This post is a part of a new series of posts which will consist of translations and excerpts from the communiques, statements, pamphlets and other literature from left-wing political parties in the Arab world, especially Tunisia (others as well, Egypt, Algeria and Mauritania in particular). The selections will focus on foreign policy, women’s issues, relations with other political factions (mainly Islamists and other leftist tendencies), ideology, rhetoric and general worldview. The purpose of this series is to put into English elements of the contemporary Arab political discourse which are generally neglected in western and English-language reportage and analysis while the of Islamist tendency receives extensive, if not excessive coverage. The translations in this series should not be taken as this blogger endorsing or promoting the content of particular materials: the objective is to increase access to and understanding of the contemporary Arab left by making its perspectives known, especially in areas of interest and relevance to English-speakers. This series will include both leftist and Arab nationalist [party] documents, statements, communiques, articles and so on. The series will attempt to touch on as many of the main (and interesting) leftist parties as possible.
Below are translations of communiques and articles from the Tunisian Communist Workers Party (PCOT) dealing with international and foreign issues. Two are articles dealing with macro-political/economic issues — the global financial crisis and global warming and its impact on poverty — from 2009 and 2010. One deals with the problem of anti-immigrant (and anti-Muslim) sentiment in Europe, mostly in relation to the economic down turn and the exploitative character of capitalism, as the party sees it. Another is a communique mourning the death of Pascale Fantodji, a Beninois communist leder, from 2010.
These documents were selected because: (1) they illustrate, in part, the party’s ideological and cultural posture at the international level; (2) they deal with relatively contemporary problems in global political economy and thus show how the party applies its political outlook to the world around it in relatively abstract terms as opposed to strictly concrete, practical or tactical terms; (3) these communiques help in understanding the party’s own self image as not just as an internationally-oriented revolutionary party and thus assist in informing readers about some of the frames and its motivation with respect to and approach to particular political questions inside Tunisia and the Arab countries. The authors of these documents, like many leftists, view the global financial crisis as evidence of a crisis of capitalism that confirms the outline of Marxist thought. They view increasing European hostility towards immigrants, Muslims especially, at least in part as a function of capitalist exploitation of the working class and calls for a “progressive anti-racist front” to advocate for the rights of workers in Europe and elsewhere. (This communique is especially relevant given the terrorist attacks in Norway on 22 July, carried out by an individual committed to the anti-immigrant/Muslim tendency in Europe and acting on what he saw as the logical conclusion of that movement, based on the “Eurabian thesis”.) The communique regarding Fantodji is included to show its links with other African communist movements. Other documents dealing with foreign affairs/international issues will follow in later posts.
1. Broad international trends
“The Crisis of the Capitalist System deepens”
DATE: 11 December, 2009
The repercussions of the capitalist economic crisis are still coming and affecting the productive sections as well as real estate and banking in the form of a statement from the government of Dubai, UAE on its inability to pay its debts owed to international banks and its request to postpone repayments for a period of at least six months surprising the various stock exchanges of the world and increasing the severity of the financial crisis ongoing for more than a year [now].
At the time the media began to talk about the beginning of an economic recovery and overcoming the crisis came the real estate crisis in Dubai at the end of November a bomb in the markets, especially since it had been considered a model for countries that were moving from the local to the global. It was also characterized by large projects in the area of real estate and investment in ports and global stock exchanges. Dubai was considered a Tiger that navigated world markets and imposed itself on the globalized economy and some went as far as to substitute it for the GCC’s dependence on oil and exaggerated its image with mega projects such as the floating islands in the shape of palm trees and called to the rich world boasting of the possessing the tallest skyscrapers in the world, etc. [. . .] But this surge crashed in the so-called financial bubble costing over $80 billion for several companies such as Dubai World and Nakheel. Owned by government princes in Dubai were forced to seek assistance and intervention from neighboring Abu Dhabi to pump in the necessary funds in the form of debt ($15 billion).
The reaction in the stock markets was quick and immediate, as shares of Gulf companies fell and savings of the oil countries in international banks and a major loss of confidence in the future of many companies and especially Dubai Ports which invested in the most important international ports (London, America, Asia, etc.). And then came Putin’s pessimistic comments and the IMF paradoxically in a short time (four months) confirming that the financial crisis was ongoing. The repercussions affected small investors and employees who deposited their money in Islamic banks in Dubai and the various Gulf countries and affected workers and employees who lost their jobs as well. Real estate prices have fallen by more than a half and land stocks to more than 10% impacted by the dollar and oil prices.
It can be concluded that the Marxist analysis is valid in regard to a crisis crisis of capitalism would affect all capitalism economies, without exception, and negatively impact people’s lives and will not be salvaged except for by getting rid of the capitalist mode of production and replacing it with the socialist pattern. Let us develop our own capabilities through the initiation of working class struggle and the formation of a global front against imperialism and against the impact of neoliberal globalization.
“The Poor — The favorite victims of climate change!”
DATE: 20 February, 2010
It is confirmed by many international organizations that changes seen in the Earth’s climate are due to increased human activity in industry and technology and that the resulting toxic gasses are damaging humans, animals and plants and will eventually lead to increased rates of hunger, especially in dependent [developing] countries.
It is well known that greenhouse gas emissions are increasing significantly and frighteningly from the capitalist countries’s manufacturing, especially from their participation in the arms race, which will affect the rate of food production such that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has confirmed that the distribution of food production by the year 2050 will witness dire consequences and may face a decline between 9% and 12% as a result of rising temperature as a result of damage to the ozone layer. At the time that capitalist countries involved in the contamination of the Earth did not agree on a protocol setting out the proportion of greenhouse gasses while the systems of agriculture and forestry will be affected and concentrate on carbon dioxide and change forms of rainfall patterns, along with increasing the spread of weeds, pests and diseases. It is expected that the deepening and spread of droughts, heat waves, floods and violent storms will continue for the foreseeable future.
It is natural, in such circumstances and a changing climate, there would be increases in fluctuations in agricultural production especially in poor parts of the world. At another level these fluctuations in climate will negatively affect food security and safety with a wide spread of diseases transmitted by water, air and even by food itself, which will generate a significant contraction in production and productivity. Naturally the working class will also be affected with increasing rates of poverty, hunger and death in their midst.
Many studies have not ruled out the idea that the African continent is one of the areas most affected by climate change due to its being one of the areas more vulnerable to the affects of drought, floods and hurricanes. Being the poorest in the world and least secure in the area of food, it [Africa] is assumed to see irreparable damage on this level. Our country Tunisia is not isolated from climactic fluctuation, as the impact of climate change on Tunisian fisheries and forestry cannot be resisted when its economy is shaky and its people’s incomes are limited. And the regime will no longer be able to reduce its negative impacts at a time that we do not see or hear serious voices calling for the defense of the environment or the ocean only through the official discourse of the wooden system or from some parties and organizations that were unable to express their views and the distortion of our country’s environmental policy because of the suppression of freedoms, especially freedom for the media and the freedom to organize and demonstrate [. . .]
A new strategy to reduce climate change and its impact on food security and for mankind is an immediate priority for humanity and the international community to put it forward strongly and to defend it and not be trapped by the capitalist powers who are active in emitting toxic gasses, pressuring them to at least reduce the calamity which would be disastrous to humankind in general and the poor in particular. And it must also be noted that these capitalist countries pay to wage war against and use chemicals to kill people in Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan [. . .] In so doing they kill the Earth’s crust from which we eat and drink, leaving frightening effects for many years on the land, water and air. These poles of capitalism must be shamed, exposed and isolated for killing people not only because of their own greed and their stealing of riches but also because this contributes to the eradication of life on Earth.
2. Racism in Europe
“On the growing manifestations of racism in Europe”
DATE: 11 December, 2009
The capitalist system is adopting rightist governments in order to cope with its suffocating economic crisis and highlight the extreme fascist groups to leverage chauvinist and racist slogans against immigrants in order to turn the class struggle away from its course. Capitalists find an outlet in fascist propaganda that feeds them moral and material support and disposes of accountability for the real perpetrators of the crisis.
Many racist laws have been passed for some time against migrant workers against Arabs and Muslims. Racist laws have boomed in light of a lack of awareness and weakness on the part of the forces of the left and its fragmentation. The latest of these laws were voted in in Switzerland in a recent popular referendum preventing the construction of minarets in a country with a right wing government and nearly seven million people, including three hundred thousand Muslims with three minarets, one of which is in use. This law is not intended to target the building of minarets but to strike at the freedom of belief and toleration between religions and cultures.
These racist laws neutralize conflict and distract the toiling masses from the real cause of the crisis.
Numerous racist demonstrations and protests were organized against migrant workers in France on the border between France and Switzerland.
Generally, the variations of right-wing extremism is growing and expanding steadily in various parts of the world taking a number of forms such as media campaigns, the use of the arts (cinema, cartoons, songs) to take a sometime deadly character by targeting foreigners (Muslims and Arabs in particular) and their lives, honor and property.
Racist movements that divert attention from the reality of living conditions among the working class and nurture the extremest fundamentalist movements that thrive in such an environment then present themselves as victims and defenders of “identity.” They highlight the terrorist movements drowning the countries in blood and chaos and look for rightwing governments in order to export their crisis and place further restrictions on freedoms.
Confronting this racist tide is the task for of all revolutionary and progressive forces in all countries of the world. It cannot confront this force unless it unites its ranks in a progressive anti-racist front standing side by side with the movements of migrant workers to raise the slogan “We live here, we work here and we will stay here!” and to demand full equality between migrant and non-migrant workers in rights and obligations.
3. Solidarity with other communists
“A communique of condolences to the comrades in the Communist Party of Benin”
DATE: 7 April, 2010
Gone from us forever on Monday, 5 April is comrade Pascale Fantodji, First Secretary of the Communist Party of Benin, we sent this cable of condolences to the comrades of Benin.
We have received with deep pain the news of the passing of comrade Pascale Fantodji, the First Secretary and founding member of the Communist Party of Benin.
The passing of Pascale Fantodji is not just a great loss for the communists, workers and people of Benin, but also a great loss for communists all over the world.
We believe that the Communists of Benin will remain steadfast despite this time of difficulty and will continue to struggle to achieve the revolutionary goal taunted Pascale Fantodji for all of his life.
— The Tunisian Communist Workers Party, 7 April, 2010