On Holocaust Memorial Day, vigilance is needed against fascism’s modern heirs / Morning Star (UK)

Auschwitz-Birkenau | Photo credit: Marcin Czerniawski – Unsplash

THIS week, when atomic scientists moved the hands of the Doomsday Clock 10 seconds closer to midnight, they were referring to the very real threat of nuclear war.

But as we mark Holocaust Memorial Day 2023, we must recognise that with nationalism, racism and Holocaust revisionism all on the rise, there are other senses in which Europe is edging closer to midnight.

January 27 marks Holocaust Memorial Day because it was the date of the liberation of the largest of the Nazi death camps, Auschwitz, by the Soviet Red Army in 1945.

But the Holocaust started well before the Nazis decided on industrialised mass murder in gas chambers. The slaughter began as the German war machine moved east in 1941.

Tsarist anti-semitism had confined Jews to a “pale of settlement” in the west of the Russian empire, precisely the areas — including Ukraine — that would be occupied by the Wehrmacht. More than a million Ukrainian Jews were killed in the second world war, most not gassed but shot by Einsatzgruppen SS paramilitary death squads that followed the German soldiers.

Ukraine is a battlefield again and accusations of fascist barbarism fly thick and fast.

For Western pundits like Simon Tisdall or Timothy Garton-Ash, Vladimir Putin is a fascist menace who, like Hitler, must be fought to the finish rather than appeased.

Western war propaganda has tended to portray every passing adversary as Hitler — any reluctance to wage war against Slobodan Milosevic, Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gadaffi was derided as an echo of Munich — but the stakes when it comes to Russia, the world’s largest country and possessor of its largest stock of nuclear weapons, are immeasurably higher.

Moscow for its part accuses Ukraine of being a fascist state, pointing to the openly neonazi ideology of units like the Azov Battalion, at the demolition of monuments to the victorious Red Army and the state glorification of Nazi collaborators the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) and Stepan Bandera.

It is true that the post-Maidan regime in Ukraine has sought to rewrite the history of the second world war, from post-coup prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk’s 2015 claim that “the Soviet Union invaded Ukraine and Germany” to the law defining the UPA as “independence fighters” and making questioning the “legitimacy of their actions” — which included the murder of 100,000 Jews and Poles — a criminal offence.

But it isn’t the only one. Drawing the battle lines against Russia involves sanitising far-right regimes across Europe.

Poland’s pressure on Berlin to supply tanks to Ukraine sees it rehabilitated as a state of the democratic “front line” — as, distressingly, did its standoff with Belarus over refugees last winter, when it protected “European democracy” by forcing freezing asylum-seekers back across a barbed-wire border in the forest.

Warsaw’s attacks on women’s rights, its alliance with openly anti-semitic nationalists and its ban on historians referring to Polish complicity in the Holocaust lie forgotten.

Italy’s prime minister comes from a group directly descended from Mussolini’s Fascist Party — yet again, liberals are happy to ignore this.

The Putin threat means we should not trouble ourselves that “some Italians take a lenient view of the Mussolini era,” Garton-Ash assures us.

But Europe’s march right has grim consequences for refugees drowning in the Mediterranean and black communities facing rising racist violence.

Britain is no outlier here. As Holocaust survivor Joan Salter pointed out in a courageous confrontation with Home Secretary Suella Braverman this month, the government’s language on refugees and asylum-seekers drips poison: and those urging we turn the boats away today are the heirs to those who closed the door to Jewish refugees as Hitler’s armies occupied Europe.

As we remember the millions of Jews and Roma murdered by the Nazis, the words “never again” could barely be more poignant. The fight against fascism is not ancient history. It is our urgent task today.

Moning Star: The People’s Daily (UK), January 27, 2023, https://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/

The struggle of workers brings light in uncertain times / by People’s Dispatch

Image credit: retedeicomunisti.net

National spokespersons of Potere al Popolo addressed the 18th Congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions taking place in Rome, Italy from May 6 to 8

The 18th congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU) is currently underway in Italy, being hosted by the country’s main grassroot union Unione Sindacale di Base (USB). 435 trade union delegates from 101 countries will be attending the congress in Rome, Italy. In addition, another 300 delegates are connecting to the congress online. 

The focus of the debates in this year’s congress will be on the problems of the global working class which continues to bear the brunt of the economic crisis sparked by the pandemic and intensified with the ongoing war in Ukraine.

George Mavrikos, general secretary of the WFTU, Mzwandile Michael Makwayiba president WFTU, Cinzia Della Porta of the Unione Sindacale di Base (USB Italia), and Marta Collot of Potere al Popolo.

On the morning of Saturday, May 7, as part of the conference, participants paid homage to the Fosse Ardeatine, where 335 Italian civilians and soldiers, political prisoners, Jews or common detainees, were slaughtered by German occupation troops on March 24, 1944 as an attack to the partisan resistance in the Italian capital. A wreath of flowers will be deposited with the inscription “Never again Nazism, never again Fascism”.

Also present at the congress are diverse Italian social and political forces such as the left-wing political party Potere al Popolo (Power to the People). Marta Collot and Giuliano Granato, the national spokespersons of the party, shared solidarity greetings with the gathering.

Dear comrades, dear activists,

We are living in difficult times, and seeing hundreds of combative trade union delegates coming together warms our hearts and shows us a concrete horizon of struggle. For that we thank you.

The pandemic and the war in Ukraine have made it clear to every single person all over the world: what happens thousands and thousands of miles away from our homes – for those lucky enough to have a roof – directly impacts our lives.

It was true of the virus, which triggered a health crisis in which the collective antibody for which our grandfathers and grandmothers, our fathers and mothers, fought – the public health systems – proved far more fragile than our people had hoped.

And not because of the inability of health care workers. On the contrary, they have shown all their self-sacrifice in defending what is most precious to our people: life itself. The fragility of our health care systems is not the responsibility of the workers, nor is it the result of bad luck. No! It is the product of decades of privatization policies, carried out in all our countries.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, with the complicity of the vast majority of the national governments, have not changed their recipes: they continue to lend money to our countries imposing the freezing of public sector wages, a greater ease of dismissal in the private sector, the introduction or the increase of taxes on value added, and cuts on cuts in public spending, starting with consumption subsidies for the most suffering sections of our populations.

We are happy and glad this congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions is taking place in Italy. At the outbreak of the pandemic we were told that “everything will be fine” and that “we will come out better”. False! Working men and women and the unemployed came out in pieces, the minority of privileged people have further enriched their already indecent riches.

Informal work, precariousness, starvation wages, and absence of rights are the reality for millions and millions of workers.

And yet, even in dark times, the sun continues to flood us with its rays.

These rays are the struggles that millions and millions of men and women develop every day, organized in trade unions that make conflict their beating heart and against “social peace”, corruption, co-optation into the system.

From the first trade unions in the United States that managed to penetrate the Amazon dictatorship to the “cartoneros” (cardboard recyclers) and “trabajadores sin techo” (homeless worker in Argentina, from the peasants who occupy land and self-manage it in Brazil to the workers in Sri Lanka who strike and take to the streets against the increasing cost of living, facing the harsh repression of the government – there are many battles that allow the light to arrive.

Every seed needs light and water to develop and grow. Until it becomes a strong and vigorous plant, able to resist the enemy, take on a thousand faces, speak thousand languages, use different tactics depending on the geography, but everywhere the same: against the logic of capital that drives every choice of the ruling classes.

Against this common enemy and in order to develop the plant of rebellion and the future, we from Potere al Popolo will always be your brothers and sisters of struggle.

We are with you and wish you good work and a happy congress of the World Federation of Trade Unions!

In solidarity,

Marta Collot, Giuliano Granato

People’s Dispatch, May 7, 2022, https://peoplesdispatch.org/