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Respond to Mass Layoffs and Censorship with Communism, Not Populism

January 31 — Buenos Aires erupted with mass protests after Argentina’s newly-elected President Mauricio Macri fired tens of thousands of government workers.  That included the popular morning radio host Victor Hugo Morales.  
Macri, the conservative mayor of Buenos Aires, narrowly defeated  Buenos Aires Province Governor Daniel Scioli, endorsed by ex-president Cristina Kirchner, in Argentina’s first national run-off election.
Both rival political coalitions represent factions of Argentina’s capitalist class.  Both rely on an ideology of populism to win the support of the masses. 
Historically—not just in Argentina—populism mobilizes masses around their disgust with “insider” politicians.  Its program is putting “outsider” politicians on the “inside” to run the capitalist institutions that oppress the masses.
The working-class masses will not benefit from the “Right” populism of Macri or of Trump in the US.   They will not be liberated from wage slavery by the “Left” populism of the Kirchners or Bernie Sanders in the US.
Only by mobilizing for communism can the masses win and build a society that meets our needs.
Macri’s coalition promised “change.” In his first month of office he also tripled electricity rates.  He further devalued the currency, cutting workers’ purchasing power in half.  He is reinstating a military draft.
Macri’s campaign split the working class.  He attacked government workers as “lazy” while calling on private enterprises to follow his lead with mass layoffs. 
His coalition represents Argentinian capitalists with closer ties to the US and Europe.  He plans to back off from Kirchner’s alliances with Venezuela, Iran, China and Russia.  However, he will probably continue to strengthen relations between Argentina and Brazil.  The growing integration of South America through Mercosur and Unasur (Union of South American Nations) will continue.   

Populism:  Cover for Fascism or Reformist Diversion
Argentinian politics revolves around personalities, not ideologies:  Macrismo, Kirchnerismo and especially Peronismo.  Juan Peron Argentina’s president from 1946-1955 and 1973-1974, and his second wife Eva Duarte are cult figures. 
Pro-US military dictatorships ruled Argentina from 1955-1973 and during the “dirty war” (1976-1983).  Tens of thousands were imprisoned in concentration camps, tortured and murdered.  Even today, many see Peronism as the “outsider” alternative to imperialist domination.
But Juan Peron himself admired Mussolini.  When exiled from Argentina he took refuge in Franco’s fascist Spain.
Peronist populism is firmly rooted in capitalism.  “Left” Peronists today consider their program “Keynesian.”  They admire US President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 
During the 12 years of Presidents Nestor and Cristina Kirchner, the masses received many free educational and cultural opportunities.  But about 30% of Buenos Aires residents lived below the official poverty line in 2015.  An inflation rate near 40% was increasingly making it impossible for workers to live.   And even “Left” Peronists have no plans whatsoever to end poverty, much less class society and exploitation.
Only communism can do that by abolishing the money, markets and wage slavery of capitalist society.  That means winning the masses to fight a revolution in their own interests.  They must be motivated by a clear vision of communist society.
“That would take too long,” replied an Argentinian activist.  “It’s better to win state power” through elections. 
But one of the main lessons of the Paris Commune of 1871 was that the institutions of capitalist state power, whoever runs them, can never serve the masses.  They must be destroyed by revolution.  That’s the only realistic plan, however long it takes.
Communist workers’ power must take a completely different form: a mass communist party and its Red Army.  We must draw the masses into active participation in making and carrying out all decisions directly.  By joining the International Communist Workers’ Party today you can help to begin the process of developing this new political formation.
Industrial workers are about a quarter of Argentina’s labor force.  The trade unions are universally recognized as “corrupt.”  They enrich themselves and suppress workers’ struggles instead of organizing class war because they support capitalism. 
We must use every opportunity to win industrial workers and soldiers in Argentina and everywhere to take the lead in mobilizing the masses for communism.


Communist Revolution Demands Unity of Muslim and Non-Muslim Workers

LOS ANGELES— In the last issue of Red Flag, you said that Muslims are our brothers and sisters. How can you say that when they are killing us?” asked an MTA bus operator at Division 8.
He was referring to the following statement in Red Flag (Vol. 6 #22): “Many workers and youth are responding to the bosses’ racist fear campaign by demonstrating anti-racist solidarity with their Muslim brothers and sisters.”
This operator has been a loyal Red Flag reader for years, always taking an extra one for a friend. It therefore surprised the Red Flag distributor that he should ask such question.
However, after discussing it with other comrades, we agreed that he was both right and wrong! But he was more wrong than right.
He was wrong in saying “They [all Muslims] are killing us.”  Not all Muslims are killing us—people in the US.
Those attacking workers everywhere are the capitalists—like the US-backed rulers of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates —who fund, train and arm ISIS, Al Qaeda, the Taliban, etc.
These terrorists and their capitalist masters are but a very tiny part of the world’s more than 2.1 billion Muslims. They represent the less than 1% of Muslims who are attacking workers. Most of their victims are actually Muslims.
It is important to keep this in mind because the main reason the US and European rulers are building fear and racism against all Muslims is to divide us from and pit us against this huge and important sector of the international working class. This racist hysteria has already led to many attacks on Muslim workers and their families in Europe and the US, including the racist attack on the MTA Sikh driver (see last issue of Red Flag).
The operator was right that not all Muslims are our brothers and sisters. The vast majority, however, are members of the working-class masses and are our class brothers and sisters.
Self-critically, we did not make this class distinction clear enough in the article. The word “Muslim” does not define a class. It describes people of a certain religion. As such, Muslims can be rich or poor; exploiters or exploited; oppressors or oppressed. In short, this sector is divided into a handful of capitalists and their lackeys, on one side, and the masses of workers, on the other.
Obviously, the ayatollah rulers of Iran are not friends of the working class. Neither are the Saudi princes or Muslim rulers or Muslim capitalists of any country. Nor are those who, although from the workers’ ranks, are loyal servants of the capitalists-imperialists: the police, high ranking military officers and government officials, treacherous union hacks, higher level mangers and supervisors, etc.
Let’s also keep in mind that the turmoil in the Middle East, where these terrorists find fertile ground, is a product of the capitalists-imperialists’ dogfight to control this oil-rich region for world supremacy.
These capitalists-imperialists–US, China, Russia, England, Germany, France, Italy, India and Japan–are the biggest terrorists in history. They have already murdered, maimed, left homeless or made refugees of millions of Middle Eastern workers and youth. Thousands of others have died fighting in these imperialists’ wars. Thousands more – like US veterans of those wars - commit suicide at home for lack of proper mental health and other medical care.
These butchers’ rivalry will lead to even bigger and more lethal wars, including World War III. The anti-Muslim hysteria in Europe, pushed in the US by the likes of Trump, is to win workers and youth to support and die for these imperialists’ profits and empire. We workers have no dog in these bosses’ fight. Our task is to unite to be their and their racist system’s gravediggers.
We need to turn the rulers’ wars into class wars to build a communist world. It is an impossible task if non-Muslim workers don’t unite with their Muslim working-class brothers and sisters who account for 28% of the world’s population.   
It’s good that our article provoked the driver to raise this issue with a comrade. We thank him for his criticism and invite him and all Red Flag readers to meet with us to more deeply discuss these ideas and other ideas in order to better advance the struggle for communism.


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