International Viewpoint Iv405 October 2008

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International Viewpoint Iv405 October 2008

  1. 1. INTERNATIONAL VIEWPOINT News & analysis from the Fourth International – October 2008 # 405 Peru: Hugo Blanco Also in this Issue: arrested for supporting farmers’ struggle Economy: Their Crisis, Our Consequences USA: Bill Banta, 1941- 2008 Peru: quot; I promise to keep fighting until my last breathquot; Fourth International: 70 years ago: the founding of the Fourth International Bush’s War Widens Dangerously: Pakistan European Social Forum: on the flight path of Looking for a second wind American power European Union: 65 Third World: Is Another hours? We can stop them! Debt Crisis in the Offing?
  2. 2. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 In this Issue Peru Peru: Hugo Blanco arrested for supporting farmers’ struggle………………………………………………….2 Bush’s War Widens Dangerously: Pakistan on the Hugo Blanco arrested for flight path of American power………………………...3 Third World: Is Another Debt Crisis in the Offing?....5 supporting farmers’ Economy: Their Crisis, Our Consequences………...8 USA: Bill Banta, 1941-2008…………………………10 struggle Peru: quot;I promise to keep fighting until my last International response wins release breathquot;…………………………………………………11 Fourth International: 70 years ago: the founding of Oscar Blanco Berglund the Fourth International……………………………...12 European Social Forum: Looking for a second wind…………………………………………………….13 On October 2nd, Hugo Blanco, ex peasant-leader and European Union: 65 hours? We can stop them!.....14 ever-present social activist, was arrested on orders Environment: Consecrated with the Nobel Prize, the of the court of Paruro, and taken to a cell in the court IPCC sees its recommendations kicked into the long of Cusco. According to Peruvian law, senior citizens grass…………………………………………………..15 over the age of 70 should not be incarcerated. Mr Philippines: The Unfortunate Collateral Damage in Blanco is 73 years old and has previously suffered a the name of Peace…………………………………..22 brain hemorrhage. (Update: Hugo Blanco is free. His statement in International Viewpoint Spanish is here.). IV is the English-language review of news and analysis published under the auspices of the Executive Bureau of the Fourth International. appears in a monthly .pdf document and online at: www.internationalviewpoint.org We reply on readers’ donations. -- By bank transfer to Barclays Bank, 876-878 Stockport Road, Manchester M19 3BP, Britain; Account number 40259691; Sort code 20-26-20. From outside Britain, our IBAN code is: IBAN GB30 BARC 2026 2040 2596 91. Our bank’s SWIFTBIC code is: BARCGB22. – By post to, PO Box 1109, London, N4 2UU, Britain.. The Fourth International also publishes reviews in French, Spanish and German. You can visit them online at these locations: Hugo Blanco Photo: Soldepaz Pachakuti Inprecor, French language journal http://www.inprecor.org/ The background is an illegal occupation of land belonging Punto de Vista Internacional, Spanish-language to the indigenous community of Huanoquite – Paruro journal (near Cusco, Peru), by the son of an ex-landowner. 50 http://puntodevistainternacional.org/ years ago the landowner Paz was famous for branding Inprekorr, German-language monthly magazine his farmers with the same burning stick that he used to http://www.inprekorr.de/ brand his animals. Hugo Blanco led the land struggle that resulted in the farmers themselves gaining ownership of the land. 2/23
  3. 3. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 It is this same land that Paz’ son is now illegally Yours sincerely. occupying. The police have taken the side of the Media reaction landowner against the community, and have accused the farmers and Hugo Blanco of ‘Resistance to authority’. The international media was fast to react to the news of They could not accuse the farmers of land occupation, Blanco’s arrest. Google News syndicated this article and since they actually hold the deeds for the land. In this one from Prensa Latina. The story was also quickly accusation, they included Mr Blanco for having supported reported across Latin America, notably by La República, the community on previous occasions, despite the fact La Jornada and Peru Informa. that he was not even there on the day the farmers The protest of María Blanco Berglund, Hugo’s wife, decided to take back the land that is legally theirs. against the arrest was cited by the Diario El Sol de Since he was not notified that he was accused of Cusco. An appeal for solidarity was also issued quickly by ‘Resistance to authority’, he did not present himself to the Congreso Bolivariano de los Pueblos (Bolivarian give a statement. Therefore the judge ordered his arrest. Peoples Congress). La República later reported the Tomorrow he will be taken to Paruro to give his Socialist Party’s support for Hugo Blanco. statement. Carmen Blanco Valer has written in Sur y Sur in support We call on all political organisations, the media and of her father. International Viewpoint has also published defenders of Human Rights, to show solidarity and an Italian appeal while La Gauche has published the spread this news. Let us hope that this case will be appeal in French.. solved quickly, and that it will serve to expose the Oscar Blanco Berglund is a supporter of the Peruvian systematic abuses against the indigenous, in this organisation Lucha Indigena. He is the son of Hugo community as well as in many others, who are the Blanco, a veteran leader of Pervian peasants struggles legitimate owners of the land, but have been oppressed who was part of the leadership of the Fourth International for centuries. in the 1970s and 1980s. Let us also show the authorities that the national and Other recent articles: international solidarity are aware of the increasing tendencies to criminalize social struggle and social Peru activists in Peru. quot; I promise to keep fighting until my last breathquot; - October 2008 Critical Left: freedom for Hugo Blanco - October 2008 Please send protest letters to the Peruvian embassy as Ollanta Humala - Peru’s New Hope? - April 2006 well as releasing statements. Elections in Peru - May 2001 The Lima embassy massacre - June 1997 Use this letter! Here below is a version of a letter that you can use. Please also send a copy of all letters to Lucha Indigena, Bush’s War Widens Dangerously the newspaper edited by Hugo Blanco, and to myself, in order to keep a record of solidarity. Peruvian Embassy: postmaster@peruembassy-uk.com Pakistan on the flight path Lucha Indigena: luchaindigena@yahoo.es of American power Oscar Blanco Berglund: oscar.berglund@uwe.ac.uk Tariq Ali Dear Mr Ricardo Luna, I/We write to you with a complaint against the police The decision to make public a presidential order of and court of Huanoquite, Paruro, Cusco, Peru for last July authorizing American strikes inside Pakistan having arrested Mr Hugo Blanco, accusing him and without seeking the approval of the Pakistani the local farmers of ‘resistance to authority’. We government ends a long debate within, and on the know that the farmers retook land, for which they periphery of, the Bush administration. Senator hold the deeds, but which the son of an ex-landowner Barack Obama, aware of this ongoing debate during illegally occupied. However, we also know that Mr his own long battle with Hillary Clinton, tried to Blanco was not even present when these acts took outflank her by supporting a policy of U.S. strikes place. into Pakistan. Senator John McCain and Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin have now echoed I/We ask you to investigate this case, since it seems this view and so it has become, by consensus, to form part of an increasing tendency to criminalize official U.S. policy. Its effects on Pakistan could be social protests and indigenous and social activists in catastrophic, creating a severe crisis within the army Peru. We also ask you to help clarifying the legal and in the country at large. The overwhelming ownership of the land, in order to stop this abuse of majority of Pakistanis are opposed to the U.S. the community by the very people that should protect presence in the region, viewing it as the most serious their rights. threat to peace. 3/23
  4. 4. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 is hardly a secret that many officials in these zones are closet supporters of the guerrilla fighters. Though often characterized as a rural jacquerie they have won significant support in southern towns and they even led a Tet-style offensive in Kandahar in 2006. Elsewhere, mullahs who had initially supported President Karzai’s allies are now railing against the foreigners and the government in Kabul. For the first time, calls for jihad against the occupation are even being heard in the non- Pashtun northeast border provinces of Takhar and Badakhshan. The neo-Taliban have said that they will not join any Why, then, has the U.S. decided to destabilize a crucial government until quot;the foreignersquot; have left their country, ally? Within Pakistan, some analysts argue that this is a which raises the question of the strategic aims of the carefully coordinated move to weaken the Pakistani state United States. Is it the case, as NATO Secretary-General yet further by creating a crisis that extends way beyond Jaap de Hoop Scheffer suggested to an audience at the the badlands on the frontier with Afghanistan. Its ultimate Brookings Institution earlier this year, that the war in aim, they claim, would be the extraction of the Pakistani Afghanistan has little to do with spreading good military’s nuclear fangs. If this were the case, it would governance in Afghanistan or even destroying the imply that Washington was indeed determined to break remnants of al-Qaeda? Is it part of a master plan, as up the Pakistani state, since the country would very outlined by a strategist in NATO Review in the Winter of simply not survive a disaster on that scale. In my view, 2005, to expand the focus of NATO from the Euro- however, the expansion of the war relates far more to the Atlantic zone, because quot;in the 21st century NATO must Bush administration’s disastrous occupation in become an alliance… designed to project systemic Afghanistan. It is hardly a secret that the regime of stability beyond its bordersquot;? President Hamid Karzai is becoming more isolated with each passing day, as Taliban guerrillas move ever closer As that strategist went on to write: quot;The centre of gravity to Kabul. of power on this planet is moving inexorably eastward. As it does, the nature of power itself is changing. The Asia- When in doubt, escalate the war is an old imperial motto. Pacific region brings much that is dynamic and positive to The strikes against Pakistan represent — like the this world, but as yet the rapid change therein is neither decisions of President Richard Nixon and his National stable nor embedded in stable institutions. Until this is Security Adviser Henry Kissinger to bomb and then achieved, it is the strategic responsibility of Europeans invade Cambodia (acts that, in the end, empowered Pol and North Americans, and the institutions they have built, Pot and his monsters) — a desperate bid to salvage a to lead the way… [S]ecurity effectiveness in such a world war that was never good, but has now gone badly wrong. is impossible without both legitimacy and capability.quot; It is true that those resisting the NATO occupation cross Such a strategy implies a permanent military presence on the Pakistan-Afghan border with ease. However, the U.S. the borders of both China and Iran. Given that this is has often engaged in quiet negotiations with them. unacceptable to most Pakistanis and Afghans, it will only Several feelers have been put out to the Taliban in create a state of permanent mayhem in the region, Pakistan, while U.S. intelligence experts regularly check resulting in ever more violence and terror, as well as into the Serena Hotel in Swat to discuss possibilities with heightened support for jihadi extremism, which, in turn, Mullah Fazlullah, a local pro-Taliban leader. The same is will but further stretch an already over-extended empire. true inside Afghanistan. After the U.S. invasion of Globalizers often speak as though U.S. hegemony and Afghanistan in 2001, a whole layer of the Taliban’s the spread of capitalism were the same thing. This was middle-level leadership crossed the border into Pakistan certainly the case during the Cold War, but the twin aims to regroup and plan for what lay ahead. By 2003, their of yesteryear now stand in something closer to an inverse guerrilla factions were starting to harass the occupying relationship. For, in certain ways, it is the very spread of forces in Afghanistan and, during 2004, they began to be capitalism that is gradually eroding U.S. hegemony in the joined by a new generation of local recruits, by no means world. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s triumph in all jihadists, who were being radicalized by the Georgia was a dramatic signal of this fact. The American occupation itself. push into the Greater Middle East in recent years, Though, in the world of the Western media, the Taliban designed to demonstrate Washington’s primacy over the has been entirely conflated with al-Qaeda, most of their Eurasian powers, has descended into remarkable chaos, supporters are, in fact, driven by quite local concerns. If necessitating support from the very powers it was meant NATO and the U.S. were to leave Afghanistan, their to put on notice. political evolution would most likely parallel that of Pakistan’s new, indirectly elected President, Asif Zardari, Pakistan’s domesticated Islamists. the husband of the assassinated Benazir Bhutto and a The neo-Taliban now control at least twenty Afghan Pakistani quot;godfatherquot; of the first order, indicated his districts in Kandahar, Helmand, and Uruzgan provinces. It support for U.S. strategy by inviting Afghanistan’s Hamid 4/23
  5. 5. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 Karzai to attend his inauguration, the only foreign leader While taking a significant toll on public revenues [1] to do so. Twinning himself with a discredited satrap in repayment of the public debt has, since 2004, ceased Kabul may have impressed some in Washington, but it to be a major concern for most middle-revenue only further decreased support for the widower Bhutto in countries and for raw material-exporting countries in his own country. general. In fact the majority of governments of these countries are having no trouble finding loans at The key in Pakistan, as always, is the army. If the already historically low interest rates. However, the debt heightened U.S. raids inside the country continue to crisis that hit the advanced industrial countries in escalate, the much-vaunted unity of the military High 2007 could radically change the conditions of Command might come under real strain. At a meeting of indebtedness in developing countries in the near corps commanders in Rawalpindi on September 12th, future. Are we approaching the onset of another debt Pakistani Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani received crisis in developing countries? The question requires unanimous support for his relatively mild public thought, because if such is the case, we need to be denunciation of the recent U.S. strikes inside Pakistan in prepared and take appropriate measures to limit the which he said the country’s borders and sovereignty damage. would be defended quot;at all costsquot;. The Historical Facts Saying, however, that the Army will safeguard the country’s sovereignty is different from doing so in The last two centuries in the history of capitalism saw practice. This is the heart of the contradiction. Perhaps several international crises (three in the 19th century and the attacks will cease on November 4th. Perhaps pigs two in the 20th [2]), which directly affected the fate of (with or without lipstick) will fly. What is really required in emerging countries. The origin of these crises and the the region is an American/NATO exit strategy from moment at which they peaked are closely related to the Afghanistan, which should entail a regional solution pace of the world economy and to that of the advanced involving Pakistan, Iran, India, and Russia. These four industrial countries in particular. Each debt crisis was states could guarantee a national government and preceded by an abnormal boom in the countries of the massive social reconstruction in that country. No matter center, with an excess of capital being partly recycled into what, NATO and the Americans have failed abysmally. the economies of the periphery. The crisis was generally triggered by a recession or crash affecting some of the First published at Tom Dispatch main industrialized economies. Tariq Ali’s new book is The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Easy Money Path of American Power In the past few years, many developing countries have Tariq Ali is a socialist writer and broadcaster who has seen their export revenues soar thanks to the rising been particularly active in anti-imperialist campaigns, prices of goods they sell on the world market: from Vietnam to Iraq. Born and brought up in Pakistan, he hydrocarbons (oil and gas), minerals, and agricultural now lives in London. products. This allows them to draw on these foreign Other recent articles: exchange revenues to repay the debt and be credible candidates for new loans. In addition, the commercial Pakistan banks of the North, who had pulled back on loans at the Thousands demonstrate againt neoliberalism and price hikes - June end of the 1990s after the financial crises in developing 2008 Workers take over Sugar Mill in Sind - March 2008 countries, gradually re-opened the credit lines starting in quot;Pakistan is not a heaven for left ideasquot; - March 2008 2004-2005 [3]. A dictator defeated - February 2008 Zero fervour for elections - February 2008 War drive From the Caucasus to the Balkans - an unstable world order - September 2008 Reject imperialist interference in Georgia! - August 2008 The Iraqi Debacle - January 2007 The Politics of the quot;Surgequot; - January 2007 The 33-Day War and UNSC Resolution 1701 - August 2006 Third World Is Another Debt Crisis in the Offing? Other private financial groups (pension funds, insurance Eric Toussaint companies, hedge funds) have given credit to developing countries by buying bonds that these countries issued on 5/23
  6. 6. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 the leading stock exchanges. States have also increased At First, Most Developing Countries Were Not their offers of credit to developing countries, for example Affected China, which has been on a widespread lending spree, At first, the stock exchanges of many developing and Venezuela, which finances Argentina and the countries saw an influx of speculative money that was Caribbean countries. In general, the interest rates and the eager to flee the epicenter of the crisis, in other words the risk premiums are far below those that prevailed up to the US. The capital released by the bursting of the real-estate early 2000s. We should also mention the substantial bubble which swept the Atlantic from West to East and credit granted within developing countries by local or struck Ireland, Great Britain, and Spain (the list will get foreign banks operating in the South. longer in the coming months) took refuge in other The Situation Is Changing markets: the raw materials and food product markets in the North (thus further increasing prices) and certain Things changed when the private debt crisis hit the stock markets in the South. [12]. advanced industrial countries in 2007 [4]. For a detailed analysis of the cause of the crisis and the international On another front, the decision of the US Federal Reserve context, see Eric Toussaint, Banque du Sud et nouvelle to periodically lower its target interest rate also lightened crise internationale, Liège-Paris: CADTM-Syllepse, 2008, — at least provisionally — the South’s debt burden. Also chapters 9 and 10. This crisis was triggered by the the price of raw materials remained high, allowing bursting of the speculative real estate bubble in the US exporting countries in the South to garner some large which brought about the collapse of several private debt revenues. markets (subprimes, ABCP [5], CDO [6], LBO [7], CDS [8], Will the Developing Countries Continue to Build Up ARS [9], etc.). This crisis is far from over and the world is Large Revenues from Their Exports? only now feeling the impact of its repercussions. Slower economic growth, already being felt in North While there was a veritable flood of credit up to July America, Europe, and Japan, will lead to less exports of 2007, various private sources suddenly dried up in the manufactured products, mainly by China and other Asian North. Private banks that were tied up in shaky debt countries. China’s domestic demand will not be enough to packages began to distrust each other and were reluctant compensate for the drop in external demand. The to lend money. The authorities of the US, Western slowdown of economic activity in the industrialized Europe, and Japan had to inject huge liquidities on countries, China, and other Asian countries with a high several occasions (hundreds of billions of dollars and consumption of raw materials (Malaysia, Thailand, South euros) to prevent the North’s financial system seizing up. Korea, etc.) should eventually bring down the price of During this time, private banks that financed themselves hydrocarbons and other raw materials. Of course the by selling non-guaranteed certificates could no longer find price of oil could remain high if OPEC were to agree to buyers for these on Northern financial markets. They had reduce the oil offer or if a major producer was prevented to clean up their books and write off the huge losses from producing oil at the normal rate (an attack on Iran by incurred by their risky operations of the previous years. Israel and/or the US; a possible social and political crisis To keep afloat they had to call in fresh money, provided in Nigeria or elsewhere; a natural disaster in this place or by the sovereign-wealth funds of Asian and Gulf that) and if speculators riding on the high wave continue countries. Banks that could not find fresh money in time buying into oil. were acquired by others (Bear Stearns [10] was bought by The future of exported food prices will depend on a JP Morgan) or by the state (Northern Rock Bank was number of factors. In order of importance: whether or not nationalized by the British government). Some of them agrofuel production continues to increase; whether or not did not escape bankruptcy. Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, bullish speculation on the commodities exchanges two North-American mortgage giants, were in virtual continues; crop results (cereals should be on the rise in bankruptcy in July 2008. These two institutions were Europe), which are influenced in particular by climate privatized during the neo-liberal wave but were state- change. To this should be added the eventuality of less guaranteed. Their mortgage portfolio amounts to some remittances by migrants to their native countries. $5,300 billion (the equivalent of four times the external public debt of all developing countries). Washington Mexican, Ecuadorian, and Bolivian workers in the US nationalized them in September 2008. [11]. These two construction industry are directly affected by the real institutions were privatized at a time when they were estate crisis and are fast losing their jobs. The Bank for making huge profits. Now that they have recently paid out International Settlements has underlined this trend: quot;In dividends to their private shareholders, they have been addition to lower capital inflows, a slowdown in the nationalized so that the state can take over their losses. advanced industrial economies would also lead to a As the editorial of the very neo-liberal magazine The decrease in workers’ remittances. This could have Economist itself declared in its 30 August 2008 issue: particularly large effects in countries in Central America, quot;That is capitalism at its worst: it means shareholders and Mexico, India and the Philippines, thus increasing their executives reap the profits, but the taxpayer bears the external financing needs relative to the more comfortable losses.quot; circumstances of the past few years.” [13]. 6/23
  7. 7. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 To sum up, there is no guarantee that the substantial future, all the more so since some of them have already foreign currency revenues of those exporting countries been severely affected by the world food crisis of 2008. It that benefited most from them will continue. On the is vital therefore to closely follow a situation that is contrary, they are likely to diminish in the next few years. presently uncontrolled, and prepare to find solutions. Otherwise the people will once again have to pay the Tighter Loan Conditions and a Possible Loss of highest price. [18] Revenues First published at MRZine But the uncertainty is not only about revenues: spending may also see wide variations. According to the authors of Eric Toussaint is President of the Committee for the the BIS 2008 Annual Report, the present trend for banks Cancellation of the Third World Debt (CADTM). to reduce their credit offer is likely to last and even get NOTES stronger. In many cases, variable rate loans granted by banks of the North to developing countries are indexed to [1] Between 20% and 35% of the state budget is devoted to repaying Libor (London Interbank Offered Rate), which is very the public debt in numerous countries. In the case of Brazil, the volatile and tends to rise. The losses that banks have to portion of the state budget devoted to repaying the internal and absorb have been at a high since 2007. The number of external public debt is four times higher than the sum allotted to debt payment defaults is on the rise in the North. The education and health spending! See Rodrigo Vieira de Ávila, quot;Brésil : credit default swaps market, these unregulated credit La dette publique est toujours bien là!quot; 10 March 2008 and Gabriel derivative contracts that were supposed to protect debt Strautman, quot;Deuda Pública: ¿Quién Debe A Quien?quot; 6 August 2008 holders against the risk of payment default, is in a state of [2] See Eric Toussaint, Your Money or Your Life, Chicago: uncertainty because the sums involved are so enormous. Haymarket books, 2005, chapter 7. See also Eric Toussaint, The The outcome is obvious: banks and other institutional World Bank: A Critical Primer, London: Pluto, 2008, chapter 4. investors are thinking twice before granting new loans, [3] quot;Cross-border claims of BIS reporting banks on EMEs (emerging and when they do grant them, they impose tougher economies) were estimated at $2.6 trillion in 2007, an increase of conditions [14]. And this is just the beginning. In June $1.6 trillion over the past five yearsquot; (BIS, 78th Annual Report, Basel, 2008, the BIS wrote: quot;In this setting, sovereign spreads June 2008, p. 41). (in other words the risk premiums that public authorities pay to lenders) remain well below the levels observed in [4] For a detailed analysis of the cause of the crisis and the past periods of financial turbulence, but are significantly international context, see Eric Toussaint, Banque du Sud et nouvelle higher than they were in the first half of 2007, highlighting crise internationale, Liège-Paris: CADTM-Syllepse, 2008, chapters 9 the risks that financing constraints could become and 10. binding.” [15] A little further on, the BIS added: quot;As for the [5] North-American ABCPs (asset backed commercial papers) are corporate sector, corporate bond spreads have recently negotiable certificates issued by banks or other companies on the widened more than sovereign spreads in a number of financial market for a short period (2 to 270 days). These certificates EMEs, indicating that some borrowers are starting to face are not collateral-backed (for example by a real estate property). tighter financing conditions after many years of easy They depend on the confidence of the ABCP buyer in the bank or borrowing.quot; [16] company that sells it. Also according to the BIS Annual Report, the countries [6] Collateralized Debt Obligations. most at risk are South Africa, Turkey, the Baltic states, and those of Central and Eastern Europe, like Hungary [7] Leveraged Debt Buy-Out. The acquisition of companies financed and Romania (in the last two the real estate bubble is by debts. about to burst, while to make things worse loans have [8] Credit Default Swaps. The purchaser of a CDS wishes, in been indexed to strong currencies, the Swiss franc in purchasing it, to protect himself against the risk of non-payment of a particular). quot;In view of the turmoil engulfing banks in debt. The CDS market has developed significantly since 2002. The advanced industrial economies, the second major volume of CDS-related sums increased eleven-fold between 2002 vulnerability in some EMEs concerns the sustainability of and 2006. bank-intermediated capital flows. Historically, bank flows have periodically been subject to sharp reversals, such The problem is that these insurance policies are sold without as during the early 1980s in Latin America and during regulatory control. The existence of these CDS has encouraged 1997-1998 in emerging Asia.” [17] companies to take more and more risks. Believing themselves protected from defaults on payment, lenders grant loans without Conclusions verifying the borrower’s ability to repay. As a result of the crisis affecting advanced industrial [9] Auction Rate Securities. These securities sold in the US represent countries, loan conditions will certainly tighten for credits to city councils, universities (for student grants), hospitals, etc. developing countries. The large currency reserves that Each week, clients can buy or sell them via an auction system. In they have been able to build up over recent years will June-July 2008, the market collapsed and the banks that had sold serve as a buffer against the consequences of tighter these debts had to buy them back from their clients and pay state- conditions, but will not be sufficient to protect them imposed fines. The sums involved are estimated at $330 billion and entirely. Certain weak links in the South’s indebtedness the fines paid by UBS ($150 million), Citigroup ($100 million), JP chain are in danger of being directly affected in the near 7/23
  8. 8. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 Morgan, Morgan Stanley, etc. add up to hundreds of millions of “final” economic crisis of capitalism — it will have to dollars. be overthrown. [10] Bear Stearns, the 5th largest investment bank in the US, was heavily involved in the CDS market [11] This is a prime example of privatized profit in times of economic prosperity and public-borne losses in times of depression [12] But for the latter this was short-lived: some of them are experiencing a sharp downturn (Shanghai, Hong-Kong, Bombay- Mumbai, Sao Paulo, etc) [13] BIS, 78th Annual Report, Basel, June 2008, p.55 [14] BIS, op. cit. [15] BIS, p. 51. [16] The BIS also writes: quot;Bank credit to the private sector has expanded tremendously over the past five years — in Latin America by a cumulative 7 percentage points of GDP and in CEE by 30 What do we make of the current financial meltdown? percentage points. Such rapid credit growth could have Clearly the collapse of the subprime mortgage market overstretched the capacity of institutions to assess and monitor credit was the immediate trigger for the crisis, although, as effectively, p. 54. Doug Henwood has pointed out, subprime mortgages [17] BIS, p. 53. make up at most about one quarter of the mortgage market, and only 10%-15% of these loans are at risk of [18] As regards alternative proposals, see: Eric Toussaint, Banque default. The deregulation of the financial sector — begun du Sud et nouvelle crise internationale, op cit., chapters 1 to 4. See under Reagan and the first Bush, and completed under also: Eric Toussaint, quot;Quelles alternatives pour le développement Clinton — has led to the mushrooming of financial humain?quot; 22 August 2008; and Damien Millet and Eric Toussaint, 60 derivatives (hedge funds, mortgage-backed bonds, etc.) questions/60 réponses sur la dette, le FMI et la Banque mondiale, with little foundation in real capital invested in buildings, CADTM-Syllepse, 2008, chapters 10 to 12. machinery, equipment and stocks of goods and services Other recent articles: (the “real economy”). Economy But the growth and collapse of fictitious capital — what Marx called the “circulation of property rights” — is a A crash course in capitalism - November 2008 “The crisis is combining with the climate and food crises” - November feature of every capitalist business cycle. As the business 2008 cycle passes its peak, capitalists look for new profitable Toxic capitalism - November 2008 investments. Because profits are slipping in the “The climatic crisis will combine with the crisis of capital…” - November 2008 production of goods and services, capital flows into Their Crisis, Our Consequences - October 2008 financial instruments that are claims on future wealth — speculative bets that the economy will continue to grow. Financial bubbles inevitably burst as slowing economic Economy growth in the real economy reduces the value of the assets –- such as housing - upon which fictitious capital rests. The results are all too familiar — investor panic, Their Crisis, Our sharp drops in the prices of stocks and other financial instruments, and a rising tide of bankruptcies in the Consequences financial sector. Is this what 1931 looks like? We have seen a number of these financial crises in the past 25 years — the Stock Market crash of 1987, the Charlie Post Savings and Loan collapse of the late 1980s and early 1990s, and the bursting of the “Dot.com” bubble in the early part of this decade. None of these financial crises, IS THE BANKING crisis the end of capitalism as we however, sparked a generalized collapse — deep know it? Put simply, no. Capitalism cannot avoid recession or even full-scale depression — of investment periodic short-term and long-term crises of falling and production in the “real economy.” With an infusion of profits and economic stagnation. However, as Marx funds from the capitalist state, the financial sector was pointed out over 150 years ago, capitalism has stabilized and growth, in both the “real economy” and on internal mechanisms — driving down wages, Wall Street, resumed after each of these panics. reorganizing work, massive bankruptcies — that allow it to recover from these crises. There will be no Ultimately, the underlying health of the “real” capitalist economy cushioned the impact of these financial panics. 8/23
  9. 9. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 A wave of bankruptcies and mergers and acquisitions most of us, an ever-sharper attack on working-class that eliminated inefficient fixed capital (devalorized standards of living will be the main consequence of the capital), “lean production” that increased labor current crisis. Those of us on the revolutionary left can productivity (the rate of exploitation), and neoliberal only hope that a return of stagflation will also encourage a capitalist state policies that deregulated capital and labor return of the working-class and popular struggle of earlier markets, all stimulated rising profits. The “long-wave” of decades. expansion of capital accumulation reduced the length and There are some basic points for activists to raise in the depth of financial crises. current crisis. First, Congress’ plan privatizes the gains The current financial meltdown, however, comes at a and socializes the losses from the current speculative point when there are clear indications that the U.S. and frenzy. But if there is anyone who should benefit from global capitalist economies are entering a new long-wave government intervention it’s ordinary citizens, particularly of stagnation. The very growth of investment — in the millions of families at risk of losing their homes particular the increasing capitalization/mechanization of because of exorbitant mortgages, and the newly production — in the real economy during the long-boom tightened bankruptcy laws. of the past quarter century is now turning into its If there’s money available to buy up and “socialize” opposite, pointing toward a long period of declining profits collapsing banking giants, then those same resources and stagnant capital accumulation. can just as easily be used to restructure the mortgages of In the context of a new long-term fall in profitability, the struggling homeowners. There is also money for a jobs meltdown that began in the subprime mortgage market program to build affordable and energy-efficient housing, and has spread to the heart of Wall Street has much hospitals, mass transit and schools. more ominous implications for capital. The bankruptcies While we’re at it, why not put some of those funds or near bankruptcies at Bear Stearns, AIG and other firms towards protecting social security, and ensuring universal and the instability in the stock market are the “fire alarm” health care through a single-payer system? After all heralding a sharp and deep recession. If financial medical crises are the single biggest cause of bankruptcies were to spread unchecked, a full-scale bankruptcies in the country. Single payer is a step collapse of production on the scale of 1929-31, the onset towards stabilizing the housing market! of the Great Depression, could ensue. Secondly, the “luxuries” our society really cannot afford 3 A full-scale depression, however, is unlikely. The well- are the costs of war and empire – George W. Bush’s Iraq founded capitalist fears of the political effects of a war which will ultimately cost between one and two trillion depression are leading both Democratic and Republican dollars, the U.S. military bases in 150 countries, or the six politicians to abandon some of the orthodoxies of percent increase in the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal 2009 neoliberal economic policy and to approve – after some which will now be a tidy $621.5 billion, including $68.6 messy political bargaining, given the deep popular anger billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (but not - some version of Bush’s $700 billion bailout for the including all the “emergency supplementary” allocations former investment banks (now converted or absorbed into to be demanded later for these imperial occupations). all-purpose banks) and insurance companies. This subsidy, and a temporary and partial return to state Third, we need to explain why the government and the regulation, will probably stabilize the financial sector and capitalist state respond to the needs of capitalists, not to reduce — but not prevent — the depth and length of the the wishes of the majority of people. The wave of popular coming recession. Meanwhile, other corporate sectors anger against the bailout for Wall Street forced the are lining up at the trough for their share of the bounty of administration and Congressional leadership to write into “business Keynesianism,” notably the used-to-be-Big the legislation some timid regulation and curbs on Three auto companies. “excess” CEO salaries at a time of rising inequality. These gestures can’t hide the underlying reality that in Capital as a whole will pay a price for this bailout. While a times of crisis, the state “socializes” the risks for capital, politically disastrous economic collapse will be avoided, while “privatizing” the most essential necessities for the underlying cause of falling profitability — excess fixed everyone else. capital — will remain after the bailout of the financial sector. As a result, profits after a recession will remain This article originally appeared at the Solidarity site. too low to encourage substantial new investment in the Charlie Post teaches sociology in New York City, is production of goods and services. At the same time, the active in the faculty union at the City University of New massive capitalist state infusion of cash into the banking York, and is a member of Solidarity. system, financed by growing federal deficits, will increase the supply of money. The likely result will be too much Other recent articles: money chasing too few goods — a new wave of inflation. Economy Whoever is elected President in November 2008 will A crash course in capitalism - November 2008 likely face the same “stagflation” — the combination of “The crisis is combining with the climate and food crises” - November 2008 price inflation and economic stagnation — that Nixon, Toxic capitalism - November 2008 Ford, and Carter wrestled with through the 1970s. For 9/23
  10. 10. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 “The climatic crisis will combine with the crisis of capital…” - November In the SWP he was a member of two opposition 2008 Is Another Debt Crisis in the Offing? - October 2008 tendencies, the Proletarian Orientation Tendency (PO) in 1971 and the Internationalist Tendency (IT) in 1973-74. With 160 other oppositionists in the SWP who supported USA the political poitions of the majority of the Fourth International led by Ernest Mandel, Bill was expelled from the SWP on July 4, 1974. About one third of those who had been expelled, including Bill, were readmitted to the Bill Banta, 1941-2008 SWP in 1976. In 1982, however, he and more than a Revolutionary socialist all his adult life hundred members were expelled from the SWP by the undemocratic and dictatorial regime that ran the SWP. Patrick M. Quinn Bill became a founding member of Socialist Action and then, in 1986, a founding member of Solidarity. BILL BANTA, A member of the Chicago branch and From 1984 to 1989, Bill was a key activist in the Evanston founding member of Solidarity, died of pancreatic Committee on Central America, which had been cancer in a Chicago hospice on August 20th. He was organized to oppose U.S. intervention in Nicaragua and 67. Bill was a revolutionary socialist his entire adult El Salvador. During the 1990s and into the beginning of life. Born on February 6, 1941 in Portland, Indiana, he the new century, Bill devoted many hours as a volunteer joined the Young People’s Socialist League (YPSL) at the New World Resource Center, an independent as an undergraduate at Indiana University. progressive bookstore and gathering place for the Left in Chicago. Bill came from a working-class background in Portland, Indiana. His father, a U.S. Marine, had been severely wounded on Iwo Jima during World War II. A member of the Church of Christ, a Boy Scout who enjoyed camping, and a high school football player, Bill had also early in his life developed a keen sense of social justice, and when in college he encountered socialism for the first time, it was a natural fit. Bill had a great many friends and comrades in Chicago Bill Banta, 1941-2008 and he will be sorely missed. He was an exemplar of Image: Solidarity those of his generation who had embraced the vision of a There will be a memorial meeting for Bill at 1:30 PM socialist world and devoted their lives to transforming that Saturday October 25th at the 2nd Unitarian Church, 656 vision into a world without war, injustice, racism, West Barry Street in Chicago. oppression, and capitalist exploitation — a world in which economic, political and social equality will prevail. Upon graduation in 1963 he moved to Chicago, where, as a social worker, he became involved in the civil rights Patrick M. Quinn is a member of Solidarity in Chicago movement and was an active trade unionist. He soon and a longtime friend and comrade of Bill Banta. became an organizer in the American Federation of Other recent articles: State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), where, among other accomplishments, he organized the Obituary blue collar employees of the city of Evanston, winning To the end, he was still working to do the right thing - September 2008 them a contract which, after 40 years, remains one of the Pierre Broué 1926-2005 - September 2005 Roland Lew - May 2005 best contracts negotiated by municipal workers anywhere Livio Maitan 1923-2004 - October 2004 in the United States. Bill also served as an organizer for Livio Maitan - a man of different times - October 2004 the Furniture Workers and the United Electrical Workers in Louisville, Kentucky, and worked in Chicago as a taxi cab driver. In 1968 Bill joined the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) in Chicago. He had become very involved in the movement against the war in Vietnam. He then secured a job as a switchman on the Chesapeake and Ohio Railroad in Chicago and quickly became a militant mainstay of the large group of members of the United Transportation Union (UTU) organized by the SWP. He remained a militant in the UTU until 1982 when he lost his lower right leg in an accident on the railroad. 10/23
  11. 11. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 At a later date, Rosendo Paz ordered the police in Peru Huanoquite to go and take the members of the community away, an order that was immediately executed. Since the farmers had the audacity to resist the quot;I promise to keep fighting attack, they were beaten and taken to the village and then to the city of Cusco. This included women with until my last breathquot; crying children. I was not present when these acts took place, but I was called to give a statement. Obviously, My arrest those who were classified as criminals were not the Hugo Blanco aggressors, but the victims of the aggressions. When I was arrested and was told that I was accused of “Violence and Resistance to Authority”, I thought that it First of all, I want to express my gratitude to all was in relation to this act, at which I was not present. I individuals and institutions that, once they heard was wrong, the judge had the good will to tell me. The about my arrest, demanded my liberty. Your support crime of “Violence and Resistance to Authority” was was very important. I want to specially thank our committed by assisting to the ceremony of the land Canadian friends, whose support has made it distribution, during which there was no violence at all and possible for Lucha Indigena still to be published. no state representative was present. I understand. We are in the country in which the Parliament, abdicating from their duty, authorised the cabinet to legislate in their place, against “Organised Crime”. Alan García used this authorisation to legislate against claims by organised people, penalising protest. The victims of this word manipulation are the hundreds of people all around Peru who have been arrested and sentenced for claiming their rights. These are comrades who have the misfortune not to be well known, for which nobody raises their voice to protest on their behalf. Hugo Blanco Fortunately I did get the support necessary to be released quickly. I call on all the voices of solidarity, which with A special thank also to Conacami, our friends in the their swift action brought me out of prison, to protect indigenous and social struggle in Peru, and also to together all the victims of the penalisation of protest. It Wilbert Rozas, the mayor who set up the first local seems like Conacami have already started a campaign. government governed by the indigenous communities, Let us take part in that campaign. I will keep the who travelled to Paruro as soon as he heard the news. addresses of all those who with their voices of solidarity Thanks to all this solidarity my liberation was quick…for set me free, in order to invite you to take part in the now. defence of other victims of repression. As of my case, it is My relation to this case goes back to my childhood in not finished. The system tends to leave the sword of Huanoquite, Paruro, Cusco, when I got the news that the Damocles just above the heads of those who protest, with landowner Bartolomé Paz had let the buttocks of an the threat that if they do not change their attitude and indigenous farmer be branded with hot iron, with his close their mouths, the sword will fall. The judge gave me initials: BP. Of course Mr. Paz was not arrested, that was an ambiguous document, in which I am called to attend not possible since he was a respected man. That act on the 21 November. It is ambiguous because it is probably decided the purpose of my life. unclear whether I may be arrested again if I do not attend. In this way the interpretation is up to the Now his son, Rosendo Paz, heir of the hacienda, takes repression and the political needs of the regime. neighbouring land in Markhura, belonging to the indigenous community of Tantarcalla. He has even set up This is the kind of documents they tend to give out. They a paddock specifically for stolen cattle, something that mean: “If you keep quiet nothing will happen, but if you was reported by the owner. keep on protesting you will be incarceratedquot;. The community has documents proving their ownership. How can they explain my arrest for an event that took In 2006 the members of the community came to the place over two years ago, without asking me to give a Farmers’ Federation of Cusco, of which they are statement in all that time, when I was called, attended members, bringing their deeds, to ask for the presence of and gave a statement for a later event? The explanation a representative from the federation at the ceremony, is that my local activities were not bothering them much where the land was to be distributed amongst the back then. Now on the other hand, when all the members in order to be used. I was assigned this task by countryside is moving because of the fierce attacks on the federation. I fulfilled the task, which I immediately indigenous communities, organisations from around the informed the local police station about. They did not country invite me to talk about the attack and to object in any way or form. 11/23
  12. 12. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 coordinate the defence, the prime minister calls me old- Second World War, it would remain a minority fashioned and my activities are bothering them. organization. I promise to keep fighting until my last breath against the But the foundation of the Fourth International was not oppression against our peoples, which began five justified by forecasts or by responses to the conjuncture centuries ago. of the period; it was justified by the need, faced with the betrayals of social democracy and Stalinism, to affirm a Hugo Blanco was a leader of the peasant uprising in the historical alternative, a new political current which would Cuzco region of Peru in the early 1960s, a symbol of the ensure continuity and the programmatic, theoretical and unity and renewal of the Peruvian revolutionary left in political vitality of the revolutionary workers’ movement. 1978-1980, imprisoned, threatened with death, exiled and So it was not a question of proclaiming a “Trotskyist freed thanks to international solidarity. International”. It was necessary, at the moment when with Other recent articles: the war “everything was going to pieces”, to preserve the heritage of Marxism, not in order to put it “in cold storage” Peru while waiting for better days, but in order to aid the Critical Left: freedom for Hugo Blanco - October 2008 political struggle and the building of revolutionary parties. Hugo Blanco arrested for supporting farmers’ struggle - October 2008 Ollanta Humala - Peru’s New Hope? - April 2006 Elections in Peru - May 2001 Against the stream The Lima embassy massacre - June 1997 The origin lay in the Left Opposition to Stalinism. But the Fourth International was much more than that. It maintained a certain vision of the world, marked by Fourth International internationalism - which already flowed from a certain capitalist globalisation and was opposed to the “socialism in one country” of Stalin. Its whole struggle was 70 years ago: the founding conditioned by the class struggle, by the elements of a programme of transition towards socialism, by the united of the Fourth International front of the workers and their organizations, by the independence of the workers’ movement faced with the François Sabado governments of class collaboration in the developed capitalist countries – the different formulas of the Union of the Left or the plural Left -, but also with respect to the The Fourth International was founded when it was national bourgeoisies in the countries dominated by “midnight in the century”. Fascism was on the imperialism, which would go down in history as the theory rampage, the counter-revolution had triumphed in the of permanent revolution. Where many commentators USSR and Stalinism was suffocating the reduced their analysis of the world of the last century to revolutionary workers’ movement all over the world. camps or states - the USA and the ex-USSR -, the Fourth In contrast with the preceding Internationals, it was International put forward the struggle of the peoples and not carried forward by waves of workers’ struggles the workers against their own imperialism and against the and a growth of the working-class movement. Soviet bureaucracy. The Fourth International was not confined to defending Marxist ideas in a general or dogmatic way. Ernest Mandel, for example, analyzed the dynamics of the development of capitalism, from the 1950s to the end of the 1970s. Programmatic documents were discussed and adopted by international congresses, on the questions of socialist democracy, feminism and ecology. Faced with Earlier issues of Quatrième Internationale, a predecessor of Stalinism, Trotsky and his movement had distinguished International Viewpoint themselves, from the 1930s onwards, by tenaciously Image: Sirdon defending democratic socialism. These references have The First International arose after the revolutionary allowed many generations, especially today, at a time explosions of 1848 in Europe. The Second International when school textbooks confuse communism and was the incarnation of the growth and the organization of Stalinism, to distinguish between the Russian Revolution the workers’ movement at the end of the 19th century and and the Stalinist counter-revolution, to maintain the at the beginning of the 20th. The Third International was objective of the revolution… and to be able, in spite of the launched after the Russian Revolution. But the Fourth defeats, “to start again”. International stood against the stream, at a time of major Because our movement has also another singularity, historical defeats for the workers’ movement. Also, even with respect to other Trotskyist movements: that of contrary to certain forecasts, in particular those of Trotsky recognizing revolutionary, anti-imperialist and socialist who, taking the example of the Third International after processes, even despite their leaderships, of expressing the First World War and the Russian Revolution, foresaw unflinching solidarity with them against imperialism. We the development of a mass Fourth International after the 12/23
  13. 13. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 clearly defended the Chinese, Yugoslav, Vietnamese, Report on the International Situation - April 2008 Greg Tucker: towards a tribute - April 2008 Algerian, Cuban and Nicaraguan revolutions. In LCR calls for new anticapitalist party - February 2008 particular, our relationship with the experience of Che “Ernest Mandel – A life for the revolution” - July 2007 Guevara expresses this will to link ourselves to these revolutionary processes. European Social Forum New period… Now of course, that was not done without any political mistakes or faults. While combating Stalinism and expressing our solidarity with the peoples of Eastern Looking for a second wind Europe against the bureaucracy, our movement globally Leonce Aguirre underestimated the extent of the destruction caused by Stalinism, which, when the Soviet bloc collapsed, left the road open, not to an anti-bureaucratic political revolution Even though the level of participation in the or to mass movements for democratic socialism, but to European Social Forum in Malmö (Sweden) was the restoration of capitalism. In our solidarity with the limited, this framework remains irreplaceable in order colonial revolutions, in this enthusiasm for living to permit a sharing of experiences and to support the revolutions, we underestimated the problems which were organization of mobilizations on a European scale. linked to them. We did not sufficiently exercise the duty of criticism. But the organizations of the Fourth International demonstrated other weaknesses, often linked to their small size: a propagandist character, some sectarian faults, a style of political “advisers” towards other and bigger forces, generally reformist parties … “Do what we cannot do! ”, we said to them… Trotskyism also suffered from factionalism. There is a Translation headsets used at European Social Forum well-known proverb: “one Trotskyist, a party; two Image: Wikimedia Trotskyists, two factions; three Trotskyists, a split…” Whereas, over the last 70 years, a number of The Fifth European Social forum (ESF) was less filled revolutionary organizations and currents have with enthusiasm than the preceding ones, in particular disappeared, the Fourth International has maintained because the level of participation was lower (a little more itself. It did not fulfil its historical objectives, it experienced than 10,000 entries) and because of the sometimes ups and downs, there were major crises in certain chaotic material conditions in which it took place. That is countries - as in Brazil, recently -, but there have also to be explained mainly by the, at the very least, limited been breakthroughs, as in France, and positive engagement of the Swedish trade-union organizations. experiences, as in Portugal, Italy, Pakistan and the They are not very interested in Europe and in the Philippines. That is a considerable achievement. mobilizations that need to be to be organized on this scale faced with the policies of the European Union (EU), At the moment when the LCR wants to write a new page thinking, wrongly, that they have more to gain more by of the history of the workers’ movement, we have to know limiting their action only to a national framework in order where we come from, in order to “enrich with a to preserve social gains. revolutionary content” the processes of reorganization of the workers’ movement that are underway. Because this But there are other reasons that explain a certain running is indeed an historical turning point. The Fourth out of steam of the dynamics of the social forums. By International is the product of a period marked by the confining political organizations to a subordinate role, the driving force of the Russian Revolution, but its whole question of the global political alternative that must programme and the reality of the activity of its members be counter-posed to neo-liberalism is evaded. The simple go beyond this history. However, nothing is guaranteed. sum of the social movements will not make it possible to “New period, new programme, new party”, that also defeat liberal policies. Without a debate on strategy, the means a new International. It cannot just be proclaimed, slogan “Another Europe is possible” is just a hollow and the road will be long. But the comrades of the Fourth formula. International will do their utmost to bring it into existence. Having said that, the ESF remains an irreplaceable François Sabado is a member of the Executive Bureau framework for exchanging experiences, for building and of the Fourth International and of the National Leadership consolidating networks on questions like immigration, of the Revolutionary Communist League (LCR, French precarious work, the climate, or war. The demonstration section of the Fourth International). which took place in the streets of Malmö brought together some 15,000 participants, which is a lot for Malmö and for Other recent articles: Sweden. Better still, the general meeting of the social Fourth International movements, which closed the ESF, adopted a declaration A conference full of hope - June 2008 13/23
  14. 14. International Viewpoint IV405 October 2008 fixing four great objectives, a kind of common agenda for global justice activists. The priority is to conduct a prolonged campaign, entitled “2009: to change Europe”, on social questions and those relating to work, opposed to the reactionary policies of the EU, with the objective of a European initiative, in Brussels, in March 2009, on the occasion of the summit of European heads of state. The three other objectives are a European demonstration in Strasbourg on April 4, on the occasion of the ceremonies celebrating the 60th Esther Vivas anniversary of the creation of NATO; a counter-summit Image: Wikimedia and a demonstration during the next meeting of the G8, in Sardinia; and, lastly, on the climate crisis, an initiative in Against this serious backward movement, this October 7, Potsdam on December 6, as a prelude to the big a day of mobilization called in several EU countries is international gathering envisaged in Copenhagen in taking place. December 2009, during the world conference on the The new “65 hour Directive”, as it is known, allows the climate that is being organized by the United Nations. working week to be extended up to 60 or 65 hours, These four campaigns, as well as the preparation of the accentuates its flexibility and irregular distribution, and next European Social Forum, which will take place in favours individual contracts between companies and Istanbul, are so many elements which can make it workers to fix its duration, thus eroding collective possible for the global justice movement to find a second bargaining and individualizing labour relations. An wind. increase in the working day is synonymous also with Leonce Aguirre is a member of the political bureau of greater work related risks, health problems and more the Ligue Communiste Révolutionnaire (French section of difficulty in balancing working life with family and personal the Fourth International). commitments. Its content connects with the neoliberal logic of European integration, with the approach derived Other recent articles: from the Lisbon Strategy approved in 2000 and with the Social Forum spirit of the failed European Constitution and the later Treaty of Lisbon which includes the essential content of European social movement faces challenges - September 2008 Collective agreements under threat! - September 2008 that Constitution. Once approved, the measures Abortion rights: Still a fight in Europe - September 2008 envisaged will affect first and foremost precarious and The WSF at the crossroads - July 2007 Africa at the heart of the debates - February 2007 immigrant workers. A labour market with high rates of unemployment and precarity like that of the Spanish State will suffer particularly from the application of the European Union Directive. The systems of social protection and the regulations of the existing labour market in EU countries are an 65 hours? We can stop obstacle to the dominant classes in their fight for a hegemonic and competitive position within the global them! economy. For this reason, neoliberal reforms and the pressure on wage earners and on the bases of the so- Why this week’s international day of action was called “European social model” are intensifying, seeking called the reduction of labour costs, the dismantling of the Josep María Antentas, Esther Vivas systems of social protection and the super-exploitation of workers. The present context of economic crisis will accelerate still further this dynamic. The Directive on The proposed modification of the current European Return, the “Directive of Shame” which penalizes the Working Time Directive, agreed in June by the immigrant population is a clear example of this. Employment Ministers of the European Union (EU) The day of mobilization on October 7, with strikes of 5 to and awaiting approval by the European Parliament, 15 minutes in workplaces, comes at the request of the represents one step further in the process of greater European Trades Union Confederation (ETUC) which flexibility of work relations and the erosion of the brings together the big unions of the continent. social guarantees of European workers. Traditionally, the ETUC has maintained a frustrating position of “critical support” for the logic of European integration, as was patent in the past debates on the draft “European Constitution”. There has only been opposition to concrete initiatives judged to be “excessive” like the first draft of the Bolkestein Directive, concerning liberalization of the public services. For this reason, the 14/23

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