Category Archives: Popular opposition

Real Americans Question 9/11

Real Americans Question 9/11

These days it’s difficult to remember what values the American people share. That’s because the U.S. government does so many things that seem to contradict basic human values. Wars of aggression, torture, kidnapping and indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and so many other oppressions have become standard operational procedure for the U.S. government. Those who recognize and seek to correct this system of abuse soon realize that the key to doing so is to reveal the truth behind the primary driver for all of them—the crimes of 9/11.

It’s important to know what makes someone an American and what does not. Here are some examples of what does not make someone an American.

  • Loyalty to the flag
  • Respect for the national anthem
  • Serving in the military or honoring military veterans
  • Paying taxes

A person can do these things to any extent possible and it will not make them any more American than they were before they began. Popular culture and corporate media make every effort to present American patriotism as a sum of these kinds of activities but it is easy to see through that false front.

Only one thing makes someone an American and that is support and defense of the U.S. Constitution. The founding fathers of the United States defined Americans as those who are committed to the ideals of the Constitution. To this day, anyone claiming to represent the nation must swear an oath to uphold those ideals.

Each president, when taking office, affirms that he will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” All congress members must swear or affirm that they will “support and defend the Constitution.”

All new citizens of the United States and every member of the U.S. military must swear to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;” and that they “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The U.S. Constitution is comprised of articles that spell out the government’s powers and the process of making amendments. It also includes the 27 amendments that exist today. The first ten amendments, ratified four years after the original text, are known as the Bill of Rights. These include the freedoms of speech, religion, and the press. Also, there are the rights to bear arms, to privacy, and to a speedy and public trial. The rejection of cruel and unusual punishment is another basic tenet of the U.S. Constitution.

Unfortunately, virtually every Article and Amendment of the Constitution has been under attack since September 11, 2001. Yet very few people have risen to support or defend it. In fact, many so-called Americans have encouraged assaults on the core American values.

That abuse began with the violation of Article 1 of the Constitution that rejects starting wars of aggression without having been “actually invaded, or in such imminent danger as will not admit of delay.” Instead of working to determine what actually happened on 9/11 and thereby defend the nation, the Bush Administration immediately invaded Afghanistan, a country that it had planned to invade long before the 9/11 attacks. Sixteen months later, the government invaded Iraq based on what everyone now knows was a pack of lies.

Americans who questioned that anti-American approach were silenced with claims that they were not “supporting the troops” if they did not consent to the growing greed-fueled militarism. The Afghanistan invasion was coupled with the passing of the Patriot Act—an attack on basic Constitutional rights and a failure to preserve those rights as described in Article 2.

In 2006, national polls showed that over one third of Americans believed that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East. At the same time, Americans witnessed a growing list of abuses of their Constitutional rights. These abuses violated the Bill of Rights in nearly every way and were driven by unproven claims about what happened on September 11, 2001.

On the tenth anniversary of 9/11, the Center for Constitutional Rights described how the Constitution had been shredded based on assumptions about the 9/11 attacks. By then, it had also become clear that the government was actually giving aid and comfort to the enemy (violating Article 3) through arming and training terrorists. One might think it obvious that stopping such actions would be the goal of all Americans but to do so one Congress member has had to spell it out in legislation.

Failing to protect Americans against domestic violence (a violation of Article 4), the FBI was found to actually be manufacturing terrorism. It was further learned that some FBI leaders had been facilitating or sponsoring terrorism since long before 9/11. This practice continues today and the manufactured plots have become so obvious that officials are finding it difficult to explain why Americans should take them seriously.

Attorney and author John W. Whitehead has detailed the continuing attacks on the Bill of Rights by writing that,

“What began with the passage of the USA Patriot Act in October 2001 has snowballed into the eradication of every vital safeguard against government overreach, corruption and abuse. Since then, we have been terrorized, traumatized, and tricked into a semi-permanent state of compliance. The bogeyman’s names and faces change over time—Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and now ISIS—but the end result remains the same: our unquestioning acquiescence to anything the government wants to do in exchange for the phantom promise of safety and security.”

The attacks on American values have been so extensive that people often no longer notice how bad it has become. For example, the government has named those captured and tortured in the name of 9/11 as “forever prisoners”—a term that exemplifies the hatred of freedom represented by the new phony Americanism. The fact that one of these men was a central character in building the official account of 9/11 and has since been exonerated for any involvement in those crimes makes no difference.

How can real Americans respond to this ongoing assault against the Constitution by flag-waving, militaristic, greed-driven fools? How can we “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” by “bearing true faith and allegiance to the same?”

To end the wave of anti-Americanism that began with the crimes of 9/11, Americans have two options. The first is to stand up publicly and fight the attacks on our Constitution by helping everyone understand that the crimes of 9/11 have not been solved. In fact, there are still so many unanswered questions about those crimes that everything done in “response” is almost certainly a crime in itself.

The second option is to end the tyranny through revolution. This was how America began, of course, and that great beginning is enshrined in the precursor to the Constitution—the Declaration of Independence. At the time, the founders stated that, “When a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

As Americans it is our duty to throw off the tyrannical abuses of power that are threatening to end America. That duty starts with questioning 9/11—the driver behind all of it.

Greece: Truth Committee on Public Debt – Preliminary Report

Truth Committee on Public Debt
 
Preliminary report
 
 
The Truth Committee on Public Debt (Debt Truth Committee) was established on April 4, 2015, by a decision of the President of the Hellenic Parliament, Ms Zoe Konstantopoulou, who confided the Scientific Coordination of its work to Dr. Eric Toussaint and the cooperation of the Committee with the European Parliament and other Parliaments and international organizations to MEP Ms Sofia Sakorafa.
 
Members of the Committee have convened in public and closed sessions, to produce this preliminary report, under the supervision of the scientific coordinator and with the cooperation and input of other members of the Committee, as well as experts and contributors.
 
The preliminary report chapters were coordinated by:
 
Bantekas Ilias
Contargyris Thanos
Fattorelli Maria Lucia
Husson Michel
Laskaridis Christina
Marchetos Spyros
Onaran Ozlem
Tombazos Stavros
Vatikiotis Leonidas
Vivien Renaud
 
With contributions from:
Aktypis Héraclès
Albarracin Daniel
Bonfond Olivier
Borja Diego
Cutillas Sergi
Gonçalves Alves Raphaël
Goutziomitros Fotis
Kasimatis Giorgos
Kazakos Aris
Lumina Cephas
Mitralias Sonia
Saurin Patrick
Sklias Pantelis
Spanou Despoina
Stromblos Nikos
Tzitzikou Sofia
 
The authors are grateful for the advice and input received from other members of the Truth Committee on Public Debt as well as other experts, who contributed to the Committee’s work during the public sessions and hearings and the closed or informal consultations.
 
The authors are grateful for the valuable assistance of Arnaoutis Petros Konstantinos, Aronis Charalambos, Bama Claudia, Karageorgiou Louiza, Makrygianni Antigoni and Papaioannou Stavros.
 
 
Executive Summary
 
In June 2015 Greece stands at a crossroads of choosing between furthering the failed macroeconomic adjustment programmes imposed by the creditors or making a real change to break the chains of debt. Five years since the economic adjustment programme began, the country remains deeply cemented in an economic, social, democratic and ecological crisis. The black box of debt has remained closed, and until a few months ago no authority, Greek or international, had sought to bring to light the truth about how and why Greece was subjected to the Troika regime. The debt, in the name of which nothing has been spared, remains the rule through which neoliberal adjustment is imposed, and the deepest and longest recession experienced in Europe during peacetime.
 
There is an immediate democratic need and social responsibility to address a range of legal, social and economic issues that demand proper consideration. In response, the President of the Hellenic Parliament established the Truth Committee on Public Debt (Debt Truth Committee) in April 2015, mandating the investigation into the creation and the increase of public debt, the way and reasons for which debt was contracted, and the impact that the conditionalities attached to the loans have had on the economy and the population. The Truth Committee has a mandate to raise awareness of issues pertaining to the Greek debt, both domestically and internationally, and to formulate arguments and options concerning the cancellation of the debt.
 
The research of the Committee presented in this preliminary report sheds light on the fact that the entire adjustment programme, to which Greece has been subjugated, was and remains a politically orientated programme. The technical exercise surrounding macroeconomic variables and debt projections, figures directly relating to people’s lives and livelihoods, has enabled discussions around the debt to remain at a technical level mainly revolving around the argument that the policies imposed on Greece will improve its capacity to pay the debt back. The facts presented in this report challenge this argument.
 
All the evidence we present in this report shows that Greece not only does not have the ability to pay this debt, but also should not pay this debt first and foremost because the debt emerging from the Troika’s arrangements is a direct infringement on the fundamental human rights of the residents of Greece. Hence, we came to the conclusion that Greece should not pay this debt because it is illegal, illegitimate, and odious.
 
It has also come to the understanding of the Committee that the unsustainability of the Greek public debt was evident from the outset to the international creditors, the Greek authorities, and the corporate media. Yet, the Greek authorities, together with some other governments in the EU, conspired against the restructuring of public debt in 2010 in order to protect financial institutions. The corporate media hid the truth from the public by depicting a situation in which the bailout was argued to benefit Greece, whilst spinning a narrative intended to portray the population as deservers of their own wrongdoings.
 
Bailout funds provided in both programmes of 2010 and 2012 have been externally managed through complicated schemes, preventing any fiscal autonomy. The use of the bailout money is strictly dictated by the creditors, and so, it is revealing that less than 10% of these funds have been destined to the government’s current expenditure.
 
This preliminary report presents a primary mapping out of the key problems and issues associated with the public debt, and notes key legal violations associated with the contracting of the debt; it also traces out the legal foundations, on which unilateral suspension of the debt payments can be based. The findings are presented in nine chapters structured as follows:
 
Chapter 1, Debt before the Troika, analyses the growth of the Greek public debt since the 1980s. It concludes that the increase in debt was not due to excessive public spending, which in fact remained lower than the public spending of other Eurozone countries, but rather due to the payment of extremely high rates of interest to creditors, excessive and unjustified military spending, loss of tax revenues due to illicit capital outflows, state recapitalization of private banks, and the international imbalances created via the flaws in the design of the Monetary Union itself. Adopting the euro led to a drastic increase of private debt in Greece to which major European private banks as well as the Greek banks were exposed. A growing banking crisis contributed to the Greek sovereign debt crisis. George Papandreou’s government helped to present the elements of a banking crisis as a sovereign debt crisis in 2009 by emphasizing and boosting the public deficit and debt.
 
Chapter 2, Evolution of Greek public debt during 2010-2015, concludes that the first loan agreement of 2010, aimed primarily to rescue the Greek and other European private banks, and to allow the banks to reduce their exposure to Greek government bonds.
 
Chapter 3, Greek public debt by creditor in 2015, presents the contentious nature of Greece’s current debt, delineating the loans’ key characteristics, which are further analysed in Chapter 8.
 
Chapter 4, Debt System Mechanism in Greece reveals the mechanisms devised by the agreements that were implemented since May 2010. They created a substantial amount of new debt to bilateral creditors and the European Financial Stability Fund (EFSF), whilst generating abusive costs thus deepening the crisis further. The mechanisms disclose how the majority of borrowed funds were transferred directly to financial institutions. Rather than benefitting Greece, they have accelerated the privatization process, through the use of financial instruments.
 
Chapter 5, Conditionalities against sustainability, presents how the creditors imposed intrusive conditionalities attached to the loan agreements, which led directly to the economic unviability and unsustainability of debt. These conditionalities, on which the creditors still insist, have not only contributed to lower GDP as well as higher public borrowing, hence a higher public debt/GDP making Greece’s debt more unsustainable, but also engineered dramatic changes in the society, and caused a humanitarian crisis. The Greek public debt can be considered as totally unsustainable at present.
 
Chapter 6, Impact of the “bailout programmes” on human rights, concludes that the measures implemented under the “bailout programmes” have directly affected living conditions of the people and violated human rights, which Greece and its partners are obliged to respect, protect and promote under domestic, regional and international law. The drastic adjustments, imposed on the Greek economy and society as a whole, have brought about a rapid deterioration of living standards, and remain incompatible with social justice, social cohesion, democracy and human rights.
 
Chapter 7, Legal issues surrounding the MoU and Loan Agreements, argues there has been a breach of human rights obligations on the part of Greece itself and the lenders, that is the Euro Area (Lender) Member States, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund, who imposed these measures on Greece. All these actors failed to assess the human rights violations as an outcome of the policies they obliged Greece to pursue, and also directly violated the Greek constitution by effectively stripping Greece of most of its sovereign rights. The agreements contain abusive clauses, effectively coercing Greece to surrender significant aspects of its sovereignty. This is imprinted in the choice of the English law as governing law for those agreements, which facilitated the circumvention of the Greek Constitution and international human rights obligations. Conflicts with human rights and customary obligations, several indications of contracting parties acting in bad faith, which together with the unconscionable character of the agreements, render these agreements invalid.
 
Chapter 8, Assessment of the Debts as regards illegitimacy, odiousness, illegality, and unsustainability, provides an assessment of the Greek public debt according to the definitions regarding illegitimate, odious, illegal, and unsustainable debt adopted by the Committee.
 
Chapter 8 concludes that the Greek public debt as of June 2015 is unsustainable, since Greece is currently unable to service its debt without seriously impairing its capacity to fulfill its basic human rights obligations. Furthermore, for each creditor, the report provides evidence of indicative cases of illegal, illegitimate and odious debts.
 
Debt to the IMF should be considered illegal since its concession breached the IMF’s own statutes, and its conditions breached the Greek Constitution, international customary law, and treaties to which Greece is a party. It is also illegitimate, since conditions included policy prescriptions that infringed human rights obligations. Finally, it is odious since the IMF knew that the imposed measures were undemocratic, ineffective, and would lead to serious violations of socio-economic rights.
 
Debts to the ECB should be considered illegal since the ECB over-stepped its mandate by imposing the application of macroeconomic adjustment programmes (e.g. labour market deregulation) via its participation in the Troika. Debts to the ECB are also illegitimate and odious, since the principal raison d’etre of the Securities Market Programme (SMP) was to serve the  interests of the financial institutions, allowing the major European and Greek private banks to dispose of their Greek bonds.
 
The EFSF engages in cash-less loans which should be considered illegal because Article 122(2) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) was violated, and further they breach several socio-economic rights and civil liberties. Moreover, the EFSF Framework Agreement 2010 and the Master Financial Assistance Agreement of 2012 contain several abusive clauses revealing clear misconduct on the part of the lender. The EFSF also acts against democratic principles, rendering these particular debts illegitimate and odious.
 
The bilateral loans should be considered illegal since they violate the procedure provided by the Greek constitution. The loans involved clear misconduct by the lenders, and had conditions that contravened law or public policy. Both EU law and international law were breached in order to sideline human rights in the design of the macroeconomic programmes. The bilateral loans are furthermore illegitimate, since they were not used for the benefit of the population, but merely enabled the private creditors of Greece to be bailed out. Finally, the bilateral loans are odious since the lender states and the European Commission knew of potential violations, but in 2010 and 2012 avoided to assess the human rights impacts of the macroeconomic adjustment and fiscal consolidation that were the conditions for the loans.
 
The debt to private creditors should be considered illegal because private banks conducted themselves irresponsibly before the Troika came into being, failing to observe due diligence, while some private creditors such as hedge funds also acted in bad faith. Parts of the debts to private banks and hedge funds are illegitimate for the same reasons that they are illegal; furthermore, Greek banks were illegitimately recapitalized by tax-payers. Debts to private banks and hedge funds are odious, since major private creditors were aware that these debts were not incurred in the best interests of the population but rather for their own benefit. The report comes to a close with some practical considerations.
 
Chapter 9, Legal foundations for repudiation and suspension of the Greek sovereign debt, presents the options concerning the cancellation of debt, and especially the conditions under which a sovereign state can exercise the right to unilateral act of repudiation or suspension of the payment of debt under international law. Several legal arguments permit a State to unilaterally repudiate its illegal, odious, and illegitimate debt. In the Greek case, such a unilateral act may be based on the following arguments: the bad faith of the creditors that pushed Greece to violate national law and international obligations related to human rights; preeminence of human rights over agreements such as those signed by previous governments with creditors or the Troika; coercion; unfair terms flagrantly violating Greek sovereignty and violating the Constitution; and finally, the right recognized in international law for a State to take countermeasures against illegal acts by its creditors, which purposefully damage its fiscal sovereignty, oblige it to assume odious, illegal and illegitimate debt, violate economic self-determination and fundamental human rights. As far as unsustainable debt is concerned, every state is legally entitled to invoke necessity in exceptional situations in order to safeguard those essential interests threatened by a grave and imminent peril. In such a situation, the State may be dispensed from the fulfilment of those international obligations that augment the peril, as is the case with outstanding loan contracts. Finally, states have the right to declare themselvesunilaterally insolvent where the servicing of their debt is unsustainable, in which case they commit no wrongful act and hence bear no liability.
 
People’s dignity is worth more than illegal, illegitimate, odious and unsustainable debt.
 
Having concluded its preliminary investigation, the Committee considers that Greece has been and still is the victim of an attack premeditated and organized by the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission. This violent, illegal, and immoral mission aimed exclusively at shifting private debt onto the public sector.
 
Making this preliminary report available to the Greek authorities and the Greek people, the Committee considers to have fulfilled the first part of its mission as defined in the decision of the President of the Hellenic Parliament of 4 April 2015. The Committee hopes that the report will be a useful tool for those who want to exit the destructive logic of austerity and stand up for what is endangered today: human rights, democracy, peoples’ dignity, and the future of generations to come.
 
In response to those who impose unjust measures, the Greek people might invoke what Thucydides mentioned about the constitution of the Athenian people: “As for the name, it is called a democracy, for the administration is run with a view to the interests of the many, not of the few” (Pericles’ Funeral Oration, in the speech from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War).

Speech by Hizb’allah Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, February 16, 2015

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article41054.htm

Those Who Bet on the Americans are Bargaining on a Mirage

By Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah


How do you bet on the very side which robs you, conspires against you, and had fabricated these and dispatched them to you?
 
Full speech delivered by Hizbullah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah during the memorial anniversary of the Resistance Leader Martyrs held in Sayyed Ashuhada Compound on February 16, 2015.
 
Video and Transcript – February 20, 2015 “ICH” –
 
Transcript
 
I take refuge in Allah from the stoned devil. In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Peace be upon the Seal of Prophets, our Master and Prophet, Abi Al Qassem Mohammad, on his chaste and pure Household, on his chosen companions and on all messengers and prophets.

Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.

First, I would like to welcome you all in this dear and solemn occasion – the anniversary of the Leader Martyrs.

However, allow me first to tackle a really grave incident. I find myself obliged to express our as well as your strong condemnation of the brutal and savage crime perpetrated by the Takfiri Daesh organization against the oppressed Egyptian workers in Libya. This crime cannot be tolerated or bore by the mind, heart, conscience, religion or humanity. In your name, we extend our condolences to their oppressed and deemed-weak families, the Egyptian people, the Egyptian government, and the Coptic Church. We also express our consolation and deep sorrow for this calamity which afflicted them. In fact, it afflicted us all – Islam and Christianity, Muslims and Christians, and every human being who has a mind, a conscience, and an intact nature. We will return to this topic again in the course of the speech.

First, I would like to talk about the occasion and the act of commemorating this occasion. Then, I will talk a little about the Lebanese affairs before making a general overview and a general stance on the situation of the region.

Every year, on this very day, together we mark the anniversary of the Leader Martyrs, the family of leaders, Martyr Sayyed Abbass Mussawi – our Secretary General, leader, master, beloved, and inspirer -, his well-educated, resisting wife Martyr Sayyeda Um Yasser, and his small child Hussein, the Sheikh of the Islamic Resistance Martyrs – His Eminence Martyr Sheikh Ragheb Harb, and the senior jihadi Leader Martyr Hajj Imad Moghniyeh who are the symbol of our steadfastness and victory. We mark their anniversary for our sake and our good and not theirs. We mark their anniversary to teach our children, grandchildren and future generations. We commemorate this occasion so that the near past which we lived and partook in making remains connected to the present and overlooking the future.

This period of time must remain in our minds – we who have lived this era -, and it must dwell in the minds of our children, grandchildren, and the generations to come.

This period of time extends from the establishment of the State of “Israel” in 1948, the wars which were staged later in 1967 and 1973, the events that took place in Lebanon, the resistance announced by the Palestinian people, the resistance announced later on by His Eminence Sayyed Mussa Sadre (May Allah return him back safe and sound along with both his companions), Camp David Agreement, the divine and historic victory of the Islamic Revolution in Iran which took place in like these days under the leadership of His Eminence Imam Khomeini (May Allah sanctify his secret), the “Israeli” invasion in 1982, and the post-invasion era to our day including the wars, confrontations, events, and conspiracies.

This era is pregnant with events and development, and no one – neither we nor our children or the generations to come – can approach the present and the challenges of the day in a logical, objective, scientific, intact, and sound way apart from all of this past and the equations and achievements made: the facts and illusions, logic and lunacy, desperate bargains and sound options, waiting a mirage that did not and will never come true and waiting for victories made by the determination, sacrifices, tears, blood, aspirations, and pains of men and women. This time era with all what it comprises represents a great humanistic, fiducial, cultural, and jihadi school for our people and nation.

These leader martyrs were among its most prominent figures and leaderships and its martyred witnesses. Second, we always and all year long need to resort to them. We need to turn to Sayyed Abbass, Um Yasser, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Imad as ideals to follow. We need to learn from them to abstain from this world when it ornaments to us its vanities: prestige, wealth, and luxury. We need to learn from them to be modest and even humble when we become strong. We need to learn from them to be strong when we confront quaking and hurricane-like calamities. We need to learn from them wisdom when we are fought with ordeals and seditions that disperse minds and insight. We take from them and are inspired by their ardor and zeal when tired, by their boldness when hesitating, and by their unlimited sacrifices when the position requires that. We learn from them to trust in Allah, our nation, our people, ourselves, and our resistance fighters when people feel frustrated as hardships, difficulties, and challenges target them from all sides. We take from them hope, confidence, and insight. As you heard a while ago, when “Israel” was occupying our land, Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Imad first and later on expressed their vision that “Israel” would not only withdraw from our land but also will be eliminated from the world. That is at a time “Israel” was occupying our land, our men and women were in prison, and we were weak and “Israel” was strong. As such, we take from them a clear vision and intact insight, confidence and hope, and most importantly we learn from them to be faithful and loyal, to have tolerance, to be up to the level of the tough and difficult current challenges we are facing, and to be competent at shouldering the responsibility of making a decent, noble, and prideful future that befits our people, homeland, and nation. Thus we always take pains to talk about them, their biography, their morals, their conduct, their achievements, their jihad, and their sacrifices so that we as well our children, grandchildren, and the future generations come to know and learn.

This is what we must take pains to achieve when we broadcast the names, photos, biographies, and wills of all the martyrs every day and around the year. That’s because they truly present an integrated, intellectual jihadi school which we must introduce and with which we must be acquainted. For 32 years by now, a generation of young men who were 18, 19, 20, 23, and 25 at most by that time and who were scholars and fighters whether men or women took the initiative and shouldered the responsibility. Some of them were martyred in the different stages of the path.

Many of our veteran cadres were mighty in the fields of jihad and enduring difficulties and wounds and then died of a long struggle with illness the last of whom was a dear leader of the pioneer Resistance leaders late Hajj Mustafa Shehadeh (May Allah have mercy on him). Some were detained and suffered from the cuffs of detention. Some were wounded and are still suffering from their injuries. Some are still moving in this path holding their blood on their palms. The slogan held by this first generation which included Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Imad, and Hajjeh Um Yasser is {Among the Believers are men who have been true to their Covenant with Allah: othem some have completed their vow, and some atill wait: but they have never changed their determination in the least}.

Among the young men today are children of the first generation who in their turn pledged, lived up to their pledge, and adhered to their pledge, and many of them passed away as martyrs the last of whom were those who were killed in the “Israeli” aggression in Quneitra.

The children of the first generation were also senior partakers in making victory. The anniversary of the leader martyrs comes this year with evidence on what I am saying. The son of Leader Martyr Imad Moghniyeh – Jihad – stood on this podium to pledge his allegiance and willingly declare his affiliation, identity, and option. No one obliged him to do so. He could have continued his university education. He was a young gentle man. His life and his future were before him. The entire world was before him. However, the son of Hajj Imad carried Hajj Imad’s spirit, soul, knowledge, and love. He abandoned all of that. Where did he go? He went to Golan and to Quneitra where his life was sealed in martyrdom. As such are the martyrs the sons of martyrs. The blood of martyr Jihad and his brethrens in Quneitra days ago forcefully revived the anniversary of the martyrdom of Hajj Imad Moghniyeh.

It brought him back to life again. At that moment we felt as if Hajj Imad was martyred anew. People had this emotional, spiritual, and moral feeling. The people sympathized with the incidents what brought this matchless, brilliant, and historic leader to the forefront of events again emphasizing that his memory and presence is still the most forceful and supreme in the conscience of the friend and foe who is still haunted by the blood of Imad Moghniyeh and will always be haunted by the blood of Imad Moghniyeh.

Brothers and sisters! On this great and dear day to us and in a show of loyalty to these leader martyrs and as responsible people, we tackle some issues that concern us in Lebanon and some issues that concern us also in the region.
First I will tackle some Lebanese affairs.

First: We are in the month of February in which many incidents took place especially on February 14th. On this occasion, I extend my condolences and consolation to the family of Martyr Premier Rafiq Hariri, his lovers, his party, and his supporters for the sorrowful event of his martyrdom that shook Lebanon and the region, and the repercussions of which are still taking place to our very day. I also extend my consolations to all the families and lovers of all the martyrs – whether men and women – who fell on that day in that painful, sorrowful, and very dangerous incident.

Second: Today and before the danger of terror that is threatening Lebanon and the region, we in Hizbullah support the call for devising a national anti-terror strategy. I believe that the Lebanese political forces and Lebanese leaderships may agree on an enemy that is terrorism. That may not be as difficult as agreeing on a defense strategy in face of “Israel” for, unfortunately, we disagree over another enemy, which is “Israel”. Anyway, we support the call for devising a national strategy against terrorism. Now how are we to achieve that?

Now I received the result of whether there was shooting in the air or not as I started my speech. It is supposed that in the compound you haven’t heard anything. I thank all our honorable people in Dahiyeh, Beirut, and all regions for abiding by our call and appeal. This is always expected from you, and you always live up to our expectations. We must always cooperate, and Inshallah we will come to an end with this phenomenon so that we don’t find ourselves obliged to issue a statement for every ceremony and request from you not to shoot in the air.

We must cooperate as far as this issue is concerned. It is an old tradition in Lebanon to shoot in the air in funerals of martyrs, martyr processions, and in the various occasions, and we must cooperate on the media, cultural, and political levels to put an end to it Inshallah. Many thanks to all those who answered our call and adhered to our recommendations. I am very thankful to you all.

So we are with devising a national anti-terror strategy. Now who is to work on this? It is the government. The parliament presents an initiative. A national unity session may be held. This needs follow up. The mechanism needs discussion. Anyway, in principle, we call for that, and we support that.

The third point has to do with the security plan in Bekaa. We renew our ultimate support for the plan which we believe came late. The security plan must continue and must be activated. So it must not last for a week or two or a month or two. The Bekaa region has been suffering from thieves, criminals, corruptive people who kidnap people to receive ransoms, and outlaws who terrorize people.

We hope that this era had come to an end Inshallah. Between parentheses, I say that there were popular requests that we – Hizbullah, Amal Movement, and the political forces in Bekaa – assume this responsibility but this was not a right step. Here I am telling our people in Bekaa that this is not right and will not be right in the future.

What is right is that the state is the most able and the most competent side of assuming this responsibility which is its obligation in fact. All of us must support and back the army, the security forces, and the government in controlling the security situation. Thus the security plan needs follow up. It was said that the wanted fled. Well that is good. Now let the army and the security forces be aware and serious so that they do not come back. As long as they are away from the region, the region will be free of thieves, criminals, corruptive people, and killers. As such no such things will be tolerated in the future.

Alongside the security plan in Bekaa, two other things are needed. I will only mention topics so that I can cover all the points. The first point is the development plan in Bekaa. If the state wants to control that area, it is not enough to dispatch the army and the security forces. It must develop the area: a hospital, a school, roads, water, electricity, job opportunities and anything possible so that these honorable people live in dignity and stay and stick to their land. The north and especially Akkar needs development and not only security.
The second point is resolving the problem of tens of thousands of people who are wanted for trivial, minor or old offenses. This issue is still unresolved, and it must be addressed after all. It is not right that tens of thousands remain wanted and are arrested on check points for very trivial reasons.

There is a third point which is lurking and upcoming. I will not tackle it in details. I will leave it for another occasion. I will only mention it because we are talking about Bekaa. This will take place when the snow melts. Today on the other side of the eastern mountain range, and in the hills and mountains of Arsal, Daesh and al-Nusra are found. Daesh extends from Libya to all the regions it wishes to be found in until reaching the barren mountains of Arsal. Well, now the mountains are covered with snow. The windy weather and weather conditions have limited or prevented confrontations. However, when the snow melts, there is something waiting to take place there. The state as well as the Lebanese people must decide on how to deal with this threat and danger on the hills and mountains that intimidates the villages and everyone. Man must take a position. When we tackle the regional issues we will return to this topic again. These can easily be defeated but that requires a decision and a national will.

We are coming to that stage, and we must take a position accordingly. Now we are in the month of February. There are storms with many names, and it has become difficult for us to memorize the name of each storm. There is snow, and it is freezing cold. Our brave men are on the top of mountains of elevations between 2000 and 2500 meters. On this occasion, we must renew our tribute to the officers of the Lebanese Army and the security forces as well as to the Resistance men. Also on the other side there are the officers and soldiers of the Syrian Arab Army and the Resistance men. These men in that area are preventing terrorist attacks and preventing dispatching bomb-laden vehicles to the various Lebanese regions. On the Day of the Leader Martyrs, we give all our regards and high-esteem for their patience, determination, and steadfastness in face of storms and freezing snow.

Fourth: On the anniversary of the understanding between Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement which also took place in February, the importance of this great achievement is manifested more and more day after day. Its consequences are also made clear on the political situations in Lebanon and even in the region. That’s because one of the most important consequences of the understanding is the impact of the stance related to the Resistance which is a part of all the challenges, consequences, and victories of the region. We call for deepening and strengthening the relationship between Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement. We also call for making similar understandings on the national level. At that time, we dreamed that the very understanding would widen to include the others. Well, some clauses may be sensitive or there might be some pro forma protocols. Let’s keep such clauses aside. Any two or three sides or movement may reach an understanding similar to this national understanding in which all of us may join.

So it would not hold the name of Hizbullah or the Free Patriotic Movement. We would rather be among those partaking in making it and inking it. It would be a whole new agreement that includes everything that closes ranks, achieves accord, addresses the dilemmas of dialogue, and ensures great national interests.

Fifth, as for presidential elections, we call for exerting internal efforts in this perspective as there is not any such internal effort in fact. No side is making any move except for remote or insignificant steps. Thus we call for resuming internal national efforts, and it is well known where, how, and with whom. So there is no need to go more into details. The concerned persons are well known. Again I tell all those who care for putting an end to vacuum and for remaking institutions in Lebanon: Do not wait for the changes in the region and foreign changes. Do not wait for the Iranian nuclear file or the US-Iranian talks or the Saudi-Iranian talks. Do not wait for anything in the region. On the contrary, the region is moving towards more crises and confrontations. New fronts are being opened. I will tackle the regional affairs later in my speech.

Previously, we used to say that no one is free enough to be bothered with us. In the future too, no one will be free to be preoccupied with us. So let’s not let this vacuum stay for long. If we are serious and independent, sovereign, and a decision-maker in his bloc and can vote for the person of his choice as everyone of us claims to be, let’s resume this internal national effort to resolve the issue of presidential elections.

Sixth, regarding the government, we support it and back it in resuming its work. This is a national need. In fact, the Lebanese have no other choice. The alternative is vacuum and forfeiture. I believe that no one agrees on this alternative. There are problems facing the work of the government; we must cooperate to resolve these problems. As for the issue of the mechanism of taking a decision, we will deal positively with some of the presented solutions. Some of these solutions are logical and appropriate, and we call on the forces partaking in the government to deal positively with this issue to overcome this crisis so that the government convene anew, resume its work, and assume its responsibilities.

Seventh, Hizbullah will continue the dialogue with the Future Movement Inshallah as we see that this dialogue has so far led to good and positive results within the ceilings of expectations set at the very beginning. That means from the very beginning, they and we knew the magnitude of expectations. Well, let’s not handle this issue on platforms. The expectations are clear. The agenda is agreed upon. It is clear too, and it is within the expectations. Within the agenda, the results are good, and with the seriousness characterizing both sides, we hope we will reach a good and positive result that would be to the interest of Lebanon and all the Lebanese Inshallah. We will move forward in this dialogue. Well some people may bother us; others may be annoyed by the dialogue; some people still talk inappropriately. Still we along with our masses must tolerate and endure all of that to the interest of the country.

The last point on the domestic level has to do with us renewing our encouragement and support to any form of dialogue between any Lebanese political forces no matter under what title it comes or what results it may yield. Even if the results are humble, dialogue remains the best option before us as Lebanese.

This is as far as Lebanon is concerned. Let’s move now to the region though through a Lebanese prelude. There is a critical and crucial point which I hope we all would contemplate on. For decades by now and all through the stage we lived and passed through to our very day, there has always been a dispute in Lebanon. There are two logics which you hear in ceremonies and occasions.

The first logic says that we want Lebanon apart from the region and apart from the events taking place in the region. It is the policy of isolating it from what is taking place in the entire region. This policy is against interfering in the affairs of the region. This logic is nice regardless of whether those saying this are committing themselves to it or not. We are talking in theory. In theory, there is a logic that goes against interfering in what is taking place in the region whether on the political, media, or military level. This is the policy of staying apart. Lebanon cannot tolerate interfering. Lebanon’s conditions are complicated and difficult. Thus Lebanon must remain away, and it must not be hurled in any of the axes. I reiterate that some sides – no matter who they may be – say so though in practice that may not be the case. That’s because many sides in the country may or may not be parts of an axes. They may or may not be interfering in the affairs of the region. This is another field of study.

The other logic theoretically says that is impossible. The logic you are talking about is nice. This Arabic composition you are making is nice; however allow me to say that it is unrealistic. The true status quo, the land, the field, history, geography, demography, security, peace, and livelihood say against that. That is similar to natural phenomena. When a snowy storm is approaching you can’t stand in its face and tell it: Cool down. We are Lebanese. We want to stay isolated from storms, snow, and rain. We have our own snow, our own rain, and our own climate. We are a piece from Heaven, and we have nothing to do with anyone else. Well how is this translated into action? Is such logic realistic or right?

Whether the Lebanese like it or not, Lebanon has always been effected by what takes place in the region: the establishment of the state of “Israel” and the usurp of Palestine have had great repercussions on Lebanon and the region. All what takes place in the region has its repercussions on Lebanon. No one can say: Hold on. We cannot tolerate. We do not want to be influenced by your repercussions. Here we have to say. Here one may be logical or illogical. What is the truth? What is the true situation? This is the truth. On the contrary, Lebanon today is under the impact of what is taking place in the region more than in any time in the past. Today the destiny of Lebanon is not made in Lebanon only. Now the fate of Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Yemen among other countries is made in the region as a region. No fate is made in one country alone. The region has been molded anew. The entire region was shocked and scattered. It is now being recreated from scratch. Whoever wants to decide the fate of Lebanon must partake in making the fate of the region, and whoever is absent in making the fate of the region is in fact telling others to make our fate as we cannot do anything. No, today the fate of the states in the region is made in the region. Even more, the fate of the world is now being made in the region.

In a while we will start talking about Daesh, Libya, Italy, and Europe. However now and in the light of this labor pain, the fate of entities will be determined. Some entities may continue or stop to exist. On light of this labor pain, some people will continue or stop to exist. Will things remain as such or will there be a kind of rejoining or disintegration, or are we heading to years and decades of destruction? What is the future? All of this is being made in the region? States and peoples in the region as well as the entire world are being influenced by that. No one can say I am Lebanese or whatever. That is unrealistic. The issue is not intellectual luxury or political luxury. The fate of our people and of our country is at stake. Our dignity and the future of our generations are at stake.

In this framework and as a joke I say that in the past, we faced the problem of convincing some Lebanese that we are part of the Arab region, the Levant, the Middle East, and the Arab-“Israeli” struggle when having discussions with them. They used to say that is not the case; Lebanon is an island in the Pacific Ocean. We live at ease, we are not influenced by anything, and we are not concerned with anything. Their stance today has taken a more negative course because we now have to convince them that Lebanon is part of Planet Earth, not of Mars. Today the Globe – the entire Globe – is influenced by what is taking place in the region. This logic has, in fact, always been a point of disagreement that used to cause further disagreements. Well, we approach this issue with such a mentality because we believe that the fate of Lebanon, the fate of the people of Lebanon, the future of Lebanon, the will of Lebanon, the security of Lebanon, the ability to live in Lebanon, and the economy of Lebanon cannot be isolated from the developments and events taking place in the region. When I talk about the region, I will talk in general and not in details.

However, still I have a brief comment which I find appropriate to say. To those who criticize our stance from what is taking place in Bahrain for example saying that such a stance harms the relation with a dear fraternal country called Bahrain I say:

Indeed, Bahrain is a dear fraternal country exactly like any other Arab country is for us. I accept that they criticize our stance, and they have the right to criticize our stance only if they abide by this policy – the policy that goes against interfering in the affairs of others. But that is not accepted from those who interfere in the affairs of another Arab country the relation of which with Lebanon is by far more important and more critical than Lebanon’s relations with Bahrain. I mean Syria.

Security, economy, path, horizons, sea, water, people and families are common between Lebanon and Syria. Since the beginning of the events in Syria up till now, some have interfered and even been part of the battle on Syria and its government, regime, army, and the choice of a wide section of its people, and they were part of the media and political war against it. Arms were led in to Syria, and money was paid and is still. Those acting as such pertaining to Syria have no right to criticize our stance on Bahrain. After all, what did we do as far as Bahrain is concerned? We issued a political position. We did not send arms to Bahrain. We did not instigate violence in Bahrain. We did not call for toppling the regime in Bahrain. On the contrary, we always used to back the callers for the peaceful movement, to call for dialogue and reform in Bahrain, to reject violence, and to avoid violent reactions and suppression practiced by the regime.

The stance we took must be met by appreciation by the deaf and blind government of Bahrain. It must be appreciated by everyone who cares for any Arab country. That’s because when a political side in any Arab country addresses another Arab country saying:

Your demands are rightful. Resort to peaceful means. Do not head to violence. Go towards dialogue. Accept any settlement.

Such a stance should be highly evaluated. However, because the government in Bahrain is afraid of any rightful word, it is frightened by any call believing {that every cry is against them}. As such it becomes tense and starts threatening you. By what? By expelling the Lebanese from Bahrain. This is the means resorted to by the weak and feeble authorities. Such authorities act as such. They threaten that they will expel the Lebanese in Bahrain if so and so carry on talking in such a way.

Anyway, we are now in the month of February which also witnesses the anniversary of the peaceful, civil, and civilized uprising of the people of Bahrain whom we salute and hail for their patience, steadfastness, awareness, and wisdom. So whoever gives advice and preaches must first observe them himself. Then we can talk together if we are to observe them or not and whether what we are doing is right or wrong.

I will tackle the situation in the region besides the “Israeli” threat in a couple of words. We will talk about what is new as we do not want to reiterate what is old. The threat and danger represented by the Takfiri current with its most prominent form – Daesh – has been forcefully evident in new fields and domains.

Previously we have said that this is not a threat to some governments only but rather to all governments. It is not a threat to some regimes only but rather to all regimes, entities, peoples, and armies. It is not a threat to religious, or factional, or racial minorities. It is a threat to everyone.

We have said that very early. We also said that it is a threat to Islam as a religion and as a divine mission. Since that day to this day, all the events that took place assert this concept that we have talked about together very early.

Now, the entire world has admitted that yes the Takfiri current under the name of Daesh is posing a threat to the security of the region and to world security. Does anyone in this world argue this point? There is only “Israel” because it does not consider Daesh a threat or a danger. You have seen “Israeli” War Minister Yaalon making an inspection visit to Golan a couple of days ago and saying that Daesh does not pose a threat or danger. He also said that al-Nusra does not pose any threat or danger.

Well, “Israel” alone considers that Daesh and al-Nusra do not pose a threat. Still all world countries consider – even if apparently – that Daesh poses a threat and a danger to the security of the region and to world security. Later on we will talk about al-Nusra.
“Israel” has the right to say that Daesh does not form a threat because all what Daesh had made so far and is still making absolutely serves the interests of “Israel” whether Daesh is aware of that or not.

What is taking place now? New fronts are being opened. There are new forms of brutality and criminality they brought along from Hollywood or from other places. The way in which the Jordanian pilot Maaz Kassabah was burnt is catastrophic. The way in which the oppressed deemed-week Egyptian workers were slaughtered which we saw on TV screens is disgraceful and frightful. Hostages are being slaughtered in such a way. Even more, new fronts are being opened and new targets are being set.

Daesh has nothing to do in Palestine or in al-Quds.

That’s why Yaalon says that Daesh forms no threat. In fact, the true and absolute target of Daesh is Mecca and Medina. I call on the brethrens in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to calm down a little. The absolute goal is Mecca and Medina. Today I watched that in the news. I am not very much sure whether new rulers were appointed today or whether they are talking about an old report. I am saying so to be precautious but what I heard today says that Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi – the Caliph of Daesh – appointed a prince on Mecca and ruler on Medina.

So the goal is Mecca and Medina and not al-Quds. It’s because the caliphate of Daesh would not be completed without the Two Holy Shrines of Mecca and Medina.

What did those who slaughtered the Egyptian Copts in Libya say? They said that their goal is Rome! Their options are very remote!

Mecca and Medina remain relatively nearer than Rome. They may say that we can go to Mecca and Medina, and from there we move through Jordan to Palestine. Still they want to go to Rome! What do they have to do in Rome?!

These are new wars and fronts. Whom are they serving? For whose interest are they fighting? Here and for the first time I dare to say: Consider the “Israeli” Mossad, the CIA, and the British intelligence. Previously, we did not pose the theory of a conspiracy. But now we say let’s take that into consideration.
Everything that the Takfiri current and Daesh do serves “Israel”, “Israel’s” hegemony over the region, and the US hegemony over the region.

They are also provoking Europe. Imagine for example that a couple of days ago Italian Defense Minister said: We are ready to lead an international coalition against terrorism in Libya. Between parentheses we ask the Italian Defense minister: Why do you want to lead an international attack on terrorism in Libya?
Listen very well to the answer of the Italian Defense Minister. I hope that March 14 Bloc would hear the answer very well. It is because “terrorism is now only 350 kilometers away from the Italian border.” She says only 350 kilometers.

The Defense Minister, Italy, and the European Union are civilized, and still they are thinking of staging a military action against Libya because terrorism is now 350 kilometers away. As for us, terrorism is on the barren mountains at the border, in al-Qseir and Qalamoun. Terrorism is on our hills and in bomb-laden cars. Still some parties are arguing whether I am right or wrong.
Before this status quo which is in fact not exaggerated, there is a truth called a true serious danger.


The threat was in Syria. Now it is in Syria and Iraq. It also reached Libya. Also in Sinaa they say that Ansar Beit Al Maqdes has pledged allegiance to Daesh or something of this sort. Similar things are taking place in other places too. Today in Tunisia, there is a state of full mobilization. In Yemen, a branch of al-Qaeda had pledged allegiance to Daesh Caliph and are proceeding and occupying camps in southern provinces in the country.

There is a true threat. They are slaughtering and killing. These are not films. They are producing true films. It is absolutely sure that their mind, spirit, and brutality come from Hollywood. This is the culture of Hollywood.

What is the culture of Hollywood? Is there anything other than killing and slaughtering? Is this from here, from the Orient, from Islam, from Christianity, from prophets, from the caliphs, from the companions of the Prophet, or from the Household of the Prophet (Peace be upon them)? God forbids. It is not from any of these.

The origin of what we are seeing now before our eyes on TV screens is clear. In face of this danger which is threatening everyone, we call on the peoples and the governments of the region to join efforts to confront this vast, dangerous, terrorist Takfiri threat.

I reiterate that we are all able to defeat this threat as well as to defeat those standing behind it whether the “Israeli” Mossad, the Americans or the English.

Brothers and sisters! The strategies followed by the international coalition and the international community are minor – that is if we thought good of them. If we thought bad of them, we wonder whether they really want to get rid of Daesh or not. Let’s be serious. I will refer to this again in a separate clause. Thus the nation, the peoples of the nation, the governments, the scholars, the political parties, the resisting forces, and the armies are all concerned in confronting this threat which is the most dangerous threat except for the “Israeli” threat.

Thus I have a couple of clauses to say briefly.

Clause One: The intellectual, political, media, and field confrontation of this Takfiri current must be considered a kind of defense – a defense of Islam. It is not anymore a defense of a definite axis or regime or state or faction or sect or minority. They are threatening everyone. They are threatening Islam above all.

I hope that everyone understands very well what I am saying. Any conduct made by a Muslim who claims to be a Muslim that disagrees with human nature cannot be from Islam. It is impossible to be from Islam. Allah Al Mighty says {So set thou thy face steadily and truly to the Faith (establish) Allah’s handiwork according to the pattern on which He has made mankind; no change (let there be) in the work (wrought) by Allah: that is the standard Religion}. This is the nature which does not change since Allah created man}.

From the very beginning to Doom’s Day there is one and only one human nature. {That is the standard Religion}. The standard religion is the religion that agrees and is in harmony with human nature. Such deeds which sicken the minds, hearts, and spirits and which all humanity with its various and diversified doctrinal and political ideas, visions and directions loathes cannot be Islamic deeds or deeds pertaining to any religion.

So this battle is a battle in defense of Islam. And today, I will tell you with pride: As we form or consider ourselves part of this battle in face of this Takfiri current, we consider ourselves defending the Islam of Mohammad Bin Abdullah (Peace be upon him and his Household). We are not defending Shiites, Sunnites, this sect, or that sect.

Everyone knows that when the battle becomes a battle in defense of the religion of Allah Al Mighty and of the sanctities of Allah, then our sacrifices will have no limits, our patience will have no limits, our tolerance will have no limits, and our willingness to go to the end is with no limits as our Master Imam Abu Abdullah Al Hussein did in Karbala.

Here I am saying that we are doing so. I further call on everyone – on all Muslims – to defend their religion no matter if they are scholars, authorities, journalists, or authors. So arms are not a must. The worst deformation in human history for a divine religion is what Daesh is perpetrating now. No such thing ever took place in history.

Second: The entire world – or at least the states in our region which are living this threat and this danger – must tell some regional states which are still supporting Daesh with arms, money, facilities, and media that the game is over. Apparently such satellite channels may not seem to be defending Daesh. But if you listen carefully, you find that in fact they are defending Daesh. I am not going to explain this now. The game is over. The region, the peoples of the region, and the governments of the region will not be able to tolerate this level of criminality and brutality which is being perpetrated in the name of Islam against all the peoples of the region.

Third: This is a very important point. I will be frank and mention names. We must not fool ourselves or allow anyone to fool us by trying to differentiate between Daesh and al-Nusra Front. As we have always said in the past. I do not want to reiterate. They are one reality. They have the same essence, ideology, culture, spirit, conduct, and goal. I hope that one of the Lebanese or the Arabs would explain to us the difference between al-Nusra and Daesh. How is Daesh a terrorist and al-Nusra Front rebels? I wish I can find someone especially in Lebanon who may explain this to us on the TV or when sitting with our brethrens.

We must not be fooled. They are the very current. Their dispute was organizational. It was over leadership. However, the outcome is one and the same. Thus today, there are calls to confront the Takfiri currents with no discrimination. That is true. This is a sound stance. As for Jordan, it cannot fight Daesh in Iraq and support al-Nusra Front in Syria. Some Gulf countries cannot partake in an international coalition to fight Daesh in Iraq while offering money, arms, capabilities, and facilities to al-Nusra Front. Al-Nusra is, in fact, the other face of Daesh. The entire current which poses a real threat must be confronted.

Fourth: The governments in the region and the states in the region must limit and address the ongoing struggles. We must help, and we must take initiatives too. Some may say that I am exaggerating in my theories. However, after all, we must be responsible when talking about this stage. What can we do or what can others do? I do not know. Today there are two priorities: The priority to confront the Zionist scheme which is proceeding in Palestine in demolishing houses and building settlements and in threatening Gaza and the region. The second priority is the Takfiri scheme which is threatening us all. Well, this must be a priority too. This means that we must be realistic in the other files too.

Some Arab countries, especially Gulf countries, must approach the region’s problems in a different manner, because they are in the circle of danger. So do not {be led by arrogance to perpetrate more crimes}. Do not get agitated and nurture anger and grudge. Cool down and sit and contemplate. After all, in Iraq for example, the Iraqi people, the Iraqi troops, the Kurd troops, the Shiite as well as the Sunnite tribes fought Daesh and rendered it inactive. In fact, they prevented Daesh from reaching Kuwait. They prevented Daesh from reaching Saudi Arabia. Otherwise, its eyes are not on Baghdad only. Its eyes are on Mecca and Medina as we said before. So approach Iraq from another perspective.

Today in Iraq there is a political operation. The Shiites, Sunnites, and Kurds met one way or another. At times, there are some flaws. At times, crimes take place. However, instead of instigating sectarian and factional ordeals in Iraq through your satellite channels, do play an active role in keeping the Iraqis united together that they would be able to prevent Daesh from expanding again and to be able to confront and crush Daesh. The Iraqis are defending you as well as your thrones and oil.

You have to approach Iraq in a different way. Enough with your Sunnite-Shiite-sectarian grudge.

You also failed to achieve your goals in Yemen. Search for the reasons behind your failure after you have spent billions of dollars. Power is not found on financial corruption through buying consciences….

Still, you can approach Yemen in a different way. Today, there is a true popular revolution which cannot be ignored. In fact, this revolution is standing in face of al-Qaeda and Daesh that are threatening all of you. All of these documents talk about al-Qaeda’s original scheme which was to control Yemen and Syria and thereof move to Mecca and Medina. O rulers of the Gulf. If you do not want to read, don’t you have people who may read for you? Why don’t you read a little?

Approaching Yemen is not to the effect of pushing Yemen towards an internal explosion or to the effect of instigating the Yemenis against each other or to the effect of seeking help from the Security Council in face of the Yemeni people or a large section of the Yemeni people. The approach must be peaceful and quiet. Ansarullah and its leadership are brave, wise, aware, and responsible enough to lead dialogue and make agreements. As such the entire situation would be under control. As for agitation and wrath, that would lead Yemen to unfavorable results, and the Gulf countries will pay the price for that because they will turn Yemen to a neighboring volcano and they will widen the field where Al Qaeda and Daesh act.

As for Bahrain, go and talk with Al Khalifa Monarchy. Let them calm down a little and act reasonably. Let them stop acting with suppression and open the gate for dialogue. Let them set the detainees free. The people in Bahrain want a settlement and reforms. Indeed some people in Bahrain do not accept what I am saying. But the majority does.

Let’s move to Syria now. The game is over in Syria. The continuation fighting in Syria is just a stubborn act to the effect that some said a word and they want their word to be done even if all of Syria was ruined and casualties increased.

Be realistic in viewing the status quo in Syria. Open the gate for a political solution. Allow the opposition to partake in a settlement. Here I do not mean the Takfiri opposition which is not allowed to partake in a settlement. The regime is ready to partake in a settlement. Let’s see if it’s possible for people to calm down a little, sit together and address the affairs of the region. So we can create a situation that helps all sides to confront the danger that is threatening everyone.

Even in Lebanon, lift the veto on the presidential issue and allow the Lebanese to sit down and negotiate to reach an agreement over a president and over the entire composition in the country. What is the problem in that? In another word as far as this clause is concerned, do us a favor and allow the people reorganize their priorities and act accordingly.

Fifth: The peoples of the region and the governments of the region must not wait for an international strategy or a NATO strategy or an American strategy or anything of this sort. They must take the initiative as we did in Syria, in Lebanon, in Iraq, and as initiatives are being taken in more than one Arab country. We must take the initiative to confront this current, and we must not allow it to expand, gain power, and become deep-rooted and the like.

Saying that America wants to get rid of Daesh is disputable. Who says that America wants to get rid of Daesh? Have a look at the status quo and see how it is to the interest of America under the pretext of America defending the states of the region. This is a conspiracy of regimes. They lowered the price of oil and opened the fire on themselves and on all their friends and foes.

It is robbing the oil of the region and the wealth of the region. Hundreds of billions of dollars are being robbed under the pretext of the burden of war of the international coalition troops. Through Daesh only, America is robbing our oil and our wealth.

America is exhausting us as well as our armies, peoples, states, and nerves.
Through Daesh, America is planting grudges and enmities which might not end in decades. It is ruining the entire region for its interest and for the interest of keeping “Israel” powerful, prominent, and protected.

Why is America in a hurry? In best cases, if America finds out that it wants to get rid of Daesh, it can still do that slowly and later on when the American presidential elections approach. So why should it get rid of Daesh now? When the American presidential elections are due, they would make several moves and hit Daesh so that the Democratic Party wins. So the knife of Daesh must remain on our neck – we the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Lebanese whom Daesh is at their borders in Qalamoun, Irsal barren mountains, the Egyptians, the Libyans, the Tunisians, the Yemenis, and all the peoples of the region – until the American presidential elections approach to know whether the Americans want to make any move in this perspective.

Brothers and sisters! Those who bet on the Americans are bargaining on a mirage. How do you bet on the very side which robs you, conspires against you, and had fabricated these and dispatched them to you? It is not allowed that we wait for the Americans or the international community. Act as the resistance acted.

The Resistance of Imam Sayyed Mussa Sadre, the resistance of the Lebanese, the Lebanese resistance, the national resistance, the Islamic resistance, the resistance of Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, and Hajj Abbass, the resistance in Lebanon, the resistance in Gaza, and the resistance in Palestine did not wait for a united Arab strategy or a united international strategy and still the resistance made victory.

Why are we to wait for the Americans? We will not wait for the Americans or the NATO. In Iraq, they did not wait. In Iraq, the religious authority, scholars, the government, the army, the security forces, and popular masses that included Shiites, Sunnites, Kurds, and tribes held arms and fought. So far, the Americans haven’t handed them the arms they paid for beforehand. The arms and the ammunition come from Iran and from other sources.

They did not wait for anyone. They defeated Daesh in Diala Province; they defeated it in most provinces – Salaheddine and Jarf Sakher; now they are defeating it in Anbar; and they will defeat it in Mosul. Why not?

In Syria too, this is taking place. It is taking place every day with the good Daesh and the bad Daesh because they are both Daesh whether in al-Qseir, Qalamoun, or Irsal barren mountains.

So it is not allowed to wait for anyone. We must take the initiative. We must assume the responsibility. Thus I have something to say. You will find what I will say strange. It is in fact the conclusion we draw from this look over the situation of the region. I tell those who call on us to withdraw from Syria: I in my turn call on you to join us in going to Syria.

I further call on you to go to Iraq too. We did not talk about Iraq previously though we are humbly present there now in this first and critical stage. Let’s go together to Iraq too.

They may say that I am going too far but I will say it anyway. Let’s go to any place to confront this threat that is threatening our nation and our region because as such we will be defending Lebanon and the people of Lebanon. This is the way major powers, decent states, and strong armies in the world act.

However, we will not take you to Ukraine!

On the light of the situation in the region, let’s reconsider and discuss your logic as well as our logic and your evidence as well as our evidence. Let no one be afraid that in case things are settled in Syria, the Syrian rule will return. This is part of the past, and you know all the conditions that accompanied this past. You know it better than we do. There is no need to put such fears before true and serious dangers that threaten us all.

I call for coordination between the Lebanese Army and the Arab Syrian Army before the snow melts on the eastern mountain range borders. I call on the Lebanese government to coordinate with the Syrian government as per the refugees, the displaced, and security.

Today the danger is by far greater than any party, sectarian, or factional considerations. In this framework, we also call for a comprehensive view to this issue.

It is our fate to fight in defense of Lebanon and the nation since 1982. We were young men then. Our beards were not visible yet. However, we assumed this responsibility, and we proceeded. Some among us were martyred, and we continued in our path from 1982 to 2000 to 2006.

Today, on the path of our leader martyrs – the symbol of our steadfastness and victory – the caravans of martyrs move along to make victory with their blood. The Resistance has always been and will always be the answer. We will always assume the responsibility and make victories with our steadfastness, blood, and inspiration from our leader martyrs – Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Ragheb, Hajj Imad, Um Yasser, and all the martyrs until {Allah commands; and He is the best to command}. Peace be upon you and Allah’s mercy and blessings.
Source: al-Ahed news

A new documentary on colonial legacies in Africa raises questions about the colonialisms of today

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2014/12/violence-fanon-lives-2014125111554934867.html

Concerning Violence’: Fanon lives on

A new documentary on colonial legacies in Africa raises questions about the colonialisms of today

Belen Fernandez

Al Jazeera, 05 Dec 2014

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazineþ After all, violence is the prerogative of empire, writes Fernandez [AP]

In one of the more haunting scenes from Swedish documentary director Goran Hugo Olsson’s Concerning Violence: Nine Scenes From the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense, a young Mozambican woman with a stump of a right arm breastfeeds a baby with a stump of a right leg.

Like the rest of the footage in the film, the scene was unearthed from Swedish television archives dating from the era of African anti-colonial struggles. The woman and child were recorded in the immediate aftermath of an aerial bombing raid in 1972, one of Portugal’s many responses to the Mozambican desire for liberation.

In typical fashion, the Portuguese and their imperial colleagues instead portrayed the Mozambique Liberation Front (FRELIMO) as violent terrorists, despite the merely reactive nature of anti-colonial violence to centuries of oppression.

After all, violence is the prerogative of empire.

Concerning Violence is inspired by The Wretched of the Earth, the 1961 book of Martinique-born psychiatrist and revolutionary Frantz Fanon, excerpts of which serve as the film’s narrative and are read by singer and activist Lauryn Hill.

Among Fanon’s sober assessments is that colonialism “is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence”. Decolonisation, he writes, “is always a violent phenomenon”. “Decolonisation, which sets out to change the order of the world, is, obviously, a program of complete disorder”.

The film corroborates these assertions with footage from former European colonial possessions in Africa. Scenes variously depict the subjugation and impoverishment of native populations, juxtaposed with Europeans sun-tanning and playing golf in picturesque African settings in between wantonly extracting resources and imprisoning and torturing people.

This, in turn, provides the proper context for scenes of militant African resistance.

Particularly illustrative of the prevailing “order of the world” is an interview with a white settler in then-Rhodesia who addresses his black servant boy as “you stupid thing, you” and laments the impending African reclamation of the territory: “The gooks have got it”.

When asked by the interviewer to clarify his derogatory slang, he elaborates with more slang: “The terrs… The whole world is supporting the terrorists”.

The refuse of empire

Concerning Violence premieres in New York on December 5 and provides us with a good opportunity to ask ourselves: Has the world order changed much since Fanon?

To be sure, we’ve superficially done away with the whole colonialism business, it being generally understood that colonies are bad and archaic things. There are, however, notable exceptions to the rule, as in the case of state of Israel, which is granted a de facto exemption from ceasing colonial operations and is furthermore regularly lauded as a beacon of democracy.

But the same oppressive structures that underpinned colonialism continue to flourish in the age of neoliberal globalisation, which functions according to the idea that there is a class of human beings – often but not always determined by skin colour – entitled to a level of wealth and comfort that is only attainable by depriving the global masses of a dignified existence.

And as always, a violent apparatus is required to secure the arrangement.

In recent years, the African continent has witnessed an ever-amplified United States military presence. Writing in Jacobin magazine, David Mizner describes the scenario as a “soft occupation correspond[ing] with a battle between China and the [US] over the spoils of Africa, which has massive natural resources and six of the world’s fastest growing economies”.

Poor Africans might be forgiven for failing to detect enormous differences between this and previous intrusions from abroad.

In other parts of the world that the US prefers to think of as its own personal military base – such as Central America – the imperial power has backed the security forces of various repressive and illegitimate leaders committed to violently squelching popular protest.

Reasons for protest have included government insistence on catering to foreign corporations rather than to indigenous and peasant communities opposed to the usurpation and contamination of their lands by mining operations and the like.

Of course, imperially sanctioned violence is not only military in nature. The inherent cruelty and savagery that characterise the global neoliberal system are acutely visible in places like India, where the supposed “miracle” of free trade has led to a situation in which nearly 300,000 farmers have committed suicide after being driven into insuperable debt.

But the victims are largely invisible, the dehumanised refuse of empire and the price to be paid for securing corporate profit.

‘Reduced to violence’

In her spoken preface to Concerning Violence, renowned Columbia University professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak explains that in “reading between the lines” of The Wretched of the Earth, one sees that Fanon does not in fact endorse violence but rather “insists that the tragedy is that the very poor is reduced to violence, because there is no other response possible to an absolute absence of response and an absolute exercise of legitimised violence from the colonisers”.

Spivak goes on to make a telling comparison regarding the earth’s “wretched”: “Their lives count as nothing against the death of the colonisers: unacknowledged Hiroshimas over against sentimentalised 9/11’s”.

For another modern-day example of legitimised violence and self-victimisation by the very purveyors of said violence, it seems appropriate to once again bring up the state of Israel, which shares the ex-Rhodesian resident’s knack for hallucinating himself into a position of unparalleled suffering at the hands of “terrorists”.

Following last month’s Jerusalem synagogue attack in which two Palestinians murdered five Israelis, there was a typical upsurge in terror-hysteria from the Israeli establishment and sympathetic governments and media. Studiously ignored were the various Israeli crimes that directly preceded the event, not to mention this summer’s slaughter of more than 2,100 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Indeed, the only surprising thing about violent acts on the part of Palestinians is that more of them have not occurred, as might be expected given asphyxiating conditions of apartheid and legitimised terror.

Meanwhile, Israel’s primary benefactor – the nation described by Fanon as the “former European colony [that] decided to catch up with Europe” – should find much to reflect on in Concerning Violence, particularly given Fanon’s conclusion regarding the European experiment: “It succeeded so well that the United States of America became a monster, in which the taints, the sickness, and the inhumanity of Europe have grown to appalling dimensions”.

Contemporary manifestations of the American sickness include the recent decision by a Missouri grand jury not to indict a police officer for killing an unarmed black teenager in the city of Ferguson – far from an isolated instance of fatal bigotry.

Anything but a cure

Drawing on several of Fanon’s texts, journalist Roqayah Chamseddine penned an essay on the aftermath of the Ferguson decision for Al-Akhbar English, in which she condemned the liberal American tradition of placing the onus of non-violence on those oppressed by the state rather than the state itself – an entity that engages in “unfettered police brutality and judicial discrimination” against black communities.

This tradition entails an obsession with containing potentially “violent” black reactions to state violence (e..vandalism and looting), and ultimately prescribes a superior concern for private property and material goods than for black life. Writes Chamseddine:

“Today in the United States many will be grieving for buildings burned and windows broken, while the bourgeoisie will cry out ‘calm!’ and hurriedly search for Martin Luther King Jr. quotes to guilt Black protesters into supporting their deadly liberal pacifism”.

Suffice it to say Concerning Violence should concern us all.

Belen Fernandez is the author of The Imperial Messenger: Thomas Friedman at Work, published by Verso. She is a contributing editor at Jacobin Magazine.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.

PFLP salutes the Black struggle in the US: The empire will fall from within

http://pflp.ps/english/2014/08/19/pflp-salutes-the-black-struggle-in-the-us-the-empire-will-fall-from-within/

PFLP salutes the Black struggle in the US: The empire will fall from within

August 2014

In light of the police murder of the martyr Michael Brown and the ongoing struggle in Ferguson, Missouri, in the United States, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine salutes and stands firmly with the ongoing struggle of Black people and all oppressed communities in the United States.

Comrade Khaled Barakat said in an interview with the PFLP media outlets that “Police brutality, oppression and murder against Black people in the U.S., and against Latinos, Arabs and Muslims, people of color and poor people, has never been merely ‘mistakes’ or ‘violations of individual rights’ but rather are part and parcel of an integral and systematic racism that reflects the nature of the political system in the U.S.”

“Every time a crime is committed against Black people, it is explained away as an ‘isolated incident’ but when you see the massive number of ‘isolated incidents’ the reality cannot be hidden – this is an ongoing policy that remains virulently racist and oppressive. The U.S. empire was built on the backs of Black slavery and the genocide of Black people – and upon settler colonialism and the genocide of indigenous people,” said Barakat. “The people of Ferguson are resisting, in a long tradition of Black resistance, and we support their legitimate resistance to racist oppression.”

“As people in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Arab World see the brutality of the United States outside its borders, these communities confront its racist and colonial oppression within the borders of the U.S. The two are inextricably linked,” said Barakat. “We also see U.S. exploitation and plunder of people’s resources around the world. And inside the United States, Africans, Latinos, Filipinos, Afghans, Arabs who have suffered war and imperialism at the hands of the United States outside its borders are the same communities who face criminalization, brutality, exploitation, isolation and killings and murder at the hands of the state. We see the targeting of migrants and refugees inside the U.S. after their countries have been ravaged by imperialism, war and exploitation by the same ruling forces.”

Barakat noted that “Mass imprisonment and incarceration has been a central tool of racist control in the United States. One out of every three Black men in the U.S. will be imprisoned; every 28 hours a Black person is killed by the state or someone protected by the state. Palestinians know well the use of mass imprisonment to maintain racist domination and oppression and breaking the racist structures of imprisonment is critical to our liberation movement. We salute Mumia Abu-Jamal and all of the political prisoners of the Black liberation movement in U.S. jails and call for their immediate freedom.”

Furthermore, he said, “since the earliest days of the Black movement in the U.S., from slaves revolting for freedom to the civil rights movement and beyond, Black people, organizations and movements have faced severe state repression, targeting, incarceration and killings at the hands of the state. U.S. domestic intelligence agencies such as the FBI, who target Palestinian and Arab communities for state repression, have for years focused on attacking Black movements, leaders and communities as a central project.”

“Racism, poverty and oppression are the predominant scene faced by oppressed nations and communities in the United States. Black people in the United States are in fact under siege. And just as we demand the end of the siege on our Palestinian people, in Gaza and everywhere, we demand an end to the siege of institutionalized racism and oppression in education, jobs, social services and all areas of life, and support the Black movements struggling to end that siege.”

“When we see the images today in Ferguson, we see another emerging Intifada in the long line of Intifada and struggle that has been carried out by Black people in the U.S. and internationally. The Palestinian national liberation movement salutes the Black liberation movement, and has learned so much from the experiences of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Frederick Douglass, the Black Panthers, Sojourner Truth, and generations of Black revolutionaries who have led the way in struggling for liberation and self-determination,” said Barakat.

“The struggle inside the United States is an integral part of the struggle against imperialism – in fact it is central, as it is taking place ‘in the belly of the beast.’ This is also the case for the struggle of Indigenous peoples and nations throughout North America, where settler colonial powers have been built through land theft and genocide, yet where indigenous people have always resisted and continue to resist today,” he said.

“Every victory inside the United States and political achievement by popular movements and liberation struggles is a victory for Palestine and a victory for a world of human liberation. Those who think that the fate of people in the United States lies with the ruling class parties, the Republicans and Democrats, until the end of time, are living in an illusion. So too are those who believe Palestine can find freedom by seeking alliances or guarantees by those who oppress Black people,” said Barakat.

“The Black struggle is leading the world in the struggle for an alternative political system that will bring U.S. empire to defeat. We know that this will happen only through struggle, through organization of people, emerging from uprisings and communities rising in anger against injustice,” said Barakat.

“The anti-racist movement and anti-Zionist movement are not and cannot be separated. Fighting against racism means fighting capitalism; fighting against capitalism means fighting for socialism,” Barakat said.

The Front encourages all Palestinians, and especially our Palestinian community in the United States, to continue and intensify their efforts in support of the Black liberation movement, from joining actions in support of Ferguson and in honor of Michael Brown, to long-term and sustained joint struggle and mutual solidarity with the Black movement. There are long histories of this work, and it is critical for all of our communities to expand and deepen our links of struggle and solidarity.

The PFLP sends its revolutionary greetings, its solidarity message and its salutes to the struggling people of Ferguson on the front lines confronting U.S. empire, and to the generations upon generations of Black struggle. Our Palestinian liberation movement is part of one struggle with the Black liberation movement. This has been a position of principle for the Front since its founding; we reaffirm this stand today and will always do so until both of our peoples – and our world – are liberated.

Political and Ideological Crisis in an Increasingly More Authoritarian European Union

Asbjørn Wahl is Adviser to the Norwegian Union of Municipal Employees, Vice Chair of the Road Transport Workers’ Section of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), and Director of the Campaign for the Welfare State, a trade-union-based national alliance fighting privatization and liberalization. His most recent book is The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State (Pluto Press, 2011).

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​http://monthlyreview.org/2014/01/01/european-labor

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Monthly Review
2014, Volume 65, Issue 08 (January)

European Labor

Political and Ideological Crisis in an Increasingly More Authoritarian European Union

Asbjørn Wahl

Acute economic and political drama mark contemporary Europe. The terrible trauma of the financial crisis has been followed by a sovereign-debt disaster. In the countries most deeply affected, the people have been faced with massive attacks on public services, wages, pensions, trade unions, and social rights. The draconian austerity policies have pushed the situation in those countries from bad to worse, leading them into a deep depression. The result is an ever more serious social and political crisis. Mass unemployment is growing, and both in Greece and Spain youth unemployment has now passed 50 percent. In the European Union this is leading to more intense internal confrontations, both social and political.

Confronted with these multiple crises, the traditional labor movements appear perplexed and partly paralyzed. Social democracy is in political and ideological disarray and confusion, reflecting a deep crisis in these movements. On the one hand, social democrats have played a leading role in fierce attacks on trade unions and the welfare state in countries where they have been in power. On the other hand, other social democrats adopt statements and support appeals that sharply condemn the political course now followed by the European Union. The trade unions have also been stricken by the multiple crises, and have been unable to curb the attacks made on them. Of course, mass unemployment is also weakening their power and influence at the negotiating table. Extensive restructuring of industries, privatization of public services, and increased use of temporary workers have contributed to the unions’ loss of power.

This paralysis of the political left was illustrated in 2011 when huge masses of young people protested in countries like Spain, Greece, Portugal, and Italy. The protest movements were inspired more by what happened at Tahrir Square in Cairo than by political parties or trade unions in their own home countries. The latter were hardly present to build alliances, to politicize, or to contribute to giving direction and content to the struggle. Instead, big parts of the trade-union bureaucracy have stagnated in a social-partnership ideology that no longer has any meaning, since capitalist forces have withdrawn from the historic post-Second World War compromise between labor and capital, and gone on the offensive to defeat the trade-union movement and get rid of the best parts of the welfare state.

While the deepest and most serious economic crisis since the depression of the 1930s is unfolding, criticism of capitalism has more or less fallen silent. The trade union and labor movements no longer represent a general, credible alternative to a crisis-ridden capitalism generating mass unemployment, poverty, suffering, and misery in great parts of the European continent. To the degree unions have put forward alternative proposals, they have ignored strategies and shown neither the ability nor willingness to put to use the means of struggle necessary to gain ground. Trade unions at the European level have sharpened their rhetoric, but they have hesitated when it comes to the necessary mobilization to resist the attacks.

How has this been possible in a part of the world that has hosted some of the strongest and most militant trade unions and labor movements in the world? Why have opposition and resistance not been stronger? And how did we come to the point where social-democratic governments in Greece, Spain, and Portugal have accounted for some of the most serious attacks on unions and the welfare state—until resistance from the population and frustrated voters ousted them from office and replaced them with right-wing governments even more faithful to financial capital?

This article deals with the challenges and barriers that trade unions now face in the European Union. There are a number of structural barriers that the European Union as a supranational institution represents, as well as internal political-ideological barriers that prevent unions from fulfilling their role in the current situation. The most important developments that are challenging, as well as threatening, what many people call Social Europe will be described: attacks on public services, pensions, wages, and working conditions, as well as strong anti-democratic tendencies. But first, it is necessary briefly to address the role of social democracy in Europe today in light of its history.

The Historical Role of Social Democracy

Much now suggests that the historical era of social democracy is over. This does not mean that political parties that call themselves Social Democratic (or Socialist, as they call themselves in southern Europe) will not be able to win elections and form governments, alone or with other parties. However, the role social democracy has played historically, as a political-party structure with a certain progressive social project, now seems to be irrevocably over. The original goals of social democracy—to develop democratic socialism through gradual reforms, place the economy under political control, and meet the economic and social needs of the great majority of the population—were given up a long time ago. Instead, what will be focused on is the role it played during its golden age—the age of welfare capitalism—as an intra-capitalist political party with a social project.

The change of the character of the social-democratic parties has developed over a long time, but today’s more intensified social contradictions help reveal what is hiding beneath the thin veil of political rhetoric. Where social democracy has been in power in EU countries in recent years, its leaders have been loyal executioners of brutal austerity policies, overseeing massive attacks on the welfare state and trade unions. In turn this has, among other things, led to dramatically reduced support for social democrats; with few exceptions, today they are hardly represented in European governments.

The role of social democracy in its golden age was to administer the class compromise—not to represent workers against capital, but to mediate between the classes within the framework of a regulated capitalist economy. As a result, the parties (especially where they were in power over long periods) changed from mass organizations of workers into bureaucratic organizations strongly integrated into the state apparatus, with dramatic losses in membership, and with their organizations increasingly converted into instruments for political careerists, and campaign machinery for a new political elite.

Based as it was on the class compromise, social democracy sank into an ever deeper political and ideological crisis as capital owners, responding to their own need to accumulate capital, gradually began to withdraw from the historic compromise around 1980. The social-democratic parties were so deeply integrated in the state apparatus that they changed alongside the state as it became strongly influenced by the emerging neoliberal hegemony. Social democratic parties have thus contributed greatly to deregulation, privatization, and the attacks on public welfare of the last few decades. This has been true whether it happened under the label of “the third way,” as in the United Kingdom; Die neue Mitte, as it was called in Germany under Gerhard Schröder; or even under the fluttering banner of folkhemmet (“the people’s home”) in Sweden. In fact, when social-democratic governments were in a majority in the late 1990s, for the first and only time in EU history, no change in the EU’s neoliberal policies took place. This led one commentator at the time to conclude that “There’s not much left of the left.”1

The political-ideological decay on the left was well illustrated by the many meaningless statements that came in the wake of the financial crisis in relation to the government emergency measures. Many social democrats in Europe stated that the big government bailouts to the banks and financial institutions were proof that the politics of the left were on their way back. State regulation and Keynesianism had once again come to honor and dignity, it was said. Even Newsweek’s front page proclaimed, “We are all socialists now.”2 The moderate, now retired, General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), John Monks, said it this way: “All over Europe, everybody is a social democrat or a socialist now—Merkel, Sarkozy, Gordon Brown…. The wind is in our sails.”3

However, there is a difference between Keynesian social reform policies and desperate government bailouts to save the speculators, financial institutions, and perhaps capitalism itself. That it was the latter was realized by many only as the financial crisis changed into a sovereign debt crisis, and the stimulus packages were replaced by reactionary and anti-social austerity policies, in which banks and financial institutions were saved at the expense of ordinary people’s living standard, welfare, and jobs.

Social democracy has, without exception, supported all of the neoliberal treaties and important austerity legislation in the European Union. Social-democratic parties have fully supported the establishment of the single market, which in reality has been a systematic project of deregulation, privatization, and undermining of public services and trade unions. The problem the social-democratic parties now face is that the demands for Keynesian stimulus policies, which some of them advocate, are in violation of the same treaties and laws which they were instrumental in passing. The social democrats have painted themselves into a corner and are increasingly squeezed between growing social rebellion and their loyalty to the neoliberal European Union.

The political crisis also affects parties to the left of social democracy. In countries where such parties have been in coalition governments with social democrats—France, Italy, Norway, and Denmark—the consequences have ranged from merely negative, to disastrous. To a large degree, the small left parties have been made hostage to neoliberal policies, including support for privatization and the U.S. war machine, such as its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.4 They have not been able to be consistent critics of the system, let alone offer a credible alternative. This means that there is hardly any political or social force with strength and legitimacy in Europe today which is in a position to take the lead in organizing and coordinating the social resistance that regularly breaks out across Europe against the policies of austerity and rapidly rising inequality of income and wealth.
One of the most dramatic and dangerous consequences of this development, where the traditional labor parties pursue various degrees of neoliberal policies, is that confidence in the political left has broken down, while right-wing populism and extremism have gained ground. Parties representing these politics have now entered the stage—and parliaments—in most European countries. The indications are that a political restructuring of the left will be necessary for the labor movement once again to be able to go on the offensive and establish a wider, alternative social project.

Massive Attacks on Public Services, Wages, and Pensions

Many expected that the financial crisis, with its devastating consequences, would mean the final goodbye to neoliberalism, the speculation economy, and the hegemony of free market forces. These policies had led to a dramatic redistribution of social wealth from labor to capital, from public to private, and from the poor to the rich. The system was discredited, and surely the politicians would now realize that systematic deregulation, privatization, and free-flow capitalism had failed disastrously. The casino economy had to be stopped. In Iceland thousands of jobs, and the entire national economy, were turned into a gambling casino, where a small group of speculators enriched themselves beyond our comprehension at the expense of the country’s population. It was intolerable; the time was ripe for control and regulation.

That was not what happened. The neoliberals and the speculators, who strongly contributed to causing the crisis, remained in the driver’s seat, even when emergency measures were designed and the bills settled. Of course, what happened up until the crisis, as well as what has happened since, reflect power relations in society. It is not pure reason but the prevailing power relations that determine which “solution” is selected. Had reason prevailed—if the interests of the majority of the people had been paramount—the destructive speculation economy would have been stopped. This could have been achieved by regulation, by gaining increased democratic control of banks and other financial institutions, and by banning short selling, hedge funds, and trading in a variety of high-risk (so-called) financial instruments. This would have limited the power of the banks, restricted the free movement of capital, and reformed a tax system that now unburdens the rich and encourages unfettered speculation.

Deregulation of markets, greater inequalities in society, and extensive speculation were key factors that helped create the 2008 financial meltdown. In response, a number of governments ran up public debt to save their banks, financial institutions, and speculators. The effects were disastrous, and in many countries so many people were so strongly affected that neoliberals and speculators probably feared social unrest. Time showed, however, that there was no reason for this; popular revolt against the speculation economy failed to materialize. Trade unions in some EU countries mobilized, but a joint-European-offensive struggle never materialized. Thus, the neoliberals could continue their project of changing Europe according to their own economic and political interests.

The first thing neoliberalism’s champions and beneficiaries did was disclaim responsibility. While their unrestrained speculation and the formidable redistribution of wealth from the bottom to the top had helped trigger the crisis, they now said that the problem was that people had “lived beyond their means.” Myths were and are still being spread that pensions and welfare services are gilt-edged and that these are the real causes of the crisis. In particular, the social elite and the dominant media portrayed working people in Greece as having granted themselves privileges without any real economic basis. This is being used as propaganda to legitimize widespread attack on the welfare state, while financial capital is protected.

The European Trade Union Institute (ETUI) quickly documented that these allegations were just myths with little connection to reality. For example, labor productivity increased twice as fast in Greece as in Germany from 1999 to 2009. According to OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) statistics, on average Greeks work many more hours per year (2,152) than Norwegians (1,422) or Germans (1,430). While a few occupational groups have a low retirement age, pensions at early retirement are so low that hardly anyone is able to make use of them. For example, only thirty or forty of Athens’s 20,000 bus drivers have used the theoretical option of early retirement at age fifty-three. The real average retirement age in Greece is 60.9 years for women and 62.4 for men, which is higher than in Germany, where right-wing politicians played on these myths. These falsehoods still dominate in mainstream media and the political life in Europe, something that tells us a lot about the existing power relations, the media’s servility to the elite, and the political and ideological crisis of the left.

While the bailouts saved the speculators, governments did not use the opportunity to take increased democratic control or ownership of financial institutions. Of course, this would have been a challenging project given the enormous power capitalist forces have achieved in our societies through deregulation and accumulation of wealth over the last decades. The final communiqué of the G20 meeting in Toronto, Canada in June 2010 gave us an excellent example of this. It contained little but the well-known, neoliberal proposals to remove even more barriers to the free movement of capital, goods, services, and labor. There was nothing left of all the proposals that had circulated about the need for regulation of financial markets and to raise more funds from banks and financial institutions. The losses are therefore socialized while profits are privatized—once again.

Governments, the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—the three latter (un)popularly called the Troika—have not reinstated Keynesian policies and re-regulated finance. Instead, they have used the crisis as an excuse to further transform society to meet the needs of finance capital. Thus the Troika now prescribes the same policy in Greece, Ireland, Portugal, and Italy as the IMF previously imposed upon developing countries and Eastern European nations through the so-called structural adjustment programs, namely massive privatizations. In Greece, for example, the railways, the water supply of Athens and Thessaloniki, utilities, ports, airports, and the remaining public ownership of the national telecommunications company have been privatized. Cuts, privatizations, and widespread attacks on public services are the order of the day in country after country. This is a recipe for depression and social crisis.

In several EU countries—the Baltic states, Bulgaria, Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, and Hungary—wages, working conditions, and pensions have been severely weakened. Pensions have been cut 15–20 percent in many countries, while wages in the public sector have been reduced from 5 percent in Spain to over 40 percent in the Baltic. In Greece, the number of public employees has already been reduced by more than 20 percent. And still more is demanded: in Spain only one in every ten vacant positions in the public sector is filled, one in every five in Italy, and one in every two in France. In Germany 10,000 public-sector jobs have already been cut, and in the United Kingdom it has been decided to cut close to half a million jobs, which in effect will involve about the same number of jobs in the private sector.

The Value Added Tax (VAT) has been increased dramatically in several countries; social benefits have been slashed, particularly for the unemployed and disabled; budgets have been cut; the labor laws have been weakened (especially employment protection); minimum wages have been reduced; universal welfare schemes have been converted to programs that are means-tested (as is the case with the British child benefit). Meanwhile, the tax on capital has been held constant—or even decreased. Collective agreements and labor rights have been set aside, not through negotiations with the unions, but by government decrees and/or political decisions. Increased competitiveness of European businesses is raised as the main aim, to which all social concerns are subordinated. This represents a new and dramatic situation in Europe. The massive austerity policy and attacks on trade unions constitute, socially and politically, a deadly mix, and the historical experiences in Europe make them particularly frightening. If the trade unions are not able to curb these developments, we face a defeat of historical dimensions for the labor movement in Europe, with enormous consequences for the development of our societies.

Michael Hudson, a former Wall Street economist and now professor at the University of Missouri, notes that there is a massive fight against workers taking place:

The EC [European Community] is using the mortgage banking crisis—and the needless prohibition against central banks monetizing public budget deficits—as an opportunity to fine governments and even drive them bankrupt if they do not agree [to] roll back salaries…. “Join the fight against labour, or we will destroy you,” the EC is telling governments. This requires dictatorship, and the European Central Bank (ECB) has taken over this power from elected governments. Its “independence” from political control is celebrated as the “hallmark of democracy” by today’s new financial oligarchy…. Europe is ushering in an era of totalitarian neoliberal rule.5

Towards an Authoritarian Europe

The European Union’s role has been crucial for what is now taking place in Europe. In addition to the democratic deficit that is embedded in EU institutions, these institutions have been formed and shaped during the neoliberal era. They are dominated by the interests of capital to an extraordinarily high degree. The crisis has been used to wage a massive battle from the heights of the European Union’s governance institutions to further transform Europe in the image of capital.

More and more political power is being transferred to the unelected EU institutions in Brussels. The European Union’s only elected body, the European Parliament, has been sidelined from much of the process. The European Union therefore now moves in the direction of further de-democratisation, at a speed and in a manner with frightening possibilities.

Currently this development is carried out through a number of political innovations:

The European semester, which means that national governments each year will have to submit their proposals for state budgets and structural changes to Brussels for “approval.”
The Euro Plus Pact, a deregulation and austerity pact that includes all Euro countries and other EU nations that have decided to join (the United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Hungary, and Sweden have remained outside of it). Attacks on working hours, wages, and pensions are part of the pact.
New economic governance, with six new laws, also called the “six-pack.” The package is intended to provide the legal basis for the implementation of the dramatic austerity policies, including enforcement rules.
The Fiscal Pact, which, according to the German Prime Minister Angela Merkel, should be irreversible, and which will centralize and further de-democratize the economic power of the European Union, through (among other things) the introduction of financial and other sanctions against member states that do not comply with the requirements. It is an intergovernmental agreement, and therefore formally not a part of the EU institutional framework.
Several of these pacts and agreements overlap, but with an increasing degree of centralization and authoritarian top-down policy instruments, including the transfer of power from nation states to Brussels, and from the European Parliament to the Commission. At the same time, we see a more and more open division between some core countries, centered around Germany and France, and a periphery of weaker states, particularly in the east and south of Europe.

The most crisis-ridden countries, like Greece, Ireland, and Portugal, have more or less been put under the administration of bodies still further away from democratic legitimacy: the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission. The European employers’ association, the Union of Industrial and Employers’ Confederations of Europe (UNICE), and the European Round Table of Industrialists (ERT) exult over the new economic governance model for the European Union.

The ongoing de-democratisation of the economic politics, as well as the attacks on the trade-union movement undertaken in order to prepare the ground for the anti-social, austerity policies, represent developments that we have hardly seen since fascism was defeated in Europe. Four previous judgments (see below) of the European Court of Justice have all contributed to the restriction of trade-union rights in the European Union, including the legal right to take industrial action. Add to this that the political authorities in at least ten EU member states already have implemented pay cuts in the public sector by setting aside collective agreements without negotiating with the unions, and the gravity of the situation becomes clear. An increasingly authoritarian Europe is emerging.

The European Union as a Barrier

Can this development be stopped? Is it possible to save Social Europe from the ongoing massive attacks on welfare and workers’ rights? Is it possible to mobilize social forces across Europe which can curb the massive attacks of capitalist forces and their political servants, with the aim of shifting power relations, and eventually creating the basis for a social offensive?

To say something concrete about this, we will have to look more closely at the challenges and barriers facing trade unions in the social struggle. What is it that restrains them from moving in a strong and coordinated manner into the fight to at least defend the social achievements that were won through the welfare state? It is necessary then to look at some important external barriers, as well as at weaknesses, within the movement itself.

There is a growing realization that the European Union itself creates a number of impediments, not only for economic and social development in Europe, but also for the social struggle. We will consider six such barriers:

Democratic Deficit

The first barrier is the democratic deficit, which has been there from the very beginning but has increased in recent years. Officially, the message from the European Union and its member states’ governments, with the support of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) and other parts of the European trade-union movement, is the opposite. They claim that the Lisbon Treaty of 2007 took an important step towards increasing democracy in that the elected European Parliament had its authority widened in a number of areas.

In the opposite direction, however, some member states were more or less put under administration of the European Central Bank and the European Commission, with support from the IMF, in the wake of the financial crisis. Furthermore, the Parliament has been sidelined in much of the process to develop the new pacts and institutions described above. Finally, the new authority granted to the Commission to impose economic sanctions on member states that do not follow the strict (and financially and politically damaging) stability criteria will transfer power from democratically elected parliaments at the national level to the non-elected Commission, and thus further de-democratize the decision-making process in Europe.

Constitutionalized Neoliberalism

Second, neoliberalism has been constitutionalized as the economic system of the European Union through the Treaty of Lisbon and former treaties. Capital’s freedom of movement and right of establishment are carved in stone, and all other considerations are subordinated to this principle, which we clearly have seen in the labor market (see below). Free competition is another basic principle in the EU treaties. In recent years this has also increasingly been applied to the services market, which differs from the commodity market in the way that trade in services mainly deals with the buying and selling of mobile labor power.

It has long been a common saying on the European political left that socialism is prohibited by the EU treaties. With the stability criteria, and the new sanction regime to force member states’ structural budget deficit below 0.5 percent and government debt below 60 percent of GDP, we can conclude that traditional Keynesianism, or what we may call traditional social-democratic economic policy of the post-war period, is not allowed. This represents a dramatic curtailment of democracy in the EU member states and represents a major step towards a more authoritarian, neoliberal European Union.

Irreversible Legislation

Third, the European Union decision-making process makes the above principles and decisions virtually irreversible. While all member states have some institutionalised protection for their own constitutions—for example by requiring qualified majority (either two-thirds or three-fourths) to change the constitution—in the European Union it has to be full agreement (e.g., 100 percent of the twenty-eight member states) to change it. This means the possibility of changing any of the EU treaties in a progressive direction through ordinary political processes is virtually nonexistent. One right-wing government in one member state can prevent this.

The Euro as an Economic Straitjacket

Fourth, the existence of the euro, currently in seventeen of the twenty-eight member states, puts many of the countries into an economic straitjacket. As long as the economy and productivity develop differently in member states in the Euro Zone, and there is no large common budget to reduce economic inequalities, countries will need quite different monetary policies. Today it is Germany, Europe’s “economic locomotive,” which benefits most from this, with its strategy of exporting its way out of the crisis; meanwhile the most crisis- and debt-ridden countries—such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Cyprus—are the losers. The latter have no domestic currency to devalue and thereby make their exports cheaper and imports more expensive. Those countries with higher domestic consumption and weaker competitiveness are forced to conduct a so-called internal devaluation, that is, to increase competitiveness through wage cuts and cuts in public expenditure. This is certainly in line with the EU neoliberal project, but it is devastating to the countries’ economic and social development. This economic straitjacket can also contribute to the development of contradictions between workers in countries in need of very different policies.

Lack of Simultaneousness in the Decision-Making and Implementation Processes

Fifth, the lack of simultaneousness in the decision-making process between the EU member states constitutes a barrier to developing cross-national mobilizations of trade union and social movements against many of the neoliberal and reactionary policies. Although much of the policy within the European Union is adopted by EU institutions, it is carried out in such a way that implementation is made at different times in different member states. The attacks and weakening of the pension systems, for instance, occurred over time and in different forms from country to country, based on recommendations from the European Union, but not through direct legislation. This makes it impossible to create a single European mobilization against these attacks.

The same applies to much of the European Union’s privatization policy. The European Union seldom makes decisions on direct privatization; it decides to liberalize, or to apply its competition rules to ever more areas of society. One of the effects is privatization, as we have seen in energy, transport, and telecommunications. Further, the implementation of these policies takes place at different times and ways in different states, thus making it difficult to mobilize coordinated resistance across Europe.

The very special legislation process constitutes further problems. Directives are not applied in the member states directly; rather, the content of the directives has to be transposed into the laws of each member state. As if this is not enough, EU legislation is written in an almost impenetrable bureaucratic language. This reality is often exploited by national governments and politicians, who play down the effects of various legal proposals, which later turn out to have widespread negative effects.

The Extended Role of the European Court of Justice

Sixth, the European Court of Justice has recently taken on a more extensive role in reinterpreting and effectively expanding the scope of some EU treaties and legislation, particularly regarding trade in services, that is, trade in mobile labor power. In this context, it is important to understand the application of the four judgments that were made between December 2007 and the summer 2008—the Viking, Laval, Rüffert, and Luxemburg cases—all of which contributed to limiting trade-union rights, including the right to strike.

Before these judgments, the dominant view was that labor laws and regulations lay outside the EU domain. They belonged to the jurisdiction of the nation states. Through the four judgments, the opposite has clearly been established: labor market regulations are subordinate to EU competition law and to capital’s free movement and right of establishment. The judgments have also had the effect of transforming the so-called Posting of Workers Directive from a minimum to a maximum directive regarding the wages and working conditions that will apply to workers in companies established in one member state while they carry out work in another.

This directive prescribes that wages and working conditions of the host country should apply. However, according to the above mentioned judgments, this has now changed to include only some of the minimum conditions regarding wages and working conditions, thus contributing to social dumping in Western Europe—undermining both wage levels and labor protection laws which have been achieved through trade union struggle over many decades. This has first and foremost been the case in the construction industry as well as in service sectors such as hotels, restaurants, and transport.

The enormous wage gap between countries in a now single European labor market is what really spurs this development—to a considerable degree protected by EU legislation. ILO Convention 94, which intends to secure wages and working conditions in similar cases, was simply ignored by the European Court of Justice. Add to this the high level of unemployment and the extreme exploitation that many individual workers from Eastern Europe are exposed to in Western Europe, both legally and illegally, and we can easily understand how trade unions are being weakened and social regression has become the order of the day in ever more European countries.

The European Union Is Threatening the Unity of Europe

Taken all together, we now see an extremely dramatic and serious situation in Europe. While the establishment of the European Union’s predecessors, the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community, were based partly on the desire for peace in Europe in the wake of the two world wars, the EU project of the European elites today is bringing about a formidable economic, social, and political polarization. The so-called European Social Model is breaking down. We are thus faced with the paradoxical situation that the “peace project EU” is currently the greatest threat to Europe’s unity, not on a national, but on a social, basis. However, we cannot ignore the possibility that, in certain situations, the result will be rising national antagonisms. Given the history of Europe, the European economic and political elites are playing with fire.

With all the barriers summarized above, it is also an open question whether or not it is realistic to believe that the European Union as a whole can be changed from within through a broad pan-European mobilization. Maybe it will be necessary for individual countries to leave not only the euro but the European Union itself in order to save their economies and their people’s welfare. If so, it will be essential that trade unions and popular forces massively mobilize for a Europe based on democracy, unity, solidarity, and cohesion, and thereby counteract the possibility of total European disintegration.

Internal Political-Ideological Barriers

Although the European Union presents important external barriers to the social struggle, there are also internal barriers that prevent trade unions from fulfilling their historic tasks. This is not just on the political-ideological level, but also concerns the traditions and organizational structures that are no longer as effective in meeting the new challenges under the global neoliberal offensive: the international restructuring of production, the increase in precarious work and migration, and the deregulation of labor markets.

On the political-ideological level, the situation is strongly affected by the crisis on the left, including the fact that social partnership and social dialogue have largely been developed into an overall ideology in dominant parts of the labor movement at both the European and national level. This means that social dialogue has been given an exalted position as the way to promote workers’ interests, completely decoupled from an analysis of specific power relations and how they can promote or prevent the possibilities of workers gaining ground. Thus, the social-partnership ideology is also to a high degree unlinked from the recognition that social progress in the current situation can only be achieved through extensive social mobilization.

The criticism of social dialogue and the social-partnership ideology is, of course, not a criticism of unions discussing and negotiating with employers. These things they have always done, and they must continue. The criticism concerns the fact that social dialogue, always one of many tools in the labor movement’s toolbox, has been turned into the main strategy. And, in effect, labor has taken very specific historical experiences and behaved as if these were true for all time in terms of ideological guidance. When social dialogue produced results in many countries, especially in the first decades after the Second World War, it was precisely because of the power shift that had taken place in favor of the working class and the trade-union movement in the period before.

The class compromise and social dialogue were, in other words, the results of mobilization, harsh confrontations, and considerable shifts in the balance of power. However, in the current ideological version labor leaders portray them as the causes of increasing influence for workers and trade unions. This analytical mismatch creates ideological confusion in the trade-union movement, as, for example, in this statement of the ETUC: “The EU is built on the principle of social partnership; a compromise between different interests in society—to the benefit of all” (emphasis added).6

In face of the massive attacks that employers and governments are now waging against unions and social rights, such ideological claims are being put under increasing pressure. There is little doubt that the capitalist forces in Europe have withdrawn from the historic compromise with the working class, as they are now attacking agreements and institutions that they previously accepted in the name of the compromise. Nevertheless, the social partnership ideology is still deeply rooted in wide circles of the European trade-union movement, as the following remarks by (the now-retired) ETUC General Secretary, John Monks, so well illustrate. The starting point was a reference to some tendencies of the U.S. labor movement, where activists were campaigning for wider social goals:

There may be similar opportunities in Europe, says Mr Monks, if unions can move beyond their old-fashioned enthusiasm for street protests to campaign for policy changes that broadly benefit workers. “Given the tough labor market, and desperate employers, this is not a time for huge militancy,” he says. Instead, “it is a time to demand frameworks of welfare benefits, training, consultation and to put in place fairer pay systems, so that when the economy does recover there is no repeat of the surge in inequality that took place in the past decade.”7

Remarkably, Monks’s comments were made long after the financial crisis had led to an intensified level of conflict in several European countries. How Monks thought to achieve better social benefits and fairer pay systems without the need for old-fashioned street protests, militancy, and the like, is not clearly evident from the interview. Maybe he meant that this could be achieved by offering additional concessions to employers? In any case, the ETUC went so far, even for them, as to sign an extraordinarily weak joint statement with the various employers’ organisations in Europe in connection with the preparation of the EU 2020 strategy. This happened in the summer of 2010, after the Greek unions had carried out several general strikes, as the Spanish unions prepared their general strike, and while the preparations of the French unions for their fight against a pension reform were in full swing. The statement called for:

An optimal balance between flexibility and security…. Flexicurity policies must be accompanied by sound macroeconomic policies, favourable business environment, adequate financial resources and the provision of good working conditions. In particular, wage policies, autonomously set by social partners, should ensure that real wage developments are consistent with productivity trends, while non-wage labor costs are restrained where appropriate in order to support labor demand…. [Regarding public services,] accessibility, quality, efficiency and effectiveness must be enhanced, including by taking greater benefit from well balanced public-private partnerships and by modernising public administration systems.8

To demand that non-wage labor costs are restrained and to legitimize privatization through public-private partnerships in this way—in a situation characterized by crisis, increased class confrontations, and massive assaults on public services—confirms that submission to social dialogue as a main strategy in the current situation can have nothing but demoralizing effects on those who want to fight against social regression.

Another internal barrier for many trade unions is their attachment to the traditional labor parties. The move by these parties to the right, as well as the general political and ideological crisis of the left described above, also affect the trade unions. They have reacted differently to these developments, however. In many countries (like Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom), the loyalty between the national trade union confederations and the social democratic parties is still solid, while in others it is weaker.

Alone among the Nordic nations, the Danish Trade Union Confederation has declared itself formally independent of the Social Democratic party, but without adopting more radical positions. In the United Kingdom, some unions, like the British National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers, have broken with social democracy and established themselves in a clearly more leftist and militant position. In Germany, the Schröder (so-called red-green) government (1998–2005) carried out comprehensive attacks on the social-welfare system, and this has led to a deep breach of trust between the Confederation of Trade Unions (Deutscher Gewerkschaftsbund, the DGB) and the Social Democratic Party (SPD). While the party was in opposition it tried to approach the trade-union movement again, which is not an unusual strategy, but it received a rather cool reception from the DGB’s leader, Michael Sommer: “The problem for the SPD is unfortunately that they suffer from a lack of credibility. They were in power until September last year and were involved in many of the decisions we feel are wrong. They still have a long way to go before they have restored confidence.”9

The most extreme experiences with social democratic parties in government, however, have been in Greece, Spain, and Portugal. Considering how those parties so easily could implement their massive attacks on the welfare state and the trade-union movement, it might be time for broader sections of the labor movement to reconsider their strong ties to social democracy. At least, it is difficult to imagine that the close relationship between the trade-union movement and social democracy can be the same in Europe after these experiences, despite having lived down many deep conflicts in the past.

Increased Resistance

Widespread deregulation, the free movement of capital, and the crucial role played by global and regional institutions in the neoliberal offensive necessitate a global perspective and coordination of resistance across borders. Only in this way can we prevent workers in one country from being played against those in another, groups against groups, and welfare levels against welfare levels. Coordination of resistance across borders, however, requires strong and active movements at the local and national level. There is no abstract global fight against crisis and neoliberalism. Social struggles are internationalized only when local and national movements realize the need for coordination across borders in order to strengthen the fight against international and well-coordinated counter-forces. But international coordination presupposes that there is something to coordinate. In other words, organizing resistance and building the necessary alliances locally are decisive as a first step.

The social struggle in Europe is in the process of moving into a new phase. The crisis sharpens the contradictions and provokes confrontations. General strikes have again been put on the agenda in many countries, especially in Greece, where the population has been subjected to draconian attacks that threaten their basic living conditions. In Portugal, Italy, Spain, France, Ireland, Belgium, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom, general strikes and/or massive demonstrations have been carried out. The most promising development so far was the general strike that was carried out simultaneously by trade unions in six EU countries (Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus, and Malta) on November 14, 2011, while unions in other countries also held demonstrations or more limited strikes.

Although so far the outcome of these battles is pretty vague, it is in these struggles that we find hope for another development: alliances with other new and unconventional social movements, especially among young people, as we have seen with Spain’s Los Indignados and in Portugal. One thing has at least become clear: the European social model, as we know it from its heyday, has been abandoned by the European elites, even if some of them are still paying lip service to the trade-union movement.

Even if there are many barriers to a Europeanization of the social struggle, there have been some examples of all-European campaigns organized by trade unions and social movements across national borders. One example was the fight against the EU Port Directive, which was voted down in the European Parliament in 2003 and in 2006, after pressure from below in strikes and demonstrations. Another was the struggle against the Services Directive, which, while not rejected, was modified as a result. The fight against the EU Constitution (later the Lisbon Treaty) also faced a certain Europe-wide resistance, although mobilization was largely based where it ultimately prevailed, first in France and the Netherlands, and later in Ireland.

The dramatic attacks on trade unions and welfare now taking place actually contribute to strengthening the voice of a number of European trade union leaders. The Deputy General Secretary of the European Public Services Unions, Willem Goudriaan states that the Euro Plus Pact represents “an interference in collective bargaining which we have never before seen in the EU.” Even the cautious ETUC General Secretary, John Monks, who in 2009 said that all had “become social democrats or socialists now,” changed his tune shortly before his retirement in 2011 and characterized the Euro Plus Pact in this way: “EU is on a collision course with Social Europe…. This is not a pact for competitiveness. It is a perverse pact for lower living standards, more inequality and more precarious work.”10

That in 2011 the ETUC, which has always been very European Union-friendly, for the first time in the history of the European Union urged the European Parliament to reject a proposed treaty change, is a further indication that a change is underway. This could contribute to a questioning of the legitimacy of the European Union among European workers. The actual treaty amendment concerned the setting up of the European Union’s emergency fund (European Stability Mechanism), whose task is to lend money to member countries in crisis. There was no such mechanism in place when the Greek crisis unfolded, and instead the European Union improvised. The ETUC rejected the proposal because this pact contained nothing in the direction of what might be called a Social Europe, which is becoming an increasingly distant goal.

With continued draconian austerity policies and deeper economic, social, and political crises, there is a possibility of growing contradictions within social democracy, as well as within the trade-union movement in Europe. We perhaps got a taste of this during the ETUC Congress in Athens in May 2011, when the most militant sections of the trade-union movement demonstrated in front of the Congress building, accusing the ETUC of betraying the fight and asking them to go home.

On the political-rhetorical level, there is an ongoing radicalization of the messages from the European trade unions in response to the economic crisis, backed up with some symbolic demonstrations, organized by the ETUC in Brussels on September 29, 2010, in Budapest on April 9, 2011, and in Wroclaw on September 19, 2011. Much remains to be done, however, before this is followed by a more committed and widespread social mobilization, where trade unions put to use their most effective methods of struggle to enforce their claims.

This lack of trade union action is not, of course, only the responsibility of individuals in the leadership of the international trade union organizations. The ETUC board consists of representatives from a number of national trade unions, and the decisions have broad support among them.11 The new situation is a result of enormous shifts in the balance of power in society, the crisis, and intensified class contradictions that have removed the basis for a continuation of the policy of the social pact in the post-Second World War period. The capitalists have changed strategy, but the trade-union movement has not. To acknowledge this and take into account the consequences of it is one of the main challenges of the trade-union movement today.

What Has to be Done?

The political shift towards the right and the political-ideological crisis on the left mean that the trade-union movement itself has to play a more central, independent, and more offensive political role—political not in the party sense, but in the sense that it assumes a broader political perspective in the social struggle. The greater part of the trade-union movement is not prepared to take on such a role today, but it holds the potential. A development in this direction requires that the trade-union movement go through a process of change, not least because of the new conditions for struggle created by global restructuring, neoliberalism, and crisis. In the medium term a reorganization of the political left will also have to be put on the agenda.

If social progress and democratization are our goals, the ongoing economic and social crises have opened the door wide. As the crisis unfolds, the need for a new and radical political course is actually growing day by day. It assumes, however, that trade unions are able to recreate themselves politically and organizationally. The immediate task is to meet the confrontational attacks from capitalists and their political servants, to wage the defensive fight against the massive attacks on wages, pensions, and public services. In the long term, however, this will not be enough, as the Scottish Socialist Murray Smith so rightly points out:

In whatever scenario there is a structural weakness of the workers’ movement, which gives the advantage to the government and the ruling class. The weakness is political and lies in the absence of a credible, visible political alternative to neo-liberalism. Such a political alternative is not a pre-condition for resisting attacks in the short term, perhaps even winning battles. But at a certain point the absence of a coherent alternative has a demobilizing effect. This problem predates the present crisis, but the crisis has made it a much more urgent question. What is necessary is the perspective of a governmental alternative incarnated by political forces that have a credible possibility of winning the support of the majority of the population, not necessarily immediately, but as a perspective. Such a political programme would involve organizing the production of goods and services to meet the needs of the population, democratically decided. That means breaking the stranglehold of finance on the economy, creating a publicly owned financial sector, re-nationalizing public services, a progressive taxation system, measures that challenge property rights.12

The vision of an alternative development of society is important, then, to provide inspiration and direction for the ongoing struggle against the crisis and social regression. It is uncertain, however, that a lack of alternatives is the main problem. There are a great many elements for an alternative developmental model. The alternative to privatization is not to privatize. The alternative to increased competition is more collaboration. The alternative to bureaucracy and control from above is democratization and participation from below. Alternatives to increasing inequalities and poverty are redistribution, progressive taxation, and free, universal welfare benefits. The alternative to the destructive speculation economy is socialization of the bank and credit institutions, the introduction of capital controls, and the prohibition of dealing with suspect financial instruments. The list can be made much longer than this.

Rather than a lack of alternatives, it may also be a question of the ability and will to carry out the mobilization and make use of the resources that are necessary to enforce them. Here, it is important for there to be a political showdown with the ideological legacy of the social pact—that deep-rooted social partnership ideology and belief in social dialogue as the best way of resolving social problems for the benefit of all, as the expression goes.

The working class, the trade unions, and other popular forces are now facing a brutal power struggle, which was started from above. The constant tendencies to canalize the response of the unions to these attacks into the political power vacuum that the social dialogue at present represents at a European level, does little else than weaken the capacity of the unions to mobilize. From this angle, there is much to suggest that it is the ability, rather than the possibility, that is the most important challenge the trade unions now face. The time has come, in other words, to stake out a new course for the trade-unions’ struggle, as was suggested by the Basque trade union organizations on January 27, 2011, when they carried out their second general strike in less than one year:

We have come out to the streets, have gone on strike twice and will continue mobilising. Because we do not want the future of poverty they have prepared for us. They threatened us by saying after the crisis nothing would be the same again. So making things different is in our hands. It is necessary to continue fighting for a real change, for a different economic and social model in which [the] economy works in favour of the society.13

We have seen before that social struggles develop new leadership and new organizations. Although right-wing populists and authoritarian tendencies predominate in the European Union today, the anti-social policies of the elites can also provoke social explosions, especially in southern Europe. It can open the possibility for other developments, where the goals are more fundamental changes of power and property relations and a deepening democratization of the society. The battle is between a more authoritarian and a more democratic Europe. For the time being, the authoritarian tendencies have the upper hand, but power relations can change again.

Notes

↩John Vinocur, “On the New European Economic Road Map, There’s Not Much Left of the Left,” New York Times, November 24, 1998, http://nytimes.com.
↩“NEWSWEEK Cover: We Are All Socialists Now,” February 8, 2009, http://prnewswire.com. The cover appeared on the February 16, 2009 Newsweek.
↩“In From the Cold?,” Economist, March 12, 2009, http://economist.com.
↩For a more comprehensive discussion of this phenomenon, see Asbjørn Wahl, “To Be in Office, But Not in Power: Left Parties in the Squeeze Between People’s Expectations and an Unfavourable Balance of Power,” in Birgit Daiber, ed., The Left in Government: Latin-America and Europe Compared (Brussels: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, 2010).
↩Michael Hudson, “A Financial Coup d’Etat,” Counterpunch, October 1–3, 2010, http://counterpunch.org.
↩“ETUC: The European Social Model,” http://etuc.org.
↩“In From the Cold?“
↩European Social Partners, “Joint Statement on the EU 2020 Strategy,” June 3, 2010, http://etuc.org.
↩Quoted in Terje I. Olsson, “Mer lønn og forbruk skal løse krisa” [Higher Wages and Consumption Are Going to Solve the Crisis], Fri Fagbevegelse, October 8, 2010. Originally http://frifagbevegelse.no; available via http://archive.org/.
↩ETUC press release, “EU on a ‘Collision Course’ with Social Europe and the Autonomy of Collective Bargaining,” February 4, 2011, http://etuc.org.
↩There are also those who argue for more offensive positions, as, for example, the General Secretary of the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), Eduardo Chagas, has been taking inside the ETUC board over the last few years. Lately, some of the south European trade unions also have pushed for an all-European general strike. It is worth noticing that the Nordic trade-union confederations have brought up the rear in these discussions.
↩Murray Smith, “Den europæiske arbejderbevægelse under angreb!” [The European Labor Movement Under Attack!], Kritisk Debat, no. 56, June, 2010, http:// kritiskdebat.dk. [my translation]
↩Joint leaflet from the Basque trade unions ELA, LAB, STEE/EILAS, EHNE and HIRU, which carried out a one-day general strike against pension cuts and attacks on the welfare state. See http://labournet.de.

Joint India-Pakistan Trade Unions’ Statement on Terrorism In South Asia: A Challenge For Democracy

Joint India-Pakistan Trade Unions’ Statement on Terrorism In South Asia: A Challenge For Democracy

 

6 July 2009

 

India and Pakistan have witnessed many attacks of terrorism and have taken them all in their stride. The most recent attack in Mumbai on 26th November 2008 and in Lahore on 3rd March, 2009 has shaken the subcontinent and the world.

We condemn terrorism in all its manifestations.

It is understandable that people become furious and outraged in face of such acts. They have the right to be so when such attacks terrorise and kill innocent citizens who are not accountable for the acts of the state. There is a growing expressing of anger and horror by people over such incidents in many different ways. But, it is to the credit of the people of India and Pakistan, that they have not been provoked and drawn into sectarianism, national chauvinism or war mongering. We welcome this spirit of the people of India and Pakistan. We also believe that time is right  for democratic debate on the nature of terrorism and the context of its emergence, in the region, which all progressive forces should engage in, with a sense of historical responsibility.

We believe that this context of rising terrorism is being used by the ruling elite to shift public opinion towards an internal security doctrine that is undemocratic, chauvinistic and anti-people. They are redefining internal governing structures to suit the new internal security doctrine and integrating it into U.S. sponsored ‘global war against terror’.

Working people of India and Pakistan must unite to fight terrorism.

We express our indignation on the growing dependence on US agencies to exchange information and intelligence, and for backhand diplomacy, between the two countries. This undermines sovereignty of each country and allows the US to influence, prevail and intervene in our mutual relationship.

We believe that both governments are reluctantly coming to realise that the best policy to deal with cross-border terrorism, is cooperation. These are positive approaches in these difficult times. Any mature response to the situation has to respect the sovereignty of the states of India and Pakistan and develop credible and cooperative mechanisms to deal with non-state actors. But, there are strong forces in each of our countries that are opposed to this policy.

We call upon the governments of India and Pakistan to overcome mutual suspicions and build mutual trust by:

1. Exchange of information and intelligence without  any misgivings and reservation

2. Providing access for interrogation of arrested persons

3. Ensure legal rights and assistance to the arrested persons in accordance with international human right standards

South Asia out of the U.S. Area of Influence

The partition of the Indian sub-continent had never really settled down to mutual co-existence, let alone to cooperation and a peaceful relationship. The unresolved Kashmir dispute has remained a festering wound in preventing any peace initiatives. The U.S. intervention in the subcontinent, particularly its support for military regimes and use of extremist groups as per political exigencies has weakened the democratisation of societies and peaceful coexistence and development in the region.

The emergence of terrorism in the sub-continent has to be viewed in the context of international politics, wherein U.S. imperialism has been both using religious extremism for its military policy, and now, demonising the people of Islamic faith into a global enemy, in order to oppress and control Muslim nations and their oil wealth. Imperialism can opt for such policy because of the still surviving domestic ground of landlordism, and in general medievalism. This has led to formation of non-state actors fighting a global war of terrorism against U.S. imperialism and its allies. As in all war, it has resulted in major collateral damages and immense killing of innocent people who are not accountable for the acts of their States.

Both, terrorism and the response of the state have always led to undermining of democracy. Historical experience has shown that the cycle of terrorism and state terrorism never eliminates terrorism. In fact, it is the people’s movement that can cut this nexus through a struggle for democratisation, equality and equity for all. In building this movement, the working class across borders have to play a crucial role. The millions strong Trade Unions in both countries have to coordinate and converge to fulfil this historic responsibility.

No war between India and Pakistan

The people of India and Pakistan are witnessing the militarisation of state and society. The dominance of militarist thinking in the two governments: the doctrine of preventive intervention and terrorism as a State policy has prevented the strengthening of the fraternity of the people, consolidation of the political constituency for peaceful resolution of conflict and build a common identity for South Asian people.

The reduction of tensions between India and Pakistan means the reduction of defence budgets in both countries. This will have a major and meaningful impact on the well being of each country’s citizens. We demand:

  • Reduce the influence and control of the military and make it accountable and subordinate to the elected governments.

  • Stop militarising society by developing the doctrine of internal security, as extensions of war concepts into society, and creating armed forces for internal war.

Terrorism Weakens the Unity of the People of the Sub-Continent and the Struggle against Imperialism.

We therefore call upon the people of India, Pakistan and South Asia to deepen the process of democracy, contend ideologically and politically with all forms of regressive and chauvinistic viewpoints and ideologies, and build a secular framework for peaceful co-existence.

  • We believe that terrorism finds fertile ground when society and state demonises, deprives and oppresses a large section of people and can be addressed by:

  • Creating a democratic ground where even extreme ideologies are compelled to defend their views, policies, and action in open public space and thereby limiting the politics of terrorism;

Isolating extremism within society by defeating their views through an ideological and political battle within a democratic framework of nation building process.

We understand that the present situation demands a protracted, flexible and sensitive approach to deal with terrorism, which finds its justification in primordial loyalties and ideologies, like religion which has a wider social resonance. We respect and appreciate that, in the last decade, in India, Pakistan and abroad, many theologians, institutions and ordinary religious people have campaigned against terrorism and joined forces to build a tolerant and peaceful society

Fight against terrorism! Defend and deepen a tolerant, secular and democratic society in India and Pakistan!

  1. Nabi Ahmed,  Senior Vice-President, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan.
  2. Mohammad Hanif Jhangiri President, Pakistan Workers’ Federation, Balochistan.
  3. Abdul Salaam, Chairman, Pakistan Workers’ Federation Balochistan.
  4. Jaffar Khan,  Deputy General Secretary, Muttahida Labour Federation Pakistan.
  5. Sajjad Hussain, General Secretary, Allied Bank Staff Union of Pakistan.
  6. Anwar Habib President, Allied Bank Staff Union of Pakistan.
  7. Manzoor, General Secretary, Muttahida Labour Federation, Balochistan.
  8. Shaukat Ali Chaudhury, Vice-President Railway Workers’ Union Collective    Bargaining Authority Workshops, Pakistan.
  9. Fazal-e-Wahid,  General Secretary, Railway Workers’ Union Collective Bargaining    Authority Workshops, Pakistan, and President All Pakistan Trade Union Federation.
  10. Ashiq Jhangiri  Deputy General Secretary, Railway and Workers’ Union Collective Bargaining Authority Workshops’ Pakistan.
  11. Chaudhury Ashiq Ali, President, Railway Workers’ Union Open Line, Pakistan.
  12. Gulzar Ahmed Chaudhury, General Secretary, All Pakistan Trade Union Federation, Pakistan.
  13. Rubina Jamil, President, Working Women Organisation, Pakistan.
  14. Ashim Roy, General Secretary, New Trade Union Initiative.
  15. Anuradha Talwar, President, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti, India.
  16. Swapan Ganguly, Agricultural Workers Alliance.
  17. D. Thankappan, President, Kamani Employees Union, India.
  18. Ashok Chowdhury, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, India.
  19. V. B. Cherian, President, Cochin Shipyard Employees Union.
  20. Chandrashekhar, CTU  Punjab & Chandigarh General Workers Union.
  21. Gautam Mody, Working People Trade Union Council, India.
  22. Mohan Kothekar, Vidharbha Heavy Vehicle & Truck Chalak Sangathan.
  23. Sujata Mody, Penn Thozilalargal Sangam.
  24. D.C. Gohain, Jharkhand Krantikaari Mazdoor Union.
  25. Milind Ranade,  Kachra Vahatuk Shramik Sangathan.
  26. M. A. Patil, Maharashtra Anganwadi Karamchari Sangh.
  27. M. A. Parray,  Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Council.
  28. Mohd. Shafi Khan, All Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Centre.
  29. Nisar Ali Mir, All Jammu & Kashmir Trade Union Centre.
  30. M. Subbu, Tamil Maanila Kattida Thozilalar Sangham.
  31. N. Vasudevan, Blue Star Workers Union.
  32. K. P. Vishwavalsalan, Kerala Samsthana Kasuandi Thozhilai Union.
  33. P.T. John, Plantation Working Class Union.
  34. Chandan Sanyal, All West Bengal Sales Representatives Union.
  35. Sailen Bhattacharya, ECL & ICML Shramik Union.
  36. S. P. Vansadia, Chemical Mazdoor Panchayat.
  37. Himanshu Banker, Gramin Mazdoor Sabha.
  38. Rohit Prajapati, Jyoti Karamchari Mazdoor Union.
  39. Bhagmal Rana, Federation of Union Territory Chandigarh Employees and Workers.

Click here to return to the April-September 2009 index.

 

 

George Soros: Imperial Wizard/Double Agent

George Soros: Imperial Wizard/Double Agent

Covert Action Quarterly e-mail: info@covertactionquarterly.org

by Heather Cottin December 9, 2003

This is not a case of narcissistic personality disorder; this is how George Soros exercises the authority of United States hegemony in the world today. Soros foundations and financial machinations are partly responsible for the destruction of socialism in Eastern Europe and the former USSR. He has set his sights on China. He was part of the full court press that dismantled Yugoslavia. Calling himself a philanthropist, billionaire George Soros’ role is to tighten the ideological stranglehold of globalization and the New World Order while promoting his own financial gain. Soros’ commercial and “philanthropic” operations are clandestine, contradictory and coactive. And as far as his economic activities are concerned, by his own admission, he is without conscience; a capitalist who functions with absolute amorality.

Master-builder of the new bribe sector systematically bilking the world He thrusts himself upon world statesmen and they respond. He has been close to Henry Kissinger, Vaclav Havel and Poland’s General Wojciech Jaruzelski. He supports the Dalai Lama, whose institute is housed in the Presidio in San Francisco, also home to the foundation run by Soros’ friend, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. Soros is a leading figure on the Council of Foreign Relations, the World Economic Forum, and Human Rights Watch (HRW). In 1994, after a meeting with his philosophical guru, Sir Karl Popper, Soros ordered his companies to start investing in Central and Eastern European communications.

The Federal Radio Television Administration of the Czech Republic accepted his offer to take over and fund the archives of Radio Free Europe. Soros moved the archives to Prague and spent over $15 million on their maintenance. A Soros foundation now runs CIA-created Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty jointly with the U. S. and RFE/RL, which has expanded into the Caucasus and Asia. Soros is the founder and funder of the Open Society Insti tute. He created and maintains the International Crisis Group (ICG) which, among other things, has been active in the Balkans since the destruction of Yugoslavia. Soros works openly with the United States Institute of Peace – an overt arm of the CIA…

When anti-globalization forces were freezing in the streets outside New York’s Waldorf-Astoria hotel in February 2002, George Soros was inside addressing the World Economic Forum. As the police forced protesters into metal cages on Park Avenue, Soros was extolling the virtues of the “Open Society” and joined Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, Francis Fukuyama and others.

WHO IS THIS GUY?

George Soros was born in Hungary in 1930 to Jewish parents so removed from their roots that they once vacationed in Nazi Germany. Soros lived under the Nazis, but with the triumph of the Communists moved to England in 1947. There, Soros came under the sway of the philosopher Karl Popper, at the London School of Economics. Popper was a lionized anti-communist ideologue and his teachings formed the basis for Soros’ political tendencies. There is hardly a speech, book or article that Soros writes that does not pay obeisance to Popper’s influence.

Knighted in 1965, Popper coined the slogan “Open Society,” which eventually manifested in Soros’ Open Society Fund and Institute. Followers of Popper repeat his words like true believers. Popperian philosophy epitomizes Western individualism. Soros left England in 1956, and found work on Wall Street where, in the 1960s, he invented the “hedge fund.”

“… hedge funds catered to very wealthy individuals… The largely secretive funds, usually trading in offshore locations.. produced astronomically superior results. The size of the “bets” often became self fulfilling prophecies: ‘rumors of a position taken by the big hedge funds prompted other investors to follow suit,’ which would in turn force up the price the hedgers were betting on to begin with.”

Soros organized the Quantum Fund in 1969 and began to dabble in currency manipulation. In the 1970s, his financial activities turned to:

“Alternating long and short positions… Soros won big both on the rise of real estate investment trusts and on their subsequent collapse. Under his 20-year stewardship, Quantum returned an amazing 34.5% a year. Soros is best known (and feared) for currency speculation… In 1997 he earned the rare distinction of being singled out as a villain by a head of state, Malaysia’s Mahathir Mohamad, for taking part in a highly profitable attack on that nation’s currency.”

Through such clandestine financial scheming, Soros became a multibillionaire. His companies control real estate in Argentina, Brazil, and Mexico; banking in Venezuela; and are some of the most profitable currency traders in the world, giving rise to the general belief that his highly placed friends assisted him in his financial endeavors, for political as well as financial gain.

George Soros has been blamed for the destruction of the Thai economy in 1997. One Thai activist said, “We regard George Soros as a kind of Dracula. He sucks the blood from the people.” The Chinese call him “the crocodile,” because his economic and ideological efforts in China were so insatiate, and because his financial speculation created millions of dollars in profits as it ravished the Thai and Malaysian economies.

Soros once made a billion dollars in one day by speculating (a word he abhors) on the British pound. Accused of taking “money from every British taxpayer when he speculated against sterling,” he said, “When you speculate in the financial markets you are free of most of the moral concerns that confront an ordinary businessman… I did not have to concern myself with moral issues in the financial markets.”

Soros has a schizophrenic craving for unlimited personal wealth and a desire to be thought well of by others:

“Currency traders sitting at their desks buy and sell currencies of Third World countries in large quantities. The effect of the currency fluctuations on the people who live in those countries is a matter that does not enter their minds. Nor should it; they have a job to do. Yet if we pause to think, we must ask ourselves whether currency traders… should regulate the lives of millions.”

It was Soros who saved George W. Bush’s bacon when his management of an oil exploration company was ending in failure. Soros was the owner of Harken Energy Corporation, and it was he who bought the rapidly depreciating stocks just prior to the company’s collapse. The future president cashed out at almost one million dollars. Soros said he did it to buy “political influence.” Soros is also a partner in the infamous Carlyle Group. Organized in 1987, “the world’s largest private equity firm” with over twelve billion dollars under management, is run by “a veritable who’s who of former Republican leaders,” from CIA man Frank Carlucci to CIA head George Bush, Sr. The Carlyle Group makes most of its money from weapons expenditures.

THE PHILANTHROPIST SPOOK

In 1980, Soros began to use his millions to attack socialism in Eastern Europe. He financed individuals who would cooperate with him. His first success was in Hungary. He took over the Hungarian educational and cultural establishment, incapacitating socialist institutions throughout the country. He made his way right inside the Hungarian government. Soros next moved on to Poland, aiding the CIA-funded Solidarity operation and in that same year, he became active in China. The USSR came next.

It is not coincidental that the Central Intelligence Agency had operations in all of those countries. The goal of the Agency was exactly the same as that of the Open Society Fund: to dismantle socialism. In South Africa, the CIA sought out dissidents who were anticommunist. In Hungary, Poland and the USSR, the CIA, with overt intervention from the National Endowment for Democracy, the AFL-CIO, USAID and other institutions, supported and organized anticommunists, the very type of individuals recruited by Soros’ Open Society Fund. The CIA would have called them “assets.” As Soros said, “In each country I identified a group of people – some leading personalities, others less well known – who share my belief…”

Soros’ Open Society organized conferences with anticommunist Czechs, Serbs, Romanians, Hungarians, Croatians, Bosnians, Kosovars. 17 His ever-expanding influence gave rise to suspicions that he was operating as part of the U. S. intelligence complex. In 1989, the Washington Post reported charges first made in 1987 by the Chinese government officials that Soros’ Fund for the Reform and Opening of China had CIA connections. 18

TAKING ON MOSCOW

After 1990, Soros funds targeted the Russian educational system, providing the entire nation with textbooks. 19 In effect, Soros ensured the indoctrination of an entire generation of Russian youth with OSI propaganda. Soros foundations were accused of engineering a strategy to take control of the Russian financial system, privatization schemes, and the process of foreign investment in that country. Russians reacted angrily to Soros’ legislative meddlings. Critics of Soros and other U. S. foundations said the goal of these maneuvers was to “thwart Russia as a state, which has the potential to compete with the world’s only superpower.” 20 Russians began to suspect Soros and the CIA were interconnected. Business tycoon Boris Berezovsky said, “I nearly fainted when I heard a couple of years ago that George Soros was a CIA agent.” 21 Berezovsky’s opinion was that Soros, and the West, were “afraid of Russian capital becoming strong.”

If the economic and political establishment in the United States fear an economic rivalry from Russia, what better way to control it than to dominate Russian media, education, research centers and science? After spending $250 million for the “transformation of education of humanities and economics at the high school and university levels,” Soros created the International Science Foundation for another $100 million. 22 The Russian Federal Counterintelligence Service (FSK) accused Soros foundations in Russia of “espionage.” They noted that Soros was not operating alone; he was part of a full court press that included financing from the Ford and Heritage Foundations; Harvard, Duke, and Columbia universities, and assistance from the Pentagon and U. S. intelligence services. 23 The FSK criticized Soros’ payouts to 50,000 Russian scientists, saying that Soros advanced his own interests by gaining control of thousands of Russian scientific discoveries and new technologies to collect state and commercial secrets. 24

In 1995, Russians were infuriated by the insinuation of State Department operative Fred Cuny into the conflict in Chechnya. Cuny’s cover was disaster relief, but his history of involvement in international conflict zones of interest to the U. S., plus FBI and CIA search parties, made clear his government connections. At the time of his disappearance, Cuny was working under contract to a Soros foundation. 25 It is not widely known in the U. S. that the violence in Chechnya, a province in the heart of Russia, is generally perceived as the result of a political destabilization campaign on which Washington looks favorably, and may actually be directing. This assessment of the situation is clear enough to writer Tom Clancy that he felt free to include it as an assertion of fact in his best-seller, The Sum of All Fears. The Russians accused Cuny of being a CIA operative, and part of an intelligence operation to support the Chechen uprising. 26 Soros’ Open Society Institute is still active in Chechnya, as are other Soros-sponsored organizations.

Russia was the site of at least one joint endeavor to enhance Soros’ balance sheet, arranged with diplomatic assistance from the Clinton administration. In 1999, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright blocked a $500 million loan guarantee by the U. S. Export-Import Bank to the Russian company, Tyumen Oil, on the grounds that it was contrary to U. S. national interests. Tyumen wanted to buy American-made oil equipment and services from Dick Cheney’s Halliburton Company and ABB Lummus Global of Bloomfield, New Jersey. 27 George Soros was an investor in a company that Tyumen had been trying to acquire. Both Soros and BP Amoco lobbied to prevent this transaction, and Albright obliged. 28

NURTURING LEFT ANTI-SOCIALISM

Soros’ Open Society Institute has a finger in every pot. Its board of directors reads like a “Who’s Who” of Cold War and New World Order pundits. Paul Goble is Communications Director; ‘he was the major political commentator at Radio Free Europe. Herbert Okun served in the Nixon State Department as an intelligence adviser to Henry Kissinger. Kati Marton is the wife of former Clinton administration UN ambassador and envoy to Yugoslavia, Richard Holbrooke. Marton lobbied for the Soros-funded radio station B-92, also a project of’ the National Endowment for Democracy (another overt arm of the CIA), which was instrumental in bringing down the Yugoslav government.

When Soros founded the Open Society Fund he picked liberal pundit Aryeh Neier to lead it. Neier was the head of Helsinki Watch, a putative human rights organization with an anticommunist bent. In 1993, the Open Society Fund became the Open Society Institute.

Helsinki Watch became Human Rights Watch in 1975. Soros is currently on its Advisory Board, both for the Americas and the Eastern Europe-Central Asia Committees, and his Open Society Fund/Soros/OSI is listed as a funder. 29 Soros is intimately connected to HRW, and Neier wrote columns for The Nation magazine without mentioning that he was on Soros’ payroll. 30

Soros is intimately involved in HRW, although he does his best to hide it. 31 He says he just funds and sets up these programs and lets them run. But they do not stray from the philosophy of the funder. HRW and OSI are close. Their views do not diverge. Of course, other foundations fund these institutions as well, but Soros’ influence dominates their ideology.

George Soros’ activities fall into the construct developed in 1983 and enunciated by Allen Weinstein, founder of the National Endowment for Democracy. Weinstein said, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” 32 Soros is operating exactly within the confines of the intelligence complex. He is little different from CIA drug runners in Laos in the 1960s, or the mujahedin who profited from the opium trade while carrying out CIA operations against socialist Afghanistan in the 1980s. He simply funnels (and takes home) a whole lot more money than those pawns, and he does much of his business in the light of day. His candor insofar as he expresses it is a sort of spook damage control that serves to legitimize the strategies of U. S. foreign policy.

The majority of people in the U. S. today who consider themselves politically left-of-center are undoubtedly pessimistic about the chances for a socialist transformation of society. Thus the Soros ‘Decentralization” model, or the “piecemeal” approach to “negative utilitarianism, the attempt to minimize the amount of misery,” which was Popper’s philosophy, appeals to them. 33 Soros funded an HRW study that was used to back California and Arizona legislation relaxing drug laws. 34 Soros favors the legalization of drugs – one way of temporarily reducing awareness of one’s misery. Soros is an equal-opportunity bribester. At a loftier rung of the socioeconomic ladder, one finds Social Democrats who accept Soros funding and believe in civil liberties within the context of capitalism. 35 For these folks, the evil consequences of Soros’ business activities (impoverishing people all over the world) are mitigated by his philanthropic activities. Similarly, liberal/left intellectuals, both in the U. S. and abroad, have been drawn in by the “Open Society” philosophy, not to mention the occasional funding plum.

The New Left in the United States was a social democratic movement. It was resolutely anti-Soviet, and when Eastern Europe and the USSR fell, few in the New Left opposed the destruction of the socialist systems. The New Left did not mourn or protest when the hundreds of millions in Eastern Europe and Central Asia lost their right to jobs, housing at reasonable and legally protected rents, free education through graduate school, health care and cultural enhancement. Most belittled any suggestion that the CIA and certain NGOs such as the National Endowment for Democracy or the Open Society Fund had actively participated in the annihilation of socialism. These people felt that the Western determination to destroy the USSR since 1917 was barely connected to the fall of the USSR. For them, socialism failed of its own accord, because it was flawed.

As revolutions, such as the ones in Mozambique, Angola, Nicaragua or El Salvador were destroyed by proxy forces or were stalled by demonstration “elections,” New Left pragmatists shrugged their shoulders and turned away. The New Left sometimes seemed to deliberately ignore the post-Soviet machinations of U. S. foreign policy.

Bogdan Denitch, who had political aspirations in Croatia, was active within the Open Society Institute, and received OSI funding. 36 Denitch favored the ethnic cleansing of Serbs from Croatia, NATO bombing of Bosnia and then Yugoslavia, and even a ground invasion of Yugoslavia. 37 Denitch was a founder and chair for many years of the Democratic Socialists of America, a leading liberal-left group in the U. S. He has also long chaired the prestigious Socialist Scholars Conference, through which he was key to manipulating the sympathies of many toward support for NATO expansion. 38 Other Soros targets for support include Refuse and Resist the ACLU, and a host of other liberal causes. 39 Soros added another unlikely trophy when he became involved in the New School for Social Research in New York, long an academy of choice for left intellectuals. He now funds the East and Central Europe Program there. 40

Many leftists who were inspired by the revolution in Nicaragua sadly accepted the election of Violetta Chamorro and the defeat of the Sandinistas in 1990. Most of the Nicaragua support network faded thereafter. Perhaps the New Left could have learned from the rising star of Michael Kozak. He was a veteran of Washington’s campaigns to install sympathetic leaders in Nicaragua, Panama and Haiti, and to undermine Cuba – he headed the U. S. Interests Section in Havana.

After organizing the Chamorro victory in Nicaragua, Kozak moved on to become U. S. Ambassador to Belarus. Kozak worked with the Soros-sponsored “Internet Access and Training Program” (IATP), which was busy “creating future leaders” in Belarus. 41 This program was simultaneously imposed upon Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. IATP operates openly with the support of the U. S. Department of State. To its credit, Belarus expelled Kozak and the Soros-Open Society/U. S. State Department crowd. The government of Aleksandr Lukashenko found that for four years before moving to Minsk, Kozak was instrumental in engineering the flow of tens of millions of dollars to the Belarus opposition. Kozak was creating a united opposition coalition, funding web-sites, newspapers and opinion polls, and tutoring a student resistance movement similar to Yugoslavia’s Otpor. Kozak brought in Otpor leaders to instruct dissidents in Belarus. 42 Just before September 11, 2001, the U. S. was revving up a demonization campaign against President Aleksandr Lukashenko. Demonizing Lukashenko has temporarily taken a back burner to the “war on terrorism.”

Through OSI and HRW, Soros was a major supporter of the B-92 radio station in Belgrade. Soros funded Otpor, the organization that received those “suitcases of money” in support of the October 5, 2000 coup that toppled the Yugoslav government. 43 Human Rights Watch helped legitimize the subsequent kidnapping and show trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague by saying nothing about his rights.” 44 Louise Arbour, who served as judge at that illegal tribunal, is presently on the Board of Soros’ International Crisis Group. 45 The Open Society/Human Rights Watch gang has been working on Macedonia, calling it part of their “civilizing mission.” 46 Expect that republic to be “saved” to finish the total disintegration of the former Yugoslavia.

DEPUTIES OF POWER

Soros has actually stated that he considers his philanthropy moral and his money management business amoral. 47 Yet those in charge of Soros-funded NGOs have a clear and consistent agenda. One of Soros’ most influential institutions is the International Crisis Group, founded in 1986. ICG is headed by individuals from the very center of political and corporate power. Its board includes Zbigniew Brzezinski, Morton Abramowitz, former U. S. Assistant Secretary of State; Wesley Clark, former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe; and Richard Allen, former U. S. National Security Adviser, Allen is noteworthy for quitting Nixon’s National Security Council out of disgust with the liberal tendencies of Henry Kissinger; recruiting Oliver North to Reagan’s National Security Council, and negotiating missiles for hostages in the Iran-Contra scandal. For these individuals, “containing conflict” boils down to U. S. control over the people and resources of the world.

In the 1980s and 1990s, under the aegis of the Reagan Doctrine, U.S. covert and overt operations in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia were in the works. Soros was openly active in most of these places, working to buy off would-be revolutionaries, or subsidize politicians, intellectuals and anyone else who might come to power when the revolutionary moment had passed. According to James Petras:

“By the early 1980s the more perceptive sectors of the neoliberal ruling classes realized that their policies were polarizing the society and provoking large-scale social discontent. Neoliberal politicians began to finance and promote a parallel strategy ‘from below,’ the promotion of ‘grassroots’ organizations with an ‘anti-statist’ ideology to intervene among potentially conflictory classes, to create a “social cushion.” These organizations were financially dependent on neoliberal sources and were directly involved in competing with sociopolitical movements for the allegiance of local leaders and activist communities. By the 1 990s these organizations, described as “nongovernmental,” numbered in the thousands and were receiving close to four billion dollars world-wide.” 48

In Underwriting Democracy, Soros boasts about the “Americanization of Eastern Europe.” According to his account, through his education programs he began to establish a young cadre of Sorosian leaders. These Soros Foundation-educated young men and women are prepared to fulfill the functions of so-called “influence agents.” Thanks to their fluent knowledge of languages and their insertion into the emerging bureaucracies in target countries, these recruits would philosophically smooth the inroads for Western multinational corporations.

Career diplomat Herbert Okun, on the Europe Committee of Human Rights Watch, along with George Soros, is connected to a host of State Department-linked institutions, from USAID to the Rockefeller-funded Trilateral Commission. From 1990 to 1997, Okun was executive director of something called the Financial Services Volunteer Corps, part of USAID, “to help establish free market financial systems in former communist countries.” 49 George Soros is in complete accord with the capitalists who are in the process of taking control of the global economy.

NON-PROFIT PROFITEERING

Soros claims not to do philanthropy in the countries in which he is involved as a currency trader. 50 But Soros has often taken advantage of his connections to make key investments. Armed with a study by ICC, and with the support of Bernard Kouchner, chief of the UN Interim Administration in Kosovo (UNMIK), Soros attempted to acquire the most profitable mining complex in the Balkans.

In September 2000, in a hurry to take the Trepca mines before the Yugoslavian election, Kouchner stated that pollution from the mining complex was raising lead levels in the environment. 51 This is incredible considering that he cheered when the 1999 NATO bombing of Yugoslavia rained depleted uranium on the country and released more than 100,000 tons of carcinogens into the air, water and soil. 52 But Kouchner had his way, and the mines were closed for “health reasons.” Soros invested $150 million in an effort to gain control of Trepca’s gold, silver, lead, zinc and cadmium, which make the property worth $5 billion. 53

As Bulgaria was imploding into “free-market” chaos, Soros was busy scavenging through the wreckage, as Reuters reported in early 2001:

“The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) invested $3.0 million in [Bulgarian high-tech company] Rila, the first firm to benefit from a new $30 million facility set up by the EBRD to support IT firms in central and eastern Europe…. Another $3. 0 million came from U. S private investment fund Argus Capital Partners, sponsored by Prudential Insurance Company of America and opera ting in central and eastern Europe… Soros, who had invested around $3.0 million in Rila and in 2001 invested another $1.0 million… remained its majority owner. ” 54

FRAMING THE ISSUES

His pose as a philanthropist gives Soros the power to shape international public opinion when social conflict raises the question of who are the victims and who are the malefactors. Like other NGOs, Human Rights Watch, Soros’ mouthpiece on human rights, avoids or ignores most organized and independent working class struggles.

In Colombia, labor leaders are routinely killed by paramilitaries working in concert with the U. S.-sponsored government. Because those unions oppose neoliberal economics, HRW is relatively silent. In April of this year, HRW’s Jose Vivanco testified before the U. S. Senate in favor of Plan Colombia: 55

“Colombians remain committed to human rights and democracy They need help. Human Rights Watch has no fundamental problem with the United States providing that help.” 56

HRW equates the actions of the Colombian guerrilla fighters struggling to free themselves from the oppression of state terror, poverty and exploitation with the repression of the U. S-sponsored armed forces and paramilitary death squads, the AUC (United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia). HRW validated the Pastrana government and its military, whose role was to protect property rights and maintain the economic and political status quo. According to HRW, 50% of civilian deaths are the work of the government-tolerated death squads. 57 The correct number is 80%. 58

HRW essentially certified the election and ascendancy of the Uribe government in 2002 as well. Uribe is a throwback to the Latin American dictators the U. S. supported in the past, although he was “elected.” HRW had no comment about the fact that the majority boycotted the election. 59

In the Caribbean Basin, Cuba is another opponent of neoliberalism that has been demonized by Human Rights Watch. In nearby Haiti, Soros-funded activities have worked to defeat popular aspirations following the end of the Duvalier dictatorship by undermining Haiti’s first democratically elected leader, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. HRW’s Ken Roth helpfully chimed in with U. S. denunciations of Aristide as “undemocratic.” To demonstrate his idea of “democracy,” Soros foundations were commencing operations in Haiti complimentary to such unseemly U. S. activities as USAID’s promotion of persons associated with FRAPH, the notorious CIA-sponsored death squads which have terrorized the country since the fall of ‘Baby Doc’ Duvalier. 60

On HRW’s web site, Director Roth criticized the U. S. for not opposing China more vigorously. Roth’s activities include the creation of the Tibetan Freedom Concert, a traveling propaganda project that toured the U. S. with major rock musicians, urging young people to support Tibet against China. 61 Tibet has been a pet project of the CIA for many years. 62

Roth has recently pressed for opposition to Chinese control over its oil-rich western province of Xinjiang. With the colonialist “divide and conquer” approach, Roth has tried to convince some of the Uighur religious minority in Xinjiang that the U. S/NATO intervention in Kosovo holds promise as a model for them. As late as August 2002, the U. S. government has given some support in this endeavor as well.

U. S. designs on this region were signaled clearly when a New York Times article on Xinjiang Province in western China described the Uighurs as a “Muslim majority, [which] lives restively under Chinese rule.” They “are well versed in the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia last year which some celebrate for liberating the Muslims in Kosovo; they fantasize about a similar rescue’ here.” 63 The New York Times Magazine noted “Recent discoveries of oil have made Xinjiang extremely attractive to international trade,” while comparing the conditions for its indigenous population to those in Tibet. 64

INNUMERACY

When Sorosian organizations count, they seem to lose track of the truth. Human Rights Watch asserted that 500 people, not over 2,000, were killed by NATO bombers in the 1999 war in Yugoslavia. 65 They said only 350, not over 4,000, died as a result of U. S. attacks on Afghanistan. 66 When the U. S. bombed Panama in 1989, HRW prefaced its report by saying that the “ouster of Manuel Noriega.. and installation of the democratically-elected government of President Guillermo Endara brought high hopes in Panama…” The report neglected to mention the number of casualties.

Human Rights Watch prepared the groundwork for the NATO attack on Bosnia in 1993 by the false rape-of-thousands and “genocide” stories. 67 This tactic of creating political hysteria was necessary for the United States to carry out its Balkan policy. It was repeated in 1999 when HRW functioned as the shock troops of indoctrination for the NATO attack on Yugoslavia. All of Soros’ blather about the rule of law was forgotten. The U. S. and NATO made their own law, and the institutions of George Soros stood behind it.

Massaging of numbers to provoke a response was a major part of a Council on Foreign Relations campaign after September 11,2001. This time it was the 2,801 killed in the World Trade Center. The CFR met on November 6, 2001, to plan a “major public diplomacy campaign.” CFR created an “Independent Task Force on America’s Response to Terrorism.” Soros joined Richard C. Holbrooke, Newton L. Gingrich, John M. Shalikashvili (former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and other powerful individuals on a campaign to make the Trade Center dead into tools for U. S. foreign policy. The CFR report set out to make the case for a war on terrorism. George Soros’ fingerprints were all over the campaign:

“Have senior-level U. S. officials press friendly Arab and other Muslim governments not only to publicly condemn the 9/11 attacks, but also to back the rationale and goals of the U. S. anti-terror campaign. We are never going to convince the publics in the Middle East and South Asia of the nghteousness of our cause if their governments remain silent. We need to help them to deflect any blow-hack from such statements, but we must have them vocally on board…. Encourage Bosnian, Albanian, and Turkish Muslims to educate foreign audiences regarding the U. S. role in saving the Muslims of Bosnia and Kosovo in 1995-99, and our long-standing, close ties to Muslims around the world. Engage regional intellectuals and journalists across the board, regardless of their views. Routinely monitor the regional press in real time to enable prompt responses… Stress references to the victims (and ideally named victims to personalize them) whenever we discuss our cause and goals.” 68

Sorosian innumeracy: counting to bolster and defend U. S. foreign policy.

Soros is very worried about the decline in the world capitalist system and he wants to do something about it, now. He recently said: “I can already discern the makings of the final crisis…. Indigenous political movements are likely to arise that will seek to expropriate the multinational corporations and recapture the ‘national’ wealth.” 69

Soros is seriously suggesting a plan to circumvent the United Nations. He proposes that the “democracies of the world ought to take the lead and forge a global network of alliances that could work with or without the United Nations.” If he were psychotic, one might think he was having an episode. But the fact is, Soros’ assertion that “The United Nations is constitutionally incapable of fulfilling the promises contained in the preamble of its charter,” reflects the thinking of such reactionary institutions as the American Enterprise Institute. 70 Though many conservatives refer to the Soros network as left-wing, on the question of U. S. affiliation with the United Nations Soros is on the same page as the likes of John R. Bolton, Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, who, with “[M]any Republicans in Congress-believe that nothing more should be paid to the UN system.” 71 There has been a decades-long rightwing campaign against the UN. Now Soros is leading it. On various Soros web sites one may read criticism of the United Nations as too rich, unwilling to share information, or flawed in ways that make it unfit for the way the world should run according to George Soros.

Even writers at The Nation, writers who clearly ought to know better, have been influenced by Soros’ ideas. William Greider, for instance, recently found some validity in Soros’ criticism that the United Nations should not be a venue for “tin-pot dictators and totalitarians.. treated as equal partners.” 72 This kind of Eurocentric racism is at the heart of Soros’ hubris. His assumption that the United States can and should run the world is a prescription for fascism on a global scale. For much too long, Western “progressives” have been giving Soros a pass. Probably Greider and others will find the reference to fascism excessive, unjustified, even outrageous.

But just listen closely to what Soros himself has to say: “In old Rome, the Romans only voted. In the modern global capitalism, the Americans only vote. The Brazilians do not vote.” 73

NOTES 1. Dan Seligman, “Life and Times of a Messianic Billionaire,” commentary, April 2002.

2. “Sir Karl Popper in Prague, Summary of Relevant Facts Without Comment,” http://www.lf3.cuni.cz/aff/p1_e.html.

3. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Transcaucasia/Central Asia, http://www.rferl.org.

4. Seligman.

5. Lee Penn, “1999, A Year of Growth for the United Religions Initiative.” http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N1684.TMP3/B103O723.3; sz=720×300; ord=6249″.

6. George Soros, Soros on Soros, Staying Ahead of the Curve (New York: John Wiley, 1995), p. 26.

7. “Hedge Funds Get Trimmed,” Wall Street Journal, May 1, 2000.

8. Theodore Spencer, “Investors of the Century,” Fortune, December 1999.

9. Jim Freer, “Most International Trader George Soros,” Latin Tradecom, October 1998, http://www.latintrade.com/newsite/content/archives.cfm”StoryID=473.

10. Busaba Sivasomboon, “Soros Speech in Thailand Canceled,” AP wire, January 28, 2001.

11. Sivasomboon.

12. George Soros, The Asia Society Hong Kong Center Speech, http://www.asiasociety.org/speeches/soros.

13. Soros on Soros, pill.

14. George Soros, Open Society: Reforming Global Capitalism (New York: Public Affairs, 2000).

15. David Corn, “Bush and the Billionaire, How Insider Capitalism Benefited W,” The Nation, July 17, 2002.

16. Soros on Soros, pp. 122-25.

17. Agence France-Presse, October 8, 1993.

18. Marianne Yen, “Fund’s Representatives Arrested in China,” Washington Post, August 8, 1989, p. A4.

19. Los Angeles Times, November 24, 1994, p. ASS.

20. Chrystia Freeland, “Moscow Suspicion Grows: Kremlin Factions Are at Odds Over Policy,” Financial Times (London), January 19, 1995.

21. Interfax Russian News, November 6, 1999.

22. Irma Dezhina, “U. S. Non-profit Foundations in Russia, Impact on Research and Education” http://www.jhu.edu/~istr/conferences/dublin/workingpapers/dezhina.pdf.

23. “FSK Suspects Financing of Espionage on Russia’s Territory,” AP wire, January 18, 1995.

24. David Hoffman, “Proliferation of Parties Gives Russia a Fractured Democratic System,” Washington Post, October 1, 1995, p. A27; Margaret Shapiro, “Russian Agency Said to Accuse Americans of Spying,” Washington Post, January 14, 1995, p. A17.

25. Allan Turner, “Looking For Trouble,” Houston chronicle, May 28, 1995, p. E1; Kim Masters, “Where Is Fred Cuny,” Washington Post, June 19, 1995, p. D1; Patrick Anderson, “The Disaster Expert Who Met His Match,” Washington Post, September 6, 1999, p. C9; Scott Anderson, “What Happened to Fred Cuny?” New York Times Magazine, February 25, 1996, p. 44.

26. Scott Anderson, “The Man Who Tried to Save the World: the Dangerous Life and Disappearance of Fred Cuny,” Philanthropy Roundtable, March/April 2002, http://www.philanthropyroundtable.org/magazines/2000-01/hedges.

27. “U. S. Blocks $500M Aid Deal for Russians” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 1999.

28. Bob Djurdjevic, “Letters to the Editor,” Wall Street Journal, December 22, 1999.

29. “Open Society Institute,” http://www.soros.org/osi/newyork.

30. Connie Bruck, “The World According to Soros,” New Yorker, January 23, 1995.

31. Olga M. Lazin, “The Rise of the U. S. Decentralized Model for Philanthropy, George Soros’ Open Society and National Foundations in Europe,” http://www.isop.ucla.edu/profmex/volume6/1winter01/01lazin1.htm.

32. David Ignatius, “Innocence Abroad: The New World of Spyless Coups,” Washington Post, September 22, 1991, p. C1.

33. Patrick McCartney, “Study Suggests Drug Laws Resemble Notorious Passbook Laws,” http://www.mapinc.org/drugnews/v00/n861/a06.

34. McCartney.

35. See Sean Gervasi, “Western Intervention in the USSR,” CovertAction Information Bulletin, no. 39, Winter 1991-92.

36. “The Cenasia Discussion List,” http://www.eurasianet.org/resource/cenasia/hypermail/200102/0052.html.

37. Bogdan Denitch, “The Case Against Inaction,” The Nation, April 26, 1999.

38. “Biographies, 2002 Socialist Scholars Conference,” http://www.socialistscholar.org/biographies.

39. “Grants,” http://www.soros.org/repro/grants.

40. “East and Central Europe Program,” http://www.newschool.edu/centers/ecep.

41. Oxana Popovitch, “IREX Belarus Opens a New IATP Site in Molodechno.” http://www.iatp.net/archive/belarus.

42. lan Traynor, “Belarussian Foils Dictator-buster…For Now,” Guardian, September 14, 2001, http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,551533,00. html

43. Steven Erlanger, “Kostunica Says Some Backers ‘Unconsciously Work for American Imperial Goals,”‘ New York Times, September 20, 2000; and “Bringing Down a Dictator, Serbia Calling.” PBS, http://www.pbs.org/weta/dictator/rock/serbiacalling.html

44. Milosevic in the Hague, Focus on Human Rights, “In-Depth Report Documents Milosevic Crimes,” April 2001, http://www.hrw.org/press/2001/10/milocroat1029.htm.

45. “About ICG,” May 2002, http://www.intl-crisis-group.org/annual/2002/ICG2002.pdf.

46. Macedonia Crimes Against Civilians: Abuses by Macedonian Forces in Lluboten, August 10-12, 2001

47. Andrew Leonard. “The Man Who Bought the World,” February 28, 2002, Salon.com. http://archive.salon.com/tech/books/2002/02/28/soros/

48. James Petras, “Imperialism and NGOs in Latin America,” Monthly Review, vol. 49, no. 7, December 1997.

49. International Security Studies, “Herbert Okun,” http://www.yale.edu/iss/peopleadvisoryboard1.

50. Leonard.

51. Edward W. Miller, “Brigandage,” Coastal Post Monthly, Mann County, CA, September 2000.

52. Mirjan Nadrljanski, “Eco-Disaster in Pancevo: Consequences on the Health of the Population,” July 19, 1999, http://www.gci.ch/GreenCrossPrograms/legacy/yugoslavia/Nadrljanski.html

53. “Soros Fund Launches $150 MIn U. S.Backed Balkans Investment,” Bloomberg Business News, July 26, 2000; Chris Hedges, “Below It All in Kosovo,” New York limes, July 8,1998, p. A4.

54. Galina Sabeva, “Soros’ Sofia IT Firm Gets $9 Million Equity Investment,” Reuters, January 23, 2001.

55. On Plan Colombia see: Manuel Salgado Tamayo, “The Geostrategy of Plan Colombia CovertAction Quarterly no. 71, Winter 2001.

56. “Colombia: Human Rights Watch Testifies Before the Senate,” Human Rights Watch Backgrounder, April 24, 2002, http://www.hrw.org/backgrounder/americas/colombia-testimony0424. htm.

57. “Colombia: Bush/Pastrana Meeting, HRW World Report 2001, Human Rights News” (New York, November 6, 2001).

58. Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, Action Alert,” New York limes Covering for Colombian Death Squads,” February 9, 2001.

59. Doug Stokes “Colombia Primer Q&A on the Conflict and U. S. Role,” April 16, 2002. Znet, http://www.zmag.org/content/Colombia/stokes_col-primer. cfm.

60. Interpress Service, January 18, 1995. For additional background see Jane Regan, “AIDing U. S. Interests In Haiti,” CovertAction Quarterly no. 51, Winter 1994-95; and Noam Chomsky, “Haiti, The Uncivil Society,” CovertAction Quarterly no. 57, Summer 1996.

61. Sam Tucker, Human Rights Watch, http://www.webactive.com/webactive/sotw/hrw.

62. John Kenneth Knaus, Orphans of the Cold War (New York, BBS Public Affairs 1999), p. 236.

63. Elisabeth Rosenthal, “Defiant Chinese Muslims Keep Their Own Time,” New York limes, November 19, 2000, p. 3.

64. Jonathan Reynolds (pseudonym), “The Clandestine Chef,” New York Times Magazine, December 3, 2000.

65. “Lessons of War,” Le Monde Diplomatique, March 2000; Peter Phillips, “Untold Stories of U. S./NATO’s War and Media Complacency,” http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/suntold.htm

66. Marc W. Herold, “A Dossier on Civilian Victims of United States’ Aerial Bombing of Afghanistan: A Comprehensive Accounting,” http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/civiDeaths.html

67. “Rape as a crime against humanity,” http://www.haverford.edu/relg/sells/rape.html

68. “Improving the Public Diplomacy Campaign in the War Against Terrorism,” Independent Task Force on America’s Response to Terrorism, Council on Foreign Relations, November 6, 2001.

69. William Greider, “Curious George Talks the Market, The Nation, February 15, 1999.

70. “Oppose John Bolton’s Nomination as State Department’s Arms Control Leader,” Council for a Livable World, April 11, 2001, http://www.clw.org/bush/opposebolton.html

71. Ibid.

72. Greider.

73. “The Dictatorship of Financial Capital,” Federation of Social and Educational Assistance (FASE), Brazil, 2002, http://www.fase.org.br

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Heather Cottin is a writer, lifelong political activist, and recently retired high school history teacher

She lives in Freeport, NY and was for many years married to the late scholar and activist Sean Gervasi.

Anti-UN unrest spreads to Haiti capital

Anti-UN unrest spreads to Haiti capital

Gangs of angry Haitians trawled Port-au-Prince on Thursday as violence aimed at UN peacekeepers blamed for the cholera crisis spread to the capital after deadly rioting in the north.

Organizers had urged people to vent their anger at the United Nations and the Haitian authorities in a demonstration at a main square by the presidential palace, but what transpired was more like urban guerrilla warfare.

Tear gas filled the air and sporadic gunfire could be heard as gangs took to the streets of the quake-ravaged capital, blocking roads with barricades of burning tires and dumpsters full of rotten garbage.

Hundreds of rock-throwing youths attacked an open-top truck carrying members of MINUSTAH, the UN force accused by some of being the source of a cholera outbreak that has now killed more than 1,100 people.

The international peacekeepers, long unpopular in the troubled Caribbean nation, pointed guns at the youths and one briefly fell out of the vehicle under a volley of stones before managing to climb back in.

Protesters shouted slogans like: “Cholera: It’s MINUSTAH who gave it to us!” and “MINUSTAH, Go home!” One placard read: “MINUSTAH is spreading s(expletive) in the street.”

Violence has spread from the north, where three Haitians were killed in riots this week in Cap-Haitien. A police station in the second city was set ablaze and thousands of protesters threatened to storm a UN compound.

The powder keg situation stems from claims the cholera emanated from septic tanks at a base for Nepalese peacekeepers in central Haiti, leaking into the Artibonite River, where locals drink, wash clothes and bathe.

The UN says it tested some of the Nepalese and found no trace of cholera, while health officials say it is impossible to know and the focus must be on containing the epidemic and not divining its source.

President Rene Preval has pleaded for calm and denounced unnamed groups for taking advantage of the cholera to stir things up ahead of November 28 national elections.

Less than 10 days before polls to choose Preval’s successor, political forces are being blamed for whipping up tensions. MINUSTAH has warned people not to be manipulated by “enemies of stability and democracy.”

But in the poorest country in the Americas — even before the January earthquake turned the capital to rubble and killed 250,000 people — there is real discontent and MINUSTAH is a highly visible presence and an easy target.

“The UN came here to kill us, to poison us,” shouted Alexis Clerius, a 40-year-old farmer erecting a barricade in the main Champ de Mars square.

“Haitian leaders have forgotten the people,” Ladiou Novembre, a 38-year-old secondary school teacher joining the scattered demonstrations, told AFP.

“There is no infrastructure, no education, cholera is ravaging the people and the president says nothing. MINUSTAH should be keeping peace in the country, but instead they make things worse. MINUSTAH is killing Haitians.”

The unrest is especially worrying as the UN peacekeepers are scheduled to help organize and preside over the elections.

Aid workers say the violence in the north is hampering efforts to treat cholera victims and stop the spread of the disease, which officials warn could kill 10,000 people over the next 12 months if it continues unabated.

US health experts warned on Thursday that the epidemic was unpredictable and repeated outbreaks could wreak havoc for years to come.

“The Haitian population has no preexisting immunity to cholera, and environmental conditions in Haiti are favorable for its continued spread,” the the US-based Centers for Disease Control said in a progress report.

More than 1,100 people have died from the diarrhea-causing illness since it emerged there last month, with more than 18,000 people infected.

One isolated case has been found in the neighboring Dominican Republic and a second in the US state of Florida — both from people who traveled from Haiti. Dominican authorities are investigating a possible second case.

Health officials fear cholera could spread like wildfire if it infiltrates squalid relocation camps around the capital where hundreds of thousands of quake refugees live in cramped and unsanitary conditions.

Most deaths have been in central and northern Haiti, with the disease not yet widespread in the capital Port-au-Prince, which was badly damaged in a January quake that killed 250,000 people and left over a million homeless.

International Action Day ‘Freedom not fear – Stop the surveillance mania!’

International Action Day “Freedom not fear – Stop the surveillance mania!” on 11 October 2008 Print E-mail

http://www.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de/content/view/242/144/

A broad movement of campaigners and organizations is calling on everybody to join action against excessive surveillance by governments and businesses. On 11 October 2008, concerned people in many countries will take to the streets, the motto being “Freedom not fear 2008”. Peaceful and creative action, from protest marches to parties, will take place in many capital cities.

Surveillance mania is spreading. Governments and businesses register, monitor and control our behaviour ever more thoroughly. No matter what we do, who we phone and talk to, where we go, whom we are friends with, what our interests are, which groups we participate in – “big brother” government and “little brothers” in business know it more and more thoroughly. The resulting lack of privacy and confidentiality is putting at risk the freedom of confession, the freedom of speech as well as the work of doctors, helplines, lawyers and journalists.

The manifold agenda of security sector reform encompasses the convergence of police, intelligence agencies and the military, threatening to melt down the division and balance of powers. Using methods of mass surveillance, the borderless cooperation of the military, intelligence services and police authorities is leading towards the construction of “Fortresses” in Europe and on other continents, directed against refugees and different-looking people but also affecting, for example, political activists, the poor and under-priviledged, and sports fans.

People who constantly feel watched and under surveillance cannot freely and courageously stand up for their rights and for a just society. Mass surveillance is thereby threatening the fabric of a democratic and open society. Mass surveillance is also endangering the work and commitment of civil society organizations.

Surveillance, distrust and fear are gradually transforming our society into one of uncritical consumers who have “nothing to hide” and – in a vain attempt to achieve total security – are prepared to give up their freedoms. We do not want to live in such a society!

We believe the respect for our privacy to be an important part of our human dignity. A free and open society cannot exist without unconditionally private spaces and communications.

The increasing electronic registration and surveillance of the entire population does not make us any safer from crime, costs millions of Euros and puts the privacy of innocent citizens at risk. Under the reign of fear and blind actionism, targeted and sustained security measures fall by the wayside, as well as tackling peoples’ actual daily problems such as unemployment and poverty.

 In order to protest against security mania and excessive surveillance we will take to the streets in capital cities in many countries on 11 October 2008. We call on everybody to join our peaceful protest. Politicians are to see that we are willing to take to the streets for the protection of our liberties!

You can find the latest information on the protest marches and the list of participating cities at our website: http://wiki.vorratsdatenspeicherung.de/Freedom_Not_Fear_2008.

Our demands

1. Cutback on surveillance

  • no blanket registration of all air travellers (PNR data)
  • no information exchange with the US and other states lacking effective data protection
  • no secret searches of private computer systems, neither online nor offline
  • no blanket surveillance and filtering of internet communications (EU Telecoms-Package)
  • abolish the blanket logging of our communications and locations (data retention)
  • abolish the blanket collection of our biometric data as well as RFID passports
  • abolish the blanket collection of genetic data
  • abolish permanent CCTV camera surveillance and automatic detection techniques
  • scrap funding for the development of new surveillance techniques

2. Evaluation of existing surveillance powers

We call for an independent review of all existing surveillance powers as to their effectiveness and harmful side-effects.

3. Moratorium for new surveillance powers

After the homeland armament of the past few years we demand an immediate hold to new homeland security laws that further restrict civil liberties.

4. Guaranteeing freedom of expression, dialogue and information on the Internet

  • Ban the installation of filtering infrastructure on ISP networks.
  • Only independent and impartial judges may request the removal of Internet content.
  • Create a full right to quote multimedia, today indispensable to public debate in democracies.
  • Protect common internet places of expression (participatory sites, forums, comments on blogs) today threatened by inadequate laws encouraging self-censorship (chilling effect)

Global People?s Law? Constitutional insurgency

Constitutional insurgency… is a social movement that rejects current constitutional doctrine, but that “rather than repudiating the Constitution altogether, draws on it for inspiration and justification.” It “unabashedly confronts official legal institutions with an outsider perspective that is either absent from or marginalized in official constitutional discourse.” On the basis of its own interpretation of the Constitution, such an insurgency “goes outside the formally recognized channels of representative politics to exercise direct popular power, for example through extralegal assemblies, mass protests, strikes, and boycotts.”] It may hold such actions legal, even though the established courts condemn and punish them. 
http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm”SectionID=41&ItemID=10206
 ZNet | Vision & Strategy

Global People’s Law?
Paper for Z Strategy and Vision Sessions
by Jeremy Brecher; May 04, 2006

{ This paper was prepared for the June 1 – 7 2006 first Z  Sessions on Vision and Strategy, held in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. These sessions gather activists from around the world to share ideas and experiences regarding social vision and strategy. }

—-

“Carried to its logical extreme, the doctrine of human rights and duties under international law is subversive of the whole principle that mankind should be organized as a society of sovereign states. For, if the rights of each man can be asserted on the world political stage over and against the claims of his state, and his duties proclaimed irrespective of his position as a servant or a citizen of that state, then the position of the state as a body sovereign over its citizens, and entitled to command their obedience, has been subject to challenge, and the structure of the society of sovereign states has been placed in jeopardy. The way is left open for the subversion of the society of sovereign states on behalf of the alternative organizing principle of a cosmopolitan community.”       — Hedley Bull, The Anarchical Society[1]

Constitutional insurgency

At the height of the 1937 sitdown strike at General Motors in Flint, Michigan, a judge issued an injunction ordering workers to evacuate the plants and end picketing within 24 hours. As thousands of union supporters poured into Flint and the city manager began to organize an “army of our own” to break the strike, union war veterans developed a plan that they kept secret even from union leaders. If the leaders were arrested under the injunction, the veterans “would muster an armed force among their own number and in defense of the U.S. Constitution, of ‘real Patriotism,’ and the union, would take over the city hall, the courthouse and police headquarters, capture and imprison all officials and release the union men.”[2] A “Union Veterans Song” declared:

“We are veteran Union boys

We uphold the Constitution . . .

We fought in 1861   

To free this world from slavery. . .

And now we have to fight again     

But this time for our Freedom      

          From being General Motors Slaves…”[3]

What are we to make of this story? The union war vets certainly seemed to be organizing an armed insurrection against the legally constituted authorities. And yet they were doing so in the name of the U.S. Constitution.

Law and the fundamental law referred to as a constitution evoke two radically different images. One is of a set of rules that express the norms of a community. The other is of an apparatus that allows the use of state power as a vehicle for particular social groups to impose their will on others.

Over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, radical historians like E.P. Thompson and Staughton Lynd began to articulate a view of law that was very different from either a neutral expression of the popular will or simply a means for the strong to oppress the weak. They portrayed law as an arena of conflicting interests, rather than either an imposition by the state or a pure expression of the will of the community.[4] What laws exist and how they are interpreted and administered at a given time is a result of the historical power relations among different groups.[5]

Labor law professor James Gray Pope uses such a perspective to help interpret the action of the Flint union war vets, and many similar paradoxical cases, by developing the concept of “constitutional insurgency.” Such an insurgency is a social movement that rejects current constitutional doctrine, but that “rather than repudiating the Constitution altogether, draws on it for inspiration and justification.”[6] It “unabashedly confronts official legal institutions with an outsider perspective that is either absent from or marginalized in official constitutional discourse.” On the basis of its own interpretation of the Constitution, such an insurgency “goes outside the formally recognized channels of representative politics to exercise direct popular power, for example through extralegal assemblies, mass protests, strikes, and boycotts.”[7] It may hold such actions legal, even though the established courts condemn and punish them.

Pope points out that “From the American revolution through the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions, the nullification movement, constitutional abolitionism, populism, the civil rights movement, and down to the recent rise of right-wing citizen ‘militias,’ constitutional insurgencies have exerted a pervasive influence on American constitutionalism.”[8]

The particular constitutional insurgency that Pope examines is the idea — ubiquitous in the American labor movement in the 80 years following the Civil War — that interference with the right to strike meant forced labor, which was tantamount to slavery. Since the 13th Amendment outlawed slavery, the right to strike was guaranteed by the 13th Amendment. The elaboration of this perspective Pope calls “labor’s constitution of freedom.”

Courts regularly issued injunctions ordering the cessation of strikes, and lawyers allied with the labor movement had no use for this argument, but it was deeply ingrained in the American working class. The often conservative AFL said that a worker confronted with an unconstitutional injunction had an imperative duty to “refuse obedience and to take whatever consequence may ensue.”[9]

At the end of World War I, as Pope recounts, Kansas miners did exactly that. The governor of Kansas called a special session of the legislature to establish compulsory arbitration by means of a labor court. Soon a test case arose when miners struck over a local grievance. District union officials were ordered to appear before the new labor court and were arrested for contempt when they refused. Miners struck, closing down 90 percent of the mines in Kansas — returning to work only when the officials were released on bond.

The movement was based explicitly on the idea that such a court was establishing forced labor — slavery. Indeed, hundreds of Kansas women held a meeting (from which men were excluded) and declared that, because their husbands were “striking against a law to enslave our children,” they considered it their duty to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the men. For the next three days, squadrons of up to 2,500 women, many with babies in their arms, blocked strikebreakers from entering Kansas mines. The U.S. Supreme Court eventually declared the Kansas Industrial Court unconstitutional, but in the same decisions sharply limited workers’ right to strike.[10]

The free speech fights of the IWW, the Suffragists, and Margaret Sanger’s fight to speak freely about birth control can also be interpreted as constitutional insurgencies. The constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech justified their action, even though the legally constituted authorities might throw them in jail for it.

The civil rights movement, too, can be interpreted as a constitutional insurgency. The movement was contesting for the equal rights that, it held, were guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, even though they were denied by the legally constituted authorities. As a song written in the voice of a student excluded from an all-white school in Little Rock, Arkansas, put it:

“Listen Mr. Governor, and Mr. President too: Give me that Constitution, that’s what you’ve got to do.”

Constitutional insurgencies do not fit neatly into either the idea of a revolutionary overthrow of the government or of reforms conducted within the constitutional framework as currently interpreted. In practice, social movements have long enacted a middle way between the constitutional discontinuity of revolution on the one hand and reform that fails to challenge the legitimacy of dominant constitutional structures on the other. The concept of “constitutional insurgency” explains how this can be.

The idea of a constitutional insurgency fits well with the practice of non-violent direct action, which is extra-constitutional and yet not aimed at overthrowing the government per se. Indeed, when Gandhi said during the civil disobedience campaign that “sedition has become my religion,” it might have been more apt to say that he had become a constitutional insurgent, fighting for rights that English law guaranteed but that its practice was denying. (As conservative historians are wont to point out, the American revolution too was a struggle for “the rights of Englishmen.”[11])

Of course, there is nothing inherently constructive or democratic about constitutional insurgencies per se. As Pope points out, they have been used not only by abolitionists but by slavery advocates, not only by the civil rights movement but by right-wing citizen militias. But they have certain advantages from the point of view of constructive and democratic social movements:

— They allow proposals for radical change to be rooted in principles that are widely accepted as embodied in at least part of the established constitution, even if they are denied in dominant interpretations. The US Constitution’s basic guarantee of equal rights, as embedded, for example, in the 14th Amendment, was appealed to by the civil rights movement even during the long decades when courts declared “separate but equal” facilities to be legal.

— They allow a movement to escape the apparent dilemma of either limiting goals to what is currently constitutionally permissible or having to envision overthrowing the government and the entire social order that supports it.

— They endorse a constitutionalism that, while legitimating apparently illegal direct action, also puts constitutional limits on what it is legitimate for the movement itself to do. Establishing a dictatorship in order to bring about equal rights, for example, would be countermanded by such an approach. Such constitutional limits can help reduce fears of the population, limit the danger of direct action turning into civil war, and help protect the movement itself from turning into a vehicle for tyranny or totalitarianism.[12]

Global constitutional insurgency? Is the concept of such a “constitutional insurgency? applicable in the global arena?

An obvious problem is that there is no document called a global constitution. But constitutions need not be written documents ? indeed, most constitutions historically have been unwritten.[13] They nonetheless perform the constitutional function of defining the process by which law is made and implemented. If we recognize the existence of international law, there must be at least an implicit global constitution. 

Elements of the global constitutional order include the principles of national sovereignty growing out of the Westphalian tradition; the right of peoples to self-determination articulated in the Versailles treaty; the United Nations Charter and the obligations of member states under it; other international institutions, generally established by treaties but developing a law of their own under them; so-called inherent rights like the right to self-defense; human rights; and individual obligations, for example to resist war crimes.

Like national laws and constitutions, the global constitution rests on contested interpretations of what the constitution means. There are currently two dominant global constitutional visions. One is based on nation-state sovereignty. The other is based on freedom for global capital.[14] 

But a third vision also exists and is expressed in many popular struggles, even though it is not generally recognized in established institutions. It is based on human rights and democracy as the core of the global constitution.

These principles include the obligations of states under the United Nations Charter, including the outlawing of aggressive war and the protection of the human rights of their people; the guarantees of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, including the so-called social rights; the decisions of the War Crimes Tribunals that followed World War II, including the obligation of individuals and those in positions of authority to resist war crimes; the Geneva Conventions and the agreement establishing the International Criminal Court; and a wide range of other international agreements and documents.  Social movements utilizing international law There is so far no concerted global constitutional insurgency. But there are many cases where social movements have used the principles of international law to legitimate their action ” and to de-legitimate assertions of national and international law that conflicted with them.

A pioneering example of such a constitutional insurgency based on international law was the movement that transformed the Communist regimes in Eastern Europe in the late 1980s. The governments of Czechoslovakia, Poland, and other Eastern European countries had signed the Civil and Political Rights Covenant, the Convention No. 87 of the International Labor Organization on the freedom of association, the Convention No. 98 on the rights of workers to organize and to negotiate, and the Helsinki Act guaranteeing human rights in Europe. Eastern European human rights, peace, and labor activists utilized this to argue for the constitutional legitimacy of their actions, notwithstanding their repression by the established authorities. As Jonathan Schell put it in the Forward to Adam Michnik’s Letters from Prison, these agreements meant that the actions of Michnik and his associates were perfectly legal, “while the means used by the police and judiciary apparatus in Poland? were “in flagrant violation of international agreements.”[15]

The struggle against apartheid drew heavily on international law to justify its action, including armed struggle. The statements of the African National Congress and its supporters worldwide regularly drew on racism as a violation of internationally guaranteed human rights.

Today the struggles of the Palestinian people are systematically defended in terms of international law and the violation of international law by the Israeli occupation. These include human rights violations, war crimes, and violation of UN resolutions regarding Palestinian national rights.

The rights defined by the UN?s International Labor Organization ? making explicit those in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — form the basis for many campaigns for labor rights around the world. When workers are prevented from organizing, bargaining, and striking from Bogot

The Bamako Appeal

A group of about 80 anti-globalization intellectuals and political activists, including Marxist economists and organizers, came together to meet on Jan. 18-19, 2006 in Bamako just before the polycentric World Social Forum opened. The gathering, which was not an official WSF activity but whose invitees also participated in many WSF discussions, issued a statement at the end of the meeting: the Bamako Appeal.

Among the 80 people participating in the pre-WSF discussions were Bernard Founou-Tchuigoua and Babacar Diop Buuba, both university professors in Dakar, Senegal; former member of the European Parliament Miguel Urbano Rodrigues of Portugal; Chilean political journalist Marta Harnecker; Lebanese-French editor Leila Ghanem; and the organizer of the rebelion.org website Luciano Alzaga.

Also there were Wen Tiejun and Jinhua Dai of Peking University; editor-in-chief Isobel Monal of the Cuban magazine

THE BAMAKO APPEAL

 More than five years of worldwide gatherings of people and organizations who oppose neo-liberalism has provided an experience leading to the creation of a new collective conscience. The social forums — world, thematic, continental or national — and the Assembly of Social Movements have been the principal architects of this conscience. Meeting in Bamako on Jan. 18, 2006, on the eve of the opening of the Polycentric World Social Forum, the participants during this day dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Bandung Conference have expressed the need to define alternate goals of development, creating a balance of societies, abolishing exploitation by class, gender, race and caste, and marking the route to a new relation of forces between North and South.

The Bamako Appeal aims at contributing to the emergence of a new popular and historical subject, and at consolidating the gains made at these meetings. : It seeks to advance the principle of the right to an equitable existence for everyone; to affirm a collective life of peace, justice and diversity; and to promote the means to reach these goals at the local level and for all of humanity.

In order that an historical subject come into existence – one that is diverse, multipolar and from the people, – it is necessary to define and promote alternatives capable of mobilizing social and political forces. The goal is a radical transformation of the capitalist system. The destruction of the planet and of millions of human beings, the individualist and consumerist culture that accompanies and nourishes this system, and its imposition by imperialist powers are no longer tolerable, since what is at stake is the existence of humanity itself. Alternatives to the destructiveness of capitalism should be nourished by the long tradition of popular resistance and also take into account all the short steps forward indispensable for the daily life of the system’s victims.

The Bamako Appeal, built around the broad themes discussed in subcommittees, expresses the commitment to:
(i)    Construct an internationalism joining the peoples of the South and the North who suffer the ravages engendered by the dictatorship of  financial markets and by the uncontrolled global deployment of the transnational firms;
(ii)    Construct the solidarity of the peoples of Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas confronted with challenges of development in the 21st century;
 (iii)    Construct a political, economic and cultural consensus that is an alternative to militarized and neo-liberal globalization and to the hegemony of the United States and its allies.

I. The principles

1.    Construct a world founded on the solidarity of human beings and peoples Our epoch is dominated by the imposition of competition among workers, nations and peoples. However, the principle of solidarity has played an historic role clearly more constructive for the efficient organization of intellectual and material production. We want to give to this principle of solidarity the place it deserves and diminish the role of competition.

2.    Construct a world founded on the full affirmation of citizenship and equality of the sexes The politically active citizen must ultimately become responsible for the management of all the aspects of social, political, economic and cultural life. It is the condition for an authentic affirmation of democracy. Without this, the human being is reduced by the laws imposed on him to a provider of labor force, an impotent spectator confronted with decisions from those in power, a consumer propelled toward the worst waste. The affirmation, in law and in deed, of the absolute equality of sexes is an integral part of authentic democracy. One of the conditions of this democracy is the eradication of all forms of the patriarchy, either admitted or hidden.

3.    Construct a universal civilization offering in all areas the full potential of creative development to all its diverse members For neo- liberalism, the affirmation of the individual – not that of the politically active citizen – allows the spread of the best human qualities. The capitalist system’s unbearable isolation, imposed on this individual, produces its own illusory antidote: imprisonment in the ghettos of alleged common identities, most often those of a para- ethnical and or para-religious type. We want to construct a universal civilization which looks to the future without nostalgia. In this construction, the citizens’ political diversity and that of the cultural and political differences of nations and peoples become the means of giving to individuals a reinforced capability of creative development.

4.    Construct socialization through democracy Neo-liberal policies aim to impose as the sole method of socialization the force of the market, whose destructive impact on the majority of human beings no longer needs to be demonstrated. The world we want conceives socialization as the principle product of democratization without boundaries. In this framework, in which the market has its place, but not the predominant place, economy and finance should be put at the service of a societal program; they should not be subordinated to the imperatives of dominant capital that favor the private interests of a tiny majority. The radical democracy that we want to promote reestablishes the creative force of political innovation as a fundamental human attribute It bases social life on the production and reproduction of an inexhaustible diversity, and not on a manipulated consensus that eliminates profound discussions and weakens the dissidents trapped in the ghettoes.

5.            Construct a world founded on the recognition of the non- market-driven law of nature and of the resources of the planet and of its agricultural soil

The capitalist neo-liberal model aims at submitting all aspects of social life, almost without exception, to the status of a commodity. The process of privatization and marketization to the ultimate degree brings with it devastating results on a scale without precedent in human history: the threat to the fundamental biogeochemical processes of the planet; destruction of biodiversity through the undermining of ecosystems, the waste of vital resources (oil and water in particular); the annihilation of peasant societies threatened by massive expulsion from their land. All these areas of society-nature metabolism must be managed as the common wealth and in accordance with the basic needs of all of humanity. In these areas, the decisions must be based not on the market but on the political powers of nations and peoples.

6.  Construct a world founded on the recognition of the non-market-driven status of cultural products and scientific acquisitions, of education and of health care Neo-liberal policies lead to turning cultural products into commodities and to the privatization of the most important social services, notably those of health and education. This option is accompanied by the mass production of low quality para-cultural products, the submission of research to the exclusive priority of short- term profits, the degradation of education and health care for the poorest sectors of the people, including even their exclusion. The reinstatement and expansion of these public services should reinforce the satisfaction of needs and rights essential to education, health care and providing food.

7.    Promote policies that closely associate democracy without pre- assigned limits, with social progress and the affirmation of autonomy of nations and peoples Neo-liberal policies deny the specific needs of social progress – a product that some claim is produced spontaneously by the expansion of the markets – like the autonomy of nations and peoples, necessary to the correction of inequalities. In these conditions, democracy is emptied of all effective content, made vulnerable and delicate in the extreme. To affirm the objective of an authentic democracy demands giving to social progress its determining place in the management of all aspects of social, political, economic and cultural life. The diversity of nations and of peoples produced by history, in all its positive aspects as with the inequalities that accompany it, demands the affirmation of their autonomy. There does not exist a unique recipe in the political or economic spheres that would permit any bypassing of this autonomy. The path toward building equality goes through the diversity of means to carry it out.

8.    Affirm the solidarity of the people of the North and the South in the construction of an internationalism on an anti-imperialist basis The solidarity of all the peoples – of the North and of the South – in the construction of a universal civilization cannot be founded on the illusory affirmation that it is possible simply to ignore the conflicts of interest opposing different classes and nations that make up the real world. This solidarity must bypass the rules and values of capitalism and imperialism, which is inherent to capitalism. The regional organizations of the alternative globalization must be placed in the perspective of the strengthening the autonomy and the solidarity of nations and of peoples on the five continents. This perspective is in contradiction with that of the present dominant models of regionalization, conceived as the building blocks of the neo-liberal globalization. Fifty years after Bandung, the Bamako Appeal expresses also the requirement of a Bandung of the peoples of the South, victims of the spread of really existing capitalism, of the rebuilding of a front of the South able to hold in check imperialism of the dominant economic powers and U.S. military hegemony. The anti-imperialist front does not oppose the peoples of the South to those of the North. On the contrary, it constitutes the basis of a global internationalism associating them all together in the building of a common civilization in its diversity.

 
II. Purposes in the long term and proposals for the immediate action

In order to progress from a collective conscience to the building of collective, popular, plural and multipolar actors, it has always been necessary to identify precise themes to formulate strategies and concrete proposals. The themes of the Bamako Appeal deal with the following 10 fields, including both long- term goals and proposals for immediate action:
1. the political organization of globalization;
2. the economic organization of the world system;
3. the future of peasant societies;
4. the building of a workers’ united front;
5. the regionalization for the benefit of the peoples;
6. the democratic management of the societies;
7. the equality of gender;
8. the management of the resources of the planet;
9. the democratic management of the media and the cultural diversity;
10. the democratization of the international organizations.

The Bamako Appeal is an invitation to all the organizations of struggle representative of the vast majorities that comprise the working classes of the globe, to all those excluded from the neoliberal capitalist system, and to all people and political forces who support these principles–, to work together in order to put into effect the new collective conscience, as an alternative to the present system of inequality and destruction.

Forum for another Mali, Third Word Forum, World Forum for Alternatives, ENDA (Supported by Assembly of Social Movements at the WSF in Caracas)