Not long ago, Nicolas Sarkozy was unceremoniously bundled out of office. Now he’s back on TV in all his pomp and glory. France’s second channel (chaine 2) is supposed to be a public enterprise run by the state, or successive governments, but in any case at taxpayers’ expense. Now it gives Sarkozy the red carpet treatment. The way they transformed him from a duplicitous agent of the bourgeoisie into a messianic liberator was amazing and shockingly servile. One faithful retainer, Yves Jégo, was moved to comment in astonishment, and with some justice: “It can’t be right to give 45 minutes on a current affairs TV show to a Presidential contender” (Le Monde
, 23 September 2014).
Now, it was Sarkozy who appointed the boss of this channel, and the current President, Hollande, was daft enough to keep him in the job. This man virtually prostrated himself in front of Sarkozy, and the simpering nonentity who conducted the interview like a willing stooge more or less got down on all fours. It may not make much sense, but that’s the way things go in this general political climate. Continue reading
A European workers’ euro for 100 workers in Tuzla!
A very destructive war cost many lives and split the Bosnian working class. Then an international protectorate imposed new authorities, promising workers a “Swedish Paradise”. But what they actually got was a “Greek Hell”. There is no work for either young or old, there is little enough medical care and it isn’t free; You have to pay for schooling unless you go to a religious school; if the administration delays issuing you a new identity card, you simply lose the right to vote … Meanwhile they have stopped trying to catch war criminals or doing anything for former combatants or war victims.
Peace is deadlier than war In Bosnia-Herzegovina. Privatisation of industry has everywhere brought factory closures and new capitalists on the lookout for property deals; The Polichem chemical group’s seaside hotel in Neum is worth ten times more than all its plant and thousands of workers in Tuzla.
The DITA detergent works are emblematic of political corruption and decay which stand out among the thing that Bosnian workers have suffered. Only 132 of the thousand employees who provided all former Yugoslavia’s industrial and household cleaning products remain. Shares that were sold to workers quickly ended up in the hands of particular people who saddled the firm with bank debt of millions of German Marks (the equivalent of the national currency km), embezzled the money, giving it to “partners” they control and then, either unable (or unwilling) to re-start production, handed the firm back to the state for a symbolic 1km. But neither the state nor the canton of Tuzla wanted this poisoned present. They ruled it “unconstitutional”, but they also, incidentally, refused to give it back to the workers until they paid back the astronomic debts … What do you do in nightmare like this? Continue reading
By Balazs Nagy
First published in Lutte des Classes No. 11, September 2013.
We really ought to draw our readers’ attention to two major current events which ̶ each in its own political and economic way ̶ testify to a considerable deterioration in the painful death-agony of capitalism-imperialism. On the one hand, there is the current stage reached in the breakdown of its arrangements in the Middle East with the in itself unusual and surprising but real political blockage affecting this system in relation to the civil war in Syria; on the other, the fresh upsurge of world crisis in the ̶ for many ̶ unexpected shape of a general fall in the rate of growth in production among more or less all the so-called “emerging” countries: India, Russia, Indonesia, Brazil, South Africa, etc., including China. This fall is expressed and accompanied by a real upheaval in their financial system through a brutal fall in the values of their currencies, excepting China. As luck would have it, all of these serious problems of imperialism have matured and are concentrated at the Moscow meeting of the 20 countries which are considered to be the most important, the famous G20 on 7 and 8 September 2013. Continue reading
By Balazs Nagy
, April 2014
The entire French press is unanimous. Whether left or right in their traditional political colouration – the difference is actually pretty superficial – they compare the so-called socialist party’s resounding discomfiture in the municipal elections to Napoleons historic disaster on the Berezina River in Russia in 1812, the prelude to his ultimate defeat. For once the accuracy of their judgement is beyond dispute. So our first response is above all to see what we can learn. Its a perfectly straightforward and normal thing to do, although our conclusions differ noticeably from everyone else’s.
First of all it is important to emphasise that elections change absolutely nothing in the fundamentals of the capitalist social system or, therefore, in the overall situation. This view is sharply opposed to the popular belief carefully fostered by the usual politicians and organisations of the left. Even if elections do change that systems form or shape, they move within the framework it imposes and are an integral part of it. Whether municipal, parliamentary or European, they are just part of how the (most democratic!) system in place functions, while remaining profoundly bound to the way it moves and works. Continue reading
By Balazs Nagy
, April 2014
The recent local government elections and the formation of a new government are a good opportunity, indeed a direct incentive, to say more about the mean, twisted and nasty way the Hollande team running the country think. Their politico-social reasoning is very simple, not to say simplistic. It is what you might call classical social-democratic thinking of a kind well-known over the last hundred years or more.
Resolute defenders of decadent capitalism
The main thing that really marks these people out, among all those who claim to be on the side of working people, is that they present capitalism as an eternal system whose existence you just have to accept. So according to this disgrace to the name of socialist, everything we do is necessarily limited and determined by the framework of capitalism and its general rules. But as a consolation to working people, according to this conception, the capitalist system can be put right, amended and improved, and our job is to contribute to that. This cheapskate philosophy which has long been selling the mission of liberating the working class for a mess of pottage still had some limited validity when, in return for this sell-out, the bourgeoisie was still able to concede various actual reforms. But imperialism is the period of capitalisms decline – something which social democrats obstinately deny – in which, because it is exhausted, this system is organically unable to concede the slightest reform. Continue reading
By Bob Archer
Politicians and the media talked a great deal about earthquakes as the results of last months elections to the European parliament were published. This was especially true in France and the UK, where the established parties were beaten at the polls by the Front National (FN) and the UK Independence Party respectively.
Failing to assuage voters anger could mean the erosion, if not the destruction of the union in a matter of years, said veteran Austrian journalist Erhard Stackl, writing in The New York Times International Weekly. In some countries, the vote against an integrated Europe was profound.
He consoled himself with the observation that nevertheless two-thirds of the votes were cast for pro-European parties. And in Germany, the economic powerhouse of the 28-nation bloc, Chancellor Merkel and her allies still command a comfortable majority.
Smarting under a series of lost seats in the European parliament, many established bourgeois parties needed all the consolation on offer. Continue reading
By Balazs Nagy
, May 2014
The forthcoming European elections will no doubt produce unprecedented advances by the French Front National (FN). It gained considerable strength by its spectacular advances in the recent municipal elections, which have clearly given it a head-start in the European elections. So a critical examination of its programme, in particular in relation to Europe, is not only vital in itself but allows us to clarify what the essential problems for Europe are. It also allows to look at all the other parties European policies.
Now, to decode what the FN’s orientation towards Europe is and what it means, we must first of all describe its national policy. We must do this not on the basis of that party’s own deceptive slogans or what other people say about it, but on the firm basis of the only objective criterion for political evaluation, i.e. its class character.
What is the Front National’s real class character?
Actually, we need to establish clearly what the FN’s social basis is and indicate unequivocally which class’s interests are expressed in its programme and activities. This is the fundamental question which politicians and commentators either evade or completely muddle up, but it is the most important one. Continue reading
By Balazs Nagy 26 March 2014
“The Ukrainian question is destined in the immediate future to play an enormous role in the life of Europe.” (Trotsky)
All commentators on the revolutionary process unfolding in Ukraine manifest general confusion mingled with anxiety; their confusion arises from an inability to understand what is going on, while the anxiety is provoked by the pervasive threat of war. They are at a loss, and it shows in the wide range of explanations and solutions on offer and programmes proposed, programmes which, themselves born of the widespread confusion, also help to feed it. But, broad as the variety of conceptions and proposals seems to be, they all amount, either directly or as a variant, to one of two opposing bourgeois programmes: either they accept and even support the new regime in Kiev and its capitalist European and American godfathers, or they “understand” or are inspired by the Great-Russian ambitions of the bourgeoisie that Putin represents. The stance always more or less varies, of course, according to the particular nature of this or that movement or organisation and its specific place in the political spectrum. Continue reading
The People of Ukraine took to the Maidan in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities, struggling peacefully for a civilized, European future. Protesters sought democracy and decent social protections for working people in the face of the corruption and lawlessness of Yanukovich regime and they were victorious. The Confederation of Free Trade Unions of Ukraine and its member organizations took an active part in this struggle from the first days. Unfortunately there were victims. As a result of armed violence against Ukrainian people more than a hundred killed and nearly 300 missing. More than 2000 people were wounded.
5 March 2014, Posted in NUMSA Bulletin
Lessons from Germany
South Africa’s structural unemployment crisis which affects the youth in particular could do with a good dose of German training medicine says Boniswa Ntshingila.
South Africa’s youth unemployment crisis
South Africa’s youth unemployment rate is amongst the highest in the world. Therefore one of the greatest socio-economic problems currently facing South Africa is youth unemployment.
According to the Quarterly Labour Force Survey by Statistics South Africa, in the third quarter of 2013, 34.8% of young South Africans1 could not find a job compared with less than 15% of adults over 34. If one breaks down the youth unemployment figures by race, the picture becomes more gloomy for African and coloured youth. In 2010, African youth unemployment hit 58%, coloured youth unemployment 45% while Indian and white youth unemployment were at 22% and 18% respectively. However, these figures do not correctly reflect the seriousness of the youth unemployment problem because it excludes young people that have not been looking for employment2.
If all young people are considered in the calculation of youth unemployment then the actual youth unemployment rate was 47.5% for the third quarter of 2013. This means that 1 in every 2 young people cannot find a job and has very little chance of ever finding a job. Continue reading