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Engraving of Lenin busy studying

Economic and Philosophic Science Review

Only he is a Marxist who extends the recognition of the class struggle to the recognition of the dictatorship of the proletariat. This is the touchstone on which the real understanding and recognition of Marxism is to be tested. V. I. Lenin

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No 1280 November 6th 2005

“Better integration” or “more facilities in the suburbs” will not deal with the deepest driving pressures bursting out in riots and turmoil in France. The real cause is not racism (despite its use by the French capitalist state to divide the working class) but the desperate sinkhole exploitation and alienation of all capitalism. This spontaneous hostility has only just begun and will rapidly intensify everywhere as the real slump conditions of capitalist crisis eventually are forced onto workers along with the horrors of a Third World War “solution”. Sorting out revolutionary understanding is vital.

The huge eruption of violence on the sink estates and banlieue of France – growing louder and more widespread day by day – is no simple anti-racism riot but a giant shout of pain and frustration from a section of the working class – and a signal of the spontaneous revolutionary pressures building up in the working class worldwide against the iniquities and oppression of capitalism.

The rapid spread of the upheavals is also another sign of the growing paralysis of the international capitalist class as its system teeters ever closer the biggest and most devastating crisis in all history – with only Marie Antoinette levels of contempt for “scum” and “germs” and provocative brutal police repression as an answer (just as in New Orleans by the US ruling class) – simply making the problem worse.

This is obviously not revolution as such. The anarchic quality to this rebellion and its sporadic, partial and unformed character – though with some coherent if limited political aims to bring down the arrogant French interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy – almost certainly means that it will die back again for the while.

But the terrifying implications of Paris and other French cities for the ruling class go well beyond France or even Europe – this is a sign of nascent revolutionary spirit which is increasingly bubbling to the surface throughout the entire world proletariat, no longer able or willing to tolerate the humiliation, repression, inequality and mindless exploitation of this historically worked-out and increasingly destructive capitalist order.

It finds expression throughout France, in similar upheavals in Birmingham, in the utter dismay of the American working class as one of the great cities is destroyed and they are showered with contempt.

It finds expression currently in South America where even the unlikely figure of once drug-riddled football genius Maradona can lead thousands of working class in hostile protest against the further ratcheting up of US “free trade” monopoly corporation domination and exploitation and, more importantly, be cheered on by tens of millions world wide for his “Bush war criminal” T-shirt and anti-imperialism.

And of course it most strongly is expressed in the non-stop anti-imperialist insurgency against US occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the endlessly revived heroic Palestinian intifada against the genocidal Zionist occupation in the Middle East.

What is crucially missing – not to sustain rioting as such but to give coherence and direction the huge class hostilities being rightly expressed against the stinking and degenerating capitalist order – is vital Marxist revolutionary leadership, crossing the boundaries between ALL sections of the working class and focusing on the real core problem – capitalism.

Nothing else can make sense of the alienation, despair and vacuum created for the working class by endless exploitation, and the festering mess of drugs and criminality forced onto them by the bankruptcy of life within capitalism.

No amount of palliatives, “improvements” and better ways to “integrate” immigrants or “minorities” – will do anything to change the core conditions imposed on them (and in a variety of different ways on every other worker too) by capitalism – if the rapidly ripening crisis conditions of capitalism even still allow room for any such measures anyway.

Only the total overturning of the greed ridden profit system can offer a solution; revolution to end capitalism completely and finally build a socialist world where the first real “equal opportunity” can be created for the nearly six billion population of the planet, unbinding for the first times the enormous talents and capacities of the mass of humankind, in common endeavour with the common ownership of the means of production and all society.

That there is no revolutionary leadership exposes yet again the utter (and deliberate) failure of any of the vast spectrum of fake-”lefts” to say a useful word about capitalism and its crisis and the now general ferment of hatred and discontent across the whole planet, from South America to Iraq to Nepal to Britain, France, Italy and Germany.

Neither the deeply buried anti-communism of the Trots or the retreats and inadequacies of the revisionists and their half-hearted compromises with imperialism, offers any seriously revolutionary perspectives to the French youths’ despair and head them off once again into reformist blind alleys proffering “better integration” and “improvements” to the bleak estates and “measures against “racism” and exclusion (just as always when such events erupt – see quotes from the Damilola Taylor incident in 2000 and Peckham alienation eg – alongside).

Of course these upheavals have racist overtones – just as the recent eruptions in Birmingham had in the UK – the result of decades of deliberate divide and rule exploitation of minor difference in the working class by capitalism to foster bitterness, increased inequalities, confusion and infighting always to divert attention from the real cause of their alienation, lack of opportunity and bleak perspectives, namely monopoly capitalist exploitation.

And for the moment there is a clear sense the struggle is being driven or led along the Muslim puritanical lines which have filled the vacuum in world revolutionary understanding more and more in the post-war decades – the result of the complete collapse of revolutionary perspectives in the leadership from Moscow beginning with the initial pre-Second World War revisionist retreats from Leninist grasp and gradually degenerating into the deluded liquidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat under Gorbachevism’s semi-religious delusions about market methods and supposed efficiency.

But it is ultimately only Marxist understanding of the universal warmongering slump conditions of the world’s third Great Crisis, growing ever closer, and tightening its grip on all aspects of existence across the planet which can begin to offer a perspective for these and every other workers and exploited proletarian on the planet to understand the condition they are in, and find the way out of it.

The seething resentments and anger of the French youth stand alongside the hostility and hatred for imperialism which also erupted last week in South America – further adding to the hammering taken by Bush as the capitalist press makes clear:

President George W Bush was poised for a big new political setback last night as a diplomatic push for a major free trade agreement seemed stalled amid fierce opposition from key countries and scenes of violence and rioting in Argentina and Uruguay.

Bush, who is already beset by a host of domestic political troubles, had hoped for a major foreign policy coup to take some of the pressure off his beleaguered White House. He has put breaking down free trade barriers in the region at the top of the agenda at the Summit of the Americas, which has brought together leaders from 34 different countries in the Argentine city of Mar Del Plata.

But the end of the summit was delayed as talks dragged on inconclusively about a proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). A group of left-leaning countries, headed by Brazil, Venezuela and others, opposed the idea, saying it would open their countries to exploitation by large American firms and do little to alleviate poverty. Bush left the summit before it ended as discussions about whether to adopt a clause scheduling FTAA talks for next year continued past a deadline set for a summit declaration...

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said yesterday FTAA discussions should wait until at least after crucial World Trade Organisation talks in December on stripping global trade barriers and boosting the world’s economy. Venezuela’s firebrand president Hugo Chavez was more strident. On Friday night he told a crowd of more than 20,000 protesters that the policy was a branch of American imperialism. ‘Only united can we defeat imperialism and bring our people a better life,’ he said, adding: ‘Here, in Mar del Plata, FTAA will be buried!’

...But it has been less calm on the streets outside. Widespread protests on Friday turned ugly as rioters set a building on fire and hurled objects at police. Demonstrators, some of them wearing masks, threw Molotov cocktails, set bonfires in the streets with items looted from stores, burned US flags and set a bank ablaze. Police in turn fired tear gas at the crowds and held them back from beaching a tough security cordon set up around the luxury hotel where the summit was being held. There were also reports of riots in Uruguay where police in riot gear battled protesters who were demonstrating against the summit.

Argentina was one of the earlier signals of the devastating economic slump and trade war disaster which is built into the capitalist order – having suffered a total bankruptcy and collapse in the late 1990s after a decade of South American economic crisis and bankruptcy from Mexico to Bolivia. Even now it is only staggering along because of temporary imperialist retreat from demands for draconian debt repayment (through fear of revolutionary upheaval) and some revived trade with the powerhouse Chinese economy.

More partial collapses include the devastating decade-plus long recession forced onto the giant Japanese capitalist economy by the rest of imperialism, the associated Asia-wide currency collapse of the late 1990’s, the bubble burst in 2000 and endlessly intensified, famine-edge plundering of the African continent by imperialism generally.

And Europe has equally suffered the burden of “overproduction” crisis via the permanent underlying trade war battles of late imperialist monopoly capitalism and its associated international currency fights – forced to cope with the rising Euro and its impact on export sales as the US has deliberately let the dollar value slide to compete.

Any temptation to fight back by these rival imperialist powers – despite the tightening vice of falling profits and “too much” worldwide production (exactly as Marx analysed – see ESPR joining page) is held in check for the moment at least by the overt signals of American imperialist warmongering and aggression making clear to the entire planet that it will not tolerate ANY challenges to its power and exploitation “rights”.

The neo-con assumption is that with its overwhelming firepower and bullying might the US can fob the rest of the world off with endless paper dollar IOU’s for the continuing production of goods and services for the monstrously overweight US imperialist economy and its insanely insatiable demands for ever greater luxury and sweet life (– only for the ruling class and some petty bourgeois layers). Woe betide anyone who comes knocking on the door for payment in real value – instead they should just sit there with their own currencies pushed higher in value and their own competitiveness curtailed.

Bush has declared overtly that it will attack and “take out” ANYONE seen developing the kind of armed capacity to challenge US rampaging military dominance. And there has been a string of “shock and awe” destructive wars from the NATO Serbian bombing to Afghanistan and Iraq to make the point, using suitably demonisable “rogue” state regimes for the attacks (and conveniently “disciplining” former stooges like Saddam who have “gone bad” – i.e. who are pushed by the intensifying contradictions of the world crisis into anti-imperialist posturing to keep the lid on the explosive discontent beneath them.)

So the neo-con line is to let the US deficit mount - the greatest in all of history – and to hell with the ever growing imbalances and unfairnesses, outside or inside the USA, (where the working class faces widespread poverty and the greatest “relative” deprivation” on the planet, growing worse by the day.)

But the great Goebbels lie of an insane “war on terror” has been going badly wrong, stirring a thousand times more resistance than had already developed as the slump pressures grew in the 1990s (in the form of sporadic “terrorism”).

Even the most upright of establishment diplomats, with no sympathy whatsoever for “oiks” and the “lower orders” has been making the point:

Britain’s former ambassador to Washington, Sir Christopher Meyer, delivers a damaging critique of Tony Blair’s approach to the war...He takes issue with the prime minister’s claim that the war has not exposed Britain to terrorist attacks: “There is plenty of evidence around at the moment that home-grown terrorism was partly radicalised and fuelled by what is going on in Iraq. There is no way we can credibly get up and say it has nothing to do with it. Don’t tell me that being in Iraq has got nothing to do with it. Of course it does.”

Sir Christopher gave the interview to mark the publication of DC Confidential, the first account by an insider of the decision-making that led to war.

Sir Christopher, who supported the war, sat in on the crucial meetings between Mr Blair and Mr Bush, reading transcripts of their private phone calls and regularly meeting figures such as Dick Cheney, the vice-president, and Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary.

That this is from a ruling class war supporter underlines how the failure in Iraq is leading to backbiting and recriminations – classic symptoms of a ruling class in turmoil because of defeat. If the bludgeoning of the Iraqi people had gone through successfully like dozens of invasions, coups and bloody takeovers in the century long heyday of imperialism, not a word would have been said.

But the unfolding stalemate defeat for imperialism’s “might is right” attempts to build compliant stoogery in Afghanistan and Iraq is now so devastating that it has totally laid low the political fortunes of both Bush and Blair, both suffering massively collapsed popularity (even by grotesquely manipulated bourgeois press standards), resignations and an atmosphere of sleaze, lies, dishonesty and distrust.

It can only get ten thousand times worse for them or any successors. The full devastating impact of capitalism’s slump is still only felt in its potential – with the worst continuing to be held off by the ever more irresponsible creation of insane levels of credit feeding hugely inflationary pressures back into the system:

...inflation has hit its highest level for a decade or so in Britain and the United States, while gold prices – rising steadily for four years – are now close to their highest level for 17 years.

“When it comes to inflation, Wall Street and the City of London tend to be late seeing it coming,” said David Ranson, president and head of research [at independent researchers HC Wainwright and Cos].

“This is because of the widespread obsession with the CPI as the gauge of choice...but the price of gold and other precious metals has been signalling a return to inflation for some time now.”

The research challenges the age-old claim that oil is a good indicator of inflation since it drives the price of petrol used by motorists and energy used by factories. The report suggests that any link between oil prices and inflation or economic performance over the long term is tenuous.

While any commodity price can, in theory, be used as an inflation indicator, gold is superior to oil because it is not actually used up and has been a constant store of value over long periods [as Marx identifies in Capital it is the basic measure of value and remains so].

By contrast, oil is consumed all the time and its price is therefore susceptible to supply disruptions in a way that gold’s is not.

Mr Ranson said there had been significant inflationary pressures building in the US since mid-2002 – well before oil prices starting rising significantly but a year after gold prices began their long march higher in the wake of September 11, 2001. Gold was priced in a range of $250-$270 until then, but is now about $461 an ounce. With the real value of gold roughly constant over time, changes in its price reflect changes of the currency in which it is priced – in this case US dollars – says the research. A rise in gold, rather than reflecting an increase in demand or cut in supply of the metal itself, is a reflection of the debasing of the currency by inflation.

Mr Ranson also suspects that the sudden, fresh rise in the gold price since Hurricane Katrina could be due to the fact that President George W Bush promised to spend $200bn (£113bn) on rebuilding New Orleans. That implies bigger federal budget deficits in future, which will put downward pressure on the dollar and thus upward pressure on inflation. “Mr Bush has thrown caution to the wind in terms of federal spending policy. This is something markets understand very well,” he said.

When this ever inflating paper dollar balloon bursts – and repeated “interest rate fears” and banking stories indicate the nervousness of imperialism as the dollar veers towards total collapse at some point – conditions of slump and antagonistic trade war turmoil will escalate hugely.

So far imperialism has held off its worst symptoms of slump by the benefit of the hugely expanded trade with the massively booming industrial production of China – allowing capital temporarily to push up its profit margin on the back of the much cheaper labour costs in a highly efficient economy, still organised as a workers state despite its clever use of capitalist production and trading methods and less clever enthralment with the glitz and glamour of capitalist consumerism,

Just how these complex interactions interact economically – inflation and personal credit expansion to maintain demand versus countervailing deflationary forces from cheaper Chinese trade and from slump pressures – would bear a dozen Karl Marx’s and several years’ study to begin to comprehend precisely,

But already the politics of slump and crisis have erupted into warmongering and the increasingly rapid fascist-isation of capitalist society with the tearing up of centuries’ old “basic human rights” such as the latest 90 day detention – three months, on pure police suspicion, without any recourse to lawyers or outside support and aid.

It is a signal of the desperation of the ruling class that despite the near disintegration of all public support and confidence in sleight-of-hand Blairism (and the master copy Bush-ite American imperialist rule, equally devastated by the ongoing defeats and disasters in Afghanistan and Iraq) he remains dementedly determined that he will “persevere” – as if there is a “virtue” in completely ignoring the overwhelming and more and more insistently hostile public opinion.

If bourgeois democracy was a lying fraud before, it is now proven to be a complete joke.

But it is a joke on the working class. For the ruling class there is every reason to stretch as far as possible the illusions of “legality” and parliament behind which they have so effectively hidden their dictatorship (of capital) while there is still time – which means while the delay to massive slump onset is kept going by the huge credit and deficit dollar funding which alone keeps the economic plates spinning temporarily, and holds back the understanding of the masses of just what turmoil the crisis has in store.

Their solution is to suppress all resistance and class struggle – and particularly any explanation or grasp of revolutionary struggle using all the tools of censorship, imprisonment and torture deployed by imperialism throughout history, as against the Irish struggle in the “northern Ireland” occupied sector for example.

Specifically the mention of armed struggle succeeding in pushing out imperialism, as it has done throughout the British empire in the 20th century and against all imperialism in the great waves of revolutionary struggle, is to be a crime in itself.

George Orwell (a stinking capitalist police fink himself) coined the term “thought crime” because of bourgeois “democratic” experience, in Britain.

And it is the monstrous stooge finks of New Labourism who are sliding in these fascist measures under Goebbels Big Lie hysteria whipped up around the insane notion of a “threat to civilisation and our values from ‘terrorism’”, with every fink class collaborating MP, feminist “Blair Babe” and lefty going along with it.

Much play is made of “revolt” and “rebellion” on the back benches but it is a pantomime game – and the laws are being slid through because the ruling class needs them, as the bourgeois press points out:

As negotiating tactics go, it’s a pretty transparent one – but it still seems to work every time in British politics. The government has a policy it knows will arouse a blizzard of controversy. So it starts out with a maximalist, even outlandish, version. When that is predictably greeted with outrage, it retreats crab-like to its core position – and the final outcome is then accepted with relief that the government has compromised. But the net effect is to drive through measures that might have been thrown out without the softening-up process.

So it has been with Tony Blair’s anti-terror plans, first unveiled in August in the wake of the London bombings. In their original back-of-the-envelope formulation, they included the truly Ruritanian wheeze of codifying a list of violent historical events that Britons could be sent to prison for “glorifying, exalting or celebrating”. Last week, after two months of ridicule, the home secretary, Charles Clarke, let it be known that the most absurd parts of this censorship scheme had been dropped. Then on Tuesday, he signalled that the government might be prepared to shift on its proposal to jail terror suspects without charge for up to three months.

The apparent climbdown has, as expected, been embraced by key opponents. But, as publication of the terrorism bill yesterday confirmed, the most dangerous and inflammatory elements in Blair’s August package are still there: not only the effective internment power, but deportation to countries that routinely torture; banning of non-violent political parties; state control of mosques and the outlawing of any statement that might be seen as inciting or glorifying terrorist acts (including in history).

The main opposition parties are now focused on detention without charge. The Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, wrote on these pages this week that the three-month internment power was now the “one major sticking point” – and changes to the glorification clause, he thought, meant that it was “a lot better” and that non-violent organisations such as the radical Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir could not be banned.

In fact, under the terms of the bill, anyone who voices support for armed resistance to any state or occupation, however repressive or illegitimate, will be committing a criminal offence carrying a seven-year prison sentence – so long as members of the public might reasonably regard it as direct or indirect encouragement. Terrorism is not defined in the bill as, say, indiscriminate attacks on civilians, let alone an assault on civilian targets by states – but as any politically motivated violence against people, property or electronic systems anywhere in the world. This is not only an assault on freedom of speech and debate about the most contentious subject in global politics. It also makes a criminal offence out of a belief shared by almost every society, religion or philosophy throughout history: namely, that people have the right to take up arms against tyranny and foreign occupation. Clarke made clear on Tuesday that this was exactly his intention. He could not, he said, think of any situation in the world where “violence would be justified to bring about change”.

Clearly, that did not apply to the invasion of Iraq or the bomb attacks on street markets carried out in Baghdad by US and British-backed opposition groups before 2003. But, as the mayor of London pointed out yesterday, support for Nelson Mandela, the wartime resistance and any number of anti-colonial liberation movements would all have been crimes under this bill.

In practice, of course, the law is intended to be used selectively: it is aimed not just at those who praise bomb attacks on the London tube, but at Muslims and others who believe that Palestinians, Iraqis, Afghans and others have a right to resist occupation.

...if the terrorism bill in its current form becomes law, the likelihood is that instead of reducing the terror threat, it will increase it.

...some will certainly be intimidated and keep their heads down. But others will conclude that participation in politics is pointless, that the tolerance and liberal democracy proclaimed by the political establishment is a fraud – and go underground.

And it is a fraud as the increasingly fascist reality on the ground already shows:

The CIA has been interrogating al-Qaida prisoners at a Soviet era compound in eastern Europe as part of a covert jail system set up after the September 11 attacks, according to the Washington Post. The secret facility is part of a network of “black sites” spanning eight countries, the existence and locations of which are known only to a handful of US officials and usually only the president and a few top intelligence officers in the host countries.

The internment network has also been kept almost entirely secret from the US Congress, which is charged with overseeing the CIA’s covert actions, the newspaper said.

Citing several former and current US intelligence and other officials, the Post said the CIA was holding the top 30 al-Qaida suspects at the secret facilities, where they were kept in dark, sometimes underground, cells in isolation from the outside world. They have no recognised legal rights, and no one outside the CIA is allowed to talk with them or see them.

The covert prison system was set up nearly four years ago in eight countries, including a facility in Thailand that was closed down after its existence was made public in 2003.

Concerns over the CIA’s handling of prisoners escalated last week after it emerged that the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, and the agency’s director, Porter Goss, asked Congress to exempt the agency from legislation banning the cruel and degrading treatment of prisoners. CIA agents have long been accused of playing a role in the prisoner abuse scandals at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay on Cuba.

It is illegal for the American government to hold prisoners in such isolation in the US, which is why the CIA placed them overseas. But sources told the Post that the process has caused considerable internal debate within the agency, where there is concern about the legality, morality and practicality of the system.

The region’s new Nato members, particularly Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, have been among Washington’s staunchest allies in the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, heightening speculation that they would be the likeliest venues for the secret jails. Romania and Bulgaria made military facilities available to the Americans for the Afghan and Iraq wars. The Pentagon is planning to dispatch 5,000 servicemen to a string of new bases in the two countries from next year.

Legal experts and intelligence officials told the Post that the CIA’s internment practices would also be illegal under the laws of several of the host countries, which have signed the UN convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment and punishment.

Poland and Romania were identified as the main sites after Human Rights Watch studied the logs of a Boeing 757 jet – with a tailplane registration N313P – which is widely alleged to fly terror suspects outside the US.

The group found that in September 2003 the plane flew from Kabul to Szymany airport near the Polish town of Szczytno, north of Warsaw, where a training camp for the Polish intelligence service is based. From there it flew to the Mihail Kogalniceanu military air base near the Romanian city of Constanta on the Black Sea – which the Pentagon has been upgrading – before heading to Morocco and then on to Guantánamo Bay in Cuba, the notorious prison for al-Qaida suspects.

Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch said: “It is highly probable that the flight was transporting prisoners because Guantánamo was the final destination ... We do not believe the stops were for refuelling – if you’re flying from Kabul to Guantánamo Bay you do not stop off at a small rural airfield in Poland, head south to Romania before flying to Cuba via Morocco.”

The fat smug stoogery of the Charles Clarke (and the entire circus of the parliamentary “law and order” New Labourists – “feminist-achievement” Blair Babes and all – and the onion layers of “left” “protestors” who “conditionally” support them, while “protesting” at “excesses” or supposed “lack of progress” is revealed in its full foul criminally conscious, disgusting betrayal of the working class by this increasingly fascist warmongering, torturing and contemptuous reality which will only rapidly get worse as the slump finally hits hard.

Even those who pose as an “opposition” like the “firebrand” George Galloway Respect MP (and the appalling anti-communist Trot SWP making up the Respect troops on the ground) are part of this cynical and monstrous diversionary game, posturing mightily and theatrically (and even enjoyably at times with the with some well targetted bearding of the American republican liars, for example in their Washington den), but continuing to put in a word for “the parliamentary way” even as it is being torn to shreds by the urgent needs of the ruling class to impose its warmongering solution on the planet.

The real agenda surfaces clearly in the readiness of Bush and Blair to stomp around at the smallest opportunity with Hitlerite strutting denunciations of Iran for example, one of the next possible targets for “rogue state” victimisation to jack up the warmongering levels again, the unstoppable underlying agenda of the imperialist crisis.

The newly elected Iranian president may well be a total demagogue also. simply attempting to head off the mounting anti-imperialist sentiments in the entire region (and possibly less then sensibly so in the full context of current imperialist war pressures) but his remarks about destroying the Zionist occupation of “Israel” will have resonated strongly with what the great mass of the Middle Eastern world and many beyond know to be right - that the foul artificially imposed Zionist occupation of “Israel” can only become a greater and greater festering sore on the planet, driven by its completely out of time attempted domination closer and closer to a fully genocidal “solution” to its permanent imposition which can only generate greater and greater resistance by the concentration camp downtrodden and exploited Palestinians.

The incredible hypocritical posturing “outrage” of the West - which has ignored every United Nations resolution about Israeli illegalities, occupations and warmongering passed in the last four decades; which despite its mighty posing about “nuclear arms reduction” provided Israel with the technology and material to make nuclear bombs and never says a word about them, which funds the otherwise unsustainable Zionist economy with the greatest subsidies on the planet; and which colludes with every Zionist censorship lobby in the Western media to prevent any of this being discussed except in the down columns of the back pages of the press (to preserve the lie of a “free press”) (and then usually only post-event when the heat has cooled off from the scene) has only been driven back by the ever deepening defiance and fighting spirit of this historically most brutally misused and people. The intifada is impossible to ignore completely and some of the reality of Zionist “democracy” at least is occasionally revealed:

From a distance of 70 metres and through the sight of his machine gun, Assaf could tell that the Palestinian man was aged between 20 and 30, unarmed and trying to get away from an Israeli tank. But the details didn’t matter much, because Assaf’s orders were to “fire at anything that moved”.

Assaf, a soldier in the Israeli army, pressed the trigger, firing scores of bullets as the body fell to the ground. “He ran and I started shooting for a few seconds. He fell. I was a machine. I fire. I leave and that’s that. We never spoke about it afterwards.”

It was the summer of 2002, and Assaf and his armoured unit had been ordered to enter the Gaza town of Dir al Balah following the firing of mortars into nearby Jewish settlements. His orders were, he told the Guardian, “’Every person you see on the street, kill him’. And we would just do it.”

It was not the first time that Assaf had killed an innocent person in Gaza while following orders, but after his discharge he began to think about the things he did.

“The reason why I am telling you this is that I want the army to think about what they are asking us to do, shooting unarmed people. I don’t think it’s legal.”

Assaf is not alone. In recent months dozens of soldiers, including the son of an Israeli general, all recently discharged, have come forward to share their stories of how they were ordered in briefings to shoot to kill unarmed people without fear of reprimand.

The soldiers were brought into contact with the Guardian with the assistance of Breaking the Silence, a pressure group of former soldiers who want the Israeli public to confront the reality of army activities. The group insisted on anonymity of its witnesses to protect the soldiers from persecution and prosecution.

Although those speaking out are a tiny proportion, their testimonies reflect a widespread culture of impunity, according to Sarit Michaeli of the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

“During the first intifada, there were printed rules of engagement. In the second there are none and what rules exist are kept secret. This leaves a wide scope for interpretation for officers and soldiers,” she said.

According to B’Tselem, 3,269 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces in almost five years. About 1,700 are believed to have been civilians and 654 minors.

According to the army, over the same period it has investigated 131 cases of soldiers misusing firearms, resulting in 18 indictments and seven convictions. As a result of the testimonies received by the Guardian and Breaking the Silence, army prosecutors are looking at a further 17 cases of alleged criminal activity.

The death toll, the testimony of the soldiers and the small number of convictions appear to contradict the Israeli army’s stated aims. “Soldiers will not use their weapons and force to harm human beings who are not combatants or prisoners of war, and will do all in their power to avoid causing harm to their lives, bodies, dignity and property,” the Israeli Defence Forces website says.

The doctrine of the IDF clearly places the rule of law above military expediency. “IDF soldiers will be meticulous in giving only lawful orders and shall refrain from obeying blatantly illegal orders.”

Despite his qualms about legality, Assaf says he would carry out the same orders again when he returns to reserve duty.

Another soldier, Moshe, told the Guardian he and his colleagues came under pressure to obey illegal shoot-to-kill orders. As part of his sergeant’s training course, he and his fellow trainees were ordered to set up ambushes in Jenin in May 2003. He said there was “pressure to get kills”.

Before the operation, the soldiers were briefed that they were on the lookout for armed men. But their targets also included children and teenagers who habitually climbed on armoured personnel carriers as they lumbered through the narrow streets. On a few occasions, machine guns had been stolen from APCs.

“We were expressly told that we were just waiting for someone to climb on an APC, and ordered to shoot to kill,” said Moshe. “After a day or two, a 12-year-old climbed on one of the APCs. There were a lot of guesses about his age. First they said he was eight, later that he was 12. In any case, he climbed on an APC, and one of our sharpshooters killed him. The neighbouring company also had an incident with a kid or teenager who was killed.”

The statistics collected by the Palestinian Human Rights Monitoring Group show that on May 14, Diya Gawadreh, 13, was killed by a live bullet. Kamal Amjad Nawahda, 13, was shot by Israeli soldiers on May 22. He died on May 27.

After Moshe returned to his paratroop unit, he said there were several incidents when children and teenagers were killed after bullets aimed at their legs hit their chests. The attitude was, he said, “so kids got killed. For a soldier it means nothing. An officer can get a 100 or 200 shekel [£12.50-£25] fine for such a thing.”

A common theme in the soldiers’ testimony was the desire to avenge Israeli casualties and inflict collective punishment on Palestinians.

May 2004 was a bad month for the Israeli army in Gaza. Four soldiers were blown to pieces when their explosive-laden APC hit a roadside bomb in Gaza City. As the army took over, another seven soldiers were killed in a similar incident in Rafah, at the other end of Gaza. In response the army launched an operation “to secure the neighbourhood along the Philadelphi Road [the border between Gaza and Egypt] and to make sure they are clean from terrorists,” said Major General Dan Harel, the local commander.

Thousands of Palestinians were expelled from their homes, and around 50 died, of whom between a quarter and a half were civilians. According to Rafi, an officer in the Shaldag, an elite unit connected to the air force, the whole mission was about revenge. “The commanders said kill as many people as possible,” he said.

He and his men were ordered to shoot anyone who appeared to be touching the ground, as if they might be placing a roadside bomb, or anyone seen on a roof or a balcony, as if they might be observing Israeli forces for military reasons, regardless of whether they were armed.

Asma Moghayyer, 16, and her brother Ahmed, 13, were shot as they went to collect clothes from a rooftop washing line. The Israeli army insisted the children had been blown up by a roadside bomb. However, journalists visiting the morgue saw only single bullet wounds to the head.

The truth, said Rafi, was that they were shot by an Israeli soldier following clear orders to shoot anyone on a roof regardless of their role in the conflict.

Rafi says that his overriding impression of the operation was “chaos” and the “indiscriminate use of force”. “Gaza was considered a playground for sharpshooters.”

Eli, a staff sergeant in the paratroopers, was sent on an arrest mission to Askar refugee camp in Nablus on November 27 2002, during Ramadan. He saw another squad of troops notice a man on the street in the early morning. “They shouted, ‘Wakef’ [stop in Arabic]. The man started running away; they started shooting at him, chasing him.

“They also saw this object he was carrying and feared it was a bomb. [They] shot him and verified the kill – threw a grenade at him, and then shot him once more in the head,” he recounted.

The man, 24-year-old Jihad Mohammed al-Natour, was carrying a drum with which to wake the camp before dawn so that they could eat before beginning their fast. It is a traditional role. The drummer is known as the musaharati. “No one bothered telling us and for that the guy died,” Eli told Breaking the Silence.

The wave of suicide bombings that began in 2001 made many soldiers feel that their families and country were under serious attack and helped create a culture where army crimes were not questioned.

In testimony to the group, Avi recounted how a soldier in his unit was allowed to get away with the murder of an innocent Palestinian. A staff sergeant in the paratroopers, Avi was serving in Hebron on October 13 2000 when he heard one of his men firing from the lookout position above him. “We knew the man was crazy ... out of his mind,” he said.

Despite the recent retreat forced on the Zionists from the Gaza strip by the determination of the militant spirit of the Palestinians, there is no end possible to this foul occupation’s ever closer genocidal madness.

The struggle cannot stop but only grow stronger as the crisis deepens; the Zionists are already escalating to the next fascist level with the continuation of the West Bank “security wall” land seizures and the latest Nazi style “collective punishment” torture – the madhouse devised “sonic boom” jet flights across Gaza which are arbitrarily maiming and killing at random. There is no end to the this imperialist imposed knife in the chest of the Middle East except the destruction of the Zionist state and there is no end to the rapidly degenerating foulness of imperialist slump except by overturning the whole outmoded and destructive system.

But it needs Leninist understanding.

Don Hoskins

EPSR No 1069 produced at the time of the Damilola murder upheaval in Peckham 2000 generations [are] becoming totally hostile to the entire prospective appeal of capitalist society itself, and its whole authority. It represents a real crisis in the whole way in which competitive market consumerism within private-enterprise/class-property rule tries to motivate, organise, and control the vast mass of ordinary people on earth, but increasingly failing to retain (or deserve) the slightest respect.

The “lets do something practical” do-gooders serve one purpose only, — to complete the total diversion (away from concentrating on capitalist society’s essential bankruptcy) which the fake-’lefts’ first create with their phoney ‘revolutionary’ posturing pretending that a vote for ‘Socialist Alliance’ would mean a vote for ‘real socialism’ at last.

All these opportunist dilettantes always promise that they will ‘really, really, really change things’, — by winning votes or by ‘practical action’, etc. But without exception, they all achieve one thing only, — to distract the working class’s attention from the very impossibility within capitalism any longer for the very system of hire-and-fire, get-rich-quick, competitive-consumerism ‘rat-race’ to inspire people to do anything but become meaner ‘rats’, if they bother to respond at all.

Once people start to grasp this more fully and more consciously, the revolutionary essence of the contradiction between the working class and monopoly-capitalist exploitation will become ever-plainer, and a genuine revolutionary movement will at last be able massively to work towards a serious real-socialist transformation.

People are endlessly held back from this revolutionary understanding by a non-stop procession of ever-new ‘socialism’-promising fake-’left’ groups and single-issue ‘practical-reform’ activists, dashing around earnestly ambulance-chasing to ‘put things right’ whenever or wherever trouble breaks out.

This is not a question of sincerity, which doesn’t come into it. It is a problem of basic understanding of 200 years of international class-war struggle against the capitalist-imperialist system which have only ever shown revolutionary crisis as the sole opportunity to terminate bourgeois exploitation/domination of society; and reformist promises, however ‘left’, as the sure guarantee of continued capitalist-system rule.

How obviously these ‘left’-reform promises serve only to obstruct the development of revolutionary understanding but do nothing to seriously change life at the bottom of the capitalist rat-race, is made clear by the scalded responses of the ‘New Labour’ leadership who have supposedly already transformed life for the working class by the mass of legislation since coming back into office 3 1/2 years ago.

Blairism has obviously failed to make capitalism smell remotely sweeter (despite 95% of the current ‘Socialist Alliance’ dilettantes telling workers that it would be ‘worth’ voting Labour so as to ‘get rid of Toryism’). This farcically assured continuation of exactly the same capitalism as before (or worse, if anything, because Blair is even more enamoured of monopoly-capitalist swagger than Hague is) was 100% accurately predictable given just the slightest acquaintance with Marxist historical materialism.

Eight periods of Labour government-by-reformist-promise prior to Blairism, stretching all the way back to 1924, had not changed the basic alienating relationship between the capitalist economy and the exploited working class one little bit. People still hate and resent being bossed-around, profiteered-from, and generally screwed rotten, just as much as they have ever done since the monopoly-capitalist class started ruling centuries ago.

The near-hysterical posturing around Peckham by Blair, Blunkett, Straw and Harman, plus their local Labour Party representatives, merely showed how close things are to a total breakdown (with the Establishment secretly knowing that a complete collapse could expose Blair’s bogus ‘New Labour reformism’ (or any government) to not just utter ridicule but to violent hatred as well), as well as how dangerously thin public gullibility has had to be stretched to present Blairism as something ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ to start with (to get round the problem of Thatcherism, the quintessential successful capitalism, being booed off the stage) when it was only the same old discredited Labour treachery once more, promising to change things, but in reality merely propping up the capitalist system again (while the Tories, the major capitalist ruling-class party, took a breather to work out new propaganda gimmicks, and fresh ways to rob people blind), — just as every previous Labour government in history has done.

The nervous hysteria has gone very badly. The former ‘Socialist Alliance’ hero Blunkett, one-time leader of the ‘socialist republic of South Yorkshire’, (incidentally rumoured to be one of the most conceited, short-tempered, tyrannical bullies of any Cabinet Minister in charge of a major department (education & employment)), has denounced the bullying culture in Peckham, feared to be the cause of Damilola’s death, as a spin-off from the selfish commercial-TV culture of ‘who wants to be a millionaire’. But this disgusting toe-rag government for big-business privatisation has given away vast public wealth to create more unworthy millionaires faster than any government in history. Blair absolutely revels in the company of millionaires and billionaires, appointing hordes of them to every kind of public office and quango possible, having them finance every back-office for his party-leader role, and bringing them directly into his Cabinet via the exclusivist racket of putting them, unelected, into the House of Lords (fabulous free club, fabulous expenses).

New Labour has overseen bigger fat-cat salaries, golden hellos, golden handshakes after cocking things up, etc, etc, than any previous period. If anything has deepened the climate of hostility and resentment at ill-gotten gains and unjustified chasm between the lavish lifestyle of posturing (and often unpleasant) wealthy excess and how ordinary people have to live. [back to main article]

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).

Imperialist dirty tricks behind lurid “IRA property empire” stories says Sinn Fein — but without blanket UK media coverage of denial to equal the original story parroted widely by the stooge capitalist press machine

Thomas Murphy hits back at allegations (of ira property wealth)

Thomas Murphy, the County Louth farmer at the centre of outrageous and unfounded allegations made about him in the Irish and British media says the allegations have been distressing for his family and are completely untrue.

Meanwhile, following the high profile and politically motivated actions of the the past week Sins Fein has called for action against what it called “those malign influences using their official positions to undermine the Peace Process”.

The loudly trumpeted securocrat operation with clear, advance preparation and media notice began on Thursday 6 October when the Six-County Assets Recovery Agency (ara) and the 26-County Criminal

Assets Bureau (cab), assisted by Gardai searched domestic and business premises respectively in Manchester and Dundalk.

cab raided the offices of several premises, including legal and financial firms in Dundalk and took away documentation. Journalists were told in media briefings that Thomas Murphy was a focus of their inquiries. Pet hacks claimed Murphy was identified to them by ‘security sources’ as ira Chief of Staff and was at the centre of a ‘multi-million pound exercise’ in cross-border smuggling.

Media reports from Friday 7 October claimed to identify where Thomas Murphy lived and journalists were dispatched to the North Louth area in an unseemly scramble to dig up information on the man and his family.

Security elements in the Six and 26 Counties drip-fed journalists for a week, claiming they had discovered a paper trail of criminal investments leading to Thomas Murphy’s door. However, within days the story began to unravel and when the real facts began to emerge it was clear that the scale and scope of the operation had been greatly exaggerated and there was no evidence of wrongdoing against Thomas Murphy whatsoever.

The raids coincided with a visit to Downing Street by Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. Asked by reporters at Downing Street for his reaction to the operation Gerry Adams said: “I am not going to respond to what are obviously briefings headed up by Alan McQuillan, a former ruc Special Branch officer. This is obviously a political agenda.

By Monday the depth of the hoax had become clear as one of the Manchester-based businessmen Dermot Craven delivered a press conference in which he confidently refuted the allegations against him and held up to public ridicule the entire ara operation.

On Wednesday 12 October Thomas Murphy issued the following statement through the Belfast-based solicitors firm Madden and Finucane:

“There is absolutely no foundation to allegations which have been carried in the media for some time and repeated at length over the past week. I have never conducted any business with the Craven Property Group, nor have I any link with other businesses run by them.

“It is distressing to myself and my family to see false allegations being made by anonymous staff in the ara and repeated as fact in the media. I want to categorically state for the record that all these allegations are totally untrue.

“I believe that questions have to be asked as to why these raids were conducted in the full glare of the media and why my name was leaked in connection with this case.

“My name has appeared on no ara statement that I am aware of and no agency has been in contact with me in relation to any of this.

“My solicitor is in contact with those concerned to ascertain why my name has been falsely linked to this case.

“I do not own any property and in fact had to sell my own home some years ago to cover legal fees following an unsuccessful libel case.

“Despite losing this case I take an attack on my reputation very seriously.

“The farm depicted in the media is not in fact my home and I do not live at that address. I make a living from farming.

“Those opposed to the Peace Process are obviously hoping that in vilifying me personally and republicanism in general they will scupper attempts to build peace. They will not succeed.

“I have been a republican all my life and fully support the Peace Process. I will continue to play whatever role I can to see it work.”

Also on Wednesday Sinn Fein Newry and Armagh MP Conor Murphy said British Prime Minster Tony Blair must remove anti-Agreement securocrats from positions of influence. “The malign influence of securocrats such as those who were members of the ruc old guard and Special Branch has at every twist and turn of the Peace Process tried to undermine progress and defend unionist interests.

“Sinn Fein supports the pursuit of criminal assets. However in recent days the Assets Recovery Agency has pursued a blatant political agenda that does not stand up to even the most cursory of examinations. Tony Blair has a responsibility to remove anti-agreement securocrats from positions of influence where they can undermine the Peace Process.”

EDITORIAL (An Phoblacht)

The political timing, orchestrated media briefings and subsequent changing of the story around the recent, high-profile actions of the British Assets Recovery Agency (ara) have led most reasonable commentators to conclude that a political agenda is at work.

Several days of widespread media manipulation about a non-existent ‘ira property empire’ has resulted in a number of people being unjustly vilified, their characters assasinated and their families traumatised.

Claims about the scale and scope of the investigation have subsequently shown to be untrue. Thomas Murphy as well as the Manchester business people targeted by the ara have been the victims of a clear political manoeuvre.

This was the latest, massive publicity stunt by British securocrats. It was greeted enthusiastically by their supporters in the Irish political and media establishment who, like battery hens, devoured every piece of lying propaganda they were were fed and who have now been forced to swallow most of the outlandish claims they initially made about this dubious operation.

British securocrats opposed to the Irish Peace Process from its inception, and intent on undermining it at every opportunity, staged another headline grabbing event. They found willing fools in the Irish and British media and loyal allies within the Irish political establishment who have parroted their line and trumpeted their actions without the slightest hesitation.

The manipulation of events for media consumption was clear from the very beginning with the over-the-top numbers of police used to carry out the raids in Manchester. The fact that they were staged when Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were in Downing Street reinforces the view that the raids were politically motivated. The Assistant Director of the ara is a former senior ruc Special Branch officer with a history of political controversy. The ara’s actions have perfectly suited rejectionist unionists and provided them with further spurious reasons for refusing to engage in the political process.

The Dublin Government has serious questions to answer in relation to its complicity in this latest farce. Michael McDowell in particular has been unrelenting in his attempts to stoke up fears about a ‘republican criminal empire’. His words and his actions have been manna from heaven for ..those...intent on wrecking the Peace Process.



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