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Communist Workers' Party of Tunisia opposes Libya intervention, calls for completion of revolution

The Communist Workers' Party of Tunisia on Libya: "The Tunisian revolution has spread to many Arab countries. Egypt's dictator fell, while authoritarian regimes in Yemen and Bahrain are fiercely repressing popular uprisings, in Bahrain, with the help of Saudi Arabia. Our neighbour, the Libyan people, rose up against their tormentors, but events took a bad turn with the intervention of the United States and its allies, under the pretext of protecting civilians. The US administration has hardly mentioned the killing of civilians in Yemen and Bahrain, as it has also never done regarding Gaza, Lebanon or Iraq and Afghanistan, countries it occupies. And didn’t Sarkozy support the Tunisian dictator until the last moment?

"What drives Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron to intervene is the frantic race to grab a portion of Libyan oil, after the failure of its revolution. We support the Libyan people in their uprising, but we are against any foreign intervention, which not only hurts the revolution in Libya and Tunisia but also hurts all Arab countries. We oppose the use of our territory or our airspace in the aggression against Libya. The US, French and English colonialists have no interest in the triumph of the Arab revolution, given the danger it represents for them."

By the Communist Workers' Party of Tunisia/Parti communiste des ouvriers de Tunisie (PCOT) حزب العمّال الشّيوعي التونسي

Translated by John Catalinotto for Tlaxcala

March 23, 2011 -- This event [the legalisation of the the Communist Workers' Party of Tunisia] has important symbolic significance. It is the result, among other things, of the January 14 revolution that deposed Ben Ali, won the right to organise and inaugurated a new era for Tunisia and its people.

The PCOT was established January 3, 1986, the second anniversary of the glorious “bread uprising”, which was a way to show our determination to link our fate to that of the Tunisian people, to defend its interests and legitimate aspirations for a decent life, where freedom, democracy and social justice rule. The PCOT translated these commitments into its political program and its militant practices, under the slogan of "national and popular democratic revolution", which it continued to defend at the price of enormous sacrifices: Nabil Barakat died in martyrdom, among hundreds of our activists who have been tortured, imprisoned and denied their most basic rights, many of them forced into exile.

Our party stood shoulder to shoulder with our people during this quarter century, making the fall of the dictatorship a primary objective, considering that it constitutes a major obstacle to the emancipation of the people and the rebirth of the nation. The party had full confidence in our people; it fought against the reactionary thinking that underestimated them, accusing them of helplessness and resignation. It has continually worked to raise consciousness and organise clandestine action to the extent that the lack of freedom permitted. It participated in all the people’s struggles and helped unite the opposition to secure victory against the dictatorship.

The revolution of January 14 is the culmination of over 20 years of struggle and sacrifices of the Tunisian people, of its sons and daughters making up the different ideological and political opponents to the dictatorship, organised in parties, associations and trade union and human rights organisations or unorganised.

This revolution took on various dimensions: It is a political revolution against tyranny and subjugation, a social revolution against exploitation and corruption, a patriotic revolution for dignity. The revolution did not stop inside Tunisia; it has spread to other Arab countries, where people are rising up against corrupt and tyrannical regimes and making them fall one after another.

Revolution not yet complete

The revolution of January 14 is not yet complete because it has not achieved all its objectives, despite the progress it made. Reactionary forces are still lurking and trying to abort the revolution. They are supported in this by the United States and France, which want to reduce the revolution to a mere reform of the old regime, leaving its economic and social foundation intact. The fundamental issue in any revolution is power, and if the sectors of the population that made the revolution do not hold power, we must conclude that it neither complete nor victorious. This is the case in Tunisia where the people rose up but have not yet taken power.

In the first phase of the revolution, the people brought down the dictator. In the second phase for the victory against the dictatorship, the people, through its vigilance and determination, brought down the Ghannouchi government and imposed the demands for a constituent assembly, and dissolution of the RCD [ruling party] and the political police. It also significantly expanded the scope of freedom of expression and organisation.

However, power remains in the hands of reactionary forces, deployed in different units and institutions that continue to preserve their economic interests. These forces are committing crimes against people (assault, looting, riots ...). They try to break its unity through fueling regional, tribal and religious differences and sowing fear and terror in order to discourage the people from continuing the revolution and achieving its objectives.

The interim president and transitional government are bent on sabotaging the revolution’s legitimacy and reject any control over their decisions (appointment of delegates, security officials, the judiciary ...); this process serves the interests of the enemies of the revolution. They refused to deal with the "National Council to Defend the Revolution”, which they replaced by a “body” whose members they have appointed unilaterally. In the same way, the decision to dissolve the RCD can be rescinded by returning this party under a new form. This is also the case regarding the decision to dissolve the political police, which is surrounded by doubts and raises serious questions about its application.

Revolution stolen?

The masses, particularly in the country’s interior, are beginning to feel that nothing regarding their political and social conditions has changed, and that their revolution is about to be stolen. It is a legitimate feeling with understandable reasons. The old regime is still in place, with its apparatus and its administration. The interim government took no action, although an urgent action is needed to alleviate the burden of unemployment and the high cost of living, stop the deterioration of public services that hit the regions -- which have also suffered repression and looting before and during the outbreak of the revolution. This is the case of the mining region, of Skhira of Benguerdane and many other regions.

The Communist Workers' Party of Tunisia believes that the revolution is not over. The Tunisian people must remain vigilant to avert the dangers threatening it. The continued mobilisation, conservation and revitalisation of the "National Council to Defend the Revolution” and its committees are urgent tasks today.

Today, the people remain the only force capable of exercising control over the interim presidency and the provisional government, which it has the right to monitor and hold accountable.

The election of the "Constituent Assembly" is an important event in the coming period. Workers, toiling strata and all our people can, in conjunction with the PCOT and all democratic and revolutionary forces, make this moment a turning point to impose the will of the people and stop the enemies of the revolution in their tracks.

This cannot be accomplished without an immediate mobilisation to postpone the elections and put space between them and the dates of the examinations, to enable the people and political forces to be well prepared, given the importance of the issues that the Constituent Assembly will determine.

We must also prepare a suitable political arena, through the purging of the administration, the judiciary and the media, by the effective dissolution of the political police and the establishment of an electoral law that resolves the issue of financing the elections to ensure transparency and equality among all participants and ensure that these elections are not tainted by corruption.

The character of the transition period in no way precludes the need for urgent economic and social measures, particularly for the unemployed, or for the regions that are neglected despite their wealth and potential.

The transitional government continues to cling to the budget decided under Ben Ali, which provides a significant portion for the Department of the Interior and for the repayment of debt incurred by the dictatorship. Why should the government not cancel the debt or at least suspend it for a while, as did countries that have experienced the same conditions as Tunisia? Why not devote the full budget to improving the lives of the people? Why not revise this budget to reflect new priorities?


The Tunisian revolution has spread to many Arab countries. Egypt's dictator fell, while authoritarian regimes in Yemen and Bahrain are fiercely repressing popular uprisings, in Bahrain, with the help of Saudi Arabia. Our neighbour, the Libyan people, rose up against their tormentors, but events took a bad turn with the intervention of the United States and its allies, under the pretext of protecting civilians. The US administration has hardly mentioned the killing of civilians in Yemen and Bahrain, as it has also never done regarding Gaza, Lebanon or Iraq and Afghanistan, countries it occupies. And didn’t Sarkozy support the Tunisian dictator until the last moment?

What drives Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron to intervene is the frantic race to grab a portion of Libyan oil, after the failure of its revolution. We support the Libyan people in their uprising, but we are against any foreign intervention, which not only hurts the revolution in Libya and Tunisia but also hurts all Arab countries. We oppose the use of our territory or our airspace in the aggression against Libya. The US, French and English colonialists have no interest in the triumph of the Arab revolution, given the danger it represents for them.

  • Long live the revolution of the Tunisian people.
  • The revolution should go on until it achieves its objectives.
  • Power to the people.
  • Long live the uprisings of the Arab peoples for freedom and dignity.


Class Contradictions in the North African Revolution

Class Contradictions: In the North African Revolution
Decades of crony capitalism funded by the flow of petro-dollars to despots, sheiks, reactionary Bathists, and fake socialist regimes alike have under-developed the Maghreb and the near east. These regimes have held back the “democratic” aspirations of the people and closed book on the Pan-Arab nationalist revolution that appeared to threaten imperialism 30 years ago. Even while posing as anti-imperialist and anti-Zionist, regimes throughout the region have made their peace with both and have become imperialism’s willing pawns. All have done their part to suppress the masses and in particular the Palestinian revolution, the working class, minorities (tribal and religious) and women. The role of these regimes, today threatened by their own people, has been to maintain the status quo, keeping oil flowing to imperialisms’ oil cartels and dollars and gold flowing back to a small elite concentrated around the inner circles of the dictators, amongst their families, their military and security organizations.

The aspirations of Pan-Arabism: national independence (from imperialism and Zionism), secular-democracy and social progress were destined by the weakness of the national bourgeoisie to collapse; since then a social equilibrium has been enforced with a well balanced distribution of the carrot and the stick. In Libya oil wealth allowed for a relatively larger portion of “carrots” to be allotted the masses. In Saudi-Arabia, extra “carrots” were quickly distributed at the last moment when, the monarchy realized that this equilibrium could not withstand the crisis of capitalism and the uprisings of 2011.

The unfulfilled expectation of the masses, the desire for “democratic” freedoms and the consequences of high unemployment exploded this winter/spring in a revolutionary upsurge whose leading actors were the under-employed youth, students, workers (both private and public sector), closely followed and joined by the petty bourgeois (small business people, shop owners, professionals and academics). Usurpers to the mantle of leadership like El Barradi and The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt or the TNC in Libya emerged not from the heterogeneous mass who first bared their chest to the bullets of reaction but after the initial uprisings in hope that they would get the nod from imperialism and emerge at the top of the heep.

It is essential to understand that democracy and freedom have different meanings to different social classes. For the workers basic democratic rights, the right to organize and control over ones conditions of labor are primary. For the small and large capitalists, bourgeois academics and intellectuals the right to exploit labor, and participate in the market free from the dictates of crony capitalism, along side the desire for political, cultural and intellectual freedom turned them against the regimes. Although each country has its own unique dynamics these uprisings, which spread across the region in a firestorm of historic consequence unlike anything since 1848, contain the contradictory aspirations of two opposing classes; one consigned forever to be pawns of imperialism the other burdened with the historic task of defeating it.

These contradictions are subsumed in this re-emergence of the Arab-national revolution, but they can not be resolved by the emergence of “constitutional democracy”. The aspirations of the mass/base which ignited the revolution can not be successfully met if the revolution limits itself to the fight for “freedom and democracy” defined by western imperialism and embraced by the petty bourgeois, the academics, and wanna-be imperialist lackeys like El Baradi in Egypt and the TNC in Libya.

For imperialism to maintain its financial position workers must not control the conditions of their own labor, the economy, or even be apportioned the economic benefit from the natural wealth of these nations. A willing pawn is required, one who will feign left (advance “political freedom”) but will strike to the right (crush the workers’ movements and administer exploitative deals with imperialism).

In Libya, despite the higher GDP and limited gains of women under the “Green Revolution”, the masses, led by unemployed youth, inspired by the events across North Africa, stood up against the repression of Qaddaffi’s brutal regime. The masses no longer believed the lie that Qaddaffi is fighting imperialism and building “Green-Socialism”. Decades of brutally, enforced crony capitalism and capitulation to imperialism in 2003 assured, that once unleashed, the protests spread across Libya even to Tripoli, where the masses faced an unrelenting violent repression unlike any seen in Tunisia or Egypt. The fantasy of a peaceful “Jasmine” revolution came to an abrupt end. The masses armed to defend themselves from the brutal regimes commitment to maintaining the status-quo (its deals with imperialism and its hording of wealth at the expense of social programs and political freedom).

In the early days of the rebellion two forms of organization emerged; councils of the heterogeneous mass of rebels, organizing in the streets and neighborhoods (embryonic workers’ councils like we saw in Tunisia and Egypt) and a bourgeois council which today is transformed into the TNC (a rotten menagerie of defectors, monarchists, tribalists, intellectuals and capitalists). As a consequence of decades of repression these councils are extremely disorganized and tendencies within them have not fully consolidated. The rapid escalation of military events outpaced the ability of the working and lower classes to self-identify and differentiate from the TNC, around which military deserters from the regime appeared to promise sorely needed military leadership, arms and forces.

The contradiction between the aspirations of the masses and the TNC are reflected most recently in the refusal of the TNC to arm militant youth who stake their lives driving out to the front. Imperialism sees the contradictory nature of the “rebel force” and is having a hard time differentiating who they can trust, hence the hesitancy in sending arms for fear that they fall into the hands of the working masses and unemployed youth.

Libya a test of Revolutionary Marxist method
The left has been caught playing catch up with events. Libya in particular has most of the left stumbling over itself. The contradictions outlined above are quite obvious in the unfolding of events in Egypt and Tunisia where the workers, democratic militants and women have experienced the reaction of the interim regimes trying to keep Egypt and Tunisia “safe” for imperialism by preventing workers’ revolution. But in Libya the left was caught off guard. Both Qaddaffi and the TNC vie for the imperialist franchise; but Qaddaffi’s shelf life has long past expired and the TNC has yet to prove its viability. This instability invites imperial dictated partition or NATO/US “boots on the ground” or both.

Imperialism is intervening in Libya to remove Qaddaffi a dictator whose brutality has aroused an armed insurrection that threatens to overshoot the US desired 'orderly transition' to bourgeois democracy and become a workers revolution. Its objective is to replace Qaddaffi with more 'democratic' ex-Qaddaffi bourgeois to keep a lid on the revolution. Both bourgeois factions are appealing to imperialism to be the chosen regime using the young rebels and the mercenaries as bargaining chips and missile fodder. We are for the independent working class armed insurrection that defeats Qaddaffi, breaks from the TNC 'alternative' regime, and then as the revolution requires it defeats (along with the Arab revolutions) imperialism in the region.

Presented with a semi-fascist dictator currently doing imperialism’s bidding, faced off against a willing pawn in the wings, the self-proclaimed Bolsheviks (in the Spartacist family) claim workers have no side. Other spin offs from the Healyite legacy revive the fantasy that Qaddaffi is defending the gains of the 1969 revolution against Monachist restorationists and agents of imperialism. Both these tendencies reject the righteous indignation of the workers, the poor and oppressed and attribute the uprising entirely to the persistent and ever present imperialist/CIA/MI6 instigation.

Apparently unless these outfits are themselves in the leadership of a rebellion the masses become the mere fodder of history to be abandoned to their fate. No, Marxism does not teach an abstentionist internationalism. Marxism as a method for analysis and intervention guides revolutionaries to act on in the historic interest of the working class. Which is an impossible task for the centrists who can not distinguish the revolutionary agents in this struggle from the stooges of imperialism. We are against those on the left who do not make any class distinction between the bourgeois leadership of the TNC and the working class youth-core of the rebels. Marxists stand against the attempts to co-opt the youth and exclude them from the military action against Qaddaffi 's forces, we are for the political and military independence from the TNC leadership, and for internationalist workers everywhere to come to the aid of and arm their struggle.

Despite Qaddaffi’s attempts to paint himself anti-imperialist; his actions long ago proved his interests are with imperialism and not the Libyan masses. His attempt to wipe out the popular revolt of the working people, the only class force that can defend what gains remain from 1969 and defeat imperialism, was initiated both on behalf of his imperialist patrons and his gang of crony capitalists. Unlike the 'thirdworldist' left (Castro/Chavez) we do not bloc with Qaddaffi militarily against imperialism (though we do advocate that Qaddaffi 's working class forces defect and join the anti-imperialist fighters).

We are for the defeat of imperialist intervention in every nation oppressed/invaded or bombed by imperialism. The main responsibility for this defeat is in the hands of the workers movements in the imperialist countries and their allies in NATO. Therefore we are against the entire social imperialist left who find excuses for intervention, 'humanitarian' or not, of an oppressor country as necessary to defeat semi-fascism or dictatorship in an oppressed country.

Both social imperialists (like the German Greens who support NATO bombing) and ‘thirdworldists’ are two sides of the same coin. Neither puts any faith in the capacity of the semi-colonial masses and especially the revolutionary youth, to fight for and win the national revolution as a social revolution. They have a pseudo revolutionary version of the bourgeois civilizing mission. Either the imperialist bourgeoisie can play a progressive role, or the national bourgeoisie in the semi-colonies can play a progressive role. In both cases the agency of the working masses is left out of their roll as the only possible progressive subjective factor in history.

The liberal and progressive pacifists, a sorry strain of social imperialism, place their hopes on NATO/US humanitarian intervention. But imperialism cares not one wit for the humanitarian needs of civilians (proved over and again Hiroshima, Vietnam, “Shock and Awe”, “Cast Lead”, Rwanda, the Congo today) but in the case of this war the perceived threat of massacre gave imperialism a chance to both: “toot their humanitarian horn” and find a road to consolidation and victory for their pawn of choice (or last resort) the TNC. Both the pacifist interventionists and the sectarian abstentionists over their grand pronouncements ignore the independent role of the working class and are thereby opening the road for the only other “realistic” solution: imperialist intervention.

The Tasks at hand

To defeat imperialism Libyan workers and their allies in Tunisia, Egypt, The Middle East and Europe must give their IMMEDIATE attention to these urgent tasks facing every working class in the region:

1. Independent mass political organization, such as an All-Libyan Conference of Workers' Councils, with the explicit project of taking sole, unitary political power throughout the country, is essential.
2. Underground and exiled workers forces should be represented with delegates, so that the population in Qaddaffi controlled territory will know that it is not the working class who is bargaining with imperialism over a division into two semi-colonial, poverty stricken countries! OPPOSE PARTITION! FORWARD TO THE SOCIALIST FEDERATED REPUBLICS OF NORTH AFRICA AND THE NEAR EAST.
3. Found and build a revolutionary Marxist party now to delineate a programmatic response to the revolutionary crisis, to popularize the program among the masses and win the majority of the Workers Councils to support its demands and objectives.
4. No to 'power sharing' 'national' or 'people's fronts.' Each of these is a bayonet pointed at you! The TNC's program is civil war in place of class war. This is all they have to offer imperialism, and all they can possibly offer them in return for their support. This means a thousand kilometers of desert to cross, at a military disadvantage even with the on-again/off-again imperialist air support.
5. Without independent political organization the working class and youth can expect to be ground between the two bourgeois millstones, the old goons of Qaddaffi and the new goons of the TNC, in a war of exhaustion and elimination. And meanwhile your relatives in Qaddaffi 's hands will pay with their lives. It is only your workers' political program that will cause new revolts in Qaddaffi 's rear and place your front line outside his tent!
6. Victory over imperialism, Qaddaffi and the TNC requires independent military organization subordinate to the Workers Councils. The TNC leadership will attempt to turn its troops on you tomorrow. Should you be so fortunate as to bring Qaddaffi's head back to Bengazi on a plate, the TNC would soon enough fete you with firing squads! You can assume getting the TNC leaders to commit to class warfare is the mission of the envoys Washington has sent in place of arms or Libya's impounded funds. Neither will be released to you! Not by Washington and not by the French bourgeoisie, who may invade your country to save it from you! Right now Washington has a problem of available troops and the E.U. NATO countries have even bigger money worries. Build your own workers army and you can persuade them to give up their invasion plans, to return to their secret agent plots.
7. Internationalist fighters appeal immediately to the unions and sympathetic troops of Tunisia and Egypt for arms of all calibers and trained NCO's form up brigades and come to the aid of the Libyan revolution! Libyan workers pledge to return the solidarity when their compradors try to loose the professional armies on them! Workers in the imperialist countries have an obligation to wage class struggle against every design the exploiters and their smiling "public" servants have upon your lives, labor and national treasure! This is more possible now than it has been at any time since 1946-47. European workers trained in conscript armies have the experience to form up armed internationalist workers brigades and join the revolution. Workers of Europe and the USA the victory of the North African workers revolution depends to a large extent on our ability to arrest imperialism’s bloody death grip.

We say that in the epoch of imperialism and facing a deepening imperialist crisis, the interests of the capitalist imperialist class and its semi-colonial agents, can only be realized by deepening reaction and counter-revolution. Only a national revolution that fulfils the tasks of the permanent revolution can overturn the counter-revolution and open the way to socialism.

For the workers to live, imperialism must die!
Victory to the Libyan and Arab masses Defeat US/NATO in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Reignite the Palestinian revolution!
Victory to the popular uprisings in Yemen, Bahrain, Syria and Jordan!

Humanist Workers For Revolutionary Socialism (US) in Liaison Committee with The Communist Workers Group (NZ) April 7, 2011 Labor Donated

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