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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

No to Imperialist War! Red Review #46 -- International Left and Labour News

With news from the USA, Canada, Luxembourg, China, India the DPRK and elsewhere.

There is also a special section related to statements by Communist and Workers' parties about the war in Ukraine. This includes joint statements as well as statements from the KKE, CPI(M), the Communist Party of Turkey, Evo Morales and others.

February 18:

On Friday, February 18, tens of thousands of students hit the streets in over 40 cities across Italy to protest against the country’s public education system and the institutional neglect of Italian youth. The central focus of the protest was the mandatory internship program for high school students imposed in 2015. In the past month two students, 18-year-old Lorenzo Parelli and 16-year-old Giuseppe Lenoci, died in work-related accidents during these internships.

Their deaths sparked outrage among students who had already been pushed to a breaking point by the devastating COVID-19 crisis and for the past several months have been protesting across the country demanding safer schools, higher investments in public education, schools, free public transport, and other guarantees to a dignified life and education. The pandemic and the flawed policies of the government in containing the crisis have severely impacted the physical, mental and financial health of students.

As more baristas around the country seek to unionize, Starbucks has used a massive legal team to slow the pace of union elections. But the coffee chain suffered a tough legal setback on Friday, all thanks to some late emails.

February 19:

On Saturday, February 19, leftist and working class groups of Beles, Luxembourg protested the closure of the public sector post office in the town and the increase in postal charges. The protest was called by the Communist Party of Luxembourg (KPL). Activists from Union des Femmes Luxembourgeoises (UFL) and Déi Lénk (The Left) also participated in the protest.

Protesters urged the government and the management of state-owned Post Luxembourg to stop the closure of post offices and withdraw the increase in postal charges. The protest meeting in Beles was addressed by KPL president Ali Ruckert, UFL president Irène Bigler and municipal councillor Patrizia Arendt from Déi Lénk.

February 20:

Upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics represents a key point of the essence of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics in the New Era.

"The overarching task of upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics is to realize socialist modernization and national rejuvenation," says the latest resolution of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on the Party's history.

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, has made in-depth discourses on pursuing the path of socialism with Chinese characteristics to achieve socialist modernization. The following are some highlights of his remarks:

-- As we have upheld and developed socialism with Chinese characteristics and driven coordinated progress in material, political, cultural-ethical, social, and ecological terms, we have pioneered a new and uniquely Chinese path to modernization and created a new model for human advancement.

-- The fundamental reason why we have managed to create unprecedented development achievements in the history of humanity is that we have blazed a correct path.

-- We must follow our own path. This is the bedrock that underpins all the theories and practices of our Party. More than that, it is the historical conclusion our Party has drawn from its struggles over the past century.

-- Not long after the founding of New China, the CPC set the goal of building a modern socialist country, and the next 30 years will be the time we strive to realize this historic vision on a new development stage.

-- China's modernization must cover a massive population, lead to common prosperity, deliver both material and cultural-ethical progress, promote harmony between humanity and nature, and proceed along a path of peaceful development.

February 21:

A large-scale modern greenhouse farm is to appear in Ryonpho area of Hamju County, South Hamgyong Province of the DPRK, under a decision made at the 4th Plenary Meeting of the 8th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) enshrining its far-reaching plan for bringing about the overall development of our style socialist construction and according to a relevant assignment.

The Party Central Committee, which regards it as the supreme principle of its activities to promote the civilization and welfare of the people, formulated it as a policy to build modern and profitable greenhouse farms on a large scale across the country and improve the standard of people's diet. It set it as a top task of the major state construction policy tasks for the year 2022 to build the Ryonpho Greenhouse Farm and entrusted the honorable task to the units of the People's Army which accumulated lots of experience in greenhouse farm construction.

Mswati’s killer police have again pounced on defenceless Swazi youth, this time attacking high school students with high voltage stun guns on Monday 21 February 2022.

The royal police’s paramilitary harassed and tortured students of Sigangeni High School, in the Hhohho region north of Swaziland, for allegedly consuming popcorn allegedly laced with marijuana at the school on Friday.

The police tased the students with high voltage stun guns, which left them physically and mentally traumatised. They did not conduct the attack as a means to effect an arrest, but as an act of extrajudicial punishment of the youngsters.

They also forced them to “sit” on an imaginary chair (situlo semoya) as they went on to scream insults at the students.

The Communist Party of Swaziland (CPS) condemns the police violence on the students and calls upon communist activists on the ground to stand with the students in defence of their rights.

A coalition of Mauritanian education unions called for a strike from 21-25 February. The widely supported action aimed at “wresting the rights” of teachers from the Minister of Education and underlined the unity of teachers.

PROMINENT Jewish Labour activist David Rosenberg dramatically quit the party today, accusing the current leadership of launching a full-scale war on its own members.

In a damning blog post, the Jewish Socialist Group founder condemned party leader Sir Keir Starmer for attacking the Labour left instead of the “most dangerous right-wing government I have lived under.”

On his Rebel Notes website, under the heading “Reaching the tipping point,” he wrote: “A party founded by trade unionists and dedicated socialists is embarrassed now by its union links and is a hostile environment for socialists.

A Communist Party of India (Marxist) worker on Monday was killed in Kerala’s Kannur district by a group of unidentified assailants, PTI reported. The party has alleged that workers of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and the Bharatiya Janata Party were behind the murder.

The victim was identified as 54-year-old Korambil Haridas, a resident of New Mahe town, according to The Indian Express.

The governor of the Venezuelan state of Tachira, Freddy Bernal, on Monday highlighted Cuba's resistance against the United States blockade and attacks.

Bernal, who is also a leader of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), told Prensa Latina exclusively that Cuba is the stronghold of resistance in Latin America, “the land of eternal resistance and dignity.”

February 22:

A U.S. retail workers' union on Tuesday accused Inc of unlawfully interfering with a union election at an Alabama warehouse where the company had already been found to have engaged in unlawful conduct to deter labor organizing.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) claiming Amazon removed union literature from employee break rooms, limited workers' access to the warehouse before and after shifts and forced workers to attend anti-union meetings.

February 23:

Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Wednesday sent a congratulatory letter on the inauguration ceremony of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School in Tanzania.

The Mwalimu Julius Nyerere Leadership School, co-founded by six parties in southern Africa, is located in Kibaha, some 40 kilometers from the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.

The six parties are the Revolutionary Party of Tanzania, the African National Congress of South Africa, the Mozambique Liberation Front Party and the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola, the SWAPO Party of Namibia and the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

The government, totally under the orders of the FEB and VOKA, has presented a "reform" of the labour market which is in line with the directives (orders) of the European Commission! These are the same attacks on workers and their rights that we find in the labour reform in Spain at the beginning of January or in Greece last June: more flexibility, i.e. more exploitation, here in exchange for the so-called 4-day week without collective reduction of working time. This means longer, more stressful days. The worker gains nothing. It's a real challenge to the 8-hour day, a historic conquest of the workers' movement whose 100th anniversary we celebrate in June 2021. It was also the 8-hour day that was the target of the Hatzidakis law, named after the Greek Minister of Labour (New Democracy), which extends the working day to 10 hours. In the federal government's reform, we also find the flexibility of weekday work, which can go from 24 hours to 48 hours, night work without bonuses until midnight in e-commerce (probably extendable to other sectors once the law is passed...). Under populist language, the Minister destroys collective bargaining, demolishes the collective strength of workers by introducing individual bargaining. There is no such thing as "win-win-win". By giving workers the choice of whether or not to change their working hours themselves, or to waive their notice of dismissal period by going to work for another employer "on a voluntary basis", the Minister is destroying collective agreements.

February 24:

The NYPD arrested three Amazon union organizers at a Staten Island warehouse on Wednesday.

One organizer, ex-Amazon worker Chris Smalls, had come to the warehouse break room to give out food.

LONDON TRANSPORT UNION RMT confirmed that members will be taking strike action next week as planned over LU’s continuing refusal to give assurances on jobs, pensions and working conditions in the midst of an on-going financial crisis driven by central Government. The union says that the Mayor stands accused of talking the talk over the financial meltdown engulfing transport in the Capital while failing to walk the walk by backing his own staff.

February 25:

Starbucks sent an extraordinary note to employees nationwide on Thursday, urging them not to believe a former co-worker, Cassie Fleischer, who said she’d been fired last week after she helped organize the company’s first U.S. union.

What Starbucks didn’t know was that Fleischer had recorded her own firing. The audio, obtained by More Perfect Union, backs up Fleisher’s public claims about what happened and shows that what Starbucks management told its workers is false.

Union workers at the Sappi paper mill in Skowhegan returned on Thursday to rally for higher wages and better benefits, key elements of what they say is a fair contract.

Many of the union workers say they've taken notice of what other labor organizations across the country have done in the last year, and it's inspired them to do the same.

Several dozen members of the United Steelworkers Local 9 stood outside their union hall Thursday afternoon to rally for a new contract. The old one expired in August, and union leaders have been negotiating with the Sappi mill since then. They say the company wants to cover less and raise out-of-pocket health insurance costs for union workers.

General Secretary of the Communist Party of Sri Lanka, Dr. G. Weerasinghe speaks about the 22nd Party Congress that will be held between 25 to 27 February in Colombo and the deepening crisis within the government.

February 27:

Ukraine War:

A look at events leading up to and around the Russian military intervention in Ukraine including a joint statement of Communist and Workers' parties initiated by the KKE.

Urgent! Joint Statement of Communist and Workers’ Parties

No to the imperialist war in Ukraine!

An independent struggle is needed against monopolies and bourgeois classes, for the overthrow of capitalism, for the strengthening of the class struggle against imperialist war, for socialism!

30 years after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the overthrow of socialism, which many hailed because it would supposedly make the world more “peaceful” and “safe”, one more imperialist war broke out in European territory, after the war in Yugoslavia and elsewhere.

The formal beginning of the war is the despicable Russian military intervention and invasion of Ukraine; however, the region has been sitting on a powder keg for many years now.

Irrespective of the pretexts used by both sides, the military conflict in Ukraine is the result of the sharpening of competition between the two warring camps, primarily focused on spheres of influence, market shares, raw materials, energy plans and transport routes; competition which can no longer be resolved by diplomatic–political means and fragile compromises.

On the one hand, there is the USA, NATO, and the EU which support the reactionary government of Kyiv, the paramilitary mechanisms, and the fascist groups in Ukraine and for years have been promoting their positions (NATO enlargement with Eastern European countries, missile defence shield, etc) aiming at the economic, political, and military encirclement of Russia.

On the other hand, there is capitalist Russia which is promoting its own plans for the capitalist unification of the former USSR countries and in the past years has proceeded to the annexation of Crimea to the Russian Federation and the recent recognition of the “independence” of the so-called “People’s Republics” in Donetsk and Luhansk.

This is a confirmation that war is the continuation of the same policy with other, violent means. It is proof that imperialist war, as well as the death and destruction it causes, inevitably stems from capitalist competition.

Thousands of people took part in demonstrations near the Russian Embassy in Athens on Friday evening in protest at Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

The separate protests, called by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and by the main opposition party SYRIZA, took place in the northern suburb of Psychiko, where the embassy is located.

Banners at the KKE rally, which was attended by the party’s general secretary, Dimitris Koutsoubas, read “No to the wars of the imperialists: Long live the joint struggle of the peoples.”

SYRIZA banners read “No to war, yes to peace.”

After passing the Russian Embassy, the KKE protestors proceeded to march to the US Embassy, calling for an end to Greek involvement in NATO.

The news from Ukraine raises great concern among all powers and countries that are

interested in ending tensions and averting the dangers of war that will be a catastrophe

for all humanity.

Preserving world peace is a common cause that concerns all our parties and comes

among the priorities of our common struggle to curb the schemes of global imperialism

that push humanity to the brink of war and threaten the working class and the rest of

the working people in the world, in addition to threatening all of humanity.

AKEL denounces Russia's invasion of Ukraine and calls for an immediate ceasefire and the withdrawal of Russian troops from the Ukrainian territories. The developments of the last few days constitute a backtracking from the Minsk Agreements. We stress that the respect for the independence and territorial integrity of states and the non-interference in their internal affairs constitute rules of mandatory international law. As such, they must be respected by all states of the international community.

The intense militarisation that has been developing in recent months in this region, centred on the deeper geopolitical tug-of-war between the US-NATO-EU on the one hand and Russia on the other, has created enormous dangers for security and peace in Europe and internationally. Responsibility for the non-implementation of the Minsk Agreements package of measures lies with all the involved parties, including the violations of the individual and collective rights of the citizens living in Eastern Ukraine by the Ukrainian government.

Once again, it has been demonstrated that the double standards practiced with regardsthe respect for international law sooner or later turns against all those who engage in such practices. Even more so, they hurt the peoples, something that we in semi-occupied Cyprus, unfortunately, know all too well.

We address an appeal to all the involved parties to return to the path of diplomacy and dialogue. The disastrous consequences of the spreading of a warconfrontation will also affect Cyprus, with immediate economic and energy consequences at a time when the whole of humanity is already plagued by the effects of poverty and pandemic.

The Party of Labour of Austria (PdA) views the escalation of the inter-imperialist conflict over Ukraine with concern. For weeks, the political, diplomatic and media warmongers have been booming, striving to spread escalating pretexts for a supposedly "just war" in the respective public spheres, while at the same time troop deployments and military manoeuvres are being carried out.

The main danger here comes from the economically battered US imperialism and its allies. Despite internal contradictions, the USA, the imperialist alliances NATO and the EU are forming a front against Russia, which is being staged with all kinds of insinuations as a haven of evil and irrationality. The superior war machinery of the USA and NATO is being brought into position, the only thing missing is an immediate cause to justify a general arms race. History teaches that such a major "incident" on this side or on the other side of a given demarcation line can easily be found, because it can be staged.

The general pretexts are provided by the unstable situation in Ukraine, where a coup in 2014 facilitated a turn in favour of the transatlantic alliance. The subsequent Ukrainian nationalist policies and anti-Russian repression by those in power in Kiev, which also included racist and fascist forces, led to the secession of Crimea and the creation of the Luhansk and Donetsk People's Republics, which are mainly inhabited by Russian speakers. On the surface, it is about these areas of the Donetsk Basin, which are actually small in relation to Ukraine as a whole, and which have fluctuated for years between civil war and a fragile ceasefire, while Russia posed as the protective power of the population there.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) expresses its grave concern at the armed conflict between Russia and Ukraine. It is unfortunate that Russia took military action against Ukraine. There should be an immediate cessation of armed hostilities and the establishment of peace.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the United States led NATO has been steadily expanding eastward, contrary to the assurance given to Russia.

The efforts to get Ukraine to join NATO would pose a direct threat to Russia's security. Russia is also concerned about its security due to the threat posed by the presence of NATO forces and missiles at its borders in Eastern Europe. Hence the Russian demand for security guarantees, including Ukraine not joining NATO, is legitimate.

The refusal by the U.S. and NATO to meet the Russian security needs and the belligerence of the US in sending troops to the region have further escalated tensions. For peace to be established, the genuine concerns of all the peoples, including of the Donbass region in eastern Ukraine, should be addressed. The process of negotiations should be restarted and the earlier agreements reached by both the parties should be adhered to.

The CPI(M) urges the Indian government to immediately take steps to ensure the safety of the thousands of Indian citizens, mainly students stranded in Ukraine and undertake measures to evacuate all Indian citizens.

The contradictions or bargains between the imperialists and the acts they call as the “balance of power politics” can in no way serve for the benefit of peoples. This is also true for the position of the Erdogan government, which is trying to make use of the situation, raising nationalism at home, and looking for a new economic and political route abroad, and the bourgeois opposition of Turkey that expects democracy from NATO.

The prospect of an extremely dangerous and devastating war for all peoples in the region is extremely high and concerning. All communists and peace lovers have a burning duty to prevent this possibility from realization.

Communists do not speak the language of nationalism, racism and militarism, but the language of the demands of the working people for equality, freedom and fraternity!

The conflict between imperialist powers and blocs has entered a new stage with the start of direct military actions by the Russian Federation against military targets on Ukrainian territory. In these difficult times, when there is a serious risk of the outbreak of a widespread imperialist war, the Political Bureau of the PCTE sends the following reflections to workers and to the ensemble of our people.

THE war between Russia and Ukraine is part of a wider conflict between capitalist powers, between Russia on one side and Ukraine and the expansionist Nato powers on the other.

Neither side in this war stands for the real interests of the peoples of Russia, Ukraine, or of Europe more widely, which include living in peace and determining the future of their own society free from outside domination...

The Communist Party of Britain stands in solidarity with all peoples and movements who demand an immediate end to military action in Ukraine and condemns any moves to silence anti-war voices whether in Britain, Ukraine, or Russia.

The Left parties, while expressing concern over the Ukraine-Russian conflict, have blamed the U.S.’s expansionist policies in escalating tensions between the two countries. In a statement here, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) has called the Russian action against Ukraine ‘unfortunate’ and urged the immediate cessation of armed hostilities. At the same time, the party pointed out that since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the U.S.-led NATO had been steadily expanding eastward, contrary to the assurance given to Russia. And the latest effort to get Ukraine to join NATO would have posed a direct threat to Russia’s security.

“Russia is also concerned about its security due to the threat posed by the presence of NATO forces and missiles at its borders in Eastern Europe. Hence, the Russian demand for security guarantees, including Ukraine not joining NATO, is legitimate,” the party said. The U.S. displayed unnecessary belligerence in sending troops to the region, which further escalated tensions, the party stated.

China’s President Xi Jinping said he supported solving the Ukraine crisis through talks in a call with Russian President Vladimir Putin after Moscow launched an invasion of its neighbour.

In a readout of the call on Friday on state broadcaster CCTV, Xi pointed out the “situation in eastern Ukraine has undergone rapid changes … [and] China supports Russia and Ukraine to resolve the issue through negotiation”.

President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, is calling on the world to not be fooled by the imperialist propaganda against Russia, referring to the latest events in the Dombass region and expressing his full support for the Russian Federation, President Vladimir Putin and its people.

The President urged attentiveness, stressing the importance of observing the evolution of events without being carried away by “imperialist songs, world campaigns and lies repeated a thousand times” in the media and online.

The French Communist Party (PCF) urged the government to seek to reduce tensions in the crisis over Ukraine away from the warmongering policy of the United States in the region.

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