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No 1584 11th October 2020
US empire plunge towards slump and fascist civil war turmoil continues, whether “God” keeps Trump alive or lets the Covid virus get him. Gigantic objective contradictions built into the rapacious and greed ridden monopoly capitalist system are driving its Catastrophic failure into frenzied jingoism, chauvinist hatreds and war conflict everywhere. Bankrupt imperialism and its “free market” has no way out of the greatest economic disaster in all history except to step up international hatred, and whoever is notionally in charge, Trumpite or Democrat it is headed only for World War Three international devastation. Covid chaos underlines the incompetence and callous indifference of the corrupt “private enterprise” system in start contrast to the disciplined collective efficiency and humanity of China, Cuba and other workers states. But continuing revisionist influences from Beijing and Havana hamper a vital return to Leninist revolutionary leadership which alone can unite the wave of revolt to end this vile system
Donald Trump’s “miraculous God-sent” (!!) Covid cure is a temporary disappointment for much deeper reasons than the schadenfreude felt by the masses throughout the tyrannically oppressed Third World and the “austerity” (Slump) blighted proletariat everywhere.
If Trump’s expensively and suspiciously recovered health is stable and not a transient blip before worsening (an outcome for which millions - hundreds of millions - of fingers have been crossed), it robs the world of not only a minor defeat of the US Empire but, much more, a useful chance to understand better the unfolding world turmoil, trade war belligerence and the US provoked disintegration of the “international community”, (the once-trumpeted “new world order” of imperialist powers and its hypocritical and lying “standards and principles” supposedly contrasting with “evil” communism) now falling into chauvinist and jingoist conflict everywhere.
With Trump removed it would become clearer that the breakdown is the inevitable product of titanic objective factors as the monopoly capitalist system hurtles into the greatest Catastrophic failure in all history.
Particular personalities have little to do with it. As with Adolf Hitler, and many commonplace “time-machine” fantasies of going back to assassinate him and therefore “stop WW2”, the increasingly fascist Trump is an ignorant and arrogant, scabby nonentity thrown up by historical chance whose removal would change nothing but relatively minor details about the unfolding of the gigantic breakdown and collapse underway across the world.
Something like Nazism and World War Two with all their horrors would still have erupted at roughly the same point without Hitler, and the coming unspeakable barbarities of an even bigger Third World war will do the same too (and already are in Yemen etc), in some form unless stopped by ending capitalism, as Nazism was defeated by the Soviet Red Army, but on a bigger scale still.
Trump’s gross posturing, ignorant reactionary bluster, racist stupidities and incitements to anti-left murder by vigilantes and state forces, (and the equivalent reactionary echoes by the ludicrous “bring back the Empire” chauvinist Tory Brexit fantasists, provoking attacks on “left” lawyers etc) are the product of ruling class desperation.
His “talent”, such as it is, is as an American huckster version of the aggressively Teutonic theatricalities the German bourgeoisie found necessary in the 1930s Depression to whip up a sufficiently frenzied jingoist atmosphere to get war underway, because the ruling class there had lost all confidence and certainty, reeling from defeat, economic disaster and rebellion post-1918, and feeling the growing influence of the rapidly developing Soviet Union.
It is what the billionaire ruling class in the US want now as their entire world control crumbles, and they have mostly piled in behind Trumpism despite any initial doubts.
But were this philistine jerk to die or become incapacitated, the same degeneration into ever more obviously fascist repression, censorship, jingoistic hatred, racist (and non-racist) scapegoating and vigilante civil war conflict at home, along with increasingly hair-raising international bullying and threats, war-by-sanctions and aggressive provocations (like Zionist-colluded gas line bombing in Syria or sabotage attacks on Iran’s uranium purification plants) would continue.
Worse, it will intensify unstoppably towards all-out war, - civil war and world war -, as the only possible end point to the international “competition” between the great rival monopoly powers of the imperialist order, sharpening daily into total to-the-death battling for collapsing markets.
Losing the election will not change things either if Trump survives but the increasingly obvious semi-coup manoeuvring (using the “democratic” mechanisms, as Hitler did) should falter.
It is possible the threadbare remnants of the presidential process may not be successfully trampled all over by the Trumpites, through social media manipulations, advertising, mass brainwashed anti-communist confusion and in-your-face vote twisting (which is all only an extended version of the normal $billions stitched-up “results” in all elections under hoodwinking bourgeois “democracy” - always a cosmetic cover for actual dictatorship by capital) to give him a notional “victory”.
It is even possible that the Trumpite reserve plans might fail to steal the result outright, for which weeks of lying propaganda have been laying the foundations to deny the voting count and to make specious legal challenges in the now grossly biased judicial system, itself carefully stuffed with reactionary judges and attorneys over the last four years.
But the overall pattern will still not change.
Which is to say, if the solidly bourgeois establishment Democrat Joe Biden should win and take office, or the equally reactionary “liberal” Nancy Pelosi lead the Congress to intervene first and remove Trump from office, the overall process of international hostility, trade war and economic collapse will go on, heading for war and disaster, as it would even if the “left” Democrats or other “left” reformists had been standing, or if Biden too would falter and his “feminist” vice-president should have to take over.
Why? Because all such reformism upholds the capitalist system too – openly and willingly just as the British Labour party and the class collaborating “official trade union” movement grovellingly do, seeking narrow careerist advancement, or as a result of bilious hatred of the only possible alternative, the dictatorship of the proletariat and planned socialism.
The slickly cynical Obama PC presidency clearly demonstrated just this, despite initial “left” claims it was a “progressive step”, pursuing the same imperialist “war on terror” blitzing, droning and interventions as Bush, (including the brutal NATO invasion and butchery of the Gaddafi bourgeois nationalist anti-imperialism in Libya), coup making (Honduras, Paraguay, Egypt and more) and provoking the savage Syrian civil war, while continuing the international trade war (through massive QE debt creation to bolster American commerce) which Trump has now further escalated.
Its PC sops to the idea of black civil rights progress, gay marriage etc changed nothing essential except to sustain further reformist illusions, and the supposed pullout from Iraq and Afghanistan were only a response to domestic war weariness from the mess of jihadist and anti-occupation resistance which the “shock and awe” Bush invasions had run into (and which Trump now plays to as well).
Hostility to the workers states drives much of the fake-“left” too along this reformist path, though usually hidden behind, and even “justified” by, various claims to “Marxism”, from the Trots to notionally “pro-communist” revisionism.
But they all, in practice, lead working class understanding away from the revolutionary perspectives that become more urgent by the day.
Only through the great class war struggle to defeat and then overturn this violent, vicious and exploitative monopoly capitalist system, reaching ever more insane levels of grotesque wealth and inequality, can anything change.
Revolution is the only possible way forwards for mankind to overcome the degenerate, sordid and destructive mess capitalism has brought the world to, devastating ecology, environment and above all human society for the downtrodden, brutalised and poverty stricken masses.
It is coming.
Great stirrings of revolt and upheaval have been breaking out across the world for decades, and particularly since the Empire set itself on an overtly warmongering path in the late 1990s, warming the world up for eventual WW3 with the NATO blitzing of Serbia’s revisionist nationalist remnant of the Yugoslavian communist federation (broken up by a decade of imperialist skulduggery as documented by the EPSR - see for example issues 1061,1070), and really getting underway after the humiliating blow of the 9/11 WTO attack in New York.
Historically the 2001 attack was a pinprick on the giant US power, but a useful excuse to unleash the warmongering that was coming anyway, with benighted Afghanistan and then demonisable Saddam Hussein in Iraq as suitable victims for the meaningless “war on terror” pretences of “saving the world from a monstrous threat” that have continued ever since (swallowed wholesale by the fake-“left”, including tragically, the puddle-brained “peaceful path” delusions of the revisionists, affecting even the leadership of determined workers states like China and Cuba).
The New American Century shock-and-awe onslaughts stimulated a huge wave of recruitment into “terrorist” and jihadist movements, which not only continues but is spreading rapidly throughout Africa and Asia.
Their ideology, mostly adapting the extant Muslim culture in all these areas for more militant purposes, is not Marxist, and in fact usually hostile to it and even reactionary, and sometimes seemingly deranged.
But this is not imperialism, nor naturally its agent, the only source and ultimately culpable class force for the horrors and conflicts in the world.
Mostly it has a core of anti-imperialism which tends to assert itself even where its sectarian backwardness and confusion has occasionally laid it open to manipulation by imperialism (trying to use it as an anti-communist proxy force as Washington notoriously did in Afghanistan in the 1970s and 1980s), leading to the “blowback” of ISIS evolving from initial CIA/Zionist provoked “popular revolt” in Syria and Libya for example, and the dialectical transformation of the Afghani Islamists into the anti-US occupation Taliban insurgency.
The anti-Western hostility has now spread across Africa and elsewhere in the Third World.
Growing world upheaval has erupted in other ways too, most obviously in the street revolts of the Arab Spring in 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt, a qualitative jump forwards in its mass scale from the insurgencies, toppling the imperialist stooge dictator Hosni Mubarak, and spreading to Bahrain, some of the Arab sheikhdoms of the Gulf and stirring the Yemeni turmoil against the pro-Western stoogery there, (a struggle which has led to the years of savage civilian blitzing barbarities imposed by gangster-thug tribal-monarchic Saudi Arabia with British and America arms and military aid, bringing the country to total devastation amid horrifying near-famine conditions).
Triggered by the great lurch in the world crisis in 2008, this wave of revolt potentially threatening imperialist interests and strategic control throughout the Middle East if giant Egypt was lost, (and next door Zionism too potentially) was contained only through Zionist/CIA organised middle-class counter-revolution, bringing down the newly elected President Morsi and imposing a brutal regime of intimidation, torture and judicial killing (by the hundred) ever since, including his death in court resulting from the brutal treatment in prison imposed by the fearful General Sisi government.
Only such fascist barbarism can keep the lid on the continuous ferment of revolt within the Egyptian population, and the wider Middle East, making a mockery of Western pretences to “defend democracy and freedom” and “protect human rights”.
That ferment is further stirred by the non-stop genocidal savagery against the Palestinian section of the Arab people and particularly in the inhumanely besieged Gaza strip alongside the Sinai region of Egypt, a giant concentration camp kept starved of basic resources, medical care, power supplies and even clean water and decent sanitation (the few hours of electricity daily insufficient to run the sewage pumps and processing plants), and regularly shelled, bombed, snipered and shot.
The majority Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, directly linked to and in sympathy with the Hamas leadership in Gaza, is repressed and persecuted for any such solidarity.
The intimidation, harassment and persecution of the Palestinian people continues non-stop also on the West Bank by the landtheft Zionist colonial occupation of their country (which they have inhabited for over 1500 years).
Since Trumpism sanctified plans to annex sections of the West Bank, the Zionist government now no longer even pretends it will offer or comply with any kind of “justice” for the Palestinians, driven from their houses, farms, and cities for seven decades and more.
The contemptuous “two state solution” letting the Palestinians have their own state on just the 22% of their own country notionally left to them after, firstly, the internationally sanctioned UN dispossession of Palestinian land in 1947-8 (which set up the colonialist artificial “state” of “Israel”), and then by the war and terror-gang intimidation and ethnic cleansing that followed, seizing more, and then further war seizures and occupations subsequently, – was always a sick joke.
It was gone along with by world opinion because it has no wish to explore the fundamental question of the Zionist occupation, namely WHY is it there, and how except by the monstrous barbaric colonialist usurpation of an entire people.
So dynamite explosive is this question now, that an entire deranged and nonsensical campaign to suppress anyone asking it as an “anti-semite” has been run for at least two decades internationally (see EPSR Book 20, Occupied Palestine and the fraud of “left-anti-semitism”) and especially in Britain, culminating in the monstrous Goebbels lie onslaught on the Corbynite Labour party as alleged “left racist anti-Semites” (exposing no such thing but demonstrating both the scummy opportunism of the mainstream Labourites in backstabbingly hyping it up, and the worm-like opportunism and cravenness of the “left” who all went along with its insane premise).
So fearful is the ruling class of the revolutionary implications that it is now censoring all discussion by decree:
The government has accused universities in England of ignoring anti-semitism and ordered them to adopt an international definition before the end of the year or risk having funding cut off.
Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said in a letter to vice-chancellors that it was “frankly disturbing” that so many universities had failed to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s working definition of antisemitism.
“The repugnant belief that antisemitism is somehow a less serious or more acceptable form of racism has taken insidious hold in some parts of British society, and I am quite clear that universities must play their part in rooting out this attitude and demonstrating that antisemitism is abhorrent,” Williamson said.
He noted that some universities had made progress. “However, there remain too many disturbing incidents of antisemitism on campus, from both students and staff, and a lack of willingness by too many universities to confront this.”
A freedom of information request by the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) found that only 29 out of 133 universities had adopted the IHRA definition, and 80 said they had no current plans to do so.
Universities have objected to adopting the definition on the principle of academic autonomy, and in other cases because of conflicts with freedom of speech requirements, which are also strongly backed by Williamson’s government.
A spokesperson for the UJS said Williamson’s letter was “a strong stand by the UK government against antisemitism and discrimination faced by Jewish students”.
Williamson said the Office for Students, the higher education regulator for England, could be asked to take regulatory action including suspending “funding streams” if universities failed to adopt the IHRA definition by the end of December.
“If I have not seen the overwhelming majority of institutions adopting the definition by Christmas then I will act,” Williamson wrote.
So much for “free speech” which the bourgeoisie is so keen to pretend it is upholding when it comes to workers states like China or Cuba etc, or the non-stop counter-revolutionary provocations in Hong Kong, Belarus, Venezuela and (when it can manage it) even Cuba.
Meanwhile yet more details have recently emerged on how the British imperialist “mandate” of Palestine allowed the Jewish terror gang persecution of the indigenous people to run rampant with massacres and ethnic cleansing violence (see also EPSR 1259 30-11-04):
The family of a decorated British civil servant who built a notorious jail for the empire in Palestine has revealed he leaked the building plans to Jewish militants, helping them to launch a legendary prison break in 1947.
The storming of Acre prison has been credited as a critical event that led to the British decision to end what was increasingly viewed as an onerous mandate in Palestine. Until now, details of how the highly sophisticated operation was so successful had remained elusive.
Gil Margulis, the great-nephew of the prominent engineer and architect Peres Etkes, believes he has the answer. “They actually had the plans of the whole prison from the guy who made it,” he told the Guardian.
“I was reading the history and people keep saying, ‘How did they do it? How did it happen’? Sometimes you need a little insider information. Well, they had a lot of insider information – they had the exact plans.”
An article by the Guardian, filed late on 4 May 1947, described a well-planned strike that day on the prison, which had been built on the ruins of a 12th-century crusader fortress.
While protected by a moat on several sides, the article said, “Jewish terrorists” seized adjacent Turkish baths, one of the few sides of the prison, to break into it. “It was from that vantage point that they succeeded in blowing a hole in the wall.”
At the same time, militants threw a grenade into a separate part of the prison as a diversion and at least one of the attackers was disguised as a British Royal Engineer. “Jews and Arabs, terrorists and criminals, rushed out together,” wrote the paper, estimating that about 250 prisoners fled the jail.
Etkes, a Russian Jew and American citizen, was a prominent engineer working for the British forces. While helping London to establish Palestine as a strategic centre in the eastern Mediterranean, the ardent Zionist’s true motivation was to develop what he believed would be the future state of Israel.
Fifty years after his death, his great-nephew, Margulis, found Etkes’s half-written memoir while researching his life. In it, Etkes said he had also used his British connections in 1921 to transfer weapons from the British-run Jaffa armoury, which he then “lent” to Jewish forces in Tel Aviv during Arab riots.
While British forces found out he had transferred the rifles – and sent Etkes to the barren north as punishment – the incident was either forgotten or disregarded. Two decades later, he received the King’s Medal for Service in the Cause of Freedom
Etkes [had] a bible,... personally signed by Winston Churchill and the war cabinet, thanking him for developing the Haifa port.
But it was his involvement in the prison break that would perhaps prove to be the most consequential act of his career. It has long been seen as a dramatic symbol of London’s declining ability to maintain control in Mandatory Palestine, which ended a year later.
Menachem Begin, who led the Zionist Irgun paramilitary that claimed responsibility for the prison break, described it as the most important attack to have a “disintegrating effect on the [British] government’s prestige”.
Not so much “declining ability” as wilful collusion in the whole enterprise it should be said.
The international blind eye continues to be turned to any restraint of the “settler” programme, illegally (for what the Empire stooge UN’s declarations are worth) planting a network of towns and highways throughout the West Bank on all the best land, while breaking up Palestinian farms and land, poisoning the wells and constantly harassing and racistly intimidating the remaining population clinging on, with the filthy intent of forcing them to leave.
The aggressive annexation now underway shows the entire world that fascist “might is right” principle is the only one to prevail, both by Zionism and by the Washington reaction backing it up.
Any attempts to alleviate the conditions of this persecution get it full in the teeth too:
As chief executive of Islamic Relief, it is my privilege to preside over one of the UK’s leading international aid charities, widely respected for operating effectively in some of the world’s most difficult and dangerous places. For the Ministry of Defense in Israel, however, Islamic Relief is a supporter of terrorism – a charge that we categorically refute and will be appealing against in Israel’s supreme court next month.
The Israeli authorities designated us as a terrorist organisation as long ago as 2014, claiming that we were a front for Hamas. It has taken six long years for us to pursue a legal challenge to this designation. Our case will finally be heard on 12 October.
Contrary to the allegations against us, Islamic Relief is a purely humanitarian organisation that delivers aid in strict compliance with humanitarian and international legal principles. Last year we assisted more than 9.5 million people of all faiths and none across five continents, working with numerous western governments and UN bodies who value our ability to operate in hard-to-reach areas.
In Yemen, which is suffering what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis, I saw for myself on a visit last year how we are feeding 2.2 million people each month as the main partner of the UN World Food Programme.
The reality is that Islamic Relief is actually a victim of terrorism, not a supporter of it. We have lost eight brave staff to bombs and bullets in six countries, including Syria, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.
Our legal action in Israel has been costly and time consuming, but the courts were the only place left to defend our good name and stand up for the communities we serve in the West Bank and Gaza. All efforts at dialogue with the Israeli authorities in London and Tel Aviv, attempting to understand and address any concerns, had fallen on deaf ears.
Before the designation we were providing aid to more than 70,000 people in the West Bank, where poverty can be life-threatening and 2.5 million people rely on outside aid. We are now prevented from operating there. We are thankfully continuing our extensive work in Gaza, which is not affected by Israel’s ban. Our £10m programme there supports a variety of education, health, shelter and employment projects benefiting nearly 400,000 people.
Islamic Relief is not the only aid organisation grappling with Israeli government restrictions. As long ago as 2011, research by the Association of International Development Agencies (AIDA) – which represents more than 80 international organisations working in the occupied territories – found that access and movement restrictions were combining to “deny the most vulnerable populations from needed assistance” and contributing to the “growing impoverishment” of Palestinian communities.
The leading Israeli human rights lawyers representing us are rightly challenging the assertion that we are a terrorist organisation. What is alleged, as we see it, is not that we materially support Hamas but rather that our humanitarian work makes Hamas look good in the eyes of the local population, and that this is tantamount to supporting terrorism.
I am a humanitarian, not a lawyer, but for me this is an affront to the integrity of the entire humanitarian aid community, effectively branding every aid organisation assisting the people of Gaza as a terrorist entity.
Such charity, well-meaning as it might be, is simply a bandage anyway, trying to alleviate the worst of imperialism’s repression while indirectly, and often consciously, heading the masses away from the revolutionary path that alone can change their lives.
The great struggle of the Palestinians cannot stop until this Zionist monstrosity is ended, because their only alternative is to be wiped out completely, as the fanatical Jewish occupations make clearer by the day.
It will continue, merging with the huge Arab and further Middle Eastern struggles, and beyond those into the huge turmoil which is more and more erupting even in the heart of imperialism, be it the nearly two year long gilet-jaune anti-austerity protests in France, or the non-stop seething “Black Lives” anti-racism and antifa upheavals in the US now several months in the running and rapidly learning lessons about what depths of vicious and brutal depravity this system is being driven to by its huge crisis.
There is more, like revolts in Haiti, the growing dismay in the Philippines against Duterte’s death-squad “justice” (ostensibly anti-drug but killing and suppressing dissent and revolt by the slum poor) and renewed rebellion in Chile:
Less than a month before Chile votes on whether to replace its Pinochet-era constitution, police have brutally repressed demonstrators in the capital, Santiago.
On Friday evening officers of the Carabineros police force used plumes of teargas and high-pressure water jets to disperse protesters congregating in Plaza Italia, where pockets of violence flared amid a heavy police presence.
Videos show a 16-year-old boy being bundled over the railings of a bridge by a police officer. The boy fell into the dirty concrete channel of the Mapocho river, where he lay motionless, face down in the shallow water.
“We managed to get two of our group down to assist him, and after stabilising his condition the fire brigade were able to lift him away from the river to be taken to hospital.”
General Enrique Monrás, a spokesperson for the Carabineros, did not rule out the force’s responsibility for what had happened, but said that in his opinion, the boy “lost his balance and fell” during an arrest.
As images began to filter on to social media, the Carabineros faced renewed pressure to act on a perceived culture of brutality.
Opposition politicians called for General Mario Rozas, the head of the Carabineros, to resign following a string of alleged human rights violations.
Since October last year Chile has been rocked by a wave of mass protests against rampant inequality and a host of systemic injustices. The ensuing police crackdown has been condemned internationally.
Chile’s public prosecutor has said that since last October 8,575 alleged human rights violations have been perpetrated by the Carabineros in the repression of protests, and only 16 police agents have been stood down as a result.
So much, once again, for imperialism’s pretence to be upholding “freedom and democracy”.
But all these struggles and more (see below on Bolivia and Colombia) remain disparate, disconnected and fragmented, mostly hampered by continuing illusions in “democracy”.
All of them are driven by the same world crisis in its specific local manifestations, but hampered by the various limited ideologies they follow, from barmy religion to anarchism, black nationalist separatism, and unfocused “anti-fascism”, as well as by hostility to or moralising “condemnation of terror”, and criticism of supposed “wrong tactics” poured onto their heads by the petty-bourgeois fake-“left” and their idealist “principles” and notions of the polite and proper way to fight (as if imperialism has ever abided by any “Queensbury” rules in five centuries of bloody butchery and torture, enslaving and plundering the colonial world).
They need to be seen as a whole and understood in the context, and the consciously understood and fought for perspective, of a world wide Catastrophic collapse and the revolutionary necessities it imposes everywhere, allowing, as Lenin wrote, all the separate streams of spontaneous or half-conscious rebellion to be merged into a giant river capable of sweeping away this stinking system.
The reformists, the fake-”lefts” who back them as a “step forwards”, and the single-issue campaigns that much of the “left” subscribes to, not only do not make this clear, they swallow all the Western “democracy” garbage stunts against the workers states and are hostile to building the revolutionary party that is urgently required.
That means a Leninist cadre party to wage the disciplined open polemical struggle which alone can develop and then fight for agreed understandings, testing its conclusions in a disciplined way in practice to constantly improve and extend revolutionary theory without which there can be no successful revolution.
Huge, broad, material economic and historical factors across the longest timescale need exploring in depth, as Marxist science has done for 170 years, examining the unfolding and succession of human development from the very beginnings of hunter-gatherer society and its primitive communism, into class societies, from slavery and tribal despotism to feudalism and then capitalism, each riven with constantly intensifying contradictions as they developed society further, contradictions which made inevitable their revolutionary overturn and displacement by more complex and advanced societies (see Frederick Engels Anti-Dühring for example, or the shorter Socialism - Scientific and Utopian.)
That perspective, the framework for understanding the complexities of the current balance of class forces, and therefore being best able to give the working class the leadership to judge and orientate its necessary struggle minute by minute, itself needs constantly updating and improving in the light of the newly understood aspects of ever changing development and advances, a dialectical interchange.
Huge developments in the struggle by Marx, Engels and Lenin have done just that, and so too the work of the EPSR over four decades in nearly 1600 issues despite the limitations of a brainwashed, shallow consumerist, imperialist environment where all notions of the importance of theory and objective understanding have virtually vanished - leaving the Leninist fight to a tiny minority (and even more so in pragmatic countries like Britain where distrust of theory runs deep).
But this must change.
The great mess of contradictions of the capitalist profit system itself, which now keeps it permanently on the edge of crisis, even in notionally “boom” times, are now ripening and intensifying relentlessly towards paralysing, mind-numbing unsolvability.
As analysed and explained by Karl Marx in his famous Capital (and many other works), together with Engels in the Communist Manifesto and further elaborated for the modern imperialist epoch by Lenin and the Bolshevik party, they can only be, and necessarily will be, overcome by a gigantic revolutionary leap in human society, removing for good the private “ownership” of production and resources (and even thoughts, inventions and human relations).
Far deeper and more intractable factors are at work than the Covid pandemic, which has merely intensified the already disastrous collapse of monopoly capitalism, steadily building for decades, and erupting periodically in regional and partial financial and banking failures throughout the ever more interconnected and interdependent world market, dominated by the dollar monopoly power of the American Empire since 1945.
Huge experience has been built from the great crashes which have shaken the capitalist system before, notably in the run up to World War One and then again in the Great Depression of the 1930s, as the contradictions of the system reached breaking point and the eruption of war, deliberately fostered by the great bourgeois powers to “rebalance” the division of the colonial plundering spoils between them as well as conveniently to destroy vast amounts of the “surplus” capital accumulated in their coffers, which can no longer make a profit (though of vital need to the impoverished masses, suffering unemployment, homelessness and starvation in the midst of plenty (for the rulers)).
These great horrors and devastation forced the proletariat into great revolutionary struggles to end this rotten and disintegrating monopoly tyranny - first in the titanic Bolshevik Russian Revolution of 1917 (and the seismic shock it had on the world, triggering upheavals and near revolution in Europe) and then in the huge Soviet war defeating capitalism’s Nazi onslaught during the Second World War, essentially a second wave of the revolution and one inspiring a string of anti-imperialist and communist struggles afterwards with one third of the world willingly building workers states, and more orientated towards them.
These great triumphs demonstrated the staggering achievements in science, culture, health, education and universal social progress, possible when capitalism is overturned and planned socialism can start to be built under the firmest possible control - the dictatorship - of the working class.
They eventually faltered not because of “inherent flaws in communism”, as the bourgeoisie endlessly sneers to fool and confuse the working class, but through the non-stop subversion, intimidation and outright warmongering butchery by the West invading, blitzing, and trying to topple every attempt to get out from under (though never quite daring take on the Soviet Union itself whose planned economy rapidly developed the strength and technology to equal and even outpace Western threats).
It “failed” only because massive imperialist pressure was combined with leadership weaknesses in Moscow, retreating from the conscious struggle to constantly develop a revolutionary world perspective and its grasp of capitalist crisis as the great driving force in the world.
Bureaucratic complacency and revisionist confusion led to the eventual self-liquidation of the Soviet workers state.
As the EPSR has analysed it was the mistakes and errors in assessing post-war imperialism by Stalin in his 1952 “Economic Problems” - suggesting that it could no longer expand as it had, – and consequent notions of “peacefully containing” its worst excesses while socialism simply overtook it, which encapsulated this philosophical and political retreat.
A proliferation of “peaceful roads” and “parliamentary paths” followed from the Moscow-following CPs throughout the world leading to one disaster after another, a notable lesson being the brutal military overturn of Chile’s great “experiment” in supposedly democratic socialism under Salvador Allende, slaughtered along with thousands of workers by General Augusto Pinochet’s CIA-organised coup in 1973 but repeatedly before and since (see EPSR Book 21 Unanswered Polemics - against museum Stalinism).
The ruling class will never allow socialism to be developed by peaceful means and will also use as much fascist barbarity as it needs to stop it.
The tragic impact this entire revisionist perspective has led to is still being felt in Latin America where the Third International trained leadership in Havana continues to advise the great wave of anti-imperialist struggle to follow parliamentary paths, and “negotiated” peace settlements, despite its own brilliant record in establishing and solidly maintaining the dictatorship of the proletariat in Cuba.
Within such a workers state all kinds of consultation, debate, discussion and widening democratic participation can be developed as Cuba has shown even under difficult blockade siege conditions, as long as it does not challenge the fundamental basis of workers power (which is the sole purpose of all the carefully coached or axe-grinding anti-China etc dissidents, constantly wheeled out).
But everywhere else within the imperialist orbit, a failure to emphasise the need to overturn the capitalist state and bourgeois class rule, establishing firm working class control, leaves the working class vulnerable to more Chiles (including currently in Chile itself as mentioned above).
Proof is highly visible in the countries which have pushed forwards the “Bolivarian Revolution” so-called (though not socialist revolution in any Leninist sense, solely “left” reformism) now mostly undermined, subverted and subject to bourgeois restoration using varying degrees of judicial and parliamentary manoeuvring and outright violence if necessary as some of the more liberal petty bourgeoisie spells out now and then:
Bolivia has descended into a nightmare of political repression and racist state violence since the democratically elected government of Evo Morales was overthrown by the military on 10 November last year. That month was the second-deadliest in terms of civilian deaths caused by state forces since Bolivia became a democracy nearly 40 years ago, according to a study by Harvard Law School’s (HLS) International Human Rights Clinic and the University Network for Human Rights (UNHR) released a month ago.
Morales was the first indigenous president of Bolivia, which has the largest percentage of indigenous population of any country in the Americas. His government was able to reduce poverty by 42% and extreme poverty by 60%, which disproportionately benefited indigenous Bolivians. The November coup was led by a white and mestizo elite with a history of racism, seeking to revert state power to the people who had monopolised it before Morales’ election in 2005. The racist nature of the state violence is emphasised in the HLS/UNHR report, including eyewitness accounts of security forces using “racist and anti-indigenous language” as they attacked protesters; it is also clear from the fact that all of the victims of the two biggest massacres committed by state forces after the coup were indigenous.
What has received even less attention is the role of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the destruction of Bolivia’s democracy last November.
As the New York Times reported on 7 June, the organisation’s “flawed” analysis immediately following the 20 October election fuelled “a chain of events that changed the South American nation’s history”.
The OAS allegations were indeed the main political foundation of the coup, and they continued for months. In Bolivia, the electoral authorities report a preliminary vote count, which is unofficial and does not determine the result, while the votes are being counted. When 84% of the votes were counted in this preliminary tally, Morales had 45.7% of the vote, and was leading the second-placed candidate by 7.9 percentage points. The reporting in this unofficial, non-binding tally was then interrupted for 23 hours, and when it picked up again, Morales’ lead had increased to 10.2 points. By the end of the official count, it was 10.5. According to Bolivia’s election rules, a candidate with more than 40% of the vote and at least a 10-point lead wins in the first round, without a runoff.
The opposition claimed that there was fraud and took to the streets. The OAS Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) issued a press statement the day after the election expressing “deep concern and surprise at the drastic and hard-to-explain change in the trend of the preliminary results after the closing of the polls”. But it provided no evidence to support these fraud allegations – because there wasn’t any.
This has since been established repeatedly by a slew of expert statistical studies. But the truth was quite plain and easy to see from data available immediately following the election. And indeed the Center for Economic and Policy Research, where I am co-director, used that data to disprove the OAS’s initial allegations the next day; and followed up with a number of statistical analyses and papers in the ensuing months, including a refutation of its final Audit report.
There was no inexplicable change in trend. All that happened was that areas reporting later were more pro-Morales than the ones that reported earlier, for various geographical and demographic reasons. That is why Morales’ lead increased when the last 16% of votes came in, just as it had been increasing throughout the preliminary count. This is a fairly common dynamic that can be seen in elections all over the world.
But after its initial press release, the OAS produced three more reports, including its preliminary audit of the election results, without ever considering the obvious possibility that the later-reporting areas were politically different from those whose votes came in earlier. This is overwhelming evidence that OAS officials did not simply make a mistake in their repeated allegations of fraud, but it appears to have known that their allegations were false. It defies the imagination to conceive of how this simple explanation – which is the first thing that would occur to most people, and turned out to be true – would not even occur to election experts, in the process of months of investigation.
On 2 December, 133 economists and statisticians published a letter to the OAS, noting that “the final result was quite predictable on the basis of the first 84% of votes reported” and calling on the OAS “to retract its misleading statements about the election”. Four members of the US Congress, led by Jan Schakowsky, have also weighed in with a letter to the OAS asking 11 basic questions about the OAS analysis. More than nine months later, the OAS has yet to answer.
With the original, and politically decisive, allegations of fraud increasingly discredited, the OAS turned to “irregularities” in the election to maintain the assault on its legitimacy. But it turned out that these allegations, like the ones based on statistical claims, could not withstand scrutiny.
Meanwhile, Bolivia has a de facto president, Jeanine Áñez, who has called indigenous religious practices “satanic”; in January she warned voters against “allowing the return of ‘savages’ to power, an apparent reference to the indigenous heritage of Morales and many of his supporters”, according to the Washington Post. Hers was supposed to be a “caretaker” government, but new elections – now scheduled for 18 October – have already been postponed three times because of the pandemic, according to the authorities.
The wheels of justice grind much too slowly in the aftermath of US-backed coups. And the Trump administration’s support has been overt: the White House promoted the “fraud” narrative, and its Orwellian statement following the coup praised it: “Morales’s departure preserves democracy and paves the way for the Bolivian people to have their voices heard.” According to the Los Angeles Times: “Carlos Trujillo, the US ambassador to the OAS, had steered the group’s election-monitoring team to report widespread fraud and pushed the Trump administration to support the ouster of Morales.”
Mark Weisbrot is author of Failed: What the ‘Experts’ Got Wrong About the Global Economy
Just as disastrous are developments in Colombia since the decades long armed struggle of the FARC was persuaded to negotiate a peaceful settlement, disarming its forces and turning instead to the parliamentary struggle, with the advice and approval of Havana, which hosted and mediated the long and complex talks.
The settlement was compared to such peace agreements as the Good Friday Agreement in the occupied northern zone of Ireland and ending of apartheid in South Africa. But in both those cases, the peace deal was clearly the result of a defeat for the imperialist power, (however long drawn out and protracted the eventual settlement), recognised and understood by both sides.
There is no returning to the oppressed and downtrodden status of the Irish in the violently ripped away “partitioned” north, and as the obstacles to the Brexit process have underlined, Ireland is on a long slow path towards formal unification (already well advanced in day-to-day practice) with the Sinn Féin nationalism now rapidly becoming the dominant force across all Ireland.
Whatever complications and obstacles continue to be thrown at it by the sulking of diehard remnants of the once triumphalist colonists and the most reactionary of the Tory backwoodsmen (largely synonymous with the most fanatical jingoist Brexiters), and whatever pretences that “Northern Ireland” remains part of the United Kingdom, all sides know that British imperialism is long past the time when it had the military and economic power to consider re-imposing Partition, rejecting Dublin influence and maintaining a “hard border”.
That does not mean everything is rosy; Ireland is being hammered by the crisis like everywhere else and the working class north and south needs to turn to revolutionary socialist struggle like everywhere else, which the nationalist Sinn Féin has not shown any signs of moving on to.
South Africa equally settled a long, hard and heroic armed struggle with a victory over the backward reaction of apartheid which is irreversible, a giant national liberation step forwards against imperialism.
Of course it only removed the crudest and most backward oppression, and saw no more than the white bourgeoisie moving over to accommodate development of a black middle class and bourgeoisie.
The masses there still face ruthless exploitation and now the devastating impact of the capitalist crisis, and need to move to revolutionary Marxism to end capitalism and build a workers state. But the apartheid obstacle to that struggle has been removed.
No such decisive victory had been achieved by the FARC in Colombia, in the sense of any irreversible gain allowing space for further working class progress. The result is continuing oppression:
Activists in Colombia have warned that they continue to face extermination despite the coronavirus pandemic, as Amnesty International accused the country’s government of doing little to protect them.
At least 223 social leaders – community activists defending human, environmental, and land rights – have been murdered this year, according to local watchdog Indepaz.
“We are being massacred, drop by drop,” said Danelly Estupiñán, who leads the Black Community’s Process (or PCN), an activist group dedicated to Afro-Colombian rights, in Buenaventura, an Afro-Colombian port city on the Pacific coast. Estupiñán has received countless death threats, been followed by suspicious men, and had her house broken into in recent months.
A new Amnesty International report entitled “Why Do They Want To Kill Us?” and published on Thursday, identified four areas of the country as particularly dangerous for activists: Buenaventura; the Amazonian province of Putumayo; the war-torn Catatumbo region on the Venezuelan border; and the Kubeo-Sikuani indigenous settlement in the eastern planes.
“For years, Colombia has been one of the world’s most dangerous countries for people who are defending human rights, territory, and natural resources,” Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty, said in a statement to media on Thursday.
“Defenders will continue to die until the government effectively addresses structural issues such as the deep inequality and marginalization suffered by communities, ownership and control of the land, substitution of illicit crops, and justice,” Guevara-Rosas went on to say.
Estupiñán said that the coronavirus has only added to the violence, with armed groups and drug gangs fighting for control of the region surrounding the Colombian pacific coast’s largest port, while subjecting much of the civilian population to violently enforced lockdowns.
“The lockdown did nothing to slow down the threats we face,” the 40-year-old activist said. “Each attack is emotional and psychological; meaning that you and your family and colleague can’t sleep, relax, enjoy life. It’s agony.”
A historic 2016 peace deal between the Colombian government and what was then Latin America’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc), was supposed to end decades of the bloodshed.
But though the accord formally ended five decades of civil war that killed 260,000 and displaced over 7 million, only a small fraction of its provisions have been implemented, while violence continues to rattle the countryside as Farc dissidents, other rebel militias, and cartels jostle for control.
More than 66 massacres – which local authorities count as single acts of killing that leave three or more dead – have been committed this year, according to Indepaz, with 263 people killed.
Colombia’s rightwing government, led by president Iván Duque – a sceptic of the peace deal signed by his predecessor – has come under fire for not doing enough to quell the bloodshed.
“We only see the national government after months of pressure, which takes up time we need to spend defending our communities,” Estupiñán said. “It’s no secret that peace never came to Colombia.”
Typically this “liberal” report is larded with snide and sly lying innuendo that somehow “FARC dissidents” are to blame for the reactionary violence and intimidation.
It is a disgusting calumny typical of the petty bourgeois do-gooders and their useless pleas that “government effectively addresses structural issues” knowing that the country has been dominated for decades by the most rapacious big bourgeoisie, landowners and mine owners who are interested only in keeping the working class and peasantry under their boots for maximum exploitation.
In cahoots with US imperialism they have imposed the sickest and most brutal violence and butchery on the masses in Colombia for decades (as across all of US dominated Latin America), which the FARC grew up to challenge and counter in a bitter and hard struggle; the continuing operations by some of them possibly a demonstrating a sounder grasp of the way forwards than the former leadership, now putting its faith in parliamentary reforms.
The lesson is surely that only the overthrow of the ruling class can change anything.
And this will become clearer and clearer as the crisis spirals ever deeper.
Contrary to Stalin’s view that a hamstrung imperialism, surrounded by the newly expanded socialist camp after World War Two, was no longer able to expand (a conclusion deliberately revising Lenin’s perspective as being out of date), the capitalist system has reached unprecedented heights of boom time glitz and technological marvels, as its monopolies have become ever larger.
But such endless expansion has always had the seeds of the greatest ever collapse and catastrophic failure within it, and the great collapse began to unravel at the turn of the century when the dotcom boom imploded, and even more clearly in the global bank failures.
It was then that the Empire turned to aggressive blitzing of whatever suitable victim could be credibly deemed a “threat to world peace”.
The great implosion has been partially hidden since then by the extraordinary extension of credit to levels never seen in history.
To keep its ever more bankrupt system going it has piled ludicrously huge and unrepayable dollar debts onto the mountain of “printed” (electronically created) valueless dollars which have been flooding the world for decades.
Every part of the bourgeoisie knows (or senses) that it must implode soon in a tsunami of bankruptcy, perhaps hyperinflation and dollar collapse, and chaos (as almost happened in 2008).
A new excuse for the moment is the Covid pandemic, which obviously has further shaken the whole economic edifice demanding even more emergency loans, but the collapse underway had already started before the Covid shutdowns as numerous bourgeois institutions and analysts have repeatedly pointed out (see past EPSRs).
It is only the colossal sums - trillions - in debt creation which have already been poured out since the global bank meltdown 12 years ago which alone have kept the world system just about moving.
In fact before that, in the George W Bush presidency there were massive credit-created tax cuts after the dotcom collapse (presaging 2008) and then wholesale arms and military spending on the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, as well as the planeloads of almost unsupervised dollar dispersals poured in (unloaded on pallets!!!) to try and prop up a new stooge regime in Baghdad.
Before that there were endless subventions and bribes for the worldwide network of fascist stoogery that has kept America world monopoly dominance in place since 1945 - such an expensive business that the dollar already had to break its “good as gold” Bretton Woods parity in the early 1970s, to sustain the Vietnam war, the most barbaric of multiple interventions coups, overthrows, massacres etc by America since it became world top dog after the 1945 defeat of Germany and Japan.
This astonishing, seemingly endless, credit supply and its permeation through the entire world economy to prop up local tyrannies to keep multinational corporate exploitation safe, has covered up the steadily diminishing ability overall of capital to make any profit, (the tendency to a “falling rate of profit” identified by Marx as a law of capitalism), reflected now in the extraordinary appearance of zero interest, first in the two decades long stagnation in Japan and now universally across the world finance system.
In fact all the latest economist talk is of “negative interest” meaning the lender no longer “earns” from his deposit, but has to pay a fee to the bank!!
But capitalism is built on the principle that the “owner” of capital can use it to extract more value, with investment directly into production “entitling” him/her to cream of the lion’s share of the value produced by human labour (leaving just enough of a share in wages to keep the hapless worker going).
Or he can lend it to such a producer to use, taking a share of the overall profits as the fee for the loan, which is what interest is.
If there are no profits there is ultimately nothing to share, and therefore no interest.
Huge oceans of surplus capital now languish in the tax havens and secret bank accounts across the world, with nowhere to go.
The Stock Exchanges have lost virtually all connection with real production, with the share prices driven by corporate buybacks and other speculation, less and less reflecting any actual values.
The world finance system is now suspended over chasm of unthinkable collapse.
Only squeezing the poorest ever harder to extort more value can still provide:
Zambia is running out of money to pay its debts. It has asked bondholders for breathing space so that it can put a restructuring plan in place. The copper-rich African state is at risk of being the first country to default on its debts since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Not the last though. Zambia is the canary in the coalmine, a harbinger of a full-blown crisis that has been lurking in the background from the moment the seriousness of Covid-19 became apparent.
All the ingredients were in place for trouble. A lot of countries, Zambia included, had behaved recklessly in the good times. As the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, pointed out last week, they went into the crisis with levels of debt that were already uncomfortably high.
Growth has slowed, exports have collapsed and remittances from workers abroad have dried up. The longer it takes to tackle the pandemic the worse the debt crisis will become.
Nor can poor countries turn on the spending taps the way rich countries can. Their central banks are unable to print money without running the risk of hyperinflation.
The result has been entirely predictable. According to the World Bank, a steady decline in extreme poverty that has lasted two decades is now being reversed. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins university in the US estimated that there may have been half a million extra child deaths over the past six months as the result of the disruption to routine health services such as immunisation programmes.
Back in the spring, the IMF and the World Bank helped orchestrate a suspension of debt payments for 74 countries for the rest of 2020. The agreement provided a bit of a respite but no more than that. The debts still have to repaid eventually and, in any case, the deal was incomplete. Some major countries were involved but China – a big creditor in much of sub-Saharan Africa – was not. Moreover, despite the urging of the IMF and the World Bank, there was not any obligation on private-sector creditors to take part. For a country such as Zambia, which has debts collateralised against its copper mines, the outlook is bleak. It is spending more on servicing its debts than on health and education combined, but its private-sector creditors are playing hardball, saying they won’t agree to a restructuring unless they are treated the same as China.
Sudan is another country in desperate need of help. The IMF’s latest health check lists the country’s problems; a new government in power intent on doing the right thing but faced with a legacy of bad governance and corruption; a reputation for sponsoring terrorism; raging inflation; huge humanitarian needs. Debt relief can only be obtained under the multilateral Heavily-Indebted Poor Country initiative (HIPC) if Sudan’s arrears to the World Bank and IMF are cleared first. Doing so requires a bit of creative accounting and some political will.
That said, it would be an act of crass stupidity for the looming crisis in low-income countries to be ignored or downplayed.
At the very least, there should be an extension of the debt moratorium not just for one year – which is the current suggestion – but until the end of 2022.
That would not really solve the basic problem, which is that for many countries the issue is one of solvency, an inability to pay their debts no matter how long the repayment holiday lasts. So, the IMF and the Bank should use the time provided by a two-year extension to conduct a full debt sustainability assessment of all 74 countries currently being helped with a view to providing debt relief.
The more nervous wing of the bourgeoisie understands that pushing the masses down ever further can only lead to explosive revolt.
But they cannot help themselves.
“Letting off” the exploited is precisely what capitalism cannot do - it is the very basis of their greed ridden inhumane system.
The contradiction is unsolvable.
Revolution is inevitable.
Only the great legacy of anti-communist brainwashing and revisionist “democracy” stupidities hold it back.
They need to be exposed.
Leninism needs to be fought for. Don Hoskins
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