Tag Archives: Workers Party of Belgium

Ludo Martens, founder of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, has passed away

The following is from the Workers Party of Belgium:

In the early morning of 5 June 2011, after a long and lingering illness, Ludo Martens, former president of the Workers’ Party of Belgium, passed away.

Together with Paul Goossens and Walter De Bock, Ludo Martens was one of the better known student leaders of May 1968 in Belgium. He translated the worldwide progressive current at the universities into the foundation of the Student Trade Union Movement (SVB), developed solidarity with the equal rights movement of black people in the United States, resisted narrow nationalism and exerted efforts to enhance the movement of solidarity between students and workers.

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Belgium elections: Workers Party of Belgium makes big advances

Fight Back News Service has translated and is circulating the following article from the Workers Party of Belgium’s (PTB) press service on the recent election in Belgium. The rightist, reactionary New Flemish Alliance (N-VA), which advocates the breakup of Belgium, scored major gains in this election.

PTB+ leaping in Wallonia and in Brussels, and growing in Flanders

“We are happy about the leap of the PTB+ everywhere in Brussels and in Wallonia” stated Raoul Hedebouw, spokesperson of the PTB+. “The PTB+ is also progressing in Flanders, especially in Antwerps, despite the huge success of the N-VA.”. As example the PTB+ obtained 4.2% of the votes in the county of Liège, 4.1% in Antwerps and 2% in Brussels area.

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19th International Communist Seminar held in Brussels on the crisis and the action of the communist parties

The following is from the website of the International Communist Seminar: www.icsbrussels.org.

From May 14-16, 2010, 41 communist and workers parties from 37 countries gathered in Brussels for the 19th International Communist Seminar, hosted by the Workers’ Party of Belgium. Among the participants were representatives of communist parties from three socialist countries: the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party, the Communist Party of Vietnam and the Communist Party of Cuba.

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Anhauser-Busch InBev workers win

Fight Back New Service is circulating the following statement from the Workers Party of Belgium (WPB) on the dramatic victory won by Belgian workers at Anhauser-Busch InBev, who defeated a restructuring plan that would have resulted in layoffs.

Background – Anhauser-Busch InBev

The Anhauser-Busch InBev multinational (Belgian-Brazilian) is the world’s largest beer brewer. It employs about 120,000 workers in 25 countries with a total sales number of 39 billion US dollars. It is among the top 10 consumer products multinationals. Beginning this year, the company announced that it planned to cut 10% of its 8,000 workforce in Europe. In Belgium, AB InBev announced 300 layoffs at its breweries in Jupille and Leuven.

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Workers Party of Belgium: The International Capitalist Crisis and Our Tasks

The following is from the Workers Party of Belgium:

The international capitalist crisis, the workers’ and peoples’ struggle, the alternatives and the role of the communist and working class movement.

11th International Meeting of Communists and Workers’ Parties
November 20-22, 2009, New Delhi

Contribution of the Workers’ Party of Belgium (WPB)
Report presented by Baudouin Deckers, member of the National Bureau, head of the International Relations Department.

The economic crisis is getting deeper

When the financial crisis broke out end of 2008 it brought about a world-wide crisis of the economy. This was inevitable. Indeed, the financial crisis is rooted in a structural crisis of over-production which has been worsening in successive waves since the first years of the seventies. As marxists, we know that it is tightly linked to the production mode of the capitalist system.

Such thesis has been developed time and again, at the International Communist Seminar of May 2009 among other platforms, as is attested by the Declaration which was endorsed there.

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System Crisis

em_84_(600_x_600)The following article is from Études Marxistes, n°84, October-December 2008 and is being reposted here from the website of the Workers Party of Belgium

by Jo Cottenier and Henri Houben

It’s likely that September 2008 will continue to ring in our minds in the same way that September 2001 does. After the attacks on the Twin Towers, America went to war. After the recent financial crisis on Wall Street, the warrior is knocked out. After September’s tidal wave, Americans are worrying and wondering: what does the future hold? Two million families have lost their homes. Savings, jobs and pension benefits are all in danger. Purchasing power was already under pressure, will it get even worse?

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International Communist Seminar held in Brussels on youth and the crisis

The following is from the website of the Freedom Road Socialist Organization, a regular participant in the International Communist Seminar:

ICS_2009_8607.1

International Communist Seminar held in Brussels on youth and the crisis

Press Statement

From 15-17 May 2008, 49 communist and workers’ parties from 40 countries gathered in Brussels for the 18th International Communist Seminar, hosted by the Workers’ Party of Belgium. Its main theme was communist work among youth — for which 20 of the parties had sent a young delegate. The participants presented papers and held discussions on the current situation of youth, the work of communists among youth and the incorporation of new generations in communist parties. Continue reading

The financial and economic crisis: the European Union affected by the US ‘example’

Karl MarxThe following is from the website of the Workers Party of Belgium:

The financial and economic crisis: the European Union affected by the US ‘example’

Bert De Belder, Institute for Marxist Studies (IMAST), Belgium

Paper presented at the 15th International Conference on European Studies
Center for European Studies (CES), Havana, Cuba, 25-28 November 2008

I. The ‘financial’ crisis : a Marxist analysis

September 2008 will probably continue to resonate for years and decades to come, just as September 2001 did, with 9/11. But with quite differente consequences. After the attack on the Twin Towers, the US went to war. After the crisis on Wall Street, the mighty superpower lies down on the canvass. An article in Der Spiegel headlined: “The End of Arrogance – America Loses Its Dominant Economic Role”.1 Several US financial institutions have gone bankrupt, while others could only be saved by capital injections to the tune of billions of dollars of public money.

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Solidaire Interiew with Tom Burke On the Immigrant’s Struggle in the USA

“May Day will see a unified national day of action for immigrants rights across the U.S. and more unions are planning to take part in this. Victories for immigrant workers are victories for Black and white workers. Bosses keep wages low, not immigrant workers.”

Tom Burke (*) from Chicago answers the questions of Solidaire 14-04-2006

What are the exact reasons of the immigrants’ movement in the USA?

Tom Burke: Millions of Mexican immigrants, joined by many other nationalities, are marching through the streets of every major U.S. city to protest the Sensenbrenner bill. This bill passed by the U.S. House of Representatives makes being an “illegal” immigrant a felony crime with a prison term. Anyone aiding an “illegal” immigrant also faces jail time. A spontaneous movement of millions of workers in direct opposition to criminalization is shaking the whole U.S., even the White House. For decades, Mexican workers have faced racist abuse and super low wages.

What is the degree of mobilizations in different parts of the USA?

Tom Burke: Anywhere there is Mexican or Latino immigrants there are large marches. It started on March 10th, 2006, when 300,000 or more filled the Chicago Loop, stopping buses, subways, and even trains. Factories and restaurants shut down, students walked out of schools, babies in strollers and grandmas in wheelchairs clogged the streets. In Los Angeles over 500,000 filled the streets two weeks later and 30,000 marched in Milwaukee, Wisconsin the home state of Republican Congressman Sensenbrenner.

On April 10th, cities where immigrants were unknown twenty years ago held large rallies—40,000 in Minneapolis, 20,000 in Indianapolis, 20,000 in Salt Lake City and 50,000 in Atlanta. In the historically Mexican states of the Southwest, the movement is large and strong with 500,000 marching in Dallas, Texas, 50,000 in Denver, Colorado, 50,000 in San Diego, and 35,000 in San Jose, California. Immigrants in the U.S. have been hiding in plain sight for twenty years, but now with the huge marches and rallies there is a new understanding of how much power these workers have.

What are the political, trade-unionist, social forces behind it?

Tom Burke: The political activists and trade unions are running to keep up with the movement of the people. For example, in Chicago, a Mexican immigrant school custodian and trade unionist, Artemio Arreola was one of the leaders of a small coalition that was surprised by the hundreds of thousands who thundered through the streets. He and others like him are organizing people from their villages, cities, and states in Mexico for over a decade now. The huge numbers of protesters is spontaneous, but working class and professional organizers provided the leadership and put out the message to oppose criminalization. Latino radio announcers broadcast the message far and wide. May Day will see a unified national day of action for immigrants rights across the U.S. and more unions are planning to take part in this. The grassroots activists are aware that their leadership will be challenged every step of the way by the forces tied to the rich and powerful, especially from the Democratic Party.

What are the demands of the movement?

Tom Burke: The demands are: to stop the criminalization of immigrants; to create an amnesty that leads to legalization of immigrants without papers; for equal rights for immigrants; for equality and justice for all.

What is the role of communists in the movement?

Tom Burke: The role of communists in the immigrants’ rights movement is small, but important. Many of the leaders were revolutionaries in their youth and some are influenced by Marxism today. There is a pressing need for unity in action, while maintaining principled political positions that advance the cause of the working class. Victories for immigrant workers are victories for Black and white workers. Bosses keep wages low, not immigrant workers. Capitalism is the problem. The profit system is the enemy.

What are the contradictions in the bourgeoisie, in the trade-union organizations?

Tom Burke: There are sections of the capitalist class that oppose immigration and want to deport everyone. There are other capitalists that pay low wages and few or no benefits to immigrants. Lower wages means higher profits. The Republican Party is now split on the issue and a tremendous backtracking is happening. The Democratic Party has done little because it is easier to look the other way while immigrant workers are abused.

Some unions are very supportive of the movement, like the largest U.S. union—the Service Employees International Union. SEIU puts a good amount of effort and money into organizing amongst immigrants because that is who works in their industries. The same with UNITE/HERE that organizes factories and hotels and restaurants. At first these unions were hesitant and cautious, but now seeing the power of the movement they are coming out to provide support and help lead. For other unions, it is a question of local leadership, so carpenters unions in some cities are out in front leading, welcoming immigrants as union brothers. In other cities the union leaders are sitting on their hands, hoping the immigrants do not organize into unions. These leaders run the unions like a business and are racist against Black and Latino workers. There are fewer and fewer of these unions as they are failing. The unions that want to fight for good contracts for the workers and oppose discrimination are the ones that are growing and leading a new movement for social justice.

Tom Burke is Organizational Secretary, Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Also from Solidaire on immigrant struggle in the US:

Socialism or Barbarism? Review of "Another View of Stalin"

This book by Ludo Martens of the Worker’s Party of Belgium, Another View of Stalin (EPO, Antwerp: 1994.), is pretty incredible. For us, working in the United States where anticommunism is so institutionalized, it is an important book. It is a weapon for communists to use in the ideological front.

For a long time I didn’t understand Comrade Stalin. I came from a petit-bourgeois intellectual Marxism, distanced from practice and tied in rather closely to to the humanist/individualist ideologies of the U.S. I read Adorno, Jameson, and Critical Theory. As a young man, a teenager just coming to Marxism, I remember people would say, “but Socialism didn’t work,” and I would reply, with a fine mixture of youthful optimism and naivete, “but it was never really tried!” Any scientific socialist should be able to see such a statement for the utopianism that it is. Later my utopianism became more nuanced and sophisticated as I studied philosophy formally. It was only when I came to Mao Zedong’s writings and the experience of the Chinese Revolution that I could begin to reappraise Stalin, the USSR, and the world communist movement as a whole. Whatever his errors may have been, Mao was a breath of fresh air, so clear and simple, yet sharp as a razor – so practical and useful! And yet Mao was a “Stalinist.” So I had to ask, was Stalin a deviation from “true” Marxism and even from Leninism (and where did that leave Mao?), or was Stalin a genuine Marxist-Leninist? What did this say about socialism, what it is and what it isn’t? What did this say about what socialism could be?

Through a more thorough study of Marxism and of history, I came to see that Stalin was a great Marxist-Leninist and that the USSR, at least until the Krushchev years, provided a shining example of what Marxism was when applied. But why did it “fail” and where did that leave us? It was only much later that I came to understand the particulars of the sequence of events and what Mao Zedong calls the “two line struggle,” whereby in the transitional society that socialism is (not what Marx calls a “mode of production” but something between the capitalist and communist modes) contradictions are intensified and class struggle along with it. Nothing is assured just because the proletariat has seized state power.

Fast forward a bit. I attended a recent conference where a lot of Trotskyite groups tabled. On the way to conference, in the van that we had rented for our mobilization, I was talking about Soviet history, about Stalin and his contributions to building socialism, and about the slow death of the Soviet system as the sickness of revisionism tore the USSR apart from Krushchov to through Gorbachav, to Yeltsin and the liquidation of the CPSU and the rise of the oligarchs. Having read Another View of Stalin, it was an easy thing to address such questions as, “What about Lenin’s Will?”, “What about the Purges and Show Trials?”, “What about the Gulag? And the millions killed?” “The lack of democracy?” “The forced collectivization?” “What about Trotsky?” Martens goes into all of this. He addresses the usual criticisms of Stalin, going after their sources, showing how they don’t hold up to any scientific analysis of history, situating them in their actual historical conditions, from which they are so easily and with such cleaverness removed. He exposes the agendas of Stalin’s critics in the most thorough way. But people didn’t understand why all these Trots were around. They were very confusing, and after all, they said all the same things about Stalin that their highschool teachers had been saying all along!

And this brings us to the question of revisionism. Some don’t see why this question of Stalin is so important for Marxist-Leninists today. Stalin is dead, after all, and this isn’t Russia. In the last instance, it comes down to the very essense of Marxism, to historical materialism, to the scientific analysis of social, political and economic change. Had socialism “ever been tried” and did it work? If our answer is yes, then we must come up with a balance sheet of its successes and failures, we must go into the particulars, the local and geopolitical contradictions, the historical milieu. If no, we must discern how socialism in the USSR, Eastern Europe, Southeast Asia or China differed from “true” socialism, and how is this “true” socialism to ever be achived given where are and what we know about class society, imperialism, uneven development and so on? The question of Stalin is central to this – the question of the architect of the first Socialist society and leader of the international communist movement for so many crucial decades. To defend Stalin one must have a firm grasp of history. To be a Trotskyite one must only say, “but think of what it would have been like if…” The concern is not with what happened. Trotskyite “theory” doesn’t hold water. And we know, as Mao Zedong has said, the basis of Marxist epistemology, that is the basis of all scientific knowledge, is practice.

A lot of people I know who have read this book on Stalin by Comrade Martens have been stunned by the degree of the lies perpetuated to attack the architect of socialism. It is a common thread that links all of communisms enemies: Imperialists, Fascists, Trotskyites, Revisionists, etc. Comrades like it because it is a weapon. Anti-capitalist fellow-travellers like it because it reaffirms what they have always suspected – that the greatest enemies of capitalism and imperialism are the ones who are most villified by the petit-bourgeois lackeys of international monopoly capital. Today as the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) stands on the verge of founding the world’s next socialist state, we see it happening again with the new “biography” of Mao Zedong, which is nothing but propaganda dressed in the trappings of history.

One need not limit oneself to Krushchov’s secret speech to the XXth Congress to find this problem. One can look in philosophy as well. The “Marxist” Humanists, celebrants of the velvet (counter-)revolution like Dunayevskaya (secretary of Trotsky and founder of News & Letters), Kolakowski (“Marxist” revisionist author of the most anti-Marxist philosophical text yet written, the three volume Main Currents of Marxism), and even Alain Badiou (“post-Maoist” methematician and philosopher who calls both the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the Solidarity movement in Poland “obscure events” to study and upon which to refound the leftist project). And we can see where that leads. The humanists are liberals, as Louis Althusser has pointed out in his cleaver syllogism: “All humanists are liberals; Eric Fromm [famed "Marxist Humanist"] is a humanist; Fromm is a liberal.” Kolakowski sings the praises of revisionism to no end, and Badiou’s OP is at best infantile leftist and worst completely reformist. Where does this revisionism lead? In the Soviet Union and the Warsaw States it led to capitalist restoration in its most barbaric form. Humanism restored gangster-liberalism in the Soviet Bloc. It is easy when you start talking about “universal human rights” to forget that this means bourgeois right, and that in the end, “universal human rights”, “Socialism with a human face” and what have you, is a defeat for the working class.

It is odd that when anyone wants to talk about the “true essense” of Marxism, or a “return to Lenin” it is that old renegade Kautsky, the social-democrat who wanted a reformed capitalism, that they dredge up in order to liquidate the CP and liberalize the state and economy. And nobody embodies Kautskyism like Tony Blaire’s Labour Party as they unite with U.S. imperialism to rob the Middle East of all of its resources. Mao Zedong puts it very simply: never forget class struggle.

I am an activist, a militant involved in the daily struggles of the working and oppressed people. I argue for socialism, for Marxism-Leninism. To do this, this book by Comrade Martens is useful, especially with students and young people. So many people see these problems of exploitation, poverty, national oppression, sexism, and so on. They see that they are systemic, but so often it stops there. Because the radical alternative is “Stalinism” so many people settle for an ineffective social-democracy, a vain attempt to reform capitalism, or a cynical pessimism. But this book does well to demonstrate that, situated within its historical context, Communism is a good thing. And, as Lenin would have it, the dictatorship of the proletariat is “a million times more democratic” than anything else we have ever seen.

Stalin, architect of socialism, is a shining example to genuine Marxist-Leninists everywhere.

in unity and struggle,
Comrade Zero

(Another View of Stalin can be purchased from the Stalin Society. For a good discussion on revisionism in the USSR, perhaps one that is a bit more nuanced than Restoration of Capitalism in USSR by Martin Nicolaus that so many Maoists swear by, see Ludo Martens. USSR: The Velvet Counter Revolution. EPO, Brussles: 1991. For more on the role of Stalin, the anti-revisionist movement and a critical evaluation of the role of Mao and the CPC, see also Ludo Martens. “On Certain Aspects of the Struggle Against Revisionism“. PTB, Brussles: March, 1995. [.doc])