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The reaction of progressive activists to the bombing of Gaza by Israel, such as the events of this week (Operation Pillar of Defense) or more extensively to Operation Cast Lead, is immediate and justifiable. How passionate we were, and rightly so, when Israel engaged in its onslaught against Gaza in Operation Cast Lead just a few years ago. But today in Syria the regime has killed more than ten times as many civilians and the only protests we see are those carried out by a handful of Syrian expatriates. Robert Fisk wryly remarks "we demand justice and the right to life for Arabs if they are butchered by the West and its Israeli allies; but not when they are being butchered by their fellow Arabs". [1] Fisk is equally wise in suggesting that for those who engage in an amoral calculus, that this is a proxy war on Iran.

It is nevertheless perplexing to witness the lack of concern; Jonathan Freedland wonders about this strange pariochial internationalism [2], however in the comments that follow that something can be discerned. There are fears that the Syrian opposition is largely controlled by foreign Islamist forces, and that they are no friends of the liberal and democratic Arab Spring of the successful revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, and Libya. On a related matters, there are those who argue that the the Syrian opposition has been as guilty, at least, at human rights abuses in the civil war. Others are concerned with the potential of international intervention and liberal imperialism, especially after the events of Libya. These are reasonable claims for concern. On a politically amoral level, there are those progressives who do not speak out because of the geopolitical implications, or even because they have sympathy with the Baathist regime and its ideology. Unsurprisingly, because these positions are the most distant from the internationalist libertarian socialist perspective of isocracy they can be dealt with first.

More at:
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On September 5, after nine months of protests by students and their supporters, Le Conseil exécutif du Québec ("the Québec cabinet"), declared a freeze on tuition fee increases. This decision did not come from the benevolence of the new cabinet, led by Pauline Marois of Parti Québécois. Nor did it just come from the simple fact of a large number of people engaged in protest over time. In a period
where victories such as these are less common, it is necessary to understand what happened in Québec that was different, so that lessons can be learned and perhaps replicated.

The campaign began with the proposal by the cabinet, by Jean Charest of the Parti libéral du Québec, to raise tuition fees by almost 75% between 2012 and 2017, or over 125% from the relaxation of tuition fees from 2007. Students responded quickly, The first National Day of Action scheduled on November 10th, 2011. Social science students at the Université Laval went strike on February 13, followed by some at Université du Québec à Montréal. Over the next two months, the number of striking students rose to at least 180,000, but with over 200,000 attending a protest on March 22. By this stage the protests had the support of the major student organisations, especially Coalition large de l’Association pour une Solidarité Syndicale Étudiante (CLASSE), and increasingly members of the community.

Read more:
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At the Ternium factory in Guatemala, the employer has been busy busting up attempts by the workers to form a union. We've been asked to flood them with messages of protest. These workers need our help right now - please send off your message ( and spread the word.

Nearly 9,000 of you have shown your support for our campaign following upon the deadly fires that killed some 300 workers in Pakistan earlier this month. That's big for a LabourStart campaign -- and we can make it bigger. With your help, we can bring the numbers up to 10,000 or more, and send a very clear message of protest to the Pakistani government. Send your message today. (

Finally, we launched a campaign two weeks ago to demand the release of jailed Moroccan dock workers' union leader Said Elhairech. Said has been in jail since 16 June. This campaign, unfortunately, has not yet taken off and only 4,200 of you have sent off messages. It's extremely important that we get Said out of jail and the only way to do this is by building the largest possible global campaign. Please sign up to this one ( and spread the word in your union.
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As expected the French Socialist Party and allies have gained a majority in the two-round June National Assembly elections, receiving 29.35% in the first round (40.91% in the second). This translated to 280 seats (of a potential 577), a gain of 94 from the last election for the PS, plus an additional 20 from various Socialist-aligned regional parties. With close allies, the Radical Party of the Left and the Citizen and Republican Movement, obtained respectively 13 and 2 seats, for a total of 315. The Left Front lost almost half its seats (from 19 down to 10), despite a substantial increase in the number of votes its received. In opposition the right-wing Union for a Popular Movement (and affiliated candidates), won 194 seats, a loss of 112. The next majority party, The Greens, won 17 seats, an increase of 13. This result gives the Socialists control of practically every political institution in France - the presidency, the upper and lower houses of parliament, all but two of the regions.

More attention has been paid to the Greek elections. Following the collapse of talks to elect a coalition government in the May elections, competition came down to the right-wing New Democracy Party and the far-left SYRIZA. Both parties received swings of over 10% (10.81% and 10.11%, respectively) resulting in 79 and 71 seats from 29.66% and 26.89% of the vote, with ND receiving an additional 50 seat bonus for being the party with the largest number of votes. The social-democratic PASOK party came third with a further decline of 0.9%, with a mere 33 seats (down 8) and 12.28% of the vote. It is worth noting that proir to the May elections PASOK had over 160 seats, having received 43.92% of the vote in the 2009 elections. The centre-right Independent Greeks lost 3.09% to 7.51% (20 seats, down 13), the extreme right Golden Dawn lost 0.05% to 6.92% (18 seats, down 3). The Democratic Left gained 0.15% to 6.26% (but lost 2 seats, to 17), and the Communist Party lost a further 4.04% to 4.5% (12 seats down 14).

It is worth mentioning despite the stunning result by SYRIZA, it was the intransigence of the social democratic PASOK and the communist KKE, that have led to this result. The social-democrats supported the austerity measures put in place in the EU bailout package, and the KKE refused to deal with SYRIZA after the first round elections.
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I imagine that everyone here is quite familiar with Luxemburg's criticism of the supposed right of nations to self-determination, the fact that this can more than often become an excuse for reactionary politics, and Lenin's reaction to Luxemburg's criticisms.

I'm not going to elaborate initially on that debate, but rather I wish to contextualise it with the current UN principle of "Responsibility to Protect". This is a policy based on the idea that the State does not have the right to act with impunity within its borders, and specifically the international community should intervene where a State cannot, or will not, act against mass atrocities.

From the outset it must be stated that of course that the RtP is basically a liberal-democratic doctrine which does not engage in a class analysis of what the State is.

Nevertheless, it does seem to concur with some of the trajectories that Luxemburg was making in regard to her criticism of the right to self-determination. Specifically:

a) That "nations" do not have a right to self-determination, but rather people do. Emphasising the right to national self-determination can, and inevitably does, mean that universal human rights (by which we can easily note worker's rights) are suppressed. Advocating for worker's rights must have priority over arguing for national rights.

b) That "nations", the form of the nation-state, may very well be the natural and highest form of liberal capitalism (as Lenin pointed out), but the internationalisation of the world economy and political systems will increase over time, rather than decrease. Again, emphasising national self-determination as transcending these global trajectories is reactionary (this time, economically reactionary, rather than politically).

Thus, whilst the RtP doctrine is being used a tool of the liberal-democratic capitalist class to enforce their political preferences (e.g. Libya), it also seems that this is an inevitable and even progressive policy, especially in the absence of a mass proletarian international alternative.
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UK Council Elections

There were elections in 128 English councils, all 32 Scottish councils and 21 Welsh councils on 3 May 2012. Vote is in comparison with the 2008 elections the last time these councils were up for election.

Labour 38% 2159 seats +823 seats
Conservatives 31% 1006 seats -405 seats
Lib Dems 16% 431 seats -330 seats
Others 15%
(inc. Scottish National 424 +57)

French Presidential Elections

François Hollande (Socialist Party) 18,004,656 votes 51.63%
Nicolas Sarkozy (Union for a Popular Movement) 16,865,340 48.37%

An exciting result for the French Socialists, who have not won a Presidential election for more than twenty years. It was lot closer than had been expected in the lead up to the poll, and with a surprisingly strong showing by the National Front in the first round.

Greek Parliamentary Elections

(from left to right)

Communist Party Aleka Papariga 531,293 8.5% +1.0 26
Coalition of the Radical Left Alexis Tsipras 1,051,094 16.8% +12.2 52
Democratic Left Fotis Kouvelis 382,650 6.1% New 19
Panhellenic Socialist Movement Evangelos Venizelos 827,459 13.2% –30.7 41
New Democracy Antonis Samaras 1,183,851 18.9% –14.6 108
Independent Greeks Panos Kammenos 664,737 10.6% New 33
Golden Dawn Nikolaos Michaloliakos 437,005 7.0% +6.7 21

The two coalition partners of the austerity measures, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (centre-left) and the New Democracy party (centre-right) both being soundly punished by voters. Many PASOK voters went to eith the Democratic Left (centre-left to left) or to the Coalition of the Radical Left (far left). Right-wing voters went to Independent Greeks who are a nationalistic, anti-austerity party. Golden Dawn are a Greek fascist party who owe at least some of their support to the collapse of the religious Orthodox party.
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The CSM is listing favourite quotes from Karl Marx.

May 5 marks the birthday of Karl Marx. Best known as the author of "Capital" and, with Freidrich Engels, the "Communist Manifesto," Marx provided the intellectual foundation for an array of regimes that at one time governed nearly half of Earth's population.

These regimes were, for many, a long nightmare of state terror, genocides, deportations, extrajudicial executions, forced labor, and artificial scarcity, crimes that left tens of millions of people dead and deprived many more of basic dignity.

But while Marx's solutions are widely and rightfully condemned, his analysis still resonates among workers and intellectuals alike around the world. As much of the globe struggles to extricate itself from an economic slowdown that many believe was created by the excesses of what Marx called "the bourgeoisie," several Marxist concepts – the anarchic nature of capitalism, the parasitism of the financial class, and the reserve army of the unemployed, to name a few – appear to take on new relevance.

Here are 10 quotations from Marx. Let us know which ones you like best, and add your favorites that didn't make it into the list in the comments below.

Whilst the opening of the third paragraph is pretty ignorant, the quotes themselves are a fair selection. Here's my contributions:

Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living.

(The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, 1852)

Even an entire society, a nation, or all simultaneously existing societies taken together, are not owners of the earth. They are simply its possessors, its beneficiaries, and have to bequeath it in an improved state to succeeding generations.

(Capital Vol III, 1894)
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It seems that the military in central-west Africa is getting a little trigger-happy in overthrowing elected social-democratic governments. The following recent statements by Socialist International are indicitive of a distrurbing trend...

The Socialist International condemns unreservedly the subversion of the democratic order by elements of the armed forces in Mali during last night. This attempt to take control of the government by force is totally unacceptable to our movement, to all democrats and to the entire international community.

Africa and Mali have made historic advances in the consolidation and strengthening of democracy at a time when only democratic rule is acceptable in all countries, underlined today by the dramatic struggles for democracy, freedoms and rights by citizens around the world.

The events of the last hours present a grave threat to Mali's hard-won democratic process, at a moment when the country is less than one month away from new presidential elections and deeply touch our movement, as our two member parties in Mali, the Assembly for Mali (RPM) and ADEMA-PASJ, have been fundamental pillars of the democratic development and democratic life of that country.

The Socialist International calls for the respect of the democratically elected government in Mali and next month's scheduled presidential elections. We express our full solidarity with the SI member parties and all democratic forces in that country, and call on regional and international organisations to act decisively in defence of democracy in Mali.


The Socialist International expresses its firm condemnation of the subversion of the constitutional order by the military in Guinea-Bissau and denounces unequivocally the reported seizure and detention of presidential candidate Carlos Gomes Junior, leader of the PAIGC, a member party of the Socialist International. The SI is equally concerned over the whereabouts and safety of Interim President Raimundo Pereira and other officials reportedly detained, and demands the immediate release of all those illegally withheld.

These acts, which have unfolded overnight and in the last hours, take place as the country prepares for the second round of the presidential elections scheduled for 29 April, in which Carlos Gomes Junior is the front-runner, having secured a substantial lead in the first round.

The Socialist International calls for the immediate re-establishment of democracy in Guinea-Bissau and urges the international community and regional organisations to act decisively in support of a swift return to the normal functioning of the democratic institutions of the country.

We express our full solidarity with the people of Guinea-Bissau today defending their democracy and with our member party, the PAIGC, a central actor in the democratic life of that nation.
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In just over a month France will hold its Presidential elections. By most accuonts the conservative incumbent, Nicolas Sarkozy, of the Union for a Popular Movement will lose in a run-off to François Hollande of the Socialist Party. Hollande supports a withdrawl of French troops from Afghanistan, a new Franco-German partnership on protecting public servives, establishing a new top-tier tax rate for those on 150K+ e., restoration of the 60-year retirement age for those who have worked 41+ years, and legalisation of same-sex marriage and adoption.

The most recent opinion polls currently place Hollande at 29.5%, Sarkozy at 28.0%, Mélenchon of the Left Front at 14.0%, Le Pen of the far-right National Front at 13%, and Bayrou of the centrist Democratic Movement at 12%. On a two-candidate preferred this equates to 54% for Hollande and 46% for Sarkozy.

However there is increasing momentum for Mélenchon and the Left Front, following a large turnout at a Bastille monument rally, where Mélenchon said "We're going to make this election a civic insurrection".
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This is a case of conventional wisdom being verified. Many of the rich really don't understand normal moral behaviour.

Rich people more likely to take lollies from children: study

People from wealthy backgrounds are more likely than poorer people to break laws while driving, take lollies from children, and lie for financial gain, a United States study says.

The seven-part study by psychologists at the University of California Berkeley and the University of Toronto analysed people's behaviour through a series of experiments.

Read more... )

Although the study focused on US subjects, with each of the seven parts measuring between 100 and 200 participants, Dr Piff said the findings are likely to be relevant to societies outside America, too.

"These patterns are going to be particularly salient in societies where wealth is as unequally distributed as it is here," he said.

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Socialist International Statement, 16 February 2012

The Socialist International once more urgently calls for an immediate end to the violence and bloodshed that continues to escalate across Syria. The repression and killings by government forces grow more brutal by the day and are utterly deplorable.

Read more... )

FWIW... Article 8 of the Syrian constitution states that "the Arab Socialist Ba'ath Party leads the state and society." The President is the Secretary-General of the party, and the leader of the National Progressive Front governing coalition. The minor parties in the coalition are the Arab Socialist Movement, Arab Socialist Union, Communist Party of Syria (Unified), Communist Party of Syria (Bakdash), Social Democratic Unionists, Socialist Unionists, Syrian Social Nationalist Party, Democratic Socialist Unionist Party, Arabic Democratic Unionist Party, National Vow Movement.

Sounds like an classic and unfortunate case of totalitarian socialism versus democratic socialism in this case.
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Recent elections in Argentina (October 23), have resulted in near complete victory for left-wing parties who are reduced to competing among themselves. In the Presidential elections the left-Peronist Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, was re-elected with 54% of the vote. In second place was the Socialist Party candidate, Hermes Binner, with 16.9% of the vote, and in third place, the left social-democractic Radical Civic Union candidate, Ricardo Alfonsín, with 11.2%.

The best results for the right-wing candidates were Alberto Rodríguez Saá, of the Federal Commitment, with 7.98% and Eduardo Duhalde of the Popular Front with 5.89%

On the far-left Jorge Altamira of the Workers Left Front, an alliance of three Trotskyist groups, received 2.31% of the vote.

Whilst legislative elections results are not yet complete it is probably they will follow similar numbers.
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The following is a statement just released from Socialist International, which surprises me somewhat. They are allying themselves with the various 'Occupy' movements...
A feeling of unrest is sweeping the world. In recent days and weeks we have seen thousands of citizens from all walks of life gather in cities around the world to peacefully express their demands for fundamental change. This growing movement by indignados, outraged citizens protesting, has been characterised by the diversity of those taking to the streets to march, protest and occupy. The demonstrations have spread to the major financial centres, from the Occupy Wall Street movement in New York to protests in the City of London and at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt. Thousands have marched in the streets of Santiago, Tokyo and Cairo. These people, behind different causes and demands, are united not by political ideology or allegiance, but have come together to express their anger and frustration at existing economic and political realities which have failed them and their fellow citizens.
Read more... )
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Last weekend, 13-14 August 2011, witnessed the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the Berlin Wall. It barely needs reminding that this was not a defensive or protective wall, designed to keep potential enemies out, but rather it was a prison wall, designed to keep a population incarcerated, to limit their freedom of movement. Like most walls, it wasn't particularly effective for the truly determined; during its short existence there were thousands of successful escapes, although there were also several scores of people being killed by DDR border guards in these attempts. What it did do however is create an environment where fear dominated. Prior to its implementation, fully twenty percent of the entire East German population had moved west [1]; the State had determined that this had been stopped. Does it need to mentioned that when the Wall came down people fled from the socialist (but dictatorial) East Berlin to the capitalist (but democratic) West Berlin and not the other way around?

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(snipped from my own journal)

A few weeks ago I went to the launch of "A Little History of the Australian Labor Party" by by Nick Dyrenfurth and Frank Bongiorno, published by UNSW Press. Spent a some time chatting to some ALP colleagues many of whom I haven't talked to for some time; the former premier, Steve Bracks, the former member for Essendon, Judy Maddigan and for Federal Member for Casey, Race Mathews. It was a fairly sombre occassion give the dire state of the ALP in various opinion polls, although the point was made that the Labor Party has been in dire straits in the past and managed to recover.

Of course, this is hardly sufficient. Recovery of a social organisation does not occur as some sort of natural cycle. Rather it is something that requires conscious evaluation, reflection and consideration. I have attempted to this with a recent article on the Isocracy Network, The Sick Rose: Social Democracy In Crisis, where I outline the seriousness of the situation on an international level, the history of social democracy and the desperate need for a principled re-assertion of the core principles of liberty, democracy and socialism.
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I find it thoroughly odd that small sections of the left in the UK are actually opposed to the introduction of what they are calling "Alternative Vote". When I read that the people of the UK are even thinking of voting against the "alternative vote" I have to shake my head I think how utterly backward, primitive, simple-minded and limited some people are.

That means you, Respect Party, Communist Party of Britain. Socialist Party of England and Wales, and yes even my old friends, Alliance for Workers' Liberty. Oh, and you too GMB Union.

You complete idiots. Every single one of you. Don't you realise that Thatcher would have been out in a single term if it wasn't for FTTP? In fact, the Tories might have even not been elected even in the '79 election? Ponder on that for just a moment...

Haven't you learned anything from the Canadian election from mere days ago? The Conservatives, with a mere 39.62% of the vote, have achieved a majority government with 167 seats. How is this possible? Because Canada doesn't have preferential voting. Because the progressive vote was split between the New Democratic Party (30.63%), the Liberals (18.91%), Bloc Quebecois (6.04%) and the Greens (3.91%).

Mind you, I'm biased. I live in a country where we have preferential voting. Which means we actually see majority rule, for better or for worse, rather than having a government of the biggest minority - which is always worse.
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The Irish General Elections have witnessed a remarkable 15% swing to left-wing parties (9.3%, +16 to 36 seats for Labour, 3.0%, +9 setas to 13 for Sinn Fein, 2.6%, +5 seats to the United Left Alliance) but a complete wipe-out of the Greens (down 2.9%, loss of all six seats). The opposition centre-right/traditionalist party, Fine Gael also gained 19 seats and a swing of 8.8%. The previously governing liberal Fianna Fail lost a remarkable 24.2% of the vote, more than 50% of its vote, and 59 seats, the worst result in the party's eighty-five year history. In all probability there will be a new governing coalition between Fine Gael and Labour in the 166 seat lower house (Dáil Éireann).

The election results are being widely interpreted as punishment of the Fianna Fail party (and the Greens, who were in coalition) for economic mismanagement. Ireland's two largest banks (Allied Irish Bank) and the Bank of Ireland were each bailed out for €3.5 billion. The smaller Anglo Irish bank was nationalised when the government determined that a bailout would not save the bank after it had conducted circular hidden loans. These bailouts contributed to the Irish debt levels and the worst recession on record, requiring a EU bailout of some a €85 billion. Needless to say, the cost of such speculation and economic collapse is borne once again by ordinary people who have responded in anger at the ballot box.

The following quote directly from Wikipedia explains the cause of the problems:

Morgan Kelly, a professor of economics at University College Dublin, was particularly concerned about the real estate bubble which was reaching its climax in the summer of 2006. He noted that a fifth of Irish workers were in the construction industry and that the average price of a home in Dublin had increased 500% from 1994 to 2006. He published a news article in the Irish Times, asserting that Irish real estate prices could possibly fall 40 - 50%. His second article was rejected by the Irish Independent and lingered unpublished at The Sunday Business Post until the Irish Times agreed to run it in September 2007. Kelly predicted the collapse of Irish banks, which had fueled the rapid rise of real estate by increasingly lowering their lending standards and relying on foreign cash infusions.

Once again there is confirmation of the general principle that monopolistic speculation in our commonwealth has to be prevented. Instead of a source of individual gains through economic rent-seeking with periodic general collapses in the economy, real estate (i.e., economic land) should be the primary source of public income in preference to all others for reasons of economic efficiency, productivity and social justice.

How is the new government likely to be different? Both Fine Gael and Labour have emphasised employment as their highest priority, a reflection of very the high rates of unemployment experienced in recent years. Fine Gael has adopted a neoliberal agenda with argues that budget cuts will act as a spur on employment growth, hoping that this will also reduce the country's debt (in true motherhood fashion, they target "waste") in preference to tax increases and infrastructure expenditure. Both Fine Gael and Labour support strategic loans for small and medium businesses enterprises and focussing on education expenditure. As a thin ray of common-sense, Labour is also committed to removing "Upward Only" rent increase clauses that exist in any many lease contracts.

What is notable in this election is that 36% of the population voted for the various left-wing parties (Labour, Sinn Fein, United Left Alliance, Greens), traditionally very small in Ireland, usually struggling to achieved 20%. Despite this change, and this opportunity the possibility of further alliance building among the left will be extremely difficult. A realistic outlook is tempered with a high level degree of pessimism. The now-governing Labour Party will find itself the junior partner of aggressive cuts in public services initiated by Fine Gael. The Greens will take an oppositional perspective to Labour and remain the junior partner with Fianna Fail. Neither will contenance working with Sinn Fein, and as for the United Left Alliance its members include former Labour members, disaffected with that party's selection process? Is it really possible under these circumstances that the left will be able to work together as a united front in the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary arena?

The reality is that the left must work together in Ireland, despite organisational loyalties and institutional inducements. Fine Gael, working with the EU and IMF, have already announced their 'slash and burn' approach to public services to deal with a financial crisis caused by the landlord class and the banking establishment. Labour should take the opportunity as a coalition partner to resist cuts to public services and argue for higher taxation rates on speculative gains. The Greens could certainly become involved in pushing for Pigouvian taxes. The success of the United Left Alliance could be continued through the extra-parliamentary arena where they have a particular strength and there is certainly no reason why Sinn Fein cannot continue to do so as well, especially in the northern regions which it has notable strength. That party also has the obvious opportunity to appeal to those in Fine Gael who will find themselves inevitably disaffected by the new government's financial austerity against ordinary Irish.

But who can say whether these opportunities will be taken up when there is more obvious inducements from parliamentary privilege and fractious infighting?
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Tunisian, Algerian and Moroccan opposition parties of the left have made a joint statement on the killings in Libya, calling on their governments to intervene.

At this very moment, our Libyan brothers are suffering the agony of another age. Hundreds of victims have fallen under bullets, heavy arms and war planes. It is a genuine industry of extermination that has been unleashed. We must stand up to it, as any conscious individual would, and do everything to stop this massacre.

Gaddafi is capable of anything: he is setting tribes against one another, activating his militia and using an army of foreign mercenaries. This man has lost all sense of humanity.

The political parties which co-sign this statement urgently call on the governments of the Maghreb and international authorities to do everything to halt this revolting massacre which will remain engraved as a disgraceful stain on the collective memory.

The statement is signed by: Parti démocratique progressiste (PDP, Tunisie); Mouvement Ettajdid (Tunisie); Forum démocratique pour le travail et les libertés (Tunisie); Parti du progrès et du socialisme (PPS , Maroc); Union socialiste des forces populaires (USFP, Maroc); Front des Forces Socialistes (FFS, Algérie)
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Libya was ruled by the Ottomans for three hundred and fifty years, then ruled by the Italians for fifty. At least a 1/3 of the local population were killed in resisting Italian rule and colonists reached up to 20% of the population. In 1951 independence was achieved, under the rule of a King Idris and a progressive constitution. However Libya underwent a military coup in 1969 and has been under control of Muammar al-Gaddafi since. Political parties were banned in 1972. Trade unions do not exist (although professional associations are integrated within the governmental system). There is no right to strike. After the coup, oil reserves (currently making up 58% of the GDP in revenue) were nationalised and collectivised.

Following the examples of Tunisia and Egypt, the people of Libya have risen to overthrow this ailing dictatorship. The response has been swift and brutal, with over 500 estimated deaths. On 18 February demonstrators took control over most of Benghazi, the second largest city of Libya, with some military and police units defecting, with subsequent protests in the capital Tripoli and Al Bayda. A number of Libyan diplomats have resigned in protest and others claim that they no longer supporting the Gaddafi regime. Saif El Islam, Gaddafi's second son, has threatened the protestors warning: "We will fight to the last man and woman and bullet. We will not lose Libya. We will not let Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya and BBC trick us."

Genuine socialists support the people in their quest for a democratic and free Libya. An opportunity exists here for the establishment of a new system which allows political parties, free trade unions and civil rights. And opportunity exists here for a new regime that will socialise and equally share the vast oil wealth rather than being squandered for the luxuries of the political elite. An opportunity exists, once again, to utterly condemn those regimes who call themselves socialist, but are in reality a collectivist, authoritarian and totalitarian dictatorship.
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