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Year 2001 No. 164, October 1, 2001 ARCHIVE HOME SEARCH SUBSCRIBE

In the light of September 11:

Organising the Working Class to Take Up its Historic Role

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index :

In the light of September 11:
Organising the Working Class to Take Up its Historic Role

Peace Protest Targets Labour Party Conference

A peaceful solution is still possible, says Fidel Castro

First Anniversary of the Palestinian Uprising:
Support the Just Struggle of the Palestinian People in Defence of Their Rights

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In the light of September 11:

Organising the Working Class to Take Up its Historic Role

The working class has an indispensable role in the present struggle against the danger of war and to bring about a situation where terrorism is eradicated, in whatever form.

It is the sentiment of those seeking to open the path to progress that it is not too late to prevent war and seriously root out the well-springs of terrorism, and this sentiment is reflected at large in the movements against war and for justice and peace. This is an issue which has come to the fore at this defining moment. Of equal importance is the defence of the rights of all and opposition to curtailments on civil liberties and state organised racist attacks and xenophobia.

The New Labour government in close co-ordination with the Bush administration is orchestrating the "war against terrorism". This is not the same campaign that the people are taking up, but is its opposite. The just movements among the people and the "war against terrorism" are irreconcilable. What will be the outcome?

As well as leading to the deepening of all the reactionary programmes of the ruling elites in the US and in Britain and throughout the European Union, the terrorist attacks have been the occasion for these administrations to prepare to step up their attacks on everything progressive and revolutionary. It has been the occasion to attempt on the one hand to block the growing initiative that the people’s movements against all aspects of imperialist globalisation were gaining, and on the other to prepare to bury the independent motion of the working class.

While the government calls on every programme to be subordinate to the "war against terrorism", nevertheless it is declaring it is business as usual in its war exercises, in its arms sales, in its bombing of Iraq, in its destruction of jobs and the manufacturing base.

Can the workers also declare that it is business as usual, that there should be no truce in the class war? It is true that there can be no reconciliation with the reactionary "Third Way" programme of New Labour which is playing itself out and revealing its true colours at this time. But this is also an occasion when consciousness has been raised, when political questions have come to the top of the agenda.

The Party’s call to Persist in Developing the Workers’ and People’s Movements towards their Goals does not mean that it is simply business as usual. Workers have to recognise that in response to the crisis of September 11, the government is embarking on a new phase of reaction. It is an opportunity to organise the workers to respond accordingly. The essence of the Party’s call is that the people must not surrender the initiative in the face of the call to unite in the "war against terrorism", and the workers’ movement must not drop its aims to bring about a new society which recognises the claims of all its members.

What practical politics should be organised amongst the workers is of the utmost importance at this time. The intervention of the workers against the war preparations and to eradicate terrorism and to defend the rights of all will be decisive. This is not a diversion but an historic necessity at this transforming moment.

Article Index

Peace Protest Targets Labour Party Conference

From 5,000 to 6,000 people marched in the near torrential wind and rain from a range of political groups yesterday in Brighton to oppose the international "war on terrorism", against New Labour’s plans for privatising public services such as health and education, and against neo-liberal globalisation.

Groups began to gather at "The Level" park before 12 noon for speeches and general getting-into-groups and organising. The marchers were in a buoyant mood, following carnival-style drummers. Some shouted the slogan: "They want to drop the bomb, we want to drop the debt."

Before the march, activist Jonathan Neal spoke to the crowd of demonstrators, who called for "Peace not war" and waved placards with the message "We are not at war". He said the "the mass slaughter" of innocent people in Afghanistan had to be avoided. "I lived in Afghanistan for two years and I know the people there have suffered enough," he said. "We are told today that 13 lorries of food are going into Afghanistan to feed five million people who are facing starvation. I was born in New York City, but I do not want to see what happened there happening 30-fold to the people of Afghanistan."

Jonathan Neal, who said he had been "gassed by police" during the Genoa demonstrations said there was a time for civil disobedience. "But this is not the time," he said. "We must send the right message back today that we want to stop these obscenities from happening in Afghanistan."

Police were present in heavy numbers with some on horseback and according to many protesters there was an unprecedented number of police filming. Signs around the promenade informed the organisers that under Section 12 of the Public Order Act, the protest was only allowed to occur in a specified area and within specified times (1.30 - 4.00). It has also been reported that police were walking onto buses with protesters on and telling people not to divert from the designated march or they would be arrested. The policing of the march was part of a massive security operation in Brighton for the Labour Party conference, which includes a five-mile "air exclusion zone".

A police spokesman said there had been seven arrests, six of which had been "intelligence-led" to prevent crimes by "suspected troublemakers". This refers to the brutal arrest of six "Wombles" at around 1:45pm, much to the dismay of the crowd, when everyone was preparing to walk for the march. The "Wombles" were frog marched out by a large group of policemen in riot gear. The crowd cheered the "Wombles" and shouted various insults at the Police.

The march took off a little after 2:00pm from the park in the pouring rain. The group marched from the park via the new designated route (sometimes quite narrow) towards the Labour Party conference by the seashore. The crowd was quite lively and chanted various Anti-War, Anti-Bush, Anti-Blair, and Anti-Privatisation songs and chants and called for spending on the "welfare state" as opposed to arms and war. The response from people along the way was mostly positive, with a number waving and yelling their support from their apartment-block windows.

The protest culminated directly in front of the Labour Party conference at around 3:15pm, where protesters remained for an hour or so, before turning around for a brief march back along the original route. The atmosphere at this point was at its most jovial as the entire street was filled with protesters and banners and people danced to the beat of loud African drums. The march ended shortly afterwards.

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A peaceful solution is still possible, says Fidel Castro

Speech by Fidel Castro, President of the Republic of Cuba. Ciego de Avila, September 29, 2001

Fellow countrymen:

A peaceful solution would still be possible.

The present situation is so tense that nobody could write a speech hours before delivery and be certain that it is not outdated. I am also running the risk of sounding too optimistic even when I am not. However, it is my duty to say what I think.

The unanimous shock suffered by all peoples of the world on September 11, due to the insane terrorist attacks against the American people, which could be seen live on television, has created exceptional conditions for the eradication of terrorism without the need to unleash a useless and perhaps endless war.

Terrorist actions in the United States, as anywhere else in the world, inflict terrible damage on the peoples fighting for a cause that objectively they consider to be fair.

Terror has always been an instrument of the worst enemies of Mankind bent on suppressing and crushing the peoples’ struggle for freedom. It can never be the instrument of a truly noble and just cause.

All throughout history, almost every action intended to attain national independence, including that of the American people, was carried out with the use of weapons and nobody ever questioned, or would question, that right. But, the deliberate use of weapons to kill innocent people must be definitely condemned and eradicated for it is as unworthy and inhuman as it is repulsive, the same as the historic terrorism perpetrated by the oppressing states.

In the present crisis, real possibilities still exist to eradicate terrorism without a war but the main obstacle is that the most notable political and military leaders in the United States refuse to listen to any word said against the use of weapons and in favour of a truly effective solution to the worrisome problem, heedless of the fact that it would be very honourable for the American people to accomplish that objective while avoiding blood shedding.

The decision-makers are only betting on war actions. They have associated honour with war. Some speak of the use of nuclear weapons as if it were as simple as having a cup of tea. Others affirm that paratroopers will be employed in irregular warfare tactics. Someone has even speculated on the advisability of using lies as a weapon although others have shown more rationality and common sense but still along the war line. Objectivity and rationality are not abundant. Many people have been made to believe that only belligerent formulas are viable regardless of the loss of American lives.

It is hard to know whether the final tactic and strategy of struggle have already been decided upon to use against a country whose communications and technological infrastructure as well as material conditions seem to have hardly left the Stone Age behind. Will irregular warfare tactics with squadrons of aircraft carriers, armoured warships, cruisers and submarines be used in a landlocked country? Why send also scores of B-1 and B-52 bombers, hundreds of modern fighter planes, thousands of missiles and other strategic weapons? What are they going to shoot against?

Meanwhile, confusion and panic prevail in the rest of the world, while opportunistic positions motivated by convenience and national interests are not lacking. Some have torn their honour to pieces. And, following the initial atmosphere of uncertainty there is a bizarre and widespread ostrich reflex despite the fact that there are not even enough holes to hide heads.

Many seem not to have realised yet that, on September 20, before the United States Senate, the end of independence was decreed for every other state – without exceptions – as well as the end of the United Nations’ role.

Nevertheless, no one should be misled into thinking that the peoples of the world, and a number of honest political leaders, will not react as soon as the war actions become a reality and their horrific images start to be seen. These will then take the place of the sad and shocking images of the events in New York at a time when forgetting them would bring irreparable damage on the spirit of solidarity with the American people that is today a primary element towards the eradication of terrorism, without the need to resort to a war of unpredictable consequences and avoiding the death of an incalculable number of innocents.

The first victims can already be seen. They are the millions trying to escape the war and the dying children with ghastly appearance whose images will move the world to pity without anyone being able to prevent their dissemination.

It is a great mistake on the part of the United States and its NATO allies to believe that the strong nationalism and religious sentiments of Muslims can be neutralised with either money or a promise of assistance, or that their countries can be permanently intimidated by force. There are already statements from religious leaders of major nations, that have no affinity whatsoever with the Taleban, who are voicing their resolute opposition to a military attack. Meanwhile, contradictions are beginning to arise among the United States’ allies, both in Central and South East Asia.

On the other hand, xenophobia, hatred and scorn for every Muslim country are starting to emerge. An important European head of government has just said in Berlin that Western civilisation is superior to Islamic and that the West will keep on conquering peoples, even if that means confrontation with the Islamic civilisation, which has remained stuck where it was 1400 years ago.

In an economic situation such as the world is experiencing today, when extremely serious problems affecting Mankind remain unresolved, including its own survival which is threatened by other evils unrelated to the destructive power of modern weaponry, one wonders: Why this obstinate course of starting a complicated and open-ended war? Why are the American leaders showing such arrogance when their enormous power gives them the privilege of showing some moderation?

It would suffice to return to the United Nations Organisation the prerogatives that it has been deprived of and let the General Assembly, its most universal and representative body, be the centre of that fight for peace – regardless of its limitations due to the arbitrary veto right of the Security Council standing members, most of them also a part of NATO – and for the eradication of terrorism with total and unanimous support from the world opinion.

Under no circumstances should those responsible for the brutal attacks against the American people be allowed to go unpunished, if they can be identified. An honourable condition for every country would be that they are tried by an unbiased court of law that would ensure the reliability of the evidence and that justice be done.

Cuba was the first country to speak of the need for an international struggle against terrorism just a few hours after the tragedy brought on the American people on September 11. We also said that: "None of the present problems of the world can be solved by force. [...] The international community should build a world conscience against terrorism. [...] Only the intelligent policy of seeking strength through consensus and the international public opinion can decidedly uproot this problem [...] this unimaginable event should serve to launch an international struggle against terrorism. [...] The world cannot be saved unless a path of international peace and co-operation is pursued."

We firmly stand by these views.

It is indispensable to return to the United Nations its role in the attainment of peace.

I harbour no doubts that the Third World countries – I dare say almost everyone of them without exception, despite their political and religious differences – would be willing to go alongside the rest of the world in this struggle against terrorism as an alternative to war.

I think that these ideas do not, in any way, tarnish the honour, the dignity and the predominant political or religious principles of any of the above-mentioned states.

I am not talking here on behalf of any of the poor and underdeveloped countries of the world. I am simply expressing my deepest conviction as I am aware of the tragedy of these peoples that have been exploited and humiliated for centuries where, even without a war, inherited poverty and underdevelopment, hunger and curable diseases are silently killing scores of millions of innocents every year.

For these people, saving peace with dignity, with independence and without a war is the cornerstone of the struggle that we should wage together for a truly just world of free peoples.

Cuba is not motivated by any economic interest or by opportunism, much less by any fear of threat, danger or risk. But this people that, as it is widely known, has most honourably endured over four decades of economic warfare, blockade and terrorism is entitled to explain, reiterate and insist on its viewpoints; and, it will not hesitate to do so until the very last minute.

We are, and we will continue to be, opposed to terrorism and opposed to war! No matter what happens, nothing will separate us from that line!

The dark clouds on the horizon of the world today, will not prevent the Cubans from continuing to work restlessly on our wonderful social and cultural programmes as we are persuaded that it is a human endeavour unparalleled in history. And even if the promised wars were to turn them into mere dreams, we would still fall with honour defending such dreams.

Long live the Revolution and Socialism!

Patria o Muerte!


Article Index

Anniversary of the Palestinian Uprising:

Support the Just Struggle of the Palestinian People in Defence of Their Rights

September 28 marked the anniversary of the Palestinian uprising in defence of their national rights. At 12:30pm across Palestine, traffic and business came to a standstill in cities and towns as three minutes of silence were observed. The moment both demonstrated the determination of the Palestinian people to continue their struggle and honoured those killed as a result of the state terror unleashed by the Israeli state. In the last year, at least 762 people have been killed with the vast majority, nearly 600, young Palestinians.

The current Intifada began on September 28, 2000, when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, at that time an opposition leader, visited al-Haram al-Sharif. The site is considered one of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism and the visit was regarded as a provocation. Israeli police said that on September 28, only men over the age of 40 would be allowed to attend prayers at the site.

Despite the deployment of Israeli police and military forces, the day was marked by militant marches and rallies throughout Palestine and across the region. In the Nusseirat refugee camp in the Gaza strip, thousands marched behind banners reading: "The uprising will continue until we uproot the Zionist occupation from our land!"

In the West Bank town of Ramallah, following a mass rally, a procession made its way to an Israeli checkpoint, news sources report. Three stone-throwing protestors were wounded by live Israeli fire and rubber-coated steel pellets injured 24, doctors said. According to news agencies, across Palestine people were killed by Israeli troops on September 28, including a ten-year old boy.

The anniversary of the Intifada was also marked with vigorous demonstrations in other countries.

The cause of the Palestinian people is just and they are waging a militant struggle in defence of the right to their homeland, self-determination and human dignity. The Israeli state has unleashed brutal violence on the Palestinians in the occupied territories and military force against civilians to try to stop the Intifada. Even as the US is declaring its "war against terrorism", it continues to back Israeli state terrorism with military and political support, all the while positioning itself as the essential "peace-broker" in the region. The basis for a peaceful and just solution to the problems in the Middle East is that Israel get out of Arab lands and all imperialist powers stop interfering in the affairs of the peoples of the region.

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