Statement of the International Committee of the Fourth International
IN THE first months of this year, north Africa has seen the eruption of colossal revolutionary developments, from east to west, that have toppled presidents in Tunisia and Egypt, and staggered Kings and Emirs in the Middle East and the Gulf, and the military-police regimes through which capitalism rules all these countries.
The imperialist powers live in terror that this revolution, part of the permanent revolution, will remove its puppets in Iraq, and its feudal rulers who stand guard over the oil wealth of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia, without which they cannot function.
The driving force of this revolutionary leap is the world crisis of the capitalist system. This has bankrupted the world’s banking system, overseen huge falls in production and enslaved whole nations to pay the debts of the bankers, causing a massive growth in unemployment worldwide, particularly amongst young people, and huge price increases which have made it almost impossible for the families of workers and the poor throughout the world to survive.
This crisis, the death agony of the capitalist system, is the driving force for the huge revolutionary changes that have just begun. These revolutions began as bourgeois democratic revolutions but very quickly it has become obvious that it is far too late in the day for the founding of new bourgeois democracies. It has very quickly been revealed that the democratic tasks that the bourgeoisie carried out in Europe from the 17th to the 19th centuries cannot be carried out by the bourgeoisie in north Africa in the 21st century.
Military-police regimes are the only way that capitalism can survive in north Africa.
Already, in Tunisia and Egypt, the working class has come into growing conflict with the new interim governments, whether they are provisional or just purely military-appointed councils, as in Egypt.
In Tunisia, three just appointed ministers have resigned, while in Egypt the new military appointed prime minister, Shafiq, has gone after just days in office, as the requirements of the working class to have jobs for its young people, the right to strike, good wages and homes has collided with the ‘new regimes’ and the interests of the ruling class, leading ministers to fall even more quickly than they were appointed.
In Egypt, the more middle class democratic revolutionaries, who seemed to be leading the movement, have very quickly begun discussions with the military regime, which in essence remains in charge of Egypt, and some of them have called on the workers to stop their strikes and stop the foundation of new, independent unions, and to recognise there must be a period of calm.
Renowned Islamic preachers have given the same advice. But the working class in Egypt is revealing itself as the driving force of the revolution. It is declaring that the revolution must be completed. It mustn’t stop before it’s hardly begun, or stop halfway. The working class must have the right to strike, it must have the right to form independent trade unions, it must have decent wages and living standards, it must have proper housing, its children must have proper access to universities, to employment and a future.
This perspective is incompatible with what Egyptian capitalism can offer, which is slave labour and poverty, hunger and a lack of housing for at least 60 per cent of the population.
The working class in Egypt will therefore come more to the fore as the struggle develops. It will build new organisations such as the Russian workers developed in 1905 and 1917. It will build its revolutionary party, a section of the Fourth International, and it will become crystal clear that the revolution in Egypt, and throughout North Africa, can only be successful as a workers revolution that is able to give the peasantry the land, provide workers with jobs and expropriate the capitalists and the bankers through going forward to a workers government.
Egypt is the most proletarian of the north African countries and following in its wake are Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco and Libya. The movement is now spreading into Iraq and into the Gulf and is beginning to make its impact felt in Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi workers have risen against the puppet Maliki regime and are demanding services, jobs, food and a future. Their movement is a revolutionary movement that embraces Kurds, Shias, Sunnis and all workers and youth. It is again essentially a revolutionary movement of the working class.
The same movement is present in Bahrain, where the feudal regime is beginning to disintegrate. This whole development is a massive blow to imperialism, which cannot survive without the oil and resources of north Africa and the Middle East. The Arab revolution is driving up the price of oil and making it impossible for the imperialists to conduct business as usual. It is a colossal revolutionary development.
But where you have revolution, you also have counter-revolution. This can be seen in Libya, where in 1969 its first and only king, Idris, was overthrown by a revolutionary movement of young officers who established Libya as a modern state. Libya was essentially tribal, with hardly a working class. These revolutionaries, young army officers, brought with them the spirit of the ‘primitive communism’ of a tribal people. They saw no reason why the Libyan people should have to accept or undergo capitalism.
The oil was nationalised, the oil wealth was used to develop the country and to advance the cause of the people, and the theory was developed that Libya would be a state of the masses, run by revolutionary committees, which would avoid capitalism and, since it had no working class, avoid communism as well. The Libyan people would be able to flourish in the new society, which was called the state of the masses.
The revolution was able to develop Libya and play a progressive role in supporting the Palestinian people and supporting all national liberation movements such as the IRA and the ANC.
The attempt by Gorbachev and Yeltsin to collapse the USSR and restore capitalism was a blow to the Libyan revolution, as it was to all those states in Africa and Asia that depended upon the USSR for either financial, military or political support against imperialism.
The Libyan regime, no longer able to operate between the two great powers – imperialism, represented by the US, and the working class represented by the USSR – moved to the right and got closer to the US and UK imperialists and their big companies such as BP.
This position led to a growing conservatism and the beginnings of a stratification in Libyan society. Thus the north African revolution took Gadaffi by surprise. Instead of supporting it, he lamented the ending of Ben Ali and Mubarak in Tunisia and Egypt. This left his government open to attack from within Libya from religious right-wingers who wanted to restore the monarchy, or impose a Caliphate, and open up the gates to US and UK imperialism under the guise of being super-democrats.
The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) without hesitation supported, and continues to support, Gadaffi against imperialism, to defend the gains of the Libyan revolution. We are pleased that the masses of Libya have rallied to Gadaffi and that the right wing religious rebellion has been halted, along with imperialist intervention – the latter for the moment.
The imperialists, with the shrill Cameron at their head, had thought that they would be able to intervene in Libya, overthrow Gadaffi and establish big military bases, after stealing the oil wealth, to dominate the whole of north Africa and Egypt.
This remains their plan. It is now however in difficulties. No amount of imperialist abuse of Gadaffi and the Libyan people can hide the fact that the mass of the people remain in support of the revolution, and are determined to defend the gains of their revolution and to prevent their country being turned into another Iraq, Yugoslavia or Afghanistan. They defend the Libyan revolution and will continue to do so.
The Libyan working class will come forward and will play a leading role in north Africa in the struggle for a socialist north Africa and for a socialist Middle East in the days to come.
The ICFI calls on Arab youth and workers to establish sections of the Fourth International in all their countries to fight for socialism throughout north Africa and the Middle East and to put an end to imperialism and Zionism.
However, the north African revolution is just the beginning of the huge revolutionary change that’s on hand for the whole of the planet. The centres of the struggle remain the European Union and the United States, the centres of capitalism and imperialism, where the productive forces are being destroyed by the capitalist crisis and where the working people are being told that everything they have won must be surrendered, so that the discredited, outmoded, reactionary banks and bourgeoisie can survive by living off their backs.
In the European Union, unemployment, rising prices and privatisation are all being used to threaten and to attack the working class.
The Greek workers have been told that they must provide 50 billion more euros in savage cuts to buy back their debt, so as to keep the European banks afloat. The Greek working class has for over year been fighting Papandreou and the European Central Bank and the European Union. Greek workers are taking the revolutionary road and a section of the Fourth International is being built in Greece to organise the Greek socialist revolution, which will revolutionise the entire European Union.
Arm in arm with the Greek workers go the workers of Ireland. The European Central Bank (ECB) has forced an 80 billion euro loan onto Ireland to stabilise the European banking system at the expense of the working class. The party that negotiated this loan, Fianna Fail, has been destroyed in the just-concluded general election. In the capital city of Dublin, with over a million people, it only has one TD.
Ireland is to have a new government of the right wing Fine Gael and the right wing Labour Party who, under the pressure of the masses, are pledged to renegotiate the 80 billion euro loan deal and the 5.8 per cent rate of interest that Ireland must pay. However, the European Union and the European Central Bank has already said that the agreement that they’ve made was between the ECB and the Irish parliament and government. It was not made with the Irish people. The opinions of the Irish people concerning the agreement, as far as the ECB is concerned, are irrelevant. They will have to accept the diktat of the ECB – the bankers and capitalists of Europe.
The new Irish government in formation has already seen its leading party, Fine Gael, declare that it’s going to increase taxes and keep all of the savage cuts that have been made. As in Tunisia the new Irish government will be under fire from day one of office. It will be under fire from the ECB from one side and the Irish working class from the other.
It will not last long. It will be brought down by the working class, and parties which were hitherto unknown in the Republic or of a minor nature will be pushed to the fore as some form of provisional government.
This will fare no better than Fine Gael, since what is required is to defy and overthrow the rule of the European Central Bank by refusing to repay the loan and the interest, and to expropriate the bosses and bankers of Ireland. The Irish working class requires a revolutionary leadership. A section of the International Committee of the Fourth International must be built in Ireland, to provide this leadership. The workers of Greece and Ireland are leading the struggle to smash the European Union and to replace it with a Socialist United States of Europe.
Their revolutionary struggles will shortly be joined by the working class of France and Germany, and Spain and Portugal and also the UK, which is a member of the European Union although it is not part of the Eurozone.
In Britain, the working class is being told that everything that it has won, its pensions, its benefits, its jobs, its free state education, its NHS, have got to be surrendered so that the banks can survive and the bosses with them. This is an offer that the working class cannot accept.
It is just a matter of weeks and months, at the most, before the north African revolution is joined by massive revolutionary upheavals in Greece, Ireland, the UK and throughout Europe, where the working class will rise up in mass actions to insist that if capitalism cannot afford Welfare States, then the working class cannot afford to accept capitalism, and that it must go.
The European Union is poised on the brink of a revolutionary leap that will be a continuation of what began in north Africa and will drive the world revolution forward to its conclusion.
The working class of the USSR and China are not unaffected by the crisis of the capitalist system. China props up a gigantic US deficit, while Russia supplies western Europe with gas and oil.
Both the Russian degenerated workers state and the Chinese deformed workers state are affected by the crisis and by rising prices, rising unemployment and a working class which already hates the Stalinist bureaucracy and the new bourgeoisie that the bureaucracy has established in both countries.
The working class in Russia and China is not immune to what’s taking place in north Africa and to what’s emerging in Europe. It too will be driven along the revolutionary road to overthrow the capitalist roaders in political revolutions to re-establish Soviet power in Russia and establish it in China.
The United States, unlike the situation in the 1930s, is at the centre of the crisis. The trade unions which supported the rise of Obama and the Democrats have been kicked in the teeth by both. Wages at General Motors and Ford, the big motor car companies, have been savagely cut, as have pensions, and hundreds of thousands of workers have lost their jobs in the motor car and other industries.
In all the big US cities there are now tent cities where the poor, the unemployed and all those who’ve lost their homes in the mortgage crisis live under canvas and eke out an existence.
The centre of Detroit, the former capital of the world’s motor car industry, is now derelict and the site of a new farming industry. These developments are now being augmented by the bankrupting of the big US cities. In Republican-dominated states the way out of bankruptcy is being seen as the destruction of the state trade unions – the teachers, transport, police, fire service and other unions – by ending their right to free collective bargaining, so as to impose big wage cuts and mass sackings.
In Wisconsin, hundreds of thousands of workers are being revolutionised by the struggle to defend the right to free collective bargaining, only to see President Obama move closer to the Republicans as the fight between the working class and the ruling class sharpens.
Workers in the United States are full of admiration for the struggle of the north African workers and especially the workers of Egypt, who brought down Mubarak. They call the governor of Wisconsin, ‘the American Mubarak’ and have vowed to bring him down and all those like him.
The American working class is beginning on the road to the socialist revolution. Along that road they must break with the Democrats, establish a Labour Party, and declare that if American capitalism cannot provide it with jobs, with education, with healthcare, with homes and with trade union rights, it deserves to perish and must be replaced by a socialist USA. This developing struggle in the US will have enormous implications for the Americas where the peoples of Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, the Argentine and Brazil are struggling for their rights and for socialism.
World capitalism is in its death agony. This is the period for the world socialist revolution to be completed. This is the period when the working class of the world must unite and when the Fourth International must be built as the World Party of the Socialist Revolution to lead the struggle to put an end to capitalism and imperialism, and replace the anarchy of capitalist production, with its slumps, wars and mass privations, with a planned socialist economy, organised to satisfy the needs of the working people of the world.
What began in north Africa will spread throughout Europe and Asia to the United States and South America. The working class of the world is now on the march. Its future requires the building of sections of the Fourth International in all the major countries to lead the world socialist revolution to its victory.
We must see to it that these parties are built and that the working class and youth of this generation carry out their historic task as the gravediggers of capitalism, to bring about the new socialist order of society.
March 4th 2011