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Date Thu, 08 Dec 2011 17:05:58 +0200

In December last year, a young Tunisian street vendor, driven to despair by corrupt and officious police, committed suicide by self­immolation. He also lit the social tinder that has been accumulating across North Africa and West Asia for over 30 years. Protests against his death escalated into a revolution which put a dictator to flight. After the unrest spread to Egypt and led to the downfall of Hosni Mubarak in February, tyrants from Morocco to Oman took fright as their subjects were emboldened to seek change for themselves as well. ---- Since the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia and Mubarak in Egypt, revolts and demonstrations have been widespread but only Muammar Gaddafi has fallen ­ and that by the murderous hand of Western imperialism rather than the movements that toppled his neighbours. The monarchies have circled the wagons, with Saudi Arabian intervention to crush a popular movement in Bahrain and the Gulf Co­Operation Council deciding to admit Morocco and Jordan.

These hereditary tyrants have decided that
they're not going anywhere ­ and especially
not into the 21st Century.

The popular uprisings sweeping North Africa
and West Asia were sparked by rapidly rising
food prices, but the grievances against the
sheiks and the presidents­for­life are of long
standing. Governments in the Arab world
have been marked by corruption, brutality
and incompetence for decades, so the people
have plenty to revolt against. The revolts,
however, have now run up against tyrants
who are determined to drown them in blood.
Murderous dictators in Libya and Yemen
forced the popular movements off course and
threaten the same in Syria. Some analysis is
therefore required.

The successful revolts in Tunisia and Egypt
have much in common with the 1830 and
1848 revolutions in France and the February
Revolution in Russia in 1917. Largely
spontaneous movements swept from power
governments which had long lost all
legitimacy, with the entire nation united
against them. Their feared apparatus of
repression vanished or deserted them.

Behind the joyous unity at the moment of
revolution, however, there was an
uncomfortable truth. The forces which came
together to bring down the tyrant did so for
completely opposite reasons.

The workers, the peasants and the urban poor who
revolted in Tunisia and Egypt did so because they
want and need fundamental change in their
societies. The bourgeoisies who mobilised against
the tyrants and the militaries who deserted them
acted in an attempt precisely to prevent such
fundamental change. Both Ben Ali and Mubarak
had become incitements to popular rage and the
oppressed classes in society were beginning to
mobilise in ways that threatened the entire
capitalist class. The tyrants had become more
trouble than they were worth and were sacrificed
in order to remove the issue that fuelled the
revolutionary movement.

In Yemen, Libya and Syria, the respective dictators
acted to ensure that at least some of their military
forces remained loyal and that they therefore
retained the ability to kill their opponents. In
doing so, they foreclosed the possibility of a
February 1917 moment in these countries. What
is posed is the necessity of exactly what has been
revealed in the aftermath of the revolutions in
Tunisia and Egypt ­ the class struggle.

Only the working class has the social power to
dislodge the violent dictators of the Arab world
without replacing them with one of the
imperialists' toadies and only the working class
has the organisational potential to pose an
alternative to both the dictators and the
bourgeoisies for whom they are front men.
Working class organisation has been spreading in
both Tunisia and Egypt, while the popular revolt in
Syria has been marked by major strikes in regional
cities. It is the growth and development of the
working class movement across the region that
provides the hope for real change. The peasants
and the urban poor can be pulled in behind the
working class if the workers are putting forward a
program that can solve all the pressing problems
of society ­ that is, if the workers are more radical,
rather than less.

Finally, it is impossible to discuss the Arab Spring
without mentioning the role of the US and other
Western imperialist countries. Caught on the back
foot as dictators they had long supported were
overthrown, the Western imperialists have modified
their stance somewhat. They now press for reform,
though not so consistently that the House of Saud
will be disturbed, nor the base for the US Fifth Fleet
in Bahrain be threatened. In Libya, NATO used
massive air power to install a cabal of quislings and
opportunists as a compliant replacement for Colonel
Gaddafi. Whether their actions are for or against
any given government in North Africa or West Asia,
however, their motives are the same ­ to protect their
power and keep the subject populations in line.

As already stated, it is the working class which
offers the only road forward. Only the workers can
sweep the tyrants, hereditary or not, from power and
build a new society. The Western imperialists, on
the other hand, are part of the problem rather than
part of the solution.



Workers Solidarity Network
Grassroots picket line supporters


The Labor Government's strategy for tackling
climate change is just about a textbook example
of how not to. In the process, it is delaying
meaningful action in Australia and making it
harder to isolate a handful of recalcitrant States in
the hands of the denial lobby. Given the threat to
the planet that runaway climate change embodies,
it demonstrates the insanity of capitalism. If a
system is not capable of dealing with the
environmental crises it generates and
guaranteeing the sustainability of society, it does
not deserve to endure.

Labor is proposing to institute a carbon tax, at a
rate of $23/tonne, on the production of
greenhouse gases. After three years, it will turn
into a fixed­cap emissions trading scheme. If an
emissions­intensive industry is exposed to exports
and imports, companies will receive free permits
for up to 94.5% of their emissions. Income tax
cuts and pension increases will compensate most
households for increased prices. It's
mathematically clever, and neo­classical
economists love it, but it's gone down like a lead
balloon with the public and generated extreme
excitement amongst listeners to talk­back radio.
So what's going on?

The key to the puzzle is the enthusiasm of the
economists. Tackling climate change by putting a
price on greenhouse emissions is a neo­liberal
approach and protects the existing distribution of
income and wealth in society. For the rich, the
costs are trivial and outweighed by the vista of a
new arena for financial speculation. The working
class, on the other hand, is dependent on the
adequacy and sustainability of the compensation.
And this is where the catch comes in.

If the carbon price achieves what it is designed to
and eliminates greenhouse emissions from the
Australian economy, government revenue from
the sale of emissions permits will cease and thus
the funding for the compensation will disappear.
If the compensation is eroded, the working class
will pay the bill for climate change mitigation. If
it is maintained, the Government will increase
taxes or cut social spending to bring its budget
back into balance. Either way, the workers lose.

What needs to be done? First of all, we need an
emergency transition to a 100% renewable
stationary energy system, along the lines
proposed by the Beyond Zero Emissions group.
Second, we need a huge expansion and
redevelopment of public transport in Australia, to
reduce reliance on truck transport and the private
car. Third, we need a major overhaul of urban
design so that cities and towns have higher
population densities, but with improved amenity
rather than worse living conditions.

Can capitalism deliver this? In theory, yes, since
it is possible to imagine how a Greens
government could, with determination, get it
through the Parliament. Unfortunately, this will
remain in the realm of the imagination, for the
existing parties and the Big Business lobbies are
committed to, at best, the Labor Government's
model and, at worst, the fraudulent scheme of the

To tackle climate change effectively means
defeating the existing capitalist class and its
political representatives. It will require a mass
movement of the working class and the use of the
most effective power that the workers have in
society, our ability to cut off the flow of profits to
the capitalists. We will have to seize the means of
production out of the hands of the capitalists in
order to abolish their power to block the
necessary actions.

We are talking about a revolution in order to save
the planet from runaway climate change and
prevent the destruction of technically advanced
society. Once we have the power to implement
the environmental policies that are scientifically
necessary, however, we will have the entire
political power in our hands. There will be no
reason to hand power back to the capitalists after
saving the planet and nothing to stop us
abolishing capitalism altogether.

The problem of climate change comes down,
therefore, to the class struggle. The Labor
Government's scheme is arousing the opposition
of those sections of capital which have the most
invested in the existing unsustainable economy
and they have both the motive and the means to
stir up the working class to oppose the attack on
their living standards that carbon pricing entails.
The only way to tackle the challenge of climate
change successfully is to build a movement of the
one force on Earth which can defeat the
capitalists, the working class. And when we do
defeat them, we will not build a "sustainable
capitalism", but libertarian communism.



The presence of clinic defenders keeps the anti­
abortionists away from the clinic, so that staff and
clients can enter and leave, and people can walk
the street, free from their harassment. Defending
the clinic is still an important part of the battle to
decriminalise abortion and make it freely
accessible, on demand, to all women.
Organised by Campaign for Women's
Reproductive Rights. For more information, or to
get involved in CWRR, contact Radical Women on
03 9388 0062.
Fourth Saturday every month
10.00 ­ 11.30am
118 Wellington Parade, East Melbourne


What is Anarchism?

Anarchism is a social philosophy
based upon the principles of liberty,
equality and solidarity. It is the
political dimension of a free society.

What is Communism?

Communism is the principle of "from
each according to their ability, to
each according to their need". It is the
economic dimension of a free society.

What is the Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group?

The MACG is an organisation of
class struggle revolutionary
anarchists who share political
positions, articulated in theory,
strategy and tactics.
We aim to encourage struggle by the
working class for its own interests
and, within that struggle, we aim to
advance Anarchist ideas as its
necessary philosophical basis.


Melbourne Anarchist Communist Group
P.O. Box 2120, Lygon St Nth, East Brunswick VIC 3057

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