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Harper's History of the War of 1812

"This year's hype about a war fought 200 years ago is in part designed to reinforce a false image of consensus in Canada today. In this way Harper's War of 1812 obscures the reality of Harper's political and resource wars of 2012," argues Derrick O'Keefe. Read his article here.

Syria: Down with the regime & no to military intervention!

"The ongoing conflict in Syria, in a year of tremulous conflict across the region and beyond, singularly fails to ignite passions in the West. Oddly, even professional media coverage is relatively lacking, certainly compared to the interest in, say, Egypt. It is not as if nothing momentous is happening in Syria," writes Marc Gascoigne in a short piece about Syria here.

The brutal Syrian dictatorship deserves to be brought down by the popular opposition that has courageously taken to the streets in large numbers since early 2011. That doesn't mean endorsing the Syrian National Council or calls from any opposition forces for foreign military intervention, which "could lead to a major historical catastrophe" as Gilbert Achcar argues.

As a group of Syrian socialists puts it, "The future of our people and of its country can only be decided on by the masses of our country. The fall of the regime and the building of a Syria of liberty and justice are up to the insurgent popular masses now and to those who will not fail to rally to the revolution shortly. It is our stake, it is the path to the victory, liberty and sovereignty of our people. The mass general strike will lead there."

Two articles on Chile's New Left

"The contours of a new left are taking shape in Chile. An explosive student rebellion has linked arms with workers, bringing the far-right Chilean President Sebastián Piñera everyday into further disrepute," argues Jeff Webber. Read his very good article here.

Along with that, read this interview about the radical left in Chile with socialist student activist Sebastian Farfán Salinas here.

PHOTOS: "Pre-Dawn Army Attack" - Cairo, Egypt

View Ali Mustafa's complete photo archive from Cairo, Egypt here.

PHOTOS: "Occupy Cabinet Clashes" Part II - Cairo, Egypt

View Ali Mustafa's complete photo archive from Cairo, Egypt here.

PHOTOS: "Occupy Cabinet Clashes" - Cairo, Egypt

View Ali Mustafa's complete photo archive from Cairo, Egypt here.

Understanding Greece today

"Greece’s current situation is unlike any we have seen before in postwar Western Europe. In this respect, Greeks may find themselves once more at the forefront of historical developments." Read Stathis Kouvelakis's excellent article, "The Greek Cauldron," on Greece's crisis in the age of austerity here.

Rob Ford vs City of Toronto unions: "A historic test" for labour

By David Camfield

Over 20 000 Toronto municipal workers in CUPE Locals 79 and 416 are heading towards a confrontation with Mayor Rob Ford and the right-wingers who dominate Toronto City Council. It's quite possible that Ford will lock out the workers in early 2012 in order to try to force them to give up the parts of their collective agreements that protect the jobs of workers who have ten years or more of service with the City -- and the public services all CUPE 79 and 416 members deliver -- against privatization. Ford is hoping that by taking on the unions he'll deliver for his business supporters and regain some of the voter support he's lost since he won office in 2010.

A video from the Greater Toronto Workers' Assembly about the situation is absolutely right: this is "a historic test for the Canadian labour movement" (though its comparison with Ronald Reagan's 1981 smashing of the US air traffic controllers union, PATCO, which involved the firing of almost the entire membership of the striking union, is probably a bit exaggerated).

The situation is very serious. There's no hiding the fact that CUPE 79 and 416 are not heading into this confrontation in good form. Their 2009 strike "was a political failure when it came to mobilizing sustained action and education, garnering public support as well as linking the defence of unionized jobs with fighting for workers in non-unionized jobs, the underemployed and the unemployed," as two members argued (see also the analysis of the 2009 strike, unions and the working class in Toronto in this article).

If Ford wins what he's after through a lockout (or a strike), it will encourage other public sector bosses to follow his lead. The video is right that "If we lose here... we'll pay the price for years to come. If we win here, we can begin to turn the tide." "Occupy Toronto pointed us in the right direction," it argues, "We need direct action."

The video calls on the top national officials of CUPE "to coordinate the working class as a whole" in this struggle. This is a problem. Even if they were to take over the leadership of the fight, it's extremely unlikely that CUPE National's top officials would adopt the kind of strategy that offers the best chance of winning. What's called for is a strategy that tries to turn a lockout of CUPE 79 and 416 into a political battle uniting City workers and everyone in Toronto who doesn't support Ford's agenda of cuts and bigotry against Ford's attack on the unions -- and which uses mass direct action to force him to back down. There's nothing in the track record of CUPE National's top brass that suggests they're willing to fight to win in this situation.

Instead of looking to CUPE National, members of CUPE 79 and 416 should organize to push within the unions for a winning strategy. Members of other unions, anti-cuts groups and other community groups who recognize what's at stake should work to persuade as many people as possible that everyone who's against Ford should be getting ready to mobilize in solidarity with the City's unionized workers. The stakes are high.

David Camfield is one of the editors of New Socialist Webzine, and the author of Canadian Labour in Crisis: Reinventing the Workers' Movement.

"Shut down Wall St. on the waterfront": Occupy Pacific coast ports

Today sees actions in response to an initiative by Occupy Oakland to shutdown ports along the Pacific Coast of the US -- and Vancouver too.

You can watch a livestream from Oakland here.

For background, see this article. If you're on Facebook, check out this very interesting note by someone who works in a US Pacific Coast port and is active in both the Occupy movement and the West Coast longshore workers' union (ILWU).

Russia - Let the Streets Speak

This statement by the Russian Socialist Movement on the situation following the recent elections was published on 6 December 2011.

The most boring election campaign in the past twenty years has ended with a crushing moral defeat for the establishment. It hardly matters whether United Russia will gain a super-majority in the Duma or has to share seats with LDPR or A Just Russia. What matters is that, despite all the invocations of stability, all the clever scenarios and vote rigging, the Russian people have loudly declared their right to change. The elections have powerfully demonstrated a lack of confidence in the entire political system as embodied by the “party of swindlers and thieves.” Amidst the suffocating atmosphere of stagnation and hopelessness something new can be sensed in the air. Is it a quickly passing Thaw? An Arab Spring? A February Revolution?

From now on, we are faced with an old regime that is unpopular and illegitimate in the eyes of the active part of society, a regime that will inevitably attempt to govern in the old way even as this becomes more and more problematic. On the other hand, we see a huge mass of people who hate the party of swindlers and thieves. What is more, these people publicly humiliated the regime on December 4, only to be cruelly deceived once again. Finally, we have an utterly false and impotent “systemic” opposition, an opposition that people voted for according to the “anyone but them” principle, and whose electoral success was bad news even for itself. As part of the establishment, the systemic parties will undoubtedly seek to form blocs and coalitions with United Russia. The only question is whether they will be able to settle on a price. Echoing Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Neverov, secretary of the United Russia General Council Presidium, has already said that the party is counting on forming strategic alliances with LDPR and A Just Russia. “This will be [...] a parliament in which there is serious discussion,” he said. “The opposition are not enemies. The opposition are people who have an alternative opinion, a different opinion. And if this opinion coincides [with ours] on certain questions, then they’re welcome! We’re ready to cooperate,” said Andrei Vorobyov, chair of United Russia’s central executive committee. He opened wide his liberal arms even as police on the streets of Moscow and Petersburg were beating up demonstrators protesting election fraud.

“Politics is the art of compromise, an art that allows one to find a balance between different political groups,” Nikolai Levichev, the chair of A Just Russia, diplomatically declared a few hours after the vote. “Vladimir Putin has spoken of the need to overcome social inequality. We agree with this, but everything depends on what paths are proposed. If these paths don’t suit us, then there will be no coalition.” Hence, the head of the “party of swindlers and thieves” is pursuing the same good ends as A Just Russia, only the paths taken are a bit different. Well, well, we’ll see what happens next.

Igor Lebedev, leader of the LDPR faction in the Duma, is even more straightforward, engaging in outright bargaining, without any ideological embellishments. “We are ready for conversation and reasonable dialogue, but only as equal partners, not as stooges.”

It is obvious that, with such an “opposition,” working people should not expect any progressive changes in their lives. There has never been and never will be anything in the histories of these parties, including the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, other than treachery. The handful of trade unionists and social activists who have made it into the Duma and the regional parliaments on the Communist and Just Russia lists will be unable to affect the essence of their policies. The most they can do is to lend support as they are able to the extra-parliamentary movement, as such people as Oleg Shein, Oleg Smolin, and several others have done in past Dumas. At a time when genuine trade unions and civic movements are weak, and pressure from the repressive security forces will grow, this is important albeit secondary.

Now the streets must become the arena of political struggle. Russia will either take its place in the global anti-capitalist movement, or again sink into apathy and stagnation. Voting for “anyone but them” should be replaced by the struggle for clearly perceived social interests. New, independent political forces must replace the old corrupt parties. If the left wants to be such a force, it must become a party of action. We must confront nationalist populism, which derives political capital from anti-immigrant rhetoric, with the simple, clear idea of the struggle against the bourgeoisie and the parasitic bureaucracy inseparable from it, against the rich bastards who have commissioned the hideous farce known as Russian politics!

The Russian Socialist Movement’s appeal: “Everyone into the streets! Russia for working people!”

These should be your demands:

Cancel the results of the fake elections!

An end to repression: the police and the army on the side of the people!

The president and government must resign!

No coalitions and agreements between opposition parties and United Russia!

Free elections involving all parties and social movements!

Freedom of rallies, marches and strikes!

Free education and healthcare: suspend Federal Law No. 83 and other anti-social laws!

Nationalization of banks, oil and gas resources!

Progressive taxation: let the rich pay for their crisis!

Price controls on consumer goods!

Worker control in the workplace: worker participation in management and distribution of profits!

Revolution – Democracy – Socialism!

 

The Russian Socialist Movement was formed in 2011 by the fusion of Vpered (Forward, Russian section of the Fourth International) and Sotsialisticheskoye Soprotivleniye (Socialist Resistance).

Reproduced from International Viewpoint.

Social democracy and the economic crisis, globally and in Saskatchewan

"All across Europe, the pattern is the same. The social democratic parties in government embraced the agenda of big business. They deregulated the finance industry, cut taxes on corporations and the rich, and privatized state assets. As government revenues fell, they imposed ‘reforms’ to social programs which fell heaviest on the poor and the working-class." This brief article summarizes the recent record of parties like the NDP in government and the NDP in Saskatchewan -- it's an important reminder at a time when the federal NDP leadership race is taking place.

Arab Revolution

Check out "The Revolution Continues" by Gilbert Achcar here.

Egypt: The Struggle After the Elections

Read an interview with socialist Mostafa Ali in Cairo here. Also, listen to this interview with New Socialist webzine editor Ali Mustafa, who is currently based in Cairo, here.

"Occupy has the power to effect change"

"If they are to endure, occupations need to spread and escalate, and be complemented by other forms of action. Our struggle will prevail once we begin not only to deplore or condemn but also to interrupt the mechanisms that exploit the labour and resources of the immense majority." Read the rest of Peter Hallward's article here.

A comment:

Hallward is right to argue that "only direct action on a mass scale now offers any prospect of an alternative to local variations on market-imposed plutocracy," and that movements need to develop "a commanding political standpoint" and "forms of collective action that exceed the repressive mechanisms set up to contain them."

But to say that "there is no government that could resist a co-ordinated combination of occupations and sit-ins on the one hand, and of mass strikes and stayaways on the other" dodges the problem that a mass movement of direct action that threatens capitalism will still have to reckon with threat of repression by the police and the military.

 

Outcome of charges against G-20 protestors

With 11 people acquitted and 6 pleading guilty on reduced charges in a plea deal, "the memory of the 2010 G20 protests in Toronto looms large as both inspiration and caution," as a statement of the 17 defendants puts it. Read their statement here.

Egypt: Events of Nov. 22

Many thousands in the streets demanding the military high command get out of politics to allow democratic change to take place (and rejecting the military brass's attempt to placate them with promises), splits in the Muslim Brotherhood -- see the very useful article on Lenin's Tomb.

Egypt: State attempts to repress movement against military rule

Listen to a brief interview with Hossam El-Hamalawy here and read a statement from the Revolutionary Socialists here.

Occupy: Some Canadian links (+ one analysis from US)

Vancouver: Occupy Vancouver website

Nanaimo: Occupy Nanaimo website

Toronto: Issue #6 of 99: Dispatches from Occupy Toronto

London: "Occupiers begin to build 'a new democracy'"

Winnipeg: 24-hour Occupation of Provincial Attorney-General's Constituency Office

 

plus an analysis of the Occupy movement in the US

 

Breaking Up? A Route out of the Eurozone Crisis

"Greece thus faces a historic choice: surrender to the dominant powers of the Eurozone and face a bleak economic, social and political future, or find the courage to act, changing itself and even Europe. We will soon know the answer." These are the final words of the new report from Research on Money and Finance -- available here (it has a concise 3-page "executive summary" for people who don't want or have time to read the whole thing).

The confines of compromise: Does the labour movement encourage resistance, or contain it?

"What lessons can be learned from the 2011 postal strike-turned-lockout in evaluating where we are as a movement?," asks CUPW activist Dave Bleakney in an article in the new issue of Briarpatch. Read it here, and check out the rest of the issue too.

Oakland takes Occupy movement to new height

Tens of thousands of people took part in the Nov. 2 general strike in Oakland, California -- read about the background here, read a report about Nov. 2 here, check out the photos here. For an Oakland revolutionary socialist collective's take on the struggle, see here.

Would European capital sacrifice Greece to protect profits? & analysis of general strike

"Answer: what do you think they've been doing?  On Monday, the Greek Prime Minister announced that his government would hold a referendum on the latest Euro austerity package.  And look at the reaction to this ostensible democratic naivete.  Stock markets slide everywhere." Read the rest of Richard Seymour's article here.

Also, check out this analysis of the recent two-day general strike here.

 

 

 

"Greece has become increasingly ungovernable"

With the Greek social democratic government facing such massive popular opposition that it's now openly divided about how to go about implementing the huge cuts demanded by global capital, read Costas Lapavitsas's brief look at the situation here.

Occupy Montreal and Toronto, and right-wing politics in the Occupy protests

Some good pieces: on Occupy Montreal here, on libertarian politics (fans of Ron Paul and co.) here, and the latest broadsheet covering Occupy Toronto here

Greece: Political crisis

"The question of political power is on the table, and the political crisis will be resolved in the struggles in the days and weeks ahead, in one way or the other," argues Aris Leonas in an important article here.

A good look at the situation in Greece by Panos Petrou written before the Oct. 19-20 general strike can be found here, and for a short piece written after the strike see this article by Costas Douzinas here.