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IYSSE

27 Aug

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IYSSE DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES (US)

August 27, 2016 | By |

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Classes are resuming at schools, colleges and universities throughout the United States in the midst of an unprecedented political, economic and social crisis.

The 2016 election campaign has sharpened the disaffection of masses of young people from the political establishment. In the face of growing opposition to war and social inequality, the ruling elite is presenting two right-wing multi-millionaire presidential candidates, both of whom are despised by the broad majority of the population.

The growing opposition to the capitalist system and the political establishment, which found a distorted expression in the mass support for the campaign of Bernie Sanders, particularly among young people, is the outcome of far-reaching social and economic processes.

While trillions have been made available to the banks since the 2008 financial crisis, workers are told there is “no money” to pay for basic social programs. During the Obama presidency, the top 0.1 percent has more than doubled its wealth, while the income of a typical household has fallen by more than 10 percent.

The capitalist system denies millions of young people the right to a job and a livable income. According to figures from the United Nations, youth unemployment is expected to hit 13.1 percent this year, with some 71 million young people unemployed throughout the world, an increase of half a million.

In the face of a growing shift to the left by broad sections of young people, the Clinton campaign, representing the dominant sections of the ruling elite, has sought to change the narrative from opposition to social inequality to racial and gender identity politics. The politics of race and gender obscure the more basic class divisions in society. They serve to divide workers and youth along racial, national and gender lines, furthering the selfish efforts of more privileged layers to carve out for themselves a bigger share of the wealth of the top 10 percent.

The various pseudo-left organizations aggressively promote racial and gender politics as part of their efforts to prevent the development of an independent and united movement of the working class and keep workers and young people trapped within the dead end of the Democratic Party and capitalist politics.

War, poverty and attacks on democratic rights are the inevitable outcome of the capitalist system, which subordinates all questions to the expansion of corporate profit and the wealth of the financial elite. The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) is an organization of students and youth around the world that insists chronic social problems, including the danger of war, can be solved only through an end to this system and a total reorganization of society on the basis of social needs, not private profit.

For this reason, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality calls on all workers and young people to support the campaign of Socialist Equality Party presidential candidate Jerry White and vice presidential candidate Niles Niemuth.

OPPOSE IMPERIALIST WAR!

Seeking to offset its economic decline through the use of its military power, the United States has been involved in an endless series of wars for a quarter of a century. No one under the age of 30 can remember a time when the US was not at war in some corner of the globe.

The Obama administration, elected on a wave of anti-war sentiment, has continued the war in Iraq, expanded the war in Afghanistan into Pakistan, supported the Saudi-led war in Yemen, and launched new wars in Libya and Syria, while driving the United States to the brink of war with Russia and China.

The drive to war enjoys the unanimous support of the entire political establishment, both Democratic and Republican. Regardless of whether Trump or Clinton is elected, the incoming administration will confront the world’s population with the very real threat of a new world war.

The IYSSE places the fight against war at the center of its political work. We insist that this is not separate from, but integral to, the fight for socialism. We warn youth and students that a new world war is not only possible, it is inevitable without the emergence of a mass revolutionary movement based on the working class and dedicated to putting an end to capitalism. A new anti-war movement, which is now a burning necessity, must be based on the working class and guided by a socialist program.

A SOCIALIST PROGRAM

The crisis that began in 2008 has revealed itself as far more than an economic downturn; it is the failure of an entire social system—capitalism.

The IYSSE insists that chronic social problems can be solved only through a total reorganization of society. Human progress is blocked by the capitalist system, which subordinates all considerations to the drive for corporate profit and the accumulation of wealth for a narrow elite.

THE IYSSE DEMANDS:

  • End the wars! US imperialism is seeking to conquer the globe and put the world’s colonial people back in chains. The American war machine must be dismantled and the vast sums expended on it used to meet pressing social needs.
  • Jobs for everyone! Billions for education and social programs! We demand a reallocation of resources worldwide to provide employment for all those who need it. There is plenty of work to be done, including meeting the basic needs of the population for food and shelter, rebuilding schools, guaranteeing free, high quality healthcare for all, and providing cultural institutions accessible to workers and young people.
  • Defend democratic rights! The US government’s domestic spying programs must be ended immediately and the spy agencies dismantled. All political prisoners, including Chelsea Manning, must be freed, and the witch-hunts against Edward Snowden and Julian Assange must end. The militarization of US police forces and police brutality and killings must be ended.
  • For social equality! Nationalize the banks and major corporations! Democracy is incompatible with the immense levels of social inequality that prevail in the US and throughout the world. To break the financial oligarchy’s stranglehold over the economy, the IYSSE calls for the expropriation of the banks and placing of all large corporations under the democratic control of the population.

FOR THE POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE OF THE WORKING CLASS

The issues students face—including high tuition, joblessness, debts, and an education system starved of resources —are inseparable from the broader questions confronting the working class. None of these problems can be solved in schools and on campuses alone. Students seeking to oppose social inequality, unemployment and war must reach out to workers throughout the country and internationally.

The fight against war is impossible without the fight for socialism within the working class. The fact that mass latent opposition to war has not yet found organized political expression is due to the transformation of the former leadership of the anti-war movement into supporters of imperialism and imperialist war. The old anti-war movements were dominated by middle class pseudo-left tendencies that base themselves on nationalism and oppose the political independence of the working class.

Above all, the working class needs its own political party, in opposition to the Democrats and Republicans, the parties of the ruling class. The IYSSE rejects the position that these parties can be reformed or pressured, whether through the mechanism of a “left” campaign within the two-party system, such as the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders, or through a formally separate organization such as the Green Party.

A turn to the working class does not mean support for the trade unions, which are dominated by well-heeled bureaucrats and tied politically to the Democratic Party. Against the existing trade unions, the IYSSE calls for the building of independent rank-and-file workplace, school, and neighborhood committees to unify different sections of workers and youth in a common struggle.

The IYSSE seeks to build a mass political movement of the working class that will fight for power, establish a workers’ government and reorganize society on a democratic, egalitarian and rational—that is, a socialist—basis.

FOR SOCIALISM AND INTERNATIONALISM

The two basic features of capitalism—private ownership of the means of production and the division of the world economy into competing nation states—block the rational use and development of mankind’s productive forces ,leading instead to the pollution of the environment and the squandering of vast resources on war.

None of the problems humanity confronts can be dealt with on a national level. The problems faced by working people and youth of every country are fundamentally the same. In all countries, the IYSSE opposes nationalism, chauvinism, attacks on immigrants, and racism, all of which are means to divide and weaken the working class. Class, not race, gender or other issues of personal identity, is the fundamental dividing line in modern society. Working people of all countries must join together in a common struggle.

Socialism—the rational and democratic control of the economy to meet social need, not private profit—arises as a historical necessity from the breakdown of capitalism. The IYSSE has unshakable confidence in the development of an international socialist movement because socialism corresponds to the objective interests of the working class, the vast majority of humanity.

FOR THE REBIRTH OF THE SOCIALIST MOVEMENT

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality, the student movement of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), fights for the revival of a socialist movement among young people throughout the country, as part of an international socialist movement of the entire working class.

The IYSSE stands in the tradition of revolutionary socialism, from the origins of Marxism in the 1840s, through the Russian Revolution of 1917 and the implacable struggle led by Leon Trotsky against the bureaucratic degeneration of the Soviet Union under Stalin. As the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution approaches, students and young people must assimilate the whole of this history in order to prepare themselves for the coming social struggles.

The IYSSE, SEP and ICFI are fighting to unify and mobilize the working class and youth internationally, to prepare the working class for the conquest of political power and the establishment of a genuinely democratic, egalitarian and socialist society.

JOIN THE FIGHT FOR SOCIALISM! JOIN THE IYSSE!

We urge all students to study the program of the SEP, the history of the Fourth International, and analysis presented every day on the World Socialist Web Site. Make the decision to join the IYSSE, and help build a chapter of the IYSSE at your school or university.

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16 Apr

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IYSSE campaigns against war at San Diego State University

April 16, 2016 | By |


The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) at San Diego State University has held a number of events in recent weeks centered on the building of an international and socialist movement of the working class against war. This has included weekly meetings on current events and political theory as well as a graphic display on campus to educate students and workers about the global scope of US imperialism and its consequences.

The IYSSE has received a strong response from students, workers and youth.

Jasmine, a student originally from Iraq but now an American citizen, was deeply moved by the display, in particular the images of desperate refugees which she said she could relate to from personal experience. “I like the layout of the map, the presence of US troops. You’re able to see how spread out the US is around the world. I also liked the refugees section with the pictures which are painful to look at. A lot of people don’t understand what is going on.”

The IYSSE display against imperialist war

On the invasion of Iraq, she commented, “I was 100 percent against it. Look at the country now; it is torn apart.” When asked what she thought of the anti-war campaign of the IYSSE, she responded, “I think it’s a brilliant idea.”

Nick, a student who served in the military, also spoke to the IYSSE. “I was in the military from 2005 to 2010 and I went to Afghanistan and Iraq. The destabilization over there was because of the military. There have been worse problems since.”

When asked what he thought was the root cause of the war, he replied, “Money.” He added, “The military leaders and the politicians wanted to make money and a name for themselves. I think our political system is the root cause of war.” When the subject turned to socialism, Nick said, “I have heard of socialism. I like the idea of a more socialistic system than we have now.”

Trevor, a student who has recently joined the IYSSE, shared his thoughts on the display. “It is awakening the students that don’t really know or haven’t been taught the consequences of US imperialism.”

He added, “Before this year I was politically awake, but I wasn’t sure what route to follow. I think the IYSSE has steered me in the right direction.”

Earlier this month, the IYSSE held a successful meeting that was attended by over 80 students and workers. The guest speaker was WSWS writer Bill Van Auken who gave a presentation on the war in Syria and the drive towards World War III.

Bill Van Auken addresses a meeting at SDSU

Van Auken explained the connection between capitalism and war and the urgent need for an anti-capitalist and socialist anti-war movement. On the current war in Syria, he said, “The US did not have an interest in overthrowing ISIS in Syria, not until the terrorist regime expanded into Iraq. The real focus of the Syrian civil war for the US is regime change.”

Van Auken also explained how social needs at home are ignored to provide money for war. “The US is spending $79 billion on a program to build new high tech military equipment. That’s more than is spent on education for the whole nation. The ruling class is more interested in ‘smart bombs’ than ‘smart people.’”

Speaking of Democratic Party presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, he asked the audience, “How can he be a socialist when he supports the foreign policy of the ruling elite?” He also implored the audience to join the IYSSE, remarking, “The question posed today is, ‘How will the crisis of capitalism be solved?’ Through world war or through socialist revolution?”

After the presentation, many participants expressed agreement with the overall fight for socialism and asked what the next step should be.

Carlos and Diego are both in their first year at SDSU. Diego said, “The younger generation is in a transition, we want change but many of us are confused. We have lost faith in the political system, but we need still need to awaken. From what I have learned, the government represents the corporations, not us. Corporations try to influence culture, they spend millions to tell us what we need and how we should see things. Nobody represents us. The United States is purely run in the interests of the corporations and the rich.

Diego and Carlos

“It’s funny, we are the ones who work and pay taxes, we pay for everything—even the wars and the military. The weird part is that they can’t exist without us. We all need to analyze this, we are more and they are less. We want change, we want true democracy and that will involve us.”

Carlos said, “Growing up in the United States you are taught to believe that this is the greatest country in the world. The true face is now becoming visible—it’s not the greatest, that is an image that is being destroyed. There is an authority in place and people want change. It seems as though we need self-government but it seems like that can lead to chaos. But it also seems like there has to be leaders, but leaders can be corrupt.”

Supporters of the IYSSE said that the working class and students need their own independent political party and organizations. They also discussed the Sanders campaign, which is aimed at bolstering support for the Democratic Party and the capitalist system.

“I have a friend that is pro-Bernie,” Carlos responded, “but Bernie, Hilary or Trump—for me—none represent my interests. I first thought that Bernie was a person for the people. Tonight definitely changed my perspective on that. At the end, the election is like a circus.

“We have the most productive society in the world today. We are the ones who make all this business—why can’t we run it instead of the CEOs and shareholders? The other thing is the revolving door between the companies and the governments, it is clear that the government is working for the corporations.”

Vicente is a sophomore studying film and art. He said, “A lot of what is discussed in meetings like this is not discussed outside of the schools. I think it was very informative. When I brought up the question, ‘How many people are financially unstable?’ it was very reassuring that people were in the same boat as me.” Regarding what he thought about socialism, Vicente said, “Socialism is an ideology that I definitely advocate for. I want to be part of something and start a move toward that.”

16 Apr

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Oppose Indian government’s witch-hunt of JNU students

April 16, 2016 | By |

By the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (Sri Lanka)
7 April 2016

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) calls on youth and workers in India, across South Asia and internationally to oppose the witch-hunt India’s Hindu Supremacist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is mounting against students at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) whom it claims raised “anti-national” slogans.

The state repression at JNU is aimed at criminalizing dissent. It is part of the government’s preparations to answer opposition from workers, the rural poor and students to its pro-investor “reforms” and its lining up behind US imperialism’s war preparations against China with state violence and communal reaction.

JNU Student President Kanhaiya Kumar and two other students, Umar Khalid and Anirban Bhattacharya, have been charged with sedition—meaning they could be jailed for life—for their role in a February 9 protest marking three years since the judicial murder of Afzal Guru. A Kashmiri Muslim, Guru was framed up by Indian authorities for the December 2001 terrorist attack on India’s parliament.

At the government’s behest, the JNU administration is also targeting Kumar, Khalid and Bhattacharaya, along with 18 other students, for harsh discipline, including possible expulsion from the university.

The attack on the JNU students has been spearheaded by the highest levels of the BJP government. Home Minister Rajnath Singh instructed the Delhi police to raid JNU and arrest Kumar after receiving “complaints” from the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the youth wing of the BJP’s close ally, the fascistic RSS. Human Resource Development Minister Smriti Irani, the minister directly responsible for India’s universities, has been demanding university administrations crack down on “anti-national” elements, while promoting a pamphlet edited by BJP Vice President Balbir Punj, Communists and Jihadists at Work in JNU.

Last year Irani pressured Hyderabad University to strip PhD student Rohith Vemula of his fellowship after he screened a documentary film that exposed the BJP’s role in provoking communal violence against Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. The government-backed victimization of Vemula rendered him destitute and led directly to his taking his own life in January.

Citing the JNU events, Irani is now calling for India’s national universities to be compelled to hire military “instructors” to teach “patriotism.”

The government’s case against the JNU students is a transparent, politically motivated frame-up. Video footage that reputedly shows students at the Feb. 9 JNU protest raising “pro-Pakistan” slogans and which the corporate media disseminated widely has been shown to have been doctored.

More fundamentally, the notion of state-proscribed “anti-national” speech violates the most elementary democratic principles and must be vigorously opposed.

It goes hand in hand with the BJP’s promotion of a bellicose, Hindu communalist-laced Indian nationalism. During their 23 months in office Primer Minister Narendra Modi and his BJP government have systematically intervened to place Hindutva (Hindu nationalist) ideologues in charge of the country’s educational, cultural and scientific organizations, while excusing or downplaying violence against Muslims and other minorities.

State Repression and Communal Reaction

The Modi government’s witch-hunt of the JNU students is part of a turn to authoritarian methods of rule and stoking of social reaction whose principal target is the working class and rural toilers.

Battered by the global capitalist crisis, the Indian bourgeoisie brought the self-styled “Hindu strongman” Modi and his BJP to power to pursue social incendiary neo-liberal reforms aimed at wooing international capital. Continuing on from the previous Congress Party-led government, Modi has slashed social spending, cut price-subsidies and accelerated privatization. But this has only whetted big business’s appetite for even more unpopular measures—the gutting of labour law restrictions on layoffs and plant closures, easy access for industrialists and developers to cheap agricultural land, and the shifting of an even greater share of the taxation burden onto working people through a regressive Goods and Services Tax (GST).

As it conspires with big business to implement these measures, the Modi government is transforming India, behind the backs of the population, into a “frontline” ally of Washington in its strategic offensive and war preparations against China. By acting as satraps for US imperialism, the Indian bourgeoisie hopes to realize its own predatory great power ambitions, in the first instance securing regional dominance in South Asia

This ultra-reactionary agenda cannot be implemented peacefully. The Indian elite’s rhetoric about “high growth” cannot hide the reality. India is more socially unequal than ever. While a handful gorge on the profits of the past quarter-century of capitalist expansion, the overwhelming majority are condemned to poverty, hunger and economic insecurity.

By labelling its opponents as “anti-national,” the BJP government seeks to legitimize their state suppression. By stoking Hindu communalism, it seeks to incite reaction and divide the working class.

Globally, under conditions of capitalist breakdown, the ruling classes around the world are adopting similar methods. Everywhere the phony “war on terror” has been used to justify a massive expansion of the repressive apparatus of the state and sweeping attacks on democratic rights. Meanwhile, the bourgeois elites sponsor parties and politicians who promote bellicose nationalism, like Modi and Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, and rail against refugees, immigrants and minorities, as exemplified by Donald Trump, the current frontrunner for the US Republican presidential nomination.

The Stalinist CPI and CPM and the political suppression of the working class

Social deprivation, the attacks on democratic rights, the Indian elite’s complicity in US imperialism’s bloody and reckless drive to maintain global supremacy, the growth of communal reaction—all speak to the urgency of the Indian working class advancing its own socialist solution to the failure of capitalism and in opposition to the entire bourgeois political establishment.

However, the response of the Stalinist parties—the Communist Party of India Marxist or CPM and the Communist Party of India (CPI)—has been just the opposite.

They have redoubled their efforts to chain the working class to the Indian political establishment and state.

JNU Student Union President Kanhaiya Kumar is a leader of the CPI’s student group, the All India Student Federation (AISF). On the instructions of the CPI leadership, Kumar has repeatedly voiced his confidence in the institutions of the Indian state, including its courts and army, and advocated allying with the Congress Party, the Indian bourgeoisie’s traditional party of government, to defend “democracy” and “secularism.”

In fact the Congress has a decades-long record of conniving with the Hindu right, to say nothing of violently suppressing the struggles of the working class. Indeed even as it was claiming to oppose the witch-hunt of the JNU students, the Congress was pressing for the suspension of a Muslim legislator from the Maharashtra state assembly because he had refused to shout the slogan, “Victory for Mother India.”

Citing the need to defeat the BJP and a sometime BJP ally, the Trinamool Congress, the CPM-led Left Front is now jointly contesting the West Bengal state election with the Congress and hoping post-election to form a coalition government with it.

For the past quarter-century, the Stalinists have justified supporting a string of right-wing governments at the Center, most of them Congress-led, on the grounds that this was the only means of blocking the Hindu supremacist BJP from power. The result of the Stalinists’ unrelenting drive to politically smother the working class, tying it to governments that have pursued neo-liberal reform and a strategic partnership with US imperialism, is that today the BJP has a parliamentary majority for the first time ever.

A second and very much related element in the Stalinists’ response to the repression at JNU and the BJP’s labelling of their opponents as “anti-national” has been the CPI and CPMs’ full-throated campaign to promote themselves as the foremost defenders of what they call the true “progressive” Indian nationalist tradition.

In reality Indian nationalism is and has always been an ideological weapon of the Indian bourgeoisie, a means for it to mask its rule and harness the masses to its selfish class aims.

Terrified that the struggle against British colonial rule would escape their control, the “progressive nationalists” of the Congress, led by M.K. Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru, suppressed the anti-imperialist upsurge that had convulsed the subcontinent in the first half the 20th century. In 1947-48, they struck a deal with British imperialism under which they inherited the colonial state apparatus and implemented the communal partition of South Asia into a Muslim Pakistan and a Hindu India. Not only did this produce a horrendous bloodletting, with more than 1 million killed in Partition massacres, and more than 10 million rendered refugees: It gave rise to the reactionary inter-state conflict between India and Pakistan and transformed communalism within India into an indispensable prop of bourgeois rule.

Leon Trotsky and the program of socialist internationalism

It is high time for Indian workers and youth to draw a balance sheet of the ruinous role of the Stalinists parties in India and around the world.

The reactionary politics of the CPM and CPI flow inexorably from their common Stalinist roots, from their support for the privileged bureaucracy that usurped power from the Russian working class in the 1920s, renounced the program of world socialist revolution, and, under the banner of “socialism in one country,” pursued accommodation with world imperialism. In line with this in India, and other countries of belated capitalist development, the Stalinists advocated the “two-stage theory” of revolution, claiming that socialism was not on the historical agenda and that the working class could do no more than support the “progressive” section of the national bourgeoisie in opposing imperialism and “feudal reaction.”

For decades the twin Stalinist parties have functioned as an integral part of the bourgeois establishment, including administering the capitalist state apparatus for long periods in West Bengal and Kerala. With the dissolution of the Soviet Union by the bureaucracy under Gorbachev in 1991 and the Indian bourgeoisie’s abandonment of state-led development, the CPM and CPI have lurched still further to the right. They have fully supported the ruling class drive to make India a haven for cheap-labour production for world capitalism, pursuing wherever the “Left” has formed the government what they themselves call pro-investor policies.

Leon Trotsky, with Lenin the co-leader of the 1917 Russian Revolution, fought tooth and nail against the Stalinist bureaucracy, upholding the program of international socialism. It is to this program, today embodied in the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) and its internet organ, the World Socialist Web Site, that Indian youth and workers should now turn.

The BJP’s anti-working class and communalist agenda can only be defeated though the independent political mobilization of the working class in an alliance with the rural poor on the basis of a socialist program to establish a workers’ and peasants’ government in India, as part of the struggle for the United Socialist States of South Asia.

The Indian bourgeoisie’s alliance with US imperialism in its war drive against China underscores the urgency of building an anti-war movement of the international working class on the basis of international socialism.

These are the tasks confronting the working class, students and other young people in contemporary India.

The IYSSE is the youth organization of the ICFI which is fighting to build revolutionary Marxist-Trotskyist parties in every country. The Socialist Equality Party (SEP), the Sri Lankan section of the ICFI, and the IYSSE (Sri Lanka) are eager to offer their unstinting support to all those ready to take up the fight to build a revolutionary party of the Indian working class.

As a first step, join the ICFI’s International May Day rally, Sunday, May 1.

16 Apr

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Oppose the drive to war, austerity and the assault on democratic rights!

April 16, 2016 | By |

As protests take place at a number of campuses across Australia today, students and young people confront a world in the midst of a major crisis of global capitalism, which poses critical political questions.

Governments internationally are responding to the greatest economic breakdown since the 1930s with a program of militarism and war that has created flashpoints for a new global conflict. At the same time, they are carrying out, on behalf of the corporate and financial elites, a social counter-revolution aimed at destroying publicly-funded healthcare, education and social services and the decimation of the jobs, wages and social conditions of the working class. Amid mounting opposition to this agenda, authoritarian methods of rule are being developed. The police-state measures introduced over the past 15 years, in the name of the fraudulent “war on terror” are increasingly being directed against social opposition at home.

None of these issues will be discussed at today’s rally. Nor have they been so much as mentioned by its organisers in the National Union of Students (NUS). After years of single-issue protests and “days of action” held by the NUS and other student groups, students need to draw some serious lessons. What have these demonstrations accomplished? How have they prepared young people to fight against war or the drive to completely corporatise universities, or any of the other burning issues we face?

The answer is clear from the declared purpose of today’s rallies. Once again, the NUS is promoting the utter fraud that the election of a Labor government, supported by the Greens, will halt the assault on higher education. The NUS is completely silent on the fact that it was the Labor governments of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard that carried out some of the deepest cuts to universities in history, and prepared the ground for the Coalition government’s drive to deregulate university fees.

It was the Gillard Labor government that in 2012 deregulated course enrollments and uncapped the number of places universities could offer to students, resulting in ever-greater competition for student enrollments and the abolition of “unprofitable degrees.” In its 2013 budget, the Labor government introduced the largest ever single cut to university funding—$2.3 billion. Between 2011 and 2013, Labor cut a total $6.6 billion from higher education and research. These measures were a continuation of a decades-long, bipartisan drive to transform universities into for-profit entities—initiated through the reintroduction of university fees by the Hawke-Keating Labor governments from 1983 to 1996.

At the last series of major demonstrations, the NUS did everything it could to suppress any discussion of Labor’s record. While inviting prominent Labor and Greens politicians to posture as opponents of the Abbott government’s cuts to higher education, the NUS blocked representatives of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) from speaking, in order to prevent students from hearing a genuine socialist perspective to fight the university cuts.

Since then, the corporatisation of higher education has proceeded apace, with the University of Sydney, Monash University and university administrations across the country outlining sweeping pro-business restructurings. The ever-greater dependence of university budgets on endowments from wealthy patrons, and on corporate sponsorship, has been accompanied by the evisceration of fundamental democratic rights on campuses. And the student unions are playing the key role in enforcing this agenda.

At the University of Melbourne, the Clubs and Societies Committee of the student union has refused to affiliate our IYSSE club four times in the last two years. Last month, the committee effectively banned the IYSSE. Why? Because we defended the principle that all students should be able to form clubs of their choice, without interference from any union or university body. And the NUS itself has done absolutely nothing to oppose this attack on the University of Melbourne IYSSE, or similar measures against our clubs at other universities across Australia. In other words, they are complicit in the establishment of a dangerous precedent, which poses before all student clubs the prospect of arbitrary and politically-motivated proscriptions and bans.

The attacks on the IYSSE take place in the context of a state-campaign to indoctrinate young people with pro-war sentiment, through the glorification of militarism and the rewriting of history. Hundreds of millions of dollars are being spent by the government on a celebration of the centenary of World War I, extending into every area of life, including the universities and even primary schools. Last year, the University of Sydney banned the Socialist Equality Party and the IYSSE from holding a meeting on campus over the Anzac Day weekend, entitled “Anzac Day, the glorification of militarism and the drive to World War III.” The meeting opposed the orgy of militarist propaganda and put forward a socialist perspective against the danger of war.

The University of Sydney ban was aimed at preventing mass anti-war sentiment among students, workers and young people from finding any organised expression. This year, less than two weeks away from Anzac Day, the government, the universities and every official institution is once again preparing to bombard the population with the lie that Australian participation in World War I—an imperialist bloodbath, fought by the various powers for resources, profits and geo-strategic advantage—was a heroic and “nation-building” development.

Underlying this campaign is Australia’s complete integration into the US preparations for war against China. While the Labor Party, the Greens, the unions and the pseudo-left organisations such as Socialist Alternative and Solidarity maintain a conspiracy of silence, extensive basing arrangements have already been established and hundreds of billions of dollars dedicated to military spending, to place the country on a war footing. In Canberra and in Washington, government-connected think tanks openly discuss plans for Australia to impose a naval blockade of shipping routes that pass through Indonesia, in the event of a US attack on China. More and more, they are discussing “thinking the unthinkable”—i.e., waging nuclear war.

The only means of preventing such a catastrophe, and halting all of the horrors of the moribund capitalist system, including the abolition of the right to education, is through the development of a revolutionary, socialist movement of the working class—the only social force that has no interest in the capitalist nation-state system, which inevitably leads to war, or in the private ownership of society’s resources by a tiny parasitic corporate and financial elite.

Such a struggle can only go forward on the basis of an international perspective. Young people, whether they live in the United States, Europe, China, Australia or any other part of the world, confront a future of war, poverty, and joblessness under the present social order.

The IYSSE, the student and youth section of the world Trotskyist movement, fights to unify the struggles of the working class and of students and young people across national borders, against the capitalist profit system itself, on the program of world socialism—the establishment of a global, planned economy to end the scourge of war and place society’s resources under the democratic control of the working class—the vast majority—to provide free, high quality education, healthcare, childcare and other essential social services for all.

We call on all students who want to fight against war and austerity cuts, and defend democratic rights, to join the IYSSE and build an IYSSE club on every campus around the country.

22 Mar

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A socialist program to fight war, austerity and dictatorship!

March 22, 2016 | By |

By the IYSSE (Australia)
22 February 2016

As 2016 begins, young people in Australia and around the world confront the mounting threat of war, an increasingly desperate social crisis, another financial collapse with even greater repercussions than that of 2007–8, and the erosion of fundamental democratic rights. Governments around the world are responding to the deepest crisis of the world capitalist system since the 1930s with criminal military interventions that have created flashpoints for a global conflict in every part of the globe.

The Middle East, having been decimated by 15 years of US-led invasions and occupations is the scene of a new predatory military operation in Syria and Iraq involving virtually all of the major powers. Millions of refugees fleeing the carnage are being met by barbed-wire fences and police-state violence, reminiscent of the horrors of World War Two. In Eastern Europe, the US is spearheading a confrontation with the Russian regime of Vladimir Putin, which has already led to a bloody civil war in Ukraine and poses the threat of nuclear war.

In the Asia-Pacific region, the Obama administration is carrying out a massive military build-up directed against China.

Behind the backs of the population, the entire political establishment—Labor, the Liberals, the Greens and their pseudo-left adjuncts in groups such as Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance—has signed-up to Washington’s preparations for war against China, in defiance of the anti-war sentiment among the vast majority of workers and young people.

In 2011, Julia Gillard’s Labor government struck a military deal with the Obama administration, aligning Australia with the so-called “pivot to Asia”, boosting ties between the two country’s military forces and establishing a new US marine base in Darwin. Every government since then—under Rudd, Abbott and Turnbull—has placed military expansion at the very centre of its agenda.

Washington now insists that Canberra participate in its provocative challenges to Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea—provocations that could trigger armed conflict. In preparation for war, the Australian establishment is devoting ever greater resources to acquiring new submarines, warships and aircraft. A report published last month by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank, commissioned by the US Department of Defense, declared that the US and its allies in Asia, particularly Australia, needed to be ready to “fight tonight.” It stated: “As Australia’s own influence expands and Australia’s geopolitical position becomes more central to US strategy, Washington’s expectations of Canberra are growing.”

Young people must be clear: our generation confronts the stark alternative outlined by the great revolutionary Rosa Luxemburg following the outbreak of World War One—either socialism or barbarism. The same inherent contradictions of the capitalist system—above all, between a globally integrated economy and the division of the world into antagonistic nation-states—that led to two world wars last century, have created the conditions for a Third World War, which would inevitably involve nuclear weapons.

The International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), and its youth movement, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), are fighting to build a socialist anti-war movement of the international working class aimed at averting such a catastrophe. As students and youth, we are being placed on the frontlines of a new global conflict and have definite historic responsibilities in this struggle. To halt the relapse into imperialist barbarism we must be at the forefront of the fight to politically educate and mobilise the great social power of the working class to overthrow the source of war, the capitalist profit system itself.

The ruling elites are well aware that masses of workers and young people are deeply opposed to war. That is why the entire political establishment has been whipping-up an atmosphere of nationalist patriotism, promoting militarism, the demonisation of refugees and the vilification of Muslims.

At the same time, state and federal governments are spending hundreds of millions of dollars to “celebrate” the centenary of World War I. Everything is being done to obscure the predatory character of these wars, which were aimed at securing resources, markets and profits for the imperialist powers, including Australia. Instead, in a flagrant campaign of historical falsification that extends into primary and secondary schools, Australian participation in the two world wars of the last century, and a host of other military adventures, is being whitewashed as the defence of “democracy,” and the celebration of “mateship” and the “Australian spirit.” Nationalist myths are being promoted through the publication of pro-war “history” books and biographies and the regular staging of public “commemorations.”

That the ICFI, the Socialist Equality Party and IYSSE alone oppose this militarist campaign was underscored by the extraordinary attempts of the Burwood Labor council and the University of Sydney (USYD) last year to prevent us from holding a meeting on the Anzac Day weekend, exposing the glorification of militarism and the preparations for new wars. This political censorship—replicated in attacks on the IYSSE at a number of other campuses since then—is the sharpest expression of broader attempts to suppress opposition to war and prevent young people from understanding the situation they confront.

It is no accident that USYD banned our meeting. As one of the most prestigious universities in the country, it is being transformed into a key ideological centre for the promotion of militarism. Its “United States Studies Centre,” a think-tank founded in 2006 to churn out propaganda aimed at overcoming hostility to US-led wars, devotes considerable resources to promoting the US-Australia military alliance.

Global war preparations go hand in hand with an escalating assault on the social rights of the working class. While almost $2 trillion is dedicated to military spending world-wide every year, the financial elites are carrying out the destruction of public education and healthcare and the decimation of living conditions.

In Australia, the $50 billion being squandered on the construction of new submarines would pay for at least 25 new, state-of-the-art public hospitals. The $39 billion earmarked for frigates and destroyers could finance a desperately needed five-and-a-half million dollar upgrade to every public school in the country.

The militarisation of society is incompatible with universities as centres of genuine higher learning, cultural advance and freedom of speech. The tertiary education sector has faced decades of unrelenting funding cuts, with students confronting endless restructurings involving the abolition of entire courses and faculties, while graduates face the prospect of being unable to find work in their field of study. Many will never find a decent job. TAFEs are being dismantled through the rapid hiking of fees to the tune of thousands of dollars a year, forcing many students to abandon their studies altogether. Last year, in New South Wales alone, enrolments dropped by 80,000.

In working class suburbs around the country, official youth unemployment often surpasses 30 percent. Here, young workers confront a life without a future, constantly targeted by parasitic private colleges peddling sham-degrees along with military recruiters promising a lucrative army “gap year.”

This social crisis will inevitably create major upheavals. A new mood of social opposition is developing around the world, reflected in emerging strike and protest movements throughout Europe and the US, and seething hostility to the official political establishment in every country.

The decisive question, however, is political leadership. Pseudo-left organisations, including Socialist Alternative and Socialist Alliance, play a central role in seeking to channel mass disaffection back behind the existing political set-up—above all, behind Labor, the Greens and the thoroughly corporatised trade unions. The pseudo-left, which speaks for an affluent layer of the middle-class seeking to advance its own careers in academia, the unions and the public sector, promotes identity politics associated with race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality to suppress the fundamental class issues, including the fight against imperialist war.

We urge students and young people to oppose all forms of nationalism and militarism and turn to the internationalist perspective of the IYSSE. As the youth movement of the International Committee of the Fourth International, the world party of socialist revolution founded by Leon Trotsky, we will be holding regular meetings throughout the year, clarifying the fundamental theoretical and historical questions associated with the fight to develop a genuine revolutionary movement of the international working class. We encourage you to begin your political education in Marxist politics by reading the World Socialist Web Site, the most widely-read socialist publication on the internet, and contributing articles on the political, economic, cultural and social issues facing the working class and youth. Above all, we call on you to join the IYSSE and participate in the fight to build it as the new mass, socialist, anti-war movement among students and young people in Australia, throughout Asia, including in China, and the world.

16 Mar

By

A socialist program to fight the Coalition-Labor-Greens assault on education in Australia

March 16, 2016 | By |

By the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (Australia)
16 March 2016

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) opposes the pro-business restructure at the University of Sydney. It is part of the latest round in a decades-long assault on education supported by the entire official political establishment—Labor, the Liberals and the Greens—aimed at transforming universities into entirely corporatized, for-profit entities.

The organizers of today’s rally, the National Tertiary Education Union (NTEU) and the Sydney University Education Action Group (EAG), are seeking to cover-up this basic fact. They have called this protest to channel the widespread hostility to the university’s cuts behind the very forces responsible for the gutting of higher education, above all Labor and the Greens, and to promote the illusion that such demonstrations can “pressure” the authorities to “back down.”

The NTEU is explicitly preparing to support Labor and the Greens in the forthcoming elections. A lying press release by NTEU national president Jeannie Rea last September declared that Labor’s education program stood in “stark contrast to the unprincipled, unfair and unsustainable higher education policies of the Coalition.”

For its part, the EAG’s promotional material for the event says nothing about how the cuts can be opposed, instead blandly stating that, “Staff and students should have a say in the future of our University,” and that it is necessary to “fight back.”

Their real perspective was summed up by Socialist Alternative, which plays a prominent role in the amorphous collective composed of various pseudo-left groups, along with representatives of the Greens and the Labor Party on campus. An article on Socialist Alternative’s publication, Red Flag last month concluded by declaring, “Like the Liberals’ attempts to deregulate higher education in 2014-15, this restructure can be stopped by mass action on the part of students and staff.”

This is an utter fraud!

The Liberal-National government of Malcolm Turnbull has not abandoned the plans to deregulate university fees. It has merely repackaged them. At the “Universities Australia” meeting held last week, Turnbull’s Education Minister, Simon Birmingham made clear that the government is preparing to boost the “student contribution” to university funding, i.e. by massively raising fees. He also insisted that universities would have to become ever-more reliant on corporate funding.

Summing up the significance of his remarks, an editorial in the Australian declared, “a new model is emerging where universities will achieve their expressed desire for autonomy from government by funding it through industry partnerships.” It went on to state that the “era of excessive state patronage of universities is coming to a close,” i.e. any conception of universities as government-funded centers of learning and inquiry will become a thing of the past. Central to this program is the development of a two-tier system—with the elite sandstone universities increasingly accessible only to a wealthy minority, and working class youth forced into sub-par second-rate institutions.

Socialist Alternative’s invocation of the “victory” of 2014-15 is a warning of the role the EAG is seeking to play. The Abbott Liberal-National government’s budget of 2014, which included “fee deregulation,” a move that would have hiked fees by tens of thousands of dollars, was met by widespread opposition from workers and young people, including students, staff and academics.

The EAG and Socialist Alternative, working hand in hand with the NTEU and the National Union of Students did everything they could to subordinate the emerging movement to the existing political set-up. At a series of rallies throughout the year, they invited prominent Labor and Green politicians to posture as opponents of the Abbott government’s cuts to education.

Organisers repeatedly prevented members of the IYSSE from speaking at the rallies, in order to block students from hearing a socialist perspective and to suppress any discussion of the fact that the Gillard Labor government, supported by the Greens, had introduced the largest-ever single-cut to university funding in 2013—a massive $2.3 billion. Nor did they want mention made of the role of the Hawke and Keating Labor governments in the late 1980s and early 1990s in abolishing free university education and initiating the downward spiral in its funding ever since.

To divert attention from their rotten political perspective, these groups directed students to engage in protest “stunts”—including “sit-ins” at the offices of various university vice-chancellors, and noisy confrontations with Liberal Party politicians. These were aimed at presenting the assault on education as a product of the predilections of individual vice-chancellors and politicians and preventing any serious political discussion of the real causes.

The suppression of the movement that emerged in 2014, by Socialist Alternative, the EAG and other groups, cleared the way for the sweeping attacks now on the table, including the merger of the university’s 10 faculties and 6 schools into 6 faculties and 3 schools and the reduction in the number of undergraduate degrees from 120 to as few as 20. The restructuring at USYD is modelled on measures carried out at the University of Melbourne in 2008, which saw 96 undergraduate degrees reduced to just six, and were followed by hundreds of job cuts. Similar measures are being prepared at the University of Western Australia, which is sacking 300 staff, and at universities across the country.

The government, along with the university authorities, is well aware that the NTEU and its pseudo-left backers will enforce the cuts. In 2013, University of Sydney management announced plans to sack 340 staff and academics. The union struck a deal which destroyed 55 jobs, introduced a host of voluntary redundancies and forced 100 academics into teaching-only positions. The NTEU, the EAG and a host of other groups proclaimed this betrayal a victory. The union has carried out similar sordid maneuvers at every campus.

The International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) is fighting for the development of an independent, socialist movement of the working class in opposition to the assault on education, and the gutting of social spending. In response to the deepest crisis of the capitalist system since the 1930’s, governments around the world are implementing sweeping austerity measures aimed at abolishing all the social gains made by the working class in past struggles. Throughout Europe and the US, this program has seen the return of depression-era conditions with mass unemployment, widespread poverty and social misery.

As this agenda provokes mounting social struggles, the pseudo-left organisations, including Socialist Alternative, Solidarity and “left” sections of the Greens are seeking to emulate the “model” of Syriza in Greece, which came to power last year by falsely presenting itself as an opponent of austerity, only to carry out the deepest-ever cuts to social spending in Europe. The pseudo-left represents affluent sections of the upper middle-class in academia, the unions and the public sector whose interests are tied to the existing political set-up and the suppression of any struggles by the working class.

Hand in hand with the imposition of austerity, the major imperialist powers are carrying out an unprecedented program of militarism and war that threatens the outbreak of a new global conflict. In this region, Labor, the Liberals and the Greens have lined-up behind the advanced US preparations for war against China. Universities are playing a central role in ideologically justifying these criminal policies, with institutions such as the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney being established to suppress mounting anti-war sentiment and to promote a climate of nationalist militarism.

The IYSSE calls for students to turn to the working class, the only social force that can halt the drive to war and the assault on social conditions, and fight to mobilise it against the capitalist profit system, the real source of austerity and war. The working class has no interest in the private ownership of society’s resources. It is the target of the assault on basic social rights, including to tertiary education, being spearheaded by the corporate elite.

In order to defend the democratic right to a free, high quality public education, students and youth must turn to the program and perspective of socialist internationalism and the fight for a workers’ government, which would place the major banks and corporations under public ownership and democratic, workers’ control. A socialist program would end the current squandering of hundreds of billions of dollars on the military, and instead allocate the resources required to guarantee the social rights of the working class as a whole, including to a free, high-quality education from kindergarten to tertiary level.

05 Mar

By

Australian university students denounce the drive to war and austerity

March 5, 2016 | By |

During university Orientation Week events in Australia and New Zealand over the past two weeks, the International Youth and Students for Social Equality campaigned at seven campuses in opposition to the drive to war and the related assault on the social and democratic rights of the working class.

The IYSSE fought for students to join the fight to build an international anti-war movement of the working class, based on a revolutionary socialist perspective, as the only means of preventing the descent into World War III.

Several students at each campus gave serious consideration to the issues raised by the IYSSE, and made thoughtful comments, reflecting a developing political radicalisation among workers and young people more generally.

At the University of Melbourne, Nick, a first-year science student said, “A big issue facing young people is, either unemployment or, when in the workplace, you have no security. You can come into work one day and then be told that you’ve lost your job. Also, war has been around for a long time, but the issue of world war, a war that’s more global, that is an issue. You had two world wars in the 20th century, but before then, there were none.”

Nick

He spoke out about the US military build-up in the region, commenting, “These US bases in Asia are all the way on the other side of the world from the United States. They’re not worrying about protecting themselves. There’s tens of thousands of kilometres between here and the US over which they could shoot down missiles, if they really were trying to protect themselves from China. This is definitely about protecting their interests around the Straits of Malacca, controlling Chinese exports, and in the event of a war, being able to blockade.”

Nick noted that the US was backing Islamist forces in Syria, in a bid to oust the Syrian regime, and commented, “The US did the same thing in Afghanistan in the 1980s. The same groups, the “terrorists” that they arrest people for, they’re actually supporting. At first, I thought the “War On Terror” was about fighting the terrorists, from watching the news. But then I did some more background research, and found that Saudi Arabia was great friends with these groups, and is completely supported by the US. So I thought, ‘hang on, there’s something very fishy here’.”

Harsh, a civil engineering student, said, “The major issue for young people I think is trying to find jobs after they finish studying. A lot of people today are overqualified. That’s what I’m scared of too. I’m studying Civil Engineering. Since the mining boom’s gone down, a lot of investment in engineering has gone down too, and I’m concerned about what that’ll mean.

Harsh

“I’m scared that WWIII is going to start, involving Russia and the United States of course. I believe it could start from the events in Syria at the moment.

“I’m worried about the refugee crisis right now. War is responsible for that crisis. The countries that are supporting ISIS, above all the United States, are supporting war and creating war. War has created refugees. They need a place to stay, somewhere to eat; they’re humans.

“I didn’t know about the military build-up by the United States in this region. The United States claims itself to be a “good country,” and everyone supports its crimes because it has so many allies. China doesn’t have those same allies. Actually it has a lot of tensions. It has a border dispute with India right now.”

Thomas, a science student from the University of Newcastle, said, “In Australia, but probably everywhere, young people feel disenfranchised, alienated from public institutions. They have no say.”

“Capitalism benefits from war. People don’t matter, money does. Capitalism requires war to flourish… There are geo-political conflicts—oil-capitalism unregulated inevitably leads to war and conflict among nation states.

“They are illegally invading smaller countries and never mind the consequences. For me it will be a great day when George Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard are hauled before some international tribunal and brought to account.

“Australia as lapdog is going along with the US against China. We will suffer. The reasons are geo-political rivalry. They are trying to give people reasons to push for military intervention.

“There is a real problem with military worship, of the war times. They say Australia was built in war—that there was federation in 1901 but that the nation was not forged until 1915, in this noble event. In fact, the war was a product of geo-political rivalry including between the UK and Germany. People were told it was a noble cause but they died for nothing.”

At the University of New South Wales, Lisa, a mature-aged student in Fine Arts, spoke out about the assault on social spending that goes hand in hand with war. “The majority of the wealth in the world is owned by a very small percentage,” she said.

Lisa

“It seems to be that when we’re coming up to an election the government are always picking on the most vulnerable members of society. The other day they were talking about ‘the dole bludgers.’ I personally believe there’s not enough work for everyone to be employed.

“TAFE is now as expensive as university and apprenticeships aren’t the same as they used to be either. You used to be taken on and were guaranteed to achieve the apprenticeship with one employer. Now they can get rid of you and you have to try and find someone else to take you on to finish your apprenticeship.

“I have young nieces and nephews who live in the Central Coast and Newcastle and it’s so hard to find work. This is what makes me so angry, when the government says people are dole-bludgers.”

Tristan, a 22 year-old worker who participated in the IYSSE’s campaign at the University of Newcastle, commented, “War is the major issue. We have conflicts happening all over the globe and that is going to draw a lot of young people’s attention to that. Young people are predominantly the people that they send into war and there is a lot of media propaganda targeted towards setting the minds of young people to drag them into these wars.”

Tristan said that for the US and its allies, including Australia, “the end goal would be to beat China and Russia into submission, maybe funding some kind of coup to overthrow the Chinese government, funding some sort of resistance or revolution in their country, or by all-out war. At the moment, things seem to transpiring in the direction of all-out war.”

He noted that there is mass opposition to war among young people and workers. “You can’t have a war without soldiers, you can’t have military equipment unless you have factories. Without the support of masses of people it would be incredibly difficult to go into war; if not impossible. They could use nuclear weapons, which is perhaps the way that they are looking at going, which is as simple as pressing a button. But with the building of a world socialist movement of the working class, we could stop them and overthrow these psychopathic governments that are leading us towards total annihilation.”

09 Jul

By

A summer without jobs for America’s youth

July 9, 2015 | By |

This summer, only about one in four US teenagers will hold a job, down from one in two fifteen years ago. The decline in employment for teenagers is a major component of the mass joblessness that continues in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.

Despite six years of what has been officially billed an economic “recovery,” the share of teenagers who are employed has barely budged since the depths of the recession. A study published by Drexel University in May notes that despite a nominal improvement in the official unemployment rate, the prevalence of mass unemployment for teenagers points to “Depression Era-like labor market problems.”

With the 2016 presidential election campaign well underway, neither the media nor the top candidates of the two establishment parties bother to mention that there are no summer jobs for millions of young people and virtually unprecedented levels of youth unemployment. As far as they are concerned, it is a non-issue.

Not too long ago, summer jobs programs, though limited and inadequate, were considered to be an essential responsibility of the government, Now, such programs have all but disappeared.

The elimination of these programs, like other Great Society social reforms, is bound up with the decay of American capitalism, the rightward lurch of both corporate-controlled parties, deindustrialization and the ascendancy of a parasitic financial aristocracy.

The share of youth ages 16-19 working during the summer months has fallen from nearly 52 percent in 2000 to less than 27 percent today, according to the Drexel study. Year-round employment for teenagers has dropped from 45 percent to 27 percent over the same period.

Teen unemployment is particularly concentrated among low-income and minority youth. Less than 20 percent of youth from homes with annual incomes lower than $20,000 had a summer job in 2014, compared to 41 percent from homes with incomes higher than $100,000. Last year, only 19 percent of black teenagers had a summer job, compared to 34 percent of white teenagers.

A number of interrelated processes account for the dramatic fall in teenage employment. Amid persistent joblessness and falling wages, older workers are desperate to take any job they can, including those previously available to teenagers. Employers, demanding ever-greater productivity and flexibility from their workers, are less willing to accommodate young peoples’ school schedules, while growing numbers of young people are working for free in unpaid internships.

But the most significant factor in the decline of summer employment is the collapse in funding for summer jobs programs, particularly at the federal level. In 1999, federal subsidies made up 82 percent of funding for New York City’s summer jobs program. This summer, the federal government’s contribution is zero.

President Obama, despite having campaigned as a champion of young people, has allowed federal funding for jobs programs to decline year after year, particularly since the 2013 imposition of the “sequester” budget cuts.

Conditions today for working class youth in cities like Detroit, Baltimore, New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, and elsewhere are no better than those that were so brilliantly and movingly described in Depression-era novels such as Richard Wright’s Native Son .

Nearly one in four people under the age of 18 in the United States lives in a family below the federal poverty line. A total of 16.3 million Americans under 18 live in poverty, and one in five children and young people live in households where there is not enough to eat.

This is in a country where the number of billionaires grows by leaps and bounds and the top 1 percent monopolizes ever-larger shares of the national income and wealth.

Education spending, like funding for jobs programs, is being slashed at every level of government. In 2015, states plan to spend $1,805 per student on higher education, 20 percent less than before the recession. Five states have slashed their higher education funding by more than 35 percent since 2008, with Arizona cutting its spending by 47 percent.

The ever-growing cost of higher education is making college inaccessible to millions of low-income students. Student debt has skyrocketed, with the average member of the class of 2015 graduating with more than $35,000 in debt.

Is it any wonder, under conditions of social blight and mass unemployment,that street crime and gang-related violence are on the rise in impoverished urban neighborhoods, as illustrated by the string of shootings that killed eight people over the weekend in Chicago?

Nor is it difficult to grasp the connection between such conditions and the transformation of local police into militarized occupation forces, employing deadly violence to suppress the social anger boiling just below the surface of society.

Chicago police superintendent Garry McCarthy declared in response to this weekend’s shootings that the police need to make “criminals… feel the repercussions of the justice system.” In Detroit, Police Chief James Craig has referred to the city’s youth as “urban terrorists.” Such statements reflect the complete inability of the present social order to address any social problem.

Today’s youth are the first generation in the US whose living standards have declined, in absolute terms, compared to those of their parents. The health of a society can be measured by the prospects it holds out for young people. By that standard, the conditions facing youth in America—and, indeed, in countries around the world—are an indictment of the capitalist system.

Andre Damon

01 May

By

IYSSE at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (Humboldt University of Berlin)

May 1, 2015 | By |

Für Meinungsfreiheit an der Humboldt-Universität

Mit einer „Öffentlichen Stellungnahme für Jörg Baberowski“ hat sich die Berliner Humboldt-Universität hinter einen Professor gestellt, der sich offen zum Nazi-Apologeten Ernst Nolte bekennt.

Bereits im Herbst letzten Jahres hatte das Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften an der HU eine „Stellungnahme zu den Angriffen auf Prof. Dr. Jörg Baberowski“ veröffentlicht, die ausdrücklich für politische Zensur eintrat. Sie wollte Kritik an Baberowskis öffentlichen Äußerungen „in Räumen der Humboldt-Universität“ nicht mehr dulden und forderte „Lehrende und Studierende der Humboldt-Universität auf, der Kampagne gegen Professor Baberowski entgegenzutreten“.

Offener Brief der Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG) und der IYSSE an die Berliner Humboldt-Universität

29 Apr

By

For freedom of speech at Humboldt University

April 29, 2015 | By |

By the Socialist Equality Party (Germany) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality
29 April 2015

The following is an Open letter from the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit (PSG) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) to Humboldt University in Berlin.

Dear Professor Olbertz,

Humboldt University has published a “Public statement on behalf of Jörg Baberowski” on its official web site [1], which accuses the Partei für Soziale Gleichheit and its student and youth organization, the IYSSE, of “vicious defamation,” “slander,” and “character assassination” directed against Jörg Baberowski, chair of the department of Eastern European History. It is signed by yourself, as president of the HU, as well as 26 other professors.

We reject these accusations with indignation. Under the pretext of defending the reputation of a professor, a fundamental assault on the freedom of speech and opinion is taking place. The “statement” is an attempt to intimidate, suppress and criminalize criticism of controversial political views publicly put forward by a member of the university.

With this “statement,” Humboldt University is establishing a dangerous precedent, whose significance goes far beyond the immediate dispute. Should it go unchallenged it would pave the way for the political Gleichschaltung of the university: the suppression of political criticism and, along with it, all serious scholarly activity. It resumes the ignominious past of HU and its predecessor, the Friedrich Wilhelm University, which served as ideological bulwarks for war propaganda in the First and the Second World Wars.

The accusations you level against our party and our student organization are utterly baseless. They rest on insinuation, unsubstantiated allegations and outright lies. Nowhere do you address, factually, what the issues actually are. You do not refer to the content of our criticism of Professor Baberowski, although it is openly documented and accessible to everyone.

Professor Baberowski’s affirmation of Ernst Nolte

You present Professor Baberowski as a diligent scholar, who has been unjustly attacked. This is not the case. Jörg Baberowski is a public personality. He appears regularly in the media and takes an unequivocal stand on controversial political issues.

In February of last year, he openly declared his support for Ernst Nolte. Nolte is the foremost Hitler and Nazi apologist among German academics. This is not opinion, but a well-established fact. In 1986, Nolte triggered the “Historian’s Debate,” in which he downplayed the crimes of National Socialism, describing them as an understandable reaction to Bolshevism. Today he moves in neo-Nazi circles and is an unabashed defender of Adolf Hitler.

A film broadcast on German television channel BR-Alpha on January 13, 2013 shows Nolte in friendly conversation with Horst Mahler, well-known attorney of the neo-fascist NPD, following a speech to the far-right dueling club “Thuringia.” Mahler has been convicted several times for Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic statements. [2] At the end of last year, Nolte complained, in the magazine the European, of the “huge volume of hate and condemnation” that had made “the one-time ‘liberator’ [Hitler] into a representative of ‘absolute evil.’” He praised Hitler “as the forgotten representative of tendencies of ‘self-assertion’ … missing in the official politics of the German government.” [3]

Nolte’s extreme-right views have been known for a long time. For this very reason, CDU chair Angela Merkel refused in 2000 to present him the Konrad Adenauer Prize of the Deutschland Foundation. That did not prevent Baberowski, however, from publicly supporting Nolte fourteen years later. At the beginning of last year he declared in Der Spiegel: “Nolte was done an injustice. Historically speaking, he was right.” Baberowski also told the news magazine that he had already defended Nolte’s arguments as a student and, because of his defense, was shouted down in a seminar in 1986, at the high point of the Historians Debate. [4]

In the same Spiegel article, Baberowski trivialized Hitler with the provocative statement: “Hitler was no psychopath, and he wasn’t vicious. He didn’t want people to talk about the extermination of the Jews at his table.” We have not taken this quote, which positively compares Hitler with Stalin, out of context. It is in line with Nolte’s central argument that the crimes of National Socialism were merely a defensive response to the Soviet threat.

Neither does the objection that Baberowski was defending the Nolte of 1986, and not the Nolte of 2014, stand up to scrutiny. Nolte’s transformation into an open defender of Hitler had already been anticipated in 1986. Jürgen Habermas, Hans-Ulrich Wehler, Hans and Wolfgang J. Mommsen, and other leading historians understood this at the time and, in the course of the Historians Debate, denounced Nolte as an apologist for Nazi crimes. Habermas accused Nolte of considering “the extermination of the Jews only as the unfortunate result of a nevertheless understandable reaction to what Hitler must have felt was a threat of annihilation.”

In our publications and lectures, we have repeatedly called attention to Baberowski’s affirmation of Ernst Nolte. This was a central element of our criticism. But it apparently does not disturb the university. By accusing us of “slander” and “character assassination,” you are declaring yourself to be an ally of Ernst Nolte. This is not just a defense of Baberowski, it is a defense of Nolte— with far-reaching implications. With this statement, Humboldt University has allied itself with an unrepentant Nazi apologist. That will be understood all over the world, whether you care to acknowledge it or not.

We do not know if all the signatories of the “statement” are aware of this background, or whether they simply feel under pressure to sign a letter put out by an influential, well-connected professor at Humboldt University. But with their signatures, they assume political, intellectual, and moral responsibility for the positions of Ernst Nolte.

Professor Baberowski’s trivialization of war crimes

The accusation that Professor Baberowski trivializes crimes of the Second World War is not, as you write, a defamation. This accusation has been raised not only by us, but also by academic publications. It is substantiated by many passages in Baberowski’s writings. We cited one example on October 23, 2014, at a meeting of the IYSSE on the theme “Why do the German elites once again want war?” which was met with great interest. More than 200 participants packed into an overflowing lecture hall at Humboldt University to hear it.

You mention this meeting, but carefully avoid quoting the passage to which you refer. Your “statement” declares that, at a seminar of the IYSSE on October 25, 2014 [sic!], a “Power Point presentation featured a photo of hanged partisans, accompanied by quotes from Jörg Baberowski, deliberately taken out of context.”

The quotation in question was as follows: “The Red Army left the advancing Wehrmacht with destroyed cities and villages, whose starving populations no one could provide for … Under these conditions, the infantry regiments of the Wehrmacht in their search for food and shelter rapidly transformed into bands of marauders which robbed the peasants and townspeople, not because they dreamed of the extermination of Slavic sub-humans, but because they had no other alternative.” [5]

The Wehrmacht terrorized and destroyed the Soviet population, therefore, because the Red Army left them with no other choice, and not because the Hitler regime and its general staff had planned a war of annihilation from the beginning and issued the appropriate orders. The Nuremberg Trials and historical research have proven conclusively that the latter was the case.

Also, this quotation was not “deliberately taken out of context.” A large number of similar statements can be found in Baberowski’s work. He writes in the same book from 2007 that, “Stalin and his generals imposed on the Wehrmacht a new kind of war which no longer spared the civilian population.”

Five years later, in Verbrannte Erde [ Scorched Earth: Stalin’s Reign of Terror], Baberowski wrote: “In any war, such conditions [as those which prevailed on the Eastern front] are reason enough for the enemy to resist and commit atrocities. Such behavior cannot be explained on the basis of ideological convictions. Hitler’s soldiers did not wage an ideological war, rather they fought a war whose dynamic they could no longer escape.” [6]

We are not alone in criticizing Scorched Earth for sanitizing the Nazis’ war of annihilation. The book also provoked opposition among specialists in the field. Following its release, the journal Osteuropa published three separate commentaries, which raised objections to the book. [7]

Benno Ennker accused it of presenting “an implicit exoneration of the Wehrmacht” and wrote of Baberowski’s assertion that the National Socialists had no longer been able to bring their war of extermination under control: “Such an exculpation—unsupported by evidence—of the ideologically planned extermination policy in the East by ‘situation and circumstances’ had up to now only been associated with the scandalous Polish historian Bogdan Musial.”

Jürgen Zarusky commented: “Baberowski has yet to present any evidence for his reckless assertion that the Soviet leadership welcomed the war. He largely ignores German plans to turn the war into a war of annihilation.”

Christoph Dieckmann accused Baberowski of having “not presented a balanced, differentiated study, but rather a 500 page polemic in which accusations and polarized positions are formulated …” He misjudges “the research which has demonstrated the broad consensus within the German leadership and the heads of the Wehrmacht prior to the attack on the Soviet Union, to subject millions of Soviet citizens to death by starvation within a few months.” Given this research, Baberowski’s version of events takes on the character of “apologetics.”

Are you also accusing the Osteuropa journal, with which we have no connection, of slandering and defaming Baberowski?

Baberowski’s justification of the methods associated with wars of annihilation is not limited to the past. At an October 1, 2014 panel discussion on the theme “Germany as Intervention Force?” held at the Schlüterhof of the German Historical Museum, he said of the fight against jihadist groups: “And if one is not willing to take hostages, burn villages, hang people and spread fear and terror, as the terrorists do, if one is not prepared to do such things, then one can never win such a conflict and it is better to keep out altogether.” [8]

Neither you nor Baberowski have ever addressed these public justifications of methods that violate every international legal standard and convention. Instead, you defame us because we make the public aware of them.

A manufactured accusation

Because you do not want to confront the content of our criticisms, you manufacture false accusations in order to discredit us. You claim that, at a conference of the Federal Agency for Civic Education, which took place in Berlin from January 25-27, 2015, Baberowski was “denounced as a Holocaust denier” by “a participant who hid his face.”

We question whether this incident ever took place. How could anyone with his face covered sit in a public conference? Be that as it may, the PSG and the IYSSE have absolutely nothing to do with the incident. To link us to it is a baseless insinuation.

No representative of our organization took part in the conference. Nor have we ever called Baberowski a “Holocaust denier.” We voice our criticisms openly, not “with hidden faces,” and we reject the disruption of meetings, as a matter of principle, in the manner described.

The biography of Trotsky by Robert Service

You write that we have vilified Baberowski “not least because of his scholarly examination of a controversial biography of Trotsky.” This stands reality on its head. Rather than conducting a “scholarly examination” of Robert Service’s Trotsky biography, which is what is being referred to here, Baberowski resorted to scandalous methods to suppress any critical examination.

When Baberowski invited Robert Service to speak on this 2009 Trotsky biography at a public colloquium, at his Institute on February 12, 2014, the biography had already been thoroughly discredited.

In his book In Defense of Leon Trotsky, the leading Marxist, David North, had demonstrated that Service’s biography was riddled with dozens of factual errors, half-truths, distortions, falsifications and outright slanders.

Professor Bertrand Patenaude (Stanford University) had fully confirmed North’s assessment in the prestigious journal The American Historical Review and concurred with his judgment, that Service’s book was a “piece of hackwork.” Patenaude drew the conclusion: “In his eagerness to cut Trotsky down, Service commits numerous distortions of the historical record and outright errors of fact to the point that the intellectual integrity of the whole enterprise is open to question.” Patenaude continued: “At times the errors are jaw-dropping.” [9]

Fourteen well-known historians, political scientists and journalists from Germany, Austria and Switzerland had addressed a letter to Suhrkamp Verlag, advising against the publication of a German edition of the biography because it “violated basic standards of historical scholarship.” The signatories of the letter included experts of international repute such as Prof. Hermann Weber (Mannheim), the head of the Institute of Contemporary History at the University of Vienna Prof. Oliver Rathkolb, the head of the German Resistance Memorial Center, Professor Peter Steinbach (Berlin), Prof. Heiko Haumann (Basel) and Prof. Mario Kessler (Potsdam). [10]

Any genuine scholarly examination of Service’s biography would have been obliged to take this critique into account. In order to prevent this, Baberowski resorted to the most undemocratic measures. To ensure that Service confronted no critical questions, he cancelled the colloquium at short notice and moved it from the advertised meeting place to a secret location in the main building of the HU. At this new location, Baberowski barred access, with the assistance of security guards, to any visitors he suspected might pose critical questions.

Among those locked-out were—together with a number of HU history students—David North, author of the most profound critique of the Service biography, and Professor Mario Kessler, a signatory of the letter to Suhrkamp Verlag.

The IYSSE had actively sought to ensure a genuine scholarly examination of Service’s book. We informed Baberowski, in advance, that we planned to participate in the colloquium; we acquainted students at HU with the background to the dispute; and we submitted written questions. When the rumor was circulated that the IYSSE planned to disrupt the event, we wrote to Baberowski to make clear that we had no such intention.

All these letters remained unanswered, including a letter to you, Prof. Olbertz, in which we complained that Baberowski’s approach violated “basic principles of democracy and freedom of expression” at Humboldt University. This pattern was repeated throughout the entire dispute: Baberowski and the university management refused any substantive discussion, did not reply to our letters and then claimed, without any substantiation, that we were conducting a smear campaign.

Already, by the autumn of last year, the Department of History at Humboldt had posted a “Statement on the attacks on Dr. Jörg Baberowski,” which expressly advocated political censorship. The statement declared that criticism of Baberowski’s public statements would not be tolerated in “lecture halls of Humboldt University,” and called upon “teachers and students of Humboldt University to oppose the campaign against Professor Baberowski.” We wrote to you at the time, Prof. Olbertz, to raise our protest. Once again we received no reply. [11]

The latest “statement,” signed by yourself, represents the culmination of these attempts to suppress critical opinion at the HU. For the first time, the university management has now positioned itself behind the attempt to stifle the right to criticism and freedom of expression.

We hope, in the interests of the university, that you, together with all the other signatories of the “statement,” will reconsider your position and withdraw your signature.

Be assured, we will not let the matter rest. We intend to inform the students and faculty of the university, and the German and international public, about these developments and encourage protest against them.

With best regards,

Ulrich Rippert Socialist Equality Party
Christoph Dreier, International Youth and Students for Social Equality

Notes:

[1] https://www.exzellenz.hu-berlin.de/de/exzellenzinitiative/gremien-1/forum-geisteswissenschaften/oeffentliche-stellungnahme-fuer-joerg-baberowski

[2] Ernst Nolte – Ein deutscher Streitfall, by Andreas Christoph Schmidt, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0l2ZWRqDtZc. The “Thuringia” speech and the scene with Horst Mahler begin at the two-minute mark.

[3] Das Tabu brechen, by Ernst Nolte, The European 4/2014

[4] Der Wandel der Vergangenheit, Der Spiegel 7/2014. English: http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/questions-of-culpability-in-wwi-still-divide-german-historians-a-953173-2.html

[5] Kriege in staatsfernen Räumen: Russland und die Sowjetunion 1905–1950, by Jörg Baberowski 2007

[6] Scorched Earth: Stalin’s Reign of Terror, by Jörg Baberowski, New Haven: Yale University Press 2015

[7] Osteuropa, 62/4, April 2012

[8] As audio file: https://www.dhm.de/fileadmin/medien/relaunch/AUDIO/Schlueterhofgespraeche_01.10.2014_1.mp3

[9] The American Historical Review, Vol. 116, No. 3, S. 900-902, Oxford University Press

[10] https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2011/11/lett-n23.html

[11] http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/11/27/humb-n27.html