Tag Archives: Socialist Action

On to Ottawa for the Peoples’ Social Forum

Over 10,000 people will gather in Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, Ontario, August 21-24, for the Peoples’ Social Forum. The PSF web site describes it as “a critical public space aimed at fostering activist involvement of individuals and civil society organizations that want to transform Canada as it exists today. It is intended as a space for social movements to meet and converge, for the free expression of alternative ideas and grassroots exchanges and for artistic manifestations reflecting a diversity of demands and aspirations.”
“It seeks to stimulate practical involvement and alliances for action against neo-liberal policies in Canada. The PSF strives for social justice, Original Peoples’ rights, sustainable development, international solidarity and participatory democracy.”
Socialist Action/Ligue pour l’Action socialiste will host a work shop titled “The fight against capitalist austerity is also a fight against the leadership of the unions and the NDP.” SA/LAS members from Hamilton, Toronto, Kingston and Montreal will staff a literature display, demonstrate with thousands on to Parliament Hill, and participate in an assembly of labour militants aimed at launching a cross-union, cross-country labour left opposition.
The PSF is part of the global movement of social forums that have emerged at different levels since the first World Social Forum (WSF) was held in Porto Alegre (Brazil) in January 2001. The latest World Social Forum was held in Tunis in March 2013, which will be the site of the 2015 gathering.
– BW

SA conference Condemns the Crimes of Capitalism


Members and supporters celebrated the 20th anniversary of Socialist Action / Ligue pour l’Action socialiste with an international educational conference and a party convention held May 23-25, 2014 at the University of Toronto.
The conference theme ‘Capitalism is Organized Crime’ echoed across the agenda. The topics were Capitalism Damns the Environment (with speakers Malu Baumgarten, Toronto Socialist Action; and Robbie Mahood, member of SA/LAS and Quebec Solidaire in Montreal),Scandals, Repression and Corporate Dictatorship (with Barry Weisleder, federal secretary, Socialist Action – Canada; Jaime Gonzalez, LUS (Socialist Unity League) – Mexico; and Chris Hutchinson — Socialist Action USA, Connecticut), Science: For Profit, or for People? (with special guest speaker Cliff Conner. He is the author of “A Peoples’ History of Science”, and teaches history at the City University of New York Graduate Center), When Labour Won (with Julius Arscott, SA Toronto; Chris Hutchinson, SA U.S.A.; and Robbie Mahood),Is Inequality Inevitable?(with Claudia Espinoza, President of USGE Local 00079 (Public Service Alliance of Canada) and an organizer with Justicia for Migrant Workers;Kaylie Tiessen from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives; and John Orrett, member Toronto Professional Firefighters’ Association and SA Thornhill), and finally, What Would Socialism Look Like? (with special guest speaker Cliff Conner, historian and co-author of the new book “Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA).
Over fifty people attended one or more of the conference sessions, all of which exhibited a high quality of presentations, and a high degree of audience participation.
A large display of books, booklets, posters and buttons near the meeting entrance was a hub of activity. Folks purchased over $500 in literature and other items.
During the conference two participants asked to join Socialist Action — in addition to the six people who joined SA in the month preceding the Toronto conference.
At the SA/LAS convention held on the Sunday, members adopted a plan of action and a budget, welcomed new members, and elected a bi-national leadership body.
The unanimously adopted central priorities of SA/LAS for the coming year include:
1. Participation in the campaign to elect an NDP government in Ontario – while honestly explaining our criticisms of the policies, tactics and undemocratic methods of the Horwath leadership, leading up to the Ontario NDP Convention in November 2014. To prepare the party left wing for the convention, we urge the Socialist Caucus to hold an Ontario conference in early September.
2. Continuing efforts to oppose the cuts to postal services, and to resist the general ruling class drive towards more austerity, autocratic governance, surveillance of the population, and police repression. We believe that defence of the CUPW and home mail delivery, with sufficient broad backing and mass action tactics, could be the key to removing the unpopular Harper government.
3. Working with the environmental movement to oppose Line 9, to oppose new pipeline contruction, to demand a rapid shift to green energy generation through public ownership and workers’ control of the resource sector, and to support indigenous peoples’ struggles for self-government and protection of the environment.
4. Stepping up efforts to build, together with others, a cross-union, class struggle tendency in the labour movement. At the Peoples’ Social Forum in Ottawa, August 21-24, where it is expected that 20,000 people will attend demonstrations and forums, SA/LAS will host a workshop on questions of strategy and tactics for the workers’ movement. At the Social Forum labour activists may gather to launch a radical cross-union left opposition, which SA aims to actively build.
5. Intervening in the Toronto municipal election, leading up to the vote on October 27.  Armed with the new SA booklet ‘Dump Rob Ford, For a Labour City Hall’, our aim is to shift the focus from the bizarre antics of Mayor Rob Ford towards a serious political discussion on the need for a Workers’ Agenda. We want particularly to engage grassroots labour and NDP activists in such a discussion.
– B.W.


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Booklet: Break the Grip of the Ruling Class

Socialist Action has published this compilation of talks from our latest Trotsky School: Education for Activists Conference. A PDF version is available online HERE.
This booklet contains the talks presented at the sixth annual Socialist Action Education for Activists Conference – two days of education, discussion and debate about key issues and the political alternatives facing humanity – held November 15-16, 2013 at the University of Toronto. We call the gathering a “Trotsky School”.! Why?! Because the ideas of Leon Trotsky, the co-leader with V.I. Lenin of the Russian Revolution 97 years ago, have great relevance and power in the context of the global crisis of capitalism today.! From the general strikes in Greece, Italy, France, and Spain, to the massive protests of the Quebec students’ movement, to the Idle No More indigenous peoples’ actions, to anti-pipeline demonstrations across North America, discontent with the business agenda is increasingly visible.
More people today are turning to the ideas of revolutionary Marxism for a scientific explanation of the ills of capitalism. Indeed, they want to know what to do about it. What better guide is there than the political method employed by the architects of the world’s first workers’ state?
At the conference we looked at history, political theory, economics, and we proposed a concrete programme for action.! We are proudly part of the working class. Workers are the vast majority of the so-called 99%.! But if the problem was just the 1% minority, the working class would have solved that problem a long time ago with a simple vote.! Unfortunately, there is a huge apparatus of control that keeps the capitalist class in power.
Divide and rule is their method. The challenge facing the working class is to unite – to unite across the lines of oppression.! Whether the basis of that oppression is race, gender, sexual orientation, language or national identity, we need to unite. But to do so in a good way, we need to develop and implement the programme and strategy required for working class victory.! By critically assessing political issues, past and present, such as we did at the conference, we can find the way forward.The conference theme was:! “Revolutionary Strategy”.! The sessions included:! “Security, Surveillance and the Strong State”, “How Revolutionary Youth Movements have changed the world”, “What is the Labour Bureaucracy – and What Should be Done about it”; and “The Democratic Party – Death Trap for U.S. Blacks – The case for Independent Labour/Black political action”.
These are all big questions.! We hope that you find the talks published here illuminating!
We welcome your feedback.

Crisis within the Ruling Bloc in Turkey

The Istanbul Prosecutor’s Office initiated a “corruption and bribery operation” on December 17. About one week later, the Ministers of Economics, the Interior, and Urban Development all resigned after their sons were arrested. Events accelerated at a dizzying pace. Prime Minister Erdogan fired seven other ministers. The chief prosecutor was taken off the case. Hundreds of police officers were removed from their posts. Although Erdogan claims that the scandal was a foreign plot, and blames the “interests-rate lobby” for trying to harm Turkey, many see the unfolding drama as a civil war between his AKP (Justice and Development Party) and the Gulenists.

BUSINESS-GULEN-ERDOGANThe Gulen Movement is a global Islamist network led by Fethullah Gulen, a Muslim cleric who lives inself-imposed exile in Pennsylvania, USA. The Gulenists were among the strongest political groups that had supported the AKP since it came to power in 2002. They joined forces with the AKP to prosecute secularist generals, and hundreds of other alleged coup plotters since 2007. Not only the top military officials, but also many innocent journalists and politicians were arrested on the basis of “fabricated evidence, secret witnesses and flights of investigative fancy”–thanks to the Gulenists’ infiltration of the judiciary and police. Such undemocratic underpinnings sustained the corrupt neo-liberal economy. This meant unprecedented profits for domestic and foreign financial capitalists and their conglomerates on the one hand, dispossession and pauperization for workers and peasants on the other.
As previously reported, numerous protests spread across Turkey after the Turkish police brutally attacked protesters in Taksim Gezi Park in summer of 2013. The popular upheaval against the authoritarian government and its neo-liberal policies had a working class character. Nevertheless, the revolt lacked political leadership and a clear political perspective. Revolutionary spirit was on the wane, but anger generated by the corruption scandal has revived it. Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets on December 29. Although the number of protestors were less than in the summer, the masses proved to be as committed and determined as before.
The conflict within the ruling bloc continues as we go to press. Political instability is only one of the fears of the Turkish capitalists. occupy-gezi-protests-erdoganThe Turkish economy is heading into a crisis. Turkey’s gargantuan current account deficit worsens against the backdrop of US Federal Reserve’s decision to end its loose monetary policy–thanks to which the Turkish economy recovered from the severe hit it took from the global recession in2008 and 2009. Moreover, Turkey’s aggressive foreign policy failed in the Middle East where the popularity of its government and capitalists has crumbled. This further limits Turkish capitalism’s room for maneuver because it had high hopes for economic activism in Middle Eastern markets. In short, the exploiters are not able to “live and rule in the old way” anymore. And popular demands for change resonate to the core of the Turkish economy.
The CHP (Republican People’s Party), the main opposition, has now replaced its Kemalist-secularist rhetoric with a social democratic phraseology in order to absorb democratic demands. It seeks the support of pro-imperialist and pro-Zionist Gulenists to replace the AKP, and it strengthens its ties with the big business.
The Kurdish movement missed yet another great opportunity. Its leaders’ lukewarm opposition to the corruption scandals shows that it doesn’t want to risk the so-called “peace process” that it initiated with the AKP elites behind close doors. Its reluctance to join forces with Gulenists and CHP against the AKP is understandable, since these two political forces have always been obstacles to any democratic solution to the Kurdish question. The Kurdish people do not need another tragedy to see that their national struggle has nothing to gain from capitalists and their political parties.
The Left is still fragmented and lacks the ability to organize public dissent, although its ideas are enjoying a revival.
Intense warfare within Turkey’s ruling bloc is a sign of escalating conflicts between the capitalist class fractions as the Turkish economy hurtles towards a crisis. It also shows that imperialists are not sure whether they should bet on Erdogan or Gulenists. Imperialists employ zigzagging political tactics while their room for maneuver is narrowing in the context of the escalating crisis of imperialism in the Middle East. Needed is American and Canadian workers’ solidarity with their brothers and sisters in Turkey. Our slogan should be “Imperialist Hands off Middle East!”
2254616750_5c0d76f887The key task is building an independent working class party in Turkey. The cracks in the ruling capitalist bloc can be utilized by the working class and its allies, such as the Kurdish movement, only if an independent course of working class action is pursued. The political situation in Turkey demonstrates a crisis of political leadership. Although the masses withdraw their support from the existing bourgeois political parties, in the absence of a realistic revolutionary alternative, new pro-capitalist pseudo alternatives flourish to channel the people’s anger against the corrupt system that is based on private ownership of the means of production. Socialist Action is forging ties with revolutionary parties in Turkey, and elsewhere, which aim to overthrow the rotten capitalist disorder. — By Y. Fikret Kayali

VIDEO/PHOTO’S from Education for Activists conference TROTSKY SCHOOL 2013

Congratulations and thanks to all the guest speakers, members and supporters who helped to make the sixth annual Education for Activists Conference a success.  Over forty-five people attended the Socialist Action Trotsky School at OISE U of Toronto.

Security, Surveillance and the Strong State
with speakers Glen Ford, editor of Black Agenda Report, radio host and commentator and Robbie Mahood, member of Quebec Solidaire and a leader of SA/LAS Montreal.
How Revolutionary Youth Movements have
Changed the World
with speakers Lisa Luinenberg, Socialist Action – U.S.A. and Y.S.A. – U.S.A., Tyler Mackinnon, Chairperson, Youth for Socialist Action – Canada, Evan Engering, Y.S.A. – Canada
What is the Labour Bureaucracy
and what should be done about it?
with speaker Barry Weisleder.2013TrotskySchool206
The Democratic Party – Death Trap for U.S. Blacks – The Case for Independent Labour/Black Political Action
with speakers Glen Ford, editor, Black Agenda Report, radio host and commentator and Julius Arscott, V.P. OPSEU Local 532, steering committee member of NDP Socialist Caucus, and leader of Socialist Action/ Ligue pout l’Action socialiste.
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