Tag Archives: Workers

Why Marxism is on the rise again

Capitalism is in crisis across the globe – but what on earth is the alternative? Well, what about the musings of a certain 19th-century German philosopher? Yes, Karl Marx is going mainstream – and goodness knows where it will end

By The Guardian

Class conflict once seemed so straightforward. Marx and Engels wrote in the second best-selling book of all time, The Communist Manifesto: “What the bourgeoisie therefore produces, above all, are its own grave-diggers. Its fall and the victory of the proletariat are equally inevitable.” (The best-selling book of all time, incidentally, is the Bible – it only feels like it’s 50 Shades of Grey.)

Today, 164 years after Marx and Engels wrote about grave-diggers, the truth is almost the exact opposite. The proletariat, far from burying capitalism, are keeping it on life support. Overworked, underpaid workers ostensibly liberated by the largest socialist revolution in history (China’s) are driven to the brink of suicide to keep those in the west playing with their iPads. Chinese money bankrolls an otherwise bankrupt America.

The irony is scarcely wasted on leading Marxist thinkers. “The domination of capitalism globally depends today on the existence of a Chinese Communist party that gives de-localised capitalist enterprises cheap labour to lower prices and deprive workers of the rights of self-organisation,” says Jacques Rancière, the French marxist thinker and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris VIII. “Happily, it is possible to hope for a world less absurd and more just than today’s.”

That hope, perhaps, explains another improbable truth of our economically catastrophic times – the revival in interest in Marx and Marxist thought. Sales of Das Kapital, Marx’s masterpiece of political economy, have soared ever since 2008, as have those of The Communist Manifesto and the Grundrisse (or, to give it its English title, Outlines of the Critique of Political Economy). Their sales rose as British workers bailed out the banks to keep the degraded system going and the snouts of the rich firmly in their troughs while the rest of us struggle in debt, job insecurity or worse. There’s even a Chinese theatre director called He Nian who capitalised on Das Kapital’s renaissance to create anall-singing, all-dancing musical.

Read more » the guardian
See more » http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/jul/04/the-return-of-marxism

The biggest threats to American workers

By 

A century ago, roughly one-third of U.S. workers toiled in agriculture. Now just 1.5% do. Yet agricultural output has skyrocketed, and the United States, after feeding itself, has plenty of food left over to export.

That explosion in agricultural productivity is considered a crowning achievement of 20th-century capitalism. Yet a similar trend that may now be underway in manufacturing and even the service economy isn’t viewed with the same reverential awe. Instead, the rise of robots and computers in place of workers looms as one of the great challenges in capitalism’s next century.

Read more » Yahoo News
https://ca.finance.yahoo.com/news/the-biggest-threat-to-american-workers-162716201.html#more-id

Sweden introduces a SIX-HOUR working day

Sweden introduces a SIX-HOUR working day in bid to reduce sick leave, boost efficiency and make staff happier

Government staff in Swedish city of Gothenburg to take part in trial; One department will work six hour days, while another will work seven; Two will be compared to see if shorter days improve efficiency

By Chris Pleasance

Hundreds of Swedish workers are trialling a six-hour working day in the hopes that it will cut sick leave and save the country money. In an experiment, workers in one government department in Gothenburg are to be put on to six-hour days on full pay
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2600416/Sweden-introduces-six-hour-working-day-pay-bid-reduce-sick-leave-boost-efficiency-make-staff-happier.html#ixzz2yRAOT8gR

The Dominant Economic Model of the 21st Century: Pain and Suffering for — Almost — All

March 3, 2014  |  This article originally appeared on TruthDig.com, and is reprinted here with their permission.OXFORD, England—The morning after my  Feb. 20 debate at the Oxford Union, I walked from my hotel along Oxford’s narrow cobblestone streets, past its storied colleges with resplendent lawns and Gothic stone spires, to meet  Avner Offer, an economic historian and Chichele Professor Emeritus of Economic History.Offer, the author of “ The Challenge of Affluence: Self-Control and Well-Being in the United States and Britain Since 1950,” for 25 years has explored the cavernous gap between our economic and social reality and our ruling economic ideology. Neoclassical economics, he says, is a “just-world theory,” one that posits that not only do good people get what they deserve but those who suffer deserve to suffer. He says this model is “a warrant for inflicting pain.” If we continue down a path of mounting scarcities, along with economic stagnation or decline, this neoclassical model is ominous. It could be used to justify repression in an effort to sustain a vision that does not correspond to the real world.Offer, who has studied the rationing systems set up in countries that took part in World War I, suggests we examine how past societies coped successfully with scarcity. In an age of scarcity it would be imperative to set up new, more egalitarian models of distribution, he says. Clinging to the old neoclassical model could, he argues, erode and perhaps destroy social cohesion and require the state to engage in greater forms of coercion.

“The basic conventions of public discourse are those of the  Enlightenment, in which the use of reason [enabled] us to achieve human objectives,” Offer said as we sat amid piles of books in his cluttered office. “Reason should be tempered by reality, by the facts. So underlining this is a notion of science that confronts reality and is revised by reference to reality. This is the model for how we talk. It is the model for the things we assume. But the reality that has emerged around us has not come out of this process. So our basic conventions only serve to justify existing relationships, structures and hierarchies. Plausible arguments are made for principles that are incompatible with each other.”

Offer cited a concept from social psychology called the  just-world theory. “A just-world theory posits that the world is just. People get what they deserve. If you believe that the world is fair you explain or rationalize away injustice, usually by blaming the victim.

Major ways of thinking about the world constitute just-world theories,” he said. “The Catholic Church is a just-world theory. If the Inquisition burned heretics, they only got what they deserved. Bolshevism was a just-world theory. If  Kulaks were starved and exiled, they got what they deserved. Fascism was a just-world theory. If Jews died in the concentration camps, they got what they deserved. The point is not that the good people get the good things, but the bad people get the bad things. Neoclassical economics, our principal source of policy norms, is a just-world theory.”

Offer quoted the economist  Milton Friedman: “The ethical principle that would directly justify the distribution of income in a free market society is, ‘To each according to what he and the instruments he owns produces.’ ”

“So,” Offer went on, “everyone gets what he or she deserves, either for his or her effort or for his or her property. No one asks how he or she got this property. And if they don’t have it, they probably don’t deserve it. The point about just-world theory is not that it dispenses justice, but that it provides a warrant for inflicting pain.”

Read more » Alternet
http://www.alternet.org/economy/dominant-economic-model-21st-century-pain-and-suffering-almost-all

A Rare Elected Voice for Socialism Pledges to Be Heard in Seattle

SEATTLE — People are used to liberals running things around here. But nobody reckoned with Kshama Sawant. Ms. Sawant, a 41-year-old economics teacher and immigrant from India, took a left at liberal and then kept on going — all the way to socialism.

When she takes a seat on Seattle’s nine-member City Council on Jan. 1, representing the Socialist Alternative Party, she will become one of the few elected socialists in the nation, a political brand most politicians run from.

But Kshama Sawant (pronounced SHAH-mah sah-WANT) heartily embraces the label. Ask her about almost any problem facing America today, and her answer will probably include the “S” word as the best and most reasonable response. Socialism is the path to real democracy, she says. Socialism protects the environment. Socialism is the best hope for young people who have seen their options crushed by the tide of low-wage, futureless jobs in the post-recession economy.

“The take-home message for the left in general is that people are looking for alternatives,” she said in an interview, discussing her victory over a veteran Democrat by a margin of 3,100 votes of about 184,000 cast in a citywide contest. “If you ask me as a socialist what workers deserve, they deserve the value of what they produce.”

Read more » The New York Times
http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/us/a-rare-elected-voice-for-socialism-pledges-to-be-heard-in-seattle.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&rref=us&hpw=

Massive national strike shakes South Korea

South Korean union vows all-out strike in sympathy with rail workers

SEOUL – (Reuters) – South Korea’s militant labor federation announced a general strike from Saturday in sympathy with rail workers, after police hauled away scores of strikers in a two-week dispute that has hit President Park Geun-hye’s popularity ratings.

The Korean Confederation of Trade Unions (KCTU) has more than 690,000 members from sectors including construction and public transport and any stoppage could bring the country to a halt.

Workers with the state-run Korea Railroad walked off the job in protest against a decision to set up a unit to run a high-speed bullet train, which they say will lead to privatization and layoffs.

Hundreds of riot police stormed into the umbrella group’s head office on Sunday in a bid to arrest union leaders. They detained about 130 strikers and confederation members.

“The KCTU will show our anger by action, not words, against infringement of KCTU,” the confederation said in a statement on Monday, promising an all-out strike from Dec 28.

Continue reading Massive national strike shakes South Korea

International Youth and Workers Movement’ (IYWM)

SINDH: Karachi – International Youth and Workers Movement’ (IYWM) and Rise for Pakistan cordially invite you to attend a meeting on December 27th, 2013, 4:00 p.m. at PMA House Karachi, Sindh. The topic of first session of meeting is “Why Left is ineffective in Pakistan?”. We hope to share our thoughts on this and find reasons behind ineffectiveness of the left wing and its inability to create or drive political movements in Pakistan.

The topic of discussion in the second session will be “The establishment of ‘International Youth And Workers Movement’ (IYWM) and its goals.”

We believe that this meeting will help us move together towards a better understanding of a much needed methodology to rebuild the students’, workers’ and peasantry’s movement in Pakistan and the world.

Looking forward to meeting you on 27th December and we sincerely hope that you will share with us your experiences and ideas in this regard.

Looking forward, Jawad Ahmad & Dr. Syed Akhtar Ehtsham

Courtesy: via Facebook

14th March – 130th anniversary of Karl Marx

Leader of oppressed people of the world died on 14th March 1883.

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways: the point, however, is to change it.” – KARL MARX

“Democracy is the road to socialism.” – Karl Marx

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex.” – Karl Marx

“Revolutions are the locomotives of history.” – Karl Marx

“The rich will do anything for the poor but get off their backs.” – Karl Marx

Continue reading 14th March – 130th anniversary of Karl Marx

Workers Party Pakistan UK opposed the division of Sindh

Condolence meeting in London for Ghazala Siddiqui Shaheed of Mohabat-e-Sindh

A condolence meeting of Workers Party Pakistan UK was convened in London to condole the sad demise of Ghazala Sadiqqi at the hands of fascist mafia’s attack on peaceful rally in Karachi, Sindh. The meeting was presided by Ahmad Nawaz Wattoo, convener WPP UK and attended by Dr. Iftikhar Mehmood, Dr. Tuheed Ahmed Khan, Rizwan Kayani, Mian Rashid Aslam, Munib Anwar, Yahya Hashmi, Mian Imran Latif, Atif Jamal and Rehan Khushi.

The meeting condemned the fascist mafia’s attack on the peaceful protestors in Karachi during Muhabat Sindh rally on 22 May 2012. Due to the firing of the fascist terrorist mafia a bullet hit Ghazala Siddiqquie, a brave progressive woman, mother of three children, a loving wife and niece of comrade Usman Balouch, member Central Committee Workers Party Pakistan. The participants of the meeting offered their condolence and solidarity with Comrade Usman Balouch and bereaved family and friends of Ghazala. The participants demanded the arrests of the culprits of fascist mafia immediately. The meeting also opposed the division of Sindh.

Continue reading Workers Party Pakistan UK opposed the division of Sindh

Preying on Poverty: How Government and Corporations Use the Poor as Piggy Banks

by Barbara Ehrenreich
Individually the poor are not too tempting to thieves, for obvious reasons. Mug a banker and you might score a wallet containing a month’s rent. Mug a janitor and you will be lucky to get away with bus fare to flee the crime scene. But as Business Week helpfully pointed out in 2007, the poor in aggregate provide a juicy target for anyone depraved enough to make a business of stealing from them.

The trick is to rob them in ways that are systematic, impersonal, and almost impossible to trace to individual perpetrators. Employers, for example, can simply program their computers to shave a few dollars off each paycheck, or they can require workers to show up 30 minutes or more before the time clock starts ticking.

Lenders, including major credit companies as well as payday lenders, have taken over the traditional role of the street-corner loan shark, charging the poor insanely high rates of interest. When supplemented with late fees (themselves subject to interest), the resulting effective interest rate can be as high as 600% a year, which is perfectly legal in many states.

It’s not just the private sector that’s preying on the poor. Local governments are discovering that they can partially make up for declining tax revenues through fines, fees, and other costs imposed on indigent defendants, often for crimes no more dastardly than driving with a suspended license. And if that seems like an inefficient way to make money, given the high cost of locking people up, a growing number of jurisdictions have taken to charging defendants for their court costs and even the price of occupying a jail cell. ….

Read more » Common Dreams

PPP holds big rally in favour of president, PM

LAHORE – Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader and Special Adviser to Prime Minister Ch Aslam Gill on Friday said the people wanted peace and democracy instead of long marches.

He was addressing a big PPP rally brought out to express solidarity with President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani here. The rally which was reflective of the spirit of PPP workers during 1970 started from Nasir Bagh and peacefully ended at Data Darbar where Ch Aslam Gill addressed thousands of party workers. There was no considerable presence of the existing office bearers of provincial or Lahore PPP. The enthusiasm and spirit shown by the party workers, thousands of party flags and banners and full-throat slogans chanted by them in favour of President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani revived the emotional scenes of 1970. As a matter of fact, Ch Aslam Gill succeeded in activating the old party workers and mobilising them to work for the cause of the party in such a large number after 23 years. This was what he could do on December 2011 when he held a big public meeting at Benazir Park near his residence in Naseerabad, Gulberg 3, Lahore.

Continue reading PPP holds big rally in favour of president, PM

‘Festive, Righteous Anger’: Occupy Makes May-Day Comeback With Massive Demonstrations

By Sarah Jaffe and Anna Lekas Miller and Sarah Seltzer and Julianne Escobedo Shepherd and Alex Kane and Joshua Holland

Yesterday, Occupy recaptured the public’s attention with rallies, marches, parties, and yes, arrests all over the country.

All over the world, May 1 is celebrated as International Workers’ Day. Yesterday, May Day also marked the reemergence of the Occupy movement, with events in cities all over America. AlterNet’s reporters were in the field — here are their dispatches from New York and the Bay Area …

Read more » AlterNet

Forced conversions: As leftists protest, ST takes offence

By Sameer Mandhro / Z Ali

KARACHI / HYDERABAD: Supporters of the leftist coalition group, the Sindh Progressive Committee, had a run-in with the Barelvi religious-political party Sunni Tehreek at the Hyderabad Press Club on Tuesday, resulting in the police hauling in almost two dozen activists.

The Sunni Tehreek had been protesting the recent spate of violence in Karachi and had wrapped up the event. The Sindh Progressive Committee (SPC), which comprises the Workers Party, Labour Party, Communist Party, Jeay Sindh Mahaz, National Party, Awami Party and Watan Dost Inquilaabi Party, held a protest outside the press club against forced conversions and religious extremism.

The fight reportedly started as the Sunni Tehreek supporters alleged that attendees at the SPC’s event had beaten up a man who had stopped them from chanting slogans that they alleged were against religion.

Sunni Tehreek’s protestors went back to the press club and the fight forced SPC event attendees to hide inside the club as the Sunni Tehreek men threw stones and chanted slogans against them. While some female SPC leaders including Professor Arfana Mallah and Sindh University lecturer and activist Amar Sindhu managed to escape, the police cordoned off the area around the press club and rescued the rest. While they had assumed the police would release them, they were sent to the Cantonment Police Station.

The Sunni Tehreek’s Abid Qadri alleged that the SPC had “attacked our man first” and “used abusive language”. Arfana Mallah said their protest was peaceful but they had been attacked by the Sunni Tehreek, who brought “weapons, stones and sticks” and “forced us not to chant slogans”.

According to the police, 23 men from the Sindh Progressive Committee were arrested. The Sunni Tehreek’s Hyderabad General Secretary Muhammad Yaseen Qadri registered a First Information Report (FIR) under sections 148, 147 and 149. Even though the FIR mentions 60 people, only three are mentioned by name – Comrade Iqbal, Allah Bux and Bakhshal Thallo. The Sunni Tehreek and SPC have both claimed their supporters were injured.

At the SPC’s protest in Karachi, activists demanded that Rinkle Kumari and Asha Kumari, the two women who have drawn attention to the rise of Hindu conversions in Sindh, be handed over to their parents. They chanted slogans against landlords, clerics, army generals and extremists and asked that the government separate religion from matters of the state.

Speakers included Yousuf Masti Khan, Nasir Mansoor, Jan Muhammad Buledi, Usman Baloch, Mehnaz Rehman, Comrade Iqbal and Abdul Khaliq Junejo. “We don’t support a state that promotes religious extremism and stifles the environment for other religions. Every man is free in this country and has the right to move freely and perform his religious rituals,” said Usman Baloch.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, April 18th, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/366193/forced-conversions-as-leftists-protest-st-takes-offence/

Turkish forces kill 15 female Kurdish rebels

Turkish security forces have killed 15 female rebel Kurds in the southeast of the country on Saturday, AFP cites the country’s interior ministry as saying. One member of a local group fighting alongside Turkish security forces was killed in the clashes, while three more were wounded. The female rebels belonged to a women-only unit of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The operation follows a large-scale offensive against PKK militants near the Iraqi border that left seven police officers and six rebels dead.

Courtesy: http://www.rt.com/news/line/2012-03-24/#id28470

The United States of Prisons

21st-Century Slaves: How Corporations Exploit Prison Labor

In the eyes of the corporation, inmate labor is a brilliant strategy in the eternal quest to maximize profit.

By Rania Khalek

There is one group of American workers so disenfranchised that corporations are able to get away with paying them wages that rival those of third-world sweatshops. These laborers have been legally stripped of their political, economic and social rights and ultimately relegated to second-class citizens. They are banned from unionizing, violently silenced from speaking out and forced to work for little to no wages. This marginalization renders them practically invisible, as they are kept hidden from society with no available recourse to improve their circumstances or change their plight.

They are the 2.3 million American prisoners locked behind bars where we cannot see or hear them. And they are modern-day slaves of the 21st century.

Incarceration Nation

It’s no secret that America imprisons more of its citizens than any other nation in history. With just 5 percent of the world’s population, the US currently holds 25 percent of the world’s prisoners. “In 2008, over 2.3 million Americans were in prison or jail, with one of every 48 working-age men behind bars,” according to a study by the Center for Economic and Policy Research(CEPR). That doesn’t include the tens of thousands of detained undocumented immigrants facing deportation, prisoners awaiting sentencing, or juveniles caught up in the school-to-prison pipeline. Perhaps it’s reassuring to some that the US still holds the number one title in at least one arena, but needless to say the hyper-incarceration plaguing America has had a damaging effect on society at large.

The CEPR study observes that US prison rates are not just excessive in comparison to the rest of the world, they are also “substantially higher than our own longstanding history.” The study finds that incarceration rates between 1880 and 1970 ranged from about “100 to 200 prisoners per 100,000 people.” After 1980, the inmate population “began to grow much more rapidly than the overall population and the rate climbed from “about 220 in 1980 to 458 in 1990, 683 in 2000, and 753 in 2008.”

The costs of this incarceration industry are far from evenly distributed, with the impact of excessive incarceration falling predominantly on African-American communities. Although black people make up just 13 percent of the overall population, they account for 40 percent of US prisoners. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), black males are incarcerated at a rate “more than 6.5 times that of white males and 2.5 that of Hispanic males and “black females are incarcerated at approximately three times the rate of white females and twice that of Hispanic females.”

Michelle Alexander points out in her book The New Jim Crow that more black men “are in prison or jail, on probation or on parole than were enslaved in 1850.” Higher rates of black drug arrests do not reflect higher rates of black drug offenses. In fact, whites and blacks engage in drug offenses, possession and sales at roughly comparable rates. ….

Read more » AlterNet

Eight Beheadings on Justice Square

By Jalal Alamgir, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Boston

Excerpt;

It’s Friday, the holy day of the week. The Kingdom’s law enforcers gather up eight Bangladeshi migrant workers from their prison cells and bring them to Justice Square in the capital, Riyadh.

Blindfolded, they are led to the center of the square, and made to kneel down. A small crowd forms in anticipation. At 9 am, a robed man walks up and slowly raises a sword, four feet long and shining. Ambulances wait, stretchers ready.

The sword sweeps down.

The sleek expanse of Justice Square is patterned with beautiful granite. There is no stage, no unnecessary equipment, no fanfare. Underneath runs an efficient drainage system, with a receptacle the size of a pizza box at the center.

Regardless, the head often rolls in unexpected directions. It’s collected and laid alongside the body before being taken away on stretchers. Some of the blood spilled on the granite drains quickly, and the rest is hosed down. Those spraying the water are themselves migrant workers.

This is justice, square and fair in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, one of the most backward regimes in the world. Here, hands are chopped, bodies are decapitated. Torture is common in extracting confessions. The accused have little protection.

And racism is stark: Arabs get away with a lot more than dark-skinned migrant laborers do. ….

….. The Kingdom, buttressed by its special relationships, does not waste any opportunity to show who the boss is. A public execution is just such an opportunity. The beheading of the eight was a shameful shock-and-awe tactic, a warning to the millions of other workers to remain submissive, however back-breaking their life may be. The message is clear: obey, and keep your head.

To read complete article » The Huffington Post

Pentagon confirms 13 troops killed in Kabul attack are Americans

Kabul suicide bomb kills 13 troops, civilians workers

By Hamid Shalizi

KABUL: (Reuters) – A suicide car bomber on Saturday killed 13 troops and civilian employees of the NATO-led force in Kabul, including Americans and a Canadian, in the deadliest single ground attack against the coalition in 10 years of war in Afghanistan.

“Five International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) service members and eight ISAF civilian employees died following a suicide vehicle-born improvised explosive device attack in Kabul earlier today,” ISAF said in a statement.

A Canadian military spokesman said one of the dead was a Canadian soldier. The Pentagon said earlier all 13 of the ISAF fatalities were American. But after the Canadian death was reported, a Pentagon spokesman said Americans were among the dead but that authorities were checking the identities of those killed.

Three other civilians and a police officer were also killed in the attack on a convoy of military vehicles, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry said.

Lethal attacks are relatively rare in the heavily guarded capital, Kabul, compared with the south and east of Afghanistan, but Saturday’s killings came less than two months after insurgents launched a 20-hour assault on the U.S. Embassy in the capital.

The assault on the ISAF convoy took place late in the morning in the Darulaman area in the west of the city, near the national museum.

The former royal palace, now in ruins, is also in the area, along with several government departments and Afghan and foreign military bases.

The Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it packed a four-wheel-drive vehicle with 700 kg (1,500 pounds) of explosives. …

Read more » Reuters

‘Occupy Islamabad’ rally tomorrow

– Amir Wasim

ISLAMABAD: Inspired by worldwide protest demonstrations against capitalism, a group of political workers and representatives of trade and student unions has announced that they will launch an ‘occupy Islamabad movement’ and hold a rally on Wednesday.

Coordinator of the recently-formed Anti-Capitalist Committee and secretary general of the Labour Party Pakistan Nisar Shah told Dawn on Monday that the march would start from Aabpara Chowk and culminate at the World Bank building, situated near the Constitution Avenue.

He said activists of Labour Party Pakistan, Workers Party Pakistan, Awami Party Pakistan and Socialist Movement Pakistan, representatives of the Pakistan Postal Union, PTCL Union, National Trade Union Federation, National Students Federation, Progressive Youth Organisation and a large number of civil society members, intellectuals and citizens would participate in the march in line with the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ campaign in the US and other such protests going on in more than 900 cities around the world. ….

Read more » DAWN.COM

Occupy Wall Street: A Firsthand Account of Arrests and Protester Portraits

– More from Occupy Wall Street: A Firsthand Account of Arrests and Protester Portraits

The Occupy Wall Street protests continue, and there are some great pieces circulating on the web today. First and most important is this Tumblr post, “the girl with the red hair,” from a young protester named Kelly Schomburg who was maced and arrested–and whose treatment at the hands of the NYPD was on a video that went viral. ….

Read more » AlterNet

Left and nationalist parties declaration on the current situation of Sindh

Karachi – Sindh (Press release) : Seven parties of left and nationalist leaning met in Karachi to discuss the prevailing political situation in Sindh and evolve joint strategy to cope with the situation. The meeting was attended by the representatives of Workers Party Pakistan (WPP), Labour Party (LPP), Communist party of Pakistan (CPP), National Party (NP), Jeay Sindh Mahaz(JSM), Awami Party Pakistan (APP) and Watan Dost Inqlabi party(WIP).

The one day meeting was hosted by Labour Party Sindh and presided over by veteran leftist leader Yusuf Masti Khan. The participants discuss in detail and brief about party position on the situation. The parties have unanimously approved the following points

· No compromise on the historic national integrity and oneness of Sindh

· Sindh is home land of different ethnic, lingual groups and they are part and parcel Sindhi nation, any move to divide the people on ethnic and lingual basis will be resisted.

· Condemn the interferences of foreign diplomats and emissaries in the affairs of Sindh and their backup and support to armed ethnic outfits instigate them to divide the Sindh on ethnic lines.

· Condemn the demand to declare the capital of Sindh, Karachi as the Federal capital and consider it the deep rooted conspiracy to separate the city from Sindh again. No to Nazmmen system, considers it breach on provincial autonomy, vehicle to control the district directly from center. No to commissioner system which put all the power in the hand of hand full of bureaucrats, a local bodies system should be evolved catering the needs of masses on grass roots scale and within the parameter of national autonomy.

· It was reiterated again that Pakistan is a multinational state and each nation have full-fledged right on their resources and to run their affairs. Right of Self determination is an indisputable right of every nation.

· Pakistan is in the clutches of chronic feudal system, to unleash the democratic norms and for the emancipation of vast majority of poor masses abolish feudal system and introduce revolutionary land reforms.

· Condemn military operation against Baloch nation and demand to end army operation in Baluchistan, release all arrested and missing Baloch activists.

· Condemn the scheme to create new provinces on administrative bases and demand to creation provinces on nationhood and historical grounds.

A 14 member Working Group, two members from each party was also formed in the meeting to discuss in detail the possibilities of joint program and points for the struggle and the committee meeting will be held on Sunday 21 August in Karachi, Sindh.

The meeting was attended by Akhter Hussain Advocate, A.R. Arif and salahudin Gandapur (Workers Party), Comrade Latif leghari, Comrade Bakshal Thalho and Nasir Mansoor (Labour party), Abdul Khaliq Junejo and Ayaz Hakro (Jeay Sindh Mahaz), Ramzan Memon, Ghulam Mohammad Jadoon Advocate and Yusuf Khatak (Awami Party), Jan Mohammad Buledi (National Party), Imdad Qazi, Dr Nisar Ali Shah (Communist Party) and Dost Mohammed Channa, Mohammad Khan Ahmdani and Dasgir Uqaili ( Watan Dost Inqalabi Party).

Courtesy: → Sindhi + Pakistani lists/ e-groups, August 20, 2011.

China’s riot town: ‘No one else is listening’

By Eunice Yoon, CNN

The authorities here are obviously nervous. My crew and I are sitting in a local government building being questioned by six propaganda officials.

One of them is scribbling down our credentials in a worn pocket-sized notebook. My producer, Steven Jiang, is talking non-stop to one officer who looks especially nonplussed.

We traveled to the manufacturing town of Xintang to investigate why thousands of migrant workers suddenly took to the streets just a week ago.

We knew the unrest was triggered by what appeared to be a minor event — a pregnant migrant worker and her husband got in a scuffle with city officials and she ended up falling on the ground.

However, the ferocity by which this dispute exploded in a massive conflagration, pitting thousands of enraged workers against hundreds of riot police, took many by surprise.

The unrest seems to belie the image of China as a bustling economy going from strength to strength, enriching the lives of millions across the country, especially in the industrial south. But the problem is many people feel they are not getting their fair share of the rapid growth. …

Read more: → CNN

Gangs using children as sex workers, says NGO

By Saleem Shahid

Hundreds of thousands of children are victims of physical and mental torture in schools, religious seminaries and homes: SPARC

QUETTA: Organised criminal gangs are using thousands of children as sex workers across the country, a workshop on children’s rights organised by the Society for Protection of Rights of the Child (SPARC) was informed on Friday.

Muhammad Hanif Panezai, the chief of SPARC’s Balochistan chapter, said a survey had revealed that thousands of children were being used as sex workers at bus and truck stands and railway stations.

“Internet cafes and videogames’ shops are also being used for the purpose,” he said, adding that men belonging to several criminal networks remain present at these places to trap children and later use them as sex workers,” Mr Panezai said.

The Programme Manager of SPARC’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chapter, Mr Imran Khan Takkar, said a survey had revealed that 80 per cent of 1.5 million street children in Pakistan were victims of sexual abuse.

He said that organised criminal networks were using children to make pornographic material and later blackmailing them to commit heinous crimes, including suicide bombings. ….

Read more: DAWN

Socialism: What it is not

By Caleb T. Maupin

To more and more people in the world, it is abundantly clear that the capitalist system doesn’t work. At least not for the majority. The system that generates war after war, that allows millions in the U.S. to be unemployed, millions more to go without health care, while fomenting racism, sexism, and anti-lesbian/gay/bi/trans/queer bigotry, and offering no future to the next generation is a disaster for the workers and oppressed people inside the U.S. and worse yet for the rest of the world.

Continue reading Socialism: What it is not

Mercenaries for the Middle East – Dr Mohammad Taqi

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh.

Foreign policy is everywhere and always a continuation of domestic policy, for it is conducted by the same ruling class and pursues the same historic goals”. — The Revolution Betrayed, Leon Trotsky

In his 1983 masterpiece, Can Pakistan survive? The death of a state, Tariq Ali opens the section on Pakistan’s foreign policy during the Z A Bhutto days with the above quote from Trotsky. After duly recognising the limitations of generalising this aphorism, Tariq Ali had noted that many third-world capitals pursue a foreign policy closely mirroring their domestic economic and political policies but perhaps none has done so more grotesquely than Islamabad. Tariq Ali had written:

One of the commodities exported was labour, and the remittances sent back by migrant workers provided nearly 20 percent of the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It was also reported that 10,000 Pakistani prostitutes had been dispatched to the Gulf states by the United Bank Limited (UBL), to strengthen its reserves of foreign currency. Soldiers and officers were also leased out as mercenaries to a number of states in that region. In some ways it was telling indictment of the Pakistani state that it can only survive by selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs.”

The Pakistani military establishment’s cooperation with Arab dictators obviously dates back to the Ayub Khan era and the UK and US-sponsored Central Treaty Organisation (CENTO) or Baghdad Pact of 1955. However, the surge in the export of mercenaries that Tariq Ali was alluding to was not because of the western sponsorship of such legions but because Pakistan, in 1971, had declared a moratorium on repayment of its foreign debt and had to look for financial aid elsewhere while the IMF would again agree to a loan (which it eventually did). While one cannot confirm the veracity of the claim about the UBL’s venture, the events of the last several months show that somehow the grotesque mediocrity of the Pakistani establishment keeps repeating its antics, as far as the export of the mercenaries goes.

The Arab spring has created unique geopolitical scenarios where old alliances are falling apart — or at least are no longer trustworthy — while new realities are taking shape much to the discontent of regional autocrats. I have repeatedly stated that Barack Obama’s instinct is to side with the democratic movements in the Middle East and North Africa, without intervening directly, even though cliques within his administration have been able to drag him into the Libyan morass. Obama’s handling of Hosni Mubarak’s fall did not go well with Saudi king Abdullah and the bitter exchange between the two, during a phone conversation, is rather well known. The wily Saudi monarch subsequently concluded that if there were to be an uprising in his courtyard, the Americans would not come to his rescue. And unless a smoking gun can be traced to Tehran, Abdullah is right. With Obama getting re-elected — yes I said it — in 2012, the Saudis have chosen to exercise other options that they have heavily invested in, for decades, to protect their courtyard and backyard.

The Saudis know that it is nearly impossible for any political uprising there to physically coalesce, due to the population centres being geographically far apart, to cause direct threat to Riyadh. But they also know that the democratic contagion can spread at the periphery of the Kingdom, with the oil-rich Eastern province slipping out of control quickly or the disquiet at the Yemeni border keeping Riyadh distracted (the latter was tested by both Gamal Nasser and Iran). The Saudi plan, just as in the 1969 bombing of Yemen by Pakistani pilots flying Saudi planes, is to use the trusted Pakistani troops to bolster the defence of not only the Saudi regime but of its client states like Bahrain.

It is not a surprise then that before Saudi Arabia invaded Bahrain on March 13, 2011, the chief of Saudi Land Forces, General Abdul Rahman Murshid visited Pakistan and before that, on March 9, met General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani. Bahrain had already requested and received assurance for military help from Pakistan in late February 2011. In fact, a leading Urdu paper carried an advertisement from the Fauji Foundation Pakistan on February 25 and March 1, seeking men for recruitment to the Bahrain National Guard. The qualifications sought were the following: age 20-25, height of six-feet or taller and military/security service background especially in riot control, which suggest that enrolment was not exactly for the Manama Red Crescent Society.

After the Saudi army brutally crushed the uprising in Bahrain, the Foreign Minister of Bahrain, Sheikh Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, met with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and the State Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar. While the Bahraini media splashed pictures of the handshake between Ms Khar and Sheikh Khalid, announcing Pakistani support to Bahrain, the actual backing had been pledged by the Chief of General Staff, General Khalid Shamim Wayne, whom the Bahraini minster met on March 29.

In her article titled ‘Bahrain or bust?’, Miranda Husain writes: “Chomsky believes Pakistani presence in Bahrain can be seen as part of a US-backed alliance to safeguard western access to the region’s oil …The US has counted on Pakistan to help control the Arab world and safeguard Arab rulers from their own populations… Pakistan was one of the ‘cops on the beat’ that the Nixon administration had in mind when outlining their doctrine for controlling the Arab world.” Ms Husain and the American Baba-e-Socialism (Father of Socialism), Chomsky, conclude with the hope that Pakistan should not meddle in the Middle East.

I believe that Chomsky’s reading of the situation in the Persian Gulf is dead wrong. It is the divergence — not confluence — of US-Saudi-Pakistani interests that is the trigger for potential Pakistani involvement there. The Pakistani brass’ handling of the Raymond Davis affair and now its insistence — through bravado, not subtlety — on redefining the redlines with the US indicates that just like the 1971 situation, an alternative funding source to the IMF has been secured. The Pasha-Panetta meeting has raised more issues than it has solved. Pakistani-Saudi interests are at odds with the US and are confluent with each other.

From the Kerry-Lugar Bill to the Raymond Davis saga, the mullahs have been deployed swiftly to create an impression of public support for the establishment’s designs. Last Friday’s mobilisation of the religious parties in favour of the Saudis is the establishment’s standard drill and will be repeated as needed. The Pakistani deep state apparently has decided to keep selling itself to the oil-rich sheikhs. The domestic policy of coercion and chaos will be continued in foreign lands too.

Courtesy: Daily Times

Fanatics kill 8 in attack on UN workers in Afghanistan; two beheaded as mob chants “Islam is religion of peace”

Seven killed in worst-ever attack on UN workers in Afghanistan

Seven United Nations workers have been executed in the northern Afghanistan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, two of them by beheading, by demonstrators protesting the burning of a Koran at a church in Florida.

By Dean Nelson, New Delhi and Farhad Peikar in Kabul

The victims of the worst-ever attack on UN personnel in Afghanistan included five guards from Nepal, and civilian staff from Norway, Sweden and Romania. Four local residents were also killed.

UN officials told The Daily Telegraph the final toll could rise as high as 20, and there were unconfirmed reports that the head of the United Nations Military Assistance Mission (Unama) in Mazar-e-Sharif had also been seriously injured …

Read more : The Telegraph.co.uk

A Primer on Class Struggle

by Michael Schwalbe

When we study Marx in my graduate social theory course, it never fails that at least one student will say (approximately), “Class struggle didn’t escalate in the way Marx expected. In modern capitalist societies class struggle has disappeared. So isn’t it clear that Marx was wrong and his ideas are of little value today?

I respond by challenging the premise that class struggle has disappeared. On the contrary, I say that class struggle is going on all the time in every major institution of society. One just has to learn how to recognize it. …

Read more : Common Dreams

Bhagat Singh Anniversary in Brampton, Canada

Every year the Indo-Canadian Workers Association marks the anniversary of Bhagat Singh’s martyrdom at the hands of the British Raj (on March 23, 1931). This year’s commemoration will be held on Sunday, March 27 at 2 p.m. at the Lester B. Pearson Theatre, 150 Central Park Drive, Brampton, Ontario, Canada. He was quickly rose through the ranks of the Hindustan Republican Association (HRA) and became one of its leaders, converting it to the Hindustan Socialist Republican Association (HSRA). Singh gained support when he underwent a 64-days fast in jail, demanding equal rights for Indian and British political prisoners. He was hanged by British Raj government on 23 March 1931.

The organizers of the event hope many of Indo-Pakistani- Bangladeshi-Canadians will be able to attend to pay the tribute and respect to this great hero of the Indian sub-continent (South Asia).