Monday, 22 June 2009


Working class must decisively enter struggle

Thirty years after the 1979 revolution Iran has again erupted in revolutionary convulsions as millions have taken to the streets to protest against the undoubted rigging of the Presidential election. Within a few hours of polls closing, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his cohorts in the theocratic dictatorship claimed a sweeping victory of 64% of the votes cast based on an 85% turn-out.

This pronouncement was enough to bring hundreds of thousands onto the streets - according to some reports up to three million participated in the largest protest which has taken place in Tehran. Students, the middles class and sections of unemployed, the poor and white collar workers have flooded onto the streets demanding that they reclaim their "stolen votes" and that Ahmadinejad is driven from office. However this revolutionary crisis unfolds in the coming weeks, it is clear that Iran will never be the same again. This massive movement for change marks the beginning of the end of the existing dictatorship.

Although a precise analysis of the election result is obviously impossible, the study of the details of the regime's own figures by the University of Saint Andrews in Scotland give some incredible results. In some areas, turnout was 100%. Ahmadinejad mobilised apparently enough support to increase his vote by 113% compared to 2005. For the regimes numbers to add up, he would have needed to win the votes of all those who did not vote in 2005, all the votes that went to the "centrist" candidate Rafsanjani and 44% of all the votes which went to a more reformist candidate, Karrubi, in that election.

A striking feature of this movement and the build up to the elections has been the emergence of young women into the arena of struggle - unprecedented in recent Iranian history. This was reflected during the election campaign. For the first time in Iran, Mir Hossein Mousavi's wife, Zahra Rahnavard, played a leading role and drew massive crowds, especially of young women, demanding "equality".

Press censorship and restrictions on assemblies have not prevented news of this movement being broadcast. The youth especially have used Facebook and Twitter to organise their protests and publicise their cause and the repression being used against them. Iran has the highest number of 'bloggers' per head of the population of any country.

The mass protests which have swept Iran following the announcement of the election result mark a crucial turning point. Defying the "law" and brutal repression by the state security forces they illustrate that the masses have begun to lose their fear of the regime and are prepared to challenge and defy it. This represents a decisive change in the psychology of the masses in any movement against a dictatorship. In the face of the deployment of the vicious para-military force, the Basiji, demonstrators in Tehran have taken up the chant "Tanks, guns, Basiji, you have no effect now"!

Thus far, it has undoubtedly been the students and youth who have been to the forefront of this movement. Educated and cultured layers of the youth have been seething with discontent at the suffocating, repressive nature of this theocratic regime which has denied choice in dress, music, personal relations and communication. A dress too tight, hair too spiky or the wrong choice of music brought the wrath of the Basiji's batons down upon young people in the streets. In a population where an estimated 60 to 70% are under the age of thirty, such restrictions were impossible to enforce indefinitely. Important as these factors are, this movement surpasses them, demanding all democratic rights and reflecting a yearning for change throughout Iranian society. This is reflected by the widespread participation and support for the movement which exists amongst older sections of the population.

Added to this is the accumulated frustration and disappointment of big sections of the population during the last few years of Ahmadinejad Presidency. He was elected in 2005 and has maintained an important base of support, especially amongst some sections of the poor and in rural areas. Even in this election, there appears to have been a certain split between the larger urban areas and the rural areas. The scale of this division is not yet fully apparent. The International Herald Tribune, for example, has carried a report from one small village, Bagh-e-Iman, near the south-western city of Shiraz. This report claims the majority of the villages' 850 voters backed Mousavi only to find that the reverse was declared at the count. This was despite Ahmendinejad's supporters being booed at election rallies. Car loads of the villagers then attended the protest rallies in Shiraz. Moreover, Iran now has massive urban centres where most of the population now live, with important family links remaining with the countryside. According to recent estimates, approximately 70% of the population lives in urban cities.

Reactionary Populist

His base amongst the poor was built upon a reactionary populist basis, denouncing corruption, the rich liberal elite and a strident nationalist policy which denounced western and especially US imperialism.

During the 2005 election, he took up one of the slogans of the 1979 Revolution, "a Republic of the poor". Following the revolution, important sections of the economy were taken into state hands but rather than a Republic for the poor, a Republic of rich, corrupt Mullah oligarchs emerged. In 2005, Ahmendinejad also featured the demand to re-distribute the oil wealth more equally to the poor and introduced subsidies on basic commodities. Following his election, a series of infrastructural projects were also initiated. This rhetoric was in contrast to the 'reformist' Rafsanjani, who he defeated in 2005, renowned for his corruption and links to the rich oligarchs.

Yet Ahmadinejad's populist championing of the poor did not prevent his regime from brutally attacking Tehran bus drivers and others when they took strike action to defend their interests.

However, with rampant inflation reaching 30% and rising unemployment which stands at approximately 25% among under-thirties and the recent ending of subsidies on petrol and some food products, frustration and anger has increased in the recent period.

Ahmadinejad has also militarised the government at national and local level, leading to increased repression and also growing hostility from the youth especially. Ahmandinejad, a former officer in the Revolutionary Guards, has appointed 14 former Revolutionary Guards officers to ministerial positions out of 21. The paramilitary Basiji has also been given rights relating to oil extraction, fomenting allegations of corruption, which he allegedly was going to root out.

The power of the movement so far, unseen in Iran since the 1979 revolution, has forced the regime into zigzags in its response and opened up splits and divisions within it. Initially the Guardian Council merely endorsed the results and dismissed demands for a recount. It then back-tracked and conceded that a partial recount could take place of "disputed" ballots. More recently it accepted that just over six hundred disputed ballots could be recounted. However, even a full recount, if in the unlikely event of it being conceded, would in reality be meaningless. Who after all would check the checkers? According to British journalist, Robert Fisk, a fist-fight broke out amongst the reactionary members of the parliament about how to respond to Ahmadinejad's dismissal of the protestors as "dirt and ash".

The entry of the masses into the arena of struggle on the scale currently being seen, as Trotsky points out in his epic 'History of the Russian Revolution', is one of the hallmarks of a revolution. In this sense, a revolution is unfolding in Iran.

What type of revolution?

However, there are different types of revolutions. Historically, there were the bourgeois democratic revolutions of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe, which swept away feudal society. There is also the socialist revolution which for example unfolded in Russia in 1917 which resulted in the overthrow of capitalism and landlordism and the establishment of a workers' democracy. This was followed by a political counter-revolution when the bureaucratic Stalinist regime emerged and robbed the working class of political power.

Also revolutionary upheavals can take place which result in a political change of power but where the former social and property relations remain. In Iran at the moment, a political revolution is taking place, within the framework of capitalism. Revolution however, is a process and during this development the social questions and demands can emerge which bring it into conflict with the social system of capitalism. The debates and clashes which took place on the TV during the election campaign between Mousavi and Ahmadinejad played a central role in arousing the youth especially, who then were drawn into the movement in an active way and have become a motor force driving the struggle since the election results were announced.

The crucial question now in Iran is how this movement develops and the type of new regime that will emerge from it. At this stage of events, it is unclear how the current crisis will unfold and develop. The question now is whether the working class emerges into the forefront of the struggle to take it forward. However, it is clear that a new era has begun in Iran and the upheaval and revolution will develop over a lengthy period of time, with many crises and turns in the situation.

Lenin outlined four main conditions for the development of the socialist revolution. Firstly, splits and divisions amongst the ruling class and its political representatives are necessary. Secondly, the middle class needs to be vacillating with a significant section of it supporting the revolution. Thirdly, the working class needs to be organised and clearly willing to struggle - putting itself at the head of the revolutionary process. Fourthly, a mass revolutionary socialist party with a clear leadership is necessary with broad support for its ideas amongst wide sections of masses - especially the active layers of workers.

Certainly the first two of these conditions exist in Iran today. However, it would be light minded and irresponsible to simplistically argue that these conditions have matured in Iran at the present stage of the movement. The third condition – of a willingness to struggle by the working class is not clearly evident at this stage. The working class has not clearly put its stamp on the movement, acting as an independent force. The fourth condition of Lenin of a mass revolutionary socialist party and leadership is yet to be built. The degree of willingness to struggle by workers needs to be tested in elected committee of struggle and independent unions which still need to be built.

The absence of a mass consciousness by the working class of its independent role and the absence of a revolutionary leadership become objective barriers to the revolution. Without a precise estimation of these issues it is not possible to accurately estimate the perspectives and prospects for the revolution in Iran which is now beginning to unfold.

Splits within the regime

There is clearly a major split within the ruling regime in Iran. This exists even within those forces supporting Ahmadinejad, which have apparently reached the level of fist-fights and centre on how to deal with the mass movement which seems to have caught it by surprise. The arrest of family members of former President Rafsanjani, indicate how deep the splits have gone amongst the ruling elite.

The clash between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi also represents a division amongst the rulers. While the masses on the streets have rallied to Mousavi and have great hopes and illusions in him he and his leading supporters formed a part of the theocratic regime itself. Mousavi, himself a former Prime Minister at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis in 1979, was responsible for repression against left-wing activists and did nothing to oppose the 'fatwa' issued by the then Spiritual leader, Ayatollah Khomeini against Salman Rushdie.

What he promised during the election was reform of the existing system, greater economic liberalisation, reduced unemployment and "greater equality" for women, but all within the existing clerical theocratic regime. His programme in essence is reform from the top to prevent revolution from below in order to preserve the existing order.

Yet this important and significant division has opened the door through which the masses have poured into the arena of struggle. The determination of Ahmandinejad and his supporters to cling to power has forced the split between them still wider. The endorsement of Ahmandinejad, and demands for the protests to end or face greater repression by the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, threatens to heighten the conflict and take it to new levels. Having begun with demands to reform the system, the movement now finds itself confronted with direct defiance of Khamenei, bringing it into direct collision with the entire theocratic state.

At the beginning of the Spanish civil war, Trotsky explained that Berenguer in 1931 had acted as the doorman, opening the gate through which the masses poured into struggle. The same can be said for Mousavi, who having opened the gate is now try to shut it again. Despite his attempts the pressure to burst it open will remain.

At the time of writing, it is not yet clear if the masses are prepared to go even further in taking the movement forward to such a direct confrontation. However, the indications of those interviewed and the reports emerging on Twitter and Facebook, which have been a feature of the movement, are that Khamenei's declaration have enraged a significant layer. Students at Tehran University have declared a permanent occupation following his declaration on Friday 19 June. They have called for a strike on Tuesday 22 June. Yet, faced with a massive deployment of the security forces the demonstrations on Saturday 20 and 21 June seemed much smaller. While the students have showed great heroism during this movement, the level of repression seems to have intimidated others sections to stay away from the protests. This would not have been the case if the working class had put its stamp as an independent force in an organised way on this movement.

It is now possible that the movement in face of brutal repression will temporarily pause for a period of time. This is especially the case if the working class does not decisively enter the struggle. Should this happen then it is certain to erupt again in the not too distant future.

However, the growing protests which have occurred so far are despite the attempts of Mousavi to demobilise the mass mobilisations - even calling off one mass protest. Despite this, hundreds of thousands took to the streets, illustrating that the movement is developing from below despite the leadership's attempt to prevent it. Mousavi, like Ahmandinejad is terrified of the mass movement - especially an independent movement of the working class.

The working class

The crucial question now posed is - is the working class prepared to enter the struggle in a decisive manner. If it does, then it the prospect of the Ahmadinejad regime being overthrown will be clearly posed. Although, according to reports, unemployed and significant sections of the poor joined the protests in north Tehran (a more middle class area) and building workers cheered the opposition march as it passed, as yet there have not been reports of workers declaring a strike or forming their own organisations of struggle. However, there are some indications that this may now be beginning to take place.

The Tehran bus workers, with a long history of struggle against the regime, have issued a declaration supporting the movement and supporting those fighting repression by the regime. They have also called for a day of protest on June 26. There are also reports now emerging that the car workers in Khodro have imposed a strike of 30 minutes at the beginning of each shift in protest against the repression against the demonstrators.

Moreover, the bus workers, whose leader, Mansour Osanloo, is serving a five year jail sentence for his role in organising strikes in the past, while supporting the protests, did not support either candidate in the Presidential election because neither represented the interests of the working class. There are also reports of discussions about a general strike taking place.

Revolution is a living process and develops hour by hour and day by day. Many revolutionary movements have begun with the university students and sections of the middle class. They have then been joined by the working class which has taken the entire struggle onto a newer and higher level. This was the case in France 1968 and also during the Iranian revolution in 1979. The question now when faced with increased repression is if the movement prepared to fight right to the finish and take the necessary steps to confront and overthrow the regime.

Should Ahmadinejad and his regime move to a policy of even more brutal repression involving widespread deaths, then this could ignite the workers into struggle. According to some reports more than a dozen were killed by the security forces on 20 June. Khamenei's declaration and deployment of the state apparatus was a high risk strategy. Had bigger clashes taken place, involving deaths of hundreds or a few thousand, this could have been a trigger for the working class to enter the struggle in a more conscious and decisive manner.

Many of the students are from poor backgrounds and have benefited from grants and assistance to get to university. Faced with an explosion from the working class together with the youth it is far from certain that the repressive forces of the state machine would remain intact.

Although there have been shootings and brutal attacks on the students at Tehran University, especially by the Basiji, there have also been other reports of the Basiji refusing to attack protestors. The social composition of the Basiji makes it an extremely unreliable force to be used against the protestors. The government boasts it has a membership of 12 million. Many commentators claim that this is an exaggeration and that the real figure is less than half this amount. It is a relatively easy organisation to join and in the main requires little training and it is not a full time commitment. The hardcore force numbers, according to one report, only approximately 90,000. The rest are drawn from their families many of whom have participated on the opposition protests.

Should the movement gain greater strength, especially if the working class should enter the struggle in an organised and determined manner, then the various wings of the state machine could split and fragment. Important sections of it could go over to the side of the protestors. This is undoubtedly the fear important figures in the regime have.

This movement has exposed the massive social and class divisions which exist in Iranian society. Should the crisis continue and if the revolution does not take decisive steps forward and eventually result in the working class, with the support of the middles class, youth and poor peasants taking over the running of society, then other divisions can also begin to emerge.

There is a strong Iranian national consciousness. Yet the population is made up of a series of ethnic groupings. An estimated 52% are Persians, 24% Azeris, 8% Gilakis and Mazandaranis and 7% Kurds. Mousavi himself has spoken in Azeri at some rallies. This is a further fission which could also open up at a certain stage.

The eruption of the movement in Iran represents a turning point in the struggle of the masses. It is at its early stages still but is an advance on events in 1999 and is developing rapidly. It remains to be seen if this revolutionary crisis with important elements of a pre-revolutionary situation is more comparable with the Russian revolution in 1905 or that of 1917. The revolution in 1905 was defeated because it did not enjoy the support of the peasantry in the rural areas. It was an anticipation of the 1917 revolution. The revolution in 1917 were led by the working class, with the active support and involvement of the peasantry. This difference between 1905 and 1917 may also prove to be present in the crisis unfolding in Iran today. In 1905 the masses, especially the working class in St. Petersburg moved into action. Initially they petitioned the Tsar, led by a priest Father Gapon. In Iran today the masses have demanded democratic rights and reform of the existing system and chanted religious slogans as well. However, in Russia 1905, the workers formed their own organisation of a Soviet (council) which was crucial and re-emerged during the great revolutions of 1917. This or similar developments do not seem as yet to have taken place in Iran.

However, the 1905 revolution was defeated and a period of counter-revolution and repression followed. Yet 1905 was a decisive pre-cursor to 1917 which eventually resulted in the working class taking power.

Iran 2009 may only be anticipation for an even greater movement later. Should this be the case, even if the current regime hangs on for period of time, the social crisis and antagonisms will remain and intensify and are certain to lead to further revolutionary upheavals. The absence of a genuinely revolutionary socialist party and leadership and the undoubted political confusion which exists after thirty years of a theocratic regime and the ideological retreat about the idea of a socialist alternative which has taken place internationally will mean the revolution in Iran takes a more protracted development.

Socialist alternative

The fact that the "socialist" President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has scandalously supported and endorsed Ahmadinejad can only add to the confusion. Those on the left who have opportunistically remained silent about the wrong policy of Chavez towards Ahmadinejad and other regimes and other questions have not assisted the masses in Iran in finding the right road and embracing the idea of a genuine socialist alternative.

The crucial task in Iran now, to defeat Ahmadinejad and take the movement forward, is to ensure that real democratic organisations are formed to conduct the struggle. Committees of struggle need to be elected in every workplace, university and district involving the middle class. These need to be made up of elected delegates who can be recalled at any time by mass assemblies. Above all such committees need to prepare to call a general strike and appeal to the rank and file of the army, Revolutionary Guard and Basiji and other repressive organisations of state, to join the movement, remove their officers and form their own committees.

The call for a recount by the existing state machine will not resolve the crisis and cannot have any confidence from the people. Elected committees of struggle could form the basis for the convening of elections to a revolutionary constituent assembly to determine the future of the country. Democratically elected committees should over-see the counting of all votes to such an assembly. The establishment of a workers' and peasants government with a revolutionary socialist programme to break with capitalism is way forward to ensure the introduction genuine democratic rights and equality for all the Iranian people exploited by the existing system and capitalism. Such demands would include the right to free assembly, form political parties, independent trade unions, to produce newspapers and TV programmes without state censorship and the release of all political prisoners and those arrested for struggling against the regime. The new era which has opened in Iran opens the prospects of workers and youth reaching the necessary conclusions of what programme and organisation is needed for them to secure a lasting victory and end the dictatorship and poverty they suffer under the current system. The role of revolutionary socialists is to assist them in finding this road.

Tony Saunois, CWI


Tuesday, 16 June 2009


New phase of struggle opens up

Mass protests and demonstration have erupted in Iran in protest at the apparent rigging of the Presidential elections by the Mahmoud Ahmedinejad regime. According to reports, the largest anti-government demonstration of over one million people took place in the capital Tehran. Reports coming out of Iran claim that over a dozen have been killed in clashes with the police and hated Basij militia. With heavy press censorship, much of the movement has been co-ordinated through the use of 'Twitter' – Iran has the highest number of internet 'bloggers' per head of population. Although the picture is unclear at the time of writing, reports of mass protest in other cities such as Shiraz are also emerging. Tehran University has been surrounded by armed police and brutal repression has been reported of students in their dormitories. Other reports speak of gunfire being heard throughout the capital during the night following the election. Ahmedinejad, who announced victory within a few hours of the polls, has apparently simply left the country and is in Russia attending diplomatic meetings.

Turning point

These mass demonstrations against the regime in Tehran have taken place despite the threat by the regime to authorise the use of live ammunition against the protestors. Although the situation still remains unclear it appears that big sections of the urban population have lost their fear of the regime and are prepared to take to the streets to protest against it. This represents a crucial turning in the struggle against any dictatorship. BBC video footage of the protests shows protestors refusing to disperse when faced with attacks by the military police. To the forefront of these protests have been the students but clearly with the active support of older sections of the population – especially white-collar workers. There are divisions within the regime about how to deal with this mass movement. This, combined with the mass mobilisation of the middle class and students, clearly indicates that important elements of a pre-revolutionary crisis are developing. At this stage however, the working class has not yet decisively joined the struggle and there is confusion in the political consciousness of those involved reflected in some of the religious slogans which are also being chanted such as "God is great". However, it should be remembered that the first demonstrations of the Russian revolution in 1905 were led by a priest, Father Gapon.

How this movement will now develop is not yet clear but it has already forced the regime into an abrupt about turn. The Guardian Council, in the face of this mass opposition, has been compelled to overturn its previous decision and allow a recount of contested votes. This is a clear attempt to calm the situation as the regime fears that the protests will erupt further and develop into an uprising against the regime itself.

Fuelled by rising mass unemployment and a yearning for democratic rights, especially amongst the youth – 60% of the Iranian population is under the age of thirty. The urban youth in particular are in revolt against the theocratic repression which they have suffered. An important feature of this movement have been the mobilisations of young women, demanding "equality". This was reflected in the enormous popularity of Zahra Rahnavard, wife of the main opposition candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, during the campaign. It is unprecedented in Iranian elections for women to play such a leading role. At the same time, while the mass opposition in the cities has rallied to Mousavi, he is no socialist or defender of the working class and the poor. A former Prime Minister, his pro-capitalist programme is limited to reform of the current theocratic state. However, the attempt to rig the election by Ahmedinejad has possibly opened the flood gates to a mass movement that could topple his regime and open a new era in Iran. At the same time there is an apparent division between the rural poor and some sections of the most down trodden and oppressed in some of the cities and urban centres who have tended to support Ahmedinejad because of his right-wing reactionary populist stance against corruption and the rich liberal elite and "anti-western imperialist" stance.

Iran has been transformed in recent years with nearly 70% of the population estimated to be living in the urban areas with a highly educated layer of young people.

The decisive question in the short term is if the working class now moves into action following reports of trade unions discussing calling a general strike which is the main fear of the regime. At the time of writing the opposition has called off a mass protest scheduled to take place in Tehran to avoid clashes with pro-government forces. This illustrates the fear reformist pro-capitalists like Mousavi have of unleashing mass mobilisations which can easily get out of their control and move in a more radical revolutionary direction. It is possible that Mousavi may try and reach a compromise with the existing regime to avoid bringing the masses onto the streets. Alternatively, the regime may be forced to accept Ahmedinejad's defeat in order to try to maintain control of the situation. Attempts may also be made to wind down the protests for fear of their consequences. Mousavi has already called on protests planned for tomorrow to be cancelled.

New phase of struggle opens up

However, the genie is now out of the bottle and a decisive new phase of the struggle has been opened in Iran. The struggle for genuine democratic rights, the right to strike, to hold free elections, form free trade unions, political parties and equality for women needs to be fought for by all workers, youth and socialists. The emergence of the working class into this movement can give it the necessary cohesion and power to defeat the regime. The formation of democratically elected committees of struggle from the workplaces and universities linking with the middle class and urban poor can form the basis of a united struggle. The calling of a general strike and forming a defence militia along with a class appeal to the rank and file of the army are steps which are necessary to take the movement forward to overthrow the regime. Such committees could also convene elections to a revolutionary constituent assembly to decide the future of Iran. The guarantee of democratic rights and a solution to the mass poverty and unemployment can only then be assured with the formation of a workers' and peasants government on a revolutionary socialist programme to transform society in the interests of all working people. (Further analysis to follow)

See videos on BBC website: Woman injured at protest and Students hold secret rally in Tehran

Tony Saunois, CWI

Friday, 12 June 2009


Socialist ideas were presented as the alternative in Malaysia's multi-racial society and to counter imperialist and capitalist ideology, and were very significant until 1970.

There were two dominant Left forces in this period, embodied by the Malaysian Communist Party (MCP) which emerged in the 1930s and the Socialist Front (Labour Party and People's Party) in 1950s and 1960s. The experiences, defeats and weaknesses of these forces, along with the undemocratic nature of Stalinism or Maoism internationally, during that period have been used by the right wing parties to attack the genuine ideas and programmes of socialism and regarded socialism is out of date and not practical in Malaysia.

Malaysian Communist Party (MCP)

In the early 20th century, there was a significant economic division between races with Chinese workers in mining, Indian workers in rubber and palm oil plantations and the majority Malays were peasants in rural villages. The British were able to pillage the enormous wealth and resources in Malaya using racial polarization. In the 1930s, mining and plantation workers who had been hugely affected by the massive economic turmoil of that period were looking to the MCP for ideas and guidance on how to conduct a struggle against capitalism and imperialism.

There were massive industrial strikes and demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of workers in this period led by the MCP in response to the employer's failure to lift workers' living standards and welfare. Later in the 1940s, the MCP had quite a significant influence in almost every major trade union comprising mainly Chinese and Indian workers.

Malaya Malay Nationalist Party (PKMM)

Meanwhile, the Malay poor peasants in rural areas were being exploited by Malay aristocrats and landlords. The PKMM (Parti Kebangsaan Melayu Malaya-Malaya Malay Nationalist Party) which was a radical nationalist party launched by middle class Malays in 1945, was influenced by left ideas and the MCP, and had been at the forefront of organising the Malays against both British imperialism and the Malay aristocrats. In that period, they even had a youth section (API-Angkatan Pemuda Insaf), a women's section (Angkatan Wanita Sedar - AWAS) and a peasant union (Barisan Tani Se-Malaya - BATAS). At one stage, the poor peasantry organised by BATAS and with a certain influence of the MCP, put forward demands such as land rights for the poor. In that process, the MCP also managed to attract some Malays of the PKMM into its ranks.

The possibility to unite the workers, peasants and others regardless of race and religion for a common struggle was shown 60 years ago, on 20th October 1947, when Hartal (general strike) was declared by coalition of left organisations and political parties as well as trade unions to oppose the unjust nature of colonial constitution proposed to Malaya. This one day strike was participated by workers, peasants, fisherman, civil servants, petty trades and others, regardless race and religions and they managed to paralyse the nation and economy in which 99% of the business and administration activities were shut down. However the unclear leadership of this coalition and the confusions in the programs and demands retarded the continuation of such possibilities.

Role of party

All these developments showed that socialist ideas had been seen as an alternative to the capitalist or feudal system by workers and peasants regardless of race and religion to emancipate them from capitalist and landlord oppression.

Nevertheless the role of the party was crucial. What was needed was a mass party with a clear revolutionary leadership able to lead, guide and empower these disgruntled workers and peasants to establish this socialist system. For that it should be armed with clear perspectives, programme and tactics. The development of distortions of the ideas of socialism, in Russia under Stalin and in China under Mao in those periods, also had much influence on the development of a party like the MCP politically and organisationally.

The movements participated in by workers, peasants and the oppressed can and will develop, and general ideas of socialism can become popular and revolutions can take place; but concrete policies and steps are needed to both achieve and consolidate victory even in the midst of a revolutionary upheaval. Providing these concrete ideas is the key role of a party. This was vindicated by the role of Bolsheviks in the 1917 Russian Revolution under the favourable national and international objectives conditions, 90 years ago, that managed to establish a democratic government for the first time in human history.

Undemocratic nature of Stalinism and Maoism

However, the experience of Russian Revolution showed 'socialism in one country' is not possible and this was acknowledged by Russians revolutionary leaders, Lenin and Trotsky from the beginning. Trotsky in his theory of 'permanent revolution' stressed that in underdeveloped country with pre-capitalist tasks not yet completed or in neo-colonial country, the proletarian has to lead the poor and the peasant masses to complete the bourgeois democratic revolution (land reform, national questions etc) and then goes over to the socialist tasks of the revolution, both nationally and internationally. The Bolsheviks under the leadership of Lenin and Trotsky attempted this, but the civil war against capitalist elements in Russia and the inability of socialist in country like Germany to lead for successful revolution in their country which would had supported Russia economically derailed that process. This background in Russia in 1920s gave the room for opportunist elements with Stalin in the lead to grow.

Meanwhile, in China, Stalin in 1920s had collaborated with 'progressive bourgeoisie' Chiang Kai Shek and his Kuomintang party, and at the same time maintained the relationship with Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However when the CCP and its working class strength grew tremendously and entered into struggles which prevalent in the 1925-27 revolution, Chiang with his forces massacred thousands of communist and workers to subdue the revolution. This background forced the CCP to move into rural area in which the peasantry was the majority. Mao established the Red Army with the support of peasants and subsequently came into power in 1949 which was initially welcomed by the workers, peasants and the poor. His government from the start had emulated the top-down structure that was practiced in administrating the Red Army. Subsequently, these approaches undermined workers' democracy and the regime became bureaucratic.

Stalinism and Maoism are not socialism, as right wing politicians and historians like to claim. They have the feature of the state being governed by a bureaucratic layer who wants to safeguard its privileges and power by managing the planned economy and blocking genuine workers' democracy. These regimes had brutalised and maimed millions of workers, peasants and others in order to maintain the control of the bureaucrats. Although at great human cost, the planned economies had enormously benefited the people in these countries. Without workers' and peasants' democracy, however, the planned economy was unsustainable. This was behind what happened with the collapse of state ownership and planning in Russia and Eastern Europe in 1989 and the shift back towards capitalism in China. The incapacity of the regimes in these countries to develop the economy and move towards full-blown socialism was rooted in Stalinism and Maoism and the inability of these bureaucracies to develop the planned, state-owned economy by allowing real workers' democracy.

MCP and Stalinism

The MCP was established in the 1930s. It adopted the top down party structure and organisational approach practiced by the Stalinist regimes. Lai Tek who was the secretary general of the MCP in that period, ended up using the nature of the party and his position in it to protect his privilege as well as acting as agent for both the British and the Japanese. In one notorious case in 1943 in Batu Caves, 29 senior members of the MCP and their bodyguards were killed by the Japanese military police on information given to them by Lai Tek. Later, because of the undemocratic nature of the party organisations, the MCP made big mistakes in its perspectives, tactics and programmes which caused them to lose the opportunity to take power when the Japanese were defeated in 1945. The influence of Maoism led them to take the path of guerrilla struggle in 1948 which isolated them from the mass movement of the working class that was concentrated in the urban areas.

Socialist Front

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Socialist Front - a coalition of Parti Buruh (Labour), supported mostly by urban populations and dominated by Chinese, and Parti Rakyat (People's Party) based on the Malay peasantry - had presented itself as an alternative to communal politics. They even won majorities in some local councils in Peninsular Malaysia and looked like emerging as a strong, non-communal alternative.

However, there were serious differences in the approach to communal issues between the two parties in the Front. The Parti Rakyat which was influenced by Sukarno, a populist leader in Indonesia, had been flexible towards some communal issues such as the position of the Malay Sultans in independent Malaya and the special privileges of the Malays. The Parti Buruh, which had social democratic roots, put forward the point of view of non-Malay communities. Because of that, right from the beginning the two parties showed little trust in each other and the link-up was basically a marriage of convenience. Their focus was more on the electoral campaign in which Parti Rakyat worked among the Malays and attracted their support and the Parti Buruh wooed the Chinese.

This situation was expressed in their annual report of 1958 as follows: "The Labour Party consisting mostly of Chinese members did not understand the Malayan situation as a whole but tended to look at problems as Chinese, non-Malay, problems…The Labour Party leaders had failed to stress the need of the non-Muslim proletariat to understand the Muslim peasantry…This was a dangerous trend as the Labour Party though non-communal in concept, was in danger of becoming more and more communal both in its membership and its understanding of the Malayan problems…The Rakyat attempted to enlarge itself on a non-communal basis. It began to take in Chinese non-Muslim members and in one or two cases there was a misunderstanding between the Labour Party and Rakyat because of this…certain leaders of our party who began to question whether our non-communal stand could stand up against the strong emotional appeal of communalism in the forthcoming struggle and some were therefore inclined towards a certain degree of communalism for the purpose of the electoral campaign".

These showed the influence of social democratic tendencies in the Socialist Front which concentrated merely on reformism and electoral gain but not revolutionary politics. Although in the same report they recognised the dangers of communalism, to counter this, the ideas proposed were to "change the belief that the Labour party is a Chinese Party by bringing onto its Executive a Malay whose task would be to re-educate the thinking of some our members" and "the laying down of a strong nationalist line in our policy". The former was merely a cosmetic change and the latter was in contradiction with the earliest party programmes that stated "for the establishment of a democratic socialist state of Malaya".

The differences between the Labour Party and Parti Rakyat became intense and the Socialist Front collapsed in 1965. Later it decided not to participate in the elections and the unclear positions and perspectives, along with the repression of the left by the state, further undermined their credibility.

Socialism or barbarism?

Both of these experiences show that the wrong policies and mistakes of the Left forces were used by the ruling class to crush them, but this does not mean that capitalism has triumphed over socialism.

After more than 50 years of independence, the lives of workers and ordinary people, who have been the backbone of Malaysia's development, have become harder and more insecure. Meanwhile, the middle class in urban areas which have grown in numbers and have being seen as enjoying the fruits of the industrial developments since the 1980s, are now being burdened with higher living cost.

Despite working with meagre wages, workers have also been burdened with the privatisation and corporatisation of basic utilities such as telecommunications, electricity, water, higher education, transport systems, healthcare and others under the neo-liberal policies. These things have created higher living costs especially in the urban areas. Nowadays, many people have to do more than one job to survive and to support their family. And there are also increasing cases of ordinary working people trapped into debts with 'along' (loan sharks) who imposed higher interest and will not hesitate to use all kind of intimidation and threats to get his money back.

Meanwhile, high-level corruption such as in the judiciary and police and even in the Anti-Corruption Agency, plus the mismanagement of funds in government departments and public services are common these days. At the same time, ordinary people are burdened with corruption and red tape when they try to speed up certain government services. Meanwhile professionals such as doctors and lawyers are becoming motivated by greed rather than providing a quality service to the public.

Meanwhile, the lives of people especially in urban area become insecure with the huge increase of crime rate. Nowadays, house-breaking, rape, abductions, murders, and other crimes have become common and part of Malaysian life. At the same time the chronic diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart problems and blood pressure are increasing and recent survey indicated that almost 50% of Malaysian population at least will suffer with one of these chronic diseases.

Added to this, the democratic rights of students, opposition parties, media, trade unions and others are being controlled by the state with its laws and government apparatus. These are some of the symptoms of the rapacious nature of capitalist system.

Socialism or barbarism is the choice that is in front of us. Capitalism with its profit orientation under a market economy is incapable of building an equal and just society. It entails only exploitation, oppression, environmental degradation, hunger, poverty, war and other horrors, even though at present there are vast resources and technological advancement to avoid these horrors. Only through taking the major industries, banks, retail parks and land into public ownership can democratic planning of the use of human and natural resources be fully developed – locally, nationally and internationally. Socialism is the only system that can use the immense resources and technologies to fulfill the fundamental needs and to provide equality and justice in every aspect of life with the running of a planned economy through democratically elected committees to carry out workers' control and management of society.


Wednesday, 10 June 2009


Working class action to end war threat!

The underground explosion of a massive nuclear bomb on 25 May and the accompanying war-like declarations of the North Korean regime have brought it suddenly to the centre of world attention. It has aroused grave fears in the region and internationally of a major confrontation – a war that could include nuclear exchanges. Even the well-informed capitalist press with its behind-the-scenes sources, is at a loss to understand the motives and the perspectives for the behaviour of what they call this 'rogue state' – shrouded in mystery and, according to them, one of the last bastions of communism.

With the aim of discrediting the real ideas of democratic socialism and communism, they point the finger at the remnants of a bureaucratic regime that has been run on Stalinist lines for half a century. It is a million miles removed from what true workers' democracy would mean. Millions of North Koreans live in conditions of near starvation while a pampered clique at the top lives cut off from reality and capable of causing an international disaster.

Admitting their perplexity in relation to the man who could soon have his finger on North Korea's nuclear button, the Financial Times wrote last week: "Rarely in the field of human endeavour has so little been known by so few about something so important." (June 3)! The once-united peninsula of Korea used to be known as the 'Hermit Kingdom' about which very little was known. Today, what happens north of the infamous '38th parallel' which now divides it, can have far-reaching consequences for the whole world.

In the past couple of weeks, three 'events' in the peninsula have hit the headlines. There was the renewed nuclear bomb and missile testing in the north, accompanied by threats of resuming a war that is more than half a century old. At about the same time there was the suicide of a former president in the south, followed by mass demonstrations of grief and protest at the present right-wing government. Thirdly, came news that the ailing North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, had named his successor.

These events coming together have underlined the instability of the situation on the peninsula. In particular, the question is raised of whether a war will take place – one that could develop into a nuclear war threatening the very survival of the planet.

There has been enough sabre-rattling on the part of the North Korean regime to believe a fighting war could break out. Propaganda from the North denounced "South Korean puppets" for participating in a cordon sanitaire operation with the US-led Proliferation Security Initiative. This amounted, they said, to a declaration of war which would compel the North to take "a decisive measure"!

The most logical explanation for this defiant stand of the Kim Jong-il regime is that it is a grotesque negotiating ploy aimed at getting more attention and aid for its impoverished economy from the Obama government and elsewhere. (This is in addition to the callous holding of two female journalists as bargaining chips in their negotiations with the US). North Korea's latest weapons testing, however, is at the cost of alienating its most steadfast ally, China, from whom it gets much of its food and fuel. It can also put further pressure on Japan to renounce its post-war 'pacifism' and move closer to acquiring its own nuclear weapons.

Kim Jong-il's actions are those of an isolated dictator looking to mollify his military commanders and win their backing for the 'succession' of his younger son, Kim Jong-woon. He heads a clique that is completely out of touch with reality. Most frightening of all is that they have no conception of the consequences of their actions.


The Korean War of 1950 - 53, which cost up to 3 million lives, arose from the arbitrary cutting in two of the country by agreement of the victors in the Second World War. The armistice, which left the country wrecked and still divided along the same artificial line, brought no satisfaction of the overwhelming desire of Koreans to be in one united country. (The 38th parallel was "a division which made no cultural, political or economic sense", wrote Peter Popham in the Independent (28 May).)

The two Koreas reflected the division of the world at that time between two socially antagonistic (but collaborating) systems. There were those countries where capitalism had been eliminated but in which a privileged bureaucracy held sway 'in the name of the working people'. And there were those where a handful of 'coupon clippers' or capitalists ruled through their 'kept' governments and state machines. Korea, was literally divided in half along the same lines.

The north was in the first camp - with China, whose forces had initially conquered nearly the whole of the peninsula. There was almost complete public ownership and planning, but no workers' control or involvement in managing industry and society. It was run in a dictatorial fashion by its first ruler, Kim Il-sung, father of today's Kim Jong-il. He devised, with his advisers, his own 'Juché' ideology that mirrored the main features of Stalinism and Maoism.

The South remained in the hands of a few giant family-owned conglomerates – the chaebol. There was massive financial, military and political backing from the USA for a series of brutal dictators, most notably the butcher of the workers' movement, Sygman Rhee. Not only did they crush socialists and communist but all basic trade union and democratic rights.

Heroic movements in South Korea in the 1980s ended the rule of the dictators; the '90s saw 'democracy' fighters voted in as presidents. But it was against one of these - Kim Young-sam - that the first ever general strike against globalisation broke out at the end of 1996 and beginning of 1997. Led by well-organised illegal trade unions, the movement forced the president's resignation. He was followed by Kim Dae-jung, in whose cabinet Roh Moo-hyun, a self-taught human rights lawyer, served.

As the CWI argued at the time, unless such figures moved with the backing of workers and poor people to end the rule of the chaebol, taking them into public ownership, these leaders would end up running capitalist governments according to the (very UNdemocratic) rules of the dominant capitalist class. The governments of Kim Young Sam, Kim Dae-jung and also Roh Moo-hyun (who came to power in 2003) initially enjoyed enthusiastic support amongst workers and young people. But they found themselves (and/or their families!) sucked into the culture of bribery and corruption, unable to solve the economic problems of an export-dependent South Korean 'Tiger' and losing the confidence of the people.

The mood in the South

Roh came into power as a 'clean pair of hands', opposed to US domination and in favour of continuing the 'sunshine' policy towards the north, with the hope of carrying through a re-unification that would not lead to economic catastrophe. By the end of his five-year term of office he had lost most of his popularity, having been impeached for an election 'irregularity', having sent Korean troops to assist the US in Iraq, having lost out to the belligerent Bush in the six-party talks about the future of the North and apparently himself, or at least his family, being involved in a bribery scandal worth $6 million.

The populists of the right were the beneficiaries of mass disappointment in the election of 2008. But, in turn, they have quickly lost support and found themselves being blamed for hounding Roh Moo-hyun to his death. As hundreds of thousands turned out for the state funeral on May 29th, his successor, Lee Myung-bak was booed as he laid his wreath and made his address. Many carried placards with a warning to the government: "Today the condolences; tomorrow the anger!". "Apologise for political murder!" shouted others. Riot police were deployed to disperse the angry crowds. Workers in the South have also been involved in important strike action to fend off attempts to make them pay for the bosses' crisis.

These issues were apparently of more concern to the long-suffering people of South Korea than the rantings of a 67-year old 'Dear Leader' in the North. In the South, war alerts are a frequent occurrence – an occasion for the government to carry out civil defence drills, an excuse to bring troops onto the streets of the capital and generally to remind the population of the evils of 'communism'.

Changes in the North?

The North is far from genuinely socialist, let alone communist. The overwhelming majority of the population live in dire poverty while the Kim dynasty lives in luxury and the army consumes one quarter of the budget. The likely new 'Young Leader' – Kim Jong-woon - elected by nobody but his father, has been educated at a top private school in Switzerland, where he has become particularly keen on basketball. His oldest brother was passed over as a candidate for head of state because of his misdemeanours in obtaining a false passport to visit Disneyland in Japan and the next brother is deemed by his father to be "too effeminate"! Maybe the most worrying aspect of the latest nuclear testing and belligerent noises from the North is that the ruling clique are unrelated to reality and could carry out acts of mass destruction for no apparent reason!

This is the least likely variant. Whoever is the titular head of North Korea, army commanders like Kim Jong-il's brother-in-law, Chang Sung-taek, will hold the reins of power. The nuclear testing and firing of missiles may well have been a way of reasserting this position.

Heightened tensions

But tensions have undoubtedly been ratcheted up in the region by the detonation of a bomb with the power of that which destroyed Nagasaki in 1945 and the declaration that any attempt to inspect shipping in the area of the Yellow Sea will be seen as an "act of war".

Russia, China, Japan and South Korea all have a border with North Korea. In the case of Jap[an it is the sea. In China it is a no-man's land 800 miles long. In Korea itself it is a euphemistically named de-militarised zone across which 2 million soldiers face each other. There are 28,000 American troops in bases in the South which many want removed. If anything, as a result of the latest developments, those numbers could now be increased and Japan's right-wing government could claim justification for abandoning its post-second world war policies and developing its own nuclear weapons. It has accused North Korea in the past of aiming missiles in its direction. It would take only a few minutes for one aimed at a Japanese city to reach its target. (It would take less than a minute for one to hit Seoul.) There are deep-seated national antagonisms, arising from Japan's imperialist past, that only genuine socialist governments will be able to begin to dissolve.

Kim Jong-il's recent provocations may well be aimed not only at getting more concessions out of the US and Japan but in changing the relationship of forces. An increase in US and Japanese military capacity would obviously shift the balance of power in the region, angering North Korea's other neighbours - Russia and China. But this would seem to be against North Korea's own interests. China used to be "as close as lips and teeth" to North Korea, as Mao Zedong put it. 90% of North Korea's energy and 40% of its food are supplied by China. Its share of the North's trade is three-quarters, with a value of $2bn. Russia also provides basic supplies to this isolated state.

For their own reasons, China and Russia have traditionally blocked any moves by the so-called United Nations to impose more than the weakest of sanctions against North Korea. But this time round, both have made statements condemning the nuclear and missile tests. How far they are prepared to go in 'punishing' their recalcitrant neighbour remains to be seen. Neither wants to see the collapse of the totalitarian regime in North Korea and have to pick up the pieces in terms of a mass influx of desperate refugees.

The government in South Korea also dreads this outcome. In response to the North developing its nuclear capacity (including processing at the Yongbyon plant) Seoul has threatened to close down its Kaesong industrial complex inside North Korea. Kim Jong-il has anyway demanded increased wages for the specially favoured workers there. But bailing out a collapsed northern economy would set the South back possibly irrecoverably. At present it is the fourth largest economy in Asia but this is a time of world recession. Exports from the South to the rest of the world have plummeted 28%. There is a huge yearning of the Korean people for unification, but if there is an implosion it would result in absolute economic catastrophe. The cost of re-unification would be far greater than that of Germany 20 years ago. In Asia South Korea ranks 3rd out of 44 countries and North Korea 35th.

The "sunshine" policy was swiftly abandoned by multi-millionaire president, Lee Myung-bak and his Grand National Party government. But fear for the future as well as the longing of the Korean people for re-unification is a major political challenge to any government. It is forced to call for the re-establishment of talks with the north by representatives of the four 'neighbours' and the United States. The only way to succeed in bringing the two Koreas back together without a major catastrophe would be through establishing a democratic socialist Korea.

In the North there are millions of poverty-stricken workers, fed night and day with government propaganda about being part of a glorious workers' state but without an ounce of control over their future. The one political formation permitted to exist is the horribly mis-named 'Workers' Party' of flunkies who surround the 'Dear Leader' now said to be in poor health but known to live in palatial surroundings and lavishly indulge his penchant for foreign films in his own private cinema.

Even if an immediate crisis is over, the North Korean regime remains extremely unstable and unpredictable. It is a monstrously undemocratic remnant of a state-owned economy run by a demented leadership who are quite capable of not understanding the consequences of their actions. During the 'Cold War', what prevented the actual use of nuclear weapons by either the 'Soviet Union' or the US was the consciousness that it would mean 'Mutually Assured Destruction' (or MAD). The North Korean regime is out of control and apparently feels no such restraint. But within the army it is possible at least some of the top commanders would understand the disastrous consequences for themselves in terms of retaliation and escalation.


The Korean peninsula must be rid of parasitic incubuses like the Juche regime in the North and the chaebol conglomerates in the South. The best hope for the workers and poor people of the tragically divided nation lies in the building of a genuine party of workers. Moves have been made in this direction, particularly from the powerful trade unions in the South. There is a strong left and socialist tradition to be drawn on.

Advocating socialism, given the monstrous distortion of the very idea in the North, has been difficult. (It was only legalised in the South under the presidency of Roh.) But there is no alternative for developing the economy of the whole peninsula except through a programme of nationalisation of the chaebol that dominate the economy of the South, along with the banks that they virtually control. Workers' control and management could be operated through elected committees of the workers in the industry and a genuinely democratic government of workers and poor people. A mass struggle for such policies could spread across borders in the region.

This would mean assisting the poverty-stricken workers of North Korea, where land and industry are still state-owned, to build independent trade unions and a genuine worker's party. This would involve a struggle to throw off the parasitic clique and establish a workers' and small farmers' government which included workers' control and management in every sphere of life.

No to one-party dictatorship! No to the manufacture, use or threatened use of nuclear weapons! Down with the gangster regime that sabre-rattles and threatens the peace of the region! No to capitalist conglomerate rule! Yes to real socialist cooperation and harmonious economic development in Korea and the whole of North Asia!

Clare Doyle, CWI

Monday, 8 June 2009



Joe Higgins, the Socialist Party candidate in Ireland (CWI Ireland), was elected to the Dublin Constituency for the European Parliament at around 5.15am this morning.

Joe, who is a member of CWI in Ireland, got 82,366 votes, with 50,510 first preference votes. He received 22,201 second preference votes from the eliminated Sein Fein candidate. Over the last few days, Joe Higgins was widely predicted in the Irish press to be best placed to take the third of three European Parliament seats in Dublin.

He told the Irish TV network that he would "serve the needs of ordinary people in the EU", and that his appointment was bad news for corporate Europe and the big business culture of the European parliament. He said his election was a very positive result for working class people in Europe.

Higgins was branded the "only honest member" of the Irish parliament, when he held his Dublin seat until his seat was eliminated in 2007. He received widespread publicity for his exposes of corruption. His most significant victory was struck, together with the Socialist Party in Ireland for the Gama workers, the super-exploited building workers who were not being paid their wages.

The Irish Socialist Party reports: Joe Higgins is a long time activist in the labour and trade union movement. Elected to Dublin County Council in 1991, he was a leading fighter against corrupt land rezoning in Dublin and for planning in the interests of communities rather than for speculators and major developers.

Joe Higgins was the Chair of the Federation of Dublin Anti Water Charges Campaign which won massive support and forced the Fine Gael/Labour Government to abolish water charges in December 1996. Minister for Social Welfare, Mary Hanafin, said last year that had abolition not happened, each household in Dublin would be currently paying €700 per year in water charges.

Joe Higgins was elected to the Dail in 1997 and for the next ten years was a leading opponent of the right wing policies of the Fianna Fail/Progressive Democrat Government. He frequently challenged the then Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Bertie Ahern, on a wide range of issues including land speculation and profiteering in the housing market, Government support for the invasion and occupation of Iraq and in defence of workers' rights.

In 2003 Joe Higgins was sent to Mountjoy Jail for a month over his opposition to Bin Tax, a new stealth tax on Dublin householders.

In 2005, with the Socialist Party, he exposed the horrific abuse of migrant workers by Gama Construction and struck a major blow against the 'race to the bottom' when that company was forced to pay unpaid wages of around €30million to its workers.

Joe Higgins was a key Leader of the opposition to the Lisbon Treaty last year because it would facilitate further privatisation of crucial services like Health, push the militarisation of the EU, increase arms spending and institutionalise the right of bad employers to attack agreed wages and conditions for entire industries.

Monday, 1 June 2009



A new report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns that we are in the middle of a "silent crisis" as climate change is killing 300,000 a year. Climate change and its effects are already impacting on the world. The report states that more than 300 million people are already seriously affected by climate change and that this is set to double in the next 20 years.

The report "Human Impact Report: Climate Change – The Anatomy of a Silent Crisis" has been released six months prior to United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen which will discuss the successor to the failed Kyoto climate agreement.

The climate changes that are currently impacting on the planet are as a result of two hundred years of capitalist industrialisation that has put the profits of big business before the needs of the environment.

Of course the people who are suffering from climate change are not the super-rich who benefit from capitalism but the world's poorest. Of the 300,000 deaths each year 99% are in neo-colonial countries and are 90% caused by climate related malnutrition, diarrhea and malaria, yet the countries they live in have contributed less than 1% of the world' total carbon emissions. This level of deaths is the equivalent to two 9/11 attacks every week yet there is no war on the causes of climate change!

Since the 1970s so-called "natural disasters" are increasing in frequency and severity. Storms of the force of Hurricane Katrina have doubled. Between 1996 – 2005 these types of disasters caused $667 billion in losses to people and these losses were 20 times higher in the underdeveloped world.

The situation is going to get much worse. The Kyoto agreement with its' charade of carbon trading was a farce that has failed to impact on curtailing the causes of climate change. Just 23 rich countries (14% world's population) have produced 60% of the world's carbon emissions since 1850. Today they produce 40% of emissions and during the time of the Kyoto accord their emissions have risen.

The British economist Nicholas Stern (author of the Stern Report) said, "climate change is the greatest market failure the world has ever seen". Climate change has occurred precise because of the existence of the capitalist market and it will continue to threaten the existence of life on earth for as long as we allow the anarchic market to continue.

The decade of 1998 – 2007 was the warmest on record. The top 11 warmest years all occurred in the last 13 years. In order to avoid a catastrophic rise of 6oC by the end of this century global emissions need to have peaked by 2015 and reduced by 80% by 2050. These necessary changes will never be agreed by the multinationals or the major capitalist governments who will always put profits first even at the expense of life on earth.

Green parties across Europe and in Ireland have always put the interests of the market and the rich first when they have participated in coalition governments. These governments have delivered minimal and token "green policies". In Ireland the Green Party justifies their involvement in the current hated government because they are going to get Green policies implemented. No environmental policies of any significance have been implemented by this government. Instead this government is overseeing cuts in our bus services forcing people to use cars! What we need is more investment to develop a modern integrated public transport system that will improve the quality of life and benefit the environment - the Green Party has delivered public transport cuts!

If we don't end the dictatorship of the market then the consequences for humanity in the next 40 years are nightmarish. At least 250 million people will be forced to migrate – under capitalism this will lead to wars and ethnic and racist conflict. By 2020 up to 250 million Africans and 80 million in Latin America will face water shortages. Fifty million will face starvation in Asia by 2025 due to food shortages and in Africa food crop yields may fall by 50%. One third of all species face extinction by 2050.

The Global Humanitarian Forum predicts an increase in world temperature by 2oC by 2100. During the Pliocene period, when the world was 2oC to 3oC warmer sea levels were 25 metres higher – this would cause one billion people to have to leave their homes and cities!

The only way that climate change can be slowed and its impact on the planet lessened is by removing the control of the capitalist market. In a socialist world, production would be for people's needs and could be planned to ensure environmental damage is ended.

In one day the sunlight which reaches the earth provides enough energy to meet the world's needs for eight years. Current wind, wave and solar and geothermal technologies could provide six times more power than the world currently uses. The world's vast resources, the trillions which are squandered on arms expenditure - the tens of thousands of scientists and engineers who waste their talents developing weapons of mass destruction could instead put their talents and skills to producing and developing these renewable energy sources and ending our dependency on fossil fuels.

Capitalism is destroying our planet and only a democratic socialist planned economy that puts people and the environment first can save it.

By Stephen Boyd, CWI