Category Archives: Statements

On the 107th Anniversary of IWD For Feminism and Socialism!

A women’s conference of the Socialist International in Copenhagen in 1910 launched International Women’s Day globally in 1911.  Trotskyist parties, including the predecessor organization of Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste in the Canadian state, re-launched the modern IWD in Canada forty years ago, in 1978.

We did this for good reason.  Women’s oppression is rooted in the capitalist system.  As with heterosexism, racism, environmental destruction and war, capitalism profits from discrimination, dispossession and wasteful plunder of natural resources.

We march for bread… and for roses too!  We do so in the face of escalating attacks on basic human needs – a vicious austerity drive linked to an unstable, unequal and unsustainable economy.

Establishment claims that women have ‘achieved equality’ are nothing but a sick joke.

• On average, women are paid 18 per cent less than men – $8000/year less than males.

• 27 per cent of employed women work fewer than 30 hours per week, more than double the 12 per cent of men who work part-time.  7 out of 10 part-time workers are female.

• Low paid women increasingly hold more than one job to survive.  56 per cent of multiple job holders are women.

• Aboriginal women and girls suffer shameful economic and social conditions.  They are systemic victims of racism, inequality, physical assault, disappearance and murder.

• Most women still bear the double burden of doing most of the domestic labour, in addition to work outside the home.

While trillions of dollars are wasted globally on corporate bail-outs and militarism, women and girls are denied adequate education, economic opportunities, clean water, health care, reproductive choice and personal security.  From Palestine to Haiti, from Libya and Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan to Colombia, women and children are disproportionately the casualties of wars and military occupation in which Ottawa is directly involved or complicit.  Millions of women and men have demonstrated against the Trump agenda which threatens to increase sexism, racism, homophobia and exploitation on all levels.

The #MeToo and It’s Time! movements have shaken the world.

To transform society our demands must be clear:

• No money for war.  Imperialist hands off Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela.

• End all subsidies to Capital.  Tax big business and the rich. Fund health care, education and social services. Provide universal, free, quality child care.

• Enforce equal pay and equal access to good jobs. No two-tier wages/benefits.

• Restore funding to women’s social justice organizations, emergency shelters and legal aid.

• Build quality social housing.

• Raise E.I. rates and ensure real access for part-time workers.

• Legislate an $18/hour minimum wage.  End precarious employment.

• Phase out the Alberta Tar Sands development.  No new pipelines.

• Conscript corporate profits to fund the conversion of industry, business, homes and schools to green energy power.

• For public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy under workers’ and community control.

• For a Workers’ Government.  Fight for working class political independence and for socialist policies in labour unions and the NDP.

• Women’s Liberation through Socialist Revolution.  No socialism without Women’s Liberation.

If you agree, join Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste today.

Pour le féminisme et le socialisme!

À l’occasion du 107e  anniversaire de la Journée internationale des Femmes

Pour le féminisme et le socialisme!

Une conférence des femmes de l’Internationale Socialiste à Copenhague de 1910 lança la Journée Internationale des Femmes à travers le monde en 1911.En 1978, il y a de cela quarante ans, les partis trotskystes, dont l’organisation qui a précédé la Ligue pour l’action socialiste/Socialist action dans l’État canadien, relancèrent au Canada  la JIF qu’on connait aujourd’hui.

Nous l’avons fait pour de bonnes raisons. L’oppression des femmes est enracinée dans le système capitaliste. Comme il le fait avec l’hétérosexisme, le racisme, la destruction de l’environnement et la guerre, le capitalisme tire profit de la discrimination, de la dépossession et du gaspillage des ressources naturelles.

Nous manifestons pour du pain… Mais aussi pour des roses! Nous le faisons face à l’escalade des attaques contre les besoins humains fondamentaux – une tendance vicieuse à l’austérité liée à une économie instable, inégale et insoutenable.

Les affirmations du pouvoir en place qui prétendent que les femmes ont atteint l’égalité ne sont qu’une plaisanterie de très mauvais goût.

  • En moyenne, les femmes touchent 18% de moins que les hommes, soit 8 000 $ de moins.
  • 27% des femmes employées travaillent moins de 30 heures par semaine, soit plus du double des 12% d’hommes qui travaillent à temps partiel. 7 emplois à temps partiel sur 10 sont occupés par des femmes.
  • De plus en plus de femmes à faible revenu multiplient les emplois pour survivre. 56 % des détenteurs d’emplois multiples sont des femmes.
  • Les femmes et les jeunes filles autochtones souffrent de conditions économiques et sociales honteuses. Elles sont les victimes systémiques du racisme, de l’inégalité, de l’agression physique, de la disparition et du meurtre.
  • La plupart des femmes portent encore le double fardeau du travail domestique et du travail à l’extérieur de la maison.

Alors que des milliards de dollars sont gaspillés à l’échelle mondiale pour le renflouement des coffres des entreprises et les dépenses militaires, les femmes et les jeunes filles se voient refuser l’accès à  l’éducation, aux opportunités économiques, à l’eau potable, aux soins de santé, le choix en matière de reproduction et la sécurité personnelle. De la Palestine à Haïti, de la Libye ,l’Irak, la Syrie et l’Afghanistan à la Colombie, un nombre disproportionné de femmes et d’ enfants est victime de guerres et d’occupation militaire dans lesquelles Ottawa est directement impliqué ou en est complice. Des millions de femmes et d’hommes ont manifesté contre le programme de Trump qui menace d’accroître le sexisme, le racisme, l’homophobie et l’exploitation à tous les niveaux.

Les mouvements #MeToo et It’s time! ont ébranlé le monde.

Pour transformer la société, nos revendications doivent être claires: pas d’argent pour la guerre. Impérialisme hors d’Ukraine et de Syrie. Fin de toute subvention au capital. Taxer les grandes entreprises et les riches. Financer les soins de santé, l’éducation et les services sociaux. Offrir un service de garde d’enfants universel, gratuit et de qualité. Faire respecter l’égalité des salaires et l’égalité d’accès à de bons emplois. Pas de salaires / avantages deux poids deux mesures. Rétablir le financement des organisations de justice sociale pour les femmes, des refuges d’urgence et de l’aide juridique. Construire des logements sociaux de qualité. Augmenter l’assurance emploi et en garantir l’accès réel aux travailleurs à temps partiel. Légiférer un salaire minimum de 18 $ / heure. En finir avec la précarité d’emploi.

Élimination progressive des sables bitumineux de l’Alberta. Saisir les profits des entreprises pour financer la conversion de l’industrie, des affaires, des maisons et des écoles à énergie verte.

Pour la propriété publique des hautes sphères de l’économie sous le contrôle des travailleurs et de la communauté. Pour un gouvernement des travailleurs. Lutter pour l’indépendance politique de la classe ouvrière et pour des politiques socialistes dans les syndicats et le NPD.

La libération des femmes à travers la révolution socialiste. Pas de socialisme sans libération des femmes.

Si vous êtes d’accord, rejoignez la Ligue pour l’action socialiste /Socialist Action aujourd’hui. http://www.socialistaction.ca .

Appelez le: 514 737-7645.

Courriel : socialistactioncanada@gmail.com ou rmahoo3@gmail.com

Solidarity with Kurdish Workers’ uprising

Socialist Action stands firmly in solidarity with Kurdistan workers who are demonstrating en masse for payment of long-delayed wages, for freedom of political prisoners, for an end to vicious repression, and for dissolution of the corrupt Kurdistan Regional Government.

In recent days, tens of thousands of people in Sulaimaniyah and Halabja provinces of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq filled the streets to demand the dissolution of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) due to 26 years reckless, corrupt, and authoritarian practices. KRG security forces responded to the protests by arresting demonstrators and journalists, seizing TV stations, including the independently-owned NRT, and firing into the crowds of unarmed protestors with heavy weapons supplied to KRG forces by the Global Coalition Against Daesh.  The Canadian state is a participant in the GCAD.  The number of reported deaths has reached 20, and injuries at least 70.  Those numbers will rise as the massacre of demonstrators continues. The use of violence against innocent civilians is a grave violation of human rights.  It is incumbent on Ottawa and its Coalition partners in Iraq to take immediate action to prevent additional injuries and deaths. The dominant parties in the KRG, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), have ruled the Kurdistan Region as a private fiefdom for 26 years. Since 2003, the United States has supplied the militias commanded by these two parties with weapons, training, and financial support. The Canadian Ministry of Defense and the Liberal government looked the other way as partisan militias shuttered the Region’s democratic institutions and party elites enriched themselves — while failing to provide citizens with basic services like water and electricity. The KDP and the PUK squandered the Region’s budget through their corruption and mismanagement, and failed to pay the salaries of 1.4 million public service workers and retirees –over 75% of the KRG’s population– causing deep and widespread poverty. Journalists and activists who expressed dissatisfaction with the reckless abuses of power, were harassed, kidnapped, tortured, and killed. The ruling parties relied on external support to sustain their “legitimacy”.

As a result, Canada is directly responsible for the corruption, the private accumulation of power, wealth, and weapons which they now use against their own people.

We call on the Government of Canada to demand that the KDP and PUK:

  1. Immediately cease attacks on civilians;
  2. End military operations in the cities of the Kurdistan Region;
  3. Release political prisoners and detainees;
  4. Re-open the NRT TV station in Sulaimaniyah.

We urge the organizations of the working class across the Canadian state to demonstrate solidarity with the mass protests and just demands of our sisters and brothers in Kurdistan.

Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste

Photo Credits: Reuters/Stringer

¡Heather Heyer, presente!

On Sunday August 13, Socialist Action members gathered in solemn solidarity with about 200 like-minded people outside of the United States Consulate to participate in a "Vigil for Charlottesville Anti-Fascists". The event was hosted by the Toronto International Workers of the World General Defence Committee. The group listened to a few short speeches and sang "The Red Flag" and "Solidarity Forever" before marching off to City Hall while angrily chanting "Whose Streets – Our Streets", "Refugees In, Fascist Out", and "Nazi Scum Off Our Streets".

The event was a memorial for Heather Heyer, the young woman who was murdered by an ultra-right terrorist, who drove his car into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters during an August 12 counter-demonstration against the “Unite the Right” rally. In addition to Heather being fatally run-down, more than 30 anti-racist protesters also sustained serious injuries during the course of the day. This attack was preceded by an August 11 torchlight march on the campus of the University of Virginia. The white supremacists and fascists chanted: “White Lives Matter,” “You Will Not Replace Us,” “Jews Will Not Replace Us,” and “Blood and Soil.” The fascists also attacked a smaller group of counter-protesters,using the torches, sticks, pipes, and brass knuckles, while police stood by and just watched.

This terrorist violence and murder is the latest in a series of violent acts from the far-right. In cities across North America, Nazis, white supremacists, and fascists have been going on a violent offensive to attack Muslims, Jews, African-Americans, queer and trans people, as well as left-wing militants. These attacks have been emboldened by the hateful rhetoric spewed by President Donald Trump. All the while our own Prime Minister Trudeau just watches quietly on the sidelines. Enough is enough!

We say:

  • Fascism is not to be debated – it is to be smashed!
  • Build a United Front to stop and defeat the fascists!
  • Solidarity with the brave fighters in Charlottesville and all the victims of fascism!
  • An injury to one is an injury to all.

Heather Hayer, rest in power!

Supplementary items:

Reading recommendation: Socialist Action USA article by Steve Xavier.


On August 14, Socialist Action members attended an anti-fascist rally of about 60 people on University Avenue, across from the U.S. Consulate in Toronto. Many carried signs or wore T-shirts with slogans; and they chanted:

  • Hey, hey, ho, ho, Donald Trump has got to go.
  • Nazi scum off our streets.
  • Smash racism.
  • No Platform for Fascists.

 

Socialist Action Policy on Basic Income

We are seeing a revival of the concept of basic guaranteed income (BI or GAI), both in Canada and internationally. The Ontario Liberal government is about to launch a pilot project. Prince Edward Island will do likewise, while other provincial administrations have expressed interest. Finland initiated a basic income experiment in 2016, and The Netherlands is soon to follow.

Basic income has its supporters and detractors on both left and right. Free-market and libertarian ideologues like Milton Friedman and Charles Murray see the possibility of eliminating publicly funded entitlements in favour of impoverished members of the working class having to purchase those services in the market. On the other hand, many conservatives fear a disincentive to work.

Positions on the left also vary. Basic income has been promoted as a solution to precarious work in the gig economy, as a way of liberating impoverished people from an oppressive welfare bureaucracy and as a panacea for the work-less world that some predict will result from robotization. But there are many who believe basic income in the current context is illusory.

Some on the left propose a ‘progressive’ version of basic income that would provide a net advance over existing benefits. No one wants to defend the current system of social assistance with its paternalistic bureaucracy and grossly inadequate level of support. A socialist society would guarantee decent social provision for all. The question of what form this should take remains hypothetical at this point.

Those advocating a ‘progressive’ version of basic income are acting from genuine concern for the impoverished, and frustration with the injustices of the current social welfare system. But in the harsh world of actually existing capitalism, basic income schemes offer the illusion of improvement in the lot of marginalized people while streamlining the existing social welfare system so as to diminish state responsibility and push individuals to purchase their needs privately.

Absent a socialist transformation, basic income schemes will reflect the priorities of capitalist governments. They will be grafted on to an austerity and privatization agenda. The aim is to move the impoverished into low wage precarious employment, provide a wage top-up to employers and give governments an exit route from services they currently provide. Ontario Liberal Premier, Kathleen Wynne sees basic income as a way of reducing government expenditures in housing, health care and other supports for the poor. Finland’s centre-right wing government will judge its basic income experiment on whether it moves the chronically unemployed into taking low wage jobs.

Labour has been on the defensive for almost 50 years. The relationship of class forces does not favour significant democratic or egalitarian policies orchestrated from above.

Labour’s traditional approach has been to fight for full employment at union rates, for a significant rise in the minimum wage, for adequate social assistance and unemployment benefits and for social entitlements that apply to the whole working class including impoverished and marginalized people. The labour movement has recognized the danger in means tested programs that break with the principle of universality.

It is naive to think that basic income can circumvent the capitalist labour market or transform the use of leisure time.  The real transitional demand here is for a reduction in the work week with no loss of pay and a sharing of work. Within that framework, massive retraining and expansion of unionized employment in green and socially useful occupations is the route to go.

Some sort of income guarantee would be integral to a socialist society. But this would not be the principal mechanism for social provision. Cuba gives us a glimpse. Basic needs such as housing, transport, health care and education are provided out of central state revenues and are free for every Cuban at the point of use or in some cases as a subsidy. There is a big difference between social programs as universal entitlements provided out of a collective pooling of resources, and services obtained by individuals from private providers as a market transaction. Both may exist, but any aspiring socialist society would and must try to limit the commodification of basic services.

If introduced by capitalist governments, as looks increasingly likely, basic income schemes will require the labour movement and socialists to respond.  Socialist Action will evaluate any specific basic income program according to:

  1. whether it lifts the beneficiaries out of poverty representing a net gain over existing social assistance benefits;
  2. whether it will have a positive effect on wages and job quality not acting as a wage subsidy to employers and accelerating the trend to bad jobs at low pay and
  3. whether it will protect existing services to which the impoverished are entitled, and provide the scope to expand access.

In formulating its position. Socialist Action should not lag behind the most advanced elements in the labour movement who are highly critical of basic income (see John Clarke’s and David Bush’s arguments and the positions adopted by CUPE Ontario and OPSEU).

To summarize, for the foreseeable, basic income will be initiated from above by capitalist governments requiring a response on our part. But we believe the main battles lie elsewhere.  What the working class gains, it has to fight for. We look to advances in the class struggle to better conditions for the impoverished. Battles for unionization, higher wages and benefits, mobilizing to obtain decent social housing, to abolish barriers to higher education, to win free public transit and defend the most vulnerable and exploited workers – that is the way to strengthen the confidence, self-organization and unity of working people and change the balance of forces in society.

July 2017