No 1595 23rd June 2021
Demented anti-China and anti-Russia propaganda BIG LIES about “genocide” etc, pour out to distract minds from the real tyranny and turmoil in the world, driven by capitalism’s great crisis collapse. Splits and antagonism between the imperialist powers like the US, Europe and Japan were the significant factor in the Cornish G7 summit, reflecting warmonger tensions building up. Inter-imperialist World War the only end for unrolling Catastrophic crisis failure, heading for the greatest Slump implosion and trade conflict in history. Biden’s $trillions boost will not underpin a new “democratic alliance” but intensify the contradictions. Pouring in more insanely inflationary credit after a decade of money printing desperation to prop up the world economy is a giant inflationary disaster heading for dollar collapse. The entire world is now in uproar against imperialism across Africa, Latin America and South Asia but the fake -“left” misses it, lining up with imperialism to “condemn terror”. Leninism urgently required
The imperialist powers’ boast that the “West is back” at the grossly wasteful G7 jamboree in Cornwall is completely hollow, demonstrating exactly the opposite.
Far from a “new unity” of the powerful capitalist nations to rebuild a world order of “democracy, decency and fair-minded prosperity” (always a grotesque lying fraud in a world of endless colonialist or neo-colonialist brutality, plundering and slave-level exploitation) under the benign leadership (!) of a restored Bidenite American democracy (!!), St Ives saw mostly small-minded squabbling, dissent and distrust as the various leaders jostled for position and influence, formed cabals and generally humiliated the hubristic posturing of Boris Johnson and the British ruling class’s world power pretensions around its long-dead Empire.
It was inevitable; the Catastrophe ridden capitalist world is falling apart.
Japanese imperialism gave guesting South Koreans the cold shoulder over territory-grabbing naval “exercises” in the China seas; Germany was still smarting at revelations the Danes had been spying on them for years on behalf of the CIA; the Europeans together were having none of British “Northern Ireland” bluster trying to put one over on the EU; and everyone was lukewarm about the new Biden presidency’s efforts to whip up an economic and political warmongering atmosphere against China’s workers state (save the grovelling Brexit British, desperate for trade deals with America now they are floating “free” in a world of ever more cutthroat monopoly trade war as the world capitalist economic crisis unravels – and even they are not that keen to alienate Beijing, for similar reasons of economic desperation).
All except the most dementedly self-deluding Union Jack jingoists found the aircraft-carrier showmanship and fly-pasts a bit embarrassing, even humiliating, not least because of the childish “Northern Ireland” EU protocol sniping from the sulky has-been British ruling class and its empty threats to trample across international treaty obligations, which almost derailed a “high-order” summit supposedly restoring the international “rule of law” against the “totalitarian tyranny of the East”.
What a farce.
And what a danger.
A first question to ask is why does the West need to be “back” anyway, since it (allegedly) saw off communism and its “threat” in 1990 ??
Surely it was proven forever that “socialism is unworkable” and doomed to failure, “ending history” with permanent “democratic” capitalist rule in the sunny uplands of prosperity and peace?
Why does capitalism constantly have to have a “new dawn” (Ronald Reagan), re-establish a New American Century (Dick Cheyney, George Bush etc), be “made great again” (Donald Trump) or “be back”?
Only because it is constantly teetering on the edge of total collapse, not from the terrible activities of “communists” or “jihadists” or “unfair competition” from other capitalists, but from the contradictions which run right though the class-domination system of production for private profit – exactly as analysed by Karl Marx, Frederick Engels and Lenin’s Bolsheviks.
In reality it is capitalism that is doomed, a tyranny of ever growing inequality and racism, poverty, callousness, incompetence and injustice, once dragging mankind forwards but long out-of-time and heading for total warmongering collapse.
It survives only because of the opportunism and class collaborating treachery, confusion and anti-communism of the Labour movement and the fake-“left”, and the abandonment of Leninist revolutionary perspectives everywhere (including tragically by much of the existing workers state leaderships).
For the ruthlessly exploited Third World the whole event was even worse – a totally contemptible display of Western arrogance and privilege which was underlined by the cynical pre-conference offer to send a few hundred million doses of vaccines to help stem the raging Covid pandemic agony in largely unprotected populations when medical estimates suggest 11 billion doses are needed.
This much delayed “generosity” to the international monopoly-dominated masses in the slums, camps and barrios of Africa, Latin America and Asia, was anyway nothing more than some “surplus” vaccines from the vast and expensive stockpiles over-ordered by the rich Western nations from the profiteering pharmaceutical monopolies, now to be passed on disdainfully like second-hand clothes in a charity bag – if the “promises” are fulfilled at all.
Small wonder the world’s masses have had enough and are increasingly out of control, electing “left” governments, or generating endlessly growing “jihadism, “terrorism” and semi-Marxist armed insurgency everywhere, from Mozambique to the Sahel in Africa, in Peru, Chile and Colombia in Latin America, and near to boiling over in the rest with the lid barely kept on by fascist or stooge regimes like President Abdel Fatta al-Sisi’s torture and death squad “democracy” in Egypt, the swastika-toting reaction in Kiev, the thuggish police killer “drug war” (in fact indiscriminate anti-poor repression) under Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, brutal rightwing paramilitary and military killing and torture in Colombia or Jair Bolsonaro’s corporate-plunder friendly reaction in Brazil, all with huge seething and desperate populations.
And above all of course the titanically heroic and defiant Palestinians under the genocidal “greater Israel” occupation by the vicious Zionists.
These bubbling ferments of anti-imperialism by the world’s great masses, becoming more knowing, capable and sophisticated by the day (because of factory and farm training and technical skills which capitalism unavoidably has to provide in order carry out modern production), lack only crucial Marxist-Leninist philosophical clarity to finally overthrow this whole anarchic private profit system, long out of time and dragging down the world into anarchic destructive chaos.
They are missing a leadership that understands the historical and worldwide sweep of the great overripe crisis collapse of the imperialist system, its constantly shifting balance of class forces, and the necessity not for reforms but to overturn the ruling class by dogged and determined class war to establish the common ownership of production under the firm control of the working class, building socialism.
Steadily deepening for decades and bursting open with the global meltdown of the banks in 2008, the crisis’ full impact has been held back only temporarily by the demented printing of trillions of utterly worthless dollars.
It was already set to be on a scale far beyond any collapse in history including the Great War, the 1930s Depression and World War Two all rolled into one, even before the great Covid disaster (which is a consequence not a cause of the collapse – as China is demonstrating).
All serious bourgeois economists and commentators know that the dollar is about to explode in a frenzy of inflation and credit collapse.
And all the imperialists know that Biden’s $trillion credit injections are only making the problem 10,000% worse.
Such new bursts of credit on top of decades of polluting artificial credit creation by the topdog financial power, the US, can only buy a very short further respite from the international breakdown.
Personified by Trumpite America First belligerence the great Catastrophe has already seen the collapse of the “post-war consensus” (the semi-stable imperialist pecking order for world exploitation established by the WW2 shoot out) and an escalation of long-brewing inter-imperialist bitterness and antagonism which is an unstoppable consequence of the “overproduction” inevitable in a “free market” system (see economics box, Marx’s Capital, Engels writings and multiple volumes of Lenin particularly on the collapse into World War in 1914-17).
Ultimately if the ruling class is to survive the oncoming Depression disaster (unlikely as that is, given the unthinkable scale of the horrors to come), it can take no other path.
Domestic repression must be imposed to cow the working class, impose massive increases in the exploitation rate and give full rein to the fascist jingoism and irrational scapegoating hatred being whipped up for waging the deadly conflicts that are coming, as trade war turns to the outright fight to the death of inter-imperialist war – just as in the First and Second World Wars, two parts of a titanic struggle between rival gangs of plunderers (as Lenin described the major powers) for world spoils and survival.
The necessary turn to more overt fascist repression domestically (by an imperialist system which is always effectively non-stop “fascist” in its world domination – imposing hundreds of coups, invasions, massacres blitzkriegs and outright wars since 1945 alone) has been put off temporarily not because “America has seen reason” but because sections of the US Empire’s billionaire ruling class have cold feet.
The crisis has split the ruling class wide open, some arguing for draconian repression, even openly advocating coups and takeovers as former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn has just done (and as the Trumpite defiance of the electoral result was and is preparing the ground for) setting the Empire against all comers and maintaining its dominance by brute “shock and awe” force.
Others are fearful of the rebellious response from a modern population faced with a reversion to more open bourgeois dictatorship (revealing the usually hidden reality of all bourgeois “democracy”).
They see Trumpism as further inflaming the world masses, where revolt and “terrorism” has already been hugely escalated by two decades of wars and occupations (and crucially by the defeat/failure of those invasions to re-establish the unchallenged writ of imperialist control and its “right” to exploit).
The impact of defeats and setbacks in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Middle East, (including against the Zionist occupation, just sent reeling by the Palestinian revolt) as well as increasingly the upheavals in the heart of America itself with issues like the George Floyd killings riots and demonstrations, have unnerved huge sections of the middle class opinion.
Push these revolts too hard and their current reformist and single-issue limits could be pushed all the way to communism as democracy illusions are completely shattered.
Hence Bidenism and its lying G7 “renewal of democracy” flannel.
It will not stop the ultimate necessity for a world war “sorting out” along with destruction of much of the “surplus” capital inexorably built up by capitalist accumulation and choking the whole system.
But it might spin things out for a while, the more “reasonable” wing of the billionaire ruling class hopes.
That way domestic turmoil can be restrained and the post-war international “order” might be extended far enough to organise a coordinated response to the biggest threat of all, the rapidly growing might of giant China, outgrowing and outcompeting the West’s imperialists even on their own terms, financially and economically, as well as scientifically and technologically (soft landing a spacecraft on Mars at the first attempt, is one of the most visible indications of its growing skills).
Such extraordinary development of the Chinese economy, partly using capitalist methods, but efficiently planned and directed by the still continuing workers state control, is the phenomenon of the last decades, and one now most obviously challenging the overwhelming dominance of Western imperialism.
As even the bourgeois press can see, Beijing can no longer be contained by American imperialism alone.
But trying to corral the imperialist competitors for this fight is virtually impossible:
Half a century on, the thaw is over. The thread running through Joe Biden’s first foreign trip as president is the need for democratic alliances against growing authoritarian might, and though attention now turns to his meeting with Vladimir Putin on Wednesday, the administration’s real focus has been on China. While Beijing’s record on the pandemic, trade, human rights and other specific areas has rightly raised deep concern internationally, the underlying issue is its rise, and the decline of US power.
“The US is ill and very ill indeed,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian declared in Beijing on Tuesday. Washington’s waning power was exemplified by Donald Trump, with his erratic pronouncements and conduct, veneration of autocrats and contempt for allies. Yet if Mr Biden has largely defined himself in opposition to his predecessor, he often sounds strikingly similar on China. His approach too is shaped by domestic politics: talking tough on Beijing offers some prospect of political unity in a deeply divided country, should help to ward off Republican attacks on that front, and recognises that the business world is shifting.
The US knows it must work with China on the climate crisis – with the critical Cop26 talks due this autumn – and says it does not want a cold war. Mr Biden has shunned his predecessor’s racism. But the overall hawkish tone struck on China, including briefings around the “lab leak” pandemic theory, has a cold war feel and broader repercussions – with people of east Asian descent, who have nothing to do with decisions in Beijing, facing hostility and attacks.
In Europe, as elsewhere, Mr Biden has an opportunity created by the backlash against Chinese policies and “wolf warrior” diplomacy. There are signs that China’s push for influence is faltering: the European parliament froze an investment deal following tit-for-tat sanctions over Beijing’s treatment of the Uyghurs; Lithuania quit the “17+1” mechanism for dialogue with central and eastern Europe last month; and plans for a Chinese university campus in Hungary are on hold.
Nato leaders this week declared China a security risk, “present[ing] systemic challenges to the rules-based international order”. But the ongoing differences on handling Beijing are evident. Emmanuel Macron was swift to add that “China has little to do with the North Atlantic” and that it was important “we don’t bias our relationship”. Similarly, Angela Merkel reportedly expressed concern that the G7 is “not about being against something, but for something”. Strategic instincts as well as commercial interests work against buying into the US agenda wholesale.
Many anticipate that a new German chancellor will turn the country’s China policy in a more critical direction. But while the US is right that democratic countries must pull together on important issues, decisions cannot and should not be by American diktat. European countries are right to be wary of dancing to the US tune – not least because they wonder what kind of leader could be in charge four years from now.
For the minute the Western middle class continues to be stampeded by the great tide of CIA coordinated “human rights” garbage poured out about Uighurs, Tibetans, Hong Kong etc (as well as Belarus, Myanmar, Ethiopia etc – anywhere which resists total Western diktat) but the giant hypocrisies and lies of supposed Western “concern” and its “warcrimes” posturing and self-righteousness, become ever more obvious as the repression, massacres and butchery of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Palestine, Libya, Colombia, Philippines, the Sahel, Uganda, Rwanda (carried out by Kagame, not rescued from them as the myth pretends), the eastern Ukraine, etc continue (on top of decades of wars, coups,invasions, torture and slaughter).
All are ignored, overlooked, under-reported or aided with $billions (to Zionism, to Egypt, etc) and arms supplied and often operated too, as for the Saudi Arabian gangster-thug royals.
But, like the much hyped and outrageous cries of “anti-semitism” to paint the Zionist oppressors as “victims”, it will all blowback eventually.
Meanwhile hope that “China’s influence is faltering” because tiny Nazi-minded Lithuania pulled out of trade talks, is just whistling in the dark.
Instead the G7 had to play a desperate catch-up copycat game of “investing in infrastructure” in the Third World:
The G7 group of rich nations has agreed plans to set up an alternative to China’s belt and road initiative as part of a broad push back against Beijing covering human rights, supply chains, support for Taiwan and demands to reveal more about the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some G7 leaders, however, including the Italian prime minister, Mario Draghi, the current chair of the G20, have urged Joe Biden not to push competition with China to the extent that it prevents cooperation on other vital issues such as the climate crisis.
The EU is also pressing the US to back a legally binding code of conduct for the South China Sea that Beijing has been negotiating with regional powers.
Draghi, an Atlantacist, has shifted Italy away from the near pro-China policies of the previous Italian government led by the Five Star Movement, but argues that the G7 has a balancing act to pull off in challenging and cooperating with Beijing. Germany, often cautious about confronting China, has been reluctant to specify the monetary value of any infrastructure fund, and France has emphasised a reallocation of rich countries’ special drawing rights, foreign exchange reserve assets maintained by the IMF, towards poorest countries as a means of easing liquidity.
US officials said Biden was pushing the other G7 leaders for “concrete action on forced labour” in China and to include criticism of Beijing in their final communiqué. Japan also said it was backing a mention of Taiwan in the final statement.
The US secretary of state, Antony Blinken, spoke to his Chinese opposite number, Yang Jiechi, from Cornwall on Friday to urge him to release more details about whether Covid-19 leaked from a Wuhan laboratory, a once-dismissed theory now gaining currency.
Yang told Blinken the laboratory theory was absurd, according to the state-run China Global Television Network, and that “genuine multilateralism is not pseudo-multilateralism based on the interests of small circles”.
Small-circle diplomacy is a caustic reference to the fact that the proportion of GDP generated by G7 states has declined. Boris Johnson, the prime minister of the UK, the summit’s host nation, is however widening that circle by inviting the leaders of the chief democracies in Asia and the Pacific region – India, Australia and South Korea – to come to the talks in Cornwall this weekend.
Biden, in an effort to keep G7 allies on board with his tough China strategy and to create new diplomatic alliances in Africa, is also trying to inject credibility into plans for a western alternative to China’s belt and road initiative, an infrastructure scheme launched in 2013 by President Xi Jinping involving development, port, road, rail and digital schemes from Asia through Africa to Europe. More than 100 countries have signed up to schemes with China.
“This is not just about confronting or taking on China,” a US official said. “But until now we haven’t offered a positive alternative that reflects our values, our standards and our way of doing business.” The officials said the Build Back Better World(B3W) would be “an ambitious new global infrastructure initiative with our G7 partners” that would not only be an alternative to [China’s belt and road initiative.
The plan would involve raising hundreds of billions in public and private money to help close a $40tn infrastructure gap in needy countries by 2035, the official said.
No one really believes a word of it, knowing Bidenism will last no longer than the dollar holds together, which is not very long at all.
Where are $trillions going to come from anyway, when the current money printing is already explosively destabilising an already massively inflation-corrupted dollar?
All this plan did was to emphasise the disunity of the capitalist powers.
The rivals to the US are desperate to keep open access to the huge Chinese economy precisely to hold their own in the trade war, underlining that the greatest conflict emerging in the world is between the imperialist powers themselves.
As the EPSR has long discussed, monopoly competition always reaches a to-the-death battle once endless capital accumulation and ever expanding investment reaches the point where markets are over-saturated and not all output can be sold any longer to realise its full value and make a profit.
Inter-imperialist rivalry then becomes the major contradiction pushing the world towards the deadliest crash destruction ever seen and, as Lenin perceptively grasped, unstoppable war.
Beijing’s mockery above, of the West’s aggression at G7, and of its declining power and influence, is enjoyable, and a significant indication of growing workers state confidence against the ever-more-grotesque lies and provocations of Washington and its “allies” about non-existent “Uighur genocide” or Hong Kong “repression” or backing for reactionary Taiwan.
But it is also misplaced, simultaneously reflecting the complacency and non-revolutionary perspectives still undermining the world struggle with a revisionist world view dating all the way back to Stalin’s mistakes.
The critical phrasing is in admonishing the Americans about “true multiculturalism”, a code word for “permanent peaceful coexistence between two systems”, the disastrous perspective set out by Stalin.
It implies that Beijing sees the great struggle in the same way as Moscow did, relying on the inherent superiority of planned production and socialist society eventually winning out over a more and more constrained imperialism, aided by the growing influence of Chinese cultural, political and economic power on the exploited Third World (with their development deliberately, and benignly fostered with the New Silk Road and Belt eg – in stark contrast to the ruthless massacring plundering of imperialist colonialism).
The gigantic onrushing Catastrophe of the entire capitalist system, and the unstoppable recurrence of world war it leads to, does not feature in Beijing’s comments (nor even the impact that might have on China’s own use of capitalism in its economy).
Nor is the non-stop violent subversion and disruption of all moves and struggle towards socialism across the planet (and obviously against China itself), seen as making a revolutionary understanding crucial.
But no ruling class ever gave up its dominance and power voluntarily and least of all will monopoly capitalism, armed to the teeth with nuclear warheads and every other kind of gruesome weaponry, however bankrupt it becomes (and therefore more dangerously unstable).
The dire effects of this revisionist thinking have been explored in the EPSR’s long battle to understand the perplexing 1989-91 “collapse” of the Soviet Union, (in fact not a collapse at all in a still viable planned economy with 70 years of gigantic working class achievements to its name, but a liquidation by the Gorbachevite end-point of Moscow’s long revisionist retreat).
As teased out from Stalin’s own post-war writings, the absence of a perspective of world catastrophe led to an abandonment of revolutionary thinking (see eg EPSR Perspectives for 2001 quoted here, or EPSR Book Vol 21 Unanswered Polemics – against museum-Stalinist revisionism):
Extending the idea that inter-imperialist conflicts in practice could overtake the even more fundamental contradictions in the long run between capitalism and socialism, Stalin goes on:
“WWII began not as a war with the USSR but as a war between capitalist countries. Why? Firstly, because war with the USSR, as a socialist land, is more dangerous to capitalism than war between capitalist countries; for whereas war between capitalist countries puts in question only the supremacy of certain capitalist countries over others, war with the USSR must certainly put in question the existence of capitalism itself.”
While this superficially makes sense, and conveys Stalin’s clearly-understood and determined revolutionary anti-imperialist purpose in letting the Red Army hold the ring for a series of anti-capitalist power seizures throughout East Europe after the expulsion of the German imperialist invaders, – it also reveals that Stalin had stopped thinking about the revolutionary end to imperialist crisis as being the way forward for the planet.
In the long run, the exact opposite is the outcome, refuting Stalin, as actual world history had already crucially done. Far from putting in question “only the supremacy of certain capitalist countries over others”, war between capitalist countries in 1917 was precisely what first “put in question the existence of capitalism itself” by causing the Bolshevik Revolution. On the other hand, it was precisely Stalin’s deluded wish to continue the WWII alliances with the ‘good’ imperialists, on into the United Nations, which guaranteed that the “war with the USSR” aspect of WWII most certainly did not “put in question the existence of capitalism itself”. Just the opposite. Moscow’s delusion that workers states now had a permanent safe stake in the world, accepted by the ‘good’ imperialists, helped breed an attitude around much of the Third International (as was) that the last thing that was needed was any ‘revolutionary adventurism’, meaning ‘premature’ bids for working-class power, which would tend to ‘unnecessarily rock the boat’ of what was seen as a ‘good enough’ phase of ‘stable international peaceful coexistence’ which it was imagined would somehow lead to imperialism eventually giving up completely on any general dreams of maintaining active, instant, universal counter-revolutionary responses to block the path forever to any further socialist advances in the world.
In this deluded atmosphere, future socialist advances were seen as almost falling into the lap of the international working class in time, practically automatically. Stalin’s casual neglecting to mention the utterly crucial importance to mankind for the working class to be ready to take revolutionary power out of the hands of the bourgeoisie upon the failure of yet another capitalist war-disaster, both reflected and cemented this totally anti-Marxist mentality already established.
Stalin gives this deliberately non-revolutionary perspective further authority in commending the objectives of the heavily internationally CP-backed peace movement. Although not denying that to eliminate wars inevitability altogether, imperialism would have to be ‘abolished’ (but avoiding stating specifically how), – Stalin plainly advocates the following:
“The object of the present-day peace movement is to rouse the masses of the people to fight for the preservation of peace and for the prevention of another world war. Consequently, the aim of this movement is not to overthrow capitalism and establish socialism, - it confines itself to the democratic aim of preserving peace. In this respect, the present day peace movement differs from the movement of the time of the First World War for the conversion of the imperialist war into civil war, since the latter movement went further and pursued socialist aims”.
As Marx or Lenin might have commented, it is impossible to prevent the capitalist system from going to war. It is not impossible to overthrow the capitalist system. So, surely it would be easier to overthrow capitalism rather than trying to prevent it going to war? But once again, behind this Stalinist anti-revolutionary Revisionism lurks the assumption that the imperialist countries are steadily collapsing economically anyway, and that sooner or later, they will just fall into the hands of the working class like ripe plums. All that is needed from the international workers movement is to guard against letting the imperialists get away with starting another war.
Certainly the economic and political contradictions facing imperialism continue to hem it in as Stalin was saying in the quoted 1952 Economic Problems book.
But this only makes it more likely that this 800-year-old class domination system will be forced to ruthlessly intensify its brute repression (as the Zionists have been doing against the downtrodden Palestinians (with their revolutionary fightback alone holding back even worse barbarity), and eventually explode into all-out WW3 (already in train since the Serbia, Iraq and Afghanistan warm-up blitzings).
And while that does not mean imperialism will win ultimately, it does warn the working class of the deadly dangers to come, for which such revisionist perspectives can only leave it unprepared and vulnerable, making the long process of ending capitalism far more difficult, costly and devastating, than it has already been.
The lessons have piled the bodies high from the anti-communist coup butchering at least 2 million in Indonesia in 1965 to the torture and slaughter by General Augusto Pinochet in Chile in 1974, to the overturn and suppression of the Arab Spring by a military coup in 2013 and much more.
No ruling class ever left the historical stage peaceably.
Only being forced out by all-out class war – civil war revolution – will stop it, with power taken and retained by the armed struggle to establish and hold the dictatorship of the proletariat, acting for the whole working class.
It is this class authority or any approach towards it which is most hated by imperialism, constantly denounced as “totalitarianism” – anathema to petty bourgeois individualistic “freedom” as a clutch of Tory Bufton-Tufton MPs constantly grouse over the pandemic restrictions (which only underlines the idiocy of such individualism, ignoring reality, in this case the deadly virus but more generally the total collapse of capitalism).
“Freedom is the recognition of necessity”, Engels said and it goes hand in hand with a working class dictatorship providing leadership until all of society’s members have reached the point of rational self-control and need no coercion.
Not clearly explaining the importance of a disciplined collective society is one aspect of how Beijing and other revisionist leaderships continue to show their limitations.
What the world needs most of all is correct revolutionary theory to orientate and grasp the significance of the great tumble of events as the crisis deepens, and which is the basis on which the working class can disentangle the deluges of lies, fake-news and poisonous anti-communism poured out non-stop by imperialist propaganda morning noon and night for the last century.
It begins with a full grasp of the importance of the dictatorship of the proletariat as spelt out in such works by Lenin as The State and Revolution and The Proletarian Revolution and the renegade Kautsky.
In practice China’s workers state firmness is being increasingly asserted, correctly in Hong Kong for example where the disruption and sabotage of the middle-class “democracy” provocateurs have been shut down after 2019’s year of violent “demonstrations” coordinated and encouraged by imperialist outside influences; and against deadly and disruptive jihadist terrorism in Xinjiang by reeducation, through a sound if somewhat revisionist-blinkered programme, ludicrously alleged to be “genocide” by Western intelligence agency-fed lies using all the dirty tricks of unverified accusations, coached “witnesses” and suppositions that “prisons” must mean “death camps”.
This sick propaganda twisting of reality would even have embarrassed Goebbels with its crudity, (albeit using the slickest media trickery to present it, fed into news stories and routine media coverage) but in a philistine world of consumerism and lack of revolutionary theory, even such glaring big lies have their effect manipulating mass thinking.
The self-righteous anti-Chinese Western petty bourgeoisie “public opinion” so produced, crowding the supermarkets to buy cheap clothes from Bangladeshi poverty sweatshops, tea from Sri Lankan near-slave plantations, Indonesian palm oil plunder, and every other kind of product from non-stop near-slave repressive exploitation throughout the Third World, must eventually ask itself why the usually silent West is suddenly so concerned about “boycotting forced labour” in Xinjiang (a total lie anyway).
But while rightfully firmly resisting all this bullshit, Beijing continues to hold back on offering an outright theoretical revolutionary lead to the world, despite its now massive weight and authority.
Just on the ludicrously “revived” Covid virus escape accusations, Beijing is missing the chance to assert for the world the huge advantages of collective society.
Instead of simply defensively denying the utterly groundless accusations of “a virus escape” from the Wuhan virology institute, as the current CIA coordinated media onslaught is trying to pretend, the brilliant organisation of China’s disciplined workers state response to the virus outbreak should trumpeted, counterposed to the incompetence, bribery, profiteering and callousness of the West, demonstrating that the “democratic free market” cannot organise modern society.
Far from taking the world forwards, monopoly capital’s cynical greed and plundering is deadly.
Even an occasional bourgeois press article has managed to slip through, drawing this comparison:
In March 2020, I wrote that life was returning to normal in China, but that other countries faced a longer wait. I did not imagine that this longer wait would extend until the summer of 2021. Meanwhile, China has returned to and maintained an essentially pre-Covid state – becoming a kind of parallel universe. In the last year, I have hiked in five provinces, organised a week-long in-person meeting in a tropical botanical garden involving scientists from 20 academic institutions, and attended scores of live music and dance events, featuring maskless musicians playing to packed, maskless crowds. GDP in the first quarter of this year grew 18.3%; in the EU, it fell 0.6%.
China has achieved this success due to the effectiveness of its test, trace and isolate measures. There have been numerous outbreaks of Covid-19 since last spring, varying in size from single cases to hundreds, but all of them have been ended swiftly, with modest, generally localised disruption. The key to this success has been the rapidity and rigour of the measures taken to curtail community transmission.
A good example of epidemiological rigour is provided by the current outbreak in Shenzhen. The index case was a port worker, who as a member of a high-risk group was tested every five days. Once he tested positive, his colleagues, close contacts and neighbours, and their contacts, numbering tens of thousands in all, were tested and quarantined where necessary. The government plans to achieve two negative tests from each person in the entire population of about 240,000 from the local Yantian region, before declaring the crisis over. At the time of writing, eight positive cases have been detected, including other port workers and their family members, none of whom have so much as run a fever.
Finally, the west is doing its own reopening. Will China’s solitude come to an end? China’s Covid suppression has been maintained by nearly closed borders since March 2020. The number of international flights has been kept to a handful a week, and as Chinese epidemiologists have acquired more experience of the improbable ways in which Covid is occasionally transmitted, quarantine has become stricter and longer.
Most people in China would happily stay in this parallel universe for another five years. People feel that they made hard sacrifices in 2020 in order to defeat Covid, and see no reason to be exposed to risks again. However, China’s current border policy is having a cumulative long-term effect across the global economy. Students have postponed their studies, threatening the finances of universities across the globe; small international businesses have shut down; and the belt and road initiative, designed to broaden China’s global impact, has been slowed. Hordes of Chinese tourists are now only found in China. Many have waited for more than a year to reunite with loved ones.
Even if none of these reasons seems urgent, there is something of a hard deadline for substantial reopening to take place in time for the Beijing Winter Olympics in February 2022. The problem is that opening the borders is hard to reconcile with Chinese people’s expectations of zero Covid cases.
In order to open its borders, China will first have to vaccinate its population. The vaccination campaign initially targeted key workers and those with a high chance of being exposed to or transmitting the virus. When the campaign expanded to the general public in March of this year, most preferred to wait and see, especially because the chance of being infected while staying on the mainland is minuscule. At that time, China’s top respiratory expert, Zhong Nanshan, revealed that the number inoculated was 3.56%, a proportion set to rise to 40% by the end of June.
I was vaccinated at the first opportunity, and in the last few weeks the campaign has turned up a notch. Residents from many provinces now get shopping coupons when they are vaccinated, and nationwide 20m doses are being administered every day. I do not think the government will have trouble reaching its targets.
The tricky part is that even when the population has been fully vaccinated, there is still the possibility of substantial Covid transmission chains, even if few get very sick. The government will have to convince people that they have to and can live with Covid. Chinese officials are looking with considerable interest at how herd immunity works in highly vaccinated countries with different combinations of vaccines, such as in Israel and Seychelles. Tough decisions will need to be made soon.
Daniel Falush is a professor at the Center for Microbes, Development and Health at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences.
China has already gone way beyond these vaccination figures.
It can be added that China’s recent outbreaks in Guangzhou for example have been quickly shut down and have seen it use automated systems to supply food and other necessities to locally locked down areas, and even deliveries by drones, all allowing rapid and quick containment with full provision for daily needs of the affected populations in sharp contrast to the prevarication and delays in the West, trapped by the needs of monopoly profiteering, and fears of being outcompeted.
This staggering example to the world of communist collective society’s capacities is hated by imperialism which is one reason it has stepped up its lie campaign; and while the splits and conflicts will ultimately override any Western “unity”, on this question the bourgeois powers are in agreement temporarily – as long as it does not affect their economic interests.
But only those poisoned with decades of anti-communist brainwashing will be unable to grasp that the nonsensical Trump/Biden suggestion that a lab escape “cannot be ruled out” – despite the WHO investigation declaring it highly unlikely, – is no different to the WMD propaganda lies used to blitz Iraq, - which also leaned heavily on scientific inspectors to bend their assessments (driving one, Dr David Kelly to “suicide” as a result).
Another hundred completely specious similar excuses can be cited for wars generated solely by imperialism itself, for routine neo-colonialism and anti-communist purposes (Gulf of Tonkin to start the Vietnam war notably) and to begin World War Three, starting with the 1998 Serbia blitzing using yet more gross lie-excuses about “massacres” at Srebrenica and then Racek.
The virus theory is ridden with contradictions anyway – if despite the evidence it continues to be asserted that it “could” have happened on no grounds other than “pigs could fly” then just as likely is that it “could” have been brought to Wuhan by the US soldiers participating in the military games in autumn 2019.
Just in theory, the latter is a much more likely theory since
a)it is the West that has researched and developed aggressive chemical and biological warfare methods on a large scale, hunting down and using German Nazi and Japanese human prisoner experiment data, recruiting those scientists and itself carrying out its own inhuman and often fatal experiments on prisoners and soldiers for decades after WWII.
b)It is the West which has a long record of using such weapons, from Winston Churchill’s poison gas bombing of the Bolsheviks in 1918 and later Iraqi villages, to the repeated biological plague attacks on the Cuban revolution’s agriculture and humans.
c) It is the West which is also developing and using similarly undercover cyber warfare on a large scale, far beyond anything the Russians or the Chinese are persistently accused of and blamed for – notably the CIA/Zionist sabotaging of an Iranian nuclear fuel processing plant with the Stuxnet computer attack and the satellite controlled remote-gun killing of an Iranian top scientist last year.
d) it is more likely that a biological virus would be released in “enemy territory” than at home if the extended “deliberate attack” theory is considered.
But whatever the origin of the virus, it is essentially not the point anyway.
Such blamemongering seeks to distract attention from the real issue, which is the callous indifference and incompetence of the subsequent imperialist response to the disaster and even, in the case of Palestine, the deliberate withholding of vaccine and medicines from the hemmed-in and persecuted population with the full intent of watching them die.
Continued illusions in “democracy and freedom” and the “peaceful road” (silk or not) still being fostered by revisionist communist parties across the world, can only aid all the demented bourgeois hate campaigns against Beijing, Cuba and North Korea, (and Belarus, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, even bonarpartist Putinite Russia, Iran, potentially Vietnam again, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and any other “rogue” state, or rebellious movement even tilting towards an anti-imperialist position, let alone communist or heading for socialism).
Reformist and pacifist struggles only lead up the garden path and straight onto the ruling class counter-revolutionary guns in the last resort.
Such perspectives go hand-in-hand with moralising fake-“left” condemnations and denunciations of the raw struggle erupting throughout the world against the continuing burden of imperialist exploitation, often in street turmoil and anarchic riots and frequently as jihadism and “terrorism”.
While the ideologies that currently sustain and lead these struggles are either backward and limited, and sometimes laced with reactionary and backward notions, they nevertheless have been pushing forwards revolutionary struggles which will opens up possibilities for much greater understanding, shifting world consciousness.
The backward religious confusion of Hamas in Palestine for example (and Islamic Jihad) needs to be constantly fought against as an ideology, in favour of the dialectical materialist revolutionary perspective of Marxism.
But the denunciations and condemnations of Hamas for being “reactionary” as such by the fake-“left” which have followed its latest struggle (see EPSR last issue) reveal nothing but the “lefts”’s own reaction, opportunism and cowardice; all are missing the huge significance of the advances Hamas and its support have made, demonstrating new levels of guerrilla war organisation, resilience, capability and long-term planning.
Hamas, correctly, itself challenges the very existence of this colonialist land-thieving artificial “state” which can never be accepted by this displaced people.
Their national liberation fight cannot stop and so “Israel” will never therefore be stable and secure until it has wiped out them out effectively (as the Native America nations were wiped out, or Australia’s indigenous people), its more and more obvious agenda.
The latest titanic resistance and resilience against Zionist onslaught, amounts to a victory and is a giant blow against imperialism which can only be celebrated.
It will hugely stimulate the growing development of the Third World struggle against imperialism, also mostly denounced as “jihadism” or “terrorism”.
But the Marxist understanding, that defeats for imperialism are a crucial factor in shifting consciousness, has been strongly borne out in the wake of Zionist retreat.
The Palestinians’ case, against the entire monstrous occupation of Palestine, from the original 1947 UN “granting” of part of their country to another people onwards, has suddenly once more started to get a hearing of a kind in the bourgeois press, after nearly a decade of monstrous media self-censorship capitulation to the gross worldwide Jewish freemasonry propaganda nonsense trying to shut down all such views as “nothing but anti-semitism”.
Above all the critical question is voiced of “why does ‘Israel’ exist at all”?
There are still major confusions embedded in what is allowed through – the following account for example puts anti-Palestinian racism to the fore as the cause of the problems this people face rather than as a consequence of imperialist colonialism and occupation (echoing the kind of reformist views expressed by groups like the shallow RCG Fight Racism, Fight Imperialism).
All racism is generated by the antagonisms and divisions created within capitalism and imperialism, both by its inherent contradictions and as a conscious tool used by the ruling class to split the working class and divert it from the revolutionary struggle, which alone can permanently end racism and other “intersectional” conflicts.
But there are some useful points made:
The silencing of the Palestinian story is nothing new. In 1950s Britain, a few years after Israel was established, even the name Palestine went out of use. When asked as a child where I came from, people would think I’d said Pakistan.
I remember how frustrating it was that no one wanted to hear our story, as if we had invented it. “It’s the land of the Jews,” I was repeatedly told. “The Arabs are only squatters on it.” Israel’s stunning victory in the 1967 war compounded these attitudes, and the Zionist narrative of Israel’s moral right to exist in the Jewish people’s “ancestral land” became supreme. Constantly made to understand we were second-class human beings with no valid right to “someone else’s country” was demoralising and intimidating.
It took me years to understand these distortions of history as expressions of a deep, unspoken anti-Palestinian racism. Its underlying premise is that where Palestine is concerned, the rights of Palestinians are always inferior to those of Jewish people. Such racist views long predated the creation of Israel and were based on a denial of Palestinian existence in the country. As soon as the Zionists chose Palestine to be the Jewish state, at the end of the 19th century, organised attempts were made to write its Arab inhabitants out of history.
Twenty years before that, the English were already peddling the myth of an empty Palestine. In 1875 Lord Shaftesbury, a committed, well-connected Christian Zionist, saw Greater Syria, of which Palestine formed part, as a “country without a nation”. This description set the scene for the early Zionist narrative of Palestine as “a land without people for a people without land”, a homeland waiting to be “redeemed” by the Jews in exile. Zionist maps of the time depict the same thing, and the idea of an empty land gained wide currency. The aim then, as now, was to disappear the indigenous Palestinians from the landscape, and deny them their rights to the land.
This pernicious narrative was not so much a matter of demography, since any visitor to Palestine could easily disprove it, but of politics. At the time of Britain’s conquest of Palestine, the native population was viewed not as absent but as of no account. The 1917 Balfour declaration, which acknowledged Zionism’s claim to establish a “Jewish national home” in Palestine, was drawn up with that assumption.
As Arthur Balfour said in 1919: “In Palestine we do not propose even to go through the form of consulting the wishes of the present inhabitants of the country”, because Zionism had a claim “of far profounder import than the desires and prejudices of the 700,000 Arabs who now inhabit that ancient land”.
This colonial disdain of “natives” was commonplace at the time. As colonies gained their freedom, it began to recede, but not in the case of Palestine. Ignoring the Palestinian voice and presence, as Balfour had done, became the norm. I know first-hand the truth of that in my lifelong struggle to prove the validity of my history, and to counter the racist delegitimisation of Palestinian victimhood and suffering.[...]
Things began to improve in the 1980s and 90s, when Palestinians acquired a media presence, and their writings increasingly appeared in print. Today, the situation is vastly different. The establishment of the Palestine Liberation Organisation in 1964, and the intifadas of 1987 and 2000, were events that returned Palestine to the international stage. The 1993 Oslo agreement, despite its many flaws, gave the Palestine cause diplomatic weight. Solidarity movements have sprung up in many western countries, and a strengthening boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign (BDS) has focused attention on Israel’s maltreatment of Palestinians.
Yet the racism has not gone. The recent row over antisemitism in the Labour party, and the departure of its humiliated previous leader, Jeremy Corbyn, should be seen in that light. His political destruction by what, in my view, was a cynical campaign designed to bring him down, has forced us yet again to subscribe to a damaging hierarchy of suffering. It has also obscured the racism practised against Palestinians for more than a century.
Without it, Israel would never have existed or thrived. It is that which makes possible the west’s unabashed support for what is an apartheid state, with no respect for international law, and that shields it from sanction for its crimes.
What else but anti-Palestinian racism explains western inaction in the face of the human rights abuses meted out daily to Palestinians under Israel’s rule: the lethal siege of Gaza, which has been brutally bombarded – again – in front of the eyes of the world; the blatant land theft since 1967 of 60% of the occupied West Bank for its 600,000 settlers; the army’s relentless assaults on and imprisonment of Palestinians and their children throughout the occupied territories.
Racism is a well-documented feature of Israel’s conduct towards its Arab citizens. It permeates every level of Israeli society: housing, social life, education, immigration rights, the legal system and more. Anti-Arab, even anti-Mizrahi (Jews of Middle-Eastern origin) discrimination was so widespread in 2014 that the Israeli president, Reuven Rivlin, was moved to declare: “Israeli society is sick. It is our duty to treat this disease.”
In Britain the space that had briefly opened for the Palestinian narrative is shrinking. New attempts at deliberately silencing the Palestinian voice are in train, using the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) definition of antisemitism. The UK government and 28 other countries have adopted the IHRA definition, and the US may incorporate it into federal law. Its coercive adoption by British universities, although a survey conducted last September suggested that only 29 out of 133 had adopted it, has already had a chilling effect on free speech about the Palestinian issue.
If the seemingly benign two-state solution to the conflict, so beloved by western governments, had succeeded it would have been the subtlest expression of this lingering racism. Its proposal is for an independent Palestinian state on the post-1967 territories; that would, at best, apportion Palestine’s native people 22% of their original homeland, leaving the other 78% to Israel.
Irrespective of whether this is even feasible today, with more than 200 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem breaking up the land’s contiguity, the formulation is clearly unequal. Only the insignificant “natives” of Balfour’s worldview could have been expected to accept this downgrading of their rights. That many Palestinians have done so is based not on the justice of the proposal, but on pragmatism: the power imbalance between the two sides is such that a small state is the most Palestinians are likely to get.
It is no way to solve the conflict. A lasting resolution must be based on justice and can only come from a negotiation between genuine equals. And that cannot happen unless the racism that has blighted Palestinian lives, and protected Israel and its supporters from retribution, is exposed and tackled head on.
Ghada Karmi is a Palestinian writer. She has published two memoirs of Palestine
“What else explains it?” is capitalist imperialist colonisation, deliberately taking advantage of the fanatical reactionary Old Testament ideology of the Jewish freemasonry to plant a permanent knife into the heart of the Arab world and wider Middle East, serving to smite and hold it down on behalf of imperialist exploitation of its riches and its strategic situation (see EPSR Book 20 Occupied Palestine and the “left anti-semitism” fraud).
And what will solve it is not reformist “anti-racism” pipedream fantasies about “negotiation” between equals, which will never happen while capitalism and its crisis continues, but the defeat of this out-of-era colonialist implant and the return of all the stolen property and land to its rightful owners, the Palestinian people, achievable only by revolutionary struggle, merging with the world revolutionary overturn of the whole world monopoly capitalist order.
A tall order?
But the defeatist point made, that many of the Palestinians “pragmatically” accept a “small state” is all that will be possible, is challenged too by the latest revolutionary events.
The ripples from the Hamas-led fight continue to spread with the ousting of the aggressive Benjamin Netanyahu government finally, showing the defeat and demoralisation of the seemingly vastly more powerful Zionists (shaken and split by four elections in two years, economic downturn and the wider impact of imperialist crisis, and increasingly by the stench of corruption which always gets stronger as capitalist crisis gets more rotten).
Of course it will be argued that the replacement for the current “Israeli” government is just as reactionary, if not even more so.
But as with the squabbling at the G7, the cracks are showing, inside the Zionist camp and between them and their Washington support, which had to step in to halt the latest Gaza blitzing (after a suitably complicit delay) from fear of triggering too much turmoil all around.
Hamas is by no means alone; Hezbollah in southern Lebanon is if anything even more coherent and potentially better armed than the inevitably constrained Hamas, making do with what it can get into besieged Gaza; the 105 million strong Egyptian population is on their side too, seething beneath the surface with anger at the repressive Sisi dictatorship, and with an armed revolutionary jihadist movement in the Sinai; so too the masses throughout the Middle East, even in reactionary backwaters like Saudi Arabia which has just beheaded more of the Shia resistance.
Beyond that the world is exploding with anti-imperialist turmoil, as the latest meeting of the EPSR has just discussed, particularly in Africa, from Ethiopia, Somalia and rest of the Horn of Africa to the whole band of the Sahel across the Atlantic.
Mali and Chad where jihadist and “terrorist” movements have been growing for a decade have just seen governments toppled and French imperialism, traditionally associated with these former colonies, is being forced to withdraw many of the troops it has been using to suppress the insurgency.
The bourgeois press spelled out the turmoil a few weeks ago:
The death in battle last week of Chad’s unloved dictator, Idriss Déby, has pushed the Sahel up the west’s political and media agenda. The sudden burst of interest is unlikely to last. The global attention span for this desperately poor, unstable and ill-governed region is chronically short. And yet the Sahel is, or soon could be, everyone’s problem.
A vast, arid swath of sub-Saharan Africa that comprises Mali, Niger, Chad, Mauritania and Burkina Faso (the so-called G5 Sahel), plus parts of neighbouring countries, the Sahel is where the world’s toughest challenges collide. The spread of jihadist terrorism, claiming record numbers of lives and posing a possible threat to Europe, is the most closely watched phenomenon.
But undemocratic, corrupt and repressive governance, colonial era hangovers, external interference, environmental degradation, climate change, unchecked Covid-19, poverty and malnutrition – and the resulting conflicts, refugee emergencies and chaotic northwards migrations – are all also conspiring to render the Sahel truly hellish.
In a despairing appeal in January, the UN’s refugee agency called for international action to end “unrelenting violence” that it estimates has displaced more than 2 million people within the Sahel for the first time. “Needs are surging across a region where multiple crises converge… the humanitarian response is dangerously overstretched,” the UN said. But is anyone listening?
The Chad turmoil epitomises how neglect fuses with authoritarian leadership to undermine political stability and sustainable development. Déby seized the presidency in a 1990 coup and – backed principally by France, the former colonial power – never let go. Rigged elections and western complicity gave cover to a venal dictatorship that entrenched inequality and looted Chad’s oil wealth.
Exactly how Déby met his death remains unclear. What is certain is that his son, Mahamat, set filial grief aside and promptly took charge. This unlawful family transition is now being challenged by advancing rebel forces, reportedly trained and equipped in Libya by Russian mercenaries, as well as by long-repressed opposition groups and disaffected army officers.
How this plays out in the long term is anyone’s guess. But France, citing “exceptional circumstances”, appears to prefer another strongman, such as Déby Jr, to the risk of worsening civil strife or a messy, drawn-out process to elect a replacement national leader. Emmanuel Macron, France’s president, met his new man in Africa at Déby’s funeral on Friday.
This matters because, to a large extent, France, the lead representative for Europe and the US, still calls the shots, in security and counter-terrorism terms, in Chad and the wider Sahel. Its continuing influence is strongly opposed by many Sahelians. But a large budget, 5,100 troops and a big military base in N’Djamena talk louder.
The basic deal – in effect since 2012-13, when jihadists seized large areas of northern Mali, and Paris intervened – was simple. In return for Déby assisting operations against al-Qaida and Isis-affiliated extremists, supplying peacekeeping troops in Mali and helping fight Boko Haram in the Lake Chad basin, a blind eye was turned to his depredations.
Macron reaffirmed this arrangement at a virtual summit in February with G5 Sahel leaders. He doubled down on the existing anti-jihadist military strategy, vowing to maintain French force levels, welcoming modest UK and European troop contributions, and warning of dire consequences should France’s supposedly altruistic mission fail.
“We have a shared destiny with the Sahel,” Macron said. “If the Sahel falls into the hands of terrorism, Africa will gradually fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists, and Europe will live with the consequences of this tragedy very clearly. So I think it is our duty.” Military operations would go “further and stronger” in 2021 to “try to cut off the head” of terrorist groups.
The Chad crisis threatens this strategy, whose successes Macron exaggerated. As rising violence affects an ever-wider area, its defects were dramatised by the killing of 19 civilians at a village wedding in Mali in January. A UN inquiry blamed a misguided French airstrike, a claim vigorously disputed in Paris.
More broadly, France is accused of harbouring old colonial attitudes, ignoring the wishes of sovereign peoples and exacerbating the wider jihadist threat by dispersing Mali’s militants around the region, thereby aggravating grievance and boosting recruitment.
Criticism that too much emphasis is placed on military solutions, and not enough on promoting democracy, alleviating poverty and nation-building, is also levelled at the US. It maintains two bases in Niger, one run by the CIA and equipped with armed drones. It’s unclear as yet what President Joe Biden’s approach will be – although he has temporarily suspended drone strikes.
The analyst Alexandra Reza has suggested western strategies in the Sahel fail to address the “deep-rooted and complex tensions” driving insurgencies. These include “livelihoods under attack, trafficking networks manipulated by political and business elites, [and] the failure of nation states to provide economic and social security for citizens,” Reza wrote. The divisive effects of land and resource degradation are additional destabilising factors.
A withering new report by the International Crisis Group echoes many of these concerns and bluntly warns the battle for the Sahel is being lost. “The Sahel stabilisation strategy, led by France, is foundering amid a rise in communal killings and jihadist militancy as well as eroding public confidence in the region’s governments,” the ICG said.
Summary execution and imperialist butchery has been the order of the day – with no questions asked by international warcrime tribunal posturing and the “rule of law” here.
But it is not working:
French soldiers have killed a Malian jihadist suspected of being responsible for the kidnapping and death of two French journalists in 2013.
Florence Parly, the defence minister in Paris, said French forces in the Sahel region killed “four terrorists” during an operation in northern Mali on 5 June, including Bayes Ag Bakabo, the prime suspect in the deaths of Radio France International (RFI) reporters Ghislaine Dupont and Claude Verlon.
“His neutralisation means the end of a long wait,” Parly said.
Parly said the operation “illustrates one of the main priorities of France in the Sahel region: taking down the main heads of terrorist groups that are causing havoc in the region”.
The news of Bakabo’s death emerged just a day after the French president, Emmanuel Macron, announced a drawdown of French troops in the Sahel region, who number 5,100 in bases across the arid and volatile region on the southern fringe of the Sahara.
Macron did not give figures for the drawdown, but made clear he wanted future French involvement to be limited to counter-terror operations as part of a multinational European force.
In Washington, a Pentagon spokesman, John Kirby, said the United States would still support counter-terror operations in the Sahel. “We’ll continue to provide a measure of support – the kind of support that we’ve been providing to the French as they needed in the region.”
Variously, every fake-“left” group bemoans in some way the “parlous state of the labour movement”, saturating working class morale with a relentless petty bourgeois defeatism.
The only “parlous state” is that of the fake-“left” itself, failing to grasp what is in front of its eyes, and not wanting to see it anyway, out of fear of the implications (of working class rule).
It long ago abandoned all sense of revolutionary movement and development because of its anti-working class position.
All this ferment and much more - like the eruption of “jihadism” in northern Mozambique triggered by new imperialist gas exploitation plundering in the region, trampling across an already desperate poverty stricken local population – is a symptom of the great breakdown of imperialist control everywhere.
But the fake-“left” continues to “condemn” and write it off as “unacceptable terrorism” or the activities of “headbanging jihadists” or “all run by the CIA” as they did in Syria.
Declaring it to be “another kind of reaction” not only lines up the fake-“left” with imperialism but gives entirely the wrong perspective of imperialism’s strength in the period of its greatest ever disaster with rebellion and revolt erupting everywhere.
It goes hand in hand with great stirrings in Latin America too: Brazil is on fire with massive street demonstrations against the monstrous Bolsonaro fascists and their Covid incompetence, Amazon eco-destruction and ethnic cleansing of indigenous tribes; Colombia has seen weeks of violent demonstrations and a steady return to the armed struggle by FARC revolutionaries dismayed by the butchery of community leaders and repression; Peru has just seen the election of a “socialist” government.
All of them still have no full on Leninist revolutionary leadership and continue to harbour the “democracy” delusions that leaves them vulnerable to the same reactionary forces that slaughtered the Allende government in Chile in 1973.
But Venezuela’s halfway house left nationalism under Maduro continues to hang on despite vicious economic sanctions and non-stop provocations – the latest being the high-handed American declaration that they are not allowed to dock Iranian ships currently crossing the Atlantic - a staggeringly arrogant piece of bullying and monstrously hypocritical in the light of the “freedom of the seas” naval provocations constantly made off the coast of China and North Korea.
And Nicaragua, another not-quite-communist compromise “leftism” is being forced to take a firmer line against endless CIA fed subversion and sabotage at present.
But Leninist understanding is crucially needed.
Already the fake-“left is being mobilised precisely to head off the revolutionary firmness and clarity that is needed for the struggle to take power – it is certainly no coincidence that Luis Inacío Lula da Silva has been freed recently in Brazil for example after years in prison under trumped-up nonsensical “corruption” charges used for the judicial coup which allowed the monstrous Jair Bolsanaro into power.
Why the sudden reversal when it would be simpler to keep him locked away?
Because imperialism can see the great swell of popular revolt stirring, with tens of thousands on the streets recently, as the Covid death toll reached a minimum of 500,000 purely through incompetence and callous stupidity.
An Allende figure is just what is needed to channel this once more into illusions in “left” reformist change, stifling any Marxist-Leninist understanding, and trussing the masses once more with reformism, while the ruling class prepares far more brutal “solutions”.
It is no coincidence Bolsonaro has been exploring the possibility of a return to military dictatorship.
For the minute that has backfired on him but the bourgeoisie will eventually be forced to make such moves, because the crisis is relentless deepening.
Back to the top
DUP leadership meltdowns and G7 slapdowns for Boris Johnson Brexit bluster on Irish border protocol underline the gathering reunification momentum towards formal completion. Ruling class defeat helps revolutionary perspectives in Britain too
One specific example how of fake-“left” pessimism and anti-theory impressionism gets the world badly wrong, misleading the working class, was sharply illuminated by the G7 humiliation for Boris Johnson over the “Northern Ireland” Brexit border protocol and the concurrent implosion of the reactionary Orange Democratic Unionist Party.
Two DUP leaders have toppled in as many months and a voter meltdown is expected next election for the bigoted “unionist” colonists.
Both events reflect the impact being made on ruling class confidence as the formal reunification of Ireland draws ever closer, reaching the target for which the 30-year-long struggle of the republican IRA/Sinn Féin national-liberation war was aiming, and which the accelerating progress of Sinn Féin’s political wing in the “democratic” arena both north and south will see completed.
The outcome exposes the relentless defeatism of the fake-“left” and particularly its Trot or crypto-Trot wing which wrote off the 1998 Good Friday Agreement with the nationalists as “just a capitulation to continuing imperialist colonialist domination”, either because of a monstrous slander declaring it to be a “sellout” and opportunism by the Sinn Féin leadership, or because imperialism was “stepping in to enforce a settlement” (the “hot spot” theory of the CPGB Weekly Worker doomily, and wrongly, seeing US imperialism as overwhelmingly capable rather then riven by the contradictions of bankruptcy and the oncoming worldwide capitalist catastrophe).
Others like Arthur Scargill in the Socialist Labour Party sneered at the achievement of the nationalists as “falling far short” of the immediate reunification that he airily deemed to be the only “acceptable outcome” and one on which to settle for less represented a defeat, (despite having achieved no such full-on outcomes in the miners’ own struggles or the SLP) (through no fault of the heroic miners’ sacrifices in 1984).
But it was precisely the unbeatability of the liberation war, finally accepted by a steadily weakening British imperialism, riven by contradictions and setback from the world crisis, which opened the path towards the “straightforward democratic” political battle now storming forwards.
The fake-“left” still declare the GFA to have been a failure, completely blind to the titanic changes underway and to the world crisis context in which they are happening, because they long ago abandoned any serious effort to develop Marxist revolutionary understanding.
As virtually all the bourgeois opinion polls and press accounts make clear, the next election in the north for the Stormont Assembly is likely to see an outright majority for the Sinn Féin republicans, and a there is a similar outlook for them in Dublin.
Progress is gathering speed towards a “border poll” – the mechanism for a referendum on joining the ripped-out six counties back into the rest of Ireland where they belong, ending the artificial and violently imposed Partition separation in 1921.
It will almost certainly be won and not simply because the “Catholic” (meaning in fact the indigenous Irish or those who identify with the Irish) population in the north has just passed the 50% mark, a demographic change long expected, but because a significant proportion of the “loyalist” ie colonist, population has become used to the conditions of peaceful life and cooperation with the southern counties.
They have no appetite for mayhem and the outright civil war “Troubles” that would be necessary for a re-imposition of Orange colonist supremacy, and will either support the nationalists or the “liberal” minded Alliance, taking support from the DUP.
The republicans are now clearly on a path to formal completion of the national liberation struggle in the not too distant future, perhaps in even less than the ten years estimated by some academic analysts, or the “within my lifetime” as former bourgeois Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar has started saying, opportunistically trying to jump on the cross-border bandwagon after nearly a century of southern Irish Green Tory indifference to the northern Irish population’s permanently downtrodden plight.
Going through the reunification process is ultimately a foregone conclusion whatever hurdles and hiccups it might encounter yet and particularly from the diehard colonists and their endless efforts to trip up and sabotage the settlement.
The GFA always included tacit recognition that reunification was coming eventually as part of the 1998 deal, the end result of a long snail’s pace withdrawal from Ireland by British imperialism beginning decades ago, but pushed into motion by the liberation war.
But it was also tacitly understood that the settlement would be as murky and unclear as possible, to save face for British imperialism and most of all to cover and obscure the reality of its defeat at the hands of an armed revolutionary movement, a fudging which suited all the rest of imperialism too.
Full and formal reunification was implicit in the terms of the GFA, veiled behind a long-winded process of “democratic referendums” etc (to obscure the revolutionary reality) but understood by all save the most fanatical Orangemen, to be inevitable.
Part of the deal was a compromise acceptance that -
a formula will be worked out to let the Irish in the north feel they are constitutionally a part of Ireland while allowing any British colonial diehards to feel that they are still constitutionally a part of Britain (EPSR No 913 12-08-97).
– as the EPSR’s Marxist theoretical understanding was able to say even in 1997, a year before the agreement. But the “no surrender” intransigence and triumphalism of the Orange colonists can never return, nor suppression of the Irish republicans, once prevented even from getting a hearing on TV etc.
The colonists surrendered long ago.
The sensibly agreed republican compromise on “identity” (to avoid unnecessary future hostility from the former colonists and to allow them to overcome fears of retribution or of “losing out”) is not a capitulation by the republicans, merely an interim arrangement as the full re-unification process is worked through.
And reunification has been slowly unrolling in practice ever since the GFA, and even before, with increasing cross border interactions politically, economically and culturally, gradually merging the six counties back into Ireland for many day-to-day economic, social and even political purposes, symbolised most of all by a more and more porous border.
However the diehard wing of the colonists has constantly taken advantage of the temporary constitutional arrangement – which includes the notional continued status of “Northern Ireland” as part of the United Kingdom – to stall and prevaricate on full implementation of the agreement, still trying to assert their “sovereignty and identity”.
Years of obstructiveness, sectarian violence and blocking of the agreement by the colonists (and the ultra-reactionaries in the British security services backing them up), with stupid and aggressive stunts mounted against the nationalists such as the 2002 police raid on Sinn Féin offices in Stormont, continued until a final settlement for power sharing was agreed in the 2006 St Andrews supplement to the GFA.
There has still been constant disruption, prevarication and foot-dragging ever since by elements who want to turn the clock back to the sectarian bigotry and violent tyranny of the past.
Some flavour of how fascist-minded attitudes continue is captured in this bourgeois piece about Edwin Poots the replacement for Arlene Foster, the previous DUP leader ousted for “allowing a border in the Irish sea”:
The DUP’s Paul Givan has said that at the age of 16 he had been “captured emotionally” by the Rev Ian Paisley. He has strong tastes – those were the years when Paisley was raving about bitter harvests and apocalypse if the Orange Order was not let walk through the Catholic part of Portadown, and vowing to “smash” the Good Friday agreement, which he depicted as a “partnership with the men of blood”. (The old sectarian warriors who took him literally at the time and killed Catholics to prove it are champing at the bit again these days. Northern Ireland, we are told, is under the “jackboot” of the EU).
Rising with his mentor, by 2016 Givan was communities minister in the Northern Ireland executive. Two days before Christmas that year, he delivered a letter to an Irish language group informing them that he was withdrawing a grant that would have allowed disadvantaged children to go to learn Irish in a Gaeltacht, where it is the first language. Givan signed off the letter with, “Happy Christmas, and Happy New Year.” When the then deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, resigned soon afterwards citing the intolerable arrogance of the DUP, he mentioned Givan’s action, while the then president of Sinn Féin, Gerry Adams, called the DUP minister “an ignoramus”. The executive collapsed and was not reinstated until last year.
In order to become first minister, Givan needs Sinn Féin approval. Deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill says she wants more than “fluffy words”. He will have to implement the Irish language act, which was promised under the New Decade, New Approach deal that restored the institutions at Stormont, an act so resented by the DUP that Gregory Campbell MP said he would use it as toilet paper. Poots said in 2015 that his party would have to “hold their noses” against the stench of Sinn Féin.
To my mind, Poots as good as announced his intention to become party leader when, in the worst days of the pandemic, he falsely claimed that while his community was abiding by the rules, others were not, and Covid was spreading faster in nationalist areas. Instead of lockdowns, he favoured localised restrictions. The sectarianism echoed. His late father, Charlie, said in 1975 during the Troubles that he would “cut off all supplies” to Catholic areas: “It is the only way to deal with enemies of the state.”
In May Poots harked back to the old militant days with his inaugural speech as DUP leader, too. There was no gracious talk of moving forward together as a united community. “When unionism’s back is against the wall,” he said “history has proven that we will come out fighting.” Givan is cut from the same cloth. He will encourage the deep sense of grievance that underlies unionist politics.
He has described the Brexit protocol as “an instrument to punish the people”, and said it would be used by “our predatory neighbour in the Irish Republic” to advance reunification. Now the potential cutting off of Northern Ireland’s supply of British sausages is being spoken of as if it is a war crime. The intervention of US president, Joe Biden, will be resented. DUP MP Sammy Wilson has called him a “parrot for Irish nationalism”.
Such nasty and primitive triumphalism is still trying to scupper the Good Friday Agreement but the immediate resignation of Poots too, not because of his barmy anti-science belief that the world is only 6000 years old, but for conceding the Irish Language Act (which the Tories have said they will carry through from Westminster) only underlines the floundering of the diehard colonists trying to reverse history.
The really intransigent wing – more diehard than the Poots dieharders – for which even this much of a concession is too much, continues to insist on “Northern Ireland” being treated as a “part of the United Kingdom” and on an “equal footing”, backed up by the jingoist Brexit wing of the Tories as voiced by Boris Johnson at the G7 declaring about the European Union that
“they do seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country, a single territory. I just need to get that into their heads”.
But it is not a whole country, because Ireland was never anything but a colony; nor was the north an exception after 1921 and therefore “part of Britain”.
Only a bloody and brutal “Partition” imposed on the Irish nation by British imperialism with Black & Tan bayonets, and sectarian terror ethnic-cleansing repression by the colonist population (misdescribed as “loyalists”) on the Irish trapped inside the newly drawn border exactly 100 years ago, has ever pretended otherwise.
The artificial “Northern Ireland” Union-Jack-waving statelet violently ripped out of Ireland, and its absurd pretences of “British Irishness” for the triumphalist colonist population and their gerrymandered border stitch-up of a permanent “democratic majority” over the suppressed and downtrodden Irish population was never going to last.
That was especially so as the once all-powerful British empire began seriously losing its grip, accelerated by the colonial and financial losses of the two world wars (hidden by the “Great Escape” mythology that “we won”, confusing minds with chauvinist delusions) and its ossified incapability to compete against more modern and aggressive capitalist powers, in an imperialist world itself heading for the rocks (see EPSR books Vol 8,15,22 & 25* on Ireland [*in preparation]).
Johnson’s gobsmacking disingenuity, reflects the crude jingoism of the reactionary Brexit wing of the ruling class currently in charge of the government which has always supported this Orange backwardness against the more “reasonable” wing of the ruling class which understood the game was up.
These ultra-reactionary empire throwbacks belonging to an epoch now long gone would like nothing better than to reignite the sulking violence and smallscale fascist-colonist brutality of the past as part of the desperate efforts to bolster up the laughable Brexit and its “world beating” jingoist fantasies and the pathetic attempt to keep public opinion onside for the aggressive trade war conflicts to come.
But carried through that would mean putting the whole situation into a sudden reverse, by simply tearing up the settlement and being prepared to re-impose total barbaric repression, with the British ruling class ready to back it up with effectively a new colonial war and occupation, at huge cost financially, militarily and politically.
As a real possibility for an ever less competitive and bankrupt British imperialism it grows less and less likely by the day, notwithstanding recent riots and marches.
Bloodcurdling threats of more “violence” and turmoil from the “loyalists” – as usual dressed-up as supposed “warnings of what might happen” in the mafia “pity if something was to happen to your shop” style – are a hollow joke.
The potential for some real nastiness is not ruled out, but this sourness is still a million miles from re-establishing the kind of brutal sectarian dominance of the past or even the constant intimidation and random sectarian violence which continued in the years before the St Andrews agreement.
The reactionary bourgeois press, always hostile to anti-imperialism has willingly hyped up the recent “riots” and continues to present the grotesque lie that the Orange grouses are a response to “republican violence”. But they are forced to admit it is all a feeble squib :
“The question is how long will the protests remain peaceful because the impression given by governments over the years is that violence pays,” said Davy Jones, who was an Orange Order spokesman during protests at the County Armagh village of Drumcree in the 1990s, when police blocked Orangemen marching past Catholic homes.
Protests also failed to overturn the 1985 Anglo-Irish agreement and Belfast city council’s 2012 decision to fly the union jack less frequently, yet former IRA members with blood on their hands now sit in Stormont, said Jones. “That’s an awful bad message to give out because eventually it is bound to lead to the violence that we don’t want.” A young man at a nearby bonfire site – it will be lit on 9 July to celebrate William of Orange’s victory at the battle of the Boyne – said peaceful protests would accomplish nothing. “If that means violence, then there will be violence.”
This could all be bluster. The marches, though growing in number and size, are still tiny compared with previous eras. Paramilitary representatives have said they do not plan a return to “war”. A compromise between London and Brussels could ease trade frictions and perhaps lull the tiger.
Yet there was a striking consistency among loyalists in Belfast and Portadown, a stronghold near Drumcree. “The protocol has killed the Good Friday agreement stone dead,” said one of three representatives of the Unionist and Loyalist Unified Coalition, interviewed at a loyalist hall.
Tweaking the protocol would not suffice, he said. “We’re being driven economically into a united Ireland.” Conversations in such halls led to the 1994 loyalist ceasefires but recent conversations in those same halls had a darker hue, he said. “We’re hearing concerns about violence. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to stop.” Asked about potential targets, he cited trade infrastructure between north and south such as roads and warehouses. “It could be disrupted.”
All this says is that some of the colonists” failed to grasp that they were beaten 20 years ago and continue living in a fantasy world.
The Brexit contradiction which requires a border with the European Union because of the British decision to leave, has simply brought matters to a head.
But Brexit crashes headlong and unsolvably into the GFA which says there can be no “hard” border across the island.
Nor can there be unless the Britain goes against the rest of the imperialist world and most of all America and its hugely influential Irish diaspora, which leaned heavily on Britain throughout the liberation war to get this foul mess off the agenda.
Brutal and vicious repression, torture, concentration camp detention, deathsquad killings, random sectarian murders and massacres, non-stop surveillance, daily harassment and mass house-raids in the night, were not a good look, particularly so close to home, obviously discrediting the elaborate “international rule of law” and “freedom and democracy” fakery created after WW2 to fight the Cold War against alleged “totalitarian communism”.
For the post-Trump Bidenites trying to revive the international imperialist “alliance” around a renewal of the “world democracy” fraud, a return to the kind of colonialist police-military dictatorship which Britain ran in the occupied zone of the north for four decades would be disastrous.
Hence the (private) slapping down for Boris Johnson at the G7, when he tried to threaten the European Union with a suggestion of tearing up the border protocol agreed as part of the Brexit leaving arrangements.
And hence the constant assertion that Britain will abide by the GFA.
And despite all the EU bluster and pandering to the backwoodsmen, Westminster continues the slow snail’s pace disengagement.
Stepping in to override Orange backwardness on abortion law and the commitment given to put through the Irish Language Act from Westminster by Tory Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis if it is blocked in Stormont, are signals that the GFA process will continue to unroll.
The slow trickle of admissions for past atrocities and “apologies” continues too as part of the attempt to “clean up”:
Ten people killed in Belfast during a British army operation in 1971 were unarmed, innocent civilians and posed no threat to soldiers, an inquest in Northern Ireland has found.
The damning findings in a long-awaited coroner’s report implicated the army in an atrocity to rival Bloody Sunday, potentially galvanising a new push to prosecute army veterans.
Nine of the dead were killed by soldiers using unjustified force but the inquest could not establish who killed the 10th victim, John McKerr, during a blood-soaked incursion in Ballymurphy, a west Belfast Catholic neighbourhood, in August 1971.
“All of the deceased in the series of inquests were entirely innocent of wrongdoing on the day in question,” said the coroner, Mrs Justice Keegan, dismissing claims by soldiers that some of the victims had been armed and shooting.
Families of the dead wept and applauded after the findings were read out in court, saying the truth had come out after half a century....
The coroner’s blistering indictment of the army’s actions and state-backed efforts to depict most of the dead as IRA members prompted agreement across the political spectrum that a profound injustice had been committed.
Brandon Lewis, the UK’s Northern Ireland secretary, acknowledged the “terrible hurt” caused to the families and said they “should not have had to wait this long”, but did not apologise for the state’s role in the killings or delayed justice. “The government will carefully consider the extensive findings set out by the coroner, but it is clear that those who died were entirely innocent of wrongdoing,” he said.
The inquest findings coincided with a promise by the UK government to introduce legislation to turn the page on Northern Ireland’s so-called legacy cases, which some victims’ rights groups believe could grant a blanket amnesty for crimes. The former armed forces minister Johnny Mercer said the Queen’s speech on Tuesday contained no explicit pledge to shield army veterans from prosecution.
Leaked proposals had suggested a statute of limitations would be introduced to prevent charges being brought for incidents before the Good Friday agreement was signed in 1998. Any time limit is expected to apply to former paramilitaries as well as ex-forces personnel, with plans under discussion by the UK government and politicians in Dublin and Belfast.
Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill, the deputy first minister, said: “What happened in Ballymurphy was state murder and for decades the British government have covered it up. Now the truth has been laid bare for all to see.”
What survivors have long called the Ballymurphy massacre began on 9 August 1971 when the army swept through republican districts across Northern Ireland to round up suspects for internment without trial. Violent street protests erupted.
The Parachute Regiment spent several chaotic days detaining and shooting people in Ballymurphy from 9 to 11 August. There were no TV crews or newspaper photographers to document what happened – unlike in Derry five months later when the same regiment massacred protesters, triggering worldwide condemnation.
Outsiders largely overlooked events in Ballymurphy until relatives campaigned for an inquest. It began in November 2018 under Keegan, a high court judge, and heard from more than 100 witnesses including experts in ballistics and pathology, the former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and more than 60 former soldiers, among them Gen Sir Mike Jackson, the former head of the British army and chief of the general staff.
Lawyers for the soldiers said the troops opened fire only when they perceived they were under threat. The coroner’s findings eviscerated that narrative. Applying the civil standard of proof on the balance of probabilities, the report found all of the 10 dead were innocent civilians and that nine were shot by soldiers.
The British army swept into nationalist neighbourhoods across the region on the morning of 9 August 1971 as part of Operation Demetrius, rounding up hundreds of suspects without trial in the hope of snuffing out the IRA’s campaign.
The army intelligence was poor – they scooped up many innocent people – and they ignored loyalist paramilitaries. Some neighbourhoods responded with barricades, petrol bombs and gunfire. Hundreds of homes were destroyed and thousands fled across the border.
In Ballymurphy, a Catholic district in west Belfast, soldiers from the Parachute Regiment’s 2nd Battalion commandeered a community centre.
The next 36 hours were chaotic, bloody and left 10 people dead, 11 if including a man who had a heart attack after an alleged mock execution. Unlike Bloody Sunday in Derry five months later, there were no TV crews or newspaper photographers to record events in Ballymurphy.
The troops maintained they targeted armed terrorists, with perhaps some civilians caught in crossfire. Residents told another story of soldiers raking their homes with gunfire and picking off unarmed people, then shooting those who came to their aid.
Several residents gave statements, documented in a 2014 Guardian investigation, in which they described being pinned down on open ground. When one man, Robert Clarke, was shot in the back, a neighbour took two nappies from a woman taking cover and waved them in the air.
Father Hugh Mullan, a parish priest, phoned the army to say soldiers were shooting at people fleeing their homes. Waving a white handkerchief, he then dashed out to give the last rites to Clarke.
Kevin Moore, a seaman on leave who was sheltering nearby, saw the priest being shot twice: “He screamed and drew his knees up in front of his stomach and seemed to curl up in a ball.”
another man, Frank Quinn, 19, attempted to help Clarke. He was shot in the head and killed.
Soon after, another group of people opposite the memorial hall came under fire.
Joan Connolly, a mother of eight who had vocally protested against the army’s incursion, was shot dead, along with Noel Phillips, 20. Five men were wounded and were brought into the hall by soldiers. Two of them – Joseph Murphy, 41, and Daniel Teggart, 44 – died of their wounds.
One who survived, David Callaghan, said in a statement he had been kicked and clubbed with rifles and that the wounded men in the hall were treated only when an army padre insisted.
One soldier known as “Soldier E” when he gave his statement said he had shot three people, including Connolly. He said she had been armed with what appeared to be a pistol. Swabs of the dead woman’s hands suggested she had not fired a weapon. Soldiers recovered no weapons from any of the 10 dead.
Completion of the Irish reunification will be a further step forwards not just for the Irish but also for the British working class.
It was one of the great rethinks by Karl Marx that the freedom of Ireland had to come first before the great struggle to overthrow the British ruling class could begin in earnest – the collaboration by the labour movement with imperialist suppression a permanent millstone round its neck.
It is almost gone. Now the job is to get one with building the Leninist revolution.
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Loss of Ethiopia’s brutal 30-year imperialist-stooge policing role in the Horn of Africa via the overthrow of the much reviled Tigrayan ethnic-chauvinists is a major defeat for imperialism. Part one last issue argues it may even help clear the decks for the restoration of proletarian-dictatorship state control at some stage...Part two continues with an examination of muddled and mistaken hostility to Abiy by the revisionist CPGB-ML (Lalkar/Proletarian)
They (Lalkar/Proletarian) also fail to describe the revolutionary shift in the balance of balance of class forces after the 1974 Revolution (which they only partially allude to) when Mengistu’s Derg committee took power and began the construction of a workers’ state led by a proletarian dictatorship in alliance with the peasantry and other petty-bourgeois, and, at least at first, with sections of the anti-imperialist bourgeoisie, particularly in the military and state bureaucracy.
The Derg took over large sections of Ethiopia’s economy, placed them under workers’ state control, and ran them in the interests of the working class and poor peasantry (genuinely public ownership).
The TPLF, in alliance with other anti-communist ethnic-based militias, the pro-imperialist big bourgeoisie and the deposed feudal-landlord classes, and backed by Western imperialism and reactionary Arab states, seized power and ran the state in its own interests and that of the comprador bourgeoisie, including the state-owned enterprises.
Lalkar’s shallow account of the historical background to the disturbances has nothing to do with Marxist analysis:
The reason [for the TPLF’s post-1991 dominance] is that it adopted the armed struggle very early on, enabling it to lead the armed opposition to the much reviled Soviet-backed government of Haile Mariam Mengistu whose reforming zeal had swept away the foundations of feudalism in the country, opening the path of economic development. However, that government faced too much external and internal opposition, including from the TPLF which joined with neighbouring Eritrea to wage a secessionist war, to be able to get very far with economic development of the country, as a result of which all the anti-communist and anti-Soviet forces rallied against it, including, regrettably, much of the communist youth who, following the split in the international communist movement between China and the USSR, allowed themselves to believe that of the two superpowers, the Soviet Union was the more dangerous. The most potent ideological weapon in the hands of these forces was ethnic nationalism which was encouraged as the best means of undermining strong central government.
Once Mengistu was overthrown by forces led by the TPLF which professed a Maoist ideology, a Tigrayan leader, Meles Zenawi, led the country for 27 years. He very soon showed he was certainly no communist but just a bourgeois dictator, repressing his opponents ruthlessly. However, he opened the country to overseas investment and its economic growth went ahead at a very strong pace, even if the benefit to ordinary people was not great.
The Lalkarites say nothing here about the international class struggle context in which Ethiopia’s struggle to establish a proletarian-led dictatorship as the first step towards building socialism took place, and they don’t even attempt to describe the balance of national class forces that were at play in Ethiopia at that time. Lalkar even makes the astonishing concession that there is something “positive” about Meles’s pro-imperialist gangster regime!
In the first place, the TPLF didn’t “adopt the armed struggle early on”. This implies that it was a legitimate national-liberation movement like the ANC (in South Africa) and ZANU-PF in Zimbabwe.
It wasn’t. It was a reactionary counter-revolutionary force from day one of its foundation after the Ethiopian Revolution brought down the US/Zionist stooge Haile Selassie’s feudal empire and set off on the path of socialist workers’ state construction under Mengistu’s revolutionary leadership. Its aim was to disrupt and destabilise Ethiopia’s revolutionary progress with arms and funds provided by the CIA and anti-communist Arab states by encouraging divisive separatism throughout the nation.
However, Lalkar does not even make it clear whose side the international proletariat needed to take in this revolutionary civil war.
The difficulty Lalkar has in describing Ethiopia from 1974 to 1991 lies in its revisionist line, which states that Nikita Khruschev had put the Soviet Union on the path of capitalist restoration by introducing market mechanisms into its socialist economic system; and that his secret 1956 speech against Stalin was nothing but a cover for an attack on the dictatorship of the proletariat and the socialist planned economy.
By logical extension, any movement subsequently backed by the Soviets would rightly be “reviled” as having nothing to do with socialism.
But this was not true. Although it may be possible to trace some of the worst revisionist theoretical blunders to the Soviet bureaucracy after Stalin (including Khruschev’s attempts to out-compete US imperialism in consumerism), they did not start from the Khrushchev’s use of capitalist market mechanisms to develop areas of the Soviet economy. NEP-style development of the economy as a temporary measure to overcome economic difficulties and buy the workers’ state time until the next wave of proletarian revolutions, is not a necessarily a problem anyway, as long as it is carried out under firm proletarian dictatorship control.
The real damage lay in the confusion caused by Stalin’s muddle-headed retreats from Leninism’s non-stop battle for a revolutionary understanding of monopoly-imperialism’s continuous, inevitable, and unstoppable drive towards devastating slump collapse and total inter-imperialist war, which can only be ended by the revolutionary overthrow of the world monopoly-imperialist ruling class and the building of collective, socialist workers’ states of proletarian dictatorship.
Stalin’s disastrous theoretical revisions of Leninism (as crystallised in his 1952 The Economic Problems of Socialism in the USSR) claimed nonsensically that expansionary economic booms were no longer possible in the imperialist world because it was losing territory to socialist property, and that it was enough for socialism to peacefully coexist with imperialism on a permanent basis whilst continuing to expand socialist production and living standards; and that it was possible for the class-collaborating peace movement to stop wars.
This, combined with disarming designations of “non-aggressive imperialist states” and “aggressive imperialist states” arising from a mis-analysis of the USSR’s wartime “alliance” with the USA, Britain and France against the Axis powers (all of whom were united in their desire to see the destruction of the world’s first workers’ state, even as they were driven to the point of total war against each other by the contradictions inherent within the crisis-ridden monopoly-imperialist system), paved the way for (even more nonsensical) Revisionist assertions that “peaceful roads to socialism” were possible.
The theoretical confusion arising from Stalin’s retreats from Leninism can be seen in Revisionist attempts to explain and guide Third World anti-imperialist movements towards socialism. Designations from the mid-1950s (under Khruschev) of “the non-capitalist path of development” for anti-imperialist states that are not workers’ states but are said to have rejected capitalism and see socialism as their goal, blurred the distinctions between reformist and revolutionary movements by not emphasising the revolutionary socialist developments that would still need to be carried out under a conscious Marxist-Leninist leadership to transform the national-revolutionary state into a workers’ socialist state of proletarian dictatorship.
In his talk with a delegation of the Mongolian People’s Republic on 5th November 1921 Lenin explained that it was possible for the newly established Republic to follow a non-capitalist path of development, and necessary because Mongolia’s economy was based largely on nomadic cattle-breeders (with practically no industrial proletariat). Enormous efforts by the revolutionary Marxist leadership in the People’s Revolutionary Party to develop the state, economy and culture would be needed before the herders were transformed into a proletarian mass. With the support of Soviet Russia, it was not necessary for Mongolia to go though a “capitalist stage”, but it was necessary to develop the economy, society and culture in such a way that a revolutionary socialist transformation becomes possible [Lenin Collected Works, volume 42].
Revisionist confusion can be seen in the failure to distinguish between such revolutionary leaderships consciously struggling to construct socialism (or lay the foundations for the construction of socialism) and leaderships that may (but not necessarily) express socialist aspirations but were developing the economy, culture and society on reformist bourgeois-nationalist lines, and may even have suppressed local communist forces as in Ba’athist Iraq under Saddam Hussein – later given uncritical support by Lalkar.
An example of this theoretical confusion was the 40 page 1960 declaration in Moscow by 81 communist parties which focused almost entirely on national liberation, communist unity, and united front activities with social democracies, but only briefly mentioned socialist revolution and proletarian dictatorship once as an academic possibilities (see EPSR Books volume 21, Unanswered polemics: against museum Stalinist revisionism for further analysis).
The Indonesian communist party, the PKI’s rowing in behind Sukarno’s bourgeois-nationalist leadership in the period leading up to its slaughter in 1965 by Suharto’s pro-imperialist stooges was one disastrous consequence amongst many of such non-revolutionary perspectives.
The Revisionist theory of “states of socialist orientation” refined “non-capitalist paths” in the 1970s in an attempt to address its short-comings. It identified a number of tendencies within “states of socialist orientation” that are said to lay the basis for a vaguely expressed “transition to socialism”, including overcoming the domination of foreign monopoly-capitalism to achieve economic independence, increasing the state’s control of the economy “on an anti-capitalist basis”, including through “public ownership”, “genuinely democratic rights and freedoms”, agrarian reforms, and health and social reforms; and foresees fundamental change in such states taking place once the overall world balance of forces are in favour of socialism.
It, too, failed to highlight the need for further revolutionary developments after the initial national or anti-colonial revolution, and a revolutionary leadership of proletarian dictatorship to drive these developments through to socialism. Because of this, the theory failed to distinguish between the then existing revolutionary proletarian-led dictatorships battling to construct – or lay the foundations for the construction of – socialism, no matter how tentatively (eg. Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Grenada, South Yemen, Nicaragua, Angola and Mozambique), and anti-imperialist national-liberation struggles that may, to a greater or lesser extent (but not necessarily), have had socialist aspirations at that time but were limited by their nationalist, pan-nationalist or other perspectives, such as Congo (now the Democratic Republic of the Congo), Tanzania, Burma (now Myanmar), Algeria and Syria.
Whilst it cannot be ruled that such states may be pulled closer towards socialism by existence of the Soviet Union, the triumph of socialism in east Europe and throughout large swathes of the Third World after 1945, by not spelling out, first and foremost, the need for socialist revolution and proletarian dictatorship, such non-revolutionary perspectives creates reformist confusion, which can then develop into and dangerous class-collaborating complacency.
It is embedded in Lalkar’s description of Ethiopia’s revolutionary history, the logic of which suggests there was little difference between Mengistu’s alleged “reforming zeal” that nationalised Ethiopia’s industries and put them under workers’ state control, and the TPLF’s Meles Zenawi because, under Meles, there was still
“public ownership of much of the economy [which] was undoubtedly important in assisting Ethiopia’s economic rise”
even if he turned out to be a “bourgeois dictator” (as if that wasn’t clear from the start); and that Abiy Ahmed is in some ways worse than Meles for instigating privatisations.
By this logic, Meles is just a continuation of Mengistu’s revolutionary leadership, and Abiy is the real counter-revolution.
What treacherous confusion-mongering!
Their confusion is further compounded by the TPLF’s professed “Maoist” ideology which Lalkar highlights to differentiate them from their leader, Meles (the “bourgeois dictator”). But this was a CIA pretence designed to give the TPLF a “left” cover for its fascist reaction until it did not need it any more after Mengistu’s genuine Marxism was overthrown.
The fact that Revisionism from Khruschev on persisted in sapping the revolutionary spirit and undermining the theoretical understanding and development of the world communist struggles for proletarian dictatorship by thrusting Stalin’s anti-revolutionary “permanent peaceful coexistence” revisions of Leninist perspectives on them and adding yet more layers of brain-rot to it (whilst continuing to provide necessary practical support to world socialist and anti-imperialist movements) is the real problem.
Simultaneous to Revisionism’s disastrous theoretical retreats were, however, the huge levels of practical economic, technical and military support workers’ states provided to the world revolutionary struggles to aid their fight against imperialism, including Ethiopia.
The Soviet Union entered into a secret military arms deal with Ethiopia in 1976. They supported Ethiopia’s military campaign with 1,500 advisors against the CIA stooge Siad Barre’s Somali military invasion in support of Ogaden Somali SWLF separatists, provided over $11 billion of military aid following the defeat of the invaders, and established the military bases that were crucial in the battle to defeat the CIA-armed and financed Eritrean and Tigrayan separatists.
Mengistu certainly wasn’t “much reviled” by the Cuban proletariat, who sent over 15,000 soldiers to defend Ethiopia’s revolution against the Somali invaders – an heroic act of solidarity and self-sacrifice that (alongside their equally heroic Angolan intervention) inspired the proletariat across the planet. Nor was he reviled by the revolutionary South Yemen workers’ state (as it was at that time) who fought alongside the Cubans.
The East German workers’ state did not revile him either. They provided Ethiopia with substantial military and intelligence assistance, particularly in the war against the TPLF and Eritrean EPLF, which continued until Erich Honecker’s death in October 1989 (after Gorbachev’s class-collaborating treachery had withdrawn all military support in September).
Czechoslovakia also gave huge amounts of solidarity assistance, including military equipment, the construction of industrial plants and a hydro-electrical dam, and medical and food supplies during the 1984/5 famine.
The fact that Mengistu was granted political asylum by revolutionary Zimbabwe under Mugabe’s revolutionary-nationalist leadership and continues to reside there today despite imperialist attempts to extradite him, is an indication the huge levels of sympathy and support there was across Africa for his leadership of Ethiopia’s proletarian revolution.
The “foundations of feudalism in the country” were swept away by revolution, not by any “reforming zeal” Mengistu may or may not have possessed. The out-of-time rule of the feudal Emperor Haile Selassi and large aristocratic landlords was ripe for overthrow. With the lack of a bourgeoisie in any significant numbers and influence, and in the absence of any formal political parties, the revolutionary leadership with the determination and ability to overturn the feudalism emerged in the relatively better educated and cultured (as compared to the population at large) junior officer ranks of the military.
The revolution was led by the Provisional Military Administrative Council (the Derg), which was initially driven by a modernising bourgeois-nationalist perspective. However, the very process of leading the overthrow of Haile Selassi and landlordism; the struggle to understand and explain the epoch Ethiopia was passing through, and find a path forwards towards significant and lasting social and economic development; and the international context of the triumphant victories for proletarian revolution throughout large parts of the world (starting with the Soviet Union) revolutionised the theoretical understanding of the new military leadership and helped to push its advanced sections, led by Mengistu, towards Leninism.
Mengistu’s significance was that (despite what shortcomings he may have had) he came to recognise, and respond to, the need for revolutionary leadership to push the revolution beyond the constraints of bourgeois-democracy, and to prepare the proletariat and poor peasantry for socialism via a party-led proletarian dictatorship.
As with Russia in 1917, Ethiopia in 1974 was predominantly peasant society with a small proletariat. The numbers of workers were in the tens of thousands, in a population of 30 million, and large sections of them were in small scale or handicraft industries. It was not possible to transform Ethiopia into a socialist society overnight, but it was possible, and necessary, to follow a non-capitalist path towards socialism provided that a proletarian-led revolutionary dictatorship was established to defend the revolution against internal and international counter-revolutionary subversion and immediately begin to lay the foundations for socialism with international socialist camp support.
This struggle for proletarian revolution won the day in 1977 when Mengistu consolidated his leadership of the Derg after three years of fierce debate.
Lalkar makes no attempt to enlighten the working class on such revolutionary questions. Instead, they dismiss the Derg’s crucial battle for a correct theoretical perspective as simply “internal division and sectarianism”, and end with a piece of useless wishful thinking:
At the time of the overthrow of Haile Selassie, Ethiopia had a vibrant Marxist movement whose influence, unfortunately, waned because of internal division and sectarianism. It is time for it to be restored on a more secure footing, as with a good Marxist leadership Ethiopia is a country with everything it needs to build a prosperous and sovereign society.
What is this “good Marxist leadership” the Lalkarites piously wish for, and how is to be achieved? They don’t say.
Their plea for “good Marxists” to lead Ethiopia and build prosperity and sovereignty recalls the Revisionist “states of socialist orientation” confusion discussed above.
They don’t explain to the working class that Ethiopia can only be put on the path of sustainable “prosperity and sovereignty” (for the poor masses) after a return to revolution to end capitalism and re-establish their own workers-state dictatorship. By not making this clear, workers are left with the implication that all it takes is for Abiy’s leadership of the bourgeois state to be replaced by a “Marxist” leadership of the same bourgeois state which will magically reform socialism into existence by reversing privatisation and extending public ownership.
They also fail to be make clear that the immediate international class-war battle is to see imperialism defeated in Tigray, and that workers need to fight alongside Abiy against the imperialists and their stooges to bring this about, whilst exposing Abiy’s shortcomings through polemic to ensure that no illusions are placed in his pan-Ethiopian bourgeois nationalism.
Given that the 1974 Revolution ushered in a huge explosion of necessary debate on its nature and how to move forwards (just as February 1917 did in Russia), Lalkar also needs to clarify what this “vibrant Marxist movement” was, what the arguments were, and whose influence within it “waned”.
The Derg was unsure which way to turn initially, and was split over it. Its main opponents were the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), formed in 1975 by returned émigrés and students.
They, like Russia’s Mensheviks, demanded an elected assembly and the immediate constitution of “a people’s democratic republic”. They soon proved to be total anti-communist frauds when they escalated their opposition into a systematic terror campaign against the Derg and its allies (including bombings and assassinations) in the autumn of 1976 in the name of “democracy”.
Further opposition came from the class-collaborating white-collar trade union movement, CELU – (linked to the CIA-penetrated anti-communist American AFL-CIO union movement) – which backed general strikes in September 1975 in support of the EPRP’s Menshevik programme (just two years after the AFL-CIO had helped the CIA overthrow Allende in Chile in 1973).
Is this the “vibrant Marxist movement” Lalkar wants to see restored????
Or perhaps it is the students and émigrés in the All-Ethiopian Socialist Movement (ME’ISON), who initially allied themselves to the Derg, but started to denounce it as “counter-revolutionary” once Mengistu consolidated the power of the proletarian wing and moved Ethiopia towards the Soviet Union. They then started to raise demands for “the full exercise of democratic rights”, recognition of the right to self-determination for all of Ethiopia’s nationalities (a dangerous provocation at that time as the Revolution was under siege from imperialist-backed secessionist forces determined to crush Ethiopian socialism under the cover of “national rights”), and non-alignment and national independence (aimed against developing closer ties with the Soviet Union and Cuba).
They also opposed the recruitment of officers from the deposed imperial army (which the Bolsheviks had demonstrated was not a problem, as they had recruited, and placed under close political control, Tsarist officers to fight the counter-revolutionary White armies in the civil war). This showed their ignorance of the national-revolutionary aspect of Ethiopia’s revolution, as did their denunciation of the rearming of Amhara landlord settlers in the Ogaden region to help in the fight against the Somali invasion. Their turn to clandestine opposition just as this war was raging was a dangerous, fifth columnist act of political sabotage.
The revolution was put on the “more secure footing” Lalkar implies was absent then (but which they say is needed now) by Mengistu’s determination to ruthlessly suppress all this counter-revolution.
The defeat of the Eritrean secessionists in 1982 followed the suppression of EPRP White Terror and ME’ISON’s clandestine challenge and the routing of the Somali invaders in 1978, and gave space for the Derg to consolidate Ethiopia’s revolutionary gains (improved access to primary and secondary schools for girls and boys, reduced rates of illiteracy, reduced infant mortality, increased life expectancy, improved fertility rates, increased access to health care, increased access to safe water, etc, etc); deepen its links with the masses by launching the Derg-led Workers Party of Ethiopia; and develop a new, socialist, constitution (established in 1988).
Renewed counter-revolution erupted as a consequences of Gorbachev’s treacherous removal of military support after Mengistu banned discussion of idiot perestroika and glasnost class-collaboration from Ethiopian media.
Mengistu was eventually forced into a retreat and introduced limited economic liberalisation in 1990 following the liquidation of the Warsaw Pact workers’ states. He was deposed in 1991 by a TPLF-led coalition of ethnic-chauvinists and reactionary bourgeois.
(Gorbachev’s total capitulation to free market capitalism and his deliberate dismantling of the dictatorship of the proletariat was the logical consequence of the decades-long retreat from revolutionary Leninist perspectives that began with the Stalinist “permanent peaceful coexistence” revisions discussed above – see EPSR Book 13 on Gorbachevism.)
Imperialism is working 24/7 to create similar conditions of political, ethnic and religious strife in Ethiopia today – just as in Myanmar, which Lalkar also gets hopelessly and treacherously wrong by backing the violent counter-revolutionary street provocations against the anti-imperialist bourgeois-nationalist military leadership.
The plans by the counter-revolutionary Burmese National League for Democracy and other reactionaries for a federal union and a federal army consisting of the existing separatist ethnic militias, majority-ethnic Bamar stooges and treacherous military defectors are very similar to the outdated and divisive ethnocentric federalism Abiy is fighting to overcome in Ethiopia.
Any defeats of those counter-revolutionary plans by Abiy’s pan-Ethiopian nationalism are to be welcomed.
But proletarian dictatorship must be restored via revolution to end capitalist slump and warmongering for good.
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