Statement of the Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), 14.11.2013, www.thecommunists.net
Note of the Editor: Comrade Tony Iltis drew our attention to a factual mistake which we have corrected now. We wrote "The Partido ng Manggagawa (Labor Party-Philippines) has already organized a caravan to bring food and clothes to the people on the the islands stricken." In fact, the Peoples Caravan (as well as subsequent caravans) was organised not by the the Partido ng Manggagawa but was organised by the Partido Lakas ng Masa.
Typhoon Yolanda, also known as “Haiyan", that hit the Philippines in the last days has caused a disaster for the people. Officials say that the death toll could be at least 10,000 people. About 70-80% of houses and structures along the typhoon’s path were destroyed. Most of the people are small peasants, fishermen, workers and poor. People are waiting desperately for aid as has been promised by the capitalist government of President Aquino. Instead of aid the government sends the army to shoot "looters" (who are often simply survivors looking for clean water and food in the remains of shops) and to protect big business. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT) calls for International Workers Aid to help the Philippine people. The RCIT points out that the capitalist climate crisis is the final cause for this disaster. This climate crisis is caused by profit-driven world economy which is under the control of the imperialist monopolies. This worsening climate crisis can only be fought by the revolutionary struggle of the working class and the oppressed culminating in the overthrow capitalism and the building of a global socialist society.
The BBC says that more than nine million people are affected, in the Philippines alone. According to UNICEF 40% of the people affected are children, many of them already or soon-to-be orphans. On Monday the 11th, Philippine military already counted 942 fatalities in the typhoon’s aftermath. The sudden destruction of many hygiene and health centers, as well as the starting food and water crisis is a basis for a severe epidemic. Infections like cholera already start to spread.
The mass starvation of hundreds of thousands Filipinos, the ongoing search of children, searching for their parents, next to decaying corpses on the street, and the ongoing flight of thousands of homeless people are deeply touching everyone’s hearts. Who is responsible for this disaster?
Why did this catastrophe happen?
Natural disasters are not new phenomena. In history, the Philippines had been hit by many natural disasters. But as the climate crisis is deepening, they are becoming more and more regular as well as disastrous. Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) is said to have been the strongest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines.
It is the imperialist states and their monopolies – in North America, Western Europe, Japan, Australia, and also emerging imperialist China – which are plundering and destroying the environment. They are responsible for the climate crisis which increasingly endangers the future of humankind. Most notably the USA is responsible for 25% of all greenhouse gases. The imperialist states and monopolies emit much more carbon to the atmosphere than the semi-colonial countries (the so-called Third World). They are producing increasing volumes of greenhouse gases which drive global temperature to rise. As a result we see dramatic changes of the climate like warmer and rising sea levels and which eventually lead to the formation of super-typhoons like Yolanda (Haiyan).
Capitalism which is in a period of decay is incapable of overcoming the climate crisis. In fact, worse is to come. According to the sixth annual release of Maplecroft’s Climate Change and Environmental Risk Atlas, “31% of global economic output will be based in countries facing ‘high’ or ‘extreme risks’ from the impacts of climate change by the year 2025 – a 50% increase on current levels and more than double since the company began researching the issue in 2008.”
The poor countries are those under biggest danger. The report names as the countries under most risk Bangladesh (1st and most at risk), Guinea-Bissau (2nd), Sierra Leone (3rd), Haiti (4th), South Sudan (5th), Nigeria (6th), DR Congo (7th), Cambodia (8th), Philippines (9th) and Ethiopia (10th). But also other big semi-colonies are under increasing risk like India (20th), Pakistan (24th), Viet Nam (26th) and Indonesia (38th). (China is also a “high risk” country, ranked as 61st.)
This shows that climate change is a class issue. The richest capitalist classes – the imperialist states and their monopolies – are causing the climate crisis. And the huge majority of the working class, peasants and poor – living in the semi-colonial world – are the first and most to pay the price for it. (This fact is so obvious that even the Editorial of the bourgeois British daily paper “The Guardian” on 11.11.2013 had to mention it.)
In addition one has to state that it is possible to prepare against natural disasters. As various progressive organizations in the Philippines have pointed out, both civil bureaucracy and military forces of the Aquino regime did not give timely and adequate warning to the people about the grave dangers of the super typhoon and the storm surges from the sea. They did not prepare evacuation centers. And they did not guide the people to move to relatively safe areas before the super typhoon struck. Here again, one has to say that climate change is a class issue. It is the workers, peasants and poor who live in substandard housing and who are most exposed to the effects of the natural disasters.
International Workers Aid is the answer
Despite the fact that typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) was already spotted on 6./7.11, several aid campaigns in the rich countries have only started now. This hypocritical act of relief comes already too late to prevent the worst. Nevertheless, something is better than nothing.
However, this is obviously not enough. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency calls the international workers movement – the big trade unions, the working class parties, migrant organizations etc. - to organize a global solidarity campaigns for the workers and poor in the Philippines.
There are already initiatives organized by progressive popular organizations in the Philippines. The Partido Lakas ng Masa has already organized a caravan to bring food and clothes to the people on the the islands stricken. Organizations with a Maoist background like BAYAN organize together with other organizations the initiative BALSA to help the people.
However what is lacking are concentrated efforts by the international workers movement, in particular in the rich imperialist countries. An International Workers Aid campaign – led by Filipino and international mass organizations of the workers, peasants and poor – is highly overdue.
Such an International Workers Aid campaign must closely collaborate with workers and popular organizations in the Philippines, not the bureaucrats of the corrupt state apparatus. Just as a repairman is the only one who can professionally fix water damages at everybody’s home, the workers and the peasants are the only ones who are really capable of fixing the damages in the country in a sustained manner. The millions of Filipino workers and peasants that are affected by the typhoon are those, who have the qualification and who will play a leading role in the rebuilding of the cities and villages of the country.
An International Workers Aid has the purpose to collect money, food, water, medicine, devices of hygiene and all other sorts of supplies that are necessary to manage life in the short-term. This initiative should approach workers and migrants associations in all countries worldwide. All supplies should be sent to the Filipino workers movement and popular organizations so that they can help the people and rebuild the country.
We warn against any reliance on the bourgeois states and their sponsored aid organizations. We say: “No trust in so-called humanitarian organizations, like the Red Cross, which collaborate with those imperialist and corrupt states, which are responsible for the consequences of the climate change. For workers’ and popular control of all goods that are collected for the Philippine people!” The workers movement has to prepare and watch for any chance to gain control of supplies that are sent by the imperialist and corrupt states, to make sure that they are used for a reasonable purpose. Also it has to make sure, that the looting of shops, done by some of the victims, does not impair other victims. Anyway, looting is not the solution. What is necessary is the formation of emergency committees of the workers and oppressed to take over the control in the areas, to confiscate goods whenever necessary and to supervise their distribution.
Finally, the workers and popular organizations have to protest against the massive presence of the Philippine army in the areas affected by the typhoon. Their main purpose is not to organize aid to the people as it has already become obvious to more and more people. The army’s main purpose is rather to protect the premises of big business against the hungry people and to suppress any self-organized efforts of the people to confiscate whatever is necessary for survival.
For an International Emergency Plan against the Climate Crisis!
The climate crisis is deepening and urgently needs an answer from the international workers movement. The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency calls for an International Emergency Plan, elaborated by the mass organizations of the working class and the oppressed and implemented under their control. The costs of such an emergency plan have to be paid by all those enterprises and states, which are responsible for the climate change and its impacts. These great robbers preyed upon the workers and the poor, the small peasants, the fishermen, so it is high time that they pay for what they did!
To save our planet, the machinery and technologies in the industries responsible for the pollution of the environment need to be modified or abolished. For this, the enterprises must be put under workers’ control to avoid that the profit orientated capitalists, the owners, politicians and managers derail our efforts.
Revolution and Socialism is the only solution
This is not the first and certainly not the last natural disaster on this earth! The Revolutionary Communist International Tendency is aware that the only sustaining solution is a worldwide system that works for the benefit of the majority of humankind and looks after the social and democratic issues like the ongoing climate change. We call this system socialism! The system today, capitalism, is in its death agony, but it is strong enough to cause the death of millions and the exploitation of billions every year. In fact, the necessity for a new socialist system is increasing day-by-day and eventually becomes a question of survival. We are also aware that this system will not come automatically, but only by the struggle of our class, the working class, and under the leadership of its vanguard organized in a revolutionary world party. The RCIT is an organization which is fighting to build such a new International which will be the Fifth Workers International. Our goal is to rally all those, who are willing to fight for a bright socialist future, without exploitation, oppression and natural disasters.
If you are willing to fight together with us, join us!
The RCIT demands:
* For International Workers Aid! The international workers movement needs to organize an initiative to make sure that the help goes straight to all those who are mostly affected in the Philippines.
* Down with the repressive army! For self-organized emergency committees of the workers and oppressed to take over the control in the areas, to confiscate goods whenever necessary and to supervise their distribution.
* Nationalisation under workers’ control of all energy companies and all companies that are responsible for basic supplies such as water, agriculture and airlines, ship and rail facilities!
* For an emergency plan to convert the energy and transport system and for a global phasing out of fossil fuels and nuclear energy production connected to a public employment programme! For the massive exploration and use of alternative forms of energy such as wind, tidal and solar power! For a global reforestation program of the woods! Radical expansion of public transport to push back individual car traffic!
* Force the imperialist corporations and states, to pay compensation to the semi-colonial countries for the environmental destruction caused by them! No emissions trade and “ecological points” system!
* Abolition of commercial secrecy in clean technology and energy sectors! Bring together the knowledge for the creation of effective alternatives!
International Secretariat of the RCIT