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The Caravan that Defies Borders

The Caravan that Defies Borders
by Elena Zeledon
San Jose, Costa Rica – The 8,000 poor people marching together through the states of Central America towards the United States, are another sign that the pillars of imperialist domination, already weakened by the blows of the global recession in 2008, are now shaken by the exploding social contradictions of this organic crisis.
The caravan participants, marching together as a precaution against attacks from both human traffickers (coyotes) and the drug gangs linked to the forces of state repression, are primarily from Honduras, the geographic keystone in the military and intelligence networks of US imperialism in Central America.
It was there that the mildly reformist liberal Mel Zelaya, the elected president, was expelled in a coup sponsored by the US intelligence community, and carried out by its surrogates in the Honduran military and Congress under the direction of Hillary Clinton. But it is not the first caravan from Central America which has fought its way northward.
In March of this year, a smaller caravan of 4,000 people from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala made its way to the US-Mexican border, despite threats from the racist and xenophobic regime of Donald Trump to send troops to the border to confront the refugees.
Why This Caravan, Why Now
It is hard to comprehend the hardships that these poor people are enduring in their flight to what they believe will be a better life. What drives them forward? The overarching reason is to try to escape a life of grinding poverty which afflicts the whole region, a condition of existence directly linked to the domination of the economic life of these countries by foreign, primarily US-based multi-national corporations (MNCs).
Those firms, working in conjunction with the ruling capitalist oligarchies and their repressive state apparatuses, act as a giant vacuum cleaner, sucking up massive amounts of surplus value created by the super-exploited working masses of the region. This leaves a portion for the oligarchs, who in general act as service and financial facilitators for this exploitation.  The sums are not insignificant, given the population of these semi-colonial countries which, if Mexico is included, exceeds that of France and Germany combined.
It has also resulted in a permanent fiscal crisis of the state, both because of outright looting of the treasuries (the wife of the former president of Honduras has been charged with stealing $40,000,000 USD from the social security fund, for example).  Indeed, the lack of a permanent tax regime upon which a robust social security program can be based, has worsened conditions over the past 10 years in the countries of the region.
Despite the states of Central America receiving above average rates of Foreign Direct Investment flows in the years immediately preceding the 2008 Great Recession, that rate was cut by 30 per cent after 2008. Now, with the US central bank raising interest rates, we witness direct capital outflows from the region (and likewise from many of the weaker developed capitalist economies, like Turkey and Argentina).
This has meant a rising unemployment and underemployment rate for the young people of Central America, and an attendant rise in the proliferation of gangs and illegal activities, especially working in the trans-national drug trade, where money is easy and life is short. These mass migration caravans are primarily made up of young people, many fleeing the threats of violence and death from gang members, and whose sole wish is to escape this poverty.
In addition, the increase in the present number of highly politicized migration incidents, despite a longer-term decrease in the trend of refugee applications, there is an increasingly tighter labour market in the United States itself. Tighter market conditions mean more jobs are available in the poorest paid sectors of the service industry, like migrant farm labour and household workers, not subject to minimum wage and working conditions laws. Undocumented immigrant workers make up almost 80% of these workers, a labour pool which is routinely doubly exploited.
Finally, in the specific instance of this caravan from Honduras, the increasing repression of the Honduran state against young people and a wide-open neo-liberal program of investments freed from any regulations and restraint, is a result of the December 2017 election.
The election, which even the normally docile lap dog of US imperialism, the Organization of American States (OAS) deemed to be fraudulent, was stolen by the oligarchy headed by Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) in broad daylight. The Popular Front candidate had a seemingly insurmountable lead when the Election Tribunal called a halt to the counting, claiming a computer glitch. When the counting resumed, the lead slowly disappeared and JOH was declared re-elected (itself a violation of the Honduran constitution).
The reaction of the Honduran working class was a massive show of force repudiating the election result. In many of the poorer barrios of the country, and especially in the north part of the country. The uprising took on a semi-insurrectional character. Barricades were erected and the National Police were chased from the neighborhoods. In several cases involving los Tigres, a special anti-insurrectional police unit formed for that specific purpose, it refused to repress the mass movement and publicly declared its neutrality, saying it was a political, not a police problem.
However, since the ebb of this wave of protest, largely due to the tail-ist position of much of the left to the electoralist orientation of the bourgeois leadership of the Popular Front known as LIBRE, the government has increased its repression, taking the form of assassination of social movement leaders, particularly indigenous and trade union activists, beatings, threats and jailing of suspected neighborhood militants, and the firing of those with steady employment. This government is being advised by Alvaro Uribe, the death squad former president of Colombia.
Trump and the Politics of Immigration 
As across Europe, immigration has become a rallying point for the right and the neo-Nazis in the United States. Trump, who now declares he is a nationalist, not unlike Victor Orban, Marie Le Pen, and Nigel Farage, and has been busy pumping his political base with a series of rallies prior to the mid-term US elections on November 6.
Trump’s political repertoire portrays immigrants with the most vile, racist and xenophobic images: Mexicans are rapists and criminals; Central Americans are all members of MS 13, the Mara Salvatruchas, heavily tattooed young gang members active in El Salvador and Honduras.  Ironically, the name derives from a Salvadoran general whose exploits in 1858, as part of the United Army of Central America, helped in the defeat of William Walker and the Filibusters, a US mercenary force that tried to conquer Central America.
According to Trump and the Republicans, members of the caravans are being funded by billionaire Democratic Party contributor George Soros and criminals, many from the Middle East.  For Trump and his ilk, no epithet is too demeaning or too filthy. Soros, of course, is the primary initiator behind the university in Hungary, which anti-Semite Viktor Orban is trying to close. This International of Scum knows no limits.
The Democrats, fearing anything which might upset their perceived best chances in the election, have remained mute in the face of this onslaught. They know that any highlighting the plight of these poor people from Honduras will immediately raise the question of their complicity in creating the conditions causing this movement.
The racist, imperialist social culture of the United States is being used as a hammer against the poor working classes of its own “back yard”. Faced with this situation, what should the left do?
The first response from the militant Left should be to raise the demand “Open the Borders”, and “No One is Illegal”. This slogan cuts across the entire ideological construct of “US exceptionalism” — a constant smokescreen for the activities of North American imperialism.
The second is to find ways of mobilizing the populations of the border states of California, Texas, and Arizona. This area of the United States is heavily Latino. In fact, the majority of working class Californians have Latino roots. (The GDP of California is the 6th largest in the world, which underlines its importance). Already efforts are being made to organize actions to raise the need for cross-border solidarity in places like Los Angeles.  How wonderful it would be if the North American Left united in common actions to help mobilize those with the power to open the borders to desperate Mexican and Central American workers.
AN INJURY TO ONE IS AN INJURY TO ALL!
OPEN THE BORDER! TEAR DOWN THE WALLS!

Open the Border for the Migrant Caravan
About 10,000 people are in transit from the south of Mexico. They are fleeing poverty and violence in their countries of origin to try to reach the United States. While President Trump continues to spout xenophobic threats we must reach out in solidarity to our migrant brothers and sisters.
October 26, 2018
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Trump plans to cut “aid” from United States to the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador. But the actual purpose of this “aid” is to fund the forces of repression, increase the fortunes of ruling politicians and businessmen and ensure “homeland security” in the United States.
It has been reported that 7,233 people registered for migrant services from the government of Mexico as of October 20. It has also been estimated that 2,000 to 3,000 people have crossed the Suchiate River at the Mexican-Guatemalan border.
This new wave of migration is made up of women, children, young people, adults and elderly people who are driven by despair. They can no longer live in their countries, without job opportunities and subject to the violence spread by organized crime and the forces of repression, which often work together. They have resisted the brutal repression by the Mexican federal police at the border and are continuing their march. Along the way, they have been supported by the solidarity of the Mexican people, who have given them words of encouragement and donated clothing, shoes and food.
We are witnessing a humanitarian crisis caused by the criminalization and repression of the migrants by the servile governments of Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico. They are doing the dirty work for Trump, a xenophobic racist who built his fortune on the backs of migrant workers in the construction and hotel industries in the United States.
The Trump administration continues a long history of imperialist aggression against the Central American region, to the point that for all intents and purposes Central America is viewed as “imperialism’s backyard.” As a result, the region suffers the worst ills of U.S. capitalism.
The economic crisis of 2008 had a profound impact on the region, resulting in unemployment, repressive governments, increased capitalist barbarity as well as migration. The government of Juan Orlando Hernández in Honduras is a good example of what happened to the region after the 2008 crisis. The main causes of this migration wave are, therefore, both U.S. imperialism under the Trump administration and the Mexican and Central American governments, who are servile and submissive to imperialism but brutally repressive against their respective working classes and poor.
The repression unleashed by Mexican authorities is raising awareness among a sector of the migrants that is denouncing Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto’s subordination to the imperialist Trump.
Mexico: One of the Most Dangerous Countries for Migrants
Year after year, migrants have embarked on one of the most dangerous journeys in the world to cross Mexico and reach U.S. soil with the hope of a better life. They take this risk to escape organized crime in their countries of origin, linked to parties representing corporate interests, and the extreme poverty in which these parties have submerged the countries of Central American.
On Mexican soil, the migrants are confronted with the brutality of immigration agents, the police, the army and navy, in addition to bad weather conditions. We will not forget cases such as the massacres of San Fernando, Tamaulipas, when the police handed over hundreds of migrants to the cartels, who executed them. Their hopes and dreams faded into the dismal mist of militarization and the spread of organized crime.
This caravan has brought together thousands who are trying to enter Mexico to cross the Rio Bravo, a perilous venture undertaken by thousands of Mexicans every day. They make this journey with no resources, with no money, with almost no luggage.
They are workers, poor peasants and their children, displaced by capitalist plunder, survivors of militarization. They are the brothers and sisters of the working class, communities, indigenous peoples, women and young people of Mexico, facing displacement in rural areas, drug trafficking and transnational projects for the extraction of natural resources. They also suffer extreme exploitation at the hands of multinationals operating in Mexico and have experienced firsthand the dire consequences of the “drug war” and militarization.
In 2017, other Central American migrants who were passing through stopped their march to support the rescue efforts after the earthquakes in September. The government and reactionary sectors of Mexico have forgotten this. We must fight against Peña Nieto’s wall and the xenophobia promoted by the government in mass media and social media.
Workers’ and People’s Solidarity With our Central American Brothers and Sisters
Today, they need the support of the workers and people of Mexico. We must take to the streets by the thousands to support full social and political rights for all migrants, for the free movement of people in the countries of the region. No human being is illegal!
We must spread effective solidarity with our migrant brothers. The trade unions and popular and left organizations must take the lead. We must collect food, clothing and first aid materials in every workplace, school and neighborhood. Proper accommodations must be provided in unions, schools and housing areas under the control of popular urban movement organizations. These places must offer migrants protection from deportation.
The working class is one and has no boundaries!
A national conference of solidarity with migrant caravan must be organized during its passage through Mexico City, to create a national network to organize the reception of the caravan in the different states.
We must confront the xenophobia spewed by Trump, who separated thousands of migrant children from their families and is keeping them incarcerated. We are have had enough of his insults and threats, his wall and his private prisons. We must take to the streets, chanting “Down with the wall and all of Trump’s anti-immigrant policies!”
Against the servile subordination of the Mexican government, operating as an agent of the anti-immigrant offensive launched by U.S. imperialism, against the Central American governments that also follow its orders, we must build a continental movement against imperialist interference in the region, for full social and political for all migrants’ rights and for their free transit through the countries of the region.

SA/LAS letter to the Trotskyist Faction-Fourth International

       In 2016 and 2017 Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste (Canadian state) contributed to the formation of a new revolutionary political current in the Fourth International.  It was based on a text which constituted a sound, principled and absolutely necessary challenge to the F.I. leadership’s abandonment of the historic programme of world Trotskyism.  Published in six languages, the document gained support by organizations and individuals around the world.  Unfortunately, the Platform for a Revolutionary International obtained few votes at the World Congress held in March 2018.
       At the SA/LAS convention in Toronto in May 2018 we pledged to continue our close collaboration with our American comrades in Socialist Action (USA), our very good relations with the Fourth International section in Greece, with the comrades of the Anticapitalist and Revolution (AetR) tendency of the New Anticapitalist Party (NPA) in France, with the Revolutionary Left Anti-capitalists (IZAR) in Spain, with Socialist Democracy in Ireland, with the LUS in Mexico, and with co-thinkers in Italy, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Hong Kong and other countries. Our efforts to participate in the FI as a sympathizing organization, or even to attain observer status, have seemingly reached a dead end. The decision of the 1995 World Congress to include SA/LAS in all F.I. gatherings has been systematically violated. Farcically, the dormant Gauche socialiste in Quebec, which claims to have ten members, remains the official F.I. section in Canada. 
       At the World Congress the policy of abandonment of revolutionary strategy, which has led to the liquidation of numerous national sections, was again affirmed.  As a result, it is clear that to build a revolutionary workers’ international, and to participate directly in that work, SA/LAS must turn its attention to significant Trotskyist parties operating elsewhere, especially in Latin America, and to seek direct political collaboration with them.
       One such body is the Trotskyist Faction-Fourth International, best known for its largest component, the Socialist Workers’ Party (PTS) in Argentina and the publication “Left Voice.”  Despite some political differences we have with it, the TF exhibits the continuity of the internationalism of Marx and Engels, Lenin and Trotsky, Rosa Luxemburg, James P. Cannon, Farrell Dobbs, Maurice Spector, Jack MacDonald, and of Latin American revolutionaries Jose Carlos Mariategui, Justo Fosso, Hugo Blanco and Nahuel Moreno. In essence, we want to link the strongest threads of revolutionary Marxism found in the Americas.
       Below, please see recent correspondence between SA/LAS and the TF.
       Revolutionary politics is immensely practical. We contend that there will be no solution to the organic crisis of capitalism and its steady, toxic decay within any national framework. Not anywhere in the world, but especially not here in the heart of the imperialist beast. There will be no solution to catastrophic climate change, growing inequality, racism, the subjugation of women and national minorities, and the deepening exploitation of workers on this continent and globally without a mass, co-ordinated struggle for the destruction of North American imperialism and its agents in the dominated countries of Central and South America. That means, as it has since the days of the Third International of Lenin and Trotsky, the development of a world party of socialist revolution, that is, an international organization of the vanguard of the continental and global working classes.
       If you agree with us that it is time to end this global system of domination and exploitation of the immense majority of humanity, which is designed to fill the coffers of the billionaires and their hangers-on; if you, like us, believe that the paid off politicians of the capitalist parties, and the privileged bureaucrats of the North American labour movement must be replaced by leaders with the courage, clarity and determination to mobilize the ranks to end that system, we say this to you:
       Join Us. Help build the indispensable tool which can free humanity from a cruel fate. Build the revolutionary party and the revolutionary workers’ international.
 
 
On Friday, July 27, 2018 at 12:06 a.m., the following message was sent to the Trotskyist Faction – Fourth International
 
Dear Juan Cruz and comrades of the Trotskyist Faction – Fourth International,
 
The statement below is the response of our leadership to your invitation to read and reflect on the basic analysis and positions of the TF-FI.  Let us know what you think of it, and how you see discussion and collaboration between our party and your international current proceeding.
comradely yours,
 
Barry Weisleder,
Federal Secretary, Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste in the Canadian state
_____________________________________________________________________
 
Political convergences and differences with the Trotskyist Faction
The Trotskyist Fraction (TF) has shown what can be done when a small group of revolutionary Marxists dedicate themselves to building a Leninist party rooted in the working class and how such a party can grow, establish an international on-line presence and form a front with other revolutionary organizations in Argentina that play a significant role in the class struggle.
We are in broad agreement with the analysis and strategic orientation of the comrades of the TF as outlined in their 2013 Manifesto and updated texts. The documents are in the best tradition of Revolutionary Marxism going back to the early Communist International. They present a coherent analysis in an accessible and pedagogic style.

Important areas of agreement
– We agree that refounding a revolutionary Fourth International is necessary. Also, that this will arise from a fusion of forces, propelled by a deepening of the crisis of global capitalism and an increase in the tempo of class struggle. As a first step, we concur with opening a discussion, under the auspices of a Movement for a Revolutionary Socialist International or some other framework.
– We share the analysis of the stagnation of global capitalism after 2008, the crisis of leadership in the workers’ movement and for the most part the view of the political conjuncture in Latin America, Europe, the United States and the Middle East.  One clear difference is over Cuba, less obviously over Syria (see below). The TF’s analysis is thinner in the case of the UK (Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn).
– We concur with your defense of the theory of permanent revolution and its contemporary application to Egypt and the ‘pink tide’ regimes in Latin America. Another valuable contribution in the Manifesto is to demonstrate how the demands of the ‘democratic revolution’ can only be realized in a transitional and ‘permanentist’ framework.
– Finally, we share the view that the construction of revolutionary parties is imperative and that the international conjuncture opens up new possibilities for achieving this.

Points of divergence: Social Democracy, Syria and Cuba
– In tracing the crisis of international social democracy, the comrades of the TF appear to neglect its uneven application. Each national context presents an original combination of the general features of the historical period.
The Jeremy Corbyn phenomenon in the UK, and on a lesser scale the rise of the DSA in the United States, testify to this uneven and contradictory character. Social democratic parties are generally undergoing a deepening crisis of delegitimation.   But this analysis should not be applied in a mechanical and linear fashion. The picture is uneven, depending on the history of the workers’ movement and the vicissitudes of the class struggle in different national settings.  Revolutionary Marxists need to be sensitive to these specific and contradictory dynamics, whatever tactics they adopt to relate to them.
Canada’s New Democratic Party (NDP) is a weak social democratic party, which is patterned after the British Labour Party.  It was launched in 1961 on the initiative of the Canadian Labour Congress and the CCF, a social democratic party founded in 1933.   The NDP is frequently elected to office at the provincial level but has never won a federal mandate.  Its leadership is pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist. Nevertheless, it is supported by class conscious workers who have broken with the parties of Canadian capital, the Liberals and Conservatives. There is no party to the left of the NDP outside of the tiny neo-Stalinist Communist Party and a few small groups of Trotskyist or Maoist persuasion.
 
Quebec Solidaire is a small mass party confined to Quebec that grew out of the crisis of the bourgeois nationalist Parti Quebecois.  It is a ‘left’ rather than a labour-based party that is not yet as bureaucratized as the NDP.  But power is increasingly in the hands of a party leadership whose vision is limited to getting elected on a program of mild reforms.
Socialist Action seeks to build a class struggle left wing in the mass organizations of the Canadian and Quebec working class. The bureaucratic misleaders of our class must be challenged outside of but also within those mass organizations. That is the basis for our fraction work in the unions and in the NDP.
Our work in relation to the NDP, like our activity in the labour unions, is fundamentally a function of our strategic orientation to the working class and its mass organizations. We have no ideological affinity to social democracy, let alone the anemic version of it embodied in the NDP.
The NDP cannot be transformed. It has all the fatal weaknesses of social democracy. We work there because it has been possible to advance a principled program of a transitional character and we are able meet and discuss with the working class base of the party. At the same time, the majority of our activity is focused outside the NDP.  
 – After Libya, does it really make sense to assimilate Syria to the ascendant phase of the Arab Spring rather than to imperialism’s counteroffensive? Revolutionaries cannot confuse their wishes for reality. US imperialism was caught off guard in Tunisia and Egypt. But the popular insurgency in Syria was rapidly militarized and hegemonized by reactionary Islamist forces. The Baathist regime retained its social base and its army remained intact despite heavy losses.  We are not partisans of Assad any more than we were of Gadhafi. But the demonization of Third World autocrats is an old imperialist ploy. In any case, it is the task of the Arab masses and no one else to settle accounts with their rulers.  
Imperialism’s violations of national sovereignty, in whatever guise, must be consistently opposed.   As the TF comrades acknowledge, victory for the US and its allies in Syria would strengthen imperialism’s grip in the region and globally while reinforcing militarism and reaction at home.
Summing up the war in Syria as “a reactionary civil war” and a confrontation between “global powers” stops short of what is required to understand this brutal conflict. In our view, this is fundamentally a proxy war sponsored by Washington and its allies (including Canada) aimed at regime change and failing that, weakening the Syrian state.  The call for the overthrow of Assad while rejecting any collaboration with imperialism is an abstraction. In the heartland of imperialism, it can only serve to disorient the anti-war movement. We hope for a US defeat in this war.  Revolutionary Marxists should defend Syria’s sovereignty including its right to call for assistance from its allies. This is a principled anti-imperialist stand not to be confused with the campism of the Stalinist and neo-Stalinist left, who offer a reflex political defense of any regime targeted by imperialism.
Likewise, we are not political apologists for Putin.  We recognize, however, the essentially defensive character of Russia’s intervention in Syria and Ukraine.  It cannot be equated to the aggressive policy of Washington and its NATO allies.
It is not clear if, like the IST, the TF regards Russia as a fully-fledged imperialist power and the war in Syria as in essence an inter-imperialist struggle.
– Defense of the Cuban Revolution including its leadership goes back a long way among Canadian Trotskyists. Comrades in a predecessor organization played an exemplary role in building solidarity with the nascent Cuban revolution in the early sixties. We have been influenced by Joe Hansen’s analysis of Cuba which we believe has stood the test of time. We are aware that Latin American and European Trotskyists have not viewed the Cuban leadership as favourably.
We acknowledge that Cuba lacks genuine institutions of workers’ democracy and revolutionary political pluralism.
But for us, Cuba is less bureaucratized than the former USSR, with a lesser degree of material privilege and repression while demonstrating a greater capacity for self-criticism and correction. After Che, who tried to light the torch of revolution internationally, the Cuban leadership relied in large measure on defensive diplomacy to resist the pressure of U.S. imperialism.  Dependent as it was on Soviet assistance, the regime adapted to Stalinism, more so at certain times than others. However, weighed against this must be Cuba’s exemplary internationalism quite unique for a ‘bureaucratized workers’ state’, examples of which include its medical missions, and its decisive military engagement in Africa in the 1980’s against the forces of the apartheid South African regime.
Trotsky only considered the political degeneration of the Third International to have crossed the point of no return after 1933 with the refusal of the German KPD to build a workers’ united front against fascism. We do not see an equivalent counter-revolutionary watermark in the case of the Cuban CP.
That is why we have not called for the formation of a revolutionary party to oppose the Cuban CP.  Even less do we support a political revolution to overthrow the Cuban bureaucracy.  Cuba’s international role has not been counterrevolutionary in our view.
The traditional policy of our political current is not to advocate the construction of a party in opposition to the Cuban Communist Party, but to support the establishment of a Trotskyist tendency within the CCP, alongside our efforts to advance socialist political pluralism and the defense and extension of the gains of the revolution.  
Growing inequality and weakened solidarity risk undermining the achievements of the revolution. It would be foolish to dismiss the possibility of a restoration of capitalism in Cuba and re-absorption by imperialism. But for the comrades of the TF, this appears to be a foregone conclusion while we believe this judgment is premature. We intend to follow political developments in Cuba on these important questions while continuing our line (shared by the Trotskyist Fraction) of unconditional defense of the Cuban revolution against imperialist aggression whether blockade, internal meddling or war.

            **********                      **********                    **********
There is much more we could add but we feel that is best left to the unfolding discussion between our tendencies which we very much hope will continue.

Comradely greetings,

Central Committee, Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’action socialiste in the Canadian state

Revolutionaries meet in Paris educational conference, June 24-25

by Barry Weisleder

Anti-capitaliste et Revolution is a tendency within the Nouveau Parti Anti-capitaliste (NPA) in France.  The NPA encompasses supporters of the Fourth International (FI) in that country.  The A&R tendency, which is the most active component of the NPA, stands for working class political independence and revolutionary party building.  Together with other tendencies in the NPA, the A&R won a majority last year in favour of running a candidate in the 2017 presidential election in France.  The A&R is now playing a leading role in opposition to the anti-labour and pro-austerity policies of the Emmanuel Macron government.
    On June 24-25 in Paris, A&R hosted an educational conference to which SA Canada was invited.  Elizabeth and I attended, along with Dan P. from SA-USA, members of IZAR from Spain, the PCL of Italy, and about 80 comrades of A&R from across France.  The OKDE, the FI section in Greece, with which we’ve been working closely, could not attend.
A&R has about 160 members.  Its central leader, Gael Quirante, expressed satisfaction with the conference in terms of political education and the integration of new members.
    The main topics of the conference were as follows:  1. After the victory of Macron, the role of the “Social Front”, or How to Organize the fight back.  2. What’s at stake at the next convention of the NPA – the role of the A&R.  3. Debates inside the Fourth International, and a discussion of the text “Seize the time, build an International for revolution and communism.”  4. Lessons of the Russian Revolution.  5. The Bolshevik Party, and what it teaches us about the construction of a revolutionary party today.
    The quality of the presentations that introduced each topic, and of the discussions involving rank and file members, was quite high.  That reflects the level of class struggle, and of militant engagement in France and Europe.
    Dissatisfaction with the traditional parties of the left, the Socialist Party and the Communist Party, and those of the right wing, notably the Republicans, is huge.  This contributed to the near collapse of those parties.  Macron, who posed as a youthful “outsider”, downplaying the backing by big business he enjoys, was best able to take advantage of the situation in the run-off against the racist Front Nationale of Marie Le Pen.  But there was a very high rate of abstention, up to 57% in the second round of the election held for the National Assembly.  Macron, whose instant party now has a big majority in the Assembly, says he will proceed with legislation to weaken unions and to tear holes in the minimum wage law.  Union federations, like the CGT, FO, CFDT and others promise to fight this offensive, but actually refrain from initiating mass action.  However, pressure is growing from below.  Just between June 2 and 7, there were 190 strikes.  Compared to a year earlier, there is a big increase in strike activity, although precise data is elusive because the Ministry of Labour no longer issues statistics on strikes.  It prefers to talk about instances of “social dialog.”  Macron says he will put an end to industrial conflict, step up austerity measures, and rule by decree.
    Enter a growing radical rank and file movement.  It was initiated by 15 prominent militants, including Gael Quirante, the A&R leader and embattled postal worker who faces firing and jail for his persistent, creative and effective activism.  In France, workers frequently occupy their job sites in protest.  They even lock the boss in his office for hours or days, which sometimes gives rise to charges of kidnapping.
    The Social Front, a mass, radical, grassroots movement, insisted during the presidential election that the struggle is in the streets, not just in the voting booth.  It organized a big demo in Paris before the vote, and it mobilized thousands across France to step up the fight against austerity, in opposition to the extension of the state of emergency law (which makes it illegal to demonstrate without a permit), and against the attack on unions.  The A&R comrades reckon that the Social Front addresses, through its publicity and actions, an audience of over 100,000 workers who are looking for an alternative to the left of the reformists, including the left social-democrat Jean-Luc Melenchon and the platform La France Insoumise (Unbowed France).
   I spoke three times at the conference.  I contributed to the discussion on issues inside the F.I., on Permanent Revolution, and on the class and national character of the Canadian state.  Elizabeth presented SA Canada greetings to the gathering.  Dan P. spoke too, as did comrades from Spain and Italy.  French comrades translated proceedings into our languages, and vice-versa.  The conference ended on a cheerful note.  A collective photo is posted with this report.
    Following adjournment, leaders of A&R, IZAR, SA Canada and SA-USA met to evaluate the gathering and to consider plans for the future.  Those include a November conference in Paris where our international tendency will be formally launched.  Under consideration is the possibility of an international campaign, to advance the interests of the working class, and to unite our different organizations in practice.  Ideas for global action include:  Defend Venezuela against right wing coup; Support the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails fighting for freedom; Stop anti-labour laws; and End police brutality and killings.
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A rousing cheer for the A&R and internationalism
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concluding session of the conference
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Dan from SA-USA addresses conf
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Barry Weisleder remarks in the discussion on party building and the International
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conference participants
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Elizabeth Byce presents SA/LAS greetings
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Where the May June 1968 student revolt started
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Xavier at AetR conf
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A&R conference in Paris, June 24-25


Trans Pacific Partnership – Charter of Rights for Big Business

by John Orrett

Alongside burgeoning global trade is the concentration of power in giant Trans National Corporations (TNCs) able to move production to places where labour costs are the lowest. En route, those firms bully, threaten and reduce the wages and benefits of their workers.

Continue reading Trans Pacific Partnership – Charter of Rights for Big Business

Twin Blasts Kill Activists in Turkey

On 10 October, 97 peace activists were killed and over 400 were wounded in twin explosions near the Ankara central train station as tens of thousands gathered for the “Labour, Peace and Democracy Rally”. Several labour unions and mass organizations convened the event to urge an end to the violence between the Turkish state and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Continue reading Twin Blasts Kill Activists in Turkey