No 1236 8th June 2004
Lies about the historical significance of Reagan and inter-imperialist Western wars are just a silly cover for the rotten mess that the current monopoly-capitalist crisis is making of things. Speculative decadence is the final dominating ESSENCE of the "free-market" anarchy, and it sums up the criminal injustice and the illogical chaos of the profiteering rat-race. Warmongering tyranny is failing to rescue it.
For a world allegedly so "totally transformed" according to the blanket tributes to Reagan's and D-Day s "epoch-making achievements", the international situation continues remarkably to look sicker and sicker.
"D-Day brought permanent new order at last, banishing a world of warmongering lawlessness", the ludicrous lying claims poured out, completely concealing the capitalist system's role as the never-ending and unchangeable warmonger-in-chief, and criminally distorting history to hide the fact that it was the Red Army on the Soviet Workers State's Russian front which ALONE broke the back of imperialist-system belligerence by taming NAZI Germany more than 90% (while the rest of the West totally collapsed and then mopped up 10% only of "the Western World's fascist nightmare" thanks to lavish American exploitational "help ").
Reagan, supposedly, did even better, "winning the Cold War", and "bringing down Communism", etc, etc.
The 99.99% contribution to capitalism's "victory" made by Stalinist Revision of Marxist-Leninist theory, culminating in Gorbachev no longer merely preaching permanent "peaceful coexistence" with the world of unchangeable and unstoppable warmongering imperialist crisis but deciding to embrace its market-forces anarchy as well, the key to the non-stop arms race and colonial tyranny on Earth, — has vanished from the history books.
The real contribution of Reaganism, — simply adding extra self-righteous religious hysteria and trillions more unrepayable arms race dollar debts to the American Empire's already incurably bankrupt destiny, now repeated double by Bush's world-threatening warmongering tyranny, also got brainwashed off the record.
And it is precisely the present unmentionable warmongering-crisis catastrophe facing the world which alone accounts for all these ludicrous lies, totally falsifying the modern and ongoing history of society, which is simply too frightening, awful, disastrous, and embarrassing for any current mentality on Earth to publicly address honestly and make any sense of, Marxist-Leninist revolutionary philosophy apart.
And so the most utterly idiotic hypocrisy and distortions are alone now able to rule, such as the completely barmy brainwashing "history" now being media-peddled where an academic, Ferguson, "audaciously" admits that the American Empire really is just that, but then tells us that "it is an even bigger potential force for good than was the British Empire".
Go to the bottom of the class if you had understood that the post-1945 Movement for Colonial Freedom, set up by the "marvellously altruistic D-Day" of course, had consigned ALL imperialism to the historical rubbish tip as "bad".
Back with reality, this "good American Empire" is rapidly making itself the most derided hate-target in the whole of mass participation world history.
Its blitzkrieging tyranny to force the rest of the world to bear ALL of the burdens of the USA's insoluble trade-war economic crisis of "overproduction" and unrepayable debt-creation is literally sickening the whole planet.
The complete joke about the supposed "liberal-democracy free-market economics" which Reaganism allegedly "taught the whole world was the best possible system of government", etc, etc, is in reality the economic dictatorship of the monopoly-imperialist warmongering machinery now intensified to the foulest and most tyrannical degeneracy yet in all history.
The screaming injustice of it all is now stifling the whole of international society, and there is universal hope and anticipation that the June 30 "handover" in Iraq will be a total debacle, demonstrating that the days of effectively stooging for American imperialism have gone forever, and that the US blitzkrieg is deeper in the mire than ever.
The sound-enough theory, of finding good Iraqi bourgeois lucratively happy to be Western imperialism's "partners" in continued regional development, is made nonsense of by the economic crisis itself, — the very reason why Western imperialist warmongering has come storming back into the Balkans and the Middle East in the first place, looking to start World War III; a war the monopoly capitalist system needs as the only way possible of wiping out the profit-killing "over-production" crisis while leaving the present superpower pecking order intact (see EPSR box).
Despite the most obscene levels of profiteering and global inequality ever in world history, there are still nowhere near enough profits to keep the whole current American-Empire global structure continuing as before.
Something has got to give. Imperialist economic rivalry is getting too big and needs cutting down to size; key stooge regimes like Saudi Arabia can no longer survive the growing turmoil, and need replacing somehow; mass revolutionary movements are reviving, causing uncontrollable upheaval everywhere; and the global US military-domination tyranny to keep the lid on all this mayhem just gets more and more difficult and costly, as Afghanistan, Palestine, and Iraq are proving.
And beyond these nightmares, a SCORE of far vaster and far more difficult problems loom to cloud the Western imperialists' horizon as in Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Indonesia, Pakistan, Philippines, Iran, and Russia itself, to name just a few of the biggest.
With Reagan's "Cold War victory" all the news, let Russia indeed be looked at as a "triumph of capitalism",as partly admitted by a 100% champion of the Western way of life in the Observer:
Moscow may have full employment but living standards are chronically low. For most, it is a daily struggle to survive, one Muscovite told me. The newly emerging upper middle-class of executives may be doing well but average salaries are not much higher than £150 a month. Prices may be a third lower than in the west, but that scarcely compensates. Alcoholism is rife. Life expectancy is falling.
Moscow has the headquarters of nearly all big Russian enterprises. It is the seat of government in a highly centralised country of 145 million. Oil revenues from what is in effect a petro-economy, with 28 per cent of GDP represented by the oil and gas sector, flow through it. The inequality between it and the rest of the country is stunning, but inequality is the new fact of Russian life. If life is tough in Moscow, what it must be like in the rest of Russia — where wages average £50 a month — scarcely bears thinking about. Small wonder Mikhail Fradkov, confirmed as Prime Minister on Wednesday, declared that his first objective — faithfully echoing President Putin — was the alleviation of poverty.
Despite economic growth, largely driven by ever higher oil revenues and the high oil price, it's hard to be sanguine. Breaking out of the cycle of endemically law productivity, low wages and an economic structure that grows less competitive by the year — the privatised and protected Russian car industry has yet to launch a new model — requires more investment. That in turn requires a system of corporate organisation and finance capable of lifting investment, and a business class willing to make it. That is what Russia does not have.
The new oligarchs are criticised for their wealth — 36 new billionaires own 24 per cent of Russian GDP — but that misses the point. Their riches might be excusable if they had discharged their part of the privatisation bargain; to build great businesses and accept a reciprocal obligation to the society of which they are part. The addition to the rich list of Elena Baturina, wife of the mayor of Moscow — thanks to her construction company Inteko — is a case in point; few in Moscow believe she could have achieved her wealth without her husband, although nothing can be proved.
The majority owner is tsar or tsarina of all he or she surveys. Revenues are organised through offshore tax havens. Fraud, racketeering and corruption is ubiquitous. Honest-to-God investment and business building is not the prevailing culture.
IN RUSSIA this is understood as a crisis of liberalism.
Most Russians I have spoken to seem resigned to the new political and economic reality. They live in a managed democracy where parliamentary and presidential majorities are engineered, the press is docile and the secret services are again dominant, and that centralised command and control of the economy is once again being reasserted.
Russia is condemned to endemic poverty, inequality and monumental accretion of unaccountable power in the private and public sector alike.
The designers of shock therapy in the 1990s never made this point; aping American conservative thinking, they just saw 'private' as best.
And when the artificially manufactured post-1945 world trade boom stops??????????
One of Russia's greatest contributions to world history is its outstanding revolutionary achievements.
Watch this space.
Russia's oil wealth alone keeps this cretinous Putin bonapartist regime going, but this is relying on the pure speculative SICKNESS of the monopoly imperialist system, — as the capitalist reports themselves admit:
But the traders were also acting for many financial investors, the market's new and rapidly growing breed of clients. In recent months investors, including pension funds, hedge funds and individuals, have, as one trader put it, "discovered the real black gold is oil futures".
More than $20 billion (£11 billion) has been piled into oil futures over the past year. In 2003, investors — or speculators as they are known — accounted for 3.5% of the futures market. In recent weeks this figure has leapt to 20%, the highest level ever.
Experts say the rate at which money is flooding into the market is pushing up the price of oil by as much as 33%. David Kitson, global head of energy at JP Morgan, said: "Traditionally the oil market has been driven by simple supply and demand. Increasingly, it is being driven by investors and this could account for about $10 a barrel."
Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs said: "The premium added to the oil price because of speculators is about $7 a barrel."
The soaring oil price maybe bad news for consumers, from big companies to motorists, but it has made millionaires out of many who saw the rise coming.
Last week was also good for David Harding, managing director at Winton Capital Management, one of London's biggest commodities trading advisers (CTAs), a type of hedge fund that specialises in futures. These funds now account for a large slice of oil trading.
Last year the system pointed to oil and many CTAs piled into the futures market.
Kitson said: "A lot of the trades are by CTAs. Then when the market is going up, they buy. So it can be self-perpetuating and push the price up further."
But for many big investors, particularly pension funds, oil futures offer much more than quick gains. Goldman's Currie said: "Equities and bonds have not been generating good returns recently. Fund managers are looking elsewhere and commodities have proved very attractive since they are not correlated to equities or bonds."
Money is also flowing into the sector because investors believe prices will rise further, especially with the world's oil production at full stretch. For the first time in Opec's 44-year history, the cartel is close to running out of spare capacity. All members, except Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, are running at full tilt. After Thursday's Opec decision, they will all be doing so soon.
Kitson said: "This means that if there were an incident that disrupted the supply — terrorist activity in Saudi Arabia or an oilfield blowing up in Venezuela — there is nowhere to go for more oil. In that case prices would rise sharply."
It might keep going, but it might collapse at any moment, just like in 1929 when it was crazed market speculation in Florida land futures which was the final burst bubble bringing Wall Street down.
Wild guessing about what the world economy will do next now is almost as hysterical as the grotesque speculation itself, and Marx's formula (EPSR box) can only provide a very general guide.
Detailed scenarios are impossible, but a total dollar collapse, followed by a markets collapse, still seems the obvious logic out of a world run on dollar-printing since 1945 in order to finance the "triumph of anti-communism".
Oil price hysteria is another side of dollar collapse hysteria.
And straws in the wind about "a recovery" continue to include hints of terrifying disasters to come:
Across corporate America, executives have been selling company stock as if it were 1999, At Wendy's International, Qualcomm, Occidental Petroleum, Boston Scientific and Comverse Technology, one or more executives recently sold at least half of their holdings, according to an analysis of hundreds of big companies by The New York Times.
No matter what happens to profits or stock prices over the next year, some executives have already locked in multimillion-dollar paydays. Even if their corporate strategies fail in coming years, they could still retire with bank accounts fit for a king. But many corporate governance specialists and investment advisers say that such figures — which measure the amount of stock that executives did sell as a fraction of what they could have sold — are an important measure of just how tightly executives are willing to tie their personal fortunes to those of their companies.
"You would think," said Richard Ferlauto, who helps run a pension fund at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, a large labor union, "that an executive would be motivated to hold on to significant amounts of their options because they believed in their strategy and their company's growth under their leadership."
They may also realize that stocks remain expensive, despite the bear market of 2000 to 2002. The Standard & Poor's 500-stock index closed on Friday at a price/earnings ratio of about 20, well above its historical average. Insider sales have slowed in recent weeks as the market has turned downward, but the amount of money made this year remains impressive.
Executives sold $14.4 billion of stock in the first four months of the year, up from $4 billion in the same period last year, according to Thomson Financial.
The New York Times
Meanwhile, a universal pretence is being remounted that "things are at last looking up in Iraq", with new reliable stooges in Baghdad, and the UN about to retake a hand, allegedly. We shall see.
Marxist science hints that imperialist crisis will continue to fall apart. And capitalism's own bourgeois critics remain totally contemptuous of the sick mess that imperialism's warmongering "solution" is creating:
Maureen Dowd New York Times, May 23
"So let me get this straight: we ransacked the house of the con man whom we paid millions to feed us fake intelligence on WMD that would make the case for ransacking the country that the con man assured us would be a cinch to take over because he wanted to run it. And now we're shocked, shocked and awed, to discover that a crook is a crook and we have nobody to turn over Iraq to, and the Jordanian embezzler-turned-American puppet-turned-accused Iranian spy is trying to foment even more anger against us and the UN officials we've crawled back to for help, anger that may lead to civil war ...
"[Vice president] Dick Cheney & Co swooned over Mr Chalabi because he was telling them what they wanted to hear ... A half dozen dunderheads ... assumed they could control Mr Chalabi and use him as the instrument of their utopian fantasies. But one week after getting cut off from the $33,000 [£190,000] a month Pentagon allowance ... he glibly accepts the street cred that goes with bashing America."
Trudy Rubin Philadelphia Inquirer, May 23
"The story of Mr Chalabi's rise and fall in the Bush administration's pantheon is a perfect reflection of our incoherent Iraq policy ... The real scandal is how Mr Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz [the US deputy defence secretary] let themselves be conned. Mr Chalabi was perfectly clear about his goals ... He knew what he was doing ... "But did Bush officials have any idea what they were doing? They created a Chalabi myth that underlaid their rush to war. Now that things have gone sour, they are making him into a scapegoat to deflect attention from their failed illusions. But they can't make Mr Chalabi look bad without making themselves look worse."
Daily Star Editorial, Lebanon, May 22.
"Mr Chalabi's [fall from grace] is not an insignificant event, since it is yet another sign that the US adventure in Iraq is deeply flawed at the most fundamental levels. These flaws were evident well before the US invasion of March 2003 ... There was no clear plan for rebuilding Iraq, and inadequate resources were allocated to whatever inadequate job Washington had in mind that it should do ...
"How can the US claw itself out of the Iraq quagmire? Clearly, policies with an overwhelming emphasis on security and control must make way for policies stressing justice and the rule of law — in other words, giving some substance to some of the slogans, for a refreshing change."
Dennis Byrne Chicago Tribune, May 24
"At least Americans and Iraqis can agree on one thing: Ahmad Chalabi, the formerly exiled Iraqi whom the US shoved forward to help run the country before the war, is hinky and way out of favour.
"Even Mr Chalabi couldn't miss the point when US troops and Iraqi police last week raided his house and searched his party offices. The guy never had much support within Iraq anyway and the CIA had always questioned the prewar 'intelligence' he was feeding the Bush administration's Pentagon about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.
"Moreover, he was on the lam from a 1992 bank fraud conviction in Jordan.
"So, I suppose President George Bush's critics, from the right and left, will just add this to the growing list of malfeasance, misfeasance and nonfeasance he committed leading up to and following the war."
John Walcott Miami Herald, May 24
"Of all the Bush administration's missteps in Iraq, the worst may have been listening to Mr Chalabi ... Much of what he said before, during and after the US invasion ... has turned out to be wrong, and one of his top aides is now accused of supplying US intelligence to Iran.
"If Mr Chalabi didn't talk the US into invading Iraq, his dubious intelligence underpinned much of its case for war, and his prediction about how Iraqis would greet US troops encouraged Pentagon civilians to spurn advice from their own generals about how many and what kind of troops it would take to secure Iraq ...
"[Now] the Bush administration is trying to explain why its case for war was so flawed, battling an insurgency it never expected, reversing its de-Ba'athification policy and investigating whether Mr Chalabi's security chief passed US intelligence to Iran — and if he did, who gave it to him."
Iran News Editorial, May 23
"Before the invasion to topple Saddam's regime, [Mr Chalabi's] advocates in Washington were planning for him to become Iraq's next leader. But now, the US is accusing him and his aides of passing top US secrets to Iran, and, in return, Mr Chalabi is blaming the Americans for the instability and violence in Iraq and calling for an end to the occupation.
"In order to shift the blame for its disastrous policy in Iraq, the US is looking for a scapegoat ... The US wanted to cut its losses and pull the plug on Mr Chalabi because he had deceived the Americans from the [start]. The charge of him and his associates spying for Iran is just a pretext that serves two purposes. One, to sever all ties with Mr Chalabi, and, two, finding an excuse to accuse Iran of meddling in Iraqi affairs."
Who gave Ahmed Chalabi classified information about the plans of the US government and military? The Iraqi neocon favourite, tipped to lead his liberated country post-invasion, has been identified by the CIA and Defence Intelligence Agency as an Iranian double agent, passing secrets to that citadel of the "axis of evil" for decades. All the while the neocons cosseted, promoted and arranged for more than $30m in Pentagon payments to the George Washington manqué of Iraq. In return, he fed them a steady diet of disinformation and in the run-up to the war sent various exiles to nine nations' intelligence agencies to spread falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction. If the administration had wanted other material to provide a rationale for invasion, no doubt that would have been fabricated. Either Chalabi perpetrated the greatest con since the Trojan horse, or he was the agent of influence for the most successful intelligence operation conducted by Iran, or both.
The CIA and other US agencies had long ago decided that Chalabi was a charlatan, so their dismissive and correct analysis of his lies prompted their suppression by the Bush White House.
In place of the normal channels of intelligence vetting, a jerry-rigged system was hastily constructed, running from the office of the vice president to the newly created Office of Special Plans inside the Pentagon, staffed by fervent neocons. CIA director George Tenet, possessed with the survival instinct of the inveterate staffer, ceased protecting the sanctity of his agency and cast in his lot. Secretary of state Colin Powell, resistant internally but overcome, decided to become the most ardent champion, unveiling a series of neatly manufactured lies before the UN.
Last week, Powell declared "it turned out that the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and, in some cases, deliberately misleading. And for that I'm disappointed, and I regret it."
But who had "deliberately" misled him? He did not say. Now the FBI is investigating espionage, fraud and, by implication, treason.
A former staff member of the Office of Special Plans and a currently serving defence official, two of those said to be questioned by the FBI, are considered witnesses, at least for now. Higher figures are under suspicion. Were they wining or unwitting? If those who are being questioned turn out to be misleading, they can be charged ultimately with perjury and obstruction of justice. For them, the Watergate principle applies: 'it's not the crime, it's the cover-up.'
The espionage investigation into the neocons' relationship with Chalabi is only one of the proliferating inquiries engulfing the Bush administration. In his speech to the Army War College on May 24, Bush blamed the Abu Ghraib torture scandal on "a few American troops". In other words, there was no chain of command. But the orders to use the abusive techniques came from the secretary of defence, Donald Rumsfeld.
The trials and investigations surrounding Abu Ghraib beg the question of whether it was an extension of the far-flung gulag operating outside the Geneva conventions that has been built after September 11. The fallout from the Chalabi affair has also implicated the nation's newspaper of record, the New York Times, which published yesterday an apology for running numerous stories containing disinformation that emanated from Chalabi and those in the Bush administration funnelling his fabrications. The Washington Post, which published editorials and several columnists trumpeting Chalabi's talking points, has yet to acknowledge the extent to which it was deceived.
Washington, just weeks ago in the grip of non-conservative orthodoxy; absolute belief in Bush's inevitability and-righteousness, is in the throes of being ripped apart by investigations. Things fall apart: the military, loyal and lumbering, betrayed and embittered; the general in the field, General Sanchez, disgraced and cashiered; the intelligence agencies abused and angry, their retired operatives plying their craft with the press corps, seeping dangerous truths; the press, hesitating and wobbly, investigating its own falsehoods; the neocons, publicly redoubling defence of their hero and deceiver Chalabi, privately squabbling, anxiously awaiting the footsteps of FBI agents; Colin Powell, once the most acclaimed man in America, embarked on an endless quest to restore his reputation, damaged above all by his failure of nerve; everyone in the line of fire motioning toward the chain of command, spiralling upwards and sideways, until the finger pointing in a phalanx is directed at the hollow crown.
Even if the artificial world-trade-boom economy does hang on for a while longer yet, the revolutionary chaos when it does crash will dwarf all of previous history. Build Leninism. EPSR
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The idiocy of Scargill guru-worship for a "big party solution" to the philistine debacle which is the "left" in British politics (and beyond) has finally dawned on the Lalkar museum-Stalinists.
Having provided the SLP with a bogus "Marxist" cover since 1996 by swallowing in silence every scrap of rotten opportunism and reactionary nonsense that NUM bossism could serve up in eight years of bureaucratic-reformist farce, the Brar mafia has even finally sensed the folly and loathsomeness of being a doormat.
Their "excuse" for refusing to ever utter one word of political challenge to the entire constant counter-revolutionary swamp of demagogic platitudes from Scargill and his Trot/TUC stooges, "keep your head down and take the SLP by stealth", — is apparently being abandoned without another word.
The Stalinists' grotesque collaborationism with the SLP petty tyranny to silence the EPSR for insisting on open discussion of ALL political questions from Day One of its support for Scargill's signal break from Labour, refusing to keep quiet about the rotten defeatist line on the Good Friday Agreement by Heron, Sikorski and Scargill in the Socialist News; or about the reformist nonsense of all single-issue politics; or about the bankrupt uselessness of hiding the international revolutionary perspective from the working class; etc, etc, etc, has now come back to haunt them.
They are being shown the door on grounds of such ludicrous bureaucratic "constitutional" crassness as would reduce even a paperclip to total, tearful, rage-filled frustration, — — but having helped set this disgusting pantomime up, these Lalkar "Marxists" now find themselves its hurt and bewildered victims, — still nauseatingly pleading with Scargill to "return to the path of respect for proletarian principles", etc, etc, — grovelling to the degeneracy of petty bourgeois TUC bossism to the last.
The Stalinist words of scalded indignation, reproduced here from various internal "SLP dissident" complaint documents, are interesting for the light they shine on Scargill's ridiculous tyranny and on the Lalkarites' own bureaucratism, seeing a principled political perspective as something to be spoken up for ONLY WHEN FINALLY FORCED TO DO SO, as far as the necessary context is concerned, as they put it, — "of leading the working class to learn how to defeat all the various forms of bourgeois ideology that are being thrown at us".
That, Lalkar, was just as true 8 years ago when you were keeping stumm over all the Scargill groupie political nonsense which the EPSR refused to cease attacking. And beyond Stalinism, the rest of the fake-'left' continues to deliberately muddle these questions too.
The WW 'theoreticians' of the Alliance and now Respect still pretend that ALL expulsions from the SLP were the same and should have been resisted the same, before all getting hoisted with their own petard, as Lalkar is now seen.
But the Trotskyite organisational factionalism for which most early SLPers got expelled, was a different matter entirely. A unitary party had to be the mandate, and the EPSR properly had no quarrel with that. The 57 varieties were just using the SLP as a recruiting ground.
But ONLY can a unitary party be built PRECISELY where there is a full Leninist polemical freedom in place for never-ending THEORETICAL clarification of the world and the party's perspectives for it, — the one thing which the idiotic martinet philistine Scargill was completely hostile-to and utterly incapable of.
The EPSR's position was openly and abundantly clear to everyone from the start.
Lalkar is finally (without any acknowledgement, of course) palely mimicking the EPSR's position, but having spent eight years as Scargill's public toilet paper, — 'left'-handed sheets, of course.
"Your lack of honesty and sincerity will be found out", they now warn Scargill.
You should know, Messrs Lalkar. And you will know, in due course. The filthy tricks of world Stalinist Revisionist imbecility do not improve with age.
Even now, these Brarites still refuse to commit themselves to any detailed revolutionary perspective as to exactly how the transformation of society through international. class war is being prepared.
The Revisionist "two-state solution" is still Lalkar's preferred kowtowing compromise with imperialism in Palestine; Saddam's catastrophic Revisionism is still lauded; Scargill's "terrorism is a dirty word" idiocy has still not been comprehensively demolished; and the titanic crisis of the American Empire is still "just a war for oil" in this anti-revolutionary class-collaborationist book of museum Stalinism; etc; etc; etc; etc.
But the anti-Scargillite jeering is not bad:
We are writing to you to register our astonishment, opposition and disgust at the way the NEC meeting was closed down by the President, Paul Hardman, in consultation with you, on Saturday 24 January, with only 40 seconds elapsing between Paul opening the meeting and both he and yourself going through the door in what was obviously a premeditated action. This was despite protests from some of us present and pleas to listen to sense and give the NEC the right to hear an argument, which runs contrary to yours. It has to be asked by what right did the President do this without even consulting the NEC members present who had given their time to travel to London?
If there are differences of political opinion among the members of the NEC, as indeed there are, these must be resolved through patient, painstaking and comradely discussion. However, what you and Comrade Hardman did on Saturday 24 January was in the worst traditions of bureaucratic manoeuvring, manipulation and abuse of authority and in complete violation of the organisational principles of a proletarian party and the norms governing relations among comrades. Such behaviour will do tremendous damage to yourselves; our Party and, above all, the working-class movement.
At a time when the British working class is in dire need of the leadership of a truly working-class party, when the 'left' enemies of the working class are working overtime to stitch together an opportunist outfit under the name of Respect, all the better to fool and deceive the working masses, we in our Party need to strengthen unity and move forward with a single-minded determination to build the SLP as a credible instrument for leading the British working class in the latter's struggle to overthrow capitalism and build a beautiful socialist future. This, however, cannot be done except through a correct analysis, comradely debate, education, engagement with the masses, and hard slog. over a fairly long period of time. No amount of threats, bluster, attempts at intimidation, procedural manoeuvres and abuse of authority will serve to get us over the difficulties and problems facing our movement.
We urge you, Comrade Scargill, to give up the habit of treating those who disagree with you as your enemies. No proletarian party can be built by those who have been persuaded or intimidated into becoming servile flunkeys.
We state resolutely that we shall continue, as we have done hitherto, to abide by the provisions of the Party Constitution and the decisions of the Executive Committee as long as such decisions are not in violation of the decisions of the Party Congress or the Constitution of the Party. What is really at issue is whether the three of you are prepared to make the same commitment and give the same undertaking. Our experience is that the three of you periodically violate both the Party Constitution and Congress decisions, that you treat the Party Constitution with utter contempt and shun the decisions of the Party Congress if you don't agree with them, or if they do not suit your temporary expediency, as the devil shuns holy water. It is time, comrades, that you were honest with yourselves.
Where is the rule that says correspondence cannot be entered into with other NEC members? In fact a great deal of correspondence goes on between NEC members regularly. The simple fact is that you don't like the content of this correspondence and rather than face the political debate it throws up about the future of our Party, you are trying to hide behind a cowardly smokescreen of bureaucratic blather, bluster and nonsense. What is more, it has become necessary for us to send correspondence to fellow members of the NEC because of your outrageous behaviour and actions, which have turned the NEC into a non-functioning body.
The only difference between then and now is that there are some serious political differences between yourselves and us on the question of the direction the Party should take in order to become an effective instrument for the overthrow of capitalism and its replacement by socialism. Instead of discussing these differences openly and honestly, and resolving them through comradely discussion and debate, you are resorting to bureaucratic manoeuvres to silence all dissent and are, in the process, using a small group of young opportunists for your short-term opportunist aims.
You state that you are not prepared to enter into any dialogue with any of us as individuals or "as a signatory — together with others — to the letter 25 January 2004 on an issue which is defined within the Constitution and confirmed by the National Executive Committee and Congress." This is truly a breath-taking falsification on your part. We have now shown that the Constitution does not bar C_____ from completing his term of office, that the National Officials and the NEC are in breach of the Constitution by trying to claim that C_____ cannot complete his term of office and yet you now claim that this un-Constitutional move by you is confirmed by Congress! At which Congress and when was this confirmation? Your refusal to discuss the very point at issue, namely, whether C______is the legitimate representative of the Youth Section on our Executive Committee, is merely a barefaced way of asserting that you not only are violating the Party Constitution and flagrantly flouting the decisions of the last Congress, but are also insisting on refusing to discuss these violations. Dear Comrades, this will not do. Sooner or later the Party members will see through your threadbare subterfuges and falsifications, and judge you all the more harshly.
You assert in your letter that "your letter concedes that the signatories ... are open to the charge of being a faction, a view underlined by E______'s report to the Women's Section AGM on 3 April 2004". This stupid sentence reminds us of Turgenev's devil according to whom you should most of all condemn those vices that you possess yourself. Our letter, far from conceding that we are open to the charge of being a faction, on the contrary, clearly implies that it is you who behave in a factional way, not us. Comrade Scargill, you took the initiative in forming the SLP, for which we have always given credit to you. However, we have insisted, and continue to insist, that the SLP is no private property of yours, that it belongs to the entire membership, and no one is above the rules and decisions of the Party. You cannot simply choose, as you often do, to abide by Constitutional provisions for only so long as they suit you. You cannot continue to flout, as you often do, the decisions of our supreme body — the Congress — when such decisions no longer suit you. May we remind you, no matter how irritating it may be to you, your attempts to exclude C______ from the NEC are a perfect example of your flagrant violation of Party Rules and Party decisions.
This is a quite unbelievable and silly demand. You are asking people who hold various positions in the Party, which require them to circulate correspondence, not to circulate correspondence. This demand is not only silly it contravenes Clause IV (1) of the Constitution. Even if one overlooks the unconstitutional nature of this demand it is silly because it requires five NEC members who wrote to all other NEC members, 12 January, to undertake not to circulate correspondence in our capacities as members of CSLPs or Regional Committees! Have you not noticed that our joint letter was written as members of the NEC, the only thing you don't require us not to circulate correspondence as! The lunatics are certainly running the asylum!
Officials of the Party, especially Comrade Scargill, constantly assert that ours is a Marxist Party. We are whole-heartedly in agreement with that statement. That being the case, it is hardly a case of factionalism that some of us should try and understand the meaning and content of Marxism and apply it to our conditions. It is not we, who are trying to give substance to subclauses (3) and (4) of Clause IV, who are guilty of "not supporting the ideological position of the SLP." On the contrary, it is those who are engaged in turning these provisions in our Constitution into harmless icons, as did the Labour Party for over 7 decades with its old Clause IV, who can be justly accused of failing to support the ideological position of the SLP. We believe the documents of a working-class' party should say what they mean, and mean what they say. We further believe that it is incumbent upon the leadership and membership of the Party to carry out the provisions of the Party's statutes. For our part, we are more than willing to do so. And we call upon you to do likewise.
Beyond the two provisions of the Constitution, referred to in the preceding paragraph, our Constitution is a set of rules for running the Party, which includes a set of objects, some short term others long term, but which are not an ideological position within themselves. We have no problem with any of these aims of the Constitution as we are sure you also would declare and yet there is an ideological rift in the Party. This ideological rift is around the methods and practice necessary for the achievement of socialism. We, who would assert that the ideology of Marxism is necessary for the Party to grow in political stature, knowledge and practical achievement, call for the whole-hearted defence and support of the Constitution in its entirety, while your faction uses the Constitution as a screen behind which it commits all manner of unconstitutional actions. You view the Constitution as something to be used, misused or totally ignored as best suits your aims at the time.
It will be noticed here that we have referred to you and those who follow you as a faction while at the same time denying that we five are either a faction or part of a faction: This is because we adhere to the Constitution in its entirety and not just the parts which suit us. What is more, your faction carries a goodly baggage of social democracy. Proof of the social-democratic nature of your faction can best be summed up in the editorial (you never tire of telling us you are the editor in chief) of the latest edition of Socialist News, where in calling for those who have left the Labour Party to join us you blame all the nasty things that that party does for imperialism only on that section you call New Labour. It must be understood that the Labour Party has always been an imperialist party since its inception and represents that which is central to social democracy, namely, its subservience to its 'own' imperialist bourgeoisie and a hatred for the struggle of the working class and oppressed people. Many of us in the SLP do not share the values of 'old Labour', we do not identify the same enemy or fight the same causes and we certainly don't share their pain when they condemn 'new' Labour. The Labour Party, New Labour if you will, has finally pulled off its own mask and shown itself as it truly is, this causes us no pain but on the contrary, only joy. Those who harbour dreams for a mark 2 Labour Party based on 'old' Labour values can not lead the working class to socialism. At the time of its formation, the SLP made an organisational breach with the Labour Party, which was greatly to its credit. It needs to go further and effect a political and ideological breach with the ideology of social democracy. And this breach cannot be effected by those who entertain contempt for Marxist theory, and those who frustrate all attempts at integrating Marxist theory in the practice of the working-class movement. It is precisely our insistence on bringing Marxist theory to the working class, and your misplaced opposition to such attempts on our part, which constitutes the crux of our differences.
The problem arises, not on the question of whether there should be practical work, but on the question of whether anybody should be allowed to do practical work aimed at the overthrow of capitalism, as opposed to practical work of a purely reactive nature — reacting to the injustices perpetrated by the capitalist system, denouncing them, demonstrating against them, going on strike, and trying to help individuals who have been hurt by them. Contrary to the rumours our officials put about, those of us who support the whole of the party's constitution, rather than only a part of it, are by no means opposed to anti-capitalist work of a reactive nature. However, we insist that there must also be anti-capitalist work of a proactive nature, anti-capitalist work to prepare for the overthrow of capitalism, which at the present time has to focus on enlightening the working class as to all aspects of the evils of capitalism in its current imperialist stage, to bring about the realisation not only that capitalism has to go, but that the working class must organise itself in order to remove it. The much despised working class, whose members are allegedly unable to read words of more than one syllable, must be convinced that capitalism is the root cause of all the evils of poverty, war and environmental catastrophe and that the world has no future unless they, the working class, rise up and remove it, seize the initiative and impose their will to create and maintain a society that produces exclusively to satisfy need and not for profit. Those of us who perceive the working class as the ruling class in waiting see it as the most important part of our practical work to bring to the working class the truth about capitalism's extreme decadence, the imperialist evil, all through the most concrete and vivid examples. It is this activity that most upsets the bourgeoisie, and this activity which brings down on our heads the opprobrium of our highly-placed functionaries.
Even though our efforts in the Women's Section to hand to the British working class the weapon of truth have been relatively modest, there are those in the party who would want to prevent us doing this; who would be prepared to go to the length of closing down the Women's Section altogether, but in any event getting rid of its journal Women for Socialism — although, because they hope to enlist the support of comrades who are young and enthusiastic and think revolution can be just round the corner if only one can make oneself more loveable, they might be prepared to consider simply dumbing down meetings and the journal in the name of appealing to the masses. Judging by the level of activity over a long period of time that we have observed emanating from those who blindly take their cue from our officials, it seems improbable that they would be prepared to hold meetings and bring out journals for very long — it's damn hard work even if the content is poor.
However, it is not possible to build a revolutionary movement by dumbing down and relying on people spontaneously (as a result of getting more and more indignant at how badly they are being treated) acquiring the necessary focus and understanding not only to overthrow capitalism but to establish and maintain working class power against the frenzied attempts of the bourgeoisie to overthrow it. Spontaneously people adapt to their circumstances — they do not change anything. Change requires conscious thought, conscious understanding, and it is the duty of the party of the working class to provide that: If it is short of cadres, it can under no circumstances abandon the ideological aspect of its practical work, for if it does so it is de facto buckling under the pressure of the bourgeoisie to keep the working class in ignorance; to keep it manageable, dupable.
When you hear the whisper: don't mention imperialism — the working class will be put off by such expressions — you may think you are hearing good comradely advice, but in fact you are hearing the voice of opportunism which, no matter how unwittingly, seeks to restrict the struggle of the working class within the bounds of the bourgeois system and thus preserve the latter as the ultimate destiny of humanity. If the working class doesn't know what imperialism is, it's hardly likely to overthrow it!
When you are told to forget about ideology and ideological struggle, again, despite promises the party will get ever so big if this step is taken, it is again the voice of the bourgeoisie, speaking in the interests of its own self perpetuation, encouraging you to disarm in the face of the bourgeoisie's various ideological offensives — for so long as the bourgeoisie's biggest enemy doesn't know what it's doing, the bourgeoisie doesn't have a whole lot to worry about. In trying to kill our party's revolutionary spirit, our officials and their new allies no doubt act out of the best of intentions, believing they are going to help the party mobilise the masses and be a real force in the political arena, winning elections and in a position to make the bourgeoisie listen to their demands. It's even possible that in return for killing off the party's revolutionary essence, the bourgeoisie will be prepared to throw in a few sops — fund a legal advice centre, perhaps, or something equally non-threatening to their rule. However, without its revolutionary core, our party, far from becoming as big as the Labour Party, will simply be consigned to oblivion, for there is no space for two Labour Parties. Are we really in the business of recreating the Labour Party of the 1920s, which was a class collaborationist, imperialist party right from day one, but did not appear so to the untutored eye until Blair took it over? Is it OK to be a class collaborationist party provided it's not absolutely obvious to everybody that this is what you are? Is it OK to be a class collaborationist party provided your members have all the best intentions? Clearly it is not.
In recent months, the officials have struck lucky. They have been joined by some elements of the youth, the ideology of whose leading lights is that of petty bourgeois nationalism and who are guided by petty bourgeois ambitions to be big leaders. Their followers are mostly well intentioned but suffer from a petty bourgeois desire for revolution to be easy, exciting and glamorous — they are anxious to avoid the interminable drudgery and hard work involved in genuine revolutionary activity. The youth section has recently been taken over by this careerist element who consider that their role is to give leadership to the working class — their idea of leadership being entirely in line with the bourgeois concept of combining the charisma and demagogy that is associated with bourgeois leaders (who, after all, have nothing to offer the working class and whose only concern is to dupe them) and believing that nothing else is necessary — certainly not a thoroughgoing understanding of the science of revolution, of Marxism, and long experience in combating opportunism.
The new alliance is nothing more than the coming together of various elements for short-term opportunist ends. It is not an alliance destined to be enduring. For one thing, our officials are, for instance, opposed to Congress resolutions in support of the DPRK and of work in the Defend Council Housing Campaign. For the most part, as far as I am aware, the youth have not yet descended to this level. Most of them are anxious to see a revolution, but they have been waylaid by easy promises of instant success. Perhaps it is an experience they need to have before they will learn. I can only hope they will not become irretrievably cynical as a result of it.
Naturally I am very saddened by the sabotage of party work that has been going on, but it has been becoming increasingly clear that things could not carry on as they were. With the party divided against itself, our work was being hindered. The revolutionaries in the party were desperately trying to do the work that the party needed — both ideological and practical — while our officials, for reasons best known to themselves and assisted latterly by their new allies, not only failed to support the work that was being done in the party's name but also desisted from doing anything much themselves. Nevertheless, there is no way that we are going to be able to make our party a really effective organ for leading the working class to revolution without learning to defeat all the various forms of bourgeois ideology that are being thrown at us. The struggle against the severely misguided ideology of our officials and the present youth section are important learning opportunities for us.
Today you will be invited to remove those of us who have been running the Women's Section for the last five years, in order to replace them exclusively with uncritical followers of the functionaries. Whether you realise it or not, the whole purpose of doing this will be to prevent the Women's Section speaking with a revolutionary voice. Why would you want to do that? Which side are you on?
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(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles)
The "democracy" racket of the British capitalist-imperialist system showed its worst dictatorship essence to the Irish.
1914 PROMISED MUCH FOR IRELAND. The third Home Rule Bill was soon to be enacted. For John Redmond it was a personal triumph. He had united the Irish Party after the disastrous Parnell split, and by 1915 he fully expected to be the Irish First Minister. But there were storm clouds gathering. Re-organised in the north-east of the country, Ulster unionism, with its new champion, Edward Carson, was flexing its political muscles. By exerting further pressure, they felt they could prevent Home Rule from being enforced in most, if not all of the Ulster counties.
Throughout 1913 an 'Ulster Volunteer Force' came into being. Organised through local Orange Lodges, this newly formed force gave militant support to Ulster Unionism. As yet, they were mostly unarmed, though this was a problem that would soon be rectified.
This was the situation facing the British authorities in March 1914, when the Secretary for War, Colonel Seely, received information that military arms depots at Armagh, Omagh, Carrickfergus and Enniskillen were likely to be raided for arms. A second rumour also reached the British; that a section of the Ulster Volunteers were planning to march on Dublin.
Until then, neither Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister, nor Birrell, — Chief Secretary for Ireland, — had any thought that Home Rule might result in armed resistance. Given the information they had received, they were now faced with such a possibility.
The Liberals were in an awkward position. Like most British politicians, few were in any way committed to solving the 'Irish Question', but given their numbers at Westminster, they needed the support of the Irish Party to retain power. Their biggest problem was that if they had to face down the Unionists, they would have to use the army to do so, and the officer class in the British Army was to a man sympathetic to the unionist cause. They were the 'King's men', and to them all those Ulstermen who wished to remain under the rule of Westminster were likewise 'King's men', whereas Irish nationalists, who supported self-government, were regarded as 'disloyal'. For most senior officers, their duty bound them to fight against the King's enemies, not the king's loyal subjects.
On 16 March, Colonel Seely issued instructions to Sir Arthur Paget at the Curragh to send troops to protect the main four barracks in Ulster where arms and ammunition were stored. Paget's reply was the first sign of any possible trouble.
He telegraphed the War Office the following message: "In present state of country... am of opinion that moving troops north would create excitement in Ulster and precipitate a crisis... for this reason... do not consider it justifiable to move troops... at present time."
In anyone's language this was gross insubordination, if not a prelude to mutiny.
Paget was summoned to London to answer for his inaction. In discussions with the War Office, he brought up the vexed question that some of his officers might be unwilling to participate in actions against the Ulster Volunteers. What was he to do about this? In the atmosphere that prevailed in spring 1914, he was given a straight answer. Officers living in Ulster could temporarily vanish. However, any other officers refusing to serve were to be dismissed. He also received assurances of naval support, if and when disturbances broke out. Only then would the army be sent into Ulster.
He returned on the 20th and informed a number of officers, then living in Dublin, of the War Office position. All declared they would prefer dismissal to the 'coercion of Ulster'. The following day General Gough, Commander of the Curragh-based Cavalry Brigade, notified his superiors that he and 59 of his officers also chose dismissal from the army. The Curragh mutiny had started.
"The officers stationed at the Curragh are of the unanimous opinion that further information is essential before being called upon at short notice to take any decision regarding 'active operations' in Ulster if, 'duty as ordered' involves active military operations against Ulster, then the following 65 officers here stationed would respectfully, and under protest, prefer to be dismissed. "
— Memo to British War Office, 19 March 1914.
Gough was ordered to London to explain his position. General Haig, Commander-in-Chief at Aldershot, backed him up, as did Sir Henry Wilson. Haig warned the War Office to expect wholesale resignations unless a pledge was given that the Army would not be used against the Ulster Volunteers.
The Liberal government now lost its nerve. In an effort to ease tensions, it declared that there had been misunderstandings and that the officers misinterpreted the type of action intended in Ulster. A triumphant General Gough returned to the Curragh.
He brought with him a document from the War Office Secretary, Colonel Seely and the Imperial Chief of Staff Lord French, guaranteeing that British troops would not be used to enforce Home Rule.
For the Unionists it was a great victory. Though in a minority in parliament, they had forced the Liberal government to back down. As if to demonstrate how the political landscape had changed, the following month saw a mass importation of arms at Larne. No attempt was made to prevent the gun-running.
When called upon do their sworn duty, the British military had said no.
Now the Ulster Volunteers had introduced the gun into Irish politics.
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