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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 1302 10th November 2006

Electoral meltdown reflecting growing worldwide defeats for US shock-and-awe blitzings will further hamper the US neocon fascist agenda for imposing capitalist crisis on the rest of the world. But “democratic change” is an illusion and the “Democrats” as much part of the ruling order as the Bushites, changing nothing about imperialism’s overall plunge into Third World War mayhem. Whatever pullout there is from Iraq, – is down to insurgency and resistance not morality and will be replaced by more warmongering as soon as capitalism can get its breath back. Only revolutionary struggle can end the continuing destructiveness of imperialism. Leninism is ever more vital.

The devastating meltdown of the republicans and neo-cons in the US Congressional election adds another layer of difficulties to imperialism’s warmongering plans, which are already in deepening trouble all around the planet as military and political defeats accumulate.

In itself the “Democrat” victory will make no difference at all to the overall direction of US imperialism, or capitalism, which will continue its manic course towards Third World war destruction, the only way out of crisis and slump that the profit system has ever come up with, or can come up with.

The lies, provocations and propaganda scaremongering used to get into the Iraq and Afghan wars will continue (as they are, against Iran, North Korea, South America, Cuba, Sudan, Zimbabwe etc and all dissidents and opposition within capitalism).

Any withdrawals, “peace moves” or cessations will only be a hiatus, in the relentless progress towards conflict and destruction that is built into the fabric of capitalism’s exploitation system and its unstoppable “over-production” crises.

But, even so, it grows harder for imperialism to drag the world down this path as the world and humanity matures in general.

The enormous anti-war turmoil and general hostility to increasingly cynical greed, hypocrisy and unfairness, as daily life gets harder and insecurity and debt reach unnerving levels, even in the richest countries, is real and growing.

Mass unease and discontent was sufficient to actually increase voter turnout despite decades of steadily increasing (and knowing) indifference and abstention as people reject the manipulated and fraudulent electoral processes of bourgeois “democracy” and the Goebbels lies about “freedom and choice” – and the foul backstabbing personal attacks and calumnies that pass for debate in “free society”.

Great masses of people were driven to make a specific statement this time, venting their growing frustrations and fears for the future over the disastrous Iraq war, the mess and equally festering chaos of Afghanistan and the utter failure of American power generally, which wants to bully and terrorise the whole world in order to impose the burden of the coming slump anywhere but on itself.

Their movement and voice will further hobble the already limping “shock and awe” world intimidation plans of the American ruling class, and its increasingly fascist-minded “security and surveillance” agenda for class suppression domestically.

But petty bourgeois and fake-”left” celebrations about the “power of democracy” and “the will of the people” are misplaced and misleading; parliaments and senates never altered anything fundamental and these changes (or even a new president, now promised) will stop nothing about the relentless degeneration of capitalism overall which is driven by far deeper contradictions historically.

By all means the world should enjoy the humiliation of the nazi-minded Bush White House and gleefully watch the spectacle of its “hard nut” neocons like Donald Rumsfeld being driven out of Washington (though a war crimes punishment would be more just and apposite, like the vengeful hanging just ordered by a pantomime show-trial for rebellious imperialist stooge thug Saddam Hussein (as yet another diversionary feint from the humiliation of defeat in Iraq) – and a thousand times more deserved by the US power which has done all the heavyweight world blitzing, and assassination for the last six decades.)

The weaselly comments of leading Democrats about “new timetables” for Iraq while “still supporting the troops”, and the immediate re-statement of “the importance of fighting the war on terror” by the likes of Hillary Clinton – the Duchess of American political manipulation, cynicism and dissembling – show exactly how much attention the voters’ opinions would ultimately be given, all things being equal.

They are not quite. The real significance of the election is the revolutionary undercurrent reflected deeper down in this upheaval, both within the USA and more clearly outside it, as anti-imperialist struggle grows.

The Democrats will have a desperate job to try and head this off.

The ruling class always has in the back of its mind the realities of class existence in capitalism and the resistance engendered to its grotesque exploitation – and that keeping the lid on a boiling pot is a recipe for explosion.

Block off too much and revolution will emerge as the real substance of class struggle in capitalism, driving all movement forwards.

The entire history of reformism from the mid-nineteenth century has been a ruling class game of letting out the steam, seeming to give something with one hand while always taking away even more with the other – or even significant retreats at times of revolutionary turmoil such as those after the last two great crises and world wars, when the entire capitalist world made a great pretence of “social gains” and “progress”, aided and abetted by class collaborating trade unionism and left reformism.

“Welfare rights” and “better working conditions” and “more consumer products” have always been a shallow and ultimately false victory for the working class, neither lifting up their dignity and transforming their humanity as needed, or being anything but short-term illusions anyway to be ripped back one way or the other by the ruling class as soon as it can get away with it, as tried under Thatcher and extended by Blairism.

But the growing hollowness of the mainstream imperialist economy, creaking under the mountain of paper dollars piled up in the Stock Exchanges, banks and trading rivals’ accounts, in lieu of real payment, leaves little room for the old palliatives to work.

Some part of this elaborate credit framework – stretching capitalist profit production and trade beyond rational comprehension – has to give way shortly, letting rip the basic over-production crisis of the entire system which Marx disentangled and understood in his three great volumes of Capital (see also economic quotes).

All the bourgeois commentators, despite the apparent boom, keep harping back to the fact that the entire world system is now utterly hollow and the signs of incipient disaster repeatedly emerging:

Fears are mounting of a dismal Christmas for America’s shopping malls after a slew of poor trading updates from leading retailers including Wal-Mart, the clothes chain Gap and the discount store Target.

Wal-Mart, the world’s biggest retailer, told Wall Street yesterday that its like-for-like sales rose by a modest 0.3% last month and that it expected its November figures to be “approximately flat”. It intends to cut the price of toys and electronics to stimulate festive sales.

Its downbeat tone was replicated by many of its rivals, fuelling concerns that consumers are feeling the pinch from a rapidly weakening housing market.

Richard Iley, senior US economist at BNP Paribas in New York, said: “This is an economy slowing down rapidly as the housing market loses pace.” He said there could be some “short-term tailwinds” from falling petrol prices but further ahead, the outlook was dark: “The tectonic plates of the economy are shifting and that spells very gloomy news for the American consumer.”

The data firm Thomson Financial said that of 50 American retailers reporting October data, 28 have missed expectations and only 22 have beaten forecasts.

The struggling clothes chain Gap was among the poorest performers with a 7% fall in like-for-like takings despite efforts to revive its fortunes with a back-to-basics autumn collection. Target had a 3.9% rise but missed estimates of a 4.2% increase. Chico’s, a specialist in clothes for older women, reported a 4.1% fall in same-store sales, prompting a 10% drop in its shares.

Adrianne Shapira, a retail analyst at Goldman Sachs, said there were signs of a “considerable disparity between high-end and low-end consumers” but added: “People will be pushing some panic buttons if this softness continues.”

Growth in the US economy has plummeted in the third quarter to its slowest for more than three years, sparking speculation among analysts that the Federal Reserve may cut interest rates before too long. The economy grew at an annualised rate of only 1.6% in the third quarter, down from 2.6% in the previous three months. This was the weakest rate since the first quarter of 2003, when growth was 1.2%. Recent data showed that new housebuilding fell 17.4% over the same period - the biggest drop for 15 years.

The number of consumers with spiralling debts jumped by more than 10% over the last year said the charity Citizens Advice, heightening fears that a rise in interest rates later this week will result in thousands more families facing bankruptcy.

The charity said its network of advice bureaux handled 1.4m debt problems in the year to April 2006, an increase of 11% on the previous year.

Many people were close to defaulting on mortgages and secured loans, which the charity said was one of the fastest growing problems.

The report comes a few days after figures showing personal insolvencies rising at an annual rate of 55%, on course to break through the 100,000 barrier.

Separate figures emphasised the impact on families, many of which were having trouble meeting their monthly mortgage repayments. Department of Constitutional Affairs data showed that lenders started 34,626 repossession actions in the three months to September, the highest figure since the early 1990s...Citizens Advice chief executive David Harker said: “Our debt enquiry figures are deeply worrying. They suggest that a growing number of people are getting deeper into unmanageable debt it will be difficult to recover from. Many of our clients already face a lifetime of debt and research we published in May found it will take them an average of 77 years to pay off the money they owe at a rate they can afford.”

Mr Harker added: “We are particularly concerned by the sharp rise in enquiries from people getting behind with mortgage payments and having trouble paying council tax, gas and electricity bills, at a time when court action that can lead to repossession is on the increase, and fuel prices are rising steeply.

Chrysler, America’s third-largest car company, is to start a savage cost-cutting programme and shift towards more fuel-efficient models to halt mounting losses that hit €1.16bn (£780m) in the third quarter.

Chrysler’s losses, prompted by a 26% fall in sales and a price war, dragged down operating earnings at parent group DaimlerChrysler to €892m compared with €1.84bn in the same quarter a year ago, it was confirmed yesterday.

Daimler, which owns 15% of Airbus parent EADS, said delays to Airbus’s A380 superjumbo would shave €200m off earnings this year, but reaffirmed its forecast of €5bn for the full year thanks to renewed vigour at Mercedes, its trucks division and financial services. EADS delivered €247m profits to the cars group.

The plight of Chrysler, hailed last year as a turnaround success, underlines the scale of the problems faced by the US auto industry in the face of surging fuel prices and Asian competitors supplying smaller, greener cars. The contrasting fortunes of Toyota and its US rivals were underlined yesterday when the Japanese carmaker increased its profit forecasts and said it aimed to sell 9.8m vehicles around the world in 2008, an increase of 11% over two years.

The ambitious sales target raises the prospect that Toyota, already the world’s most profitable carmaker, will soon overtake General Motors as the world’s biggest manufacturer by sales.

Earlier this week, Ford announced losses of $5.8bn, its worst results for 14 years, as analysts warned its full-year deficit could overtake last year’s record $10.5bn at larger rival General Motors. Ford is shedding 30,000 jobs and closing a dozen plants in North America.

But GM yesterday signalled a substantial turnaround, after starting a programme to axe 35,000 jobs more than a year ago. It reported a net loss of $115m for the third quarter, a $1.6bn improvement on the same period in 2005.

Labour was last night under fire for nurturing a “live-now-pay-later” society after the latest government figures showed personal insolvencies rising at an annual rate of 55% and on course to break through the 100,000 barrier for the first time.

The Conservatives and Liberal Democrats seized on data from the Department of Trade and Industry showing that dearer fuel bills, rising council tax and higher joblessness are forcing borrowers - some with credit card debts in excess of £50,000 - to go bankrupt or seek an individual voluntary agreement (IVA) with lenders.

In the three months to September, the number of people going broke rose almost 6% to 27,644 - 55.4% up on a year ago. Companies dealing with the problem said the trend was for more young people and more women to default on their debts.

Separate data from the Department of Constitutional Affairs showed more families having trouble meeting monthly repayments on mortgages. Lenders started 34,626 possession actions in the three months to September - the highest figure since the recession that led to the pound being ejected from the Exchange Rate Mechanism on Black Wednesday in 1992.

“An economy built on borrowed money is built on borrowed time,” said George Osborne, the shadow chancellor. “There is a personal tragedy behind each of these insolvencies and this shows that many families are feeling the pressure of rising interest rates and rising fuel bills. Gordon Brown is doing nothing to help these families, with more and more stealth taxes and increasing council tax.”

Astonishingly then, the Bank of England is increasing interest rates! Why? – because the whole latest surge of “boom” is even more artificial than the post-war boom, built on massively increased credit and dollar printing, feeding inflation into the system which threatens always to run violently out of control, accelerated as always by the buccaneering wheeler-dealing of ever more parasitic finance capitalism, creaming yet more wealth from the entire edifice:

The cheap yen is fuelling an enormous speculative binge in property, shares, commodities and virtually everything else... “aggressive risk-taking” is back. (In) the yen-carry trade an investor borrows in yen, which costs next to nothing (because of low interest rates), and recycles the cash into investments outside Japan.

The key question is why central bankers have confined themselves to such modest remarks, given the obvious potential for a major blowout in the style of 1998, when the yen strengthened 15% against the dollar in a matter of days. If such a move were seen now, there would be chaos because one half of the yen-carry trade is a simple bet that the yen will remain weak...Financial speculators, however, seem to have taken the current (bank control) silence to mean that the Bank of Japan has given a green light to allow the yen to weaken further to help Japanese exporters. In their view, that’s an invitation to load up with even more cheap debt.

The economist recalls a recent conversation with a hedge fund manager who said: “I cannot foresee any event that could have a negative impact on my business. Look at what the market has shrugged off so far - Iraq, oil doubling then losing 25%, Amaranth, North Korea etc etc. I hear your worries, but I see no reversal in sight.”

This is worrying talk. It may not herald a reversal tomorrow, but you know it will be nasty when it arrives. The genuinely risk-free currency trade has yet to be invented.

Ever deepening discontent with this piratical plundering and economic fears are part of what is pushing the working class worldwide into potentially revolutionary ferment even within the USA as well as outside it, reflected in the hostility and hatred evoked around the New Orleans hurricane destruction and the ruling class’ contemptuous Marie Antoinette response to the suffering (still continuing), and the rising tide of opposition by the growing “immigrant” population (which does more and more of the basic work in the USA) to the daily racist contempt and grafting worklife it is forced to endure.

Revolution in America may be a way off yet, but perhaps not so far as might be assessed by straight line thinking, for the US or equally the rich club nations of Europe or Japan.

Some interesting further signals are in these economic pieces too about the deepest conflict of all; the gigantic hostility between the major imperialist powers which can only head towards all-out aggression as the contradiction of over-production of capital finally hits a brick wall and the inevitable slump collapse and trade war that is built into the whole system forces the desperate battle for collapsing world markets to an all out struggle for survival.

After years of having the growing slump burden pushed onto their back, rivals like Japan and Germany are making aggressive economic headway – with Toyota cars e.g. – and still murmured, but significant, signals of war preparation.

It is not fear of North Korea’s tiny armoury of defensive nuclear weapons – produced, like those of the Soviet Union in the 1940s and China in the 1960s because of the aggression of capitalism – that leads Japan to talk about arming itself with nuclear weapons too – nor even the growing reactionary hostility inside Japan to ever more successful Chinese workers-state use of capitalism, – but the almost hidden inter-imperialist tension at the heart of all capitalism, which the EPSR has long identified as a fundamental driving force towards war – just as in 1914 and 1937-39.

Not for nothing has American imperialism issued dire warnings, not just to the supposed “terrorist hordes” (which barely existed until stirred up by gruesome civilian blasting blitzkrieg in Iraq and Afghanistan) in its new “endless war” mode, but to any power which even begins to come near equalling the firepower and technology of the all-powerful American forces (and their trained Rottweillers like the Zionist nazis) etc.

“Shock and awe” is US imperialism’s pre-emptive move in the all-out conflict to force the burdens of slump onto everyone else, picking on Iraq and Afghanistan because they are suitable victims, particularly the unlovable Saddam, for the hypocritical nonsenses about blitzing the way to “freedom, democracy and choice”.

But the world is not buying any of it and it is just backfiring badly creating the very resistance which it wants to suppress, and in the accumulating defeats now besetting imperialism’s worldwide influence throughout the Middle East in particular, but also throughout South America to North Korea, stirring up the ferment of change and discontent that is ultimately unstoppable; the expression of irreversible molecular change in the entire planetary order that will eventually transform the monstrous degeneracy of capitalist exploitation in the only way possible, by turning it over completely.

This disgusting tyranny has to be ended for ever, the only way to clear the ground for building socialism and justice, which is the path forwards for rational human development.

A world revolution is heating up towards boiling point that must bring to an end the eight centuries of piratical plundering oppression that is the reality of capitalism, or see mankind go down into destructive mayhem that is all the worked-out class-based capitalism offers mankind.

Such struggle currently lacks the consciousness it needs to lead and develop its fight and, equally importantly, to understand its own development (part and parcel of the same struggle).

Only Marxist science can offer the tools to begin making sense of, and giving perspective to the struggle – and thereby leadership of the practical class battles needed to resolve the impossible contradictions of production for profit in some other way than total destruction of accumulated “surplus” value (capitalism’s short-sighted and demented answer).

But it is also the only philosophy which understands and says clearly that the divers militant “religious” movements, South American “pink revolutions”, macho defiance, partial national struggles, Nigerian anti-oil-company organised “banditry”, near fully-fledged Marxism in Nepal or Colombia, street riots in Europe, unfinished battles against once-apartheid inequality, and more, are all telling signs that the entire world population has been educated and transformed by the globalised expansion of capitalist exploitation to a point where they are no longer willing to be cowed by, and stay docile to, big money and capital.

There is a huge way to go before these struggles can achieve what they need to do to solve the appalling chaos and destruction threatened by ever more desperate capitalism and they will see many potentially bitter and awful setbacks until they learn enough to not be fooled by the ever more devious lies and propaganda of the ruling class.

For example, many of the emerging “socialist” and “anti-American” leaderships can only be tested by the working class making practical experience, put to the historic test by supporting them in the way Lenin urged the support by communists for the “left” reformists in the 1920s – graphically stated as “supporting them like a rope supports a hanging man”. The highly suspect Lula opportunism in Brazil, just re-elected by a massive working class majority and the equally suspect “reformed” and now God-fearing Catholic former Sandinista “revolutionary” Daniel Ortega, perhaps have to be supported in order for the working class to see for themselves that they are no solution and, in the light of the strong warnings to be made by Marxism that reformism and “democracy” never achieved anything lasting for workers. The same applies to perhaps even Hugo Chávez in Venezuela and Morales in Bolivia for all their anti-Yankee anti-imperialist statements and friendship with Cuba and China.

The question can only be untangled by the greatest caution by the working class seeing how these figures live up to their promised – with suitable warnings from rational scientific leadership.

It is the revolutionary potential of the south American masses combined with the reality of bitter insurgency and struggles worldwide which have pushed capitalism onto its heels temporarily but it is always preparing the utmost brutality to put down any movement which makes real headway.

Nowhere illustrates the ruthless barbarity of the imperialist and colonialist spirit, and the permanent true underlying nature of its dominance better than Palestine, where the Zionists intruders have been driven into a rabid frenzy of Nazi atrocities by the tenacity, heroism and determination of the occupied, and the more so as they have developed their understanding and used the democratic weapon “allowed” them by imperialism.

The sheer indifference of the world capitalist political leaderships to the appalling suffering – despite endless posturing, hypocritical lying “outrage” at supposed, or rumoured, or unconfirmed, or manufactured, or simply CIA made-up “human rights violations” in countries which have dared stand up to imperialism to any extent at all – from Zimbabwe to North Korea, or Sudan or China, or Cuba – in other words the support, collusion and encouragement of imperialism with all the worst fascist collective punishment horrors inflicted by Zionism, is no longer ignorable by anyone on the planet, except those reactionaries who really are the “deniers”.

Apologetic petty-bourgeois-placating nostrums about “ooh, it’s a bit disproportionate” in the face of such glaring deliberate fascism are as hypocritical as the timid “knuckle-rapping” given to Hitler during the 1930s when the entire imperialist world was egging Germany on under the table to attack the Soviet Union to destroy communism, and its powerfully attractive rational working-class achievements, in a tide of blood.

But this struggle will teach major lessons to the Arab world and the world proletariat about their craven leaderships, and fake-”lefts” of all shades:

The initiation of Avigdor Lieberman - widely regarded as an outright racist - into Ehud Olmert’s Israeli government seems to have already brought a taste of things to come. For the past week, the Gaza Strip city of Beit Hanoun has been made a ground zero by the Israeli army. By yesterday, more than 260 Palestinians lay dead and injured, with 53 fatalities - women, children and ambulance drivers among them.

The Israeli army had vowed to end the firing of home-made rockets towards southern Israel. Many Palestinians disagree with the use of these makeshift rockets, but regard Israeli offensives as flagrantly disproportionate. Beit Hanoun was left with no men between the ages of 16 and 45 in the wake of a massive forced round-up by the Israeli army last Thursday night amid helicopter gunfire, tanks and artillery shelling. Women and children in the city sent urgent calls for help through Gaza’s radio stations. To these jobless women, losing their men meant breakdown in their households.

On Friday morning, scores of women marched through Beit Hanoun in a spontaneous rush to aid friends and loved ones after hearing their pleas. Unarmed, they were shot at by Israeli soldiers from their tanks; two women were left dead and others severely injured. These women were said to have been heading to a mosque to free armed men who took refuge there. Television footage and interviews with witnesses show these women posed no military threat, but they were treated as such by the Israeli army without warning.

Meanwhile, Lieberman’s party, Yisrael Beiteinu (“Israel is Our Home”), envisages expelling Palestinians or subjecting them to such misery that they are forced to leave. The party’s spin doctors state it more mildly, saying that it proposes to relocate Palestinians to areas under the Palestinian Authority’s control. The Beit Hanoun offensive offers an example of what lies in store for them.

Today, the Palestinian Authority tries to govern a besieged Gaza Strip and a West Bank with disconnected cities and villages. The 1.4 million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are imprisoned by closure policies, impoverished and without any hope of a dignified life or economic development. The 1.5 million Palestinians in the West Bank are quickly catching up in a collapse created by the dozens of Israeli military checkpoints and the separation wall which make their lives impossible. Israeli restrictions on movement have made the Palestinians of East Jerusalem look as though they live in a faraway country, from the point of view of West Bankers and Gazans.

The present subjugation of Palestinians to siege, poverty and confinement - in addition to continuing Israeli military attacks - can only make it easier for our people to slip into infighting and tragedy. Both the international community and peace-loving Israelis and Palestinians will inevitably face ever more criticism for their failure to stem this tide of misery. Even to those who never supported Hamas, it is impossible to ignore such a huge double standard: the outside world accepts Lieberman’s appointment as deputy prime minister, despite his extreme views, while it boycotts the Palestinian Authority’s elected Hamas administration.

One can only wonder at Olmert’s insistence that his deputy will not diminish whatever prospects remain of peace. Israel’s offensives against Gaza punish an entire population. Bulldozing the area’s water and sewage systems, including those built with international donor funding, killing civilians and subjecting tens of thousands of residents to oppressive military measures represent the reality of Israel’s policy, whatever its stated objectives.

Sami Abdel-Shafi is senior partner at Emerge Consulting Group, in Gaza City

But as though this occupation and collective punishment were not enough, we Palestinians find ourselves the targets of a systematic siege imposed by the so-called free world. We are being starved and suffocated as a punishment for daring to exercise our democratic right to choose who rules and represents us. Nothing undermines the west’s claims to defend freedom and democracy more than what is happening in Palestine. Shortly after announcing his project to democratise the Middle East, President Bush did all he could to strangle our nascent democracy, arresting our ministers and MPs. I have yet to hear western condemnation that I, an elected MP, have had my home demolished and relatives killed by Israel’s bombs. When the bodies of my friends and colleagues were torn apart there was not one word from those who claim to be defenders of women’s rights on Capitol Hill and in 10 Downing Street.

Yesterday at dawn, the Israeli air force bombed and destroyed my home. I was the target, but instead the attack killed my sister-in-law, Nahla, a widow with eight children in her care. In the same raid Israel’s artillery shelled a residential district in the town of Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip, leaving 19 dead and 40 injured, many killed in their beds. One family, the Athamnas, lost 16 members in the massacre: the oldest who died, Fatima, was 70; the youngest, Dima, was one; seven were children. The death toll in Beit Hanoun has passed 90 in one week.

This is Israel’s tenth incursion into Beit Hanoun since it announced its withdrawal from Gaza. It has turned the town into a closed military zone, collectively punishing its 28,000 residents. For days, the town has been encircled by Israeli tanks and troops and shelled. All water and electricity supplies were cut off and, as the death toll continued to mount, no ambulances were allowed in. Israeli soldiers raided houses, shut up the families and positioned their snipers on roofs, shooting at everything that moved. We still do not know what has become of our sons, husbands and brothers since all males over 15 years old were taken away last Thursday. They were ordered to strip to their underwear, handcuffed and led away.

It is not easy as a mother, sister or wife to watch those you love disappear before your eyes. Perhaps that was what helped me, and 1,500 other women, to overcome our fear and defy the Israeli curfew last Friday - and set about freeing some of our young men who were besieged in a mosque while defending us and our city against the Israeli military machine.

We faced the most powerful army in our region unarmed. The soldiers were loaded up with the latest weaponry, and we had nothing, except each other and our yearning for freedom. As we broke through the first barrier, we grew more confident, more determined to break the suffocating siege. The soldiers of Israel’s so-called defence force did not hesitate to open fire on unarmed women. The sight of my close friends Ibtissam Yusuf abu Nada and Rajaa Ouda taking their last breaths, bathed in blood, will live with me for ever.

Later an Israeli plane shelled a bus taking children to a kindergarten. Two children were killed, along with their teacher. In the last week 30 children have died. As I go round the crowded hospital, it is deeply poignant to see the large number of small bodies with their scars and amputated limbs. We clutch our children tightly when we go to sleep, vainly hoping that we can shield them from Israel’s tanks and warplanes.

Why should we Palestinians have to accept the theft of our land, the ethnic cleansing of our people, incarcerated in forsaken refugee camps, and the denial of our most basic human rights, without protesting and resisting?

The lesson the world should learn from Beit Hanoun last week is that Palestinians will never relinquish our land, towns and villages. We will not surrender our legitimate rights for a piece of bread or handful of rice. The women of Palestine will resist this monstrous occupation imposed on us at gunpoint, siege and starvation. Our rights and those of future generations are not open for negotiation.

Whoever wants peace in Palestine and the region must direct their words and sanctions to the occupier, not the occupied, the aggressor not the victim. The truth is that the solution lies with Israel, its army and allies - not with Palestine’s women and children.

· Jameela al-Shanti is an elected member of the Palestinian Legislative Council for Hamas. She led a women’s protest against the siege of Beit Hanoun last Friday

Doctors in Gaza have reported previously unseen injuries from Israeli weapons that cause severe burning and leave deep internal wounds, often resulting in amputations or death.

The injuries were first seen in July, when Israel launched operations in Gaza following the capture of an Israeli soldier by Palestinian militants.

Doctors said that, unlike traditional combat injuries, there was no large shrapnel found in the bodies and there appeared to be a “dusting” on damaged internal organs.

“Bodies arrived severely fragmented, melted and disfigured,” said Jumaa Saqa’a, a doctor at the Shifa hospital, in Gaza City. “We found internal burning of organs, while externally there were minute pieces of shrapnel. When we opened many of the injured people we found dusting on their internal organs.”

It is not clear whether the injuries come from a new weapon. The Israeli military declined to detail the weapons in its arsenal, but denied reports that the injuries came from a Dense Inert Metal Explosive (Dime), an experimental weapon.

In Gaza, Dr Saqa’a said the small pieces of shrapnel found in patients’ bodies did not show up under x-ray. “We are used to seeing shrapnel penetrate the body making localised damage. Now we didn’t see shrapnel, but we found the destruction,” he said.

Most of the injuries were around the abdomen, he said. The doctors also found that patients who were stabilised after one or two days suddenly died. “The patient dies without any apparent scientific cause,” he said.

At the Kamal Odwan hospital, in Beit Lahiya, the deputy director, Saied Jouda, said he had found similar injuries. “We don’t know what it means - new weapons or something new added to a previous weapon,” he said. He too found patients with severe internal injuries without signs of any large shrapnel pieces. “There was burning, big raw areas of charred flesh,” he said. “This must be related to the type of explosive material.”

Photographs of some of the dead from Shifa hospital showed bodies that had been melted and blackened beyond recognition. In several cases doctors amputated badly burnt limbs.

At least 250 Palestinians have died in Gaza since the latest military operations began and hundreds more have been injured.

Neither of the doctors could give exact figures for the numbers of patients suffering the new injuries, although both said that most of those brought in during July showed signs of these injuries.

The health ministry in Gaza reported that these injuries came from an “unprecedented type of projectile,” and also noted severe burning and badly damaged internal organs. It called for an investigation into the cause of the wounds.

“You have complete burns that lead to amputation. You find shrapnel entering the body and leaving very, very small holes. We have never seen this before,” said Khalid Radi, a spokesman at the health ministry.

An Italian laboratory that analysed the samples reportedly said its results were compatible with the hypothesis that a Dime weapon was involved.

The weapon is new and in the US it is still in the early stages of development. It has a carbon-fibre casing and contains fine tungsten particles rather than ordinary metal shrapnel. It causes a very powerful blast, but with a much more limited radius than other explosives.

It is not Zionism alone of course but imperialism and its stooges everywhere which openly showing its fascist teeth - and reaping the whirlwind:

A suicide bomb ripped through a Pakistani military camp yesterday killing 42 soldiers and wounding 20, in a dramatic escalation of hostilities between President Pervez Musharraf and militant tribesmen along the troubled Afghan frontier.

The attack occurred in Dargai, a small town 85 miles north-west of Islamabad, and was blamed on extremists seeking revenge for last week’s army attack on a radical madrasa that killed 80 people.

A bomber wrapped in a shawl rushed into a drill area where soldiers were exercising, triggering an explosion that scattered body parts, military caps and shoes over a wide area. A suspected accomplice, whose payload may have failed to detonate, was arrested nearby.

The suicide bombing was the largest single attack on Pakistani soldiers since President Musharraf aligned himself with America’s “war on terror” after September 2001. Analysts warned that his American-inspired war on militancy in North West Frontier province is brewing a dangerous conflict.

“This is direct fall-out from the war on terror. It’s the beginning of an insurgency in Pakistan,” said Talat Masood, a retired army general and media commentator.

North West Frontier province has been tense since the October 30 missile strike on a madrasa in Bajaur tribal agency, 30 miles north of Dargai. The military claimed the madrasa was a terrorist training camp but locals insisted it was a peaceful religious seminary. Thousands of tribesmen have gathered at rallies led by radical clerics calling for bloody retribution, including suicide bombings, against Pakistani, American and British troops.

The Bajaur madrasa was run by Tehriq-e-Nifaz Shariat Mohammadi (TNSM), a jihadist group with strong al-Qaida links that considers Dargai a stronghold. During the 1990s TNSM tried to impose Taliban-style rule in pockets of the province and sent thousands of tribesmen to fight American troops in Afghanistan in 2001. After being banned by the Pakistani government in 2002 the group became an underground host organisation for al-Qaida.

A senior TNSM figure, Maulana Faqir Muhammad, sheltered the al-Qaida No 3 Abu Farj al-Libbi before his arrest in May 2005, said Major General Shaukat Sultan, a Pakistani army spokesman. A search of Mr Muhammad’s house in Bajaur tribal agency uncovered laptops with al-Qaida material, he said.

Mr Muhammad avoided last week’s madrasa raid but surfaced at a protest rally the following day, vowing to organise mass suicide attacks on Pakistani forces.

Other TNSM members are equally unabashed about their al-Qaida sympathies. Last August another senior TSNM figure, Maulana Muhammad Alam, told the Guardian that Jewish conspirators were responsible for the September 11 attacks, and spoke in support of Osama bin Laden.

“The more the government creates trouble for us, the more we enjoy it,” he said in Batkhela, five miles from the scene of yesterday’s blast. “America is bent on crushing Muslims. It is our right to defend Islam. We will fight to the last.”

Yesterday’s attack will stir debate inside Pakistan about the unpopular anti-terror alliance with President George Bush. Over the past four years Gen Musharraf’s cooperation in the hunt for foreign militants has sparked confrontation with local Pashtun tribesmen.

The military leader’s ideas for solving the stand-off have swung between fighting and talking. In September the government signed a peace pact with militants in North Waziristan, where some believe Bin Laden is hiding. The recent violence around Bajaur threatens to plunge the tribal belt into a fresh round of combat.

“This is very dangerous. We need a major rethink of the entire policy,” said Mr Masood, the security analyst. “We should not be fighting America’s war. We have to solve our own problems. If we are dictated to by outsiders it will end up like Iraq or Afghanistan.”

“Fanatics” are trying to destroy “our way of life” Tony Blair? (and the super-establishment and highly political MI5)?

But “our way of life” is brutal, blitzing, murderous mayhem, from 650 000 dead in Iraq on the basis of a Goebbels lie that not even Bush will defend any more, to the slow starvation death and poisoning of the exploited poor of the planet. And set to get much worse.

The whole stinking imperialist order needs turning over – build socialism, build revolutionary Leninism.

Don Hoskins

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Western states poisoning Africa

At the beginning of September it was reported that six people had died – four of them children – and a further 1,500 needed medical treatment after a multinational company dumped toxic waste on a rubbish dump in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast capital.

The incident served to illustrate the reality for many states in developing countries, which have literally become “rubbish dumps” for Western economies.

The people of Akouedo make a living from the landfill, selling scraps of metal and even old cloths that they find in the rubbish. What happened on 19 August has made their already difficult and precarious existence even more death-defying. Whatever was dumped this time did not bring any benefit to anyone.

People living near the landfill woke up that morning to a particularly foul smell. During the course of the day, adults, children and the elderly began to feel sick. Vomiting, diarrhoea and breathing difficulties were the main symptoms. Pharmacies ran out of supplies and the World Health Organisation had to send in medicine.

The Government resigned when the first casualties were reported and protests against the administration, which was blamed for allowing the dumping, broke out on the streets.

The cause of the disease was traced to waste dumped at Akouedo and another ten sites around the city - including a water channel leading to a lake, roadsides and open grounds.

The consignment of waste had arrived in a Panamanian-registered ship called the Probo Koala, which had been chartered by Trafigura ltd (a subsidiary of Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer BV).

On 2 July, the Probo Koala had tried to unload waste in Amsterdam but were told that it would be more expensive to dispose of due to the hazardous nature of the cargo. The ship refused to pay extra and so was prevented from unloading. It then left Amsterdam, supposedly to go to Estonia.

Members of the Dutch Parliament and the public prosecutor are questioning why authorities allowed the ship to sail away with a toxic waste in its hold.

A junior minister of the Dutch Ministry of the Environment has told a parliamentary inquiry that he had did not have the legal means to stop the ship leaving the Netherlands. The route of the ship from there to Abidjan, where it arrived on 19 August, remains unclear, though it is believed to have stopped in the Spanish port of Algeciras before sailing alongside Africa’s west coast, looking for a port to unload what the company says were 400 tonnes of gasoline, water and caustic washings used to clean oil drums. News agency reports from Abidjan list the noxious chemical hydrogen sulphide and organochlorides among

dumped a load of waste on Koko Beach, Nigeria. Workers who came into contact with it suffered from chemical burns and partial paralysis, and began to vomit blood.

By 1998, the European Union had agreed to implement a ban on the export of hazardous wastes to the developing world. But the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand refused to sign up.

International waters are still filled with ships looking to unload toxic waste. Western corporations prefer to export garbage rather than paying, or charging consumers, the full cost of clean disposal.

The Basel Convention on the Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, and its offshoot treaties, are the theoretical barrier to poor countries becoming the world’s toxic dustbin. The problem is that parts of the Basel structure remain unratified, a decade after their signature, by countries that see an interest in dumping their waste elsewhere.

This type of waste disposal industry has been retained by developing countries because of its perceived economic benefits. In reality, the only parties who benefit are the exporters.

Now there is a new threat: the dumping of electronic waste, or e-waste - unwanted mobile phones, computers and printers, which contain cadmium, lead, mercury and other poisons. Disposing of e-waste in America and Europe costs money, so many companies sell it to middle merchants, who claim that the computers can be reused in Africa, China and India. Each month about 500 container loads, containing about 400,000 unwanted computers, arrive in Nigeria to be processed. But 75% of units shipped there cannot be resold. So they sit on landfills, and children scrabble over them barefoot, looking for scraps of copper wire or nails. And every so often the plastics are burnt, sending fumes up into the air.

The United Nations Environment Programme estimates that 20 to 50 million tonnes of electronics are discarded worldwide each year. Less than 10% gets recycled and half or more ends up overseas. As Western technology becomes cheaper and the latest machine comes to be regarded as a disposable fashion statement, this dumping will only intensify.

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Legalising torture

Despite the exceptional condemnation of US and international figures and civil organizations, torture has been legalized in the United States. Disguised under the name of special interrogation methods, that law was passed by both Houses and allows the imprisonment of foreigners considered enemies and the worst treatment without any rights at all.

One peculiarity of this law, apart from other ridiculous aspects of it, is that it operates only for foreigners, thus exonerating from blame any U.S. Americans who have committed excesses under the mantle of the anti-terrorist battle. This reinforces and perpetuates the mechanisms entrenched by the Bush administration in favor of its soldiers and officials abroad, whatever they do. Recall the threat of even invading the International Criminal Court in The Hague if any U.S. citizen should be brought before it.

The proposition that one can detain an alleged suspect anywhere and place him/her in a prison outside the United States is also another way of projecting a national law to other spheres. Concisely stated, what was passed by representatives and senators authorizes the interrogation, and indictment of persons suspected of terrorism, and taking them before special military courts that are not even subject to army regulations. That is, prisoners have no rights. Such persons or their lawyers cannot even gain access to the charges against them. No demand on prison conditions, trial delays or irregularities is admitted.

These are totalitarian powers that affect internal legislation and international conventions, establishing an extremely grave precedent that will doubtless lead to other malign consequences. The bill ignores and annuls the U.S. Supreme Court decision that declared unconstitutional procedures like those followed on the Guantánamo base. It annuls potential actions against the secret prisons scattered over European territory and propitiates any government reinterpreting and modifying conventions like those of Geneva prisoner treatment.

Like virtually everything in the United, States this issue is an electoral one. That explains why so many Democrats accepted the law, in order to avoid being considered weak in the alleged battle against terrorism. On the Republican side, it would seem that they want to bequeath certain laws from their reactionary handbook in case they lose their majority in the legislature in the partial November elections... not reasons of state, or ideological ones prevail but petty interests.

In this context an editorial in The New York Times commented that the country has entered into one of the lowest moments of its democracy. Passing it was not the only censurable act, but everything occurred with a backdrop of hidden scandals that included selling influence, charges of pederasty against notorious politicians and an internal fight among various members of the executive that has just been revealed by journalist Bob Woodward (of the Watergate scandal). His new book provides evidence of those confrontations, which partly explain Colin Powell’s reasons for retiring from the spheres of power in Bush’s sec-end mandate, and the recent criticisms by the former secretary of state that international regulations on the treatment of prisoners (the Geneva Convention) are being ignored, despite the Supreme Court ruling that the Guantánamo prisoners should be treated in accordance with those rules.

Only that aspect of the matter is remarkable. The maximum juridical authority ruled as it did and barely one month later, the legislative power, using pseudo-political arguments, overturned it. The controversial and arbitrary Patriot Act via which civil rights are restricted is still in force. It is permitted to interfere in people’s correspondence or telephone calls or any other form of communication that they might have, while even the right to know why someone is being imprisoned is denied.

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).
Snail’s pace progress towards Irish unity takes another painful step – republican view

Republicans must plot the way forwards together

In the wake of the recent round of political negotiations in Scotland and proposals from the Irish and British Governments for the full restoration of political institutions of the Good Friday Agreement An Phoblacht spoke to Sinn Fein Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness about the latest developments in the Peace process.

AP: What were Sinn Fein’s objectives going into last week’s talks?

MMcG: The Sinn Fein negotiations team went into this round of negotiations with two clear objectives - to protect the advances made in our struggle and to secure the restoration of the power-sharing and all-Ireland political institutions set out in the Good Friday Agreement. A key part of this involves moving the anti-Agreement DUP to a position where they are prepared, for the first time ever, to accept power-sharing with Irish republicans and to participate in all-Ireland political arrangements. That’s a big challenge for them and for us. Bringing rejectionist unionism into the peace process would be an enormous achievement. Bringing about a situation where myself and Ian Paisley are equal partners at the head of a power-sharing government would be momentous. Following last week’s talks there is a lot of hope and expectation among people across the island. People are now speaking about the future in the way they did following the IRA cessation in 1994 and the talks which produced the Good Friday agreement. But there is still a lot of work to do to make all of this happen.

How to you react to the surprise in many quarters at the outcome of these talks?

Over the course of recent times republicans have been attempting to deal with the genuine concerns of the unionist community and trying to create the space for the DUP to come into the peace process. I know that many republicans are uneasy about developments over the last few days. They are concerned about the role of the two governments, concerned about the issue of policing and concerned about the commitment of the DUP to properly participate in a power sharing government with Sinn Fein. I share these concerns but we also have a responsibility to build on the opportunities created by the republican strategies of the last three decades. I have been saying for some time now that I believed that the DUP would do a deal with Sinn Fein. For me there were only two questions — what kind of deal would they be willing to do and when would it happen. Obviously the decision of the DUP to pull out of the Programme for Government meeting on Tuesday in Stormont shows us the challenges that lie ahead if the process is to move forward.

What is on the table from the British and Irish governments - is it a deal?

Last Friday at St. Andrews the two governments set out their proposals, including a timetable, which they believe can lead to the full restoration of the political institutions. So far the only people who have agreed to these proposals are the British Prime Minister and the Taoiseach. And in the coming weeks our talks with the two governments will continue because a lot of detail is still to be worked out. Many issues were not finalised at St. Andrews and their resolution will form part of our deliberations in the coming weeks. I was in London on Monday and will meet with government representatives in Dublin in the coming period. The governments have asked that the parties respond to their proposals by 10 November and have set 24 November as the date for the nomination of Ian Paisley as First Minister and myself as Deputy First Minister.

How will Sinn Féin assess these proposals?

Issues of this importance, with such major implications, have to be studied carefully. They require comradely debate and thorough discussion. But if Sinn Fein is to respond positively to these proposals they must have the potential to deliver equality, accountable civic policing, human rights and the full restoration of the political institutions. They must take the struggle forward.

You have talked about a process of consultation within the party and the wider republican community, how to you think that will happen?

Today (Thursday) the Ard Chomhairle is meeting in Dublin. Gerry Adams, myself and members of the negotiations team will be briefing the party leadership on the talks in St. Andrews and the Ard Chomhairle will be agreeing the process for consultation, which in the first instance will involve the proposals from the two governments and matters which are still being negotiated. As these discussions are still ongoing Gerry Adams will not be in a position at today’s Ard Chomhairle to put forward a proposal in relation to holding a special Ard Fheis on the issue of policing. However he is committed to going to the Ard Chomhairle to ask them to call one as soon as these final issues are resolved.

It is important that republicans the length and breadth of the country are part of our efforts to plot a way forward. We are a democratic community of activists and all of us must take ownership of this process. That does not mean that we cannot disagree with each other. Of course we can and we should when appropriate and be secure in our right to dissent.

You raised the issue of policing, of course this is something which is very important to republicans, what is likely to happen next?

The two governments put proposals to all of the parties at St. Andrews. Sinn Féin, like the other parties, will now go away and consult and deliberate upon these proposals. We will make our judgment on the potential of these proposals, and on the basis of further discussion and negotiation with the two governments, on whether or not they will resolve all of the outstanding issues, including the crucial issue of getting policing right.

But the key point is that Sinn Féin is for proper civic, democratic and accountable policing. What we are against is bad policing and bad law and order. What we are against is political policing which has been the norm in the Six Counties for generations. Sinn Fein is about changing all of this and we have made huge progress in recent years. But Sinn Fein’s job is not to sell the PSNI to anybody. Our job is to resolve all of the outstanding matters and to create a proper policing service. It will be the PSNI’s job to prove themselves to the community. But we want to see rapid progress made in the time ahead. And we believe that this is possible. When this happens and in the right context Gerry Adams will go to the Ard Chomhairle to ask them to call a special Ard Fheis on the matter.

There has been a lot of talk about a referendum or an election early next year, what is Sinn Fein’s view of all of that?

Sinn Fein sees no reason for either a referendum or an election. This is a demand from the DUP. I believe that the governments should be concentrating on implementing the Good Friday Agreement and moving the process forward. In relation to the Irish government I believe their main focus should be on implementing the parts of the Good Friday Agreement which are within their area of responsibility and which people voted for in referendum here eight years ago.

What about the focus on the pledge of office?

Well Sinn Fein has suggested changes to the pledge of office which we think would be helpful. If the DUP want to make other suggestions then the people they should be talking to are Sinn Fein. But we shouldn’t move ahead of ourselves on any of this. This is all a work in progress and there is much still to be agreed.

What advances were made in relation to the peace dividend and equality matters?

Substantial progress was made on a range of issues which Sinn Fein has been campaigning and negotiating on for several years now. One of the issues at the top of the agenda was the need for a substantial peace dividend. We have proposed a stand alone £10 billion investment package over a ten year period. Discussions on this issue continued in London yesterday. The British government has also made a number of commitments which must now be delivered on issues including: all-Ireland Parliamentary Forum and the all-Ireland Civic Forum, the removal of the British government power to suspend the political institutions, a statutory obligation for relevant Ministers to attend meetings of the All-Ireland Ministerial Council, the establishment of a Bill of Rights Forum by the end of the year, a single Equality Bill, an Irish language Act, tackling discrimination against ex-prisoners and an end to the bar of Irish citizens accessing top Civil Service posts in the Six Counties.

How difficult is the challenge of sharing power with the DUP?

For republicans to share power with the DUP will be a huge challenge. Remember it’s not that long ago that unionism treated nationalists as second class citizens. It’s not that long ago when Ian Paisley was vowing to smash Sinn Féin, something he completely failed to do. Gerry Adams was speaking at a commemoration in Belfast last weekend to mark the 30th anniversary of the deaths of ira Volunteers Joey Surgenor, Francie Fitzsimons and Paul Marlow. He recalled that on 6 June 1966 Ian Paisley led a parade through this district. Local residents were attacked and beaten out of Cromac Square by the ruc. The target on that day for Ian Paisley was the Presbyterian General Assembly. Ian Paisley was subsequently imprisoned. There was serious rioting and attacks on Catholic owned property throughout unionist parts of the city. A number of Catholic people were also killed in that month. So it is a big thing for republicans to share power with the DUP. But we are serious about making peace with him and those he represents because we are avowedly anti-sectarian. Our watchword is equality. Equality includes those citizens represented by the DUP.

There has been some controversy regarding the 11+ and a letter which Ian Paisley said he got from the British?

A lot of spin came out of St Andrews on the issue of academic selection. The facts are when I was Education Minister I abolished the 11+. It will not be coming back. Spin to the contrary from the DUP in the wake of St. Andrews won’t change this fact one iota. If we have a fully functioning Assembly up and running this would of course be an issue to discuss and debate and that is right and proper. It is also right and proper that Ministers retain Executive authority and Ministerial power. DUP support for the 11+ will give little comfort to unionist working class communities like the Shankill where only 1% of the population move onto grammar schools the rest branded as failures. Sinn Fein will continue to engage in the debate on the future direction of education here with the clear objective of delivering a fair and effective system which delivers for all of our children not just the few.”

What would you say to republicans in relation to recent events?

In every successful liberation struggle there is a phase of reconstruction, of securing peace with justice, of national reconciliation, of nation building. This requires negotiation and outreach. It demands patience and generosity. To move from one phase of struggle is not only a matter of political judgment and strategic or tactical planning. It requires political courage.

The IRA cessation in 1994 demonstrated that courage. The IRA took decisions which provided a space in which a peace process could be developed. Again and again and again republicans have demonstrated commitment to that peace process.

The decisions last year by the ira to end its armed campaign and to deal with the issue of weapons were truly historic and represented a brave and confident initiative. It was a momentous and defining point in the search for a lasting peace with justice. And it opened up the possibility of making significant progress. It also presented a significant challenge to the British and Irish governments and to the Unionists, as well as to republicans.

And Sinn Fein has worked hard to seize the opportunities created by the ira. Today Irish republicanism is stronger and there are more Irish republicans on this island than at any time since partition.

We have to continue to build political strength as we advance our republican goals of independence and freedom. But with political strength comes a responsibility to deliver for the people we represent. Our responsibility is also to see beyond our own support base. And we take these responsibilities very seriously.

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