what socialists say
Violence and capitalism
“MINDLESS thuggery.” That is how Tony Blair recently described the actions of young Asians in Bradford who defended their community against Nazis.
Politicians and the press always denounce those who fight back, whether it’s against racism or against the global corporations. When police shot down anti-capitalist protesters in Gothenburg, they told us it was the anti-capitalists who were violent.
When Nazis attacked Asians and anti-racists, they told us it was the Asian community which was causing mayhem.
This hypocrisy is breathtaking. The same politicians who denounce the “violence” of those who challenge their system, inflict violence on a scale which threatens the future of the planet.
Take the actions of US president George W Bush, for example. Bush launched a missile test over the Pacific Ocean last week as part of his new “Son of Star Wars” ballistic missile system.
This will mean a new global arms race and with it the threat of nuclear annihilation. But Blair didn’t call Bush a “mindless thug”. Nor was Bush denounced in the press for provoking senseless violence.
The US president is pouring billions of dollars into developing these weapons of mass destruction. Last week’s test cost $100 million.
The US government will pour $8 billion into the Son of Star Wars project this year. Various US governments have now spent something over $60 billion on different Star Wars schemes in the last 15 years.
At the same time as the US pours billions into weapons of violence, aid from the rich Western countries to the poorest regions of the world has fallen dramatically.
The whole capitalist system is based on the violence of the minority who monopolise all means of producing wealth.
The ruling class around the world has a monopoly on violence, with its weapons of mass destruction, missiles and tanks, armies and police forces. And it uses that armoury with the utmost brutality whenever it feels its rule is threatened.
The rulers of the US and Britain slaughtered thousands of civilians-from Iraq to the Balkans-in wars fought to defend their power and profits. More than this, Blair, Bush and the other G8 leaders inflict free market neo-liberal policies which condemn 40,000 people to death from malnutrition every single day.
Every day they squeeze billions of pounds of debt from the poorest countries, 19,000 children die. These children have as surely been murdered as if they had had a gun held to their heads.
From the sweatshops of Indonesia to the production line at Ford, multinational companies wreck the lives and limbs of workers in order to squeeze profits from them.
Capitalism is a system that divides people through racism and sexism, that destroys people’s families and relationships, and tries to crush people’s humanity and creativity.
It is this unrelenting violence and inhumanity of the system which drives people to resist. That is why socialists never join in when the ruling class and its press condemn the violence of those fighting back.
This is not because socialists in any way glorify violence. In fact, the opposite is the case. Most of us became socialists precisely because we abhor violence.
We want to see an end to war and violence, repression and exploitation. But we also understand that, in a world where people are battered into the ground by poverty and oppression, it is not surprising that people fight back in whatever way they can. Young Asians who fought back in Oldham and Bradford have suffered years of racist abuse, impoverished conditions and total neglect by politicians. Those fighting back against the neo-liberal policies of the G8 and its institutions-whether in Genoa or Bolivia-have been denied any say over the policies which are wrecking their lives.
But socialists are not in favour of individual or random acts of violence against representatives of the ruling class. Such acts cannot rid the world of a global system based on the daily exploitation and oppression of millions of people.
We want to mobilise the maximum numbers and involve the mass of people in order to collectively transform society for the better.
It is through such struggle that we can fight to get rid of the root cause of violence in society-the capitalist system itself. for robbery, war and pollution
For robbery, war and pollution
The G8summit in the Italian city of Genoa is the target for tens of thousands of protesters this weekend.
The leaders of the eight most powerful states on the planet are meeting. Those leaders stand behind institutions like the World Trade Organisation and World Bank. They ensure that the interests of the multinationals dominate across the world.
Two years ago the G8 leaders promised to slash Third World debt. They have cancelled only $12 billion of the $100 billion promised. This means the poorest countries are still spending more on debt repayments than on health.
The G8 leaders are the enemy of everyone who hates Third World debt, environmental destruction and the horror of war.
Blair is handing schools, hospitals and London Underground over to private companies.
He cuddles up to big business and champions neo-liberal policies across the world.
Thousands of people were killed, hundreds of thousands were made homeless and the repression continues.
Putin wants to pour money into the Russian military, to keep up with the US and to dominate the countries of central Asia.
Gianfranco Fini’s National Alliance was called the MSI until the early 1990s. The MSI was an outright fascist party that harked back to the days of Mussolini. The Northern League has led a witch-hunt against immigrants, and it scapegoats poorer people in the south of Italy.
This will mean further climate change, putting tens of millions of people at risk of terrible floods and other disasters.
Now he is cutting taxes for the rich and reducing welfare for the poor.
He plans to deploy Japanese troops, alongside the US military, in various conflict zones across east Asia.
500 million summit bill
ONE LOOK at the last G8 gathering shows the contempt these people have for the vast majority of humanity.
They met last year on the Japanese island of Okinawa-chosen because its remoteness would make it difficult for people to protest there. The Okinawa summit cost an incredible 500 million.
They said they were talking about relieving the burden of debt on the poorest countries.
But on a day when, as every day, 30,000 children died from malnutrition and its effects, the G8 leaders dined on caviar, lobster, duck, crab and Chablis Grand Cru-a wine costing 600 a bottle.
Some 60 million per leader was spent on security. And government officials and tame journalists could enjoy a specially built artificial beach complete with a volcano.
More of the enemy
JACQUES CHIRAC, the French president, is up to his neck in corruption. An official investigator in April this year said he had found “serious and consistent evidence” implicating Chirac in a kickback scandal when he was mayor of Paris.
The prosecutor dropped the case because under the French constitution Chirac, as president, is immune from prosecution.
Chirac is a Tory. He supports big business moves to undermine the modest reforms of prime minister Lionel Jospin.
JEAN CHRETIEN is the Liberal prime minister in Canada.
He has pushed even worse free market policies than the previous Tory government. He is implicated in a series of corruption scandals where businesses have received money to relocate into his home area.
The International Monetary Fund called for a programme of cuts and privatisation in Canada in 1995.
Chrtien implemented everything the IMF wanted including huge cuts to the health service.
GERHARD SCHRDER has, like Blair, pushed his party and government to the right. His version of New Labour’s Third Way has meant attacking the welfare state and cutting access to the state pension.
His policies have meant continuing mass unemployment, particularly in eastern Germany. That has provided a breeding ground for Nazis.
During NATO’s war in the Balkans, Schrder became the first German leader since the Second World War to deploy armed forces outside the borders of the country.
20-21 July G8 summit
Genoa’s radical history
GENOA HAS a history of being one of the most radical cities in Italy. There was the Italian resistance to Nazi Germany’s occupation of the north of Italy in 1943.
The Nazis imposed Mussolini as a puppet ruler there after the Italian Fascist dictator’s regime had collapsed.
The resistance killed a German officer in Genoa on January 1944. The next day German troops shot eight political prisoners dead. Every factory in the city struck in protest.
The Nazis cracked down, arresting people and forcing others to flee. But armed partisans continued to attack German forces. German military leaders planned to retreat from northern Italy’s industrial heartlands in April 1945.
The Communist Party, which was an integral part of the anti-fascist resistance, called on its members to prepare for action. Some 3,000 workers in the partisan groups, helped by thousands of other people, stormed the public buildings.
All telephone lines, water and electricity supplies to the German barracks were cut off. The 15,000 troops were prisoners in Genoa. Street fighting throughout the city eventually forced the German commander to surrender.
The cities of Turin and Milan also rose up against Nazi rule. By 1 May most of northern Italy was freed from the Nazi occupation. Genoa next exploded in revolt in 1948 after Palmiro Togliatti, the leader of the Communist Party, was shot and seriously wounded outside parliament in Rome. Hundreds of thousands of workers across Italy rose up. In Genoa the protesters went further than anywhere else.
“We decided on a 48-hour general strike in protest,” said a trade union leader of Genoa at the time. News arrived that in the piazza the crowd had got the better of the police and had captured their armoured cars. We were practically in a state of civil war. That evening Genoa was in the hands of the people. The police had fled, the whole lot.”
But the Communist Party that millions of workers looked to was under the influence of Stalin’s policies in Russia. Communist Party leaders worked desperately to stop the revolt in Italy spreading beyond their control.
They convinced workers to stop the struggle and go back to work. The government then persecuted many of those involved in the struggle. Twelve years later, in 1960, the fighting tradition of the Genoese people was seen again.
A new right wing government headed by Fernando Tambroni of the Christian Democrats came to power. It relied on the neo-fascist MSI, Mussolini’s successor, to stay in power. This made the MSI more confident.
The MSI announced it would hold its national congress in Genoa that year. Carlo Emanuele Basile, the prefect of Genoa under Nazi rule, was due to come.
He was responsible for the deaths and deportations of many workers and anti-fascists. Tens of thousands of Genoese people protested against the MSI plans. People erected barricades and the city’s central square was turned into a battleground.
The protests forced the MSI congress to be cancelled, and celebrations spread through Genoa. Because of this crisis Tambroni gave the police permission to shoot in “emergency situations.” Police killed six protesters in Sicily and Reggio Emilia in the next few days.
The CGIL, the major union federation, called a general strike in response. Tambroni was forced to resign.
The memory of this event still has an impact. The authorities cancelled a planned conference last month of the fascist group New Force after Genoa’s dockers said that they would call a protest. Factories across Genoa went on strike in 1969 as part of the “Hot Autumn” that gripped Italy.
In the 1980s Genoa’s dockers fought militant battles, and in the 1990s a long anti-racist campaign in the city forced the fascists back.
Tens of thousands could walk out
A round-up of workplace struggles
A round-up of transport workers’ struggles