The world is in turmoil. If this sounds like a broken record, it cannot be helped. Protest is the order of the day in Iran, Haiti, France, and Russia. In Iran, the 40-plus-year rule of the reactionary clergy is being challenged by a relentless wave of demonstrations led by women and youths.
One activist in Tabriz declared, “The regime is facing a young and fearless generation, whose desire is very clear, and that is the overthrow of the Akhundi (Shia scholars) regime. But even if they succeed in suppressing us, the movement will turn into a fire under the ashes, which will soon burn the Islamic Republic.”
Over a month has passed since the detention of Mahsa Amini on September 13 for not following the strict dress code for women, and her death three days later. Uprisings have continued in several cities. More than 200 people have been killed so far, including some members of the security forces. Tens of thousands of Iranian ex-pats have rallied in Richmond Hill, just north of Toronto, in solidarity with the protests. As revolutionary socialists, we recognize that Iran is both a prison house of nations, a state dominated by a repressive capitalist regime, and at the same time, Iran is a country oppressed by western imperialism. The major powers covet Iran’s energy resources.
We fully support the uprising of women and youths. We hope for the formation of workers’ councils, to constitute a dual power situation. Revolutionary leadership, that could bring about fundamental change. Change in Iran is the task of women and the entire working class, not outside forces. Canada, the USA, and the EU have no role to play in this. No sanctions, no embargo, and no measures reminiscent of Stephen Harper’s decision to cut diplomatic relations with Iran in 2012. Imperialist Hands-Off Iran. Workers to power!
In Haiti, protests against fuel price hikes have shaken the non-elected government of Ariel Henry. Henry was appointed by the so-called Core Group consisting of Canada, Germany, Spain, the USA, and France. Ottawa just sent armored vehicles and weapons to support the Haitian National Police. Why not send food, medicine, water purification kits, agricultural implements, and housing construction equipment? Yes, police are battling armed gangs. It is a situation fostered by the overthrow of the last democratically elected leader of Haiti, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who was kidnapped and shipped to Africa by Canadian and US forces in 2004. Just recall that the United States occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934. It installed puppet governments; ran the economy, military, and police; terrorized citizens; and established economic control over Haiti that would continue after they withdrew in the 1940s. Now the imperialists, under the auspices of the United Nations, are planning to occupy Haiti again. We say “No to military intervention. Uphold Haiti’s right to self-determination. Canada Out of the Core Group. Imperialist Hands-off Haiti.”
In France, over 100,000 people took to the streets of Paris to demand a pay increase to cope with high inflation. They also insist on a bonus to transfer wealth from super-rich corporations that have pocketed billions during the pandemic.
In Russia, hundreds of thousands of young men have sought refuge abroad to avoid Putin’s military draft. Although provoked by NATO expansion and Kyiv’s eight-year bombardment of the Donbas, Russia’s faltering effort to seize most of Ukraine is proving disastrous for ordinary people on both sides. The war is toxic for the environment, it is a boon to Big Oil and Gas, and it risks the nuclear annihilation of humanity. Socialists support the anti-war movement on all sides. We echo Lenin and Trotsky who said over a century ago to turn the imperialist war into class war. We will be demonstrating on October 23 across the country to make this point and to demand Canada Out of NATO, Build the Anti-war Movement, and Hands Off Haiti.
At home, Canadian imperialism aims to increase its state’s repressive powers against Indigenous people and the entire working class. The federal inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act, newly invoked last February, is now underway. The ostensible target of the law, the so-called “Freedom Convoy,” had nothing to do with freedom; it was a reactionary anti-science, anti-vax, anti-mask, anti-immigrant, white supremacist extravaganza. Had it been a general strike or a mass protest action to advance a Workers’ Agenda, the RCMP, the OPP, and Ottawa police would have removed protesters and their vehicles on Day One. Why did the cops do nothing for weeks, while Ottawa residents suffered air and noise pollution, and plenty of verbal abuse? Because the police refused to act. Many of the Ottawa cops sympathized with the alt-right, racist occupiers. When this issue hit the floor of the Ontario NDP Convention in early February, socialist delegates spoke against the invocation of the Emergencies Act. They warned that the law would be used against labor and the left. We counter-posed union and community self-mobilization to block newly arriving Convoy supporters. And that’s what happened at Billings Bridge in Ottawa on February 16. We have no illusions in the capitalist, racist, homophobic state, but we note that police already had all the tools needed to remove the Convoy. Trudeau engaged in a power play against local and provincial authorities, and against the federal Conservative Party. He confronted contradictions within his own class. Trudeau invoked a repressive law to conduct a dress rehearsal against pipeline protesters and other dissidents. We denounce this sleazy political maneuver for what it is. We demand the Abolition of the Emergencies Act.
Racism, sexism, and sexual assault have a home, not only in the Canadian Forces but in Hockey Canada. The latter used its community fee-based reserve fund to buy the silence of assault victims. A week ago, the entire executive board of Hockey Canada finally resigned, opening the door to an image makeover in December. What’s needed, however, is a new organization, built from the bottom up. It should be based on democratic control by parents, volunteers, and players at all levels.
COP 27 is less than three weeks away. SA possesses a valuable resource that explains the multi-faceted global environmental crisis. It is a detailed study that spans 190 pages, including graphs and pictures, which we hope to edit, layout, and design for booklet production. If you’d like to help, please contact me.
In Montreal, on October 1, over 80 people gathered to celebrate the life of Robbie Mahood, our dear comrade and co-founder of SA/LAS. Robbie passed away on December 26, 2021. In the crowd were members of the talented and loving Mahood family, medical colleagues of Robbie, pro-choice, pro-ecology and pro-Palestinian activists, members of Quebec Solidaire, and of course, SA comrades from Toronto and Ottawa. Please see the videos and pictures of the event on the SA website. socialistaction.ca
by Barry Weisleder