Category: Struggle for Peace
Dimitris Koutsoumbas: The significance of the October Revolution in the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Dimitris Koutsoumbas: The significance of the October Revolution in the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-communism

https://communismgr.blogspot.com/2017/05/dimitris-koutsoumbas-significance-of.html
By Dimitris Koutsoumbas*.
Source: International Communist Review, Issue 7, 2017.
 
In 2017 we will honour the 100th anniversary of the Great Socialist Revolution that took place in 1917 in Russia. This event marked and determined the course of millions of people, not just within the geographical confines of the first workers’ state in the history of humanity, the USSR, but it also had an impact of every corner of the planet for many decades.
October demonstrates the working class’s potential and capacity to implement its historical mission as the only truly revolutionary class, to lead the first attempt to construct socialism-communism.
At the same time, October shows the irreplaceable role of the guiding force of the socialist revolution, the communist party.
Great October demonstrates the enormous strength of proletarian internationalism. Despite the developments after the overthrow of socialism in 1989-1991, the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution, with all the theoretical and practical experience and maturity that we have acquired over the years, makes us even more certain and categorical about the timeliness and necessity of socialism-communism.
The counterrevolutionary overthrows do not change the character of the era. The 21st century will be the century of a new upsurge of the global revolutionary movement and a new series of socialist revolutions.
The daily struggles for partial and more general gains are undeniably necessary, but they cannot provide substantial, long-term and permanent solutions. Socialism remains the only way out.
The necessity of socialism is highlighted by the sharpening of the contradictions in the contemporary capitalist world, the international imperialist system. The material preconditions for socialism, i.e. labour power and the means of production, have matured within capitalism itself.
Capitalism has socialized labour and production to unprecedented levels. The working class, the main productive force, constitutes the majority of the economically active population. However, the means of production, the products of social labour are privately owned by the capitalists.
This contradiction is the root cause of all the crisis phenomena of contemporary capitalist societies, such as economic crises, the destruction of the environment, the drug problem, the long working day despite the great increase of labour productivity, and which of course coexists with unemployment, under-employment and semi-employment, the intensification of the exploitation of labour power etc.
At the same time, however, this reality signals the need to abolish private ownership of the concentrated means of production, to socialize them and use them in a planned way in social production, the planning of the economy by workers’ power so that the relations of production correspond to the level of development of the forces of production.
 
***
The impact of the Great October Socialist Revolution, the first victorious battle in history for the emancipation of the working class, remains undiminished to this day. Socialism was transformed from a prediction into a specific reality.
The victory of the revolution provided the possibility of condensing its lessons into a complete theory for socialist revolution and the party. The lessons from it provided the ideological and political basis for the establishment of the Communist International, for a new impetus for the international communist movement.
The theoretical legacy of October, enriched by the experience of the socialist revolutions that then followed, is priceless.
It confirmed in practice the correctness of the Marxist-Leninist theory of the revolution, which flows from the complete systematic analysis of imperialism i.e. that the revolution matures over the course of historical developments and breaks out in a period determined by a combination of objective and subjective causes.
The imperialists and all kinds of renegades distort or conceal the importance of the October Revolution because they obviously understand full well that through its victory the theory and ideas of Marxism became a material force, that millions of workers all over the world mobilized and continue to mobilize against capital’s power, were victorious and organized their own state, the dictatorship of the proletariat, which is founded on the direct producers, the working majority, and is the highest form of democracy that humanity has ever seen.
The Paris Communards in the 19th century took and held power for just 70 days; the new charge to heaven lasted 70 years, constructed socialism, and made an enormous contribution all over the world, surpassing the confines of one country.
The nihilistic stance towards the socialism we knew, the adoption of views that say it was a total failure-because its course was interrupted-is an unscientific stance and an ahistorical one and leads to impasses.
Socialism was constructed, developed, and began to solve the major economic and social problems. It was not possible for a number of reasons for it to highlight and most of all liberate, over the entire course of its construction, the inherent potential for the constant development and perfecting of production, to consolidate itself in its struggle against the capitalist system.
However, this does not negate the contribution and role of the socialist system, as it was formed in the 20th century, irrespective of deficiencies, weaknesses and mistakes that appeared during this difficult course.
What the October Revolution objectively signaled is the undeniable fact that socialism is the future of humanity. It is the system that through the historical development of society will create new social relations, socialist-communist ones, focusing on the people and the satisfaction of all their needs.
 
***
The October Revolution in practice confirmed the Leninist analysis concerning the weakest link in the imperialist chain. Up until that point what was missing in the international movement was the theoretical foundation for the possibility of the socialist revolution being victorious in one country or a group of countries, which would emerge as weak links, as a result of the sharpening of the internal contradictions under the influence of international developments.
Of course due to uneven economic and political development, such characteristics can manifest themselves in countries of a medium and lower level of development, where the revolutionary process of course can begin more easily but where it is exceptionally difficult for socialist construction to continue victoriously. Lenin’s analyses contributed to the development of Marxism and to the strategic thinking of the Bolsheviks as a whole.
The contribution of Lenin and the Bolshevik party was decisive in the confrontation against the section of social-democracy which, violating the decisions of the 2nd International, supported the bourgeois classes of their countries, sometimes by voting for war credits in Parliament, other times by participating in governments that waged wars, supposedly so that there could be a “peaceful development”, defending the “imperialist peace” with a gun to the people’s heads. A political line which inevitably entangled them even more deeply in the imperialist war, in the sharpening of the contradictions and antagonisms of the imperialist states and their alliances.
Lenin with the strategic line that he followed determined that from the standpoint of the revolutionary movement of the working class that aims to take power via a revolution, the issue is not a simple “pacifist” opposition to war, but chiefly the utilization of ruptures, which objectively in such conditions, are created in the imperialist camp, the utilization of the weakening of the bourgeoisie in each country with the aim of transforming this imperialist war in each country, whether the country is an “aggressive” or “defensive” stance, into a struggle to overthrow bourgeois power that brings death and poverty for the children of the working class and people.
The October Revolution confirmed the Leninist position that the modern era, the era of monopoly capitalism, i.e. the imperialist stage of capitalism, is the era of the transition from capitalism to socialism-the era of socialist revolutions.
The Great October Socialist Revolution also confirmed the role of opportunism as the ideological-political expression of bought off sections of the working class, as the impact of bourgeois and petty bourgeois ideology on the labour movement.
Lenin, on the basis of the experience of the October revolution, engaged in particular with issues of the power of the new workers’ state, the dictatorship of the proletariat. He studied the experience of the Paris commune in detail, the experience of the Soviets of the 1905 revolution in Russia, the role of the state on the basis of the conclusions of Marx and Engels.
He made a particular contribution to identifying the seeds of the organs of the new power, the character of the dictatorship of the proletariat, as a higher form of state organization of class power for the transition from the early imperfect socialist society to the fully communist society, in both form and content.
These are lessons and experiences that have timeless value for today as regards the organization of the workers’-people’s struggle, when the class struggle is sharpening in conditions of a revolutionary crisis, a revolutionary situation, as regards the organization and expression of the alliance of the working class with the poor popular strata, its natural allies, the poor farmers and self-employed, with the working class in the vanguard, their transformation into a revolutionary forces capable of leading the decisive confrontation against bourgeois power and forming new worker’s-people’s institutions of the new power.
 
***
The KKE, studying the valuable experience of the October Revolution, Lenin’s legacy, the experience of the International Communist Movement itself expressed the conclusions from this research in a number of analyses and documents (Reflections on the causes of the overthrows in 1995, the 18th Congress’ decision in 2009 on the experience of the USSR and socialist construction and the causes of the overthrows, the National Conference on the History of the Party in 2011, the elaboration of the new Programme and Statutes of the Party at the 19th Congress in 2013).
We came to the crucial conclusion that the definition of the political goal, worker’s power, must be carried out on the basis of the objective definition of the character of the era, something that determines the class that is objectively in the foreground of social development.
This defines the character of the revolution and not the correlation of forces which other Communist Parties focus on.
Of course, the correlation between the two basic rival classes, the bourgeois class and the working class, as well as the stance of the intermediate strata, is a decisive factor for the timing of the socialist revolution. In this sense, a CP must take the correlation of class forces into account, in Leninist terms, i.e. in terms of the relations of the classes with power.
The CP must at the same time take into account and calculate the correlation of forces inside the labour movement, the movements of its social allies, as an necessary element for suitable maneuvers, slogans so that the masses can be drawn to the struggle for power on the basis of their own experience.
However this can in no instance become an alibi for the submission of the labour and communist movement to any form of bourgeois governance, for its participation in or toleration of this in the framework of capitalism.
All the flowers of bourgeois and opportunist ideological constructs bloomed in Greece in recent years. There was and still is a lot of discussion in relation to the need to create “left”, “progressive”, “democratic”, “anti-right”, “anti-memorandum”, “patriotic”, “national”, “ecumenical” government (All these names have been used to describe such governments) as an immediate proposal for a way out of the economic crisis and anti-people political line.
These proposals are being made both by the traditional and the newly formed bourgeois parties, as well as by parties on the “left” wing of the political spectrum. The labour movement must reject all those traps that aim to manipulate the workers’-people’s struggle and to co-opt the movement.
Of course, the unrepentant “Mensheviks” are also present today along with other tardy “communists” who, apart from anything else, follow the development of revolutionary thinking in a delayed way. They ahistorically promote Leninist analysis dating from before the bourgeois-democratic revolution in Russia in February 1917, regarding the possibility of a temporary government of workers and peasants, in conditions when Tsarist power had not yet been overthrown. What has this got to do with the situation today?
It is undeniable that the conditions of that period were entirely different, as we are talking about a revolutionary situation, with the people organized in the Soviets, armed. We are talking about a bourgeois state that had not had time to establish all its mechanisms.
In the current conditions of a non-revolutionary situation, of bourgeois power well established for many decades with a fully organized bourgeois state, such a goal of a transitional-temporary government in essence means cooperation with bourgeois forces in order to provide capitalism with breathing space, so that the system can overcome temporary or more general difficulties.
And what is even more important. Why should the revolutionary movement elevate a thought concerning a possible scenario, which was never realized in the end, into a general theoretical principle and not generalize the strategy of Lenin and the Bolsheviks that actually led to victory?
Of course, all these well-wishers today say nothing about the positions and political actions of Lenin, beginning in April, after the fall of Tsarism, proclaiming the victorious social revolution in Russia and leading the proletariat for the first time in history to storm heaven and carry out the revolution, breaking the ice, opening up and forging the path for socialism-communism.
Historical experience has taught us that first “workers'” and “left” governments emerged from social-democratic parties or as coalition governments of social-democratic parties with other bourgeois parties. There has been no instance in the history of the international labour movement and in the period immediately after World War I in particular, when such governments did not arise as a result of the maneuvering of the bourgeoisie in order to deal with a revolutionary upsurge, in order to assimilate the workers’-people’s discontent in conditions of a very deep economic crisis before or after a war.
The goal of such a “left”, “workers'” government in the framework of capitalist power, without a revolutionary overthrow, via parliamentary processes, was later adopted by CPs as an intermediate goal with transitional measures. The aim of this, as they believed, was to facilitate the struggle for socialism and solve some pressing popular demands.
However, experience demonstrates that, despite the good intentions of CPs, they were not able to open a window even and certainly not a path to socialism anywhere, and were also not able to stabilize some gains of the people’s movement. This includes the experience before and after World War II and up to the present day. Communist Parties found themselves in the end organizationally, ideologically and politically disarmed.
The historical experience and significance of the Great October Revolution is incomparable. It confirms that the salvation of the working class and the other popular strata, in conditions of an economic and political crisis, in conditions of imperialist war, is only possible by overthrowing capitalist power and ownership, which of course presupposes the weakening and complete bankruptcy of its various “left” forms, represented by the dangerous trends of reformism-opportunism and the governmental left, as is expressed in Greece by SYRIZA, as well as by its occasional satellites, such as Popular Unity, ANTARSYA and other marginal groups-both in quality and quantity-which give them the pretext of a false broadness.
 
***
The experience and theoretical analysis of the Bolsheviks together with their revolutionary activity in the period from the 1905 revolution to the October Revolution of 1917 has major timeless importance for communists all over the world. It is related to every aspect of the activity of a revolutionary party, which has not lost the goal of workers’ power.
It provides valuable experience for the work of communists amongst broad working class masses, inexperienced working class masses and poor popular strata. It demonstrates the constant and at the same time contradictory features of the development of the working class’s alliance with other allied popular strata.
It teaches us that heightened militant and even revolutionary attitudes coexist with confused and disorienting standpoints and views. Of course the most robust attitudes develop amongst the industrial workers, the working class.
Consequently, it is very important for the ideological and political vanguard, the communist party, to elaborate and stick closely to the political line, to intervene substantially and specifically so that the movement of insurgent masses, the militant protests, planned confrontation and subversive activity take on a revolutionary orientation. Indeed, it must take into account that within the ranks of the movement there are forces active which are influenced by bourgeois ideology, a plethora of wavering petty bourgeois forces that bring these views into the ranks of the vanguard.
The ability of the Bolshevik Party, headed by Lenin, to constantly adapt did not lead it into following the mistaken path of erasing the essence of its goal for the revolutionary overthrow of the system and workers’ power. The ability to fulfill each task through correct adjustments should not lead to the gradual change of the strategic goal in the name of being adaptable. This is a crucial question for every CP.
Otherwise, there is a real danger of being dispersed amongst the masses, of being co-opted to positions inside the system, of transforming your strategy into one continuous set of maneuvers and tactics. Of course, one must always be aware that you can also be led onto a path that is equally painful for the working class and of course painless for the bourgeois class i.e. the path of isolation, retrenchment and dogmatism.
The communist parties today must constantly seek to creatively use the method and experience of the Bolsheviks, of that party’s leadership and Lenin, in their daily activity and the way in which they combined theoretical work with the study of domestic and international developments and the experience of the class struggle itself.
Through this process, a clear Marxist-Leninist answer can be provided to the following question, why was the victorious strategy of the Bolsheviks not at the centre of the analyses of the International Communist Movement, why did the CPs operate mainly on the basis of the previous analyses, in essence depriving the Leninist line of its revolutionary workers’ content and leading many CPs into sliding into social-democratic positions and opportunism?
 
***
The fact that the revolutionary content and gains which came as a result of the October Revolution over the course of decades were weakened due to the impact of trying to solve existent problems of socialist construction in a mistaken direction, by following capitalist recipes, as we often say, a course that chronologically coincided with the decisions of the 20th Congress of the CPSU in 1956, does not change or alter the internal dynamism of socialist construction or of course the decisive importance of the Great October Revolution of 1917.
Socialism did not endure in its first great attempt, in the struggle against the old, against reaction both domestically and internationally, something that resulted in its degeneration and in the end its overthrow, which entered its final phase in the 1980s through the notorious Perestroika and was completed through the counterrevolution and capitalist restoration in the USSR and the other socialist countries of Europe and Asia at the beginning of the 1990s.
Of course, the imperialist encirclement of the socialist system was a powerful fact that fed the internal problems and contradictions. It led to decisions that made socialist construction more difficult. One aspect, which is very rarely highlighted, is the objective fact that the arms race that the socialist countries were driven into participating in, above all the USSR, in confrontation with imperialist barbarity absorbed a large section of the economic and other resources of the Soviet Union and the other countries.
At the same time, the line of “peaceful coexistence” that mainly developed at the 20th Congress of the CPSU and afterwards, allowed for the fostering of many utopian views that it is possible for imperialism to give up on war and military methods.
The developments in the International Communist Movement, the split in the ICM, issues to do with its strategy also played a serious role in the formation of the global correlation of forces.
The dissolution of the Communist International in 1943, under specific historical political conditions, signaled in any case the absence of a centre for the elaboration of a revolutionary workers’ strategy against the international bourgeoisie, the international capitalist system.
Despite the fact that the conditions for the sharpening of the class contradictions during the 2nd World War sharpened, the anti-fascist struggle of the peoples led to the overthrow of bourgeois power only in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, with the decisive contribution of the Red Army.
The Communist Parties in the capitalist West were not able to elaborate a strategy to transform the imperialist war or liberation struggle into struggle to conquer state power.
After the end of World War II, the lack of organizational connection between the CPs to form an independent strategy against the unified strategy of international imperialism became apparent. The International Conferences that took place later were not able to contribute to the ideological unity and the formation of a revolutionary strategy.
Our party has learned from its weaknesses and mistakes during the past, such as the lack of theoretical and political readiness to understand the development of the counterrevolution in the USSR in a timely fashion.

We consider that it is the responsibility and right of every CP to study the theoretical issues of socialism, to evaluate the course of socialist construction, to draw conclusions for the battle against opportunism at an international level, to prepare the party and class forces in general in order to explain the class struggle at an international level, to provide a scientific class explanation of the setbacks to social progress and development. In this internationalist and communist spirit, we try to follow the developments today in countries like China, Vietnam, Cuba and other countries.

The scientific explanation and defense of socialism’s contribution in the 20th century is an element that strengthens the revolutionary strategy of the communist movement.
The study of the contradictions, of the subjective mistakes of the historical progress as a whole is a process that develops the theory of socialism-communism, which will revive the communist movement ideologically and politically and will provide it with overwhelming strength in its new offensive and final victory.
We are convinced that the final victory will be emerge from the repeated defeats. The “defeat” of the October revolution by the counterrevolution of 1989-1991 can become a school for the next revolution. As a great intellectual wrote (the Hungarian, Laszlo Gurko): “The revolution is the greatest elation of humanity. Whoever has tasted it once never forgets its taste.”
Amongst our most important tasks today is to restore the workers’ knowledge about the truth of socialism in the 20th century, without idealizations, objectively and free of the slanders of the bourgeoisie, which are based on the catastrophes brought about by the counterrevolution.
Capitalism may still be strong today, but it is not invincible. The people are powerful when they struggle with the correct strategy. We look upon the 21st century with optimism.
The 20th century began with the greatest offensive launched by the proletariat in any era and ended with its temporary defeat. The 21st century will bring new offensives and revolutionary victories, the final and this time irreversible overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialism-communism.
The spectre of socialism-communism is today haunting the bloody dreams of the bourgeois the world over. We must take the decision to become their permanent nightmare.
* General Secretary of the CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
How your mobile phone is connected to drone warfare and the war on terror
| May 19, 2017 | 7:08 pm | Africa, Struggle for Peace | No comments

http://stopwar.org.uk/index.php/news-comment/1637-blood-coltan-remote-controlled-warfare-and-the-demand-for-strategic-minerals

How your mobile phone is connected to drone warfare and the war on terror

The Congolese war, which has killed over six million people since 1996, is the deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War. If you add the number of deaths in Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Rwanda over the same period, it would still not equal the millions who have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Part of a solution to this is for western governments to hold Rwanda and Uganda accountable for funding proxy armies in the DRC. The retreat of M23 rebels from the Eastern DRC in recent days shows international pressure to stop Rwanda from supporting the rebels is working. The DRC insurgency is far from over, as other rebel groups are still to be defeated. There is a long way to go before stabilization in the region will be possible.

Considering that violence and brutality in the DRC is proportionate to the demand for the eastern regions of the country’s rich mineral deposits, it is less a matter of who is funding and supporting one army or another. The question is, rather, what is creating a heightened demand for conflict minerals?

The high-grade metal tantalum, processed from the precious mineral coltan, makes it possible to build smaller and smaller electronic gadgets like smart phones and tablets. It is also essential in powering a new trend of military applications such as drones. A new demand for tantalum has boosted coltan mining, trading and smuggling. As stockpiles run low, it is most likely a tantalum shortage could intensify violence again, which directly and indirectly affects people in the mining areas of the eastern DRC.

This province is the richest source of coltan in the world, with an estimated eighty percent of the world’s coltan reserves. Competition for minerals has a direct effect on the relentless violence in the region. Women and young girls have been among visible victims of the conflict and hundreds of thousands of them have been raped by opposing warring factions as a weapon of war.

A country the size of Western Europe, the DRC holds an estimated $24 trillion in mineral reserves, including gold, diamonds, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, tungsten, zinc, manganese, magnesium, uranium, niobium, gold, diamonds and silver. Armed groups vie for control of mineral mines and the routes for mineral transportation. Minerals are channeled through neighbouring countries, Rwanda and Uganda by violent rebel groups and then bought by multinational companies. The Washington Post reports Congolese minerals are smuggled into Rwanda to the tune of $6 million a day.

Tantalum plays a vital role in the growing coltan market. A derivative of coltan, tantalum is a key component in modern electronics. It is the metal used in capacitors or devices that store energy.

Tantalum capacitors are not only used in smartphones. They are important for aerospace and military technologies, which rely on tantalum capacitors for running applications that reach very high temperatures.

With an extraordinary ability to withstand a broad range of temperatures and to resist corrosion, tantalum capacitors are a marvel of technology. They can retain a charge for an extended time and can tolerate operating environments of up to 200 °C.

One of the biggest challenges for defence electronics designers is in managing extremely high temperatures generated by the high performance processors in the new military applications. Recent innovations in thermal management have made it possible to operate under high heat loads using tantalum capacitors.

This extends to smart bombs, on-board navigation in drones, robots and a variety of weapons systems, such as the capacitors in anti-tank systems. Further advances in technology have brought the rapid development of fully autonomous weapons or lethal autonomous robots. In short, if it were not for tantalum’s amazing heat resistant properties, these systems would otherwise overheat.

At this year’s SPIE Defense Security and Sensing electro-optics conference trade show in Baltimore, the latest products were unveiled for drones technology. The focus at SPIE was on a new generation of drones that require small, light and low energy consuming technology.

Such advances in military technology increase the need for coltan. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists reports: “Coltan’s ability to hold and move electrical signals and its conductive ability in extreme temperatures, makes it ideal for smart bomb guidance controls. Security analysts say it is a strategic mineral.”

Tantalum derived from coltan is essential in powering a new trend of military applications made by the US. Yet, the US has no domestic source of coltan. In order to sustain a continued flow of coltan, it depends entirely on imports.

The United States’ Defence Logistics Agency (USDLA) maintains reserves of strategic minerals and rare metals in its National Defence Stockpile (NDS). The NDS was established in 1939 to reduce the possibility of “a dangerous and costly dependence by the United States upon foreign sources for supplies of such materials in times of national emergency.”

Despite this, US tantalum stocks have depleted in recent years. According to Daniel McGroarty, in a Pentagon report last year about US dependency on minerals, the Department of Defence recommends stockpiling tantalum and eight other strategic minerals. If the US were to run out of tantalum, would it be able to continue building its state-of-the-art weaponry?

The consequences of a tantalum shortage would have a calamitous effect on the DRC. A shortage of coltan ore at the end of 2000 contributed to an overnight price hike from $49 to $275 per pound (454 grams). The moment of the price hike was also a time of great intensification of violence in the Eastern DRC.

Today the price of tantalum is up again and the rise in price corresponds to the violent situation on the ground. In June the situation in the DRC became increasingly insecure. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned: “…acts of violence committed against civilians, including murder and sexual assault, remain at a very worrying level and regularly cause the displacement of thousands of families.”

Conflict-free campaigns attribute the tantalum rise as a response to the smartphone and tablet market. These campaigns aim to ensure rebel forces do not control sources of tantalum to finance armed conflict and that supply chains are transparent. These initiatives look at supply chains and manufacturing connected to companies like Apple and Samsung, but there is more to tantalum than the phone and gadgets market.

Conflict-free advocates make the mistake of overlooking the links between minerals and the weapons manufacturing industry. It is doubtful defence companies will be seeking out conflict free mineral sources anytime soon. A conflict-free weapon is an oxymoron.

Even less likely is the prospect of the defence sector abiding new federal legislation, which requires public companies to disclose whether they use conflict minerals from the DRC. Under the 2010 Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act , US companies are required to submit a report to the Securities and Exchange Commission by May 2014 on the sources of the minerals they use.

Campaigns for conflict-free minerals are calling on electronics companies to use fair trade, conflict-free materials in smartphones, laptops and tablets. Their work has been successful in increasing the number of conflict-free mines in the eastern DRC. What has not been addressed is the larger role of conflict minerals beyond the realm of consumer electronics.

At the current rate, the weapons industry could exceed smartphone and tablet makers in coltan consumption if it has not already. Extended use of drones in the past decade means the US needs tantalum because the basic circuitry in drones is built with tantalum from refined coltan. This connection to weapons manufacturing gives new meaning to the term ‘blood coltan’.

Blood coltan is not exclusive to central Africa. Significant coltan reserves exist in the Amazon jungle covering the Venezuelan-Columbian border creating an emergent black market. Drug lords dominate the Columbian side of the border. This is considered a conflict zone as coltan is smuggled through the danger area on its way from Venezuela to Columbia and to Brazil.

In the DRC, mineral mining, trading and smuggling continue to fund the ongoing conflict. Armed groups include the Congolese national army (FARDC) whose ranks include many former rebels. The M23, which has given up control of the region, is made up of former members of the FARDC who mutinied in April 2012. A Global Witness report last year revealed members of FARDC make millions of dollars through their control of the mines. Constant struggles between the FARDC and numerous rebel groups over control of minerals mining and transportation of minerals have a direct effect on the killing, raping and ongoing violence in the region.

The rush on coltan engenders the violence in the DRC. Spearheading that demand is tantalum, a key ingredient in new military technologies.

The US obsession with “surgical” remote-controlled warfare, especially drones, is sharpening the appetite for tantalum. The US has killed thousands in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia with the ever-increasing drone strikes. Armed drones are also in operation in Mali, Libya and Niger.

This highlights a worrying connection between two contemporaneous wars – the twelve-year ‘war on terror’ and the sixteen-year war in the Congo. Joining the two is the demand for Congolese minerals.

Source: Pambazuka

SAT 30 NOVEMBER | 10AM – 5PM | EMMANUEL CENTRE | LONDON

NYC/Weds. May 17: OAS Luis Almagro is a Threat to Peace in Venezuela
Please join us to protest Luis Almagro who has become a serious problem for peace in the region. Luis Almagro is an agent of the State Department, who works for the armaments industry complex of this nation and whose goal is to subject the peoples of the Americas to the boots of the Pentagon.
 
When:
Wednesday May 17 @ 11:30 AM to 3:00PM
Where:
Americas Society Council of the Americas 680 Park Avenue New York, NY
Why
Secretary General of the OAS Luis Almagro is a Threat to Peace in Venezuela
Despite the massive abuse of human rights in Honduras, Colombia, Brazil, and Mexico the Secretary General appears to be singularly focused on bringing about regime change in Venezuela. Moreover, Almagro now appears willing to facilitate a slide towards civil war and imperial intervention in Venezuela even though U.S. military intervention would be catastrophic and deal a serious blow to regional independence. 
The situation is volatile. Colombian paramilitaries have been infiltrating the country and there has already been a deadly confrontation with Bolivarian security forces. At the same time, the ultra right inside Venezuela is engaging in mounting selective assassinations and acts of terrorism and sabotage. The right wing coalition of political parties (MUD) now refuses all dialog and is set on the path of confrontation. The large majority of Venezuelans, however, want peace. 


On May 6, the head of the National Assembly, Julio Borges, met in Washington with Trump’s National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster. On May 9, the opposition voice Lilian Tintori called for a military coup. On the same day Secretary Almagro, spoke, via video conference, to the Venezuelan National Assembly. He declared that “Venezuela is a dictatorship” and that Maduro’s call for a constituent assembly was “undemocratic” as if it were up to the Secretary General instead of Venezuelan citizens to decide such issues. 
The US—Almagro campaign for regime change has further polarized the politics in Venezuela. Each call by Almagro over the past year to invoke the democratic charter against Venezuela or suspend this nation from the OAS has only emboldened the right wing opposition to take a hard line. It is no surprise then, that the opposition now refuses all dialog with the government, has called for early presidential elections, rejects the constituent assembly, and refuses to rein in the ultra right’s terrorism unleashed on the streets.  The US-Almagro strategy is to bring a “quick” solution to the conflict.  They know that the longer it takes to bring down the government, the more likely the popular sectors will buy into the constituent assembly process and join the resistance to a US backed right wing coup.

Almagro is now fully exposed as a hypocrite and lackey of US power. He cannot be a friend of peace while countenancing assassinations and the burning of public buildings. He cannot be an effective advocate of democracy by brandishing the threat of North American aggression as political leverage. He cannot consistently champion the Venezuelan constitution and call for early presidential elections. If he really wants to help Venezuela in this moment of crisis, Almagro should call on Washington to repeal Obama’s executive order declaring Venezuela an extraordinary threat to the national security of the United States and he should insist that the opposition join Vatican mediated talks. 

 
To endorse this action: cbalbertolovera@gmail.com
Bolivarian Circle Alberto Lovera NY, International Action Center, Worker World Party, Cuba Solidarity New York, Alianza Pais, Libre Resistencia Hondureña, Manhattan Green, The Cuba and Venezuela Solidarity Committee, Pastor for Peace.
May Day 2017: Unite and fight!

Source: CP Canada website

Unite and fight for jobs, democracy, sovereignty, equality and socialism!

We celebrate May Day 2017 in the shadow of the Trump war machine which has moved the whole planet into extreme danger of extinction due to nuclear war and/or climate change.  According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, it took just 100 days in office for the Trump administration to move the Doomsday Clock to 2 and a half minutes to midnight.  The world hasn’t been this close to Doomsday since 1953, at the height of the Cold War when the US openly campaigned for war with the USSR.  Is this the end of history that capitalism’s triumphant spokesman Fukuyama proclaimed in the 1990s?

For the last 25 years, capitalism has had the upper hand, and the ability to demonstrate its self-proclaimed ‘superiority’. Its enormous wealth and capacity could have been put to the service of the world’s exploited and impoverished billions with health care, education, jobs, development, peace and disarmament, and action to reduce the effects of climate change. In fact this is socialist Cuba’s contribution over the past 25 years, despite the US embargo.

But capitalism did what capitalism always does – seek out new places and new ways to exploit and to profit from the misery of the many, for the benefit of the richest corporations and the wealthiest few. This is the nature and the purpose of capitalism:  the exploitation of one human being and one class by another, for the private profit and benefit of the ruling class at the expense of the working people, the youth, women, immigrants, Indigenous Peoples. It is incapable of addressing the needs of the people, or the needs of the planet, because its purpose is to ruthlessly exploit both.

As a result austerity has been introduced across the capitalist world, and wages, pensions and living standards have fallen in all the advanced capitalist countries, including in Europe and North America, while unemployment – and the growth of the ultra-right and its policies of xenophobia, racism, and misogyny – has surged.  In the developing countries, hunger, debt, dependence, and capitalist globalization, and threats of invasion and ‘regime change’ are the reality of capitalism’s self-proclaimed ‘superiority’ over national sovereignty, independence and socialism.

We see the outcome of this dictatorship of the most powerful corporations in the US today: the ultra-right in control of the White House, the Congress and Senate, and the judiciary.  With an agenda to match: corporate tax cuts, deregulation, free-trade benefiting the most powerful US corporations, militarization funded by massive cuts to social security, and war with the two-pronged objective of leveling all resistance to US corporate power and profits inside and outside the US borders.  This means war on the labour and peoples’ movements at home, war and subjugation on nations and states around the world, and war on the planet itself.

This is an agenda of global destruction that the Canadian government should strongly oppose.

But the Liberals have tiptoed around the Trump administration, supporting illegal US airstrikes on Syria and Afghanistan, threats to invade and overthrow the DPRK (North Korea), and any country that resists the US global corporate agenda. The Liberals have promised to double Canada’s military budget in order to pay NATO 2% of GDP as demanded by Trump, or in lieu of payment, to send Canadian troops wherever Trump decides to make war next.

And, instead of pulling out of NAFTA and exposing the US administration’s reactionary and job-destroying agenda on trade, the Liberals are supporting a renegotiation of NAFTA that will wreak havoc on Canadian jobs, manufacturing and agriculture, on resource development, on universal public Medicare, on labour and democratic rights, on sovereignty and independence.  This is the moment when Trudeau should have said NO.

NO to NAFTA – NO to war

Canada is at a crossroads. In one direction, the Liberals’ team-up with the Trump administration will escalate Canada’s complete integration into the US war economy and politics.  This would mean Canada would lose its manufacturing and industrial sector and revert to a source of natural resources and a market for US value-added goods and services.  We will see a further drop in wages, pensions and living standards, where even minimum wages are not guaranteed.  We will also lose Medicare and universal social programs, our labour, civil, social and democratic rights, along with what remains of our sovereignty and independence.  In return, we become a completely integrated part of the US war machine, spending $40 billion a year on war (and rising).

For corporate Canada and their political parties this may seem like a good way to go. For working people it’s a fast-forward freeway to disaster.

It’s deeply regrettable that the NDP and Greens both support US airstrikes on Syria and renegotiation of NAFTA, while also claiming  to represent the interests of working people.

It’s also disturbing that the outgoing CLC leadership has taken the same position, when NAFTA was widely panned and opposed as the corporate agenda on steroids.

In 1988, just a few months of campaigning by a broad-based coalition of labour and the democratic people’s movements nearly derailed the first free trade deal between Canada and the US.  This powerful movement against capitalist globalization succeeded in derailing both the MAI and the FTAA, and came close to blocking NAFTA.

Similarly, massive anti-war and anti-globalization protests took place around the globe during the same period, mobilizing public opinion against nuclear weapons, and for political solutions to global problems.

The Women’s March of 5 million women globally including 200,000 women in Canada, along with the struggles of Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, and mobilizations for climate justice, show the way forward today.

The struggle of the youth and minimum wage workers to win $15 and Fairness, and the response of the labour movement in Quebec to make $15 a universal bargaining demand, is the way forward.  The response of some unions in BC and Ontario to make $15 a basic bargaining demand, and to win it after striking on it, is the way forward.  It’s a political and economic fight that the CLC should adopt at its May convention.

The fight to pull out of NAFTA and adopt a trade policy that’s multi-lateral and mutually beneficial, creating value-added jobs, building  sustainable primary and secondary industry and manufacturing, will need the CLC to bring the labour movement and its allies into the streets, to oppose capitalist corporate globalization supported by both Trump and the Big Business parties in Canada.

Mass mobilizations are also needed to get Canada out of NATO, to bring Canadian troops home, and to adopt a foreign policy of peace and disarmament.

Workers in Canada can show their solidarity and support for workers’ struggles globally by standing shoulder to shoulder in opposition to austerity and war, capitalist globalization, Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, misogyny, homophobia and transphobia, reaction and fascism.  They can stand with Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Palestine, and all those countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa fighting for their right to self-determination and independence from US interference, including those who choose a socialist path of development.

Working people, youth, women, the unemployed and labour must use their united might to oppose compromise with US war-mongers and the reactionary, fascist-supported administration of Trump’s government of oilmen, generals and bankers.

A People’s Agenda for Canada

Labour and its partners must unite and fight for a People’s Agenda for Canada, organizing mass mobilizations to campaign for:

  • Fair trade, not NAFTA – multi-lateral trade with all countries that is beneficial to all parties, and includes long term credits for developing and socialist countries;
  • A foreign policy of peace and disarmament – Get out of NATO and NORAD, Cut military spending by 75%, bring home Canadian troops involved in foreign wars;
  • Fight Climate Change – nationalize natural and energy resources; close the tar sands and guarantee jobs in public development of new energy sources such as solar, wind, thermal, and renewable energy;
  •  Create Jobs – invest in a national housing program to build affordable social housing across Canada; invest in value-added manufacturing, including a Canadian car and urban and inter-urban mass rapid transit; agricultural implements industry; machine tool industry; ship-building; expand social programs;
  •  Raise wages and incomes – raise the minimum wage to $20; substantially increase pensions and drop the age for a full pension and OAS to 60; introduce a guaranteed annual income at a living wage; increase EI to 90% of former earnings and expand to cover all job seekers including part-time and first-time job seekers   Enact universal pay and employment equity; repeal the Temporary Foreign Workers Act;
  • Expand immigration and refugee acceptance and re-settlement; scrap the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement;
  • Expand universal social programs and Medicare, and introduce a system of universally accessible, affordable, quality public childcare;
  • Eliminate tuition fees and make post-secondary education accessible to all;
  • Protect and expand civil, social, labour and democratic rights.  Enforce and enact anti-hate laws.

Another world is possible – and urgent! 

In this centenary year of the victory of the Great October Revolution, which opened the door to socialism and workers’ power around the world, we recall the historic struggle of the working class in Russia to create a society free of exploitation and oppression, a society of equality and justice, where working people were in the driver’s seat and corporations, greedy landowners and landlords were put out of business, and war-mongers and profiteers sent packing.  With 100 years of both heroic and painful experience of war and fascism, and the overthrow of the socialist states in Europe, we know that socialism represents the future, and capitalism is the past.  There is no other rung on the ladder of human development between capitalism and socialism.  The time has come – is overdue – for working people to take control of our own destiny, to establish working class political power.

In the struggles ahead, working people will build socialism anew, learning from the experiences of the past and building for the future.  The struggle continues, more urgent than ever.

Let’s condemn another U.S. trick against Syria

By Houston Communist Party

President Donald Trump has cooked up a big slimy lie to serve as a pretext for a U.S. aggression against Syria.

This lie is as big and as slimy as the lie cooked up by George W. Bush and company to serve as a pretext for U.S. aggression against Iraq in 2003. The Iraq lie alleged falsely that weapons of mass destruction were in Iraq. Trump’s lie falsely alleges that the Syrian air force dropped bombs containing deadly chemicals on the civilian population in Syria.

This is an old and traditional lie that frequently appears in the aggressor’s propaganda of U.S. imperialists. The U.S. armed forces and their allies in Syria planted chemical weapons in civilian neighborhoods and the devices were detonated by remote control at any time that the U.S. imperialists decided was appropriate for a massacre. The U.S. imperialists and their allies waited until the Syrian aircraft flew over the neighborhood designated for this sneaky, dirty attack. When the Syrian aircraft flew over, the U.S. and its allies detonated the chemical weapons killing civilians.

Trump has come out vociferously blaming the Syrian government for the atrocity that Trump and his allies perpetrated on the people of Syria. The people of the USA have witnessed these dirty tricks in the wars against Iraq, the occupation of the Dominican Republic, the Bay of Pigs attack against Cuba, the war against the Philippines, and the wars against Vietnam and Cambodia. In every instance, the U.S. imperialists start the aggression with a big slimy lie.

The liberal progressives and left forces in the USA must denounce this old trick that the US imperialists are about to perpetrate on the Syrian and the US people.

What’s to Hide? Trump White House Withholding Information on US Wars
The Pentagon, headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense

What’s to Hide? Trump White House Withholding Information on US Wars

© Photo: Public Domain
Military & Intelligence

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https://sputniknews.com/military/201704031052221571-trump-administration-hiding-troop-movements/

Citing an almost 16-year-old authorization for the use of military force outside the borders of the United States, the Trump administration has begun to quietly deploy more US troops to Iraq and Syria — without disclosing their number, mission or location.

As a candidate, Trump had suggested that he would seek more of an “element of surprise” when engaging in warfare, and now, with new secrecy surrounding the increasing US troop deployments to Syria and Iraq, he is making good on that promise.

In a striking departure from the protocols engaged in by the Obama administration, no announcements were made regarding the recent addition of 300 Army paratroopers to assist the Iraqi military in their assault on Mosul, or the deployment of 400 Marines into Syria to operate artillery in support of coalition-friendly militants fighting Daesh.

According to Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon, “In order to maintain tactical surprise, ensure operational security and force protection, the coalition will not routinely announce or confirm information about the capabilities, force numbers, locations, or movement of forces in or out of Iraq and Syria,” cited by the Los Angeles Times.

But many feel keeping that information secret is a mistake. Ned Price, US President Barack Obama’s National Security Council spokesman, recently remarked, “The position of the Obama administration was that the American people had a right to know if servicemen and women were in harm’s way.”

Under the Obama administration, troop deployments were detailed after they had been carried out, but, according to the Pentagon, that policy has now changed.

Currently, troop deployments, when announced at all, are done using round numbers, with little to no specific details provided. Even when troop numbers are given, the Pentagon has acknowledged that those figures do not include the many security, logistics and other employees involved in staging a battle-ready force.

The additional troop movements to the Middle East have not been debated in Congress, leading some to wonder when, and if, the Trump administration will articulate a long-term policy for the region, according to the LA Times.

Due to the absence of any official authorization for the US troop presence in the region, the Pentagon has been relying on a 2001 mandate put in place by Congress during the Bush administration to fight al-Qaeda.

Not all legislators are comfortable with repurposing old laws to fit new wars, however.

“The world’s changed a bit,” said Armed Services Committee member Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), adding, “The nature of the threat’s changed too.”

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) was more blunt.

“I do not think it is right for the US military to become involved in the Syrian civil war based on the 9/11 AUMF [authorization for the use of military force],” he said, cited by the LA Times.

“I voted for that AUMF as a House member. I never imagined that vote being used to justify US ground troops in Syria in the year 2017. And I don’t think anyone else who voted in favor of it did either.”

Winnipeg, Thur Feb 2: The path to peace and sovereignty in Syria [Please forward widely]
| January 29, 2017 | 7:09 pm | Canada, Struggle for Peace, Syria | No comments

Dear Friends

You are invited to hear Canadian journalist Eva Bartlett’s talk about the devastating conflict in Syria, the myths and realities.

Thurs, Feb. 2, 7:00 p.m.
Millennium Library, Carol Shields room

Please attend and invite your friends (forward this email or invite people via facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/456145108108286/ )

We are glad to have Eva in Winnipeg, who has worked as an independent journalist in Syria over several years. She is also a member of the Steering Committee of the Syria Solidarity Movement.

The mainstream U.S. and Canadian media present only half the facts about this war-torn country, and too often it is the half that is wrong.

This is a chance to assess the truth about Syria and the West’s role in the conflict, hear why most armed groups are now negotiating a path to peace, and to discuss the prospects for Syria to maintain its sovereignty in the face of Western threats of regime change and massive bombing campaigns.

Eva covered the war in Syria on six occasions since 2014, including two months in summer 2016 and one month at the end of 2016 in Aleppo. She writes for different media and maintains a blog In Gaza since living three years in the occupied territory.

For information, reply by email or phone (204) 792-3371.

Yours truly,
Darrell Rankin
For the Manitoba Peace Council

Sponsored by: Manitoba Peace Council, CKUW and Canadian Dimension magazine.