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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Fuel to the fire in 2012

A nightmare scenario for capitalists sees Greek-style riots and strikes spreading uncontrollably across Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East in 2012.

The unrest of 2011 - the Arab Spring, Asian worker struggles and Eurozone meltdown - is set to ignite even more dramatically in 2012 as the economic crisis deepens.

Came a Hot Friday
The Arab Spring is set to reignite across northern Africa and the Middle East as protesters return to the streets of the regions cities to continue the struggle for democratic freedoms, improved wages and against corruption. Promising a 'hot Friday' are activists in Amman who will return to the streets after a simmering December which saw widespread rioting in Jordanian cities, including over questions of land privatisation.

Rebellion spreads to Nigeria next Monday when the union movement begins an indefinite general strike to paralyse the country and stop the Government from removing petrol subsidies that will cause pump prices to double and send food prices spiralling. The fuel furore has also taken on political dimensions as protesters also call for "living wages" and slam the move as an attempt by corrupt politicians to further enrich themselves with the saved Goverment funds: “The prices of everything will increase - transport, housing, school fees, food, etc. The common man will not be able to survive,” Ganiat Fawehinmi, widow of a human rights lawyer told reporters.

In Libya protests are growing as citizens come to realise that the National Transitional Council (NTC) installed in Tripoli after massive NATO intervention in the anti-Gaddafi uprising is nontransparent and there are still ongoing human rights abuses including arbitrary imprisonment, impunity for former Gaddafi regime officials and the theft of public money by NTC figures. As one activist in the oil rich country stated, "We are also critical of the NTC’s lack of transparency. Its meetings take place behind closed doors and we are only ever informed of the results, never of the decision-making process. This is not democratic! Furthermore, we don’t even know all of the members of the Council, only those who founded it." Oil company executives from the likes of BP and Shell have swarmed into the country's hotels in the wake of Gaddafi's ouster as Western countries replace the Gaddafi regime with a new puppet tyranny already promising preferential investment for companies from NATO countries.

Wildcat
The working class across the Asia-Pacific region is on the move forcing large corporations to give concessions on wages and conditions and increasingly asserting political demands during strikes and protests.

Freeport mine workers in the Indonesian province of West Papua will head back to work after winning a 37% wage increase after a three month strike in which nine workers were murdered by Indonesian police. Strikes continue to plague China as well as authorities continue to seek to appease rather than repress an increasingly political, organised and militant working-class which late in 2011 took over the southern town of Wukan with 20,000 people forming an self-governed commune for two weeks, barricaded roads and won an end to corrupt land sales to real estate developers.

Oil workers in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan are continuing their strike which began in May 2011 for wage rises, independent unions and the release of an imprisoned labour lawyer had by December and with the murder of sixteen workers transformed into a political uprising calling for allowing independent political parties in a country which is a police state run for the oil moguls.

Pakistan's largest city Karachi was hit by strike action in the transport sector over gas price rises while hospital workers took strike action over the murder of a Doctor whose brother is a centre-left politician.

As workers increasingly flex their industrial muscle in China and elsewhere radicalised workers will be increasingly intolerant of undemocratic regimes and corrupt authoritarian rulers. Just as the Mahalla textile workers' strike in 2006 inspired the Egyptian revolution wildcat action by the 'most dangerous class on the planet' - 200 million Chinese proletarians - and its transformation into anti-capitalist, revolutionary consciousness will determine 'whether or not a socialist Earth is still possible'.

Squeeze
Greece is on its way to defaulting on its debt and exiting the eurozone by March as union leaders refuse to accept new wage cuts and austerity measures being demanded by the EU and IMF. The squeeze on Greek workers living standards is a prelude to what will be another year of even worse austerity for European workers and students. As Socialist Worker reports,
The global debt crisis has intensified and is threatening to tear apart the euro project.

There is also an ideological dimension. Merkel, Sarkozy and co are determined to restore the euro’s fortunes by pushing through a pan-European austerity programme.

They know those plans will create misery for millions of people. And they know that mass resistance could scupper them. That’s why they are so keen to present austerity as a necessary evil rather than a choice.
As the squeeze continues more general strikes, riots and occupations will be generated as bitterness at capitalist elites in Europe turns to hatred. In Ireland a recent factory occupation, squatted community centre, nationwide protests against user charges on septic tanks show that even in one of the less turbulent crisis wracked countries apathy is slowly turning to revolt.

Crush
In Syria Assad's regime is forced to withdraw tanks from city centres. In Egypt international solidarity protests highlight the military's regimes repression of socialists. Throughout America Occupy camps are evicted with tear gas and rubber bullets but new actions take form such as Occupy Homes. In the UK the Tory Government refuses to back down on cuts to pensions even after the more than 2 million strong general strike on November 30 and provokes calls for renewed action. In China a dissident is jailed for nine years for calling for constitutional democracy and becomes a cause celeb.

Crushing the rebels becomes a precondition of establishing the conditions for renewed capitalist accumulation of wealth. The scale of the crisis and depth of the resistance precludes a short-term fix or handful of concessions from stemming local uprisings from becoming increasingly regional in character as acts of resistance resonate to neighbouring cities, campuses, factories and villages.

2012 promises to be another year of revolutionary struggle and militant activism as the brutal crackdowns of festering regimes and rising poverty of economic crisis add material fuel to the fires of rebellion lit in 2011.

-Socialist Aotearoa

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