Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Long Live International Wokers' Day!

May Day 2008: Long Live the Peoples’ Struggle!
By Freedom Road Socialist Organization

May 1st, International Workers Day, is a day of struggle. Around the world, working people will march against imperialist war, to defend the rights of immigrants and to fight to protect their jobs and communities. Here in the United States, May Day has been reborn as millions of Chicanos, Mexicanos and Central Americans, as well as other immigrants and their supporters, have poured into the streets to demand legalization, and an end to raids, deportations and militarization of the border.

Some of the largest protests for immigrant rights have been in Chicago, the city where May Day was born. On May 1, 1886, U.S. workers, many who were immigrants from Europe, struck for the eight-hour day. After a clash with police in Chicago’s Haymarket Square, four leaders of the workers movement, three of them immigrants, were executed. In honor of the U.S. workers fight for the eight-hour day and the anger at the executions, May 1 was declared International Workers Day.

May Day is a day to fight the system that brings ever-greater riches to a few while the vast majority of working people labor for less and less. Families are losing their homes right and left while the CEOs of the big banks that designed and profited from the bad loans walk away with tens of millions of dollars. Corporations are stepping up their layoffs while raising their prices, putting a double squeeze on working families. Now more and more state and local governments are cutting funds for schools, healthcare and the poor while billions are poured into the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. occupation of Iraq and war in Afghanistan have killed hundreds of thousands and forced millions to become refugees. The U.S. military is supporting a vicious campaign of ethnic cleansing and building walled ghettos in Iraq in a vain attempt to divide and conquer the Iraqi people. The United States and their NATO allies are losing ground in Afghanistan, where the U.S. is trying to increase their troops to prop up the corrupt and inept government set up by the Bush administration.

During the primary elections campaign, the Republican candidates have shown their true colors in calling for even more extreme attacks on immigrants in the United States. At the same time the Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) have mounted a growing number of raids on workplaces and even public parks to spread terror among Chicanos, Mexicanos and Central Americans who bear the brunt of attacks on the undocumented. Right-wing anti-immigrant forces have been working at the state and local levels to harass and intimidate immigrants.
Recession, war and immigrant bashing are symptoms of the monopoly capitalist system we live under. A system where the devastation of New Orleans and Mississippi are still not healed, a system that continues to plunder the earth, pollute our skies and oceans and threatens the entire world with unchecked global warming. It is a system that ultimately must be replaced by one that serves peoples’ needs, not profit: a socialist system.

May Day is not just a day to remember wrongs done, it is a day to be inspired by those who continue to fight no matter what the odds. From Palestine to Iraq to Afghanistan to Pakistan, the people are fighting U.S. and Israeli occupation and their puppet military regimes. From the Philippines to Columbia, the armed struggle against U.S.-backed governments of local oligarchs is intensifying. More and more countries are refusing to bow to U.S. domination of their countries, especially in Latin America where Cuba and Venezuela are but the tip of the iceberg of a growing movement for independence from the Yankee empire.

Here in the United States, struggles are also growing. For the first time in many years, more workers are joining labor unions. At the same time there are victories in electing new leadership that will fight for workers interests and not just cozy up with the bosses. The massive protests against the unjust prosecution of Black students in Jena, Louisiana, show the ongoing struggle of African Americans and other oppressed nationalities. Students on campuses from coast to coast are organizing and speaking out against the war, with a revitalized Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) taking the lead.

Over the past few months a record number of people have turned out in primary elections and caucuses, especially in the Democratic Party presidential campaign. This upsurge represents not only a rejection of the Bush administration’s policies of war, racism, service to the rich and powerful, but also the attraction of electing an African American or a woman to the nation’s highest political office. While the Freedom Road Socialist Organization supports a vote against the Bush and the Republican Party’s right-wing agenda, we know that a President Obama, and even less, a President Clinton can meet the people’s needs.

May 1 is a day to march. It is a day to build the fight back of the working class and the oppressed nationalities: Latinos, African Americans, Asian, Arabs, and Indigenous Peoples. These two forces can be seen in the last two years, where Chicanos, Mexicanos, Central Americans, and their allies, most of whom are workers, have revived the tradition of mass marches on May Day.

Long Live International Workers Day!
Legalization, not Raids and Deportations!
Stop the War, Withdraw All Troops Now!
Protect Our Homes, Schools, and Services, Make the Rich Pay!
Build Fighting Unions, No to More Concessions!

See Also:
Chicago: Huge Immigrant Rights march planned for May 1
Los Angeles: Mobilizing for May 1 Immigrant Rights Protest
Minnesota: March for Immigrant Rights May 1st

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

Jose Maria Sison On Current Philippine Situation and Prospects of the NDFP

Prof. Jose Ma. Sison
National Democratic Front of the Philippines
Chief Political Consultant
April 26, 2008

It is fitting and proper that we are exceedingly jubilant over the 35th anniversary of the founding of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on 24 April 1973 when its 10-point Program was promulgated. Since then, the NDFP has won great victories in the application and development of the policy and tactics of the united front in advancing the people's democratic revolution against foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

The NDFP is the most consolidated and most powerful united front of revolutionary forces in the Philippines. It has succeeded in gathering, harmonizing and coordinating the revolutionary forces and winning over the millions of people to the cause of armed revolution. It has promoted the growth of all its allied organizations, the revolutionary mass movement and the organs of political power. It has served as the base for various types of alliances.

The revolutionary forces, the people's revolutionary government and the broad masses of the people have authorized the NDFP to represent them in peace negotiations with the reactionary government. In this regard, the NDFP has upheld the integrity of the people's revolutionary government and the revolutionary movement. It has worked fruitfully for the unity of compatriots abroad and for international solidarity at the popular and diplomatic levels.
Let me discuss the current situation in the Philippines and the prospects of the NDFP

Current Philippine Situation

The character of the Philippine ruling system has remained semi-colonial and semi-feudal. This system is in chronic crisis. It is ever rife for a national democratic revolution. The Arroyo regime has aggravated and deepened the crisis by escalating the exploitation and oppression of the people under the US-dictated policy of "neoliberal globalization" and "war on terror.
It is hostile to the national and democratic rights and interests of the Filipino people and to the development of the economy through national industrialization and genuine land reform. It is extremely servile to the US and other imperialist interests. It has allowed free rein to plunder of the economy by foreign corporations and by the big compradors and landlords. It knows no bounds for its bureaucratic corruption, the practice of electoral fraud and rampant human rights violations.

It has kept an agrarian and pre-industrial economy that is dependent on the production of raw materials for export and low value-added semi-manufactures for re-export. The income from these always falls far short of import payments. The regime has engaged in a wanton spree of foreign and local borrowing, in combination a policy of regressive taxation and the appropriation of the remittances of overseas contract workers. This is to cover the growing trade and budgetary deficits, service the accumulated debt and make false claims of economic growth and poverty alleviation.
The Arroyo regime and preceding regimes have allowed the destruction of Filipino-owned manufacturing enterprises and local food production by adopting the policy of trade liberalization. This policy has allowed the dumping of foreign products on the country even while the income from the export of raw materials and re-export of semi-manufactures has decreased due to the global glut. Now with the unprecedentedly deep and ever worsening economic and financial crisis of the US and the world capitalist system, the Arroyo regime is at a loss as regards to getting the funds to pay the debt service and the import of food, fuel and other necessary goods.

There is an international credit crunch that has arisen from the prolonged abuse of credit under the policy of "neoliberal globalization". The US industrial decline, unemployment, the drastic contraction of the US consumer market and the unsustainable national, corporate and household debts further cramp the global financial system. They have resulted from the ever worsening crisis of overproduction and runaway financial speculation. All these adversely impact on the Philippine economy as international credit tightens and orders for its raw material and semi-manufacture exports are drastically reduced. Its export of live labor is also decreasing discernibly. The costs of imported food, fuel and other necessities are rising relentlessly.
The dramatic bankruptcies of US households and an increasing number of major US corporations, especially in the financial sector, through the mortgage meltdown have a depressing effect not only on the US economy but also on the entire world economy. They signify the grave loss of demand due to reduced income and suppressed rights of the working people and the failure of neoliberal policy to stimulate the economy with the most irresponsible expansion of the money supply and credit, tax cutbacks for the corporations and wealthy and unbridled military spending.

The worsening of the socio-economic crisis has resulted in the sharpening of the political crisis in the Philippine ruling system. The ground for amicable mutual accommodation among the reactionaries has increasingly become constricted. The Arroyo ruling clique has increasingly monopolized the spoils of power. The rising bitter rivalries within the ruling clique have resulted in the exposure of many outrageous cases of bureaucratic corruption. The intra-systemic political rivals of the ruling clique and the broad range of the opposition, including the patriotic and progressive forces, are inspired by the people's outrage and are emboldened to expose and oppose the regime.
Discontent with the Arroyo regime is ever rising even among the military and police forces. But the regime is trying hard to preoccupy and rally them with bloodthirsty calls for the strategic defeat of the revolutionary forces by 2010 under Oplan Bantay Laya 2. It is deliberately displaying and using brute force in order to maintain the loyalty of the chain of command, obtain increased US military assistance, intimidate the broad range of legal opposition and of course to whip up the psy-war against the revolutionary movement.
At any rate, the ouster of the Arroyo regime before 2010 is a distinct possibility. Despite the brutal efforts of the regime to curtail rights and suppress the opposition, the organized forces of the workers, peasants, urban petty bourgeoisie and the middle bourgeoisie are working hard to enlarge and make more frequent their protest mass actions in the national capital region and in the provinces. They invoke the democratic right to speak and assemble in order to counter the attempts of the regime to preempt, discourage and disrupt the protest mass actions.

Significant sections of the reactionary classes are already vocal and active within the broad united front against the Arroyo regime. But the most decisive event is still to come, which is the pouring out of hundreds of thousands of people into the streets of the national capital region in order to signal the anti-Arroyo military and police officers and personnel to withdraw support from the Arroyo regime and give way to a new civilian government.

While the broad legal united front of opposition forces are working hard to oust the Arroyo regime through mass mobilization in the streets of urban areas, the Communist Party of the Philippines, the New People's Army and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines are noticeably striving to further isolate and weaken the Arroyo regime through the intensification of the revolutionary armed struggle in the countryside. The broad masses of the people expect that even as the broad legal united front does not yet succeed in ousting the Arroyo regime, the armed revolutionary movement continues to gain strength and advance against the crisis-ridden ruling system.

Prospects of the NDFP

The rapidly worsening crisis of the ruling system inflicts terrible suffering on the broad masses of the people. But it also incites the people to fight back. It serves as the favorable objective condition for the advance of the subjective forces of the revolution, particularly the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), the New People's Army (NPA) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). These are the three magic weapons of the Filipino people for carrying out the new democratic revolution through protracted people's war against the oppressive and exploitative forces of foreign monopoly capitalism, domestic feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

In its recent message to congratulate all Party cadres and members and celebrate the 39th anniversary of the CPP, the CPP Central Committee summed up the accumulated victories of the CPP in the ideological, political and organizational fields and described these victories as the basis for still greater victories on time for the 40th anniversary of the CPP. Also in its more recent message to congratulate all Red Commanders and fighters and celebrate the 39th anniversary of the founding of the NPA, the CPP Central Committee summed up the accumulated political and military victories of the NPA and described these as the basis for still greater victories in the protracted people's war along the line of the new democratic revolution on time for the 40th anniversary of the NPA.

The National Council of the NDFP has summed up the accumulated victories of the NDFP in serving as the people's instrument for developing various types of alliances and for arousing and mobilizing the people in their millions. All the 17 allied organizations of the NDFP are growing in strength and advancing. Thus, the NDFP has a solid basis for winning greater victories in further developing various types of alliances, generating mass campaigns and attracting the broad masses of the people to the revolutionary cause against the Arroyo regime and the entire ruling system. Indeed, the NDFP has bright prospects so long as it carries out the tasks that it has set forth.

The NDFP is tasked to further develop the revolutionary united front for armed struggle. In this regard, it employs the basic alliance of workers and peasants, the alliance of the progressive forces, the alliance of patriotic forces and the broad alliance with certain sections of the reactionary classes in order to rally the people in their millions to isolate and destroy the worst reactionary force at every given time and increase the capacity of all the three weapons of the armed revolution to overthrow the ruling system.

The NDFP is tasked to further develop the revolutionary mass movement in the countryside in order to support directly the armed revolutionary movement and inspire the legal democratic mass movement in the urban areas to develop on their own distinctive account. It is by ensuring, promoting and assisting the building of the revolutionary mass organizations of workers, peasants, women, youth and other related forces that the NDFP prepares the way for building the organs of political power from the village level upwards.

As widely reported, the current joint plan of the CPP, NPA and NDFP is to increase the number of guerrilla fronts from the level of 120-130 to a new level of 173 in order to cover every congressional district in the provinces and to start developing the leadership of regional and provincial Party committees in relatively stable base areas on the basis of the guerrilla fronts. In this regard, the special task of the NPA is to destroy the armed power of the reactionaries and build more fighting units. That of the NDFP is to facilitate, assist and oversee the further development of the revolutionary mass organizations and organs of political power at various levels.

The Arroyo regime is hell-bent on using Oplan Bantay Laya 2 to destroy or inflict strategic defeat on the revolutionary movement by 2010 and is intransigently against the resumption of formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations unless the NDFP capitulates under the guise of an indefinite ceasefire agreement. In response, the CPP, NPA and NDFP declared their determination to intensify the people's war, especially because the broad masses of the people want to overthrow the Arroyo regime and the entire ruling system.

The unreasonable and hostile position of the Arroyo regime leaves the revolutionary forces and people no choice but to intensify the armed revolution. Conditions are exceedingly favorable to them and unfavorable to the entire ruling system. They encourage and enable revolutionary forces and people to raise the people's war to a new and higher level and to make more effective demands for the resumption of formal talks in the peace negotiations.

The ceaseless worsening of the crisis of the world capitalist system and that of the Philippine ruling system is favorable to the international work of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. This work involves political work among the overseas Filipinos in order to defend their rights and promote their welfare. It also involves work to further strengthen and develop solidarity and mutual support between the Filipino people and other peoples through their respective mass formations and coordinating committees. It further involves proto-diplomatic and diplomatic relations with particular governments or intergovernmental agencies.

The success of the all-round international work of the NDFP will depend upon the victories of the revolutionary movement at home and the resolve, militancy and competence of NDFP personnel abroad. In advancing the Philippine revolution, the revolutionary forces and people in the Philippines play the primary role. They also need the solidarity and support of the people and progressive forces abroad. The people of the world need to unite and support each other against imperialism and reaction. These are their common enemies in the struggle for national liberation, democracy, social justice, development and peace.

Originally posted at Philippine Revolution Web Central.

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Thursday, April 24, 2008

Freedom Road on Maoist Revolution in Nepal

Chairman Prachanda and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai with the People's Liberation Army
Maoists Sweep Constituent Assembly Elections in Nepal
Commentary by Josh Sykes

A new day had dawned in Nepal. After fighting a decade-long people’s war, which led to a coalition government replacing martial law imposed by the King of Nepal, the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) is leading the Constituent Assembly elections in Nepal. The vote counting is not completely finished, but at the time of this writing the CPN (Maoist) has won a total of 120 seats, with the opposition Nepali Congress Party coming in a distant second at 37 seats. The Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist) won 33 seats, but following the their election defeat their ministers have resigned from the coalition government cabinet.

A total of 601 seats are up for grabs in a complex voting system. According to the Interim Constitution of Nepal adopted in 2006, a ‘mixed system’ must be utilized for elections to the Constituent Assembly. The ‘first past the post’ system determines 240 members of the Constituent Assembly while a proportional representation system determines the other 335 directly elected members. With 120 of the total 240 first past the post election seats, the Maoists should win at least 100 more seats through proportional representation emerging as the single largest party, much to the surprise of the western media who expected the CPN (Maoist) to come in third, behind the Congress Party and CPN-UML.

The purpose of the Constituent Assembly is to draft a new constitution for Nepal following the ouster of the monarchy as a result of the people’s war led by the Maoists. According to the CPN (Maoist), the elections represent the beginning of the New Democratic process for Nepal. This refers to a two-stage revolutionary process, wherein a bloc of progressive classes, led by the CPN (Maoist), first intend to move through a ‘New Democratic’ phase of the revolution, build a People’s Republic of Nepal and eliminate the vestiges of feudalism and imperialism before moving on to the construction of socialism.

According to Dr. Baburam Bhattarai, one of the main leaders of the Maoists, the victory of the CPN (Maoist) in the constituent assembly election is the direct result of the protracted people’s war. “The people were looking for total change. We advanced the political agenda for total change during the decade-long people’s war. We have people from different castes, ethnicities, genders and people from different regions. The main agenda of the people’s war was to restructure the state. It took ten years of the people’s war to establish our political agenda. The people felt that the country’s socio-political and economic structure needed a complete overhaul. So we couldn’t look at things through our old lenses. The media and the elite missed the picture. As a result, the CA results surprised many. The ground realities had changed and they helped us to emerge as the largest party."

The CPN (Maoist) waged armed struggle against the Nepali government from 1996 to 2006 based on the military theories developed by Mao Zedong through the course of the Chinese Revolution. The Nepali’s strategy for people’s war, called Prachanda Path, after the founder and Chairman of the CPN (Maoist), Prachanda, involved combining the strategy of surrounding the cities from the countryside with insurrectionary actions in the urban centers. During this process, the CPN (Maoist) established its immense popularity among the masses of workers and peasants of Nepal through radical agrarian reform, fighting with determination for the rights of women and oppressed nationalities, labor organizing and student mobilizations. (For more information about the people’s war in Nepal, see Movement fights poverty and oppression in Nepal, September/October 2005.)

The people’s war was able to advance relatively quickly because the U.S. has been tied down elsewhere, most notably by the resistance in Iraq, and has been unable to intervene to the degree that it has against similar struggles in the Philippines and Colombia. The U.S. has given some military aid to Nepal’s monarchy but has not been able to commit a sizable number of troops. Because of the U.S.’s overextension, these and other movements, such as the people’s war being led by the communists in neighboring India, have been able to make advances.

Following King Gyanendra’s dissolution of the parliament and seizure of absolute power in early 2005, the CPN (Maoist) joined with other parties in an alliance to oust the king and establish the constituent assembly elections that are now taking place. The CPN (Maoist)’s People’s Liberation Army grouped their military forces and arms into ‘cantons’ under the supervision of U.N. monitors, in 2006 as part of the peace process.

The repressive measures instituted by Gyanendra were very unpopular and at this time only a handful of Hindu fundamentalists tied to the old feudal system still support the king.

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center has been observing the elections, said that he hopes the United States will drop the CPN (Maoist) from its terrorist list and recognize the Maoist government.

The U.S. is driven by its own interests however - the maintenance of an empire in service of a corporate elite - and it is possible that it may attempt to intervene against the democratically elected Maoist government, as it did when Hamas was similarly elected in Palestine.

The elections paint a very different picture of the Maoists than a group of ‘terrorists’ as the U.S. government insists. The elections demonstrate that the CPN (Maoist) has been very popular in Nepal throughout the difficult period of the people’s war, and additionally gives the lie to claims that the guerrillas ruled the countryside through terror and intimidation. It demonstrates clearly that there is a call from the people of Nepal to end imperialism and feudalism and to work toward the possibility of a socialist future.

Josh Sykes is a member of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

(Originally posted on the FRSO website: http://www.frso.org/about/statements/2008/nepal.htm)

Also from FRSO:
Resolution in Solidarity with the Revolutionary Movement in Nepal and Against U.S. Intervention (May 2007)

From Fight Back! News:
Movement Fights Poverty and Oppression in Nepal (July 2005)
On the Verge of Revolution in Nepal (April 2006)

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Thursday, April 17, 2008

On the Conflicts in SEIU

Fight Back News Service is circulating the following statement from the Labor Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

On the Conflicts in SEIU

Take a stand for class struggle unionism, union democracy and solidarity

By the Labor Commission of Freedom Road Socialist Organization

Over the past months, two conflicts have been heating up involving one of the most important unions in the U.S. - the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). It is important to understand the issues at stake. These are our thoughts on what the key issues are and what approach we think workers should take toward these conflicts.

One conflict is internal to SEIU, in which SEIU’s 150,000-member United Health Workers-West has spearheaded a rank-and-file movement within SEIU against the increasingly business-unionist direction of the national union; the second is fighting for more internal democracy in the union. They say they will bring proposals to SEIU’s national convention this summer for ‘one person, one vote’ for offices in the international union, including the presidency.

The other conflict is between SEIU and the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC), with the flashpoint being a deal SEIU reached with the management of the Catholic Healthcare Partners hospital system in Ohio.

SEIU and CNA/NNOC have had conflicts in other states too, such as Nevada. In Ohio, SEIU had reached a deal with the management of the Catholic Healthcare Partners hospital for nurses to have a quick election under unusual rules where the employer petitions for the union that it wants to be voted in (in this case SEIU), without requiring any workers to actually sign cards saying they want that union. In the face of this agreement between SEIU and hospital management, CNA/NNOC actively encouraged the nurses there to vote against SEIU, which caused SEIU to back out of the elections. Now both unions are actively and publicly denouncing each other in the sharpest terms while actively working to undermine each other.

This conflict came to a head on Saturday, April 12 at the Labor Notes conference in Dearborn, Michigan, a gathering where over 1000 progressive, rank-and-file union activists from hundreds of unions around the country met at a conference to 'put the movement back in the labor movement.'

In an incident on Saturday night of the conference, during the dinner banquet, hundreds of SEIU staff and members came in buses and crashed the conference to protest the presence of CNA president Rose Anne DeMoro - though she had actually canceled her appearance there and just sent a message to the conference via video.

The SEIU protesters came in to intimidate and disrupt the most important conference for progressive rank-and-file labor fighters in the country. They engaged in pushing and shoving anyone in their way, forcing their way into the hotel where the conference took place and then trying to muscle their way in to disrupt the packed dinner reception. At least one union sister was dealt with a head injury.

SEIU’s action at Labor Notes was beyond the pale. The escalation to attempted mass intimidation and physical confrontation against hundreds of rank-and-file progressive union activists must be condemned.

These points put forward our basic orientation on the struggle within SEIU and the conflict between SEIU and CNA/NNOC. We encourage comments and dialogue on how honest fighters in the labor movement can make sense of these conflicts and push the unions forward to fight for workers’ interests.

1. We support the reform movement in SEIU. We support their call for ‘one person one vote’ on contracts, bargaining committees, local officers and international officers, including the president.

2. SEIU has been moving more and more toward business unionism. For example, in their deals with the nursing homes, in which they signed no-strike pledges, allowed the owners to choose which homes would be unionized and pledged that the union wouldn’t criticize the treatment of workers. Andy Stern says that class struggle unionism is a thing of the past - we don't agree.

3. Regarding Ohio: We don’t support what CNA did in their ‘vote no’ campaign at the Catholic Healthcare Partners hospitals. On the other hand, what SEIU did there - using an employer petition to the Labor Board for an election without the involvement of workers, and in which the employer identifies their preferred union - is a terrible direction for the labor movement.

4. SEIU and CNA have gone to war with each other. This is destructive and we don’t support the actions by either side that weaken the labor movement.

5. A mob of staff and workers forced their way into the Labor Notes conference in order to disrupt the speech by Rose Anne DeMoro, head of the CNA. Their pushing and shoving resulted in at least one person having to be taken to the hospital after falling and hitting her head. Also, an SEIU member was seen lying on the sidewalk with blood from a head wound. DeMoro had already canceled her speech in order to avoid provoking SEIU; SEIU knew she had canceled and they carried out this physical assault on the conference anyway. Labor Notes is the largest gathering of progressives in the labor movemen, and everyone knows it. What SEIU did at the conference has to be condemned.

6. Workers need to organize and fight against the attacks from the capitalists. Unions that help do that are doing the right thing. Unions that don’t fight against the attacks on workers need to be challenged by their members and changed. Leaders that won’t change should be replaced. Class conscious workers don’t want their unions to fight each other in these scorched-earth turf battles.


Eyewitness Detroit:

SEIU rank and file leader blasts attempt to disrupt Labor Notes conference

Detroit, MI - Six busloads of SEIU staff and members attempted to force their way into the Labor Notes conference here, April 13. The attack, which injured several trade unionists, was a part of the what the SEIU International calls a ‘war’ on the California Nurses Association.


Hear Fight Back!’s interview with Joe Iosbaker, member of the SEIU Local 73 executive board, who was present during the assault.


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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

CPN (Maoist) Sweeping Constituent Assembly Elections

See the "History in the Making" sidebar (on the main page) for updates and info as things develop with the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) and the historic elections there. The official information from the Elections commission is here. The info from the Nepal Elections Portal should also prove helpful.

What is basically clear is this:

1.) The CPN (Maoist) controlled basically the entire rural portion of the country during the decade-long protracted people's war. The communist movement has been a leading force in Nepal for some time. The Maoists established themselves through the people's war by building dual power in the rural areas, where they acted as a popular government. Through a combination of radical land reform, student organizing, and labor work, they were able to build a strong base among workers and peasants of Nepal. The U.S., tied down in its losing battle with the national resistance in Iraq, has been unable to directly intervene militarily thus far.

2.) Now that the initial vote counting is underway for the constituent assembly elections, it is very clear that the Maoists are sweeping an overwhelming majority. Of the two other major parties, the Nepali Congress Party has won significantly less then they had expected, and the CPN (Unified Marxist-Leninist) has dropped out altogether. It would take a huge upset for the Maoists to come out shy of tremendous control of the constituent assembly and parliament. This gives the lie to all of the nonsense about the Maoists ruling the countryside through terror and shows that they are immensely popular among the Nepalese workers and peasants. Jimmy Carter is calling for the U.S. to drop the "terrorist" label form the CPN (Maoist) and recogize their democratically elected government. From here the Maoists say they will build a New Democratic Republic.

3.) King Gyanendra is now completely isolated and nobody but a handful of Royalists, a few big landlords and Hindu fundamentalists, still support him since his seizure of power in 2005 and the repressive crackdowns since. He and the monarchy he represents will never be a force in Nepal again. The future of Nepal is not certain, but one thing that is certain is this: The Monarchy is finished and feudalism is on the way out.

So what happens next?

Maoist leader, Dr. Baburam Bhattarai gave an excellent interview following his election in his constituency. Asked to assess the election results, Bhattarai said, "The people were looking for total change. We advanced the political agenda for total change during the decade-long people’s war. We have people from different castes, ethnicities, genders and people from different regions. The main agenda of the people’s war was to restructure the state. It took 10 years of the people’s war to establish our political agenda. The people felt that the country’s socio-political and economic structure needed a complete overhaul. So we couldn’t look at things through our old lenses. The media and the elite missed the picture. As a result, the CA results surprised many. The ground realities had changed and they helped us to emerge as the largest party."

This is what Comrade Gaurav of the CPN (Maoist) said would happen back in July 2007:

"In Nepal we are making New Democratic Revolution and according to the three stage of the People’s War it is in the concluding stage of ‘strategic offensive’. In order to achieve the countrywide victory, further preparation was felt necessary and the revolution had to take a new course. It was necessary to enter into the process of negotiation with the seven political parties to launch a strong mass movement whose immediate aim was to overthrow the monarchy, which is the representative institution of feudalism and bureaucratic capitalism and comprador bourgeoisie and establish democratic republic. It is true that the term ‘republic’ represents only a system without monarchy. There are many types of republic. What type of republic will be established and institutionalized in Nepal depends on who wins the majority in the election of the constituent assembly. If the left force gets majority in the assembly, there will be ‘People’s Democratic Republic’ in place and the constitution will be written and promulgated accordingly. In this context, it is definitely a new experiment based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism and risk is involved into it. This new experiment should bring the desired result. If there is indication that the experiment is not going to deliver acceptable results, we should dare to deter such experiment and should be prepared for other experiments which can deliver the desired results. If we feel that the new experiment is not going to deliver the desired result, no body can compel us to be sticking into the same. In that case, the revolution will take a new course and further new experiment will be required that can help revolution to succeed." ("New Tactics: challenges and opportunities", The Worker, #11, July 2007, pp. 11-14.)

To get a better understanding of the events in Nepal, interested persons should also check out some of the CPN (Maoist)'s writings at the Single Spark Collective's Learn from Nepal project, as well as some of the analysis there. Check out Mao Zedong's On New Democracy as well.

Freedom Road Socialist Organization put out a resolution in solidarity with the Nepalese Revolution and against U.S. intervention at its Fifth Congress in 2007.

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