No 1533 13th April 2018
Western “concern” over chemical war is a massive Goebbels LIE, built on fake-news pretences and even setup as Russia claims. Ditto the bogus Skripal spy stunt. Whatever the truth about the Douma in Syria’s sectarian civil war (itself set going by CIA-Zionist provocation and hidden sniper intervention), imperialist theatrical “outrage” is a monstrous fraud. Grandstanding hypocritical pretences have one purpose only, to escalate the belligerent atmosphere and stampede public opinion behind warmongering to come. It is Catastrophic crisis collapse of monopoly capitalism which alone is driving the world towards World War Three as the inter-imperialist cutthroat trade war conflict deepens and austerity impositions are ratcheted up on the working class. Explosive anti-Western turmoil in the Third World, (jihadist and nostalgic workers state) soon to be joined by upheaval in the imperialist heartlands as unstoppable crisis austerity intensifies and global credit collapse returns. Fake-“left” and revisionism still does nothing to develop such perspectives and the class war Leninist revolutionary understanding to overthrow capitalist rule
The ludicrous pretence that the West wants to “protect civilian lives” by more blitzing in Syria, or even gives a damn about them, is most obscene Goebbels onion-tears pretence yet in three decades of barbaric US-driven Middle East warmongering.
Millions have been slaughtered and tortured.
The coordinated Western finger-pointing demonisation of Assad’s government by the obvious lying stunt setup of the latest “chemical attack” and the pre-judgement of events long before anyone could have the remotest idea of what happened, is the crudest of fascist warmongering propaganda.
Alternative information and possible causes are deliberately suppressed.
It all of a piece with the nonsensical British bullshit about equally unproven (and essentially unprovable) “nerve gas assassinations by the Russians”, who just “coincidentally” are the main supporter for the endlessly besieged and devastated Damascus regime.
“Justifications” and “proof” are nothing but hollow supposition and intelligence agency propaganda built upon a foundation of other assertions, lies, and dribbled out bits of inconsequential detail, all equally un-investigated, unproven, and untried, about past alleged “incidents”, and all designed to create a frenzy of fear around the emotive “chemical war” issue.
They all should be seen through by all but the most credulous.
But this glaring BIG LIE fraud still remains effectively unchallenged by the lack of Marxist-Leninist understanding in the world.
Instead most of the fake-“left” (Labourites, Trots etc) either go along with, or remain “agnostic” about, the obvious crude Goebbels stunts being used to drive the world further down the path towards Third World War.
Their past “condemnations of terror” and grovelling acceptance of the West’s “democracy” fraud and its shallow designations of “rogue states” and “totalitarianism”, leave most of them floundering with hopeless fluttering hands about “war is not the way”.
It is social-pacifist bleating that will stop nothing and leaves the working class misled, disarmed and hoodwinked by Western disinformation.
Even where a few “lefts” at least are denouncing the Western threats and belligerent interventions (past and now threatened) as the lies they are - (WMD, Gleiwitz, Private Jessica Lynch, Tonkin, Recak?) – those like the Stalinists supporting Damascus (itself an unnecessary, undialectical taking of sides), still fail to give the working class anything of the world crisis perspective that alone can make sense and give leadership.
There is plenty of popular distrust and cynicism meanwhile about Western “false flag” operations, being voiced in fact by anarchists and Internet theorists and general distrust of authority.
But while such deepening cynicism about glaring lies, distortions and exaggerations is healthy, none of it gets to the nub of why this demented campaign is underway to stampede petty bourgeois opinion into chauvinism and more blitzkrieging.
The crucial issue the working class needs to get to grips with is the capitalist crisis itself.
Capitalism is desperately and deliberately driving the world to war.
It is only with that revolutionary perspective that any judgements and assessments can begin to be made within a deluge of “fake-news” and deliberate confusion.
This latest hair-raising belligerence is not about “setting red lines on chemical weapons use” (a complete Western hypocrisy for multiple reasons as explored below), nor even really about Syria as such despite longstanding Western hostility against a less than compliant “rogue” regime; it is certainly not a simple “war for oil” as shallow fake-“left” theorising used to pompously and ponderously pontificate; and it is not about “fighting a ‘new evil’ of terrorism”.
It is about dragging the world into war in general, as the desperate “solution” of a collapsing system to its greatest ever Catastrophic breakdown and failure.
Part of that is to suppress the inevitable massive revolt and rebellion that centuries of colonialist exploitation has fomented, bringing billions of the world’s modern masses to the point where they can no longer tolerate their slave-labour humiliation and oppression, a turmoil which has been hugely magnified by the barbaric and brutal warmongering butchery already imposed – stirring ever intensifying insurgency, “jihadist” terrorism and above all, the giant mass street revolt of the 2011 Arab Spring (still brewing beneath the surface).
Breaking up and Balkanising potentially troublesome regions is part of that, as was done with the former workers state of Yugoslavia (the Balkans themselves) and now Syria.
But it is also preparing for the coming inter-imperialist cutthroat armsrace competition for markets, long brewing over decades and now being deliberately intensified with the outright Trumpite trade war belligerence.
That is heralding war on a far larger scale and one far beyond tit-for-tat tariff battles with China or Europe (deadly enough already).
It is a fight to the death, quite literally, as two deadly world wars have already demonstrated in the twentieth century in a welter of industrialised butchery of tens of millions.
World War Three is worse. Monopoly capitalism, led by its dominating power in Washington, is far more widespread and penetrated into the entire world than ever before. And it is facing the greatest economic crash in all history, riven by the contradictions of the production-for-private profit system which after 800 years of often dazzling development, has hit the buffers.
That will also mean the greatest revolutionary upheavals in all history too; just as 1914 and 1939 led to enormous turmoil pushing back the decadent and useless capitalist system, with resurgence in communist struggle and national-liberation wars.
The historic end of the entire capitalist system is becoming visible though the Leninist leadership needed to carry it through is still missing.
Whichever way capitalism turns there is only collapse and failure, which as Karl Marx long ago explained, is intractable, the result of “over-production” with ever accumulating capital chasing ever smaller opportunities to produce at a profit.
The disaster has been erupting for decades in various partial forms and regional collapses (Mexico, Asia, Argentina, Japan etc) repeatedly put off by yet more credit dollars; it finally erupted globally in 2008, a complete world banking armageddon averted only by even more insane QE credit, adding trillions more worthless dollars to the world system, and by squeezing the masses everywhere.
But that can only bring closer the final collapse of the entire dollar system as occasionally warned even by bourgeois economists:
The Great Depression will pale in comparison to the next financial crisis which could soon be coming, according to investor Peter Schiff, famous for his doomsday predictions.
“The bad news is, we are going to live through another Great Depression and it’s going to be very different. This will be in many ways, much much worse than what people had to endure during the Great Depression,” Schiff said, as quoted by ZeroHedge. “This is going to be a dollar crisis.”
According to Schiff, the US Federal Reserve is propping up the markets to urge people to spend more, but in fact, the wealth created is a bubble.
“It’s actually doing damage. If you create a bunch of phony wealth, and people end up spending money that they otherwise would have saved, you are undermining economic growth,” he said.
In January, Schiff predicted that “the economy is going to blow up like a bomb” because of the Federal Reserve policy, but President Donald Trump will be to blame.
“Unfortunately, that’s what Trump has inherited from Obama. But it’s not even really just Obama, it’s the Federal Reserve. It’s the monetary policy that has been passed like a baton from Clinton to Bush to Obama and now to Trump. And we’re near the end of the game and unfortunately, Trump’s gonna be the fall guy. This thing is all gonna collapse while he’s president,” Schiff said.
Even before that next lurch down, the ruling class everywhere is being forced by the crisis to impose devastating cutbacks and “austerity”, speeding up and intensifying exploitation, along with savaging all the past reformist (Labourite) “gains” the working class was hoodwinked into thinking were permanent advances towards socialism and a better life.
As a result they know they are sitting on a time bomb domestically that will eventually explode in revolt, joining the increasing Third World uproar.
Only sneaking in cuts underhand, focussed on the voiceless poor, along with the lulling delusions of “upturn” fostered by treacherous or deluded reformist (and fake-”left”) notions that “austerity is just a nasty policy that can be changed”, has kept the lid on.
But that is about to change too as events like the horrifying Grenfell fire expose the callous consequences of cuts and as many more will soon realise, as quietly warned by some bourgeois press pieces:
Margaret Thatcher’s infamous poll tax still exemplifies the worst excesses of unjust social policy while the cries of “Can’t pay! Won’t pay!” from rioters filling Trafalgar Square.
But despite the unprecedented austerity post-2010, none of the policies of the coalition and Conservative governments since have provoked a similar response. There have been many protests, from wheelchair users blocking the House of Commons entrance in 2017 to highlight disability cuts, to student marches against the abolition of maintenance grants, as well as a vast number of community-based campaigns. But none have reached the scale – or effectiveness – of the poll tax opposition. Even the bedroom tax – a policy that brought headlines of disabled people facing eviction and veterans going hungry (“Bedroom tax nightmare is worse than Afghanistan, says war veteran reduced to living on £5 a day” ran one) – didn’t provoke a strong enough reaction (the policy still, after all, stands today).
...these most regressive policies in recent years have affected groups seen as “other” – marginalised sections easily ignored by the political class, and which the rest of us can comfortably block out as unrelated to our own lives. If you’re a shop worker in private housing, you have little reason to care about the bedroom tax hitting social renters. If you’re a healthy teacher, it’s easy to feel that you don’t need to worry about social care cuts for disabled people.
So the words of Paul Gray, the government’s most senior welfare adviser, in the Observer this week stood out. He warned that “a lot of people are going to realise that, because the system was modified by the austerity measures, it is now going to be financially disadvantageous to them”, and that this was “a really big challenge to come”.
While the universal credit system will result in gains for 2.2 million working families, the Resolution Foundation thinktank has calculated that 3.2 million working families are expected to be worse off, with an average loss of £48 a week. Around 600,000 of those – mainly couples with children – will suddenly be told they’re not entitled to help at all.
And yet what’s interesting about the universal credit rollout isn’t just the sheer scale of it – by its completion in 2022, it’s thought that 8 million people will be on the system – but who is going to be affected. As Gray points out it will mean large numbers of self-employed people entering the benefits system for the very first time – and they will face losing income. This is on top of low-paid workers now being at the mercy of the jobcentre, despite already having a job, as UC rules push them to find more work or risk having their in-work benefits sanctioned.
While universal credit will see unprecedented numbers of people experience social security cuts, the ongoing gutting of public services will touch millions more. Last year, the Institute for Government and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy identified five public services as being at “breaking point”: hospitals, adult social care, police, prisons and schools. The Local Government Association, meanwhile, points out that council budget cuts will impact everything from road repairs to parks, children’s centres, leisure centres and libraries. Even that stereotypically middle-class concern – bin collections – won’t be exempt. In short, families who were previously protected from austerity will increasingly see it in the fabric of their lives.
For some time, polls have shown the British public are increasingly turned off by government cuts. Eight in 10 people surveyed in 2017 said they wanted more cash pumped into the NHS. Seven in 10 supported more investment in schools, while 60% wanted higher spending on the police. In light of recent reports of crumbling school buildings, the worst NHS winter crisis on record, and rising rates of violent crime in London, it’s likely that tolerance for low spending has subsequently diminished even further.
By 2020, local councils, for example, will have seen central funding fall by a staggering 77%. Cuts – be it through universal credit, hospitals, or local councils – may not be greeted with riots in the streets.
But as Thatcher’s government eventually found, public discord can be expressed in the most civilised forum: the polling station. As the effects of underfunding spread, the Conservatives may find they can only push the public so far.
The comfortable conclusion here about no riots and “democratic answers” is totally wrong, as demonstrated even in 2012 when city centres burned after the first round of Coalition cutbacks; explosive turmoil is precisely what the ruling class fears.
The social pressure-cooker is further heated by the relentless unstoppable processes of capitalist monopolisation and a ruling class that simply cannot control its own greed:
...the top 1% will hold 64% of the world’s wealth by 2030. Since 2008, the wealth of the richest 1% has been growing at an average of 6% a year – much faster than the 3% growth in wealth of the remaining 99% of the world’s population. Should that continue, the top 1% would hold wealth equating to $305tn (£216.5tn) – up from $140tn today.
Analysts suggest wealth has become concentrated at the top because of recent income inequality, higher rates of saving among the wealthy, and the accumulation of assets. The wealthy also invested a large amount of equity in businesses, stocks and other financial assets, which have handed them disproportionate benefits.
The research was commissioned by Liam Byrne, the former Labour cabinet minister, as part of a gathering of MPs, academics, business leaders, trade unions and civil society leaders focused on addressing the problem.
The hope is to create pressure for global action when leaders of the G20 group of nations gather for a summit in Buenos Aires in November. Byrne, who organised the first OECD global parliamentary conference on inclusive growth, said he believed global inequality was “now at a tipping point”.
“If we don’t take steps to rewrite the rules of how our economies work, then we condemn ourselves to a future that remains unequal for good,” he said. “That’s morally bad, and economically disastrous, risking a new explosion in instability, corruption and poverty.”
George Freeman, Tory MP and former head of the prime minister’s policy board, said: “While mankind has never seen such income inequality, it is also true that mankind has never experienced such rapid increases in living standards. Around the world billions of people are being lifted out of poverty at a pace never seen before. But the extraordinary concentration of global wealth today – fuelled by the pace of technological innovation and globalisation – poses serious challenges.
Demands for action from the group include improving productivity to ensure wages rise and reform of capital markets to promote greater equality.
Demands might just as well be for improved wings on flying pigs of course.
And the sophistic smug claim that “life gets better” is just as fanciful; it misses out the end point of capitalist crisis disintegration and takes false credit for the real basis of “improvements for ordinary people” which have been achieved mostly by the revolutionary expulsion of imperialist plundering from China. It is the huge domestic and foreign trading impact of that planned economy, still controlled by a workers state despite Beijing’s dire revisionist shortcomings, which has been able to firmly direct capital investment to “lift billions out of poverty”.
But that is threatened too by trade war and war, and hated by Washington.
Far from “running the risk” of triggering Third World War as some of the more nervous bourgeois press pundits are worrying, that is exactly the conscious agenda for leading reactionaries in the topdog US (and its trailing stooges like the UK), the hawks now sitting around the White House conference table (and the bootboy types ascendant among Theresa May’s Tories).
They know there can never be enough room in the world for all the giant world corporations, each producing ever more, to sell to all of the market.
The hope for the now top dog US is to ride out the greatest Catastrophe in history, the fanatics believe, by imposing its bullying might on the world to stay on top as trade war and Slump rapidly drags the world towards total mayhem and disaster.
That terrifying prospect was already in view at the turn of the century when the US deliberately escalated the skirmishes and chaos already underway (first Gulf War, sanctions strangling of Iraq killing millions, Somalia debacle etc) into aggressive world intimidating “shock and awe”.
Country after country has been ripped apart since by Western blitzkrieg, torture and invasion, from tiny Serbia, Somalia, and Sierra Leone to Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, with hundreds of thousands, millions, blown to smithereens, and many more maimed, horrifically imprisoned and tortured.
Whole cities have been pulverised in the “war on terror” Western blitzing with tens of thousands of civilians, casually and callously butchered as “unavoidable collateral damage”, maimed, bereaved or driven into desperate poverty and refugeehood, most recently the million strong Mosul and Raqqa in Syria.
Tens of thousands have been, and continue to be killed in Yemen, by a monstrous Saudi bombing campaign coordinated by British and US “advisers” with eight million deliberately driven to the point of famine by calculated destruction of infrastructure, thousands facing cholera and typhoid, and many more starving.
More than ten thousand have been killed in the Ukraine by the Swastika wearing fascists around the reactionary “democratic” government installed in Kiev by the Western funded and CIA coordinated “colour revolution”.
Drones continue to “take out” dozens of civilians at a time who happen to be near “suspected insurgents” targeted on the mere say so of collaborators and stooges in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan.
None of it has solved the crisis and nor could it.
And from the first moments, the Iraq and subsequent wars have proved disastrous for the “freedom and rule of law” reputation which the imperialist West pretends to be upholding, and equally disastrous for the pretence it would and could re-establish order and a new “democratic rebuilding” in the invaded countries.
Just the opposite, the entire Barack Obama presidency was a desperate effort to cope with the rolling defeats and body bag domestic demoralisation of Bush’s wars which shattered the reputation of presidential democracy, only salvaged by playing the “black” and “feminist” “politically correct” single-issue cards, and by token efforts to withdraw from Afghanistan and Iraq.
But the crisis is relentless and after 2008, the opposite happened with ramped-up drone killings, coups (Paraguay, Honduras) and then the disastrous crisis-driven explosion of a new level of mass Middle Eastern revolt in Tunisia and Egypt, on a scale that threatened to implode the whole of imperialism’s grip on the Middle East.
To head this off it was necessary to invade next door Libya (a US driven NATO attack hidden behind “European leadership”) and to provoke and foment the sectarian hatreds in Syria to either topple, or Balkanise and break up, this”rogue state” right next to Egypt – to prevent the real Arab Spring from spreading (under the bogus notion Syria’s revolt was part of the Arab Spring) and to control Cairo too.
But that backfired too with the manipulated sectarian jihadism supposed to tear apart the Assad regime, itself turning into a problem for imperialism - the “blowback” of ISIS, adding to the world revolt even if its backward religious ideology is not a solution in itself.
Having brutally slaughtered this immediate “terrorist” threat of ISIS and its merger into the anti-American resistance against the Iraq occupation (via the US stooge Baghdad government) at the cost of thousands and thousands of civilian as well as “jihadist” lives, and the total destruction of several major cities, the ruling class now turns back to its efforts to topple the Assad regime while keeping the warmongering on the boil, building up the belligerent frenzy against Russia and setting up the hated Iranian regime too.
Hence the gigantic coordinated ruling class pretence that the world is suddenly dealing with a monstrous “rogue state” and its (Russian) backer “defying the norms of civilised and ‘law-bound’ behaviour” without which the world would otherwise not only be calm and untroubled but on a path towards sunlight meadows of never-before-seen prosperity and harmony.
It is the most gigantic dissembling in all history, a gobsmacking black-is-white heap of steaming shyte.
First of course it is a huge lie; whatever might have happened in Ghouta it cannot yet be known because no-one has, or has been able to investigate, so the denunciations and scathing “Assad is an animal” comments by Donald Trump are premature to say the least, as well as sanctimonious hypocrisy on an historic scale.
In fact they are the most astonishing inversion of reality; as with nuclear weapons it is the US which has developed, supplied and used chemical and radioactive weapons repeatedly and on an industrial scale, from numerous mass population “tests” on its own soldiers and hospital and cancer patients throughout the post-war period (see quoted press in EPSR No 0811 18-07-95) to the hundreds of square kilometres of Vietnam and more recently Colombia, sprayed with the Agent Orange “herbicide” containing the deadly poison dioxin.
The first Gulf war saw massive use of depleted uranium shells and the (incidental!) creation of deadly cancerous dust residue which blows around southern Iraq to this day, around Libya and anywhere such munitions are used.
The sometimes more principled (though still anti-communist) journalist Robert Fisk makes the point too:
As Theresa May gears up for war in Syria, we should remember what hypocrites we are about chemical warfare in the Middle East
Not a soul today is mentioning the terrible war fought between 1980 and 1988, which was fought with our total acquiescence.
Oh, the hypocrisy of it. The ignoble aims. The distraction. The outrageous lies and excuses.
I’m not talking about America’s tweet-from-the-hip president and his desire to escape from the cops’ raid on his lawyer’s office – there’s a Russian connection, all right.
I’m not talking about Theresa May, who wants to step out of the Brexit ditch with any distractions of her own: Salisbury attacks, Douma – even Trump. So Trump telephoned Macron, when the poor lady thought she’d won his hand. What is this nonsense?
Macron has now hitched his own wagon to the Saudis against Iranian “expansionism” – and no doubt arms sales to the Kingdom have something to do with it.
Now we have our spokespersons and ministers raging about the need to prevent the “normalisation” of chemical warfare, to prevent it becoming a part of ordinary warfare, a return to the terrible days of the First World War.
But we all know the problems of proof when it comes to chemicals and gas. Like depleted uranium – which we used to use in our munitions – it doesn’t, like a shell fragment or a bomb casing, leave a tell-tale hunk of metal with an address on it. When all this started with the first gas attack in Damascus, the Russians identified it as gas munitions manufactured in the Soviet Union – but sent to Libya, not to Syria.
But it’s a different war that I’m remembering today. It’s the Iran-Iraq war between 1980 and 1988, when Saddam Hussein invaded Iran. When the Iranians re-crossed their own border and stormed into Iraq years later, Saddam used gas on thousands of Iranian soldiers – and civilians, for there were nurses and doctors at the war front.
But in our desire to concentrate minds on Syria, we’re not mentioning the Iran gassings – Iran being another one of our present-day enemies, of course – and this may be because of our lack of official memory.
More likely it’s because of what happened: the institutionalisation of chemical warfare, the use of chemicals by Saddam who was then an ally of the West and of all the Gulf Sunni states, our frontline Sunni hero. The thousands of Iranian soldiers who were to die were referred to on Iraqi radio after they crossed the frontier. The “Persian insects” had crossed the border, it announced. And that’s how they were treated.
For the precursors for the Iraqi gas came largely from the United States – one from New Jersey – and US military personnel later visited the battlefront without making any comments about the chemicals which were sold to the Iraqi regime, of course, for “agricultural” purposes. That’s how to deal with insects, is it not?
Yet not a soul today is mentioning this terrible war, which was fought with our total acquiescence. It’s almost an “exclusive” to mention the conflict at all, so religiously have we forgotten it. That was the real “normalisation”...
Of the thousands of Iranians who were asphyxiated, a few survivors were even sent to British hospitals for treatment. I travelled with others on a military train through the desert to Tehran, the railway compartments packed with unsmiling young men who coughed mucus and blood into white bandages as they read miniature Korans.
They had blisters on their skin and, horrifically, more blisters on top of the first blisters. I wrote a series of articles about this obscenity for The Times, which I then worked for. The Foreign Office later told my editors that my articles were “not helpful”.
in those days, of course, the good guys were using the chemicals. Don’t we remember the Kurds of Halabja who were gassed by Saddam, with gas which the CIA told its officers to claim was used by the Iranians?
For this war crime, Saddam should have been tried. He was indeed a “gas-killing animal”. But he was hanged for a smaller massacre with conventional weapons – because, I have always suspected, we didn’t want him exposing his gas warfare partners in an open court.
So there we are. May holds a “war cabinet”, for heaven’s sakes, as if our losses were mounting on the Somme in 1916, or Dorniers were flying out of occupied France to blitz London in 1940.
What is this childish prime minister doing?
How could May follow an American president who the world knows is crackers, insane, chronically unstable, but whose childish messages – about missiles that are “nice and new and ‘smart’” – are even taken seriously by many of my colleagues in the US?
We should perhaps be even more worried about what happens if he does turn away from the Iran nuclear deal.
This is a very bad moment in Middle East history – and, as usual, it is the Palestinians who will suffer, their own tragedy utterly forgotten amid this madness.
His last paragraph raises another point too; whatever the truth about alleged “gas” the reality of massive war crime oppression of the Palestinians and many others continues, with the thousands of unarmed Gaza strip protestors shot down in cold blood in past weeks and dozens killed.
Is such an outrageous and continuing Nazi-massacre - unequivocally proven on camera to be killing scores and deliberately maiming hundreds - not a cause for the immediate punishment by a “morally outraged international community”?
Not by chance is the fascist Zionist state, whose soldiers cheer as they turkey-shoot the tyrannically oppressed Palestinians in the besieged Gaza hellhole, a key participant in Washington’s Middle East war plans, as it has always been and as it is now as part of the latest anti-Iranian/Russian coalition being assembled alongside the most reactionary feudal states in the Gulf and Saudi Arabia:
a video clip shows ...a group of Israeli soldiers loudly celebrating as a sniper shoots and wounds a Palestinian demonstrator standing inside the Gaza Strip near Israel’s border fence.
The short clip — first posted Monday and widely shared on social media — was seemingly shot through the lens of a rifle scope or binoculars. Soldiers watch a few Palestinian youths running and then walking along the border area. In the few minutes they are caught on screen, the Palestinians do not appear to be engaged in any hostile acts.
“The moment he stops, you drop him,” says one soldier. “Do you have a bullet in the chamber?”
“Yes,” comes a reply, presumably from the sniper.
Then he complains about not getting a clear enough view because of the rolls of barbed wire fencing along the border and about his target ducking each time he gears up to shoot. The soldiers then debate whether to take out the person wearing a pink shirt or a blue shirt right before the crack of a shot is heard and one of the figures crumples.
Then one of the soldiers whoops: “What a video. They’re running to evacuate him. Yeah, of course I filmed it.”
As the injured person is carried out of view, one of the soldiers laughs: “He fell into the air with his legs up like that. ...”
One soldier calls it a “legendary clip” and then curses, calling the Palestinian a “son of a whore.” All the soldiers were speaking Hebrew.
The video surfaced at a particularly tense time, following two weeks of deadly Gaza protests in which Palestinians faced off against Israel’s military at the border. Nine Palestinians were reported killed Friday, including a photojournalist wearing a vest marked PRESS. The previous week, 22 protesters were killed.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said more than 1,000 people were injured by Israel during the protests, including a few hundred from gunshot wounds.
The Israeli military said it was forced to use live ammunition to prevent demonstrators from breaking through the border fence. It said Hamas, the militant Islamist group that controls Gaza and is seen as a terrorist organization by Israel and the United States, is exploiting the unrest to carry out terrorist attacks. The army estimated that 20,000 people turned out to protest last Friday, a significantly lower number than the previous week.
But organizers of the Friday protests have said they will continue until the May 15 commemoration of what Palestinians call the Nakba, or catastrophe, marking the flight and expulsion of an estimated 700,000 Palestinians seven decades ago upon Israel’s creation. It is also the date that the United States plans to officially move its embassy to Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the nationalist Jewish Home party, defended the soldiers and said they should not be criticized.
Bennett was the first minister to rise to the defense of soldier Elor Azaria, who was found guilty last year of shooting an already neutralized Palestinian assailant in Hebron on March 24, 2016.
Is this butchery, millions killed by imperialism throughout the Middle East less grotesque and criminal, more “acceptable” than “gas”????
And why is the Zionist use on Gaza’s civilians of white phosphorus which burns through to the bone, not to be mentioned?? Or the American use of the same in Fallujah during the initial Iraq post-invasion period in 2004??? Or its own “turkey shoot” slaughter and torture in Iraq etc?
But instead of taking up this monstrous fascism, and explaining to the working class that it is the fundamental character of all imperialism (not some different or special new form, just the real face of this system particularly sharply exposed as crisis deepens) the fake-“left” continues to grovel to the “parliamentary road” illusions which have held back the working class for so long.
What they never bring to the forefront, even when claiming "revolutionary" credentials, is that the only path forwards, is the class war overturn of this stinking warmongering system.
Instead they capitulate to such stunts as the monstrous CIA/Zionist “anti-semitism” inverted demonisation campaign against anyone who opposes the fascist Israeli-Jewish land-thieving occupation of Palestine, and the grotesque Western hypocrisy which backs it.
Revisionist retreat from revolutionary understanding which held back the world class struggle for decades, continues to impact too.
The Bonarpartist Putin continues to show the influence of his original revisionist training in the deluded notion just advanced that while the “world is descending into chaos” he hopes it can “make an effort to see reason”. As a diplomatic appeal, it is OK; as a perspective it shows in magnified form the complacency that led to the liquidation of the soviet proletarian workers state in the first place.
Jut as bad is Beijing’s UN Security Council abstention:
Russia’s proposed UN Security Council resolution envisaging a speedy and realistic investigation into Douma incident was voted down by a triple veto. US, UK and France all voted against it.
However an earlier US-proposed resolution, which proposed an investigation mechanism that couldn’t possibly work and would have opened an avenue for the American use of force had to be vetoed by Russia alone. Bolivia was the only other nation to vote against; China merely abstained.
China did so albeit it had previously called for restraint and for no side to resort to force which should have naturally made it predisposed to oppose the American resolution. Likewise the Chinese did so albeit the newly-appointed Chinese defense minister was in Moscow talking up ties between the two armed forces and countries.
It has long been Chinese philosophy not to stick its neck out at the UN. Beijing rarely vetoes anything that does not concern its immediate interests.
Revisionist complacency and “left” opportunism continues to hamper the world class struggle. It needs exposing; only Leninist revolution will stop WW3. Build Leninism
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Discussion ( Part 4/5 - Continued from No 1527)
Trotskyist hostility...capitalises on the 1917 centenary October Revolution to pour poison on the historic legacy of the Soviet Union.
When describing the arguments around Lenin’s April Theses in 1917, Faulkner writes that Lenin was “denounced as ‘Trotskyist’” because of “his calls for ‘world socialist revolution’” (Chapter 6). By doing so, he implies the mistaken notion that Lenin had moved over to Trotsky’s idealistic ‘permanent revolution’ drivel. Although Lenin’s first words on arriving in Petrograd were of the world-wide socialist, not Russian bourgeois, revolution, he was not making a practical call for an immediate socialist revolution in Russia. He was making an evaluation of the objective concrete revolutionary developments that were already taking place across Europe, as a result of monopoly capitalism’s intensifying collapse into slump and inter-imperialist world war, and arguing that the February revolution was the first step in a new epoch which could only end in socialist revolution world-wide.
Lenin alone was able to correctly describe the nature of the revolutionary events that had taken place in Russia since February and the balance of class forces with it, and the implications this had for the proletarian revolution. Faulkner does not even begin to give a picture of the richness of Lenin’s analysis of this highly complex situation, which nobody but him understood. Because of this, he is unable to accurately describe Lenin’s battle with the Bolshevik leadership after he returned to Russia in April 1917.
In his Letters on Tactics, Lenin explained that the bourgeois phase of the revolutionary process had manifested itself in a peculiar and unexpected way. The previous Bolshevik understanding [outlined in part 3 – EPSR 1527] was that the bourgeoisie would accept solely a restriction of the power of absolutism and would not dare go further for fear of the masses; the task of abolishing absolutism, implementing agrarian reforms and establishing a democratic republic would fall to the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. However, under the pressure of Tsarist military defeats in the inter-imperialist war and growing economic chaos, the bourgeois phase of the revolution had gone further than expected and accomplished some of the key demands of the bourgeois-democratic revolution. In deposing the Tsar it passed state power over to the big bourgeoisie and established legal rights (freedom of assembly, a free press, universal suffrage, etc). It had gone further than the big bourgeoisie had wanted to it go, against its own interests.
Not only that, the simultaneous emergence of the popularly supported Soviets of Workers, Peasants and Soldiers Deputies alongside the bourgeois Provisional Government, as a separate power, had already amounted to the realisation of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry. Contrary to the distortions of Trotskyism, the objective reality of a dual power situation had made the Bolshevik demand for the democratic dictatorship obsolete, not because it was “proven” to be an “incorrect” theory (as the Trots claim), but because it was now in existence in the form of the Soviets.
Matters were complicated even further by fact that the Soviets themselves were made up of proletarian elements who opposed Russia’s involvement in the inter-imperialist war but lacked numerical strength and the class consciousness and organisation necessary to lead the bourgeois democratic revolution, and the petty-bourgeois elements who, because of their historical dependence on the bourgeoisie, supported and participated in the bourgeois Provisional Government and Russia’s continued involvement in the imperialist war. As a consequence, the petty bourgeoisie being in the majority, the Soviets were ceding power to the bourgeoisie.
This unexpected circumstance of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry ceding power to the big bourgeoisie, coupled with unresolved democratic demands for agrarian reform, led to confusion amongst the Bolshevik leadership, including Kamenev and Stalin, whose arguments for “pressure” to be brought on the Provisional Government ran counter to Lenin’s April Theses demands for the Soviets to break immediately from the Provisional Government and take power in their own hands [JV Stalin (March 1917) The War].
In his account of the weaknesses of the Bolsheviks’ position prior to Lenin’s April Theses intervention, Faulkner describes the Bolshevik leadership, Kamenev and Stalin in particular, as “the chief culprits in a ‘reformist turn’” who had “reinforced the tendency” of the Bolsheviks to “tail the Reformist-dominated Executive Committee [of the Soviets, i.e. the Mensheviks and Social Revolutionaries]”. He accuses them of “moving the Bolsheviks further to the right” when they “took over the party organ, Pravda”. He claims that “nothing of substance separated these Bolsheviks from the Reformists [sic].” Although Stalin’s confused understanding differed little in substance to the Mensheviks’ position of giving critical support to the bourgeois Provisional Government, Faulkner’s motive here is to set Stalin up as a covert, conspiratorial “right tendency” so that he can later decry Stalin’s eventual leadership of the Soviet Union as a “counter-revolutionary triumph”.
This attempt to portray the theoretical shortcomings of Stalin, Kamenev and the “Old Bolsheviks” who failed to appreciate the nature of unexpected dual power outcome of the February Revolution as a “political capitulation” that coloured everything they did for ever more, ignores the fact that nobody, including Trotsky, understood it until Lenin returned to Russia from exile. Even if Trotsky had a better insight, he could not have had any influence on Lenin’s thinking anyway as he was in a British detention camp in Canada at that time and did not return to Russia until mid-May.
Despite their short-comings, the Bolsheviks, even before Lenin returned, had a far more profound and sophisticated understanding of the concrete material conditions that led to the Revolution than Trotsky; and the overwhelming majority within the Bolshevik leadership were eventually won over to the correct perspective as a result of the fierce polemical debate initiated by Lenin, and participated in the October Revolution, thereby demonstrating the importance of continually battling for revolutionary theory to achieve the correct line.
The senseless slaughter of the First World War, on top of the expansion of capitalist development in Russia that had already taken place, even under Tsarist absolutism, to meet the needs of international capitalism had escalated the revolutionary process in an unexpected way, hence the confusion. However, objective reality still confirmed their general understanding that it was not possible to “skip over” the bourgeois revolution and head directly for the socialist revolution, as Trotsky claimed.
The immediate necessity in April was to agitate for the transfer of state power from the bourgeois Provisional Government to the Soviets of Workers’, Peasants’ and Soldiers’ Deputies who would then enforce those bourgeois democratic revolutionary measures the Provisional Government resisted, including the expropriation of the land from the landlords, abolition of the capitalist state forces of repression and nationalisation of the banks.
As Lenin explained in Letters on Tactics (April 1917), these measures were “steps towards socialism” (not to be confused with the class-collaborating reformist demands made of a capitalist state the Trots continue to foster even today under the cover of advocating “transitional demands”). Lenin’s transitional measures towards socialism, as further outlined 5 months later in The impending catastrophe and how to combat it (Sept 1917), would be achieved only by a genuinely revolutionary-democratic state in which the majority poor peasants have broken away from their alliance with the bourgeoisie and allied themselves with the proletariat via the Soviets. Such a state, in which bourgeois power has been overthrown, would no longer be capitalist, but neither would it be socialist. Under workers’ control, even the state monopoly capitalist measures Lenin advocated would then be “steps towards socialism”.
The fact that Lenin was still speaking of the “revolutionary democratic state” in September 1917 adds to the disproof of Trotskyist lie that the April Theses rejected the theory of the revolutionary democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry as a stage the revolutionary process has to go through before socialism could be achieved, and that he had moved over to Trotsky’s position. The democratic dictatorship had already been realised in the form of the Soviets, but it existed side-by-side with the bourgeois state and had ceded power to the bourgeoisie. That was the reality in Russia in summer 1917, but Trotskyism continues to doggedly maintain its knowing ignorance of this in order to sustain its idealistic day-dreaming of the ‘perfect revolution’, and its 100-year-long anti-communist hostility to the Soviet Union.
The task of the Bolsheviks, Lenin explained, was to struggle for influence over the majority within the Soviets in order to separate the proletarian elements and the poorer peasantry from the those petty bourgeois elements that supported the big bourgeoisie and its Provisional Government, whilst patiently explaining to the proletarian and poorer peasant masses the necessity of bringing the means of production and distribution under the armed control of the Soviets (“steps towards socialism”) as the only means of ending the suffering caused by capitalist crisis and inter-imperialist war.
In his Letters on Tactics, Lenin was careful to distance his materialist understanding of the unexpected dual power situation from Trotsky’s minority “no Tsar but a workers’ government” demands whilst explaining the necessity of winning the sympathy of the majority (i.e. the poor peasantry – who Trotsky already written off as a revolutionary force in 1905) within the Soviets (which represented the vast majority of the population) over to the Bolsheviks:
But are we not in danger of falling into subjectivism, of wanting to arrive at the socialist revolution by “skipping” the bourgeois-democratic revolution—which is not yet completed and has not yet exhausted the peasant movement?
I might be incurring this danger if I said: “No Tsar, but a workers’ government.” But I did not say that, I said something else. I said that there can be no government (barring a bourgeois government) in Russia other than that of the Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’, Soldiers’, and Peasants’ Deputies. I said that power in Russia now can pass from Guchkov and Lvov only to these Soviets. And in these Soviets, as it happens, it is the peasants, the soldiers, i.e., petty bourgeoisie, who preponderate, to use a scientific, Marxist term, a class characterisation, and not a common, man-in-the-street, professional characterisation.
In my theses, I absolutely ensured myself against skipping over the peasant movement, which has not outlived itself, or the petty-bourgeois movement in general, against any playing at “seizure of power” by a workers’ government, against any kind of Blanquist adventurism; for I pointedly referred to the experience of the Paris Commune. And this experience, as we know, and as Marx proved at length in 1871 and Engels in 1891, absolutely excludes Blanquism, absolutely ensures the direct, immediate and unquestionable rule of the majority and the activity of the masses only to the extent that the majority itself acts consciously.
In the theses, I very definitely reduced the question to one of a struggle for influence within the Soviets of Workers’, Agricultural Labourers’, Peasants’, and Soldiers’ Deputies. To leave no shadow of doubt on this score, I twice emphasised in the theses the need for patient and persistent “explanatory” work “adapted to the practical needs of the masses”.
Ignorant persons or renegades from Marxism, like Mr. Plekhanov, may shout about anarchism, Blanquism, and so forth. But those who want to think and learn cannot fail to understand that Blanquism means the seizure of power by a minority, whereas the Soviets are admittedly the direct and immediate organisation of the majority of the people. Work confined to a struggle for influence within these Soviets cannot, simply cannot, stray into the swamp of Blanquism. Nor can it stray into the swamp of anarchism, for anarchism denies the need for a state and state power in the period of transition from the rule of the bourgeoisie to the rule of the proletariat, whereas I, with a precision that precludes any possibility of misinterpretation, advocate the need for a state in this period, although, in accordance with Marx and the lessons of the Paris Commune, I advocate not the usual parliamentary bourgeois state, but a state without a standing army, without a police opposed to the people, without an officialdom placed above the people.
Lenin, Letters on Tactics, First Letter, Priboi Publishers, April 1917]
Later, in his 1928 pamphlet, the Permanent Revolution, Trotsky complained that Stalin had wrongly had ascribed the “No Tsar” slogan used here by Lenin to him, and argued that it came from German social-democrat Parvus.
This claim is repeated by Trotskyists today but it is just sophistry. Trotsky and Parvus were collaborating with each other at the time of the 1905 revolution. In 1905, Parvus wrote a preface to Trotsky’s Up to the 9th January pamphlet, in which he argued:
“only workers can accomplish a revolutionary insurrection. In Russia the revolutionary provisional government will be a government of the workers’ democracy.”
It would be really odd if Trotsky had allowed Parvus’s preface to accompany his own writing if he did not agree with its contents.
Trotsky developed his permanent revolution ‘theory’ from Parvus in his Results and Prospects (1905) pamphlet, which called for the Tsar to be replaced by a workers’ government.
Although Trotsky claimed in hindsight, after events had proved him wrong, that he was not “skipping the bourgeois revolution”, that is what the logic of his demand for a workers’ state in 1905 amounted to. It would have risked placing the proletariat into conflict with the majority peasant population, which Lenin explained was not ready to go all the way to socialism, when it needed to be taking the lead in the bourgeois democratic revolution in alliance with the peasantry to ensure that the democratic revolution is pushed to a decisive victory. Trotsky’s approach would have risked a catastrophic defeat.
As the EPSR explained in ILWP* Book Volume 6, [*forerunner to the EPSR] the material circumstances of the bourgeois revolution in 1917 was far removed from the 1905 revolution, and so completely different tactics were required to advance towards socialism:
Lenin’s insistence on maintaining the party’s ability to lead the revolution to its furthest possible development by staying independent of Provisional Government compromise in the period between the completion of the Bourgeois revolution (February 1917) and proletarian dictatorship (October) faced a completely different strategic situation in the 1905 bourgeois-democratic revolution, of course.
Although struggling all the way through to the triumph of socialist revolution was in no way ruled out in 1905, Lenin’s emphasis correctly concentrated on making certain the bourgeois democratic revolution was made as thoroughgoing as possible.
As in 1917, the weakness of the Russian capitalist class and the spinelessness of the petty bourgeoisie and the non-Marxist ‘lefts’ were among the dominating complications, and in Two tactics of social-democracy in the democratic revolution’ Lenin stated the party’s aim as
‘to put a proletarian imprint on the revolution, to carry the revolution to a real and decisive victory not in word but in deed, and to paralyse the instability, half-heartedness and treachery of the democratic bourgeoisie’ (July 1905).
To this end, Lenin proposed that in certain circumstances, the Marxist revolutionary party could best take the lead in the revolution and neutralise the weakness of the democratic bourgeoisie by actually participating in a provisional revolutionary government within the revolutionary-democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry, relying on the armed people; - as well as by organising non-stop revolutionary pressure on the Provisional Government from below.
This perspective was completely opposed to the conservative Menshevik line which ruled out possible participation in a revolutionary government, thereby tacitly conceding leadership of the revolution to the bourgeoisie, a misreading of the balance of class strengths in Russian circumstances.
As in 1917, the Mensheviks had it wrong – this time for not having the class vision and strength to lead the democratic revolution, (as opposed to 1917 when their cowardly coalition with ‘democratic’ forces propped up, from the front, decadent bourgeois rule and held back the fight for the socialist revolution.)
Against Trotsky, whose shallow ‘ultra-left’ opportunist propaganda simply tried to skip over the leading role of the proletariat in the bourgeois-democratic revolution, and to ignore the revolutionary role of the peasantry with his misleading slogan ‘No Tsar but a workers government’, Lenin rescued Marx’s notion of permanent revolution from Trotsky’s middle-class gibberish and explained how in Russia’s conditions, the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry (opposed by Trotsky) could grow over into the dictatorship of the proletariat…
… Summing up this 1905 difference with the Menshevik and Trotskyist swamp over the need to LEAD the democratic revolution (as opposed to the difference in 1917 which required the Bolsheviks to lead the maturing revolutionary socialist opposition to the coalition seeking to prolong capitalist rule), Lenin characterised his line as
‘One side says: advance the revolution to its consummation despite resistance or passivity on the part of the inconsistent bourgeoisie. The other side says: do not think of independently advancing the revolution to completion, for if you do, the inconsistent bourgeoisie will recoil from it. Are these two not diametrically opposite paths? Is it obvious that one set of tactics absolutely excludes the other?, that the first tactics is the only correct tactics of revolutionary Marxism’
But by 1917 … the working class had developed sufficiently under capitalism, and the bourgeois revolution sufficiently exhausted, for the final collapse of the farcical autocracy to require a proletarian dictatorship revolution for any real social progress to be made, and for any real end to be put to the torment of the masses under capitalist crisis. The tactics then had to be: independence from the decaying coalition compromise government; For the dictatorship of the proletariat.” [ILWP Books, Volume 6: Moscow should denounce the reactionaries in the CP movement as well as the anti-communist Trots, section 5]
Trotskyism’s assertion that the April Theses signified a shift in Lenin’s perspective towards Trotsky’s ‘permanent revolution’ nonsense continues to be propagated today as a means of writing off the Soviet Union’s inspirational 70 year history of socialist construction and development against all the odds, as well as the follow on workers state triumphs inspired in China, Cuba, Viet Nam, etc., and the achievements of all revolutionary movements generally (including the successful Sinn Féin and ANC bourgeois nationalist struggles), as a catastrophic failure because reality did not live up to their ‘perfect revolution’ day-dreaming. Such Trot defeatism is a fraudulent deception of historic proportions.
In the course of giving his account of the events that took place in the six months from Lenin’s April Theses to the October Revolution, Faulkner also exposes his complete misunderstanding of democratic centralism. In October, during the three weeks leading up to the uprising, Lenin battled within the Central Committee for the acceptance of the need to start preparations for an armed uprising and the seizure of power once it was made clear by the eruption of peasant revolt across Russia, growing unrest amongst the (largely peasant) soldiers, and electoral victories in major metropolitan Soviets that saw the Bolsheviks gaining majorities for the first time, that the bourgeois state was collapsing, and that the majority of the working class and poor peasantry were moving over to the Bolsheviks.
Faulkner sees in this dispute supposed “evidence” that the Bolshevik Party was not a democratic centralist party, and exposes his own misunderstand of what such a party is and why it is necessary:
The Bolshevik Party – a nationwide network of revolutionary militants rooted in the class struggle of the workers, soldiers and sailors -
[He misses out the peasantry who were already in revolt by the end of September] –
was essential to the success of the revolution. This network was the primary transmitter of revolutionary ideas, the final crucible for the forging of mass leaders, and the primary mechanism for organising united mass action at every level. But it was not the ‘democratic-centralist’ monolith of sectarian myth; it was not a hierarchy in which instructions were handed down on high to be carried with military-style discipline by the lower echelons. (Chapter 8)
Faulkner’s misunderstanding seems to arise out of his experiences with the poisonous sectarianism of the fake-“lefts” (particularly the Trot SWP in his case) and their lying pretences of “democratic-centralism”, which is the polar opposite of Lenin’s “party of a new type”. In fact, the October dispute within the Central Committee was an excellent example of democratic-centralism in practice. Polemical debate to establish the correct understanding of events is crucial for a democratic-centralist party. At a Committee meeting on 10 October [new calendar], all committee members of the Bolshevik Party were free to argue for their positions on the question of insurrection. These positions were argued through until a conclusion could be reached (all through the night, as Faulkner writes). Even then, the Central Committee reconvened on 16 October to discuss the question further in light of additional disagreements circulated in a letter to all the main Bolshevik organisations by Kamenev and Zinoviev in which they argued against Lenin’s calls for an armed insurrection.
The point of the dispute was to establish an agreed understanding on what tactics were necessary given the changed material conditions of growing peasant and worker unrest. This openness to debate is a vital aspect of democratic centralism. An objective material understanding can only be arrived at if questions are considered from every angle, and so every argument needs to be brought out into the open and explored from every angle. Ideally it would draw as broad a section of the advanced proletariat as possible into the discussions, should circumstances allow.
A crucial point is that once an agreed understanding is reached, or the best that can be achieved by consensus or majority vote, party members are obliged to abide by it so that a coherent line can be tested in practice. Discipline is crucial. Zinoviev and Kamenev were free to argue their case against insurrection until the Central Committee had come to their final decision on 16 October. However, Lenin angrily denounced them after their ill-disciplined public continuation of their opposition to the majority decision after October 16, and behind the backs of the party in a non-party paper in which they infamously leaked the news to the world. Such ill-disciplined lack of party spirit arises from a petty-bourgeois individualist outlook that can become highly dangerous to the revolution in certain circumstances if it not firmly put down (see the deadly effects of Bishop’s anti-party disruption in Grenada 1979, for example – ILWP Book 12).
As the debate was on the necessity of initiating an insurrection, strict secrecy was required. Under such circumstances, it would have been a potentially lethal error to open the debate up to the wider party membership before coming to the final decision. However, the working class were already debating this question spontaneously, as Faulkner demonstrates with examples of resolutions form Kiev and Moscow showing that sections of the working class were demanding a definite decision in favour of insurrection.
None of this has anything to do with the sectarian practice of the fake-“lefts” (Trotskyist and Stalinist) and their suppression or avoidance of debate on challenging questions that threaten to expose their “revolutionary” pretences, which they hide under their lying claims to be practising “democratic centralism” (lies that Faulkner falls for), or the endless heads-on-a-pin academic “debates” of some fake-“lefts” that never come to a conclusion about anything.
Trotsky’s position on the need for insurrection is unclear, despite his later vociferous attacks on Kamenev and Zinoviev for the position they had taken during the dispute, (and on Stalin for an unsigned editorial note in Pravda which conciliatorily, and ambiguously, stated that “the sharp tone of Comrade Lenin’s article [against Kamenev and Zinoviev] does not change the fact that, fundamentally, we are of one mind”. Faulkner cites this as more ‘proof’ that Stalin was “a closet oppositionist”- further ammunition to be used undermine the Soviet Union after Lenin – Ch8). Bourgeois historian, Sheila Fitzpatrick, in her The Russian Revolution suggests:
Trotsky, recently released from prison and admitted to Bolshevik Party membership, was now the leader of the Bolshevik majority in the Petrograd Soviet. He had also been one of the Soviet leaders in 1905. Although he did not openly disagree with Lenin (and later claimed that their views had been identical), it seems probable too that he had doubts about the insurrection, and thought that the Soviets should handle the problem of dislodging the Provisional Government.
Faulkner cites Fitzpatrick’s book in his bibliography. That passage must have slipped him by.
Fitzpatrick’s speculative suggestion raises an interesting question given the great importance Trotsky gave to the Second All-Russian Congress of Soviets meeting that took place on the day of the insurrection, and his role in it.
Trotsky retrospectively argued that the Congress, by endorsing the decision for the insurrection as it was taking place, would be giving the revolution some sort of formal “legitimacy”. Without discounting the validity and merits of such a tactic to expose the petty-bourgeois oppositionists within the Soviets (of presenting the Congress with the revolution as a fait accompli and then forcing a vote on it), it could also be seen as way of masking his own nervousness about Lenin’s call for the insurrection to take place before the Congress met.
Delaying the insurrection until a vote at Congress risked disaster. It ran counter to Lenin’s insistence in his letter to the Central Committee on the eve of the revolution (written but not sent – see below) that the seizure of power should begin immediately, without waiting for such bureaucratic formalities that would give the plans for revolution away and give the bourgeoisie time to mobilise against it.
Faulkner deceptively cites this Second Congress endorsement of the insurrection as evidence for his claims that Trotsky, who had only opportunistically jumped on the Bolshevik bandwagon just 8 weeks before the October revolution, was “the leader of the October insurrection”:
Lenin was the political genius who led the Bolshevik Party. Trotsky was the genius who led the Petrograd Soviet and its decisive hour and organised the October insurrection. The Bolshevik Revolution was the achievement of these two political leaders in equal measure. Let the Menshevik Sukhanov stand testimony. In the two weeks after that momentous secret meeting in his own apartment, Trotsky was a flurry of activity … Lenin was in hiding all this while, only to emerge on the morrow of victory. (Chapter 8)
To back up this fraudulent boosting of Trotsky on the back of Lenin, Faulkner quotes a testimony from a Menshevik – Lenin’s political enemies and Trotsky’s on-and-off allies! He does not explain what organisational work Trotsky did during the insurrection, other than at the Congress, or what this flurry of activity amounted to. The implication that Lenin had nothing to do with the organisation of the insurrection is simply untrue (see below). Trotsky was acting under his leadership.
The initiative for the insurrection came from Lenin. In in his letter to the Central Committee in September 1917, Lenin explained that the changed material conditions that arose out of the failure of the July uprising, the defeat of the August Kornilov coup, the growing peasant revolt in the countryside and the winning over of the majority for the Bolsheviks within the Petrograd and Moscow Soviets necessitated preparations for armed insurrection, or risk falling behind the pace of events:
To show that it is precisely the present moment that the Party must recognise as the one in which the entire course of events has objectively placed insurrection on the order of the day and that insurrection must be treated as an art, it will perhaps be best to use the method of comparison, and to draw a parallel between July 3-4 and the September days.
On July 3-4 it could have been argued, without violating the truth, that the correct thing to do was to take power, for our enemies would in any case have accused us of insurrection and ruthlessly treated us as rebels. However, to have decided on this account in favour of taking power at that time would have been wrong, because the objective conditions for the victory of the insurrection did not exist.
(1) We still lacked the support of the class which is the vanguard of the revolution.
We still did not have a majority among the workers and soldiers of Petrograd and Moscow. Now we have a majority in both Soviets. It was created solely by the history of July and August, by the experience of the “ruthless treatment” meted out to the Bolsheviks, and by the experience of the Kornilov revolt.
(2) There was no country-wide revolutionary upsurge at that time. There is now, after the Kornilov revolt; the situation in the provinces and assumption of power by the Soviets in many localities prove this.
(3) At that time there was no vacillation on any serious political scale among our enemies and among the irresolute petty bourgeoisie. Now the vacillation is enormous. Our main enemy, Allied and world imperialism (for world imperialism is headed by the “Allies”), has begun to waver between a war to a victorious finish and a separate peace directed against Russia. Our petty-bourgeois democrats, having clearly lost their majority among the people, have begun to vacillate enormously, and have rejected a bloc, i.e., a coalition, with the Cadets.
(4) Therefore, an insurrection on July 3-4 would have been a mistake; we could not have retained power either physically or politically. We could not have retained it physically even though Petrograd was at times in our hands, because at that time our workers and soldiers would not have fought and died for Petrograd. There was not at the time that “savageness”, or fierce hatred both of the Kerenskys and of the Tseretelis and Chernovs. Our people had still not been tempered by the experience of the persecution of the Bolsheviks in which the Socialist-Revolutionaries and Mensheviks participated.
We could not have retained power politically on July 3-4 because, before the Kornilov revolt, the army and the provinces could and would have marched against Petrograd.
Now the picture is entirely different.
We have the following of the majority of a class, the vanguard of the revolution, the vanguard of the people, which is capable of carrying the masses with it.
We have the following of the majority of the people, because Chernov’s resignation, while by no means the only symptom, is the most striking and obvious symptom that the peasants will not receive land from the Socialist-Revolutionaries’ bloc (or from the Socialist-Revolutionaries themselves). And that is the chief reason for the popular character of the revolution.
We are in the advantageous position of a party that knows for certain which way to go at a time when imperialism, as a -whole and the Menshevik and Socialist-Revolutionary bloc as a whole are vacillating in an incredible fashion.
Our victory is assured, for the people are close to desperation, and we are showing the entire people a sure way out; we demonstrated to the entire people during the “Kornilov days” the value of our leadership, and then proposed to the politicians of the bloc a compromise, which they rejected, although there is no let-up in their vacillations.
[Lenin, Marxism and Insurrection: A Letter to the Central Committee of the R.S.D.L.P.(B), September 1917]
The initiative to set up military bodies to organise the insurrection also originated from Lenin. In this letter, he gave an illustration of how the insurrection could be organised, using Moscow as an example (not a plan):
In order to treat insurrection in a Marxist way, i.e., as an art, we must at the same time, without losing a single moment, organise a headquarters of the insurgent detachments, distribute our forces, move the reliable regiments to the most important points, surround the Alexandriusky Theatre, occupy the Peter and Paul Fortress, arrest the General Staff and the government, and move against the officer cadets and the Savage Division those detachments which would rather die than allow the enemy to approach the strategic points of the city. We must mobilise the armed workers and call them to fight the last desperate fight, occupy the telegraph and the telephone exchange at once, move our insurrection headquarters to the central telephone exchange and connect it by telephone with all the factories, all the regiments, all the points of armed fighting, etc.
Of course, this is all by way of example, only to illustrate the fact that at the present moment it is impossible to remain loyal to Marxism, to remain loyal to the revolution unless insurrection is treated as an art. [Lenin, ibid]
To create the impression that Trotsky “led the October insurrection”, Faulkner makes the following claim:
…another body – not the wobbling Bolshevik Central Committee – would provide the essential command and control: the Military Revolutionary Committee chaired by Leon Trotsky.
This is typical of Trotsky’s self-promoting bombast, and is disputed anyway as it is also claimed that Pavel Lazimir, a Left Social Revolutionary, chaired the committee. It would not be beyond Trotsky to elide his position as President of the Petrograd Soviet with the Petrograd MRC, which emanated from the Soviet, to present himself as its leader. He (Trotsky) does say in his History of the Russian Revolution (1932) that Lazimir was “head of the bureau” (Chapter 40). Although it arose out of the Petrograd Soviet, of which Trotsky was the President, it anyway came under the supervision of the Bolshevik Central Committee, led by Lenin, which is the important point to make.
Secondly, the debate within the Central Committee was not a sign of “wobbling” indecisiveness, but a strengthening of its leadership by means of the clarity Lenin’s perspective provided, which ensured that the insurrection would take place and go on to achieve a decisive victory.
This quote from Trotsky’s self-serving History demonstrates the overall supervisory control the Central Committee had over the activities of the MRC:
It was the question of taking full possession of Petrograd in the next twenty-four hours. That meant to seize those political and technical institutions that were still in the hands of the government … The practical measures of the nocturnal assault had been worked out, or were being worked out, by the Military Revolutionary Committee and the military organisations of the Bolsheviks. The Central Committee was to underline the final points. (Chapter 43)
And here he demonstrates the leading organisational role played by Sverdlov, as chairman of the Bolsheviks’ Central Committee Secretariat:
Along party lines all threads were held in the hands of Sverdlov, who knew the cadres of the party as no one else did. He kept Smolny in touch with the party apparatus, supplied the Military Revolutionary Committee with the necessary workers, and was summoned into the Committee for counsel at all critical moments. Since the Committee had a too broad, and to some extent fluid, membership, the more conspirative undertakings were carried out through the heads of the Military Organisation of the Bolsheviks, or through Sverdlov, who was the unofficial but all the more real “general secretary” of the October insurrection... (Chapter 40)
Faulkner also omits the crucial organisational and leadership roles played by the above mentioned Military Organisation of the Bolsheviks, which sent some of its members to serve under the Petrograd MRC, and also took their lead directly from Central committee. Again, from Trotsky’s History:
… The bulletin of the Committee thus modestly registers its first step: commissars were appointed in the combatant units of the [Petrograd] garrison and in certain institutions and storehouses “for observation and leadership.” This meant that, having won the garrison politically, the Soviet was now getting organisational control of it. The dominant role in selecting these commissars was played by the Military Organisation of the Bolsheviks. …
..The tactical plans for the conquest of the capital were worked out chiefly by the staff of the Military Organisation of the Bolsheviks... (Chapter 40)
The vital role the Party’s paper, Pravda (edited by Stalin), played in enabling the Party Central Committee to mobilise the masses by ensuring that they were receiving its communications is also ignored by Faulkner.
The fact that a number of institutions participated in the insurrection, not just the MRC, can be seen in a letter Lenin wrote to the Central Committee on the eve of the revolution. This letter was for the Central Committee, not Trotsky, nor the Petrograd MRC, because it was leading the insurrection under Lenin’s guidance:
I am writing these lines on the evening of the 24th. The situation is critical in the extreme. In fact it is now absolutely clear that to delay the uprising would be fatal.
With all my might I urge comrades to realise that everything now hangs by a thread; that we are confronted by problems which are not to be solved by conferences or congresses (even congresses of Soviets), but exclusively by peoples, by the masses, by the struggle of the armed people.
The bourgeois onslaught of the Kornilovites and the removal of Verkhovsky show that we must not wait. We must at all costs, this very evening, this very night, arrest the government, having first disarmed the officer cadets (defeating them, if they resist), and so on.
We must not wait! We may lose everything!
The value of the immediate seizure of power will be the defence of the people (not of the congress, but of the people, the army and the peasants in the first place) from the Kornilovite government, which has driven out Verkhovsky and has hatched a second Kornilov plot.
Who must take power?
That is not important at present. Let the Revolutionary Military Committee do it, or “some other institution” which will declare that it will relinquish power only to the true representatives of the interests of the people, the interests of the army (the immediate proposal of peace), the interests of the peasants (the land to be taken immediately and private property abolished), the interests of the starving.
All districts, all regiments, all forces must be mobilised at once and must immediately send their delegations to the Revolutionary Military Committee and to the Central Committee of the Bolsheviks with the insistent demand that under no circumstances should power be left in the hands of Kerensky and Co. until the 25th [7th]; not under any circumstances; the matter must be decided without fail this very evening, or this very night.
History will not forgive revolutionaries for procrastinating when they could be victorious today (and they certainly will be victorious today), while they risk losing much tomorrow, in fact, they risk losing everything.
[Lenin, Letter to Central Committee Members, October 1917]
This letter was written on 24 October (old time), the eve of the insurrection, just before Lenin emerged from hiding to direct the insurrection from Petrograd; and yet Faulkner implies that Lenin was a late-comer who had no impact on the insurrection (as quoted above:
“Lenin was in hiding all this while, only to emerge on the morrow of victory”)!
Faulkner then goes on to claim that
Lenin was right about the timing of the revolution
[that’s good of him!],
but wrong about its form. He thought the party might call it in its own name; he was persuaded by Trotsky and others that the Soviets, not the Bolsheviks, should issue the summons to the masses to rise against the provisional government. (Chapter 8)
If Lenin had been persuaded by Trotsky to wait for the Soviets to summons the insurrection (and where is the evidence for this?), why would he have said, in the above quoted 24 October that the insurrection should not wait for the Soviet Congress just hours before it started? Lenin was extremely frustrated by vacillations and delays over whether or not to wait for the Congress of Soviets:
If we seize power today, we seize it not in opposition to the Soviets but on their behalf.
The seizure of power is the business of the uprising; its political purpose will become clear after the seizure.
It would be a disaster, or a sheer formality, to await the wavering vote of October 25 [ea]. The people have the right and are in duty bound to decide such questions not by a vote, but by force; in critical moments of revolution, the people have the right and are in duty bound to give directions to their representatives, even their best representatives, and not to wait for them.
[Lenin, Letter to Central Committee Members, October 1917]
The idea that Lenin, who had spent entire political life preparing for the socialist revolution, would simply sit out his time in hiding doing nothing (as Faulkner implies) is laughable. His writings providing leadership and guidance from the moment he went into hiding on July 4th to the October revolution amount to an entire volume of his Collected Works. They were communicated via secret channels set up and operated by Stalin, often personally.
Lenin directly led the insurrection and played a guiding role, even when in hiding, up to the very last minute.
Phil Waincliffe (to be continued)
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