History of the Socialist International
Initially founded in Paris in 1889, the Second (or Socialist) International was led by Friedrich Engels — until his death in 1895 — in conjunction with other leaders. After being dissolved on the eve of the First World War, the SI, although by then committed to the ideals of Leon Trotsky, reorganized in 1951, serving as an ally to the Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact communist satellite republics.
During its 1962 Congress in Oslo, Norway, the Socialist International officially publicized its aims abroad, declaring, “The ultimate objective of the parties of the Socialist International is nothing less than world government,” adding, “Membership of the United Nations must be made universal.”
Several years later, in 1976, Willy Brandt — the former Chancellor of West Germany who was forced to resign in 1974 after he was exposed as an agent of the Stasi, the KGB-backed secret police of communist East Germany — became the President of the SI, serving as its longest-running leader from 1976 to 1992.
The current President of the SI is Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou (picture, above), a member of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement (better known as PASOK).
Brandt was not the only openly KGB-backed operative in the membership rolls of the SI; another SI member was former Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, a hardline member of the Marxist-Leninist communist Polish United Workers' Party; also a member of the SI was Sergei Mironov, who, as Willam F. Jasper of The New American writes: “... was an apparatchik in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and remains a stalwart supporter of Russia’s top KGB man, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.”
In addition to the PASOK, the following are included among the many other currently governing member parties of the SI:
- Angola’s MPLA-Labour Party (José Eduardo dos Santo, President),
- The Australian Labour Party (Julia Gillard, Prime Minister),
- Austria’s Social Democratic Party (Heinz Fischer, President),
- Costa Rica’s National Liberation Party (Laura Chinchilla, President),
- Ghana’s National Democratic Congress (John Atta Mills, President),
- The Mongolian People's Party (Sükhbaataryn Batbold, Prime Minister),
- Namibia's SWAPO (Hifikepunye Pohamba, President),
- Peru’s American Popular Revolutionary Alliance (Alan García, President),
- South Africa’s African National Congress (Jacob Zuma, President), and
- Spain's Spanish Socialist Workers' Party (José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister).
Aside from continued KGB/SVR penetration in the SI’s leadership apparatus, the pro-Medvedev "Just Russia" Party is also an observer member.
In the past, the SI also aligned itself with Soviet-sponsored Islamo-Communist terrorist leader Yasser Arafat of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).
As for the SI’s current political involvement in the 2010-11 protests in the Middle East and Albania, now-deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party was a member of the SI until it was kicked out in January 2011, and in Albania, the main opposition Socialist Party of Albania — led by party Chairman Edi Rama, the Mayor of Tirana — is also a member of the SI.
Socialist International in Albania
The Socialist Party of Albania (SPA) is the successor to the communist Party of Labour of Albania, which was the ruling one-party of the country during the Cold War.
On November 9, 1999, during the 21st Congress of the Socialist International in Paris, the SPA joined the SI as a “consultative member,” eventually going on to become a full fledged member party.
At the onset of protests in Tirana, and elsewhere throughout Albania, the SI issued the following statement:
The Socialist International, in line with its previously expressed views, is increasingly alarmed by the deteriorating situation in Albania. Our organisation has already addressed in its meetings the need to guarantee democracy in Albania, including the transparency of the election administration, the accountability of the executive and legislative power, the freedom and independence of the judiciary and the media, and equal rights and opportunities for citizens.
The latest exposure of grave misconduct in the case affecting Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta, which led to his resignation, points once more in the direction of our earlier appeals for real democracy and good governance in that country.
Following the typical socialist/ communist appeal for “democracy,” the statement continued with a condemnation of the alleged state violence and a call for the “apprehension” of the responsible parties (i.e., the anti-communist government):
The Socialist International denounces the killing of three protesters in Tirana last week during a demonstration in which Albanian citizens expressed their concerns following these latest developments. We call for the immediate investigation of those killings and for the authorities to act on the apprehension of those responsible for these crimes.
Our International appeals for a peaceful and democratic solution to the current crisis which is further undermining stability in the country, and expresses its full solidarity with its member the Socialist Party of Albania.
In addition to issuing statements of solidarity with the SPA, SI President Papandreou met with Rama to discuss the progress made by the SPA in its many demonstrations across Albania.
Riding on the revolutionary wave of falling dominoes in the Middle East, Rama and the SPA have called for “anti-Mubarak-style” demonstrations to bring down the ruling government of President Bamir Topi and Prime Minister Berisha of Albania.
Emboldened by the resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Ilir Meta, Rama and the Socialist opposition have vowed to continue their protests until Berisha and the whole of Parliament resign in order to make room for a new round of early parliamentary elections in hopes that the Socialists will seize power.
The SI’s call for civility is a message for the government to cease its efforts to resist the protests so as to assure an unimpeded rise to power for the SPA in conjunction with the rise of socialist parties in the nearby Middle East.
Socialist International in Egypt
Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP) became a member of the Socialist International in June 1989 at the XVIII Congress, after Mapam — an Israeli socialist party – supported the NDP’s bid for membership in the SI.
The following year, in 1990, the SI held its Council meeting in Cairo, hosted by Egyptian President Mubarak and the ruling NDP.
During the 1990 Socialist International Council meeting, Egyptian Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Butros Butros-Ghali, a confidant of President Mubarak, was named Vice President of the SI. Butros-Ghali would go on to become the sixth Secretary-General of the United Nations (UN) from January 1992 to December 1996.
The NDP’s membership to the SI did not come without opposition. A member of Egypt’s socialist-communist Tagamu Party objected:
The National Democratic Party is not really socialist or democratic. I don't understand what it is doing in the Socialist International.
As a longtime supporter of Mohamed ElBaradei and opposition to Mubarak’s government, the Tagamu Party began staging mass protests in Egypt in 2008, continuing until 2011, when the NDP was removed from its SI membership followed by Mubarak’s resignation from power.
In a letter to the NDP, Luis Ayal, the Secretary General of the SI, wrote:
… the Socialist International wanted to encourage the development of multi-party democracy in Egypt by expanding relationships in that part of the world, as democracy is for our movement a fundamental pillar upon which to secure the rights and freedoms of our citizens and to achieve social and economic progress.
… the lack of developments in relation to democracy in Egypt has left us deeply troubled, notwithstanding the hopeful moments which had arisen during the 80s and led to membership of the NDP in the SI and then again in the mid-2000s when a measure of important internal changes had taken place within the NDP.
The current massive calls being made today by the citizens of Egypt for freedoms and rights point to the dramatic failure of the Egyptian government to deliver to its people and to the failings of the NDP to live up to its promises. The use of violence, with scores dead and injured, is totally incompatible with the policies and principles of any social democratic party anywhere in the world.
Consequently, we consider that a party in government that does not listen, that does not move and that does not immediately initiate a process of meaningful change in these circumstances, cannot be a member of the Socialist International.
We are, as of today, ceasing the membership of the NDP, however we remain determined to cooperate with all the democrats in Egypt striving to achieve an open, democratic, inclusive and secular state.
Secretary Ayal’s rationale for removing the NDP is quite perplexing when considering that even at the time of its entrance to the SI, the NDP it had already been imposing an emergency law over the country for nine years which circumvented any move toward a “multi-party democracy.”
This then brings up the question: Has it really taken the SI 22 years to realize that the NDP was not “democratic,” or was the SI being opportunistic, hoping to side with the government in power for the sake of prestige and posterity?
Now that good fortune has deserted Mubarak and the NDP, so has the SI’s solidarity and good will — highlighting the deceptive nature of socialism.
The SI went from heralding itself in Egypt as a member of the establishment (when it believed it could benefit from such an arrangement) to its new revolutionary anti-establishment stance — a position that defined many of the radical leftist, socialist, and communist movements of the 1960s.
Elsewhere in the Middle East, the SI has captured the spirit of revolution.
Socialist International in 2011 Middle East Protests
In Tunisia the SI pledged its commitment to stand “ready to collaborate with all the political and social forces.”
As in Egypt, Tunisia’s President Ben Ali and the ruling political party were also members of the SI until they were deposed. The SI issued this statement:
A decision has been taken by the President [Papandreou] together with the Secretary General [Ayal], in accordance with the statutes of the Socialist International, to cease the membership of the Constitutional Democratic Assembly (RCD) of Tunisia.
In Yemen, where protests have been ongoing since 2009, the SI issued this statement:
The Socialist International reaffirms its solidarity with progressive and democratic forces in Yemen, amongst them the SI member Yemeni Socialist Party (YSP)…
During the Cold War the YSP was the single ruling party of South Yemen, which at the time served as a vital strategic Soviet satellite, exporting fully trained left-wing terrorists, including among many others the Palestinian Rejection Front and George Habash’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Sanctioned by the ruling YSP, South Yemen ran various KGB-backed terrorist training camps.
Now in the spirit of democratic revolution, the SI pledges its solidarity with a political party whose history is anything but democratic and which is known for harboring some of the world’s deadliest terrorists.
More recently, in yet another quest for relevancy, the SI issued the following statement:
In Algeria and elsewhere, the SI will continue to be a partner to those who seek democracy and [to] secure more open, just and representative governance. The lifting of the state of emergency imposed nearly two decades ago upon the Algerian people will prove to be an important starting point in this process.
Considering the SI history of KGB penetration and ongoing ties with Moscow, it comes as no surprise that it would pledge its support to the YSP, which supported Soviet-backed terrorism, and to the Socialist Party of Albania (SPA), which ruled over the country under a harsh communist dictatorship.
No matter if it is the YSP, the SPA, the NDP in Egypt, or the RCD in Tunisia, the SI can neither shrug off nor deny its history of supporting undemocratic dictatorships.
Understanding this harsh reality corrects the disinformation that the SI is an advocate of peace and democracy. Now as protests rage throughout the Middle East and Albania, the SI advocates for democracy so long as it paves the way for the democratic election of the socialist despotism that it has so long maintained in the ranks of its membership and likely hopes to see come to power after the revolutions have ended.