A rally was held by the POID (Independent and Democratic Workers Party) on the 15th of June in Paris. Dominique Ferré introduced the party’s internationalist struggle to the workers and young people present at the rally.
Dear friends, dear comrades,
I am convinced that all of us gathered here today – all of us who are fighting the Macron government’s capitalistic politics, all of us who fight for labour rights and democracy – all of us agree that our rally should send our salute to the general strike that yesterday assembled 45 million workers in Brazil, a general strike that unites all the trade union confederations of Brazil, for the withdrawal of the retirement pension reform and for an end to the budget cuts in public education. 45 million workers, united with their trade union confederations, said: Out with the retirement reform, Out with Bolsonaro, who was fraudulently elected, Out with the International Monetary Fund’s plans!
I am equally convinced that we all agree for our rally to salute the astounding movement of hundreds of thousands of Chinese workers in Hong Kong who have been demonstrating for a week now against the antidemocratic law concocted by the bureaucrats of Beijing hand-in-hand with the capitalists of Hong Kong, in an attempt to terrorise and repress those who organise strikes or who organise independent trade unions.
And of course we all agree that our rally should send its fraternal salute to the formidable uprising of the Algerian people who, yesterday – for the 17th Friday in a row – came out into the streets all over Algeria in the millions, from the north to the south and the east to the west, to say “system, clear out” – a slogan to which, yesterday, was added “sovereignty of the people”. Within this general movement for the system to clear out, there is the proper movement of the working class, which, through hundreds of strikes and the battle to reclaim the trade unions, is seeking to affirm a decisive stance in this struggle.
Our gathering must salute our brothers and sisters in Brazil, in Algeria and in China, but it is not out of simple solidarity. The POID was created from the beginning under the aegis of the combat for the Workers International, and barely was it created than it threw all its force into support for the labour activists of India, for the success of the “World Conference against War, Exploitation and Precarious Labour” which was held in Mumbai in November 2016, and created the International Workers Committee against War and Exploitation and for the Workers International. (Note that the activists from Pakistan had not been able to attend that conference, due to the politics of the governments’ maintaining the threat of war between the two countries).
And there is one fundamental reason for this combat, a reason that was shared 150 years ago at the creation of the labour movement by all of the currents and tendencies that make it up: that while it is absolutely indisputable that the class struggle takes on different forms from one country to another, due to history and to social conditions, it is also just as indisputable that – whatever the country – this class struggle has the same international content, i.e., the struggle between the exploited and their exploiters, in a global capitalist system, which makes it so that there is only one single working class that knows no borders.
Whether that working class works and is exploited in the “special economic zones” of China, or builds independent trade unions in the automobile factories of Brazil, or revolts in the industrial zones of Algeria, or strikes in the Public Finance centres and hospitals in France, there is one single international working class.
For the POID, fighting for the Workers International means implementing the most elementary of the principles that the international working class was built upon over 150 years ago.
The first of these principles is worker solidarity. It is solidarity in any and all circumstances between the exploited – no matter their nationality, the colour of their skin, their religion or their political opinions; it is the solidarity of all the exploited against the exploiters. And this solidarity, of course, is particularly vital when workers and activists find themselves facing repression. That is why the POID has fully associated itself, for over a year now, with the combat in Brazil for the release of Lula, former president of the PT (Workers Party) who, after a rigged trial a little more than a year ago, was jailed for one and only one reason: to prevent the Workers Party – which had named him candidate to stand in the October 2018 presidential elections – from being able to decide who would represent it.
Of course, we know that much could be said about what the PT and Lula did when they were running Brazil during twelve years. A lot could be said on what millions and millions of Brazilian workers and peasants expected from the Workers Party, in terms of land reform, a stop to privatisations and a stop to the paying of the debt. But our position is that it is up to the Brazilian workers, and them alone, to decide who should represent them, to decide which party represents them and which party doesn’t represent them – and it is certainly not up to Trump or Bolsonaro, to Macron or the IMF to do so. That is why the POID is unconditionally for the release of Lula.
Likewise the POID has been, for months now, calling unconditionally for the release of all the political prisoners in Algeria, and I did indeed say all of them, without privileging any one of them over another. We call for the release of all the prisoners, without considering that some might be more emblematic than others. Because, as was said in Algiers yesterday, in front of thousands of demonstrators, by Salah Dabouz, the lawyer of Kamel Eddine Fekhar – who died in jail on 28 May after more than 50 days of a hunger strike: “Democratic freedoms are not to be divided up”. The POID believes this to be just, and it calls for the release of all the political prisoners jailed in Algeria, in particular the young Hadj Ghermoul, who was imprisoned last January because he was perhaps one of the first to hold up a sign saying “No to a 5th term”, and for the release of all the prisoners in Ghardaïa, including Mohammed Baba Nejar, an FFS activist jailed in 2005 and who has been rotting there ever since, and of course for the release of Workers Party general secretary Louisa Hanoune, even though this does not in any case mean we support her politics.
For us, fighting for the Workers International is the fight to respect a democratic principle that today only the working class can uphold, the right of peoples to self-determination. Oh, yes, of course, many leftwing leaders do assert that they share this position. Unfortunately, this sharing can bend to accommodate.
For the POID, which fights for the Workers International, fighting for the right of peoples to self-determination means in particular fighting for the right of the Catalan people to free themselves from the Spanish monarchy inherited from Franco’s dictatorship, the right of the Catalan people to create its Catalan Republic, which will open the way to the free union of the republics of Spain.
Fighting for the right of peoples to self-determination obviously means fighting for the right of the people of Venezuela to freely decide their own destiny, free from any interference by the United States. And its is of course the recognition of the Palestinian people’s national rights, their right to their land, their nation and the right of return for all the refugees.
Fighting for the right of peoples to self-determination, for us in France, means fighting for the withdrawal of all French troops from all the countries where they intervene, and particularly fighting for the withdrawal of the French troops that Mr Hollande sent to Mali in 2012 and who, today, are complicit in the massacring of villagers that has multiplied in these past days.
Fighting for the right of peoples to self-determination means of course fighting for the right of the Algerian people to freely decide their own destiny, i.e., fighting for the right of the Algerian people to prevent any so-called solution that would aim at keeping the system in place – i.e., fighting for the right of the Algerian people to freely designate their own representatives in a sovereign constituent assembly, which will freely decide on the form and content of the democracy and of the new Algerian that millions of Algerians aspire to.
But the condition for this – and I say this because we are holding our rally in France – is that we in France fight against all the Macron government attempts at interference in Algerian affairs, and particularly over these last days, against the attempt by the French multinational Total to get
its hands on Algerian oil. Yes, we affirm here and now: Algerian gas and oil belongs to the Algerian people. They won that right at the cost of a million and a half martyrs in 1962.
Fighting for the right of peoples to self-determination means opposing the American march to war against Iran. Incidents have multiplied in the Persian Gulf, and Trump’s provocations have multiplied, supported by the European Union and Macon. They dare invoke the nature of the Iranian regime to justify their march to war! And they finance the Saudi monarchy and its war of extermination in Yemen?! They roll out the red carpet for Netanyahu and Bolsonaro?! They dare to claim that it is Iranian military provocation that justifies the march to war! And, a few years ago, they faked the lie of “weapons of mass destruction” to justify the invasion and destruction of Iraq.
So we, the POID, along with our U.S. labour activist comrades, affirm: “Hands off Iran! No to any war against Iran!” In France, in the United States, let us requisition the military budgets’ billions to open schools, to build hospitals, to give real work with real wages to young people.
That, for us, is what fighting for the Workers International means. And, in conclusion, I will say that the Workers International is what we use to counter the European Union of bankers, of bosses and the European Commissions with their austerity plans.
Yes, last 11 May there were 600 of us in Strasbourg and, if I may say, in Strasbourg we were at home, alongside our comrade activists from Turkey who are fighting against the Erdogan regime. We were at home alongside activists from Hungary, where the workers went on strike and won an 18% pay rise in the multinational factories. We were at home alongside the British activists who demand that the British people’s June 2016 vote to leave the European Union be respected. We were at home alongside the German activists, and we are at home in the European Liaison Committee that we created in Strasbourg, against Privatisations, against Deregulation and against Precarious Labour. So yes, as the song says “Tomorrow, the International will be the human race” and it is now and all together that we are going to build this International Workers Party.