Press Conference - New Paristan
The buzz in the air is palpable as Prime Minister Magritte steps up to the podium.
"Friends, comrades, members of the press. It has been a long time since New Paristan looked outside of itself at the wider world. Long years struggling against a bourgeois terrorist movement dedicated to destroying our socialist way of life. Thousands have perished. Thousands more have fled. The tragedy and devastation is too much to think about. But we must pause for a moment to remember the dead.
*moment of silence*
And now, we start anew, and we renew our nation's dedication to friendship with the wider world. Our first step is joining the European Union, in hopes of developing new economic and political allies and friends.
As for our own country, the reactionary rebellion is over, its leaders jailed or executed, and the foreign bourgeois governments who funded the rebellion are on notice that New Paristan will not tolerate interference in its internal affairs.
The new Congress is purged of bourgeois elements - the people of New Paristan realizing finally that the Movement for a Popular Majority is nothing but a terrorist organization funded by foreign corporations designed to prevent New Paristan from becoming a model of socialist development.
Now, with a solid coalition of Communists, Socialists, and Anarchists commanding a 2/3 majority in the Congress, we have voted to ban all reactionary parties, and any party shown to be funded by foreign governments and corporations, from standing in any election. Such parties must not be allowed to turn back the clock!
New Paristan belongs to the workers, and to the organizations that the workers create to govern themselves. The state's only function is to facilitate the creation of a system of coordinated worker self-management, and to guide industrial and economic development along carefully planned lines. No war but the class war! All power to the workers!
I will now take your questions."
Hi, Simon Willis, National Observer.
Mr. Magritte, the government of Angleter is, and I quote, "shocked and appalled at the curtailment of democracy and freedom of opinion in New Paristan as the government uses its parliamentary majority to eliminate all non-leftist viewpoints from the democratic system."
How would you refute this sentiment? Are you not basically actively persecuting the people- workers or not- who oppose your government's policies?
The Prime Minister grins and leans forward, crossing his arms on the podium.
"Mr. Willis, your question is full of artificial divisions - government vs. people, left vs. right. These divisions are artifacts of capitalism - a system that uses such divisions to pit worker against worker in the class war.
Our government has plenty of room for dissent and differing opinions. All parties wishing to run in any election must simply sign a pledge and demonstrate that their party platforms are loyal to the workers of New Paristan.
Such measures are necessary after the bloody mess we've just been through. If we'd had this law when General LeClerc seized power and let his bourgeois armies wreak havoc on our great nation, well...they wouldn't have been able to do so.
Our ultimate aim here, especially for our allies in the Worker Freedom Party, the anarcho-syndicalists, who have the 2nd most seats in Congress, is the abolition of all things that divide us as workers - including, eventually, the government itself."
I am Jack Ealing of the PLS Broadcasting Corporation.
Can the government of New Paristan confirm that a party advocating capitalism or a mixed economy would be regarded as reactionary and unlawful? If so, what penalties would be associated with advocating for such policies or attempting to promote them electorally?
Would a new political party in New Partisan be free to affiliate itself with the European Conservatives & Reformists, European People's Party, European Liberal Democrats League, or the Party of European Socialists?
"Mr. Ealing, if you look at the composition of the current Congress, you will see that we have three brand new opposition parties - the Free Democrats, the Christian Democrats, and the Rally for the Republic. These parties are made up of people who used to be allied with General LeClerc and his brutal regime, and thus, in principle, they are still bourgeois parties. The only thing they are not allowed to advocate for is violence or destruction of worker organizations.
I think you may find one or all of them applying for membership in European political parties. I cannot speak to which they will choose, but my government is definitely interested in how these new opposition parties choose to comport themselves. If they can do so in a spirit of loyalty to the workers of New Paristan, then we welcome their contribution to European politics. If they misbehave, well, then we'll cross that bridge when we come to it, won't we?"
I have a follow-up question.
Prime Minister, sources tell the PLS Broadcasting Corporation that the opposition parties are not what they seem to be. We are told, "The official opposition parties are a joke - puppets and sycophants who are just as committed to Magritte's demented anarcho-communism, but who are granted the privilege of questioning the methods by which it is instituted."
In light of this allegation, do you expect non-communist governments to accept that you are a democratic leader?
Mr. Magritte laughs. "Your source, whoever it is, is lying to you. I will venture a guess that this propaganda comes from one of our former oppressors in the MPM. I suggest that all nations who wish a productive relationship with New Paristan ignore such lies and misinformation and visit our great country to see the wonderful things we're building here." Mr. Magritte pauses, and looks you straight in the eye.
"I wonder, Mr. Ealing, whether you think an anarchist political party - one that believes in the destruction of coercive government as a means to achieving a cooperative, peaceful, society - would join a government with any hint of oppressive intentions? And yet, the Worker Freedom Party is the second largest member of our coalition, and their contributions are leading to great innovations in the way we're structuring our new workers' democracy.
Our opposition parties are free to propose whatever platform they wish, to agitate freely for their positions, to run candidates for elections - as long as they don't advocate the violent overthrow of the state. I think you'll find that most countries call advocating the violent overthrow of the government by a very simple name: treason. Is it unreasonable for us to ask our opposition not to commit treason?"
Can you please explain why you believe our sources to be from MPM?
Furthermore, in light of your assertion of the freedom of the opposition, can you confirm that any New Paristani is free to choose to leave New Paristan without intimidation, harm, or delay?
"This is a distressing line of questioning. Of course any Paristani is free to leave at any time. Why would you think otherwise?
Why do I think your source is from the MPM? Because they're a bunch of dirty terrorist rats, and they didn't just disappear after they were overthrown. We know there are terrorist cells of the MPM operating in secret both here and abroad. "
Pause. A serious look.
"I trust that your government will not entangle itself with any of these terrorists. The results of such an entanglement would be...unfortunate.
Now, shall we move on? Surely there are others among you who have questions."
I'm Belinda Brixton of the Pazia Daily News.
Mr Magritte, are you aware of press reports that the government of Peace-Loving States is officially accepting that that you are a democratic leader as a mere pretext for the denial of asylum claims made by New Paristani refugees arriving in PLS?
If there is no persecution of the New Paristani opposition, why is the PLS government apparently anticipating a flood of New Paristani refugees on such a large scale that they will need to turn New Paristani asylum seekers away in order to stay within the PLS Home Affairs Department's budget?
Simon Willis again.
You seem to be acting quite threateningly here. "The results of such an entanglement would be unfortunate-" what does that mean? Are you threatening military action against nations that aid or abett political dissidents?
And generally, Sir, three new 'opposition' parties being created instantaneously often suggests something's amiss.
"You know, it's amazing how perceptions can be warped when a country goes through a period of turmoil.
I am not threatening anyone with any action. We seek no war with our neighbors. We are of peace, always.
What we ask of our neighbors is an understanding of what we've been through over the past decade - the brutality of the LeClerc regime, the extreme measures his goons took to suppress dissent and destroy the unions. The movement that ousted him from power had to work in the shadows, organizing in secret, before we even consider coming out in the open with our demands."
Pause. Magritte is obviously getting emotional. He takes a deep breath.
"My brother was a leader of the General Union of Workers - the labor federation affiliated with the Communist Party. He helped to spark the fires of revolution. And last May 1st, when we finally all took to the streets in a general strike, to march, to demand our rights, he was shot down. He was brutally murdered by LeClerc's military police. Along with 100 of our friends and family. Our comrades."
Magritte wipes a tear from his eye.
"Two months later, we stormed the gates - thousands of us stormed the Presidential Palace and the Congress. By that point, we had more than half the army on our side, and had infiltrated LeClerc's military police, so that most of them stood by as we took control. We physically threw LeClerc and his goons from office, and put them in jail - it was a war - we were fighting for our lives. Hundreds of our brothers and sisters were killed.
All of this death, all of this pain - this revolution - it happened because we allowed a terrorist organization to operate as a political party and take over the government. In any revolution, there is change. We had to ban the MPM, the symbols of that regime, the evil that manifested in its ranks.
But of course, we are of peace - and we believe in democracy. So once the dust had settled, we held elections. Three opposition parties were formed, and once we had reviewed their platforms to ensure that they didn't advocate treason against the revolution, we gave them the freedom to run their affairs as they saw fit.
I think the election results speak for themselves - the Red/Black alliance have a commanding majority, but the Democratic Freedom Group have their seats as well. It's a free system.
And as to these rumors of unruly mobs beating up counterrevolutionaries - these are being spread by MPM thugs who fled New Paristan, some of them probably ending up in your own nations - and are spreading lies about our revolution. I cannot emphasize enough how dangerous these terrorists are. I urge your governments to bring anyone claiming "asylum" in your nation to one of our embassies. I promise - they will be granted their full rights under Paristani law.
We welcome the press to come to Montmartre, visit the prison facility where LeClerc and his top aides are serving life sentences for treason against the people of New Paristan, and see for yourselves that we are treating them with a level of humanity that his regime never afforded us."
Magritte pauses again, takes a deep breath.
"Look, I know that it's hard for a bourgeois government to fathom the idea that a proletarian revolution could be authentic, that we really are on the road to true socialism here, that the workers really are in control. The history of communism is not one that inspires confidence. Many countries use the red flag as an excuse to impose an oppressive statist regime run by the elites and the intelligentsia. Often, a small "vanguard" party will claim to represent the working class, while not having a single union member among its ranks. That is not what is happening here.
I am a steelworker, and a member of the GUW. The membership of the GUW nominated me as its candidate for Prime Minister to run under the Communist banner. The membership of the Union of Free Workers, the anarcho-syndicalists, nominated Mr. Valjean to run as the Worker Freedom Party's candidate for Prime Minister. The membership of the Paristani Labor Confederation, associated with the Socialist Party, nominated Mr. Picard as their candidate. After the elections, the three parties agreed to form a coalition government - again, with a full vote of the membership of each union.
The opposition parties did things differently - they held nationwide primaries not affiliated with any of the unions. But once the nominating process was over, all six candidates stood as equals, given equal funding, equal press access, equal ability to connect with Paristani voters. And the voters made their choices.
That is democracy, my friends. Not just political democracy, but economic democracy as well. And you are free to verify what I'm telling you."