New Challenges in the Balkans, in the Middle East, in Russia
Resolution of the 5th International Conference of the
Balkan Socialist Centre "Christian Rakovsky"
September 16-18, 2005
Clouds of new storms are gathering over the Balkans, a social desert left behind by a decade of destructive wars, imperialist aggression, and social disintegration after the collapse of the bureaucratic regimes of so called "actually existing socialism".
The Call for the 5th International Conference of the Balkan Socialist Centre "Christian Rakovsky" issued on May 2005 had insisted on the urgency and the reasons of this worsening situation: all the contradictions of the world crisis are again concentrated in this strategic region, exacerbated by three main factors a) the quagmire of American imperialism in occupied Iraq and the growing crisis in the entire Middle East, b) the new turmoil in the former Soviet space targeted to the Russian heartland and marked by the "orange" upturns sponsored by imperialism and, finally, c) the crisis in the European Union itself and its impact on the expectations both of rulers and ruled in the region.
These international factors are continuously interacting with the adverse local conditions where the impoverished masses have to fight for the day to day survival, entire populations are displaced and try to live in conditions of immigration, over-exploitation and xenophobia and the menace for a violent revival of ethnic strife is always present. The disintegration process which put brutally an end to the Federal Socialist Republic of Yugoslavia has not ended as we are in front of the declaration of the formal "independence" of Kosovo, a protectorate, in the same manner as Bosnia, occupied by imperialist troops and a new re-drafting of the borders of this martyred area is on the agenda. Further in the south and the east, in the vital area connecting the Balkans and the Middle East, the rivalry of the Greek and Turkish ruling classes for regional hegemony and the decades-long problem of divided Cyprus under occupation can explode in a confrontation of still unknown dimensions.
The permanent interest of imperialism for the Balkans is demonstrated by the continuing invasion of global capital, using particularly the services of Greek capitalism, to plunder the resources of the Peninsula, to exploit the cheap labor of the deprived and atomized population and to use the entire region as a vital base for their geopolitical plans, in the imperialist drive for the control of the entire Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union, crucial in the world antagonism for hegemony in the post Cold War chaotic world.
The urgency of the current situation is shown by the fact that in summer-autumn 2005, on the eve of major developments (on the future of Kosovo, of the entry of Bulgaria, Romania, and above all of Turkey in the EU, complicated by the unresolved Cyprus question, the sharpening crisis in Iraq and Palestine, in the Caucasus etc.), the imperialists organized in Greece and in Albania three special gatherings of their storm-troopers.
In Tirana, Albania, a 'Festival of Activism' was organized for all the US sponsored groups and NGOs that played a key role in the "orange" upturns in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and central Asia.
In Chania in Crete, Greece, where there is a major military installation of US imperialism that was crucial in all the wars in the Middle East, particularly in the last war against Iraq, a NATO /US sponsored summer camp was organized for "Atlantic-European Cooperation". This event goes hand with hand with the new doctrine announced by Donald Rumsfeld to transform NATO into the main military instrument "against international terrorism".
Last but not least, precisely during the days that our Balkan centre is holding its Conference, the main far right and fascist organizations from all over Europe have announced that they will hold their "Festival of Hate" to commemorate the armed bands of collaborators of the Nazis executed by the Greek communist guerillas of ELAS in Meligala at the end of the Occupation as well as to oppose the entry of Turkey in the EU.
All the imperialist-capitalist sources fuelling the fire in the Balkans are in intensified function. They should be identified, carefully analyzed and defeated by the mobilization of the workers and popular movements armed with a program and a plan of action. This is the duty of the internationalists gathered in the 5th International Conference of the "Rakovsky" Centre.
Iraq, Gaza, the Middle East in flames
Following the Call of last May, U.S. imperialism's quagmire in Iraq not only did not end but its crisis deepened and exacerbated. This quagmire does not only revive the specter of Vietnam, but in effect means the death spell for the entire neo-conservative "Project for a New American Century" to end capitalist America's decline and to establish its supremacy in the post Cold War world. The well know finance tycoon George Soros had rightly warned about the "Bubble of American Supremacy" promoted by the George W. Bush Administration after 9/11- an imperial political bubble to follow the burst of the U.S. "new economy" bubble in April 2000. The military over-extension of an over -indebted America living as a parasite on globalized financial markets is an Hubris that already is confronted with its Furies.
The tragic disaster in New Orleans in August 2005, a terrible shock of the dimensions of the Twin Towers blow in 2001, came in the middle of the quagmire in the Iraqi occupation and put in focus the reality of the social relations in the United States themselves as the highest point of a socio-economic system in historic decline and crisis. From this standpoint, US imperialism treats its own citizens, if they are deprived Afro-Americans and poor white, in no different way than it treats the Iraqi people: "Heavily armed paramilitary mercenaries from the Blackwater private security firm, infamous for their work in Iraq, are openly patrolling the streets of New Orleans [...] on contract with the department of Homeland Security and have given the authority to use lethal force". (kurtnimmo.com, 11 September 2005).
The permanent "war on terror", which involves also the declaration of a permanent "State of Emergency" against civil liberties in Europe and America, has turned into a quasi-civil war situation within the devastated Gulf States area of the United States. New Orleans, the unheard of catastrophe in the most prosperous and powerful capitalist superpower on the planet, shows the real face of the present and of the future of Capitalism.
The military defeat of the Saddam Hussein regime has been proven incomparably easier than controlling the resistance and the mass popular hatred generated by an Occupation that produced terrible sufferings, mass impoverishment, unemployment and destruction of every previous protection of existence, an imperialist neo-colonization project whose barbarism is symbolized by the Abu Ghraib inferno, the Auschwitz of our times. Despite imperialist barbarism, the Resistance of the Iraqi people continues undefeated. The establishment through fake elections under the fire of US tanks of the Quisling regime headed now by Talabani, traitor against his own Kurdish people, as well as the fake "Constitution" drafted by the US Embassy "specialists" in the headquarters of a Kurdish Party of collaborators are totally unable to diffuse the crisis and permit easily the withdrawal of some of the US occupation troops, promised for 2006.
The "democracy" exported by the Bush Administration and the so-called "Constitution" is an attempt to turn this oil rich country in to a neo-colonial paradise for US companies, while reducing it to the dismembered status of a loose "federation" of three impotent statelets drawn on ethnic-sectarian lines among the Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish components of former Iraq.
This attempt exacerbates all the existing contradictions, old and new, regional and social. It was the social contradictions and the mass impoverishment which divided the Shiite majority and pushed the followers of Muktada al Sadr to oppose the US imposed pseudo- Constitution and take again the path of resistance alongside the Sunni insurgency.
It is time to take stock of the Iraqi situation to draw lessons for the future. The heroic resistance of the people of Iraq against the occupation forces reached its summit during the simultaneous uprisings in Fallujah and a series of Shiite cities in April 2004. As a result of the Byzantine manoeuvring of the Al Sadr leadership, which has proved totally fruitless, the Shiite wing of the Resistance had almost disappeared from the scene, until the recent revival already mentioned. As for the Sunni wing, the isolation and destruction of Fallujah in October 2004 brought to an end the period of mass action and reduced the Resistance to armed strikes, in particular to suicide bombings. The Resistance is certainly undefeated and creates great alarm within the occupation forces. A war of attrition is continuing unabated. The imperialists are even discussing whether to leave after the constitution has been adopted and elections held, despite the crystal clear fact that Iraqi "security forces" are no match for the Resistance. It cannot be disregarded, however, that after two and a half years of resistance requiring immense sacrifice, the occupation forces continue to carry out their work to establish a client state. This is not to say that this project is not ridden with explosive contradictions, but simply to observe that the imperialist occupiers are still far from being defeated.
Of the many lessons to be drawn, two stand out as particularly important. The first has to do with the ambiguous position of the international anti-war movement vis-a-vis the Iraqi Resistance. The support extended to the Resistance was minimal during the twin uprisings in April 2004 or the Guernica-style massacre of the people of Fallujah in October 2004. Despite solemn declarations during international organising meetings, of which a striking example is the Beirut meeting in September 2004, i.e. just one month before the destruction of Fallujah, the international movement has simply stayed aloof towards the Resistance movement. A major task that has to be tackled is to create a strong current within the international anti-war movement that will fight for support to the Iraqi resistance not in words alone, but in deeds. This has to take the form of logistical support (collection and delivery of medical aid, food etc.) and support by any means necessary, which should adopt class methods such as mass action blocking of shipment of arms, supplies and troops for the occupiers and mass demonstrations against the warring governments, defence of shipments for the Resistance etc. This has nothing to do with supporting the politics of the various wings of the Resistance, but simply represents the internationalist duty of solidarity with movements that fight against imperialist occupation. Seen from this point of view, the problem does not lie exclusively with the international anti-war movement, but also with the movement in Iraq itself. Not only the historic Communist Party of Iraq, with its servile collaboration with the US occupation forces, but also the Workers' Communist Party of Iraq, trying to steer an equidistant course between the occupation forces and the various wings of the Resistance, are betraying the historic duty of Marxists to be at the forefront of the fight against imperialist occupiers.
Secondly, a major weakness of the Resistance derives from the narrow sectarian and bourgeois outlook of the leadership of the Resistance on both the Sunni and Shiite sides. The leaderships of both sides constantly manoeuvre and haggle with a view to come to a settlement with the forces of occupation and their collaborators. They have therefore been unable to put to good use the several instances of mass outburst against the occupier. Furthermore, and much more ominously, the sectarian divide between the Sunni and Shiite leaderships and the counter-position of the interests of the Arab majority and the historically oppressed Kurdish minority pose the danger of civil war and large-scale massacre as a distinct prospect in the medium term. This prospect is aggravated by the fact that the Kurds of Iraq are misled by the slavish collaborationist policies of the Barzani and Talabani leaderships. Overall, then, the potential created by the selfless fight of the workers and poor peasants of Iraq is thus wasted by ruling class leaderships. The Iraqi bourgeois constantly casts an anxious eye at the prospect of profitable activities that a US post-war settlement can offer him. The conclusion to be reached is that the fate of the working and poor people of Iraq hinges on the formation of a Marxist leadership of the Iraqi proletariat, one which can influence and, over time, take the helm of this heroic movement. Only an internationalist proletarian leadership can overcome the sectarian divide between Sunni and Shiite and, recognising the plight of the Kurds going back many decades, can win them over from the clutches of US imperialism and the present collaborationist leaderships, thus preparing the ground for a durable progressive anti-imperialist outcome. Given the failure of the existing organisations in Iraq that claim to be Marxist, one of the overriding tasks of the revolutionaries of the whole region is to assist fully in the founding of a real Marxist organisation of the Iraqi proletariat.
This Marxist organization has to have an international and internationalist outlook to unite all the oppressed masses, Arab, Kurdish, Shiite, Sunni etc. beyond the ethnic and religious divisions, into a common struggle for liberation from imperialism and for the establishment of a free, independent and socialist Iraq within a Socialist Federation of the Middle East.
The urgent task to build revolutionary Marxist organizations is in fact true for all the countries of the region. To disregard it is more than dangerous, given the resolution of the US administration to continue the policy of "permanent war" started in the aftermath of 9/11. The current crisis of the imperial 'Project for a New American Century' does not mean that it will be easily abandoned.
The nine months of the second term of Bush junior have been filled with omens of a new war to be waged before this term is out at the end of 2008. The earlier threats against Syria and Iran were followed by a US embargo on Syria. The killing of Hariri in what have remained shady circumstances has cleared the way for the US and Israel to mount a new political attack on the latter country. However, Syria is not the only target of the game unfolding in Lebanon, as Hezbollah is under strong pressure from the US to disarm or face the consequences. The case of Iran is even more serious. The election of the archconservative Mahmoud Ahmedinejad to Iran's presidency should not be interpreted in a simplistic manner. It should not be overlooked that the platform on which he was elected as well as his humble background (son of an ironmonger) are clear indications of the social unrest that is developing within the working class and the poorer sections of the population. The exclusive fixation of the so-called "reformist" wing of the mullahs on cultural and political opening up, implying indifference to the socio-economic plight of the masses, has fed into the strength of this populist wing of the establishment. On the other hand, there is no doubt that the US hawks are extremely happy about Ahmedinejad's election. They are now grinding their axes while awaiting the first signs of extremism from the new president. The real seat of power of course lies with Khamenei and his mullahs and there is little reason to expect any change in their policies. The recent declaration by Iran that it will carry on with its nuclear programme and the aggravation of the relations of the country with the EU are signs that crisis may be on the horizon. There should not be the least doubt that if the US had not found itself in a quagmire in Iraq, the war on Iran would already have started. However, if the US is able to manoeuvre its way through the Byzantine negotiations between the different Iraqi and Kurdish factions, have the new constitution adopted and successfully organise parliamentary elections, a new war on Iran will become a true possibility. If this is the case, the equivocation of the international anti-war movement vis-a-vis the Iraqi Resistance will prove to have been self-defeating even for its own purposes!
We stand firmly against any imperialist intervention, military and/or diplomatic in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. It is the peoples of these countries independently from and against the will of the imperialists and of their own ruling classes who should have the right to determine their own fate.
The political situation in Turkey is intimately linked to the US imperialist permanent war in Iraq and the whole Middle East through two channels: on the one hand, because the US wishes to make use of the military power of Turkey and its geographic location in its future war efforts, it applies pressure on Turkey, fearing a repetition of the rejection of the government motion in the Turkish parliament on March 1, 2003; on the other hand, Turkey constantly presses the US to attack the PKK forces stationed in the Kurdish region in the north of Iraq. In this context, the Turkish state has resolutely set on a course to definitively crush the Kurdish movement inside Turkey and is provoking chauvinism within the masses against the Kurds, which has resulted in repeated instances of mobs, usually led by the fascists, attempting to lynch Kurds in many towns and cities of Turkey. The international workers' movement faces the task of defending the Kurds of Turkey from the twin threats of state repression and lynch attempts, which in the future could lead to large-scale massacres of Kurds and/or civil war.
After the disengagement from the Gaza strip and four colonies in the north of Samara, it has been clear that far from being a first step toward the dismantling of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank as has been claimed by the Palestinian Authority (see Al-Quds, 2/9) and the Zionist left, the unilateral retreat of Sharon is an obvious step to continue occupying and oppressing the Palestinians. The evacuation of the Jewish settlers of Gaza does not represent but 3% of the total number of settlers, some 250,000 living in the West Bank, without counting the neighbourhoods of Jerusalem built after 1967 in the eastern part of the city.
Zionism preferred a "controlled" crisis before the situation got out of hand, organizing the retreat and preventing an exit similar to the one from Lebanon, with its tail between its legs. It is for this reason that Sharon decided to withdraw from Gaza, where 8,000 settlers and some thousands of soldiers had to confront 1,400,000 Palestinians.
As Bush said in a recent interview to Israeli television, "First of all, the previous system wasn't working. There was an intifada, there was death, there was killing. And if you notice, there's been a calm in the attacks." That is to say, the Zionist occupation arrived at a point where there was no way out, without being able to break the Palestinian resistance, without being able to provide a solution to Palestinian aspirations since it is a mortal enemy of those aspirations. The unilateral withdrawal is hence the result of the intifada, as has been noted by its leaders - among them Marwan Barghuti, imprisoned in the Israeli jail-, and not the result of the political manoeuvres of the Palestinian Authority (as has been claimed by Abu Mazen, alias Mahmoud Abbas).
On the other hand, the "disengagement" is the most serious step to finish with the intifada and, coupled with the creation of the future Palestinian Bantustans, discloses the intention to end with the implementation of the Right of Return of the refugees, a cornerstone of the Palestinian struggle. The demographic question argued by all the Zionist parties, in the sense that "we cannot continue to rule over an Arab majority in the future" because this will convert the "Jewish state" into a "democratic state", is evidence for not only the rotten essence of Zionism, but also the counter-revolutionary content of the slogan "two states for two peoples", supported by the Zionist left, the Stalinists and all sort of liberal "Trotskyists".
In addition, the "disengagement" is also an answer to the internal crisis of Zionist capitalism. The same day that the minister of finance, Benjamin Netanyahu, renounced his post because of the withdrawal, the devastating results of his policies and those of the last government were announced: 1,500,000 inhabitants of the state of Israel (22% of the total population), among which 560,000 Palestinians (i.e. 40% of those having Israeli "citizenship"), live under the poverty line. Israeli economy has managed, by this brutal attack against living standards, to go out from the recession, into which it had plunged as a result of the general crisis of the capitalism and of the Palestinian intifada. However, unemployment has reached 10% inside Israel and more than 50% in the territories of the Palestinian Authority. The "security" of Israel, demanded by Bush, is also the security of capitalist business in the region. On the other hand, the crisis has clearly placed the failure of Zionism in bringing Jews to Israel: of the 14 million Jews in the world, only 5 million live in the Zionist state and immigration has been drastically reduced. This year the figures of immigration are the lowest in decades (The New York Times, 14/8).
The results of the "disengagement" are already being seen. A double wall is being built around the Gaza strip and Israel continues to control all the life of its inhabitants. Israel continues maintaining the control of the exits and entrances to Gaza, including the border with Egypt (only 700 people per day are permitted to cross the border, 90% of Palestinians wishing to cross it are denied this). Furthermore, according to a report of the Palestinian technical group responsible for the "disengagement", Israel blocks the construction of the port at Gaza, and there is not a "free corridor" between Gaza and West Bank. Hunger and unemployment have grown to huge levels; on September 5, a demonstration of the unemployed was violently repressed by the Palestinian Authority in the refugee camp of Khan Yunis, in the south of the strip.
In the West Bank, the militants of the intifada are pursued and murdered as the recent case of the 5 members of Islamic Jihad, murdered in city of Tul Karem, shows. The Apartheid wall continues be built and the demonstrations against the wall are violently repressed with live ammunition and rubber coated bullets. The large settlements continue to grow at the cost of the Palestinian lands as the case of Maale Adumim plan indicates, where the construction of 3,500 new dwellings is going on through the expropriation of the lands of the Palestinian town of Al-Azariah. In the eastern part of Jerusalem, there are intentions to build a new Jewish neighbourhood on the land of the village of Silwam. Even inside the 1948 territory of the state of Israel the Palestinian population continues to be the target of a discriminatory policy in matter of property, citizenship and land, as reported by a detailed study of the Centre of Information "El-Carmel". The "disengagement" from Gaza contains as compensation the expropriation of lands in the Galilee and in the Negev of Palestinians and Bedouins for the settlers evacuated from "their homes".
In sum, the "disengagement" opens a new phase of resistance among the Palestinian masses enclosed in Gaza and the West Bank, and the Palestinians who live under the direct control of Israel. In response to the attempt to "separate" the Palestinians from the Jewish masses, and to build two physical and political ghettos, the strategy of the revolutionaries must unite the Palestinian masses, and join them with impoverished Jewish workers in the fight for a secular, democratic and socialist republic in the entire historic territory of Palestine.
The "orange (counter) revolutions" and Russia
The imperialist war drive in the Middle East and Central Asia is insolubly connected with the capitalist restoration process, the re-absorption of this vast area into the world market, as well as with the imperialist antagonisms for control of the former Soviet space and China, a central element in every imperialist strategy for world hegemony in the new chaotic post-1991 world landscape.
Through the "war on terror", U. S. imperialism managed, with the 2001aggression against Afghanistan, to establish for the first time military bases in the former Soviet Asia and with the 2003 war against Iraq made the attempt not only to establish conditions to redraw the political map of the Middle East, but also to advance its position in the Caucasus, in the main oil routes between West and East, and, above all, to the borders of Russia and China.
When their war effort started to be stalled in Iraq, and in a different form in Afghanistan as well, the imperialists tried to break the deadlock by rushing into a new offensive of "export of democracy" to their main strategic target: they manipulated popular grievances against the corrupt restorationist regimes and mobilized their galaxy of NGOs and other pro-imperialist groups on the ground to generate "orange revolutions" in Georgia, then, the most important one, in Ukraine, followed by similar attempts in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The unhidden goal was and is to surround the Russian heartland of the former Soviet Union and finish what imperialist analysts, (e.g. Peter Zeihan, Stratfor, August 9, 2005) call "the unfinished business in Russia".
The problem for the imperialists is that this operation has backfired, too. The local Islamic popular forces unleashed in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan were not controllable by Langley, Virginia, and the local restorationist dictatorships, after massacring the insurrectionists, frightened by and dissatisfied with their transatlantic partners, kicked out the US military base in Uzbekistan, established during the Afghanistan war. In Ukraine itself, the victorious government that came out of the "Orange revolution" has already disintegrated amidst new scandals of bureaucratic corruption, rivalries between clans and generalized popular disappointment due to appalling living conditions.
Under imperialist pressure, the Putin regime in the Kremlin tries to defend itself. Steps in that direction are the strengthening of the axis of the "Shanghai group", the common Russian-Chinese military exercises, the announcement by Gazprom of the construction of a new pipeline that would ship natural gas under the Baltic Sea directly to Germany bypassing Poland (which has been now transformed into a US base to foment an "orange" overthrow of the Lukashenko regime in Belarus). But at the same time the Putin regime tries to find an accommodation with imperialism both in Chechnya and the Caucasus as well as internationally. The Chinese road to capitalism, on the other hand, is vital to the balancing of the U.S. deficits and to the precarious economic upturn in East Asia and internationally. The social nature of the governing elites both in China and Russia and their orientation to integration to the world capitalist market undermine any effective defence against imperialist pressures. The only social force which through its mobilization on a genuinely anti-imperialist and socialist program can prevent social destitution, disintegration and neo-colonization in Russia and China is the Russian, Chinese and world working class.
History is not a sum of geopolitical games but a field of antagonistic social classes in conflict for an open, not predetermined future.
The unprecedented spontaneous mobilizations of hundred thousands Russian youth and pensioners in early 2005 against Putin's anti-popular measures against State subsidies in social services and for the "monetarization" of pensions represent the lightning before the coming social storm in the land of October. The fight has to be developed further for the expropriation of the new expropriators, of all the oligarchs and of the ruling corrupt State bureaucracy/Mafia complex for the re-appropriation of the stolen social wealth by the people under workers control and workers management, for the re-organization of society from bottom to top on new socialist bases without bureaucrats nor capitalists.
The European Union crisis and the Balkans
The fate of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union became central in the antagonism between the imperialist rivals in Europe and America to establish their role in an infamous "New World (dis)Order". The first bloody theatre of these antagonisms following the fall of the Berlin Wall and the implosion of the USSR was the Balkans and particularly former Yugoslavia. The new developments of the crisis in Eastern Europe, Russia, the Caucasus, the Middle East and the European Union itself throw their shadow again on the ruined but strategic Balkan Peninsula.
The entire historical cycle starting in 1991 with the Maastricht Treaty, the beginning of the wars and of the dismemberment of Yugoslavia appears to be closing now with the crisis of the entire EU project, as its was initiated in Maastricht, after the mass discontent and the crisis of legitimacy expressed in the referendum in France and Netherlands in 2005 for the draft of the EU Constitutional Treaty.
The project for European capitalist political, economic, monetary and military integration around the German-French axis and expansion to the East was the response of European imperialism to the collapse of the Soviet Union and of the eastern European bureaucratic regimes, out of which a re-united Germany, the third most powerful capitalist country in the world, re-emerged and put under its control Mitteleuropa. The disintegration of Yugoslavia on nationalist lines was first fomented by the imposition of the IMF-World Bank "structural adjustment programs" and then advanced by the intervention of German and European imperialists, finding willing supporters on the ground in the ruling governing nationalistic bureaucratic elites. Out of the first round of the new Balkan wars, internally divided imperialist Europe demonstrated its powerlessness and America reasserted its supremacy; the space was opened for U.S./NATO imperialist military intervention in Bosnia and later in Kosovo. American imperialism wants to have under its political- military control the Balkans and Eastern Europe, leaving the financial costs for the integration of these countries into the world capitalist market to be paid by a financially weakened European Union without a political-military unity.
The expansion of the EU to the East and in the Mediterranean celebrated in Athens in May 2004 was the prelude to its worst crisis. The Constitutional Treaty had to give legitimacy to this expansion as well as to the anti-popular measures against the living standards, wages, pension and social rights of European workers taken by the EU and the European governments to finance integration, expansion and monetary union with the launch of the Euro. The mass impoverishment and generalized discontent spread by these policies fuelled and detonated a series of social movements and mass conflicts in EU countries, particularly in France. The triumph of the 'no' vote last May against the will of the majority right wing and social democratic parties of the bourgeois parliamentary system flowed from this social discontent. It has a class basis in the working class and the most deprived strata and a left orientation; it was not mainly a nationalistic, far right, xenophobic or anti-Turkish vote as the promoters of the 'Yes' claimed. For this reason it produced a major crisis of legitimacy, exacerbating all the inter-European capitalist antagonisms, putting in question the entire EU project.
The crisis has serious implications particularly in the Balkans. Despite decisions already taken, a question mark is posed to the early accession in 2007 of Bulgaria and Romania in the EU, and much more for the accession of Turkey in the future. In general, both the rulers and the ruled in these countries had strong expectations to overcome the disastrous socio-economic situation and, in the case of Bulgaria and Romania, put an end to the enormous hardships of the transition to capitalism. Imperialism itself saw the integration of the Balkan and central/eastern European countries into the EU as the necessary framework to diffuse the crisis and ethnic strife in this volatile region. Now this European framework is strongly shaken. The European ruling classes, of course, have not abandoned their plans for a European Union that could challenge, at least as an economic entity, U.S. supremacy. Nevertheless, from now on, every effort to move in that direction will create even sharper crises, social conflicts, convulsions--and the necessity for the working class and for the impoverished popular masses to take the initiative for an alternative way out from the historic impasse. Together with new enormous dangers, a new phase for social struggle is opening, requiring a program and political strategy.
For a Plan of Action
The Balkan Socialist Centre "Christian Rakovsky" was founded in 2000, in the aftermath of the wars that devastated Yugoslavia and the Balkans, out of the necessity to fight against imperialism, chauvinism and war by reviving the internationalist tradition and project for a Balkan Socialist Federation.
In the new situation, new tasks arise, indissolubly connected with the urgent needs of the Balkan masses.
Nationalism and poverty have been the best means for neutralizing the resistance of the oppressed. First of all, poverty was very instrumental in spreading individualism and atomization. In such a situation it was and still is very hard to organize those who mostly suffered because of capitalist restoration. On the other hand, poverty excluded impoverished people from practical and effective exercise of political rights and freedoms, which became a mere formality. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a political technology which enables the ruling class and the political elite to gather almost all the citizens of the nation around a program of struggle against pseudo-enemies of the nation This manipulated national unity acts to spread the opinion and feeling that class differences no longer exist or that they are unimportant, which, in addition, creates no necessity for new social struggles inside the society because the whole society is united in struggle against common enemy. And during this struggle the ruling class uses the situation for increase of its social power.
Nationalism as ideology and as political technology still prevails in the Balkan countries. Although it is not as strong as it has been in the near past, it still has high influence on people. However, its decay is the result of terrible social contradictions, polarization between classes and economic failures of capitalist restoration. People have started to think more about daily social and economic problems and figured out that nationalist policy is a real cause of these problems. Real problems determine the everyday consciousness of ordinary people and that fact is an objective basis for gathering and strengthening the internationalist forces of the Left.
However, it will be impossible to achieve peace, freedom, social justice and national sovereignty in the Balkans without the creation of a wide united front of workers', intellectuals, youth etc., organizations and popular movements of the oppressed, including individual fighters. A revolutionary party, even if it becomes massive or strong, has to become part of a very wide social movement which will include, apart from the political organizations of the Left, militant trade unions and other social organizations of oppressed layers.
First of all, we have to raise the hope that successful struggle is possible. Our primary task is to organize the oppressed and to persuade them to accept revolutionaries as equal partners in common struggle. Most Balkan countries have been under the rule of Stalinist or semi-Stalinist bureaucracies. Real communists have to prove that they are genuine Marxist fighters dedicated to the struggle for workers' rights and workers' self-emancipation and not some bureaucrats nostalgic for their former privileges. Persuasion in possibility of struggle against imperialism will not come as a result of mere revolutionary and anti-imperialist propaganda. It is necessary for us to lead daily struggles of oppressed people and to show them that we can win.
There are three main axes of struggle:
A collective, organized struggle for survival. Fight even for the most elementary needs well as for more general issues determining the life or death of thousands and millions: for bread, jobs, wages, pensions, housing, education, health etc. Fight against all the foreign and local brigands who have stolen the social wealth and over-exploit the labouring population at the lowest cost. The struggle for workers control has a central importance. An all Balkan trade union Workers' Conference has to be carefully organized to discuss means and methods to fight against the barbaric conditions imposed by the invasion of multinational capital, while all the previous protection of social existence have been destroyed. An urgent plan to secure the living conditions of the population has to be drafted by workers and popular collectives. For the expropriation of the expropriators under workers control!
Against xenophobia, chauvinism, racism, anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination, particularly the oppression of women, including sexual exploitation and trafficking! Equal rights for immigrants and local workers.
Against imperialist intervention and war, for socialist unity in a Balkan Socialist Federation, in the framework of the United Socialist States of Europe, and for a Socialist Federation of the Middle East
The Balkan Socialist Centre "Christian Rakovsky" is an inseparable part of the world struggle for Socialism.
From the Balkans to Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond, imperialism obviously is engaged in a permanent war. It is necessary to fight for the victory of the oppressed nations and the military-political defeat of the imperialist aggressors in every case of aggression. But above all, what is needed is an international revolutionary struggle to overthrow the historical bases of the permanent war, the social system of declining capitalism, imperialism in crisis. Our slogan is Permanent Revolution against Permanent War!
We do not fight solely against the "excesses" of Capitalism. Only a struggle for the overthrow of Capitalism on a world scale, a struggle for the power of the working class supported by all the destitute masses can defeat the barbarism spread globally by imperialism and capitalism in crisis. To lead such a struggle to victory, we have to fight for the unity of the oppressed and the exploited and of their organizations for Socialism and in that struggle to build the revolutionary International of the proletariat and the oppressed.