Michael Hoover | 1 May 03:55 2005

Unionbusting at Columbia

>Censoring free speech, threatening job security, denying
>democratic rights, hiring a unionbuster ...at Columbia
>University?
>
>An internal memo from Columbia University, just leaked by The
>Nation magazine, shows just how far one of the nation's leading
>academic institutions will go to prevent its graduate school's
>teaching and research assistants from striking or trying to form
>a union.
>
>The February 16 memo from Columbia's Provost Alan Brinkley
>outlines threatening and intimidating tactics for university
>leaders, deans, and professors "to discourage" teaching and
>research assistants from striking.
>
>So, let's write our own memo to Columbia: Tell the University to
>stop its campaign and respect workers' rights!
>
>http://action.americanrightsatwork.org/campaign/unionbust_columbia/denuwk4q
7bib8j
>
>Workers shouldn't have to risk everything to simply form a
>union. But the memo makes the University's position clear:
>Strike and job security will be threatened. Strike and
>jeopardize your career.
>
>Across New York State and around the country, graduate teaching
>and research assistants are organizing, campaigning, and
>struggling to for the opportunity to be recognized by their
>universities as employees. And often their universities - huge,
(Continue reading)

Stuart Elliott | 1 May 16:11 2005
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May Day on the web

You can join a May Day netparade at http://www.molleindustria.it/netparade/
 
More May Day reports can be found at http://www.labourstart.org
 
In Canada, there's a May Week Labor Arts Festival in Edmonton and other events at http://www.mayweek.ab.ca/maylinks.php
 
 
 ICFTU May Day Manifesto 2005

Today, May Day 2005, workers around the world are celebrating the proud record of achievements of more than 100 years of trade union solidarity. We pay homage to all those who throughout history have done so much to promote and defend the rights of working women and men, create social justice and fight for equality, human rights and democracy.

This year, trade unions are joining with others all around the world in the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, demanding that the grand promises made by governments at the United Nations and elsewhere should be put into action urgently. The world can no longer afford to ignore the plight of the hundreds of millions women and men who live on less than one dollar per day. Creating decent jobs for all has never been more important, as divisions between the haves and the have-nots in the global economy grow ever greater. One billion people are unemployed, underemployed or working poor: 60% of these are women. In the Global Call, we demand debt relief to the poorest countries, greatly increased development aid and justice in the global trading system.

More than 200 million children are working instead of at school, while young people who have finished their education struggle to find decent jobs in countries across the globe. Millions of working people face exploitation, discrimination and insecurity, having to accept jobs which pay too little for them, and those who depend on them, to have a decent life. Trade unions themselves face enormous pressures, as governments and employers in many countries violate workers’ rights, including outright assaults on the trade union movement. Our global action is critically important to put an end to union-busting, and to defend the rights of those, particularly women, who are the victims of the global race to the bottom.

We are confident that we can meet the challenge to change the path of globalisation. We will act across borders and across continents to help organise the millions of workers who are denied union rights, to tackle the exploitation of migrant workers and those who toil in the world’s export processing zones, and to put women and men on an equal footing in our own movement, in the workplace and in society. We will take forward the reform, strengthening and unification of the international trade union movement, to make sure that we are equal to the enormous tasks ahead of us.

We demand a better world, a secure and peaceful world where social justice, equality and fundamental rights reign supreme. We pledge to do all in our power to build this better world for future generations.

Long Live Global Labour Solidarity!
 
 Millions of Workers Plan May Day Celebrations Worldwide
 
Stuart Elliott
Attachment (Stuart Elliot.vcf): text/x-vcard, 158 bytes
Fred Moseley | 1 May 16:31 2005

Re: April 28, 2005 Pursuer of Mexican Leader's Opponent Quits Under Fire


Hi Alejandro, thanks for sending this latest news.
This looks like a major victory for the left and the
Mexican people.  Is it really as good as it looks?

Fred

On Thu, 28 Apr 2005, Alejandro Valle Baeza wrote:

> Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2005 20:30:41 -0500
> From: Alejandro Valle Baeza <valle@...>
> Reply-To: PEN-L list <PEN-L@...>
> To: PEN-L@...
> Subject: April 28, 2005 Pursuer of Mexican Leader's Opponent Quits Under Fire
> 
> <http://www.nytimes.com/adx/bin/adx_click.html?type=goto&page=www.nytimes.com/printer-friendly&pos=Position1&camp=foxsearch-emailtools09-nyt5&ad=pf_millions.gif&goto=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efoxsearchlight%2Ecom%2Fmillions%2Findex%5Fnyt%2Ehtml%20>
> ------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 
> 
>          April 28, 2005
> 
> 
>    Pursuer of Mexican Leader's Opponent Quits Under Fire
> 
> By GINGER THOMPSON
> <http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=GINGER%20THOMPSON&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=GINGER%20THOMPSON&inline=nyt-per>
> 
> 
> ILLAHERMOSA, Mexico, April 27 - The legal proceedings that threatened to
> knock Mexico's most popular politician off next year's presidential
> ballot and to plunge this country into turmoil seemed to come to a
> sudden end on Wednesday night, when a beleaguered President Vicente Fox
> announced the resignation of his attorney general and a review of the
> government's case against the politician.
> 
> In a nationally televised address, Mr. Fox said he had accepted the
> resignation of Attorney General Rafael Macedo de la Concha, who oversaw
> the prosecution of the politician, Mayor Andrés Manuel López Obrador of
> Mexico City, and thus became one of the most polarizing figures in the
> government.
> 
> Mr. Macedo de la Concha, a conservative brigadier general who previously
> served as chief of the military prosecutor's office, had been credited
> with dismantling some of the most powerful drug cartels but also
> criticized for using his office to intimidate President Fox's political
> adversaries.
> 
> His resignation was widely considered a kind of peace offering to Mayor
> López Obrador, whose political career was threatened three weeks ago
> when Congress voted to lift his official immunity and remove him from
> office so that he could stand trial in a land dispute.
> 
> Striking an uncharacteristically stiff posture and formal tone of voice,
> President Fox said he considered defending democracy his government's
> most important responsibility, and wanted to guarantee that next year's
> presidential elections would be fair, transparent and open to all
> qualified figures.
> 
> "It will always be better for our Mexico to stay open to dialogue, and
> not duels," Mr. Fox said. "Our goal is to conciliate, not divide. Our
> future as a country will be promising if we are capable of reaching
> agreement on that which is fundamental, instead of futile confrontations."
> 
> To most Mexicans, the case against Mayor López Obrador had little to do
> with law and order. They called it a conspiracy led by President Fox's
> conservative National Action Party in alliance with the Institutional
> Revolutionary Party, which ruled this country for more than seven
> decades. Analysts from here to Washington and Wall Street denounced the
> case against the mayor as a threat to Mexico's fragile democracy.
> 
> The announcement comes only a few days after nearly one million people
> thronged the streets of the capital to protest the Fox government's
> campaign to prosecute Mr. López Obrador. The case against the mayor was
> based on a minor contempt of court charge for disobeying an order
> against the construction of a hospital access road. Still, it threatened
> the mayor's political career, and could have landed him, the leading
> contender to succeed Mr. Fox, in jail.
> 
> Mr. Fox, Mexico's first peacefully elected opposition president, had
> contended that the proceedings against Mayor López Obrador, a leftist
> street fighter of a politician who rose to power as a champion of the
> poor, was proof of the progress his government had made in establishing
> rule of law. No one, no matter how powerful, he said, stood above the law.
> 
> A majority of Mexicans, however, did not believe him. Since Mr. Fox came
> to power five years ago, his government has failed to live up to its
> promises to prosecute the multi-million-dollar scandals and violent
> massacres that were signatures of the old authoritarian rule.
> 
> "All transitions have a watershed, and this could be Mexico's," said
> Sergio Aguayo, who stood on the front lines of Mexico's struggle to
> reform its political system. "For me and many other people, this case
> was never about López Obrador. It was about the right to compete. It was
> about ideology, and the left standing up for change, because the right
> has failed to deliver what it promised. It was about power.
> 
> "What we learned was that President Fox's credentials as a democrat are
> not as strong as we believed and that the Mexican right is more
> reactionary than we ever imagined."
> 
> Manuel Camacho Solis, a federal legislator and political adviser to
> Mayor López Obrador, called the announcement by President Fox an
> "important victory."
> 
> "This is the fist step toward ending the assault against democracy," he
> said. "It is a decision that shows respect for the conscience of the
> people and puts us back on course for fair elections next year."
> 
> George Grayson, a political analyst who teaches government at the
> College of William and Mary and is writing a book on Mayor López
> Obrador, said the Fox government had virtually delivered the presidency
> to his party's leftist adversary. Polls published this week indicated
> that Mr. López Obrador had double-digit leads over all other leading
> contenders.
> 
> Indeed while the proceedings against the mayor, known as a desafuero,
> caused his popularity to soar, it plunged Mr. Fox's lackluster
> government into open conflict. In interviews earlier this week, aides to
> the president described the case against the mayor as an enormous
> mistake and said the president was looking for a way out.
> 
> The toll became clear Tuesday during a trip by Mr. Fox to Oaxaca State,
> in the south. After a lunch with business leaders and the governor, the
> president stopped to confront a young protester carrying a sign that
> described him as a "traitor to democracy."
> 
> Clearly agitated, the president asked over and over again for the
> protester to explain. The protester did not answer.
> 
> "I am not some traitor to democracy," Mr. Fox said. "On the contrary, I
> have worked for democracy for all."
> 
> 
> Copyright 2005
> <http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html> The New
> York Times Company <http://www.nytco.com/> | Home
> <http://www.nytimes.com/> | Privacy Policy
> <http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/privacy.html> | Search
> <http://query.nytimes.com/search/advanced/> | Corrections
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> <http://www.nytimes.com/rss> | Help
> <http://www.nytimes.com/membercenter/sitehelp.html> | Back to Top
> <http://www.nytimes.com/2005/04/28/international/americas/28mexico.html?pagewanted=print&position=#top>
> 
Charles Brown | 1 May 17:05 2005

Hurray for Today

Hurray !Hurray !
For the very First of May !
Yoshie Furuhashi | 1 May 17:46 2005
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Colleges and Universities as Working-class Institutions

"Colleges and Universities as Working-class Institutions" (Have
American leftists fully grasped the implications of the changed
relation between the working class and post-secondary education in
the United States?  Because of the declining weight of mass
production factories in the US economy [reflected in the big US trade
and current account deficits], colleges and universities -- along
with elementary, middle, and high schools -- are among the few
remaining institutions where you can still find working-class youths
en masse.) -- FULL TEXT:
<http://montages.blogspot.com/2005/04/colleges-and-universities-as-working.html>
--
Yoshie

* Critical Montages: <http://montages.blogspot.com/>
* Monthly Review: <http://monthlyreview.org/>
* Greens for Nader: <http://greensfornader.net/>
* Bring Them Home Now! <http://www.bringthemhomenow.org/>
* Calendars of Events in Columbus:
<http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/calendar.html>,
<http://www.freepress.org/calendar.php>, & <http://www.cpanews.org/>
* Student International Forum: <http://sif.org.ohio-state.edu/>
* Committee for Justice in Palestine: <http://www.osudivest.org/>
* Al-Awda-Ohio: <http://groups.yahoo.com/group/Al-Awda-Ohio>
* Solidarity: <http://www.solidarity-us.org/>

Autoplectic | 1 May 18:22 2005
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cybertariat jobs: deskilling or professionalization?

<http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/sunday/commentary/la-op-outsource1may01,0,639756.story>

THINKING OUT LOUD / IMMIGRATION
Why So Many Jobs Have Wanderlust

By Kenneth Swift
Kenneth Swift is a director of finance at an Orange County-based
multinational technology company.
May 1, 2005

As I watched from his side, Praveen peered intently at his computer,
his face bathed in the bluish glow from the screen. He furrowed his
brow, seemingly perplexed by the information arrayed before him on the
display. Using his mouse, he clicked to a different view and ran a
finger along the screen, tracing a row of numbers. His eyebrows rose.
"Got it," he exclaimed.

A few more clicks and the screen informed him that the transaction was
complete and another invoice had been approved for payment on behalf
of his client. He returned to the queue and selected the next invoice
from the hundreds awaiting attention. And so it went for the rest of
the night.

The work itself is unremarkable, as is the young man performing it.
His is an office much like any in corporate America, a warren of
cubicles, neatly aligned, brightly lighted, staffed with other workers
just like him, staring at a computer screen just like his. It could be
anywhere in the United States, but it is far removed.

Praveen is a citizen of India, his employer an Indian corporation, his
office one of many in a bucolic, campus-like setting in the southern
Indian city of Bangalore. The invoices he processes are those of a
major multinational American corporation, one of many such clients
serviced by his company. The phenomenon is called "outsourcing" or, in
reference to the geographical distance between client and provider,
"offshoring."

Soon, Praveen and his co-workers will be handling similar
responsibilities for my employer, and that was the reason for my visit
from half a world away. Though my own job is not affected
(thankfully), many of my less fortunate co-workers cannot say the
same. Over the next few months, hundreds of them will have packed
their family pictures and other desktop memorabilia and left the
company parking lot for the last time.

Why are American companies turning their own workers out into the street?

Answer: Because the Darwinian nature of capitalism demands it.
Companies that do not pursue competitive advantages will soon find
themselves competitively disadvantaged. And disadvantaged companies
eventually become failed companies.

Labor costs in India can be less than 10% of those in the U.S., and
there is a huge pool of young and eager English-speaking college
graduates looking to outsourcing as their ticket to the middle class.
Praveen, the accounts payable clerk, is a good example of this
so-called wage arbitrage. He will earn roughly $3,000 per year in
India, performing the same work for which my employer pays about
$35,000 in the U.S. Even after the company I work for pays benefits,
taxes and overhead in India, the expected savings are still more than
50%.

However, there is a second and perhaps much more significant benefit
beyond the simple "lift and shift" of jobs. The Indian outsourcing
companies use a business model that aims to professionalize jobs
considered simply clerical in the United States. Jobs for which
American companies would hire a high school graduate are performed by
a college graduate in India, often by one with an advanced degree
and/or post-graduate professional certification.

By professionalizing the work, the outsourcers can offer an additional
service to their clients: an extremely high degree of accuracy and
reliability coupled with a commitment, usually embodied in the service
contract, to continually improve the client's business processes. The
Indian employees are expected to not only perform the work at or above
the level of their American counterparts but also develop improvements
with which to constantly raise their levels of productivity and
efficiency.

Can a program that causes so much upheaval among American workers be
considered a good thing? That's a matter of perspective.

At the microeconomic level, for companies like mine, it is a
faster-better-cheaper way to get things done. Profits will increase,
providing more capital to reinvest in other projects and initiatives.
That is certainly a net positive and also leads to macroeconomic
benefits: healthier companies create economic growth, and growth is
the proverbial rising tide that lifts all boats.

For companies that provide outsourcing services in countries like
India, the benefits are many: jobs for people such as Praveen, profits
for their employers, economic growth and foreign exchange for the
country and a rising standard of living for its citizens, to name a
few.

Yet from the perspective of American workers, including many of my
colleagues who are facing the loss of their jobs — some not for the
first time — outsourcing is just another corporate synonym for
unemployment.

Yet it is part of the natural gravitational pull that creates the
rising tide that will, in the long run, lift all boats. The
unfortunate downside is that it also causes the least seaworthy to
founder. Many will ultimately right themselves and sail on, but a few
will sink to the bottom.

It is progress for the many at the expense of the few, for the
currents of capitalism are merciless.
--

-- 
"Reason demands belief in infinitely many contradictions" [Roy Sorenson]
Louis Proyect | 1 May 22:01 2005
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Samir Amin on André Gunder Frank

http://www.monthlyreview.org/0405amin.htm
A Note on the Death of André Gunder Frank (1929-2005)
by Samir Amin

I met André Gunder Frank and his wife Marta Fuentes in 1967. Our long 
conversation convinced us that we were intellectually on the same 
wavelength. “Modernization Theory,” then dominant, ascribed the 
“underdevelopment” of the Third World to the retarded and incomplete 
formation of its capitalist institutions. Marxist orthodoxy, as represented 
by the Communist Parties, presented its own version of this view and 
characterized Latin America as “semi-feudal.” Frank put forward a new and 
entirely different thesis: that from its very origins Latin America had 
been constructed within the framework of capitalist development as the 
periphery of the newly arising centers of Europe's Atlantic seabord. For my 
part, I had undertaken to analyze the integration of Asia and Africa into 
the capitalist system in light of the requirements of “accumulation on a 
global scale,” a process that by its inner logic had to produce a 
polarization of wealth and power.

A few years later, in Mexico in 1972, we met again at the Congress of 
CLASCO (Latin American Council on Social Sciences), where Frank—together 
with F. H. Cardoso, Anibal Quijano, Rui Mario Marini and others—proposed 
the first formulation of “dependency theory.” They had invited me there to 
present the parallel conclusions that I had reached on the basis of the 
very different historical process by which Asia and Africa had been 
integrated into the global system.

We naturally found ourselves in similar agreement with the “World System” 
school of thought introduced during the 1970's by Immanuel Wallerstein. 
Thus was established our “gang of four” (Amin, Arrighi, Frank, 
Wallerstein). The “four” accordingly became joint authors of two books: La 
crise, quelle crise ? [Crisis—What Crisis?] (1982) and Le grand tumulte ? 
[The Great Tumult?] (1991) (both published by Maspéro-La Découverte). 
Though establishment of the new neoliberal globalized economic structure 
had only just begun and capitalism's new global strategy was just becoming 
perceptible, we already ascribed strategic importance to the “new social 
movements” that ten years later, at Porto Alegre in 2001, were to join 
together in the “World Social Forum.”

This closeness of basic outlook, despite clear differences (which were 
stimulating for us all) led to a close friendship. Isabelle (my wife) and 
myself loved Frank as a brother and suffered keenly from the degradation of 
his health during the last twelve years of his life, years of constant and 
courageous struggle against cancer. What I loved above all about Frank was 
his unlimited sincerity and devotion. Frank was motivated only by a single 
desire: the desire to be of service to the working classes and subordinated 
peoples, to the victims of exploitation and oppression. Spontaneously, 
unconditionally, he was always on their side. A quality which is not 
necessarily always found even among the best intellectuals.

(Translated from the French by Shane Mage)

Louis Proyect | 2 May 02:45 2005
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Ghadar

i just received word from Ra Ravishankar that the new issue of Ghadar is
out. This is a journal put out by South Asian students in the USA. Ra asked
me to write something on the Ward Churchill affair for this issue and you
can read it at:
http://ghadar.insaf.net/April2005/MainPages/persecution.htm. I put a fair
amount of research into this article and a lot of my heart. Ghadar is a
journal well worth your attention.

---

http://ghadar.insaf.net

Announcing volume 8 of Ghadar, a publication of the forum of inquilabi
leftists. As in the previous issue, we continue to analyse and publicise
recent political events in the South Asian sphere.

In this issue, Chi-ming Yang chronicles the history of conservative and
right wing campus politics. Louis Proyect focuses specifically on one
academic unit in Hamilton College to trace how it capitulated to right-wing
pressure in the days leading up to the furor over Ward Churchill's visit.
Louis also critiques the capitulation of liberal groups to a growing
right-wing attack. Madiha Tahir writes first-hand as a student of Joseph
Massad and dissects the workings of the Zionist groups on the Columbia
University campus. David Green concisely summarizes the Zionist
infiltration of the academia, while Ali Mir and Ra Ravishankar demonstrate
how acts of censorship on US university campuses have co-existed with (and
perhaps even benefited from) increasing support for vitriolic hate politics.

In keeping with our agenda to forge connections with progressive desi
political movements, we present a series of links to such movements;
movements within and 'outside' academic campuses. Biju Mathew presents an
insider's account of the multi-pronged campaign to mobilise against Modi's
visit to the US, complete with an analysis of the many interest groups --
from all sides of the political spectrum -- that participated in the events
as they unfolded. Raja Swamy compares the patriotic vitriol of those
Indians who rose in anguish over the denial of Modi's visa to their lack of
indignation over the systematic erosion of basic human rights for working
classes in India. Kamayani Swami and Ryan Bodanyi report on the latest in
the ongoing struggle for justice in Bhopal. "Where have the South Asians
gone?", Sonia Saini asks, and calls for solidarity across ethnic groups
amongst people of color. Finally, Joe Madre gives an update on the struggle
against the racist mascot of the University of Illinois.

Our next issue will be out in June 2005, and will focus on issues of gender
and sexuality, new and ongoing debates on marriage and class formation, and
the politics of desi consumer chic in the age of globalisation.

As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions. Contact us at
ghadarcollective@... and help build the network!

Autoplectic | 2 May 03:54 2005
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Buffett's lament redux

<http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/story/0,3604,1474579,00.html>

Buffett turns from picking stocks to plucking strings

David Teather in New York
Monday May 2, 2005
Guardian

Warren Buffett, whose stock-picking prowess has made him the world's
second richest man, admitted over the weekend that he is considering
giving cash back to shareholders for want of anything attractive to
invest in.

At the annual shareholders' meeting of his company Berkshire Hathaway,
the self-styled Woodstock for capitalists, Mr Buffett also said he
intends to maintain his bet against the US dollar and criticised plans
to turn the New York Stock Exchange into a public company.

In a typically wide-ranging session, he also came to the defence of
America's less well off, launching an attack with vice chairman
Charles Munger on President Bush's plans to privatise social security.

The annual meeting in Omaha, Nebraska, is unlike any other. Mr Buffett
treats his admiring investors to a song and performs on film in skits.

He said the company is holding $45bn (£25bn) in cash and apart from an
unnamed insurance firm worth less than $1bn, has no significant
acquisitions in sight. Of late the company has shifted emphasis from
stock market investments to owning businesses outright. He said buyout
funds and hedge funds were driving up asset prices and making
acquisitions difficult. "At the moment we've got more money than
brains, and we hope to do something about that," he said.

"The test is whether the money can be used very successfully within
the business."

Mr Buffett parried questions about the involvement of Berkshire 's
General Re in an insurance scandal that toppled Hank Greenberg, the
head of the world's largest insurer American International Group,
though he did come to AIG's defence, telling 19,000 shareholders that
it was a "great company" and Mr Greenberg was "the number one man in
insurance".

In the past year, Berkshire Hathaway has more than doubled its bet
against the US dollar, increasing its ownership of foreign currencies
to $21bn. Mr Buffett has been betting against the greenback since 2002
amid concerns about America's widening trade and budget deficits.

Despite losing $310m on his currency positions in the first quarter,
he said: "I have a hard time thinking about any outcome from this that
involves an appreciating dollar."

On the NYSE Mr Munger, who forms a double act with Mr Buffett, said:
"I don't think you want to turn the stock exchange into an even larger
casino than it is already."

--

-- 
"We are what we compute" [Duncan Foley]

michael a. lebowitz | 2 May 04:50 2005
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May Day 2005 in Caracas: the revolution advances

        I thought people would be interested in a brief update on developments in
Venezuela.
        I marched for several hours today in the May Day march with workers from
Alcasa, the state aluminum company, and other workers from state companies
in the state of Bolivar. Well, 'march' is not quite an accurate way to
describe the stop-start pattern of our progress. In fact, far better to
describe it as a street party, which occasionally lurched forward when
streams of marchers coming from other streets lessened: infectious dance
music blared from the sound truck leading us, and dancing was occurring
throughout the crowd--- most impressively from two older women and a man
(occasionally joined by others) in front, who periodically shared the
microphone to lead us in chants.  The main chant, which everyone happily
shouted, was 'Without co-management, you cannot have a revolution!'
(Occasionally, the variant--- 'without a revolution, you cannot have
co-management'.) And then back to the music. The theme was echoed
everywhere on the banners; one big one banner that I seemed either to be
behind or to being hit on the head with was-- 'co-management and
production: all power to the workers'.
        This was a happy crowd. And, the slogan was not a demand but an
assertion--- because the workers in Alcasa have begun a process of
co-management (which, to distinguish from the German use of the term, might
better be called self-management or worker management); they have begun
organising production themselves and electing their shop directors. What
the workers in Alcasa have begun now will be a model for the workers in the
other state industries (held by the CVG, the development corporation of
Guyana) in Bolivar. And, this process is not only occurring in Bolivar---
co-management is the model which is being followed in Cadafe and Cadela,
two state electricity distribution firms. And, the term is also being used
to describe the process in two closed private firms which were recently
taken over by the state to be run jointly by the state and worker
cooperatives. In fact, the main slogans for the march itself, organised by
UNT (the new trade union federation) were 'Co-management is revolution' and
'Venezuelan workers are building Bolivarian socialism.' These were the same
themes that came out of the several-day workers' table on co-management
that was part of the 3rd international solidarity meeting two weeks ago in
the city of Valencia.
        None of this could have been predicted six months ago. And, the speed with
which the concepts of co-management and socialism have spread here
testifies to the life and energy of this revolution. We have moved quite
quickly from social programmes (with money circulating but without new
production of goods) to a push for endogenous economic development
(stressing co-operatives and agriculture but without sectors likely to
accumulate) to the creation and expansion of state sectors and the focus on
co-management. True, it's not entirely clear what either socialism or
co-management mean here yet. But what the crowds out for this May Day march
believe (if faces are any indication) is that both are 'good'; and that,
you will recognise, means a lot.
        After four hours on this march/party, my companera and I recognised that
we were several hours away yet from the place where the march was to end.
So, we decided to walk home (which was on the way) and use the opportunity
to watch the rest on TV. When we got back at about 2:30, we could see the
flood of red shirts on TV cheering the speakers and singers. The crowd was
immense. (I haven't seen estimates yet but my guess would be a few hundred
thousand.) Then Chavez arrived. He listened to a number of speakers from
UNT, and then began to speak about the need to create new models, to borrow
but not copy, to build co-management and socialism of the 21st Century.
These are becoming familiar themes. But, there was a new issue posed--- the
question of introduction of co-management in private firms. This is not
Chavez's initiative--- it is a question being pushed by UNT and forms the
basis of a bill which will be debated in the National Assembly. This, too,
was part of our discussions in Valencia, and it is something to watch
closely because the form it takes (our North American group at the workers
table stressed the importance of opening the books of the companies to the
workers) is likely to mean an encroachment on capital.
        in solidarity,
        michael
PS. There also was a demonstration by the CTV, the old labour federation
that backed the coup and the subsequent bosses lockout.  A good indication
of what the CTV has come to was revealed the day before when they indicated
that they were expecting 40,000 participants and indicated that their main
demands would be to free political prisoners (in particular, their former
leader Carlos Ortega, a coup leader) and to deal with unemployment (which,
they stressed, would need economic growth-- something requiring
negotiations between government, workers and industrialists). From my
window, before we headed for the UNT march, I could see the street where
the CTV people were assembled. Didn't look like much more than a thousand
but maybe more came (not many more, though, if the careful phrasing on El
Universal's website is any indication).
Michael A. Lebowitz
Professor Emeritus
Economics Department
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, B.C., Canada V5A 1S6

Currently based in Venezuela. Can be reached at
Residencias Anauco Suites
Departamento 601
Parque Central, Zona Postal 1010, Oficina 1
Caracas, Venezuela
(58-212) 573-4111
fax: (58-212) 573-7724


Gmane