Report on October 22 Antiwar Rally in Paris
IN THIS POSTING
– Report on October 22 Rally in Paris sponsored by POID (published in Tribune des Travailleurs / Workers Tribune, newsweekly of the POID
– Full texts of speakers’ presentations to the October 22 Rally
– Messages from Sri Linka and China
22 October International rally against the war “Neither Putin nor Biden, nor Macron!”
On Saturday 22 October in Paris, the Independent and Democratic Workers’ Party organised a large international rally against war. Its newspaper, La Tribune des Travailleurs reports.
It was not yet 2.30 pm, at the entrance to the Espace Charenton in the 12th arrondissement of Paris, when hundreds of workers, activists and young people were already hurrying to enter the hall. Many had come in groups, by train and by bus from the provinces or the Paris suburbs. In all, 1,800 people took their seats in the hall where the international rally against the war, convened a few months ago by the Independent and Democratic Workers’ Party, was taking place. Many of them were young people, some of whom were attending their first such meeting. A meeting, Daniel Gluckstein recalled in his conclusion, entirely self-financed by the support – euro by euro – that the workers had given it, just like the World Conference against War and Exploitation, for the Workers’ International and the International Conference of Working Women on 29 and 30 October. A childcare centre had been organised under the responsibility of activists, to allow, as at every POID meeting, mothers and fathers with families to attend this event. Daniel Gluckstein, national secretary of the POID and coordinator of the International Workers’ Committee against War and Exploitation, for the Workers’ International (IWC), opened the rally in a room decked out in red flags.
He gave the floor to Ian Hodson, President of Britain’s Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU), the first speaker. A bare few hours after the resignation of Prime Minister Liz Truss, he said:
“I want to make it clear from this platform that I do not support Biden, Putin or the next Prime Minister to be elected in my country. There is no doubt that the first task of the Prime Minister who is going to be elected in Britain will be to increase British involvement in the war, to arm Ukraine more and more in order to deflect the movement that is growing in my country for an immediate general election. Russia must obviously leave Ukraine, but NATO must leave the war front …. I am given the opportunity today to express the voice of those who are not given a voice and of those who oppose the war and who constitute the majority”.
“The experience of Afghanistan has proved that the people should not rely on the pretty promises of imperialists” (Freshta Amiri, LRA activist)
He was followed by Freshta Amiri, an activist of the Radical Left of Afghanistan (LRA) who, in Pashtun, reminds us that
“The experience of Afghanistan has proved that the people should not rely on the pretty promises of imperialists. In place of democracy and women’s rights, the US and NATO have put the most misogynistic and anti-democratic Islamist group in power, the Taliban. Wherever America and NATO have intervened militarily, they have left behind the blood of millions of women and men, and destruction. The heavy price of war everywhere, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Syria to Yemen, and now in Ukraine, has always been paid by working people. Despite the fact that the Taliban regime has closed the doors of all schools to girls, hinders women’s right to work, suppresses women’s protests, imprisons, tortures and kills women activists, the US government has continued to support the Taliban regime. … The Radical Left of Afghanistan (LRA) is an active partner in the Afghan Women’s Spontaneous Movement, which is actively organising demonstrations against the Taliban, not only in the streets of Kabul but also in all the major cities of Afghanistan. … It is the duty of workers, women, youth and all peace-loving people to stand up against the American, European and Russian warmongers and to fight to prevent the implementation of their policy of plunder and destruction. No to war! Long live the solidarity of workers, women and youth of the world for peace and equality!”
“In the great tradition of the US Vietnam anti-war movement: Out now! US troops out now!” (Alan Benjamin, Socialist Organizer
The next speaker, Alan Benjamin, coordinator of Socialist Organizer in the United States, warmly praised “the courageous struggle of our comrades in Afghanistan” recalling that “trade unionists and anti-war activists across the US not only did not support the US war in Afghanistan, but condemned it.” He added that “a small but growing current in the US labour movement is also beginning to speak out against the war in Ukraine. Anti-war activists took to the streets in September to demand ‘Russian troops out of Ukraine, stop the war in Ukraine instigated by the US and NATO’. And they demanded: ‘Money for jobs, education and health care, not for war!’, thus establishing the link between the war at home and the war abroad.”
This comes at a time when the US is experiencing a wave of strikes and class struggle, the latest to date, Alan Benjamin said, is that “one of the largest railroad unions has rejected the deal negotiated between Joe Biden and union officials – a deal designed to avert a strike by 120,000 railroad workers that would have paralysed at least a third of US commerce. The rank and file oppose the deal and are in favour of the strike, holding up signs that read, ‘Stop the war on railroad workers!’ Wall Street financiers are increasingly worried. They have asked Biden to intervene, if necessary, to ban a national strike. …
”But all these mobilisations are confronted with) a major obstacle, namely the subordination of the unions to the Democratic Party, the party of war which has seen all its components without exception vote in favour of every increase in funding for the war in Ukraine. When I say ‘all of its components’, that includes the so-called ‘progressive’ wing of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.” And he concluded by referring to “the great tradition of the US anti-war movement in Vietnam, a tradition maintained by US Labor Against the War with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan, we say: Out now! US troops Out now!”.
“Foreign and UN troops out of Africa” (Adama Coulibaly, Alternative Patriotique Panafricaine-Burkindi)
It was the turn of Adama Coulibaly, head of the Alternative Patriotique Panafricaine Burkindi, from Burkina Faso, to “speak about Africa, this continent full of values of humanity, peace and harmony … This Africa, both coveted and martyred, has been attacked for more than 400 years by never-ending wars of occupation with multiple faces, with the aim of exploiting its lifeblood and plundering its resources”.
Adama Coulibaly denounced this process of permanent interference: “The normalisation of military interventions in Africa was first done through the leonine cooperation agreements between France and its former colonies. It then continued through the United Nations military missions led by NATO. Six UN peacekeeping operations are now present on the continent with a deepening crisis of war everywhere.
”Terrorism, then, has been established to maintain the state of permanent war, amplified following the destruction of Libya by NATO, with France naturally leading the way. Today, the Sahel is the main testing ground for this asymmetric warfare. France has several military bases in Africa with between 12,000 and 15,000 soldiers. The United States is also present under the command of AFRICOM, China in Djibouti, Russia in the Central African Republic and Mali, two countries where the joint presence of French and UN forces has been a bloody failure …
“There is a strong demand today in Africa: it is to say ‘Foreign and UN troops, out of Africa! Against war, for peace, the workers and people of Africa and the world will win!’ And, with one voice, the audience took up the cry of struggle launched by the Burkinabé speaker: “Nan lara, ansara!”, the meaning of which the speaker explained: “Only struggle liberates, if we lie down, we are dead.”
“The POID fights for a government without Macron or bosses; this is the party we are proposing for you to join” (Christel Keiser, POID national secretary)
Christel Keiser, national secretary of the POID, responsible for its Working Women’s Commission, began her speech by saluting the struggle of Iranian women “against the regime that maintains and aggravates all forms of oppression, especially patriarchal oppression”, reminding the audience of “the International Conference of Working Women, to be held on Saturday 29 October, which will bring women workers and activists from twenty-one countries together, on the eve of the World Conference against War and Exploitation.”
“War and exploitation are the focus of the Macron-Borne government’s policy in France. This government passed its budget last Wednesday “, a budget that, she states, is “war abroad, outside the country, and domestic war inside the country, against the workers. To get it passed, the government has produced another weapon of war: Article 49-3 of the Constitution. …
“ Finally, what is the purpose of the National Assembly in the Fifth Republic? On the one hand, to organise mock debates whose outcome is known in advance and, on the other hand, to validate laws whose purpose is to implement the policy decided by the president. And this, regardless of how the opposition members vote. Because sometimes they vote against – which they probably would have done if they had been given the opportunity to vote on the budget. But sometimes they vote for – sometimes even unanimously!
“We remember the vote of 19 March 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, which granted 343 billion euros to capitalists, including 300 billion in State-guaranteed loans that were used, in particular by the bosses of Renault and Air France, to organise massive redundancy plans. 343 billion voted unanimously in the National Assembly, including by the Socialist Party, the Communist Party and the MPs of La France Insoumise (translation:Unbowed France)”.
Christel Keiser continued: “Sometimes we are asked why we are not in LFI (Unbowed France). It is true that if you look at the activists and voters of LFI, we often have the same concerns, the same demands and the same objectives. This is also true sometimes, in part, concerning the general slogans and campaigns of LFI. But we are not in Unbowed France because we consider that we cannot claim to defend the interests of workers and, at the same time, deprive them of these hundreds of billions that are cruelly wanting in hospitals, schools and public services.
“Just as one cannot claim to defend the interests of workers and vote in the European Parliament, on three occasions, for resolutions supporting NATO. … The fight for democracy is the fight for a government without Macron or bosses. A government that would confiscate the 629 billion euros, billions offered to the capitalists, to allocate them to the needs of the immense majority. Hiring 200,000 hospital staff and 200,000 teachers would cost 20 billion euros a year, over two and a half years; it would total 50 billion (i.e., much less than a tenth of the 629 billion!).
“It’s the fight for a government that would nationalise Total without compensation or buyout, and confiscate its billions in profits. A government that would allow the fruits of labour to return in full to the workers who produce them. A government that would repeal all the counter-reforms (those of the French baccalauréat degree (i.e., the high school diploma) and high school, unemployment benefits, retirement pensions…). A government at the sole service of workers and their families.
“This is what the POID is fighting for“, and this is why, Christel Keiser concluded: “This is the party that we are proposing for you to join.”
Then Dominique Ferré introduced Sergueï and Yevgueni*, two activists mandated by the Union of Marxists of Russia to intervene in this International rally, and Youri*, a worker activist from Belarus.
“Only the living can learn the lessons of the war. It is therefore necessary to stop the war now! (An activist of the Union of Marxists of Russia)
Sergei, from the Union of Marxists, pointed out that, “on 21 September, Putin’s government declared the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists. For most citizens, the mobilisation is no longer a subject on television, but a reality, as those who died on the front are beginning to return in coffins. There is a rising of muted discontent in all region,s and active resistance in the national republics of the Caucasus.” He also recalled his organisation’s struggle to “support political prisoners, because we are facing an avalanche of repression that has already hit our trade unionist comrades: Artiom Borodin, Kirill Oukraïntsev, Anton Orlov and many others“
His comrade Yevgeny concluded: “Comrades and workers of France and the world: we more than ever need your support! Western governments are speeding up the production of arms and their delivery to Ukraine. This gives Zelensky an excuse to continue the war, and play the role of hero at the expense of the lives of ordinary people on both sides of the front. By doing this, Biden and company are only adding fuel to the fire …
“Let this conflict serve as a lesson in drawing the right conclusions: it was the exploiters and the politicians who served them who pushed for the war and then brought us back to the harsh reality of social inequality and the destruction of rights. But only the living can learn the lessons of war. It is therefore necessary to force the elites to sit down at the negotiating table, now, to stop the war now!”
“The peoples of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia do not want war. They need peace and socialism” (An activist from Belarus)
Following on from this speech, Yuri, an activist from Belarus, added: “This is the biggest military conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War, and it can, unfortunately, turn into a third world war. We all know the origin of this ghastly war: it is capitalism trying to overcome its contradictions through war. Ironically, this war is taking place almost a hundred years after the Soviet Union was formed, when the Soviet republics of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Transcaucasia federated freely on the basis of socialism, with equal rights for all the republics.
“ Today, the heirs of the bureaucracy are trying to overcome the contradictions in society that they themselves created through nationalism and war. This is the eighteenth armed conflict in the former USSR since 1991. Let us not forget that today six former USSR republics are engaged in military conflict: in addition to Russia and Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Every bullet fired in these conflicts is a blow against what remains of the conquests of the October revolution, in particular, the right to self-determination of peoples and their sovereignty. …
“In this hall and on this platform there are comrades from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. On their behalf I want to say here: our peoples do not want war; they need peace and socialism. The workers and peoples of the world want freedom and peace, in Europe, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, throughout the world. Only the struggle of the workers, only international solidarity will make it possible to win peace. Long live the International!”
“The right answer was given by Karl Liebknecht: the main enemy is in our own country” (Claudius Naumann, German internationalist activist)
Recalling the 1945 oath of the German people: “War must never again spring up from German soil“, Claudius Naumann, internationalist activist and chairman of the council of staff delegates at the Free University of Berlin, condemned the militaristic policy of the social-democratic Chancellor Scholz. His work colleagues and union comrades, he explains, are among the “thousands of trade unionists and young people who are demonstrating in Germany against the policy of the Scholz government, in defence of their rights and gains.
“They are not prepared to foot the bill of the capitalist crisis, the war and the 100-billion arms package paid by Scholz to the German army, nor are they prepared to go shivering because of imperialist sanctions, because they won’t be able to pay their heating bills”. But, he adds, “we have a problem. With our demands, we have the trade union apparatus against us. For the trade union apparatus, as for the SPD and Die Linke parties, ‘solidarity’ means: sacred union with the warmongers of the government and NATO. Our solidarity is different, it is the solidarity of our class, the working class. To organise it, we need independent trade unions and a party committed to defending the interests of the working class. This is what the Committee for a Workers’ Party in Germany is fighting for.
“Twice in the 20th century, the imperialist countries pushed the peoples into world wars. They have countless wars and millions of deaths on their consciences, they have had workers shoot at workers. The right answer to this was given by Karl Liebknecht who, faced with the incitement to war in imperialist Germany, observed, ‘The main enemy is in our own country!’ This courageous attitude has since been a model for all those who defend the independence of the workers’ movement.”
“In our revolt, we mobilise and organise ” (Orianne, Federation of Revolutionary Youth)
Addressing in particular the many young people present in the room, Orianne, on behalf of the Federation of Revolutionary Youth (FJR), appealed to the audience: “How is it that, even though we live in the country that is the sixth world power, getting enough to eat is a daily struggle? That we are confronted with increasingly precarious jobs, as is the case with Uber Eats delivery people or underpaid and exploited young people in civic service?
“For students, less and less money is allocated to the CROUS (i.e., university canteens) and universities, while there is more and more money for armaments. University restaurants are closing down, university residences are no longer maintained, and thousands of students find themselves without a college or master’s degree because there are no longer enough places in the universities. Degrees and qualifications, which can enable us to get a decent job, are thus losing their value, as is the case with the baccalauréat, which is now based on continuous assessment and no longer on a national and egalitarian test. In the lycées (i.e., high schools): no more help with homework, absent teachers who are not replaced – when you have a baccalauréat to obtain!
“And in the vocational schools, it’s a question of cutting back classroom hours and allowing companies to take part in the school administration. And when students mobilise to demand their right to have all the conditions to obtain a diploma, the government responds by beating them with clubs. Referring to the battles in which FJR activists are involved, she concluded: “We are fighting for the collective organisation of young people and against this outdated and barbaric system, as close as possible to the demands. In our revolt, we mobilise and organise ourselves … Join the FJR!.”
Referring to the battles in which FJR activists are involved, she concluded: “We are fighting for the collective organisation of young people and against this outdated and barbaric system, and we stick to our demands. In our revolt, we mobilise and organise … Join the FJR!”
“Our country is going through a serious crisis, the working and oppressed masses are facing enormous suffering” (Wasantha Samarasinghe, trade unionist from Sri Lanka)
Olivier Doriane then presented the video message transmitted by worker activists from Sri Lanka, where the masses had ousted the corrupt president on 9 July, who was subordinating himself to the plans of the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The audience attentively listened as Wasantha Samarasinghe, on behalf of the Trade Union Coordinating Committee (TUCC), expressed “our revolutionary greetings to all the trade union leaders and progressive movements gathered today against the imperialist war.
“Your event is taking place at a time when our country is going through a serious crisis, and when the people, the toiling and oppressed masses, are facing enormous suffering. We have no fuel. We are facing shortages of fertilisers and food. Workers are losing their jobs. … The trade union movement, especially the Trade Union Coordination Centre, is organising a new wave of struggle to get rid of these bourgeois and capitalist parties that plunder the people’s money.
“On 27 October, the TUCC, together with people’s movements, is organising a massive protest campaign in Colombo against the repression, for the release of the demonstrators and to stop the privatisation of public property. We need your support. … We all believe in humanity, in internationalism, in the unity and organisation of workers all over the world. We believe that the whole world must unite against this capitalist-imperialist war.”
“Building a single democratic and secular State in Palestine for all its citizens is the key to peace” (Ola Al-Khuffach, Secular Palestine activist)
Then it was Ola Al-Khuffach, on behalf of the Secular Palestine Association – which fights for a secular and democratic Palestine over the whole historical territory of Palestine – who recalled: “In Palestine, we have known the horrors of colonial warfare for almost a century, we have witnessed the policies of ethnic cleansing and the mass expulsion of the civilian population from their homes, which has turned them into refugees.”
Recalling the difference in treatment between the Russian occupation in Ukraine and the occupation in Palestine, she expressed her “rejection of the double standards applied by EU and US politicians towards people“. She concluded: “Our struggle to support the oppressed peoples and the working classes exploited by capitalist forces is the guarantee for spreading peace and security and for peaceful coexistence.
“Peace in Ukraine and peace in Palestine are inseparable. Building fraternal and supportive relations between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples is the key to peace. It is the return of Palestinian refugees to their country and the building of a single democratic and secular state in Palestine for all its citizens that is the key to peace.”
“It is crucial to express our opposition to any imperialist war” (Chinese activists)
“This message was prepared by meetings of groups of workers and intellectuals, who are addressing you, listen to them“, said comrade Alain Denizo, who invited the audience to pay the greatest attention to the message of activists from China, forced, they say, “to remain anonymous for security reasons” and “grateful to give this opportunity to express our solidarity, and our opposition to the war, along with workers and activists from all over the world“.
In China, the activists explain, “the ruling bloc of the Communist Party, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, is trying to use the ‘Taiwan issue’ as an excuse to stir up parochial nationalist sentiment among the Chinese people, as well as hatred towards the people of Taiwan. At the same time, the ruling classes in the US and other Western countries are also taking advantage of the situation to stir up powerful hostility towards China and to turn ordinary people’s dissatisfaction with the Communist Party leadership into hatred towards the Chinese people. Therefore, there is a real risk of a war or proxy war between China and Western countries breaking out over the “Taiwan issue”.
“That is why, at this time, it is crucial to express our opposition to any imperialist war”. To which these activists oppose another perspective: “Helping the working classes of all countries to unite in solidarity, to fight the ruling classes of all countries, as well as the capitalist and imperialist system that oppresses us all“, taking up the old slogan of the international labour movement: “Workers of all countries, unite!“
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*/ The names have been changed
The full video of the meeting has been published in the coming days on the Workers’ Tribune website: https://latribunedestravailleurs.fr/
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Presentations to the October 22 Rally in Paris Against War and Exploitation, For a Workers’ International Organized by the POID
Speakers’ platform at October 22 rally. Adama Coulibaly from Burkina Faso at the microphone.
Presentation by Ian Hodson, President, Bakers, Food and Allied Workers, BAFAWU (UK)
Contributions today are so important to hear because the mainstream media and our political establishments would have you believe the only people opposed to the war in Ukraine are in Russia.
After the war in Iraq and the mobilisation to call out the illegal actions of the USA and UK, the political establishment learnt how to suppress any kind of antiwar feeling in countries. It has shut down the voices of those who call for an end to all wars not just in Ukraine but around the world. But we need to mobilise for peace or the politicians who have set about the de-legitimising of those who say peace should be the priority will be able to conduct even more untold harm to cover up their own failures at home.
I want to make it perfectly clear I neither support Putin or Biden or whichever new leader the Tories say will become the Prime minister in the UK that will no doubt fly out to the Ukraine to deflect from the failure to hold a general election and uphold
democracy. Russia should leave Ukraine and NATO should end its advancement and return to its agreed position that ended the Cold War.
Today is important to express the feelings of those whose voices are not heard, whom I believe are the sane majority – those whose voices are shut down by those who Equate dissent with disloyalty. It is a dark day when those in high office pursue those who call for peace unpatriotic or traitors.
But let’s be absolutely clear: People who desire peace are neither. They are patriotic and expose the traitorous actions of those in power. We see this clearly with the arrest of Julian Assange for exposing war crimes committed by the powerful.
And by his arrest we see speaking truth to power is outlawed in the so-called leading democracies, whose leaders have the gall to call out others for doing the same — leaders who defend those indefensible actions, hiding behind a wall of lies and smears.
They use their friends who control the media to chase down those whose voices may provide a focal point for dissent on the insanity of war. The media should hold power to account, not promote its propaganda. But when media owners have so much invested in politicians and military defence contracts that is not going to happen. Their greed is more important than truth or the lives of those who will pay the costs. We need to end the media barons’ control of our media and break the ownership of media that has turned journalism into entertainment rather than providing information based on fact, not opinion, and that speaks truth to power rather than protects the powerful at the expense of the powerless.
War is a weapon. It is politically designed to maintain the power of the one global superpower ‐- the United States of America — and ensure the status quo that continues to see the money flow to those at the top of society.
Why does capitalism think it can bomb its way into democracy? Is it because the victors and the investors of the war are awarded the contracts to remove any resources that are found. To me that is not Democracy but capitalism.
We must have courage to call out their divisive politics, call out the hatred and the despair that it causes because their way has laid the foundations for the rise of bigotry and racism. We must demand a better world that all the people have the right to live in, not for some but for all. And that includes the right to life of Palestinians and their right to call out Apartheid whenever or wherever we see it’s being practiced.
We must create a world whose ambition is to tackle inequality, tackle poverty and deal with crisis — not by attacking to deflect but by acting together we must build a world based humanity and end the insanity of war.
Viva la Peaceful Revolution
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Presentation by Frestha Amiri, LRA Activist (Afghanistan)
Hello dear friends
I am from Afghanistan, the country where under the US-backed government of the Taliban millions of women are treated as slaves and the territory has been turned into hell for its people.
The experience of Afghanistan proves that the people must not trust imperialist colorful promises. As we see today, instead of democracy and women’s rights, the most misogynistic and anti-civil liberties Islamic group by the name of Taliban has been brought to power by US/NATO. Wherever America and NATO have attacked and intervened, they have left behind the bloodshed of millions of people and destruction.
The heavy cost of war everywhere, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and now Ukraine, has always been borne by workers.
The Taliban regime has closed the gates of all girls’ schools and hindered women’s work. It has suppressed women’s protests, imprisoned, tortured and killed women activists. Despite all this. The U.S. government has continued to support the Taliban. They have imposed sanctions and frozen more than 9 billion dollars of Afghan assets, as a result of which millions of children are malnourished, and millions of workers are unemployed and forced to migrate. But on the other hand, America provides 40 million dollars weekly to the Taliban government and facilitates the foreign trips of sanctioned Taliban officials.
Left Radical of Afghanistan (LRA) is a close partner of “Spontaneous Movement of Afghan Women,” which actively leads protests against the Taliban not only in the streets of Kabul but also in all big cities. Since the September 30, 2022 attack on the girls educational center in Kabul that killed 60 and wounded 115 other students, there have been daily demonstrations inside Afghanistan and around the world against the Taliban government.
The lives of the Afghan people do not matter to the U.S. and its European allies. The current negotiations of the US with the Taliban in Qatar aim to deploy 2,000 to 3,000 U.S. special forces in northern Afghanistan, on the border with China and Central Asian countries, in order to train, finance and arm more than 20 local and foreign extremist Islamic groups existing in Afghanistan with the aim of disrupting the stability of China, Russia, Iran and Central Asian countries.
The imperialists will never get tired of murder, war, and bloodshed of people for the sake of their economic interests and hegemony. It is the duty of the workers, women, youth, and all peace-loving people to stand up against the American, European and Russian warmongers, and struggle to prevent the implementation of their plundering and destructive policies.
– No to war!
– Long live the solidarity of workers, women and youth around the world for peace and equality!
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Presentation by Alan Benjamin, National Organizing Committee member of Socialist Organizer (United States)
I join with all of you here today in saluting the courageous struggle of our comrades from Afghanistan. You should know that trade unionists and antiwar activists across the United States not only refused to support the U.S. war in Afghanistan, they condemned it, including the recent U.S. decision to place the reactionary Taliban regime back in power.
A small but growing current in the US labor movement is beginning to speak out, as well, against the war in Ukraine. Antiwar activists took to the streets in September to demand “Russian Troops Out of Ukraine, Stop the US/NATO Instigated War in Ukraine!” Many called to stop NATO expansion and even to dismantle NATO.
And they demanded “Money for Jobs, Education and Healthcare, Not War!” — making the connection between the war at home and the war abroad.
This connection is being made in the framework of a powerful labor upsurge sweeping the United States in opposition to the growing attacks by the capitalists against the jobs, wages and working and living conditions of the U.S. working class — attacks that are aided and abetted by the huge sums sent to fuel the war in Ukraine.
Teachers, nurses, autoworkers, Amazon and Starbuck workers, are organizing new members into their unions, creating new unions, and taking strike action to defend their interests.
Earlier this week, one of the larger railroad workers’ unions rejected the agreement brokered between Joe Biden and the union officials — an agreement aimed at averting a strike of 120,000 rail workers that would have paralyzed at least one third of US commerce. The rank and file are opposing the agreement and have vowed to strike, holding up signs that read, “Stop the War on Railroad Workers!” Wall Street is increasingly worried. They have urged Biden to intervene, if necessary, to ban a nationwide strike, using his executive powers under the Railway Labor Act.
It’s a labor upsurge, I should add, that comes on the heels of the 20 million-strong nationwide demonstrations demanding justice for George Floyd and the other victims of police violence — and the more than 1 million people who marched in support of a woman’s right to an abortion.
But a major obstacle remains — and by this, I mean the trade unions’ subordination to the Democratic Party, the war party that has seen all its components without exception vote in favor of every increase in funding for the war in Ukraine. This includes the so-called “progressive” wing of Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Labor’s subordination to the Democrats is a roadblock to the development of a concerted fightback against the bosses’ war at home and abroad. It’s a roadblock to the development of a mass united-front antiwar movement. This raises the urgent need for labor to break with the Democratic Party and build its own party – a Labor Party rooted in the unions and communities of the oppressed.
I would like to conclude by affirming that the U.S. wars in Ukraine and across the globe – there are more than 700 U.S. bases around the world, many involved in military action — are the bosses’ wars; they are not wars in the interest of working people and all the oppressed! That is why we reject the claim that the U.S./NATO war is being waged in our name. No, it’s not a warin our name!
In the great tradition of the U.S. Vietnam antiwar movement, a tradition upheld by US Labor Against the War in relation to Iraq and Afghanistan, we say: U.S. Out Now!
Long live international labor solidarity!
Russian Troops Out of Ukraine!
Money for Jobs and Wages, Not War!
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Presentation by Adama Coulibaly (Pan-African Patriotic Alternative Burkindi of Burkina Faso)
Thank you, comrades. I want to talk to you about Africa, this continent full of values of humanity, peace and concord. Yes. The art of living together in harmony is supposed to be through the Maat at the time of Ancient Egypt, Ubuntu that you certainly know or the Manfada charter. Called the Mandé charter, it is the first constitution in the world.
I want to evoke this Africa full of promise and wealth, which the whole world needs, starting with the Africans themselves who are nevertheless dispossessed of it. This Africa is both coveted and martyred. Africa has been attacked for more than 400 years by incessant wars of occupation with multiple faces with the objective of exploiting its lifeblood and plundering its natural resources to such an extent that the so-called international community considers this permanent state of war in Africa as normal, justifying a constant foreign military occupation.
It started with the slave wars, I don’t want to insist on this point, then the carving up of Africa at the Berlin congress which inaugurated the wars of colonial invasion which continued to decimate the multitude of resistance fighters and to subdue the African populations by the guns.
After independence in the 1960s and the inauguration of murderous coups d’état, civil wars and so-called ethnic wars were initiated with the unbearable genocide in Rwanda. Let us recall that in 1994 the French army and the UN were present in Rwanda. The normalisation of military interventions in Africa was first achieved through the leonine cooperation agreements between France and its former colonies. It then continued through NATO-led UN military missions. Six UN peacekeeping operations are now present on the continent with a deepening crisis of war everywhere.
Terrorism was then introduced to maintain the permanent state of war. This phenomenon was amplified following the destruction of Libya by NATO, with France naturally in the lead. The Sahel today is the main testing ground for this asymmetric warfare. Yet France has several military bases in Africa with between 12,000 and 15,000 soldiers.
The United States is also present in Africa under the command of Africom, China is present in Djibouti, Russia in Central Africa and Mali, in particular, two countries where the joint presence of French and UN forces has been a bloody failure.
There has always been, and still is today, resistance and struggle. Africans have always resisted war and domination. The list of martyrs, massacres and genocides of foreign occupation is tragically long. In 2020, in Burkina Faso and Niger, the populations rose up against the gigantic convoys of the French army. In Mali, Barkhane was forced to relocate mainly to Niger, in the DRC. They have been asked to pack up.
Françafrique, the political, economic and military arm of NATO, is in trouble because of the backlash from the youth, the people and the neo-panafricanism of the continent and the diaspora.
I will end by saying that there is a strong demand today in Africa: it is to say “Foreign and UN troops, out of Africa! Against war, for peace, the workers and people of Africa and the world will win. We are fighters, are we not? And I’m going to ask you to utter the war cry that we utter in our militant struggles in Africa: I say “nanlara” and you answer “ansara”. And I will explain to you what it is for.
“Nan lara”, “Ansara”, “Nan lara”, Ansara”, Nan lara, Ansara”: it means: “only the struggle liberates, if we lie down, we are dead”. We will win!
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Presentation by Christel Keiser (National Secretary, POID – France)
Christel Keiser addresses rally
First of all, on behalf of all the comrades of the POID, I would like to salute the courage of Iranian women, who are mobilizing by the tens of thousands, together with workers and young people, to protest against the regime responsible for the death of Masha Amini, on September 17, after her arrest by the vice police. I would also like to pay homage to all those who fell under the police’s beatings, like the 15-year-old girl who died last week after being beaten by the police during a raid on her school.
We stand unconditionally with the women and men of Iran who, despite the terrible repression, have been demonstrating for weeks for democratic reforms against the regime that maintains and aggravates all forms of oppression, in particular patriarchal oppression, because it is a question of preserving exploitation.
The Iranian women’s struggle joins that of women all over the world, that of the young girls and women of Afghanistan for the right to education scorned by the Taliban regime, a regime that Biden reinstated in August 2021, that of the women of Russia refusing that their sons and their companions become cannon fodder in a war that has nothing to do with the defense of their interests, that of the women of the United States to preserve and reconquer the right to abortion, that of the women of Europe, who are fighting against the policies of their governments, in particular the policy of letting prices soar in all areas and to further develop precariousness.
These and other struggles will be discussed at the international conference of working women, which will take place next Saturday and which will bring together women workers and activists from 21 countries. This conference will be held on the eve of the international workers’ conference against war and exploitation. They are closely intertwined, they are indispensable for the survival of the capitalist system.
War and exploitation are the focus of the policy of the Macron-Borne government in France.Last Wednesday, this government adopted its budget.
This budget includes a 15% increase in energy prices, a new increase in property taxes, the elimination of 2,000 teaching positions. In short, an austerity budget for working people
But on the other hand, the budget includes 3 billion euros more for the war with a budget of 44 billion in 2023, and 8 billion less to be paid by the corporations with the abolition of the corporate contribution to the added value added tax.
And that’s not all! The government has passed an amendment to its own budgets, which consists in confiscating the profits of certain electricity producers (those who sell electricity at more than 180 euros per megawatt-hour between December 1 and June 30). This measure will bring in 7 billion euros, we are told. We say to ourselves: well, it’s strange, the government is taxing companies.
But do you know what these 7 billion euros will be used for? To finance new measures to support businesses in the face of the energy crisis, measures that will be announced soon by the government!
The government is thus going to tax – a little – a category of capitalists, to enrich another category of capitalists! It is thus a transfer of money between capitalists.
So we end up in a situation where the rich get richer and richer.
According to a report by the tax reform evaluation committee published on October 20, 2017, of the total dividends paid to shareholders, 10% corresponded to amounts greater than 1 million euros. In 2020, it was 25%! Between 2017 and 2020, total capital income was up 21%.
And, while the rich get richer, workers and their families have to tighten their belts a little more each day; 56% of students say they do not have enough to eat. Poverty is growing, more families are turning to food assistance because of the soaring prices, and the situation is worsening for those who already were using it.
And nothing in the Macron-Borne budget addresses the needs of working people and their families, quite the contrary!
So, yes, we are entitled to say that this budget is a war budget, a war at home and a war abroad against workers.
And to pass its budget, the government has drawn another weapon of war: Article 49-3 of the Constitution. An article that allows the government to rule by force, that is, by ending all debate and adopting a law without a vote.
In the end, contrary to what one might have heard, this debate was useless. All the opposition amendments – especially those of the NUPES – that were adopted during the debate and presented as a great victory were discarded in the final version of the budget.
We hear protests from the left. We hear that democratic logic would have required the government to accept these amendments. Well, no, this did not happen because there is no democratic logic. The Fifth Republic has anything but a democratic logic. It is a system where the president decides — and he alone. And what has just happened in the National Assembly is a new demonstration of this fact.
Finally, what is the purpose of the National Assembly in the Fifth Republic? On the one hand, it is to organize mock debates whose result is known in advance and, on the other hand, it is to validate laws whose purpose is to implement the policy decided by the President. And this, regardless of how the opposition members vote.
But sometimes those on the “left” vote for the government’s policy. And even, sometimes, unanimously!
We remember the vote of March 19, 2020, in the middle of a pandemic, which granted 343 billion euros to capitalists, including 300 billion in state-guaranteed loans that were used, in particular, by the bosses of Renault and Air France to organize massive redundancy plans. 343 billion for the bosses were voted unanimously in the National Assembly, including by PS, PC and La France Insoumise (LFI) deputies!
Sometimes we are asked why we are not in LFI. It is certain that if we are referring to the activists and voters of the LFI, we often have the same concerns, the same demands and the same objectives. It is also true, in part, concerning the general slogans and campaigns of the LFI.
But we are not in the LFI because we consider that one cannot defend the interests of the workers and, at the same time, rob them of those hundreds of billions that are cruelly lacking in hospitals, schools and public service.
Just as one cannot claim to defend the interests of the workers and vote in the European Parliament, on three occasions, in favor of resolutions in support of NATO. The last of these resolutions, on October 6, invites European countries to deliver more and more weapons to NATO and welcomes the 8th set of sanctions against Russia – sanctions which, by the way, hit the Russian people much more than the oligarchs.
One cannot claim to be in favor of Jaurès, peace, social justice, democracy … and at the same time support the policies of NATO and of our own war-mongering government.
The fight for democracy is the fight for a government without Macron, without bosses. This is the struggle of the POID.
It is the fight for a government that would confiscate the 629 billion euros offered to the capitalists to redirect them to the needs of the vast majority: the hiring of 200,000 hospital workers and 200,000 teachers, that’s 20 billion per year, over 2 years and a half, it’s 50 billion (much less than a tenth of the 629 billion).
It’s a government that would nationalize Total without indemnity or buyout and confiscate its billions in profits, a government that would allow the fruits of labor to return in full to the workers who produce them, a government that would repeal all the counter-reforms (those of the baccalaureate and the unemployment insurance, the pensions…), a government at the sole service of the workers and their families.
This is the party we are asking you to join.
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Presentations by Activists from Russia and Belarus
[Dominique Ferré of the POID introduced Sergueï and Evgueni*, two activists mandated by the Union of Marxists of Russia to speak at the October 22 International rally, and Youri*, a worker activist from Belarus. (* real names withheld for security reasons)
“Only the living can learn the lessons of the war. It is therefore necessary to stop the war now! (An activist of the Union of Marxists of Russia)
Sergei, from the Union of Marxists, pointed out that:
“On 21 September, Putin’s government declared the mobilisation of 300,000 reservists. For most citizens, the mobilisation is no longer a subject on television, but a reality, as those who died on the front are beginning to return in coffins. There is a rising of muted discontent in all region,s and active resistance in the national republics of the Caucasus.” He also recalled his organisation’s struggle to “support political prisoners, because we are facing an avalanche of repression that has already hit our trade unionist comrades: Artiom Borodin, Kirill Oukraïntsev, Anton Orlov and many others.”
His comrade Yevgeny concluded:
“Comrades and workers of France and the world: we more than ever need your support! Western governments are speeding up the production of arms and their delivery to Ukraine. This gives Zelensky an excuse to continue the war and play the role of hero at the expense of the lives of ordinary people on both sides of the front. By doing this, Biden and company are only adding fuel to the fire … Let this conflict serve as a lesson in drawing the right conclusions: it was the exploiters and the politicians who served them who pushed for the war and then brought us back to the harsh reality of social inequality and the destruction of rights. But only the living can learn the lessons of war. It is therefore necessary to force the elites to sit down at the negotiating table, now, to stop the war now!”
“The peoples of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia do not want war. They need peace and socialism” (An activist from Belarus)
Following this speech, Yuri, an activist from Belarus, added:
“This is the biggest military conflict in Europe since the end of the Second World War, and it can, unfortunately, turn into a third world war. We all know the origin of this ghastly war: it is capitalism trying to overcome its contradictions through war. Ironically, this war is taking place almost a hundred years after the Soviet Union was formed, when the Soviet republics of Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and Transcaucasia federated freely on the basis of socialism, with equal rights for all the republics.
“Today, the heirs of the bureaucracy are trying to overcome the contradictions in society that they themselves created through nationalism and war. This is the eighteenth armed conflict in the former USSR since 1991. Let us not forget that today six former USSR republics are engaged in military conflict: in addition to Russia and Ukraine, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Every bullet fired in these conflicts is a blow against what remains of the conquests of the October revolution, in particular, the right to self-determination of peoples and their sovereignty.”
“In this hall and on this platform there are comrades from Ukraine, Belarus and Russia. On their behalf I want to say here: our peoples do not want war; they need peace and socialism. The workers and peoples of the world want freedom and peace, in Europe, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, throughout the world. Only the struggle of the workers, only international solidarity will make it possible to win peace. Long live the International!”
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Presentation by Orianne, Activist of the Federation of Revolutionary Youth (FJR – France)
Whether in France or anywhere else in the world, youth are one of the first targets of the imperialists and their barbaric policies.
In Ukraine and Russia, thousands of young people are being torn away from their future, for a war that serves the interests of only one class, that of the capitalists and the governments that support them, namely the French and US governments. This capitalist class is the beneficiary of all the profits made on the war and the arms industry.
Since the “partial” mobilisation of 300,000 reservists by Russia, in some regions the military police come directly to the classrooms to enunciate a list of names and make the conscripts get on the buses at the end of their lessons: thousands of young people see their future sacrificed on the altar of Russian imperialism.
But Putin is not the only one responsible for the catastrophic situation in which the youth find themselves: Biden and Macron are too.
In France, Macron prefers to spend on militarisation and armament, with the sole aim of serving NATO’s interests, rather than on youth. Every day, this government calls into question our working, studying and even living conditions. How is it that, even living in the 6th richest country in the world, feeding ourselves is a daily struggle? That we are confronted with increasingly precarious jobs with few prospects, as is the case with Uber Eat delivery drivers, or underpaid and exploited young people in civic service?
For students it’s not much better: there is less and less money allocated to CROUS and universities, while there is more and more for armaments. Thus, university restaurants are closing, university residences are no longer maintained, and thousands of students find themselves without a university or without a master’s degree because there are no longer enough places in the universities. All diplomas and qualifications, which can allow us to get a decent job, are thus totally losing their value, as is the case with the baccalaureate, which is now based on continuous assessment and no longer on a national and egalitarian test.
In the lycées: no more help with homework, absent teachers not replaced, when you have a baccalaureate to obtain! And in vocational schools, it’s a question of eliminating class time and allowing companies to have a say in the school authorities. And when students mobilise to demand their right to have all the conditions to obtain the diploma? The government responds with blows of the baton, as happened at the Jean Macé high school or at Joliot-Curie, in Nanterre.
Our living conditions are thus called into question. And how many of them have to fight just to get a level 1 grant? How many find themselves living in dormitories full of cockroaches? How many fall into depression because the only future this society offers us is war, exploitation and insecurity?
That’s why we, the militants of the Federation of Young Revolutionaries, are mobilising everywhere we have a presence: so that young people organise themselves around their own demands, fight for dignified living conditions, against this government that is impoverishing us.
In Paris 3, activists are fighting for the resumption of face-to-face classes on the basis of the demand “We want all our classes, all our options in face-to-face classes, now, right now”. A defence committee has been formed at the university, with about ten students: after having formed a delegation to the presidency, they are now addressing the ministry and the rectorate.
At the University of Nanterre, following the meeting of two undergraduate students who recently joined the FJR, a battle for real courses – that is to say, in a classroom and taught by a face-to-face teacher – is also being waged.
The fight for our courses is a fight for the requisition of the means used in the war, so that they are redirected to fund our universities!
In Nancy, we have been fighting alongside the students of the university for 1 year for the reopening of a Resto’U on the philosophy/literature campus, for the renovation of the university residences which are infested with cockroaches, and against the racist law which aims to make students from outside the European Union pay more than 2,000 euros to register for a degree. We have been received by the presidency of the university and the CROUS, and we continue to fight, to build and to organise.
The link between the destruction of our public services, the impoverishment of our youth, armament and war propaganda is visible: the more the value of our diplomas and the quality of our working conditions decreases, the more the number of positions in the army increases. Propaganda posters abound, encouraging young people, especially the least qualified and therefore the most precarious, to join the army, which works quite well, since the army has become the only sector to offer a decent salary.
And with all this, they would have us believe that our enemies are the young Russians? No! Our enemies are the imperialist governments! Those governments that only have a future of war in store for us!
We, the militants of the FJR, advocate and organise for the collective organisation of the youth and the struggle against this outdated and barbaric system, as close as possible to the demands. In our revolt, we mobilise and organise ourselves. Because more than ever, we must unite, we young revolutionaries, to put an end to this system that destroys our lives and our planet: join the FJR, and let’s fight so that billions don’t go to war, but for the youth and the workers, let’s fight to put an end to capitalism and imperialism!
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Message from Wasantha Samarasinghe, Trade Unionist (Sri Lanka)
It is a great pleasure to have been able to send a message to the international meeting against the war on behalf of the Sri Lankan working-class trade union movement. We would like to express our gratitude and our revolutionary greetings to all the union leaders and all the progressive movements gathering here today to address this meeting against the imperialist war. I would also like to mention that your event is held at a time when our country – Sri Lanka – is undergoing a massive crisis, and the people, especially the working and downtrodden masses, are confronted with enormous suffering.
We don’t have fuel. We are facing shortages of fertilizer and food, and workers are losing their jobs. This capitalist government has been looting public money daily within the last three to four decades. You may be aware already that our country has lost so many resources during the rule of these capitalist parties. Within the previous 70 days, they have privatized many resources.
As the capitalist rulers in our country intend to sell the country’s resources and plunder the money, the working class movement, together with progressive masses, has carried out struggles against capitalist parties. However, all fraudsters, criminals and public money looters have gathered to oppress the masses and plunder the country’s resources.
However, the majority of the people in our country struggle against the capitalist rule and nepotism that has engulfed the capitalist rule but aspire to build Sri Lanka as one nation and one country. We had ethnic issues as capitalist parties used racism and religious extremism to come to power and rule the country.
Mismanagement, plunder and thieving by the capitalist rulers brought about an economic crisis that led to political and social crises creating shortages of fuel, gas, medicine and food for the people. Masses including farmers, workers, fisherfolk, students, intellectuals, professionals, artists, unable to bear the suffering anymore, rose up against the capitalist rulers.
Demonstrations and agitations were held throughout the country and the President, the Prime Minister and the cabinet had to resign. The President had to flee the country. However, due to a loophole in the constitution, the rulers could cling to power. People’s struggles have commenced demanding an election to elect a people’s government. People from all walks of life have come forward to demand an election, and the rulers, making use of certain clauses in the constitution and certain acts such as the Prevention of Terrorism Act, carry our suppression baton charging, tear gassing and assaulting demonstrations and arresting and remanding activists. Already many activists have been locked up in police cells and remand prisons.
The cost of living is going up day by day very severely. It’s very difficult to bear. People are losing their jobs. We have so many issues inside the country. Factories are forced to close down because of the raw material issues.
We need your support. All the capitalist movements have imperialist backing. They have the advantage of power, capital and intelligence. Our strength is organization and international support. At the moment in Sri Lanka the left and progressives believe in a system change and solutions in class struggles. They are gathering to change this system and select a new government. Therefore, we may have a chance to change the system.
We may have a chance to win the struggles as we all are against the war. We all believe in humanity, in internationalism and in the unity and organization of workers worldwide. We believe the whole world should unite against this capitalist-imperialist war.
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Presentation by Cladius Naumann, Trade Unionist, Internationalist (Germany)
Like the Schröder government in 1999, the German Scholz government — with its massive arms deliveries to Ukraine, the dispatch of warships to East Asia, German troops all over the world and its participation in the NATO war race — this is once again breaking the well-known oath after the Second World War: “No more war must leave German soil”!
Today, thousands of trade unionists and young people are demonstrating in Germany against the policy of the Scholz government, in defence of their rights and gains. Colleagues from my trade union group are taking part. They are not prepared to pay the bill for the capitalist crisis, the war and the 100 billion euro arms package. They are not prepared to shiver at the consequences of imperialist sanctions, because they can no longer pay the heating bills. And in the face of soaring inflation, we say that the German trade unions have to start the fight for the sliding wage scale.
But we have a problem. With our demands, we have the trade union apparatus against us. For them, as well as for the SPD and “Left” parties, “solidarity” means a “sacred union” with the warmongers of the government and NATO.
Our solidarity is different, it is the solidarity of our class, the working class. To organise it, we need independent trade unions and a party committed to defending the interests of the working class. This is what the Committee for a Workers’ Party is fighting for in Germany.
But this, too, is not enough. To put an end to imperialism, war, capitalist exploitation and precarious work, we must unite internationally. Against the International of capital, against the EU, NATO, ASEAN, etc., we must create our International, the Workers’ International.
Twice in the 20th century, the imperialist countries have pushed the peoples into world wars. They have countless wars and millions of deaths on their conscience, they have had workers shooting workers.
The right answer to this was given by Karl Liebknecht who, faced with the incitement to war in imperialist Germany, observed, “The main enemy is in our own country!”
This courageous attitude has since been a model for all those who defend the independence of the workers’ movement from its own capitalists. Even the brutal Nazi occupation regime in France could not prevent German workers in uniform, organised by the Fourth International, from forming subversive cells in the German army in Brest in 1943, with the support of their French comrades. The Trotskyists did not fight for British and American imperialism to intervene in France, they fought for French and German soldiers to turn their weapons against their own bourgeoisie.
This is also why I am proud to be a member of the ranks of the Fourth International!
Then as now, we must fight for the independence of the workers’ movement and say, in the spirit of Liebknecht:
No to the NATO war policy of Scholz/Macron/Biden! NATO out of Europe! Withdrawal of Russian troops! Down with the war!
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Message from China
I am a labor activist from China. I must remain anonymous for security reasons. I am grateful for this opportunity to express our solidarity and opposition to the war with workers and activists from all over the world.
At this moment, global capitalism is in deep crisis, and the working class around the world is suffering greatly. The ruling classes of all countries, in order to defend their power, are trying to channel the discontent and resentment of the people to other countries, to foment an imperialist war and to consolidate their power by reactionary nationalist propaganda.
The invasion of Ukraine by Russia and the involvement of NATO countries in this conflict have shown this very clearly. And in China, the ruling bloc of the Communist Party, under the leadership of Xi Jinping, is trying to use the “Taiwan issue” as an excuse to stir up narrow nationalist sentiment among the Chinese people as well as hatred towards the people of Taiwan.
At the same time, the ruling classes of the United States and other Western countries are also taking advantage of the situation to stir up powerful hostility towards China and to turn the discontent of ordinary people’s dissatisfaction with the Communist Party leadership into hatred for the Chinese people. Therefore, there is a real risk of a war or proxy war between China and the Western countries over the “Taiwan issue”.
Therefore, at this time, it is crucial to express our opposition to any imperialist war.
We know that imperialist war is a ruse used by the ruling classes of all countries to distract from the class conflicts they face and to maintain their power.
The ruling classes strengthen their power by creating conflicts and divisions between the working classes in different countries. What we must do is to help the working classes of all countries unite in solidarity to fight the ruling classes of all countries and the capitalist and imperialist system that oppresses us all.
Even though the working class in my country faces a highly repressive political environment, it has not stopped resisting and struggling. This year, in particular, the punitive and unreasonably strict COVID-related quarantine and containment policies have led more and more people to question the ruling class and act in defiance. The struggles of the Chinese people need the support of the people of all countries of the world. The Chinese working class is also willing to support the struggles of the working classes of all countries of the world. We share a common destiny and we must act in solidarity.
Recently, activists based in mainland China and Hong Kong issued an appeal against the war, calling on working classes around the world to oppose all efforts by the ruling classes to stir up anti-Chinese sentiment and start a war.
I am glad that at today’s meeting, China’s voice is again being heard.
Workers of the world, unite!
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Presentation by Ola Al-Kuffach, Secular Activist (Palestine)
Dear comrades, dear friends,
Thank you for inviting me to be among you to demonstrate against all the wars waged by the criminal forces of capitalism, imperialism and Zionism.
We in Palestine have experienced the horrors of colonial warfare for almost a century, we have also witnessed the policies of ethnic cleansing and the mass expulsion of the civilian population from their homes and turning them into refugees. We have experienced the forced annexation of our land by Zionist gangs and later by the state of Israel since the establishment of this racist state on our land in 1948.
As a Palestinian who has suffered from war, colonialism, annexation and expulsion, I hereby declare my rejection of the Russian war against Ukraine, as well as my rejection of the Russian occupation and annexation of Ukrainian lands. The issues of freedom of peoples and their right to live in security in their homeland are inseparable from Palestine to Ukraine. The criminals of the colonial wars are the same, from Putin to Netanyahu, through Lapid and Gantz. I must denounce war criminal Yair Lapid’s lament about the safety of Ukrainian civilians being targeted by Russian forces while his army kills Palestinian civilians every day.This is one war criminal denouncing the crimes of another war criminal. As a Palestinian and in the name of Palestine, I declare our solidarity with the Ukrainian people and our refusal to annex the territories of Ukraine by military force.
But here, I must declare my rejection of the double standards applied by the politicians of the European Union and the United States towards the peoples, Just as we condemn the Russian occupation of Ukraine, so must we condemn the occupation of Palestine.
The same people who consider legitimate the European sanctions against Russia to punish its aggression and violation of international laws are practicing double standards. The same people who consider the international boycott movement against Israel illegitimate. Worse, they criminalise it by daring to call it anti-Semitism. We must fight the criminalisation of the BDS movement. We note the hypocrisy of those who isolate Russia in international forums, who expel it from the UN Human Rights Council but accept the presence of the state of Israel in the same council and thus cover up its apartheid policy.
Our dear comrades, Our struggle to support the oppressed peoples and the working classes exploited by the capitalist forces is the guarantee for spreading peace and security and for peaceful coexistence. Peace in Ukraine and peace in Palestine are inseparable, Building fraternal and solidary relations between the Russian and Ukrainian peoples is the key to peace, It is also the building of a single secular democratic state in Palestine as the key to peace for all its citizens after the return of the Palestinian refugees to their country. Thank you, long live the resistance of the Ukrainian people and the resistance of the Palestinian people.
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Closing Presentation by Daniel Gluckstein (National Secretary POID, France, and Co-Coordinator, IWC)
Sometimes, as we saw in the preparation of this meeting, our militants are asked: “But why are you the only ones campaigning against the war? Are you not exaggerating the situation?” You heard the comrades who spoke before me, war is not a threat, war is a reality. The war has already caused, as the comrade from Belarus said earlier, how many? 100,000 to 150,000 deaths less than 3 hours by plane from here. It continues its ravages without anyone being able to say to what extent it will or will not lead to a third world war.
That alone is reason enough to promote this campaign, but there is another reason: France’s involvement in this war is growing every day, and things can change very quickly at any moment on another scale. This morning, yes this morning, General David Petraeus, former head of the CIA and senior US military official, declared, and I quote: “A US-led force could soon intervene directly in Ukraine”.
Comrades, a US-led force would necessarily include the armed forces of its allies, first and foremost the French government. There are already nearly 2,000 French soldiers on the borders of Russia and Ukraine at the moment. There are more than 100,000 US troops on European soil. Last week the decision was taken to train 15,000 Ukrainian soldiers in various European countries, including 2,000 in France. So yes, everything can change and very quickly at any moment.
Not a day goes by without alarmist statements saying that a tactical nuclear strike could happen at any moment, that it would call for a necessary response. Borrell, the head of European diplomacy, said that “in that case, the armies of NATO and the European Union would move in, and I quote, to “neutralise the Russian army”.
Nobody can say how far this escalation will go. Our duty is to say: Not in our name! It is not in our name that French troops, that NATO troops could intervene, which is why we say, at the same time, “withdrawal of Russian troops, withdrawal of all foreign troops from Ukraine and its region, and withdrawal of NATO troops. This is why a workers’ party has to have a clear language. From the very beginning of Putin’s intervention in Ukraine, from the very first days, we said “No Putin, no Macron, no Biden”.
From the very first days we said: “Russian troops out of Ukraine, but also “NATO troops, out of Eastern Europe”, and we added “French troops out of Africa”, because we know that while French imperialism plays a subsidiary role in Eastern Europe, it plays, as Adama Coulibaly very well recalled, it an essential role in maintaining imperialist and neo-colonial domination in Africa.
No one can claim to be an internationalist if he/she fights for the withdrawal of troops from other countries but forgets the responsibility of his/her own government in the oppression of peoples.
Comrades, a workers’ party cannot make any concessions on all these questions. Comrade Claudius recalled the magnificent phrase of the German internationalist workers’ militant Karl Liebnecht: “The enemy is in our country”. Yes, the enemy is in our country and in our country the enemy is not called Putin or Zelenski, it is Macron and his government.
Comrade Christel reminded me a few moments ago of the lamentable votes of those MEPs who claim to be of the left and who three times in the European Parliament voted for motions that said, “we need more money for the war, we need more sanctions against the Russian people, we need more weapons and above all,” they wrote, “we need to strengthen the ties between the European Union and NATO.
It is certain that in the last period, the European Union, for those who doubted it, for those who hoped it was an affirmation of Europe’s independence from the United States, has appeared for what it is: it is the 25th carriage of the locomotive hooked to the wagons of US imperialism; it is a bunch of subsidiaries and auxiliaries of the finance capital of the United States.
Those who vote for closer ties with NATO, those who place themselves under the NATO umbrella while calling themselves left-wing, cannot claim to be acting for peace, democracy and workers’ rights. Because, finally, comrades, this war, as we all know, and I believe that more and more workers and young people in our country understand, is not aimed at defending democracy, it is not aimed at defending the rights of the Ukrainian people, it is not aimed at defending the rights of any people whatsoever, and if we had any doubts about this, President Biden himself was kind enough to tell us why this war is taking place.
In a document published on 12 October, which is a very short time ago, titled “United Nations National Security Strategy Paper”, a 40-page document which I would be glad to make available to anyone who would like to read it in its entirety, the essence of President Biden’s document is four statements: first, the need for American leadership is greater than it has ever been. Second, we will never leave our future vulnerable to those who do not share our worldview. Third, NATO is stronger than ever and more united than ever. Conclusion: our goal, and I quote, is to compel Russia and supplant China.
Comrades, a totalitarian world is taking shape. Anyone who does not share the worldview of US imperialism has no voice. You are obliged to recognise the need for American leadership, it is written in black and white and fortunately NATO is there to promise you this by first crushing Russia and then supplanting China. It’s obviously not about democracy and people’s rights, it’s about the interests of the United States.
We, workers in France, workers all over the world, reject and condemn with horror the intervention in Ukraine, Putin’s crimes, but this does not mean that the workers of our country will go to war to help Mr. Biden strengthen the hold of the Wall Street multinationals on the whole world. It is not for that reason that the workers of our country will follow Mr. Macron who himself follows Mr. Biden, and it is not for that reason either that we will follow those on the left who do not have the courage to say No to NATO, No to NATO’s generalized war against the peoples.
This is an old problem facing the workers’ movement. A comrade quoted Jean Jaurès before me. Everyone knows this quote, we reproduced it on a poster in preparation for this meeting. Jean Jaurès said “capitalism carries war like the cloud carries the storm”.
Comrades, is this something else today? Is it about anything other than the defence of the interests of the capitalists? And if we, the independent and democratic workers’ party, have taken the initiative to hold this meeting, it is because we believe that our responsibility is to help unite the workers in the same struggle against the war-mongering governments, a struggle which is waged on an international scale but also on a national scale.
As far as this struggle on an international scale is concerned, you only have to listen to the comrades who spoke at this meeting. They have all mentioned national situations, but in the end, through these national situations, have they not formulated slogans, demands and perspectives that are shared by the peoples of the whole world? The right of peoples to peace and sovereignty concerns the Ukrainian people, of course, but it also concerns the peoples of Africa, martyred by colonialism and imperialism. It concerns all the peoples of the world in the same way.
The right of women to freely decide their fate and their future is being carried forward with courage and heroism by the women of Iran. But does it not concern, in one way or another, the women of the whole world and the workers’ movement which has the duty to take up with them the fight for women’s emancipation.
The right of return for the millions of Palestinians driven out of their land since the nakba of 1948, the right, the democratic demand of a secular and democratic Palestine on the whole historical territory of Palestine where all citizens whatever their confessions can live in equality and peace, whether Muslim, Jewish, Christian, atheist, Arab; whatever their origins, on an equal footing in the same democratic republic, is of course a fundamental demand of the Palestinian people, but is it not also a democratic demand of all the oppressed nations and peoples of the world?
The right, the right of workers to organise themselves freely, in trade unions independent of the state, independent of the capitalist class, independent of the party in power, this right is claimed with courage by the Chinese comrades who have sent us this message, by the thousands of Chinese militants who are building these organisations at all costs.
But is this demand not also those of the comrades of Russia, a certain number of whose militant trade unionists, such as comrade Cyril K., are in prison for having built these trade unions? Is this right of independent trade unions, this right to freedom of organisation for the working class, not on the agenda on all continents and in all countries?
That is why comrades, more than ever, we have the duty to place ourselves under the flag of the workers’ international, we are not a French party, we are the French component of a workers’ international under construction and that is why a world conference against war will meet next week, against exploitation, for the workers’ international, in which delegates from 35 or 36 countries will participate, although many of them have been prevented from taking part because the French government has refused to give visas and for others, because governments have prevented them from leaving the country where they are militant activists.
Despite these obstacles, this conference will take place with militants of all tendencies and its agenda will include the need to work to rebuild the workers’ movement on a new axis, that of class independence. But the POID also sets out to help unite the workers in this country.
Comrades have said it before me: in this country, which is in principle the 5th or 6th industrial power in the world, hunger is progressing, misery is spreading, poverty is spreading to new layers. In recent demonstrations, in many student processions, we have seen signs saying “we are hungry”.
More and more, especially in our broadcasts, we meet workers who say: anyway, I won’t be able to pay, I won’t be able to pay the gas bill, the electricity bill.
This country is experiencing and will increasingly experience repeated social explosions in all areas. This government, which dares to denounce the strikers as privileged, is really only concerned with protecting the shameful privileges of bosses who earn 6 million euros a year. But they also want to set workers against each other, they want to divide. We see it for example when they claim that the demands of the refinery workers – who by the way renewed this afternoon the strike they had decided – when the refinery workers put forward their wage demands, some, including in the workers’ movement, claimed that maybe they were a bit excessive, maybe these workers were a bit better off than others. We wrote it in our paper and we repeat it, the demands of the refinery workers are the demands of all the workers in this country because the question of wages is asked everywhere, the demand for an increase in wages is asked everywhere. And the solution involves the confiscation of the 170 billion in profits of the CAC 40 companies. This would be sufficient everywhere to satisfy these demands.
Comrades, there are many attempts to divide us. We have seen again in the last few days the shameful, scandalous and repulsive way in which a terrible news item has been used to try to oppose once again French workers, immigrant workers, documented workers, undocumented workers. Comrades, we will repeat our position over and over again: whoever is exploited in this country belongs to the working class of this country. Whether he/she is French, whether he/she is an immigrant, whether he/she has papers or not.
So comrades, there are not only blows from the capitalist class and the government. There are also strikes, a multitude of strikes in this country, every day there are strikes with demands defined by the workers themselves. They are often about wages, but not only, about working conditions, about recruitment. The truth is that in most of these strikes, the workers are united, they gather their unions and their delegates, they decide on the forms of action. At the same time the workers are faced with a situation which is confusing. It’s confusing because we have a very great amount wealth in this country, I’m not sure that we should be happy about it. We have a multitude of characters who consider themselves more important than each other and who all proclaim themselves the leaders of the working class.
And they all proclaim that they are there to say what to do. They have a multitude of dates to propose: we’ve already had some, but they’re announcing 27 October, 10 November, 17 November, 19 November, 20 November, and I’m sure I’m forgetting some others.
Comrades, there is a French proverb which says: abundance of good does harm. I would say: plenty of self-proclaimed leaders and days of action imposed from above end up harming the workers’ movement too.
We have the impression that there is a kind of one-upmanship, of competition; each one has his own little day of action to propose to others, each one has his own initiative which is more important than all the others, each one declares: I’m the one who must be followed and not the neighbour. As if the workers’ action had to be contained, channelled and controlled, as if it were the most important thing.
So we at the POID, at the risk of disappointing, have no instructions to give, no dates to propose and no leader to impose. Unity, yes, that is, fighting for the emancipation of the workers by the workers themselves.
The emancipation of the workers by the workers themselves is both an objective and a means. It is the objective because we want to put an end to this society dominated by a handful of capitalists and exploiters, because we believe that the hundreds of billions that are wasted on something else must be at the service of the working people.
But unity is also the way to achieve this. The workers are capable of deciding for themselves. A comrade said unity, he is right, but unity will not come from above. Unity will come from the movement from below. The workers are capable and they prove it by defining demands, by holding their general assemblies, by gathering their unions, and by designating their delegates.
It’s a question of doing it not only at the level of the workplace and the strikes which are developing today, but tomorrow at the local level, the assemblies of workers’ delegates of the different companies of the cities and towns with the unions, the assemblies of workers’ delegates at the departmental level, and why not, in the wake of this, on a national scale, a national assembly of workers’ delegates from the towns and countryside, elected in the towns, the villages, in the neighbourhoods, a national assembly of workers’ delegates, which is not supervised by this or that genial leader, but which proceeds from the very movement of the working class.
It is a tradition in this country that at some point there will be a general strike. But will there be a central strike committee representing and reporting to the workers’ delegates? Our ambition as an independent democratic workers’ party is not to lead this movement, not to dictate to it what it should do, but to help it emerge, to propose the means to achieve it, and therefore a political perspective.
The POID’s ambition is not the struggle for the sake of the struggle. Our ambition is the struggle to win. The question is not whether the workers are capable of fighting, they have shown that on many occasions. How many times, for the oldest among us, have we demonstrated with millions of workers in the streets? Sometimes partial setbacks have been imposed. But in the end, the governments and the capitalist class, aided by a number of apparatuses, ended up taking over. We want the next movement to lead to a lasting solution.
The perspective for the POID must be made clear. It’s a question of ousting Macron, his government, the Fifth Republic and its constitution at the service of the capitalists. But this is a first step. We want to add that the workers have the right to demand a government of their own. They have the right to impose a government of the majority. That is to say, a government of those millions of workers whose only wealth is their labour. Such a government will be capable of recovering the fruit of the labour of the whole working class for the benefit of the whole of society.
What I have just mentioned was once the goal of the entire labour movement. Some have obviously given up on it. But in reality there are no others. To renounce the expropriation of capitalism would be to remain trapped in the chains of exploitation and oppression.
This objective, however, is shared by all the comrades of the POID, whatever their origins. There are among us comrades whose history brings them back to the Socialist Party of which they were members, to the Communist Party, comrades of anarchist tradition, trade union delegates, comrades of the Trotskyist current to which I belong like other comrades, comrades without any particular commitment or label. But we all share the necessity, the conviction that the working class must claim the working class for itself. And to claim power is to claim control over how wealth is produced, how it is distributed, to control the fact that it serves the majority.
So comrades, at the risk of perhaps upsetting some of those who have the media spotlight, we will modestly say that it is not up to the great self-proclaimed leaders to discipline the workers’ will. It is up to the working class to impose itself on all the leaders, on all the self-proclaimed leaders. It is up to the working class to impose its seal on society, to take the leadership in its own hands.
Comrades, if you share this objective, then I will simply say to you, this party is yours. This hall has just over 1800 participants. This hall costs money, it has been fully financed, euro by euro, by the collection of POID militants, because we are financially independent, which is the condition of political independence. Just like the Workers’ Tribune is independent, just like our party is independent, which receives no state subsidies. If you share this objective, then this party is yours.
The activists will give you a small flyer, (that’s what we call a leaflet now… . You will read it, it is very short (difference between a leaflet and a flyer). You will read it in three minutes. If you agree with its content, if you share what has been said here, you will join the POID.
I will add this, on a personal basis and not only. First of all, as an old Trotskyist activist, I felt very moved by the fact that in this hall, in Russian, a call to socialism was made. That despite all the rotten politics of those who sold the USSR, of those who plundered it, of those who are the cause of the wars today, the call to socialism is resounding in this hall, in the language of Lenin, of Trotsky. This is something that for me has enormous importance. But beyond what will appear to be a personal feeling, I would like to read you the short message that comrade Christel and I wrote while listening to these comrades, who engage us there, as national secretaries of the POID:
“Having participated in the meeting against war and exploitation, we heard the speeches of the comrades (will follow the list). In particular, we heard comrade Belarus declare: “There are comrades from Ukraine, Belarus, Russia in this hall. I declare on their behalf that our peoples do not want war. Our peoples want peace and socialism.”
In France, and throughout the world, it is also time to fight for peace and socialism. We will be there. Thank you, comrades.
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