No 1613 25th July 2022
Vicious Tory joke-fraud leadership “election” reveals panicked bankruptcy of a clueless ruling class staring into the headlights of the greatest economic and political Catastrophe in history. No parliament can stop the typhoon of inflation coming. No way out of the “overproduction” contradictions paralysing the profit system except destruction of the “surplus”, using world war – usefully fooling and diverting mass attention too with racist scapegoating and jingoist hate-filled populism. Hence Brexit and hence non-stop war from Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to nazi-NATO war on Russia provoked by the West for just this purpose. Hence the Truss’s hollow Boris-clone brashness with ruling class media keeping Boris Johnson warmed up in case, ready to trample over more “democracy” delusions than already in 2019. Third World eruptions like Sri Lanka will be non-stop, harbingers of world revolution, the only solution. Leninist consciousness vital
Vicious backbiting in the Tory “election” farce; Joe Biden’s gobsmackingly hypocritical grovel to murderous Saudi feudal thugs and Zionist fascism; new revelations of actual, Western deathsquad warcrimes in Afghanistan (versus total fabrications about Russian “genocide killing” in Ukraine); and a rising new Palestinian Intifada and street turmoil across the world, all demonstrate a ruling order being shaken to pieces as capitalist crisis deepens precipitously.
The huge popular revolt toppling Sri Lanka’s president, echoing 2011’s later-suppressed Arab Spring street revolt in Tunisia and Egypt, has further shattered its confidence.
So too has Moscow’s rolling defeat of the gross nazi-NATO war in Ukraine, cheered on by the US-hating Third World despite the most astounding upside-down lying psyops propaganda campaign ever, trying to force diplomatic and UN backing and to stampede public opinion behind the Western-provoked fascism still dragging the reactionary Kiev nationalists to disaster in a welter of destruction, all to divert attention from the West’s economic meltdown.
Detailed analysis is needed for all these upheavals, but the starting point must be the great implosion of the 800-year old capitalist system, with all these events understood as symptoms and expressions of the same great Catastrophe which will keep on deepening until capitalism is ended in the only way possible, its revolutionary overturn.
Not for nothing did Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, and later Lenin’s Bolsheviks, make the economy a central element of their profound lifetime battle for revolutionary understanding and philosophy, – (see Capital 1-3, the Communist Manifesto, Lenin’s Imperialism and multiple volumes of collected works, all still providing a solid and vital foundation for understanding) – identifying the core contradictions and their historical movement and sharpening in capitalism.
It is those which not only explain and account for the gross exploitation, alienation and inequality of class-ridden capitalist society and its brutal expansionist domineering of the planet, forced ever outwards, but the simultaneous relentless drive into inevitable and unstoppable collapses, each crisis greater than the last.
As they analysed, the long-dominant and now monopoly capitalist ruling class is being pushed onto the ropes as its profit-grubbing exploitation order disintegrates into desperate economic chaos and widening environmental destruction.
It weakness is reflected in both increasing chaos and stepped up exploitation, along with increasing moves towards repression, censorship and jingoistic war – the ingredients of fascism as reflected by the populism and viciousness of the Tory non-election.
From its beginning at the start of the twentieth century, the imperialist phase of the bourgeois system (when the “free market” became dominated by monopoly capitalist corporations and banks) has been in a state of virtually permanent crisis and frequent brutal conflict even as it expanded. The ruling class has staggered through, via two economically devastating world wars in the twentieth century (destroying some of the ever-accumulating great mountains of “surplus” capital and credit which drown the capacity of the system to make a profit – allowing a temporary post-war rock-and-roll “boom”), and then through endless regional and sectoral breakdowns, Black Mondays, currency collapses and “recessions”.
Its fabulous boomtime technological and living standards advances (for the richest only) have been made only through constant wars, assassinations, coups and tyrannical repression allied with non-stop credit creation, to sustain a world network of bribed fascist stooges and military interventions to suppress the masses, keeping going the sweatshop and plantation wage-slavery (and real slavery) of the Third World that pays for everything.
The added bonus of the Soviet liquidation by revisionist stupidity under Mikhail Gorbachev after 70 years of giant workers state achievements without any capitalism at all, and ending of the Cold War “balance” with the West, gave a tiny extension.
But in 2009 ever deepening contradiction hit the rocks in global collapse, when the entire world system was on the edge of a “financial nuclear winter” as then Chancellor Alistair Darling later described it. It was rescued only by even more insane credit creation (though only partially – ask the austerity hit working class suffering in the US and Europe, and everywhere else even more).
Trillions of “new” Quantitative Easing dollars since have only magnified the Catastrophe.
Poverty, hunger, despair and trade war is now on a trajectory to conditions far worse than the 1930s and heading for all out World War Three with a massive lurch downwards due any second.
The hatred and anger of the masses world wide is becoming ever more explosive caused by, and adding to, the crisis.
Imperialism’s answer, a turn to general worldwide warmongering and domestic repression for the last two decades, (beginning by blitzing Serbia) has already destroyed half a dozen countries, torturing, bombing and butchering millions to “shock and awe” the world back into compliance with neocolonial diktat, exploitation and plundering and to provide a diversionary excuse to cover up the world collapse caused by its own rotten system.
But the warmongering has only made the situation even worse, multiplying mass hostility in street revolts across the world and stimulating all kinds of militancy, always labelled “terrorism” by the West but, despite often backward ideology (and some sporadic Western manipulation here and there), demonstrating the unstoppable rise of anti-imperialist ferment striking significant blows against the dominating US Empire.
Hence the need for a new war, cleverly set going by provoking Russia and laughably declared an “aggressive attack” by Moscow when its is only the next in a cascade of Western wars and blitzings.
But while grotesque lies and bent propaganda, and the paralysed splits in the bourgeoisie, expose its loss of control and growing panic, there is still no coherent crisis perspective offered by the “left” for the ordinary billions of the planet about these events and what can and must be done about them.
They will not say that only the most titanic class war to overturn the entire 800-year old exploitation system can stop the world plunging to complete chaos, economic, political and environmental, culminating in Third World War (already started).
Nor do they even give any sense of the unstoppable movement of the crisis into Catastrophe.
And why not? Because that demands the revolutionary conclusion that their class collaboration, opportunism and fearful and complacent petty bourgeois anti-communism is desperate to avoid – whatever their pretensions and self-descriptions as “Marxists” or “communists”.
Every shade of the fake-“left” in other words is a fraud which does not want to see the breakdown inevitable in the irresolvable impasse the capitalist system has come to, because secretly they are more or less content with their own niche middle class existence, posturing as “progressive” while feeding from the crumbs dropped by the billionaire big monopoly bourgeoisie they are in awe to.
So the TUC “labour movement” clings onto class collaborating bureaucratic trade union “reformism” – already bankrupt nearly a century ago and nothing but the grossest opportunism even then and still peddling the disarming nonsense that workers’ strikes alone can “defend living standards” (after a decade of doing virtually nothing against the hammering of austerity) (see EPSR Book Vol 10 Trade unionism).
Obviously, growing militant spirit among ordinary hard-pressed workers is a good sign and battles have to be fought as they come, but the sacrifices workers make need far more leadership than piecemeal and complacent platitudes about “fair wages” and “restoring picketing rights”.
For a start wage exploitation has never been “fair” and never can be as Marx and Engels explained (see A fair day’s pay for a fair days’ work); and secondly, such gains as workers did win in the past, despite heroic and hard struggles, were achieved against a well-off imperial ruling class willing (grudgingly) to head off underlying revolutionary sentiment with bribes and reforms (as after World War Two) paid from colonial superprofits.
The crisis hammered bourgeoisie has no room for such concessions any more, least of all from the has-been British elite, devoid of Empire.
A decade of foodbank austerity shows everything is now to be taken back (local services, education, the NHS etc all being dismantled and privatised) while wages are not just kept stagnant but driven down, low enough to force once-privileged workers to take jobs at east European rates or even Third World levels, with concomitant tearing up of safety and working conditions (the real “Brexit” reason the government refuses to bring in migrants to fill gaps).
When workers are facing a howling hurricane of foodbank economic collapse and warmongering they will more rarely manage to hold to past conditions by economic strikes (good luck where they can) and a wider perspective is critical if they are to avoid demoralisation (see EPSR on the miners strike reproduced last issue).
Going into battle armed with revolutionary theory and an understanding of the crisis, whatever might be achieved in immediate terms, means vital progress for a working class confronted with the much deeper class war demands ahead against this 800-year old disintegrating capitalist system – the first of those being to build a revolutionary party and leadership.
But not even ex-TUC “left” militants like RMT leader Mick Lynch produce a murmur about the real crisis facing workers – even declaring they are “non-political” just when broad perspectives ie Marxist politics, have never been more needed.
The Labourites are even worse than comfortable TUC bureaucrats, not only doing nothing for the last decades of austerity but helping impose it and backing up the gross war lies around Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and now Ukraine, as well as threats against many more from Iran to Cuba, China and North Korea.
Labour is a bourgeois party, nothing but the B-team for the ruling class, increasingly openly under Blairism’s rejection of socialism and lying spin warmaking on Iraq, and in its latest Starmerite incarnation so much a forelock-tugging “trustee” for the system that it cannot even tolerate its own shallow “left” which has always provided a cover for the bamboozling fiction that “one day we will be able to win through to socialist policies”.
So desperate is the crisis now facing the bourgeoisie even the pale-enough Corbynites had to be stabbed in back with the vile and absurd Zionist/CIA “anti-semitism” sabotage campaign, once a wave of mass left sentiment started lifting them up.
The fake-“left” does no better.
Revisionist retreats from Leninist revolutionary understanding which have hamstrung minds for a century with “peaceful coexistence” illusions ((mis)leading them on to “peaceful paths to socialism”) and denouncing “adventurism” and “too much rocking the boat” (ie open revolutionism) in the anti-imperialist struggle, still dominate “analysis” and “leadership” from communist and anti-imperialist parties across the world, including sadly even in the giant Chinese workers state and the best of the heroic anti-imperialist socialism in Cuba and Vietnam (though encouragingly, despite its revisionism, North Korea has just recognised the two breakaway Ukrainian republics and their eight year resistance to Kiev’s persecution).
Even worse is the petty bourgeois pretence of “opposition to Stalinist totalitarianism” from Trotskyism, full of poisonous contempt and hatred in reality for the workers states and currently mostly lined-up with imperialism’s sick fascist war in Ukraine, already far down the road towards total World War Three.
In fact most fake-“lefts” (of all types) either directly support the Western aggression in outright social-chauvinist treachery or by default with social-pacifist “No to War” vacillation, equating the two sides of the struggle and demanding “an end” to the war.
But the vital need for the masses to learn and develop revolutionary theory, – Leninism – building a party for the purpose, and calling for the defeat of imperialism (at present in Ukraine with a call for the defeat of NATO and its Kiev nazi-stoogery) and the development of revolutionary class war to completely end capitalism by overturning its system and establishing firm proletarian dictatorship, is not heard at all, even from the most posturingly “revolutionary”, “Marxist” or self-declared “communist” elements.
The Sri Lankans’ stunning revolt is left floundering with deadly illusions about better “democracy” exposing it to counter-revolutionary violence; Russia’s struggle against imperialist NATO aggression is hamstrung by continuing oligarch rule and deluded post-USSR revisionist-style notions of “de-nazification” (see article next issue); Western workers are left with impossible class-collaborating “left pressure” illusions to defend jobs (as if!!!).
Single-issue posturing politics (feminism, anti-racism, LGBT rights) adds to the confusion with its “woke” moralising, though more and more exposed for the diversion it is from revolution, (which is the only way to sort out all such “PC” questions ie after the distortions of capitalist society have been removed in steadily maturing rational socialist society).
Notably shown up right now are the eco-warrior “greens” who find themselves supporting more oil and gas use, and even polluting brown-coal, because of the imperialist war sanctions their anti-communism corals them behind. Ostensible progress becomes regression and reversal as the monstrous German “Greens” show, now in government and leading the way in demented hatred and demands to back up the Kiev Nazis with horrifying arms escalations and insane environmentally devastating sanctions.
So much for saving the planet.
The feminists are the same, voicing their dismay and protesting in the US streets as the Republican reaction in the US Supreme Court turns the clock backwards, allowing states to impose outright bans on abortions, but standing alongside the even more reactionary Catholic clericalism running Pilsudski-worshipping Poland, because of its close connections and aid for the Ukrainian Maidan rightwingers and outright fascists in Kiev.
Their petty bourgeois brains are so bent backwards with anti-communism these feminists find themselves allies not just with reactionary Boris Johnson, boggle-eyed harridan Liz Truss, and the corrupt “Joe” Biden presidency but with even more fanatical fundamentalism than the US Republicans and barmy Trumpites can manage.
Severe abortion restrictions were imposed in Poland well before the Wade versus Roe overturning, not to mention a slew of other repressive reaction and anti-liberal anti-left judicial laws and censorship which has been steadily intensified in Warsaw ever since the CIA-Vatican funded Solidarnosc bogus “trade union” was used to tip over the Polish revisionist workers state in the 1980s (supported by the Trot fake-“left”, deep into PC diversionary posturing itself).
All this universal ignorance and petty bourgeois rejection of revolutionary Leninism holds back the working class everywhere even as the capitalist system becomes more deadly in its haywire international aggression and domestic repression.
For example only from the viewpoint of capitalist crash and breakdown can events like the risible Tory leadership “contest” come into focus, its snarling contempt and infighting grasped as symptoms of total paralysis.
The whole sick pantomime being more or less forced down the throat of the population (who get no say in it) in non-stop media coverage, is a ludicrous parody of “democracy” because the ruling class is fearful of any more public test.
The fraudulent and hoodwinking stitch-up of manipulated bourgeois parliamentarianism is a complete racket anyway developed over centuries to cover over the actual dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, but this takes the biscuit in its desperation to avoid any public say (like a general election).
So hollow is this nasty nonsense that it gives away more than it covers up about the fearfulness of a ruling class, desperate to keep the useful “democracy” game alive, at least among petty bourgeois layers, but too uncertain to let it off the leash.
Snarling dogfights and skulduggery reflect a ruling class that does not have the remotest idea what to do about things, its squabbling recriminations showing a historic loss of nerve from a bourgeoisie that has always presented a smooth class front of “unity”, albeit false.
But now the capitalists face an historic abyss of societal and economic collapse for which there are no answers (save ending capitalism).
Laughable declarations that “we must stimulate investment”, “increase productivity” and “make Britain more competitive” are circular descriptions of the problem, not solutions.
Capitalist Britain faces all the difficulties that the ruling class faces everywhere, the intractable and growing impossibility of all the ever-accumulating capital in the world to be invested in profitable enterprise, a crisis of “overproduction” as spelt out by Marx (above and economics box).
But its problems are ten times worse, as one of the weakest links in the whole imperialist system, a has-been moth-eaten power that has lost all influence and most of its capabilities, surviving as grovelling manservant for the billionaires and gangsters of the world by selling the country’s land rights and laundering money through the City (no questions asked).
The EPSR’s Marxist understanding has warned constantly since 2009 that the so-called Quantitative Easing could only make things far worse, as the world is about to find out as the bucketsful of paper dollars work through into raging inflation:
The consumer champion Martin Lewis has warned the next prime minister that they stand to inherit a country on the brink of a “national financial cataclysm” as soaring energy bills threaten to tip households into crisis this winter.
The founder of the Money Saving Expert website has become increasingly vocal in recent months on behalf of financially stretched households, amid surging inflation and a cost of living crisis.
Lewis predicted that further gas and electricity bill price rises this autumn would require the provision of “warm spaces in public buildings” such as libraries, where people who can no longer afford to heat their homes can find shelter.
“The winter is going to be bleak,” said Lewis. “I believe unless action is taken we are facing a potential national financial cataclysm.” His comments came as new figures showed that in May, British workers’ living standards dropped at a record rate after pay rises failed to keep pace with inflation.
In an “open video letter” to the remaining candidates in the Conservative leadership contest, Lewis said the debate had ignored a worsening cost of living crisis, with energy bills set to jump in the autumn when a new higher price cap is expected to cause the average household bill to top £3,200.
A recent update from analysts at Cornwall Insight predicts that in October the energy price cap will rise to £3,244 a year. The default tariff cap is expected to then rise again in January, to £3,363 a year. The tariff, set quarterly by the energy industry regulator, Ofgem, is already at a record high of £1,971 a year.
This looming 65% increase in energy costs would have huge ramifications, said Lewis, with a typical energy bill now equal to more than a third of a state pensioner’s income. “It is just not affordable,” he said.
The £400 government grant to help with energy bills had been already been swallowed up.
“These rises are unaffordable for many on the lowest incomes,” he said. “And while tax cuts will help, for those at the bottom end of universal credit and many state pensioners, the rises – when added to the increasing costs of food and transport and other inflation – means they’ll be back to that choice between starving and freezing.”
“This winter we’re going to need warm spaces in public buildings,” he said. “Local councils, universities and libraries will need to open their doors and invite people in to keep warm because they can’t afford to put their own heating on.”
Based on the discussions Lewis had had with his 2 million followers on social media, he said civil unrest was becoming a “plausible outcome unless the government gets a handle on this”. The most likely action being taken was mass non-payment of bills, he said.
The complete dismay which has grown in the petty bourgeoisie at the corrupt Covid sleaze contracts, cynical partying, light-mindedness and arrogant contempt from the upper layers of the ruling class exemplified by the Eton and Bullingdon Club Borisites and plummy patrician “High Tories” like Jacob Rees-Mogg, is not so much about morals, as it is about economic and class fear from masses of the “middling kind” facing disaster, their small businesses and professions wiped out.
Some are being driven into the ranks of the proletariat as the Communist Manifesto predicts (within the historical limits prevailing in 1848) in a passage much derided by bourgeois academics in the boom period but ultimately on the nail:
In countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed, fluctuating between proletariat and bourgeoisie, and ever renewing itself as a supplementary part of bourgeois society. The individual members of this class, however, are being constantly hurled down into the proletariat by the action of competition, and, as modern industry develops, they even see the moment approaching when they will completely disappear as an independent section of modern society, to be replaced in manufactures, agriculture and commerce, by overlookers, bailiffs and shopmen.
Or, updating things, by modern highly organised world monopoly corporations, like Amazon wiping out local bookshops, as one among many examples.
Typical is Tory journalist Peter Oborne who cannot find enough contempt for both Boris Johnson and “the self-serving myth of a lost leader brought down by pygmies” and those who toppled him as all as “venal, immoral” and mendacious as each other, “complicit in moral squalor as they did the rounds of TV studios to repeat his lies” and running a government which serves “only the interests of non-dom oligarchs and a handful of press barons” who want “tax cuts, a war on human rights, weaponisation of asylum seekers, and an attack on human rights particularly in the workplace”.
“Liberal” anti-communist Guardian writer Polly Toynbee is agonised too (with a trace of anti-east European racism thrown in):
Read this, and you may just put your head in your hands, gather up your family and plan to emigrate. This year’s annual living standards audit from the Resolution Foundation contains graphs that risk plunging readers into downright despair at this benighted country’s state.
It has come to this: UK household income growth between 2007 and 2018 fell behind the rest of Europe, with only Greece and Cyprus below us. Ireland grew by 6%, France by 10%, Germany 19%, while the UK fell back – yes, backwards – by 2%. All countries struggle in this energy shock, but after 15 years of income stagnation, “global Britain” is the hardest hit and least resilient.
“A toxic combination of both low growth and persistently high income inequality” is this audit’s definition of the British disease. Among EU countries, only Bulgaria is more unequal than us.
With the Bank of England predicting a steep rise in unemployment to 5.5%, many will be shocked when they discover UK jobseeker’s allowance at its lowest on record, just 13% of average pay. Sweden pays 80% of previous pay for those seeking a new job. In this fragile society, more than a quarter of households say they couldn’t manage a month on their meagre savings.
Economic commentators warn of the gathering storm clouds of a recession. Consumer confidence, the best predictor, has hit an all-time low as alarming news tumbles out daily. Sterling fell against the dollar by 10% this year, after already falling substantially since the Brexit vote.
The balance of trade was once so crucial that in 1970, the first election I covered as a junior reporter, Harold Wilson’s shock defeat was partly caused by last-minute bad trade figures registering a mere 0.2% deficit. Compare that to our stonking post-Brexit trade deficit of 8.3%, the worst since records began in 1955. No wonder the government bars any Brexit impact assessment. The Resolution Foundation found Brexit caused a post-referendum rise in the cost of living equivalent to an increase of £870 a year for the average household. That makes restoring EU trade an urgent necessity.
All this is about to be made worse, deliberately. Disregarding the cause of this inflation, the Bank of England is bent on raising interest rates to throttle nonexistent demand. Orthodoxy ordains inflation must be crushed by intentionally raising unemployment. To the Bank of England, with a hammer, every worker looks like a nail. Never mind that stagnant pay has zero responsibility for inflation.
Whenever technical “recession” arrives, Monday’s audit shows that living standards have been in a 15-year recession and are now plummeting further. The half of households below median income levels rely 70% on pay and 30% on benefit top-ups – so both are responsible for Britain’s slump in living standards. Pay needs to keep rising – but benefits also need the same triple lock as pensions.
That surely means these strikes must succeed to stop pay retreating. And then pay must keep rising. The Bank’s call for restraint is so economically wrongheaded that there will be no cure until we escape the Treasury and Bank of England orthodoxies that helped land us here.
Of course we should tax more, and more fairly: look at the shabby long-term social consequences of paying lower tax than France and Germany. We should tax the rich until their pips squeak, when they have gained so much recently while the rest lost out. But, in the end, all that can sustain us is rising productivity.
However, business is on strike over investment. Already abysmal, preferring dividends and share buybacks, business investment has fallen 9.2% below pre-Covid levels. Profits of the largest non-financial companies rose 34% in 2021, compared with pre-pandemic levels, says the Institute for Public Policy Research thinktank: time to rein in profiteering. The National Institute of Economic and Social Research finds the cause of Britain’s weak productivity is low business investment, inadequate infrastructure, insufficient innovation and low skills.
Where the market fails, the state has to step in. Jettison Treasury rules defining capital spending as only on bricks and mortar, and invest in human capital. Why is further education funding so low and apprenticeships falling, while universities cut places? To shoot through a decade of moribund productivity takes a burst of investment daring, imagination and determination. The only hope is renewable energy, insulation, housebuilding, and research and development to match more successful countries with highly trained and educated people. Borrowing confidently to invest wisely and optimistically shores up a country’s credibility against a threatened slide in sterling’s value.
Toynbee’s reformist state-stepping-in “solutions” are flying-pig fancies of course as only an idiot Blair worshipper could seriously suggest, but reveal how deeply fearful discontent is going.
The ludicrous calls in the Tory leadership campaign for a “new direction” – attacking past policy and behaviour as if all this disastrous collapse has nothing to do with their own control of capitalist society in direct government over the last 13 years and through fatcat-pandering Labour stoogery for 11 more before that (mostly approved of or relatively unchallenged by the Tories, particularly economically), and another 13 years of Toryism before that, – only underlines their floundering bankruptcy.
Jingoism and finger-pointing at others, has always been the last resort for the ruling class, to cover-up the failure of the entire system which they all run.
Hence the latest warmongering in Ukraine, created with the express purpose of diverting attention from the great Catastrophe, and finding a scapegoat to blame for it.
So a Russian “attack” was deliberately engineered by the West and particularly the Anglo-Saxon wing of imperialism which is losing the intensifying cutthroat trade war and has been since the 1970s (see multiple past issues and books of the EPSR (including Vol 11 - Inevitable inter-imperialist war).
Moscow’s action was forced in February after eight years of continuous bombing and slaughter of the eastern Russian-speaking provinces by the Kiev Nazi nationalists, installed by CIA colour revolutions (2004, and repeated in 2014 in the Maidan coup) and backed and trained by the West ever since with constant British and American military support and training.
Before February 14,000 had been killed in the Ukrainian instigated war (after Kiev broke the so-called Minsk accords peace agreement).
The coordinated Goebbels campaign across the whole of society and its bent and compliant media, and cultural outlets (even pumped out into the youth at Glastonbury in an utterly sick 1984-type mass mind-control broadcast by Zelenskiy) has worked for the minute, taking in swathes of the petty bourgeoisie and some workers.
Completely risible “free world” posturing by the West, and particularly personified in the form of corrupt, degenerate and arrogant blustering bully Boris Johnson, that immediate Western arming is required, has dragged mass opinion to pitch in behind the Kiev fascists (who are not even members of alleged “defence alliance” NATO) for the “defence of freedom and democracy”.
By Boris Johnson? By the Tories? By the Sierra Leone and Iraq blitzing Blairites???? By American imperialism and its CIA Pentagon forces????
After non-stop war against the Middle East, Serbia and Africa for 20 years, killing millions and butchering any every movement that attempts to get out from under imperialist diktat or strangling it with siege sanctions????
After massacres, killings and horrors of all kinds in Latin America???
After Iraq, invaded (twice) and now utterly destroyed on a WMD lie???
After Afghanistan, from the beginning suffering a foul blitzkrieging that left the country in even worse poverty than before after 20 years of corrupt Western “aid” domination and deathsquad warcrimes, (itself following the previous mess of backwardness and warlordism created by 1980s Western anti-communist sabotage and backing for mujahadeen backwardness) and now abandoned to appalling famine for millions suppression of women and feudal backwardness all over again????
After Yemen where seven years of war on the Houthis waged by the thuggish Saudi Arabians using British and US arms equipment and military personnel for technical aid and guidance, has destroyed all the infrastructure, slaughtered more hundreds of thousands of civilians (men, women, children) and left millions also facing famine????
After Libya, completely reduced from an advanced and civilised society to permanent civil war hell, after a full-on NATO invasion and the most horrific war-crime butchery of leader Muammar Gaddafi by a bayonet in the anus????
After Syria, deliberately destroyed by a CIA fomented civil war and brutal sectarian confusion (first whipped up in Iraq’s civil war)??
After Palestine, subject to seven decades of non-stop repeated genocidal slaughter and daily brutal repression, ethnic cleansing and murderous harassment by the Zionist colonial occupation propped up by Washington political and financial support greater than received by anywhere else???
After the suppression of the 2011 Arab Spring democracy movement by vicious Western supported military coup???
After torture and killing in Guantánamo?? Bagram?? Abu Ghraib? Camp Bucca (in Iraq)?
Or after the world bullying sanctions sieges imposed on any country that tries to resist Western exploitation - like Venezuela, Iran, Syria, Cuba, North Korea, and obviously China?????
Boris and the Tories? – who are putting through every kind of censorship legislation??
The notion that the perpetrators of twenty years of war and destruction are suddenly looking out for “freedom” is so gobsmacking that words falter.
That public opinion has been conned into believing this astonishing inversion of reality, makes them stick in the throat.
Only the long post-1917 soaking of brains with never-ending anti-communist “democracy” ideology could produce such a result and then only because it was aided and abetted by the retreats and opportunism of a twisted and sick fake-“left” swamp that is revealing ever further its true reactionary colours in support for Kiev, capitulating to social-chauvinism across the board or social-pacifist prevarication and “even-handedness” that amounts to much the same thing.
A past of comfortable privilege in a few Western rich countries has helped, creating a middle class that is not just bemused by the lying media and its intelligence agency feeds, but willing to be fooled from a class instinct and chauvinist racist elitism.
Suddenly raging inflation, austerity, and intensifying trade war, all in train since the global bank collapse, are blamed on Russia as if it just happened yesterday, along with every kind of other shortage or breakdown caused by capitalist crisis collapse for the least 13 years.
A few exceptions in the “left” swamp are slightly more principled though also mostly with a puddle-brained lack of Marxism that misleads workers too.
And some more thoughtful bourgeois intellectual elements stand firmer.
Radical bourgeois journalist John Pilger, with a long history of reporting imperialist crimes and brutality against the Third World declares himself poleaxed by the scale and scope of the psyops lie campaign on Ukraine.
In a recent Hong Kong news interview with China Morning Post he says it is quite clear that Russia was put under intolerable pressure by Western border buildup of military and missile threats and a Ukraine “infested with extremists”:
“The US does not give a damn about the people of Ukraine, the object here is to destroy the Russian Federation.
“I have covered seven or eight major wars and never have I seen a war coverage so utterly consumed by a tsunami of jingoism as this one.
“It is a war of propaganda on an unprecedented scale. Almost nothing one looks at in the Western press can be trusted about this invasion.
“Anything the Ukrainians do is glorified; anything Russian is vilified.
“Every day I look at the news and the source is always Ukrainian intelligence - in a propaganda operation which is quite brilliant, inventing incidents like a “chemical attack” which never happened.
“You need deep skills of scepticism which I am not sure the reading public possess, or have time for.”
Each report needs to be examined in forensic detail, he says, but it is impossible
“unless you sit at the TV and deconstruct every report and most people do not have time.”
Despite a stunning career record of bravely reporting war crimes and genocide, the pacifist Pilger is no communist, and his petty bourgeois belief in the power of journalism in itself to change things, now severely shaken, is descending into defeatist despair because ultimately, without a Marxist perspective, even the most heroically obtained or doggedly reported exposés change nothing.
And even those are now being blocked as he says himself:
“In my time there were spaces in the media for mavericks - like myself - but they are all being squeezed out. Only on the social media is there any challenge to the mainstream which is now completely part of the machine.”
Worse still, the other side of the propaganda coin is persecution and censorship, increasingly escalated to a now brutal level, not least in the illicit and long imprisonment of figures like Julian Assange, monstrously hounded and imprisoned by British imperialist stooging for the US empire because of the revelations made by Wikileaks of American war crimes in Iraq – which make the constant deluge of lying Western accusations against the Russians (investigated by supposed “Ukrainian war crime specialists”!!!) look like the gross hypocrisy they are.
A few new revelations do still appear, the latest about British operations in Afghanistan from Panorama slipping through despite massive efforts by the Tory and military establishment to block it:'
The military police have asked those involved in a BBC documentary that will tonight accuse SAS soldiers of killing Afghan civilians in cold blood to share information they have gathered so they can assess whether it amounts to war crimes.
The move by investigators on Thursday comes despite the fact that the Ministry of Defence (MoD) had argued the BBC had engaged in “irresponsible, incorrect” journalism by being prepared to broadcast the allegations in the first place.
A letter sent to a researcher connected to the programme said: “We are aware you may be in possession of information that may amount to new evidence of crimes allegedly committed by British Armed Forces in Afghanistan.”
It continued: “We would be grateful if you could provide this information to us at the earliest opportunity in order that we may review it”. It added that the review would be undertaken by military police independent of the chain of command.
The police assessment comes ahead of a BBC Panorama episode, due to be broadcast on BBC One on Tuesday night, which concludes that 54 people were killed in suspicious circumstances by one SAS unit in Helmand province between 2010 and 2011.
Based on official British files and after a four-year investigation, the BBC said there was a pattern of “strikingly similar reports” of SAS operations known as kill/capture missions, in which an Afghan man or men were shot dead by the elite soldiers on night raids.
Male detainees were frequently taken away from captured family groups and shot dead after they were said to have unexpectedly produced a hand grenade or an AK47 rifle, prompting the programme to ask whether the activities of the SAS squads amounted to a “British war crime”.
Concerns were raised at the time, with internal emails describing one incident as the “latest massacre”, prompting a senior special forces officer to warn in a secret memo that there could be a “deliberate policy” of unlawful killing in operation.
But before the programme was broadcast, the MoD warned it could put British soldiers at risk because it “jumps to unjustified conclusions” from allegations that the department said had been subject to two investigations by military police, which resulted in no prosecutions.
“Neither investigation found sufficient evidence to prosecute. Insinuating otherwise is irresponsible, incorrect and puts our brave armed forces personnel at risk, both in the field and reputationally,” the MoD said.
In 2014, military police launched Operation Northmoor, an investigation into allegations of more than 600 alleged offences by British forces in Afghanistan, including the killing of civilians by the SAS. It was wound down in 2017 and closed in 2019, and the MoD said no evidence of criminality was found.
The files obtained by the BBC related to police investigations, and the broadcaster said members of the Northmoor team disputed the conclusion reached by the MoD that there was no case to answer.
One of those killed was a former district governor, Haji Ibrahim, who had worked with the British. The SAS report of events on the night of 29-30 November 2010 states that Ibrahim was detained, then sent to help with a search at a building – where he was shot dead “when he demonstrated hostile intent by brandishing a hand grenade”.
However, his family told the BBC that his hands were bound and he was summarily killed. His son described having to remove plastic handcuffs from his father’s wrists before the family were able to bury his body.
Similar incidents were noted by the BBC to have taken place on 15 January, 7 and 16 February, and 1 April 2011.
Sources told the BBC that SAS units competed with each other to achieve the most kills on tour and the unit at the heart of the investigation was trying to achieve a higher body count than its predecessor.
In response to one of the incident reports, a sceptical operations officer emailed a colleague to describe what he had been told. An Afghan man who was killed had “grabbed a grenade from behind a curtain” – but the explosive did not go off, which was “the eighth time this has happened”. Writing the final three words in capitals, he said: “You couldn’t make it up.”
Labour said the allegations were disturbing. John Healey, the shadow defence secretary, said his counterpart Ben Wallace “must urgently explain to parliament what action he’ll take to verify any truth to these claims and any possible cover-up”.
Ministers have sought to draw a line under historical prosecutions of members of the armed forces, after accusations that law firms have sought to bring vexatious cases against the military.
The Overseas Operations Act 2021 had sought to introduce a statutory presumption against prosecution of British soldiers for events that had taken place five or more years earlier. But during the passage of the legislation through parliament, ministers conceded that war crimes would be among the offences excluded from the five-year limit.
Even this occasional reporting is unlikely to continue and in some respects keeps the story isolated, drawing no connections to Iraq warcrimes, or Libya, or Yemen, etc and saying nothing to expose the outrageous cover ups and blocking of the Ministry of Defence.
But it undermines the sanctimonious hypocrisy of non-stop lies from Ukraine, and the now completely falsified accounts of “Russian atrocities”.
These are so crude that it is possible to pick out the lies in many reports even without detailed information (and it should be pointed out, sufficient detailed information about any incident would take weeks to gather for any halfway accurate forensic account; the wild accusations the media flings around without such evidence serves only to further discredit their “reports”).
For example a BBC TV news report on a shelled block of flats alleging two dozen “civilian casualties” (as always on the mere unverified say so of a local Ukrainian official with every reason to lie through his teeth and with accompanying footage showing virtually no casualties at all) casually admitted that “a number of the bodies were in military uniform” in an aside.
In other words the flats were being used as a fortified military position, possibly with civilian shielding, and the shelling was not “aimed at civilians” at all as constantly asserted.
Same again two weeks later, with the Guardian, pumping out lurid and emotive claims about “shelling of schools” with the usual sneering quote marks around Russian statements but then obliged to admit they might be true:
A spokesperson for Russia’s ministry of defence, Igor Konashenkov, claimed the attack on Kramatorsk had killed 300 Ukrainian soldiers using the school as their base. Konashenkov did not present evidence to back up his claim.
It is unclear who died in the Kramatorsk attack. Ukrainian schools closed when the invasion began and children have been learning from home. Guardian journalists have seen evidence that Ukrainian forces use schools as bases. However, some schools visited by the Guardian had been repurposed for civilian purposes, such as humanitarian aid or social services.
Russian forces made a similar claim after their attack in Chasiv Yar, a town just north of Kramatorsk in Donetsk region, where 48 people died. Russia said they killed “300 nationalists” in the attack.
Guardian journalists who visited Chasiv Yar were told by residents that one of the residential buildings had housed Ukrainian soldiers but it was unclear how many had lived there. Local residents were also killed in the attack, including a nine-year-old boy.
American comedian Jimmy Dore has also ridiculed effectively reports such as the alleged “deliberate missile attack on a shopping centre in Kramatorsk” where Vlodymyr Zelenskiy claimed “up to a thousand civilians” were attacked but where video showed virtually no victims at all being brought out even as fire raged, with a handful of spectators standing watching, apparently relatively unconcerned. As often done, various bits of irrelevant, nearby or “not-quite-showing-things” footage was shown to bolster the story, such as “dramatic” footage of a missile flying by, (aimed at an arms dump the Russians say) but no indication of where it was going or landed.
Most tellingly in this incident was the shopping centre carpark which had not more than half a dozen cars in it. In a mall full of shoppers????
However Pilger is correct, the deluge of Goebbels lies swamps by its sheer volume.
But the steady advance of the Russian military is also undermining and exposing the Western propaganda through its military lies.
Far from the Moscow operation being little but a string of retreats by “a ponderous and old fashioned military machine which is badly supplied, and ill-equipped, with supplies being looted and demoralised conscripts ready to cut and run at the first opportunity”, a line which a stream of Western “experts” and generals have been given carte blanche on the Western media (echoed once more by the fake-“left” like the biliously anti-Soviet Trot Weekly Worker) it has proven highly efficient and effective.
Repeated declarations by British “Intelligence” that the Russians are about to lose because of being “over-extended” and “vulnerable” etc, with “most of its generals killed”, are uncritically reported in gushing interviews on the BBC and in the press with never a word mentioned again as city after city falls to a steady advance.
Ukrainian casualties have barely been mentioned - that recently panicking Ukrainian officials have put forwards some numbers (again unverified and almost certainly under-estimates) only underlines the disaster faced by the Kiev forces. Most Ukrainian equipment and heavy defensive positions dug-in over the last eight years with highly armoured concrete emplacements etc, have been taken out and the advance is destroying much of the Ukrainian’s trained army – including the outright Nazi Azov brigade and other fanatics – with the Kiev government now reliant on sending barely trained young and old conscripts to almost certain death, a desperate and cynical “cannon-fodder” strategy that is wiping out tens of thousands of lives.
Any objective analysis also shows that the Russians have been trying to avoid civilian casualties – even though there are obviously some in any war.
Despite the sick Goebbels lie accusations, numbers have been quite low. If the Russians were intent on indiscriminate butchery and “genocide” as the hysterical fascist Ukrainian politicians are given free rein to assert, with never even a raised eyebrow let alone a rational query, they would by now have slaughtered hundreds of thousands, as the West has shown is possible (and “normal”) in Yemen, Iraq, Libya, and in Vietnam and Korea before that, and Malaya and Greece before that (among many examples and excluding numerous horrifying massacres like those in Indonesia, El Salvador, Colombia and Guatemala).
Moscow forces have surrounded major cities, and have full control of the airspace and battlefields with planes, missiles and artillery but have not touched them - the carefully manipulated images of damaged sectors seen in the West are of fighting locations where the Ukrainians were occupying apartments – and frequently which they have themselves fired on either during retreats, or deliberately for propaganda purposes.
Counter-information and any balance in reporting is censored and blocked meanwhile, with entire media outlets shut down such as Russia Today, under the fascist rationale that they are “disinformation” – further discrediting the “defending freedom and democracy”.
More principled journalists attempting to file objective reports have been vilified and persecuted by the Western states, as reported by MR Online:
Julian Assange, Alina Lipp and Anne-laure Bonnel are three journalists who are paying a high price for telling the truth in the West: attempts to suffocate them financially, followed by censorship, threats of imprisonment or imprisonment altogether, and even physical and psychological torture in the case of Assange. These three cases illustrate perfectly the reality of “democracy” in the West.
The case of Julian Assange, whose extradition has just been approved by the British authorities, is the most publicized.
[At the end of two decades of hounding and de facto imprisonment] for three years, Assange and his lawyers fought to prevent his extradition to the United States, where he faces up to 175 years in prison! All to no avail. (Britain has signed him over).
And during all this time, Julian Assange has been subjected to conditions of detention that are tantamount to torture: total isolation, insufficiently heated cell in winter, lack of care (under which) his condition deteriorated rapidly...and several experts and doctors describe his treatment in Belmarsh prison as torture.
If sent to the United States, Julian Assange could be sent to Guantánamo, or elsewhere, and tortured like many other prisoners.
And we see that the Assange case may soon no longer be an exception. Two independent journalists, the German Alina Lipp and the French Anne-Laure Bonnel, who have been outspoken about what is happening in the Donbass, are now seeing the Western censorship machine turn on them.
Alina Lipp, who spent six months in the Donbass in 2022, telling the truth about the Ukrainian army’s war crimes, including in Mariupol, is now facing censorship.
After a first visit in 2021, she was shocked by the war crimes committed by the Ukrainian army against the civilians of Donbass. She returned at the beginning of 2022 and stayed for six months. She openly recounts and reports on the war crimes committed by Ukrainian soldiers against the civilians of Marioupol, for example.
Her PayPal account was blocked. Then her bank account, as well as that of her father, was closed, and the German state deducted without any justification about 1,600 euros that were still in her account. Then comes censorship, with the closure of her YouTube account, where she published her reports.
And as in the case of Julian Assange, the law soon came to threaten Alina Lipp. A criminal case was opened against the journalist for supporting crimes. Because she dared to say that what Ukraine is doing in Donbass is genocide, that she understands why Russia intervened, why it launched its special military operation, and that the people she knows in Donetsk are happy that Moscow is intervening...she faces up to three years in prison.
The indictment document, writes she will not be invited to a hearing (to defend herself) as this would disrupt the investigation. Unsurprisingly, Alina Lipp will not return to Germany, so as not to suffer the same fate as Julian Assange.
In France, Anne-Laure Bonnel who came to the Donbass in 2015 and 2022, also spoke openly about the Ukrainian army’s war crimes in the Donbass.
Not surprisingly, she found herself alongside Alina Lipp and myself (Christelle Néant) in Le Monde on “dangerous pro-Russian influencers”... one of many coordinated attacks by ISD, yet another organisation claiming to fight “disinformation” which in reality serves to justify censorship.
As in the case of Alina Lipp, Anne-Laure Bonnel’s bank account was temporarily blocked by her bank, Société Générale, and her contract with the Sorbonne University was not renewed.
The same method that was also used against Donbass Insider, who had his Patreon account and his Tipeee account blocked (via the payment provider for Tipeee) for the same reasons: to try to silence us.
Everyone realize that Western countries are only democratic in name, and that what is happening to this journalist today could well happen to them one day soon, if they happen to tell an inconvenient truth.
Similar persecution can be expected against British writer Eve Bartlett who debunked the Mariupol “mass graves” Goebbels lie by visiting the “site spotted by satellite” and showing it was an ordinary graveyard with no “mass graves”.
She reported further on a Ukrainian shelling of a maternity hospital in Donetsk:
Following intense Ukrainian shelling of Donetsk on June 13, some Western media sources, in tandem with outlets in Kiev, unsurprisingly claimed that the attack – which killed at least five civilians and struck a busy maternity hospital – was perpetrated by Russian forces.
Why Moscow would launch rockets at its own allies wasn’t explained, nor would it make much sense.
The Donetsk People’s Republic’s foreign ministry reported: “Such an unprecedented, in terms of power, density and duration of fire, raid on the DPR capital was not recorded during the entire period of the armed conflict [since 2014]. In two hours, almost 300 MLRS rockets and artillery shells were fired.”
The Ukrainian shelling began late morning, resumed in the afternoon, and continued for another two hours in the evening, a deafening series of blasts throughout the city, terrorizing residents and targeting apartment buildings, civilian infrastructure, the aforementioned hospital, and industrial buildings.
Locals say this was some of the heaviest bombing of Donetsk since 2014, when the region declared its independence from post-Maidan Kiev.
In the Budyonnovsky district in the south of the city, Ukrainian shelling of a market killed five civilians including one child. Just two months ago, Kiev’s forces hit another Donetsk market, leaving four civilians dead.
In the hard-hit Kievskiy district, to the north, the shelling caused fires at a water bottling plant and a warehouse for stationery, destroying it. The building was still in flames when journalist Roman Kosarev and I arrived about an hour after the attack. Apartment buildings in the area also came under fire, leaving doors and windows blown out and cars destroyed.
The destroyed gas station was on a street where I stayed in April, which is completely residential.
DPR head Denis Pushilin said, “The enemy literally crossed all the lines. Prohibited methods of warfare are being used, residential and central districts of Donetsk are being shelled, other cities and settlements of the DPR are also under fire now.”
In a world where media reported honestly instead of manufacturing its own reality, there would be outrage over Ukraine’s attack on the Donetsk maternity hospital. But history shows that is not a world we live in.
The “freedom and democracy” lie is undermined far further afield as any journalist anywhere exposing Western lies is now increasingly targeted, including such notable victims as carbombed anti-corruption journalist Daphne Galizia in Malta, dismembered Saudi journalist Jamil Khashoggi and most contemptuously of all the US-Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh, not only brazenly assassinated by Zionist forces (covered by barefaced lies afterwards) but with even her funeral subjected to fascist disruption, Zionist soldiers barging in and near-toppling the coffin to the ground. Even the stooge UN has had to condemn this:
The UN has said its investigations have found that the shot that killed Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Aqleh on 11 May was fired by Israeli forces.
The Palestinian-American journalist, who was wearing a vest and helmet marked “press”, was killed while covering an Israeli army operation in Jenin, in the northern West Bank.
“We find that the shots that killed Abu Aqleh came from Israeli security forces,” the UN human rights office spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva. “It is deeply disturbing that Israeli authorities have not conducted a criminal investigation.”
She said: “We at the UN human rights office have concluded our independent monitoring into the incident. The shots that killed Abu Aqleh and injured her colleague Ali Samodi came from Israeli security forces and not from indiscriminate firing by armed Palestinians, as initially claimed by Israeli authorities.”
She added that the information came from the Israeli military and the Palestinian attorney general. “We have found no information suggesting that there was activity by armed Palestinians in the immediate vicinity of the journalists,” Shamdasani said.
In line with its human rights monitoring methodology, the UN human rights office inspected photo, video and audio material, visited the scene, consulted experts, reviewed official communications and interviewed witnesses.
The findings showed that seven journalists arrived at the western entrance of the Jenin refugee camp soon after 6am. At about 6.30am, as four of the journalists turned into a particular street, “several single, seemingly well-aimed bullets were fired towards them from the direction of the Israeli security forces. One single bullet injured Ali Samodi in the shoulder; another single bullet hit Abu Aqleh in the head and killed her instantly.”
So in-your-face is Western hypocrisy that President “Joe” Biden arrived in the Middle East last week to bolster the “war for freedom” against Russia (seeking release of oil supplies), with talks with supposedly US-ostracised killer Prince Salman of Saudi Arabia and with Zionists too, which even the reactionary Le Monde found hard to swallow:
President Biden had found it necessary to justify his trip to Saudi Arabia with an op-ed published in the Washington Post, the daily newspaper that employed Khashoggi, to point to the sanctions against “anyone found to be involved in harassing dissidents abroad.” In contrast, the Democratic administration had decided to bury the investigation into Shireen Abu Akleh’s death, concluding that “gunfire from IDF positions was likely responsible,” but “with no reason to believe that this was intentional, but rather the result of tragic circumstances.”
Shireen Abu Akleh, a seasoned professional, was wearing a helmet and bulletproof vest with the word “press” in white letters. The bullet penetrated with deadly accuracy into the very limited space left unprotected, killing the journalist instantly. Such a blank check from the White House to the Israeli military was all the more shocking given that CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times had published damning investigations.
Israeli police violence (at the funeral) “deeply troubled” US Secretary of State Blinken. But perhaps the most “troubling” aspect of the US attitude to this tragedy is that Abu Akleh was a US citizen. And that the Biden administration’s relative indifference is part of a two-decade-long history of Washington’s low profile in the face of violent deaths of American nationals in the Palestinian territories under Israeli occupation.
Conservative French paper Le Monde of course is not about to say the most “troubling” aspect is that butchery and killing of Palestinians is part of the daily persecution inflicted on them by the nazi-Zionist occupation and will never stop while this colonialist landgrab outrage of an “Israeli state” continues to exist, holding the stolen land of the Palestinian people with fascist violence (EPSR books Vol 20 on Zionism and the “left-anti-semitism” lie).
Its sour tone may signal more however; namely the growing hostility and anti-American feeling growing in Europe which is taking the brunt of the damage from the war sanctions being imposed on Russia.
That is no accident; while Russia is the overt target for the NATO warmongering, the underlying conflict is as much if not more between Europe itself and the US Empire which for decades has been pushed back in the trade war by Europe and particularly Germany (eg its vital Boeing aerospace company suffering hugely from Airbus competition); and it is the non-Anglo-Saxon sector which is in the cross-hairs.
Boris Johnson’s recent Euro-tour, notionally to whip up support for the Ukraine onslaught, concentrated heavily on the Nordic and near fascist Baltic states, drawing in Finland and Sweden to NATO from past “neutrality” (a fraud in itself – witness Sweden’s major and shameful collaboration with Hitlerism throughout Word War Two), as well as Poland, all traditionally one-step removed from the central Franco-German EU core and targeted to create an Anglo-Saxon wing.
It was about splitting the EU, under cover of “building NATO unity”.
Boris Johnson’s “resignation” House of Commons Tory leader advice?? “Stick close to America.”
So sanctions hamstring German industry while the US Empire and its Middle Eastern allies makes massive profit increases from sales of fracked and natural LNG gas sales:
The euro dipped below parity against the dollar on Wednesday for the first time in almost two decades, as growing concern about rising recession risks in the eurozone continued to batter the currency.
The European single currency started this year on a strong note, given a post-pandemic economic recovery. But Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, surging European gas prices and fears that Moscow could cut off supplies further has raised the spectre of recession and hurt the euro.
Meanwhile, the safe-haven dollar has benefited from heightened global uncertainty and the monetary policy stance taken by the US central bank, the Federal Reserve, which has been aggressive in raising rates.
The euro tanked as much as 0.4% to a low of $0.9998 in the early afternoon, its lowest level since December 2002. It was last down 0.1% on the day at $1.005 and has lost more than 10% so far this year.
“Gas rationing, stagflation, an expected recession, they are all good reasons to be bearish on the euro,” said Stuart Cole, the head macro economist at Equiti Capital in London, before the euro crossed that threshold.
He added that these factors would make it harder for the European Central Bank (ECB) to hike interest rates, further widening the interest-rate differential with the US.
Since becoming freely available in 1999, the single currency has spent very little time below parity. The last time it did so was between 1999 and 2002, when it sank to a record low of $0.82 in October 2000.
The euro’s slide is a headache for the ECB. Allowing the currency to fall only fuels the record-high inflation it is battling to contain. But trying to shore it up with higher interest rates could exacerbate recession risks.
Europe’s economy faces the twin blows of slower growth and higher inflation as it struggles to deal with the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission has warned.
In its summer forecast, the governing body in Brussels said the “protracted war” was sending shockwaves through the eurozone and the wider EU, leading to a marked slowdown in activity next year.
The commission said growth in the 19 countries that use the euro was on course to be 2.6% this year – a downward revision from its previous 2.7% forecast in May – and it has pencilled in expansion of just 1.4% in 2023, down from 2.3%.
Across the 27-nation EU, growth is predicted to be 2.7% this year, slowing to 1.5% in 2023.
“As the reality of a protracted Russian invasion of Ukraine sinks in, the assessment of its economic consequences for the global economy is turning grimmer”, the commission said. “The shocks unleashed by the war are hitting the EU economy both directly and indirectly, setting it on a path of lower growth and higher inflation.
“The rapid increase in energy and food commodity prices is feeding global inflationary pressures, eroding the purchasing power of households and triggering a faster monetary policy response than previously assumed. Furthermore, the deceleration of growth in the US is adding to the negative economic impact of China’s strict zero-Covid policy.”
Many European countries, including Germany and Italy, are heavily dependent on Russian gas, and dearer energy prices have intensified cost-of-living pressures since May.
Inflation in the single currency area is now expected to peak at a new record high of 8.4% in the third quarter of 2022 and to average 7.6% for the year as a whole, up from 6.1% two months ago and 3.5% before Russia’s invasion.
“Whereas prices of some commodities are retreating from recent peaks, the EU economy remains vulnerable to developments in energy markets due to its high reliance on Russian fossil fuels,” the commission said.
“With gas prices nearing all-time highs, energy inflation is on the rise. Food inflation is also surging, but pressures are broadening further as higher energy costs are passed through to services and other goods.”
The executive body said the outlook for the EU and eurozone economies was heavily dependent on how the war in Ukraine evolved. Further gas price increases could strengthen stagflationary weak growth and high inflation forces, but there was also the possibility recent falls in oil and other commodity prices could result in inflation falling faster than currently expected.
Top German industries could face collapse because of cuts in the supplies of Russian natural gas, the country’s top union official warned before crisis talks with Chancellor Olaf Scholz starting Monday.
“Because of the gas bottlenecks, entire industries are in danger of permanently collapsing: aluminum, glass, the chemical industry,” said Yasmin Fahimi, the head of the German Federation of Trade Unions (DGB), in an interview with the newspaper Bild am Sonntag. “Such a collapse would have massive consequences for the entire economy and jobs in Germany.”
The energy crisis is already driving inflation to record highs, she said. Fahimi is calling for a price cap on energy for households. The rising costs for Co2 emissions mean further burdens for households and companies, Fahimi added. The crisis could lead to social and labor unrest, she said.
Economics Minister Robert Habeck said on Saturday that the government is working on ways to address the surging costs both utilities and their customers face, without giving details. Earlier he had warned that the squeeze on Russian gas supplies risks creating deeper turmoil, likening the situation to the role of Lehman Brothers in triggering the financial crisis in 2008.
For months, Germany has feared having to ration energy amid Russia’s increasing willingness to turn off the tap. Now those fears are becoming a reality as Germany prepares for a return to 1970s-style energy rationing, when the OPEC oil embargo forced governments to mandate measures like dimmer lights and car-free Sundays.
Only, the energy crisis of 2022 isn’t limited to oil.
Last year, Germany relied on Russia for 55% of its natural gas imports. Germany has since been able to reduce that number to 35%, but with Russia seemingly prepared to further cut gas shipments to Europe, German officials are having to make some difficult choices.
This week, a city official in Hamburg—Germany’s second-largest city—warned that “warm water could only be made available at certain times of the day in an emergency,” forecasting the possibility of a severe natural gas shortage. And on Friday, residents in the eastern German state of Saxony were told by their housing association that they could take hot showers only between 4 a.m. and 8 a.m., 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. each day, the Financial Times reported.
It isn’t just hot water that’s being rationed. In addition to shorter shower times, officials are asking city councils nationwide to turn off traffic lights at night, stop illuminating historic buildings, and go easy on using air conditioners in a bid to conserve electricity, according to the FT.
Germans are now being asked to use air conditioning as sparingly as possible, avoid heating in homes whenever weather permits, and switch light bulbs to more energy-efficient LEDs where possible.
Also last month, shortly after Russia tightened natural gas supplies to Germany through its Nord Stream 1 pipeline by 40%, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck issued a video appeal to citizens on Twitter, saying that the circumstances were now “serious” and urging Germans to begin thinking about how they can conserve energy within their own households.
The Nord Stream 1 flows are still at only 40% of maximum capacity, according to the Bundesnetzagentur. Should the supply remain limited, the office notes that it will “hardly be possible” for the country to meet its November target of reaching 90% storage capacity.
For the moment, the general crisis-driven imperialist fear of potentially revived Soviet communism (despite Putin’s thick-headed oligarch support) over-rides other factors to pull all the bourgeois powers into line behind such fanatics as the Belgian European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.
But no ruling class ever retires gracefully or simply kowtows.
These trade tensions presage all kinds of explosive inter-imperialist conflict and are the very opposite to the “triumph” of the US Empire (and its Brexity accolytes) easily winning dominance over Europe without a shot as some of the fake-“left” have declared it, (notably the Weekly Worker extending the petty bourgeois defeatist “theory” nonsense which asserted imperialism to be sorting out the world’s “hotspots of revolt” in the 1990s.)
Since 9-11, the humiliating Afghanistan pullout, the Iraq pullout, the Arab Spring, Somalia, Syria, Hong Kong, the failed coup attempts in Venezuela and Cuba, as well as the gradually consolidating victory of the Irish nationalist struggle (now closer than ever to the eventual reunification for which its armed national-liberation struggle was always aiming as the EPSR explained from the Anglo-Irish Agreement onwards, (see EPSR 1610 and Books Vol 8, 15, 22, 25,26,27)), and the great wave of insurgency and “terrorism” across Africa’s Sahel, Mozambique, continuing in the Philippines and more, that obviously discredited gloom-mongering has been much less frequently trumpeted.
But the relentless defeatism of the Trot middle-class can never be underestimated and so up it pops again around Ukraine.
And it resurfaces too over the astonishing popular eruptions in Sri Lanka, with the spontaneous mass revolt occupying the president’s palace and enjoying the “facilities”, all immediately written off by the fake-“left” (the WW CPGB-PCC again!!) as effectively “just a colour revolution”, the now standard fake-“left” mantra for staying clear of the great world ferment of revolt or even recognising that is what it is.
Not only does it give them an “excuse” to join in “condemnation” of terrorism and jihadism, (see multiple past issues but especially EPSR 1124 and 1248) all declared to have been “organised by the CIA” but it allows them to sit back in academic comfort as the world catches fire, declaring “nothing to see here”.
Certainly there are CIA stunts – not least the Maidan demonstrations putting the Ukrainian fascists into power, – but nothing about the context and concrete conditions in Colombo remotely would justify such an assessment.
Exactly the opposite.
Sri Lanka is bankrupt, defaulting on its international debts, which have been mounting ever higher - the mass revolt has obvious and clear proletarian causes, further confirmed by the new president’s response calling them “fascists” and ordering violent police attacks on the protestors’ camps.
The West has put the squeeze on dozens of Third World countries, many now on the threshold where it become impossible to service the debt burden further.
For a period the crisis of the Third World was partially alleviated by reformist “debt forgiveness” schemes, reformist palliatives designed to head off revolutionary turmoil but since the bank failures of 2009 they have gone by the board.
The QE credit and low interest rates since have only led to further cycles of Third World borrowing, worsening the problem just as desperate banks and multinationals, rapacious “vulture funds” and inflation threatened governments have increased their demands and interest rates are being jacked up to protect the hammered US economy.
Far more Sri Lankas are coming – including potentially in the 105 million strong Egypt where the Arab Spring pressures will inevitably come to the boil again, and are already in Tunisia and in Pakistan at present, seething after the constitutional coup against the Imran Khan government.
Imperialism’s problems are just beginning.
Only the lack of Leninist consciousness and the hampering anti-revolutionary delusions of still influential revisionist philosophy holds back history and the greatest revolutionary change for 2000 years.
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