From London to Portugal: the Fires of Capitalism

In London, a 24 floor tower with more than 400 inhabitants caught fire, an enormous fire whose images where seen all over the world. A few days later, in the midsts of a heat wave, 64 people were killed when the forests of Portugal were set ablaze.

These two fires of course were not directly linked. Nevertheless, they have often been presented by the bourgeois media as tragedies, as something “sad but couldn’t be helped” with sn accidental fire in London and a simple natural disaster in Portugal .

We must beware the term of “natural disaster”. If cyclones, typhoons or even droughts belong without a doubt to natural disasters, capitalism only aggravate its effects.

For instance in the case of two countries located on major seismic faults, Japan has far fewer victims in the event of earthquakes or typhoons than the Philippines. This is due to the nature of these two countries and their relationship to imperialism.

Japan is an imperialist country with a highly developed capitalist economy, and its buildings have solid anti-seismic foundations. This does not mean that the capitalist mode of production doesn’t have extremely damaging consequences in the event of natural disasters. This was seen in the typhoon of 2012, notably with the Fukushima nuclear power plant: the Japanese bourgeoisie turned largely to nuclear power as a source of energy – despite the obvious danger posed by geographical conditions, some nuclear power plants have even been built next to volcanos (such as reactor 1 of the Sendai power plant located 50km from the Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan’s most active volcanos).

The Philippines is a semi-colonial semi-feudal country. Natural disasters cause massive damage to both human and material resources. This is due to the fact that many slums are located near the seas and rivers. The imperialist exploitation of the country has the effect of intensifying the consequences of “natural disasters”.  The massive deforestation caused by imperialists destroyed an important natural barrier, which was particularly felt during typhoon Pablo in Mindanao in 2012.

What does the fire of London’s Grenfell Tower tell us?

Brutal gentrification directed against the proletariat

The fire of the Grenfell Tower on June 14 caused the death of at least 79 people, wounding 74. It was the most deadly fire in Britain since the end of the Second World War. It took more than 60 hours for the fire to finally be extinguished. Today it is known that the origin of the fire was a defective refrigerator. But the real question is how such a fire could spread at such speed all the way up the tower?

This 24 floor tower in the North Kensington district was an important social housing complex with 127 apartments and 227 rooms, built in the late 1960s. It was the home to more than 400 residents, mostly proletarians, many of whom were migrants.

Although residents have long complained about the precariousness of the building (including inadequate fire protection systems, inadequately protected gas pipes, and flammable materials), particularly at the borough council, their warning cries remained unheeded.

One of the reasons for the rapid spread of the fire was the insulated coating put in place during renovations between 2014 and 2016. A strange renovation turned the tower into a real torch. This type of renovation is also well known in France in the working-class districts. There are the layers of paint on our bars and towers that aim to hide the misery that is inside. It is to look clean in areas open to incoming gentrification.

What is Gentrification? To put it simply, it is policies to replace the proletarian population of a neighborhood by upper classes. The North Kensington neighborhood is a perfect case, with the construction of Kensington Row’s luxury residences, which include a private cinema in the complex and a 24-hour concierge service!

Gentrification is inherent to capitalism. The same phenomenon is found in Île-de-France with the famous “Greater Paris”. A “Greater Paris”, was the suject of a lot of marketing, explaining to us that the suburbs would have better access to public transport. But in reality, all the suburbs near Paris are gradually being gentrified by policies of so-called renovation, urban rehabilitation or the construction of pseudo-eco-neighborhoods. This is particularly visible in cities like Montreuil or Saint-Ouen.

After the gentrification of Paris, largely completed, the bourgeoisie now mainly targets the suburbs

In the United Kingdom, according to Prime Minister Theresa May herself, it is estimated that 600 towers have the same insulated coating as the Grenfell tower. These are all potential torches! In France the situation is not less alarming – how many HLM are there where fire alarms do not work, where there are no fire extinguishers or insufficient quantity? How many social housing units in our neighborhoods are unacceptably unhealthy? Rotting homes are in addition to many poorly housed and homeless. The struggle for housing rights is therefore a neccesary struggle to be pursued everywhere.

People’s solidarity and immediate mobilization

After the fire, a great burst of solidarity took place around the case. Solidarity came directly from the masses who immediately opened their doors to the victims of the fire, who prepared food and gave stuff to the victims. For instance, a filipino workers organisation, the Filipino Domestic Workers Association, organized help immediately for the evacuees in a church near the tower by providing food, clothing, toys for children and all kinds of basic necessities.

In addition to people’s solidarity, in the face of such an injustice, mobilization was quick to demand the truth about the reasons for the fire and to denounce unhealthy housing. Thus, on June 21, the first demonstration, Day of Rage, was organized.

What do the fires of Portugal tell us?

Three days after the burning of London’s Grenfell tower, Portugal ignited on June 17, with a forest fire in the Pedrógão Grande municipality. The fire, which lasted until June 22, killed 64 people and left at least 254 wounded. This fire is the most deadly natural disaster in Portugal’s recent history.

The reasons for this fire include the combination of a strong heat wave with temperatures above 40 degrees and a dry thunderstorm. But again, we must not limit ourselves to the natural causes of the fire, we must understand how it was able to spread so quickly and be also cause so many fatalities.

One of the reason for the rapid spread of the fire is in the important eucalyptus monocultures used primarily in the paper industry. Indeed, plantations of eucalyptus  ignite very easily. These eucalyptus plantations have seen a boom in Portugal since the 2008 crisis. The Portuguese bourgeoisie, faced with the crisis of capitalism, chose to liberalize and dismantle its forest protection services (in Portugal more than 90% of forest land is private) to extend the massive cultivation of eucalyptus that began in the 1980s in Portugal. Eucalyptus is an environmental disaster for Portugal – coming from Australia it has largely replaced local trees and now covers 900,000 hectares, which represents a quarter of Portugal’s forest territory.

The fire hazards associated with the cultivation of eucalyptus in Portugal have been known and studied for a long time – there is no shortage of scientific publications on this subject and yet no serious measures have been taken to deal with it, for the simple reason that this is a particularly lucrative industry for a country that has been hit hard by the 2008 crisis. The Portuguese bourgeoisie has deliberately jeopardized the lives of the rural population who live surrounded by these eucalyptus trees in order to preserve and increase profits!

First Lesson: Revolutionaries have a role to play in cases of disasters

During natural disasters, revolutionaries must not wait for authorities or NGOs to act – they must take the lead and put themselves at the service of the people in order to develop genuine people’s solidarity. We must not let the victims of natural disasters simply wait for their torturer’s help. We must encourage mutual aid and solidarity, we must point out the responsibility of the bourgeoisie and its criminal attitude towards the people.

First of all, it is necessary to help the victims of disasters by all means, by promoting and developing people’s solidarity at the base, and then pointing the finger at those responsible, the capitalist system and its agents, and mobilizing to demand justice and reparation.

The following report (subtitled in French) on the actions of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its army, the New People’s Army after Typhoon Yolanda, provides a good example of the role that the revolutionaries must play in cases of disasters:

(TN: The film is available with english subtitles here)

Second lesson: only the revolution and the construction of socialism will lay the foundations for preserving life in cases of disasters

Capitalism is incapable of coping properly with natural disasters because of the anarchy of production and the political power monopolized by the bourgeoisie. Capitalism greatly aggravates the effects of natural disasters through its totally unequal development of land and by the precarious living and living conditions it imposes on the proletariat.

Whether it be natural disasters (typhoons, fires, floods, etc.) or industrial catastrophes (as in AZF, Bhopal or Tianjin), imperialism and the capitalist mode of production play a criminal role against the working class and the oppressed people who are the first to be affected.

Thus, only the revolution and the construction of socialism will make possible to establish a system that will really take into account the security of all people in the face of natural disasters. Only a system which is not based on the search for maximum profit, only socialism and the dictatorship of the proletariat will enable the establishment of a planned economy that truly takes into account the interests of the people.

Justice for the victims of Grenfell and Pedrógão Grande!

Long live people’s solidarity!

Down with the world imperialist system! Long live the proletarian revolution!

Legislative Elections: Massive Rejection of the Electoral Farce

An historic rejection of bourgeois elections

An historic abstention of 57.3% of registered voters on the electoral lists did not vote last Sunday. The abstention surpassed 50% of registered voters, which amounts to mass abstention during the European elections. It is a massive rejection of the electoral farce!

It was not, however, that calls to vote were lacking. Everywhere, the bourgeois media announced the tidal wave of Macron, the so-called man of the renewal. 

Since coming to power, we have seen what renewal is about: a parade on the Champs-Elysée in a military jeep and racist joke about Comorians risking their life at sea to flee the misery caused by the imperialists. A superb renewal!

After praise of Macron, we heard praise for the candidates he introduced. We were told that they were candidates from civil society and not politicians. But what civil society is represented by la République en Marche and its supporters? If one looks at the class composition of la République en Marche candidates, one notices immediately the enormous place occupied by executives, engineers, liberal professions… when they talk about civil society, we can’t expect a Franprix cashier, a construction worker on a scaffold all day long despite the heat wave, a cleaning worker from ONET who may not be able to vote… And unsurprisingly, in the new National Assembly, there was not a single worker, even among the elected MPs of the P”C”F and France Insoumise!

After the circus of the primaries, the two presidential rounds, the new call to “go to express yourself by a ballot in an urn”, did not really take, the media circus began to tire.

A new government ready for the war

La République en Marche comes out unsurprisingly with an overwhelming majority, as the opposition was reduced to grief with the collapse of the PS after five years of reactionary and anti-popular governance.

Macron is therefore ready to deploy an entire social demolition strategy. There is no need to go very far, it is the equivalent of the “social blitzkrieg” that Fillon had announced. It is a governance by decrees, putting the worst attacks on the labor code, the so-called Labor Reform 2.0, with blows of force during the summer when social mobilization is generally the weakest.

And at the same time, the state of emergency will become a common law, the greater banalization of human rights violations and a police force with ever more power at a time when police crimes are multiplying at such a rate that it takes the form of genuine carnage.

How to organize ourselves against the new government?

The failure of electoral strategies shows the need to build a revolutionary path – a path that is completely out of line with the current system. This is what the Maoist Communist Party proposes: to break with old practices to move forward on a clear revolutionary project with a clear revolutionary strategy – a protracted people’s war as the sole way to achieve socialism.

To move forward on this path, it is our duty to organize everywhere in all sectors a force capable of mobilizing against bourgeois offensives which will be conducted under the presidency of Macron in full continuity and with a certain intensification compared to the Presidency of Hollande.

From today forward, we have to support initiatives against the governance of decrees, but we won’t stop at that. Today we must seek to organize more, we must develop real mass work in working-class neighborhoods to recreate or strengthen popular solidarity, a solidarity of class. Only then will we be able to face this government, its politics and the crimes of its police.

After this historical abstention, let us open another way than the reformist way!

Let us create new perspectives of struggles!

Facing the Macron government, strengthen and expand class solidarity!

Against the decrees, let us prepare a fierce struggle!

Let us strengthen our Party, develop the front and mass organizations!

Let us prepare the People’s War!

Freedom for Georges Abdallah and all political prisoners!

The date of the demonstration to demand the liberation of Georges Ibrahim Abdallah was decided to be move closer to the date of 19 June, the International Day of Revolutionary Prisoners. This date was not chosen at random, it coincides with the 19 June 1986 when more than 300 prisoners of the Communist Party of Peru were cowardly murdered by the Peruvian reactionary state. The Communist Party of Peru had put the Peruvian State on the brink of collapse, it pursued a People’s War that had come closer to the seizure of power with strategic equilibrium. Against it great vitality, the Peruvian government therefore had a genuine policy of genocide in prisons. Even today as Chairman Gonzalo of the Communist Party of Peru is locked up we have the duty to defend his life.

Each time that the proletariat and the oppressed peoples’ resist and struggle, they are violently repressed by the reactionary states. This is the case in countries where the Communist Parties, based on Marxism-Leninism-Maoism, are waging people’s wars to achieve the New Democratic Revolution against imperialism, bureaucratic capitalism and feudalism. Thus, in India, where the most developed People’s War takes place, there are more than 10,000 political prisoners, including Professor Saibaba, a progressive intellectual with a disability of 90%, who has been locked down regularly since 2013 by the Indian state. In the Philippines, more than 500 political prisoners are being held as hostages of the Duterte government.

Wherever the people rose up, repression was not long in coming: whether it was in Palestine, Turkey or Morocco. Here we would like to salute the Palestinian political prisoners and their victorious hunger strike. We also wish to salute the popular masses of the Rif who are rising in Morocco and we would like to pay tribute to the twelve martyrs of the TIKKO who fell last year. This repression of the oppressed peoples even extends to the political refugees in the imperialist countries as the prisoners of the ATIK arrested in 2014.

As communists, our primary duty is to fight against our own imperialism and therefore to develop the revolution, the proletarian movement in our own country, to strike at French imperialism. We must also confront it with the internal reaction: the French imperialist state represses within the very heart of France in the popular neighborhoods which constitute the bastion of the proletariat. So the police killed: more than ten years ago, Zyed and Bouna, but also in the last year Adama Traoré, Jean-Pierre Ferrara, Shaoyo Liu, Angelo Garand, Curtis and the list continues to lengthen. And it is during the summer that police violence explodes in the neighborhoods. At the same time, the French government is increasingly attacking workers’ rights, such as the Labor Reform last year and the ordinances that Macron is preparing for the summer.

To support and defend the revolutionary prisoners and political prisoners is to support the struggles they carry, to support the proletarian world revolution, to fight against imperialism and its military interventions, to support everywhere the struggles of the proletariat and of the oppressed peoples.

Freedom for Georges Abadallah! Down with French imperialism!

Long live the struggle of the Palestinian people! Down with Zionism!

Freedom for all revolutionary prisoners! Down with the world imperialist system!

Long live the World Proletarian Revolution!

Source : http://www.pcmaoist

Paris Agreement and the Question of Ecology

Donald Trump, president of the world’s leading economic power, announced that, in accordance with his campaign pledge, his country would withdraw from the Paris climate agreement negotiated at the “COP21”. The agreement, which is supposed to be aimed to fight against global warming by limiting greenhouse gases in particular, was presented by the various signatory countries as a great ecological advance.

Yet this agreement was not even binding: it was a commitment based on good will, a totally abstract concept in international relations, where each country was supposed to do its best, without sanctions in case of failure. Relations between bourgeois states are based on power relations.

International reactions have of course been very negative, with China, Russia and most European countries condemning the decision of the United States. Yet, is the Paris agreement the central point of safeguarding the planet? Does this agreement save the seas affected by pollution and overfishing? Does it foresee nuclear replacement? Does this agreement address the issue of deforestation, protecting biodiversity, ensuring water quality? Of course not. This is an agreement in principle, which allows today imperialist countries to present themselves as defenders of the Earth, even though they contribute every day to devastate the environment, and thus to degrade our conditions of life.

The bourgeois vision of ecology

Let us recall that the ecological question has arrived in the public debate of the Western countries from the 80s. This is a recent question, taken very unequally by the masses. The self-proclaimed representatives of ecology in France are linked to the progressive petty bourgeoisie: it is the Greens now allied with Europe Ecologie. These parties have long made the choice to serve as auxiliaries to the Socialist Party.

A part of the bourgeoisie has not escaped this trend. They needs to present themselves as modern and to occupy this new market – as green energies or organic food, for example, are extremely profitable markets. But while the ecological question is a global issue, the borders being of no importance here, this “green” part of the bourgeoisie has produced a vision of harmful ecology, incapable of answering today’s problems. This bourgeois ecology is centered around two themes:

  • Delegation. Ecology should be left to the scientists, technicians, competent politicians, it would be a field too “serious” to truly mobilize the people on these issues. This creates a real class contempt: the masses would be insensitive to ecological questions, idiots, would eat badly voluntarily, dress themselves through the most inhumane industries, and so on.
  • Moralism. Logically, this class contempt produces a moralistic ecology, in which each person is responsible for his behavior: it is the hummingbird theory, putting our food, clothing, transport choices at the center of the process, in short, our life choices. As if the deforestation or the destruction of the oceans could be regulated once every human being would have understood that it was necessary to close the tap while brushing your teeth.

Thus it is easy to understand that salvation is not to be sought from this side. Worse, this conception of ecology is disastrous, diverting legitimate anger towards individual and abstract problems and refusing to take the measure of danger.

The materialist ecology

For us communists, each question must be posed on the basis of a materialist reading of the world. We consider that ideas do not produce facts, but ideas arise from material facts. Our materialism is opposed to their idealism.

Why does Donald Trump reject the Paris agreement, going against the advice of major US business leaders? It can be seen at once that the reductive discourses about the capitalist villains or on the aggressive dimension of the president are not useful in explaining this choice.

What are the facts? Donald Trump represents the confrontation of two lines within the US bourgeoisie: economic isolationism rather than strengthening the links of interdependence with European and Asian (mainly Chinese) economies. It therefore relies on certain sectors, such as the petroleum industry, which make short-term calculations. In this situation, Donald Trump must prove to his supporters that he will defend their interests, even going against the long-term goals of other US companies.

Is the President of the United States so different from the heads of state and companies defending the Paris agreement? No, of course. None of them can really confront the ecological problems that threaten the planet, because posing these problems would mean opposing the capitalist mode of production.

Since this option is excluded, they try to temporize as much as possible, adopting the ostrich technique: facts would be subject to ideas, and to claim that global warming does not exist, or that American growth is the solution to everything, would suffice to solve the problems. Such an attitude today is absolutely criminal and must be considered as such.

Our vision of ecology is quite different: it is based on material facts, on the active participation of the masses in the revolutionary transformation of the mode of production. We affirm today, as yesterday, that only socialist production planning at the global level can allow us to get out of the capitalist nightmare and the ecocide it generates. And this assertion poses the question of power: only taking the power by the masses, under the leadership of the working class, throught the people’s war, will solve this problem.

What is our vision of ecology? It is a global vision, which is necessarily built on a global scale. It responds to the real needs of our class: to live decently, to enjoy nature without degrading it, to produce reasonably and rationally to meet the needs of each person. It also involves the development of a scientific vision of the world around us, through an egalitarian education and not reserved for the elite, making it possible to understand the stakes of ecology and its relationship with the class struggle.

Capitalism, by its very nature, is founded on the anarchy of production, that is to say on free competition which is supposed to self-regulate – an absolutely idealistic conception of economics which disarms peoples’ facing oil catastrophes, rising water levels or agri-food scandals (infamous farming, GMOs, pesticides, etc.).

To pose the question of ecology today is to ask the question of the transition to socialism – that is to say, the establishment of a system adapted to the requirements of our century, efficient and humane, in service of the people and not of the capital.

Working-class neighborhoods: police brutality and class injustice

The assassination of Adama Traoré in Beaumont-sur-Oise and Shaoyo Liu in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, and the rape of Théo Luhaka in Aulnay-sous-Bois once again reveals the brutality of police violence in working class neighborhoods. Despite the strong mobilization for Adama, Théo and Shaoyo, police impunity continues and is perfectly maintained by the ruling class which grants more and more power to the armed forces of the State.

Recently it was young Curtis who was killed by the police on Friday, May 5, certainly by some BAC cops, a murder which was quickly made into an accident. And those who dare to raise their voices a little too strongly against this system have only one response: repression and confinement. We saw it with the heavy and unjust conviction on appeal of Bagui Traoré for six months in jail on June 6.

Today it is Amal Bentounsi who (again) faced the repression of the bourgeois state. She was arrested as she courageously filmed a police intervention in Meaux. During the live video she was filiming, one of the cops was wearing a Nazi symbol, an iron cross on his ring, the police officers of Meaux obviously have something to hide in fearing Amal’s phone.

Amal Bentounsi is the founder of the Urgence notre Police Assassine (Emergency, our Police Kills) collective. She founded this collective following the assassination of her brother Amine Bentounsi, killed by a bullet in his back in 2012. Since then, she has never stopped denouncing all police brutality and supporting the families of the victims. Her struggle quickly led her to be targeted and repressed by the bourgeois state. Thus, Manuel Valls, then Minister of the Interior, shamefully filed a complaint against her for “contempt”, a complaint that resulted in a dismissal. Thanks to a strong mobilization and a fierce fight against police lies, Damien Saboundjian, the policeman who murdered Amine Bentounsi, was convicted in March.

Under capitalism, police violence can only increase. The bourgeois state needs to maintain itself through violence in places where social order is most easily challenged. Working class neighborhoods are the proletariat strongholds in France, and for this reason the bourgeois repressive forces (such as the BAC, the BST, etc.) are the most present and the most brutal there. The arming of these forces is becoming heavier and heavier, the municipal police is always more equipped including with firearms, the BAC now has G36C assault rifles. And the laws of the bourgeois state always facilitate class injustice and police murder: the state of emergency and its constitutionalization, the self-defense law and so on.

The new government will not make any changes, it will only intensify the security policy already in place.

Faced with police violence we must organize and mobilize ourselves. We must develop a genuine people’s self-defense in our neighborhoods. We need to be responsive and monitor the police for each of it interventions. We must strengthen our solidarity with all police repression victims. We must demand the release of Bagui and all those locked up for daring to defy the police lies. We must also develop the consciousness that will put an end to class injustice and police brutality with a revolution, because it’s only by overthrowing the capitalist system that the power of our class will be established.

Support for Amal Bentounsi! Freedom for Bagui Traoré!

Justice and Truth for Curtis, for Angelo Garand, for Shaoyo, for Theo, for Jean-Pierre Ferrara, for Adama and for all the victims of police violence!

Let us prepare for popular self-defense!