(Editor’s note: PLP members protested at the Haitian Consulate in NYC. A speech there led to the following article.)
NEW YORK CITY, February 4 — Workers joined together in front of the Haitian consulate to support working brothers and sisters in Haiti, who are also out in the streets organizing. Their demands are for food, clean water, jobs, housing, schools, health care in the middle of a UN-caused cholera epidemic, the end of police brutality, and the withdrawal of MINUSTAH (the UN Mission)from their country. Workers in the U.S. raised a crucial question: Does government, represented by the consulate they stood in front of, actually rule Haiti?
Who Rules Haiti?
The major imperialists like the U.S., France and Canada, also known as “donors”;
The International Financial Institutions (IFI) like the World Bank, the IMF, and the Inter-American Development Bank;
The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), co-chaired by Bill Clinton and Prime Minister Jean Max Bellerive and dominated by bankers, who direct reconstruction policies and funding for Haiti;
The notorious NGOs, the “non-governmental institutions” who supply services the state cannot supply and who therefore are the state in its social service function.
The big imperialists, the IFIs, the IHRC, and the NGOs rule Haiti together with the complicity of the small but vicious Haitian capitalist ruling class — the “Six Families.” This political reality mirrors the age-old economic exploitation of Haitian workers and farmers by the same combination of imperialists and their lacky rulers.
Who Rules Education?
Education is a great example of how these imperialist and “local” bosses rule. In Haiti, 10% of the schools are public and more than a million children (in a total population of about 10 million) are shunned from schools completely. PLP’s friends in Haiti, among left-wing trade unionists and students, have made free universal public schools their main mass campaign. IHRC’s plan is to turn education reconstruction policy over to the Inter-American Development Bank, who turned to the “recovery” superintendent of schools in New Orleans, Paul Vallas, to run the program.
Just like the U.S. bosses in New Orleans tried to smash the teachers’ union by converting public schools into charter schools after hurricane Katrina, Haiti’s rulers plan “public/private partnership” schools. This will amount to donor-fund subsidies to the private managers who run 90% of Haiti’s existing schools.
If one reduces the question “who rules Haiti” down to “who runs education policy” in this time of genocidal social crisis, it is easy to trace the network of power from the New Orleans schools superintendent to the international bankers. Following right along, the leading candidate for Haitian president, Madame Manigat, has made this “reconstruction” of education her big campaign issue, after a big boost to the national police.
Who Rules the World?
Who rules Haiti, Egypt, Tunisia, Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan…the world? It’s apparent who sits for the moment, and who will likely follow them, in the offices of Préval, Mubarak, Ben Ali, Netanyahu, Maliki, Karzai, and Zardari. Sometimes these local stewards of capitalist power show their teeth to the imperialists; the U.S. is having serious trouble imposing its will on most of them. But it is imperialism — one rival imperialist power or the other, as they face each other armed to the teeth for their next war — that prevails in the world today. That is the systematic power network we, the working class, are up against.
What can we hope to do against those who rule the world today for the profit system? There is a potential network of power in the unused power of the world’s working class, in an organized anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist mass movement in the world which has been at a very low ebb, but whose soldiers have fought on in Haiti, in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Israel, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Pakistan. Mass popular uprisings in Egypt capture headlines today and show us a very tiny measure of the power of an aroused working class, but they don’t take aim at the profit system.
Our hope lies in a more deeply-organized movement led by PLP to smash the rulers, a global movement of proletarian internationalism, with a vision of reconstruction in which workers’ power can unleash workers’ creativity to make a society that is actually a human society, as opposed to the history of class societies that our species has had to endure up to now.
Smash Imperialism, Power to the Workers!
The heroic fighters of Tahrir Square in Cairo fought off two days of armed attacks by Mubarak’s thugs while the army looked on. Their focus only on Mubarak is a huge weakness because capitalism never has and never will bring real democracy to workers. But let us join with them and all rebels against the anti-human capitalist system, and try to work with them to solve together the burning problem of power in the imperialist era.
Let us join with our friends organizing in Haiti, in Israel, in Pakistan. Let us learn from each other answers to the key political question, the question of who holds power and how; how it is much more than a Mubarak or a Préval, even a Bush or an Obama. Let us challenge capitalist power with workers’ power. We can only do it internationally in the age of imperialism, we can only do it together across all the bosses’ borders and turf wars in one united, organized, international movement. We will fight on, for the vision of workers meeting their needs without the existence of bosses. The workers are many, the capitalists are few.