Saturday, 29 January 2011

Workers of the World : Follow the Egyptian example !

Disgusted by Obama's speech on Egypt ? "We have always had a strong
relationship with Egypt" and "We will work with their [the Egyptian
people's] government for a future of freedom, justice and democracy".

Posted on Marxmail by Manuel Barrera :

Obama's and Secretary Clinton's statements are codewords for calling on Mubarak (or whomever is set up to replace Mubarak) to conduct a crackdown on the insurgent masses, especially any sectors that challenge the U.S./Egypt collaboration that maintains the Israel regime. There is a method to these seemingly innocuous statements--position oneself for supporting any military or oligarchical factions to suppress in the name of "curbing violence" the rising revolutionary tide soon to spread even further.

Solidarity actions, no matter how small are important work, right now, to register that there are supporters of the Egyptian people (and Tunisian, Yemeni, Jordanian, and other peoples of the Middle East). In the U.S., there are actions so far called for tomorrow in San Francisco ( NOON gathering at Market & Montgomery), Chicago (2 pm, Egyptian Consulate), and online petition efforts ( There must be others (U.K., Ireland, France?) and I wonder how Cuba and the Latin American states are responding?

Here is a chance to register our support to a revolutionary upsurge that speaks to our own problems of economic crisis and of the attacks on democratic rights [in "post-industrialized"

These are times made for us !

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Boycott Foxconn

Foxconn, the Chinese company that produces the iphone, the ipod and the ipad
has been described as "a forced labour camp" by a 2010 report.

Foxconn makes electronic components for :
Sony Ericsson

The company's largest operation is "Foxconn City", a cramped, walled
compound in Shenzhen, which contains 400 000 workers in 15 plants,
complete with its own over-crowded dormitories, fire brigade, bank,
grocery store (where workers must buy their groceries), hospital and
library. The Chinese police is not allowed to enter "Foxconn City" which
has its own "security agency".
Very, very serious allegations of human rights abuses keep emerging from
Foxconn city (see 2010 report). Foxconn city has its own internal
television network which broadcasts only within the complex.
The surrounding technical colleges have a partnership with Foxconn,
where they furnish thousands of students to work on the assembly lines
for long hours and no pay, and the schools get a subsidy from Foxconn.

In October, 2010, a report by 20 Chinese universities described Foxconn
factories as labour camps and detailed widespread worker abuse and
illegal overtime. Workers who fell asleep due to exhaustion were beaten,
forced to write out lines a thousand times. Before getting up from
his/her post a worker has to ask permission from the supervisor. No
worker is allowed to mover more than 50 meters from his work post. No
talking, chatting or laughter is allowed at any time. Going to the
toilet is timed and is added to the worker's work time. Some workers
have to work up to 17 hours a day for months at a time, with no overtime

The report was a huge reaction to a spate of worker suicides where
fourteen died in 2010. These 14 workers committed suicide by jumping
from high buildings.

In response to the suicides, Foxconn installed suicide-prevention
netting at some facilities. It also hired an American firm to make
"psychological profiles" of employees, in order to weed out those "who
are incapable of dealing with stressful working conditions."

Leave comments if you have any suggestions as to the best way to
boycott Foxconn. Again, the biggest problem seems to be the fact that they
manufacture most of the components that go into the iphone and ipod.
The workers of the world are cut off from each other in the process of production,
and only come into contact indirectly through the exchange of commodities
in the market. Working class solidarity must stripe the veil that covers the
production of most of the commodities we use in our everyday lives.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Marxism and Buddhism

Buddhism and Marxism have quite a good deal in common.

On Marxmail, Greg McDonald wrote :

Buddhists have lots of good ideas, if you can
separate the wheat from the chaff.

Agreed. Both are materialist philosophies, both hold inter-personal relationships as
the material basis for causality, both downplay the role of the individual ego and
ascribe it to a nexus of factors caused by external causality, both envision
change as a complex, dialectical process.
The main difference of course, is that Buddhism, while sympathetic to Marxism,
sees a change within the relationships of production as insufficient to achieve
true "enlightenment". Buddhism focuses on the recognition by an individual that
his/her "self" does not really exist but is the result of attachment to identity brought
about by external sensory stimuli. There is no "me", there is just constant
thought brought about by external stimuli.
Marxists, while regarding this emphasis on understanding the non-existence of the ego as
irrelevant, will have nothing to object to Buddhist psychology as such.
Stimuli-like/dislike-craving/hatred-idea of "self"-reaction-new inter-personal causality which
restarts the cycle. The only way to freedom is not through God, according to Buddhists, but through
recognizing that the "self" is not static, but a process of stimuli/reaction ."Letting go of attachments" is the way to happiness according to Buddhism.
This is a very, very long process (dozens of years of arduous self-reflection), before an individual can attain "nirvana".

Monday, 17 January 2011

La khowf ba’ad al-yowm !

I certainly hope that workers' councils will evolve in Tunisia, but I don't know if they will/can come out of neighborhood watches.
The mass movement of unemployed workers must continue to push - through both daily rallies and through conscious efforts at self-organization.

Wild cat strikes have long been a favourite of Tunisian workers, who would occupy the buildings of the main UGTT buildings to force the union to take up their grievances.
In the last two decades, many wild cat strikes prompted prolonged confrontation with riot police and the mukhabarat, who always managed to cordon off and contain the unrest (kids throwing stones, workers on indefinite strike, women camping in front of ministries) to certain
To escape from the terrible repression that inevitably followed such uprisings, many Tunisians workers were then forced to flee abroad and to try to make their way to "fortress Europe".
Those who were deported back to Tunisia were tortured by the regime.
Those who managed to remain in Europe joined the many Tunisian Socialist organizations in exile.
So there is a very strong tradition of workers' solidarity and a culture of voicing grievances in Tunisia. That's why the Ben Ali regime was so determined to stamp out any dissidence and that's why it was an extremely repressive police state. The Mukhabarat, the sinister Tunisian
secret police, was/is very skilled at containing dissidence and instilling fear. No wonder the slogan on the streets yesterday was :"No More Fear !" La khowf ba’ad al-yowm !
The tourism industry is/was a constant concern for Tunisian leaders. It is thought that 80% of Tunisian taxi drivers were/are Mukhabarat informers and a similar percentage of Hotel owners. The Mukhabarat also maintains/maintained an impressive network of informants throughout
Tunisia and extensively monitored all cell phone and internet-based communications.

The regime and the private interests that are closely intertwined with its very existence will now try to appease the crowds with promises of FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS, and by coopting a few moderate left-wing opposition figures from the many political leaders in exile.
France supported Ben Ali to the bitter end, and will now put its weight behind an "interim" government, providing Tunisian troops with weaponry and funding. France previously announced it was ready to send military advisors and special units to "help any new Tunisian government cope".
The old CDR regime will probably have to change its name, despite the presence of a few hard-core "loyalists", but the same nexus of corrupt politicians and financial interests intends to continue dominating the country, with French help.
France's role in Tunisian history has always been pivotal and will unfortunately remain so (the entire Tunisian elite was and is still being educated in Paris). I really hope Tunisian workers (either employed or unemployed) continue to push hard and manage to overthrow
the whole establishment.
So far the homes of corrupt businessmen have been set alight, those notoriously connected to the Ben Ali family. The Army now seems to have stopped such outbursts.