This article, and the following one, Remember Carlo Giuliani -- murdered by police
for protesting G-8 meeting, are from Detroit Workers' Voice #27, Sept. 3, 2001,
which was distributed at the Labor Day parade in Detroit
(reprinted in Communist Voice #27, vol. 7, #2, Sept. 6, 2001)
. The following two articles, on neo-liberalism and commemorating Carlo Giuliani, are from
Detroit Workers Voice #27 of Sept. 3, published by the Detroit Marxist-Leninist Study Group
and distributed at the Labor Day march in Detroit.
. This Labor Day comes at a time when deregulation and privatization are causing immense harm all over the world. Demonstrators are denouncing the world capitalist agencies like the World Bank, the IMF and the G-8, while the last month has seen millions of workers in Argentina, in South Africa, and elsewhere take action against neo-liberal reforms by their governments. In the U. S. , the economic downturn finds little of a social safety net left, and is accompanied by soaring energy prices due to deregulation.
. The AFL-CIO has called for a "Global Justice Week of Action" on Sept. 26 to Oct. 1 in Washington D. C. This is to coincide with protests against the annual joint meeting of the World Bank and IMF (International Monetary Fund). [After Sept. 11, the AFL-CIO called off its campaign. The World Bank and IMF also canceled their meetings. But despite the absence of the AFL-CIO, there was an anti-war demonstration in Washington on Sept. 29. -- CV] Many other demonstrators are expected to be there. Workers should take part in this struggle, and demonstrate against these world capitalist agencies. A large working class presence is just what these demonstrations need.
. But to have any effect, we have oppose the weak-kneed stand of the top union leaders on what to do at these demonstrations. In the past, when the AFL-CIO has brought union contingents to these demonstrations, such as the famous Seattle anti-WTO demo of Nov. 1999, they have kept them apart from the mass of demonstrators for fear the rank and file would join in the more militant mass actions. In Detroit, the AFL-CIO stayed away from the local demonstrations against the Free Trade Area of the Americas and other anti-globalization actions.
. Meanwhile the Teamster leaders, under Hoffa, are bringing renewed disgrace on themselves. They have invited representatives of big business like President Bush and Governor Engler to their Labor Day events in Detroit this year. Labor Day should be a day to protest against reactionary oilmen like Bush and conservative hacks like Engler, not to kiss their ass.
. The leaders of the UAW and AFL-CIO haven't done much better. The Clinton/Gore
administration was "neo-liberalism lite", and yet the AFL-CIO leaders tied themselves to Gore.
The crisis of the unions will continue so long as they are led by hacks who follow one capitalist
politician or another.
To fight the neo-liberal agenda, target capitalism. The top union leaders downplay the need for the strikes and militant actions needed to fight neo-liberalism. They exaggerate the results of putting clauses on workers right into free trade treaties, and propagate the myth that the neo-liberal agencies themselves can be made to enforce worker rights. They are hoping that the Democrats will ensure this, if only Bush's "fast track" authority to negotiate trade agreements is defeated in Congress.
. It is this belief in the capitalist authorities that ensured the defeat of the Detroit newspaper strike, where the AFL-CIO told the strikers to give up mass pickets and rely on the courts and the NLRB. No matter what fine words the capitalists may mouth, they will never give us rights. As Marx said, "the emancipation of the working class must be conquered by the working classes themselves. "
. The fight against neo-liberalism must be based on the class struggle. Neo-liberalism, deregulation, privatization, and the slashing of social programs aren't a mistake; they are a conscious struggle against the working class. In the last ten years, as life has become more insecure for the majority of people, the profits of the top 1% of the population have increased. New statistics show that the pay of CEO's went up over six times in this period. If the federal minimum wage had gone up at the same rate, it would be over $25 an hour today. Neo-liberalism is squeezing the masses for super-profits for the top few percent of the population. The politicians who represent the corporations, and who solicit campaign funds from the CEOs fattening on neo-liberalism, will never become champions of workers rights.
. So the working class must build up its own political movement against the capitalist parties,
rather than begging the bourgeois parties and institutions for a place at the table. It must also
oppose the pro-capitalist officials at the top of the unions who pay themselves high salaries while
the size and power of their unions have declined. The rank-and-file must push aside these hacks
who are on their knees begging the bourgeois politicians for favors. We must unite instead with
the exploited and oppressed masses around the world.
Solidarity with workers around the world,
not with the parties of the local capitalist bosses. As we march on Labor Day, let us express our solidarity with the millions of workers around the world who are fighting against impoverishment and the denial of the democratic rights. Just a few of the ongoing struggles are as follows:
. *South African workers are fighting privatization. A few days ago, on August 30 and 31, millions of South African workers of the COSATU trade union federation carried out a two-day strike against the planned privatization of electricity and telecommunications and other neo-liberal reforms by the ANC government of South Africa. The fall of apartheid was a crucial step in the struggle of the South African workers for freedom, but there are more steps to come. The masses are demanding houses, schools, jobs, and all-round economic improvement. But the ANC government has been following the advice of the world neo-liberal agencies, with the usual result of enriching the capitalists and squeezing the workers. Even COSATU, formerly a staunch ally of the ANC, is now upset.
. *Argentinian workers have been taking militant actions for months against unemployment, cutbacks in wages and social programs, the gutting of public education, and the collapse of Argentinian industry. Just a few years ago Argentina was hailed as a neo-liberal success story, but it is now clear that neo-liberal reforms have brought Argentina to the verge of economic collapse. The World Bank, IMF, and Bush administration are demanding yet more cutbacks on the masses as a precondition for bail-out loans, but these loans are only designed to bail out the international investors, not the Argentinian people.
. *The Palestinian people are fighting for their survival. The politicians tell us that neo-liberalism brings democracy, but in Palestine, an entire people is still denied their rights. The Palestinians are denied the right to self-determination, and even residence in their own territory, and are subject to political assassination by the Israeli government. Israeli chief Ariel Sharon, who in 1982 was responsible for war crimes like the massacre at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon, is today having his troops commit crimes throughout the occupied territories. The zionist government is preparing for a massive military offensive and is pondering the mass deportation of Palestinians to Jordan. The Palestinians are persisting in their struggle under the most difficult conditions, while Bush continues the U. S. military alliance with Israel. The only just solution would be the replacement of both the Israeli state and the present Palestinian bantustan with a democratic, secular Palestine where all the people, Jews and Arabs, would have full rights.
. *The Colombian activists are fighting against paramilitary death squads and a repressive
regime. The Bush government, following the lead of its predecessor Clinton, is moving closer to
military intervention in Colombia. We must support the Colombian workers and peasants against
both their own capitalists and the U. S. imperialist bayonet.
The economic crisis and the future of neo-liberalism. The current economic slowdown shows that neo-liberalism is no cure for the periodic crises of capitalism. In the free-trade decade of the 90s, one country after another, and one region after another has suffered financial crises and melt-downs. The more the old regulatory systems are torn down, the more privatization takes place, the more free trade, the more global and devastating these crises will be.
. Yet it is not sufficient to restore some regulation and some social programs. We were exploited
under the former mixed capitalist economies as well as the new neo-liberal ones. The capitalists
dominate regulatory agencies as well as multinational corporations. The fake "socialist" regimes
of Cuba and China today are simply another state-capitalist system, as are the Soviet and Eastern
European regimes which collapsed. What is needed is a Marxist struggle against the world
capitalist class in all its guises, both the market capitalists in the U. S. and the remaining
state-capitalists. This will not only secure whatever benefits are possible now, but prepare the
conditions for a truly socialist world, where the working masses will themselves control the
economy and direct it in the interests of all, not a privileged handful. <>
. On July 20 Italian police murdered Carlo Giuliani, a 23-year-old activist in the anti-globalization movement. Carlo was one of over 200,000 people protesting against the "G-8" meeting of the leaders of the world's eight most powerful industrialized countries. He was shot in the head and run over twice by a police vehicle. Hundreds of other demonstrators were injured by police. And late on the night of July 21-2 the police staged a brutal raid on a school which served as the headquarters for the demonstrators, leaving blood stains and broken teeth scattered behind.
. This bloodshed was one of the first acts of the right-wing Italian government of Silvio
Berlusconi, which came to power in June. It was clearly intended to intimidate protest. Instead,
he now faces a government crisis. In the days after the G-8 meeting, people in Genoa, Naples,
and other Italian cities demonstrated against the savage repression. In Rome, over 40,000 people
shouted "killers, killers" at police in riot gear.
Why all this at the G-8 meeting?. The G-8 groups the seven largest Western powers (the former G-7) with Russia. Their meetings plan how to exploit their own workers, and to hold the weaker countries in line. In brief, they have planned how to dominate the world on behalf of the large corporations. The continual existence of the G-8 is a sign that, despite all the talk about democratic world institutions, imperialism still exists, and a handful of big powers pull the strings and bully the rest of the world.
. The G-8 meeting was another in a series of meetings of different capitalist regional and world institutions. Their aim is to push forward the neo-liberal world agenda despite the discontent of the hundreds of millions of people whose livelihood is being destroyed. Today there is protest at all such meetings. Protesters have also denounced meetings of the World Trade Organization, the IMF, the World Bank, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the Organization of American States. All these meetings have some business of their own, but they share a common goal of enforcing the neo-liberal agenda. It doesn't matter whether they are talking about world tariffs, regional groupings, or even world hunger, the same neo-liberal agenda is dogmatically pushed by capitalist politicians and big businessmen as the answer. And so increasingly, all these meetings are being met with protest.
. The reaction of the world bourgeoisie isn't to stop and reconsider, but to try to stomp out protest. It's true that Berlusconi's government is filled with officials nostalgic for the late World War II-era fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, and is allied with the party of Mussolini's granddaughter, Alessandra. But its bloody actions against demonstrators simply continue the policy of attacking demonstrators seen at the Seattle WTO protests in November 1999, stepped up by the Liberal Party government of Jean Chretien at the Quebec City demonstrations against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas, and seen also in Barcelona (Spain), Goteborg (Sweden), Prague (the Czech Republic), and elsewhere. Indeed, according to the Reuters news agency, the particular police unit which carried out the bloody raid of July 21-22 had been trained for four months by two Los Angeles police sheriffs. This not only shows that American methods were used, but also means that the preparations to attack the demonstrators began under the supposed "left-wing" Italian government which preceded Berlusconi.
. With this continual attack on demonstrators against global neo-liberalism, it was only a matter
of time before someone would be killed. In fact, in Asia, Africa and Latin America, there have
been many deaths when people protested against price increases, water privatizations, wage cuts
and other measures demanded by the IMF and the World Bank.
A victory over repression. But the protest movement continues to grow despite the repression. Demonstrations are planned for September in Naples against a meeting of NATO defense ministers. It is not the activists, but the Berlusconi government which has been intimidated. Scared of the possibility of more demonstrations, it would like to move a UN Food and Agriculture Organization conference on world hunger, scheduled for November, away from Rome. The Canadian government has decided to situate the next G-8 conference in an isolated park in the Rocky mountains, 40 miles west of Calgary. And the next WTO meeting has been scheduled for the little emirate of Qatar. The neo-liberal hacks are running away from the people.
. We must, however, learn from this repression. It shows that, whether liberal or conservative, the bourgeois politicians are willing to dip their hands into the blood of workers and demonstrators to protect the profits of the big corporations. We must honor the memory of Carlo Giuliani, and of all the unknown martyrs of the struggle against neo-liberalism, by building an independent workers movement. We must use the protest movement to encourage the development of a movement against capitalism itself, and we must support the building up of working class unions and political parties that can shake the very foundations of capitalism.
. (The leaflet concluded with an ad for people to read Communist Voice. ) <>
Last changed on October 16, 2001.