National Sections of the L5I:

EPA statement: We won't pay for their wars and their crisis! Organise the resistance Europe wide!

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Draft call proposed to the European Preparatory Assembly/Assembly of Social Movements by the League for the Fifth International

It is now beyond doubt that the financial crisis is being transformed into a global slump. In the United States revised GDP figures for the fourth quarter of 2008 showed a contraction of 6.8%; in Germany 2008 fourth quarter GDP plunged by 2.1% - with exports down 7.3%. Other Eurozone economies were hit too with French and Italian GDP down 1.2% and 1.8% for the fourth quarter. Two giants of the global car industry Chrysler, General Motors, are facing bankruptcy and the European car makers are rushing to their home states demanding bailouts. Eastern European states are now suffering severe contractions of their economies due to the halting of credit and investment flows.

The economic crisis is leading to massive sackings and plummeting living standards. The ILO estimates the total of job losses in 2009 alone could top 50 million and the number working for less than $2 a day could rise to 1.38 billion people worldwide (more than 45 percent of all those employed). Politicians and economic analysts are talking of a “depression” that could lasting a decade or longer.

The major economic powers are taking on historically huge amounts of debt, slashing interest rates to near zero, printing money, de facto nationalising banks. If these measures fail currency crises and actual state bankruptcies loom. Despite all pledges to the contrary measures of protection for their home industries are being adopted by the major powers. In Eastern Europe where the fragile economies are facing meltdown pleas for rescue from the richer western European Union states are going unheeded.

Yet if trillions are being handed out to the bankers with few strings attached as far as the billionaires are concerned companies facing bankruptcy are lying off their workers and demanding huge concessions from those who remain. But a fight back has begun. Already countries have been rocked by one-day general strikes, demonstrations and ‘riots’, notably, in Europe, in France, Italy, Greece, Latvia, Bulgaria and Ireland. In Iceland, mass protests brought down the conservative government and replaced it with a new centre left coalition. In Latvia too a government has fallen.

The danger that faces us, as demonstrated by the strikes against migrant labour in the British construction sector, is that workers and the poor turn on one other, fighting over the shrinking number of jobs. These strikes are, in part, organised by a shortsighted and nationally narrow-minded section of the trade union leaderships. Likewise the demands for saving “domestic” car plants at the expense of workers in foreign countries is a growing danger.

The rise of racism, often scapegoating Roma people, is widespread and extending to countries like Italy under its right-wing government. All this shows the extreme importance of building a genuine, pro-working class, anti chauvinist, anti-racist and internationalist movement of resistance. The European Social Forum and its Assembly of Social Movements can be one important starting point for this.

What we need is a call for Europe wide resistance, prepared and co-ordinated by the working class organisations, trades unions, parties and social movements. The more radical and internationalist of these are already prominent in ongoing struggles.

The forces involved in the ESF/ASM have shown that they can organise action; the anti war movement was part of the ESF process and the links built across Europe were an important part of the struggle against imperialism. It still has this task - mobilising against the siege of Gaza and the “surge” in Afghanistan. In addition, there is the eastwards expansion of Nato and the EU and the clashes with Russia in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.

A deep crisis, with a turn to protectionism will bring political friction and wars or the threat of war. The EAS/ASM must, therefore, combine two major tasks:

• the fight for an internationalist foreign policy for movements of the exploited and the oppressed, independent of all capitalist forces and nation states.

• a coordinated fightback against the crisis at a European level, including continued resistance to Lisbon Agenda public service privatisations and the Bologna directive on education reform.

The ESF’s Preparatory Assemblies bring together, two or three times a year, representatives of the same organisations – militant unions, left parties (in disguise because of the undemocratic Porto Alegre Principles) and radical social movements - that are leading many of the political and social struggles against the crisis.

They ought- but so far have largely failed- to bring together representatives of students and youth who have been in the forefront of many struggles, notably in Greece, France, Italy, Germany, Spain and very recently in Britain too. A Europe wide coordination of these struggles should be fostered by the ESF process, culminating in a Youth Camp and Assembly in Istanbul in 2010. Without youth participation in our gatherings another Europe will not be possible.

It is a terrible waste of time and money that we assemble without either discussing a balance sheet of our struggles, how to coordinate them or how to better solidarise with one another, beyond drawing up a calendar of common protests - important as these are.

We therefore pledge ourselves to generate a mass movement in Europe and beyond against this capitalist crisis, comprising demonstrations, protests, direct action and strikes. Wherever job losses are threatened, wherever wages are cut, wherever governments slash their public spending, wherever billions are given to the banks and the rich, we have to say, Tous ensemble, NO!

• NO to taxpayer bailouts of the bankrupt banks and corporations.

• NO to handouts to the giant car corporations and other industries that are slashing their workforces etc,

• NO to all job losses and workplace closures; with occupations, strikes, mass solidarity actions to halt them.

• NO to blaming migrant workers for unemployment and all attempts to drive them out of their jobs.

• NO to new wars, for example, with Iran. All US and EU states’ troops out of Afghanistan and Iraq

• NO to the blockade of Gaza and Israel’s land grabs and Apartheid Wall in the West Bank.

•NO to the privatisation of our public transport, health and education services.

But we must also say a militant YES!

• YES to Europe-wide coordinated resistance to the multinationals’ attempts to downsize or offshore.

• YES to nationalisation of corporations sacking their workforces, and without compensation and under workers’ control

• YES to a reduction of working hours but with no loss of pay.

• YES to national and European programmes of socially useful public works under the control of trade unions and social movements

• YES to defending the jobs and social and democratic rights of migrant workers and communities

• YES to the self-organisation of the unemployed with links to, and support from, the unions.

• YES to the WSF and ESF’s calendar of international mobilisations

The EPA must develop not just a calendar of events but a coordinated Europe wide campaign for the years ahead. We the organisations at the Athens EPA who agree with the need for international resistance pledge ourselves to organise an international conference of resistance to plan a fight back, including solidarity actions.

We will start this process during the demonstrations in London, the venue for the G20 meeting and in other European countries around 28 March, and continuing with the anti-Nato demonstrations in Strasbourg a week later. We call on the trade unions to coordinate internationalist campaigns in the giant corporations - like the car manufacturers – facing mass redundancies to save every job and solve their crisis at the expence of their private owners not that of workers in other countries.

The ESF in Istanbul in 2010 must be a huge gathering of militants from the struggles against the crisis, imperialism, war, and racism. It must draw in much bigger forces from Eastern Europe, including Russia. It must symbolically “open the gates of Europe” to movements from the Arab world and central Asia, linking to the Beirut and Cairo conferences.

We can no longer rest content with celebrating the diversity of our struggles. We must work to achieve their maximum unity in powerful actions- against capitalism and imperialism, for a socialist Europe and a socialist world.