The federal coordinator of the United Left (Izquierda Unida, IU) in the Spanish state, Cayo Lara, received Público just hours after the June 2 rally in support of a referendum [to decide whether Spain should become a republic] and with the European election results still hot news.
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Over the last few days, IU has once again demonstrated that its fundamental principles are sacred, no matter what. Republicanism is its element, which is why it was so quick to react to the king’s abdication by demanding what many see as a basic democratic right: that the people should decide. Focused on the mobilisations in support of a referendum over what kind of state model for Spain, and with the European election results still hot news, Cayo Lara (born in Argamasilla de Alba, Ciudad Real, in 1952) yesterday received Público in his office in the Congress of Deputies.
The IU federal coordinator does not believe the results in the European election [10% nationally] were bad for his organisation, and if errors were committed, he has no problems in accepting them. His analysis of the vote in the Madrid region is one of caution—the Plural Left[i] came fifth—but he points to some of the factors that could have influenced the results: certain positions held by people within the Madrid federation who viewed 15M [the May 15 Movement, otherwise referred to as the indignadomovement] with suspicion, and above all, Moral Santin’s presence in Bankia[ii]. Lara says the ex-advisor to [former IMF director general Rodrigo] Rato “is not a comrade”, adding that everyone in IU should pay the price for what they do.
He is also not afraid to talk about Podemos. He welcomes their emergence “because they add to the left”, but he does not see building an alliance as an easy task. He does not like the term “political caste”, which “puts everyone in the same basket”, nor their “full-frontal attacks against trade unions” and recalls that the agreement with the PSOE (Spanish Socialist Workers’ Party) in Andalusia was “democratically decided upon” by party members in Andalusia[iii]. He recognises the merits of the campaign carried out by Pablo Iglesias and his running mates, even if he feels proud of IU’s performance and does not believe IU lost votes to Podemos because, even if the programs are similar, that were not aimed at the same people.
Comrades! I have my radio show right now! Radio Internationale, begins 12-2pm PST (Every Monday). You can listen in on KUCI.ORG, and click on “listen now” on the top right hand corner. I shall remain on Tumblr&facebook while on air, so shoot me a message, call in, or request a song and I shall…
Pour caricaturer nos idées, on nous reproche de préparer on ne sait quel grand soir. Mais ce que nous voulons pour l’immédiat, c’est que la classe ouvrière redevienne une force politique pour pouvoir peser sur la vie politique en fonction de ses intérêts qui sont ceux de toutes les classes populaires.
Il faut que ce parti soit présent dans les grandes entreprises, dans les petites, dans les quartiers populaires, dans les lycées, dans les collèges. Ce n’est qu’ainsi qu’il pourra exprimer les aspirations de la population et en même temps, défendre l’idée d’un changement social véritable.
La bourgeoisie, le patronat sont représentés par une multitude de partis. Ces partis peuvent témoigner un intérêt plus ou moins grand, et surtout plus ou moins sincère, pour les travailleurs. Mais, une fois au gouvernement, ils mènent la politique que souhaite le grand patronat, comme on a pu le vérifier à travers tous les changements de gouvernement de ces vingt dernières années.
Alors oui, il faut que la classe ouvrière utilise sa force, c’est-à-dire son nombre et plus encore sa position irremplaçable dans l’activité économique, pour peser sur la vie politique et sur la vie sociale.
Mais, seul un parti qui n’a pas d’attache avec le patronat, qui n’a pas peur de s’en prendre au fonctionnement même de l’économie capitaliste, à la propriété privée des grandes entreprises et des banques, peut représenter avec conséquence même les intérêts les plus quotidiens du monde du travail.
C’était cela le rôle du Parti Socialiste au début de ce siècle, c’était cela le rôle que s’était assigné le Parti Communiste à sa naissance.
Mais l’exemple du Parti Socialiste et du Parti Communiste montre que les partis qui cessent d’être révolutionnaires, qui abandonnent la volonté de lutter pour la transformation de la société, deviennent des soutiens de cette société et des serviteurs du capital.
On ne peut agir dans le sens du simple progrès social que si on reste révolutionnaire.
Alors oui, il faut aux travailleurs un véritable parti communiste révolutionnaire !
When Kshama Sawant ran for a Seattle City Council seat in 2013, she campaigned as a candidate of the Socialist Alternative party on a platform of a $15 minimum hourly wage. Many observers scoffed that her politics and wage demand made the likelihood of victory scant. Sawant went on to win her seat — and on May 5, it was her turn to scoff.
When Sawant and her fellow Seattle council members were reviewing Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all private-sector workers, she wanted to give credit where it was due. Sawant told the hundreds packed into the council chambers that the plan materialized not because “business and politicians came from on high and delivered this but because workers demanded this.” Her supporters wore red T-shirts reading “15 Now.”
Just a slogan a year ago, it is now a plan of action in the nation’s 12th-biggest economic engine (PDF). On May 15, Murray unveiled a bill to make a $15 hourly minimum wage a reality. If it is passed, Seattle’s private-sector workers will eventually earn more than double the current federal minimum wage; an estimated 102,000 workers currently making less than $15 an hour will see their incomes jump in 2015, and many households will be lifted out of poverty.
Sawant and her party, instrumental in putting the issue on Seattle’s agenda, are now engaging in realpolitik, decrying the bill’s limits even as they call it a victory for the movement. Philip Locker, Sawant’s campaign manager, pointed to “serious weaknesses as a result of the political establishment catering to business” — such as allowing companies with billion-dollar annual profits such as Starbucks three to four years before they must start paying $15 an hour. But he maintained the movement “forced business to accept the highest minimum wage in the country.”
Sawant’s ascendancy has shown that being a socialist is no longer a liability in running for public office. More important, the $15-an-hour campaign has nurtured a model of grass-roots democracy that challenges the corporate-controlled political process. Observers expect the bill to pass by the end of May. If it passes, the win — though imperfect — will validate Socialist Alternative’s approach, swell its ranks and crack open more space for socialist politics in the United States.
Paul Kellogg’s review in Socialist Studies of my edition of the Communist International’s 1922 world congress raises two probing questions regarding the legacy of the Communist International (Comintern) in Lenin’s time.
First, he questions a long-held conception that the Bolshevik leaders initiated all the Comintern’s major steps in policy development. Second, he challenges the belief that the Lenin-era International represents a model or template for program and strategy in our time.
Kellogg, an experienced and respected Marxist activist based in Canada, is right on the first point. On the second, he takes a correct initial step but needs to engage with the substance of the Comintern’s strategic heritage.
Kellogg’s essay ranges far and wide. Much of it deals with the character of the October 1917 Russian revolution and the soviet government it created. The topics covered include the Polish-Russian war of 1920, the role of anti-Semitism in Soviet Russia, the Russian upheaval’s relationship to earlier bourgeois revolutions in Britain and France, and more. These questions require separate analysis. In this working paper, I will address instead the two questions related to Kellogg’s initial focus, the Comintern’s Fourth Congress.
What do you think about the college class that was arguing Communism was the best political ideology, so the teacher gave everyone the average test grade, and eventually the average grade would drop and drop as the smarter and harder working people stopped working as hard because they felt like they were being taken away from?
Oh that old chestnut of a thing that never actually happened in real life and is a poor metaphor.
Lets deconstruct that because it is so nonsensical I really must.
What that entire parable does is totally misunderstand the nature of both capitalist and socialist society.
Firstly, it makes the deadly assumption that capitalists (students who get good grades) get there through hard work and poor people (students who do poorly) are lazy. This is a total lie. This classroom pre-equality looks nothing like the reality of capitalism.
In a classroom that truly reflected capitalism, the kids with high grades have spent every year of their schooling lives beating up the kids who do badly, taking their stationary and forcing them to do their homework. In reality, the students with the highest grades do very little work while the kids who end up doing badly do huge amounts of labour, for which they receive no reward.
Now that we have established the classroom that looks like capitalism, lets move on to the proposed solution:
Basically, in this hypothetical class, things go on as they always had but now all marks are averaged. What this is implying is that socialists want to take the capitalist economy as it is, and simply take all the money at the end of the day and share it out evenly.
Which is not the case at all….
If this class was to now be run along collective lines, then the kids who would be doing badly would be given special help in order to encourage them to catch up on work that they had missed out on. They would be taught in ways which would allow them to best flourish as individuals. As well as this, collective and group work would be far more common, encouraging people to work together rather than compete. Standardised testing would most certainly be abolished, with new ways of determining people’s progress developed to allow them the space to express themselves.
Generally speaking, people would be encouraged to attend, there would be less stigma for failing or being slower at certain tasks and there would be less stress in general.
Now, I have given a pretty big response to a question that isn’t even worth answering.
Easter is here again — the anniversay of the Irish rebellion against British rule in Easter 1916. Over Easter week, Irish rebels took control of key parts of Dublin and declared a republic. It took seven days for the British to put the rising down.
“The Foggy Dew”, a much-covered Irish folk song about the uprising, details what happened and gives an indication of the issues surrounding it. There are two key lines that reveal something often sidelined about the rising. The first is: “‘Twas better to die ‘neath an Irish sky/Than at Suvla or Sud-el-Bar.”
The second is: “‘Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go/that small nations might be free/but their lonely graves are by Sulva’s waves/or the shore of the Great North Sea.”
Sulva and Sud-el-Bar are in Turkey and were the scenes of intense fighting in World War I. “Wild geese” refers to the flight path by migrating geese as they travel from Ireland to Europe — where many young Irish men were sent by the British to die for the British empire. “That small nations might be free” is an ironic reference to the justification Britain used for its participation in the bloodshed — all Britain wanted was to “free” Belgium from foreign rule! A justication bound to ring hollow in Ireland — occupied by the British for 800 years.
These two lines say something fundamental about the Easter Rising often forgotten. The Easter Rising is a seminal event in Irish history. It remains a touchstone for Irish republicanism. But the rising cannot be viewed in a purely Irish context. It should not be seen as simply a rising to free Ireland of British rule and set up a republic.
Today, the Western press caught up with the Ukrainian rumor mill: apparently, the People’s Republic of Donetsk had ordered all Jews over the age of 16 to pay a fee of $50 U.S. and register with the new “authorities,” or face loss of citizenship or expulsion. This was laid out in officious-looking fliers pasted on the local synagogue. One local snapped a photo of the fliers and sent it to a friend in Israel, who then took it to the Israeli press and, voila, an international scandal: American Twitter is abuzz with it, Drudge is hawking it, and, today in Geneva, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry slammed the fliers as “grotesque.”
The Donetsk Jewish community dismissed this as “a provocation,” which it clearly is. “It’s an obvious provocation designed to get this exact response, going all the way up to Kerry,” says Fyodr Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs. ”I have no doubt that there is a sizeable community of anti-Semites on both sides of the barricades, but for one of them to do something this stupid—this is done to compromise the pro-Russian groups in the east.”