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From The Socialist newspaper, 27 April 2001

3,000 jobs go as Motorola shuts....

Shut Down Capitalism

Fight For Socialism

LEADERS FROM 34 nations from North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean gathered in Quebec to establish a new free trade zone - the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), which will further impoverish millions of people on the continent and throughout the world.

Jason Baines, Socialist Alternative, Canada, reports from Quebec

The prospect of this so-called free trade zone has caused much anger, creating one of the most radical movements in recent Canadian history.

Over 50,000 youth, workers, environmentalists, feminists and others gathered in Quebec city to oppose it. Most insisted that they weren't there to reform the FTAA, as some union leaders advocate, but to abolish it.

There were several different demonstrations each day, the more radical mainly led by youth. Quebec city turned into a battlefield - different sections of the city were engulfed in confrontations with the police as 400 arrests were made.

A small section of the wall of shame - a huge barricade to protect 'America's leaders - was torn down by angry youth. Tear gas floated above the city hurting residents including one pensioner who was rushed to hospital. One resident had a plastic bullet ricochet in her house.

Beyond the issue of the FTAA, was a general mood among youth and Quebec workers that capitalism was the primary enemy.

Anti-capitalist chants and a pro-socialist consciousness are clearly on the rise, mainly in Quebec among youth and workers but also spreading throughout Canada. Opportunities for the growth of socialist forces in Canada have developed recently.

New sections of youth and workers are moving against capitalism. With sufficient numbers and mass support these demonstrations can even shut down capitalist conferences, such as in Seattle in 1999.

In the two years since the 'Battle of Seattle' the world has seen a new tide of working class and youth resistance against corporate capitalism.

Each time the message of resistance is getting clearer and louder. At the same time, other very important mass uprisings of workers and the oppressed have toppled hated dictators in the Philippines, Serbia and Latin America.

The anti-capitalist movement aims to 'Shut down capitalism'. The one group in society that can and have shut down the system is the working class.

Along with the youth, the international working class provide the only means to shut down the capitalist system... permanently.

Quebec: standing up to big business

THE RECENT Summit of the Americas in Canada achieved little for the impoverished masses in the major capitalist powers of the American continent.

Only Presidents Cardoso from Brazil and Chavez from Venezuela raised criticisms of the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). They have posed, based on pressure from their own working class, as opponents of the FTAA, which will inevitably be a labour and environmental exploitation zone for imperialism, concentrated in the US and to a lesser extent, Canada.

Cardoso said at the beginning of the summit that this would mean increased poverty for Brazil but succumbed to pressure. Chavez remained the lone voice of discontent.

The major powers, feeling the heat from below, have made hypocritical references to 'democracy' and environmental regulations. Bush proved his commitment to such regulations by pulling out of the already limited Kyoto accord.

Supposedly, "non-democratic" countries will be thrown out of the free trade zone. Yet, this is more likely to be applied to left-wing figures, like Chavez and Castro (who was banned from attending and gave support to the protesters) than to Haiti's Aristide and other government leaders who toe the line of US imperialism.

While there was a wide range of forces present in Quebec, there were also many varying tactics. What was referred to by the organisers as "diversity of tactics" meant creating several separate "zones", supposedly to have a space for every one.

Yet the police's turning the city into a battleground could have been stopped had the organisers and the labour leaders held a more concise policy.

The main organisers refused to challenge labour leaders over their refusal to march to the area of the summit. Instead they marched out to the suburbs of Quebec, leaving the militant youth on their own with the police.

Unfortunately, some ultra-left sectarian grouplets went along with this policy. They refused to challenge the labour leaders in both their policy of reforming the FTAA and in holding separate demonstrations.

This allowed for hundreds of arrests and the loss of a potential united action. Socialist Alternative, the Canadian section of the CWI (the international socialist organisation which the Socialist Party is affiliated to) argued that there should be one united action of all forces present marching to the summit and actively mobilised to support youth facing police repression.

However, we strongly disagreed with the policy of the main demonstration organisers, who did not have a proper stewarding system in place to protect the demonstration against police assault.

The perspective of Socialist Alternative for a new mass workers' party is clearly growing in Quebec. A recent by-election in the Montreal outskirts of Mericer saw Paul Cliche, an open Left socialist, finish third with over 24%. A new mass workers' party standing for the abolition of capitalism could provide a political home for the tens of thousands of youth marching against capitalism in Quebec.

SOME TIME ago the Canadian Labour Congress held a teach-in to educate people about the Free Trade Area of the Americas.

After the meeting finished, Resisto the clown began juggling when two cops came from nowhere and nicked him. After holding him for three days, Resisto was given bail under the condition that he didn't go to any protests and didn't leave the province.

Ten months later all charges were dropped and Resisto remains unbowed:

"I've been juggling for years and I've juggled many strange and dangerous objects but I've come to the conclusion that it's impossible to juggle capitalism without dropping human, environmental and animal rights".

Resisto, along with tens of thousands of other people was back in Quebec last weekend to tell corporate power where to get off.

DOZENS OF CWI members from North America and Europe led our intervention in to the protests. One Canadian CWI member was arrested. Over 270 names and addresses of people interested in knowing more about the CWI were collected and 90 copies of the CWI anti-globalisation pamphlet - in French and English - were sold, as well as 260 copies of Justice, the paper of the US CWI.

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In The Socialist 27 April 2001:

Shut Down Capitalism

Stop The Jobs Slaughter

Drug companies: so much for the free market

Tube workers: If we stick together, we can win

Middle East: A war by any other name

Germany: Building international socialism


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