Monday, 23 January 2012

Who we are

A brief summary of the political positions of the RSO

The Revolutionary Socialist Organization (RSO) is fighting against capitalism and for a new socialist economic and social order.

Every day it becomes more evident that the so-called “free market” has nothing to offer for most of the world’s population. Capitalism means hunger, poverty, environmental destruction, war and misery. Even in the richest countries in the world, millions live at or below the poverty line. In contrast, a small portion of the population owns the majority of the assets; in Britain 1% of the population owns more than a third of all assets.

Two classes are facing each other in the capitalist society. On one side are the capitalists who own the means of production. They are faced by the wage earners who are forced to sell their labor power. Many workers today are isolated, discouraged, and full of capitalist political ideas and filled with capitalist prejudices. Nevertheless, only the wage earners through strikes and other collective forms of struggle can bring the capitalist mode of production to a halt and hit the capitalist class at the critical point, their profits.

Capitalism in its neoliberal phase after the collapse of Stalinism in 1989-91 is politically and militarily on the rise world wide. The working class of the European countries is subject to massive social attacks. Trade unions and social democratic parties are unable to oppose this, but are perfectly integrated into the system. Their representatives participate in cutting public services and creating racist divisions. The Green Parties are not an alternative, they are bourgeois parties, some of which have a progressive rhetoric on human rights issues, but, where they participate in government, show that they are part of the normal capitalist state.

The different imperialist blocs are arming themselves. The imperialist “global player” is still the United States. But the EU is trying to downsize the military gap with the United States and is also more and more acting as a militarily independent bloc. In contrast, we support the resistance against imperialist wars and occupations and combine this with the slogan: “The main enemy is at home.”

To secure its domination, capitalism is (also) using and fostering the division of the working class. We are fighting against the oppression of people because of their ethnicity, gender, age or sexual orientation and we oppose these divisions with the unconditional support of every fight for equal rights.

We are for the socialization of large corporations and their transformation into co-operatives under democratic workers’ management and control. Capitalism can not be eliminated by a few votes or parliamentary reform. All attempts to overcome capitalism through reforms have failed (and have often led to bloody defeats). Only a fundamental upheaval, a revolution based on the active participation of large segments of the population can destroy the state of the ruling class, eliminate the bases of inequality, oppression and exploitation and create a free society.

We are Marxists and follow in the tradition of the “left opposition” against Stalinism by Leon Trotsky. Our alternative is socialism. Our socialism is a free, democratic society built on elected councils. We refer positively to the Russian October Revolution of 1917. This revolution has indeed failed in the Stalinist degeneration in the twenties, but the idea of an alternative to capitalism retains its validity. Our socialism has thus nothing to do with the “social” democratic parties, or with the Stalinist dictatorships in the Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, Cuba and China. Capitalism is internationally organized and networked. Therefore, our revolutionary alternative has to be international and internationalist.

The RSO is not “the” revolutionary party. None of the currently existing organizations can claim that for themselves. A new revolutionary party will emerge from a process of transformations and mergers. The RSO will try to play a positive role in this process to build such a party and therefore put forward a revolutionary alternative to capitalism.

If you are interested in this project, then get in contact with us and support us in building a revolutionary and socialist organization!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

More people without home

Living in a city, you might have noticed the increasing number ofhomeless people on the streets. Many of this country’s homeless however, are not the men and women you see sleeping rough, but families in B&Bs and other peoples houses. Last year the number of people officially classed as homeless  jumped by 14%. Repossesion and rising unemployment see an increasing number of people with no home to call their own.Some end up on the streets.  Others are lucky enough to get a roof over their heads- but only for a short amount of time.

In certain areas you’ll find empty, boarded-up houses scattered round the neighbourhoods, whilst the families that once lived there now sleep on friends’ sofas, are holed up in B&Bs or live in some other form of temporary accomodation. There is not enough demand for these houses because the people who would need them can’t afford them anymore. Currently, there is limited affordable housing and people are being turfed from their homes; so what happens when more and more people can’t even find temporary accomodation? Take America for example: the situation is so bad that “Hoovervilles” (the name for the tent towns and encampments made in public spaces inhabited by the homeless, first cropping up during the Great Depression) are appearing across the country. If nothing is done to stem this rise in homelessness, could we see a similar development in the UK?

Of the homeless families, there are 4 million children living in poverty after housing costs have been paid, 1 million in overcrowded spaces and 90,000 in temporary accomodation. Not only do they no longer have anywhere of their own to spend their childhood years, they also become affected by physical and mental health problems. It has been proven that homeless children suffer from insecurity, asthma, poor education and many other problems. All this happens despite the government’s pledge in 1999 to end child poverty by 2020. Instead of ending child poverty, the current housing benefit cuts could push more children into poverty.

The inherent greed in the current system is being increasingly laid bare for all to see. The government has placed importance on profits over people. With less homeless people than there are empty houses (720,000 homes in November 2011) we should question why the empty houses can’t simply be given to those without a home? The answer is that the capitalists would rather see people on the streets than give a house away for free. Not only are there thousands of empty homes, but there are plenty of acres available for building homes on the large estates and second homes of the capitalists. Again, the capitalists would rather see people on the streets than give up their excess land and their second homes. Perhaps we should start taking some advice from Bertolt Brecht’s poem “Resolution of the Communards”:

Considering that here houses are standing,
While you leave us without a place to stay,
We decided to install us now there,
Because in our holes, it doesn't suit us any more.

Issue 5 February 2012

Full Paper as a PDF

One Year on, The "Arab Spring"

Greece, The Achilles Heel of European Capitalism

Victory for the Sparks

Back to the workhouse

Saturday, 19 November 2011

One Year on, The "Arab Spring"

Early 2011 saw the beginning of a massive uprising in the Arab countries of the Middle East and North Africa. All over the region, regimes that were in power for decades were toppled. There is hardly a country in the region that has not been affected. The struggles saw thousands of workers in the streets venting their anger, being truly inspirational in their efforts, to people all over the world. Unfortunately the vision of a better and more just society that was shared by so many has not yet materialized.

The Causes  

Although there are massive differences between the Arab countries, there are also some strong uniting factors, first and foremost a common cultural sphere and a common language. There is also a similarity in the sense that the whole region has been at the mercy of imperialism for years. All the Arab economies are heavily dependent on the foreign capital of Western European countries, especially Britain, France and the USA, first as colonies and later more indirectly via capital dependency. For example, the main foreign holders of Egyptian assets are British and American companies. The regions wealth of natural resources, namely oil and important trading routes, like the Suez canal, have given it a special importance in the imperialist game of parasitic plunder by the Western European and North American bourgeoisie.
The imperialists held their grip on the region via a whole bunch of proxy regimes. All the regimes of the region are extremely oppressive and authoritarian by Western standards. The power of these regimes, no matter whether dressed up as monarchies or republics, was, and is, mainly based on an excessive military apparatus that has a special role in these societies. The Arab people were often denied the most basic freedoms and rights, such as freedom of the press and free access to media or the right to (freely) vote. The power of the local bourgeoisie was bloodily exercised by the military which lived parasitically of the people.
On top of all these factors came the economic crisis that started in 2007. Already in 2008, due to massive speculation on grain and the consequent rising grain prices, hunger riots in Egypt broke out. With the tightening economic climate the bourgeoisie in the Arab countries became less and less willing to finance corrupt and parasitic dynasties of rulers.  Also, the possibility for the ruling elite to make concessions to the working class and the poor in these countries was drastically reduced. This explains why the outburst of anger could take such a mass character and why the bourgeoisie was actually often joining the upsurges. 

From Tunisia... to Egypt... to Libya... to Syria?

The general prairie fire in the Arab world started with the rising of the people in Tunisia. A period of mass demonstrations followed an incidence where an unemployed graduate, who had become a street peddler, set himself on fire after his license was taken away from him. In the following mass demonstrations the organised working class, namely the Tunisian trade union federation UGTT played a decisive role, although politically subordinate to the bourgeois forces. Ben Ali had ruled Tunisia for 23 years and his clan had scrounged a large amount of the economies profits. On January 15th last year he was brought down. After this success many Arab countries witnessed similar revolts.
The most significant of them was most likely Egypt, where the Dictatorship of Mubarak was brought to an end after 30 years. The main force behind the uprising however was not the working class but the urban poor, the petit bourgeoisie and parts of the national bourgeoisie. Young people especially, who had graduated from university and faced mass unemployment, were the motor of the protests. Although Mubarak was brought down, the military which is a massive factor in Egyptian society and previously was the pillar of Mubarak’s reign remained in power. The overall situation for workers in Egypt has only marginally improved, anti-trade union laws actually became even worse.
A break in the pattern was the struggle that emerged in Libya. After having initially been a spontaneous manifestation of general anger about Colonel Gaddafi’s four decade rule, the resistance movement was taken over by a clique of former Gaddafi loyalist who suddenly realized that they were better off on the side of the NATO imperialists. The uprising turned into a bloody civil war and eventually NATO forces, seeing their chance to get some booty from Libya’s oil reserves and trying to appease the region by showing presence, came out in support of the rebels.
The next state in-line for a regime change seems to be Syria, where the 30 year rule of the Assad clan is challenged by a massive rebel uprising. So far around 7000 people have been brutally murdered by the pro government forces since the beginning of the uprising last March. However the anti-Assad rebels seem to be hardly an improvement for the working masses of Syria. The rebels are made up mainly of petty bourgeois forces, trying to replace Assad’s regime with some bourgeois democratic regime and not opposing foreign intervention. In Syria, another Libya-like scenario seems likely. The Syrian working class has the least to win from a civil war and foreign intervention, for them this will only mean more suffering and more unnecessary losses.

Bourgeois democracy is the dictatorship of capital!

Wherever a “democratic regime change” has taken place in the Arab world it has so far been hardly an improvement for the working people of these countries. In Egypt and in Tunisia, the bourgeoisie and the military remain in power, in the proxy-elections in these two countries mainly right-wing Islamic forces have profited. “Bourgeois democracy” in these countries doesn’t mean a change of the living conditions of the working class or more freedoms but merely more participation in power for the national bourgeoisie.
Like the economies of the Arab countries are dependent on foreign capital, the governments in the region will always be dependent on the imperialist bourgeoisie. “Bourgeois Democracy” is a privilege of the imperialist countries and is paid for with the super-exploitation of the third world. All attempts to build Western-like democracies in the Arab countries must therefore be in vain. The imperialists will always make sure that the Arab states guarantee the imperialist’s parasitic interests in the region. Even the “democratic” countries in the Middle East, such as Turkey have to base their power heavily on the military to control the contradictions in the powder keg of a society. So if the working class and all the oppressed people in the Arab countries want to strive for something better than the smokescreen of democracy they have to go beyond the bourgeois order of things.

A working class answer is needed!

Although workers have broadly participated in the various uprisings in the Arab world the working class as an independent political factor has not yet stepped onto the scene in this region. The first promising steps have been taken, like the strike movement in Egypt after Mubarak had been expelled from power. These steps however, are only small ones and the big step has yet to be made. The working class in the Arab countries has a fighting tradition, dating back 50 years and more. The pro-imperialist proxy-dictatorships in the region have made all attempts possible to wipe out this tradition. However even now there are germs of a new fighting working class. The strikes in Egypt in 2006 and in 2011 after the fall of the Mubarak regime are a first glimpse of the enormous size and power the working class holds in these countries. If the working class makes use of its tradition and finds a way of appropriating the revolutionary ideas of Marxism it could really spark off an Arab revolution.
In Britain we have to recognize that it is not an Arab question, but a question of the working class as a whole. Britain is at the forefront of the economic exploitation of the region and has participated majorly in the military offensive against Libya. The working class in Britain can gain no freedom as long as it holds other people in shackles. The most practical solidarity we can give to the struggle of the Arab working class is to struggle against our own imperialist-capitalist rulers in Britain!

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

End the Imperialist War in Afghanistan

Another month in the decade long imperialist war in Afghanistan, another high profile massacre of innocent Afghan civilians by an American soldier. This time Staff Sergeant Robert Bales of the 3rd Stryker Brigade left the NATO military base in southern Kandahar province in the early hours of Sunday 11 March and broke into the homes of local Afghan villagers living near the base. He then calmly made his way through the hamlet and shot dead 16 people mostly women and children. It’s reported that the soldier hunted down members of a family like military targets and that some of his victims were found covered in burn marks inflicted by Bales.

This horrific incident, though astonishing, is not unprecedented. It was only in 2010 in the same province that three US Soldiers formed a ‘kill team’ which murdered three Afghan civilians. Last year a hungover British guardsmen stabbed a 10 year old boy in the kidney for no apparent reason. British soldiers are currently on trial for abusing Afghan children whilst US wikileaks files reported 21 separate incidents of British troops shooting dead or bombing Afghan civilians. The UN reported that last year NATO and its Afghan allies were responsible for 410 civilian deaths, a figure widely agreed to be a gross underestimate of the true number of civilians killed by the occupying forces. 

Nor is the murder of civilians limited to Afghanistan. The war in Iraq was punctuated by occupation massacres from the start: Haditha, where 24 men, women and children were murdered in cold blood by US marines in 2005, the killing of 17 by Blackwater military contractors in 2007, and another dozen by a US Apache crew in Baghdad the same year are among the more notorious.

NATO will no doubt blame the latest massacre on a mentally unstable Robert Bales and wash its hands of all responsibility for the atrocity. The fact though that such horrors occur time and time again during their imperialist occupations prove that they are endemic. Afghanistan is being occupied, not for the good of the Afghan people but due to the strategy of the U.S.A in maintaining it’s hegemony over the region. It props up  one of the most corrupt and unpopular regimes in the world, that of President Karzai, and bombs any opposition into the ground. As of going to press,  404 British soldiers, 1,827 American soldiers and tens of thousands of innocent Afghan civilians have lost their lives during the war. Many more will die before the planned withdrawal of NATO troops in 2014 but nothing will have been achieved, an incredibly sad loss of human life to feed the needs of imperialism.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Back to the workhouse

The methods that the rich are willing to use to squeeze every last bit of profit for themselves out of workers seemingly knows no limits. Not content with putting hundreds of thousands of people on the dole through sackings, the rich, capitalist classes now cry that these same people, who they put out of work, are lazy and undeserving of the paltry £53 a week that they receive to live off whilst having to search for non-existent jobs. The con-dem government has listened to the concerns of the rich and implemented a scheme whereby people will be forced to work for free or have their job seekers allowance stopped, in what certainly harps back to the infamous workhouses of Victorian Britian.

The scheme known unofficially as workfare is a way for big businesses such as Tesco, Asda, Mcdonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, Primark, Boots, The Arcadia Group of stores which includes Topman and Burton amongst a host of others to add to their already enormous profits by effectively employing slave labour.

An unemployed person can now be told by the Job Centre that they must work 30 hours a week for a company such as Tesco that has offered them ‘work experience’. They will not be paid for this work, nor even guaranteed a permanent job with the company once they have completed the 26 week placement. If they refuse to perform unpaid labour for the company offering the placement then they will have their benefits stopped for 13 weeks the first time they refuse to participate, for six months the second time and for three years the third time, condemning them to possible homelessness and starvation.

Unemployed persons are thus forced to work for free and to produce value for the company employing their labour. Companies such as Asda which already make over £10 million profit in a single day benefit, while the workers who create this wealth get nothing. The scheme has already forced 24,000 people to work without pay whilst Tesco a company that made £1.9billion in the last six months exploited 1,400 of those working. Some of the workers employed in this way even have to do nightshifts and work in freezers without proper protective clothing.

Aside from the moral outrage this scheme provokes there is also the absurdity of it. Implemented by the champions of the free market, the conservative party, the scheme is actually using public funds to provide the job seekers allowance the person receives in lieu of any proper payment from the company. So the government is subsidizing large corporations’ labour costs.

The capitalists clearly think that they can get away with this robbery. If it were up to them they would have us all working for free, and unless the working class forcefully resists the workfare scheme then they will get their way, this can already be seen with permanent Tesco staff being sent home early from work as the company has people working for free.