long run – and this will take many generations – the world will, of course, be one and there will be no national frontiers. But this cannot happen all at once. To bring in Iran, with a different history, language and some record of estrangement from and conflict with the Arab world, strikes me as rather strange. Further, it is ridiculous to bring in Turkey, which was the imperial master of the Arab world, as a partner on the same level as – let us say – Hadhramaut and Oman.

Given that the Arab revolution is an idea associated with Michel Raptis (Pablo), perhaps this hostility to Arab unity can be traced back to an old Trotskyist sectarian quarrel which has outlived its meaningfulness. To me it makes no difference whether the idea came from Pablo. He may have got one hundred and one other things wrong, but he was right on this question. He knew the Arab world very well and this idea was enthusiastically picked up. I got it from a comrade of mine, who was my main mentor on Middle Eastern matters. I am referring to the Palestinian Arab Marxist, Jabra Nicola, who died in London in 1974. He was a Trotskyist. I was and am not. But I learnt a lot from him.

Anyway, quite clearly the revolutionary contagion in the Arab world is far more direct and immediate than, for example, the spreading of revolutionary sentiment across eastern Europe in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The Arab world is more like a single nation divided into sub-nationalities. If you want a rough analogy, then I would say it is like Italy, where there is the Italian nation, but within it there are the Sicilians, Tuscans, etc, who are akin to sub-nationalities. In fact, in the period of World War I, when there was the promise of uniting the Arab world, explicit comparisons were made with Italy. Many were arguing that the Arab world should be treated like Italy under Garibaldi and so on. The British actually mobilised support against Turkey using this very promise of Arab unity. Of course, this was later betrayed.

Even if you compare the Arab region with the Spanish-speaking part of Latin America, the historical and linguistic ties are much closer in the former. Indeed, many of the Latin American countries are historically not mainly Spanish – they have their own indigenous histories and cultures. Not so in the Arab world.

Today, one of the modern attributes of a nation is that it is a people who get their news from the same television station! In this respect, all the Arab world is one nation. Do not underestimate this! The rulers know this very well. Indeed, some of them have even blamed Al-Jazeera for the revolution, which is, of course, exaggerated. But it reveals a truth.

It matters a lot when people watch the same programmes and can communicate with each other in the same language – something which is increasingly done online, of course. And again, whilst we may not have seen placards addressing the question of Arab unity (beyond, for example, ‘Solidarity with Tunisia’ in Egypt and so on), when you actually talk to activists and hear them being interviewed then you notice a big change. The desire for and drive towards Arab unity was very much alive from the 1950s onwards, especially around the time of the Suez war. It lasted right through to the 1970s, but then it declined. And if you spoke to Arab comrades in the 1980s and 1990s then they would say that Arab unity was a lost cause, it was not going to happen, there was too much divergence, etc. But now if you speak to them it is clear that the idea is back on the agenda.

It is not simply the same language, culture and history which is important. It is also an economic need. This should be a very important consideration, especially for Marxists. Currently divided up into one big state, a few medium-sized states and then a lot of mini-states, the Arab world as it actually is does not make sense economically. The distribution of the population and natural resources is very skewed and uneven. The riches of Libya and Saudi Arabia, for example, could finance the extensive development which is needed in a country like Egypt. A country like Syria has a lot of fertile land which is underused. The dispersal of all these human and natural resources means that it makes no sense to keep them apart. The first step could be something along the lines of the European Union – first and foremost an economic union – but without the reactionary agenda.

Unfortunately it would seem that the Arab bourgeoisie is incapable of actually leading this transformation. Achieving such a union requires the mobilisation of the working class, and indeed the leadership of the working class. The bourgeoisie has tried to do this – and not just the Egyptian and Syrian bourgeoisie. Even Gaddafi had a Mickey Mouse project for Arab unification.

I think that a ‘Bismarck scenario’ is unlikely in the Arab revolution. Uniting Germany in ‘blood and iron’ was made possible by the particular role which Prussia played in relation to the other German states. It was a highly militarised state – one of the biggest military powers in Europe. On the other hand, the other German states were smaller and much weaker militarily. In terms of the Arab world today, it is not simply that a Bismarck does not exist, but that there is no Arab Prussia. Egypt is by far the largest country in the Arab world. But I think that the scenario of Egypt invading Syria and so on is a remote one. Saladin, for example, did invade and unify a large part of the Arab world, but that was in the 12th century, not the 21st. I do not think it is realistic now.

The bourgeoisie, of course, could achieve Arab unity by its own means, but I think this is unlikely. Recent historical experience suggests why. The United Arab Republic, for example, was initiated by the Syrian bourgeoisie, not Nasser and the Egyptian bourgeoisie. They thought it would protect their interests and that it would be better to work together with others of their class interest in the Arab world. But, when it actually came about, the Syrian bourgeoisie was not so keen because it found it was being competitively undermined by the much larger and more powerful Egyptian bourgeoisie. They found it was too bad for business.

This is a dilemma for the various national capitals, which base themselves on snatching a bigger part of the market and so on. It looks very unlikely that the bourgeoisie will transcend its immediate interests in order to unite the Arab nation. To do this you need a class which is not held back by competitive, immediate material interests, but can think in a more international sense: ie, the working class.

Of course, that would require the working class to organise, and for this a whole historical period will be required. That is why I am saying that in the short term we should not expect too much. We need a period in which the working class can actually organise and create its own political leadership, which can then start a new revolution aimed at uniting the Arab world.

Notes

For the interview, see www.zcommunications.org/libyan-developments-by-gilbert-achcar

See F Halliday Arabia without Sultans London 1974.

originally published in Weekly Worker, no. 859

The Test Of Libya

by John McAnulty – Socialist Democracy (Ireland), 3 April 2011

The revolutionary upsurges in North Africa and the Middle East should be serving as a revitalising jolt for revolutionary socialists elsewhere. After decades of isolation, finally they are able to contribute fully: to offer the tools of Marxist analysis, to offer the examples and lessons from earlier historical upsurges, to build solidarity from a working class perspective.In many cases this is what has happened. However, as in the case of circulatory diseases, the return of blood flow may simply confirm that the affected area is dead and allow the processes of gangrene and decay to set in. Such has been the case with Gilbert Achcar, a well-known academic with a long history of involvement with the Fourth International. Achcar, under the pressure of revolutionary upsurge, has completed a journey from revolutionary socialism to liberal commentator with a declaration of support for imperialist war in Lybia.

Achcar says:

The resolution is amazingly confused. But given the urgency of preventing the massacre that would have inevitably resulted from an assault on Benghazi by Gaddafi’s forces, and the absence of any alternative means of achieving the protection goal, no one can reasonably oppose it….. You can’t in the name of anti-imperialist principles oppose an action that will prevent the massacre of civilians. In the same way, even though we know well the nature and double standards of cops in the bourgeois state, you can’t in the name of anti-capitalist principles blame anybody for calling them when someone is on the point of being raped and there is no alternative way of stopping the rapists.

Achcar denounces dogmatism, a growing habit in the socialist movement by those who, after years of endorsing an amorphous anti-capitalism, find themselves uncomfortable when Marxist theory is applied to real events.

Yet his whole position is one of bombastic and pompous dogmatism. He asserts a scenario about Libya that, unless we bow down to his supreme authority as academic commentator, he cannot possibly know. Not only that, he asserts as gospel that future developments can only take one path without imperialist intervention and that there is no alternative to supporting this intervention.

However it would be a mistake to debate Achcar on these grounds. He does not know fully what is happening in Libya and neither do I. What we have to stamp upon is a deeper arrogance – an arrogance that sees the language of Marxism as something posed within exaggerated quotation marks – proof of the writer’s erudition and knowledge of the mystic texts, to be discarded immediately once we encounter the real world. When we examine Achcar’s text we find that Marxism is absent. What we are dealing with is a humanitarian argument, full of all the illusions of the bog-standard liberal shaking their head over the Sunday newspapers.

What is the alternative to humanitarian concern? For Marxists all struggles are the struggles of contesting classes. The imperialist powers, representing the highest stage of capitalism, have interests that are antithetical to those of the working class. The working class may not appear as an organized force, but that does not mean that it has no interests that will not be advanced or suppressed by the outcome of specific struggles. Finally Marxism tells us that struggles have a broader context. The interests of the workers are not restricted to a national stage, but have a regional and global dimension. So solidarity is not a way of applauding each other’s struggle at a distance, but a way of recognising that the workers in Europe, the US and around the world are involved in a common struggle against capitalism and imperialism and the task of solidarity is to bring our common interests to the fore. The significance of the cruise missile socialists is not that they are standing back from the struggle in Libya, but in rejecting the common struggle, they are standing back from struggle full stop. They then become subject to moralism produced by the whims and pressures of bourgeois public opinion which is often formed by the imperialists themselves. This is the significance of Achcar’s failure.  We are involved in a common struggle and he has moved to the other side, not in some far away country but in fighting the capitalist state in which he lives.

So what is the context of the struggle in Libya? The context is the wave of revolution sweeping across the region. This revolution is the spontaneous uprising of young people demanding democracy and also seeking social change that will deliver jobs and a decent life. Immediately these revolts are objectively anti-imperialist. The structures they are struggling against: The monarchies, the dictatorships, the Israeli state, the countries directly occupied – all these are sponsored by Imperialism and together constitute a mechanism of imperialist rule.

What is the response of the various regimes? They seek to directly suppress the revolts. Where necessary they offer minimal concessions also with the aim of demobilising the resistance. This strategy is also the strategy of imperialism. Where possible, force is used to crush the resistance, as it was in Bahrain with the direct involvement of the US in planning the counteroffensive and in Iraq where US occupation troops are still present. Where concessions have to be made elements of the regime are sacrificed rather than the regime itself. Attempts are made to shape the emerging opposition so that minimal changes are required.

The imperialists are struggling because for years they have argued that the only alternative to their client regimes is Islamic fundamentalism, yet the opposition that emerges is secular and democratic. The regimes have one overarching advantage. After decades of repression there are few democratic and working class movements in existence. The revolutionary forces urgently need time to develop programme and organization. That is the starting point for solidarity. Not to weep salt tears or to shout encouragement, but to pass on what we have learnt – that the class interests of capitalism within their movements will lead to their betrayal and defeat, that objective anti-imperialism must move on to become a conscious struggle, that that conscious struggle can only be based on the working class and that the only political basis for such a movement is socialism.

So, starting from the standpoint of class struggle we are able to take a general perspective on imperialist strategy in relation to the revolutionary upsurges. It is general, it lacks detail but it does give a framework for analysis and action.

So why the military intervention in Libya? Well there are a number of factors we can be sure of. One is that Libya produces oil and that the battles have ebbed and flowed around a massive oil production centre. Secondly the calls to arms have been led by France and the British, the countries who have in the recent past had the strongest ties with the Libyan regime. One analysis that has been offered was that these powers doubted Gaddafi’s ability to restore order and believed that either the overthrow of Gaddafi or partition was the best way to protect their investment.

It has been argued that the US is a reluctant participant in the Libyan adventure. The evidence does not support this. Obama deliberated, but he authorized covert operations in Libya at an early stage and when he did act, used overwhelming force and constructed a UN resolution that offered carte blanche to the imperialist powers.

The reason given for intervention by US defence chief Robert Gates was that continued unrest would destabilise Morocco and Tunisia. Having been caught on the back foot by the upsurge, the US was constructing a regional strategy. Being able to add military intervention to the mix greatly strengthens their hand.

There is one other element of importance. That is that French agents, alongside British and US covert forces, were in Benghazi from an early stage, that they were in contact with members of the Transitional Interim National Council, including people who had recently been members of the Gaddafi regime and that they very quickly recognized that elements of the council would be willing collaborators with imperialism. The military intervention against Gaddafi followed on the heels of this. It does suggest very strongly that imperialist powers received an offer they couldn’t refuse in terms of guarantees of imperialist interests in Libya.

When you put this alongside a constant drive to pull defectors from the regime, imperialist strategy in Libya looks remarkably like everywhere else in the region. Where you have to, sacrifice the dictator, then fight like hell to preserve the regime or install a close copy. What are the effects of imperialist intervention? Right away a mass uprising becomes a civil war. Gaddafi gains renewed legitimacy as the defender of the nation against imperialist invasion. Doubters in his own ranks are now traitors. Those in the uprising correspondingly loose political authority and the pace of events moves away from politics and mass action to the military decisions of the imperialist powers.

Within the opposition camp power moves away from the masses and becomes concentrated with those who hold the ear of the imperialists. The European powers meet in London to decide the future of Libya, for all the world like a colonial conference from past times lording it over Africa.

Marxists have a special role to play within the revolutions and in solidarity with them. We stand unconditionally for the democratic rights of the Arab and North African masses. We stand firmly against imperialist intervention, without making the mistake of endorsing Gaddafi or states such as Syria as in some way anti-imperialist.   We argue specifically for the self-organization of the working class and for a socialist solution in the understanding that a democratic capitalist society is not a possible outcome to the present struggles in a period when capitalism no longer supports even the limited democratic structures and freedoms of the past.

The revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa will constitute a defining moment in the revolutionary history of this century. The struggles they have initiated will continue for many years and will help define the politics and organization of the working class movement across the world.

For all these reasons it is essential that revolutionaries repudiate Achcar, the cruise missile socialists who stand with him, and organizations such as those in Denmark, Germany and Portugal who have voted to support imperialist intervention.

We must unite, both politically and organizationally, in defence of revolution, in opposition to imperialist intervention and in solidarity with the workers. A valuable start has been made by commentators such as Alex Callinicos and Pham Binh.In his defence Achcar argues that he would be the first to demonstrate for UN intervention and a no-fly zone if there was a further attack on Gaza. He will stand alone. Our task as Marxists is to explain that UN intervention is imperialist military adventure and that no-fly zones are simply a passport to war without boundaries or restraint. Our task is to overthrow imperialism, to defend the Arab workers by attacking it in its heartland, not to weave stupefying fairy tales about its ability to civilize or pacify.

originally published on:- Socialist Democracy

Exposed: The US-Saudi Libya Deal

by Pepe Escobar,
 Asia Times, April 2, 2011

You invade Bahrain. We take out Muammar Gaddafi in
 Libya. This, in short, is the essence of a deal struck 
between the Barack Obama administration and the House
 of Saud. Two diplomatic sources at the United Nations 
independently confirmed that Washington, via Secretary
 of State Hillary Clinton, gave the go-ahead for Saudi
 Arabia to invade Bahrain and crush the pro-democracy
 movement in their neighbor in exchange for a yes vote
 by the Arab League for a no-fly zone over Libya – the
 main rationale that led to United Nations Security
 Council resolution 1973.

The revelation came from two different diplomats, a 
European and a member of the BRIC group, and was made
 separately to a US scholar and Asia Times Online. 
According to diplomatic protocol, their names cannot be 
disclosed. One of the diplomats said, This is the
 reason why we could not support resolution 1973. We
 were arguing that Libya, Bahrain and Yemen were similar
 cases, and calling for a fact-finding mission. We 
maintain our official position that the resolution is
 not clear, and may be interpreted in a belligerent
 manner.

As Asia Times Online has reported, a full Arab League 
endorsement of a no-fly zone is a myth. Of the 22 full members, only 11 were present at the voting. Six of
 them were Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) members, the 
US-supported club of Gulf kingdoms/sheikhdoms, of which 
Saudi Arabia is the top dog. Syria and Algeria were 
against it. Saudi Arabia only had to seduce three
 other members to get the vote.

Translation: only nine out of 22 members of the Arab 
League voted for the no-fly zone. The vote was
 essentially a House of Saud-led operation, with Arab
 League secretary general Amr Moussa keen to polish his 
CV with Washington with an eye to become the next
 Egyptian President.

Thus, in the beginning, there was the great 2011 Arab
 revolt. Then, inexorably, came the US-Saudi counter-
revolution.Profiteers rejoice Humanitarian imperialists will spin
 en masse this is a “conspiracy”, as they have been
 spinning the bombing of Libya prevented a hypothetical 
massacre in Benghazi. They will be defending the House
 of Saud – saying it acted to squash Iranian subversion 
in the Gulf; obviously R2P – “responsibility to 
protect” does not apply to people in Bahrain. They will
 be heavily promoting post-Gaddafi Libya as a new – oily
- human rights Mecca, complete with US intelligence
 assets, black ops, special forces and dodgy
 contractors.

Whatever they say won’t alter the facts on the ground -
the graphic results of the US-Saudi dirty dancing. Asia
 Times Online has already reported on who profits from 
the foreign intervention in Libya (see There’s no 
business like war business, March 30). Players include 
the Pentagon (via Africom), the North Atlantic Treaty
 Organization (NATO), Saudi Arabia, the Arab League’s
 Moussa, and Qatar. Add to the list the al-Khalifa
 dynasty in Bahrain, assorted weapons contractors, and 
the usual neo-liberal suspects eager to privatize 
everything in sight in the new Libya – even the water. 
And we’re not even talking about the Western vultures 
hovering over the Libyan oil and gas industry.

Exposed, above all, is the astonishing hypocrisy of the
 Obama administration, selling a crass geopolitical coup 
involving northern Africa and the Persian Gulf as a 
humanitarian operation. As for the fact of another US 
war on a Muslim nation, that’s just a kinetic military
 action.

There’s been wide speculation in both the US and across 
the Middle East that considering the military stalemate
- and short of the coalition of the willing bombing 
the Gaddafi family to oblivion – Washington, London and
 Paris might settle for the control of eastern Libya; a
 northern African version of an oil-rich Gulf Emirate. 
Gaddafi would be left with a starving North Korea-style 
Tripolitania. But considering the latest high-value defections from
 the regime, plus the desired endgame (Gaddafi must 
go, in President Obama’s own words), Washington,
 London, Paris and Riyadh won’t settle for nothing but
 the whole kebab. Including a strategic base for both 
Africom and NATO.

Round up the unusual suspects One of the side effects 
of the dirty US-Saudi deal is that the White House is 
doing all it can to make sure the Bahrain drama is 
buried by US media. BBC America news anchor Katty Kay
at least had the decency to stress, they would like 
that one [Bahrain] to go away because there’s no real 
upside for them in supporting the rebellion by the
 Shi’ites.

For his part the emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin 
Khalifa al Thani, showed up on al-Jazeera and said that
 action was needed because the Libyan people were
attacked by Gaddafi. The otherwise excellent al-Jazeera journalists could have politely asked the emir whether 
he would send his Mirages to protect the people of
 Palestine from Israel, or his neighbors in Bahrain from
 Saudi Arabia.

The al-Khalifa dynasty in Bahrain is essentially a 
bunch of Sunni settlers who took over 230 years ago. 
For a great deal of the 20th century they were obliging 
slaves of the British empire. Modern Bahrain does not
 live under the specter of a push from Iran; that’s an 
al-Khalifa (and House of Saud) myth. Bahrainis, historically, have always rejected being 
part of a sort of Shi’ite nation led by Iran. The
 protests come a long way, and are part of a true 
national movement – way beyond sectarianism. No wonder 
the slogan in the iconic Pearl roundabout – smashed by
the fearful al-Khalifa police state – was neither
 Sunni nor Shi’ite; Bahraini.

What the protesters wanted was essentially a
 constitutional monarchy; a legitimate parliament; free 
and fair elections; and no more corruption. What they 
got instead was bullet-friendly Bahrain replacing
 business-friendly Bahrain, and an invasion sponsored 
by the House of Saud. 

And the repression goes on – invisible to US corporate
 media. Tweeters scream that everybody and his neighbor
 are being arrested. According to Nabeel Rajab,
 president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, over 
400 people are either missing or in custody, some of 
them arrested at checkpoints controlled by thugs 
brought in from other Arab and Asian countries – they 
wear black masks in the streets. Even blogger Mahmood
Al Yousif was arrested at 3 am, leading to fears that 
the same will happen to any Bahraini who has blogged,
 tweeted, or posted Facebook messages in favor of
 reform.

Globocop is on a roll Odyssey Dawn is now over. Enter
 Unified Protector – led by Canadian Charles Bouchard. 
Translation: the Pentagon (as in Africom) transfers the kinetic military action to itself (as in NATO, which
 is nothing but the Pentagon ruling over Europe). 
Africom and NATO are now one.

The NATO show will include air and cruise missile
 strikes; a naval blockade of Libya; and shady,
 unspecified ground operations to help the rebels. 
Hardcore helicopter gunship raids a la AfPak – with
 attached collateral damage – should be expected. 

A curious development is already visible. NATO is 
deliberately allowing Gaddafi forces to advance along 
the Mediterranean coast and repel the “rebels”. There 
have been no surgical air strikes for quite a while.

The objective is possibly to extract political and
 economic concessions from the defector and Libyan
exile-infested Interim National Council (INC) – a dodgy 
cast of characters including former Justice minister
 Mustafa Abdel Jalil, US-educated former secretary of 
planning Mahmoud Jibril, and former Virginia resident,
 new military commander and CIA asset Khalifa Hifter. 
The laudable, indigenous February 17 Youth movement -
which was in the forefront of the Benghazi uprising -
has been completely sidelined.

This is NATO‘s first African war, as Afghanistan is NATO‘s first Central/South Asian war. Now firmly
 configured as the UN‘s weaponized arm, Globocop NATO is 
on a roll implementing its strategic concept approved
 at the Lisbon summit last November (see Welcome to 
NATOstan, Asia Times Online, November 20, 2010).

Gaddafi’s Libya must be taken out so the Mediterranean
- the mare nostrum of ancient Rome – becomes a NATO 
lake. Libya is the only nation in northern Africa not
 subordinated to Africom or Centcom or any one of the 
myriad NATO “partnerships”. The other non-NATO-related
 African nations are Eritrea, Sawahiri Arab Democratic 
Republic, Sudan and Zimbabwe.

Moreover, two members of NATO‘s Istanbul Cooperation 
Initiative – Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – are 
now fighting alongside Africom/NATO for the first time. 
Translation: NATO and Persian Gulf partners are
 fighting a war in Africa. Europe? That’s too 
provincial. Globocop is the way to go.

According to the Obama administration’s own official
 doublespeak, dictators who are eligible for “US 
outreach” – such as in Bahrain and Yemen – may relax ,
and get away with virtually anything. As for those 
eligible for “regime alteration”, from Africa to the 
Middle East and Asia, watch out. Globocop NATO is 
coming to get you. With or without dirty deals.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the
 Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble
Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad
during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does
Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). 

He may be reached at:-
pepeasia@yahoo.com.

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