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The Bourgeois State: the Face of Everyday Reality

Ernest Mandel

Through the struggle waged by the labour movement certain institutions of the bourgeois state become both more subtle and more complex. Universal suffrage was substituted for suffrage for property-owners only; military service has become compulsory; everybody pays taxes.

The class character of the state then becomes a little less transparent. The nature of the state as an instrument of class domination is less evident than at the time of the reign of the classical bourgeoisie, when the relationships between the different groups exercising state functions were just as transparent as in the feudal era. The analysis of the modern state, therefore, will also have to be a little more complex.

First, let us establish a hierarchy among the different functions of the state.

In this day and age, nobody but the most naive believes that parliament really does the governing, that parliament is master of the state based on universal suffrage. (That illusion is, however, more widespread in those countries in which parliament is a fairly recent institution.)

The power of the state is a permanent power. This power is exercised by a certain number of institutions that are isolated from and independent of so changeable and unstable an influence as universal suffrage. These are the institutions that must be analysed if we are to learn where the real power lies: “Governments come and governments go, but the police and the administrators remain”.

The state is, above all, these permanent institutions: the army (the permanent part of the army - the general staff, special troops) the police, special police, secret police, the top administrators of government departments (“key” civil servants), the national security bodies, the judges, etc. - everything that is “free” of the influence of universal suffrage.

This executive power is constantly being reinforced. To the extent that universal suffrage appears and a certain democratisation, albeit completely formal, of certain representative institutions develops, it can be shown that real power slips from those institutions towards others that are more and more removed from the influence of parliament.

If the king and his functionaries lose a series of rights to parliament during the ascending phase of parliamentarism, on the contrary, with the decline of parliamentarism (which begins with the winning of universal suffrage), a continuous series of rights are lost by parliament and revert to the permanent and irremovable administrations of the state. This phenomenon is a general one throughout Western Europe. The present Fifth Republic in France is presently the most striking and most complete example of this phenomenon.

Should this turnabout, this reversal, be seen as a diabolical plot against universal suffrage by the wicked capitalists? A much deeper objective reality is involved: the real powers are transferred from the legislative to the executive; the power of the executive is reinforced in a permanent and continuous fashion as a result of changes that are also taking place within the capitalist class itself.

This process began at the time of World War 1 in most of the belligerent countries and has since continued without interruption. But the phenomenon often existed much earlier than that. Thus, in the German Empire this priority of the executive over the legislative appeared concomitantly with universal suffrage. Bismarck and the Junkers granted universal suffrage in order to use the working class to a certain extent as a lever against the liberal bourgeoisie, thus assuring (in that already essentially capitalist society) the relative independence of the executive power exercised by the Prussian nobility.

This process shows full well that political equality is more apparent than real and that the right of the citizen-voter is nothing but the right to put a little piece of paper in a ballot box every four years. The right goes no farther, nor, above all, does it reach the real centres of decision-making and power.

The monopolies take over from parliament

The classical era of parliamentarism was the era of free competition. At that time the individual bourgeois, the industrialist, the banker, was very strong as an individual. He was very independent, very free within the limits of bourgeois freedom, and could risk his capital on the market in any he wished. In that atomized bourgeois society, parliament played a very useful, and even indispensable, objective role in the smooth functioning of everyday affairs.

Actually, it was only in parliament that the common denominator of the interests of the bourgeoisie could be determined. Dozens of separate capitalist groups could be listed, groups opposed to one another by a multitude of sectional, regional, and corporative interests. These groups could get together in an orderly fashion only in parliament. (It’s true that they did meet on the market too, but there it was with knives, not words!) It was only in parliament that a middle line could be hammered out, a line that would express the interests of the capitalist class as a whole.

Because that was then the function of parliament: to serve as a common meeting place where the collective interests of the bourgeoisie could be formulated. Let us recall that in the heroic era of parliamentarism it was not only with words and votes that this collective interest was hammered out; fists and pistols were used, too. Didn’t the Convention, that classical bourgeois parliament during the French Revolution, send people to the guillotine by the slimmest of majorities?

But capitalist society is not going to remain atomized. Little by little, it call be seen organizing itself and structuring itself in a more and more concentrated, more and more centralized way. Free competition fades away: it is replaced by monopolies, trusts, and other capitalist groupings.

Capitalist power is centralized outside parliament

Now a real centralization of finance capital, big banks and financial groups, takes place. If the Analytique [1] of parliament expressed the will of the Belgian bourgeoisie a century ago, today it is above all the annual report of the Société Générale [2] or of Brufina, [3] prepared for their stockholders’ meetings, that must be studied to know the real opinions of the capitalists. These reports contain the opinions of the capitalists who really count, the big financial groups who dominate the life of the country.

Thus, capitalist power is concentrated outside parliament and outside the institutions born of universal suffrage. In the face of so high-powered a concentration (we need only remember that in Belgium a dozen financial groups control the economic life of the nation), the relationships between parliament and government officials, police commissioners and those multimillionaires is a relationship burdened very little by theory. It is a very immediate and practical relationship: and the connecting link is the payoff.

The bourgeoisie’s visible golden chains - the national debt

Parliament and, even more, the government of a capitalist state, no matter how democratic it may appear to be, are tied to the bourgeoisie by golden chains. These golden chains have a name - the public debt.

No government could last more than a month without having to knock on the door of the banks in order to pay its current expenses. If’ the banks were to refuse, the government would go bankrupt. The origins of this phenomenon are twofold. Taxes don’t enter the coffers every day; receipts are concentrated in one period of the year while expenses are continuous. That is how the short-term public debt arises. This problem could be solved by some technical gimmick. But there is another problem - a much more important one. All modern capitalist states spend more than they receive. That is the long-term public debt for which banks and other financial establishments can most easily advance money, at heavy interest. Therein lies a direct and immediate connection, a daily link, between the state and big business.

The hierarchy in the state apparatus ...

Other golden chains, invisible chains, make the state apparatus a tool in the hands of the bourgeoisie.

If we examine the method of recruiting civil service people, for example, we see that to become a junior clerk in a ministry, it is necessary to pass an examination. The rule seems very democratic indeed. On the other hand, not just anyone can take any examination at all for any level whatsoever. The examination is not the same for the position of secretary general of a ministry or chief of the army general staff as it is for junior clerk in a small government bureau. At first glance, this too would seem normal.

But - a big but - there’s a progression in these examinations that gives them a selective character. You have to have certain degrees, you have to have taken certain courses, to apply for certain positions, especially important positions. Such a system excludes a huge number of people who were not able to get a university education or its equivalent, because equality of educational opportunity doesn’t really exist. Even if the civil service examination system is democratic on the surface, it is also a selective instrument.

... mirror of the hierarchy in capitalist society

These invisible golden chains are also found in the remuneration received by members of the state apparatus.

All government agencies, the army included, develop this pyramidal aspect, this hierarchical structure, that characterizes bourgeois society. We are so influenced by and so imbued with the ideology of the ruling class that we tend to see nothing abnormal in the fact that a secretary general of a ministry receives a salary ten times higher than that of a junior clerk in the same ministry or that of the woman who cleans its offices. The physical effort of this charwoman is certainly greater; but the secretary general of the ministry, he thinks! - which, as everyone knows, is much more tiring. In the same way, the pay of the chief of the general staff (again, someone who thinks!) is much greater by far than that accorded to a second-class private.

This hierarchical structure of the state apparatus leads us to emphasize: In this apparatus there are secretaries general, generals of the army, bishops, etc., who have the same salary level, and therefore have the same standard of living, as the big bourgeoisie, so that they are part of the same social and ideological climate. Then come the middle functionaries, the middle officials, who are on the same social level and have the same income as the petty and middle bourgeoisie. And finally, the mass of employees without titles, charwomen, community workers, who very often earn less than factory workers. Their standard of living clearly corresponds to that of the proletariat. The state apparatus is not a homogeneous instrument. It involves a structure that rather closely corresponds to the structure of bourgeois society, with a hierarchy of classes and identical differences between them.

This pyramidal structure corresponds to a real need of the bourgeoisie. They wish to have at their disposal an instrument they can manipulate at will. It is quite obvious why the bourgeoisie has been trying for a long time, and trying very hard, to deny public service workers the right to strike.

Is the state simply an arbiter?

This point is important In the very concept of the bourgeois state - regardless of whether it may be more or less “democratic” in form - there is a fundamental premise, linked, moreover, to the very origin of the state: By its nature the state remains antagonistic, or rather nonadaptive, to the needs of the collectivity. The state is, by definition, a group of men who exercise the functions that in the beginning were exercised by all members of the collectivity. These men contribute no productive labour but are supported by the other members of society.

In normal times, there is not much need for watchdogs. Even in Moscow, for example, there is no one in charge of collecting fares on buses: passengers deposit their kopeck on boarding, whether or not anyone is watching them. In societies where the level of development of the productive forces is low, where everyone is in a constant struggle with everyone else to get enough to live on for himself out of a national income too small to go around, a large supervisory apparatus becomes necessary.

Thus, during the German occupation [of Belgium], a number of specialized supervisory services proliferated (special police in the railway stations, supervision of printshops, of rationing, etc.). In times like that, the area of conflict is such that an imposing supervisory apparatus proves indispensable.

If we think about the problem a bit, we can see that all who exercise state functions, who are part of the state apparatus, are - in one way or another - watchdogs. Special police and regular police are watchdogs, but so are tax collectors, judges, paper pushers in government offices, fare-collectors on buses, etc. In sum, all functions of the state apparatus are reduced to this: surveillance and control of the life of the society in the interests of the ruling class.

It is often said that the contemporary state plays the role of arbiter. This statement is quite close to what we have just said: “surveillance” and “arbitrating” - aren’t they basically the same thing?

Two comments are called for. First, the arbiter is not neutral. As we explained above, the top men in the state apparatus are part and parcel of the big bourgeoisie. Arbitration thus does not take place in a vacuum; it takes place in the framework of maintaining existing class society. Of course, concessions to the exploited can be made by arbitrators; that depends essentially on the relationship of forces. But the basic aim of arbitration is to maintain capitalist exploitation as such, if necessary by compromising a bit on secondary questions.

The watchdog-state, testimony to the poverty of society

Second, the state is an entity created by society for the surveillance of the everyday functioning of social life; it is at the service of the ruling class for the purpose of maintaining the domination of that class. There is an objective necessity for this watchdog organization, a necessity very closely linked to the degree of poverty, to the amount of social conflict that exists in the society. In a more general, historical way, the exercise of state functions is intimately connected with the existence of social conflicts. In turn, these social conflicts are intimately, connected with the existence of a certain scarcity of material goods, of wealth, of resources, of the necessary means for satisfaction of human needs. This fact should be emphasized: As long as the state exists, it will be proof of the fact that social conflicts (therefore the relative scarcity of goods and services as well) remain. With the disappearance of social conflicts, the watchdogs, rendered useless and parasitical, will disappear - but not before! Society, in effect, pays these men to exercise the functions of surveillance, as long as that is in the interests of part of society. But it is quite evident that from the moment no group in society has a stake in the watchdog function being exercised, the function will disappear along with its usefulness. At the same time, the state will disappear.

The very fact that the state survives proves that social conflicts remain, that the condition of relative scarcity of goods remains the hallmark of that vast period in human history between absolute poverty (the condition during primitive communism) and plenty (the condition of the future socialist society). As long as we are in this transitional period that covers ten thousand years of human history, a period that also includes the transition between capitalism and socialism, the state will survive, social conflicts will remain, and there will have to be people to arbitrate these conflicts in the interest of the ruling class.

If the bourgeois state remains fundamentally an instrument in the service of the ruling classes, does that mean that the workers should be indifferent to the particular form that this state takes parliamentary democracy, military, dictatorship, fascist dictatorship? Not at all! The more freedom the workers have to organize themselves and defend their ideas, the more will the seeds of the future socialist democracy grow within capitalist society, and the more will the advent of socialism be historically facilitated. That is why, the workers must defend their democratic rights against any and every attempt to curtail them (antistrike laws, institution of a “strong state”) or to crush them (fascism).

Next section

Ernest Mandel was a key Marxist economist and politcal theorist and longstanding leader of the Fourth International. He died in 1995.

NOTES

[1] Analytique. The equivalent in Belgium of the US Congressional Record.

[2] Société Générale. Belgium’s most important capitalist grouping since its independence in 1830. Originally organized in the form of a merchant bank, the Société Générale was a forerunner of “finance capital”, which became general in other capitalist countries only in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This resulted from the Société’s early possession of controlling interests in many joint stock companies, especially in coal and steel. Later it controlled the famous Union Minière du Haut Katanga, as well as other companies in the Congo. Today it has reorganised in the form of a central holding company that controls stock in many apparently independent companies, among them Belgium’s main savings bank.

[3] Brufina. Belgium’s second largest capitalist grouping, Brufina grew out of the Banque de Bruxelles, the second largest Belgian bank.

Online Petition to the President of India against New Uranium Mining and Power Plants: Please Sign

Dear Friends,

An online petition, on behalf of the National Alliance of Anti-nuclear
Movements (NAAM), to the President of India (with copies marked to the Prime
Minister and the the Minister for Environment & Forests) is hosted at http://www.petitiononline.com/Nonukes/petition.html.

Pls. do visit to sign up.

Please circulate extensively urging friends and others to sign.

The petition, along with the full list of signatories, will be forwarded to the addressees and released to the media on the next Jan. 30, the Martyr's Day.

Sukla

Peace Is Doable

Amendments to the resolution on the Role and Tasks of the Fourth International

by Hall (Appeals Commission, Britain) and Philomena (IC, France)

 

"In the next period, given the centrality of our understanding of women’s oppression and the strategic nature of the fight against it and the struggle to build the autonomous women’s movement in an anti-capitalist perspective, we must find the necessary resources to ensure that this question is developed as a central element of the anti-capitalist perspective we propose"

The amendments are indicated in bold.

Part 1

...The social and economic attacks and neoliberal counter reforms against the popular classes are going to in crease. There will be more wars and conflicts. Religious fundamentalism will be increasingly used as the ideological underpinning both for attacks on the popular classes, targeting notably women’s control of their own bodies, and wars and conflicts between nations and ethnic groups. Ecological catastrophes will hit millions of people, notably in the poorest regions disproportionately worsening the situation of women as those responsible for sustaining families.

A new historical period is on the horizon ....

Part 2

(1st para)

...The Belem WSF shows, nevertheless, the need and possibility for international convergences, but in a framework where struggles are more fragmented and dispersed. In Europe the success of the mobilisations against the G20 and NATO give an indication of a renewal of the global justice movement. The Istanbul ESF could be another important occasion.

The World March of Women proposes a new occasion of common initiative in 2010 which could become a step in rebuilding and strengthening this international feminist movement.

(last para)

... and a greater convergence of social fightback movement existing in different fields : anti-war and anti-nuclear, against the debt and for food sovereignty, in defence of social and ecological rights, in defence of women’s rights notably to control their own bodies, as well as the women’s movements playing a significant role in other social fightback movements, ...

Part 3

All the forces politically or institutionally linked to social-liberalism or to the centre left – including the women’s movement, notably in the institutionalised forms of NGOs, women’s aid associations, etc - are, to varying degrees, being dragged into these qualitative changes in the workers’ movement and are incapable of formulating a plan for getting out of the crisis.

Part 5

Revolutionary Marxist militants, nuclei, currents and organsiations must pose the problem of the construction of anti-capitalist, revolutionary political formations, with the perspective of establishing a new independent political representation of the working class that takes into account the diversity of the working class – in gender, race, residence status, age, sexual orientation - in defending a resolutely programme class-based programme.

our goal must be to to seek to build broad anti-capitalist political forces, independent of socal democracy and the centre left, formations which reject any policy of support to the class collaboratonist governments, today government with social democracy and the centre left, forces which understand that winning victories on women’s rights, like in the abortion referendum in Portugal, strengthen the radical anti-capitalist forces.

Part 7

(end of 1st para)

... opposition to any participation in governments (in the advanced capitalist countries) that merely manage the State and the capitalist economy having abandoned all internationalism or fight for an end to inequality and discrimination on gender, racial, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation grounds.

Part 10

As a result, in order to strengthen ourselves and play this role all the bodies of the FI must be reinforced : regular Bureau meetings, International Committees, specific working commissions, travel, exchanges between the sections. It is necessary to reinforce the activity that the International has deployed over the last few years in regularising and strengthening EPBs meetings and the efforts of coordination between the Latin American sections. The meetings of the International Committeee (IC) which are held every year representing about 30 organisations must ensure the organisational continuity of our international current.

Lack of resources as well as the decline in the presence of women, notably in our leading bodies, in the last period (result of the decline in activity of a strong autonomous women’s movement which has had an impact on our national organisations and thus the International), have meant that we have not sustained an active women’s commission and a corresponding network of regional meetings and international schools. Three women’s seminars have been held since 2000 as well as meetings of the women comrades present at each IC. These have maintained a limited and fragile but neverthless real feminist internationalist perspective. In the next period, given the centrality of our understanding of women’s oppression and the strategic nature of the fight against it and the struggle to build the autonomous women’s movement in an anti-capitalist perspective, we must find the necessary resources to ensure that this question is developed as a central element of the anti-capitalist perspective we propose. In this framework we must at the same time strengthen our internal commission and be on the offensive in proposing discussions to our partners, including participation in seminars and schools in our Institute. This process must also find a reflection at national level.

At the same time we must ensure that the women in our organisations – and in the new parties we are building – find their full place and that the simple adoption of parity or quotas for leadership bodies or electoral lists is not considered a sufficient answer to the obstacles to women’s full participation in the political process. The range of measures constituting a positive action plan were presented in the 1991 World Congress resolution on positive action.

The educational institute has taken on a fresh impetus. We now have to ensure that the schools and seminars are held and ensure the equilibrium of its management and its organisation. The FI must also open up its meeting and its Institute. The Institute occupies a central place, not only to educate the cadres of the section but also to contribute to the exchanges between currents and to various international experiences. The seminar on climate change open to a series of international experts is a good example. Like other meetings it indicates the necessity and the possibility that we are a crucible for programmatic elaboration of essential questions that anti-capitalist and revolutionary currents are tackling. Our schools have always been an occasion for inviting participation from organisations with which we are building relations. This role must be strengthened and broadened in the coming period.

To sum up, in the coming period, and on an orientation aimed at building a new international force or a new International, the FI as an internal framework, represents an essential asset for revolutionary Marxists.

Israel: Colonial-settler state

Phil Gasper

ZIONISM IS a political movement that originally emerged in the late nineteenth century as a response to anti-Semitism, particularly in Eastern Europe. Capitalist development undermined the traditional commercial roles that many Jews had played in the old feudal economy. As the economic system moved into periodic crises, ruling groups in many countries would deflect mass anger at economic hardship and political repression by scapegoating Jews.

Zionists drew the pessimistic conclusion that anti-Semitism could not be eliminated, and that to escape persecution Jews had to emigrate to a region where they could set up an exclusively Jewish state. At the time of the Dreyfus Affair in France, in which a Jewish army officer was falsely accused of espionage, Theodor Herzl–who is generally regarded as the father of Zionism–wrote:

I achieved a freer attitude toward anti-Semitism, which I now began to understand historically and to pardon. Above all, I recognized the emptiness and futility of trying to "combat" anti-Semitism.1

The Russian Zionist Leo Pinsker similarly argued that "Judeo-phobia is a psychic aberration" that is "hereditary" and "incurable."2

Herzl set out the Zionist program in 1896 in a pamphlet called The State of the Jews. He called for a Jewish state to be set up in an undeveloped country outside Europe. Herzl was explicit that the program could be carried out only with the backing of one of the major imperialist powers, who were at that time carving up the world between them. Once such support had been won, the Zionist movement would conduct itself like other colonizing ventures.

Various sites for the new state were considered, including Argentina and Madagascar, but the influence of religious Jews led the Zionists to decide on Palestine, the Biblical "promised land."

Herzl declared that, if it were created, this Jewish state would form "a portion of the rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism."3 In other words, the new state would be part of the system of colonial domination of the rest of the world.

Having chosen Palestine, the Zionist movement attempted to persuade one of the imperialist powers to give them support in colonizing it. Initially, Turkey and Germany were approached. According to one Zionist spokesperson,

Turkey can be convinced that it will be important for her to have in Palestine and Syria a strong and well-organized group which…will resist any attack on the authority of the Sultan and defend his authority with all its might.4

Similar advances were made to Germany.

The founders of Zionism were even prepared to ally themselves with the most vicious anti-Semites. Herzl approached Count Von Plehve, the sponsor of the worst anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia: "Help me to reach the land sooner and the revolt [against Tsarist rule] will end." Herzl and other Zionist leaders offered to help guarantee Tsarist interests in Palestine and to rid Eastern Europe and Russia of those "noxious and subversive Anarcho-Bolshevik Jews"–in other words, to get rid of the people who wanted to fight anti-Semitism rather than capitulate to it. Von Plehve agreed to finance the Zionist movement as a way of countering socialist opposition to the Tsar:

The Jews have been joining the revolutionary parties. We were sympathetic to your Zionist movement as long as it worked toward emigration. You don’t have to justify the movement to me. You are preaching to a convert.5

When Britain took control of Palestine at the end of the First World War, Zionists turned their attention to lobbying the British government. The Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann argued, "A Jewish Palestine would be a safeguard to England, in particular in respect to the Suez Canal."6 This argument became increasingly attractive to the British ruling class. The war had underlined the importance of the Middle East, which guarded the sea routes to the Far East and contained the immensely profitable and strategically vital Persian oil fields.

Britain was eager to find ways to consolidate its power in the region, in opposition to both the other imperial powers and the emerging anticolonial nationalist movements in countries like Egypt. On November 2, 1917, the British foreign minister Lord Balfour, a notorious anti-Semite, issued the following declaration:

His Majesty’s Government views with favor the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavors to facilitate the achievement of this object….7

One person who played an important role in arguing for the declaration was the South African delegate to the British war cabinet, General Jan Smuts, a close friend of Weizmann’s and a future South African prime minister. In fact, Zionist leaders like Herzl and Weizmann frequently compared their aims with the South African conception of a racially distinct colonizing population, and built close ties with South Africa. In his diaries, Herzl had explicitly drawn parallels between himself and the most prominent representative of British imperialism in South Africa, Cecil Rhodes:

Naturally there are big differences between Cecil Rhodes and my humble self, the personal ones very much in my disfavor, but the objective ones greatly in favor of our [Zionist] movement.8

The Balfour declaration did not create a Jewish state, but it did encourage mass emigration to Palestine and the construction of an extensive settler community that was to become the basis of the state of Israel. But there was one problem. Contrary to Zionist propaganda that Palestine was "a land without people for a people without a land," the area was in fact the most densely populated region of the Eastern Mediterranean, with an Arab population that had lived there for about 1,000 years and had developed an extensive economy.9

Small Jewish settlements had existed in Palestine from the late nineteenth century, but after 1917 the colonization process accelerated considerably. Jewish organizations bought up large areas of land from absentee landlords, displacing large numbers of Palestinian peasants. The Zionists also began building an exclusively Jewish "enclave" economy, organized around the Histadrut–the general confederation of Hebrew workers in Palestine. The settlers refused to employ Arab labor and boycotted Arab goods.

In the 1930s, the rise of fascism in Europe gave a further boost to Jewish immigration, even though most Jews had no interest in moving to Palestine. Zionism was still very much a fringe movement among Jews, and only 8.5 percent of Jewish migrants went to Palestine during this period. The number would have been even smaller if countries such as the U.S. and Britain had not had racist immigration policies that excluded most Jews. The refugees who did arrive in Palestine, however, strengthened the settler community.

The founding of a Zionist state is often justified as a response to the rise of fascism and to the horrors of the Nazi holocaust that exterminated six million Jews. But far from fighting against fascism, Zionists frequently collaborated with the fascists. In 1933, the Zionist Federation of Germany sent a memorandum of support to the Nazis:

On the foundation of the new [Nazi] state which has established the principle of race, we wish to fit our community into the total structure so that for us, too, in the sphere assigned to us, fruitful activity for the Fatherland is possible.10

Later that year, the World Zionist Organization congress defeated a resolution for action against Hitler by a vote of 240 to 43.

Leading Nazis like Joseph Goebbels wrote articles praising Zionism, and some Zionists received Nazi funds. A member of the Haganah, a Zionist militia in Palestine, delivered the following message to the German SS in 1937:

Jewish nationalist circles…were very pleased with the radical German policy, since the strength of the Jewish population in Palestine would be so far increased thereby that in the foreseeable future the Jews could reckon upon numerical superiority over the Arabs.11

The Zionist movement went so far as to oppose changes in the immigration laws of the U.S. and Western Europe, which would have permitted more Jews to find refuge in these countries. In 1938, David Ben-Gurion, who was to become the first prime minister of Israel, wrote:

If I knew that it would be possible to save all the children in Germany by bringing them over to England and only half of them by transporting them to Eretz Yisrael [greater Israel], then I would opt for the second alternative.12

This philosophy was put into practice. As the author Ralph Schoenman notes in The Hidden History of Zionism:

Throughout the late thirties and forties, Jewish spokespersons in Europe cried out for help, for public campaigns, for organized resistance, for demonstrations to force the hand of allied governments–only to be met not merely by Zionist silence but by active Zionist sabotage of the meager efforts which were proposed or prepared in Great Britain and the United States.

The dirty secret of Zionist history is that Zionism was threatened by the Jews themselves. Defending the Jewish people from persecution meant organizing resistance to the regimes which menaced them. But these regimes embodied the imperial order which comprised the only social force willing or able to impose a settler colony on the Palestinian people. Hence, the Zionists needed the persecution of the Jews to persuade Jews to become colonizers afar, and they needed the persecutors to sponsor the enterprise.

Meanwhile, Jews in Palestine were given privileged status by the British colonial regime. The British helped to establish and train a Zionist militia, granted Jewish capital 90 percent of economic concessions, and paid Jews higher wages than Arabs for equal work. From the 1920s onward, the British government used the Jewish settlers to help suppress mass Arab demonstrations against landlessness and unemployment and for independence. The most sustained uprising by the Palestinians took place from 1936 to 1939, and included a general strike of several months, the withholding of taxes, civil disobedience and armed insurrection. The British responded by declaring martial law and instituting mass repression, relying heavily on Zionist forces. Hundreds of Palestinians were executed or assassinated, thousands were imprisoned, and thousands of homes were demolished.13

The foundation of Israel

But Britain, greatly weakened by the Second World War, was forced to withdraw from Palestine. In 1947, the leading imperialist powers, including the U.S. and the USSR, decided to partition the country into separate Jewish and Palestinian states. Even though at this time Jews comprised only 31 percent of the population, the Zionists were given 54 percent of the fertile land.

Even this was not satisfactory for the Zionists, however. In 1938, Ben-Gurion had declared:

The boundaries of Zionist aspiration include southern Lebanon, southern Syria, today’s Jordan, all of Cis-Jordan [the West Bank] and the Sinai.… After we become a strong force as the result of the creation of the state, we shall abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine. The state will only be a stage in the realization of Zionism and its task is to prepare the ground for our expansion. The state will have to preserve order…with machine guns.14

The Zionist project could only be completed if the local Arab population was expelled. As Joseph Weitz, head of the Jewish Agency’s Colonization Department, had put it in 1940:

There is no room for both peoples together in this country…. We shall not achieve our goal of being an independent people with the Arabs in this small country…. And there is no other way than to transfer the Arabs from here to the neighboring countries. To transfer all of them; not one village, not one tribe should be left.15

Another Zionist document, the "Koenig Report," was even more blunt:

We must use terror, assassination, intimidation, land confiscation and the cutting of all social services to rid the Galilee of its Arab population.16

In 1948, this policy was put into effect. Zionist forces seized three-quarters of the land and expelled close to one million Palestinians. Military groups, whose leaders included the future Israeli prime ministers Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, carried out massacres at Deir Yassin and other villages designed to terrorize the rest of the Palestinian population into fleeing for their lives. At Deir Yassin, 254 men, women, and children were murdered. In Begin’s own words:

All in the Jewish forces proceeded to advance through Haifa like a knife through butter. The Arabs began fleeing in panic, shouting "Deir Yassin."17

Other massacres were carried out by the official Israeli Defense Forces. At the village of Dueima, according to the eyewitness account of one soldier,

They killed between eighty to one hundred Arab men, women and children. To kill the children they fractured their heads with sticks. There was not one home without corpses…. Educated and well-mannered commanders who were considered "good guys"…became base murderers, and this not in the storm of battle, but as a method of expulsion and extermination.18

Nearly 500 Palestinian villages existed in the territory that came under Israeli occupation after partition in 1947. During 1948 and 1949, nearly 400 of these were razed to the ground. More were destroyed in the 1950s. In 1969, Moshe Dayan, former chief of staff and minister of defense, summarized the nature of the Zionist colonization:

We came here to a country that was populated by Arabs, and we are building here a Hebrew, Jewish state. Instead of Arab villages, Jewish villages were established…. There is not a single [Jewish] settlement that was not established in the place of a former Arab village.19

Zionist apologists have defended Israel’s expansion on the grounds that the survival of the Jewish state was threatened by hostile Arab neighbors. On the pretext of defending the Palestinians, Arab countries did launch a military offensive in 1948, but as John Rose notes, "It was a totally unreal exercise. There were military clashes–but key Arab governments were already in negotiations with the Israelis."20 Israelis forces vastly outmatched their Arab counterparts, and they used the opportunity to seize as much territory as possible.

In his diary, Moshe Sharett, Israeli prime minister in the 1950s, admits that the security argument has always been a fraud. According to Sharett, the Israeli political and military leadership never believed in any Arab danger to Israel. Rather, Israel has sought to maneuver and force the Arab states into military confrontations that the Zionist leadership was certain of winning so that Israel could destabilize Arab regimes and occupy more territory. Israel’s aim has been to "dismember the Arab world, defeat the Arab national movement and create puppet regimes under regional Israeli power" and "to modify the balance of power in the region radically, transforming Israel into the major power in the Middle East."21

Before 1947, Jews owned about 6 percent of the land in Palestine. In the process of establishing the state of Israel, the Zionists expropriated 90 percent of the land, the vast majority of which formerly belonged to Arabs. Entire cities were emptied of Palestinians, and Palestinian orchards, industry, rolling stock, factories, houses, and possessions were seized. Close to one million Palestinians were ethnically cleansed from their homeland.

The Arabs who remained in Israel became second-class citizens, while Palestinians who were driven out of the country were forced to live in poverty in refugee camps throughout the Middle East. Israel passed "The Law of Return," which allows every person of Jewish descent to emigrate to Israel, but the Palestinians were not allowed to return to their own homeland.

Following the Six Day War in 1967, Israel occupied further territory including the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. In the West Bank, 55 percent of the land and 70 percent of the water were seized for the benefit of Jewish settlers who constituted only a tiny fraction of the population. In Gaza, 2,200 settlers were given more than 40 percent of the land while 500,000 Palestinians were confined to crowded camps and slums.

Israel’s actions have been repeatedly condemned by the United Nations (UN), but the U.S. government has ensured that nothing has been done to enforce a series of UN resolutions. Since its creation, Israel has been a defender of Washington’s interests in the oil-rich region of the Middle East. The US wanted a client state in the region that could help prevent popular resistance to its control of oil. As the influential Jewish paper Ha’aretz put it in 1951:

Israel is to become the watchdog. There is no fear that Israel will undertake any aggressive policy towards the Arab states when this would explicitly contradict the wishes of the U.S. and Britain. But, if for any reasons the western powers should sometimes prefer to close their eyes, Israel could be relied upon to punish one or several neighboring states whose discourtesy to the west went beyond the bounds of the permissible.22

As a consequence, Israel has received billions of dollars of U.S. aid every year, which has made it one of the most heavily armed states in the world.

NOTES

1 Theodor Herzl, The Diaries of Theodor Herzl (New York: Dial Press, 1956), p. 6.

2 Quoted in Nathan Weinstock, Zionism: False Messiah (London: Pluto Press, 1989), p. 44.

3 Quoted in Maxime Rodinson, Israel and the Arabs (Hardmondsworth, England: Penguin Books, 1973), p. 14.

4 Quoted in Ralph Schoenman, The Hidden History of Zionism (San Francisco: Socialist Action, 1988).

5 See Andre Chouraqui, The Life of Theodor Herzl (Jerusalem: Keter Books, 1970), p. 230, for an account of Herzl’s meeting with Plehve.

6 Quoted in Weinstock, p. 96.

7 Quoted in Weinstock, p. 97.

8 Quoted in Uri Davis, Israel: An Apartheid State (London: Zed Books, 1987), pp. 3—4.

9 See, for example, Rashid Khalidi, "Palestinian peasant resistance to Zionism before World War I," in Edward Said and Christopher Hitchens, eds., Blaming the Victims (New York: Verso, 1988).

10 Quoted in Lenni Brenner, Zionism in the Age of the Dictators (Westport, Conn.: Lawrence Hill & Co., 1983), pp. 48—49.

11 Quoted in Brenner, p. 99.

12 Quoted in Brenner, p. 149.

13 Phil Marshall, Intifada: Zionism, Imperialism and Palestinian Resistance (London: Bookmarks, 1989), pp. 35—43.

14 Quoted in Schoenman.

15 Quoted in Maxime Rodinson, Israel: A Colonial-Settler State? (New York: Pathfinder Press, 1973), p.16. As Weinstock observes, "These words, it should be borne in mind, express the mentality of moderate ‘Labour’ Zionists" (Weinstock, p.154) .

16 Quoted in Schoenman.

17 Quoted in Weinstock, p. 242. For a description by an Israeli historian of the massacre, see Simha Flaphan, The Birth of Israel (New York: Pantheon Books, 1987), p. 94.

18 Quoted in Schoenman. The massacres continued after the state of Israel was established, for example at Qibya in 1953 and at Kafr Kassem in 1956. Both of these attacks were commanded by Ariel Sharon, later the Israeli defense minister and today leader of the Likud Party. See Noam Chomsky, The Fateful Triangle (Boston: South End Press, 1983), pp. 158—59 and 383—85.

19 Quoted in Schoenman.

20 John Rose, Israel: The Hijack State (Chicago: ISO, 1986), p. 42.

21 Quoted in Schoenman.

Carbon trading: a corporate scam

Patrick Bond, Rehana Dada, Graham Erion


With climate change posing as one of the gravest threats to capital accumulation - not to mention humankind and our environment - in coming decades, it is little wonder that economists such as Sir Nick Stern, establishment politicians like Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and US Democrat Al Gore, and financiers at the World Bank and in the City of London have begun warning the public and, in the process, birthing a market for carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

The idea is to sell the right to continue polluting in the North, in the hope that more efficient energy systems can be incentivised through “Clean Development Mechanism” (CDM) offset projects in the Third World.

This was the key theory motivating capitalist states’ support for the Kyoto Protocol and, since February 2005, when the protocol was ratified by Russia and formally came into effect, a great deal more money and propaganda have been invested in the carbon market, including at a major Nairobi climate conference last November.

Rather than forcing countries, or firms, to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions, Kyoto Protocol designers created - from thin air - a carbon market and gave countries a minimal reduction target (5% from 1990 emissions levels, to be achieved by 2012). They can either meet that target through their own reductions or by purchasing emissions credits from countries or firms that reduce their own greenhouse gases beyond their target level.

But as Larry Lohmann from the British NGO Cornerhouse and the Durban Group for Climate Justice remarked: “The distribution of carbon allowances [the prerequisite for trading] constitutes one of the largest, if not the largest, projects for creation and regressive distribution of property rights in human history.”

Big oil companies, particularly, win property rights to pollute at the level they always have, instead of facing up to their historic debt to the Third World for using its atmosphere as a “sink”, a function that the UN estimated was worth US$75 billion annually in 2000.

South Africa is a good case study of abuses, for in mid-2005, Sasol, one of the country’s largest companies, admitted its gas pipeline project proposal to the CDM bureaucracy lacked the key requirement of “additionality” - i.e., the firm doing something (thanks to a lucrative incentive) that it would not have done anyway - thus unveiling the CDM as vulnerable to blatant scamming.

At Durban’s vast Bisasar Road rubbish dump, Africa’s largest landfill, community protests against ongoing carcinogenic emissions have derailed the World Bank and municipal state’s plans to market a methane-capture project as a CDM.

According to Sajida Khan, a cancer victim leading the fight: “The poor countries are so poor they will accept crumbs. The World Bank knows this and it is taking advantage of it.”

Similar protests across the Third World have targeted destructive CDMs such as tree planting at Brazil’s Plantar industrial timber plantation, and in Indian communities where mass demonstrations are raising the profile of the dangerous market.

Carbon trading may also suffer classic contradictions of capitalist markets, such as volatility, overproduction and manipulation. In April 2006, Brown made a strong pitch at the United Nations “for a global carbon trading market as the best way to protect the endangered environment while spurring economic growth”.

But 10 days later, the European Union’s emissions trading market crashed thanks to the over-allocation of pollution rights, and the carbon spot market price lost more than half its value in a single day, destroying many CDM projects earlier considered viable investments.

Guardian columnist George Monbiot recently explained why schemes like tree-planting are so dubious: “While they have a pretty good idea of how much carbon our factories and planes and cars are releasing, scientists are much less certain about the amount of carbon tree planting will absorb. When you drain or clear the soil to plant trees, for example, you are likely to release some carbon, but it is hard to tell how much. Planting trees in one place might stunt trees elsewhere, as they could dry up a river which was feeding a forest downstream. Or by protecting your forest against loggers, you might be driving them into another forest. In other words, you cannot reasonably claim to have swapped the carbon stored in oil or coal for carbon absorbed by trees. Mineral carbon, while it remains in the ground, is stable and quantifiable. Biological carbon is labile and uncertain.”

The main force for a genuine alternative to capitalism’s fake market mitigation strategy will be public pressure. With Third World communities and progressive environmentalists - especially the Durban Group for Climate Justice - seeking and finding allies serious about the climate crisis, there will be fewer opportunities for Nick Stern and Gordon Brown to sell bogus market solutions to capital’s pollution problems.
BOND Patrick, DADA Rehana, ERION Graham

* From: Comment & Analysis, Green Left Weekly issue #694 17 January 2007.

* Patrick Bond, Rehana Dada & Graham Erion are editors of a new book “Climate Change, Carbon Trading and Civil Society”, available from Rozenberg Press, Amsterdam.

Women and the crisis of civilisation

Debate : Contributions to the World Congress discussion

 

Women and the crisis of civilisation

 

by Hall (Appeals Commission, Britain) and Philomena (IC, France)

 

The convergence of the different aspects of the crisis of global capitalism today confirms that we are faced with systemic economic, ecological and social crises, which combine to produce a crisis of civilisation.

In this paper we indicate some of the ways in which this crisis particularly affects women.

Women were already at the bottom of the pile before the crises started, so it is no surprise that we feel the effects of these disasters most acutely. Women’s subordinate place within the labour market, notwithstanding the limited gains made as a result of women’s self organisation, remain a reflection of the sexual division of labour and inferior status of women within the patriarchal capitalist family. The family, together with the education system, continues to reproduce notions that women are inherently inferior to men —or at best have different destinies as primary care givers to children and the elderly— a particularly important notion for the state to fall back on as it slashes public services. The family continues to be the main site of violence (and repression) against women.

And make no mistake: what is tested out on women today in terms of the capitalists’ attempts to make sure they do not pay for the crisis will be imposed on the whole of the working class tomorrow, as we have already seen in many other instances, for example with part-time work.

In response to all these issues, we need to make sure that the demands we raise as parties and campaigns take into account the specific oppression of women. Sometimes this will mean raising specific demands that affect women (e.g., abortion or equal pension rights), but it always means looking at what we say from women’s point of view.

So, for example, the demand for a shorter working day/week is in the interests of the whole working class, but has particular importance for women while we also carry out the double burden of domestic labour. Another example: nationalisation of the banks has come to the forefront of our propaganda as a result of the credit crunch, though of course we understand that the economic crisis did not start and will not end with the banking crisis. But women, as one of the poorest sections of the working class, are particularly affected by rises in interest rates and limitations in the availability of credit.

Of course, the context in which these demands are formulated will be different in each national situation and need to be adapted to meet the concrete realities in which we are working. The programme developed by the Belgian comrades for the 2009 European elections, "An ecosocialist Europe will be feminist or it will not exist," is a good example of how this can be done.

Women are also an integral part of the resistance to the onslaught and the fight we see taking place to create the other ecosocialist and feminist world that is daily ever more necessary. Women’s self-organisation is essential to achieving this. The steps forward that women have made in terms of the constituent assembly and the campaign against public debt in Ecuador, for example, are not because Correa decided to grant women favours but because women’s self-organisation helped create the balance of forces that won these gains.

Women and Climate Change

Poverty and inequality is the lot of the majority of women in the south, and they are the first to be hit by the climate crisis, caused by emissions produced mainly in the countries of the north. Eighty percent of the 1.3 billion people in the world living under the poverty line are women.

Women produce 80% of food in the south, so desertification, the loss of water resources, etc., have a huge impact on their daily lives. When people are forced to move because the place they live can no longer provide any food because of climate change, women and children are and will be the majority of those displaced.

A report published by Oxfam in June 2009, The Winds of Change: Climate change, poverty and the environment in Malawi, argues that women are affected most by climate change because they have multiple roles as farmers, providers of food, water and firewood, and child carers. It also points out that women in Malawian society have no say in decision making and that climate change exacerbates existing inequalities. It further argues that there is a danger that deepening poverty will pressure women to sell sex for food and that this will further exacerbate the spread of HIV/AIDS. The spread of HIV/AIDs will further weaken the ability of the population to resist climate chaos.

In 2008 the level of global malnutrition grew by 800,000 to reach more than 1 billion people and, at the same time, diseases such as cholera that we have long known how to eliminate are now re-occurring as part of this crisis of civilisation.

The fight for women’s access to decent free public education and health care, including access to abortion, contraception, and sex education, is an essential element of combating the climate crisis especially in the south. Women are often at the forefront of campaigns to defend and extend these essentials.

The neo-Malthusian answer to the climate crisis arguing that there are too many people on the planet seeks to further limit women’s right to control our own bodies and is racist in that the rate of population growth is greater in the countries of the south. Our first response is to fight for the extension of women’s fertility control, as well as for the eradication of poverty which means that there is less pressure on communities to provide more people. We also fight against capitalist consumerism which means that so much of what is produced has no use value and is deeply environmentally wasteful.

The growing impact of agribusiness, production of biofuels and the continuing sell-off of land to multinationals for the continued extraction of oil and other resources has resulted and will continue to result in the loss of land and of autonomy for small producers, the majority of whom are women, many from indigenous communities. Pesticides destroy organic crops of small producers.

Indigenous women and women landless farmers play a central role in defending forest ecosystems from governments who want to sell them to the highest bidder and mutinationals who want use them for the production of biofuels and to extract other resources including water, tropical hardwoods (which take hundreds of years to grow a few inches) as well as oil and other minerals. The action by Via Campesina women in Brazil, who destroyed the Aracruz Celulosa substitution for eucalyptus, was a victorious example of women playing a leading role in defending the biosphere. Women of many indigenous communities are also central to the defence of ancestral lands.

  • Diminishing energy consumption by ending wasteful production including the arms industry, nuclear industry, advertising and the explosion of air transport
  • For localisation of production, including agriculture
  • End the use of harmful energy sources and expand sustainable energy
  • Free and adequate public transport
Women and the Economic Crisis


Neoliberal globalisation has resulted in a vast expansion of insecure jobs with short-term contracts and the massive extension of part-time work. At the same time, the informal economy has spread from the countries of the south to parts of the north and to sectors that were previously part of the formal economy.

The majority of those who work in the informal economy are women and children. For example, 1-2% of the urban populations of the world make some sort of living from collecting and reselling waste on landfill sites. The majority of these are women and children. The demand from industry for recycled paper, especially from China, has already begun to fall as a result of the recession, which means the price for these products is falling significantly, and therefore so is the ability of those sectors of the population who live by collecting and reselling them to survive.

In a recession, informal sector jobs are lost at the same time that some previously in the formal sector move into the informal sector. In the south some export-oriented industries like textiles where large numbers of women have been employed have grown rapidly: in Africa for example 100,000 new jobs were created over the last 7 years. But demand has reduced as a result of the economic crisis. In the Philippines, 42,000 jobs in textiles, semiconductor and conductor industries, where a majority of workers are women, were lost in one day (Oxfam report, Paying the Price for the Economic Crisis, March 2009).

Export manufacturing is, of course, an area where workers have virtually no rights, so most of the women who have lost their jobs in this sector have received no redundancy pay or social security benefits. Even where there is supposedly a legal right to them, where there is no worker’s organisation to ensure that this happens, the bosses ignore their legal obligations.

The growth of microcredit has been important in allowing some economic independence for growing numbers of women in the south. But the recession means that its availability is severely reduced, which will have a negative impact on women’s economic and therefore social and political independence.

In terms of job losses in the formal sector, the crisis has so far impacted differently on women in different countries. The motor industry —where it exists, one of the hardest hit sectors— is generally male-dominated. In some places, generally those countries of the advanced capitalist world where the recession has already hit deeply, we have already seen big job losses in the service sector where a majority of workers are women. In countries where this has not yet happened, the service sector will be next.

Though statistics on global rates of unemployment for women and men are difficult to find, it seems that so far the differential rate of unemployment has not increased; it will, however, as the crisis has more impact on the service sector. Oxfam says the majority of jobs lost in the south are women’s, while in the US, female unemployment rose faster than male in May 2009 (5.6% for women, 4.1% for men - Womenstake.org)

Despite legal protection in most advanced capitalist countries, women workers have continued to suffer particular discrimination when they become pregnant. Indeed the assumed possibility that they will get pregnant lies behind much discrimination against women of child-bearing age. But there is evidence in Britain at least that this is getting worse in the recession. The Alliance against Pregnancy Discrimination in Britain, a coalition of different groups who have come together to campaign on this issue, says:

”There has been an alarming increase in the number of pregnant women and new mothers who are being made redundant. It appears that some employers are using the recession as an excuse to break the law on discrimination. With the economic downturn has come a rise in the number of calls to our organisations from women facing maternity or pregnancy discrimination. We have examples of pregnant women being singled out for redundancy and of women returning from maternity leave to find their jobs have gone.

”Even before the recession, the Equal Opportunities Commission had already estimated that 30,000 women lose their jobs each year as a result of being pregnant, and this figure looks set to rise. This shocking impact of the recession is not only morally wrong and deeply damaging to workplace gender equality - it is illegal” (http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/documents/AllianceAgainst PregnancyDiscrimination.pdf ).

The sub-prime crisis in the US, the first visible sign of today’s crisis, has taken a higher toll on women - especially women of colour. Thirty-two percent of women mortgage holders have sub-prime mortgages vs. 24% of men; and African American and Latino homeowners were 30% more likely to have received sub-prime loans (Ms Foundation for Women).

And of course poverty rates increase during economic downturns; with the increasing costs of even basic necessities like food, transportation, and energy, the number of poor families is growing. And once a family has fallen into it, poverty is difficult to escape. An estimated 60% of families in the bottom fifth of income levels remain there a decade later (Ms Foundation for Women).

And, as is historically the case, when women are faced with no current or future prospects for job opportunities, even in the informal sector, already strained by its swelling ranks, they often turn to considering marriage and child-rearing as their only “acceptable” alternative. Still others try to keep a roof over their and their children’s heads by selling their bodies for sex.

  • Nationalise the banks under popular control, extend provision of microcredits, and increase government aid especially to women
  • For shorter working week/day with no loss of pay
  • For the ending of temporary contracts. Full rights for all workers
  • Against discrimination including at work on the basis of gender, marital status, age or sexual orientation
  • For the creation of new jobs open to women and men
  • No discrimination in pensions or state benefits
Women and Public Services

The defence of basis services —most fundamentally water, but also electricity, housing and transport— as publicly controlled and affordable —preferably free— is essential. Women have very often played a leading role in the campaigns to defend and extend these basic services, from the successful battle against the privatisation of water wars in Cochabamba, Bolivia in 2000, to the struggle against privatisation of railways and cotton and rice cultivation in Mali.

The economic crisis we face now will not see any let-up in the neo-liberal policies that privatise and starve public services of resources, affecting women both as the majority of workers in this sector and as those most dependent on the services provided. In many European countries, cuts in health services are a constant example. In France the drive to privatise pre-school care in private kindergartens rather than in nursery schools in the public school system will reduce public sector jobs and make childcare more expensive. In Mexico, state outsourcing of an increasing number of childcare centres to private manager-owners has led to a severe decline in the quality of service; the cruellest result of this so far has been the death of 48 children in a June 2009 flash fire at a childcare centre in Hermosillo, Sonora, owned by relatives of high-level government officials, operating under the same roof as a warehouse. Public horror at the corruption and impunity for those responsible distilled into a movement that cost the ruling party the governorship, but the guilty parties have yet to be brought to trial.

In countries where abortion is legal (within limited conditions), cuts in public health services are already impacting on women’s access to abortion and contraception. Rape crisis centres and other services for women who have been on the receiving end of violence have also lost funding. These services will be seen by many providers as optional extras, while others will be happy to cut projects that they never supported in the first place under the guise of economic necessity.

Personal social services are increasingly being privatised in different European countries: France, Sweden, Belgium, and Britain at least. Primarily women workers are employed to do house work (cleaning of house and clothes, cooking, childcare and in some cases care of elderly or disabled people) in the homes of professional families (sometimes by the state, sometimes by private companies). They work maybe 5 or more jobs a week with a small number of hours spent at each and almost as much time travelling between jobs as working. The status of these jobs is very low and unprotected, and the extension of these services is used as an argument for reducing public services, in the retirement home sector for example.

Together with very low hourly wage rates. this means poverty for the women working there. And given that "reform" of social security systems mean that in many countries people are forced to take any job or lose benefits, it is harder for workers to refuse to take these jobs, while the bosses are provided with a pool of cheap labour. These types of developments also result in deepening divisions between women where those with more social and economic power become the employers of those —mainly black and migrant women— who do not.

  • For the defence and expansion of public services under workers’ and users’ control
  • For the extension of high quality childcare services
Migration

Over the past four decades, total numbers of international migrants have more than doubled, but the percentage of the world population migrating has remained fairly constant. There are now 175 million international migrants worldwide or approximately 3.5 per cent of the global population. About half this number is women, despite the common misconception that migrants are men. Most migration takes place to adjacent countries, and some takes place within countries as well as across continental borders.

In many countries of the south, remittances sent back by migrant workers play a crucial role in the economy. For the Philippines in 2008, annual remittances amounted to US$16.4 billion and in March 2009 alone, total remittances were US$1.47 billion. In seven Latin American and Caribbean countries, remittances even account for more than 10% of GDP and exceed the dollar flows for the largest export product.

As the crisis deepens, women’s migration will increase further for a number of reasons: women moving to work abroad because they cannot sell their labour power at home, or if they can, they cannot sustain their families on the income offered. For example, 4.5 million families in the Philippines cannot meet the minimum requirement for food.

In some situations, in fact, the majority of migrants are women: for example, from the Philippines 70% are women, employed mainly as undocumented domestic workers. The RMPP (Philippines section of the Fourth International) works in Europe to organise Filipina migrants and to try to win rights for undocumented workers.

Filipina women, like other women from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe, working as domestic workers are part of the global domestic care chain, where women in first world countries who want to be liberated from their domestic functions and pursue fulfilment in the public space by working have to find someone to replace them in their domestic functions. So, migration of domestic workers is a form of demand-based migration founded on the gender division of labour in receiving countries. This demand is met by Filipina women, many of whom have children of their own in the Philippines. Given the gendered division of labour in Philippine households, they cannot expect their husbands to take on their domestic workload in their absence. Furthermore, the husbands might themselves be migrant workers elsewhere (mainly in construction).

For migrant women, the solution to this problem is to in turn employ live-in domestic workers to care for their family while they are gone. In the non-migrant family, the absence of the mother creates a demand for care for her own children. Since they cannot afford to pay a domestic worker, this work is taken on by an elder daughter while the mother is at work.

At the end of the global care chain, this daughter assumes the role of mothering for her younger siblings, giving her less time to play, study, or work outside the home. Alternatively, the migrant’s mother cares for her children. Such grandparent fostering is a common constellation in societies of emigration. It takes pressure off the eldest children, but means that grandmothers can experience forty or fifty years of continuous child-rearing responsibility. While every woman in the chain feels she is doing the right thing for her family, hidden costs are passed along and eventually end up with the older daughter in the non-migrant household. As childcare work is passed down the chain, it diminishes in value and becomes unpaid at the end.

Migrant families are deprived of their mothers’ personal affection and care since they are already commoditized in the global market and traded internationally. This “new commodity” in the global market is well promoted and supported by the state. For example, the two women presidents of the Philippines (Aquino and Arroyo) made these migrant women “heroines” because they sacrifice their families in order for the Philippine nation to progress through remittances. President Arroyo promised the Middle East countries to send efficient and reliable domestic workers. They both called the migrant women workers the “new heroes” to pacify them in the face of the emotional distress of separation and exploitation.

The migrant women and their families are the sacrificial lambs of this neoliberal globalization. During global financial crisis, women migrants working in the domestic households are directly affected and cannot even claim severance pay when they lose their jobs because they are mostly undocumented.

Governments like that of the Philippines ignore their own legal obligations to protect migrant workers from their country (Republic Act 8042 (Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995). For example, since 2002, six Filipino migrant workers have been executed in Saudi Arabia including one woman, and a number of others have been held on death row for crimes they clearly did not commit. The violence (beatings, rapes, forced detention) meted out to women migrant domestic workers from Asia, Africa, and Latin America in the receiving countries has been well-documented.

Of course not all those who migrate become migrant workers. Men, women, and children are displaced in huge numbers as a result of wars —including civil wars— and by climate change, which makes the places they were living uninhabitable. People try to escape political persecution by leaving their country of origin. Women may run from violence within the family or from forced marriages. Many of these flee as refugees, hoping for a place of safety in the country to which they run. Unfortunately the lot of the majority is to be treated as outcasts and scroungers.

Trafficking in women has also increased. The most publicised form has been trafficking for sexual exploitation of women, particularly from Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Asia to Western Europe, creating a huge network of forced sex workers. But there is also an increase in women being sold within their own countries as domestic slaves: recently, Peruvian feminists’ research showed that the largest number of women in their country subjected to trafficking were actually indigenous women kidnapped and sent to work as servants in other towns inside Peru. This is a sign of deepening inequality within countries.

Women who are refugees and/or subject to trafficking have even fewer rights than migrant women workers. The majority of refugees remain within other countries of the south. The conditions of refugees in the advanced capitalist countries has become worse over recent years with the “development” of more repressive measures in North America, Europe, and Australasia to keep out refugees as much as possible. This has taken a number of different forms, from making it harder for people to cross borders in the first place, imprisoning many of those —including pregnant women and children of all ages— who do so in barbaric conditions, and making access to what welfare provision still exists in the "host" countries more and more difficult.

Not only the far right, but increasingly mainstream politicians scapegoat refugees for the economic crisis. In Italy, the passage of an emergency law on rape in February 2009 was a cynical attempt by Berlusconi to scapegoat refugees, particularly Roma, for violence against women, while at the same time giving the state more power in general.

  • Against the informal economy. For the regularisation of migrant workers’ status
Ideology

The crisis of civilisation is also the motor for the growth of reactionary ideas. Berlusconi’s policy of blaming immigrants for all the effects of the crisis and using this as an excuse to introduce strong “security” —that is, anti-immigrant— laws is just an extreme example.

Religion has an increasing hold on greater sections of the population, and fundamentalism within all major religions continues to be a threat. Women’s bodies are seen as a key terrain of struggle for all fundamentalists.

A striking example is the way in which the reactionary elements of the Catholic Church in Ireland used the threat that the Lisbon Treaty of the European Union would force Ireland to legalise abortion to build support for their reactionary opposition to the Treaty, despite the fact that it contains no such provision. This forced the EU to give a formal guarantee that adoption of the treaty would not mandate Ireland to legalise abortion, as it had also been forced to do on the question of preserving Irish neutrality.

The collusion between right-wing governments and religious hierarchies continues from Italy to Iran, even if there has been a change in the US, where this is no longer the case. One important consequence of the latter is the overturning of the Bush government ban on funding for projects that gave even contraceptive advice —let alone abortion services— to women. This opening will potentially have a positive impact on women’s rights, especially in Africa. However, the murder of Dr. Tiller, one of the few physicians in the US openly prepared to perform late-term abortions, reminds us that fundamentalism is still alive and well in the US itself.

Further, the Bush regime’s fundamentalist doctrine had a profoundly negative impact on the fight against HIV/AIDs, especially in Africa, that has destroyed the lives of so many women. Sixty-one percent of those with the disease in sub-Saharan Africa are women. But in some countries there, infection rates among young women far surpass those of their male peers. For example, in Swaziland, four times as many females aged 15-24 are infected as males. Lack of access to accurate information about how the disease spreads, as well as pharmaceutical companies’ greed, which has severely limited the availability of anti-retrovirals in the communities that most need them, have been the most important causes of this devastation.

In Nicaragua, the Sandinistas ditched their political principles on the question of abortion in 2008, apparently in order to win the election, although there was no real indication that in fact this would increase their vote. But they not only abandoned their own position, they also decided to actively attack the women’s movement, bringing criminal charges against nine prominent feminists in the case of a therapeutic abortion given to a nine-year-old rape victim. It just so happened that most of these nine women had also been involved in supporting President Ortega’s step-daughter in her case against him for sexual abuse.

In Mexico we have seen collusion between the right wing PAN government and the PRI to introduce "right to life" legislation in 13 states - making the extension of the right to abortion up to 12 weeks which the PRD introduced in Mexico City more difficult. Such developments were possible because the gains in Mexico City, while positive, took place at the level of the superstructure and were not achieved through mass mobilisations, with the resulting change in mass consciousness that this would have involved.

In Brazil, the Lula government has continued to compromise with the Vatican to the point of considering the possibility of putting religious education on the school curriculum. At the end of 2008, Congress chairman MP Arlindo Chinaglia created a Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry into abortion with as a mandate for no less than the institutionalisation of criminalisation of women who defend legalisation of abortion and those who are obliged to carry it out. Moreover, the Judiciary of the State of Mato Grosso do Sul, in the town of Campo Grande, which cited more than 10,000 women for practising abortion, using as proof the medical records requisitioned in a clandestine clinic. Out of these women, some 1,200 are facing trial.

In Afghanistan, one of only three countries in the world where women die earlier than men, we have had the grotesque spectacle of the passage of a law legalising rape within marriage and debate of a clause that would allow a man to legally starve his wife if she refused to have sex with him. This is the country where those who have waged war against it since 9/11 have cynically claimed to do so in defence of women’s rights, but where the government they installed is just as reactionary and as in hock to Islamic fundamentalists as their predecessors (who, anyway, were a creation of US imperialism).

The new Afghan constitution allows a separate "family code" for the Shia population and it is under this provision that the current debates are taking place —in the run up to a general election. In this context, as in many others, women’s lives and bodies are instrumentalised. Afghan women have organised against this —with at least moral support from feminists elsewhere— however their protests have been viciously attacked by fundamentalists.

As feminists we also face an ideological attack from a different direction: post feminism and masculinist ideas. Starting from the idea that feminism has “gone too far,” these currents use differentialist theory to attack women’s individual rights to abortion, divorce and protection against violence.

  • For full separation of religion from state, an end to religious influence in the framing of laws and the operation of the legal, health or education services.
  • For the right to free abortion, contraception and sex education
Violence

The crisis of civilisation is marked by an increase in violence at all levels of society as alienation deepens.

Whether in the private or public spheres, women are victims of violence: in France one woman dies every three days from conjugal violence. At work masculine domination leads to widespread physical/psychological/sexual violence and the increasing tension in workplaces as the crisis deepens can only deepen this phenomenon.

War is of course the most obvious and brutal (and brutalising) example of violence. War in the late 20th and 21st century has become a phenomenon in which it is routine for massive casualties to take place amongst civilian populations, therefore affecting huge numbers of women and children.

From the time of the wars in the Balkans and then again in the wars in the Great Lakes in Africa, we have seen the increasing use of rape as a weapon of war.

Evidence of the extent of rape in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995 by Serb forces in particular forced the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to deal openly with these abuses, and in 1996, for the first time, rape was recognised as a war crime. According to the Women’s Group Tresnjevka, more than 35,000 women and children were held in Serb-run "rape camps" in which Muslim and Croatian women were held captive, raped and deliberately made pregnant. This occurred in the context of a patrilineal society, in which children inherit their father’s ethnicity, hence the "rape camps" aimed at the birth of a new generation of Serb children —and the continuation of ethnic cleansing by another means.

Similar horrors have also been experienced by women in the Great Lakes region of Africa. Their bodies have become battlegrounds because women are seen only as vehicles through which new generations are produced; and, in ethnic warfare, preventing the enemy from reproducing equates to the ultimate prize. Against this background, sexual violence has become a deliberate and effective war-time strategy in the region.

Violent sexual acts directed toward women to brutalise and instil fear in them and the general population do not discriminate by age, with girls as young as four months and women as old as 84 suffering the same fate. UN agencies working in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) estimate that approximately 50,000 women were raped in the region between 1996 and 2002, and close to 55% of women have experienced sexual violence during the conflict in South Kivu. An estimated 250,000 women were raped during the Rwandan genocide.

In Haiti, an Amnesty International report (November 2008) said a trend has emerged involving groups of armed men assaulting girls, the legacy of rape as a political weapon that emerged during the armed rebellion that ousted Aristide in 2004. Rape became a political weapon by armed insurgents to spread fear and to punish women believed to have supported the democratic government. "Rape has now become a common practice among criminal gangs," said the report. Of 105 rape cases reported by November 2008, 55 percent involved girls under age 18. In 2007, 238 rapes were recorded; 140 of these involved girls between 19 months and 18 years of age. All this is taking place despite the fact that UN troops have been in Haiti since 2004.

Women in Palestine and particularly in Gaza continue to suffer brutally as a result of the Israeli occupation. Pregnant women beginning labour or needing medical attention at earlier stages of their pregnancies are routinely refused passage through the check points into the Israeli state, at the same time that hospitals in Gaza are denied medical supplies, even when they are brought by aid convoys. Countless women have miscarried or died themselves as a result of this barbarity. 192 women died in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza at the beginning of 2009. And the siege of the area continues to impact extremely negatively on the whole society including on the physical and mental health of women and children.

In other places we have seen the impact of increasing militarisation of societies usually resulting in the criminalisation of civil society and violent repression by the state apparatus. Sexual violence including rape has been increasingly used as a tool. In Atenco, Mexico in 2006 the police launched a brutal attack on the social movements resulting in two dead and 26 women being sexually assaulted. The war on drugs, especially in Latin America, and the war on terror are two sides of the same coin here.

We have also seen the use of horrendous forms of sexual torture by US forces —including women—in Abu Graib and in Guantanamo. These abuses, used mainly against male detainees who are presumed to be religious, are clearly intended as much to humiliate the victims as to physically assault them.

We further see that prejudices —racism, anti-semitism, homophobia and sexism where these had been rolled back by the gains of the movement— are again on the increase, together with the spread of Islamaphobia. At the same time these prejudices are expressed more violently so we see a marked increased in murders as a result of these brutal beliefs.

In the case of women, we have the grotesque phenomena of feminicide, which first came to light around the case of Juárez City in the state of Chihuahua in Mexico from the early 1990s and continues to this day. What became clear as women organised and fought back around this issue however, is that the murder of hundreds of women just because they are women is not unique to this one Mexican city. Rather the phenomenon is pervasive throughout the national territory of Mexico and in other Latin American countries including Guatemala, Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina and also in Spain. Feminicide has to be understood as the (il)logical extension and normalization of other forms of violence against women, and like other such crimes is carried out by men in a number of different relationships to the women involved.

  • For full and free support systems for women victims or potential victims of violence, such as women´s centres, the independent right to benefits and housing, adequate training of social work, police and justice departments.

 

Submitted following the international women’s seminar.

Role and Tasks of the Fourth Interational

Fourth International 16th World Congress

Role and Tasks of the Fourth International
Draft Resolution from the International Committee
Fourth International

 

The preparation of the next World Congress is underway in a context marked by an unprecedented combination of a global economic crisis and a worldwide ecological crisis. This is a major turning point. This dual crisis shows the failure of the capitalist system and puts on the agenda the reorganisation and reconstruction of an anti-capitalist workers’ movement.

1. The social and economic attacks and neoliberal counter reforms against the popular classes are going to increase. There will be more wars and conflicts. Ecological catastrophes will hit millions of people. A new historical period is on the horizon. New relationships of forces between imperialist powers on world economy and politics are taking shape, with the emergence of new capitalist forces like China, Russia, India and Brazil. The combination of the weakening of US hegemony and the sharpening of inter-capitalist competition between Europe, Russia, Asia and the USA also has geo-strategic effects in new political and military configurations, with an increased role for Nato, and new international tensions. In recent years, American imperialism has compensated for its economic weakening by redeploying its military hegemony in the four corners of the world. The social and economic contradictions have led even in the USA to the discredit of the Republican team around G.W. Bush. The election of Obama is a response to this discrediting as an alternative solution for US imperialism, even if his election also responds to a desire for change on the part of a section of US society which will be disappointed but is real.

In conclusion, the crisis makes obvious the failure of neoliberal ideology, incapable of offering a solution. All the contradictions inherent to this social system are going to explode without social democracy and the centre left being able to offer an adequate response. Even neo-Keynesian measures, which have not been adopted anyway, would not be enough to resolve the crisis.

2. Social fightbacks are continuing to rise on a world scale but in a very unequal fashion and remain on the defensive. The global justice movement lost its dynamic that it had had up to 2004. The Belem WSF shows, nevertheless, the need and the possibility for international convergences, but in a framework where struggles are more fragmented and dispersed.

- In certain European countries – France, Greece, Germany, Poland, Italy –social struggles have a central impact on the political scene, but these struggles are not sufficient to block or turn around the underlying trends in the capitalist offensive and the effects of the crisis. They have not succeeded in overcoming the process of division and fragmentation of workers. These struggles remain defensive. They have not yet found an expression in terms of anti-capitalist consciousness. In this framework, in the absence of an anti-capitalist left reactionary, even xenophobic and racist alternatives and trends can get stronger.

- In the Middle East, peoples are continuing to resist Western and Israeli occupation and aggression, in Palestine, in Iraq and in Lebanon. The murderous aggression waged by the Zionist government in Gaza, two years after that in Lebanon, has not been able to defeat the resistance. Although Hamas and Hezbollah are now the main political references in this resistance, there are sectors situating their action in a context of social as well as national liberation.

- Latin America remains the continent with the most socially explosive situations, although these have been unequal and limited in countries such as Argentina and Brazil. This is where there have been experiences of partial breaking with imperialism, in particular in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador and Paraguay.

- In a series of emerging capitalist countries or those resulting from capitalist restoration, – China, India, Russia or the former eastern bloc – the whirlwind of globalisation is tending to proletarianise hundreds of millions of human beings. But this new social power, which can play a key role in the coming years, has not yet formed mass independent organizations – trade unions, associations, and political organisations capable of facing the challenge of this global reorganisation.

- The pillaging of resources in Africa to the benefit of big capitalist multinationals is increasing with the complicity of the existing governments. The continued growth of GDP in recent years in sub-Saharan Africa does not benefit the population, only social inequality in increasing. Faces with the deterioration in living conditions, there have been major struggles, such as the general strikes in Guinea, the demonstrations in Togo, the general strike in the public sector in South Africa. The food crisis at the end of 2008 sparked many demonstrations. However, the absence of a political alternative is a heavy obstacle to the success of these struggles, such as in Guinea or in the Cameroons. They are either diverted to wards bourgeois political formations as in Madagascar or they lose themselves in religious dead-ends as in Nigeria or Congo (DRC) or worse in etnic or racist ones like in Kenya or South Africa.

The building of democratic peoples’ and workers’ organisations’ remains an absolute necessity for the success of struggles.

- The combined long-term effects of the disintegration of the Soviet bloc and financial globalisations continue to be felt in Asia : centres of hot wars (Afghanistan, Sri Lank, Mindanao island in the Philippines), zones of international confrontation (Korea, Pakistan, India), challenge to previous geopolitical balance of forces (South East Asia, China, Japan), reduction of democratic spaces that had been previously won (Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia...).

These imbalances are today sharpened by the financial economic and food crisis, which pushes towards more and more regional coordination and a greater convergence of social fightback movements existing in different fields: anti-war and anti-nuclear, against the debt and for food sovereignty, i defence of social and ecological rghts...

3. The dynamic of capitalist globalisation and the current crisis have also changed the framework of evolution and development of the traditional left. Reformist bureaucracies have seen their leeway considerably reduced. From reformism without reforms to reformism with counter-reforms, social democracy and equivalent forces in a series of dominated or developing countries are experiencing an evolution towards social-liberalism; that is these forces are directly underwriting neo-liberal or neo-conservative policies. All the forces politically or institutionally linked to social-liberalism or to the centre left, to varying degrees, are being dragged into these qualitative changes in the workers’ movement and are incapable of formulating a plan for getting out of the crisis. What is more, we are seeing policies, such as that of the Lula government in Brazil, which are making the ecological crisis worse.

The traditional communist parties are continuing their long decline. They try to break this decline by grabbing onto the coat tails of the leading forces in the liberal left and the institutional apparatuses or falling back on their nostalgic and self-affirming positions. While there are sectors or currents who wish to build the social movements with anticapitalist forces, such as Synaspismos in Greece, they are doomed to have contradictions and divisions because of their reformist nature. The combination of social resistances and this evolution of the apparatuses of the traditional left open a new space for the radical left. This puts on the agenda the reorganisation and rebuilding of the workers’ movement on a new basis, that of anti-capitalism and eco-socialism.

4. We want to get involved in this reorganisation to create a new left that is capable of meeting the challenge of this century and rebuilding the workers’ movement, its structures, its class consciousness, its independence from the bourgeoisies at the political and cultural level.

• An anti-capitalist, internationalist, ecologist and feminist left;

• A left that is clearly alternative to social democracy and its governments

a left which fights for a socialist of the 21st century, self-managed and democratic and which has a coherent programme for getting there;

• a left that is conscious that for this goal it has to break with capitalism and its logic and thus that is cannot govern with what it wants to break from;

• a pluralistic left rooted in the social movements and the workplaces which integrates the combativity of the workers, the struggles for women’s and LGBT liberation and emancipation and ecologist struggles;

• a non-institutional left which bases its strategy on the self-organisation of the proletariat and the oppressed on the principle that emancipations of the workers is the task of the workers themselves;

• a left which integrates new social sectors, new themes such as those expressed by the World Social Forum in Belem, and above all the new generations because you cannot make new things with old material;

• an internationalist and anti-imperialist left which fights against domination and war and which lays out the framework for a mass democratic international;

• a left able to link the precious heritage of critical and revolutionary Marxism with developments of feminism, ecosocialism and the indigenous movements of Latin America.

• an independent and class-struggle left which fights for the broadest united action against the crisis and for the rights, the gains and the aspirations of the workers and all the oppressed.

5. This is the aspiration in which the problems of building the Fourth International and new anti-capitalist parties and new international currents are posed. We expressed it in our own way, from 1992 onwards, so in the last two world congresses, with the triptych “New period, new programme, new party”, developed in documents of the International. We confirm the essential of our choices at the last World Congress in 2003 concerning the building of broad anticapitalist parties. The Fourth International is confronted, in an overall way, with a new phase. Revolutionary Marxist militants, nuclei, currents and organizations must pose the problem of the construction of anti-capitalist, revolutionary political formations, with the perspective of establishing a new independent political representation of the working class. That is true on the level of each country scale and at an international level. On the basis of the experience of the class struggle, the development of the global justice movement, defensive struggles and anti-war mobilizations over the last ten years, and in particular the lessons drawn from the evolution of the Brazilian PT and of Communist Refoundation in Italy and from the debates of the French anti-liberal left, revolutionary Marxists have engaged in recent years in the building of the PSOL in Brazil, of Sinistra Critica in Italy, of the new anti-capitalist party in France, Respect in England. In this perspective we have continued to build the experiences of the Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal and the Red Green Alliance in Denmark. The common goal, via different paths, is that of broad anti-capitalist parties. It is not a question of taking up the old formulas of regroupment or revolutionary currents alone. The ambition is to bring together forces beyond simply revolutionary ones. These can be a support in the process of brining forces together as long as they are clearly for building anti-capitalist parties. Although there is no model, since each process of coming together takes account of national specificities and relationships of forces, our goal must thus be to seek to build broad anti-capitalist political forces, independent of social democracy and the centre left, formations which reject any policy of participation or support to class-collaborationist governments, today government with social-democracy and the centre left. It is on the basis of such a perspective that we must be oriented. What we know of the experiences of differentiation and reorganization in Africa and Asia point in the same direction. It is through this process that we can make new advances. It is this question which must form the framework of the next congress of the FI.

6. This is the framework in which we must approach the question of the relationship between the building of the Fourth International and a policy of anti-capitalist coming together at the national, continental and international levels. We must discuss how to strengthen and transform the Fourth International in order to make it an effective tool in the perspective of a new international grouping. We already have started, with limited results it has to be admitted, conferences of the anti-capitalist left and other international conferences. On the international level, we have initiated, on this political basis, many conferences and initiatives of international convergence and coming together: the constitution of the European Anti-capitalist Left (EACL), with the Portuguese Left Bloc, the Danish Red-Green Alliance and the Scottish Socialist Party. We worked with organizations like the English SWP. Other parties - even left reformists of who had at one time or another a political evolution “to the left”, like Communist Refoundation in Italy, tor Synaspismos, also took part in these conferences. We also held international conferences of revolutionary and anti-capitalist organizations, on the occasion of the World Social Forums at Mumbai in India and Porto Alegre in Brazil. On this level, we created bonds of solidarity with the Brazilian PSOL in its break with Lula’s PT. We have supported the efforts of our Italian comrades to build an anti-capitalist alternative to the policies of Communist Refoundation in Italy. These few elements show the type of orientation that we want to implement. The different conferences this year such as those in Paris or Belem show the necessity and the possibility of joint action and discussion by a large number of organizations and currents of the anti-capitalist left in Europe. It is now necessary to continue a policy of open meetings and conferences on topics of strategic and programmatic thinking and joint action through campaigns and initiatives of international mobilization.

7. The Fourth International and its sections have played and still play a vital road in defending, promoting and implementing a programme of demands that are both immediate and transitional towards socialism; a united-front policy that aims for mass mobilization of workers and their organizations; a policy of working-class unity and independence against any type of strategic alliance with the national bourgeoisie; opposition to any participation in governments in the advanced-capitalist countries that merely manage the State and the capitalist economy having abandoned all internationalism.

The Fourth International has played and still plays a functional role to keep alive the history of the revolutionary Marxist current, “to understand the world”, to confront the analyses and the experiences of revolutionary militants, currents and organizations and to bring together organizations, currents and militants who share the same strategic vision and the same choice of broad convergences on revolutionary bases. The existence of an international framework that makes it possible “to think about politics” is an indispensable asset for the intervention of revolutionaries. Consistent internationalism must pose the question of an international framework. But for historical reasons that it has itself analyzed, the Fourth International does not have the legitimacy to represent in and of itself the new mass International that we need. So when it is a question of taking a step forward in the bringing together of anti-capitalist forces, these new organizations, in particular in Europe and Latin America, cannot relate to and join this or that current identified with the Fourth International, and this is true whatever the reference point – the various Morenoites, the Lambertists, the SWP or other variants of Trotskyism. Let us note, nevertheless, a major difference between the FI and all these tendencies, over and above political positions, and which is the credit of the International is that it is based on a democratic coordination of sections and militants, whereas the other international tendencies are “international-factions” or coordinations based on “party-factions” which do not respect rules of democratic functioning, in particular the right of tendency. The historical limits of these international “Trotskyist” currents “, like other ex-Maoist or ex-Communist currents, prevent us today from advancing in the crystallization of new international convergences. As for the calls of Chavez or others for new Internationals, they are not situated on the same terrain. They obviously pose fundamental political problems, but also those of relations between states and organizations.

In the present relationship of forces, the policy for advancing towards a mass International must rather take the road of open and periodic conferences on central political questions – activity, specific themes or discussions - which make possible the convergence and the emergence of anti-capitalist and revolutionary poles. In the new anti-capitalist parties which may be formed in the years to come, and which express the current stage of combativeness, experience and consciousness of the sectors that are the most committed to the search for an anti-capitalist alternative, the question of a new International is and will be posed. We act and we will continue to act so that it is not posed in terms of ideological or historical choices, which are likely to lead to divisions and splits. It must be posed on a double level, on the one hand real political convergence on tasks of international intervention, on the other pluralism of the new formations, which must bring together currents of various origins: Trotskyists of different kinds, libertarians, revolutionary syndicalists, revolutionary nationalists, left reformists. So in general, when there have been concrete steps towards new parties, we have proposed that the new broad anti-capitalist party functions with the right of tendency or currents, and that the supporters of the Fourth International in these new parties organize themselves in ways to be decided, according to the specific situation of each party. Our Portuguese comrades in the Left Bloc, our Danish comrades in the Red-Green Alliance, our Brazilian comrades in the PSOL, are organized, in particular forms, as a Fourth International current or in class struggle currents with other political tendencies.

8. In this movement we are confronted with desynchronizations between the building of parties on a national level and the construction of new international groupings. There can be, in the present situation or in the next years, new anti-capitalist parties in a series of countries, but the emergence of a new international force, and all the more so, of a new International, is not, at this stage, foreseeable. A new International will only be the result of a prolonged period of joint action and common understanding of events and tasks for overthrowing capitalism. While we affirm a policy of international convergence, this confirms the particular responsibilities of the FI, and thus the need for its reinforcement. We can and we seek to represent an organizational framework that is attractive and, democratic, for revolutionary organizations which share the same political projects as ours. It is in this dynamic that the Filipino comrades are situated, the Pakistani comrades and the Russian comrades are situated, and that can be the case tomorrow of, for example, the Polish or Malian comrades.

9. We have, in fact, a particular role that is recognized by a series of political currents. We may be the only ones who can make political forces of various origins converge. This is for example, what in Latin America the Venezuelans comrades of left currents of the Bolivarian process say to us. It is also the case in Europe, in the framework of the relations of the EACL and of other currents. So, the next world congress must be an important step for the meeting of all these forces. This Congress will be a congress of the FI and there will be no organisational growing over at this stage. But we want the FI to play the role of a “facilitator” of convergences in the perspective of new international groupings.

10. As a result, in order to strengthen ourselves and play this role all the bodies of the IV must be reinforced: regular meetings, international committees, travel, exchanges between the sections. It is necessary to reinforce the activity that the International has deployed over the last few years: the regular functioning of the leading bodies of the FI – the Bureau, the meetings of the European BPs. The meetings of the International committee (IC), which have been held every year, representing about 30 organizations, must ensure the organizational continuity of our international current.

The Youth Camp, which has been held every year with around 500 comrades, must have a central place for the youth work of our European sections.

The educational institute has taken on a fresh impetus. We now have to ensure that the schools and seminars are held, and ensure the equilibrium of its management and its organization. The FI must also open up its meetings and its institute. The Institute occupies a central place, not only to educate the cadres of the sections, but also to contribute to the exchanges between currents and to various international experiences. The seminar on climate change open to a series of international experts is a good example. Like other meetings it indicates the necessity and the possibility that we are a crucible for programmatic elaboration on essential questions that antic-capitalist and revolutionary currents are tackling. The meetings of women, youth and trade-unionists must also be open to others, and transformed in this perspective. To sum up, in the coming period, and on an orientation aimed at building a new international force or a new International, the FI, as an international framework, represents an essential asset for revolutionary Marxists.

-The Fourth International - an international organisation struggling for the socialist revolution - is composed of sections, of militants who accept and apply its principles and programme. Organised in separate national sections, they are united in a single worldwide organisation acting together on the main political questions, and discussing freely while respecting the rules of democracy.

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