01/30/11

How Much is $100 Million in Budget Cuts?

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

This video is one and a half years old, but if you haven’t seen it, you need to watch it now (it’s under two minutes), and then pass it on to your friends who can’t get their heads round the U.S.’ out of control spending and why the ever-promised budget cuts are all but meaningless.

Also, if you’ve got another minute, take the time to watch another video by the same guy – this time visualizing the cost of Health Care Reform.

01/30/11

Trotskyist “Solidarity” from the Asia-Pacific Region

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Some Trotskyist “solidarity” from the Asia-Pacific region for the unfolding Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions.

From LINKS:

Socialist Party of Malaysia solidarity statement with the People’s Uprising in Egypt, Tunisia and the Middle East:

January 29, 2011 — The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) would like to express its solidarity with the revolutionary masses in Egypt, as well as in Tunisia and other countries in North Africa and the Middle East, for their courageous struggle against repressive regimes which are mostly backed by US-led imperialist powers.

The flame of anger and people’s power is spreading in North Africa and the Middle East, and this has made the ruling regimes in the region tremble in front of the rising of massive revolutionary waves. The Tunisian revolution which sparked off in December 2010 has put an end to the 23-year rule of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, who came to power through a coup d’état…

Besides Tunisia and Egypt, there are also massive waves of protest sweeping across Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and other parts of the Arab world. These people’s struggles deserve our solidarity…

All repressive regimes and those who collude with imperialist powers must go. The people of Tunisia and Egypt have shown the way and more nations will follow their footsteps. Like the past revolutions which have brought dramatic change to the world and the ongoing revolutionary struggles in Latin America, the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt will continue to inspire people around the world to revive their fighting tradition and stand up against powerful ruling elites who collude with imperialist powers, and to build a better world from below.

Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM, Party of the Labouring Masses), Philippines:

January 29, 2011 — The progressive movement and peoples of the Philippines stands in solidarity with the Egyptian people and the mass movement in the streets in these critical moments in their struggle for the ouster of the dictatorial Mubarak regime.

We also salute the upsurge of the Tunisian peoples in overthrowing the US-backed dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14, and how their victory has electrified and inspired the people of Egypt and the Middle East, while dictators shake with fear.

Revolutionary flames are sweeping across the Arab world. Yesterday Tunisia removed a barbaric dictator. Today is for Egypt. Tomorrow is for Palestine and all those in the Middle East struggling against dictatorships and exploitation and oppression.

Long live the revival of genuine peoples popular power in the Middle East!

Long live the revolution in the Middle East!

Statement by the Socialist Alliance, Australia:

January 29, 2011 — The Socialist Alliance applauds the courage and tenacity of the Tunisian people, whose protests for democracy and economic and social justice, now in their second month, have ended the 23-year rule of dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali.

The Tunisian revolution has inspired ordinary people across the Arab world and protests have broken out in Algeria, Jordan, Yemen and, most dramatically, against the United States-backed dictatorship in Egypt.

The Egyptian and Tunisian uprisings are not just against Western-backed dictators. They are against an unjust global economic system based on the plunder of the human and natural resources of poor countries by Western corporations. The policies of multinational institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, faithfully implemented by Ben Ali and Hosni Mubarak, create poverty, unemployment and lack of opportunity for ordinary people.

The Socialist Alliance calls for:

  • No Western interference in Tunisia. The Tunisian people have shown that it is they, and not the Western empires, who know what democracy means.
  • The West to stop propping up the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt, the second-largest recipient of US military aid in world (after Israel).
  • An end to the ongoing Western military occupation of Iraq, and other Western military interference in the Arab world and the neighboring region, including the occupation of Afghanistan and covert operations in Yemen and Somalia.

Labour Party Pakistan statement on mass upsurge in Egypt and Tunisia:

January 20, 2011 — The Labour Party Pakistan expresses its solidarity with the masses for their daring struggle against authoritarian regimes in Middle East, particularly in Egypt, which are mostly backed by US-led imperialist powers. We stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people and the mass movement in the streets in these critical moments in their struggle for the ouster of the domineering Mubarak regime…

Besides Tunisia and Egypt, there are also massive waves of protest sweeping across Algeria, Yemen, Jordan and other parts of the Arab world. These people’s struggles deserve our solidarity…

The people of Tunisia and Egypt have shown the way and we believe that more nations will follow their footsteps. Like the past revolutions which have brought dramatic change to the world and the ongoing revolutionary struggles in Latin America, the people’s revolution in Tunisia and Egypt will continue to inspire people around the world to revive their fighting tradition and stand up against powerful ruling elites who collude with imperialist powers, and to build a better world from below.

We call on the masses of Pakistan to follow their brothers and sisters of Tunisia and Egypt. We call on the masses of Pakistan to overthrow the present pro-US imperialist capitalist feudal system and to elect a constituent assembly to do away from pro-IMF policies, to separate the state from religion, to dismantle feudalism, end of privatization and a process of re-nationalization, to grant right of self-determination to the nations, equal rights to the minorities, an end of all discriminatory laws against women and minorities and to demand an end of imperialist occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Socialist Aotearoa (New Zealand):

January 28, 2011 — A revolution is unfolding in Egypt and across the world: from Tunisia to Athens, London to Amman people are demanding political freedom and economic justice. The current system of US imperialism, neo-liberal capitalism and constant social crisis is incapable of meeting the peoples demands and as revolt spreads we witness the system come crashing down.

Yet the ruling class will fight furiously to maintain their wealth and power. Armies of secret policemen will attack demonstrators on the streets, global corporations like Vodafone will cut cellphone and internet access to prevent news spreading, diplomats and politicians will urge protesters to be non-violent and listen to their rulers, even after decades of violence and deaf ears by rulers like Mubarak and Ben Ali. If the US thinks that Israel is threatened if the regime in Cairo falls then they might even intervene with force to suppress the Egyptian uprising…

In the face of the brutality of the Egyptian military and the callousness of the US imperialists, we need to urgently organize worldwide protests to show our solidarity with the Egyptian people and to demand that the US end its military support to its puppet dictators and regimes in North Africa and the Middle East. In workplaces, schools, universities, churches and mosques we should spread information about an uprising where Christians told Muslims that they would defend them from the police and where university professors and slum dwellers stand shoulder to shoulder against the regime. As tanks and tear gas fill the streets of Cairo, people across the world must stand in solidarity with the Egyptian people.

Yep – “democracy” is coming to the Middle East folks.

01/30/11

New Zealand Marxists Cheer On Egyptian Revolution – Say It Will Spread to Greece, Spain and France

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Video of a January 29 Auckland, New Zealand “Egyptian Solidarity” protest organized by Trotskyist splinter group Socialist Aotearoa.

The first up speaker is rabidly anti-Israeli, die-hard Marxist Green Party MP Keith Locke – who makes the point that any new Egyptian government will be far more pro-Palestinian and far more anti-Israel than the Mubarak regime.

The second speaker is Socialist Aotearoa leader Joe Carolan, a veteran of the Political Committee of the Irish Socialist Workers Party. Carolan claims that the revolution will spread through the Arab world and into Greece, Spain and France. I believe we can take his word for that.

Lifelong Marxists Mike Treen and John Minto also chime in.

01/30/11

The Decline of Egypt

By: Ashraf Ramelah
Voice of the Copts

When I received word of the fatal car bomb attack on Coptic worshipers leaving the Saints Coptic Church in Alexandria after this year’s New Year’s mass, I recalled my earliest memories of the first of these brutal, senseless and unprovoked attacks against the Coptic people in my homeland of Egypt.  Eighty-three Christians were massacred in El-Zawia El Hamra, Cairo in 1980 by Muslim believers committing an act of jihad similar to this current episode and similar to what we now face in other parts of the world today. We took our persecution for granted and I wondered then where my country was heading.

Egypt is no longer a civilized country when Egyptian Copts are vulnerable to barbaric attacks and treated at best like strangers and more often like enemies in their own land. As a native Egyptian Copt growing up in Cairo in the 1950s and ’60s, I was mindful of our separate and diminished role. We lived as immigrants, without full rights, within our own land. The discrimination was real and I had little hope for my future. Never mind that my beloved country was once the cradle of civilization and that my roots extended deep into the stories of the Pharaohs.

Growing up in Egypt as a Copt, I witnessed the growing presence of Islam in our streets and in our government day-by-day and I sensed the decline of a civilized country. As Western values sought to take root and usher in a new modernity, the predominant Arab-Muslim influence was taking the culture backwards toward more primitive notions. What happened to this great center of civilization is represented today in the horrific and inhumane treatment of the Copts. This theocratic state lashes out against those who live outside the chosen religion within Egypt and prepares Egyptian Muslims to do the same beyond their borders. Mohammed Atta, for one, hails from Egypt.

Examining the past sixty years of Egyptian rule to understand the stages of its decline, we see how a once-highly civilized nation was thrown to the wolves and how barely a shred of decency and humanity remains. Egypt’s democracy today is little more than a stage show for a world audience.

The idea of the Arab Omma (nation) started with Nasser. In 1964, he attempted to destabilize Saudi Arabia indirectly by sending Egypt’s army to help Yemen in their war against the Saudis. He pressed Egyptian citizens to work in Saudi Arabia as a fifth column as part of his master design to become the supreme ruler over Arab nations and the Islamic Omma. Nasser followed the ideology of Hassan El-Banna of the Muslim Brotherhood and with this, he generated the Fedayyn terrorist organization headed by Arafat to fight Israel.

Nasser hid his real goals for Egypt behind a false socialist agenda, using it to confiscate private property and sell it to the poor, who became indebted to the state. He nationalized the majority of Egyptian private businesses owned by Christians and Jews. He further damaged the Coptic Church by intercepting the funds in personal family trusts en route to church coffers.

Following Nasser, Sadat took control in 1970 along with his contingency of the Muslim Brotherhood, whom he was slowly releasing from jail. He welcomed in a new wave of Islamists and over time, he began to expunge the Nasserian believers and followers of socialism. Even worse for the country, those Muslims sent by Nasser to Saudi Arabia now returned to Egypt fully absorbed in Wahhabi and Sufi doctrine — a devastating prospect for the Copts and other minority religions of Egypt.

Under Sadat’s leadership, discrimination against Copts increased. Church leaders came under attack for the first time since the coup d’état of 1952. The conflict reached its height when various priests were arrested and Sadat decided to commit the Coptic pope to an asylum. The church became a target for violence and Christian women and girls began to be kidnapped and forced to convert to Islam.

Mubarak followed the footsteps of his two predecessors as he furthered the Islamization of Egypt, which in turn increased the level of discrimination against Copts. In nearly thirty years of ruling Egypt, Mubarak did nothing of significance to facilitate relations between Christians and Muslims. Instead, he carried out the original Islamization of Egypt designed by those who authored the Coup of 1952 (the revolution) that overthrew King Farouk.

Today, Mubarak cries out for the rights of Arabs in Gaza but will not grant the right of safety to his own Egyptian citizens. Mubarak sponsored a U.N. law against defamation of religion, but allows daily defamation of Christianity through the Egyptian regime-controlled media. Mubarak condemns Israel for being a Jewish state and not a secular one. but rules a country in which the state constitution contains Islamic religious sharia law with jurisdiction over all citizens.

Beginning in 1981, Mubarak ran for office four times unopposed. In 2005, he won his fifth term. This time, he was challenged by opposition parties (Copts not included, Muslim Brotherhood excluded), which were allowed to register for the first time, but they were too weak and restricted by Mubarak’s regulations to be a significant force. The emergency law Mubarak put in place the first day he took office has ever since prohibited public gatherings, including political rallies and protests, without government permission. Particularly damaging to the electoral process is the current law that can imprison a journalist whose speech is “offensive” while covering political campaigns. Imagine such deterrents to political organizing for the Copts or any other minority. 

Copts living outside Egypt in America and elsewhere in the West are fighting not only the inequities of the Mubarak regime, but also the force that fuels it: the rigidity of Islam. That is why Copts are especially cautionary regarding Islamic immigration to the free world. When Copts remained largely powerless and passive under Egypt’s Muslim rulers of the past sixty years, they witnessed their freedoms gradually slip away with the buildup of a religious Islamic state and a sharia-compliant nation. Copts are now very worried for America.

Muslims in America receive justice in our courts and freedom to worship, but Copts have no hope for either in Egypt. It is no surprise to Copts that America’s freedom is enabling Muslims to assert their right to rule their members by the restrictive Islamic sharia law. Such allowances will weaken Western nations as it has Egypt. Copts cannot be blamed for seeing the hypocrisy in Muslims requesting special religious privileges in America while Copts in Egypt continue to be forced to worship in fear under Islam — churches remain unsafe and barriers remain to building and renovating churches.

In the words of former Muslim and Dutch Parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book Infidel, “When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance and freedom, I look at reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so.” Copts agree that Egypt is one of those realities. Will America be another?

Ashraf Ramelah is founder and President of Voice of the Copts and has been invited to speak before the European Parliament in Strasbourg to defend the Copts of Egypt.

01/30/11

Revolution in Egypt – Out of the Frying Pan into the Fire

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Those Westerners who believe that the ongoing turmoil in Egypt and Tunisia may lead to a flowering of “democracy” in the Arab world are in for bitter disappointment.

For years European and American Trotskyists and communists have been working with Egyptian leftists and the Muslim Brotherhood to oust pro-US dictator Hosni Mubarak.

If the Egyptian revolution succeeds, Egypt will turn both further to the left and to radical Islam. This will have huge implications for the security of Israel, regional stability (if you can even use such a word in the Middle East) and the security of the Suez Canal and Western oil supply and trade lines.

Already, Trotskyists and communist forces around the world are rallying in support of the Egyptian revolution.

From an article by Egyptian socialist Wassim Wagdy in Britain’s Socialist Worker Online:

They said they would be there, and they were. The 25 January was declared a “Day of Anger” by democratic and socialist forces a week beforehand…

For years the resistance to Mubarak’s regime has been on the rise: a democratic movement feeding from the solidarity with the Palestinian Intifada, the protests against the occupation of Iraq, against the attack on Gaza, protests against fraudulent presidential and parliamentary elections; the second part of the 2000s saw a massive wave of strikes that demanded, and often won, economic demands and always called for the ousting of Mubarak. Step by step, workers and the political opposition have been increasing in confidence…

Against the background of the developments in the democratic and workers movement in Egypt in the past years, the Tunisian revolution can be seen as the raising of the curtain on seismic events in the region. The Egyptian protesters are starting off from where the Tunisian revolution left…

Demonstrators in their thousands gathered and marched in all major cities with one goal: ousting Mubarak’s regime. Their slogans included: “Revolution until Victory”, “Revolution in Tunis, Revolution in Egypt”, “Oh Mubarak, Bin Ali is waiting for you in Jeddah.”

The prospect of radical change in the region has never been so close. It might not happen today, but this is definitely the beginning of the end…

In London, demonstrations are being held every day in front of the Egyptian embassy demanding regime change and supporting the protestors in Egypt. Echoing the slogans from the streets of Egypt the protestors outside the Egyptian embassy in London have been chanting: “The people want to bring the regime down”, “Bread, Freedom and Social Justice.” Last night, in front of the embassy, and to the tune of the national anthem, protestors chanted “My homeland, my homeland, You need a revolution, Oh my homeland.”

Egypt will not be the end of this. Look for increased violence and unrest not just trough the Arab world, but also in Greece, Spain and in France.

01/30/11

Egyptian Revolution and the Trotskyist Connection

By: Trevor Loudon
New Zeal

Here is a re-post of a column I wrote in July 2007 on the links between the international Trotskyist movement (including NZ Socialist Worker) and the Muslim Brotherhood and other Egyptian revolutionary groups.

The British Socialist Workers’ Party (the main force behind last years student rioting in Britain) and other European and American Trotskyists and communists, have been working with the Egyptian left and Muslim brotherhood for years.

The current events in Egypt have been a long time in the making.

From New Zeal July 28 2007:

Socialist Worker NZ is the sister party of the British Socialist Workers’ Party.

Since 2002, the SWP have been key participants in a series of annual conferences held in Cairo.

From Wikipedia:

The Cairo Conference against U.S. hegemony and war on Iraq and in solidarity with Palestine generally known simply as Cairo Anti-war Conference, is an anti-war and anti-neo-liberalism conference held regularly since 2002 in Cairo, Egypt.

The Cairo Conference set up the International Campaign Against Aggression on Iraq,
Held on the 17th-19th December, 2002, 400 attended, at the Conrad Hotel on the banks of the Nile…

One out come of the conference was the production of the ‘Cairo Declaration’, which took a stance against the then looming Iraq war…

The ICAAI coordinated the February 15th global day of action against the Iraq war which became the largest day of demonstrations in history involving up to 25 million people in 150 countries.

The President of ICAAI is Ahmed Ben Bella, former pro Soviet president of Algeria, while Vice-President is British Socialist Workers Party leader John Rees.

The UK Stop the War Coalition, in particular John Rees of the SWP, initiated the signing of the declaration by European lefties, including: Jeremy Corbyn MP, George Galloway MP, Tony Benn, Susan George (Left-wing activist based in France), Bob Crow, Mick Rix (general secretary, train drivers’ Aslef union), Julie Christie, George Monbiot, Harold Pinter, Dr Siddiqui (leader, Muslim Parliament of Great Britain), Tommy Sheridan, Dr Ghada Karmi (research fellow, Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter), Tariq Ali.

The conference was followed by a 1,000-strong anti-war demonstration that was surrounded by riot police and armored cars.

Note the presence of George Galloway and well known British Trotskyists, Tommy Sheridan and Tariq Ali.

Second Conference:

Held 13th and 14th December, 2003, at the Egyptian Journalists’ Union headquarters. This had 800 attendees. Conference final declaration available here. Anti-war MP George Galloway, Tony Benn, Salma Yaqoob, and former US attorney-general Ramsey Clark were among the international speakers. Prominent Egyptian campaigners taking part included Nasserist MP Hamdeen Sabahy, Galal Aref, head of the Egyptian Journalists’ Union, and Ma’mun al-Hodeiby, leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood. Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim and human rights activist Aida Seif-al-Dawla were among the conference organizers.

The presence of Muslim Brotherhood leader Ma’mun al-Hodeiby brought a large number of Islamist activists into the conference. The Muslim Brotherhood, although officially banned, is by far Egypt’s largest opposition organization. However, some delegates were critical of the Muslim Brotherhood’s cooperation with the government in a series of stage-managed anti-war rallies held before the invasion of Iraq.

Note that the Muslim Brotherhood has long been regarded as strongly Marxist in orientation.

Third Conference:

24-27 March 2005. Political groups, independent activists, and organizations in Egypt were invited to take part in the conference and also to propose their own activities to take place at the same time as the conference.

Egyptian organizations supported the third conference….20th of March Movement for Change, Egyptian Communist Party, Karama Party, Muslim Brotherhood, Organization of Revolutionary Socialists, Socialist People’s Party, Wasat Party.

Fourth Conference:

The fourth conference, under the rubric “International Campaign against US and Zionist Occupation”, was held 23-26 March, 2006, on a platform expressed through the slogans “With the Resistance in Palestine and Iraq” and “Against Globalization, Imperialism and Zionism”.

The conference discussed means of supporting the resistance in Palestine and Iraq, challenged U.S. and Israeli plans to expand their aggression against the region to Syria and/or Iran as well as their plans to liquidate Palestinian and Lebanese resistance organizations, dealt with the issue of supporting the struggle of the peoples of the Arab world for democracy against regimes of the region who collude with aggressors, and called for expanding and developing social struggles against globalization policies in the Arab region.

The Fifth Conference was held between March 29 and April 1 2007.

It is easy to see NZ’s tiny Socialist Worker as a bit of a joke.

However, Socialist Worker is part of an international network that links Trotskyists, mainstream communists and some of the most fanatical Islamic radicals on the planet.