from persecuted to persecutors: the lessons of zionism

by João Bernardo

Reflecting on the recent Israeli aggression against the Mavi Marmara and the feckless impunity with which this country spreads terror in its region, I thought that most commentaries limited themselves to the obvious but fell short of the most important conclusion.

members of the Irgun terrorist group

Everyone knows that Jews were the victims of great persecution, the Nazis making anti-semitism one of their main ideological bases. From the first day of his regime Hitler persecuted Jews and during the Second World War attempted to exterminate them. It is also widely known that the  State of Israel inflicts suffering on the Palestinians, dispossessing them and subjecting them to a system of terror beyond even what the South African racists could achieve in the Apartheid era. Between these two moments: Jews as victims and Israel as aggressor, there is not a contradiction but rather a logical nexus, which this article seeks to explain.

Continue reading “from persecuted to persecutors: the lessons of zionism”

the social fabric of stalinism

Second in a series ‘Laurat in wonderland’ by João Bernardo: see here for part 1

When free expression and open organisation was allowed – before February 1922 when Lenin authorised the political police to operate within the Communist Party itself – the leftist opposition never ceased to criticise the economic system then being established. In 1920 and 1921 the Workers’ Opposition attacked the power the old management had won back in the Soviet economy and the control political organs exercised on workplace union organisation: yet this tendency was closer to the union bureaucracy than it was to the rank-and-file workers.

Within the Communist Party the rank-and-file perspective was expressed above all by the Democratic Centralist group, formed in 1919. Contrary to what one might imagine, the name of this group was not at all a reference to the Leninist form of internal party regime, bur rather the means of economic organisation. Members of this faction admitted the necessity of central planning but considered that this must be premised on democratic bases, characterised by the management of enterprises by workers’ committees: and not Lenin and Trotsky’s system of management by a technocracy of specialists, including former administrators and even the old factory owners. Continue reading “the social fabric of stalinism”

el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia

by Bruno Miranda

Even if in the context of the 1952 revolution the centrality of mining workers was indisputable, today the shape of the working class has changed. It is true that manufacturing workers remain an important part of the Bolivian working class, but the casualisation of labour relations and informal economy have created a large majority of the working class facing unfavourable conditions for organising.

In Bolivia there have been at least seven important uprisings in the last decade, based on the struggle over the control of natural resources [1]. Among these it is worth mentioning the battle normally called the “Gas War” of September-October 2003, and the “Second Water War” in May-June 2005, both of them in the city of El Alto. Continue reading “el alto, bastion of social struggles in bolivia”

the early russian revolution: laurat in wonderland

by João Bernardo
Passa Palavra

After the fall of the Berlin Wall – which did not ‘fall’, but rather was cut to bits and sold at graffiti and souvenir auctions – journalists and even many historians promoted the illusion that  the only critiques of the Soviet system were elaborated by the social-democratic left and the anti-communist right. Continue reading “the early russian revolution: laurat in wonderland”

unemployment, salaried work and “the right to a job”

Ricardo Noronha explores the limitations of the objective of a full employment economy

Italian mural: "no work, guaranteed income and all production automated"

“Holloway against the right to work”. It was under this heading that Francisco Louca published an article in the online journal Vírus, critiquing in a polemical tone an intervention by John Holloway at the International Colloquy “May ’68: Politics, Theory and History” which took place at the Franco-Portuguese Institute in April 2008. The notes which follow look to contextualise Louca’s article in the wider politics of the party he leads – the Bloco de Esquerda [‘Left Bloc’, a reformist party in Portugal established by Trotskyist and Maoist groups] – and a political conception common to the ‘anti-capitalist’ or ‘anti-neoliberal’ parliamentary left in Europe. We will avoid using the terms in which Holloway puts forward his views and those Louca uses to critique them. For the purposes of what interests us, we will limit ourselves to explaining their analyses. Continue reading “unemployment, salaried work and “the right to a job””

border controls: we are all “illegals”!

by Ricardo Noronha

From the Moroccan coast to Poland, from Cyprus to The Canaries, every day thousands of people attempt to abandon their countries of origin and reach the European continent. The whole way along their route they are confronted with the same repressive strategy: the same barriers and persecution, the same racism and violence.

One might think that these people who cross oceans, deserts and mountains, hostile territories and foreign countries, are victims of misunderstandings or police excesses: but this is not the case. The immigrants who try and reach Europe are held back by practices, objectives and measures ingrained at the very heart of European institutions and approved by individuals elected by European citizens. They are confronted with a type of inhumane violence and repression which we would tend to associate with dictatorial states, but all this has been decided “democratically”. Continue reading “border controls: we are all “illegals”!”

free cesare battisti!

On 18th November the Brazilian Supreme Court announced its intention to extradite the Italian leftist militant Cesare Battisti, a former member of Armed Proletarians for Communism. Below we publish an open letter he wrote to Brazil’s President Lula, translated by Carlos Ferrão.

“Thirty years can change a lot of things in somebody’s life, and sometimes those years can be the whole life itself”.
(The Rebel – Albert Camus) Continue reading “free cesare battisti!”

the shipwrecked (part IV): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

The ideological breakdown of the left and extreme left at the time cannot be explained if we forget the fate of the hundreds of thousands of ‘shipwrecked’. Last in a series by João Bernardo: see here for parts one, two and three. Translated by Carlos Ferrão.


As odd as it may seem, after all I have discussed in the previous articles, in the last days of the Second World War there were still those who dreamed of revolution. Continue reading “the shipwrecked (part IV): anti-fascist refugees during world war II”

the shipwrecked (part III): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

“Save one million Jews! And to do what with them? Where will we put them?” Third in a series by João Bernardo: see here for parts one and two.


I mentioned in the previous article that, during the time of the German-Soviet Pact, the Polish Jews that managed to escape from the Nazi-occupied areas of Poland to the areas occupied by the Red Army were deported or put in concentration camps, a sad fate, but at least they were accepted and nobody ever sent them back across the border. Far more sinister was the UK’s and the USA’s attitude. Continue reading “the shipwrecked (part III): anti-fascist refugees during world war II”

the shipwrecked (part II): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

Knowing how to fight one enemy means knowing how to fight another: this sentiment underlay the Stalinist politburo’s attitude towards refugees from the fascist countries. Second in  a series by João Bernardo: see here for part one.


Why did those who fled from fascism, only to end up in the democratic countries’ prisons, not seek exile in the Soviet Union? Moreover, what happened to the people who did go to there, the country of the October revolution and the socialist fatherland? Continue reading “the shipwrecked (part II): anti-fascist refugees during world war II”

the british direct action movement of the 1990s: part I

The 30th November of this year will mark 10 years since the protests at the WTO summit in Seattle. The so-called direct action movement in Britain had a significant role in the cycle of protests which found its high point in Seattle. Here we tell its story. By Leo Vinicius.


In the late 1990s large street demonstrations and attempted blockades of summits of the World Trade Organisation, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, G8, and other organisations managing global capital, won significant TV news coverage and ensured that these meetings would have to be protected by enormous police contingents and removed to remote locations. In a general sense we saw the contours of a new movement opposed to the management organisations of so-called ‘globalisation’. The blockade of the first day of the WTO ministers’ meeting on 30th November 1999 in Seattle was the moment when this movement attained worldwide visibility, in the mainstream media and principally on TV, coming to be known in these same media as ‘anti-globalisation’. In truth it was a ‘movement of movements’ or further still a confluence of movements. The point of identification bringing together was a common recognition of the systemic organisations to which they were opposed  (although for some of them this system appeared as ‘capitalism’ for others ‘neo-liberalism’ and so on). Continue reading “the british direct action movement of the 1990s: part I”

the shipwrecked (part I): anti-fascist refugees during world war II

The refugees who tried to save themselves by crossing the frontiers: hated by the fascists for being communists, hated by the Nazis for being Jews, and hated by the democracies for their being anti-capitalists. By João Bernardo.


In the early days of July 1940, off the Irish coast, a German submarine attacked and sank a ship carrying around 1200 civilian passengers. More than half died, not least because the ship did not have enough lifeboats. Continue reading “the shipwrecked (part I): anti-fascist refugees during world war II”

portugal’s cultural revolution: 35 years on

In April 1974 the fascist regime in Portugal was overthrown by the Armed Forces Movement (MFA), with the ensuing collapse of the old state apparatus unleashing two years of militant working-class struggle, with sharp antagonisms even within the army. The new organs of collective democracy established in towns, villages, factories and other workplaces during this ‘Carnation Revolution’ pointed to the possibility of radically reorganising society — but the workers’ movement was eventually subdued by state-socialist parties and their allies among the army generals. This Passa Palavra article looks at the efforts of those who tried to combine radical culture with participatory democracy.

by Manuela de Freitas

The army vans went out from Lisbon, carrying MFA soldiers and the actors. Upon arrival in each city they set up shop for one or two weeks: each day they went to towns and villages in the area where they were based, setting up the stage and preparing the seating for the audience. They went out in the villages calling on people – at home, at the cafés, in the streets – talking with them and getting them to come to that evening’s meeting. These ‘stars’ never knew for sure what attracted the people’s attention: the protagonists of the shows, or the protagonists of the Carnation Revolution. Continue reading “portugal’s cultural revolution: 35 years on”

over fifteen years of collective production and self-management at mst co-operative

The Vitória Agricultural Production Co-operative, belonging to Brazil’s Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) has since 1993 practiced a model of production based on collectivism and diversification. From Passa Palavra.

The Vitória Agricultural Production Co-operative (COPAVI), in Paraná City in the north-east of Brazil’s Paraná state, was founded on 10th June 1993, but its story began in January of that year when several families occupied around 256 hectares and transformed a rugged area of sugar-cane-monoculture land, belonging to one sole owner, into an agro-industrial area with diverse production, securing an alternative – and decent conditions – for more than seventy people.


COPAVI, according to the National Institute of Farming and Agrarian Reform (INCRA), is among the ten most successful holdings in the state. Its collective forms of ownership, production, and management, under the leadership of the Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais Sem Terra (Landless Rural Workers’ Movement; MST), are considered a model [1]. It remains symbolic of the landless workers’ struggle in Brazil. Continue reading “over fifteen years of collective production and self-management at mst co-operative”