New Madrid network campaigns for dignity: employment offices taken over by protesters

Earlier this month groups of protesters entered eight offices of INEM (National Institute of Employment, which operates Spain’s job centres) to highlight the plight of the 6 million unemployed and demand dignity for citizens. Not wishing to cause problems for unemployed people using the offices, the protesters kept disruption of the service to a minimum, and responses from staff and service users were generally positive; some of the waiting unemployed joined in the protest. In one office the protesters unfurled a banner reading “Network for dignity: we rescue people not banks”. In others, they were accompanied by musicians.

The protests were used to launch the Network for the Dignity of the Districts and Villages of Madrid (Red por la Dignidad de los Barrios y Pueblos de Madrid), a coalition which includes, among others, the 15-M movement (Los Indignados), PAH (Plataforma de Afectados por la Hipoteca – Platform of People Affected by Mortgages) and neighbourhood associations.

The Network was launched with the following statement, dated 1 February:

We Demand Dignity: A plan for the rescue of citizenship

In our districts and neighbourhoods we can clearly see the consequences of the decisions of our leaders on people’s lives. We suffer fear of expulsion from the labour market, and our public services – on which we rely to compensate for the brutal inequality generated by our society – are under threat.

It is the residents of our neighbourhoods and towns, the vast majority of people, who are experiencing a diminished quality of life and an increasingly limited citizenship status, with no real rights, while a few brutally increase their privileges at the expense of others, impoverished and pushed into a situation of limited options.

Faced with this degradation of rights, neglect and impoverishment, we demand the implementation of immediate and concrete measures, to ensure decent living conditions for the social sectors that are being most brutally affected by the economic policies of the government.

As part of this plan to rescue citizenship we demand of government:

1. Basic income for all people at risk of social exclusion. The right to life is not negotiable.

2. Affordable housing for all, because a home is essential for dignity, family formation and social life. Stop repossessions! Stop evictions!

3. Free public transport for the unemployed and their families. The freedom to move is essential in social life.

4. Subsidized school materials. No child left without books to study and train. 

5. Grants for students meals and travel. The possibility of training must not be limited by the ability to pay.

6. Training for employment. Specific training for the unemployed, to complement formal education.

7. Free medicine and strengthening of public services for mental health and drug dependency. Prevention is more cost-effective than curative and palliative care.

8. Maintaining existing health centres in neighbourhoods and towns. The Universal Right to Health overrides budgets.

9. Funds to meet emergency economic and social needs of households. Public resources should be used to support social integration and the reduction of inequality.

10. Free cultural events in public social and cultural centres. Culture is a major factor in self esteem and social inclusion.

11. Supplies of water and energy guaranteed to every household. These are basic necessities for life, outside the rule of markets.

12. Suspension of the payment of municipal taxes until the precarious economic situation improves.

13. Unblocking the Law of Dependence (aimed at providing personal care and autonomy for people unable to care for themselves) and paying sufficient attention to people requiring care. This is simple social justice.

14. Measures to care for children and adolescents, as one of the most vulnerable and defenceless groups in the current situation.

These measures require effective citizen control over public administration, to guarantee efficiency, ensure that the interests of the majority are served, to avoid wastage and bleeding of the public coffers through absurd salaries and poor contracts.

(Information taken from El Pais, 7 February 2013: http://ccaa.elpais.com/ccaa/2013/02/07/madrid/1360238231_045661.html and web-site of the Red por la Dignidad de los Barrios y Pueblos de Madrid: http://redporladignidaddelosbarrios.blogspot.com.es/.)

Taking the fight against austerity to a new level on November 14

Chris Nineham reports from Florence as trade unions and movements across Europe ready themselves for coordinated action on November 14th. 

The meeting of two or three thousand European activists and trades unionists in Florence headlined ‘Firenze 10 + 10’ has been lifted by plans for a united day of action across Europe. Wednesday November 14th will mark a breakthrough in the struggle against austerity in Europe. There will be co-ordinated general strikes in Portugal, Greece and Spain and significant strikes and solidarity actions in many other countries. The CGIL union in Italy, for example, an organisation of nearly six million, has announced a strike of all its members around the country.

This is a historic and crucial development. There have been other European days of action and joint protests in Brussels and elsewhere, but this will be the first time since the great anti-war protests nearly ten years ago that this level of co-ordination has taken place across borders. It is the first time that general strikes have been organised simultaneously.

The joint action arose originally from strike plans in Portugal, where the movement is gathering strength. It was taken up by the unions in Spain under popular pressure. Significantly the European Trade Union Confederation, normally hesitant to challenge the EU head on, has backed the action. Militants gathered in Florence for Firenze 10 + 10 are unanimously convinced of its importance.

For Ramon Gonzalez Boan from the union confederation in Galicia, Spain, “it is the first time there has been real co-operation among European workers. There have been some important European demonstrations, but for unions across Europe to overcome the differences in their cultures and outlooks and take strike action together is a very big step forward. In Spain this will be a real general strike with the exception of the Basque country where there have been two general strikes very recently. All the other confederations will be out.” Accompanying the strike there will be demonstrations in most towns and cities around the country.

According to Natasha Theodorakopoulou from Syriza, the Greek unions have been pushing for this kind of co-ordinated action for some time: “the announcement was made at a time of heightened struggle in Greece with a 48 hour general strike just finished against the new budget. The unions have decided to call a three hour strike in solidarity anyway, because we all understand how important this joint action is. It is impossible to imagine that we can win our struggle without such co-operation and solidarity.”

Action is spreading way beyond the three initiating countries. In Italy the CGIL, the biggest Union confederation, has called a four hour strike across the country. The National Secretary of the CGIL federation, Nicola Nicolosi, predicts that as well as the strike there will be one hundred demonstrations in city squares around the country, “the day’s significance lies first in the fact that this is the first time the ETUC has called action of this kind. It allows us to do what we need to do at last, which is to oppose our own government’s policy at the same time as challenging the whole European strategy of which it is a part, the neoliberal strategy of Brussels. But more than that it is a response to democracy in danger. In Italy we have a kind of suspension of democracy with the so called technicians’ government. Those who strike are answering back by saying we will not stop participating. This is our democracy”.

Pierre Khalfa, a militant from the Copernic Foundation in France, believes that although there will only be a few strikes there, the fact that all the unions have called for decentralised action will mean that there will be protests and rallies in many places: “This is vitally important because for the first time we have European action with real roots in various countries. It looks as if something is really starting to change. It will be a crucial test to see if it is possible to have effective common action. But it will only be a start – this will need to be developed into coordinated action around agreed demands – that will be the next step.”

In Germany too the unions have issued a call for joint local actions, in many places there will be strikes, but there will probably be demonstrations in others. For Hugo Braun, German representative of the anti-globalisation network Attac, this is real progress. “It helps to give people confidence, it’s a incredible achievement to start uniting the European labour movement, it breaks down the sense that each country has a different experience or different interests. It also strengthens the relationship between the movements and the unions. We already have very close relations between the movements and the public sector union Verdi in particular, including a broad coalition preparing a ‘Congress for Redistribution’. What is very exciting is that this time all the unions have called on their regional bodies to organise action in association with the movements. This is something very important to build on for the future.”

There is a similar situation in both Holland and Belgium, with the unions calling for decentralised actions, including strike action where possible. In all countries represented in Florence some kind of solidarity action will be taking place. There are specific plans too to undercut attempts to divide workers. A group of Greek trade unionists are travelling to Germany to head up the main demonstration there and German militants are heading to Athens to reciprocate.

In each country too there are of course difficulties to overcome. Victoria Montero, international secretary of the Spanish Workers’ Commissions, has concerns about the turnout for the strike, “the level of unemployment means there is a climate of fear even in the unionised workplaces so we don’t know about the level of take up of the strike. We are encouraging all citizens to do something on the day.” In France there is a big political division between the unions, with the CGT and Sud moving on to the offensive against Socialist Party policies and the other unions much more supportive of Hollande. In Italy, the fact that only one out of the three main confederations is striking is a product of deeply ingrained sectionalism.

However, November 14th is being seen as a major breakthrough everywhere. It is not simply a question of solidarity, important though that idea is. Raising action to the European level opens up a new phase in the struggle by showing that our side is capable of mounting a defence symmetrical to the centralised assault of the Troika, and it will thereby strengthen the movement in each country. In Florence it has created impetus behind preparations for an ‘Alter Summit’ to take pace in early June in Athens, designed to be a meeting place for the unions and the movements across the continent to plan further co-ordinated action.

In Britain the Coalition of Resistance is organising with others a solidarity demonstration assembling outside the European Commission, which will be followed by a rally where we will be showing footage of the strikes and protests on the day at the Emmanuel Centre, Marsham St. UNITE, PCS, Greece Solidarity Campaign and PIIGS are involved – and the TUC have tweeted support. There will also be actions in many cities around the country.

Europe against Austerity Action Conference Statement and Report

Europe is plunging deeper and deeper into crisis. Its governments are continuing with their failed austerity policies in spite of the ever-increasing struggles of the peoples of Europe in defence of the social and economic gains that they have made over many decades. The economic crisis has increasingly become a social and political crisis as people face poverty, hunger and even death, as a result of the catastrophic and government-imposed failure of health systems and social services. The far right is attempting to profit politically from the suffering inflicted on working people and vulnerable groups are being targeted together with those most militant in their opposition to the re-emergence of fascism.

Across Europe we are seeing escalating opposition and resistance to austerity: in Greece, in Spain and in Portugal, we have seen huge mobilisations, and in some areas an increase in the unity on the left so desperately needed. Yesterday in London, we saw a vast demonstration, led by the trade unions, and drawing together people from all walks of life in opposition to the savage and unnecessary cuts to public spending. There can be no mistaking that this class war against working people must be opposed even more strenuously.

At this conference today we commit ourselves to continuing to develop and consolidate the ongoing cooperation between organisations fighting austerity across Europe, to stand in solidarity with those on the front line of the struggle – most notably in Greece, and to work together to strengthen the economic, social and political alternatives to neo-liberal capitalism and the austerity policies it has adopted.

We will work together in the months ahead, cooperating for the ETUC Day of Action on 14 November, moving towards the Alter Summit in 2013, and increasing our work for left and movement unity, for common action, mutual solidarity, communication and coordination.

London, 21 October 2012

Over a hundred delegates packed into the Coalition of Resistance’s conference at the Unite the Union headquarters in London on Sunday afternoon, to strengthen anti-austerity coordination across Europe.

The event followed a massive anti-cuts demonstration on Saturday 20th October, called by the British TUC. Speakers included parliamentarians Marisa Matias MEP, from Bloco de Esquerda in Portugal, Stefanos Samoilis MP, from SYRIZA in Greece, and Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP from the UK. Other participants included trade unions from across the continent, as well as left and green parties and representatives from a wide range of social movements.

Sessions included Eurocrisis – Into the Abyss, a very informative debate on the economy including representatives from CADTM, NEF, SYRIZA and Elisabeth Gauthier from Transform and the PCF; The Shape of the Resistance, which included representatives from OLME in Greece and Front de Gauche in France, plus a lively contribution from Florian Wilde from Die Linke in Germany; No to neo-liberal education, which included representatives from teachers’ unions, the NUT, DOE and FSU; and Actions, co-operation and the timeline to Athens 2013 which addressed concrete steps in our joint work. Speakers included Natalie Bennett, leader of the Green Party in England and Wales and Vladimir Nieddu from SUD Sante in France. Frederic Leplat moved the conference statement on behalf of the Coalition of Resistance.

The conference expressed strong support for the ETUC Day of Action on 14thNovember and there was extensive discussion about the role of different types of action in taking the movement forward, including general strike action. Whilst Europe has seen a large number of one day general strike actions over the last year, it has not been sufficient to bring an end to austerity programmes. Britain itself has not seen a general strike since 1926 but it is now on the agenda at the highest trade union levels, including consideration by the TUC itself. Discussion also focused on the need for a clear and positive alternative to austerity and the vision of a different type of Europe, in the interests of ordinary people, which we can achieve if we work together. The importance of international solidarity was repeatedly stressed especially with regard to Greece. Delegates from Greece emphasized their urgent need for an increase in solidarity action, particularly from the trade union movement. The conference concluded by committing to working towards the Alter Summit in 2013.

International contingent to join TUC demonstration

A high profile delegation of parliamentarians and senior trade union figures from across Europe will be joining the TUC demonstration tomorrow, Saturday 20th October. They will be hosting a Press Conference at 11am outside HMS President on the Embankment, near Blackfriars Bridge, London.

Coming to London to express their solidarity against cuts and austerity measures in Britain, representatives from Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Germany are at the cutting edge of the struggles in their own countries for economic alternatives.

The delegation includes:  Stefanos Samoilis MP from SYRIZA in Greece which shot to prominence in recent elections, under the leadership of Alexis Tspiras; Marisa Mathias MEP from Bloco de Esquerda, in the leadership of the recent massive demonstrations in Portugal; Florian Wilde from Die Linke, Germany’s successful left party; Elisabeth Gauthier from the French Communist Party, prominent in the Front de Gauche; Giorgos Charisis from the ADEDY trade union federation of Greece; Haralambos Kokkinos, Vice-president of the DOE primary education trade union of Greece; Dimitris Gkinis of the OLME secondary education trade union of Greece; Annick Coupe, leader of the Solidaire trade union of France, and many others. (full list below note 1)

Today The Guardian published a letter from the delegation, explaining why they are marching in London. (text below note 2)

Stefanos Samoilis MP said: ‘People are facing poverty, hunger and even death, as a result of the catastrophic and government-imposed failure of health systems and social services across our continent. Ordinary people are suffering on almost every front. Today we represent the peoples of Europe, standing together with the people of Britain. Together, in solidarity, we will defeat this onslaught – for the sake of the future of humanity.’

Press Contacts:

Frederic Leplat   07941893212

Paul Mackney  07974353709

Notes

1 Delegation members

Stefanos Samoilis MP, Syriza, Greece

Marisa Mathias MEP, Bloco de Esquerda, Portugal

Florian Wilde, DieLinke, Germany

Elisabeth Gauthier, French Communist Party

Giorgos Charisis, ADEDY union federation, Greece

Haralambos Kokkinos, Vice-president, DOE, Greece

Dimitris Gkinis, OLME union, Greece

Annick Coupe, Solidaire union, France

Dominique Giannotti, FSU union, France

Alfons Bech, Comissions Obreres of Catalonia, Spain

Anders Svensson, Welfare not Profit, Sweden

Verveine Angeli, Attac, France

Christian Pigeon, SUD PTT, France

Nicolas Galepides, SUD PTT, France

Fred Madelin, SUD PTT, France

Myriam Djegham, Les Comités action contre l’Austérité en Europe, Belgium

Athanasios Kikinis, DOE union, Greece

Loukas Korfiatis, OLME union, Greece

Myriam Bourgy, Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt,Belgium

 

2 The Guardian letter text 19.10.12

‘Europe is plunging deeper into crisis. Its governments are continuing with their failed austerity policies in spite of the ever-increasing struggles of the peoples of Europe in defence of the social and economic gains made over many decades. The economic crisis has increasingly become a social and political crisis as people face poverty, hunger and even death. Those who oppose austerity must work together to reject policies which leave the majority of our populations in hardship and misery. That is why we have come to London and tomorrow we will march on the TUC demonstration, A Future that Works, alongside the people of this country, against austerity and for a future that works.’

 

Ανοιχτό Κάλεσμα Συμμετοχής στις Κινητοποιήσεις του Λονδίνου!

Κινητοποιήσεις Λονδίνου – 20/21 Οκτωβρίου 2012 – Κάλεσμα Συμμετοχής

Πορεία Διαμαρτυρίας TUC και Συνέδριο Europe Against Austerity (Ευρώπη Ενάντια στην Λιτότητα)

 

Το Σάββατο 20 Οκτωβρίου το Εργατικό Συνδυκάτο Βρετανίας διοργανώνει πορεία διαμαρτυρίας ενάντια στις πολιτικές λιτότητας με σύνθημα «Για ένα καλύτερο μέλλον». Εκατοντάδες χιλιάδες πολιτών αναμένεται να κατεβούν στους δρόμους διαδηλώνοντας την αντίθεσή τους στα επιβαλλόμενα μέτρα λιτότητας. Το Coalition of Resistance (Συνασπισμός Αντίστασης) θα δώσει το παρόν στην καρδιά αυτής της πορείας διαμαρτυρίας προβάλλοντας το κεντρικό του σύνθημα: «Όχι στις περικοπές». Το μήνυμα της μαζικής αυτής κινητοποίησης θα ενδυναμώσουν ιδιαίτερα με την συμμετοχή τους αντιπροσωπίες οργανώσεων από όλη την Ευρώπη.

Το 2011 οργανώσαμε το πρώτο συνέδριο με τίτλο: Europe Against Austerity (Ευρώπη Ενάντια στην Λιτότητα), στο πλαίσιο του οποίου διακηρύχθηκε κάλεσμα για συλλογική δράση των ευρωπαϊκών λαών έναντια στην λιτότητα. Τον Οκτώβριο του 2011 το συνέδριο αυτό απαρίθμησε περισσότερους από 600 συμμετέχοντες, εκ των οποίων οι 150 πρέρχονταν από διάφορες ευρωπαϊκές χώρες.

Τον τελευταίο χρόνο έχουμε όλοι γίνει μάρτυρες μεγάλων αγωνιστικών κινητοποίησεων, όπως των πολυήμερων μαζικών απεργιών στην Ελλάδα, και βέβαια, της μεγλης απεργίας των Ισπανών ανθρακορύχων της Αστούριας, που έχει προκαλέσει τον θαυμασμό και την υποστήριξη εκατομμυρίων ανθρώπων σε πανευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο. Οι σφοδρές επιθέσεις, όμως, ενάντια στους λαούς της Ευρώπης αποδεικνύουν ότι αυτού του είδους οι ενέργειες θα συνεχιστούν και θα κλιμακωθούν· συνεπώς για την αντιμετώπισή τους απαιτείται άμεση, αλληλέγγυα και συντονισμένη δράση.

Καλούμε όλες τις ευρωπαϊκές οργανώσεις αντίστασης στην λιτότητα να δώσουν το παρόν στο Λονδίνο την 20η και 21η Οκτωβρίου για να συμμετάσχουν στην πορεία διαμαρτυρίας, καθώς και στις ακόλουθες συναντήσεις, με σκοπό να συζητηθεί και να δομηθεί ένα κοινό σχέδιο δράσης για την αναχαίτηση των πολιτικών λιτότητας. Για να νικηθεί ο κοινός εχθρός απαιτείται συντονισμένη δράση.

Στις αρχές Σεπτεμβρίου θα πραγματοποιηθεί μια προπαρασκευαστική συνάντηση για την διοργάνωση του συνεδρίου της 21ης Οκτωβρίου, στην οποία μπορούν να λάβουν μέρος όσοι το επιθυμούν ανεξαρτήτως της συμμετοχής τους στις κινητοποιήσεις της περσυνής χρονιάς. Η ημερομηνία και ο τόπος της συνάντησης θα ανακοινωθούν σύντομα. Παρακαλούμε να επικοινωνείσετε μαζί μας για να δηλώσετε την συμμετοχή σας.

Κλείνοντας, παροτρύνουμε και πάλι τις οργανώσεις από κάθε γωνιά της Ευρώπης να παραστούν στο Λονδίνο τον Οκτώβριο, ώστε να αποδείξουμε ότι η δύναμη της εργατικής τάξης βρίσκεται στην συνένωση και στην αλληλεγγύη των ανθρώπων της.

Ας κάνουμε την 20/21η Οκτωβρίου το επόμενο βήμα στην κοινή μας πάλη έναντια στην λιτότητα.

Andrew Burgin

Γραμματέας του Coalition of Resistance

Επικοινωνία: andrew@andrewburgin.com

 

Acciones en Londres – 20 y 21 de octubre de 2012 – LLAMAMIENTO DE APOYO

Manifestación del Trade Unions Congress y Conferencia de Acción Europea Contra la Austeridad [Europe Against Austerity Action]

El próximo sábado 20 de octubre el Trade Union Congress británico celebrará una marcha contra la austeridad “Por un futuro que funcione” [“For a future that works”]. Cientos de miles de personas tomarán la calle en Londres para oponerse a los recortes que se les imponen. La Coalition of Resistance estará en el centro de esta manifestación con su mensaje de “No a los Recortes” [“No Cuts”]. La participación de delegaciones de toda Europa reforzará enormemente la importancia de lo que va a ser una movilización masiva.

En el año 2011 nuestra organización inició la conferencia “Europe Against Austerity” [“Europa Contra la Austeridad”] que emitió un llamamiento a la acción conjunta contra la austeridad en toda Europa. Más de 600 personas asistieron a la conferencia en octubre de 2011, 150 de las cuales procedían de otras partes de Europa.

Desde la celebración de esa conferencia hemos visto grandes luchas en Grecia, en donde ha habido muchos días de huelga general, y en España, en donde los mineros asturianos han generado el apoyo de millones de personas en toda Europa. La naturaleza de los ataques contra los pueblos de Europa implica que tales acciones han de continuar e intensificarse. Necesitamos con urgencia trabajar de una manera más solidaria y coordinada.

Hacemos un llamamiento a las organizaciones de lucha contra la austeridad de toda Europa para que vengan a Londres el 20 y 21 de octubre a participar tanto en la manifestación de Londres como para reunirnos al día siguiente y discutir una acción conjunta para hacer retroceder la marea de la austeridad. Tenemos que forjar acciones coordinadas para alcanzar victorias sobre el enemigo común.

Se celebrará una reunión preparatoria de carácter abierto a principios de septiembre para prepararnos para la conferencia del 21 de octubre. Todos aquellos que deseen participar serán bienvenidos, independientemente de que hayan asistido o no a la conferencia del año pasado. La fecha y el lugar se notificarán en breve. Por favor, poneos en contacto si deseáis asistir.

Instamos a organizaciones y a organizaciones de toda Europa a que vengan a Londres en octubre, para demostrar que la fuerza del movimiento obrero se encuentra en su unidad y en su solidaridad.

Hagamos del 20 y 21 de octubre nuestro siguiente paso en la lucha común contra la austeridad.

Andrew Burgin

Secretario, Coalition of Resistance

andrew@andrewburgin.com

Common Appeal for the Rescue of the Peoples of Europe


Mikis Theodorakis
amd Manolis Glezos have issued this Appeal to the peoples of Europe

65 years after the defeat of nazism and fascism, European people are today confronting a dramatic threat, this time not military, but a financial, social and political one. A new “Empire of Money” has been systematically attacking one European country after another in the last 18 months, without facing any substantial resistance.

European governments not only fail to organize a collective defence of European people against the markets, but, instead, try to “calm” the markets by imposing policies that remind us of the way governments tried to confront nazism in the ’30s.

They organize “debt wars” between the peoples of Europe, just like when they were driven from the belle époque to World War 1. The offensive of the markets initiated a war against Greece, an EU member-state, whose people have played a decisive role in the resistance against barbarity and the liberation of European World War 2. In the beginning, this war was a communicative war, which reminded us of the campaigns against hostile, outcast countries, like Iraq or Yugoslavia. This campaign presented Greece as a country of lazy and corrupted citizens, while attempting to blame the “PIIGS” of Europe and not the international banks for the debt crisis.

Shortly, this offensive evolved into a financial one, which caused the submission of Greece under a status of limited sovereignty and the intervention of the IMF to the internal affairs of the Eurozone.

When they got what they wanted fromGreece, the markets targeted the other, smaller or larger countries of the European periphery. The aim is one and common in all cases: The full guarantee of the interests of the banks against the states, the demolition of the European welfare state, which has been a cornerstone of European democracy and culture, the demolition of European states and the submission of the remaining state structures to the new “International of Money”.

The EU, which was presented to its peoples as a means for collective progress and democracy, tends to become the means for terminating prosperity and democracy. It was introduced as a means of resistance to globalization, but the markets wish it to be an instrument of this globalization.

It was introduced to German and other European peoples as a means of peaceful increase of their power and prosperity, but the way that all peoples are abandoned to be the pray of financial markets, destroys the image of Europe and turns the markets into actors of a new financial totalitarianism, into the new bosses of Europe.

We are facing the danger of repeating the financial equivalent of World War 1 and World War 2 in our continent and be dissolved into chaos and decomposition, in favor of an international Empire of Money and Weapons, in the economic epicentre of which lies the power of the markets.

The peoples of Europe and the world are facing a historically unprecedented concentration of financial but also political and media power by the international financial capital, ie by a handful of financial institutes, rating agencies and a political and media class redeemed by them, with more centers outside, than inside Europe. These are the markets that attack today in one European country after another, using the leverage of debt to demolish the European welfare state and democracy.

The “Empire of Money” now requires a fast, violent, brutal transformation of a Eurozone country, Greece, into a country of the third world, with a so-called program of “rescue”, in fact the “rescue” of banks who lent the country. In Greece, the alliance of banks and the political leaderships imposed -through the EU, the ECB and the IMF – a program that equals to “economic and social murder” of the country and its democracy, and organizes the looting of the country before the bankruptcy to which it leads, wishing to make it the scapegoat of the global financial crisis and use it as a “paradigm” to terrorize all European peoples.

The policy that is currently conducted in Greece and attempts to spread, is the same applied in Pinochet’s Chile, Yeltsin’s Russia or Argentina and will have the same results, if not discontinued immediately. As a result of a program that supposedly intended to help the country,Greeceis now on the verge of economic and social disaster; it is used as a guinea pig to study people’s reactions to social Darwinism and terrify the entire European Union, with what can happen to one of its members.

The markets may also be pushing and using the leadership of Germany in actions of destruction of the European Union. But it constitutes an act of extreme political and historical blindness for the dominant forces of the EU and first of all, forGermany, to think that there can be any project of European integration or even simple cooperation, on the ruins of one or moremembers of the Eurozone.

The planned demolition of major, globally significant political and social achievements of the European peoples, can not establish any kind of European Union. It will lead to chaos and disintegration and it will promote the emergence of fascist solutions in our continent.

In 2008 private banking giants of Wall Street forced the states and state banks to bail them out of the crisis they themselves created, by paying with the taxpayers’ money the cost of their enormous fraud, such as mortgages, but also the operational cost of an unregulated casino-capitalism, imposed in the last twenty years. They turned their own crisis into a public debt crisis.

Now they are using the crisis and debt, which they themselves created, to deprive the states and the citizens of the few powers they still hold.

This is one part of the debt crisis. The other is that financial capital, together with the political forces supporting it globally, imposed an agenda of neoliberal globalization, which inevitably leads to the relocation of production outside Europe and the downward convergence of social and ecological standards of Europe with those of the Third World. For many years they hid this process behind loans, but now they use the loans to complete it.

The “International of Money”, that wishes to eliminate any notion of state in Europe, threatens Greece today, Italy or Portugal tomorrow; it encourages the confrontation among European peoples and puts the European Union before the dilemma whether to transform into a dictatorship of the markets or to dissolve. It aims at makingEuropeand the world to regress in a state like the one before 1945, or even before the French Revolution and the Enlightenment

In ancient times, the abolition, by Solon, of the debts which forced the poor to be slaves of the rich, the so-called Seisachtheia reform, laid the foundations for the birth, in ancientGreece, of the ideas of democracy, citizenship, politics andEurope, the foundations of European and world culture.

Struggling against the class of wealth, the citizens of Athens led the way in the constitution of Pericles and the political philosophy of Protagoras, who declared that “Man is the measure above all money”.

Today, the wealthy classes are attempting to avenge this spirit of man: “The markets are the measure above all men” is the motto that our political leaderships willingly embrace, in alliance with the devil of money, as Faust did.

A handful of international banks, rating agencies, investment funds, a global

concentration of financial capital without historical precedent, claims power in

Europe and the world and prepares to abolish the states and our democracy, using the weapon of debt to enslave the peoples of Europe, putting in place of the incomplete democracy we have, the dictatorship of Money and Banks; the power of a totalitarian empire of globalization, the political center of which is outside continental Europe, despite the presence of powerful European banks at the heart of the empire.

They started fromGreece, using it as a guinea pig, to move then to the other countries of the European periphery, and gradually to the center. The hope of some European countries to eventually escape, just proves that today’s European leaders face the threat of a new “financial fascism”, not better than the way they faced the threat of Hitler during the inter-war period.

It is not by accident that a big part of the media controlled by bankers chose to attack against the European periphery, by naming these countries as “pigs”, and also turned to a contemptuous, sadistic, racist campaign of the media they own, not only against the Greeks, but against the ancient Greek heritage and the ancient Greek civilization.

This choice shows the deeper, underlying goals of the ideology and the values of financial capital, which promotes capitalism of destruction.

The attempt of a part of the German media to humiliate symbols such as the

Acropolis or the Venus de Milo, monuments which were respected even by Hitler’s officers, is nothing but an expression of the deep disdain of bankers, who control these media, not so much against the Greeks, but mainly against the ideas of freedom and democracy, which were born in this country.

The financial monster produced four decades of tax exemption for the capital, all kinds of “market liberalization”, widespread deregulation, abolition of all barriers to the flows of capital and commodities, constant attacks against the state, massive acquisition of political parties and media, ownership of the global surplus from a handful of vampire-banks of Wall Street. Now, this monster, a true “state behind the States”, is revealed claiming the completion of the financial and political “permanent coup d’ etat”, carried out for over than four decades.

Facing this attack, the political forces of the European right-wing and social democracy seem compromised after decades of “entryism” by financial capital, the most important centers of which are non-European. On the other hand, trade-unions and social movements are still not strong enough to block this attack decisively, like they repeatedly did in the past. The new financial totalitarianism seeks to take advantage of this situation, in order to impose finite, irreversible conditions across Europe.

There is an urgent need for an immediate, cross-border coordination of action by intellectuals, people of the arts and literature, spontaneous movements, social forces and personalities who comprehend the importance of the stakes; we need to create a powerful front of resistance against the advancing “totalitarian empire of globalization”, before it is too late.

Europecan survive only if we promote a united response against the markets, a challenge bigger than theirs, a new European «New Deal».

  • We must immediately stop the attack againstGreeceand other countries of the EU periphery; we must stop the irresponsible and criminal policy of austerity and privatization, which leads directly to a crisis deeper than the one of 1929.
  •  Public debts must be radically restructured across the Eurozone, particularly on the expense of the private banking giants. Banks must be re-controlled and the financing of European economy must be under national and European social control. It is not possible to let the financial keys ofEuropein the hands of banks like Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, UBS, the Deutsche Bank etc. We must ban the uncontrolled financial derivatives, which are the spearhead of the destructive financial capitalism, and create real economic development, instead of speculative profits.
  • The present architecture, based on the Maastricht Treaty and the WTO rules, has established a debt production machine inEurope. We need a radical change of all Treaties, the submission of the ECB under political control by the European peoples, a “golden rule” for minimum social, fiscal, environmental standards inEurope. We urgently need a change of paradigm; a return to the stimulation of growth through the stimulation of demand, via new European investment programs, a new regulation, taxation and control of international capital and commodities flows; a new form of smart and reasonable protectionism in an independent Europe, which will be the protagonist in the fight for a multipolar, democratic, ecological, social planet.

We appeal to the forces and individuals who share these ideas, to converge into a broad, European front of action as soon as possible; to produce a European transitional program, to coordinate our international action, so as to mobilize the forces of the popular movement, to reverse the current balance of power and overthrow the current historically irresponsible leaderships of our countries, in order to save our people and our societies before it is too late for Europe.

Athens, October 2011

 

Stop the destruction of social gains: march separately, strike together!

In every country in Europe, working people are hit by drastic and very similar austerity measures and plans inflicted by the various bourgeois governments, writes Balazs Nagy, from the Workers International. Obviously people in other continents are not exempt from effects of the deep crisis of capitalism either, but it takes on its most significant and vicious dimensions here in Europe. This is the cradle of capitalism and therefore of the workers’ movement which, with the support of all working people, succeeded in the past in winning significant rights and advantages in more than a century of bitter, stubborn struggle. Whatever the  soothing words from those in government and their legions of propagandists, this crisis is far from over. The resolute frontal attacks on the gains and rights workers have won will increase in number and ferocity. It is therefore highly important to know what they really represent and where they come from.

Thirty (not so) glorious years
These bourgeois attacks did not just start with the present crisis. In fact the material, social, political and cultural rights working people enjoy are incompatible with capitalism-imperialism, particularly in its current senile state of decrepitude. They were never freely given, but all of them were taken from the system by force in heroic struggles by working people over many years, not just during and after World War II, but also well before then.  But it was at that point that the balance of forces, internationally and within almost every country, swung clearly in favour of the working class. Terrified by the underlying support for the powerful revolutionary wave in Europe, the destitute bourgeoisie was only able to defuse the revolution through ready assistance from the general staffs of parties that called themselves socialist and communist. But willy-nilly, they had to pay a price for this. That was how the series of measures and reforms started which culminated in what became known as “welfare states” or “social market economy” (in Germany) and the so-called “thirty glorious years”. But the rot had already set in right from the word go…

Read more here http://workersinternational.org/?p=10

 

Riots : the voices of the unheard angry and alienated youth

The continuing economic crisis has claimed millions of victims across the globe, argues Lee Jasper of Black Activists Rising against Cuts (BARAC). The promise of globalisation was never anything more than simple unrestrained capitalism. The reality is that reckless casino banks having been bailed out by taxpayers are now devouring nations’ economies and destroying the social and economic gains made by working people right across Europe.

We are not only witnessing a global economic crisis of enormous proportions, parallel to that we are witnessing a crisis in the political and moral legitimacy of the institutions of state. Throughout the world we are seeing the effects of this crisis in the brutal ideological economic and political attacks by the wealthy European elites on the poorest and most vulnerable sections of society.

However the resistance of peoples and communities throughout the world is growing and through the Occupy movements, trade unions, the poor and disenfranchised people are mobilizing in defence of their rights on an unprecedented scale. Throughout the world we see stiff opposition to Governments attempts to return employee terms and conditions to the industrial dark ages. Students, public sector workers, community and voluntary organisations and poor black and white working class communities are rising up in opposition to the so-called age of austerity.

Here in the UK we saw that rage explode. In August thousands of people rioted spontaneously in response to the shooting of a black man Mark Duggan in Tottenham.

The Guardian’s recent survey of young people who took part in the riots confirmed what most of on the left already knew. The riots were political in character. My own view expressed at the time was that racist and aggressive police stop and searches, the increasing number of black men dying suspicious deaths in police custody and the savage nature of public sector cuts were main motivations of the majority of rioters.

One of the main motivations for taking to the streets was the opportunity to attack the police. Years of pent up frustration with police brutality, increasing rates of racism and stop and search have resulted in the police being viewed in many majority black areas as an oppressive army of occupation. Racism aggression and injustice have been their lot for too long and the shooting of Mark Duggan acted as a catalyst for an inelegant uprising against injustice.

The increase in University fees, cuts to the Education Maintenance Awards, rising youth unemployment against a backdrop of cuts to youth service provision, large scale public sector redundancies faced by their parents and draconian cuts to welfare benefits has created a vast reservoir of anger and discontent. Their sense of deep outrage and injustice was further inflamed by the fact that not only were the bankers bailed out at the expense of the poorest sections of our community, they suffered the gross ignominy of having to watch bankers continue to pay themselves huge bonuses.

As I stood on the streets of Brixton on the night of the disturbances young people carrying huge flat screen televisions told me that as far as they were concerned what they we engaged in was the moral equivalent of MPs expenses and bankers bonuses scandals. They immediately recognised that in the UK there is one law for financial white collar crimes and quite another for black people and those from poor working class communities. The moral and political distrust of institutions and politicians’ can be traced back to the Blair administrations lies over the Iraq war and weapons of mass destruction despite the majority of British people being opposed to that illegal war. Since that time British people have become increasing critical and lacking in trust

Since then the MPs’ and Lords’ expenses scandal, the bankers’ bonuses and bailouts, cuts to public sector spending, the illegal and disgraceful activities of News International, disproportionate sentencing for rioters and light sentencing for MPs for guilty of fraud, the failure of the IPCC to properly investigate police deaths in custody, police brutality corruption and rampant racism in stop and search has culminated in the collapse of trust confidence in neo-liberal democracy and its institutions. Alongside this an absence of hope and opportunity for Britain’s poorest communities has come a profound moral crisis that critically challenges the lack of political and judicial impartiality and inability to demonstrate equality and fairness before the law.

Cameron Government refuses to recognise racism, social and economic injustice

This outpouring of anger was described by British PM David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson as being nothing more than an act of mass criminality. They spoke of the ‘ feral underclass” as being a good for nothing, lazy inherently criminal class. The Coalition Government sought to dismiss the riots as being motivated by nothing more than greed and a sense of entitlement from the “undeserving poor”.

The media, with a few notable exceptions, have generally conspired to play down the extent to which the police were the focus of people’s anger that night. Right across the country there are reports of police officers being the primary target. Most mainstream media focused on the effects on local businesses, those who suffered arson and those that tragically lost their lives. Most have chosen to completely ignore the underlying social and political issues that gave rise to the riots.

The reality is that that the events in August were a direct political statement of opposition to racism, inequality and injustice. Of course as with any outbreak of large-scale disorder there is always an opportunistic criminal element.  It is in the interests of both Governments and the police to focus on criminality as an explanation of the riots. The politically unacceptable alternative would be to admit that Government cuts, inequality, poverty, institutional racism and injustice were the primary causes.

The backdrop to events in August needs to be understood in its proper context.

British Justice favours the rich and condemns the poor

Over the last three years we have experienced increasing levels of institutional police racism. The gains made as a result of the McPherson recommendations have come under constant attack and now widely undermined and ignored. Central Government has made it clear that racism in policing is no longer a priority concern and as a result the police have returned to their cultural default setting of rampant institutional racism.

In doing so the Government has fast-forwarded back to the future, returning us to the dark days of the 1980s where police and black community relations were at their worst.

Deaths in police custody

In March of this year I described the UK black community as being at “boiling point “ in the immediate aftermath of the death in police custody of the reggae star Smiley Culture.  In the following five months unbelievably we saw four more black men dying in suspicious circumstances in police custody.

The deaths of Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell, Demetre Fraser and Mark Duggan in Tottenham heated police black community relations to ‘boiling point.’ For anyone who was paying attention the signs have been there for all to see.

The reality is that as these official Metropolitan Police Authority figures show that since the election of this Coalition Government and Boris Johnson became Mayor of London deaths in police custody increased massively.

Year Black & Asian Other Total
1998-99

6

11

17

1999-00

4

12

16

2000-01

2

5

7

2001-02

4

5

9

2002-03

10

7

17

2003-04

6

9

15

2004-05

3

11

14

2005-06

7

10

17

2006-07

8

7

15

2007-08

7

9

16

2008-09

13

15

28

2009-10

13

11

24

2010-11

10

16

26

2011-12 to end of October 2011

2

6

8

It remains a scandal that not a single police officer has ever been convicted of the murder of a citizen.

Stop and search

Despite vehement denials by the police and Government about the widespread extent of  ‘racial profiling‘, citing reams of equality policies and procedures, the reality is policing canteen culture eats police equality policy for breakfast.

According to the Ministry of Justice latest figures London has seen black stop and search rates increase from 118,000 people in 2004/5 rising to 205,708 in 2009. In the UK black people are 7 times more likely to be stopped and searched. The criminal justice system then amplifies police racism. Black people who do get arrested are 3.5 times more likely to be charged than whites and if found guilty will receive on average sentence of 20 months compared to 14 months sentencing average for white people. For 1000 white people there are 1.2 people in jail for the Asian community that figure is 2.4 per 1000 and for black people in the UK that figure is a staggering 7 people per thousand.

The PM himself has ordered the judiciary to hand out exemplary sentences to rioters contrary to the law and any notion of the concept of fair and equal justice.

PM David Cameron and London Mayor Boris’s Johnson shared Thatcherite political ideology means they refuse to recognise the reality of class prejudice and police racism and by doing so have given a green light to what is now an unrestrained torrent of injustice and police racism. This explains the PM’s constant attack on the concept of multiculturalism and the subsequent down grading of race equality policy within government the police service.

They can’t say they were not warned. Tottenham activists Stafford Scott and myself who alongside others pointed out the growing sense of racism anger and frustration that was apparent prior to the riots. The Independent Police Complaints Commission has shredded the last vestiges of its waning credibility in the handling of both the Smiley Culture and Mark Duggan cases. At the time of Mark Duggan’s death the IPCC were seen to be colluding with the Metropolitan Police Service to cover up the facts surrounding Marks death falsely confirming that he had shot at a police officer. That was a lie and at the time everyone knew it.

The acute and willful failure of both Government and the Mayor of London to accept the reality of the impact of profound economic injustice and their tacit promotion of racism comes at a huge economic and social cost to the country. We are bound to seem more riots if the root causes are not recognised and acted upon.

The reality of institutionalised racism within British criminal justice system compounded by the stark and growing levels of economic inequality provide a credible and more objective explanation for the disturbances in August.

Public sector cuts

The vast sums of taxpayers’ money used to bailout the banks contrasted with the huge cuts to public spending illustrate the profound right wing ideological nature of this Coalition Government. Global capitalism is completely out of control and now seeks to subvert even democracy itself as we have seen in both Greece and Italy.

The gap between the poorest members of our society and the richest continues to grow. UK income inequality is the fourth largest of any country in the world. Social mobility has decreased whilst child poverty rates and youth unemployment are on the increase.

Young people today face a future that has been robbed of its promise by a free market that is anything but free. The reality is that western neo-liberal democratic capitalism is in crisis and the moral and political underpinnings of its free market philosophical basis revealed as fundamentally predatory and inherently exploitive of the poor and the vulnerable.

Those young people who took part in the riots see hundreds of thousands of their parents being made redundant and their retirement pensions slashed. They see their youth clubs and employment support projects being shut down. Some are forced to move home because of housing benefit restrictions forcing families out of their homes, they can’t afford higher education and they cant get a job. For them this misery has no end in sight.

The cuts to the Education Maintenance Award providing much needed financial support for poor students studying in college is an act of pure political malevolence. 100,000 students have been affected and discarded to the scrap heap of long-term unemployment. That’s why we need to ensure that the riots are properly understood in and the links made between the general struggle against the cuts and the broader effects on vulnerable communities.

As at all times of acute economic decline, racism and scapegoating becomes the order of the day for unscrupulous politicians and sections of a biased media. As we approach the new year with prospect of increased levels of racism it is imperative that the trade union campaigns against public sector cuts ensure that an anti racist approach is woven seamlessly into the fight for economic equality justice and fairness. Support for progressive campaigning organisations such as Black Activists Rising Against Cuts  (BARAC) and the Coalition of Resistance is vital.

Next year alongside widespread strike action we intend to redouble the fight against racism and step up our campaign for full judicial a public inquiry into all suspicious deaths in police custody. We intend to march,protest and fully mobiles all communities in the battle for social and economic justice, fairness and equality.

Lee Jasper is Co-Chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts and Chair of the London Race and Criminal Justice Consortium.

http://leejasper.blogspot.com

www.leejasper.com

twitter.com/LeeJasper

Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste calls for coordinated resistance across Europe

The French Nouveau Parti Anticapitaliste yesterday backed the public sector strikers in Britain and called for coordinated resistance across Europe. NPA participated in organising the Coalition of Resistance‘s Europe Against Austerity Conference last month, which was addressed by Olivier Besancenot, pictured here, on behalf of the NPA.

“The NPA stands in solidarity with striking public sector workers in Britain.

Trade unions have called for strike action today, November 30th. They are opposed to the pension plans of Cameron’s government.

These changes to public sector pensions are part of the destruction of social justice and austerity measures implemented by governments all over Europe.

The changes would see retirement age pushed up to 66 in 2020 and to 68 after that; they would considerably increase pension contributions from 6 to 9%, and would see pension incomes lowered by basing them on average instead of final salary.

The government’s attack on pensions is added to the job and budget cuts which are already hitting the public sector. Thousands of protests are planned and this strike will no doubt be the most significant since 1979, hence why head teachers are on strike for the first time in 114 years.

The NPA is in complete solidarity with British public sector workers.

The politics of mass destruction of welfare and social rights is implemented across the European Union, whatever the type of government in charge; across pensions, incomes, health care and the entirety of fundamental rights.

At the beck and call of the financial markets, governments are endlessly repeating the same old line: working people have to pay for the crisis and make sacrifices.

The countries most affected by the crisis, such as Greece, Spain and Portugal, have already seen plenty of strikes and protests.

It is vital that the fightback is coordinated so we can act together at the same time across Europe.

This is a matter of absolute urgency.”

(Translation from French by Betty)

“Le NPA solidaire des fonctionnaires britanniques en grève.

La totalité des syndicats ont appelé à la grève, aujourd’hui 30 novembre, les fonctionnaires britanniques à la grève. Ils entendent s’opposer à la politique du gouvernement Cameron concernant  la retraite.

C’est la même politique de régression sociale, de destruction des droits sociaux que les gouvernements mettent en oeuvre partout en Europe.

Il s’agirait de repousser à 66 ans l’âge de départ en retraite en 2020, et à 68 ans ensuite, d’alourdir considérablement mes cotisations qui passeraient de 6 à 9%, d’abaisser les pensions versées qui seraient calculées sur la moyenne des salaires et non plus sur celui des dernières années.

Cette offensive gouverenementale contre la retraite s’ajoute aux suppressions d’emplois et aux restrictions budgétaires qui frappent déjà le secteur public.

1000 manifestations sont programmées et cette grève sera sans doute la plus forte depuis 1979. C’est ainsi que les directeurs d’école feront grève pour la première fois depuis 114 ans.

Le NPA est totalement solidaire des fonctionnaires britanniques.

La politique de destruction massive des droits sociaux s’applique dans toute l’Union européenne, quel que soit le type de gouvernement, qu’il s’agise de la retraite, des salaires, de la santé ou de l’ensemble des droits fondamentaux.

Aux ordres des marchés financiers, les gouvernements délivrent toujours la même rengaine : la crise ce sont les salariés, la population qui doivent la payer, faire des sacrifices.

De nombreuses grèves ou manifestations se sont déjà déroulées dans les pays les plus touchés, comme la Frèce, l’Etat espagnol, le Portugal, notamment.

Il est plus qu’urgent que ces ripostes soient coordonnées pour agir tous ensemble au même moment en Europe.

Cela devient d’une urgence absolue.”

Le 30 novemebre 2011.