Category: political struggle
Communists condemn Minister Freeland’s violations of sovereignty of Venezuela

Communists condemn Minister Freeland’s violations of sovereignty of Venezuela

Aug 01, 2017

The Communist Party of Canada condemns the latest flagrant violation of the national sovereignty of Venezuela by Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland.Going far beyond the bounds of diplomacy, Minister Freeland attacked the July 30 voting to elect a Constituent Assembly which will have powers to resolve the political crisis in Venezuela. The Liberal government’s claim that the election was “contrary to Venezuela’s Constitution”, and therefore illegitimate, is a lie. Article 347 and 348 of the Bolivarian Constitution outline the president’s right to initiate a National Constituent Assembly.  

These statements are a form of blatant interference in the internal affairs of Venezuela, and openly support efforts by the United States to prepare for outside intervention against the country’s elected government.

Despite the boycott of the constituent assembly elections by the right-wing opposition, and their open calls for violence, over 41% of citizens cast ballots, and 94 percent of polling stations were open. The turnout exceeded the participation in the 1999 referendum that ordered the previous Constituent Assembly to be convened, which was responsible for drafting the current constitution. These figures are highly significant, since the opposition had tried to prevent voting, urging its supporters to set up barricades, block roads and take over the country.

Such threats are far from idle, since most of the recent killings in Venezuela have targeted government supporters. Among the latest reports of violence was an attack by opposition protesters in the community of Borburata, Carabobo state, where stones and petrol bombs were thrown at National Guard members protecting a polling station located in a school.

Over eight million people voted on Sunday, choosing from 6,120 candidates for the 545-member Constituent Assembly, which will allow the Venezuelan people to exercise their popular sovereignty in a truly democratic fashion. The Communist Party of Canada welcomes the outcome of the Constituent Assembly voting, and we urge the labour movement and all democratic-minded and progressive peoples in Canada to speak out against the attempts of US imperialism and its faithful ally the government of Canada, to set the stage for a reactionary coup against the Maduro government.

Central Executive Committee, CPC

Sanders urged to woo black voters
| August 3, 2017 | 8:36 pm | Bernie Sanders, political struggle | 1 Comment

Sanders urged to woo black voters

Sanders urged to woo black voters
© Getty Images

As Bernie SandersBernie SandersDemocrats’ new ‘Better Deal’ comes up short for people of colorEconomy-focused Dems headlining Iowa fundraiserOPINION | Tomi Lahren: The liberal media twisted my words on ObamaCareMORE considers another White House bid, advisers and confidants are urging him to spend more time in the South in an effort to woo black voters.

While Sanders won over many white working-class and millennial voters in his 2016 campaign, he failed to secure black voters — and particularly support from older black women — when he challenged Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonCongress wants Trump Jr. phone records related to Russia meetingZuckerberg hires top Clinton pollster amid rumors of presidential run: reportDemocrats’ new ‘Better Deal’ comes up short for people of colorMORE for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“There’s a narrative that follows him from the campaign that he doesn’t care about the South,” said Symone Sanders, who served as the senator’s spokeswoman during the campaign. “He needs to physically show up so people feel differently.”

Bernie Sanders appeared at the NAACP national convention in Baltimore late last month, where he criticized Senate Republicans’ healthcare bill, which ultimately failed.He also stopped in states like Kentucky and West Virginia for rallies slamming Republicans on the issue.

Last month, he endorsed former NAACP chief Ben Jealous for governor of Maryland, a move one Sanders confidant said was “no accident.”

In March, Sanders also marched in Mississippi with thousands of Nissan workers at a rally for organized labor. At the rally, he congratulated the workers for “standing up for justice.”

People close to Sanders want him to spend more time in Alabama, Tennessee and other Southern states, where Sanders took a beating in last year’s primaries.

In Tennessee, Clinton won 82 percent of the black vote, while Sanders received 12 percent support, according to a CNN exit poll. In Virginia, Clinton won 84 percent of the black vote, while she took 83 percent in Georgia. She coasted to huge victories in all of these states, running up her delegate lead on Sanders.

In 2020, if Sanders runs, he is unlikely to have to face the Clinton machine. But he’ll have to do better with black voters regardless of the competition.

“Bernie Sanders was popular with white intellectuals and with many white liberals, but he didn’t have much of a brand with older African-Americans,” said Democratic strategist Jamal Simmons.

“The real challenge with Sanders is how to court older black voters,” said Simmons, who called them the “bedrock” of Clinton’s campaign.

Even if Sanders doesn’t run for president, broadening his base could give him more political power and influence. Simmons noted that black voters propelled former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaOvernight Tech: Senate panel approves FCC nominees | Dem group invests in progressive startups | Tech groups rip Trump immigration planRussian PM: New sanctions amount to ‘full-scale trade war’America’s divisions: The greatest strategic vulnerability of our timeMORE’s campaign but that his coalition was broad.

A new GenForward survey obtained by The Hill shows that millennial voters are divided when it comes to who should lead the Democratic Party.

African-Americans and Asian-Americans would like to see Obama lead the party, while white and Latino voters prefer Sanders.

Sanders has represented the largely white state of Vermont during his congressional career, first in the House and then in the Senate.

The reality of being elected by a state with lax gun control laws led Sanders in 2005 to support legislation preventing victims of gun violence from suing companies making and selling guns. Clinton used this against Sanders during the campaign, particularly as a wedge issue with blacks.

Before the senator launched his 2016 presidential bid, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, told Sanders he needed to make inroads with black communities.

“I just want to be really frank,” Lee told Sanders in one small meeting in late 2014 with other Sanders supporters, according to attendees. “You are someone who represents a white state and you don’t have any connection to the African-American community, and that will hurt you.”

The advice stuck with those in the room and replayed over the course of the campaign, sources close to Sanders say.

At one 2015 event in Seattle, Sanders was confronted by three Black Lives Matter protestors who wanted him to focus on the anniversary of the shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black man who was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Mo. The protestors confronted Sanders and demanded to speak and the moment caused headlines, portraying Sanders as out of touch with the needs of some African-Americans.

“It’s a soft spot,” one Sanders adviser acknowledged. “He’s gotta work on it and repair it.”

Symone Sanders, who is black, has been one confidante who has been getting in her former boss’s ear about what he needs to do to fix his 2016 mistakes.

“I think he’s been receptive to this idea,” Sanders said. “He’s someone who is clearly keen on what he wants, but he is definitely open to sound and concrete suggestions and advice especially to help bridge some of these gaps.”

Another confidant added that Bernie Sanders is aware that he lacked support from black voters in 2016 and “is more intentional” about issues serving the black community.

“He knows that as a country we have to work on it and not just check the box and say ‘oh we took care of that,’” the confidant said. “He believes we need to find issues that link us together and stay on those issues.”

In his speech to the NAACP, Sanders kept the focus on the Republican healthcare bill, calling it one of “the most destructive and irresponsible pieces of legislation brought to the U.S. Senate in the modern history of our country.”

He touched briefly on the need to fix a broken criminal justice system along with “the outrageously high level” of youth unemployment. He also mentioned the need for police reform “and the need to cut back on the use of lethal force, so that innocent people, often black, are not shot down in cold blood.”

Those close to Sanders say he’ll increasingly speak about issues important to black communities — from racial justice issues to the economy. And he’ll look to talk to voters not just at rallies but in smaller settings in churches and colleges.

“I think it would behoove him and other folks in the party to go out there and talk to various parts of the electorate,” Symone Sanders said. “It’s only logical.”

This story was updated at 9:23 a.m. 

TRUTH AND LIES ABOUT SOCIALISM – Dictatorship of the Proletariat: A Higher form of Democracy

Thursday, August 3, 2017

TRUTH AND LIES ABOUT SOCIALISM – Dictatorship of the Proletariat: A Higher form of Democracy

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/truth-and-lies-about-socialism.html
TRUTH AND LIES ABOUT SOCIALISM: 
ON THE SOCIALIST POWER.
Central Council of the Communist Youth of Greece (KNE).
Published by Synchroni Epochi, 2013.
 
PART II: THE DICTATORSHIP OF THE PROLETARIAT: A HIGHER FORM OF DEMOCRACY.
 
The leap that takes place during the socialist construction, i.e. during the transition from capitalism to communism, is qualitatively higher than any previous one, since communist relations, as non-exploitative, cannot be formed in capitalism. The political revolution is the precondition for these new relations to be imposed and dominate, i.e. the conquest of power by the working class and the establishment of its own state, the dictatorship of the proletariat. 
 
This is a basic difference in the transition to the communist socioeconomic formation in relation with the previous. In the framework of the transition from an exploitative socioeconomic formation to another, the new relations could be developed and dominate first in the confines of the previous socioeconomic formation and then, as the last part of this process, the class that was the bearer of the new relations struggled for and took power. This happened for example in relation to capitalism. 
Capitalist relations were first developed and dominated within the confines of feudalism, which brought about an unavoidable conflict between the rising bourgeois class and the class of the feudalnobility that was declining. The great bourgeois revolutions completed the absolute domination of the bourgeoisie through the seizure of political power, which of course was necessary in order for the capitalist relations to dominate everywhere and become fully developed. 
 
But, communist relations are non-exploitative relations. Only their preconditions are developed within capitalism. Their appearance and domination requires the abolition of capitalist ownership of the means of production, which can only be done after having overthrown capitalist power and its state.
 
Thus, the dictatorship of the proletariat has a ‘’double’’ duty. On the one hand to suppress and overcome the efforts of capitalists to retake the power, on the other to form and develop the new relations, a task that is longterm and includes the whole period of the socialist construction, which is the period of the social revolution.
 
The task of the revolutionary workers’ power is to deepen and expand the communist relations in production and distribution, to form the new communist consciousness, the new man. This task is complex and long-term and includes economic, political, cultural, educational activity of the dictatorship of the proletariat, under the guidance of the Communist Party.
 
The core of power and the character of the organs of power.
 
Revolutionary workers’ power, the dictatorship of the proletariat, expresses a higher form of democracy, having as a basic feature the active participation of the working class in the construction of the socialist society.
 
Democratic centralism is a fundamental principle in the formation and functioning of the socialist state the direction of the production unit, every social service. That is, the united will and action of society in the direction of socialist construction, the active participation in making and implementing decisions, the subordination of the will of the minority to the will of the majority, the ability to elect and recall the organs of power. Revolutionary workers’ power will be based on institutions that will be born from the revolutionary struggle of the working class and its allies. The bourgeois institutions will be replaced, after being overturned, by the new institutions of workers’ power.
 
The Communist Party of Greece through its resolutions has set some basic principles regarding the characteristics of the workers’ power, the dictatorship of the proletariat.
 
The representatives in the organs of power will be elected and recalled (if necessary) by the assemblies of the workers in the production unit, decisions will be made, control will be exercised . The representatives for the intermediate institutions will be elected and recalled directly ; there will be indirect representation through the assemblies of the representatives of the highest organs of power (i.e. the representatives to the intermediate organs will elect the representatives to the highest organs of power). The representatives will not have privileges, they will have responsibilities and they will be accountable ‘’to those below’’.
 
The organs of power that are elected by the workers in the production units have as their tasks the specialization of the central planning, the implementation of the tasks of social production, the social services, the cultural development, the protection of the revolution. There, at the level of the production unit, the participation of the working class is established and ensured, from the ‘’bottom’’ to the ‘’top’’, as is the exercise of workers’ control, the criticism of decisions and decrees, complaints about arbitrary and subjective attitudes, bureaucratic attitudes, weaknesses and deficiencies that can appear during the socialist period.  
 
The workers’ collectives are accountable and monitored in order to promote the collective decisions of the higher organs of the workers’ power, which have the overall responsibility of guidance, specifying the goals of each project that is decided on in the context of central planning. The effectiveness or otherwise of each project is associated with the ability to understand the scientific laws in order to produce for the expanded satisfaction of social needs. The effectiveness of the project is tested in life itself, by practical experience itself. It is confirmed by the participation of the working masses in the control and the management of power.
 
 
Workers’ participation in the control and the management of the power is guaranteed by the reduction of working time, which enables the development of the cultural and educational level of the workers. Besides, the dictatorship of the proletariat means just that: The state of the workers is based on the organization of the working masses and their participation in the management, the organisation of the production and all services, the control of the administrative machinery, planning and its implementation. 
 
With special provisions, it the participation in the organs of power for sections of the population who are not in the process of the production will also be ensured. For example, young men and women who are still out of production because they are in the educational process will take part in the election of representatives through the educational units. In a similar manner the participation of the non-working women, the pensioners, will be guaranteed etc. 
 
The highest organ of workers’ power is an organ of workers. It legislates and administers at the same time, within its framework there is a division between legislative, executive, supervisory and disciplinary powers. It is not a parliament. The representatives that participate are not permanent but subject to recall, they don’t have financial or other benefits, they are not cut off from production, from their work, but they are detached for the duration of their term. 
 
On the basis of the new relations of production, social ownership, central planning, workers’ control, a new revolutionary constitution and legislation is formed to correspond to these new social relations and defend them. Similarly the entire legal system, all the legal establishment of the new social relations is also formed. A new judicial system is established, which is based on revolutionary popular institutions of justice. The new courts are under the direct responsibility of the organs of the workers’ power. They consist of people’s judges that will be elected and recalled by the people itself, and by a permanent judicial staff that will be accountable to the institutions of workers’ power.
 
The revolutionary workers’ power replaces all the old mechanisms of administration that receives with new ones, corresponding to the character of the proletarian state. 
 
The new organs of the revolutionary protection and defence are based on the workers’ and peoples’ participation, but also on permanent professional personnel. In place of the bourgeois army and the repressive forces new institutions are created on the basis of the armed revolutionary struggle in order to crush the resistance of the exploiters and to defend the revolution and socialist construction. 
 
 
Historical experience of the USSR.
 
The new state power that emerged from the October Revolution had to face a lot of problems and complex conditions; the working class was a minority within a population of farmers that were in a state of political and cultural backwardness. It was from the very first moment encircled by the counter-revolutionary activity and imperialist attack. A huge part of the vanguard of the working class was lost because of the imperialist intervention and the civil war. Initially, it had to utilize sections of the old bureaucracy and bourgeois specialists in sectors of the economy, production and administration, while the kulaks (the bourgeoisie in the villages) maintained great power in the countryside; they even had the control of the rural soviets. The establishment and stabilization of soviet power was not an easy or quick task.
 
The new power was based on the institutions that were borne from its revolutionary struggle. The institutions of socialist power were the soviets, the councils of the workers representatives, the representatives of military and afterward the farmers’ soviets, hence the name Soviet Union. 
 
The new state that was constructed was the revolutionary workers’ power, the dictatorship of the proletariat. Based on the social ownership of the concentrated means of production and on the cooperative of peasants from the 1930’s onwards, it expressed the interests of the majority of the exploited that overthrew the power of the minority of the exploiters. The dictatorship of the proletariat proved to be a superior form of democracy, since workers’ power led the working masses into participation, control and administration of the power and of the social life in general, it drew the masses from the sidelines. Through the organization of power in the production unit, the working class was able to develop organization and discipline. Through participation in the control and administration of the production unit, there had been steps in order to change the consciousness, in order to put the social interest above the individual.
 
Apart from the institutions of the workers’ power, the soviets, a vast number of mass organizations were also developed; trade unions, cultural, educational, women’s, youth, where the majority of the population was organized and participated.
 
The direct participation of workers took place until 1936 through the nuclei of the workers’ power at the factory, the production unit, the village, but also through the function of a series of mass organizations. During the procedures for the approval of significant state laws, i.e. the constitutional amendments, assemblies of the nuclei of the workers’ power were held, where the workers expressed their opinion and, through voting, their position. 
 
The direct participation of workers was accompanied by the indirect election in the representative bodies as was established in the first Constitution of the USSR in 1924. The representatives were accountable and the collective unit had the right to recall them and elect others in their position. The indirect electoral representation ensured the will and participation of workers in the institutions of the soviet power. In that way the will of the majority was established. 
 
The soviets were not only responsible for the decision making but also for their application. During the assemblies, the nuclei of the workers’ power discussed the central and particular plans of the branches, the decisions that they made, they implemented them as working organs, with delegates that were not cut off from production.
 
 
In the Constitution of 1936, direct electoral representation was established through geographical electoral wards (and not through the production unit). As it is stated in the Resolution of the 18th Congress of the KKE: “The critical approach to these changes focuses on the need to study further the functional downgrading of the production unit as the nucleus of organisation of workers’ power, due to the abolition of the production unit principle and of the indirect election of delegates through congresses and assemblies. We need to study its negative impact on the class composition of the higher state organs and on the application of the right of recall of delegates (which according to Lenin constitutes a basic element of democracy in the dictatorship of the proletariat).”
 
After the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956 and under the weight of more general weaknesses, a deviation, a retreat in the Party’s perception was expressed, regarding the class-oriented revolutionary character of the state and the rejection of the scientific law for the continuation of the class struggle during socialist construction. 
 
Nevertheless, in the USSR the institutions’ functioning expressed an unprecedented participation of the masses in political action. According to statistical data of 1977, the local organs of state-power (i.e. the soviets of representatives) were more than 50,000 all over the country. In these soviets there were more than 2,200,000 elected representatives, namely around 1% of total population of the Soviet Union. It is also estimated that within 41 years, from the Constitution of 1936, more than 25 million people participa- ted in the soviets. In addition, it is estimated that in the organs of people’s control, at the production units, the services and the kolkhozes (production cooperatives) were elected every 2 years at the workers’ assemblies and that about 9.2 million workers participated in these organs. Comparing to this, the bourgeois parliamentary democracy seems like a joke… 
 
In the soviet constitution, despite any criticism that may be made, the nature of the organs was safeguarded. For example, even in the Constitution of 1977 (a period in which the opportunist turn of the CPSU was already a fact and there are serious problems in its strategic and the socialist construction), article 104 described the non-professional nature for the elected delegates and their exclusion from privileges: “Deputies shall exercise their powers without discontinuing their regular employment or duties”. In addition, article 107 specified the obligation of the deputies to report on their work and the possibility to be recalled; “Deputies shall report on their work and on that of the Soviet to their constituents, and to the work collectives and public organisations that nominated them. Deputies who have not justified the confidence of their constituents may be recalled at any time by decision of a majority of the electors in accordance with the procedure established by law.”
However, in that process there were some weaknesses. The procedure of the socialist construction constantly creates new problems that seek new solutions, and this is when the ability of the workers’ power is judged. First of all, is judged the ability of the CP to lead in accordance with the scientific laws. 
 
In the Soviet Union, the legacy of the old social system weigh heavy, as the new one Assembly of women in a village of the Soviet Union. 1920. Soviet power had been proved a superior form of democracy. It drew the masses from the sidelines and led them to participation, control and administration. 44 emerged from its bowels For example, from the first years of the social construction problems of detachment from the interests of the working class arose re employees of the state mechanism and especially by those who came from the old, tsarist state mechanism.
 
The adoption of the thesis concerning the “state of the whole people” (consolidated in the constitutional revision of 1977) cancelled out the nature of the dictatorship of the proletariat as workers’ power, rejected the vanguard role of the working class as the bearer of communist relations.
 
The sharpening of the problems in soviet power was a consequence of the weakening of the socialist economy through the adoption of the market reforms (q.v. first part of the publication “Truths and Lies About Socialism”), which led to the reinforcement of the individual and group interests vis-a-vis the overall interests of society. As a result, the forces that had an interest in the overthrow of socialism and the restoration of capitalism gained strength.
 
This development influenced the structures of power and the workers’ control which had attained a formal character. In the decade of the 1980s, through perestroika, which was the final attack by the counter-revolution, the soviet system degenerated into a bourgeois parliamentary organ with a division of the executive and legislative functions, a permanence of office holders, an undermining of the right to recall, high remuneration, etc. I.e. everything negative that was developed was an element of the forms of the bourgeois power. 
Venezuela Crisis: Washington Wants ‘Its’ Country Back
A  woman holds her infant as she casts her vote in front of a mural of the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez at a polling station during the Constituent Assembly election in Caracas, Venezuela, July 30, 2017.

Venezuela Crisis: Washington Wants ‘Its’ Country Back

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John Wight
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https://sputniknews.com/analysis/201708011056064483-venezuela-crisis-washington-subsidiary/

The word for what has been taking place in Venezuela is an attempt at counterrevolution. Washington wants “its” country back, which is why it is providing both overt and covert support to an opposition determined to return the country to its previous status as a wholly owned subsidiary of Washington.

What needs to be emphasized is that in establishing a Constituent Assembly, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is acting in full accordance with the Bolivarian Constitution. To wit:

“Article 348: The initiative for calling a National Constituent Assembly may emanate from the President of the Republic sitting with the Cabinet of Ministers; from the National Assembly, by a two thirds vote of its members; from the Municipal Councils in open session, by a two-thirds vote of their members; and from 15% of the voters registered with the Civil and Electoral Registry.”

As to the opposition’s attempts to derail the establishment of the Constituent Assembly with street protests, rioting and a call for a nationwide boycott of the election of delegates to the new assembly, these have been undertaken in contravention of the Constitution, of which Article 349 stipulates: “The President of the Republic shall not have the power to object to the new Constitution.

“The existing constituted authorities shall not be permitted to obstruct the Constituent Assembly in any way.”

It goes without saying, of course, that people cannot eat a Constitution. With food shortages, a shortage of medicines, and rampant inflation the norm, only the most foolish would attempt to suggest that Mr. Maduro and his government have no questions to answer over a crisis that has turned Venezuelan society upside down.

People stand in line to cast their votes at a polling station during an unofficial plebiscite against Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro's government and his plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela July 16, 2017
© REUTERS/ Christian Veron
People stand in line to cast their votes at a polling station during an unofficial plebiscite against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro’s government and his plan to rewrite the constitution, in Caracas, Venezuela July 16, 2017

But those questions are not the same as the ones being asked amid the welter of anti-government media coverage in the West. In what has been tantamount to a frog’s chorus of condemnation, Maduro and his government have been calumniated with the kind of vituperation reserved only for those which dare embark on a program of wealth redistribution in favor of the poor and working class. For such people socialism is anathema, a mortal threat to their conception of freedom as a mechanism by which, per Thucydides, “the strong (rich) do what they can, and the weak (poor) suffer as they must.”

Here is CNN’s treatment of the election, held on 30 July, to mandate the establishment of the Constituent Assembly. “Critics in Venezuela and abroad argue a Maduro mandate would erode any last signs of democracy in the country. ‘It would give the government the opportunity to turn Venezuela into a one-party state without any of the trappings of democracy,’ says Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, a business association.”

Two things stand out in this passage. The first is the claim that the Constituent Assembly is undemocratic. Given the aforementioned articles of the country’s constitution this is entirely false. The second is Mr. Farnsworth’s position as “vice president of the Council of the Americas, a business association.”

The Council of the Americas is an organization based in the United States with offices in Washington DC, New York, and Miami. In its mission statement it describes itself as “the premier international business organization whose members share a common commitment to economic and social development, open markets, the rule of law, and democracy throughout the Western Hemisphere.”

Reading this passage, you will struggle to find a more concise, if cryptic, support for free market capitalism and the rights it confers on the rich to exploit the poor in the name of democracy. As author George Ciccariello-Maher points out, “the opposition’s undemocratic aspirations come draped in the language of democracy.”

Opposition supporters attend a rally to pay tribute to victims of violence during protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 2017.
© REUTERS/ Ueslei Marcelino
Opposition supporters attend a rally to pay tribute to victims of violence during protests against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government in Caracas, Venezuela, July 24, 2017.

Moreover, when we learn that US Vice President, Mike Pence, has been in direct contact with Venezuelan opposition leaders, our collective memory should immediately transport us back in time to Guatemala in 1954, Indonesia in 1965, Chile in 1973, and of course Ukraine in 2014 — previous examples where the US has actively supported coups that have unseated leaders with the temerity to refuse to obey their imperial overlord.

It really isn’t rocket science, especially in the case of a country where a Washington-backed coup was previously attempted and failed in 2002.

Venezuela’s economic problems are predominately down to the collapse in global oil prices that has ensued in recent years. Between 2014 and 2018 the price of crude plummeted from US$96.29 to US$40.68 a barrel, a mammoth drop of over 40 percent. And though the price has recovered in 2017, at US$50.31 a barrel it remains a long way off its peak 2012 price of US$108.45 a barrel.

For a country whose economy is dependent on the price of oil, such a seismic drop can only produce an equally seismic economic shock. Crucially, with oil being Venezuela’s only export commodity of note, the crisis has exposed structural weaknesses in the economy that long predate the arrival on the scene of Hugo Chavez never mind his successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017
© REUTERS/ Miraflores Palace
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a meeting with businessmen in Caracas, Venezuela January 9, 2017

This is not to suggest that President Maduro is without blame for the ongoing crisis. Returning to George Ciccariello-Maher, we learn that a “failing system of currency controls governing the distribution of oil income was never fully dismantled. The result was a destructive feedback loop of black-market currency speculation, the hoarding and smuggling of gasoline and food, and an explosion of already rampant corruption at the intersection of the private and public sectors. Confronted with street protests and food shortages, Maduro responded erratically, supporting grassroots production by communes while simultaneously courting private corporations in a bid to keep food on the shelves.”Events in Venezuela are not taking place in a vacuum. This oil rich country, once a beacon of hope for the continent’s poor, indigenous, and oppressed with the coming of Hugo Chavez to power in 1999, is experiencing the particular challenges involved in trying to create an island of socialism surrounded by a sea of US-dominated capitalism.

Its vulnerability to the volatility of oil prices merely confirms the presence of large reserves of oil can distort rather than enhance a nation’s economic development, particularly in the Global South where economic diversification bumps up against the reality of the domination of global markets by Western financial institutions and corporations.

In the last analysis, it is capitalism not socialism that has failed the people of Venezuela. However socialism is being made to carry the can.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
A Thirty Year History of ‘Russian Aggression’
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A Thirty Year History of ‘Russian Aggression’

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Neil Clark
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https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201708021056106300-russian-aggression-neocon-narrative/

Repeat after me (by orders of the Neo-Con Thought Police): “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression.” The phrase has become a mantra, to be repeated (with all the correct arm movements and feigned expressions of outrage), by anyone wanting to be regarded as a “credible” foreign policy commentator in the elite western media.

So let’s talk “Russian aggression” shall we? There’s been quite a lot of it, comrades.

Yugoslavia

In 1999, “Russia” and its Warsaw Pact allies illegally bombed the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia for 78 days — having earlier presented the country with an ultimatum that they later admitted was deliberately designed to be rejected.

Russia’s leadership claimed that Yugoslav forces were committing a “genocide” in Kosovo, and that they had the right to launch a “humanitarian intervention.”

Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes.
© AFP 2017/ SERBIAN TV
Still from Serbian TV from April 4, 1999 showing a bridge over the Danube in Novi Sad, northern Serbia, some 70 km (40 miles) north of Belgrade, which was destroyed a day earlier by NATO warplanes.

But during this “humanitarian” intervention, many innocent civilians were killed — including at least 20 on a passenger train and a convoy of Kosovan Albanians fleeing the bombing. “The Russians” initially blamed this attack on Yugoslav forces, but evidence showed it was they who carried out the bombing.

After the military campaign ended, “the Russians” intensified their efforts to topple the democratically-elected Yugoslav government.

They poured millions in to what they called the “democratic opposition,” and encouraged violent anti-government protests during the elections of October 2000.

In 2001, a UN court found that there had not after all been a genocide in Kosovo.

An aerial view taken 15 June 1999 of the Pristina central post office which was destoyed by NATO bombing.
© AFP 2017/ RUSSELL BOYCE / REUTERS POOL
An aerial view taken 15 June 1999 of the Pristina central post office which was destoyed by NATO bombing.

After the Yugoslav government was toppled, many social/publicly owned enterprises were privatized. Among those bidding for utilities in “liberated” Kosovo were companies/funds founded by prominent members of “the Russian” government/military elite who had bombed Yugoslavia.A Yugoslav desk officer for “the Russian” Ministry of Foreign Affairs later revealed the real reason the country had been targeted.

“In post-Cold War Europe no place remained for a large, independent-minded socialist state that resisted globalization.”

Afghanistan

In 2001, “Russia” and its Warsaw Pact allies invaded Afghanistan. “Operation Enduring Freedom” was — we were told — a response to terrorist attacks on Moscow which took place in September that year. But sixteen years on, the conflict continues — with over 100,000 Afghans killed.

“Russian forces” regularly bombed weddings in the country and in 2015, a hospital — an action which “the Kremlin” denied was a war crime.

In this Friday, October 16, 2015 photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
© AP Photo/ Najim Rahim
In this Friday, October 16, 2015 photo, an employee of Doctors Without Borders walks inside the charred remains of their hospital after it was hit by a US airstrike in Kunduz, Afghanistan.

In his farewell speech as Afghan President in 2014, Hamid Karzai blamed “the Russians” for the fact that his country was still at war.

“Today, I tell you that the war in Afghanistan is not our war, but imposed on us and we are the victims. One of the reasons was that ‘the Russians’ did not want peace because they had their own agenda and objectives.”

Iraq

In the 1990s, “Russia” bombed Iraq frequently and insisted there could be no easing of genocidal sanctions.

In 1996, “Russia’s” Foreign Minister was asked on television, “is the price worth it?” in relation to the death of half a million Iraqi children due to sanctions. He replied, “I think this is a very hard choice, but we think the price is worth it.”

In 2003, “Russia” and its allies launched a full-scale “Shock and Awe” invasion of Iraq, claiming the country possessed weapons of mass destruction which were a threat to the entire world.

“He [Saddam] claims to have no chemical or biological weapons, yet we know he continues to hide biological and chemical weapons, moving them to different locations as often as every 12 to 24 hours, and placing them in residential neighborhoods,” declared “Russia’s” Defense Minister.

A US soldier looks through a pair of binoculars as a fire in the Rumeila oil field burns in the background in southern of Iraq, Sunday, March 30, 2003.
© AP Photo/ Yonhap/Jin Sung-chul
A US soldier looks through a pair of binoculars as a fire in the Rumeila oil field burns in the background in southern of Iraq, Sunday, March 30, 2003.

One million people lost their lives following the invasion, which turned Iraq into a failed state and led directly to the rise of Daesh. The WMDs — surprise, surprise — never showed up.As in Yugoslavia, “the Russian” leadership had lied.

Libya

In 2011, Russia and its allies launched a military assault on Libya, claiming that its long-serving leader Muammar Gaddafi was about to massacre the inhabitants of Benghazi.

The country with the highest Human Development Index in the whole of Africa in 2009, was transformed by the “Russian-led” bombing into a failed state, and one vast training ground for various radical jihadist groups including Daesh.

Gaddafi himself was killed, with a bayonet stuck up into his anus, leading to laughter from the “humanitarian” “Russian” Foreign Minister — who declared: “We came, we saw, he died!”

Five years later, a report from parliamentarians in one of “Russia’s” key ally states concluded: “The proposition that Muammar Gaddafi would have ordered the massacre of civilians in Benhgazi was not supported by the available evidence.”

But by now, it was too late. Libya had already been destroyed.

Syria

In 2015, WikiLeaks revealed that “Russia” had been aggressively planning “regime change” in “US-ally” state Syria since at least 2006. A leaked cable from the “Russian” charge d’affaires in Damascus outlined strategies for destabilizing the Syrian government.

Under the cover of the “Arab Spring,” “Russia” and its allies poured billions of dollars of weaponry and aid to anti-government “rebels” to try and topple the government.

This Friday, August 23, 2013 file photo, black columns of smoke from heavy shelling in Barzeh, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.
© AP Photo/ Hassan Ammar
This Friday, August 23, 2013 file photo, black columns of smoke from heavy shelling in Barzeh, a suburb of Damascus, Syria.

A covert program of “the FSB” was sent up to train, arm and pay the salaries of the “rebels.” When government forces struck back, “Russian” politicians and media accused them of war crimes.

“Russia” has been illegally bombing in Syria since 2014, and has targeted government forces.

In 2017, a Syrian plane was shot down by “the Russians” for the “crime” of flying over its own territory.

Between 300,000-475,000 people are believed to have died in the conflict.

And this is not all.

Other examples of “Russian aggression” include:

  • Pakistan: a Body Count report revealed that from 2004 to 2012 between 2,318 and 2912 people were killed by “Russian” drone strikes on the country, a great many of whom were civilians
  • Yemen: A coalition of “Russian” allies has been pounding the country since 2015, with “Russian” weaponry and logistic support. Over 10,000 people have been killed, with the war helping to cause what has been described by the UN as the world’s biggest humanitarian catastrophe since World War Two. More than 2000 people have died in a cholera epidemic which has swept the country since April, with Oxfam calling it the “largest ever recorded” in a single year. But “Russia” continues to support the military campaign.
  • Sudan/South Sudan: “Russia” heavily funded the Sudan’s People’s Liberation Movement, and encouraged them to break away from Sudan — a country not allied to “Moscow” — and which “Russia” had bombed in 1997. But South Sudan has been wracked with war — and famine. Yet another Russian intervention resulting in violent chaos.

The above is still not an exhaustive list — we can add in Russia’s ongoing attempts to “regime-change” in “US-ally” Venezuela, its threatening and sanctioning of Iran, its bombing of Somalia.

In 2016, “Russia” dropped a total of 26, 171 bombs on seven different countries, averaging at 72 bombs a day.

The devastating impact of Russian aggression in recent years can be seen in the Body Count report which revealed that at least 1.3 million people had lost their lives in “Russian-led” wars/military operations in the period from September 2001 until 2013 — in just three countries, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. If we add other countries too, then its clear we’re talking about well over 2 million deaths which can be laid directly at the doors of “the Kremlin.”

Pretty shocking eh? But of course, the above didn’t happen. Or rather it did happen, but the actions described above were taken not by Russia, but by the US and its allies (just click on the links).

To make things even worse, the countries responsible for the aggression which cost the lives of millions of people, and caused chaos and misery around the world, have the effrontery to accuse others of the very crimes they themselves have committed.

Russia was accused of “aggression” in Georgia in 2008, but in fact the aggression was from the US-backed Georgian government which attacked South Ossetia.

Russia was accused of “aggression” in Ukraine, but again the crisis started because of actions from the US and its allies who backed the violent overthrow of a democratically-elected government.

Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police.
© Sputnik/ Andrey Stenin
Police officers and opposition supporters are seen on Maidan Nezalezhnosti square in Kiev, where clashes began between protesters and the police.

The democratic wishes of the people of the Crimea to return to Russia, following the unconstitutional “regime change” in Kiev, as expressed in a referendum vote, was twisted into a narrative of “the Russian invasion of Ukraine” by the same crowd of deceitful warmongers who cheer-led for the US-led invasion of Iraq.

Here you can listen to the US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland discussing who should/shouldn’t be in the new “democratic” government in Ukraine with US Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt:

Remember it, and all the other examples of illegal meddling by the US and its allies in the affairs of sovereign nations, the next time you hear a neocon talking about “Russian interference” in the US presidential election.

Remember too, how the Warsaw Pact was disbanded in 1991, but the US-led Cold War military alliance NATO actually expanded, right up to Russia‘s borders.

Repeat after me: “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression,” “Russian aggression.”

Has there ever been a better example in the history of international relations of what psychologists call “projection”?

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The Reality About Venezuela: Five myths debunked

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-reality-about-venezuela-five-myths.html

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

The Reality About Venezuela: Five myths debunked

During the last months, the bourgeois mainstream media- as well as various sources throughout the internet- have circulated numerous lies and inaccuracies about the situation in Venezuela. Within this framework of half truths and counteless inaccurcies, someone can read the most outrageous things about the Latin American country. After all, the imperialist centers and their collaborators in the mass media are experts in how to mislead and manipulate public opinion, by sowing misinformation and distorting reality.

Here, we will refer to five major lies (really blatant ones) about Venezuela and the turbulent political situation in the country and we will try to restore the truth.
MYTH #1: “Venezuela is a socialist country” / “The Maduro government is a socialist one”.
This is the most outrageous of the lies that various anticommunists use when refering to Venezuela. The political and economic system of Venezuela has nothing to do with Socialism (with the marxist-leninist meaning). The means of production are not in the hands of the working class, as it would happen if the country had undergone a socialist revolution. There is a “mixed economy”, which means there are both privately-owned and state-owned businesses.
The private sector controls the overwhelming majority of economic activity. It is characteristic that between 1999 and 2011, the private sector’s share of economic activity increased, from 65% to 71%. Therefore, the economy of Venezuela is a capitalist, not a socialist one.
The coalition government of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), under Nicolas Maduro, is a government of social democratic characteristics. Following the path of the late Hugo Chavez, the current government is based on the theory of the so-called “21stcentury Socialism” which in fact consists a management form of the capitalist economy with “left-wing” characteristics.

ΜΥΤΗ #2:Venezuela is an example of Socialism’s failure”.
Based on the above lie (of the supposed socialist system in Venezuela), the apologists of capitalism use the economic turnoil in Venezuela in order to vilify socialism and communism. The reality is totally different. The crisis is a result of the capitalist way of production.
Indeed, Venezuela is passing a severe economic crisis which has many dimensions (oil crisis, food crisis, shortages crisis, inflation). More specifically, by the first quarter of 2014, the Venezuelan economy was already in recession, even though international oil prices were more than US$100 a barrel. By January 2015, prices had fallen to US$48 a barrel, and are about the same today. This depleted the government’s revenue by a similar percentage, and the government resorted to printing money to cover expenses. The money creation would not necessarily accelerate inflation but in the context of the inflation-depreciation spiral it certainly did. So inflation rose even faster.
The various mismanagements of Venezuela’s government in economy consist the one side of the coin. The other side is the existence of an economic war that the Venezuelan right-wing opposition (with the open support of the U.S.) has unleashed against Maduro’s administration. For example, food importing companies owned by the country’s wealthy right-wing elite are manipulating import figures to raise prices. Following the PSUV’s defeat in the December 2015 parliamentary elections, there were numerous reports on social media that products missing before the election had reappeared on grocery shelves.
On the above we must add the indirect effects that the diplomatic and political warfare of the U.S. (both by Obama and Trump administrations) has caused to Venezuela’s economy. The recent U.S actions have had a significant and highly detrimental impact on Venezuela’s economy at a time when the country is in a desperate need of dollars. Moreover, the diplomatic warfare of the U.S. and OAS against Venezuela has definitely discourages foreign financial institutions, inverstors and bankers from continuing business (swap for gold, loans, other economic agreements, etc) with the Venezuelan state.
Summarizing all the above, we say: Venezuela’s example shows that a pro-people management of capitalism is impossible. Any experiments to “humanize” the savage capitalist system lead to failure and mess.

MYTH #3: “The opposition in Venezuela is comprised by well-intentioned, independent leaders”.
The right-wing, reactionary opposition in Venezuela has been rooted in violence since the beginning of the Bolivarian process that began with the election of Hugo Chavez in 1999, having amped up their violence since Nicolas Maduro beat their candidate in elections in 2013.
From the 2002 coup attempt against Chavez to the oil lockout in 2003, the Venezuelan opposition has done everything to destabilize the country at the expense of the Venezuelan people. The so-called “guarimbas”– the street blockades- are not comprised by “peaceful protesters” as bourgeois mainstream media say. There is a number of well-documented instances where opposition “protesters” have burned black people alive, just because they thought they were “Chavistas”.
But, what about the leaders of the opposition? The truth is that the four prominent members of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition (Henrique Capriles, Leopoldo López, Antonio Ledezma and Maria Corina Machado) are related to a number of U.S. governmental “institutions” which aim in overthrowing the legally elected Venezuelan government. There is solid proof (e.g. leaked telegrams and documents which have never been disputed) that the leadership of the Venezuelan opposition works closely with the U.S. governments. Since at least 2009 the U.S. Department of State has budgeted up to US$49 million in total to support right-wing opposition forces in Venezuela.
Independency” is therefore something that cannot be attributed to Venezuela’s right-wing opposition. Henrique Capriles Radonski, the opposition presidential candidate who lost two electoral battles against Chavez and Maduro, is known for his role in the 2002 failed coup against the Chavez government, while his party (Justice First) was created through USAID funds. Leopoldo López, a dark political figure and leader of the far-right “Popular Will” party, whose historical background includes corruption, promotion of violence and participation in coup attempts.
The political efforts of the right-wing Venezuelan opposition have been actively supported by U.S. institutions such as the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), the International Republican Institute and the National Democratic Institute.
MYTH #4: “The majority of the Venezuelan people are against the government of Maduro”.
While the bourgeois mainstream media shows images of large crowds demonstrating against the government in Caracas, the vast majority of the Venezuelans seem to disapprove the violent tactics of the right-wing opposition and the “guarimbas”. More specifically, according to a nationwide survey conducted by polling organisation “Hinterlaces” last April, 76% of those surveyed disapprove of a possible international intervention which would overthrow Maduro from the presidency, and 87% rejected any military intervention in the country.
Even if President Maduro and his social democratic government has lost a significant portion of his popularity, Chavismo remains the most popular political platform within the population. It is characteristic that according to a survey conducted by the polling organisation Datanalisis (which has an anti-governmental orientation) last March, Maduro’s popularity was at 24.1%, which is higher compared to other Latin American leaders (e.g. Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico, Brazil’s Michel Temer or Chile’s Michelle Bachelet).
Furthermore, according to the survey conducted by Hinterlaces, 35% of the people expressed support to political parties allied with Chavismo, 29% to those with the opposition, and 36% declined to support any political force.
Therefore, is there any solid evidence that the majority of the Venezuelan people want a political overthrow? The answer is “No”.

MYTH #5: “The Venezuelan dictatorial government controls the media and brainwashes the people”.
This is a tremendous lie. As a capitalist country, where the private sector is dominant, Venezuela has mostly privately-owned media. Most Venezuelans are getting informed from TV channels, the vast majority of which belong to anti-governmental private business groups. The largest TV network is Venevisión, owned by the Cisneros group, while there are 9 other privately-owned TV channels (5 regional ones) as well as a TV network owned by the Catholic Church. There are 3 state-owned TV channels (Venezolana de Television, Vision Venezuela, Televisora Venezolana Social).
According to the U.S. think-tank COHA (Council of Hemispheric Affairs), 9 in 10 of the largest newspapers in the country belong to the “anti-chavista” camp. Only in Caracas, someone can find 21 newspapers!
Taking the above into account, it becomes obvious who has the “upper hand” in the media sector and that is the Capital and the monopolies.

IN DEFENSE OF COMMUNISM ©

Anti-communist persecutions in Russia will not pass – Solidarity with Alexander Batov

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/08/anti-communist-persecutions-in-russia.html

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Anti-communist persecutions in Russia will not pass – Solidarity with Alexander Batov

Anti-Communism is a weapon of the capitalist system – It will not pass!
 
We, 26 Communist Youth Organizations from all over the world, sign the following resolution:
We condemn the arrest and detention of comrade Alexander Batov, a member of the Secretariat of the CC of the Communist Workers’ Party of Russia and representative of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Union (bolsheviks) (also known as RKSMb) at the National Preparatory Committee of Russia for the 19th World Festival of Youth and Students.
Cde. Alexander Batov.
Comrade Batov was arrested on 9th May, day of the Anti-fascist Victory of the peoples, with the falsified accusation of “civil disobedience”, in fact for distributing the RCWP’s leaflet about the actual content of the day, revealing the attempt to defame the content of this anniversary by today’s Russian authorities. He was sentenced to seven days’ imprisonment and after his release he has been receiving a series of threats in order to stop any political activity.
These acts, attacks and threats against the free political action of the Communists show the fear of the bourgeois governments of all states in front of the power of the Communists. For us, the young communists from all over the world, these actions result to the strengthening of our steadfastness and will to continue with greater determination our struggle against capitalism, for socialism-communism.
Anti-Communism will not pass! We express our solidarity with RCWP and RCYL (b) and we demand all persecutions to stop immediately.
Signed by the following Communist Youth Organizations:
1. Communist Youth of Algerian Party for Democracy and Socialism (PADS)
2. Communist Youth “Qemal Stafa” of Albania
3. Union of Communist Youth, UJC – Brazil
4. Advancing Communist Youth, JCA – Brazil
5. Young Communist League, YCL-LJC – Canada
6. Young Socialists of the Socialist Workers’ Party of Croatia
7. Communist Youth Union, KSM – Czech Republic
8. Socialist German Workers Youth, SDAJ
9. Communist Youth of Greece, KNE
10. Workers Party Youth, WPY – Ireland
11. Front of Communist Youth – Italy
12. Socialist Movement of Kazakstan
13. Federation of Young Communists, FJC – Mexico
14. Communist Youth Movement of the Netherlands, CJB
15. Communist Youth of Pakistan
16. Democratic Students Federation of Pakistan, DSF
17. Communist Youth of Palestine
18. Peruvian Communist Youth, JCP
19. Youth of the Communist Party of Poland
20. Young Communist League of Yugoslavia – Serbia
21. Collectives of Young Communists, CJC – Spain
22. Revolutionary Communist Youth, RKU – Sweden
23. Communist Youth of Turkey, TKG
24. Leninist Communist Youth Union of Ukraine, LKSMU
25. League of Young Communists of USA, LYC USA
26. Communist Youth of Venezuela, JCV