Archives for the month of: September, 2012

The Central Committee, in its meeting yesterday and today, continued the preparation work of the XIX Congress of the PCP, and analysed the evolution of the political, economic and social situation of the country and defined the main tasks of the Party aimed at boosting its political initiative and strengthening its organisation.

Regarding the XIX Congress of the PCP, the Central Committee adopted the Draft of the Amendments to the Party’s Programme and the Draft of the Theses/Political Resolution, documents that will be published with the September 27 edition of the “Avante!”, central organ of the PCP, opening the 3rd preparatory phase of the Congress.

A Congress that – from the assessment it will make of the international situation, the evaluation of capitalism’s devastating consequences on humanity, the crusade of exploitation and social and civilizational regression that traverses the world and also the European Union with the process of capitalist integration – affirms socialism as the indispensable alternative to ensure to the workers and the peoples a society free from exploitation.

A Congress where, from its realisation and what it will mean in terms of PCP’s affirmation, the workers and the people will find an answer not only to their concerns, but specially a confident affirmation that there is a different course and a different policy. A Congress that points a way that can fulfil the hope of millions of Portuguese for a better life – and which holds in the project, of the Party’s Programme, now being updated, of an “Advanced Democracy – the values of April in the future of Portugal”, as an integral and constitutive part of the struggle for socialism, a real possibility of materialisation.

A path that is urgent to materialise, when we see the country facing an unbearable deterioration of the economic and social situation, with an increasingly worrying and prolonged economic recession, unemployment, galloping impoverishment of the population and a brutal worsening of the exploitation of labour that are rapidly driving Portugal into disaster.

As the draft of the Theses stresses “The national crisis is, undoubtedly, an intrinsic expression to the development of the relations of capitalist production dominantly imposed on the country, inseparable from the action of successive PS, PSD and CDS governments”. A crisis that the main promoters of the right-wing policy invoke, with the materialisation of the Pact of Aggression, to lead to an unprecedented heightening of their offensive against the rights of the workers and the people, of compromising the future of the country and its submission to the interests of big business, national and foreign.

Aware of the devastating effects of its policy that not only did not solve any of the country’s major problems, but made them worse, including those they claimed they would solve – the debt and public deficit -, the PSD/CDS-PP government, showing a clear contempt of the already painful living conditions of the Portuguese, has been announcing new measures, which represent a brutal escalation of attack on the incomes of labour and their rights.

Measures that mean new and more substantial cuts in the wages and pensions of the workers of the public and private sector and a higher tax burden on labour; new dismissals and further attack on the rights of the public administration workers; new cuts in unemployment benefits, in social integration income and pensions above 1500 euros and more drastic cuts in the areas of health and education.

Measures to be included in the next Government Budget, which if materialised will drastically reduce the income available to the families, further narrow domestic market, launching thousands of companies into bankruptcy, and increase unemployment and misery,

Measures announced under the cover of a mystifying operation of equitable distribution of sacrifices between labour and capital, but end up by being yet another repulsive cynical farce, where few and merely symbolic measures of tax increase on income from capital, contrast with a brutal extortion of the popular classes and strata.

The PCP alerts to the manoeuvres the government has underway, and to which the Council of the State has given its blessing, which by falling back on the Social Security Tax, aim to maintain the goal of an assault on the wages and incomes of the workers and pensioners and continue the path of the country’s decline and regression.

The active and meaningful collaboration of the PS in the manoeuvre undertaken by the government during these past days of replacing the theft of the SST, by another theft of equal meaning to the workers and the people clearly shows the level of commitment and complicity among the underwriters of the Pact of Aggression and objectively reflects an incentive to continue with the implementation of this Pact and the continuation of the policy of national disaster.

In a context where the growing contradictions within the government become visible , inseparable from the deep erosion of its social base of support – particularly with CDS undertaking cynical manoeuvres of distancing and the PS, trying to conceal its heavy responsibilities in the situation we are in, the PCP reaffirms that it is not enough to reject this or that measure of the Pact of Aggression, it is not enough to change this or that minister, repeating manoeuvres of previous governments to save the right-wing policy.

What the situation of the country demands is the urgent rejection of the Pact of Aggression, the rupture with the right-wing policy, a profound change in national life which, with a new government, will assume a patriotic and left-wing policy to answer the aspirations of the workers and the Portuguese people.

As reality shows while the implementation of the Pact of Aggression proceeds, it is clearer that in order to satisfy the interests of big business the government is setting the country under fire and sword.

The scale and violence of the offensive that is underway has aroused a fighting and powerful answer from the workers and popular masses. An answer of struggle that, in these past two months, has been very strong in hundreds of companies against the use by the employers of the changes in labour legislation and a significant expression in the mobilisations around the country on September 15.
It should be stressed that this new phase of the offensive should be met with a new and stronger dynamics of resistance and struggle, where it is indispensable that the outrage and revolt that are becoming widespread should be transformed into an organised and consequent struggle.
Hence, the PCP calls for the development of the struggle in its various forms and in particular the action decided by CGTP-IN «Everybody to Lisbon, everybody to Terreiro do Paço [Square] » on September 29, building a powerful show of strength and confidence of the workers and Portuguese people, and similarly on the «National Day of Struggle», set for October 1st, and the October 5-13 «March against Unemployment».

Actions that are part of a wide process that will continue and will go as far as needed to impose a defeat of this policy and open a new path for Portugal.

The PCP draws attention to the continuation and intensification of the policy of submission of the national interests to the process of the capitalist integration of the European Union.

The insistence on the so-called policies of austerity, the strengthening of supranational mechanisms of decision, the defence of a single currency tailored to the interests of big business, specially German, the imposition of unacceptable ceilings on deficit and debt, is deepening the general framework of stagnation and economic recession, alongside a massive increase in unemployment.

On this issue, the Party’s Programme, now updated and under discussion, taking into account the increasing constraints and limitations on national independence and the limits it sets on its sovereign development, reaffirms and strengthens the idea that the “Portuguese people has and should always have the full right to decide on their own fate and choose the paths it believes is more in line with its historical identity and its interests and aspirations”.

In the situation we have reached, the solution is not found in repeating the worn-out talk on the so-called “political stability”, nor with appeals for “consensus” and the continuation of the programme of foreign interference, as the Council of State did this weekend, but by affirming the demand for a rupture with the policies which, in the name of stability, promote the most violent social and economic instability since the times of fascism.
A rupture that does not mean a reformulation of the Pact of Aggression, but involves the unequivocal and global rejection of the programme of economic and social destruction underway.

A rupture that assumes an alternative policy and puts an end to decades of right-wing policies by successive governments.

The country needs a patriotic and left-wing policy that undertakes an urgent renegotiation of the public debt; decisively bets on national production, improves the living conditions of the Portuguese, raising wages, pensions and retirement pay; ensures a real fiscal justice; recovers the control of the strategic sectors of the economy, namely by nationalizing the banks, and placing them at the service of development and progress; fights exploitation, restores and defends the rights of the workers and guarantees quality public services accessible to the entire population.

In one of the most complex moments of our country’s recent history, when so many doubts and worries on the collective future of the country have arisen among the workers and the people, the PCP affirms with full confidence that there is an alternative to this course of disaster. An alternative is not only possible but feasible, not only necessary but also indispensable and urgent. An alternative that is in the hands of each and all who do not resign to those who want to deny them the future to which they are entitled, build with their struggle and also their support to the PCP.

It is time to put an end to this path of disaster. There is enough strength in the workers and the people to defeat this government and this policy. A defeat which has also to be the defeat of the Pact of Aggression, the defeat of the parties of the Troika who support and encourage the foreign Troika within the country, the defeat of the cosmetic manoeuvres that aim to seek an alternance between the parties that have brought the country up to here, false solutions to perpetuate exploitation and injustice.

At this moment when we are planning our XIX Congress we affirm: You can rely on the PCP, an indispensable Party for the solution of the national problems, ready and able to assume all the possibilities the people want to give it.

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In 1894, long before the infamous Afrikaans word foretold “separate development” for the majority people of South Africa, an Englishman, Cecil John Rhodes, oversaw the Glen Grey Act in what was then the Cape Colony. This was designed to force blacks from agriculture into an army of cheap labour, principally for the mining of newly discovered gold and other precious minerals. As a result of this social Darwinism, Rhodes’s De Beers companyquickly developed into a world monopoly, making him fabulously rich. In keeping with liberalism in Britain and the United States, he was celebrated as a philanthropist supporting high-minded causes.

Today, the Rhodes scholarship at Oxford University is prized among liberal elites. Successful Rhodes scholars must demonstrate “moral force of character” and “sympathy for and protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship”. The former president Bill Clinton is one; General Wesley Clark, who led the Nato attack on Yugoslavia, is another. The wall known as apartheid was built for the benefit of the few, not least the most ambitious of the bourgeoisie.

Transmission line

This was something of a taboo during the years of racial apartheid. South Africans of British descent could indulge their contempt for the Boers, while providing the façades behind which an inhumane system guaranteed privileges based on race and, more importantly, on class.

The new black elite in South Africa, whose numbers and influence had been growing steadily during the latter racial apartheid years, understood the part they would play following “liberation”. The “historic mission” of such elites, wrote Frantz Fanon in The Wretch ed of the Earth, “has nothing to do with transforming the nation; it consists, prosaically, of being the transmission line between the nation and a capitalism rampant though camouflaged”.

This applied to leading figures in the African National Congress (ANC), such as Cyril Rama – phosa, head of the National Union of Mine – workers, now a corporate multimillionaire, who negotiated a power-sharing “deal” with the regime of F W de Klerk and Nelson Mandela himself, whose devotion to a “historic compromise” ensured that freedom for the majority from poverty and inequity was a freedom too far. This became clear as early as 1985, when a group of South African industrialists led by Gavin Relly, chairman of the Anglo American mining company, met prominent ANC officials in Zambia and both sides agreed, in effect, that racial apartheid would be replaced by economic apartheid, known as the “free market”.

Secret meetings subsequently took place in a stately home in England, Mells Park House, at which a future president of liberated South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, supped malt whisky with the heads of corporations that had shored up racial apartheid. The British giant Consolidated Gold Fields supplied the venue and the whisky. The aim was to divide the “moderates” – the likes of Mbeki and Mandela – from an increasingly revolutionary multitude in the townships who evoked memories of uprisings following the Sharpeville Massacre in 1960 and at Soweto in 1976, without ANC help.

Once Mandela was released from prison in 1990, the ANC’s “unbreakable promise” to take over monopoly capital was seldom heard again. On his triumphant tour of the US that summer, Mandela said in New York: “The ANC will reintroduce the market to South Africa.” When I interviewed Mandela in 1997 – he was then president – and reminded him of the unbreakable promise, I was told in no uncertain terms: “The policy of the ANC is privatisation.”

Enveloped in the hot air of corporate-speak, the Mandela and Mbeki governments took their cues from the World Bank and the IMF. While the gap between the majority living beneath tin roofs without running water and the newly wealthy black elite in their gated estates became a chasm, the finance minister Trevor Manuel was lauded in Washington for his “macroeconomic achievements”. South Africa, noted George Soros in 2001, had been delivered into “the hands of international capital”.

The drought situation in India has gravely imperiled the lives and livelihood of crores of families in over fifty per cent districts across the country. The urgency of drought relief measures on an emergency basis arises from the reality that large numbers of Indian are already living on the edge, victims of malnutrition and hunger.

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) estimate ranks India at a low 66 out of the 88 developing countries, with a worse score than many Sub-Saharan African countries, with a GDP lower than that of India. The situation of malnutrition and food insecurity is further exacerbated by the utter failure of the Central Government to control the relentless price rise of essential commodities. The prices of rice, wheat, edible oil, salt have increased by 12 to 20 per cent and in the cases of some vegetables by over 100 per cent. The prices of commonly used dals (pulses) like Arhar have doubled and are sold at between 80 to 100 rupees a kilo . Sugar is today the most bitter commodity in the market at thirty rupees a kilo. High prices have led to increasing food insecurity because families are forced to cut down on their food intake. In particular, poor women and girl children are the worst affected.
Even as the Central Government is wrongly trying to blame the State Governments for this situation, it needs to answer:
Who has increased the prices of Petrol by Rs.4 per litre and Diesel by Rs. 2 per litre, leading to further price hikes? Who has cut down on the allocations of foodgrains in the rationing system uoto 73 per cent, weakening the public distribution system and thus creating more dependence on the market? Who permitted futures trade in many of the essential commodities allowing speculation and pushing up prices? Who permitted the export of sugar under pressure of the sugar lobbies leading to a shortage today?
All these major policy decisions that have a direct impact on increasing prices have been taken by the Central Government not State Governments. What is required is a change in these policies. The Centre must also reverse the policies that encourage hoarding and black-marketeering and the States must exercise a check on these.
In such a situation of price rise there is an urgent need for a food security law and the Government proposal to have such a law is welcome. However will the promised Food Security law of the present UPA Government fulfill its declared aim?
Government Proposal
Food security is defined by the Food and Agricultural Organisation as ‘Food security for a household means access by all members at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life.”
According to this definition a large majority of people in our country are food insecure. How does the Government proposal address this reality?
The proposed law will ensure 25 kg of foodgrains (rice and wheat) to all BPL families at Rs. 3 per kilo. The Central Government has sent a concept note to State Governments in line with this. The Congress President Sonia Gandhi has also sent a proposal on this issue to the Prime Minister along similar lines.
According to this proposal the legislation will be only for BPL card holders. The numbers will be decided by the Central Government every five years. States will have no rights to decide BPL numbers. The numbers of BPL at present is 6.52 crore families. The Central Government note proposes cutting this down further to 5.91 crore families as per the latest National Sample Survey round. On the other hand, surveys by a few State Governments add up to over 10 crores. If all the States were to do such surveys the numbers of those requiring food security would be much higher. The proposed law would thus mean a far higher level of exclusion of people.
Antodaya benefits will be eliminated and Antodaya card holders who at present are getting foodgrains at Rs. 2 per kg will have to pay one rupee more.
For both BPL and Antodaya card holders the quota will be cut by 10 kg per family from the present 35kg to 25 kg.
No foodgrain will be allocated for APL sections. Not only will the APL subsidy be eliminated but even the APL category will be cancelled.
The proposal instead of strengthening food security actually decreases what people are getting today and will thus lead to food insecurity. According to one estimate the net result of these proposals will be that the Central Government will end up saving more than Rs 4000 crores as food subsidy.
Not surprisingly, many State Governments have objected to the proposals.
There are other problems too with the proposals. While quotas are being cut, the number of ration cards will also be cut. Ration cards are given in many States either to nuclear families or even to individuals. Now it is proposed by the Congress President’s note that ration cards should be given to “joint family comprising all adults and children who eat from a common hearth and reside under a common roof.” Thus a larger number of people will have to share the reduced quota of 25 kg , if this is accepted as the norm.
The primary responsibility of providing food security is on the State Governments/Union Territory without a mandatory prior commitment by the Central Government to provide the necessary finances and foodgrains.
At least 10 state governments have successfully implemented more universal schemes. Those schemes will also be negatively affected by the Central Government proposals.
All these factors point towards the need for an inclusive universal PDS that includes several items at affordable prices linked to the capacity to pay of the majority of our people.
What is that capacity? The NSS data quoted by the Arjun Sengupta report says that 77 per cent of our population spends less than 20 rupees a day. At current prices that would mean one kilo of rice! Clearly with these low levels of expenditure the vast majority of our people require subsidized foodgrains and other essential commodities.
Dividing and Excluding the Poor: Targeting Continues!
It has been conclusively shown through evidence backed by NSS data that the targeting system started in 1996 has excluded large numbers of the poor. For example over half of agricultural labourers are excluded from the BPL category. Over half of dalit and tribal communities are also excluded.
The current average national poverty line according to the Planning Commission is only around 11.80 rupees per person per day for rural areas and 17.80 rupees per person per day for urban areas. These are clearly not poverty but destitution levels. And yet, anyone earning above these levels is considered ineligible for the subsidy. Under pressure from the Left and almost all political parties, a Committee was set up to relook at poverty estimates. Headed by Dr. S. Tendulkar the Committee is said to have recommended a methodology which would increase rural poverty from the current levels to around 42 per cent and the urban poverty estimates would go up to 26 per cent. It is not known whether the Government would accept these estimates
Even though this would mean a substantial increase and benefit a larger number of people, as far as food security is concerned it would still exclude a substantial number of families from a basic right. Considering that the vast mass of our people in both rural and urban India earn their living through the informal sector where there is no guaranteed income, the urgent requirement is for a universal system which would cover these sections. The central Government’sNational Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganized Sector has itself admitted that the vast number of unorganized sector workers require social security. How then can they be excluded from an even more basic right, that is food security?
It is therefore clear that the faulty Central Poverty estimates should be delinked from the guarantee to a right to food, which should be based on universal entitlements.
Antodaya Entitlements
The previous UPA government did little to expand the Antodaya scheme. In five years it increased the Antodaya beneficiaries on an average of just 10 lakhs a year (from 2 crores when it assumed power to 2.5 crores when its term was over). The CPI(M) had demanded an expansion of the Antodaya particularly to the “priority groups” identified by the Supreme Court like the aged, infirm, disabled, destitute; pregnant and lactating women, widows and other single women with no regular support; primitive tribal groups. In many tribal areas hunger and malnutrition has caused hunger deaths. The government also rejected a specific demand for expansion of the special Antodaya subsidies to tribals in remote areas. The present UPA government actually proposes to completely do away with the Antyodaya and subsume it under the BPL category asking them to pay higher prices.
Include All Food and Nutrition Schemes in the law
Nutrition programmes like the ICDS and the mid day meal scheme are hostage to budgetary considerations instead of being recognized as a statutory right. It is necessary to include all food and nutrition schemes of the Central Government in the proposed food security legislation so that the most vulnerable sections of our society, children of the poor, are guaranteed food security.
Production and Procurement
Food security requires food self-sufficiency. The agrarian crisis brought about by the neo-liberal policies of the Government has resulted in negligible agricultural growth and a fall in per capita availability and absorption of foodgrains in India after the mid-1990s.
Considering five-year averages India saw a rise in the foodgrain availability per head from 416 grams during 1950-55 to 485 grams by 1989-91. However since then there has been the slide to a low of 439.3 gram per head per day by 2007, a level not seen since the drought years of 1970s. There is a fall in per capita foodgrain production. If 5 year averages are taken between 1990 and 2008, it fell from about 200 grams in the 1990s to 187 grams during the NDA regime. During the UPA regime, it barely increased to 189 grams, well below the 1990s.
Therefore, the Government must take immediate short and medium term measures to increase production and procurement, instead of falling back on the inevitability of imports at levels that are bound to push up international prices and become a self-defeating exercise. Shockingly the Government imported wheat at prices higher than it was prepared to pay Indian farmers. Thus food self-sufficiency also requires a policy to ensure fair prices to farmers. The implementation of land reforms as in West Bengal is essential to engender food security. Other measures include increased public investment, extension services and appropriate land use policies.
MSP for Coarse Grains and procurement for PDS
The Government has not made any efforts to procure foodgrains at remunerative MSP for crops besides rice and wheat. The shortage pf pulses and oilseeds points to continued neglect by the Government. Moreover the Government has completely neglected the production of millets, or coarse grains like ragi, bajra, jowar which can be grown in dry areas. Production of millets has gone down by 2.4 per cent between 1996 and 2006. Shockingly although these grains form a staple food in diets of a large number of communities across the country, the Government has not included these in the public distribution system. This should be done as part of food security
In addition a number of essential commodities like dal, sugar and edible oils must be included in the PDS at subsidized prices
Reforming the PDS
The Fair Price Shops network and procurement system is in shambles in many parts of the country. Urgent steps are needed to make the procurement system more vibrant, cost-effective for States, remunerative for farmers and accountable to consumers.
The Decentralised Procurement Scheme is poorly conceived too so that most states are unable to increase local procurement. The States receive credit for procurement at an exorbitant interest rate of 12.35%, which must be halved. The Government of India has extremely unrealistic and irrational norms for storage, transportation and shrinkage losses, making State Governments bear an extra burden on account of the PDS which is a central scheme and penalising States which are part of the decentralised procurement system. These norms should be revised.
Accountability and expansion of the FPS network are essential, and the country has a lot to learn from Kerala in this regard. In Kerala, apart from the ration dealers SHGs, Panchayats and other co-operative societies or public bodies are also involved in public distribution. They get a working capital grant as well as better commission amounts. The delivery of the grain etc. is done to the doorstep of the FPS without any intermediaries. They are allowed to sell other commodities in order to increase their viability.  FPS should be allowed to sell other commodities as in Kerala in order to increase their viability. At the same time these shops provide a great service to consumers by selling commodities at much lower prices (see chart of prices in Kerala on inside back page)
Not ‘Feasible’ for Aam Aadmi ?
A strong food security system requires financial backing and adequate allocations. At present the food subsidy budgeted for 2009-10 of the Government is 52, 489 crore rupees, which is about 1.18 per cent of GDP. A June 2008 report of the International Monetary Fund showed that 28 countries have food subsidies. 16 countries increased their subsidies from near zero to up to 2.7 per cent of GDP as a response to higher food prices. Thus if India also raises its food subsidy to fund a food security system as suggested above it is not exceptional. The UPA Government’s continuous harping on inadequate finances to justify a targeted not a universal system is unconvincingIn budget 2009-2010 it gifted the corporate sector 4 lakh crore rupees in tax foregone. According to one estimate the giveaways to corporates in the last two years come to 700 crores rupees a day! Surely this is a policy not for aam aadmi but khaas aadmi.
Thus there can be no excuses for not ensuring the minimum human right of food security for our people.
A nationwide struggle is required to force a change of Government policy and to have a food security law which includes the basic issues discussed above.

 

Soviet success in launching Sputnik in October 1957 had a dramatic impact on the United States, motivating an unprecedented commitment to place a satellite into Earth orbit as soon as possible. James Clay Moltz’s Asia’s Space Race shows how the same event prompted several nations in Asia to initiate space programs, igniting a race that has added more competitors as it continues into the twenty-first century. Moltz relies on direct and explicit prose to accomplish his purpose of providing “a comprehensive overview of the emergence of Asia’s space programs, their current national trajectories, and their international interactions–both cooperative and competitive,” as well as exposing “the role space activity plays in the specific national politics, cultures, and histories of Asia’s major participants” (pp. 6-7). Editors David C. Kang and Victor D. Cha deserve credit for including this pioneering account in their Contemporary Asia in the World series, which attempts “to address a gap in the public-policy and scholarly discussion of Asia” (p. ii). Moltz describes a neglected rivalry in Asia to exploit space for national advantages in technology, prestige, and security. He warns, however, that increasing spending on military space capabilities risks a catastrophe because “there is resistance to the idea of country-to-country or regionwide negotiations on confidence-building measures” (p. 190).

In his introduction, Moltz contrasts Asia’s treatment of space as a kind of new “Wild West” with the approach in Europe, where eighteen nations jointly finance the European Space Agency. “Asia’s space powers are,” he writes, “largely isolated from one another, do not share information, and display a tremendous divergence of perspectives regarding their space goals and a tendency to focus on national solutions to space challenges and policies of self-reliance rather than on … multilateral approaches” (p. 2). Highlighting another difference, Moltz characterizes the Cold War space race as a “one-hundred-yard dash to the Moon,” while describing Asia’s version as “a long-duration cross-country race” with varied goals motivating more competitors (p. 3). His definition of Asia starts in Japan and moves west to Pakistan, then extends south from the border of the former Soviet Union to Australia. Moltz fulfills his promise at the outset to follow “a bottom-up approach in seeking to understand the role space activity plays in the … national politics, cultures, and histories of Asia’s major participants, including their plans for economic development and their self-perceived regional and security identities” (p. 7).

Chapter 1 identifies and discusses the motivations and trends in Asia’s development of space. During the first space race, Moltz observes, the United States and the Soviet Union practiced strategic restraint and maintained “a culture of ‘managing’ space activities” through the acceptance of bilateral norms, treaties, and regularized contacts on space security matters (p. 15). A second space age began in October 2003 when the People’s Republic of China (PRC) demonstrated significant human space flight capabilities. Thereafter, the competition would be different because multiple “great powers” with “widely disparate perspectives” made reaching consensus difficult (p. 13). Also, a history of regional competition and inexperience with arms control further lowered prospects for cooperation. However, Moltz stresses that cooperative pressures, especially increasing financial interdependence and international trade, have produced mutual dependencies. In addition, more widely spread scientific knowledge has increased cooperation in resolving such problems as the elimination of space debris. Finally, “the dramatic increase of the value of space activity to the societies, economies, and militaries of the world in recent decades suggests that self-interest alone should promote future restraint” (p. 14). Optimistic about the positive impact of Asia’s future space efforts, Moltz references Thorstein Veblen’s logic in stressing “the ability of latecomers to start at a higher level of technological development, without the ‘baggage’ of the old system of cultural organization” (p. 23).

Moltz describes the origins, development, and current status of Japan’s space program in the first of four chapters examining the major contestants in Asia’s space race. The United States “provided it early on with privileged access to space services and technology,” but the antiwar provision of its constitution limited benefits until recently to the commercial side (p. 43). Autonomy and international cooperation have guided Japan’s actions as Asia’s most proficient space developer. The launch of its Kappa 6 rocket came in response to Sputnik, leading to the creation in 1969 of the National Space Development Agency (NASDA). Japan became the fourth nation to send a satellite into orbit the next year. By 1975, annual funding reached $250 million after “the government made a strategic decision to push forward toward making Japan a significant space power” (p. 50). In the 1980s, Japan built the infrastructure for construction and launch of communications and meteorological satellites, as well as participating in the U.S. space shuttle program and sending a journalist to the Soviet Mir space station. But after Japan became the third nation to land an object on the Moon, the East Asian financial crisis halted robust funding for rocket testing that resumed in 2003, but suffered several launch failures. Program reorganization created the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), but flat budgets thereafter limited its operations. In May 2008, the Diet approved military development in reaction to China’s activism in space and North Korea’s missile program. A new “highly fluid situation” confounded a Japanese space program already in transition (p. 57).

In the past thirty years, China’s space program, Moltz explains, has relied on “hard work, reliable state support, and the advantage provided by available foreign technology and know-how” to leap “from a backwater to a leadership position within Asia” (p. 71). But it also has experienced “major discontinuities and changes in direction” because progress has depended on politics, rather than technology and funding (p. 70). Scientists fled to Taiwan during China’s civil war, but a few whom the PRC persuaded to return became “critical to the space program” (p. 74). More important was Soviet investment, technology transfer, construction of facilities, and training. Ironically, the United States added a key component when in 1955 it deported Dr. Qian Xuesen, who had worked for the U.S. military and with German scientists in postwar relocation of V-2 rockets. Tasked with launching a satellite as part of the Great Leap Forward, the disappointing results, combined with Beijing’s split with Moscow, put China’s space program on hold. Development in the 1960s was quixotic, but PRC state council premier Zhou Enlai’s stewardship overcame uncertain funding and political purges, resulting in China’s first satellite launch in 1970. In 1978, Deng Xiaoping initiated a “new push to develop space technology … rooted in a national plan for scientific and technological development,” with the priorities of developing satellites for remote sensing, ground stations, space science research, skylabs, and advanced launch vehicles (p. 84).

In 1984, the PRC established the Ministry of the Space Industry to supervise a program for both military and civilian use of space, setting as a goal putting a human in low Earth orbit. Financial gain motivated both the Soviet and then the Russian governments to provide equipment and technological knowledge critical in China’s skipping of a generational stage in space development. The PRC also established contacts with the U.S. National Aeronautical and Space Administration (NASA) and commercial firms to provide boosters to launch satellites. But Congress objected to the sharing of space technology, promptly ending the collaboration when it passed a law in 1999 naming it a prohibited export. China’s strenuous opposition to the George W. Bush administration abrogating the Outer Space Treaty intensified the Sino-American rift. Nevertheless, the first ten years of the twenty-first century, Moltz explains, “represented a ‘coming out’ party for China’s space program” (p. 93). Developing more advanced satellites and launch vehicles, the PRC offered space services for profit and to boost its influence in the Third World. Outflanking U.S. sanctions, it negotiated profitable contracts for collaborative ventures in Europe. In Asia, Beijing led the Asia-Pacific Space Cooperation Organization. By 2011, the PRC had staged 135 space launches, including a televised spacewalk during a three-man mission and a probe orbiting the Moon. But the dominance of military leaders in determining China’s space program worried observers.

“India’s place in the world of major space powers is unique,” Moltz argues, because of its “remarkably peaceful orientation” (p. 110). Rocket testing initiated its program in the late 1700s, but impeding developments thereafter have been inconsistent funding, technological limits, domestic politics, and regional strategic factors. Sputnik inspired India to pursue an independent space capability excluding weapons and intercontinental missiles, which reflected its neutral stance in the Cold War. Ironically, it exploited this middle road to acquire technology and know-how both from the Soviets and the Americans, although Washington withheld equipment to develop a space delivery system because India had tested a nuclear device in 1974. After launching its first satellite in 1981, India relied exclusively on U.S. firms for development and on NASA for its communications network. Rising U.S. support for Pakistan caused India to begin space technology transfer from civilian to military uses, securing hardware and expertise from the Soviet Union. Successful rocket tests in the 1990s gave India a launch capability it exploited commercially in placing German and South Korean satellites into space. After Pakistan’s nuclear test in 1998, India greatly expanded its space collaboration with Europe, the United States, and Japan. By 2000, the space program’s budgetary growth rate was the highest in the world, although the military “had virtually no role” in its operation (p. 127). In 2009, India withheld information about its first lunar mission after a crash landing exposed weaknesses in space technology.

In 1991, the Republic of Korea (ROK) became the new and dynamic competitor in Asia’s space race. Economic recovery from the Korean War delayed its first step toward space until 1972, when it initiated a missile development program as a security measure against North Korea after a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from South Korea. Redefinition shifted the focus in 1983 to developing space launch capabilities, which received significant funding four years later. Moltz attributes South Korea’s swift progress thereafter to popular determination, government support, exceptional organizational capabilities, national pride, and the “desire to be recognized as an independent, modern, and technologically advanced society” (p. 138). Having accepted a U.S. ban on developing long-range missiles, the ROK initially worked with U.S. firms to develop and launch communications satellites, but North Korea’s failed satellite test in 1998 was “a wake-up call” (p. 144). After paying foreigners for access to space, Moltz reports, Seoul now “sought to develop independent capabilities as a satellite producer, space services provider, and space-launching country” (p. 136). It proceeded cautiously to avoid inciting North Korea, alienating its U.S. protector, or alarming its Chinese rival. After paying Russia for space expertise and to train astronauts, South Korea launched satellites in 2009 and 2010; both failed. Nevertheless, Moltz judges South Korea’s space record “the most politically ‘balanced’ among the developed programs” because it focused on maintaining “ties with a range of countries both to push its technology forward and to prevent its possible isolation” (p. 136).

Chapter 6 discusses alphabetically ten “emerging” Asian space powers. “All operate ground stations to receive foreign satellite data,” the author reports, “some have operated foreign satellites, several have built and operated their own spacecraft, and a few have constructed rockets and attempted space launches of their own” (p. 159). Australia long has had the benefit of access to U.S. space data, but its program is “a loose amalgam of academic-, private-, and government-funded space-related activities, some of which were quite sophisticated, but together lacked a sense of integration or national vision” (p. 162). Indonesia has sought benefits in space with U.S. firms providing communications and Earth observation to monitor “its vast maritime domain” (p. 166). Moltz labels Malaysia the “mouse that roared” (p. 168) because it has maintained an unusually active space program since it established a center for remote sensing in 1988 (p. 168). Maximizing limited resources through international cooperation, in 2002 a Malaysian notably made a ten-day flight to the International Space Station. “North Korea appears to possess no clearly thought-out plan for the development of a space industry, much less for coherent scientific, economic, or military uses of space” (p. 170). Its satellite launch failures indicate that it “has no sophisticated or devoted satellite program or serious plans to develop such an industry” (p. 172). Pakistan “has the [next] weakest space capabilities” because of its lack of “adequate funding, sustained governmental attention, a strong cadre of appropriately trained scientists and engineers, and technology” (p. 173).

Since Spain built a national meteorological observatory in 1894, the Philippines has had interest in space, but “activities have been slow to develop, due to a lack of resources, trained personnel, and adequate high-level political interest” (p. 177). Singapore recently made space activity a priority, contracting in 2009 with India and France to launch a satellite to monitor soil erosion. But Moltz doubts that it will “develop its own launch capability or a full array of space science programs, focusing instead on Earth applications, communications, and, likely, military support activities” (p. 179). Taiwan has worked with the United States and Europe on communications satellites and collaborated closely with Israel on space projects. Only recently has it expanded rocket research. According to Moltz, it “has developed core space capabilities to enable it to assist its military, advance its scientific role internationally, and create a solid basis for future commercial activities in space” (p. 182). Thailand hosted the Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) in 2010, when it was planning to expand its satellite program. It was already “an experienced user of space data and operator of foreign-build satellites, as well as a provider of space service to other countries” (p. 182). Since the 1990s, Moltz explains, Vietnam has had extensive contact with Western capitalist nations to acquire the technology and expertise necessary for creation of “a significant space program” (p. 185). Lockheed built for it a communications satellite that a French booster put into space in 2008.

Moltz has conducted extensive research in published government documents, newspapers, and secondary books and articles. Because his topic deals with recent history, citations of primary sources are few. Less excusable, there are numerous highly speculative conclusions that have no documentation whatsoever. For example, Moltz writes that “President [Barack] Obama’s own experiences as a child in Indonesia and his visit in November 2010 are likely to increase prospects for future joint” ventures in space (p. 167). If China lands a human on the moon before the United States does so again, he argues, quoting former NASA director Michael Griffin, this will have “‘an enormous, and not fully predictable, effect on global perceptions of U.S. leadership in the world’” (p. 5). The Six Party Talks starting in 2004 to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, Moltz erroneously claims in quoting another scholar, is an example of northeast Asian countries dealing “‘with new security challenges by collectively pursuing security cooperation as club goods’” (p. 37). The author also observes that it is “too often posited that authoritarian countries like China always have a clear and insidious ‘plan’” (p. 19), explaining that Cold War logic has caused U.S. leaders to substitute Beijing for Moscow. Initially, Moltz urges prudence in U.S. efforts to manage space competition. Contradicting himself, he quotes approvingly another scholar’s advice that “‘Washington should continue to discourage, or in some cases prevent, Beijing’s acquisition of military capabilities … that directly challenge U.S. military superiority’” (p. 36).

Another weakness is the frequent appearance of unremarkable, if not innocuous statements. For example, Moltz makes the obvious point that understanding the “negative global implications” of Asia’s space race requires examining “more carefully the domestic motivations of [the] new space actors, the nature of their regional interactions, and the challenges and opportunities they pose for twenty-first-century space security” (p. 6). Similarly, he concludes that “economic factors and the drive toward both modernization and integration into the world economy have clearly played significant parts in changes throughout Asia” (p. 191). Just as self-evident is his observation that “Japan has the know-how, resources, and commitment to remain a formidable competitor in Asia’s continuing space race” (p. 69). “Thus,” he timidly asserts, “questions remain about China’s commitment to a full-scale space arms race, and it is likely that both domestic economic factors as well as international circumstances will influence [its] future direction” (p. 106). “The key question” for India, Moltz cautiously contends, is “whether [its] geostrategic needs foster the development of offensive military space technology or merely military support functions from space” (p. 131). As for South Korea, his hesitant prediction maintains that “those elements of [its] current space strategy aimed at integration, cooperation, and efforts to prevent the emergence of aggressive foreign military activities seem most likely to serve [the ROK’s] interests as a newly capable ‘middle’ space power within Asia” (p. 157).

These criticisms aside, Moltz deserves praise for producing a study that addresses timely and important issues. His thoughtful examination exposes how economic and political competition among Asian nations has released new “forces that have made space a very different and more complicated environment than it was during the cold war” (p. 189). Now, space activities are critical ingredients in state plans for nation-building and economic development. His comprehensive description of this new pattern demonstrates conclusively that there now is no “set definition of what constitutes a ‘space program’” (p. 158). Another interesting result has been antagonism between old and new competitors. Moltz describes how “Indian representatives” in 2007 at the United Nations “argued that unfairly forcing India and other developing countries to abide by strict debris-mitigation guidelines now amounted to ‘cultural imperialism’” (p. 131). Regrettably, the author’s remark that “few are shying away from space” escapes critical analysis because he believes that these activities contribute importantly to “success in overcoming obstacles in land use, coastal management, disaster prevention, agricultural production, urban planning, and, from a broader perspective, national governance” (p. 188). An Indian space engineer at India’s first national symposium on rocketry in 1967, referring to the U.S. lunar program, asked the central question that Moltz quotes, but leaves unanswered: “‘Is this a valid enterprise? Could not this effort be applied for the teaming, starved, illiterate, ill housed, ill clad, ill cared [for] population of the world?’” (p. 114).

In his conclusion, Moltz warns that the potential for a bad outcome is real in Asia’s space race. The reason is that “space remains a bastion of nationalism” that sustains inertia and inaction (p. 193). Nationalism has produced a “missing middle” which Moltz defines as “the absence of substantive cooperation among the major four Asia space programs … (China, India, South Korea, and Japan)” (p. 33). But his assessment of future questions facing space activities in civil, commercial, and military affairs identifies factors that will promote cooperation. Environmental collaboration, reducing costs, and broader economic globalization provide reason for “guarded optimism” (p. 219). Japan also has acted through APRSAF to encourage regional cooperation, initiating “a series of training efforts for less-developed Asian nations, assistance programs (such as the provision of telescopes, satellite data, and ground stations), and eventually joint development projects” (p. 54). Moltz also praises Tokyo’s low-profile approach in Asia’s space race that seeks to minimize losses while avoiding unilateralism, confrontation, and pursuit of risky gains. By contrast, Asian nations fear that cooperation is not a major priority in China’s space program. Moltz emphasizes that “all capitals need to be cautious not to overreact and not to adopt an assumption that its own country is the bulls-eye for policy decisions by all others” (p. 20).

 

James Clay Moltz. Asia’s Space Race: National Motivations, Regional Rivalries, and International Risks. New York: Columbia University Press, 2011. xii + 274 pp. $35.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-15688-2; ISBN 978-0-231-52757-6.

South Africa Communist Party President address COSATU congress in a critical moment

This Congress meets in the shadow of an intensified offensive against the working class in SA. It is an offensive directed primarily against the best organized detachment of our working class – this federation, this COSATU, especially the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and all these affiliates. The intensified offensive is born partly out of desperation on the part of our class enemies. Capitalism continues to be enmeshed in a deep-seated crisis. Everywhere global capitalism seeks to defend its profits and its power by displacing the impact of its crisis onto the workers, the poor, and the Third World. It violently foments civil war and destabilization of countries with an anti-imperialist track-record. It embarks on mass retrenchments, casualization, budget cuts and suffocating austerity measures at home and abroad. To carry through this butchery, global capitalism everywhere seeks to defeat the organized working class – a powerful barrier to its anti-popular strategies.

Here in SA we are no strangers to this offensive. Here, too, the anti-union offensive has intensified and grown more desperate in recent months. It is an offensive also supported by sections of imperialism. We have even seen the DA attempting to out-Malema Malema by leading a march on the COSATU head-quarters with a rag-tag army of suburbanites and desperate and misguided township youth.

This middle-class flirtation with anarchy is partly the result of the all-round capitalist crisis, in which it is also deeply affected. Much as the working class is bearing most of the brunt of this crisis, the middle classes are now also increasingly feeling the pinch. Unlike some of the middle classes in other parts of the world who have joined workers in protest against neo-liberal capitalism, our middle class, especially its white sections, has turned its venom against the ANC government, including racist attitudes rearing their ugly head anew, especially through the internet.

Equally, small and often elitist sections of the black middle class which also feels the economic hardship are working with some of their white counterparts to blame government, even for their own failures to make use of narrow BEE to accumulate wealth. In fact the common ideological platform for both sections of the white and black middle classes is that of the so-called lack of leadership in society. This is no honest debate but a rightist putsch and an ideological fad, aimed at discrediting the ANC and its government. It must be treated and dismissed as such.

But desperation by the elites is also rooted in the fact that since at least 2007 and the defeat of the 1996 class project, we have an ANC ruling party that (however unevenly) is committed to our tripartite alliance, and an ANC-led government that has abandoned (however unevenly) neo-liberalism, privatization, anti-communism, and anti-worker positions. Of course this progress within the ANC itself, and within government is not something to be taken for granted. It is contested space – and WE MUST, comrades, CONTEST it.

Because of these positive developments, increasingly the anti-union offensive in our country has been left to opposition parties in Parliament, to renegades expelled from our own ranks, to demagogues and opportunists of all stripes, supported by big money and broadcast through the megaphone of the mainstream media.

But if this intensified anti-union offensive stems partly from desperation in the face of the capitalist crisis, it is also an offensive that, from time to time, becomes emboldened by our own divisions and factionalism, by our own distractions, by our own neglect of our core tasks of organizing in the work-place and in our communities, by our own failures to deal decisively with corruption, tender-preneuring and business-unionism. Comrades, it is imperative that we close ranks. It is essential that we face up to this offensive as a united and disciplined COSATU, as a united Alliance, as a Liberation Movement strengthening, but also strengthened by a democratic state.

Learning appropriate lessons from Marikana

All of the above is the immediate context against which we need to understand the Marikana tragedy. In the space of a decade, the platinum sector has gone from boom to near-bust as a result of the global capitalist crisis and particularly the stagnation in Europe (the major importer of our platinum.

For years the mining houses – and particularly the platinum mining houses – have sought to break the back of NUM. Who can forget the late 1990s and the rule of terror that prevailed as a result of the so-called Five Madoda and their pseudo-trade union “Workers Mouthpiece”? We ask: who can forget? And yet so many in our country, unfortunately including some former COSATU leaders, DO forget. In that reign of terror in the Rustenburg region, vigilante thugs associated with the pseudo-union murdered 34 NUM shop-stewards.

What we also DO know for sure is that through the years of the platinum boom, impressive investments were made on the platinum belt. And yet, through this boom, virtually nothing was done for the living conditions of the work-force.

We failed these workers and their families. We failed to leverage effective social responsibility requirements out of the mining houses. We were too focused on using the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Act to enforce BEE shareholding.

Another negative reality, born of abject desperation, began to take root in many of these squalid shanty towns around the platinum mines. The Five Madoda and their “Workers Mouthpiece” infiltrated the informal settlements – and used coercion and patronage to gain control over shebeens, prostitution, minibus operations, shack-lordism, and the muti and mashonisa businesses. These lumpen-patriarchal networks exerted a reign of terror over many settlements, in the same way as similar networks are doing now.

What is to be done?

The SACP fully supports government`s crackdown on the illegal carrying of weapons, on intimidation and on incitement to violence. The ring-leaders must be dealt with and separated from the mass of misled strikers (many of whom are not actually employees of Lonmin or even workers). Those possessed of mysterious wealth, who have never worked a day in their lives, those who were recently anti-unionisation in the army, those who are now happily inciting others to kill and be killed must be dealt with. We also require a thorough investigation into where their funding is coming from, whether locally or internationally. Any formal structures of the ANC that are collaborating with the so-called Friends of the Youth League must themselves face suspension from our movement. We have given opportunism far too much space and tolerance. Together as an Alliance and with our local structures, together with government agencies, we need to help to restore basic norms of safety and security into the lives of our mining communities.

The SACP also fully supports the establishment of the Independent Judicial Commission of Inquiry. We must leave the detailed investigation into the events leading up to August 16, the day itself, and the violence in the ensuing days to the Commission. Without interfering, we must ensure that it is thorough and unbiased in its work. Any wrong-doing by the police must be uncovered. At the same time, it is absolutely important that the Inquiry hears evidence from the communities and contextualizes its understanding of the immediate events. The SACP is working with our structures in these mining settlements to take evidence and sworn affidavits. We know that NUM is doing likewise, and we urge the ANC and other COSATU affiliates, where relevant, to ensure that the Commission is presented with a broad and objective picture of the situation.

Finally, we must reject the apartheid and racist notion that what is happening in Marikana is inter-union rivalry, as if the NUM and pseudo union, AMCU were the same thing.

Back to basics: workplace organization to roll back neo-liberal restructuring

This important gathering is also taking place against the background of intensified attacks on the national democratic revolution, including attempts to try and present our movement as being at sea and not knowing what is to be done to deepen the national democratic revolution. We however need to state from the onset that if we focus most of our energies at this congress lamenting about the challenges we face instead of focusing on what is to be done, we would have wasted this very important opportunity. Analysis, yes, lamenting no!

The current global capitalist crisis has seen the intensification of attempts to increase the rate of profit of capitalism at the direct expense of the working class. With the increasing casualization and labour ‘brokering` of workers in South Africa, today less and less workers for instance have access to provident fund and medical aid. The impact and implications of this reality are enormous. For instance this means that the burden of looking after the health of labour brokered workers becomes the sole responsibility of workers themselves without any employer contribution. Similarly, lack of access to provident fund means an additional burden on the state when these workers retire. This means that both workers and the state are increasingly and directly subsidizing the profits of the bourgeoisie.

The impact of this massive restructuring of the workplace has also placed in danger the existence of significant sections of the trade union movement itself. In fact the growth of the trade union movement over the last decade years has been more in the public than the private sector, as COSATU`s own statistics show.

The trade union federations in our country, especially our ally, COSATU, must develop a comprehensive campaign to strengthen the trade union movement in the workplace.

In tackling the challenges facing the workplace we also need to ask some serious questions about the state of the trade union movement in South African today, including its strategies to confront the huge restructuring of the workplace undertaken by the capitalist class over the last one and a half decade. Could it also be that our reaction to attempts to relegate the role of the trade union movement by the 1996 class project to workplace issues unintentionally led to bending the stick too much in the opposite direction; that is, focusing on broader political struggles at the expense of workplace organization? Could it also be that good trade union organization has declined, in the same way as mass organization has taken a knock after 1994?

There is also an emerging threat for our progressive trade union movement, where there is collusion between business unionism, elements bought by bosses and tenderpreneurs whose goal is to divide and weaken the trade union movement as part of capturing these unions and turning them into sweetheart unions. The most aggressive of this tendency is to be found in the current offensive directed against the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM).

Way back at our Special Congress in 2009 we warned against an emerging new tendency within our movement, which is anti-working class, anti-communist and even having proto-fascist features. We further warned against being confused and fooled by a call for nationalization whose aim was to bail out a section of mining BEE in a crisis. We further said none within our ranks must by any means flirt with this tendency. Today we are being proven right, as it is this same tendency that is in the forefront of trying to destroy the NUM, with the intention to divide and weaken COSATU as a whole. This is a tendency whose goal is to accumulate by all means, and whose mission has been to capture our movement for purposes of self-enrichment and accumulation. It is a tendency, we are convinced now as the SACP that is backed by powerful imperialist interests who are threatened by the prospects of a leftward shift in our movement. These are thieves who will stop at nothing to pillage the resources of the state, and are prepared to even sell our country to the highest imperialist bidder. It is a tendency that must be defeated, and only a united and better organized working class can do so!

Once more the SACP calls upon this Congress to come out unambiguously against this tendency. No amount of political sophistry or big-sounding English should justify anyone from within our ranks justifying working with these demagogues. There must be no ‘ifs` or ‘buts` in our attitude towards the new tendency. The struggle of the working class is not for sale!!! Instead we are calling for the federation to close ranks, isolate and defeat this tendency.

The SACP`s position is that the struggle for decent work must incorporate a variety of dimensions and not simply be reduced to wages, important as this is. The struggle for decent work must involve the campaign for a living wage, a decent social wage and transformed workplaces free of racism, patriarchy and managerial unilateralism.

The anti-majoritarian liberal offensive and necessity to build a working-class led mass movement

As the SACP we have consistently been raising the need to defeat the anti-majoritarian liberal offensive. Its agenda is that of undermining black majority rule using all manner of methods, including attempts to capture institutions supporting our democracy and its intensified attacks on the working class. Of late it is becoming vocal against what it sees as the danger of big unions and big government, and essentially calling for the weakening of the labour movement in general, and COSATU in particular. It is seeking to place the blame of unemployment on the employed, and especially organized workers. We are told, the basis for inequality in our society is no longer race, nor the class inequalities between the bourgeoisie and the working class, but the basis now is between the employed and unemployed!!

The SACP has consistently raised this matter, and again warning that none within our ranks should be confused by this liberal agenda and be tempted to form alliances blindly. Liberals, as has always been their history, cherry pick the battles they want to wage, and sometimes opportunistically want to be seen as friends of the working class. They will stand up against e-tolling in Gauteng, not because they really care about the working class, but in opposition to the ANC government, and yet be completely silent about the fact that the DA has tolled Chapman`s Peak in Cape Town and seeks to build more physical structures there! They will take the ANC government to court over textbooks in Limpopo, but not go to court when the DA is unilaterally closing schools in the Western Cape.

Whilst liberals will form a new NGO on a variety of matters where they oppose government, they have formed no NGO to fight against the brutality against farmworkers; nor are there new NGOs formed to fight the scourge of labour brokers by liberals. They opportunistically seek alliances with the working class in order to advance elite interests, embarrass the ANC government, but tell the working class to go jump when it comes to challenging established capitalist interests.

Whilst we accept that COSATU may form tactical alliances with various formations at different points in time, caution must always be taken against who are our real friends. We are also concerned about the tone of the political report on some of these matters. Strongly implied in the report is a more critical stance towards the Alliance, and uncritical praise and elevation of tactical alliances with a whole variety of other forces. This is, we believe an incorrect posture by COSATU.

The more recent ideological offensive against our movement and revolution is that of a charge that there is an absence of leadership in society and an attempt to project our movement as being at sea, not knowing what to do. Here we see a very clear convergence between the liberal offensive and what we have characterized as the new tendency. Our leadership and movement is not being judged on progress made in terms of commitments made for instance around our five priorities, but through a targeted attack on the movement as a whole, especially COSATU and the ANC, with a particular focus on the President of the ANC and the republic, Cde Jacob Zuma. The print media is actually at the centre and forefront of this offensive.

It is our considered view as the SACP that the principal task of the working class at the present moment is that of building a working class led people`s mass movement to drive transformation on all fronts. Whilst NGOs are important at no stage should they become a substitute for the people`s voice. For that matter not all NGOs are progressive, and many are captured by particular class interests, not least those of their often (imperialist) donors.

But, of course, not all NGOs are retrogressive either. We, the Alliance as a whole, need to actively engage in this terrain of “civil society” and contribute to the building of a progressive NGO movement as part of revitalizing the Mass Democratic Movement to be led by the working class.

The question of a working class-led people`s movement assumes even more importance in the light of the Marikana and related experiences. Organization of mineworkers has to be accompanied by the progressive organization of adjacent mining communities in order to defeat warlordism and shacklordism that are often exploited to weaken and destroy working class organization in the workplace.

Building on our advances to address the triple challenges of our revolution

At our 13th Congress we said if the aim of our Special National Congress in December 2009 was to assist our broad movement to understand the global capitalist crisis, the reasons for the persistence of structural unemployment and racialised poverty and inequality, and the challenges facing our movement since Polokwane, the 13th Congress focused on what is to be done to consolidate, defend and advance our revolution.

One of the primary challenges of our revolution now and in the coming period is that of translating the many important policy breakthroughs made over the past four-to-five years into palpable changes that must transform our current semi-colonial economic growth path for the progressive benefit of the overwhelming majority of the workers and the poor.

It is very important to remember that being part of the Alliance as working class formations, it is our responsibility to protect, defend and deepen the unity of our Alliance. Part of this responsibility and revolutionary duty is that we cannot choose to sometimes step aside and behave as if we are outside our Alliance and revolution, and have the luxury to lament or criticize as outsiders, often encouraged by the media. To choose to act as if we are outside the Alliance when things get tough, and to seek to prioritise media recognition is nothing but rank opportunism; and such behavior does not belong to the ranks of the working class. Problems or disagreements amongst ourselves as Allies, which are inevitable anyway, cannot be subject of press conferences or tweeter messages, but need to be tackled within the structures of our Alliance and through principled bilateral engagements.

At no stage should we celebrate the difficulties facing any of our Alliance partners. We simply cannot elevate tactical alliances with other social formations (no matter how important we think they may be) above our Alliance.

Of course it is absolutely essential that our working class formations must jealously guard their independence. But such independence must serve to assert the working class as the principal motive force of our revolution, as the foundation of the unity of our Alliance, and not as an oppositionist or opportunist element within our Alliance.

Nevertheless whatever challenges we face must never make us lose sight of the advances we have made since our democratic breakthrough in 1994, and those especially made since Polokwane. A correct approach for revolutionaries is not to lament about these problems or use them in a populist fashion for short-term political gain. The challenge of true revolutionaries is to recognize advances we have made and seek to build on these in order to address existing challenges.

In particular, since the ANC Polokwane conference, we have seen some important policy breakthroughs and other achievements that we dare not lose sight of. Amongst these are the following:

  • The development of an overarching industrial policy, within the context of proposals for a new growth path. This new policy emphasizes the need to beneficiate our mineral wealth, rebuild the manufacturing sector as part of the industrialization of our economy and take job creation to higher levels. The key challenge is to align our macro economic policies to these objectives.
  • A clear move away from emphasis on privatization of the early 2000s to a commitment to a more active role by the state in economic development.
  • A clear commitment by the ANC and government to move away from the ‘willing seller, willing buyer` model of land reform, to a more radical redistribution of land, including expropriation as provided for in our constitution.
  • The major state-led investment in infrastructure as announced by the President in the 2012 State of the Nation address responds to a call that has long been made by the working class for more investment in infrastructure. The key task of the working class is to ensure that monies invested in infrastructure are not stolen by tenderpreneurs who want a quick buck out of shoddy work. It is also important that we mobilise to demand that all companies that win major infrastructure projects from government must not use labour brokers and must also be committed to the training and skilling of workers.
  • Since Polokwane, government is now embarking on a pilot for the implementation of the National Health Insurance (NHI) a long standing call by the SACP in particular when we launched our campaign on health for all around 2004-5. But one of the biggest achievements by this Zuma-led administration is that life expectancy of our population has gone up, largely due to the provision of ARVs to our people and the slowing down of mother to child transmission of HIV. This is one of the biggest achievements we have made and is a far cry from the disastrous path of AIDS denialism that was with us prior to 2007!!
  • The ANC and our Alliance has now prioritized education as an apex priority of the five priorities. Government has already embarked on important measures to improve access to education for the poor. For instance, now more than 60% of our schools are no-fee schools, and more than 8 millions students benefit from the school nutrition scheme. In addition, FET college education has now become free for students who come from poor families if they are study occupation related programmes – a first in the history of our country!

Another crucially important development in the lead up to this Congress has been the ANC`s National Policy Conference. The most significant commitment made by that conference was that the principal challenge of our revolution is that of earnestly effecting a second radical phase of our transition, principally but not exclusively by focusing on a radical restructuring of our economy. Some of the contradictions notwithstanding, this is a significant opportunity for the working class to make further impact on the national democratic revolution and, for us, as our most direct route to socialism.

A critical challenge of the second phase of our transition is that of building a developmental state, with a public service that is capable of driving transformation. In this respect we must use the fact that in the public service we have a multi-year bargaining agreement to reflect on the role of progressive public sector unions in building such a developmental state.

All the above constitutes the immediate terrain upon which the working class must act as the principal motive force of the national democratic revolution and the struggle for socialism. This is taking responsibility for the NDR!

 

Num momento as pessoas querem tudo! Dia 15 de Setembro encheram as ruas. Numa manifestãoção espontânea, comoafirmam e voltam a afirmar os reportares, e as pessoas; e sem ligações a partidos e a sindicatos e essas coisas. Todos juntos e unidos viemos para a rua. Palavra de ordem, e programa: “que se lixe a troika.”
Mas para atroika ser lixada é necessário que as suas políticas se lixem, não se concretizem e para que tal aconteça também é necessário que se lixe o PSD e CDS e quem mais apoia a troika, o PS. Acima de tudo é necessário que se lixe esta política.

Mas se a palavra de ordem fosse esta, que se lixe esta política, então talvez muitos do que vieram para rua hesitariam. É necessário não enganar ninguém: a luta deu muitas vezes resultados; muitas vezes esses resultados só surgiram décadas e décadas de lutas com diversas intensidades e ânimos. Por vezes foi-se conseguindo pequenas coisas e coisas maiores. Mas a persistência e o não desanimar se não se obtêm o resultado desejado logo é fundamental.

As transformações que ficaram não se fizeram com todos. As grandes empresas (EDP, PT, GALP, Grandes distribuidoras, etc. ) e seus gestores e quadros de topo não estão interessados em que se reverta a política deste Governo. E tudo farão para o impedir. Os partidos que apoiam a Troika, também não, e tudo farão para o impedir. Os trabalhadores, os estudantes, os pensionistas, o povo, enfim, necessita urgentemente de outra política, uma  de respeito por quem trabalha. Assim não é uma luta de todos. Mas de uns contra outros.

Por fim: não esgotemos as nossas forças num momento (em semanas). Vamos unir as vontades novamente dia 29 de Setembro vamos ao Terreiro do Paço.

The so-called education reform movement decided long ago that change could come only through confrontation. Teachers figured that out when the secretary of education, Arne Duncan, called Hurricane Katrina “the best thing that happened to the education system in New Orleans”; seven years later the teachers union is washed away and the public schools are mostly charter-ized. They figured that out when the White House celebrated the firing of the entire teaching staff in Central Falls, R.I., because of students’ low test scores. And it became clearer to them when Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York published teachers’ names alongside standardized test results of their students.

Now, finally, a unionized group of teachers has decided to meet this confrontation head-on.

If evaluating teachers based on standardized test scores is a bad idea for teaching and learning, then the Chicago Teachers Union strike is good for teachers and students. If small class sizes are good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students. For that matter, if air-conditioning is good for teaching and learning, then the strike is good for teachers and students.

Tying teacher pay, tenure and even employment status to standardized test scores corrupts the teacher-student relationship and inspires no one. This carrot-and-stick routine won’t retain great teachers, and may turn our best teachers into test prep tutors. Any experienced classroom teacher will tell you that punishments and rewards at best encourage obedience, but will not promote creativity, intelligence or initiative.

I taught in three different public schools in New York City. Where I was able to be my best depended as much on the class sizes, the conditions, the financing, the materials available to me, the support staff for teachers, the support for students and the climate created by administration, as it did on my own efforts and abilities.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s “reforms” in Chicago will not improve any of those very important factors, and are deleterious to all of them. By confronting the mayor and standing up for things teachers and students desperately need to actually improve our schools, the union is likely to do more to retain the best teachers, and to help more teachers to do their best, than any merit pay scheme ever could.

During its long liberation struggle, South African organisations were known by initials like ANC, PAC, AZAPO, COSATU etc. It was a well-known alphabet of activism.

In today’s South Africa, nearly 20 years after the arrival of a multi-racial democracy, there are three letters that are not as well known but central to understanding the conflicts that continue to swirl here from the recent massacre of 34 striking miners by police to almost daily protests against poor service delivery and outrage against growing corruption: PUI.

PUI stands for Poverty, Unemployment and Inequality, all social phenomena that are growing and some say worse today than when Nelson Mandela was elected South Africa’s president.

To assess the feelings of South Africans, surveyors from the Gallup Poll organisation put this question to a carefully selected sample in February and March of this year: “Now I am going to read you a lot of issues the Government of South Africa could address in the next twelve months. Please tell me which is the most important.”  The questions dealt with corruption, education, healthcare and the economy.

Fifty one per cent of the respondents put “Create New Jobs” at the top of their list.

Notes Gallup: “Currently, 28 per cent of South Africans overall say it is a good time to find a job in their community, while 69 per cent say it is a bad time. Those job opportunities that do exist are disproportionately concentrated in the cities, so that South Africans living in urban areas are almost twice as likely as those living in small towns or rural areas to say it is a good time to find a job – 40 per cent vs. 22 per cent, respectively. Correspondingly, the richest 20 per cent of South Africans are about twice as likely as the remaining 80 per cent to perceive job opportunities as good in the city or area where they live.”

The issue of jobs is of course a global challenge with unemployed and underemployed workers clamouring for job creation in every country. But, in South Africa, where workers fought so hard against a racial system of apartheid, many now find themselves stuck in an economic one.

An Afrikaner intellectual, Solomon Johannes (Sampie) Terreblanche is emerging as the country’s leading and hardest-hitting analyst of growing and worsening inequality and poverty that impacts as many as 50 per cent of all black South Africans.

Unlike others who are just critical of the African National Congress government, he offers a structural and global analysis showing that the political transition that took place here in the early 90s was not accompanied by a social and economic transformation.

He explains how these inequalities have their roots in a long history of colonialism, segregation and apartheid.

His new book Lost in Transformation (KMM Review Publishing) goes in to how what he calls the Mining Energy Complex (MEC) subverted the demands for fundamental reform through secret deal making behind the scenes of the negotiations for a new order.

He then ties what happened locally to the growth of an international American-driven neo-liberal global economic agenda that limited local sovereignty and policy options.

Terreblanche is a serious researcher, not a conspiracy theorist, but followers of Noam Chomsky and many critics of the economic strategies of the World Bank and the IMF will find a great deal to learn from his incisive analysis.

“The PUI problem that was bequeathed to the ANC government by the apartheid regime in 1994 was already almost unsolvable,” he writes.

“The ANC has proclaimed repeatedly that addressing the PUI problem is its highest priority. But this is true only in the rhetorical sense of the word. The policy measures implemented by the government over the past 1 years have given strong preference to black elite formation and to promoting the interests of local and foreign corporations while it has shamelessly neglected the impoverished black majority.”

This is the deeper background to the conflicts now surfacing in this country which are far more economic than political. When you hear about more uprisings and confrontation, think PUI – and what must be done about it.

here in Portuguese

We call on the hundreds of thousands of people who say “something must be done” to organize together with us the people’s counterattack.

The pro-people way out of the crisis must become the people’s slogan, which means the struggle to create the pre-conditions for a development path without monopolies, class exploitation, with socialization, central planning and workers’-people’s control, with disengagement from the EU and unilateral cancellation of the debt.

The elongation of the memorandum proposed by the government and the negotiation of SYRIZA so that the payment of the debt may be postponed for one or two years or for it to be reduced by an appeal to the international organizations and negotiations, or a return to the drachma, are different versions which will bring new woes for the people, while capital will once again benefit.

The theory of SYRIZA cadres that bankruptcy is a weapon of the weak is equally damaging for the people. In Argentina there was a cessation of payments, the currency was de-linked from the dollar, after years there was a new negotiation and an annulment of a part of the debt, but unemployment and poverty increased despite the capitalist development. In no instance can the people benefit within the framework of the EU and the system: the situation today entails internal devaluation in the eurozone and constant cuts in salaries, pensions, and social spending. The bankruptcy and the exit from the euro will be accompanied by a sharp price increase in the huge influx of imported products, a huge loss in the workers’ buying power. And in both instances the common elements are the tax raids and the deep undermining of the existing development potential of the country.

Sections of capital want and will be benefited by Greece’s exit from the eurozone, as they will be able to invest with less capital in a country with a devalued currency and salaries at a Bulgarian level.

The choices of the bourgeois class and the EU are inexorable. They want cheap and subdued labour power, now and in the future, the crushing of radical class-oriented labour and people’s movement. For this reason we insist that the workers turn their backs on the recipes for the management of the crisis by the government and SYRIZA, that the people must chart a course for their own power and government, which will free them from the crisis and bankruptcy once and for all. The way out of the crisis in favour of the people, for the achievement of the prosperity of the people and society are today fully linked to the demand of disengagement and the unilateral cancellation of the debt, with the people becoming the owners of the wealth they produce.

The government of the people’s power will transform the current ownership of the big business groups, of the capitalist businesses, the infrastructure, the means of land, sea and air transportation and the land into people’s property.

It will promote productive cooperatives of the small and medium-sized farmers and self-employed and guarantee what is only a dream today for the majority of the people:

  • Work for all, eradication of unemployment.
  • Food self-sufficiency for all the people.
  • Public, free healthcare, welfare for all, abolition of commercial activity in these sectors.
  • Education for all. Utilisation of scientific manpower, research and technology.
  • Free care of children, the elderly and people with special needs by the state.
  • Cheap and good quality housing with electricity, heating and running water
  • Sports, culture, holidays for all with organized infrastructure.

 

It will play a leading role in international economic relations on the basis of the peoples’ mutual benefit. With a sovereign and strong people that struggles for its prosperity the country will be able to liberate itself from the imperialist agreements and the NATO, from its involvement in imperialist wars. 

The workers’ –people’s power provided a great deal to the people in the countries where socialism was constructed. It provided solutions to problems which the workers in capitalist countries could only dream about. We draw lessons from the mistakes and the deficiencies that led to the counterrevolution and the overthrow of socialism. The struggle for a new type of power remains necessary and relevant. 

Now the people must take their matters into their own hands with generalized social-political struggles. These struggles must unite the working class -both in private and public sector- , the poor farmers, the self-employed, the women, the young people in a single direction and stable alliance. 

No sector or group of working people can ward off the relative and absolute destitution by demanding to be excluded from the generalized measures since the attack has a unified character and purpose. On the contrary, the demands of each sector, of each group of working people, of the unemployed and the pensioners can bring results only if they are fought for with appropriate demands and positions and at the same time support the joint nationwide demonstrations. The working people should not accept the struggles of the various sectors to be posed in opposition to each other, the slandering of advanced forms of struggle, of the strikes which are decided on by the working people and respond to the intolerable problems they face. 

At this stage the fronts of struggle and resistance in workplaces, in sectors and neighborhoods must become streams that will merge together and strengthen the general demand of the people for a pro-people way out of the crisis with militant mass demonstrations and the corresponding combative forms of struggle. The struggles must be based on the mass participation in the decision making process and in their organization. The struggle requires mass participation, organization and a political direction for rupture with the interests and the choices of the monopolies at a national and European level. 

The announcement of the measures of the government that will seize 23, 5 billion dollars from people and is preparing for a new round of measures is the first confrontation of the people after the elections. The new attack must meet the appropriate response in terms of form and mass participation e.g. a general strike which under certain conditions can become a starting point for the escalation and the stable strengthening of the people’s struggle. 

In this phase the people must prove that they have the courage, that they can liberate themselves from the illusions which are fostered by the political forces that support the participation of Greece in the EU and turn their back on the blackmail and the intimidating dilemmas. 

Today there are two paths of development which come in conflict: on the one hand, the path which is determined by the monopolies and their parties and on the other, the path of the struggle of the resolute and unwavering masses that leads to rupture, to the overthrow of the monopolies’ power. 

There is no way out as long as the working people, the unemployed, the pensioners are influenced by the various formulas for a liberal, socialist or “left” management of the system; as long as fatalism and defeatism prevail, the mistaken perceptions that the people cannot win, cannot wage effective struggles, that the radical change will never take place and belongs to the “Second Coming”. The people must not passively wait on the various networks, which are hypocritically called networks of solidarity and charity, which are set up in a planned way so that the people will get used to the idea of managing poverty. 

The KKE will take initiatives, at a nationwide, sectoral and local level so as to strengthen the mass class struggle, the people’s initiatives and solidarity in the partial fronts of struggle and at the general political level. It calls on the people to support politically as well as through their struggles the initiative of the KKE which tabled a draft law for the abolition of the memoranda, the loan agreements and the anti-people measures as a whole.

The KKE will be at the forefront of the struggles regarding the people’s income, collective bargaining agreements, social benefits and pensions, jobs, the rights of the unemployed and their families, public works for social infrastructure and housing programmes, for Education, Healthcare and welfare, against the privatizations, against the mergers of banks that lead to dismissals and reductions in salaries, against the dismissals in public sector, regarding the specific acute problems of the youth and women, the problem of drugs which is on the rise, to ensure medical treatment and medicine for all, for the salvation of the social security funds and the payment of salaries and pensions. 

Down with the taxes and the unjust levies. No repossessions and auctions for the indebted families of the popular strata. 

The trade unions, the mass organizations, the people’s committees must strengthen their solidarity while at the same time they should make demands and adopt militant forms of struggle. 

No one should be abandoned to the claws of the tax department and the other state mechanisms, homeless, without food, medicine with their children being driven to malnutrition. No one should be left alone against the repression and the authoritarianism of the state. 

The KKE with its proposal for the way out will be at the forefront of all these struggles along with the working people, the unemployed and poor who have gone bankrupt and cannot shoulder new burdens. 

We must reverse defeatism with the power of our proposal and by placing trust in the working people. We should contribute decisively so that the immense power of the people will be liberated from the bonds of the intimidating dilemmas, anticommunism, the intimidation and the authoritarianism of the employers and the state.

The consciousness of the people must be liberated so that the correlation of forces changes in favor of the people’s interests. 

The KKE calls on the workers to take part in the 38th festival, the major event organized by KNE and ODIGITIS, to participate actively in the mobilizations that will take place over the next period throughout the country and in Thessalonica. The members and the friends of the KKE and KNE must be in the frontline of the struggle with a spirit of self sacrifice in order to pave the way for the victorious course of the people. 

Athens 29/8/2012

The PB of the CC of the KKE

The tragic events in the Marikana mine, in South Africa, which outcome resulted in the death of many miners, unionists and policemen, are serious and have an unquestionable political importance.

For what they objectively represent, but also by the symbolic and political power they acquired within a country, historically marked by the apartheid violence. Violence which took place, and specially the police action, cannot but offer an expressive condemnation by forces, as the PCP, have a common cause , with the workers struggle, the defence of their rights and have always been side by side with that people’s struggle against social and racial oppression and by the achievement and deepening of the democratic and national revolution, initiated with the over throwing of the apartheid. But this unquestionable condemnation and solidarity expression to workers of the millionaire mine extraction industry ought not to, nor cannot, ignore these events real causes and the political situation evolution in South Africa and of their social and political forces.

Upon two decades on the South African people’s and the ANC’s victory, the major reason for all these events resides in the maintenance of a situation which, in multiple aspects, can be considered as “social apartheid”. Although the existence of some positive evolutions, serious problems persist, inherited from the racial segregation system, such as unemployment ( which in strict sense achieves about 25% of the population and in latu sensu around 40%) ; poverty ; high employment rate in the so-called “informal economy” ( around 40% of the employment) and, moreover, a huge inequality in the wealth and land reallocation , which carries on a very strong racial component.

Policies carried out by the ANC, in order to correct the asymmetries in wealth distribution, access to employment and land, together with the participation in the economic activity, although with the best of intentions, did not resolve these problems in the essential, and one of the features of the evolution since 1994, was the emergence of a new powerful black bourgeoisie, which in many cases, assumes the role of the “visible face” of the colonial powers great economic groups, which influence the South African state apparatus and , during the Mbeki “era” won importance within the ANC, introducing interior contradictions and amid one of the main pillars of the tripartite alliance: the powerful COSATU, the class trade-union, of which the NUM, the miner union, is affiliated, its next month’s congress will precede the ANC congress in December, and during which, the ANC’s current leadership( headed by Jacob Zuma) and policy will be discussed, and which, in many aspects broke off , although not totally, with the policies proceeded unto 2009.

In the light the complex and explosive South African situation; the contradictions and the clarification processes in progress amid the ANC and the COSATU; some South African workers strata black population frustration regarding the ANC; the mining industry international companies action. in the attempt to dynamite the collective contract agreements, instigate divisions among the workers’ movement and finance populist trade-unions, such as the AMCU ( that some identify as holding a tribal nature and for several times, were accused of arising violence among workers), one ought to analyse the Marikana events. Events which, stand on a real frustration and revolt basis of over-exploited workers, suggest to observe the presupposition of the social and political orchestration in order to open up space for populism and “smash” the tripartite alliance via the COSATU debility, an important strategy for whom had in mind to jeopardize or subject the developments amid the ANC. Events which, once again prove, the major role of the workers’ class in societies and political evolution, and advise never to forget imperialism’s action which, as proved in Zimbabwe’s recent history, always attempted to create and profit from difficulties and mistakes in order to defer the African decolonizing history.