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Beirut: Capitalism is the murderer! It is capitalism that must be fought and overthrown!
As we write these lines, a week after the explosions that, on August 4, have devastated Beirut's port and a big part of the Lebanese capital city, the official Seth toll is almost 170, with 30 people unaccounted for and 15,000 wounded, as well as thousands homeless, for more than 300,000 people's homes have been more or less seriously damaged. Beirut's port, through which goes 80% of Lebanon’s maritime traffic, will be a wreck for an unknown period, while it is said that the silos' destruction has blown away 85% of the country’s stock of wheat, making fear food shortages in the short term. On August 7, officials estimated that the damage could amount to $15Md — a third of the GDP!
Although some Lebanese leaders have mentioned the possibility of an air attack (Israeli jets have flown several times into Lebanon's air space during the last few days), or of an weapons dump's explosion, it seems that the catastrophe has been provoked by construction works which, after a first explosion in a warehouse full of fireworks, lead to the detonation of the neighbouring warehouse full of fertiliser — the same chemical that had exploded in Toulouse, France in 2001, killing 31 and wounding hundreds. However, in Beirut, there was 9 times as much fertiliser as in Toulouse: 2,700 tons instead of 300 to 400 tons.
The authorities have acknowledged that this fertiliser, dumped there 7 years ago after being unloaded from a ship whose owner refused to pay for maintenance, had not been stored according to the proper security requirements. Apparently, customs administration had warned several times about the risk, and even tried to get a judge to compel the port administration to remove the fertiliser. However, it seems that they didn’t go as far as to warn the public and the port's workers.
Therefore, it is indeed a premeditated crime: the catastrophe was bound to happen sooner or later! Beirut inhabitants, all too conscious of the authorities responsibility in this crime, erupted with anger: thousands protested for several days against political leaders, whose effigies were hanged, while government buildings were occupied despite the massive presence of police firing rubber bullets. Several hundreds were wounded in the fights.
THE ECONOMIC CRISIS DEVASTATING EFFECTS
What makes the protesters all the more angry is the fact that the port's catastrophe comes on top of an economic catastrophe that has been hitting Lebanon for months: proletarians and poor masses are the first victims of this unprecedented economic crisis, which has been even worsened by the measures taken against covid. The galloping inflation reached an annual rate of 90% (but for basic commodities, has been 169% since September!), while 46% of the population is below the poverty line (they could be 60% by the end of the year). Unemployment reaches 35% in the formal sector, and 45% in the informal sector. One out of five Lebanese has to skip a meal daily to save money, and one out of three Syrian refugees has to do the same (there are 1.5 million refugees in a Lebanese population of about 6 millions). At the end of July, the NGO “Save the Children” estimated that about 1 million inhabitants of the Beirut area, half of them children, didn’t have enough resources to cover their fundamental needs (including food); 50% of Lebanese, 63% of Palestinians (the Palestinian community, amounting for hundreds of thousands of people — the exact number isn’t known — is mostly confined to badly remunerated jobs in the informal sector), and 73% of Syrians, feared that they wouldn’t be able to eat sufficiently in the coming period (1).
THE GOVERNMENT RESIGNS TO PROTECT THE CAPITALIST SYSTEM
Following the protests and the widespread distrust, the government had opted for resignation on Monday, August 10, but not before trying to quell the anger by talking about anticipated elections; in his resignation speech, the prime minister has had the nerves to denounce “endemic corruption within the State”! Some protesters have replied that the government's resignation isn't enough, and that the whole political class must go.
However, the true issue isn’t crooked politicians or weak institutions. The true issue is the capitalist system itself: it is the capitalist mode of production and the law of value that neglect protection measures they deem too costly, thus condemning people to die, in Beirut or in Toulouse. It is the capitalist mode of production that generates corruption; and if corruption all the more obvious and unbearable when a country experiences huge economic difficulties, it is nevertheless always present.
It is the capitalist mode of production that throws proletarians and the masses into hunger and misery to save its profits, and strangles the weaker States for the sake of the stronger ones.
Through its president Emmanuel Macron, the French imperialism has tried to protect itself as a quasi saviour of Lebanon and Lebanese people; but it insists for the authorities to give in to the IMF's austerity measures before it releases all the “help” the country is in dire need of in order to avoid bankruptcy (2).
Moreover, Lebanese proletarians cannot have forgotten the criminal endeavour of French imperialism during colonisation (the “Mandate” period) and the gruesome part it played in the confessionalization of political life that still burdens Lebanon today.
The economic crisis doesn’t hit proletarians only; middle classes are hit too, and threatened of proletarianization. They are part of the revolt, and necessarily carry with them, into the revolt, their illusions about democracy and reform of the State. Yet all the prospects of a reform of the institutions, even the most radical, even the most “revolutionary”, are nothing but dead ends; they cannot lead to any improvement for proletarians and poor masses. The resignation of the government and members of parliament can only serve as a shield for the capitalist system: capitalism is the true culprit, it is capitalism that must be “thrown out” by the proletarian revolution; the bourgeois State is its protector, it the bourgeois State that must be smashed, and on its ashes the dictatorial proletarian power must necessarily expropriate the bourgeoisie both politically and economically, and start removing capitalism.
All the calls for “vengeance” for the victims, all the prospects of a “revolution” that shies away from revolutionary class struggle against capitalism and the bourgeois State, never amount to nothing — as the so-called “October revolution”, which had already led to a government's resignation, has already shown last year.
Vanguard proletarians must learn from this and work, in collaboration with proletarians of all countries, on rebuilding the vital organs necessary to lead this proletarian struggle, starting with the class party, internationalist and international; this is a long term task, a task that list be started without delay in order to get rid once and for all of this criminal mode of production.
(1) “Save the Children”, press release on July 30, 2020.
(2) The Lebanese government had requested a $10Md loan from the IMF. The French foreign affairs minister, the former “socialist” Jean-Yves Le Drian, visited Beirut on July 8 to explain how no money would be released unless the “reforms” are enacted. When bourgeois talk about “reforms”, what they mean is anti-proletarian attacks!
International Communist Party
August, 12th 2020
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