National Sections of the L5I:

Czech Republic: platform of the New Anticapitalist Left

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The economic crisis has also hit the Czech Republic. The Ruling elites have shown that their only formula to combat the crisis is further attacks on the living and working conditions of those that they rule. They are carrying out focused attack on the living standard of workers and socially oppressed through Fischer's government of “experts”. It is pursuing reforms of previous governments in even harder manner.

The leftist parliamentary parties, the ČSSD and KSČM, which the majority of workers support, are utterly useless. The trade union leaders are reluctant to start a serious struggle.

It clearly shows the need for an alternative – anticapitalist organisation that would unite workers so that they would be able to defend their interests and find real solution to present general crisis.

At the conference on the 24th of October 2009 in Prague, forces that recognize this need, committed themselves to building a united organisation that would be directed to this objective and to this end they decided to found an initial phase of the organisation. Its policy until the launch of the new organization and adoption of a full program will be directed by this platform.

1. The cause is capitalism. Economic crisis, poverty in the third world, war, environmental destruction, unemployment, social exclusion... it is necessary to look at the truth. The worst features of the contemporary world are an integral part of the system in which we live and which we are told is the best of all possible. They are the result of the fact that production (and other social issues) is decided from the standpoint of profits of a narrow minority, and not the needs of majority. Therefore, in we cannot limit our demands to what is acceptable under capitalism. On the contrary, we must go beyond. Only by self-organisation we can achieve free society.

2. We are not “in the same boat with employers”. The interests of workers and the interests of employers in this system are completely antagonistic. In the current economic crisis, this shows more sharply than it does during times of growth. We must defend the interests of those that make their livelihood by work and not try to reconcile both groups - in practice it is always at the expense of the workers.

3. We must not pay for their crisis! We are told that everyone has to pay his share of bill for the crisis, that we lived above our terms. How could we cause the crisis by honest work or going to school? It is not possible. How could we lived above our means, if part of us has higher pay only because of working overtime and the second part "increasing” their pay by illicit work or short-term work? It is not possible. We reject the transfer of the costs of the crisis on workers in the form of redundancies, lowering of wages, worsening of working conditions, etc. The crisis is caused by the nature of capitalism, therefore it should be paid by those who most benefit from this system. The crisis has also shown the inadequacy of the market economy and the need to transcend it.

We demand:

* Opening of accounts of businesses that are laying workers off or going bankrupt to their employees and trade unions, their expropriation and transfer under the workers’ control.
* Allocation of the available work among all able to work without loss of pay by shortening of working hours.
* Creation of a state programme of public works for a decent wage to fight mass unemployment.
* Significant increase in funds to finance vocational study and qualification courses for the unemployed.
* Re-nationalisation of strategic industries (e.g. production and distribution of electricity, oil, coal, water, armaments industry) and the financial system and their placement under the workers control.
* Nationalisation of all firms doing business in the Czech Republic registered in tax havens and prevent them to carry on businesses.

4. Our power is in our unity. It can appear as if we are powerless in comparison with the banks and governments. It is not so – workers have strength to push through its interests. It lies in the fact that we are the creators of all the wealth of society. However, this comes to the surface only in an organised action. Mass demonstrations, and especially strikes and occupation of factories will hit the rich where it hurts most - on their accounts. Only this can force them to lower their heads and withdraw. That's because the actual decision making is not done in the parliament, but on the boards of banks and corporations at one side and through strikes and mass street action on our side.

Trade unions arose in order to organize workers to defend their economic interests against employers. The current trade unions, however, perform this function very poorly. How could it be different, when their leaders openly declare that they are in the same boat with employers. Actions, and still only symbolic ones, are organised only when it comes to worst, and therefore they failed to prevent the adoption of reforms of the ODS government and of the finance ministers Janota’s package, nor loading of the costs of the crisis on workers.

This situation must change. The trade union leadership has to listen to demands of those who they are to represent. But for this, the pressure from below is needed. Trade unions must be radically democratised – trade unionists themselves shall decide what, how and when they want to enforce something at regular branch meetings. The demands and methods of struggle should be decided by trade unionists at regular meetings of the rank and file membership. The leadership and representatives in negotiations with employers and the state must be elected by rank and file trade unionists, and have to be accountable, including the possibility of immediate recall, they cannot earn more than the average wage of those who they represent. The negotiations should be public for us to know, whether our interests were defended enough. We want to organise those trade unionists that want to change the trade unions into a real instrument for workers struggles.

5. No platform for fascism. Anti-working class reform government of the ODS and the emergence of the economic crisis created favourable conditions for the development of the fascist movement. Masses desperate because of deteriorating situation of their lives are offered so-called radical solutions, they put the blame for the problems of the current system on the weakest - the oppressed minorities.

Wherever fascists have become an important force in the past, the independent organisation of workers is their target against which they have used methods of violent civil war. We cannot allow even the possibility of a repetition of that scenario - the fight against fascism is one of our most important tasks and we will strive to transfer it into working class movement.

Openly neonazi organisations and their front party, demagogically named Workers' Party, are using every opportunity to spread the poison of hatred against everything that is different. We seek to create a mass antifascist movement which will show to neonazis that it is not interested in their "solution" and will drive them off the streets, schools and workplaces. We could see that fascists do not stop at verbal instigation in Janov and in every other attempted pogrom, in deadly incendiary attacks, physical attacks ending unfortunately too often by death. That's why in areas where there are fascist attacks threatening, there is need to organise self-defence groups together with those minorities threatened by it, especially Roma people.

6. End discrimination. Scapegoating oppressed minorities is not just the domain of fascists, but the common practice of parliamentary parties. To their shame it is done often, especially with regard to foreign workers, also by the parliamentary Left. This policy is designed to weaken the unity of workers and by that also their collective power. Besides, it distracts attention from those who are really guilty of burning problems – unemployment, gloomy housing situation and many others.

We condemn any discrimination, whether it's at work, in access to services or in society in general, on the basis of race, nationality, sex, handicap, age, sexual orientation, belief, political membership etc. We reject transfer of any group to the edge of society. On the contrary, the task of advanced society is to fully integrate everyone into majority.

To overcome the division of the working class due to the prejudices prevailing in society we need to fight for equal working and pay conditions for all workers regardless both of their ethnic origin and type of employment (agency workers, short-term workers) and stand for the rights of the oppressed. Trade unions must focus on organising of minority workers to improve their status and unity of the working class.

7. Against government attacks, for public services. Not only the steps of the employers are dangerous. More attacks (on such achievements as the welfare system, labour code and public services or revenues) come through the government and its laws. The clearest example is the recently approved Janota package, which represents in the modern history of the Czech Republic an unprecedented amount of cuts in the social sphere. Such an attack should be answered with a general strike and instead of benefits for the rich and cuts in the social sphere demand:

* Increase in the minimal wage, pensions and life scholarship to 2/3 of average wage
* Substantial pay rise in public sector, no redundancies and saving at the expense of services (eg. optimisation of schools), no privatisation and separation of auxiliary services from public sector (so called outsourcing).
* Repeal the current absurd tax digression and introduce a progressive tax on income of physical entities and abolish limits for payment of insurance .
* Raising of corporate income tax and the abolition of all subsidies and support to transnational capital.
* Public audit under the workers' representatives control focused on revision of all governmental contracts to private companies.
* Expansion of public services, rejection of school fees and the so called regulatory fees (in fact, taxes for medicaments and health care) in health care at the central level.
* No pension reform that would only loose money for speculations of insurance agencies and banks, maintenance of continuous financing of pensions and lowering of basic age limit for retirement to 60 years.
* Housing for all! For a state program of building of communal rental flats and renewal of housing funds. No to privatisation of flats and houses, no to rise of rent and prices of services connected to housing.
* Free health service. No strengthening of market principles in health service – neither privatisation, neither closing of hospitals, individual departments and services. Central system of financing of health care democratically controlled by health workers and patients, state monopoly on production, import and distribution of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. No rising of patient participation!
* High-quality, public free educational system accessible to all – no school fees on every type of school; at least a minimal wage to apprentices and students for productive work at practices; no closing of schools; modern and well equipped classrooms; decent pay for teachers and other school workers.

8. Against the wars of conquest. Global capitalism is based on distribution of spheres of influence in the world by the most powerful states and blocs. To secure bigger profits than their rivals they have the means to extend these regions with the goal of obtaining new markets, strategic raw materials or a cheap labour force. However, that generates tensions and wars and subsequent occupations. The task of workers around the world is to oppose both these wars of conquest and all militaristic projects (such as the U.S. military base in the Czech Republic) and that's why we are prepared to undermine the war effort even at the expense of the defeat of our own country. We demand the immediate withdrawal of Czech troops from all foreign missions and stepping out of NATO.

9. Defend our democratic freedoms. In 1989 one of main promises of impending elite was democracy. In the meantime we have learned that in fundamental questions it is limited to putting the ballot paper into a ballot-box once every 4 years, but that in every case it ends in front of the doors of workplace or school. The positive change was that we can associate, assemble and protest.

But even that is too much for our rulers – under various pretexts, whether it is in connection with the war against terror or the current fight against "extremism", even the most basic democratic rights, such as freedom of assembly and speech, are limited, the powers of the police are increased and people are increasingly spied on by the ubiquitous cameras. Whatever the pretext for the introduction of one or another undemocratic measure is, sooner or later it will be used by the state against the workers defending their rights or against movement fighting for progressive demands (anti-war movement, anti-fascists, movements for the rights of the oppressed). Therefore, we have to stand up against any curtailment of democratic rights!

One of the groups that is suffering by specific forms of oppression under current system is youth, socially dependent on parents and without democratic rights. That's why all over the world youth is standing in front lines of resistance in struggle for future without poverty, oppression and exploitation, for change of society.

* No police, bureaucratic and school repression and persecution of expressions of independent opinions, independent culture and independent, non-violent life-style.
* Suffrage from the age of 15 and for all with permanent or temporary residence (migrants, foreign workers and students, etc.)

10. For an independent political representation of the workers. The fight for the interests of the wage workers cannot be led only at the economic level. We need a political instrument that would promote our political claims against the state apparatus that serves the employers. Interests of individual social groups are represented in today's system by political parties. However, a party that would by deeds represent the interests of the working class does not exist in the Czech Republic. Therefore will be all our work, before full creation of the new organisation and after it, aimed to create it.

11. For real socialism. We definitely do not want a return to the police regime that ruled here before 1989. This regime was indeed based on expropriation of means of production, but it utterly lacked basic precondition of socialism – working class democracy. The decisions were made by close group of bureaucrats – so as to keep itself in the saddle. Without democracy, the rigid system of central planning could not last.

On the contrary, we imagine socialism as a system based on democratic and equal discussion and decision-making about all issues of society including and especially about how and where the using of socialised production will be directed. Only in this way we can get rid of exploitation and oppression and attain a free society!