Volume 2, Number 19
10 January 2005
E-Mail Newsletter of the Irish Republican Socialist Party
2. Tsunami and the Tourist Industry
3. Understanding North Korea
5. What's On
All the furore over the £26 million bank robbery in Belfast has
served to distract attention away from what was going to be a sordid
sectarian carve up of the North between the DUP and Sinn Fein.
Despite the fact that it ended in deadlock there is no doubt that both
parties are desperate to get their hands once more on the levers of
power. Such was Sinn Fein's passion for the trappings and substance of
power that the IRA declared its readiness to enter the end game of
disarmament and disbandment but the Paisley wing of the Democratic
Unionist Party demanded the public humiliation of the IRA. This was a
step to far for even the Provisional Republican Movement.
But remember what they had already agreed to sign up to. They had
agreed to a system of power-sharing which set in stone sectarian
arrangements for the selection of ministers. The confessional and
sectarian nature of the new Northern Ireland state was to be
solidified. Since the peace process began, polarisation between
anti-unionist and unionist parties is starker then ever. The rise and
rise of both Sinn Fein and the DUP meant that new arrangements had to
be made; in other words the renegotiation of the Good Friday
During these re-negotiations the DUP refused to talk directly -
formally or informally - to SF but came to accept that there was no
going back to Protestant rule.
The outcome of the re-negotiations was that:
* IRA would decommission all weapons by end of December, in a way
which further enhances public confidence.
* IRA would instruct members to desist from all actions that would
endanger the agreement.
* De Chastelain's Commission would confirm decommissioning with
photographs taken which would be shown to the governments and parties,
and made public once the Assembly is up and running
* DUP would agree to work in an inclusive Executive.
* Sinn Fein would agree to hold an Ard-Fheis to decide on its support
for new policing arrangements.
* A shadow Assembly would be set up in January; a committee would work
on a policing agreement, shadow executive being set up in January,
devolved government in April, setting up of policing and judiciary in
* Suspension of Assembly would be lifted in February; First and Deputy
first Minister would be confirmed by Assembly in March
* Britain would enact legislation for the devolution of criminal
justice and policing early in the summer.
The DUP clearly demonstrated, despite its electoral pledges, its
preparedness to accept all the basics of the GFA, including its
willingness to sit on an Executive with Sinn Fein. In fact so much so
that UUP's Trimble complained of it conceding too much to republicans
However this DUP acceptance was predicated on the IRA's demonstrable
total decommissioning, i.e. surrender. As the days went by, the demand
for surrender became a demand for the IRA's humiliation with the focus
on the surrender being photographed.
Sinn Fein had accepted all the key points including policing - of the
recent agreement by the British & Irish governments, all that is,
except the issue of photographs being taken of IRA decommissioning.
The IRA (P) has undertaken to disband its volunteers. They were
prepared to do this under the supervision of the de Chastelain
Commission set up according to the terms of the GFA. They even agreed
to the presence of 2 ministers, one Protestant and one Catholic.
But the key issue on which the talks broke down was the visual
evidence of IRA surrender. Now the Northern Bank robbery makes a
restored Stormont unlikely this year. But be assured the politicians
will eventually do a deal and work together. Having carved up the
working class areas of the North into sectarian ghettoes and taken
physical, social and economic control, both the DUP and Sinn Fein look
forward to the day they can divvy up the spoils.
But neither the continuation of direct British rule nor the
establishment of a local administration under Sinn Fein/DUP control
will solve the Northern problem.
TSUNAMI AND THE TOURIST INDUSTRY
By Minnie Bruce Pratt
The U.S. media admit that Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to
Thailand is designed to prop up the hard-hit tourist industry there.
The catastrophic Dec. 26 tsunami hit the beaches of Sri Lanka and
Thailand and the islands of the Maldives at the height of tourist
While the tourist industry brings a lot of money into these countries,
it doesn't enrich the workers and farmers. Instead it aggravates class
divisions and makes the capitalists there even more appendages of
In covering the tragedy, U.S. news media highlighted the dramatic
stories and deaths of Australian, European, and U.S. tourists in the
area. Of the six New York Post photo cover stories on the tragedy,
three featured white tourists.
In the days immediately following the tsunami, a top priority of the
authorities was to evacuate the surviving tourists.
The heaviest losses, however, were not in tourist areas but in the
coastal villages of Indonesia, which were devastated by the earthquake
as well as the tsunami.
United Nations emergency relief coordinator Jan Egeland asserted, "We
will never, ever have the absolute, definite figure because there are
many nameless fishermen and villages that have just gone." (The
Also unnamed in U.S. news reports are the women and men whose labor
kept the luxurious beach-side resorts running. At Sofitel Magic Lagoon
in Khao Lak, near Phuket, Thailand, one-third of the 320 person staff
were still missing a week after the calamity. And an estimated 10,000
people have lost their jobs in the Thai resort industry as a result of
the tsunami. (Asian Labour News)
Rooms at the Magic Lagoon cost between $350 and $600 a night. An
average monthly salary for a Thai hotel worker is about $130. More
than 10 million tourists visit Thailand in a year, 4 million in the
Phuket area alone. (beachpatong.com)
The international sex-trade industry preys on impoverished people of
the area, mostly women and children. They are marketed to Western
tourists, primarily men, as destinations for travel tours. The profits
made from this human suffering are as yet incalculable. (Julia
Davidson, "Sex Tourists in Thailand," wri-irg.org)
Tidal wave of super-exploitation
Transnational travel industry giants like Le Meridien, Holiday Inn and
Accor make extravagant profits through the super-exploitation of
workers in these resorts.
Le Meridien, created by Air France in 1972, subsequently merged with
corporations from England and Japan. It now has major financing from
U.S.-based Lehman Brothers. Giant Accor, which runs the Magic Lagoon,
has hotels in 140 countries, including Motel 6 and Red Roof Inns in
the United States.
Joining these worldwide corporations in the rush to wring profit from
Asian workers is the World Bank, through its affiliate, the
International Finance Corp. The IFC, which finances private
corporations expanding into the developing world, has specifically
targeted tourism as an area for exploitation.
In 2002 the IFC loaned $17 million to private companies in the
Maldives to build resort areas. Before the tsunami, tourism generated
33 percent of the Maldives' GDP, and its typically low-paying service
work made up 30 percent of local employment. (ifc.org)
In its own words, "The IFC finances private sector investments in the
developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial
markets, helps clients improve social and environmental
sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to
governments and businesses."
The mission statement further elaborates: "We are committed to working
on the frontiers of private investment, helping bring commercial
disciplines and entrepreneurial dynamism to new areas of the economy."
In plain words, the IFC, the World Bank and the transnational
corporations that are their partners are dedicated to finding any way
possible to make money off the working and oppressed people of the
world, including the people who once lived in the countryside,
villages and towns now devastated by the tsunami.
In August 2003, management at the Diamond Cliff Resort and Spa in
Phuket blasted workers with mass layoffs for attempting to unionize,
and kept them from getting jobs at other resorts. The workers, without
income and homeless, refused to settle with the company, and demanded
their jobs and reinstatement with fair wages. This is the spirit of
the workers hit so hard by the tsunami of the ocean, the spirit of
their fight against the tidal wave of capitalism.
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UNDERSTANDING NORTH KOREA
"North Korea: Another Country"
By Bruce Cumings
Scribe Publications, 2004 256 pages, $26.95
When it comes to North Korea, fact and fiction have become so blurred
that even many Marxists and socialists hold the country at arm's
length. But in his latest book, Bruce Cumings, by no means a Marxist,
shows that even North Korea can be scientifically understood. His
approach is summed up in the preface:
"North Korea does not exist alone, in a vacuum...It cannot be
understood apart from a terrible fratricidal war that has never ended,
the guerrilla struggle against Japanese imperialism in the 1930s, its
initial emergence as a state in 1945, its fraught relationship with
the South, its brittle and defensive reaction to the end of the Cold
War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, and its interminable daily
struggle with the United States of America."
And further into the book he writes that North Korea "is not a nice
place, but it is an understandable place, an anti-colonial and
anti-imperial state growing out of a half-century of Japanese colonial
rule and another half-century of continuous confrontation with a
hegemonic United States and a more powerful South Korea, with all the
Cumings avoids the common pitfall of many liberals and socialists
alike when passing commentary on demonised regimes. He is able to
empathetically separate out the daily lives of ordinary North Koreans
from the (often excessive) policies and actions of the state. Further,
without being sympathetic towards Pyongyang, Cumings firmly puts the
behaviour of the North Korean state, especially its foreign and
military policy, into historical and political context. At the centre
of this is the Korean War:
"Why is [Pyongyang] a garrison state? Primarily because of the
holocaust that the North experienced during the Korean War [1949-53]"
Holocaust is not an excessive term. Korea triggered an escalation in
US Cold War policy, from the containment of communism to rollback and
became a testing ground for it. Hence, instead of stopping in
September 1950, when it regained the South at the 38th parallel
(arbitrarily drawn by Washington, with the consent of the Kremlin),
the US decided to roll on and liberate North Korea. This massively
escalated the destruction, indeed, into a holocaust.
Four million Koreans (three-quarters in the North), 1 million Chinese
and 52,000 US soldiers died. Millions more were displaced and driven
to flee abroad.
The strategy of total war (war not just against the state, but also
against the people and economy), later used in Vietnam, was pioneered
Vietnam was a mere follow-on to the logic established in 1950. This
extended to the choice of weapons and warfare methods. Gigantic walls
of napalm fire were first seen in Korea. The imperialists went further
in the Korean War than they were able to get away with in Vietnam.
They established massive concentration camps and strafed peaceful
demonstrations. Thousands of leftists and sympathisers perished in
mass executions. Mass graves were still being discovered in the 1970s
in the North. Korea was much more industrialised than Vietnam. The US
flattened whole cities, many containing vital industrial
infrastructure. In the closing weeks of the war, US bombers destroyed
massive irrigation dams that provided water for 75% of the North's
One bombing run was conducted straight after the back-breaking work of
mass rice transplantation. Cumings cites a US Air Force document from
the time boasting of the results: "The subsequent flash flood scooped
clean 27 miles of valley below...The Westerner can little conceive the
awesome meaning which the loss of [rice] has for the Asian, starvation
and slow death."
Cumings also reminds us that the US war in Korea was a war against a
popular revolution. He recounts that 14% of North Koreans were members
of the Korean Workers Party. Against this historical backdrop, the
garrisoning of the Korean people by Pyongyang and the ruling KWP
contains a popular dimension, that is, it is partly rooted in the
interests and genuine needs of military defence of North Korean
working people. Cumings easily debunks any notion that North Korea is
living in the past. Most of his book is devoted to recounting and
analysing the US's continuing threats and sabotage against any
attempts at peace, especially those initiated by the South since the
"Sunshine Policy" initiated by Kim Dae-Jung when he was South
Korea's President. As such, the daily realities of North Korean life
are still afflicted by the threats of this unfinished war. The size of
the armed forces, the KWP's "military first" policy, Pyongyang's
resort to the nuclear arms card, all this is rooted in the ongoing
stand off with Washington.
And who can belittle this sense of threat given the frenzy of
destruction unfolding in Iraq today?
Indeed, a running theme in "North Korea: Another Country" is
comparisons with Iraq and a general condemnation of the Bush doctrine:
no other president would again send American armies to liberate an
established state until George W. Bush invaded Iraq in 2003.
Bruce Cumings, the world's foremost English-language authority on
Korea, has done more than any other, left or right, to demystify the
deformed workers' state of North Korea.
His two-volume magnum opus, "Origins of the Korean War", remains the
single most powerful indictment of the US war against the Korean
people. It has done much to challenge Washington's lie that it waged a
just war to defend South Korea against totalitarian aggression from
"North Korea: Another Country" carries on this important mission. It
is an uncorrupted humanist portrayal about a country that so many
liberal commentators love to hate and toward which they are so willing
to ditch any element of humanism. It is essential reading in any
attempt to truly understand North Korea.
REVIEW BY IGGY KIM
From Green Left Weekly, December 15, 2004.
The Observer and the Irish Independent reported (2 January 2005) that
an anonymous group claimed responsibility for vandalising the statue
of IRA leader Sean Russell in Dublin. It said that as Europe prepares
to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi
death camps, it could no longer tolerate a statue in honour of Sean
Russell because he was a 'Nazi collaborator'.
Sean Russell was essentially a physical force Republican, and from
what we know, he had little interest in ideologies and politics. It
was the task of the IRA to achieve independence by military means,
then things would be left to the politicians. The Nazis' attempts to
indoctrinate Russell with their philosophy and politics failed
spectacularly. Sean Russell told one German official: "I am not a
Nazi. I'm not even pro-German. I am an Irishman fighting for the
independence of Ireland. The British have been our enemies for
hundreds of years. They are the enemy of Germany today. If it suits
Germany to give us help to achieve independence, I am willing to
accept it, but no more, and there must be no strings attached." (The
Irish Times, 6 June 1958)
This is also made clear in Adrian Hoar's recent biography of Frank
Some historians also attempt to frame Frank Ryan (the famous left-wing
Republican who fought in the International Brigades against fascism in
Spain) as some kind of Nazi collaborator (see for example Fearghal
McGarry who writes on page 65 of his 2002 book on Frank Ryan of his
'conscious determination to collaborate' with the Nazis). Frank Ryan
was no collaborator; he was a man of great integrity; and his attempts
to bolster German respect for Irish neutrality can be better explained
as serving his homeland. Ryan rejoiced when hearing of Soviet victory
It is interesting to see how constant attempts are made to associate
Irish Republicanism with fascism and Nazism, while at the same time
conscious attempts are made to whitewash the Blueshirts saying they
were not really fascist after all. The fascists in Ireland come from
the Fine Gael, not the Republican tradition.
New Hands Off Venezuela website
Sunday 23rd January 2005
YOU ARE INVITED TO A PUBLIC MEETING
"The Anti-Imperialist Struggle in India!"
Speaker: Dr Darshan Pal, President Of The All India People's
VIDEO SHOW on the Struggle in India
Q & A + Open Discussion
Time: Sunday 23rd January 2005, 2P.M.
Place: Room S75, St Clement's Building, London School of Economics,
Houghton Street, London WC2 Nearest Station: Holborn
Though the transfer of power from the British Raj to Indian rulers in
1947 raised some hopes initially among the people of India for end of
tyranny and oppression and for the betterment of their lives, it did
not take long for them to realise what the new Congress rule was all
about. The naked reality that the Indian masses, especially the
workers and peasantry had to face was that the forces that took over
the reins from the British were, in fact, the big capitalists,
bureaucrats and the big landlords, serving the interests of
All India People's Resistance Forum (AIPRF) is a general democratic
organisation, which takes up the fighting tasks against imperialist
domination, the grinding backward exploitation by the semi-feudal
system and the anti-people policies of the ruling classes of India.
The AIPRF takes up the tasks of building, intensifying and
coordinating the anti-imperialist struggles in the country. It has
taken up the task of mobilising the people in democratic struggles on
a broad based way to raise a united voice of resistance against the
stooges of imperialism, the ruling classes of India.
Rally at Hyderabad
During the process of people's struggle, the Democratic forces could
muster the support of the people for the democratic rights of the
masses and create a new wave of mass political mobilization across the
whole country and involve the masses in the political battle on a wide
scale; they focused on the problems faced by the various sections of
the masses and propagated the politics of new democracy. Come to the
Meeting and hear for yourself the heroic Struggle of the hundreds of
millions of Indian People, who since the phoney 'independence'
continue to Struggle for a new democratic system. Lets build a Mass
anti-imperialist Movement as part of our Internationalist and
democratic duty with all Oppressed People's fighting against the
imperialist system on our planet!
World Peoples Resistance Movement (Britain)
Fight Racism Fight Imperialism LSE Student Society
Indian Workers Association (GB)
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