Year 2000 No. 56, March 27, 2000

Workers Must Not Allow Themselves to Fall Prey to Illusions

Workers' Daily Internet Edition : Article Index : Discuss

Workers Must Not Allow Themselves to Fall Prey to Illusions

The Possibility of a GM Bid for Land Rover

Warning against "Xenophobia"

Chinese, DPRK Foreign Ministers Hold Talks

DPRK Foreign Minister on lgor lvanov's visit to DPRK
A Guarantee for the Development of Friendship and Co-operation

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Workers Must Not Allow Themselves to Fall Prey to Illusions

One noticeable feature of the BMW sale of Rover is how the workers have time and time again been encouraged to fall prey to illusions about the capitalist system and what the future holds.

Thus, the government, together with the TUC leaders, had at various times, especially when a deal was struck to keep Longbridge open in November 1998 at the cost of 1,500 workers' jobs and the imposition of flexible working practices, encouraged the workers to believe that social partnership can banish fear of the future. It is also very convenient for the government to point the finger at BMW and say, "it lied", as though the only issue were the duplicity of the German monopoly and that the government was innocent of any suspicion that it should have known of the plans of BMW.

The government is one of the biggest champions of globalisation, provided only that it is rid of its excesses, while together with the TUC it has demanded the workers in Britain take up the programme of "partnership for progress". With such programmes the workers are encouraged to take up the path of Tony Blair's "Third Way". As the anti-social offensive is intensified, and the monopolies increase their attacks on the workers as global competition is further intensified, so the government further pushes that this "Third Way" is the answer. When the objective reality is revealing that the laws of capitalism are at work with a vengeance through globalisation, and the objective conditions are pointing towards the conclusion that these problems can only be solved by the workers striking out on the road of the transformation of society to socialism, the "Third Way" is the both the bourgeoisie's call to the workers to have the illusion that there is another possibility which is neither socialism nor conservatism, "Thatcherism", and also the programme itself that such governments of the "centre-left" are adopting to attempt to stamp out the class struggle.

In this situation, there are those in the working class movement who are calling on the workers to conciliate with the "Third Way", and to harbour illusions about the social system within which the giant monopolies such as BMW, Ford and others operate. It hardly matters whether the "shock" that these forces expressed at BMW's move to sell Rover – which was not only entirely predictable but the workers organised against such an eventuality – was the result of self-delusion or deliberately conciliating with the "Third Way" for self-serving reasons. The shock the workers and the community felt was real enough.

Therefore, to develop the ability to see through the promotion of such illusions is one essential lesson for the workers to learn in their struggle against the Rover sell-off and in defence of the right to a livelihood.

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The Possibility of a GM Bid for Land Rover

When Stephen Byers met with BMW chiefs in Munich, he was told that BMW denied that it has been in contact with the US car monopoly General Motors about a counterbid for Rover.

It then hardly comes as a surprise that last Friday, General Motors – the world's largest car maker – said that it might well challenge the £1.9 billion offer from its arch rival Ford for BMW’s Land Rover division.

"Land Rover is a great brand," GM Europe chief Mike Burns is quoted as saying, "and until the (Ford) transaction is a legal deal it is possible that GM could intervene."

Employing 12,000 people world-wide, Land Rover last year increased its sales 7.4% to 177,800 vehicles. Its key markets are Britain and the US. BMW had at first been expected to hang on to this division, but then began negotiations with Ford. Ford’s acquisition of Land Rover, including the Solihull assembly plant, would bring a further British brand to Ford, which already owns both Aston Martin and Jaguar.

The speculation that General Motors could make a counterbid for Land Rover casts new uncertainty over the future of the 10,000 strong workforce at the Solihull headquarters.

Meanwhile, further speculation is growing that Ford was itself considering an approach for BMW in the wake of the German company’s break-up of Rover. Newspaper reports claimed that the BMW majority shareholders, the Quandt family, is ready to accept a "strategic alliance" with the US monopoly. BMW has consistently denied reports that it is up for sale, but, as one Birmingham local paper put it, "in the same way it denied it was likely to sell off Rover cars".

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Warning against "Xenophobia"

It is reported that the Labour MP for Selly Oak in Birmingham, Dr Lynne Jones, warned against anti-German xenophobia in the wake of BMW’s ditching of Rover.

She said that a British-owned company would not have treated employees better. "It may well promote anti-German feeling and that would be completely unjustified. It is a multi-national company and we should remember that Rover was let down by BAe."

Dr Jones said multi-national British companies acted just as ruthlessly, had no qualms about moving production abroad and were less loyal to their native country than continental firms.

Ian Pearson, Labour MP for Dudley South, also said that the decision should be seen as a result of a boardroom struggle in a major company and said British ownership of the multi-national would have made little difference.

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Chinese, DPRK Foreign Ministers Hold Talks

Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan March 18 met with the visiting Foreign Minister of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Paek Nam Sun, and exchanged views on a range of issues. The DPRK Foreign Minister and his party were visiting the Lao People's Democratic Republic and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, as well as the People's Republic of China.

Tang Jiaxuan said the sound development of bilateral relations has contributed positively to peace, stability of the Korean Peninsula and the region.

Paek Nam Sun noted it is the strong will of the General Secretary of North Korea Workers' Party, Kim Jong Il's will, to further develop the traditional friendship between the two countries.

Tang Jiaxuan reiterated China's consistent support to the efforts by two sides in the Korean Peninsula to improve bilateral relations and realize their peaceful reunification.

On his part, Paek Nam Sun said his country supports the China's position expounded in the recently-released White Paper on the Taiwan issue.

While receiving the DPRK Foreign Minister and his party on March 20, the Chinese Premier, Zhu Rongji, said that the Communist Party of China and the government of China have attached great importance to the Sino-DPRK friendship and made positive and sincere efforts to consolidate and develop China-DPRK relations.

The two peoples of China and the DPRK have long-standing, unbreakable relations of friendship, he noted, adding that this traditional friendship is a precious treasure common to the two peoples as it was provided and developed by the leaders of the old generation of the two countries.

He congratulated the Korean people on their successes and wished them greater success in the future under the wise guidance of Kim Jong Il.

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A Guarantee for the Development of Friendship and Co-operation

Foreign Minister on lgor lvanov's visit to DPRK

Compiled from the Korean Central News Agency, and reprinted from The Pyongyang Times, February 19, Juche 89 (2000)

DPRK Foreign Minister Paek Nam Sun replied written queries put by home and foreign reporters as regards an official visit to the DPRK of his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov.

He said:

Russian Foreign Minister Ivanov paid an official visit to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea between February 9 and 10.

He conveyed the regards and personal letter from Acting President Putin and his own gift to Kim Jong Il, general secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, chairman of the DPRK National Defence Commission and supreme commander of the Korean People's Army.

I, upon authorisation, asked the Russian Foreign Minister to convey warm greetings of leader Kim Jong 11 to Acting President Putin.

President Kim Yong Nam of the Presidium of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly met the Russian Foreign Minister.

The foreign ministers of the DPRK and the Russian Federation had cordial and friendly talks and discussed the treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and co-operation between the two countries and signed the treaty.

At the talks both sides informed each other of the situation of their countries, exchanged in-depth views on improving the bilateral relations of friendship and co-operation and had an open-hearted discussion about a series of international issues of mutual concern.

The DPRK side reiterated the principled stand that primary and fundamental matters in defusing the tensions on the Korean peninsula and achieving the reunification of the country are the withdrawal of US troops and the removal of its military installations in south Korea and the conclusion of a peace accord between the DPRK and the US. It underlined them as critical issues related to lasting peace and stability on the peninsula, as well as peace and security in Russia, including the Far East.

It also said the "missile threat" from the DPRK clamoured about by the US and other hostile forces is, in essence, a trick to contain big countries, champions of multipolar world, under that pretext and maintain their absolute military upper hand over them. It made clear the principled stand that in order to protect the dignity of the nation the DPRK will never tolerate any move to discriminate against it in the issue of satellite and missile launch that belongs to the sovereignty of an independent state.

The Russian side expressed full support for the reunification of Korea that should be achieved on the three principles – independence, peaceful reunification and great national unity – laid down by President Kim II Sung and agreed upon by the north and south of Korea.

It also expressed its understanding of the DPRK's stand that for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula the north and south of Korea should be reunified and US troops, a stumbling block lying in the way of the reunification, must leave south Korea.

The foreign ministers of the two countries were deeply concerned about the arbitrary and high-handed practices of the US ignoring the UN Charter and the universally recognised international laws, the projected tripartite military alliance of the US, Japan and south Korea that jeopardises peace and security on the Korean peninsula, in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world and the US and Japan's efforts to set up the Theatre Missile Defence system.

Both sides shared the view that the moves to escalate the tensions are a source of undermining strategic balance, increasing the danger of war and putting spurs to a new arms race in Northeast Asia and the rest of the world and acknowledged the need for the countries concerned to cope with them with concerted efforts.

The recently-concluded bilateral treaty of friendship, good neighbourliness and co-operation provided a political and legal guarantee for promoting co-operation and exchange in all fields and improving the friendly and co-operative relations between the two countries.

It will be a substantial contribution to the friendship and co-operation between the peoples of the two countries sharing the boundary and to peace and security in Northeast Asia, the Asia-Pacific region and the rest of the world.

Both sides were pleased with the developing relations between the two countries and convinced that the bilateral relations would continue to develop on the principle o independence, equality and non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

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