Sunday, 28 October 2012

Syria defends itself from imperialist onslaught

Syria defends itself from imperialist onslaught

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NYC meeting hears ‘the other side’

New York — During the last 19 months of chaotic civil war in Syria, with opposition rebels armed by the U.S., NATO and the Gulf monarchies through Turkey, have you ever heard Syrian government representatives defend their government’s position regarding the fighting in their country?
If you live in the imperialist U.S. or Europe, your answer is probably “never.” Why? Syrian television stations are banned by sanctions, and corporate-owned television hardly ever offers the “enemy” sound bites. Even in other Arabic-speaking countries, the Syrian position has been drowned out by the anti-Syrian propaganda from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
For a few hours in a church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side on Oct. 21, there was a chance to hear the Syrian position by an official Syrian spokesperson. The audience also heard other internationalists who support Syria’s defense from what can only be described as an imperialist onslaught.
The meeting featured Counselor Dr. Mazim Adi, from the Syrian Mission to the United Nations, along with international human rights activist Ramsey Clark and British journalist Lizzie Phelan, known for her courageous reporting from Libya during the 2011 imperialist assault on that country.
Adi explained that the opposition movement in Syria was complex, and in the beginning people raised demands that the government listened to. The government offered “a basket of reforms.” Some in the opposition accepted the reforms and further discussions, but others “wanted to implement their own agenda … to destroy Syria.”
“The government wanted to come to the table, but it was met with suicide bombers,” noted Adi. “People fighting the government believed they were doing jihad.” He explained that there are thousands of fighters in Syria from many different countries in dozens of different groups with different programs, making any negotiations nearly impossible.
Adi emphasized the role Syria played in welcoming into their country any Arab refugees, especially the more than 1 million people forced to flee Iraq during the U.S.-led war there. He also noted that Syria is a very diverse country, with dozens of different religions, sects and ethnic groups.
Adi also explained the difficulties Syria faces in getting out its side of the story: ”My country doesn’t have the petrodollars” that Qatar has for Al-Jazeera and Saudi Arabia for Al-Arabia, two satellite broadcasters. “Thus we can’t even get our position out in Arabic. Our broadcasts from our three national stations are blocked from Europe due to sanctions.”
Press-TV, the Peoples Video Network and Truth for a Change recorded the meeting for future broadcast or posting on the Internet, and live-streamed the discussion. It will be up to the anti-war and progressive movements here to publicize the meeting and access to it in order to counter the corporate media monopoly.
Lizzie Phelan also addressed the West’s media monopoly. In the more recent interventions the imperialist media have been aided by Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabia. Phelan was one of the few international reporters in Libya last year who described that country’s battle against NATO differently from the “official story” reported by the corporate media in Europe and the U.S.
Finally, after Gadhafi was murdered and his government thrown out, the Western media started to let some of the truth come out, said Phelan. Now what you see in Libya is chaos and a strong presence of forces like al-Qaeda, with a “blowback” that resulted in the death of the U.S. ambassador.
Larry Hales, representing the International Action Center, targeted the capitalist system itself and the current irresolvable economic crisis as the driving force behind the imperialist attempt to reconquer countries like Libya and Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Other speakers at the meeting, beside Clark, included Ardeshir Omani, of the American Iranian Friendship Committee, and Ben Becker, of the Answer Coalition. These groups, the IAC and the New York Peace Council sponsored the meeting. Omani and Clark focused their comments on the threats against Iran. Ellie Omani of the AIFC and Sara Flounders of the IAC co-chaired the event.
There were messages of solidarity from the SI Bolivarian Circles, Veterans for Peace-Chapter 21, the International League of People’s Struggles, Solidarity with Iran and an Ecuadoran group.

Imperialist backed offensive in Syria begins to threaten regional stability

Sunday, 28 October 2012 11:56

Imperialist backed offensive in Syria begins to threaten regional stability

Beirut after 19 October car bombing  Beirut after 19 October car bombing Photo: gregg.carlstrom
By Paul Roberts
While the struggle inside Syria appears at present to be in stalemate, the growing threat to regional stability posed by the ramifications of the conflict is beginning to unsettle the imperialists and their regional allies.
The car bomb in Beirut on 19 October, that killed head of security Wissam Al-Hassan, sparked several days of violence in Lebanon, threatening the country’s fragile coalition. Border clashes with Turkey have led to rising opposition inside Turkey to its government’s aid to the Free Syrian Army, while a new wave of armed Kurdish struggle is clearly linked to the Syrian conflict. And in Jordan Al Qaeda militants have been discovered planning a bombing campaign. Threats from Netanyahu of Israeli strikes against Iran add to the sense of regional unease.
As the conflict begins to create problems for neighbouring countries, it is cooling the enthusiasm for the Syrian opposition from some of imperialism’s allies in the region, and raising concerns more widely in the imperialist camp that the conflict is creating dangers of a wider conflagration in the region with uncontrollable outcomes
As set out in an earlier article on this website, since the summer imperialism has intensified its support for the campaign against the Syrian regime. It has funnelled increasing numbers of rebels and arms across the borders from Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq to support a relentless military confrontation in Aleppo, Homs and Hama and more sporadic assaults within Damascus.
Although this has clearly taken a toll on both sides, the forces of the FSA have in fact made little headway – they has not been able to establish control over any significant territory, no new decisive blows have been struck. The Syrian government remains intact; the high level desertions of General Manaf Tlass in July followed by Prime Minister Riyad Hijab in August have not been followed by others and the Syrian armed forces are still overwhelmingly loyal to the government.
The situation is widely seen as a stalemate. The protracted character of the struggle is leading to a number of consequences outside Syria’s borders, which are not necessarily what imperialism is looking for.
The free flow of arms to the opposition has created an increased availability of arms to a whole range of groups whose main concerns are not confined to Syria’s borders, threatening increased militarised conflict in the region. The seizure of Northern Mali by armed groups who had participated in the Libya conflict – which France is now planning military action against – is an example of the type of unwelcome side-effects that may flow from imperialism’s intervention in Syria.
Lebanon’s internal political settlement since 1990, following 15 years of civil war, has remained fragile. A spill-over into Lebanon of the rise of Sunni sectarianism seen in the Syria conflict is a deep threat to that stability. While imperialism – and its regional allies – would welcome a blow against Hezbollah, which has grown in influence since it fought off Israel’s 2006 invasion, prolonged internal instability and another round of civil war would create a power vacuum in which armed groups of all kinds would grow unchecked.
The car bomb assassination of Al-Hassan on 19 October was followed by several days of violent confrontations and mounting disorder across the country. Right-wing opposition parties called for the downfall of Lebanon’s current coalition government, which includes Hezbollah.
Lebanon’s opposition alliance of political parties calls itself ‘March 14’ after the date in 2005 when it held a huge demonstration against the Syrian occupation of parts of Lebanon, which had followed its 1982 support for the Lebanese army against an earlier Israeli invasion. March 14 immediately claimed that ‘Hassan’s murder was committed by the regime of (Syrian President) Bashar Assad’ and former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri suggested Hezbollah were also involved in the bombing.
Al-Hassan was publicly identified with March 14. Al-Hassan headed Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces' Information Branch, the explicitly anti-Syria security apparatus set up in 2005 as a counterweight to the - pro-Syrian - Lebanese military intelligence. Working closely with the US and Saudi Arabia, it opposes Hezbollah and has been active in assisting the Syrian opposition.
The real perpetrators of the bombing are unclear. Syria and Assad have nothing to gain from whipping up hostility in Lebanon. Similar claims against Syria were made following the 2005 car bomb that killed former Prime Minister Rafic Al-Hariri, until imperialism decided to switch to blaming Hezbollah.
The US sending an FBI team to investigate this assassination will shed no more light than the US-controlled ‘Special Tribunal for Lebanon’ (STL) has done on the assassination of Al-Hariri in 2005, which simply reached the US’s desired conclusion that Hezbollah had carried it out – despite Hezbollah’s continual and determined denial.
Al-Hassan had significant enemies in the anti-Syrian camp. He had played a role in exposing Israeli espionage networks in Lebanon and WikiLeaks has revealed he was ‘distrusted’ and ‘hated’ within the March 14 alliance.
Some even consider Al-Hassan was responsible for the car bomb that killed Al-Hariri. In 2005 a United Nations prosecutor reported that Al-Hariri's assassination required the approval and collusion of Lebanese security forces and in 2008 an internal UN memo pointed the finger directly at Al-Hassan.
Since Al-Hassan’s assassination Lebanese opposition parties have been trying to destabilise the situation to bring down the government. As news spread of the car bomb on Friday 19 October armed groups took to the streets in the capital Beirut and other cities.
The port city of Tripoli was paralysed for several days as shops closed down, road blocks went up and the offices of pro-government parties were attacked. For months there has been ongoing violence in Tripoli between neighbourhoods taking different sides over the conflict in Syria with several people killed during the confrontations.
Following Al-Hassan’s funeral on 21 October there were demonstrations In Beirut and calls from March 14 parties for the Prime Minister’s office to be stormed, which led to clashes with the Lebanese army.
This upsurge of instability has exerted pressure on the governing coalition of parties - the March 8 Alliance. This later coalition also dates back to 2005 when on 8 March a mass demonstration in Beirut thanked Syria for helping stop the Lebanese Civil War and for supporting the Lebanese resistance to Israeli occupation.
Following the car bombing and demonstrations Prime Minister Najib Mikati offered to resign and make way for a government of national unity.
But while it has whipped up the situation, and would like to see a new Lebanese government that excludes Hezbollah, which has been in the government since June 2011, imperialism does not want a chaotic collapse and armed instability. There is a complex power-sharing agreement in Lebanon so attempts to form an alternative government might fail and are likely to be drawn out. Imperialism does not favour a political vacuum at present. Hence why President Michel Suleiman persuaded Mikati to stay in office while talks proceed.
While imperialism is keen that anti-Syrian parts of the Lebanese state apparatus assist the flow of arms and fighters into Syria, it does not want to spread the conflict into Lebanon – at least until Assad has been brought down and it has a reliable pro-imperialist regime in place. The outcome in Libya is an object lesson that imperialist bombs bringing down one regime does not necessarily guarantee that the new regime will be either stable or reliable!
Turkey, Jordan and Iran
Imperialism and its allies are also concerned by the potential for the conflict to spread to Turkey and Jordan, alongside the on-going concerns that Israel may exacerbate the situation with a premature attack on Iran.
Turkey and its Prime Minister Erdogan has supported the armed opposition groups – and created havens for them to train and organise – since the outset of the uprising in Syria and has repeatedly called for Assad to resign.
But with the extension of the conflict the number of refugees has escalated – in the camps exceeding 100,000, plus an estimated 40,000 or more living in towns and cities – with all the attendant costs. There is also increasing opposition – especially in the 900km long Syrian border area – to Turkey’s high level of engagement in Syria, due to the increasing danger and the economic impact. Major demonstrations against war with Syria took place in Ankara and Istanbul in early October when border tensions led to a threat of outright war with Syria.
A key problem for Turkey lies in the impact on the level of struggle with the Kurds in the east of the country. With Turkey backing the Free Syrian Army, it would not be surprising to find that the Assad regime have essentially given a green light to its own Kurdish minority to step up their aid to the Turkish Kurds in their on-going struggle for national recognition and rights within Turkey. And the generalised flow of arms in the border areas mean that not just the Syrian opposition, but other forces, including Kurdish militants in Turkey, have greater access to weapons and hardware.
Incidents between the Turkish army and the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have intensified in Turkey since the summer, with PKK actions reaching one of the highest levels since it took up arms for Kurdish independence in 1984.
This resurgence of PKK action is widely understood in Turkey to be linked to the Syria conflict. At the same time it is forcing the Turkish military to divert resources away from the Syrian border into the Kurdish areas.
In the light of this overspill into the long-standing Kurdish conflict and growing domestic opposition to Turkey’s involvement in Syria, it is not surprising that Erdogan is toning down his rhetoric and sounding more open to seeking an end to the conflict, even if that means Assad staying in power.
The conflict also threatens to spill back into Jordan, which has been a key player in the flow of arms and fighters into the Syrian conflict. Despite its support for the Syrian opposition, it is not immune from attack by similar forces within its own borders. On 21 October a Jordanian Al-Qaeda cell was uncovered, that was planning to bomb shopping malls, embassies, foreign tourists and hotels in the capital Aman.
Having encouraged the rise of Sunni sectarianism, and formed a clandestine alliance with Al Qaeda to oppose Assad in Syria, this is now threatening to blow back into a rise of radical Islamist oppositions and armed terrorist groups within the Sunni Arab-run states themselves.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s public campaign this summer that the US commits to an early attack on Iran has been a further factor raising concerns about how the conflict in Syria plays out in the region. An attack on Iran, while the situation remains unresolved in Syria, raises the prospect of a regional war in which Iran would be forced to fight back against its attackers, possibly intervene more directly to support Assad in Syria, and would increase tensions across the Middle East.
Israel eventually backed down at the UN in September, claiming the Iranian threat was no longer imminent but would next become urgent in the Spring.
While the imperialists are experiencing some problems with their strategy in the Middle East, including failing to make sufficient headway in Syria, the threat of further intervention – and of a future attack on Iran – need to remain the focus of attention of Britain’s anti-war movement.
Follow the website of the Stop the War Coalition which has been taking initiatives to mobilise on opposition to imperialism’s actions.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The “Copycat” War: Iran Strikes Back

From cyberstrikes, assassinations, and drone surveillance, Iran seems to copying Western tactics. Retaliation, not escalation, is Tehran's goal.
The growing evidence that Iran was behind a number of recent cyber attacks against Western and Arab institutions has raised concerns in many quarters about how the Islamic Republic may employ its cyberwarfare capabilities in the future. Although there’s no way to be certain, in the short-term Iran’s likely to act with considerable restraint in the cyber realm in keeping with the larger “copycat” strategy it is using to retaliate against adversaries without escalating tensions further. Over the longer-term, however, it stands to reason that Iran will incorporate cyberwarfare into its existing military doctrine.
The recent cyber attacks against American banks and Middle Eastern oil companies are part of Iran’s broader strategy of closely emulating its adversaries’ attacks against the Islamic Republic itself. By replicating its adversaries’ tactics as closely as possible, Iran is able to retaliate against these powers while simultaneously signaling to them that it doesn’t seek to enlarge the conflict.
This “copycat” strategy was first evident in Iran’s assassination attempts against Israeli diplomats and their families in India, Georgia, and (presumably) Thailand in February of this year. In the India and Georgia incidents, Iranian nationals working under the Quds Forces unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) attached magnetic bombs to the underbelly of Israeli embassy cars in order to assassinate Tel Aviv’s diplomatic personnel (although in the Georgia case the explosive failed to detonate before being discovered and disarmed.) A similar plot was likely planned for Thailand before Iranian operatives prematurely set off one of the explosives while they were building them in a safe house in Bangkok.
European intelligence officials were, inexplicitly, aghast by Iran’s audacity, proclaiming, "Until recently it was possible to see why they [Iranian leaders] were doing what they have been doing. Now it has become very unpredictable. It's very hard to see the logic behind” the February bombings. This statement notwithstanding, the rationale behind these assassination attempts was readily apparent: over the past few years numerous Iranian nuclear scientists have been targeted and killed in the streets of Tehran in attacks that Israel’s intelligence agency, the Mossad, is widely believed to be behind. Notably, the perpetrators of the attacks on the Iranian scientists often targeted their victims by attaching magnetic bombs to the bottom of their automobiles.
Thus, Iran initially went to extreme lengths to ensure its response was exactly proportional to the original attacks, clearly seeking to minimize the risks of escalation. It was only when the Iranian operatives’ incompetence prevented the attacks from succeeding that Tehran switched from these “hard” diplomatic targets to “soft” targets like Israeli tourists and expats in places like Kenya and (via Hezbollah) Bulgaria.
The same dynamics were apparent more recently when Israeli F-16’s shot down a surveillance drone flying in its airspace reportedly seeking to gather intelligence on Israel’s Dimona nuclear site. In contrast to the attacks on the Israeli diplomats and tourists, which Iran claimed were false flag operations orchestrated by its adversaries to frame it, Iran and Hezbollah were surprisingly forthcoming about their involvement in the drone incident.
Hezbollah's General Secretary, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, almost immediately accepted responsibility for flying the drone, going out of his way to point out that, "This drone is not Russian made,this drone was an Iranian made [sic].” Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi confirmed this a few days later while another Iranian military official boasted that dozens of prior flights had been conducted without being detected by Israeli defense forces.
Given Israel’s radar and defense capabilities, this statement is almost certainly a fabrication. Although, as the Council on Foreign Relations' Micah Zenko points out, Hezbollah has long flown surveillance drones over the occupied territories and the peripheral of Israel proper, these missions were closely monitored by Israeli authorities. Indeed, Iran and Hezbollah undoubtedly realized that in this case too its rudimentary unmanned aircraft would be quickly tracked and, given its apparent mission to gather intelligence on Israel’s nuclear site, destroyed by the Israeli Air Force.
Their rationale for conducting the mission was therefore largely symbolic. Specifically, they were mimicking the United States own extensive program to gather intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities through drones launched from Afghanistan, which came to light last December when one of the drones malfunctioned over Iranian territory last December. Although Iran likely knew about the U.S. intelligence operation for some time before then, the downing of the drone brought these “secret” missions out into the open. Moreover, a mere two weeks after the incident occurred, U.S Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated, matter-of-factly, that the surveillance missions would “absolutely” continue. Iran was therefore pressed to respond in kind.
It is in this context that Iran’s alleged cyber attacks against America’s largest banks and Middle Eastern energy companies must be viewed. To begin with, it is widely reported that the U.S. and Israel were behind the various sophisticated computer viruses that have targeted Iran’s nuclear program in recent years. Indeed, it is believed that the IRGC first began organizing a cyber unit for the purpose of carrying out offensive operations in 2009, shortly after Iranian officials discovered the Stuxnet computer virus. As Ilan Berman explained to Congress earlier this year, “For the Iranian regime, however, the conclusion [from Stuxnet] is clear. War with the West, at least on the cyber front, has been joined, and the Iranian regime is mobilizing in response.”
Moreover, the targets of the most recent cyber attacks were hardly picked at random. Instead, they were undoubtedly chosen as a response against the U.S. and EU sanctions that aim to cut off Iran’s oil exports, the revenue from which is the largest source of hard currency for the Iranian regime.
From the Western perspective, one of the biggest impediments to instituting these sanctions was the fear that the loss of Iranian oil from the global market would precipitate a supply shortage and, consequently, a spike in prices. Indeed, the U.S. legislation Congress passed explicitly directed the Obama administration to study the effect the sanctions would have on global oil prices before implementing them. Despite Iranian warnings against doing so, many Arab Gulf oil producers, most notably Saudi Arabia, began increasing their own production in order to offset the loss of Iranian oil. Iran’s cyber attacks against Saudi Arabian and Qatari oil companies were a response to these actions
The massive denial-of-service attacks against U.S. financial industry also fit this pattern. It’s particularly noteworthy that only American banks have thus far been the target of these attacks. Although both the EU and the U.S. sought to drastically curtail Iranian oil exports, their methods of doing so differed. In the case of the European Union, an oil embargo prohibiting its member nations from purchasing Iranian oil was imposed, as were other measures like prohibiting the European maritime insurance companies that dominate the global industry from covering tankers carrying Iranian crude.
By contrast, Washington’s efforts to undermine Iran’s oil sales were complicated by the fact that the U.S. itself was not a consumer of Iranian crude. In light of this, the Washington turned to the U.S. financial sector’s centrality in international commerce to indirectly target Iranian oil sales. Specifically, Washington threatened that any entity conducting business with Iran’s central bank—the mechanism through which Tehran processes most of its oil sales—would be denied access to the U.S. financial sector, thereby crippling its ability to participate in the global economy.
In this situation Iran was unable to respond in kind given that its own financial institutions are of little importance to global trade. It therefore turned to sustained denial-of-service attacks on the websites of many of the largest U.S. banks, which denied these banks’ customers electronic access to their services.
In short, because Iran’s current cyber attacks are part of its “copycat” strategy, it’s likely to act with a healthy degree of self-restraint in the near-term. Especially with upcoming negotiations, whether bilaterally or multilaterally, and the U.S. and Israel in disagreement over “red lines,” Iran will be careful not to provoke Washington and its allies into escalating the conflict— whether kinetically or in cyberspace.
Depending on the potency of its capabilities, however, it’s likely that Iran will increasingly rely on cyberwarfare in the long-term. Indeed, cyberwarfare fits nicely into its existing military doctrine that primarily relies on three capabilities to deter its stronger adversaries: its ability to carry out asymmetric attacks often by acting through surrogates like Hezbollah, its growing ballistic missile arsenal, and its ability to threaten oil shipping in the Strait of Hormuz.
With the exception of its missile arsenal, these capabilities have become “wasting assets” over the past eighteen months. In particular, Iran’s ability to carry out asymmetric attacks will be severely curtailed if Bashar al-Assad’s regime falls in Syria, given that Iran relies heavily on Syrian territory to ferry supplies to Hezbollah in Lebanon.  Should it be denied its ability to carry out asymmetric attacks, cyberwarfare would be an attractive replacement given that both share a plausible deniability component that limits the likely retaliation Iran will face from its conventionally superior adversaries.
Zachary Keck is Assistant Editor of The Diplomat. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Bloody tories? Machine gun them.

Little old ladies. They speak wisdom.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

China's path to a socialist democracy -

China's path to a socialist democracy -

By Heiko Khoo, October 14, 2012 At a clandestine meeting on July 29, 2006, 25 workers in Quanzhou City took on the largest corporation in the world and won. That night they formed the world's first Wal-Mart trade union committee. The mood was, by all accounts, euphoric and workers sang the Internationale as Ke Yunlong, a 29-year-old meat-packer, was elected to represent the workers and declared the event "the most meaningful achievement of our lives." Ke was encouraged to take the road of struggle by a neighbor who told him: "Before liberation, there were many people who participated in underground party branches, risking their lives. There's no threat to our lives these days. At worst you could lose your job or something." Subsequent grassroots action led to a campaign by the All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) to rapidly unionize all Wal-Mart stores in China, following a call by President Hu Jintao to build party organizations and trade unions in foreign-invested enterprises. It remains true that ACFTU officials are generally associated with top-down habits and they are commonly viewed as being too close to management. As a consequence, the prominent workers' struggles that took place in 2010 were initiated from outside the official structures of the ACFTU. However, once workers found their voice, they demanded the restructuring of their grassroots trade union bodies. This is an inevitable part of the process of gaining the confidence and power to extend defensive actions and wage disputes into transformative democratic struggles. The top levels of the ACFTU played a decisive role in drafting and promoting the Labor Law of 2008, which signaled a radical improvement in the rights of the working class. It empowered workers to channel their unrest against bad employment conditions, by using the law as the basis around which to organize their struggles. The Labor Law brought significant benefits to the workers; it forced employers to sign contracts with employees within one month of their start date, it secured permanent employment status for long-term employees, and it guaranteed that workers would be consulted on all important issues. Soon after the law was passed, workers secured higher wages and better conditions throughout China. Membership of the ACFTU has sky-rocketed. It grew from 87 million in 1999 to over 258 million in 2012. This exponential growth is due to both top-down and bottom-up unionization drives. From the top, the formal recognition of trade unions provides a framework within which workers can effectively demand their rights, and from below, grassroots union branches can help to foster mass democratic participation. The institutional support that the ACFTU provides is of important symbolic significance, acting as an organic link between the Communist Party of China and the working class. Since May 2011, a revolutionary legal framework for the universal democratic management of enterprises has been in effect in the Shanghai municipality. *1 Under the regulations, all enterprises, including those in Hong Kong, Macao, as well as Taiwanese, foreign and private enterprises, are obliged to operate under the "Workers' Congress system". The system provides for the democratic management of enterprises and stipulates that workers have the right to elect, supervise and recall their managers. The regulations envisage and promote the formation of area-wide and industry-wide Workers' Congresses. If these regulations can be turned into reality, Shanghai's workers will have greater democratic rights at work than their counterparts in any capitalist country. The democratic participation of the urban masses in shaping their communities and environment is also a pressing and vital issue. Under the 12th Five Year Plan (2011-15) 36 million public sector apartments are to be completed. This is virgin territory where the democratization of urban life can be realized in new and innovative ways by drawing on global historical experience. In the 1920s, German communists and radical artists collaborated to form the Bauhaus, a multidisciplinary arts movement that sought to create environments and products for new forms of individual and social life. This was not simply a question of designing and constructing buildings of aesthetic quality, but was a means of conceptualizing new ways of living, which placed art at the center of social transformation. Xu Jiang, president of the China Academy of Art, boldly claimed that the planned Bauhaus Research Institute in Hangzhou, will bring "inspiration and innovation to start China's creative revolution." The institute can provide an important impetus to combine revolutionary ideas in art and design with urban democracy, based on the energy of the inhabitants, who will shape the character of life in China's new public apartments. *2 The extent of democratic control will play a big role in determining whether people feel they live in a happy and collectivist environment or in a concrete jungle. Throughout the world, where there are systems of democratic control and supervision over local government agencies, they help to ensure that mass public housing and services are seen as the valued property of the people. Modern communications technology means that China's social housing revolution can engage residents in the planning process at the earliest stages. Sample buildings designed by artists and architects should offer tenants a large choice of interior designs, furniture and household goods. Where necessary, these products can be produced on demand, using the latest manufacturing techniques and advanced material sciences. This will enable the people to decide how their apartments should be laid out, decorated and furnished, and the ways in which collective space should be populated, designed and used. The formation of public services and facilities to serve these new communities will also be enhanced by popular democratic participation and control. If art, science, culture and technique are combined with vibrant democratic Workers' Congresses, the impulses and productive power of China's proletariat will create a harmonious socialist democracy, laying the foundations for a truly Communist society. The author is a columnist with For more information please visit: Opinion articles reflect the views of their authors, not necessarily those of

Wednesday, 10 October 2012



6-930pm, Saturday 03 November, 2012

Conway Hall
25 Red Lion Square, 
WC14 4RL London

Just over one year on from the his martyrdom at the hands of yankee drones and a french airstrike, this is an event to look at back at the contribution to the world struggle against white supremacy, imperialism of Muammar Gaddafi who, as a leader of a small country of the Global South, contributed more than any other to our international struggle.

There will be video clips of Gaddafi's speeches and interviews, music and spoken word.


Chair: Sukant Chandan

Dave Roberts - peace activist, anti-imperialist socialist and a decades long friend of the Libyan Jamahirya

Mohamed Hassan - former African diplomat and expert on African, Arab and Global South affairs

Libyan from Sirte

Dr Abdal Aziz - Libyan patriot and expert on Libyan affairs

more speakers to be announced.

Refreshments will be available.

This is a free but ticketed event, please send your confirmation of your place to

This event is a private event and will have security, any disruption to this event is unwelcome. 

Monday, 8 October 2012

Chávez's victory is not just for Venezuela but for the world

Chávez's victory is not just for Venezuela but for the world

Chávez's victory is not just for Venezuela but for the world
For election results see here

Victory for Chávez is a victory for Latin America

Victory for Chávez is a victory for Latin America

Victory for Chávez is a victory for Latin America

Long live Venezuela's Bolivarian Revolution!

OCTOBER 8, 2012
With 54.42 percent of a record-turnout vote, Hugo Chávez has won a fourth term as president of Venezuela, in a race widely recognized as a crucial struggle between the progressive forces of the “Bolivarian Revolution” and the right-wing opposition of U.S.-backed Henrique Capriles. His Democratic Unity coalition (MUD) had hoped to return the wealthy classes — national and foreign — to their former unchallenged status by reversing the social and economic gains of the vast majority of Venezuelans.
Of the 80.91 percent of registered voters who went to the polls, 7,444,082 people voted for Chávez and 6,151,154 people voted for Capriles.
Since Hugo Chávez’s first election in 1998, he has led a pro-socialist revolutionary process that has made remarkable gains for the majority of Venezuelans.
Massive support could be seen in a huge rally two days prior to election day, on Friday, Oct. 5, with 3 million people dressed in bright red, who packed seven main avenues of the capital.
Before Chávez’s presidency, Venezuela — with one of the highest oil and natural gas reserves in the world — suffered from deep poverty, at least 66 percent of the population. Despite enormous natural and industrial wealth, the two dominant capitalist parties, Copei and Acción Democrática, ran government to benefit both the Venezuelan elite and U.S. and British oil companies.
In 1989, then-president Carlos Andrés Pérez ordered the National Guard and army to repress a mass uprising against sudden fuel and food price hikes, massacring up to 3,000 people in an attack known as “the Caracazo.” Washington did not condemn this massacre by Pérez, nor criticize its “democratic ally” for human rights abuses.
Three years later, when Hugo Chávez — a young military officer — organized a military attack against Pérez, he became nationally famous. His daring action won the hearts of the most oppressed, and propelled him to the presidency in 1998.
The best Venezuela in 200 years
Speaking in the evening before a gigantic multitude of supporters who gathered at the Miraflores presidential palace after the official vote call, Chávez spoke to thank the people, saying “We dedicate this victory to the women, the students, the workers, the peasants, the Indigenous peoples of our land, to the intellectuals … it is everyone’s victory.
“The next period of government won’t begin January 10 [inauguration day], the new cycle of the Bolivarian government begins today. We have to do things better, more efficiently, to meet the needs of the people. I repeat, I will be a better President each day.”
He twice made a call to the opposition to join in “national unity and to work for national peace … to not lend themselves to the destabilizing maneuvers that some were carrying out. …”
To roaring cheers, Chávez said, “This is the best Venezuela we have had in 200 years. Never before did we have a Venezuela that we have today from a moral, social, political economic and cultural point of view. “
Victory for all Latin America
Messages of congratulations were sent immediately by presidents Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Evo Morales of Bolivia, Cristina Fernández of Argentina, and Raúl Castro of Cuba, as soon as the official tally came in.
These leaders acknowledge the enormous importance for the whole continent. Morales said, “It is not only the triumph of the Venezuelan people, it is the triumph of the countries of ALBA and Latin America.”
Castro said, “On behalf of the government and people of Cuba, I congratulate you for this historic triumph, which shows the strength of the Bolivarian Revolution and its unquestionable popular support. … I reiterate to you our unbreakable solidarity and support.”
The vote percentage for Chávez in 1998 was 56.2 percent, 59.76 percent in 2000, and 63 percent when he was re-elected in 2006. After a nationwide referendum in February 2009, the two-term limit for president was eliminated.
But more important than Chávez’s percentage of votes is the radical economic and social changes that have come about under what his supporters call the “Bolivarian Revolution.”
Chávez transforms Venezuela with Cuba and ALBA
The unique development of Venezuela’s new society began with the inspiration that Chávez imparted, as he called for an end to the old COPEI-Acción Democrátic alliance that only made the rich richer and the poor poorer.
But U.S. imperialism may have had its way in trying to crush the Bolivarian Revolution, if it were not for the Venezuelan masses and Cuba’s support.
The April 2002 fascist coup against Chávez was hatched and financed in Washington. But hundreds of thousands of people poured into the streets, surrounded the Presidential Palace and backed military forces loyal to Chávez.
Never before in Latin America had a president been restored by the people, and so dramatically!
The next blow was the oil sabotage by pro-imperialist management. Heroic efforts restored Venezuela’s oil industry.
Cuba then began to send, in April 2003, what is now more than 15,000 medical doctors, to provide free healthcare to the people. Thousands of teachers were also sent, and soon made Venezuela the second country in the continent to wipe out illiteracy.
U.S. imperialism’s plans are not over
This is not the Latin America of yesterday, when U.S. imperialism was able to expel Cuba from the Organization of American States, invade Dominican Republic in 1965, overthrow Salvador Allende in 1973, defeat the Nicaraguan Revolution and terrorize the people of El Salvador.
Now there is a powerful anti-imperialist alliance of countries that have supported each other’s social development, sharing resources and building solidarity.
In previous elections during Chávez’s presidency, the right-wing opposition has received U.S. advice to abstain, to try to de-legitimize the elections. But that didn’t work.
This time the right-wing opposition tried to form a united coalition with MUD and present Capriles as a youthful opponent to Chávez.
Venezuela’s government and pro-Chávez masses face major challenges. The economic system is still capitalist, even though the oil and other industries are nationalized. The elite and large middle class have not abandoned Venezuela for Miami, like the Cuban capitalists after Batista’s overthrow.
Chávez and the Unified Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) are fighting to build socialism and extend solidarity to others in struggle worldwide. We in the Party for Socialism and Liberation fully support our sisters and brothers of Venezuela, in their heroic struggle and for Chávez’s inspiring victory.
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