Sunday, 7 January 2018

To: Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party

7 January 2018

Dear Mr Corbyn

In solidarity with the heroic struggle of the people of Iran against one of the most despotic, brutal, anti-working class and misogynistic regimes in the world, and on behalf of the largest working-class party of the left opposition in Iran, I am writing to ask you to distance yourself immediately from the disgraceful comments made yesterday by the Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry. I am asking you to break your silence and to come out unreservedly on the side of the people in Iran in their heroic struggle against their oppressors.

Siding with the oppressors of the people or even staying silent or prevaricating on the rightful protests by the workers, women and the youth in Iran against the corrupt and reactionary Islamic Republic, whose leaders have amassed billions, while subjecting workers to abject poverty, smashing workers’ organisations, throwing trade unionists to jail, committing state-sanctioned discrimination and violence against women and LGBT people and executing dissidents in their tens of thousands, would be a grave political folly for the Labour Party. Once this regime is overthrown by the ongoing heroic rising of the people, the people of Iran will not forget who was on their side and who sided with their oppressors.

Your declared aims of fighting for a better world, for economic equality and for social justice won you great following among millions of people in Britain and internationally, who enthusiastically supported you in your leadership campaigns and in the 2017 general election on a progressive platform to address the widening inequality and the growing injustice in the UK.

However, these are exactly the same issues - on a far harsher and more brutal scale - that have brought millions of people onto to the streets of Iran today. The workers, women and youth in Iran are protesting against grotesque levels of inequality, lack of basic political and social freedoms and a medieval religious dictatorship that is an affront to the collective conscience of humanity in the 21st Century. People in Iran do not want the accumulation of wealth in the hands of the 1% and the billionaire clergy while they try to survive on a minimum wage that is one-fourth of the official poverty line. They do not want the vile state discrimination against women, which officially defines them as minors and the property of their male guardians; they do not want compulsory veiling and gender apartheid. They do not want the imposition of a religious state and religious thought. In one word, the people of Iran do not want the Islamic Republic. They have risen up against the Islamic Republic because they want economic equality and political and social freedoms. They want a better world and a life worthy of human beings. They are right to demand this, and should have the people of the world’s unreserved support.

Siding with such an obnoxious regime and disgracefully declaring, as Emily Thornberry has, that it is not clear who is right or wrong in this struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors will forever stay in the memory of the people of Iran. It will seriously harm the credentials of a progressive and egalitarian party that you are trying to build. It will disillusion millions of your supporters who rushed to your support precisely because they believe in equality and social justice everywhere. It will alienate your grassroots from the leadership, and mark a shameful moment in the life of your new party. It will be an irredeemable political folly and a historic moral disgrace for the Labour Party.

I hope the utterances of Emily Thornberry were an isolated case, which she will come to regret and openly apologies for. In any case, I urge you, as the Leader of the Labour Party, to distance yourself in the clearest terms from those comments and to come out unreservedly and unambiguously on the side of the people of Iran in these momentous days.

Hamid Taqvaee,
Leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Only with socialism can we defeat Islamic terrorism and racism

Hamid Taqvaee’s message to the people of France following the tragic terrorist attack in Nice

15 July 2016

The terrorist attack on Bastille Day in Nice is heartwrenching. This is a crime not just against the people of France, but also against the people of the world. I send my condolences to the families of the victims, the people of France and of the world on the loss of the lives of so many men, women and children. Just like the attack on the editors of Charlie Hebdo and the massacre in Paris last autumn, what happened in Nice is an assault on humanity and civilisation. All the civilised people of the world feel for and stand with the people of France, just as they did with the movement ‘I am Charlie’ in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack.

Following this painful tragedy, once again the question preoccupying the minds of the people is this: how can we rid the world of the menace of Islamic terrorism? The governments and ruling parties do not have an answer: by attacking Iraq and scrambling together a tribal-religious government, they are the cause of this mess; they are part of the problem of political Islam, not its solution. The solution is in the hands of people who stand up to Islamic terrorism by shouting ‘I am Charlie’; people who in battered Iraq storm the streets, chanting ‘Neither sunni nor shia, but secularism’; and people in Iran who have been defying the Islamic regime and its inhumane laws for years. The solution is in the hands of the people of France and the millions and millions around the world who have had enough.

Political Islam, in all its shapes and branches, from the Islamic State and Hezbollah to the Islamic regime in Iran, Hamas, Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram, and so-called ‘moderate’ Islamists in East and West, is diametrically opposed to the values and culture that the French Revolution championed and ushered in. The attack by political Islam on the day of the storming of the Bastille by the revolutionary people of Paris, an event that set off the French Revolution, is a mark of the ossification and setback, which political Islam is trying to force on our world.

The bourgeoisie, the ruling 1% of the world, has long given up the ideals of the French Revolution. Today the banner of defending civilisation and universal human values, in the face of the onslaught by Islamism and racism, is in the hands of the left forces, the 99% of the world. Extending the values of the French Revolution brings us to the socialist critique of the world today. Only with this banner can we defeat the political Islamic movement and stop racism and Islamic terrorism in both the East and the West.

On 14 July 1789 the revolutionary people of France stormed the Bastille fortress. The terrorist attack by Islamists on the anniversary of this day says to the people of the world that the storming of the fortress of political Islam calls for the mobilisation of a radical movement in defence of freedom, equality and civilisation. Let us try to make 14 July this year the day of the rise of this movement and the beginning of the fall of political Islam.

Hamid Taqvaee
Leader of the Worker-communist Party of Iran

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Racism and Islamism in Germany

Hamid Taqvaee 6 January 2016 The assault by a group of a thousand men on women and their sexual harassment on the New Year celebrations in Cologne has become a hot topic in the German media and public opinion. According to reports, the men who committed this despicable act are refugees from Islam-stricken countries. This situation can be used as an excuse by racists to intensify attacks on immigrants from Islam-Stricken countries, and for anti-immigrant acts or policies. We must stand against racism; and the slogan “no to sexism, no to racism”, raised in the demonstration on 5th of January in Cologne, shows that the left and progressive forces are well aware of the danger that racism poses. On the other hand, the traditional left and the supporters of “cultural relativism” are trying to portray this mass attack as a routine matter and an instance of the usual sexual harassment in German society. However, this analysis and position does not address the problem either. This organized attack by a thousand-strong men on women, which involved calling women prostitutes, cannot be described as a usual sexist act that happens in everyday life in society by any logic or reasoning. This kind of analysis and position, rather than being based on realities, is rooted in “postmodernist” ideology of ‘cultural relativism’ and ‘respect for other people’s culture’; views that have led the liberal and so-called left forces in Europe to defend the political Islamic movement and its manifestations in Western societies, such as building mosques, Islamic Hijab, Sharia Laws, Islamic schools, etc. The real issue is neither cultural, nor related to refugees and immigrants from Islam-stricken countries, nor is it explainable and justifiable in the frame of the usual sexism and patriarchy in western societies. This is an assault by political Islam on women, women’s rights and women’s freedom in German society. This is the export of Islamic misogyny to Western societies, similar to the assault by the thugs of Islamic Republic of Iran on women. The incident in Cologne is not the same as usual sexism in Germany; it is of the kind that is usual in the Islamic Republic. Misogyny is a pillar of political Islam as a definite movement, and it is not a part of the values and culture of Muslim people, or, more accurately, people who have been labelled Muslim. Refugees and ‘Muslims’ who migrated from Islam-stricken countries have themselves been victims of such conditions. The people of Islam-stricken countries, in particular the people of Iran, know very well that misogyny and assault on women is an important feature of political Islam, and which the Islamic states use to intimidate the society and force it into submission. As stated by Mina Ahadi, in her speech in the demonstration on 5th of January in Cologne, this assault on women is a clear example of organized terror on women by Islamic forces. Now, the political Islamic movement, in addition to exporting Sharia Laws, Hijab, Burka, Mosque and Islamic schools to Western societies, is attempting to also export Islamic misogyny. We cannot stand up to this assault with cultural relativism, ‘respect for Islamic culture’, and so on. On the contrary, this kind of position makes the Islamists export their ultra-reactionary policies to Western societies from a self-righteous and aggressive position. Conceding to Islamism does not counter racism; on the contrary, it paves the ground for it and reinforces it. Splitting culture and civilization into Islamic, Western and Eastern cultures and civilizations is itself another way of racism; a racism that instead of throwing “the others” into the sea, advertises their tolerance! Freedom, humanity, civilization and citizenship is not divisible into “self” and “others”; it is one and universal. And gender discrimination, sexism and the view of woman as a sex commodity, of any kind and in any “culture”, is reactionary and anti-human. Islam, like any other religion, has given a divine and holy appearance to this misogyny, and like a preserve of reaction, has protected it throughout history. Misogyny was a pillar of political Christianity in the Middle Ages; it is a pillar of political Islam today. The issue is not immigrant or refugee or foreigner or German or Islamic culture or Western culture. The line is not drawn here. The issue is to defend the values, civilization and culture of humanity against racism and Islamism. Only by raising the flag of defence of universal human values and culture can we stand against both racism and Islamism. Translated by Habib Baktash and Bahram Soroush

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Mass protests in Iraq: ‘Neither Shia nor Sunni, but secularism’

The protests, which started in several cities in southern Iraq last week, quickly spread to the rest of Iraq, reaching their peak on 7 August. Around half a million people came out in Baghdad alone, chanting slogans against the corrupt and reactionary rulers. Hundreds of thousands of others have demonstrated in Samawah, Al Diwaniyah, Basra, Nasiriyah, Najaf and Amarah. Slogans such as ‘Neither Shia nor Sunni, but secularism’, ‘The religious regime has ripped us off’, show the real meaning of the protests of the people of Iraq.

Starting on 31st July in Baghdad, Basra, Najaf and Amarah, the protests spread to Sulaymaniah, Rania, Qaladiza, Chamchamal, Darbandikhan and Halabja in Iraqi Kurdistan. The power and water cuts in Iraq’s deadly heat wave gave the pretext for people to voice their deep anger and discontent against poverty, insecurity, lack of rights and Iraq’s corrupt and reactionary government. According to reports from the Left Worker-communist Party of Iraq, several well known workers’ leaders, such as Falah Alwan and Saeed Nema, as well as the prominent women’s rights activist Hana Edward, spoke at Baghdad’s rally today. According to this report, left and secular forces have played a leading role in these protests.

We support the struggle of the people of Iraq for freedom and call on the people in Iran to support these protests. The people of Iran have experienced the barbaric rule of the Islamic Republic and share a common cause with the people of Iraq, and welcome the escalation of their just struggle. The slogan chanted by the people of Iraq today, ‘Neither Shia nor Sunni, but secularism’, is a key slogan of the people of Iran too. The reactionary Islamic regimes in Iraq and Iran should get lost so people can gain control over their lives.

Victory to the struggle of the people of Iraq!

Worker-communist Party of Iran
7 August 2015

Thursday, 16 July 2015

WPI statement on Iran nuclear deal

Finally, after protracted talks between the Islamic regime of Iran and the P5+1, and following the framework accord agreed in Lausanne in April, the parties have signed a deal, which will come into force after ratification by the UN’s Security Council. The Islamic Republic has conceded wide-ranging restrictions on its nuclear programme: the level of uranium enrichment, the number of centrifuges, the reconfiguration of Arak heavy water production facility and signing up to the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), allowing more extensive inspections. In return, the West’s economic sanctions against Iran are to be removed over a defined period of time. The arms embargo will remain in force for up to five years, and the ban on import of ballistic missiles for up to eight. Thus, with the Iranian regime’s capitulation to the US and European states, its nuclear efforts, which pursued military objectives, while inflicting severe hardships on the people and subjecting the society to a climate of insecurity, will be limited for at least a number of years.

There is no doubt that this deal is not tantamount to an improvement in the relations of the Islamic Republic with the West and its integration in the world economy. The conflict with the West will continue on several fronts. For the regime’s factions, too, the deal will provide another basis for the intensification of their infightings.

From the viewpoint of the overwhelming majority of the people of Iran, who wanted an end to the Islamic Republic’s nuclear efforts and the economic sanctions, this deal is a victory for them, and at the same time a huge political defeat for the Islamic Republic, paving the way for an escalation in mass struggles for ‘welfare and dignity’.

Factions within the regime and their supporters, including the so-called reformists, claim that this deal will result in an economic opening and a political relaxation, and demagogically try to persuade people to support Rouhani and await his government’s supposed miracles. However, the nuclear deal will not of itself lead to an improvement in the economic condition of the people. The regime will try to push ahead with the austerity programmes and cuts in living standards in the name of ‘economic reconstruction’ and ‘encouraging foreign investment’. So any improvement in the economic condition of the people and any political and cultural opening can only come about as a result of an escalation in strikes and people’s protests. The workers, women and the youth must unify their ranks even more to drive back the regime and enforce their demands on the parasitical rulers.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran calls on workers, women, the youth and the masses of the people to turn this development into a stepping-stone in the fight for their demands and the overthrow of the Islamic Republic.

Worker-communist Party of Iran
14 July 2015

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Greece: the countdown begins

Hamid Taqvaee
30 June 2015

Many have described the deadlock in the talks between Greece and the EU, and the call for a referendum, as the start of a countdown. But countdown to what? To a Greek exit from the Euro? To the Syriza government resigning? Or…?

The EU leaders and Troika, who insist on implementing the austerity programme, call the referendum effectively a vote on whether Greece stays with or leaves the EU; or at least they say so in order to frighten people from voting no. They know that the majority of the Greeks want to stay in the Eurozone and EU, and so are hoping, through the threat of a Grexit, to sway the result to a yes to austerity. In the meantime, Alexis Tsipras has said that if the result of the referendum turns out to be yes, he will respect people’s decision, but will not be the executor of Troika’s programme. In other words, a yes vote will mean that the Syriza government will step down.

Based on such analyses and claims, Greece now apparently stands on the brink of a choice between either leaving the EU or for the government to resign. Supposedly, the countdown is bound to result in one of these options. The truth, however, is something else.

The roots of the Greek crisis

Syriza came to power on a platform of no to austerity. The referendum too is about whether to accept or reject Troika’s new austerity package. The Greek government plans to use people’s no vote to reject Troika’s offer and sit round the table from a stronger position. Tsipras has already said this in so many words and asked Greek voters to reject the offer. It’s very likely that the people of Greece will say no to the austerity package, and also very possible that the Syriza government will be able to use this to bolster its position in the talks. However, this will not get rid of the crisis, nor even lessen it.

The root of the Greek crisis is not the austerity programme or the inability of the Greek government to repay its debts. These are the symptoms of the problem. The real problem is the economic system which for its survival needs austerity. I.e. the crisis-ridden capitalist system in Greece; the system of the top 1% in Greece and in the rest of the European Union.

Over the last decade, Greece, as one of the weakest of the European economies, has become a guinea pig for neo-liberal economic ‘reforms’. The elements of these so-called reforms include: slashing public and social services and health and education; deregulation and giving the market a free hand to set the prices, wages and all the conditions for the sale of labour power; income tax hikes, tax breaks for corporations, etc. The Greek economy, given its lower productivity, lower organic composition of capital and its technological lag, relative to the other EU members, has to drink up this poisoned chalice of ‘reforms’ in order to save capital from its crisis. However, even from the viewpoint of capital’s operability, this solution has so far failed to solve anything. The result has been nothing but financial sleaze and corruption at the top, and growth of poverty, economic insecurity, inflation and 60%+ unemployment for the rest of society. The question is: where does referendum fit in in all this? Which way’s the society heading?

Revolution or referendum?

Some left critics of Syriza in Greece and outside think that talks with the creditors and the referendum are useless, and say that the solution is revolution against capitalism. There is no doubt that the solution for Greece – and any other capitalist country – in order to get rid of the problems facing the working people, the society’s 99%, is revolution against capital, or, more precisely, the political and economic expropriation of the capitalist class, the ruling 1%. But revolution does not happen out of the blue. The class struggles have to escalate and deepen and become polarised over capital’s very existence. The ‘no’ to austerity has to grow into a ‘no’ to capital. And this can only be achieved in the process of struggle. Since the rise of Syriza to power six months ago, the class struggles in Greece have polarised over the issue of austerity. The election of Syriza, the tug of war in the talks and now the call for a referendum are all moments in the battle over austerity. In this battle, apparently the Greek government and people stand on one side, and the EU, IMF and ECB on the other. The real conflict, however, is between the camps of labour and capital; between the justified human demands and dreams of the masses, crushed under capitalism’s crisis, and the requisites for capital’s operation and profitability. Thus, as mentioned, the Greek crisis does not have a solution in itself and within the framework of either the rejection or acceptance of austerity. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, the Greek crisis and its economic and social consequences will not end - not even diminish for any lasting period - since the issue of the profitability of Greek capital, and the securing of the preconditions for this profitability, will still be there. Precisely for this reason this struggle can and must end in the deepening and growth of the general social consciousness from a critique of austerity to a critique of capital. The referendum this Sunday, just like the election of Syriza six months ago, is a link in the chain of the deepening struggle between the two camps of labour and capital in Greece.

What’s to be done?

What can and must be achieved politically within the current crisis in Greece is essentially based on the following two axes: firstly, swaying the general social discourse and climate from a critique of austerity to a critique of capitalism, relying on people’s everyday experiences; secondly, organising the masses in council-like organisations for direct intervention in their political destiny (the experience of the Occupy Movement could be instructive here).

The overwhelming majority, ‘the 99%’, should come to the realisation that, firstly, standing against them are not just the European states and Troika. The fundamental problem is the capitalist relations and the rule of the capitalist 1% in Greece itself. And, secondly, that expropriation of the capitalist class will take place not from the top, through the corridors of the talks with Troika, but from below, with the direct intervention of workers and the masses in factories and production centres, in districts, neighbourhoods and streets.

It is clear that this radicalisation of the society will not happen of itself. Only a radical communist and interventionist party, engaged in society’s everyday struggles, can and must be the agency for driving this agenda forward. This force is not the Syriza government. However, one must hope – and this is completely possible – that such a radical force will emerge and come forth in the process of the tumultuous events that lie ahead. Whatever form and shape this may take, the conditions for the rise of a revolutionary left pole in society are becoming more favourable day by day. The referendum itself could provide the conditions for the development of such a force.

Whatever the result of the referendum, Greek capitalism will emerge from this referendum more hopeless and rudderless, and, at the same time, more disgraced and discredited. A Grexit will rapidly open people’s eyes to the fact that the main issue is not merely the austerity programme or Troika but the capitalist system and relations in Greece itself. People will find out that the domestic capitalists are in fact the fourth pillar of Troika. Continuing with the status quo means remaining within the EU and cautiously implementing the austerity programme. But this will also quickly bring people to the conclusion that the problem does not have a gradual and negotiated solution; it must be resolved at the root.

So the answer to the question put at the beginning is that yes the countdown has begun, but a countdown to the society’s further turning away from capitalism and ultimately to the settling of accounts with the capitalist 1%.


First published in Farsi on, 30 June 2015. Translation: Bahram Soroush

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Iran nuclear deal: the viewpoint from the third side

By Hamid Taqvaee
2 April 2015

The Iran nuclear talks ended in a deal 48 hours after the deadline of 31st March, resulting in a joint statement by the two sides. This statement is a political understanding and a framework for the comprehensive accord to be signed by the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 by the end of June 2015. Both parties have called this initial deal a breakthrough, and each one, as is the norm in diplomatic deals, has described it as a victory for itself. The Islamic Republic’s Foreign Minister Zarif, together with the other Iranian negotiators, insists that all sanctions will be lifted and Iran’s nuclear efforts won’t stop. The USA and the other negotiators emphasise that all the paths to Iran’s acquiring a nuclear weapon will be blocked, the number of centrifuges will be cut by two thirds and Iran’s nuclear efforts will be subjected to inspection more than any country in the world.

However, from the viewpoint of the people of Iran, and as far as their interests are concerned, the results and criteria are completely different. From this viewpoint, the lifting or any easing of sanctions should translate into a reduction in poverty, unemployment and inflation and a rise in people’s living standards. People of Iran have long been opposing the nuclear project and the government’s slogan “Nuclear energy is our certain right” with their own slogan: “Welfare and dignity are our certain rights”. So, from the viewpoint of the people, any deal on the nuclear issue should lead to a rise in the "welfare and dignity" of the people. However, this will not be an automatic result of a deal between states, but only the outcome of the struggle of the people for a rise in pay, which currently is several times below the poverty line, against unemployment, inflation and economic insecurity. There is no doubt that with any opening in the state of the economy, the regime will try to tighten up the austerity belts with such excuses as reconstruction, recovery, etc. What is also certain, implementing the austerity policies and recommendations of the World Bank and the IMF - on which all factions of the regime have been in agreement - in order to attract financial credit and domestic and international investment, will more than ever come on the agenda of the regime. For the working people, this means nothing but further erosion of their rights, more economic insecurity and the greater tightening of the belts, while fresh opportunities will be opened up for the gangs inside the regime for more swindles and rip-offs.

Confronting such a situation can only be achieved by stepping up the struggle for "welfare and dignity". Politically, too, a deal on the nuclear project will pave the way for people’s protests. On the one hand, the excuses of sanctions, confrontation with the ‘Great Satan’ and the siege economy will be gone, making the regime the direct target of people’s protest. On the other hand, the nuclear deal will mean that the balance of power will tilt towards the Rouhani-Rafsanjani faction, while the Khamenei-fundamentalists faction will be weakened. This will in turn deepen the internal factional fights in the regime, creating a new opportunity for people to launch a challenge to the whole regime. However, the repercussions of a deal with the West go far deeper than the nuclear issue. Any rapprochement with the West will question the anti-West and anti-American ideological identity of the Islamic regime, and, strategically, further undermine its position within Iran and in the Middle East region. This process has already started, and will accelerate in the next few months with the conclusion of a comprehensive accord - if that happens. The totality of these conditions means the creation of a more favourable economic, political and social situation for the rise in the struggle of the people in all areas: the fight over pay and better conditions, for women’s equality, for political and civil rights, and for cultural liberation and a happy and modern life. Before, and rather than, indicating a success for any one of the negotiating parties, the nuclear deal will open the way for the advance of the ‘third party’, the people, who are yearning for "welfare and dignity".


First published in International, a Farsi-language weekly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, 3 April 2015. Translation: Bahram Soroush

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Women’s liberation movement: greatest threat to Islamism

The presence of women in the struggle against the Islamic regime of Iran over the last 36 years has been palpable. During the past year, the fight against the veil, the push back against the “morality” police harassing women in the streets, widespread demonstrations against acid-attacks and an active presence at universities and in industrial actions by teachers and nurses have been at the forefront of the struggle against the Islamic regime of Iran.

Women’s role in protests and the struggle against misogyny and Islamism in Iran, the Middle East and North Africa is now the standard-bearer of any progressive liberation struggle. The Islamic regime of Iran - along with ISIS, the Saudi regime and various shades of Islamism - builds its power structure by denying women’s right to dress, body, movement, choice, sexuality and employment. 

In Europe and North America, women’s right activists from Iran and the region are the voices of this immense movement for women’s rights and equality and closely linked with the demand for secularism and the separation of religion from public institutions and the state.

It is an imperative for people everywhere to unashamedly defend women’s rights against Islamists and the apologists of this reactionary movement.

The Worker-communist Party of Iran marks 8 March, International Women’s Day, in the context of this real, widespread movement via various actions.

We call on people everywhere to support the women’s liberation movement in Iran for freedom, equality and a better world.

Worker-communist Party of Iran – Organisation Abroad
8 March 2015

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Greece at a historical crossroads

Hamid Taqvaee

The election of an anti-austerity government in Greece is a political milestone for the working class; a moment in the process of a struggle, which, though rooted in the urban revolts of 2008, specifically began with the May 2010 protests against welfare cuts. This struggle not only hasn't ended yet, but with the election of Syriza, has entered a new and critical stage. Austerity - the issue at the heart of this struggle - is directly related to the conflict between labour and capital, not only in Greece, but throughout the world. This conflict will ultimately become polarised around the question of the very survival of capitalism as an economic system. However, at the beginning, and as long as the question of political power, from a class point of view, has not been resolved, this conflict will retain a political character. The question is: the perspective and politics of which class will ultimately prevail and be established as the general expectation and perception of the mode and structure of political power and the state?

The governmental crisis of the bourgeoisie

The bourgeoisie lacks a viable model of governance. The deadend of the traditional governments and parties in Greece, notwithstanding the active support of the EU and all the major international institutions, resulting in their defeat from a party they call ‘extreme left’ and ‘destabilising’, is the clearest proof of the bourgeoisie’s lack of a governmental alternative. However, the governmental crisis of the bourgeoisie is not limited to Greece. The bourgeoisie’s strategic institutions, think tanks and advisers, such as the World Bank, the IMF, the Economist, etc., ever since the collapse of Wall Street in the winter of 2008, have been talking about the impossibility of continuing the status quo, about a ‘crisis of democracy’, people’s desertion of the mainstream parties and a general mistrust towards the established system of government, specifically in the United States and Europe. They accurately show that not only is there no prospect for improving the present conditions, but the situation is increasingly getting worse. 

In a briefing to the World Economic Forum at Davos last year, Oxfam reported that the minority economic elite, in collaboration with the political elite, had driven the world to a state where “the bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world”. Also, a survey by Oxfam conducted in Brazil, South Africa, Spain, UK and the USA, showed that “a majority of people believe that laws are skewed in favor of the rich”, and that opposition to monopolisation of power in the hands of a privileged wealthy minority is growing.

A Gallup survey last year found that 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way they are governed, and the Economist in an editorial, entitled ‘The West’s malaise’, warned that, with the rise of the radical left, as in Greece and Spain, the political crisis of the West will deepen. Also, a study last year, part-funded by NASA, predicted that if the current trend of unsustainable exploitation of resources and the growing inequality in wealth continued, the global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades.

The bourgeoisie has itself become the harbinger of capital’s apocalypse. Unlike other times in the past, the crisis that the bourgeoisie now is facing is not a purely economic one. It is an all-round strategic, political and social crisis. Friedmanism’s economic model, with its corresponding socio-political doctrine, i.e. neoliberalism and neo-conservatism, have reached a dead end, and a return to Keynes and the Social-Democratic Welfare State is not plausible either.

This situation has hit the world bourgeoisie with a crisis of governance, of which Greece is a striking example. The mass abandonment by the people of the system of government and state of the 1%, as evidenced by the result of opinion polls, has developed into a critical political issue in Greece and Spain (and will perhaps become one later also in Portugal, Ireland and Italy). Bourgeois strategists are understandably worried that the crisis will spill over to the whole of Europe and the West. And no doubt if the bourgeoisie in the West catches a cold, in the rest of the world it goes through its death throes.

This all-round crisis has no solution within the framework of the bourgeoisie’s political and economic system. The ruling 1% will not give up its privileged status and economic and political power for all the warnings and advice from their well-wishing institutions; nor is this a requirement for the resolution of the current crisis and for securing the conditions for the renewed profitability and accumulation of capital. You can neither return to Keynes, nor extend democracy beyond the power zone of the 1% who have “skewed [the laws] in favor of the rich”. The political and economic “solutions” proposed by the more prudent institutions of the bourgeoisie, more than anything else demonstrate the gravity and undeniability of capitalism’s dead ends, rather than offering a realistic way out of such dead ends.

What is then the solution from the viewpoint of the working class, and the interest of the 99% whose cause and fight has been tied to that of the working class?

Prospect of socialism and a state based on people’s councils

Working-class and revolutionary communism responds to the issues of the world today by socialism vis-à-vis capitalism and by council power, i.e. direct intervention of people in politics and the running of society, vis-à-vis democracy. This is a solution from the standpoint of the working class on behalf of the camp of the 99% who have been crushed under capital. This is not a solution to save capital, but a solution to save the overwhelming majority of the people, to save the ‘global industrial civilisation’, and the earth itself from the danger of destruction.

Since the end of the Cold War in 1991, bourgeois states and ideologues, pointing to the failed experience of state capitalism, i.e. bourgeois communism, in the former Eastern bloc, have tried to portray socialism and a state based on direct participation of the people in political power through their councils as something evil. However, the more we move away from the time of the collapse of the Eastern bloc and the Cold War rhetoric, the more such propaganda loses credibility. Not only is the time for spreading illusions about the ‘miracles’ of democracy and the free market over, even the most ‘reputable’ institutions of capitalism describe the monopoly of power and wealth in the hands of a tiny minority as explosive and unsustainable. People too, not through any educational work by communist groups and parties, but through their own experience have come to realise the necessity of breaking the monopoly of the 1% on wealth and political power.

Life itself has pushed the necessity of the political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie onto the centre stage of intellectual and political discourse. This reality expresses itself more than anything else in the mass movements of the past several years, in the so-called Arab Spring revolutions and the Occupy Movement in the West. The ousting of dictators allied to the camp of democracy in the west, with the slogan of Freedom, equality, human dignity, joins up with the power of organised people in the Occupy Movement and with the demand for the abolition of the above-people state. The Occupy Movement declares that the parliament, the army, the Wall Street and the banks are in the hands of the ruling 1%, and extends the model of Tahrir Square occupation to the occupation of streets and squares in European and North American cities, offering models of ‘direct democracy’ by the people. The monopoly of power and wealth in the hands of the 1%, about which the Economist, Oxfam, the World Economic Forum at Davos and the World Bank warn, is challenged in people’s own practice on the streets. The Arab Spring is unable to go beyond the ouster of dictators, and the Occupy Movement rises and then winds down. But this is only the beginning of the road, and not its end. These protests and revolutions, which are unprecedented in the recent history of the West and the Middle East, are merely pre-seismic tremors in the world system of the bourgeoisie; a system, which by the admission of the bourgeoisie’s own global institutions, is driving the world towards an explosion. Getting rid of some of the western-backed dictators in the East, giving identity and political expression to the camp of the 99%, and declaring war on the world’s ruling 1% are the first achievements of these political pre-seismic tremors.

Greece at a historical crossroads

The developments in Greece should be placed and studied within this world confrontation between the camps of labour and capital. What is happening in Greece differs in form from the Arab Spring and the Occupy Movement. However, in substance it is of the same kind, and is in the continuation of those movements.

Masses of people rise up in protest in the midst of an economic crisis in a country, which, as Alexis Tsipras has put it, has been picked as a guinea pig for the austerity programmes. From 2010, around the same time as the Occupy Movement and the beginnings of the Arab revolutions, mass strikes and protests break out against austerity. People in their own experience see that the prescription which the ruling 1%, along with the states and banks and their internal and international centres of decision-making, have issued as a ‘solution’ to the crisis is not only failing to mitigate the problem, but by the passing of each day is making life harder and more unbearable. So people’s protests escalate, resulting in the end in the election of a leftist government, as a representative for the anti-austerity movement. However, this achievement, which, as noted earlier, marks a turning point in the recent history of struggles of the people of Greece, is still not even the final political victory of those struggles.

The absence of a political party acting as the representative and leader of people’s struggles in the revolutions in the Middle East and in the Occupy Movement was a critical weakness in those movements and revolutions and the key reason for their inability to capture the political power. Such a weakness did not exist in the struggles of the people of Greece. Syriza is in fact the party and representative of Greek people’s protest movement against economic austerity, and for this reason the election of Syriza is an important advance for this movement. But this progress is neither entrenched nor even irreversible. To firmly establish this victory, one has to go beyond the anti-austerity movement. The question then is: go beyond in what direction and with what slogans and aims? The global framework mentioned above gives a clue to the answer: the question of Greece is not a local or national one, and not, in the first instance, an economic one. It is in fact a critical and concrete example of the governmental crisis of the bourgeoisie, to which one can only respond by the working-class alternative of political power, i.e. direct exercise of the will of the people organised in their organs of power.

Greek society has risen up against economic austerity. It must, however, also be able to respond to the question of the laws, relations and mode of governance of society, which currently “are skewed in favor of the rich”. Without resolving this problem, the question of economic austerity will also ultimately remain unanswered. Occupation of squares and state institutions, and the activation of mass movements such as Direct Democracy Now!, have been a prevalent feature of the Greek protests right from the start, and inspired by the global protests and revolutions. With the election of Syriza, this direct participation of the people becomes critical.

The political significance of the economic measures

In Greece today, as in all societies in transition and undergoing revolutionary developments and crises, one could say politics is the basis of the economy, not the other way round. Any economic measure is bound to result in political struggles between the main social classes, pushing laws, relations and methods of government and the whole state apparatus to the centre of the struggles. If people around the world are expressing their mistrust of the existing system of government in opinion polls, in Greece they have started to act against the system. People of Greece have the power to offer a model of a viable system of government, the key to which is people’s intervention and direct exercise of power.

The empowerment of Syriza has so far taken place through the power of the people on the streets, even if its rise to power came about through parliamentary elections. Syriza has won political power by its active support for, and participation in, strikes and street protests. However, this cannot and should not mean the end of the street protests and the return of people to their homes.

As I pointed out in the article ‘Which way forward for Greece’ in the previous issue of the International, with each step which Syriza takes towards revoking the austerity programmes, the question of the capitalist system of production also inevitably arises and is pushed to the centre of class confrontations; issues such as the attractiveness of Greek markets for foreign capital, capital’s profitability, the capacity of various capitals in Greece to compete with similar sectors internationally, securing funding for the welfare programmes, the taxation system, etc. This is an objective and inevitable process, which will take the society from ‘no to austerity’ to ‘no to capitalism’.

The problem first asserts itself in the form of the incompatibility of the capitalist system with the most basic welfare needs of the people. Thus, the question of the control and monopoly of the 1% over laws and politics and the structure of the state, i.e. over the question of political power in the broad sense of the term, and not merely the cabinet, is highlighted and pushed onto the society’s agenda. The immediate anti-austerity measures which the Syriza government has introduced so far are an important achievement. However, even the continuation of such measures will depend upon the strengthening of political power in the hands of a force that is willing and able to go all the way to the end, i.e. the complete political and economic expropriation of the bourgeoisie. Such a force can only rely on the force of people organised in their mass organs of power. It is for this reason that the role of organised and active people becomes crucial not only for defeating the austerity programmes, but also for subverting the bourgeois state, for undermining the political power of the capitalist 1%.

Greece stands today at the crossroads of world events. It has the capacity to change from ‘a guinea pig for austerity programmes’ to a model of socialist solution to the political and economic crisis of capitalism. In this process, Syriza and the current government will no doubt undergo a transformation. One should hope for, and vigorously work towards, the strengthening of the force within Syriza which is reliant on the organised power of the people, and which represents the people not only in the fight against austerity, as it has done so far, but also in the formidable struggle against the political domination and state of the capitalist class. However, even failing this, the people and workers of Greece have shown that they are ready and willing to move forward in the decisive battles that lie ahead. This struggle will create its leadership too.

First published in the International, a Farsi-language weekly of the Worker-communist Party of Iran, 13 February 2015. Translated by Bahram Soroush

DROP THE DEBT! Sign the petition in solidarity with the people of Greece!

Sunday, 22 February 2015

DROP THE DEBT! Petition in solidarity with the people of Greece. Please sign!

They say Greece owes over €300 billion to the European Central Bank, the IMF and other national and international lenders. This is money that was loaned to Greece’s ruling 1% to "solve" the problem created by the 1%.

People of Greece, the 99%, don't owe anything. They are not responsible for the economic crisis created by the 1%, and they shouldn't pay for it. They have already paid enough through job losses, cuts in pensions and all the other austerity measures. No more austerity! No more liability!

We, the people of Greece, Europe and the world, say to the European Central Bank, the IMF and other national and international lenders:

People of Greece don’t owe you. Drop the debt!

Λένε ότι η Ελλάδα χρωστάει πάνω από 300 δισ. ευρώ στην Ε.Κ.Τ. στο Δ.Ν.Τ. και σε άλλους εθνικούς και διεθνείς δανειστές. Αυτό το ποσό δανείστηκε η κυρίαρχη τάξη της χώρας που αποτελεί το 1% του πληθυσμού για να “λυθεί” το πρόβλημα που δημιουργήθηκε ακριβώς από αυτό το 1%.

Οι υπόλοιποι Έλληνες πολίτες, το 99% του πληθυσμού της χώρας, δεν χρωστούν τίποτα. Δεν είναι υπεύθυνοι για την οικονομική κρίση που δημιουργήθηκε από το 1% και δεν πρέπει να πληρώσουν. Έχουν πληρώσει ήδη αρκετά χάνοντας τις δουλειές τους, βρίσκοντας τις συντάξεις τους κουρεμένες και βιώνοντας γενικά μέτρα λιτότητας.

Εμείς, οι πολίτες της Ελλάδας, της Ευρώπης και του κόσμου λέμε στην Ε.Κ.Τ. το Δ.Ν.Τ. και τους άλλους διεθνείς δανειστές:

Οι πολίτες της Ελλάδας δεν σας χρωστούν. Διαγράψτε το χρέος!

Dicen que Grecia debe más de € 300 billones al Banco Central Europeo, el FMI y otros prestamistas nacionales e internacionales. Este es el dinero que fue prestado a Grecia, en dominio del 1% para "resolver" el problema creado por ese 1%.

El pueblo de Grecia, el 99%, no les deben nada. Ellos no son responsables de la crisis económica creada por el 1%, y no deben pagar por ella. Ellos ya han pagado lo suficiente a través de la pérdida de empleo, los recortes en las pensiones y todas las otras medidas de austeridad. No más austeridad! No más imposición de las responsabilidades!

Nosotros, el pueblo de Grecia, Europa y el mundo, decimos al Banco Central Europeo, al FMI y a los otros prestamistas nacionales e internacionales:

El pueblo de Grecia no les debe. Suelten la deuda!