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International Womens Day:
Women's Leading Role in Turning Things Around and Planting the Alternative
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The deaths of six more British soldiers in Afghanistan last week was the occasion for a renewed commitment by the main Westminster political parties to the continued military occupation of that country. Indeed the Prime Minister, David Cameron, went so far as to claim that military occupation was successfully leading towards the government’s declared aim of bringing stability to Afghanistan and allegedly safeguarding Britain’s security. He reiterated the Coalition government’s position that the bulk of British troops would pull out in 2014 but added that British governments would continue to interfere in Afghanistan’s internal affairs for the foreseeable future. The Coalition’s position amounts to a declaration that more crimes must be committed, more lives must be lost, military and other forms of intervention must be continued, and that warmongering and destabilisation of entire regions of the world will remain the preferred policy.
David Cameron also gave evidence regarding the government’s warmongering approach to Iran and Syria to the Liaison Committee of the House of Commons, a committee that comprises the chairs of parliamentary Select Committees, who are all representatives of the three main political parties. It was sometimes difficult to believe that sovereign countries were under discussion such was the colonialist nature of the questions put to the Prime Minister, as well as his answers. The discussion was never about whether it was appropriate for a British government to intervene in these two countries, only about what kind of intervention should occur and, in the case of Iran, how soon military intervention, or what was referred to as a military strike should take place.
In regard to Syria, for example, the Prime Minister made it clear that “Britain is not going to give up what we believe is right for Syria”, by which he meant regime change or as Cameron put it “we want to see a transition that means that Assad has got to go”. For the Prime Minister, “transition at the top” is preferable to “a revolution from the bottom” and he even began to outline what kind of political system his government wished to see in Syria. He admitted that even if the violence in Syria ceased, the Assad government still had to go. He was equally candid about the level of support currently being provided to those rebelling against the government of Syria and made it clear that even military support might be made available in the future if the Arab League established a more openly interventionist role. In short, the Prime Minister outlined a strategy that could be summed up as preparing the conditions for regime change and more open military intervention both through the UN and by strengthening the Syrian National Council. It is clear that at this stage the government is hoping that a new UN resolution might be agreed that would allow some form of allegedly “humanitarian” intervention in Syria that would be backed by military force.
The Prime Minister also reiterated the Coalition’s warmongering policy towards Iran. A policy of economic warfare and other forms of bullying backed up by the threat of a military strike which, as the Prime Minister admitted, has already been openly discussed by the US imperialist and Zionist Israel and was an approach with which his government concurred.
The discussions that take place in Parliament about armed and other forms of intervention in other sovereign states and which openly discuss invasions and “military" strikes against other countries must be condemned and in themselves can be considered crimes against the peace. Rather than upholding international law and maintaining peace and stability the Coalition is acting to plan and incite regional wars and instability which serve the geo-political and other interests of the big monopolies, especially their striving for control of scare resources and domination of west and central Asia. Far from being in the interests of Britain’s security as the warmongers claim, their plans create great dangers for the people of all countries. In these circumstances the anti-war movement must step up its activities, expose the criminal activity of the warmongers and organise so that an anti-war government can be established.
More than 250 delegates and activists attended the annual Stop the War Coalition conference in London on Saturday, March 3. It was characterised by both maturity and the mobilisation of new forces.
There were not a few motions condemning the Anglo-US interference and actions against Syria and Iran. This was the conference's strength in that so many of the organised groups came along with a common experience and common aims. What was most characteristic of the conference was the unity around the conviction that the sanctions, military threats and propaganda and the overt and covert operations were in fact acts of war preparations and regime change and not an alternative to war.
In other words, the overwhelming sentiment of the conference was to focus on the politics of the anti-war movement in opposition to the politics of the pro-war Westminster consensus. This was reflected in many contributions to the conference and will be a guideline for its renewed work. Paramount is the work to give coherence to the anti-war struggle and strengthen its character of being the basis for the work to bring into being an anti-war government.
Given this, it seemed quite out of place for certain hoodlum elements to engage in philistine and disruptive activity aimed at creating divisions and raising hysteria under the guise of taking a stand. Everyone knows that what is needed is calm consideration of what is what in order to facilitate discussion, and that it is this way of working that is in step with the times and assists in empowering people to take a stand.
The conference motions that were passed and the main content of the speeches given responded to the fact that Iran and Syria are one of the main focuses of the pro-war agenda of interference and aggression in furtherance of geo-political and imperialist aims.
The resolution from the South Tyneside Stop the War Coalition, “No Sanctions! No to War Preparations! Hands off Syria and Iran!” passed unanimously, focused on recognising that sanctions are a preparation for military action (and a form of covert war), not an alternative to military action, in Iran and Syria. The motion called for hands off Syria and Iran and firmly condemned the sanctions and covert operations and open operations against Syria and Iran as not an alternative to war but as preparations for regime change and war.
That such a warmongering economic and military blockade is being pursued and that such hostile disinformation and militarist propaganda is being broadcast by the US, Israel, the UK and EU powers against Iran is itself an act of war and a crime against peace. The motion called on the Stop the War Coalition to bring the British government to account for its part in these crimes against humanity.
In moving the motion, the proposer pointed out that since the motion was drafted, the Anglo-US powers had held a so-called “Friends of Syria” Conference in Tunisia. This was a conference without the Syrian government and supported the armed opposition which the US and Britain are actively organising as they did in Libya. By doing so, they are trying to stop the Syrian people themselves solving the question of what type of government Syria has, as is their right. Britain is part of the alliance which is preparing to get around the opposition of China and Russia by fostering even more confusion about creating “humanitarian corridors”. The Stop the War Coalition, the proposer said, calling on conference to support the motion, must continue with its stand as we are doing today and not let our people be fooled in the way this happened with Libya.
The afternoon focused on the campaigning priorities of the Coalition and building local groups. The resolution from the Stop the War Coalition officers’ group spoke of the necessity to step up the tempo, scale and imagination of the work, and to rebuild or set up new local groups.
A call was agreed for a national day of action on March 24 against an attack on Iran or Syria.
The theme, as the Party celebrated International Women's Day 2012 on March 8, was that women are in the front ranks of the fight for the alternative in every battle taking place across the country. In discussions organised by collectives of RCPB(ML), it was affirmed that women are defending public right over monopoly right, defending social programmes and public services, defending the rights of all and standing against intervention and war and represent the very best to which the British working class and people have given rise to. Similarly, women all over the world are in the forefront of the fight to provide a way forward for themselves, their families and peoples. Their role in the fields of political, economic, cultural and social rights, and against imperialist war is crucial to turn things around.
Across Britain, women's opposition to the neo-liberal anti-social offensive is part and parcel of the working class movement which is developing its own independent politics so as to resolve the crisis in a manner which favours the interests of the society, not the rich.
In the battles against the attacks on the working people, the women have stood second to none. Through their conscious participation in fighting for the alternative women are learning what more has to be done to turn the situation around in favour of the working class and people.
Women have been in the forefront of the fight against the Health and Social Care Bill which has exposed the reckless aim of the government to impose monopoly right over public right through this Bill. The government has been isolated to the extent that whatever its manoeuvre it continues to face the wrath of the people, with women at the forefront, to drop this Bill.
On the issue of pensions, it has been proposed that pensions be calculated on an average salary basis measured over a worker’s entire working life. This means that women taking time out from their jobs to have children earn far less over a life time and will be, as a consequence, materially worse off in their old age. Women are taking the centre stage and taking a very strong stand against these measures on the basis that all human beings must be guaranteed a decent pension in their old age.
In Scotland, Wales and Ireland, women are in the forefront of the struggle of the people to be allowed to determine their own future. The struggle of the Irish people to unite their country and end British colonial rule, the present struggle for the sovereignty of Scotland are all part of the alternative for which the working class is fighting.
In the anti-war movement, the women stand in the forefront of opposing the war preparations and acts of aggression and intervention against Syria and Iran which are disguised as “sanctions” and “humanitarian aid”. They continue the fight to withdraw from Afghanistan and the fight for an anti-war government in Britain.
In the course of the discussions, it was raised that only when confronted by a conscious, organised and determined Workers' Opposition can the global monopolies, the Con-Dem government and other levels of government be held to account. The women are part of the Britain-wide Workers’ Opposition to build the resistance and plant the alternative.
The issue had been raised as comrades and friends got together to celebrate the New Year that the question of the mobilisation of women, of ending the discrimination against them, is inseparably connected with the fight for the alternative and strategically with the emancipation of the working class. It was with this consciousness that the women organised in RCPB(ML) took on the task of preparing for International Women’s Day. The quality of the discussions for March 8 showed the way forward in taking this task to heart. The Party discussions recognised that the challenge for the coming year is that women bring the full weight of their numbers, determination and social consciousness into the class battle so as to be effective in challenging the dictate of the monopolies and of the government acting in their service. The discussions appraised highly all women fighting for emancipation on the world scale and hailed the increasing participation of women in political affairs.
As always, it was pointed out in the discussions, RCPB(ML) is giving the call for advanced women workers to join the Party. Along with all their fellow-workers, they are seeking the answer to the question of what kind of Party. This is a burning question for the communist and workers’ movement, and it becomes ever more crucial as the crisis of working class representation deepens and the call for the democratic renewal of the political process and institutions is rallying the advanced forces to its side. In this too, the women are militating second to none.
As the producers of the wealth society depends on and as those who bring into being and raise the next generation of society, women stake their claim on the wealth they produce and demand it be used to fund the social programmes which are required to provide the rights of all with a guarantee. This includes the right to health care, the care and security of pensioners, childcare, education and recreation for children and youth, and all the things human beings require to flourish.
Women's leading role in all the struggles taking place today is part of a continuous line of march of women's conscious participation in all the important battles since the first International Women's Day in 1911. As women celebrate International Women's Day 2012 they affirm this essence of the day as a celebration of women's organisation and resistance as a contingent in the fight for a society of socialised humanity in which the rights of all are recognised and guaranteed.
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