All posts by YK

Socialist Action Marches in Solidarity Against Police Brutality

Mitchell Shore

On May 30, 2020 Socialist Action members marched in solidarity with thousands to protest the death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet. The demonstration, organized by Not Another Black Life, was held in response to the suspicious death of Regis, a 29-year-old Black woman who fell to her death from her 24th floor west-end Toronto apartment while several police were in her home on the evening of Wednesday, May 27.

Earlier that evening, family members called police for help, telling them that Regis was having a mental health crisis. When the police arrived at her home, the family met them in the hallway. Regis’ mother says she urged them to take her daughter to Toronto’s Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for support. 

While it is not entirely clear what happened next, soon after the police arrived, Regis asked to go to the washroom inside her apartment.  Evidently, several officers followed. Her family, however, was not allowed into the apartment. Soon after, her family heard Regis call out “mom help, mom help, mom help”. At some point later, an officer came out and and told the family that her daughter had fallen to the ground where she died. 

Continue reading Socialist Action Marches in Solidarity Against Police Brutality

Climate and Social Dem Celebrities Launch “Progressive International”

by Gary Porter

On May 10, climate activists, social democrats, anti-imperialists, left wing commentators and critics launched a new international project. In September, the sponsors will meet for the inaugural Summit of the Progressive International (PI) in Reykjavik, Iceland. It will be hosted by the Prime Minister of Iceland and the Left Green Movement. This new project occurs in the context of a raging viral pandemic, economic depression, an escalating nuclear arms race, and rapid global warming that puts humanity on the verge of catastrophe.

Billionaires force workers back to work, without protection from COVID-19, by cutting financial support. “Essential” workers who, it turns out, are often low-paid racialized workers, sicken and die, as unemployment skyrockets. Hospitals, stripped by 40 years of neo-liberal cuts, cannot handle the sick. Imperialist drones, bombs, brutal economic sanctions and assassinations by special forces never stop.

The contradictions and crises of capitalism multiply and magnify like gaping wounds, leaving open sores across the landscape. Witnessing all of this, billions of people are desperate to find a way out, including those who are forming the Progressive International.

But the list of 64 members of the PI Council posted on its website does not include radicalizing youth, the poor or very many workers. Most are intellectuals and professional politicians. The rise of authoritarian governments, violence, anti intellectualism, hostility to science and experts, and the decline of civilized discourse, strand these intellectuals and parliamentary figures in darkness and fear. None of them look to the power of mobilized workers and farmers, or even consider that a serious possibility. PI appears as an effort to bolster resistance to the tide of crude ignorance, chaos and destruction represented by Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, Erdogan, Duterte, et al.

Who are these people? From Canada, there is author Naomi Klein of The Leap Manifesto and Green New Deal fame, together with her media-savvy partner Avi Lewis. While supporting the BDS movement against apartheid Israel and for a green transformation of society, including the elimination of inequality and the creation of ‘more democratic’ state institutions, Klein and Lewis offer no clear analysis of class society. They stipulate no clear commitment to fighting for workers’ power, to replace the capitalist state, and to institute workers’ control of the means of production in order to meet human needs, rather than deliver profits to billionaires. NDP MP Niki Ashton, another council member from Canada, holds similar views, though she is somewhat clearer on the importance and potential power of the unions.

The biggest names from United States are Bernie Sanders from the capitalist Democratic Party, now a Joe Biden campaigner, and Noam Chomsky, a long-time critic of the imperialist role of America in the world, who now happens also to be a Democratic Party-Joe Biden supporter.

Yannis Varoufakis, a former Finance Minister for the Greek social democratic SYRIZA government, is a member of the Council. To this add a long list of ministers and legislators from across Latin America, Europe and Africa. They profess to be on the side of workers and oppressed peoples, but their record is one of neo-liberalism and support for global corporations and capitalist state institutions. Liberal and social democratic journalists and cultural figures round out the 64-member council.

The PI has no program at this stage. Presumably, that will be considered at the conference in Iceland.

Where will they stand on the rule of profit over human need? Where will they stand on imperialist economic and military domination of the third world and indigenous peoples around the world for the purpose of super exploitation and robbing them of their resources? Where will they stand on the need to establish workers’ power and build a new workers’ state based on the complete destruction of the legislative, legal, bureaucratic and repressive apparatus of the capitalist state.

Are they reformers of capitalism, albeit perhaps radical reformers, or supporters of the end of exploitation by a worker-led revolutionary overthrow of capitalism and the struggle for socialism? In the end, do they support capitalism or workers’ power? The record of the individuals involved is not encouraging.

The idea of PI was born in December 2018, when the Democracy in Europe Movement and the Sanders Institute in the US issued a call proclaiming “it is time for progressives of the world to unite.”

On the launch of the group Monday, May 10, Chomsky in an interview with the Guardian said that the urgency created by the COVID-19 crisis has caused a deepening of economic inequalities and the rise of the far-right.

So, as autocratic neo-liberalism represents one way, “the other way is to try to dismantle the structures, the institutional structures that have been created; that have led to very ugly consequences for much of the population of much of the world, [and] are the source of this pandemic.”

The activities of the PI initiative are erected on three pillars: the movement aimed to forge a global network; the Blueprint to develop a policy for a progressive international order; and the Wire which offers a communication service to the world’s progressive forces.

Its stated objectives are “to promote the union, coordination and mobilization of activists, associations, unions, and social movements in the face of the advance of authoritarianism.” They say they aspire to a “democratic, decolonized, egalitarian, liberated, united, sustainable, ecological, peaceful, post-capitalist, prosperous and plural” world. This compendium of liberal and social democratic values serves as its programmatic foundation.

What do we know about these people?

Fernando Haddad, the Brazilian PT´s presidential candidate, former Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa and former Bolivian vice president Álvaro García Linera, were all part of “progressive governments.” None of them produced fundamental change in their countries´ economic and social structures, which continued to be capitalist and dependent, with extremely high rates of poverty, a growing deterioration of everything public and a retreat concerning workers´ fundamental rights. This led to their demise, and opened the door for right-wingers like Jair Bolsonaro, Lenin Moreno and Jeanine Áñez to come to power in their countries. Some of them declare themselves defenders of the welfare state and claim to defend public health, but when they governed, they weakened public health care to pay external debt to the imperialists. Rather than defend ecology, they maintained extractive and polluting models of production to guarantee extraordinary profits to corporations.

Alicia Castro, union leader of the bureaucratic Argentine CGT and ex-Congresswoman of the Alianza, brought de la Rúa to power. That government killed dozens of grassroots activists during its downfall.

The same can be said of Bernie Sanders, who generated great expectations by speaking of socialism in the heart of the empire and raising popular proposals, like universal health insurance in a country where you can die without medical attention if you don´t have money. His recent support for Joe Biden, a candidate for the US economic establishment, a racist and misogynist leader of the imperialist Democratic Party, completes his record, for the second time as a Judas goat who leads his young followers to the camp of blood-drenched capitalist politicians.

So, what are the odds that Progressive International will advocate an end to usurious debts to foreign capital, the nationalization of banks and resources, and to put foreign trade under social control, to reverse privatizations, carry out significant agrarian reforms, or impose permanent progressive taxes on the wealthy? Isn’t that what an international party on the side of the working class ought to do? But the record of most of these people shows that they are defenders of the private property of businesses and banks, that their model of liberty is the farce of bourgeois democracy, which they propose to broaden just a bit, at most. They want to put a human face on the capitalist system, which it is impossible to humanize, and which is becoming ever more brutal.

Perhaps the rapidly deepening multiple crises of capitalism will push some of these leaders to the left, toward understanding that the problem is capitalism, and that workers’ power is the first step to a solution. That would be a welcome and very positive development.

But this group is not composed of young militants. As a group they are mature, entrenched, established figures with developed views and many years of experience. That experience, for the most part, is professing policies to reform the most exploitative, oppressive and brutal aspects of capitalism. When in government, they accepted the burdens of indebtedness, the primacy of profit over human needs, and the duty of exacting neoliberal cutbacks.

Revolutionary socialists already know the source of all our existential crises is the capitalist system, and that the only force on earth capable of overthrowing capitalism is the organized, class conscious working class. Only an educated and experienced revolutionary party, with deep roots in the workers’ movement, will be capable of focussing the uprising of the workers, when it comes, against the instruments of state power. We also know that the struggle is international in scope – it is a war against imperialism on a global scale.

The Progressive International is not the distillation of these vital lessons. It is born from the failed and utterly diversionary effort to reform capitalism, to salvage it from its death agony. The PI may foster some interesting debates, but its basic mission is dead on arrival.

Speech to the rally convened by the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, October 13

[Metnin Türkçe çevirisi aşağıdadır.]

Demonstrations took place around the world on Saturday, October 12, and in Toronto on October 13, to protest the invasion of northern Syria by Turkey, its bombing and its brutal ground assault on the Kurdish people.

Speech to the rally convened by the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, October 13, across from the U.S. Consulate on University Avenue in Toronto

Sisters and brothers, comrades and friends, Biji Rojava! Biji Rojava! (Long live Rojava!)

My name is Barry Weisleder, federal secretary of Socialist Action. Thank you for the opportunity to join you in demanding: Turkey Out of Syria! Hands Off Rojava! Self-Determination for the Kurdish People!

When Donald Trump gave Recep Erdogan the green light to bomb and invade Rojava it was another in a long series of betrayals of the Kurdish people by imperialism. The super-rich Masters of the Universe believe that they have the right to manipulate, even to destroy anyone who stands in their path to profit from the plunder of the world’s resources.

To this, workers around the world say NO! No to ethnic cleansing. No to demographic engineering. No to murder and mayhem in norther Syria, where close to one million Kurds live.

Continue reading Speech to the rally convened by the Greater Toronto Kurdish House, October 13

Another great Rebel Film night in Toronto on October 11

Attached are some photos taken at the well-attended Rebel Film night, October 11 at OISE U of Toronto.

The outstanding film “Nae Passaran” showed the power of international working class solidarity. Forty years on, Scottish factory workers discover the impact of their refusal to work on Chilean jet engines at the Rolls-Royce factory, in the wake of the ruthless, U.S.-backed military coup in Chile in 1973. The workers kept the labour boycott going for four years. Anna Ainsworth, Executive Board member of the Ontario Public Service Employees’ Union, and one of the leaders of the community college teachers’ strike in 2017, opened a lively and highly participatory discussion. Enclosed pix show Anna, meeting chair Elizabeth Byce, and part of the crowd. Folks bought books and buttons, and snapped up copies of the new Socialist Action Federal Election Manifesto 2019. To see the Manifesto text, along with news about future films, our Election Watch party at the Imperial Pub in Toronto on October 21, and the SA Education for Activists Conference, November 15-16, please visit: Socialist Action – Canada

SA/LAS in Dialog with the Trotskyist Fraction – F.I.

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.

Continue reading SA/LAS in Dialog with the Trotskyist Fraction – F.I.