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Articles posted by Radical Socialist on various issues.

Women Workers Organise Massive Rally in Delhi

Thousands of women workers, mostly from the unorganised sector, converged on Delhi on 27 November. A huge gathering met at the Ramlila Maidan and marched to the Indian Parliament. According to some reports, the demonstration was larger than the one by sugar-cane growers organized by Ajit Singh on 19 November.

Women workers came from various areas and various types of workplaces. They included women bidi-rollers, women employed by Anganwadis (government sponsored child-care and mother-care centres), Accredited Social Health Activist (ASHA) workers, striking women workers from Gurgaon, as well as women workers from the organized sectors, like bank and insurance workers, government employees, women in the medical profession, and others. Among their central demands were equal pay for equal work, ending sexual harassment at the workplace, maternity benefits for al working women, and a hike in the salaries of Anganwadi and ASHA workers.

The Finance Minister, who met a delegation of the women, told them that while their demands were legitimate, it was difficult to say how far the demands could be met. But of course, sir. Your ministry, as well as the other ministries, are bending over backwards to meet the demands of the capitalists. How can you meet the demands of the workers – and women workers at that. Reform of the antiquated labour laws is in everyone’s lips these days. What they mean was clearly expressed by the Wall Street Journal in an article of November 24, 2009 (Deadly Labor Wars Hinder India's Rise), when it wrote that “Manufacturers have long complained that it can take years to dismiss their permanent employees, leading to bloated work forces and hampering companies' ability to respond quickly to changing business conditions. Executives and industry groups say relaxing the labor laws would allow companies to hire more workers and would attract more manufacturers to India, ultimately underpinning a rise in wages”. The contradiction between the demand and the conclusion could not have been more glaring. Allow us to sack the permanent workers, who have some minimum rights – so goes the refrain. What will be the consequence? More workers will be hired and wages will rise!! The shock therapy in Russia led to a devastation of the Russian economy. Indeed, in no country has labour shared the benefits with capital in the neoliberal era. Instead, the hard-won rights of the earlier periods have been under attack. This is what the women workers were resisting when they came out on the streets.

The demonstration was organized by the All India Trade Union Congress – dominated by the CPI. The AITUC has suggested levying a cess on industry to create a maternity benefit fund for women workers in the unorganized sector. At the same time, we would argue that the state has the responsibility of ensuring the well-being of all residents f the country, and therefore it has to arrange the maternity benefits. It is not the task of trade unions who are entirely outside the power structures to decide how the money should be raised, except to say that the demand is not a shifting of resources within the working class, but from capital to labour.

Rome: occupation of the factory and Mario Monicelli


Osvaldo Coggiola

 

Eutelia, one of the most important factories in Italy’s information technology sector and located in Tiburtina, the industrial outskirts of Rome, was shut down by its owners, laying off 1200 workers. For over a month the factory was occupied by the workers and production continued. On 10th November, the workers thwarted an attack from bands of police officers ("vigilantes"). On 25th November, a one-act festival was held at the factory, with speakers and musical groups, for obtaining solidarity and making people aware of the struggle. I was there, to extend my support and to understand what was happening.

The programme was quite small. Spokesmen from the trade- union (FIOM-CGIL) appealed to the sensitivity of the authorities, blasted the owners for their "mismanagement of the company" and criticised the media. Then an elderly speaker took the floor and he blamed capitalism energetically and called for a unity among the occupants of Eutelia and other workers in Italy, especially the Venetians and Sardinians in the Alcoa company, struggling for the same reasons (the latter two groups clashed with the police while  demonstrating in the streets of Rome).

Who was he? None other than Mario Monicelli, director and screenwriter of "L'Armata Brancaleone" (For Love and Gold), "I Compagni" (The Organizer), "I Soliti Ignoti" (Big Deal on Madonna Street), "Brancaleone nelle Crociate" (Brancaleone at the Crusades), "Romanzo Popolare" (Popular Romance), "Amici Miei" (My Friends), "Parenti Serpenti" (Relatives and Snakes) and many other films, which have become part and parcel not only of classic Italian cinema, but also of  universal culture (turned to expressions used in everyday language). The only Italian "director" to have brought together Autogrill Sordi and Totò, the two all-time greatest comedians of the Italian cinema, in one single film.

There he was, with his 95 years (yes, ninety-five), talking with the energy of a boy, calling for workers’ unity, highlighting and encouraging the role of women in the class struggle. This was the man who made the fantastic film "I Compagni" in 1961 (featuring Mario Monicelli, Marcello Mastroianni, Renato Salvatori, Annie Girardot: it will take a long time to make another film featuring four geniuses such as them ...), when the European and global feminist movements were just latent.

I talked to him while he sat among the workers, the winner of the Venice and Berlin film festivals, drinking his coffee. The conversation was not easy, he has started to have hearing problems (although he refuses to use any hearing device), but it was long enough for him to tell me that he was still "more communist than ever." And he spoke with anyone who wanted to talk to him, myself included.

I thought: I am not from the generation of the Internet, cell phone, hi-phone and skype. I do not understand them much (I neither understand nor take them with me), though it’s easy to take them for any trip whatsoever , and I do not consider myself lucky for it (on the contrary), but I am from a generation which Monicelli (and a few others of his stature) taught after the periods of fascism and war ended, things that today make us smile when we see (or read, or watch) "deconstructions” 'of' “Occidentalism” '(and "orientalism" ad hoc), defenses of "multiculturalism" or "re-inclusion" of the "excluded from history" – in a festival of third-rate paternalistic intellectual populisms, which are considered as “innovative”. Not to mention those “creative” films, Hollywood-style or otherwise, which, compared to Monicelli’s work, seem like projects made by disoriented students of cinematography, in their first year at the ECA-USP (School of Communications and Arts, University of Sao Paulo) ...

Monicelli made us live the sublime and the ridiculous lives of the unemployed / amateur thieves of today's capitalist world (in "I Soliti Ignoti"), and showed us how the "outsiders" happened to "include" themselves on their own (in "I Compagni") and merged with the party worker, the revolutionary intelligentsia ... and also the naive (Mastroianni!), precisely because they were revolutionaries. And the two "Brancaleone" films are much more than "Italian comedies", decades before the genre became "fashionable".  Monicelli blasted all the Euro /Christian centrisms with bursts of laughter. Monicelli / Gassman - meetings like this happen only two or three per century (another genius of the twentieth century, who unfortunately had a premature death - Bernard-Marie Koltès, ended up with all the anti-Arab racism that rages in Europe, with a single sentence: "If there were Arabs in France, it would be equal to Switzerland ").

Monicelli, the only intellectual present in the Italian factory occupation, all with his 95 years, is one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century, and also the 21st, who directed "Letters from Palestine"(2002), and "Desert Rose" (2007). Although almost a hundred years old, he is a young man, because he is an artist and a communist.

 

There are some photos of the occupation of Eutelia, the struggle of the workers of Alcoa against the police, and one of myself with Monicelli in the festival. Unfortunately these are not very clear since they were taken with a Chinese (but not communist) cellular phone.

Good bye, great Mario. We shall meet each other in the next factory occupation, to talk about internationalism and communism. Monicelli stayed until the end of the programme. Then we accompanied him for some time until he left alone in a taxi that took him home. I walked to my bus stop. After all, I am a teenager.

 

"Cinema will never die, it was born and cannot die. The cinema hall will die, perhaps, but I definitely don’t care about that. "

(Mario Monicelli was the recipient of the Golden Lion for Career award at the 1991 Venice Film Festival)

Transated into English by Suchandra De Sarkar

Orissa: The Struggle Against POSCO Continues


The seven-day long padayatra against corporate invasion of coastal
Orissa has gained momentum on it way with more and more local
villagers joining the protest march to mark their solidarity with the
movement.

On 2 December, the fourth day of the padayatra, which started from
Dhinkia on 29 November, the original procession of 600 protestors had
swelled to over 750 with people joining all along the way. In
Machchagan alone over a hundred new villagers joined, including over
40 women.

“Though many of these villagers are not directly affected by any of
the mega-projects in coastal Orissa they can understand what it means
when possession of land or one’s livelihood is affected,” said Abhay
Sahoo, leader of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samithy.

As they wind their way over rough village roads, through rice fields
and along water canals the padayatris are receiving enthusiastic
response everywhere. Local people presented flowers to the protest
marchers in many places.

Though a bulk of the padayatris are from the anti-POSCO movement
representative of over 14 movements in Orissa are also participating.
The distance from Dhinkia to Puri, the destination of the padayatra,
is nearly 140 kms and every day the marchers are covering an average
of 20 kms. Though this is tough going for many of the older people
they are persevering nevertheless as the issues on hand are a matter
of life and death for them. On the fourth day, the padayatris had to
walk for another 3 km to stay for night since the Jagatsinghpur
District collector canceled the booking of Gorai School.

While food for the padayatris is being arranged mainly by local
villagers along the route, a major problem facing the padayatra right
now is the lack of adequate resources to pay for accompanying
vehicles, generators, sound systems E for campaigning, tents for
sleeping where needed and other related expenses. PPSS leader Abhay
Sahoo has appealed to all those in solidarity with the struggle of the
local people to urgently send financial support. Those wishing to
contribute to the padayatra can contact Prashant Paikray,
spokesperson, PPSS at Ph: (0) 9437571547. For further information see
http://orissaconcerns.org

China: End of a Model Or the Birth of a New One?

Au Loong Yu

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Feminism and Marxism


Soma Marik

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Obituary: Chris Harman


Chris Harman was a long-standing central leader of the IS/SWP Britain, and of the IS Tendency internationally. He was also editor of the theoretical journal International Socialism. Harman died of a heart attack on 6th November 2009  in Egypt. Radical Socialist expresses its condolences to his family and to his comrades.

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Maitree Protest Against Torture of Manjari Nayek


On 12th November, Maitree, the mainly Calcutta based women’s right network, organized a protest meeting at the Hazra Road crossing from 4-00 PM to 6-00 Pm. The occasion was the torture of Manjari Nayek.  
We publish below the leaflet issued by Maitree, with some initial comments by us.

12_November_Maitree_programme_001_copyBe Vocal Against the Torture of Underage Woman Domestic

Shree Prakash Misra is a high ranking officer of the Reserve Bank of India and his wife Madhuri Das is an NGO worker. This couple lives in the posh Alipur area and Manjari Nayek used to work in their house.
On last Friday, 6th November 09, Manjari Nayek saved her life by fleeing the house of Shree Prakash and Madhuri. Shree Prakash and Madhuri have inflicted brutal physical and mental torture on Manjari. Manjari has been operated upon and we do not know whether she will live.
Manjari’s age, as it seems, is at most 15/16. This underage girl, instead of going to school, was engaged as a domestic servant in the residence of an educated and moneyed couple. In this workplace, after being tortured by her employers, Manjari’s life is in danger today. But the repressive employers are out on bail.
This is no stray incident. Over the last few months such incidents have happened repeatedly. Among those indicted are government bureaucrats and police officers too. Our question is, who is responsible for the end to which girls like Manjari are driven? Why is the government not taking firm steps to establish the right to education of underage girls? Will the law banning child labour not be able to give security to children?

12_November_Maitree_programme_003

Our demands:
•    Punish Shree Prakash Misra and Madhuri Das. 12_November_Maitree_programme_004
•    Ensure proper treatment of Manjari Nayek.
•    The government must take responsibility for the education and rehabilitation of Manjari Nayek.
•    The government must take steps against child labour. It must ensure that children, whether boys or girls, can go to school.
12.11. 09     Maitree
While supporting these demands, we want to point out their inadequacy. Will parents hand over children to the state for education? Or will the state be asked to provide education for all?
What does education for all mean? We have “free” schooling –i.e., no tuition fee. But books, exercise books, all cost money. If schools do not have adequate infrastructure, as numerous schools indeed do not, then schooling inevitably means private tuition. To end this, there has to be a thorough revamping of the education system. In the same way, can we legislate a ban on child labour and expect it to be implemented? Will we ask the state to arrest the poor for sending their sons and daughters to work as workers in roadside tea stalls, in the homes of the well-to-do, or in other ways? Or do we campaign for jobs for all adults, so that those who are not yet adults can go to school instead of supplementing the family
income?

12_November_Maitree_programme_015
12_November_Maitree_programme_019

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