After Bouteflika’s Resignation: “Down with the Regime! Let the People Speak! Sovereign Constituent Assembly! Let’s Get Organized!”

4 Apr
The emancipation of the working class will be the task of the workers themselves. 
MINBAR EL OUMMEL (Workers Tribune)
For democracy and socialism
Publication of the Organizing Committee of the Internationalist Socialists of Algeria (COSI)
Wednesday, April 3, 2019 — Issue Number 7
Declaration of the Organising Committee of the Internationalist Socialists – COSI
After Bouteflika’s Resignation: 
“Down with the Regime! Let the People Speak! Sovereign Constituent Assembly! Let’s Get Organized!”
Abdelaziz Bouteflika is no longer president of the Republic as of Tuesday, April 2, 2019. This is the first victory of the entire people since they erupted onto the streets of the country’s cities and municipalities on February 22 to oppose “a fifth term” of the incumbent president.
It’s a first victory only because all the demands of the masses expressed over the past six weeks have not been met with the final exit of the outgoing president: The people have demanded, and continue to demand, “Down with the System – Let the People Speak!”
But it is still victory for the people that was wrested with the mass marches, demonstrations, rallies, strikes, and the struggle for the independence of trade union organizations, especially the historic trade union confederation of workers: the UGTA. The people, especially the workers, have shown “that everything is possible!” This initial victory will undoubtedly strengthen the people’s resolve to continue their mobilizations in support of their own aspirations, including their right to decide for themselves.
Abdelaziz Bouteflika left the presidency of the Republic, forced out by this mass movement — but he did so while opening the way to an “exit” from the crisis that preserves the regime and ensures its continuity. Bouteflika leaves, but the system remains: the National Assembly, the National Council, the Constitutional Council, the recently installed government … all remain in place. The men and women who were in his political orbit do too. It is one of them — Abdelkader Bensalah, president of the National Council — who now will be in charge of the interim presidency for 90 days, as provided for in the current Constitution, which itself has been targeted by the protesting people as illegitimate.
Bouteflika’s departure, requested more recently by Army Chief of Staff Gaid Salah and by former Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia, does not reunite the various factions of the regime nor does it resolve the regime’s crisis, which continues to deepen.
Gaid Salah, head of the Army, who claims to be an ally of the people in protest after having been the main supporter of the outgoing president, is pursuing his own objectives: to ensure the continuity of the regime by putting the military hierarchy back at the center and setting up his own oligarchs in the place of those who prospered under the shadow of the Bouteflika presidency.
All the crisis exit plans, whether they come from the various factions and clans of the regime or from the so-called opposition, turn their backs on the deep aspiration of millions of demonstrators, namely that Algeria be built by the sovereign people for the sovereign people.
What the people want and continue to want is not that the characters at the head of the institutions give way to other characters, what the people want is other institutions. “Down with the System! Down with the Regime!” are the cries calling to make way for another regime, another system.
The Organizing Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI in its French acronym) shares, with many of our fellow citizens, young people, women and workers, the conviction that it is up to the people to decide their future; it is up to the people to establish themselves as constituent people through their Sovereign Constituent Assembly.
There is one way to do this, one that has been charted for more than a month: organizing the mobilization by workers and young people themselves, with their unions uprooted from State control, with their independent unions, their autonomous unions, their UGTA sections that have regained their sovereignty, with their committees, etc. This movement cannot stop until full democracy is established. It is up to the Sovereign Constituent Assembly, representing all the people, to carry out this task.
For our part, we believe that such a Sovereign Constituent Assembly would allow the representatives of the people not only to decide on the form of the new institutions, but also on their content, because the people want to be able to decide:
– that young people are entitled to a real diploma, a real job, a real salary,
– that all the nation’s wealth, especially hydrocarbons, be returned to the working people,
– that all privatizations be cancelled,
– that all public services be restored.
It is through this means that the way will be paved for this new Algeria for which we have all been working since February 22nd.

Minbar el Oumel no. 2

17 Mar

“The emancipation of the working class will be the task of the workers themselves”
                                                                   MINBAR EL OUMEL
                                                        For Democracy and Socialism
Publication of the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists (OCIS)
Saturday, March 12, 2019 — Issue No. 2
• Down with the Regime!
• Let the People’s Voices Be Heard!
• Sovereign Constituent Assembly!
• For the Independence of the UGTA!
• Address the Workers’ Demands!
• No to the IMF’s Anti-Worker Plans! Let’s Get Organized!
• For an Independent, Democratic and Mass Workers Party!
The postponement of the presidential election and the renunciation of the 5th Term [by President Bouteflika, who has served four terms in office — Tr. Note] mark a new phase in the social, political and institutional crisis that has been unfolding since the demonstrations of February 22.

This announcement of March 11 was precipitated by the events of the preceding 72 hours:
– The demonstrations by millions of Algerians in the streets of all the country’s cities on March 8, increasingly combining the social and democratic demands of women, young people and workers with the one demand that was common to all: “No to the 5th Term, Down with the System!”;

– The irruption of youth on the streets after the closure of universities and high schools;
– the mass emergence of workers deciding to strike in the country’s main industrial areas (Rouiba, Arzew, El Hadjar, Hassi R’ Mel, Hassi Messaoud);
– youth marching side by side with striking workers;
– the growing number of labor bodies, federations, local unions, and departmental unions of the UGTA announcing the breaking of relations with the Secretary General, the main supporter of the regime;
– the creation of embryos of popular committees for food and basic necessities, linking together representatives of the communities in the districts and municipalities with workers and young people.

All of these point to the fact that a new situation has begun to emerge.
The working class, bursting onto the political scene as a class, has risen to the forefront of the struggle to address and resolve the crisis facing the country. It has brought together the people, all strata and all sectors of the population (after the journalists, we have seen the appeals of the magistrates, the Order of Doctors, and the organisations of the martyrs and mujahideen [veterans of the Algerian Revolution — Tr. note]) — all following the lead of the workers organised with their unions and their delegates.

The government and the elites understood that their obstinacy in wanting to impose the 5th Term was leading the country into a situation of open revolutionary crisis. They became afraid and decided to shift course. It was necessary, through a spectacular announcement, to give the impression of changing the course of events while ensuring the preservation of what was essential: the continuity of the system.

The uprising of the working class, the power of the mobilisation of all the people and youth, have forced this change of form.

Does this mean, however, that it is a substantive change? Has the regime given up on its objective, which is to remain in place?

One only has to read the official statement, broadcast on television on behalf of the outgoing president, to make a judgment. What was announced on the evening of March 11?

No longer will there be a 5th Term; rather, what you will have now is an extended 4th Term, with no specific time limit. At the very minimum, the president will remain in office for a year, or a year and a half. A national conference, the composition of which will be decided by the government in office, will make constitutional proposals. Which ones? We don’t know. All this leads to a proposal for a new Constitution, perhaps subject to a referendum in 2020, which would lead to new elections being called, perhaps by the end of 2020 or even 2021.

If this plan were to be implemented, it would be a disguised 5th Term — a 5th term without even going through a presidential election, with a change of personnel at the head of some institutions but the preservation and continuity of the institutions of the system.

Are these announcements commensurate with the mobilisations and demands that an entire people have been raising for the past 20 days? To ask the question is to answer it.
What have our compatriots been proclaiming for 20 days in the streets of Algiers, Bejaia, Constantine, Annaba, Oran….

What were we loudly chanting and demanding by the millions? We said, “No to the 5th Term.” And to this demand we quickly added another one: “Down with the Regime! Down with the System!” Yes, it is the entire political system, it is the entire regime and all its institutions in place that have been indicted by the mobilisation of the vast majority of the people.

What the people want is not that the individuals at the head of the institutions give way to other individuals. What the people want are other institutions. “Down with the Regime! Down with the System!” to make way for another regime, another system.

If it is a question of the people forging new institutions, then it is up to the people to decide. There is no other way than to convene a Sovereign Constituent Assembly by which the representatives of the people — appointed, mandated and controlled by them — can decide what the new institutions of the new Algeria should be.

Yes, what is called for is a Sovereign Constituent Assembly with no limits, no restrictions other than respect for the mandate entrusted to it by its constituents; a Constituent Assembly, not in two years’ time, not emanating from a national conference with an obscure composition decided from above. It is a Sovereign Constituent Assembly now, immediately, that must take the future of the country into its hands.

There is no answer other than the Sovereign Constituent Assembly, as all other means have been rejected in advance. The entire people have shown their maturity and responsibility in the mass demonstrations that have erupted over the past 20 days. The Algerian people are mature and responsible enough to lead a constituent process without supervision.

The Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI in its French acronym) was formed on March 9, 2019, in the very course of the mobilisations. It shares, along with many of our fellow citizens, young people, women and workers, the belief that it is up to the people to decide their own future, that it is up to the people to establish themselves as constituent people through their Sovereign Constituent Assembly.

The Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists is aware that what is at stake, what is being raised, with this proposal are both democratic and national demands. It is a question of preserving the sovereignty of the people and the country, in particular of preserving it from the appetites of the large multinational corporations — be they American, French or other — that want to get their hands on the country’s wealth.

It is a question of restoring to the nation what belongs to it, so that its wealth can go to those who produce it, and not to those who benefit from it. It is a question of stopping privatisations and enabling the re-nationalisation of what has already been largely ceded to the private sector, so that the nation’s wealth and the future wealth that can be obtained from its natural resources can be devoted to social needs, housing, education, and employment.

It is a question of preserving the peace and resisting external pressures from those who have never given up trying to drag Algeria into the chaos and disintegration caused by the imperialist and neocolonial interventionist wars. All this, a Sovereign Constituent Assembly will have the strength and legitimacy to address, establishing the laws that will guarantee this real change.

For the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists, these are proposals that we submit for wide discussion. Of course, no one can decide in advance what a Constituent Assembly will do. But the Constituent Assembly can decide that it will be sovereign and that it will do sovereignly what is good for the people.

There is a way to carry forth; it is the one that has emerged over the past 20 days, namely, the organised mobilisation by workers and young people themselves with their unions, torn from the State’s control — with their independent unions, their autonomous unions, their UGTA sections that have regained their sovereignty, with their committees, etc.

With all forms of organisation, the workers, young people and women have been moved to take action, and with them large sectors of the population have followed suit. This movement cannot stop until full democracy is established. It is up to the Sovereign Constituent Assembly, representing all the people, to do so.

                                                                                                             Algiers — March 12, 8:30 a.m.

In the middle of the struggle in Algeria, a new organisation is born

17 Mar

“The emancipation of the working class will be the task of the workers themselves”
For Democracy and Socialism
Publication of the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists (OCIS)
Saturday, March 9, 2019 — Issue No. 1
We are working-class and trade union activists, youth, and students who engaged resolutely in class struggle. After we discussed at length on Thursday, March 7th, Friday the 8th and Saturday the 9th, we decided to constitute our group as the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI-OCIS). This decision was made in the midst of the revolutionary process that started on February 22nd with the huge marches that enveloped the whole national territory and involved the entire Algerian people. Our aim is to start and address the contradiction between the masses’ powerful mobilisation and the tragic lack of an independent, democratic mass party without which, the compradore bourgeoisie and its institutions are still able to “digest” the most advanced forms of our struggles.

The inspiring movement of millions and millions of women, men and youth has set the whole of Algeria into motion these past two weeks. It can be summarised in one sentence: the people as a whole, and first and foremost the workers and youth, the jobless in city and town areas, are yearning for total and unrestricted sovereignty. As they rise up against the Fifth Term, they rise up against a system which, for decades upon decades — actually since the independence of the nation that was wrenched from colonialist hands in the summer of 1962 — has worked to prevent the sovereignty of the nation from being placed in the hands of the people as a whole. Not only do they yearn to break loose from contrived elections with candidates that are mere shadows or that have been selected according to the needs of the regime, but, beyond this, they yearn to be able to decide for themselves the political forms, the social content and the national content that the sovereignty of the people over themselves must recover.

On every continent and in every situation, such an aspiration has always been addressed by calling and electing a Sovereign Constituent Assembly, which means an assembly with full decision-making powers. A Constituent Assembly, without restriction, without pre-condition, with no other control than the one of those who give their mandates. The working people, the nation, should have full decision-making powers. To make decisions, to cast in iron unrestricted freedom of speech, freedom of association and organisation, to walk out and go on strike, to ensure full equal rights for men and women in every field. Those deep-seated aspirations politically and democratically collide with the regime, which has turned its back on democracy and sovereignty, and which, in collusion with imperialism has turned every component of the regime and the compradore bourgeoisie, into its – not always dutiful but ultimately compliant – agents.

And this overwhelming aspiration also has a powerful social content, which today is expressed in the strikes that are expanding and in the process that is now on its rails of reclaiming the UGTA (General Union of Algerian Workers), the historic federation of workers that has for a long time been a subsidiary of the power structure. Through the strikes what is expressed is the need for the nation’s natural wealth be in the exclusive service of working people. Sovereignty also implies social and economic sovereignty. It implies meeting the aspirations of the more than 30% of jobless youth, those thousands of university graduates who, year in and year out, leave the country for lack of prospects that the country does not offer; it is the aspiration to have social justice, jobs, public services, housing. Fully meeting the people’s aspiration to sovereignty and democracy, sovereignty on the economic and social level, is an emergency. Any answer that would not address all the demands will be looked on as a diversion and will only fuel the anger of the people, workers and youth. Any solution other than the Sovereign Constituent Assembly, whatever the intentions of those who propose it, will be viewed as an attempt to continue with a massively rejected regime.

From all corners one can hear fears that the current situation may result in a period of instability, may lead to live again the terrible dark years of the previous period. Those fears are legitimate when expressed by the “grass-roots society” but when formulated by the “top circles” and their representatives, they are just diversions and attempts at shattering the united people’s mobilisation. Things must be made clear: it is merely the refusal to heed the people’s determination and voice, the voice of workers and youth that threatens stability. It is not through the continuation of an anti-democratic regime that stability can be restored and maintained, on the contrary, it is through full, total and trusting opening up to all the needed forms of the people’s sovereignty. This is what is at stake in the calling of an unrestricted and unlimited Sovereign Constituent Assembly.

There exists no artificial separation between the fight for democracy and the fight of workers for their own demands, which, today, sees workers seek to reclaim their trade union federation, on the basis of the living and working conditions, their trade union centre, the UGTA, which cannot play its part to defend the interests of workers while it remains tied to a power and institutions that the people reject. The UGTA must become again the property of the Algerian workers, of their rank and file unions. It must be the property of union representatives desingated by workers themselves. The process is on its way. It must continue and gain traction. Workers must demand that the UGTA totally break with the regime, at the same time as they present their demands and discuss the means to have them met. An action that has been decided on can and must be monitored by workers themselves. Reclaiming the UGTA will empower workers to have their own interests as wealth producers heard and heeded. Like the UGTT for Tunisian workers during the revolution in Tunisia, the UGTA will be the backbone, the organising and unifying body that will make it possible to extend workers’ decisive action to the whole of society in this process of open crisis that is gathering momentum.

The CSA federation and all the autonomous unions should no longer hesitate. Everywhere, on the shop-floor, in junior and high schools, in colleges and universities, at the municipal and wilaya (department), as well as national levels, they should seek to join the different UGTA structures. As the regime persists to reject the Algerian people’s aspiration for a change and wants again to force its decisions on the people, we shall counerpose the force of large numbers and the unity of workers with their trade union organisations, freed from its yoke. The general strike of workers and citizens would appear as the concrete answer. Unity is needed now, it must be realised without delay, now and still more urgently, in the near future.

The unity and independence of trade unions will mobilise a larger number of workers, will attract and bring along the youth of marginalised areas, the jobless, all the impoverished rural and city layers. It will put on the agenda the organising effort of citizens in marginalised areas, the national independent and democratic union of students and university professors. Self-organisation among the masses to act “all together in unison” and control the struggles can and must surface in the same move.
We are activists and have no interests that are separate and apart from those of the workers, youth and broad layers of the population.

Wherever we are, we fight for the people’s sovereignty, the nation’s sovereignty against imperialism, to have all the demands met, to defend all the conquests, for the independence of trade unions where they exist, and towards the creation of a single unified independent and democratic trade union centre. The toiling masses are fed up with divisions; they aspire to the creation of trade unions where there are none, especially in universities where there is a strong yearning for a “student, unified, independent and democratic union” and a “unified federation for the whole national education system”. We fight for the general strike as a means for the people to impose their will and aspirations.

We activists of the Organising Committee of Internationalist Socialists (COSI- OCIS) are fighting for unity and, first and foremost, with the organisations fighting on behalf of the labour movement and of anti-imperialism. We say it loud and clear, we are ready to take part in any single action to help the masses but also to discuss the formation of a “front of working-class organisations, parties and unions, and anti-imperialist organisations” on the basis of a programme built on the people’s and nation’s sovereignty against imperialism on the principle “Let us walk separately, but let us strike together!”

If we have no interests that are distinct from those of the workers of our country, then we also have none that are distinct from those of workers in other countries of the world. We suffer from and we fight against the same policies that came out of the Bretton Woods financial institutions. We suffer from and we fight against the wars perpetrated by global imperialism – yesterday in Iraq, in Syria and in Libya, and today beyond the southern borders of our country. The political interference of the major powers in the domestic affairs of sovereign states has become a constant given. They use no kid gloves in their challenging of the sovereign legitimacy of the legitimate president of Venezuela. And what is to be said of what the sacrosanct alliance between imperialism and Israel that the people of Palestine have been subjected to for over 70 years?

Like all organisations, including revolutionary ones equipped with a programme, the “Fourth International” has been subjected to the pressure of those who promote – and especially who act for – the preservation of the present order, based on the private ownership of the means of production. Revisionist and liquidating currents have insinuated themselves into its leaderships, in an attempt to break it apart. In the early 1950s, the International was destroyed as a democratically centralised organisation. It was reconstructed, and has for four years now been through yet another crisis, the source of which is the same as in the 1950s: the abandonment of its party-building and an adaptation to bourgeois society.

We say that the time has come today for gathering the forces that will tackle the reconstruction of an independent and genuine labour representation of workers and young people. In the parties that already exist, there are many activists and currents who are perfectly at home in this reconstruction: the members of the PST, UTS and VOS, the members of the ex-PAGS and, naturally, the members of the PT (Workers Party– a party that has held on to its sympathisers in a broad sector of the working class, due to the battles it has waged in the past. But the revolutionary process that is taking place today has shed a crude light and exposed the orientation that its general secretary has fixed over many years now: that of adapting to the needs of the regime, or at the very least to the needs of a fraction of that regime, under the cover of saving the needs of society for security and stability. Its recent positions (postponing elections, a medical solution to the crisis, etc.) have now been assimilated by a broad vanguard as a treatment for the needs of the regime, or at least a fraction of the regime, in order to save what is essential: the continuity of the regime. Its advice distilled to the deciders at each of the crucial stages of the confrontation between the masses and the regime has clearly been a refusal to break with the regime in place and a refusal to fully assume the tasks of a fight for a Constituent Assembly. We are not happy with this situation. It is an expression of the crisis that is hitting the labour movement in Algeria just as on the international scale. It is the expression of the necessary re-building of forces on the line of labour independence, and the re-construction of the labour movement. For our part and based on the positions that are our own, we are ready to participate shoulder-to-shoulder with all those of all the currents of the labour movement, of all the supporters of popular and national sovereignty who are ready to engage, in the framework of free and open discussion, in this fight.

No War! No Coup! U.S. Hands Off Venezuela!

14 Mar

The Labor Fightback Blog

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On February 6, the National Steering Committee of the Labor Fightback Network discussed the imminent threat of direct U.S.-led military intervention against the sovereign nation of Venezuela. The Trump administration’s goal, openly stated, is to impose regime-change and take control of Venezuela’s vast oil resources. This military operation, coordinated with the governments of Brazil and Colombia, is being carried out in the name of opening a “humanitarian-aid corridor” into Venezuela from the Colombian border town of Cúcuta.

The LFN has learned that three calls have been issued by antiwar coalitions in the United States to protest U.S. intervention in Venezuela and to stay the hands of the U.S. war-makers the world over: February 23, March 16 and March 30.

The LFN has advocated consistently for a united antiwar movement capable of building broadly sponsored mass actions in the streets. We would have preferred to see a unified…

View original post 1,616 more words

Editorial from Issue 167 of La Tribune des Travailleurs, 5 December 2018

5 Dec

Do Macron and Philippe really hope to get away with it?

Editorial by Daniel Gluckstein

The announcement on 4 December of a six-month suspension of planned carbon tax increases and other fuel tax measures, as well as of planned gas and electricity increases, will obviously appear to be a setback for a government which, two days earlier, said it would not change anything. True enough. …

However, as has been clearly noted, this is a suspension, and not a withdrawal, of these measures. It is a suspension which, moreover, corresponds to the request for a “moratorium” raised by all the opposition parties.

And above all, in a situation of open crisis of the regime, it is certain that workers and young people will say to themselves: It doesn’t all add up, not really.

For months now, rejection has been growing throughout the country — rejection of the government, its policies and the institutions themselves. Rejection that embraces all segments of the population, starting with the most oppressed and exploited: the working class, which includes active and retired workers, the unemployed, children of the working class, mothers of families.

What is being rejected is 30 years of “counter-reforms” that the institutions of the Fifth Republic have enabled, in defiance of the majority will, thanks to the ordinances, to Article 49-3 [of the Constitution of the Fifth Republic], and to the full powers given to the President, the keystone of the institutions.

What is being rejected is a class-war policy implemented by governments of all political stripes. It’s a class-war policy that deprives the working class of its rights, amputates its purchasing power, undermines its access to healthcare and pensions, denies the younger generation access to a qualification, and denies millions the means to live with dignity, with a decent purchasing power that allows them to secure housing, clothing and leisure.

It’s ruthless class-war politics: For decades, it has allowed capitalists to accumulate mountains of profit, unparalleled in history, on the basis of the continuous degradation of the value of the labour force.

To the legitimate and vital demands of this overwhelming majority, which has said “Enough is Enough!,” the minimum respect for democracy would require that, at the very least, the following demands must be met:

– the withdrawal of measures that are set to go into effect beginning 1 January 2019: the withholding tax, the new reductions and exemptions from employers’ social security contributions, and the planned payment of the 40 billion euros of the CICE [Credit for Competitivity and Employment];

– the withdrawal of all the Macron government’s ongoing “counter-reforms” and plans against workers and young people: pension counter-reforms, Blanquer reforms against the baccalaureate and the high schools (against which high school students are rising up today) and all other such measures;

– the general increase in wages, pensions and social minima, with a return to price indexation and the recovery of lost purchasing power;

– the reopening of classes, hospitals, maternity wards, post offices and other public services that have been closed for decades;

– and therefore the necessary break with the austerity policies imposed by the European treaties and successive governments for more than 25 years.

Instead, the government not only pretends not to hear this immense demand for a break with these past policies, but it persists and signs the new regressive measures. [Prime Minister] Édouard Philippe went on to announce the government’s planned “concertation,” claiming that its goal is to meet the aspirations of those who want “taxes to fall and work to pay.”

The Medef [the main employers’ association] has greeted these measures with glee: less taxes, less benefit payments. This is, in fact, what the employers have been demanding all along; it’s what the government intends to approve through this process of “consultation.”

But here’s the rub: The crisis of the Fifth Republic’s regime is wide open, and the government’s announcements of 4 December will not be enough to close it. The revolt has been brewing for more than 30 years. The more Macron-Philippe persist in refusing to give in on any issue of substance, the more they push the working class toward the following conclusion: If, to obtain satisfaction of our basic demands, it is necessary to drive out the Macron government and the Fifth Republic, then so be it. …

This raises the whole problem of working class independence, the very principle of which has been undermined in recent weeks by those who have called on workers’ organizations to submit to the discipline–  “outside of and above social classes” — of the so-called yellow-vest movement.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain from the confusion of demands raised by an amalgam of social classes.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain by standing behind the tricolour flag or banners such as “We Are All Gauls.” National unity, whatever its clothing and pretexts, is always contrary to workers’ interests.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain from others speaking on their behalf, from self-proclaimed spokespersons who, in the name of the “people” and the rejection of political parties and trade unions, take refuge in a façade of anonymity that is not at all spontaneous.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain from anti-political, anti-worker, anti-union “clear-the-road” demands and forms of struggle, which, by undermining the forms of working class representation, only aim to atomize them and subordinate the workers to the ruling political system.

Class independence: Workers have nothing to gain by turning a blind eye to racist and anti-immigrant abuses and aggressions that aim to divide them.

The workers have nothing to gain from the rise of what is called populism — be it of the “left” or the right  — which is nothing more than the negation of the class struggle, any more than hthey have something to gain from the convergence of populisms, the results of which can be seen in Italy.

But they have everything to gain by remaining on working class grounds. The unity of workers and their organisations, with their faces uncovered as they promote their demands, is the only way to impose an outcome in line with their interests and democracy.

A real change in course calls for the emergence of “classical” forms of class struggle in relation to the crisis of the regime. The whole situation places the workers’ strike on the agenda around clear, specific demands, sweeping away the confusion of sloganeering. Already, particular strikes are spreading across the country — strikes which, in connection with the regime’s general crisis, are fuelling the movement towards a workers’ general strike.

This is the way to impose a real break with the anti-worker political continuity of the last 3- years. This is the way to break with the European Union and the Fifth Republic, the first step toward a government of the working class and democracy.

It is in this direction that a real “way out of the crisis” can be found, in line with political democracy and workers’ interests.


2017 and 2018

1 Jan

Happy New year, all.

This year just past has not been the best nor the worst the world has ever seen. In our own life, Sandie’s health continues intermittent, if I can call it that way. She has more or less recovered from the cancer of two and a half years ago, but now is suffering chronic shortness of breath. I am not all that healthy myself, my teeth continue to deteriorate and my joints get older every winter. I continue to sing; Sandie has taken a year off from CT in hopes of recovering her voice and lung capacity.

On the world scene and here in Canada, events continue to unfold. The continuing struggles in Palestine, in Catalonia, in Venezuela, in Syria, are more intense than we face here in North America, but the nature does not change however much the circumstances do; they are all aspects of the class struggle between Capital and Labour worldwide. On that note: I am heartened by our establishment of a Liaison Committee of Trotskyists in Canada last summer at a conference in Montreal. The four of us, altogether, hope to be able to rebuild a Canadian section of the FI united under the banner of the Organising Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International.

For friends and family, I wish us all a better year ahead, with more victories than defeats; peace, prosperity, and unity on us all.

For brothers and sisters in the NDP and the Socialist Caucus, I hope we can come to agree more on the correct strategies and tactics to unite our class and people independently of the bankers’ parties, the Grits and the Tories, and achieve political power in the name of the Canadian working class.

For comrades, I hope that in the coming year the ongoing difficulties in the Fourth International, and indeed not just in our stream of the International reproclaimed in 1993 but in all the streams which lay claim to the heritage of the FI founded in 1938, which could appear to an old political paranoid like me to have been deliberately engineered, shall be overcome and indeed overwhelmed. Might as well wish for the moon with a white-enameled wrought iron picket fence around it if we do not contribute to the fight, however, so onwards!

It is New Year’s day in Newfoundland, so … we will have a sip of Asti Spumante now, and one at 11:00 when it is New Year’s day in Halifax and the rest of the Maritimes, and then a big gurgle of it at local midnight in Toronto.
Happy New Year! Peace, prosperity and justice on us all.

Endorsement letter for the Binational Fightback Conference

22 Nov


Comrades and friends,

You hold this Conference in order to organize the fight to cancel NAFTA and to prevent the construction of the Wall of the Shame, a policy led by US imperialism against the working class and peoples of the three countries, United States of America, Mexico and Canada.

Comrades and friends,

Through NAFTA, which entered into force on 1994, Canadian and Mexican markets are forced to open wide for American products (spare parts for cars and trucks, agriculture, clothing, electronics and services), to relocate American factories, especially in the automotive sector, to these countries, to privatize economic and social sectors and to question workers rights.

Concerning Canada: on average, Canadian exports to the United States are 80% of total Canadian exports, while the exports from the United States to Canada are less than 60% of their total exports.

American factories and business have been outsourced to this country firing American workers and imposing low wages for Canadian workers; at the same time Canadian factories and businesses have been outsourced to right-to-work states in the US, and to Mexico.

The ongoing NAFTA negotiations are aimed, according to the Trump administration, at reducing the trade deficit with these countries. In reality, it is about amplifying the attacks on the working class and the peoples of our countries.

In Canada, recourse to special laws has become the rule to counter the mobilisations and strikes for the satisfaction of workers’ demands, as happened recently in Quebec in the construction industry and at Ontario colleges.

Comrades and friends,

We were unable to attend the Conference, which could have been Trinational; rest assured that your fight is ours and we will look for ways to join you.

Full success at the Conference.


B. Ross Ashley; retired hospital worker, former member of the Executive Council of Local 204 SEIU; member of the executive of the Toronto-St Paul’s New Democratic Party, supporter of the NDP Socialist Caucus

Paul Nkunzimana; Correspondent International Workers Committee

(Copy, insert your name here, and email back to me at brashley46 at