Friday, April 14, 2006

Communism & WTO

In the book “5 Days that Shook the World”, there was picture of a middle-aged man surrounded by six policemen raising the logo: “WTO: If it does not work for working families, it does not work.”[1] Indeed, the Communists, inspired by Marx and Engels, argued that the worker needed to be protected, and it was up to the workers to change how the world functions. The workers’ demonstrations can date back to the mid 19th Century, Australia, demanding for a better life.

The first brutal clash between the security forces and the workers demanding their rights to live their life was in Chicago in 1st of May 1886, at the Hay Market. The brutality of force and the ones died to express their voice of righteousness. The Second International (known also as the Socialist International), received a proposal done by Edward Avaling, Eleanor Marx, and Fredric Engels to transform 1st of May, into what is called May Day (also known in some countries: Workers Day). After three years of the Chicago massacre, and on first of May, the socialists and the workers raised the Red Flag for the first time, and the flag was raised in China, Europe, and Northern America. This was the first international solidarity campaign done in the face of the growing capitalist markets. Since then, plenty of peaceful demonstrations took place in Hyde Park discussing the stats of the workers, and how to encourage workers to defend for their rights. Till current times, the active socialist/communists raise the red flag in honor of the fallen ones from Chicago till current day. May Day became a symbol for the workers to celebrate the courage of every fallen worker, as well as honor their sacrifices to take the stand. Whenever May Day approaches, plenty of governments with well-grounded socialist base fear a wave of refusal to their standpoints. It happened in the United States in the 50’s, Portugal in the 1974, and every year, demonstrations are rallied for May Day. [2]

Unfortunately for the Communists, Stalinism ruined the reputation of the Communists, and in the United States, plenty of people associate Socialism with the massacres of Stalin and the next generations of leaderships in Russia. Yet, a certain faction of dedicated Marxists, and Trotskyites remained active in the face of Capitalism and the Stalinist regimes.

Plenty of ideas of Marxist ideas are applicable till current days. After all, it was Zinoviev who said: “The Capitalists have their own International, we need our own to face them.”[3] It was Trotsky who argued that the bulk of anti-capitalism is the workers, whose revolution can trigger a world revolution, especially after the 1905 revolution in Petrograd. The case of the 1905 demonstration, Trotsky was successful in transforming a simple workers’ demonstration to a workers’ revolution that stimulated even a faction of the Tsarist Military Force to join the workers’ cause. The U.S. journalist John Reed named the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia, as “10 days that shook the world”. Later, it turns out that the Russian Revolution stimulated revolutions varying from Hungary, Romania, and Germany, to hyper union activities in England and the United States. Lenin’s slogan and book: “Imperialism is the highest Stage of Capitalism” has been revived indirectly on bulletins and activists on the streets. Above all, people like Naomi Klein, Teresa Brennan, and the World Social Forums, the Marxist theme of Internationalism has been preached out by (just for the fact its name has the word: “World”) the Marxist theme of Internationalism has been repetitively on most of the activists in the “Movement of Movements.”

The Socialist movements in the Social Movement are returning. What each group whether Environmentalists, Workers, anti-privatization, solidarity groups, humanitarian groups, feminists, and plenty more focus on one aspect of the ill-run system. The key word is the Capitalist System that binds them all together, and it was the Socialists who focused on the entire system as a whole, and it was they who demanded better life for the workers, equal rights between women and men, nationalizing the institutions rather privatizing them, stressed on Internationalism, and so on.

The second key word is the term “Workers.” The history of humanity is nothing but class struggle between the masses and the elites. No person is involved more than the workers and their rights to live, and the socialist demand includes living in a better environment. It is the workers who dig up the raw materials, and it is again the workers who transform the raw materials to money-profit commodities. No movement can function without having the workers in it, since they are after all the majority.

Third, it is the socialists who demand that the workers forget their competition for work (in cheaper wages) while being consequently replaced by machinery. Marx foresaw that and since then the Socialists demanded trade unions to unify the workers. It is interesting to see in Seattle after almost a century and a half from the release of the Communist Manifesto slogans saying “Workers of the World! Unite!” No slogan can live that much, and no slogan is correct more than that.

Fourth, the focus of the Socialists is the destructive nature of Capitalism. The Marxists and Neo-Marxists argue how the third world was late to enter Capitalism due to 19th Century (and prior to that) Imperialism or lack of resources. The world is clearly divided into 1st World, which is labeled as the West/North, while the 3rd World is the East/South. There is another dimension to be discussed with details is also the ecological destructive nature of corporate globalization. Marx, in Das Capital, already formulated all the critiques on the Capitalist System, and plenty of his critiques are still being revived in the 21st century.

Fifth and most importantly, the Socialists, currently being represented by the Trotskyites internationals such as the International Socialist Organization (ISO), Committee for the Marxist International (CMI), and the Committee for the Workers’ International (CWI) have been active through out the world. ISO, CWI, and CMI have been facing the globalization of terrorism in Israel/Palestine. They have been establishing networks all over the world. Above all, the Socialist movements establish the International links to the World Social Forum movements and organize solidarity campaigns on almost every topic. As mentioned earlier, that the Socialists deals with the System as a whole and in parts, they tend to glue the different movements that are secular and active in the World Social Forums. The only movement that has similar Internationalist perspective is the movement of the Anarchists, also known as the Global Justice Movement. The Anarchists and the Socialists disagreed since the days of Marx and Engels versus Proudhoun and Bakunin. They still disagree today in the Movement of Movements.

Six, last but not least, the Socialists offer an agenda and a history full of experiences in terms of workers’ rights on an international scale. While the movement of movements may be highly decentralized and contains various movements that are concerned with different topics, none of them has an agenda from an economic and welfare oriented as the Socialists. As Golin Barker, member of the Socialist Workers’ Party, says: “Since socialism involves an immensely wider democracy than capitalism can ever envisage, those who construct it will determine its’ shape, those who construct it will determine its shape – in circumstances.”[4] The world is made up mostly of workers, and no movement represents theirs as the socialists. If the World Social Forums movements didn’t target the masses from the beginning, they would have been destined from day one to fail.

As Golin Barker says: “Building socialist organization now is an essentially visionary process. Opportunity knocks mostly once o twice for each generation. The desire for a better world is spreading fast, the readiness to fight for it is spreading.”[5]
[1] Alexander Cockburn, Jeffrey St. Clair, and Allan Sekula; “5 Days That Shook the World: Seattle and Beyond” (Verso, 2000), pp.132
[2] May Day, subject archive, Allan Woods: “The Portuguese Revolution: 1974”,

[3] Zinoviev, First Session, Minutes of the 2nd Congress of the Third International, the Zinoviev Archive,

[4] Golin Barker, Socialists, Golin Barker (Bookmarks, 2001) pp.331
[5] Ibid, pp.336

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