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22 Mar

By

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

17 Apr

By

Quebec government criminalizes student strike

April 17, 2015 | By |

By Laurent Lafrance
17 April 2015

The Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) was the target of a massive intervention by riot police April 8 that was aimed at intimidating, beating up, and arresting students who were exercising their democratic right to strike on the university campus. The police repression is well documented in videos posted on YouTube by amateur journalists and strike supporters.

According to press reports, Quebec Liberal Premier Philippe Couillard personally contacted the rector of UQAM to demand the police crackdown.

The police invasion of a public educational institution is virtually without precedent in Quebec. It is part of an escalating campaign of state repression mounted by the Liberal government with the full support of Quebec’s big-business elite. The government is determined to break the student protest movement against its sweeping austerity program and to put an end to Quebec’s longstanding democratic tradition of political protest through student strikes.

This authoritarian drive is above all directed against the working class—at demonstrating that the government will mobilize the apparatus of state repression to criminalize any challenge to its program of brutal social spending cuts, user fee hikes, and wage and pension cuts for public sector workers.

The April 8 confrontation began when security guards, recently hired by UQAM, accosted and jostled a group of thirty students who were enforcing the strike mandate democratically decided by their officially recognized student association by seeking to prevent the holding of classes. With the security guards threatening further repression, the students complied with the guards’ demand that they vacate the premises.

A few hours later, however, police intervened massively and provocatively against a second group of striking students who were demonstrating on the UQAM campus. Fearing the police would seize on this as the occasion to mount a violent crackdown, a group of professors attempted to position themselves between the police and the students. In the end, the police arrested 21 people, aged 18 to 36, who have been charged with misdemeanors and unlawful assembly.

Later that evening, some 200 students decided to occupy the J.-A.-DeSève building to protest the police intervention on the campus and the subsequent arrests. They barricaded the building entrance with tables and chairs in a festive atmosphere. During the ensuing four hours, a handful of students committed acts of petty vandalism, leading to tensions with the vast majority of the students who were occupying the building peacefully.

Shortly after midnight and with the express approval of the UQAM administration, police forcibly ended the occupation. Montreal riot police broke down a glass door with axes and charged into the building. The students escaped out a rear exit, but were then chased for several hours by police who fired tear gas at them. Five people were arrested.

The police interventions at UQAM, including the brutal manner in which they ended the occupation, were emphatically supported by Premier Couillard. The corporate media and the entire political establishment, including the Parti Québécois, were quick to echo Couillard’s remarks, denouncing the students as “violent.” Turning reality on its head, they depicted the state repression as the consequence of the striking students’ “unacceptable behavior.ˮ In the face of this slander campaign, the supposedly left-wing Québec Solidaire simply called for dialogue so as to “prevent an undesirable escalationˮ of the situation.

Nothing was said in all of this about the government’s antidemocratic campaign to criminalize the strike and even more importantly about its brutal austerity measures, which target essential public services on which millions of Quebecers depend and the social rights that workers won through bitter struggles over several generations. If truth be told, the real authors of violence and intimidation are sitting in the Quebec National Assembly and in the editorial offices of the big-business media.

Throughout the strike, which was launched March 23 with the goal of pressuring the Liberals to backtrack on their austerity measures, UQAM Rector Robert Proulx has stoked the flames. At the government’s urging, he obtained a Superior Court injunction that makes it illegal for students to block access to classes. He also announced the unprecedented expulsion of nine students involved in student walkouts and other protest actions over the last two years. On April 7, he sent out an e-mail announcing that the academic calendar would not be changed and ordering all professors and contract teachers to continue teaching their courses even if their classrooms were empty. Despite many requests from the striking students, the rector has consistently refused all dialogue with them.

Whilst the media has made much of the fact that some striking UQAM students have donned masks, this was in response to the administration’s installation of numerous additional CTCT cameras and its hiring, at a cost of $500,000, of a large number of additional security guards from the private firm Gardium so as to surveille and police students.

The few acts of vandalism carried out on April 8 were likely the actions of a handful of anarchists—possibly linked to the Black Bloc—whose sole aim was to bring about a confrontation with the police. There is a long history of police infiltration of these anarchist groups and numerous cases of agent s provocateurs inciting young people to commit illegal acts. On the evening of the occupation, vehicles belonging to the Montreal police (SPVM) were left unsupervised near the entrance to the university, where they could be readily vandalized.

The Parti Québécois, the federation that represents the CEGEPS (pre-university and technical colleges) and several student associations and trade unions have responded to the events at UQAM by calling for a law “framing” students’ right to strike. Such legislation would be utterly reactionary. As its proponents suggest, it would be based on the Quebec labor code, which ties state recognition of the unions to sweeping limitations on workers’ right to strike, in some cases barring it altogether. The purpose of any law “framing” students’ right to strike would be to introduce a whole series of legal obstacles to prevent it from being exercised and to justify the repression of student protests.

The Liberals however want nothing to do with this proposal. Throughout the conflict, they have aggressively asserted that there is no such thing as a student right to strike, underscoring that their objective is to change the rules of the game and repudiate student strikes as an accepted form of political protest. Indeed, Education Minister François Blais has publicly deplored that student strikes have been accepted as a legitimate form of democratic action in Quebec since the 1960s. He has repeatedly avowed that the only “right” the government is constitutionally bound to uphold is students’ “right” to attend classes in defiance of a democratically decided class boycott.

The hard line taken by the government is a serious warning for the working class. The repressive measures directed at the students are only a foretaste of what the government is preparing to suppress worker opposition to its austerity program, including from the half-million public sector workers whose contracts expired March 31 and from whom the government is demanding sweeping concessions.

In the face of this threat, the trade unions are doing nothing to mobilize their members and prepare a counteroffensive. Just as they did during the 2012 student strike, the unions have refused to support the students, facilitating the government repression. At a major conference on March 31, the public sector union leaders insisted that their preoccupation is “good-faith” bargaining with the government and that not before the fall will they even begin to seriously consider resorting to the “ultimate” measure—by which they mean a legal strike.

Despite the fact that the student “anti-austerity” strike has drawn into its ranks tens of thousands of students across Quebec over the course of the past month—and at the beginning of this week as many as 20,000 students remained on strike—it is clearly petering out.

There is still broad opposition to the ruling class’s austerity agenda among the students, and even more so in the working class. However, none of the factions of ASSÉ (Association for Student-Union Solidarity), which as in 2012 is leading the student strike, has presented a viable perspective for social struggle.

The more “conservativeˮ faction, which includes many Quebec Solidaire supporters, continues to subordinate itself completely to the trade unions and after the union officialdom spelled out their forthright opposition to any mobilization of the working class called for a “strategic retreat”—i.e. the strike’s end. The other faction, apparently more “radical,ˮ has pressed for the continuation of the strike, but is making no effort to mobilize workers in the fight against austerity, limiting themselves to futile appeals to the ruling elite.

Like the unions, both wings of the ASSÉ leadership claim the draconian measures of the Couillard government are an “ideological choice,” not the consequence of a systemic crisis of capitalism that the ruling elite in Canada, as around the world, is seeking to resolve at the expense of the working class.

The only viable option to counter austerity is a turn to the international working class, the only social force with the power to break the stranglehold of big business over socioeconomic life, overthrow the profit system, and transform society on the basis of human need. The development of an independent political movement of the working class requires an intransigent struggle against the pro-capitalist union bureaucracy, which subordinates workers to the political representatives of the ruling class and binds them to capitalism.

16 Apr

By

Overturn the decision to block IYSSE affiliation on campus!

April 16, 2015 | By |

An open letter to the Clubs and Societies Committee at the University of Melbourne

By International Youth and Students for Social Equality (Australia)
16 April 2015

The following letter has been sent to the members of the Clubs & Societies Committee of the University of Melbourne, which voted at a meeting on March 29 to reject the application of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) to affiliate its club at the university. It is being distributed by members of the IYSSE among students on campus.

To the members of the University of Melbourne Clubs & Societies (C&S) Committee:

Gulsara Kaplan (Secular Society)
Lauren Taylor (Cosmic Hitchhikers Appreciation Society)
Yasmine Luu (Science Students Society)
Ryan Davey (Arts Students Society)
Steven Connolly (Pirates)
Claire Pollock and Stephen Smith (C&S office bearers)

On behalf of the members and supporters of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE), I am writing to oppose your anti-democratic decision of March 29 to block our application to affiliate an IYSSE club on campus, and demand that you overturn it.

On March 31, the IYSSE received an email from C&S coordinator Fiona Sanders, of the University of Melbourne Student Union (UMSU), stating that the club’s application had been rejected. Stephen Smith, a C&S office bearer of UMSU and member of the “More activities!” student election organisation, had moved that the IYSSE should not be affiliated because its aims “significantly overlap” with those of an already-existing club, Socialist Alternative (SA).

We understand that all of you voted for this motion without any attempt to contact the IYSSE beforehand, thus preventing us from clarifying that Smith’s unsubstantiated claim was completely false. In reality, none of the aims of the IYSSE overlaps with those of Socialist Alternative. Moreover, your decision rides roughshod over the democratic rights of the 54 students who signed an expression of interest form in support of establishing the IYSSE club on campus.

First and foremost, the notion that the C&S Committee, or any other organisation, should be able to determine which clubs can or cannot be formed undermines the fundamental rights of students to organise and exercise freedom of expression. All students should be permitted to establish whatever clubs they choose, whether their interests are cultural, spiritual, political, sporting or academic.

That said, your decision contains a glaring contradiction. While you cite “overlapping aims” to proscribe the IYSSE, no such objections have been raised to block other clubs on campus—something the IYSSE would most certainly publicly oppose.

Among the more than 200 affiliated student clubs are two separate clubs representing the same political party, the Australian Labor Party—under the names ALP Club and Labor Club. And, as far as tens of thousands of students are concerned, if ever there were two parties with “overlapping aims,” they are Labor and Liberal, whose big business programs are essentially indistinguishable.

Moreover, there are four different Christian societies, as well as at least three science fiction clubs. In addition to Socialist Alternative, the Solidarity Club, which also defines itself as “socialist,” is also affiliated.

What is to account for this double-standard? Why has the IYSSE been singled out for rejection? We can only conclude that your discriminatory decision is based, not on procedural, but on undisclosed political considerations.

Without producing a shred of evidence, either this year or last, the C&S Committee used precisely the same justification of “overlapping aims” in 2014 to block our affiliation. So absurd was the motion that the Socialist Alternative club representative on the committee voted against it!

The class character and orientation of any political organisation is determined, first and foremost, by its history and political program. From this standpoint, the IYSSE and Socialist Alternative represent diametrically opposed political tendencies.

The IYSSE is the global student and youth organisation of the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), the world Trotskyist movement. The ICFI publishes the World Socialist Web Site, the most widely-read socialist publication in the world. The IYSSE is openly affiliated with the ICFI’s Australian section, the Socialist Equality Party, a registered political party.

The IYSSE’s aims, which were provided to the C&S Committee as part of our application, make this crystal clear. They state the IYSSE seeks to “educate students in the history and principles of the Trotskyist movement, the International Committee of the Fourth International,” and to “raise the level of intellectual discussion and debate on campus through the sponsoring of regular forums discussing the daily political analysis of the World Socialist Web Site, the Internet site of the ICFI, dealing with Marxist philosophy, economics, history and the arts.”

Socialist Alternative is not part of the ICFI and is not a Trotskyist organisation. It traces its origins to a petty bourgeois political trend known as “state capitalism,” which broke from the Fourth International in 1951, on the basis of an explicit rejection of its principles.

Socialist Alternative does not support either the World Socialist Web Site or the Socialist Equality Party. In elections, it calls on voters to give their support, not to the SEP, but to capitalist parties such as the Greens and the Labor Party.

In her letter to the IYSSE on April 1, C&S Coordinator Sanders wrote: “We recommend that you contact Socialist Alternative to discuss how your goals can be achieved through partnering with them.”

The arrogance of this statement is breathtaking. What gives the C&S Committee the right to instruct students, who support the ICFI and the SEP, to join an anti-Marxist organisation that we explicitly oppose?

A review of just some of the public statements of the IYSSE and Socialist Alternative on major global issues should be sufficient to demonstrate to you that the two organisations do not have “overlapping aims.”

On Syriza, which formed a self-proclaimed “left-wing” government in Greece in January of this year :

World Socialist Web Site, supported by the IYSSE: “Syriza’s election does not express a political development, a step forward, progress or anything of the kind by or for the working class … In its origin, social composition and politics, Syriza is a bourgeois party—one of many, including the Democrats under US President Barack Obama—that come to power making promises of ‘hope’ and ‘change’ and then impose policies of austerity and war. It will inevitably betray, sooner rather than later, the aspirations for an end to social hardship and suffering that it has cynically exploited.”

Socialist Alternative: “A stunning victory for the left in Greece”: “These commitments [Syriza’s election promises to oppose austerity spending] combined with other polices—such as writing off much of Greece’s debt to the international banks, nationalisation of the local banks and an end to privatisations—are a direct challenge to the neoliberal agenda that has dominated Western capitalism over the last 30 years.”

On the United States-sponsored campaign to overthrow the Russian-backed regime of Bashar al-Assad, with the assistance of anti-Assad rebels financed by the US an d its supporters in the region:

World Socialist Web Site : “The Syrian war is the latest chapter in US imperialism’s efforts—with the support of its ultra-reactionary Gulf State clients—to violently carry out a restructuring of Middle Eastern and Central Asian politics…. In the Syrian war, as in the 2011 Libyan war before it, whatever initial protests occurred were overwhelmed and utilized as a pretext for large-scale military intervention by Washington against a regime with which it had long-standing grievances. In both wars, Washington’s key proxies were Sunni sectarian forces tied to Al Qaeda—veterans of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group in Libya and the Al Nusra Front in Syria.”

Socialist Alternative: “Imperialism, in the sense of Western neo-colonialism, is not the main threat facing the masses of Syria, or of the Arab world as a whole … The time for ‘knee-jerk anti-imperialism’ has now passed …”

On the US pivot to Asia, and the preparations of both the US and Australian governments for war on China:

Socialist Equality Party: “The Obama administration initiated its ‘pivot to Asia’ in the wake of the 2008–09 global financial crisis … While the US military was bogged down in quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq, China had emerged as the chief nexus of globalised production … The US was intent on ensuring that it, not its imperialist rivals in Europe and Asia, would dominate this massive cheap labour platform and source of profit. This, not the fraudulent claim that China is seeking new territory in the Asian region, is the real aim of the ‘pivot.’”

Socialist Alternative: “[The] United States, Australia’s traditional military ally and still its most significant foreign investor, is engaged in an increasingly tense struggle with China for domination over the Asia-Pacific. The US wants its allies to stick close and help it contain China’s expansion.”

On the nature of the trade unions:

The Socialist Equality Party: “The unions are not workers’ organisations in any sense. Under the impact of globalisation, the unions, grounded on nationalist and pro-capitalist foundations, have been transformed from organisations that once advanced limited reforms in order to contain the class struggle within the framework of the profit system, into corporatist apparatuses committed to achieving ‘international competitiveness’ on behalf of big business.”

Socialist Alternative: “Socialists support trade unions as the basic defensive organisations of the working class.”

If you cared to investigate you would find such fundamental differences between the IYSSE and SA on every political question. And that is because the two organisations have fundamentally opposed aims. The IYSSE and the Socialist Equality Party are revolutionary Marxist organisations, representing the interests of the working class. Our aim is to build a unified international movement of the working class against imperialist war and austerity, and their source, the capitalist profit system. Socialist Alternative is a middle class pseudo-left organisation that has fully aligned itself with imperialist war and austerity, and is preoccupied with the politics of identity, aimed specifically at undermining and suppressing the independent interests of the working class.

We again insist that the C&S Committee overturns its decision and immediately grants affiliation to the IYSSE.

Yours sincerely,
University of Melbourne IYSSE

08 Apr

By

IYSSE at the University of Michigan

April 8, 2015 | By |

Weekly meetings every Wednesday from 6:30pm-8:30pm in the Michigan
League, Room 2 (First Floor)
911 N University Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48109

IYSSE UM Facebook Page

08 Mar

By

IYSSE at University of Minnesota Twin Cities

March 8, 2015 | By |

Weekly meetings every Tuesday from 7pm-9pm in Ralph Rapson Hall #15 (Lower Level)
89 Church St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455