Category Archives: International

No to Trump’s Trade War!

A joint statement by Socialist Action, Canada and Socialist Action, United States of America

The recent imposition of a 25% tariff on steel imports to the United States and a 10% tariff on aluminum from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union follow the earlier imposition of these tariffs on the rest of the world, and even earlier tariffs on solar panels and washing machines aimed at China and South Korea—all by the U.S. Donald Trump administration.

Trump has also threatened to place heavy tariffs on automobiles and parts imported from abroad, and on numerous industrial and technological products from China. He has also re-imposed economic sanctions on Iran and put new sanctions on Russia.

Understanding Trump’s intentions is no easy matter.  He seems motivated more by sheer bravado than rational thought. Trump’s rhetoric often appears to be aimed at playing to his base rather than reflecting any meaningful thoughts about the future. “Make America Great Again” and “America First” are the shibboleths that appeal to his populist supporters.

At the same time, these notions do speak to the interests of a section of the U.S. capitalist class that is falling behind in global capitalist competition. They are supported by a layer of trade-union leaders who hanker for a return of smokestack America with its millions of well-paid manufacturing jobs. These bureaucrats seek to tie the future of U.S. workers to the “success” of their “own” capitalist corporations and their twin parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, as opposed to furthering the independent organization of workers to challenge the root cause of the problem—the fundamental, for-profit-only operations of the capitalist system.

The United States no longer has the only powerful economy in the world. As global competition relentlessly heats up, and the rate of profit tends to fall, the methods of past times don’t work. For many years after World War II—years of American economic hegemony—free trade was the battering ram to force open foreign markets to cheaper U.S. goods. This was likewise the policy of the U.K. during the height of the British Empire, before World War I. In general, capitalist nations operating with the highest, or most advanced levels of technology tend to be “free-traders” while their weaker competitors are “protectionists.”

Trump’s repeated reference to “many jobs, good jobs” appears to mean the re-creation of jobs that have largely disappeared in the United States, such as coal mining, steel making, and auto manufacturing jobs. Most of these have been lost to automation in auto and steel plants. The U.S. makes about as much steel now as in 1960, but with 20% of the previous labor force. Car manufacturing automation is similar.

Underground coal mining is foul, lung-destroying work that hopefully will never return. But the jobs have disappeared only because they are less profitable in the U.S. and worldwide, and not out of any concern on the part of the coal magnates for the health of the miners. Unfortunately, the labor bureaucracy, tied to capitalism hand and foot, prefers to advocate for capitalism’s most polluting jobs rather than challenge the entire deadly energy system in a fight for a just transition that would guarantee all fossil-fuel workers new jobs at union wages in a 100 percent sustainable and nationalized energy system.

Working people have no interest in trade wars. We simply end up bearing the cost.

The United States produces just below 60% of the steel it uses, while importing the rest from 85 other countries. Canada provides 17% of the imports. Other sources of steel to the U.S. include Brazil 14%, South Korea 10%, Mexico 9%, Russia 8%, Germany 4%, and China 2%. If foreign steel and aluminum become much more expensive as a result of the tariffs, U.S. manufacturers who use such materials will no doubt respond in order to protect their profits. Their options include striving even harder to keep wages low, passing on the price rises to consumers, or even closing down U.S.-based manufacturing plants.

Of course, Canadian, Mexican, and European capitalists have all responded with tariffs on American goods. In this way, too, U.S. workers lose jobs. But workers in Canada, Mexico, and Europe will likely face similar problems—higher prices and the loss of more jobs than tariffs can possibly create.

Global capitalist competition is a completely unavoidable aspect of the system of private profit. As competition results in new innovation, and automation increases the rate of profit for the innovator temporarily, these gains are offset again by the rapid adoption of the new technology by competitors and the resulting fall of profit rates.

In their desperate struggle to fight the falling rate of profit, capitalists try to reduce costs by attacking trade unions and workers’ rights, by attacking pay and benefit levels, by attacking general social benefits such as education, medical, and pension benefits, by refusing to accept any responsibility for the massive environmental damage caused by cutthroat capitalist competition, and by transferring production to low-wage, unregulated areas both within and outside their own countries.

In decades past, the volatile world capitalist system sought to mitigate its inherent contradictions through organizations like the World Trade Organization (WTO). In this context, the leading representatives of the world’s most important corporations hammered out comprehensive agreements that sought to meet the needs of all the ever-competing capitalists. The stronger capitalists, like the ruling rich in the United States, always had the upper hand because the U.S. market was the largest in the world.

Nevertheless, each sector of capital understood that one or another competitor had an edge in specific commodities that were traded on the world market. Their objective was to balance their various needs with deals. A modicum of French wine was allowed into the United States, for example, while a certain amount of U.S. products was allowed into France under reciprocal conditions.

NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was in truth, despite its name, a mass of literally thousands of separate negotiated agreements between the ruling elite of Mexico, the U.S., and Canada. These include all kinds of protectionist measures for weaker U.S. corporations, and the same for those in Mexico and Canada.

In the face of intensified cutthroat competition between capitalist powers, the old rules of the game are incapable of resolving the growing contradictions of the system. Trump sounded the alarm for the wing of the U.S. capitalist class whose interests he thinks he represents. Ignoring the delicate or fragile balance that has been hitherto established by his predecessors, he proposes to upset the world capitalist system’s apple cart to advance the interests of his favored elites.

When Trump gifted $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the entire ruling class, there were no complaints. But when Trump departed from measures that benefit the broad sectors of the ruling rich, he faced serious opposition internally, not to mention from the potentially wounded lesser capitalist nations. Hence Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, as well as France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel, cried foul and collectively threatened to retaliate.

The world’s working people have no interest in this potential world conflagration. In the end, when capitalists win, workers lose—a fundamental law of the capitalist system that has been verified many times. The common interest of workers lies in defending working people everywhere against all the onslaughts of capital. This means international solidarity on every front, from united worldwide efforts to organize workers into powerful unions, to united opposition to capitalist wars and capitalist destruction of the environment.

There is no such thing as peaceful and/or regulated competition among capitalist nations. No self-respecting capitalist is in business to be the world’s “nice guy.” There are only winners and losers in this deadly game of production for private profit. Donald Trump simply tore the mask off the brute face of a predatory system in decline. Justin Trudeau plays the same game as Trump on the world scene and makes sure that everyone knows that Canadian capitalism can bare its own claws in the profit game.

Reliance on any of these representatives of the world’s elite to advance the interests of working people is sheer folly. Breaking with their corporate parties in the political arena is the beginning of a serious challenge to capitalist prerogatives. But only the abolition of the capitalist system itself by the direct action of the vast majority of working people can ensure a permanent end to capitalism’s endless trade wars and its actual military wars that plague humanity.

www.socialistaction.ca   647-986-1917

Public Forum: Eyewitness report—Election in Venezuela and its aftermath

Socialist Action presents a public forum

Eyewitness report: Election in Venezuela and its aftermath

Speaker: Nety Maroquin, Guatemalan socialist just returned from one month stay in Caracas.  Her presentation will be in Spanish, with translation into English, plus a screening of her short videos of every day life in the Bolivarian Republic.

Introduction by Maria Paez Victor, a founding member and spokesperson of the Louis Riel Bolivarian Circle, and the Chair of the Board of the Canadian, Latin American and Caribbean Policy Centre.

Wednesday, June 20

7 p.m.

at OISE U of Toronto, room 5-160

252 Bloor St. West,above the St. George Subway Station

Everyone is welcome.  Donation $4, or PWYC.

For more information, e-mail:  socialistactioncanada@gmail. com

Visit the SA web site at: www.socialistaction.ca

or call 647-986-1917  or  647-728-9143 .

Emergency Rally for Palestine

By Mitchell Shore

During the lunch hour on Friday, May 18th, Socialist Action members gathered with about 200 like-minded people at an emergency rally outside of the office of Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. We were there to urge the Canadian government to condemn Israel’s May 14th massacre of at least 60 people and the injury of 2,700 more, including the shooting of Palestinian-Canadian Dr. Tarek Loubani. The protests follow the decision by US President, Donald Trump, to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem. Trump’s move has been widely criticized by the international community.

After a few speeches, including the reading of a letter to Prime Minister Trudeau, the group then marched from Freeland’s office to the Israeli consulate, where it staged a “die in” in the middle of the road. Throughout it all, we loudly chanted slogans including: “Hey Hey Trudeau – Occupation Has Got to Go!”; “Free Free Palestine – Zionism is a Crime”; “From Palestine to Mexico: Border Walls Have Got to Go”.

The Gaza border protests are actually part of a larger struggle which began on March 30 when more than 30,000 people demanding their rights for justice and the right of refugees to return to their home land. At that time, 23 people were murdered by Israeli Defence Forces and more than 1400 people were wounded. In over six weeks of mass protests, at least 115 protesters were killed and more than 9000 were wounded.

Since its founding 70 years ago, Israel has maintained a regime of of settler colonialism, apartheid and occupation over the Palestinian people. It is a racist regime which privileges Jews over non-Jews. On a daily basis, millions of Palestinians face indignities and institutionalized discrimination, including the denial of the the right for refugees to return to their homes from which they were violently removed. Since 1967, Israel has maintained an illegal military occupation over the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

The situation in Gaza has been particularly brutal. Over the past decade, Israel has murdered and injured thousands of Palestinians. Palestinians are forced to live in the world’s largest open-air prison–something that in a sick sense of irony resembles the very concentration camps which many Jews and others were forced to live in as prisoners during World War 2. According to various reports from the United Nations, Gaza today has become unlivable. Residents of Gaza are without access to food, education, health care, electricity, and work. Ninety-seven percent of drinking water is unfit for human consumption. So much so that it is slowly poisoning millions of innocent people, mostly children. Electricity is only available for a few hours a day, and the unemployment rate is the highest in the world.

Socialist Action Canada demands the Canadian government condemn Israel’s violations of international law, including its illegal occupation, building of illegal settlements, and imposition of a siege on Gaza. We also demand that the Canadian government denounce the opening of any embassies in Jerusalem, as this act is illegal under international law. Socialist Action calls on Canada to impose sanctions against Israel, similar to the sanctions that were imposed against apartheid South Africa. And we call for an immediate embargo on the sale of weapons to Israel.

We say:

  • Stop the violence against Gaza and end the blockade!
  • Free all Palestinian prisoners, including the more than 400 children!
  • We demand the right of Palestinians refugees to return!
  • End all military and economic aid to Israel!
  • Support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaigns!

Protest in Toronto against the U.S. Attack on Syria

On what seemed like the first mild, sunny day in Toronto in months, about two hundred people gathered across the street from the U.S. Consulate on April 22 to protest the recent missile attack on Syria by the United States, Britain and France. The protesters, including over a hundred refugees waving Syrian flags and carrying placards with the slogan “Hands Off Syria”, disputed the claim by Washington, Ottawa and allied forces that the government in Damascus rained chemical weapons on its own people.  Speakers at the Toronto rally noted that the missile strike against Syria took place just hours before international inspectors were to enter Douma to investigate whether poison gas was employed, and if so, by whom.

Organizers of the rally, primarily the Communist Party of Canada, the Canadian Peace Congress and associated groups, limited speaking rights to their political friends.  Thus, Socialist Action, which days earlier endorsed the Sunday protest, and which anchored a similar rally at the U.S. Consulate eight days before, held an impromptu speak out at the conclusion of the CP-backed event.

Socialist Action speakers emphasized the criminal role of the Canadian state in imperialist military interventions in the Middle East, Afghanistan, and Libya. It condemned Justin Trudeau’s decision to maintain the stationing of Canadian troops to back the right wing regime in Ukraine and police to occupy Haiti, selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, and now sending war helicopters and soldiers to Mali.

Through the SA megaphone campaigners spoke for boycott of apartheid Israel, and for international human rights.  The crowd chanted at the finale “Canada Out of NATO, NATO out of the Middle East”, “Imperialist Hands Off Syria” and “Hey, hey. Ho, ho. Trudeau, Trump have got to go.”

The SA statement and leaflet for the event can be found here.

Rally: Free Mumia Abu-Jamal! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

When: Saturday, March 24 at 1 PM – 2 PM

Where: 360 University Ave, Toronto, ON M5G 1S4, Canada

  • Open the Prosecution Files – Release the Evidence!
  • Free Mumia! Abolish the Racist Death Penalty!

Mumia Abu-Jamal, who spent almost 30 years on death row as the victim of a racist frame-up, has an important court hearing in Philadelphia on March 27, 2018. The former Black Panther and radical journalist is demanding the release of all evidence pertaining to the role of Ronald Castille, then Assistant District Attorney, in his case. Castille was later elevated to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, where he turned down Mumia’s appeal. The U.S. Supreme Court, in the “Williams decision” (also involving Castille), ruled it is unconstitutional for a judge who had previously been involved in a prosecution to subsequently hear an appeal of the same case.

If Mumia succeeds in getting the evidence released, he can have his appeal rights restored. That would open a legal path to overturning his bogus conviction. The demonstration planned to take place in Toronto on March 24 is part of an international day of protest to support Mumia in this important initiative. Mass protests stayed the hand of the executioner decades ago. Mass action now can win his freedom once and for all!

Sponsors:

  • International Bolshevik Tendency
  • Socialist Action

Endorsers (See Facebook Event for the Updated List)

  • A Different Booklist
  • Black Students’ Association (UofT)
  • Brock Socialists Club (BSC)
  • Independent Jewish Voices (Toronto)
  • International Workers Committee against War and Exploitation
  • NDP Socialist Caucus
  • Norman ‘Otis’ Richmond (Diasporic Music)
  • Ontario Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP)
  • Parkdale Club (Communist Party of Canada)
  • Socialist Alternative
  • Solidarity Against Fascism Everywhere (SAFE)
  • Toronto IWW General Defence Committee (Local 28)