Is the French Communist Party Back?

by Zoltan Zigedy

After years of retreat and opportunism and consequent loss of support and influence, the French Communist Party (PCF) is showing signs of life. Aligned with smaller parties in the Left Front (Front de Gauche, FG), the PCF has rallied around the presidential candidacy of Jean Melenchon for the forthcoming first round of French elections. The latest polls show Melenchon with over 14% of the prospective voters, ahead of all other candidates excepting Hollande (PS) and Sarkozy (UMP).

This once dynamic party succumbed to the allure of reformism, anti-Sovietism, and compromise with its embrace of the so-called “Euro-Communist” stance in the seventies. With over half a million members immediately after World War II, and garnering more votes than any other party at that time, the PCF was poised to become the dominant force in French politics, if not the first CP to launch a Western European country onto the road to socialism. Continue reading

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Fatuous, Dangerous, Utterly Irresponsible

by Eddie Ford

We call for the immediate legalisation of all drugs.

Few issues generate so much irrationality as the question of drugs. Rather we get tabloid-driven, moralistic sound and fury, where small things like facts and evidence are blindly ignored – indeed, themselves become objects of righteous condemnation. Naturally, the government – and, of course, the Tory government-in-waiting – is compelled to join the ‘anti-drugs’ mob, locked as it is into the unwinnable ‘war on drugs’, a prisoner of its own myths and desperate rhetoric.

Hence on becoming prime minister, Gordon Brown promptly – and stupidly – declared that cannabis was “lethal” and, following a media frenzy about the supposed dangers of ‘skunk’, insisted that cannabis be re-reclassified from its then current official governmental status as a class C drug back to the more ‘dangerous’ class B it had been prior to David Blunkett’s 2004 regrading (or downgrading). While the ‘anti-drugs’ Daily Mail was cock-a-hoop at this development, this Alice-in-Wonderland comment set the tone for the Brown administration’s thoroughly backward and reactionary approach to the whole issue – which, in just about every respect, has been more irrational than the one pursued by Blair or the previous Tory government (yes, including Margaret Thatcher). Continue reading

“90 Years On and We Are Still Fighting!”

by Gareth Murphy (General Secretary, Connolly Youth Movement)

Today, the fifth of September 2006, 90 years after the anniversary of the 1916 rising The Irish Independent staying true to its colours featured an article by Kevin Myers on John Redmond. The article was entitled ‘A Tribute to a Forgotten Hero!’ This article sums up the essence of Irish State politics, north and south. Whether it is the media, politicians or celebrities like Bono and Bob Geldof, Redmond is the essence of the governing ideology and the governing class.

What is this governing ideology? It is Ireland latching on to imperialism in the hope of being fed its scraps, just enough to keep our wealthy rich and our poor from revolting.

Redmond sent thousands of young men off to die on the continent and fed them the lie of home rule and self-determination. Today Bertie Ahern, without our consent, sells our neutrality and sovereignty (the little 26 counties have) and signs us up to military agreements and wars for a couple of euro and dollars. Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, the PD’s, Labour, the Greens, even parts of Sinn Fein, RTE, TV3, the Irish Times, Bono…the list goes on and on – all support without question global imperialism and Ireland’s role in it and subservience to it. Continue reading

1916: A Real History.

Rising Youth

Introduction

The 1916 Easter Rising is a very important part of Irish history. It marks the beginning of a truly popular campaign for an Ireland free from foreign rule and for an Ireland of and by the Irish people. The rising has often been portrayed as a blood sacrifice or an uprising of ‘saints and scholars’.

This is a myth. 1916 was a product of its time and conditions. It did not come out of nowhere. 1798 saw the uprising of the United Irishmen, yet no revolution followed. 1804 saw the ‘Emmet’ uprising yet not revolution followed. Easter 1916 was witness to a revolt of ordinary Irish people against foreign dominance, exploitation and oppression and a revolution followed.

“If the authorities were wanting to make Dublin a place with the bombs blazing in the street they were going the right way about it. It was labour supplied the passionate element in the revolt. It has a real grievance. The cultural element, poets, Gaels, etc., never stir more than one percent of a country. It is only when an immense injustice stirs the workers that they unite their grievances with all other grievances.” -George Russell, AE.

Continue reading

Six Fundamental Characteristics of a Communist Party

by Alvaro Cunhal, Portuguese Communist Party   

Editors’ note:  Several months ago, MLT posted Hans-Peter Brenner’s article from the German weekly, Junge Welt, “Of Saviors and Liquidators: V. I. Lenin, Alvaro Cunhal, Sam Webb.”  It cited portions of a 2001 article by Alvaro Cunhal, “Six Fundamental Characteristics of a Communist Party.”

We are grateful to Marcel Hostettler, a Swiss reader, for pointing out that the full article is available in English at the PCP web site: http://www.pcp.pt/en/”six-fundamental-characteristics-communist-party”-álvaro-cunhal. 

Below is a translation of Alvaro Cunhal’s presentation sent to the International Meeting on “Vigencia y Actualización del Marxismo,” [The Validity and Renewal of Marxism] organized by the Rodney Arismendi Foundation, in Montevideo, Uruguay, September 15, 2001
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The 20th century will forever be marked by the 1917 Russian revolution, by the political power of the proletariat and the lasting construction, for the first time in history, of a society without exploiters or exploited. Continue reading

Political Statement by the Communist Party of Ireland

Communist Party of Ireland

At its regular meeting held on 31 March the National Executive Committee of the Communist Party of Ireland discussed the continuing crisis of the system and its growing effect on the economic and social well-being of working people, north and south. This crisis is the central question facing all our people, north and south. A just outcome for working people can only be found in their united action throughout the country fighting for an alternative socialist way forward.

The party calls for maximum opposition and a resounding No vote in the forthcoming referendum on the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance in the Economic and Monetary Union. The CPI demands that the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Treaty also be put to the people in a referendum, as the two are inseparable. Both are central to the imposition of permanent austerity on working people in Ireland and all working people throughout the euro zone and the EU as a whole. This mechanism creates a permanent bail-out fund for capital that working people will be forced to pay into generation after generation as capital gambles away the future of the planet.

The CPI calls on the ICTU to stop prevaricating, to campaign for a No vote, and to come out clearly and give leadership to Irish workers in regard to these treaties and explain their potential effect on working people. Continue reading

Spanish General Strike Reaches 77% Participation, But Officials Turn Deaf Ear

by Diana Rosen

Demonstrators crowd Cibeles Sqare in Madrid during Spain’s general strike on March 29. (Photo by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez/Getty Images)

Workers across Spain yesterday took to the streets today in a 24-hour general strike called by the country’s two main trade unions, General Workers Union and the Workers’ Commissions, over the economic reforms passed by the recently-elected People’s Party under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy.  Last month, the Spanish government passed labor reform laws making it cheaper and easier to cut wages and lay off employees, including reducing severance pay from 45 to 33 days.

Today, the government announced that it would not modify the labor reforms–which could still be amended in Parliament–despite the participation of hundreds of thousands in yesterday’s strike.

On Wednesday, economy minister Luís de Guindos had said that regardless of how widespread participation in the strike became, the government would not modify “a single letter” of the labour reform.

Although high unemployment has led to declining support for trade unions in recent years, General Workers Union Secretary General Candido Mendez estimated that the strike had 77 percent participation, and said that this figure was as high as 97 percent in industry and construction. Unions declared the strike a success and threatened further demonstrations if the government did not negotiate changes to the law before May 1.

The Spanish unemployment rate is currently at almost 23% overall, with a 50% unemployment rate for young people.

Yesterday marked Rajoy’s 100th day in office. The vote for the People’s Party dropped from 46% to 41% in an Andalucia regional election last weekend.  There is speculation that Rajoy delayed announcing the budget cuts until this week to avoid losing support from Andalucia voters.

The strike enjoyed greatest participation in Madrid and Barcelona, where large marches and other events, including a group siesta, have been taking place all day.  Still, workers are striking all over the country.  Bus and rail services were severely limited all over and only a small fraction of domestic and international flights operated.  As of 9:00 am, electricity consumption was reported as down 25% by Red Eléctrica.  According to the General Workers Union, almost all of the Renault, Seat, Volkswagen and Ford car workers participated in the strike.  Spanish Twitter users have been using the hashtags #huelga and #enhuelga (“strike” and “in strike,” respectively) to trend the topic and spread the word.

Angel Andrino, a 31-year-old protestor in Madrid, explained his participation in today’s demonstrations to BBC:

“We are going through a really hard time, suffering. The rights that our parents and grandparents fought for are being wiped away without the public being consulted.”

Andrino was laid off in February after the labor reforms were passed.

The strike remained almost entirely nonviolent throughout the morning and afternoon, with the exception of a scuffle between police and protestors early this morning at a Madrid bus depot.  Protestors attempted to prevent a bus from leaving for work, leading to 58 people getting detained and nine injured.  Several small fires were started in Barcelona mid-afternoon, but no injuries were reported.

At around 7:00 pm, however, police began using rubber bullets and tear gas on protestors in Barcelona.  Barcelona protestors have been smashing shop windows and some reports have come in saying that a Starbucks was set on fire.

The last general strike in Spain was held in September 2010 and targeted the labor reforms of the then-Socialist government, which were ultimately upheld.

*note: This article originally appeared on In These Times, a left-leaning journal. The article can be found here