Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Why Socialism? by Albert Einstein

Why Socialism?Let us first consider the question from the point of view of scientific knowledge. It might appear that there are no essential methodological differences between astronomy and economics: scientists in both fields attempt to discover laws of general acceptability for a circumscribed group of phenomena in order to make the interconnection of these phenomena as clearly understandable as possible. But in reality such methodological differences do exist. The discovery of general laws in the field of economics is made difficult by the circumstance that observed economic phenomena are often affected by many factors which are very hard to evaluate separately. In addition, the experience which has accumulated since the beginning of the so-called civilized period of human history has—as is well known—been largely influenced and limited by causes which are by no means exclusively economic in nature. For example, most of the major states of history owed their existence to conquest. The conquering peoples established themselves, legally and economically, as the privileged class of the conquered country. They seized for themselves a monopoly of the land ownership and appointed a priesthood from among their own ranks. The priests, in control of education, made the class division of society into a permanent institution and created a system of values by which the people were thenceforth, to a large extent unconsciously, guided in their social behavior.
But historic tradition is, so to speak, of yesterday; nowhere have we really overcome what Thorstein Veblen called “the predatory phase” of human development. The observable economic facts belong to that phase and even such laws as we can derive from them are not applicable to other phases. Since the real purpose of socialism is precisely to overcome and advance beyond the predatory phase of human development, economic science in its present state can throw little light on the socialist society of the future.
Second, socialism is directed towards a social-ethical end. Science, however, cannot create ends and, even less, instill them in human beings; science, at most, can supply the means by which to attain certain ends. But the ends themselves are conceived by personalities with lofty ethical ideals and—if these ends are not stillborn, but vital and vigorous—are adopted and carried forward by those many human beings who, half unconsciously, determine the slow evolution of society.
For these reasons, we should be on our guard not to overestimate science and scientific methods when it is a question of human problems; and we should not assume that experts are the only ones who have a right to express themselves on questions affecting the organization of society.
Innumerable voices have been asserting for some time now that human society is passing through a crisis, that its stability has been gravely shattered. It is characteristic of such a situation that individuals feel indifferent or even hostile toward the group, small or large, to which they belong. In order to illustrate my meaning, let me record here a personal experience. I recently discussed with an intelligent and well-disposed man the threat of another war, which in my opinion would seriously endanger the existence of mankind, and I remarked that only a supra-national organization would offer protection from that danger. Thereupon my visitor, very calmly and coolly, said to me: “Why are you so deeply opposed to the disappearance of the human race?”
I am sure that as little as a century ago no one would have so lightly made a statement of this kind. It is the statement of a man who has striven in vain to attain an equilibrium within himself and has more or less lost hope of succeeding. It is the expression of a painful solitude and isolation from which so many people are suffering in these days. What is the cause? Is there a way out?
It is easy to raise such questions, but difficult to answer them with any degree of assurance. I must try, however, as best I can, although I am very conscious of the fact that our feelings and strivings are often contradictory and obscure and that they cannot be expressed in easy and simple formulas.
Man is, at one and the same time, a solitary being and a social being. As a solitary being, he attempts to protect his own existence and that of those who are closest to him, to satisfy his personal desires, and to develop his innate abilities. As a social being, he seeks to gain the recognition and affection of his fellow human beings, to share in their pleasures, to comfort them in their sorrows, and to improve their conditions of life. Only the existence of these varied, frequently conflicting, strivings accounts for the special character of a man, and their specific combination determines the extent to which an individual can achieve an inner equilibrium and can contribute to the well-being of society. It is quite possible that the relative strength of these two drives is, in the main, fixed by inheritance. But the personality that finally emerges is largely formed by the environment in which a man happens to find himself during his development, by the structure of the society in which he grows up, by the tradition of that society, and by its appraisal of particular types of behavior. The abstract concept “society” means to the individual human being the sum total of his direct and indirect relations to his contemporaries and to all the people of earlier generations. The individual is able to think, feel, strive, and work by himself; but he depends so much upon society—in his physical, intellectual, and emotional existence—that it is impossible to think of him, or to understand him, outside the framework of society. It is “society” which provides man with food, clothing, a home, the tools of work, language, the forms of thought, and most of the content of thought; his life is made possible through the labor and the accomplishments of the many millions past and present who are all hidden behind the small word “society.”
It is evident, therefore, that the dependence of the individual upon society is a fact of nature which cannot be abolished—just as in the case of ants and bees. However, while the whole life process of ants and bees is fixed down to the smallest detail by rigid, hereditary instincts, the social pattern and interrelationships of human beings are very variable and susceptible to change. Memory, the capacity to make new combinations, the gift of oral communication have made possible developments among human being which are not dictated by biological necessities. Such developments manifest themselves in traditions, institutions, and organizations; in literature; in scientific and engineering accomplishments; in works of art. This explains how it happens that, in a certain sense, man can influence his life through his own conduct, and that in this process conscious thinking and wanting can play a part.
Man acquires at birth, through heredity, a biological constitution which we must consider fixed and unalterable, including the natural urges which are characteristic of the human species. In addition, during his lifetime, he acquires a cultural constitution which he adopts from society through communication and through many other types of influences. It is this cultural constitution which, with the passage of time, is subject to change and which determines to a very large extent the relationship between the individual and society. Modern anthropology has taught us, through comparative investigation of so-called primitive cultures, that the social behavior of human beings may differ greatly, depending upon prevailing cultural patterns and the types of organization which predominate in society. It is on this that those who are striving to improve the lot of man may ground their hopes: human beings are not condemned, because of their biological constitution, to annihilate each other or to be at the mercy of a cruel, self-inflicted fate.
If we ask ourselves how the structure of society and the cultural attitude of man should be changed in order to make human life as satisfying as possible, we should constantly be conscious of the fact that there are certain conditions which we are unable to modify. As mentioned before, the biological nature of man is, for all practical purposes, not subject to change. Furthermore, technological and demographic developments of the last few centuries have created conditions which are here to stay. In relatively densely settled populations with the goods which are indispensable to their continued existence, an extreme division of labor and a highly-centralized productive apparatus are absolutely necessary. The time—which, looking back, seems so idyllic—is gone forever when individuals or relatively small groups could be completely self-sufficient. It is only a slight exaggeration to say that mankind constitutes even now a planetary community of production and consumption.
I have now reached the point where I may indicate briefly what to me constitutes the essence of the crisis of our time. It concerns the relationship of the individual to society. The individual has become more conscious than ever of his dependence upon society. But he does not experience this dependence as a positive asset, as an organic tie, as a protective force, but rather as a threat to his natural rights, or even to his economic existence. Moreover, his position in society is such that the egotistical drives of his make-up are constantly being accentuated, while his social drives, which are by nature weaker, progressively deteriorate. All human beings, whatever their position in society, are suffering from this process of deterioration. Unknowingly prisoners of their own egotism, they feel insecure, lonely, and deprived of the naive, simple, and unsophisticated enjoyment of life. Man can find meaning in life, short and perilous as it is, only through devoting himself to society.
The economic anarchy of capitalist society as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of the evil. We see before us a huge community of producers the members of which are unceasingly striving to deprive each other of the fruits of their collective labor—not by force, but on the whole in faithful compliance with legally established rules. In this respect, it is important to realize that the means of production—that is to say, the entire productive capacity that is needed for producing consumer goods as well as additional capital goods—may legally be, and for the most part are, the private property of individuals.
For the sake of simplicity, in the discussion that follows I shall call “workers” all those who do not share in the ownership of the means of production—although this does not quite correspond to the customary use of the term. The owner of the means of production is in a position to purchase the labor power of the worker. By using the means of production, the worker produces new goods which become the property of the capitalist. The essential point about this process is the relation between what the worker produces and what he is paid, both measured in terms of real value. Insofar as the labor contract is “free,” what the worker receives is determined not by the real value of the goods he produces, but by his minimum needs and by the capitalists’ requirements for labor power in relation to the number of workers competing for jobs. It is important to understand that even in theory the payment of the worker is not determined by the value of his product.
Private capital tends to become concentrated in few hands, partly because of competition among the capitalists, and partly because technological development and the increasing division of labor encourage the formation of larger units of production at the expense of smaller ones. The result of these developments is an oligarchy of private capital the enormous power of which cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society. This is true since the members of legislative bodies are selected by political parties, largely financed or otherwise influenced by private capitalists who, for all practical purposes, separate the electorate from the legislature. The consequence is that the representatives of the people do not in fact sufficiently protect the interests of the underprivileged sections of the population. Moreover, under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information (press, radio, education). It is thus extremely difficult, and indeed in most cases quite impossible, for the individual citizen to come to objective conclusions and to make intelligent use of his political rights.
The situation prevailing in an economy based on the private ownership of capital is thus characterized by two main principles: first, means of production (capital) are privately owned and the owners dispose of them as they see fit; second, the labor contract is free. Of course, there is no such thing as a pure capitalist society in this sense. In particular, it should be noted that the workers, through long and bitter political struggles, have succeeded in securing a somewhat improved form of the “free labor contract” for certain categories of workers. But taken as a whole, the present day economy does not differ much from “pure” capitalism.
Production is carried on for profit, not for use. There is no provision that all those able and willing to work will always be in a position to find employment; an “army of unemployed” almost always exists. The worker is constantly in fear of losing his job. Since unemployed and poorly paid workers do not provide a profitable market, the production of consumers’ goods is restricted, and great hardship is the consequence. Technological progress frequently results in more unemployment rather than in an easing of the burden of work for all. The profit motive, in conjunction with competition among capitalists, is responsible for an instability in the accumulation and utilization of capital which leads to increasingly severe depressions. Unlimited competition leads to a huge waste of labor, and to that crippling of the social consciousness of individuals which I mentioned before.
This crippling of individuals I consider the worst evil of capitalism. Our whole educational system suffers from this evil. An exaggerated competitive attitude is inculcated into the student, who is trained to worship acquisitive success as a preparation for his future career.
I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.
Nevertheless, it is necessary to remember that a planned economy is not yet socialism. A planned economy as such may be accompanied by the complete enslavement of the individual. The achievement of socialism requires the solution of some extremely difficult socio-political problems: how is it possible, in view of the far-reaching centralization of political and economic power, to prevent bureaucracy from becoming all-powerful and overweening? How can the rights of the individual be protected and therewith a democratic counterweight to the power of bureaucracy be assured?
Clarity about the aims and problems of socialism is of greatest significance in our age of transition. Since, under present circumstances, free and unhindered discussion of these problems has come under a powerful taboo, I consider the foundation of this magazine to be an important public service.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Trotsky Quotes - On Marxist Philosophy

The essence of Marxism consists in this, that it approaches society concretely, as a subject for objective research, and analyzes human history as one would a colossal laboratory record. Marxism appraises ideology as a subordinate integral element of the material social structure. Marxism examines the class structure of society as a historically conditioned form of the development of the productive forces; Marxism deduces from the productive forces of society the inter-relations between human society and surrounding nature, and these, in turn are determined at each historical stage by man’s technology, his instruments and weapons, his capacities and methods for struggle with nature. Precisely this objective approach arms Marxism with the insuperable power of historical foresight.

Dialectical Materialism and Science (1925)

If it is possible to place a given person’s general type of thought on the basis of his relation to concrete practical problems, it is also possible to predict approximately, knowing his general type of thought, how a given individual will approach one or another practical question. That is the incomparable educational value of the dialectical method of thought.

A Petty-Bourgeois Opposition in the Socialist Workers Party (1939)

Dialectical thinking is related to vulgar in the same way that a motion picture is related to a still photograph. The motion picture does not outlaw the still photograph but combines a series of them according to the laws of motion. Dialectics does not deny the syllogism, but teaches us to combine syllogisms in such a way as to bring our understanding closer to the eternally changing reality.

The ABC of Materialist Dialectics (1939)

The dialectic is not a magic master key for all questions. It does not replace concrete scientific analysis. But it directs this analysis along the correct road, securing it against sterile wanderings in the desert of subjectivism and scholasticism.

The ABC of Materialist Dialectics (1939)

The democratic regime is the most aristocratic way of ruling. It is possible only to a rich nation.

Discussions on the Transitional Program (1938)

We must give a scientific explanation of society, and clearly explain it to the masses. That is the difference between Marxism and reformism.

Discussions on the Transitional Program (1938)

Such categories as ‘commodity’, ‘money’, ‘wages’, ‘capital’, ‘profit’, ‘tax’, and the like are only semi-mystical reflections in men’s heads of the various aspects of a process of economy which they do not understand and which is not under their control. To decipher them, a thoroughgoing scientific analysis is indispensable.

Marxism in Our Time (1939)

It was not Marx’s aim to discover the ‘eternal laws’ of economy. He denied the existence of such laws. The history of the development of human society is the history of the succession of various systems of economy, each operating in accordance with its own laws. ... In his Capital, Marx does not study economy in general, but capitalist economy, which has its own specific laws. Only in passing does he refer to the other economic systems to elucidate the characteristics of capitalism.

Marxism in Our Time (1939)

Just as the operation of the laws of physiology yields different results in a growing than in a dying organism, so the laws of Marxist economy assert themselves differently in a developing and disintegrating capitalism.

Marxism in Our Time (1939)

Trotsky Quotes - Bureaucratism

Bureaucratism is not a fortuitous feature of certain provincial organizations, but a general phenomenon. It does not travel from the district to the central organization through the medium of the regional organization, but much rather from the central organization to the district through the medium of the regional organization. It is not at all a survival of the war period; it is the result of the transference to the party of the methods and the administrative manners accumulated during these last years.

The New Course (1923)

In playing the role of party leader and being absorbed by the questions of administration, the old generation accustomed itself to think and to decide, as it still does, for the party. For the communist masses, it brings to the forefront purely bookish, pedagogical methods of participating in political life: elementary political training courses, examinations of the knowledge of its members, party schools, etc. Thence the bureaucratism of the apparatus, its cliquism, its exclusive internal life, in a word, all the traits that constitute the profoundly negative side of the old course.

The New Course (1923)

Those comrades who assert most flatly, with the greatest insistence and sometimes most brutally, that every difference of opinion, every grouping of opinion, however temporary, is an expression of the interests of classes opposed to the proletariat, do not want to apply this criterion to bureaucratism.

The New Course (1923)

Mechanical centralism is necessarily complemented by factionalism, which is at once a malicious caricature of democracy and a potential political danger.

Letter to Party Meetings (1923)

The Soviet bureaucracy is like all ruling classes in that it is ready to shut its eyes to the crudest mistakes of its leaders in the sphere of general politics, provided in return they show an unconditional fidelity in the defense of its privileges.

Revolution Betrayed (1936)

If the leaders seek only to preserve themselves, that is what they become; preserves, dried preserves.

Some Questions on American Problems (1940)

The Soviet Union emerged from the October Revolution as a workers state. State ownership of the means of production, a necessary prerequisite to socialist development, opened up the possibility of rapid growth of the productive forces. But the apparatus of the workers’ state underwent a complete degeneration at the same time: it was transformed from a weapon of the working class into a weapon of bureaucratic violence against the working class and more and more a weapon for the sabotage of the country’s economy. The bureaucratization of a backward and isolated workers’ state and the transformation of the bureaucracy into an all-powerful privileged caste constitute the most convincing refutation – not only theoretically, but this time, practically – of the theory of socialism in one country.

The USSR and Problems of the Transitional Epoch (1938)

The goal to be attained by the overthrow of the bureaucracy is the reestablishment of the rule of the Soviets, expelling from them the present bureaucracy. It is the task of the regenerated Soviets to collaborate with the world revolution and the building of a socialist society. The overthrow of the bureaucracy therefore presupposes the preservation of state property and of planned economy.

The USSR and War (1939)

One has to put a wadded nightcap not only over one’s eyes, but over one’s nose and ears, to be able to-day, after the inglorious collapse of the Second International, after the disgraceful bankruptcy of its leading party, after the bloody lunacy of the world slaughter and the gigantic sweep of the civil war, to set up in contrast to us, the profundity, the loyalty, the peacefulness and the sobriety of the Second International, the heritage of which we are still liquidating.

Terrorism and Communism (1920)

Trotsky Quotes - On Strikes

Only for its own purposes did the strike allow itself to break the vow of immobility. When it needed news bulletins of the revolution it opened a printing works; it used the telegraph to send out strike instructions; it let trains carrying strikers’ delegates pass.
Nothing else was exempt: the strike closed down industrial plants, chemists’ and grocers’ shops, courts of law, everything.
From time to time its attention wearied and its vigilance slackened, now here, now there. Sometimes a reckless train would break through the strike barrier: then the strike would set off in pursuit of it. The guilty train, like a criminal on the run, raced through dark and empty stations, unannounced by the telegraph, leaving a wake of fear and uncertainty behind it. But in the end the strike would catch up with the train, stop the engine, immobilize the driver, let off the steam.
It used every possible means. It appealed, convinced, implored; it begged on its knees—that is what a woman orator did at the Kursky Station in Moscow—it threatened, terrorized, threw stones, finally fired off its Brownings. It wanted to achieve its aim at whatever cost. It staked too much: the blood of fathers, the bread of children, the reputation of its own strength. An entire class obeyed it; and when a negligible fraction of that class, corrupted by the very forces it was fighting, stood in its path, it is scarcely surprising that the strike roughly kicked the obstacle aside.

Chapter 7 of 1905 (1907)

As a general rule, the party does not make a decision on every isolated strike. It helps le trade union to decide the question of knowing if the strike is opportune, by means of its political and economic information and by its advice. It serves the strike with its agitation, etc. First place in the strike belongs, of course to the trade union.

Communism and Syndicalism (1931)

In the trade unions, the Communists, of course, submit to the discipline of the party, no matter what posts they occupy. This does not exclude but presupposes their submission to trade union discipline. In other words, the party does not impose upon them any line of conduct that contradicts the state of mind or the opinions of the majority of the members of trade unions.

Communism and Syndicalism (1931)

In capitalist countries, where the Communist Party does not possess any means of coercion, it is obvious that it can give leadership only by Communists being in the trade unions as rank-and-file members or functionaries.

Communism and Syndicalism (1931)

The general strike is only a mobilization of the proletariat and its setting up against its enemy, the State; but that the strike in itself cannot produce the solution of the problem, because it exhausts the forces of the proletariat sooner than those of its enemies, and this, sooner or later, forces the workers to return to the factories. The general strike acquires a decisive importance only as a preliminary to a conflict between the proletariat and the armed forces of the opposition – i.e., to the open revolutionary rising of the workers. Only by breaking the will of the armies thrown against it can the revolutionary class solve the problem of power – the root problem of every revolution. The general strike produces the mobilization of both sides, and gives the first serious estimate of the powers of resistance of the counterrevolution.

Terrorism and Communism (1920)

Friday, 7 February 2014

IV Archieve: The time of anti-capitalist and anti-colonial contestation

In Martinique, the general strike launched on February 5 by the Intersyndical (inter-union coordination) immediately took on, by its scale and its ongoing dynamic, just as in Guadeloupe, a political dimension of challenging the injustice, the exploitation and the oppression that exist in Martinique society. On the evening of the immense success of Thursday 5 February, (there were more than 20,000 demonstrators in the streets of the capital, Fort-de-France), the Intersyndical took the decision to transform itself into the “February 5 Collective” so as to be able to broaden itself out to all the forces from different movements and associations which had spontaneously joined the movement.
JPEG - 130.4 kb
This broadening was done in somewhat the same way and following the example of the “Lyannaj Kont Pwofitasyon” (Collective Against Exploitation), which had brought together, two months earlier, all the trade-union and progressive organizations, and also the cultural associations, of Guadeloupe for a general strike against the high cost of living, against oppression and exploitation.
A full-scale social explosion
The social movement which has developed since February 5 is exceptional in the recent history of workers’ struggles in this country. This exceptional character comes from the force that it is unleashing, from the scale of the demonstrations. Since the powerful social mobilizations that took place from October 1973 to February 1974, (that was 35 years ago!), such a tidal wave had not submerged the streets of the capital and other towns. This unitary, radical and prolonged movement is an example of resistance. The demonstrations, the road blocks around commercial, artisanal and industrial zones, the blockades of the big supermarkets, are paralyzing all the economic sectors of the island, as well as transport. For the people engaged in the struggle, it is a question, by acting in this way, of imposing a reduction in the prices of essential products, energy: water, fuel, the telephone, rents, taxes, banking rates; an increase of at least 200 euros for low-paid workers, for pensioners, for those living on minimum social benefits; a minimum level of income for young people; jobs for everyone in Martinique, through a very serious decline in unemployment and through putting a stop to lay-offs.
The population, by its determination, imposed a tripartite meeting between the February 5 Collective and the representatives of the government, local authorities and employers, to discuss measures that would make it possible for the population to break out of the poverty that is a consequence of the high cost of living in Martinique. So for more than a month, several demonstrations mobilizing thousands of people have taken place to demand that this tripartite meeting stop dragging its feet, because of the delaying tactics of the employers and their various evasions and blockages, which they hope will provoke the lassitude of the population, the stagnation of the conflict and general discouragement. In spite of privations which are very hard to put up with and the propaganda of the employers and the French government, the lamentations about economic chaos, the intimidations and provocations, the population actively supports the movement. This strike movement is revealing the determination of the population to resist liberal policies and the capitalist system which wants to make the workers and the popular masses pay for the crisis.
The workers on the front line
The movement initiated by February 5, 2009 has for the last month demonstrated its power, affirmed a conquering spirit, released an exciting energy of thousands of young people, women, workers, unemployed. In fact, the working class of Martinique in all its components (regular workers, those engaged in precarious and temporary work, the unemployed, those living on the minimum income benefit, white collar workers, industrial workers), by responding to the call of the trade unions for the general strike of February 5, has drawn the rest of the population into this ongoing movement. This combat, placed from the start under the impulsion of the workers and their trade unions, interests the majority of the layers of the population, because the cost of living also affects small artisans, small planters, the middle classes, the increasingly impoverished liberal professions, etc. It has been demonstrated that it is the organized and united workers’ movement which can best pose all the problems of the people, which can propose and impose solutions. That means imposing decisions on the profiteers, those who control the import-export business, those who own the majority of the shopping malls, those who possess financial wealth, those who employ, lay off and underpay workers. Unquestionably, the power of this ongoing general strike movement, like the even more spectacular one in Guadeloupe, comes from having been able to draw other layers of the population into the mobilization, but also from the adoption of two unifying demands: a reduction of 20 per cent in the price of essential products and an across-the-board pay increase, for all those on low wages, of 354 euros (since brought down to 250 euros, of which 200 euros is to be paid immediately).
Young people take part in the explosion
The majority of the strikers and demonstrators did not experience the great mobilizations of 35 years ago. But it is not astonishing that the young people - whose unemployment rate borders on 50 per cent for those under 28, reaching 70 per cent in the popular quarters of Fort-de-France, such as Lamentin and Schoelcher - feel concerned by this movement which has something to say to them. Many of them come out of the school system without any diploma, or with diplomas which are good for nothing. Since the minimum income benefit is only applicable to those over 25, those under 25 suffer from lack of autonomy because they have no income, and in most case from the lack of housing accommodation. Such is the lot of these young compatriots whom the colonial system deprives of having any dreams and of course any project. Systematic stigmatization, social rejection, discrimination because of their appearance: that is what is offered to them by leaders who are quick to trot out their law-and-order discourse at the first occasion and who make a great display of the whole arsenal of police and judicial repression.
Thirty-five years have passed since 1974, which means that more half of the population had not yet been born then, or was less than 10 years old, and so had not shared the last experiences of the popular movement. However the young people spontaneously found the road of struggle alongside those who were more experienced. With such enthusiasm! With such impetuosity! With such impatience! But also with such generosity! Because we should not hold the mass of young people responsible for the regrettable and counter-productive incidents which have taken place and which serve very well the propaganda of those who want to criminalise strike action. These young people experienced as a terrible affront the Canal+ broadcast which gave an echo to the discourse of some of most antiquated, most arrogant and most racist békés [1]. Its pride in its identity was outraged and it intends to make it known. As a result initiatives of all kinds blossomed: for example the young specialists and whizz-kids of audio-visual and the Internet who launched the initiative, much appreciated by the public, of the “TV Otonom Mawon” along with some artists and journalists who are sympathizers of the movement. For four weeks there has been a free TV station, established on the Boulevard de la Levée, right in the heart of the demonstrations, and open to all those who wanted to express their thirst to live in another kind of world. It was a question for these young women and these young people of “ribat jé kat la” (redistributing the cards).
Women take the movement forward
The demonstrators are in their very great majority female. Women are the most involved, the most visible in the demonstrations and blockades. But it is not just a question of the weight of numbers, there is also the fact that their visibility comes from them speaking out and from the demands that they express. Who is concerned by precarious work? By imposed part-time work? By underpaid work? Who is concerned by the inequalities in the working environment, both when they are hired and when it is a question of promotion and remuneration? Who is concerned by earning a living from selling goods from a little stall at the roadside, on the pavement around the city centre or around the market? Who is concerned by the structure of the single-parent family, with having difficulty making ends meet faced with high rents, with high prices for essential products and for transport? Who is concerned by sexual harassment, moral harassment and violence at work? And in a social movement, who raises the question of a better life? Who is concerned by marital violence, by new kinds of relations between men and women? These problems have already existed for a long time but they came to maturity with the movement of February 5. This is the fruit of the work of the feminists of the Union of the Women of Martinique (UFM), who in this movement, by holding almost daily forums, by publishing leaflets, by regular demonstrations, including a particularly successful March 8 demonstration, have contributed to making women become aware of their strength and their ability to make things move. Women have always been the spearhead of social movements in Martinique: what is new is that now they know it and are consequently making their influence felt.
The intellectuals and the artists get involved
The movement has seen many intellectuals and academics taking a stand, both in Guadeloupe and in Martinique. Since the exchange of ideas does not recognise the separation that their sea-bound character imposes, discussions area taking place between intellectuals from the two islands. The discussion pages in the written press, on Internet sites and in the radical West-Indian weekly magazines, newsletters such as Madin’ Art, Creole Carib One, satellite television channels such as Canal 10, A1 Guadeloupe and KMT, served to greatly multiply discussions and to make ideas, positions and proposals widely known. In this effervescence, there was something of everything; good, less good and frankly bad. But the radical public is perfectly capable of separating the wheat from the chaff. However, in Martinique the “Manifesto for very necessary products” signed by Edouard Glissant and Patrick Chamoiseau, as well as the standpoint of the poet Monchoachi de Lakouzémi with his incisive text “jé a bout kon yé la”, should give matter for discussion to all those who want to seize the opportunity to question their ideas and to position themselves in a different way for the period to come.
The guest columns in the press of the Socialist Revolution Group (GRS), the Internet site of our organization, the quasi-daily leaflets that we have distributed have also served to inject our proposals into the debate. People are rediscovering the poems of Joby Bernabé demanding respect for his people. They are filled with enthusiasm when they hear the words of Nico Gernet and his group “Tambou Bo Kannal” who make thousands of demonstrators vibrate as they greet the song “tambou libération, tambou révolution, tambou neg mawon”. It is the same for other singers, other visual artists, other film-makers, etc.
The movement draws in many social layers
One is struck by the involvement of all the layers of society in this social explosion. In addition to the old people, the pensioners concerned by the derisory minimum pensions, in addition to professional bodies such as that of lawyers, we have seen, especially in the first weeks, artisans, small farmers, small shopkeepers, independent transporters, small employers. But very quickly, elements of incomprehension appeared and these categories were less and less visible, even though some of them are still present in the mobilizations. It is true that these various categories were much more worried by the problems of the cost of living than by the issue of pay rises.
Where the great earthquake has come from
Everything did not erupt suddenly, like a storm in a clear blue sky. For a long time we have been fighting in the Antilles against lay-offs in the building sector, in agriculture, commerce, industry, the hotel trade. But often they were compartmentalised struggles, fought sector by sector or even company by company, farm by farm, even hotel by hotel. It is a long time ago that the alarm was sounded on the issue of ecology. The question of the 50 geometrical steps and the dilapidation of the coastal patrimony, poisoning by chloredecone, the wasting of water, as demonstrated by the Grande Rivière affair, were fights largely conducted by ecologists, (and especially those from Assaupamar, whom we find on the front line today) with the sympathy of public opinion. For a long time there have been demonstrations against the lack of social housing. For a long time we have fought against repression and the many iniquities of a biased judicial system which strikes hard at those who are weakest and those who cannot make their voices heard. It was obvious that there was widespread discontent, but the defensive struggles, even when they were not defeats, did not give the signal for a generalized fight.
To take an eloquent example, let us go back to one of these sectors about which there was a lot of talk at the end of the year 2008: the hotel trade, whose workers (mostly women) saw that their situation was worsening.
The crisis that the hotel trade is going through does not fall from the sky… The choice that was made by the tourist industry, in its original conception, was not part of a global perspective of development. Never, at the beginning of the 1960s, was the policy on tourism thought out and conceived of as a locomotive pulling other sectors (agriculture, fishing, craft industries, cultural and patrimonial activities …). Today we are faced with a real disaster and the weeping and wailing of those who accuse the social movement of destroying the economy will not succeed in making us believe that it is the strikers who created the situation that we will describe, and which their trade unions, including the Democratic Workers’Confederation of Martinique (CDMT), have unceasingly combated.
At Sainte Anne, in the south of the island, the Caritan site is being sold in separate lots, bungalow by bungalow; the site is being degraded because the joint owners do not have the means of paying for good maintenance or for a capable trustee. There are few tourists in what remains of the hotel, where service is poor and which will soon close. Still in Sainte Anne, Anchorage has just gone into receivership and is already being sold bit by bit; there will be fewer tourists because there is no one to welcome them to a place that is next to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. We could be delighted about this and say that we will be able to better protect the environment. That will not be the case, because this splitting up among joint owners who are eager to make a return on their investment will encourage the building of concrete structures on the site and especially the addition of shacks so as to pack in more holiday makers. We can say good-bye to well cut lawns, massive flower beds, shaded hedges, country paths, landscaped car parks! Here come asphalt car parks, fences that block your view, tiled patios, houses fitted up with barbed wire and noisy alarms to keep out intruders and thieves! The whole set-up will look like Alcatraz!
At Trois Ilets, the former Méridien Hotel, which had hosted the meeting between Giscard and Ford in 1976, became, after many disappointing experiences, the Kalenda. On the pretext of repairing it the new owners cynically demolished the principal structure and made, in a Machiavelian fashion, the whole complex unusable. If nobody does anything to stop them, they, will transform the site into luxury residences, with direct access to the beach and with an idyllic view over the bay of Fort-de-France. It is a well thought out plan, since it involves the prolongation of the highly profitable operation carried out on the Pointe de Lazaret, a historic military patrimony. We can see today that allowing it to fall into disrepair was quite intentional, in order to facilitate selling it off to greedy and thoroughly unprincipled promoters.
At Saint Marie, the Primerêve Hotel, renamed in 2003 Domaine de Sainte Marie, which was supposed to redynamise the North-Atlantic, has begun the transformation of its rooms into tourist residences, with of course a “social plan”: a circumlocution which translates as lay-offs.
At Basse-Pointe, the Leyritz residence is closed and is falling into ruins. Its superb park has been left neglected and infested by weeds. It is an essential element of the architectural heritage of our Martinique. It was the other prestigious place where the Giscard-Ford meeting took place. It was the scene of an excellent jazz festival (“Jazz at the Plantation”) which only lasted for three or four seasons, with the participation of Dee Dee Bridgewater and other major artists from the United States and the Caribbean. There too, there are some people who would like to engage in property speculation.
To turn to Carbet and other places, is it worth going into details about the case of Marouba, which was saved from being dismantled by a long and vigorous trade-union struggle, not without sacrifices. What can we say about the way the Lido was chopped up, the Anse Collat transformed temporarily (?) into a health care centre, about the Victoria at the Didier crossroads, demolished and replaced by luxury apartments, about the Vieux Moulin which was replaced by a residential blockhouse? And the list is not complete. Without wanting to be a Cassandra, there are rumours that there will soon be redundancies in some important structures, such as for example Framissima Batelière.
There were trade-union protests and struggles in opposition to the operations of property speculation related to the various laws on tax exemption, against the laying off of hundreds of people, against the auctioning off of Martinique by property sharks, against the destruction of our ecological, architectural, historical and military heritage. The CDMT sent round a petition for the defence of employment in the hotel trade. The confederation demanded that those in charge of local and regional government (communes, regroupments of communes, the department and the region) take the problem in hand. The impression we had at the beginning of the year 2009 was that nothing about this situation was going to change. Hope came from the mobilizations that took place, first of all in Guyana at the end of November 2008, then in Guadeloupe, with the initiative taken in December to create the LKP. Would the working classes of the Antilles and Guyana move on to offensive struggles?
Today and tomorrow
Tens of thousands of the people of Martinique who have occupied the streets for over a month already will not simply leave a free hand to those opposite (the employers and the government) so that they can continue their “pwofitasyon”(exploitation) just as before.
The mobilization of Saturday March 7, 33 days after the beginning of the conflict, which was massive and determined, was an answer to the provocation of the day before, when employers sought to test the capacity of the population to resist their attacks. Tractors, trucks and trailers cannot overcome a population. They had some mercenaries who were paid well to drive the tractors while they paraded in their four by fours, but it was the other side (the members of the Collective and the population, all together) that had the numbers and they protected the city. This mobilization of Saturday March 7 was also an affirmation that thousands of Martinique workers were demanding that the movement lead to concrete results.
After a month of hard sacrifices, of privations and of mobilization, the objectives have not entirely been attained or guaranteed on wages, on jobs, on minimum social benefits, in spite of the serious progress that has been made. Those opposite will have to understand clearly that even if the movement decides to change form, it will not change its objectives, except in the direction of a deepening, even of a hardening.
This certainty is the first and the greatest victory of the movement. The mobilized people has become very conscious of its strength. It has massively developed its understanding of society, of what is at stake, of its conflicts, of the forces that are present and the work that has to be done to get the country of the rut it is in and the weakest out of dire poverty.
As we approach the conclusion of the first phase of the struggle, while the balance sheet is acceptable, it must be stated frankly that the struggle continues and even that in certain respects it is only beginning.
Beyond trade-union demands
The emergence of the LKP and the February 5 Collective gave fresh hope to all those who wanted their struggles to lead to significant retreats by the employers and the colonial government. It has been demonstrated that only popular struggles make things move, make the employers retreat, block the government’s attacks. By doing this, this movement is embracing more than trade-union demands. It is bearing witness to all the popular aspirations, all the aspirations of society.
The affirmation of our dignity and our pride in our identity in the face of the racist contempt of some of the more retarded representatives of the béké caste.
The aspiration for a Martinique in which ecological development would have an essential place.
The affirmation of the combat for equality between men and women, to build a Martinique without sexist oppression.
The attachment to Martinican cultural creation, through valorising for the people its music, its painting, its traditional arts, its Creole language.
All of that explains this massive presence of young people, women, artists, ecological activists, academics. All of that explains the very strong adhesion of the Martinican people to this movement. All of that explains the multiplicity of groups which, after having marched in the morning, congregate all afternoon and until late in the evening and the night around the Prefecture, at the Trade Union House, in the car park and in front of the hall of the Atrium to discuss, play and dance the bèlè, hold forums, give their points of view, approving or critical, on the discussions and negotiations in progress. This is a public that is new, young and female. Blasé and over-hasty observers of Martinican society could not suspect that it would erupt onto the social scene and would thus engage in “politics” in the real sense of the term, i.e. would take it upon itself to give its opinion, but especially to act on the course of events by taking its destiny in its own hands.
It is clear that a new generation has entered the arena and is serving its apprenticeship.
Maintain our course
This popular resistance, which has lasted for more than a month, is a considerable achievement. It will be necessary to maintain our course on the demands of the movement, while adapting them to the relationship of forces, to the way the negotiations develop, to the situation on the 34th day of the strike. It is clear that it is becoming possible to obtain a reduction of prices on a large number of the products that are necessary for the satisfaction of the needs of the mass of the population and to win a significant increase in the income (wages, pensions, minimum social benefits) of the popular masses and above all of the most underprivileged.
It is possible to win against the capitalists and the state, and that is what is making them furious. The people has started to move. It has said “enough”!
As we approach the conclusion of the first phase of the struggle, while the balance sheet is considered to be acceptable, strikers and demonstrators are convinced that the struggle continues and even that in certain respects it is only beginning. The new phase, which will be one of vigilance for the implementation of the agreements, of opposition to repression, will have to count just as much on the mobilization of the activists.
But it is already necessary to look further and to prepare to “redistribute the cards”.
Because for things to really change, it is not a question of replacing béké profiteers by Black profiteers! “It is necessary to knock sense into the heads of all these Niggers who believe that making the revolution consists of taking the place of the White, and of playing the White in place of the White”. Thus spoke Aimé Césaire, through the mouth of King Christophe [2].
Yes, the moment has come to work for a real social transformation which puts the interests of the mass of the population above capitalist logic.
Impose a new political set-up
The popular movement is a powerful challenge to all the official political programmes. The struggle must serve to make a clean sweep of the past and start again.
The people has spoken, but it is only a small beginning. Many plans have been made “for the people”, but not by the people, nor even with the people. We have seen how ill at ease have been those elected representatives who had not taken the measure of the extent of popular anger and who wanted after a few days to get everyone to go back home. This struggle must serve to radically change the relationship between the elected representatives and the people, to change the conception of what an elected representative should be, to change the conception of how democracy should operate.
A new mystification has been announced: Sarkozy’s extraordinary conference. However what is urgent is to organise an extraordinary conference of the people, of its authentic organizations, without the supervision of the dominant economic forces (békés and others), without paternalist sponsorship by anyone.
It is up to the workers’ and people’s organizations to implement such a perspective, which will be nothing other than the political expression of the social uprising of today. To give such a prolongation to the strike action of thousands and thousands of ordinary people is to be faithful to the spirit of what is happening at this moment.
The GRS in the movement
The GRS, whose members have been fighting daily for decades for the people to stand up as they are doing today, is very much at home in this social insurrection and is playing a full part in it. Those of our members who have responsible positions in the trade unions and in the women’s movement are very involved in the Collective.
As of January 21, the GRS held a public meeting with a hundred participants on the question of the change of status [3] and issued a call for solidarity with the general strike movement that had been launched the day before by the LKP in Guadeloupe.
On January 25, that is 5 days after the beginning of the strike in Guadeloupe, the GRS addressed a letter to all the left and anti-colonialist organizations of Martinique, proposing a united initiative in solidarity with the struggle of the people of Guadeloupe.
On February 2, eleven organizations answered the call and held a rally, with a public meeting on the Place Abbé Gregoire desTerres Sainville. They greeted the arrival of an activist of the LKP as well as messages from the comrades of the New Anti-capitalist Party of the island of Reunion and from Olivier Besancenot (who was still at that time spokesperson of the LCR).
From February 5 onwards, the GRS has produced practically every day a leaflet analysing the course of events, as well as two issues of its newspaper.
On February 13, there was a public meeting of the GRS on the social situation in Guadeloupe on the 25th day of the strike there and the 8th day of the strike in Martinique. At the same time, the Collective was holding its first public meeting, so we decided to cut our own meeting short and invite people to go to it.
On February 21, , Olivier Besancenot came to Martinique at the invitation of the GRS. He was interviewed by Télé Otonom Mawon, as was Alex Lollia from Guadeloupe. He took part in the meeting of the Collective in François.
On February 22, there was a big meeting of the GRS, with 1500 participants in the Aimé Césaire floral park in Fort-de-France, with the participation of the February 5 Collective and of Olivier Besancenot. Later Olivier Besancenot addressed a large crowd of strikers at the Trade Union House.
On February 26 the GRS launched an appeal “to lay the bases for a new party of anti-colonialist, anti-capitalist, feminist, ecologist, internationalist and democratic forces, who really want to act for a radical transformation of society”. The appeal declared: “This party must be born from the coming together, from the fusion of all those who, even though they do not have the same origins and ideological traditions, share solid common values (as outlined above) and are in agreement on the great tasks to be achieved in the new period that is opening up. Yes, we are candidates for building, with those who are willing to do it, this essential political instrument”.
In any case, after February 2009, nothing will ever be the same again in the Antilles!
Fort de France, March 9, 2009.
Shortly after this article was written, on March 11, the negotiations between the February 5 Collective and representatives of the Martinique employers were concluded by an agreement which represented a victory for the Collective and for the workers and people of Martinique on the key demands concerning reductions in the prices of essential products and increases for those on low incomes.
[1] “Béké”is the popular (and pejorative) name for the members of the White minority in Martinique, numbering about 3,000 (in a population of over 400,000). These descendants of slave-owners still control much of the economy of the island
[2] Aime Cesaire (1913-2008) was a Martinican poet, author and political figure. He played a key role in the affirmation of an Afro-Martinican identity and was an influence on Frantz Fanon, whose teacher he was
[3] From Martinique’s situation as an ‘’overseas department” of the French Republic

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Facebook: Guyana Socialist Party


Socialism is democratic and rational use of the resources of the nation to improve the quality of life for workers . China obviously has nothing to do with socialism. Unlike capitalism that can be democratic or not , socialism can only be built with workers' democracy . This is a need not only political but also economic , since the direction of the nation will be decided by all the producers . Cuba has unfortunately become a capitalist dictatorship. The transition to socialism was stopped on the island . Major European hotels profit greatly in Cuba . Prostitution reappeared . North Korea became a lunatic and delusional system. The theses on self-sufficiency , racial supremacy and ancient culture has nothing to do with socialism.
Socialism is using all the best that mankind has produced to date in science to advance the productive forces and meet the most basic needs of workers .

Join GSP! Fight racism, corruption and poverty!

A program is needed to end corruption. But corruption is inherent in the system. The system will try to corrupt whoever is there. It goes beyond moralism. The focus is not so much the individual or personal qualities. You need to modify relations with businessmen, elites and foreign influence. You need to hear more. This is an important moment, we will hear more. Listen more to the people. And do not abandon it. Everything we see and learn is involved with racism. Racism serves to divide the workers. The more we divide, the less we will be able to question anything. The divided people don't have power. Those who are terrified of the people power claim for their division, incite their division. The Workers need to unite against the holders of power, big business, establishment and system. 
We Need a global perspective. You can not incite the worst in us. When an ethnic group is marginalized we take a progressive struggle for its recognition and its place in society. But to use against each other is not a good option. We need a multicultural alternative.

Contact us:

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Contact us

Guyana introduces $5000 note.

As a result of high inflation, new notes will be introduced. This is so because of rampant inflation. We need to demand the general increase in salaries for these to recover their value.

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) – Guyana has introduced a GUY$5,000 (One Guyana dollar = US$0.01 cents) note that will go into circulation on December 9.
Bank of Guyana (BOG) Deputy Governor, Dr Gobin Ganga said that an awareness campaign would be launched before the note goes into circulation
The BOG said the new note would significantly reduce the number of notes that it would be required to process in the fast approaching holiday season.

Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh, who unveiled the new note, said that it represents an important addition to the range of local currency in use and that businesses would be handling a single note for every five $1000 note.
“This really just represents a higher denomination; that is to say that our dollar has the same value today as it had yesterday except that now we will be holding one $5000 bill instead of five $1000 bills,” he said.
“Over the years there has been significant growth in the economy, in the financial system, and in the level of economic activities transacted at the macro, national and individual levels…the issuance of this higher note is consistent with the growth and expansion we have seen in the financial system,” the Finance Minister added.
Singh also issued a call for reduced use of cash in the local economy; especially since there are various forms of technology readily available to enable, particularly large businesses, to not have to handle large volumes of cash.
“Today’s world is one in which it is not necessary for an individual to have large volumes of cash. We have a mature banking system that has considerable reach…today technology is used to deliver banking services…such as ATM networks, plastic cards, cheques and cheque books,” he said.

Read more: