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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 1307 29th January 2007

Sweeping world rebellion against imperialism’s accelerating slide into warmongering disaster is already a ‘mass’ movement and inflicting devastating blows on imperialist domination. But it faces pain, turmoil and confusion, and potentially huge setbacks, for as long as it does not build conscious revolutionary leadership based on rational scientific Marxism. There is no other route for historically outmoded capitalism than the slide into Third World War. It can only be stopped by revolutionary overthrow which demands Leninist revolutionary theory.

The question has been raised once again around the EPSR over how to build a mass party of the working class, and what are the best approaches and methods as the world crisis deepens and the need for a revolutionary end to destructive and outmoded capitalism becomes ever more urgent.

Frustration is understandable over the seemingly slow progress of Leninist politics in the working class in Britain, and worldwide as well, measured either by plain numbers or the depth of “street credibility” achieved by Leninist politics.

But, in some sense, it is the wrong question.

There already is a huge mass movement.

The problem is its fragmentation, confusion, lack of self-knowledge of its own strength and vulnerability to manipulation, subversion and the mistakes and misleadership of the past.

The crucial need is for revolutionary theory and perspectives developing an objective scientific leadership, rather than the hodge-podge of revisionism, religion, pan-nationalism in South America and Africa, and “democratic” movements and “peaceful” progress illusions which currently fill the vacuum left by decades of Moscow (and later) revisionist mistakes and delusions.

Many of these militant movements and religious nationalist insurgencies have already gone far and may go further as imperialism looks increasingly paralysed by the crisis terrifying the ruling class.

But they are not Marxism and their crudeness and sometimes hostility to rational leadership cannot ultimately give a solution to the crisis problems besetting the planet.

Only the sharpest scientific revolutionary understanding can rise above differences, mistakes and illusions to carry through the final ending of imperialism worldwide, which is the only possible way out for mankind.

Greater understanding is urgently needed and is the first task for Marxists, not winning greater numbers as such.

As the EPSR has long explained, the imperialist crisis is pushing tens of millions into struggle as its already disastrous and callous warmongering degenerates further into the greatest disaster of all time, the profound symptom of a class system which has run out of its historical momentum and now can only hamper further human progress.

The constant and growing upwelling of anti-American and anti-western (i.e. anti-rich-countries) hatred and resistance across the planet is rolling forwards with a gathering pace – and can only get bigger, whatever setbacks and retreats it is forced to go through, as the capitalist system pushes its torturing, genocidal, “shock and awe” intimidation and bullying ever closer to all out Third World War.

And despite its paralysing setbacks imperialism can only push towards more warmongering.

Destruction and chaos, on a scale greater than both past world wars, is the only “solution” to crisis that the profit dependent capitalist system can produce, along with escalated oppression and Nazi blitzing and torturing intimidation.

Iron laws of falling profit and ever expanding mountains of surplus capital, unable to produce and sell into a finite market and make a decent profit, lead inexorably to a bitter destructive battle to survive, while wiping out all the rival capitals “clogging up the system” (see Marx and Lenin economic quotes).

It is the dominant US imperialism’s plan to “get in first” and demonstrate with brutal callousness just how vicious it will be to all challenges, to intimidate and put down even the thought of taking it on, which has led to the criminal and insane onslaughts on Serbia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and (by proxy) Lebanon, and now Nazi strutting threats against a dozen more “rogue” and maverick states (already bombing Libya, Somalia and Sudan beforehand, and being heated up for Sudan Iran, North Korea, Syria, perhaps Venezuela, Cuba and assorted others).

Far greater devastation, it has been made clear, quite explicitly by Bush, is threatened for any major or minor power trying to take on the USA – as every capitalist power from Germany to Japan must eventually be driven to do, or go under in the increasingly savage trade war and slump collapse of markets which inevitably is created by the insane contradiction of “over production” in the profit system.

Usefully, from a ruling class point of view, along the way the devastation and blitzkrieg threats can be applied to any “upstart” class rebellions against the neo-colonialist order by insurgency or even organised “axis of evil” states, so-called.

But it is these bullying onslaughts, (and even more so their disastrous failure and bogged down defeats), which have stimulated, and then encouraged and hugely accelerated massive recruitment to a dozen assorted movements, insurgencies, oppositions, rebellions and challenges to imperialism, all different on the surface but all driven by the same need (though they may not know it, or be clear about it) – to end for good the monopoly capitalist order, its tyranny and total decadent destructiveness.

The point is glaringly clear to numerous observers even in the bourgeois press:

It is unlikely that the Islamic Courts’ Militia has been routed. The conflict is entering a new phase with an important new element: the mass of the people of Somalia now have a cause. The ICM was a broad coalition, with moderate idealists at one end and some al-Qaida supporters at the other. The west is just beginning to realise that that is roughly the spectrum of opinion in all Muslim communities. Somalis judged the ICM on its actions rather than its ideology. In towns which fell to the ICM, the youth of the town were organised into cadres to clean up the place and plant trees. Courts were established and the beginnings of civil society were emerging. The Ethiopians and the US have snuffed out that spark and replaced it with the warlords and a puppet government. Of course the ICM dispensed some rough justice and, fatally, renewed a territorial to Ethiopia’s Ogaden region. But Somalia may prove to be to idealist Muslims what Spain was to European idealists in the 30s. The US attack on Ras Kamboni may have killed a few al-Qaida supporters. It will have created hundreds more.

Nick Johnson. University of Warwick

Many more. As the intractable crisis of the now-terminally outmoded capitalist production system deepens into debt disintegration, dollar currency collapse and slump, the already tens of millions seething with rage at the tyranny they and their forebears have endured hourly, daily and weekly for centuries from the exploitation of international monopoly capital, will become hundreds of millions and even billions, joined by increasingly disgusted and dismayed sections of the petty bourgeois and intelligentsia in even the most “advanced” (i.e. rich) nations.

The insurgency in Iraq, the endless heroic intifada of Palestine, the Lebanese street turmoil against US stoogery, the mass support for Iranian anti-westernism, the long-confined pride and potential of the Egyptian and other Arab nations, the simmering resentments of the bombed Serbs and others in the Balkans, the fight against occupation in Afghanistan, the Maoist struggle in Nepal, the jungle resistance in Indonesia and street demonstrations, the delta “bandit” anti-oil resistance in Nigeria, the Islamic Courts struggle in Somalia, the anti-colonialism of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, the temporarily hamstrung but historically revolutionary movements of Angola and Mozambique, the bitter resentment of the plundered peoples starved and abused throughout all of Africa, the growing “socialist” “Bolivarian revolution” mass movement throughout South and Central America, and the already long established anti-imperialist victories of the steadily developing workers states in North Korea, China, Vietnam and communist Cuba, will be joined increasingly by spontaneous upsurges of struggle throughout even the most established and “developed” nations, as street riots in the Paris suburbs, or the benighted and blighted Los Angeles heartland, have frequently already shown.

The united strength of this human tsunami will eventually become unstoppable.

It has already produced some stunning setbacks for imperialism’s turn to war along the way, as the quagmire in Iraq and Afghanistan have shown, the movement in South America is achieving and others too like the Nepalese against monarchical fascism.

But without the greatest clarity and grasp of what the fight is about, even hundreds of millions can be led round in circles, fragmented, confused and demoralised by the barrage of Big Lies and disinformation constantly pumped out through every possible outlet by western intelligence and media about alleged “atrocities”, “genocide” and restrictions of “freedom” etc against any of the victims and enemies they seek to demonise, creating provocations, localised hatred stunts, splits and sectarianism conflict.

Divide and rule has always been a major weapon for the ruling class, internationally, and domestically against its own working class, using every tool from bribery and consumerism to racism and the conflict for jobs and homes or even more basic needs.

The better question then is how to build a party of consciously revolutionary cadres who can take forwards the constant battle to understand the balance of class forces in the world.

Mass understanding will not come about by focusing on building a “mass movement” as such, as a dozen failed experiments from the nineteenth century cooperative movement, class-collaborating trade unionism and its reformist Labour offspring have shown. All are disasters for the working class because they have nothing to do with a revolutionary solution to imperialism. The dire end point is the closet Mosleyite fascism of New Labour stoogery for British imperialism, and the useless stifling class collaborating bureaucracy of formal Trade Unionism.

Revived “old” Labour supposed breakaways from Blairism, like Socialist Labour Party, have disastrously underlined the point, simply heading off healthy enough class feeling into yet more formalism and class collaboration, with deliberate and dishonest suppression of revolutionary discussion.

But it is the living grasp of the movement of forces on the planet, built on the scientific understanding and methods developed by the great Marxist figures like Karl Marx himself, and Engels, Lenin and many since, which is critical.

Thousands of new Lenins are required, or at least a cadre force struggling to be so, capable of making independent revolutionary analysis on the fly.

Mass understanding will come about only by struggling for the most accurate and immediate revolutionary perspectives, built on the constant fight to understand the balance of class forces on the planet as it develops day by day and minute by minute.

It is a struggle drawing in all the past understanding of the objective nature of the world and its universal revolutionary movement as applied to the very latest world developments to constantly improve that knowledge and extend it, for further deeper understanding of what is unfolding in the world so that the working and proletarian billions of the world can understand their own fight and the likely developments.

It comes out of constant struggle to take forwards understanding of the immediate developments within a whole perspective, and thereby developing further the complete perspective and the significance of the immediate struggles and the likely challenges it will create and the tactical and strategic needs it imposes.

Such constantly evolving dialectical grasp does not come from any amount of perfected structures, constitutions, rules, “party duties”, “proper comradely behaviours” and equally formalised “programme”, strategies and tactics.

The petty bourgeois Trotskyist fake-“left”, in a sweat of dismay at the supposed “collapse of the left” (in reality only the collapse of fraudulent parliamentary reformism as pensions, housing, health care, and education gains are stripped back to the bone, and of opportunist fake-“left”-ism which props it up) spends half its time in discussion of new party structures and constitutions, like spotty adolescents on the Internet nerdily debating fantasies of “the coolest sports car ever”.

But bolting on chromium plated voting procedures to create the perfect party or playing games with creating centrist parties or setting out at tedious length supposed principles, policies and tactics to “tempt” the working class towards Marxism (supposedly), misses the point entirely when there is no revolutionary content.

Ever more finickety details simple avoid the real issue. It is their disastrous and anti-working class confusions and fear of working class discipline and control which has seen their collapse.

Above all it is their craven siding with imperialism, most obviously in the completely artificially frenzied “war on terror” being used to stampede the world towards war and turmoil by stirring and maintaining a panicky and febrile atmosphere of fear and confusion.

Centrist parties may well emerge as crisis deepens – as Scargill’s Socialist Labour Party could have been in its initial period before deliberate anti-communist censorship was imposed by bureaucratic diktat – and revolutionaries may well participate in genuinely building them, precisely to struggle for revolutionary understanding. But it is rank opportunism to deliberately create such a halfway house and hide away Marxism.

Just how dire is this failure to grasp the importance of a real world perspective was underlined by a CPGB debate summing up weeks of discussion supposedly in favour of creating a “Marxist” party. The nearest it came to any real events perspective and revolution was to write it off in a phrase concluding that for party building “whether the times are revolutionary or non-revolutionary is utterly secondary”.

So much for giving the working class the guidance it needs!!!

Of course the revolutionary party needs to be built whether or not there is not a revolutionary situation yet at hand. In that sense it is true.

But how about a clue about what is happening.This was a slimy evasion – avoiding the need to say just what state the world is in and dismissing even thinking in such terms as “irrelevant”.

And well it might, since any connection with the real world movement would immediately expose this posturing for the anti-communist treachery it is.

Far from explaining, as the EPSR has done consistently, that the great upwelling on the planet is the early signal of titanic revolutionary events to come, and which has already set back the world imperialist order, the Weekly Worker, like the entire spectrum of fake-”lefts”, immediately joined with imperialism to “condemn terrorism” when the World Trade Centre attack occurred.

But this only plays into the hands of the warmongering on the planet, and the demented Nazi games by the ruling class to get the masses back into mass conflict and winding up a war atmosphere with the insane excuse of a “war on terror”.

The “lefts’ ” cowardly betrayal is increasingly exposed, even by sections of the bourgeoisie coming out in disgust at the Goebbels lies:

The director of public prosecutions, Sir Ken Macdonald, put himself at odds with the home secretary and Downing Street last night by denying that Britain is caught up in a “war on terror” and calling for a “culture of legislative restraint” in passing laws to deal with terrorism.

Sir Ken warned of the pernicious risk that a “fear-driven and inappropriate” response to the threat could lead Britain to abandon respect for fair trials and the due process of law.

He acknowledged that the country faced a different and more dangerous threat than in the days of IRA terrorism and that it had “all the disturbing elements of a death cult psychology”.

But he said: “It is critical that we understand that this new form of terrorism carries another more subtle, perhaps equally pernicious, risk. Because it might encourage a fear-driven and inappropriate response. By that I mean it can tempt us to abandon our values. I think it important to understand that this is one of its primary purposes.”

Sir Ken pointed to the rhetoric around the “war on terror” - which has been adopted by Tony Blair and ministers after being coined by George Bush - to illustrate the risks.

He said: “London is not a battlefield. Those innocents who were murdered on July 7 2005 were not victims of war. And the men who killed them were not, as in their vanity they claimed on their ludicrous videos, ‘soldiers’. They were deluded, narcissistic inadequates. They were criminals. They were fantasists. We need to be very clear about this. On the streets of London, there is no such thing as a ‘war on terror’, just as there can be no such thing as a ‘war on drugs’.

“The fight against terrorism on the streets of Britain is not a war. It is the prevention of crime, the enforcement of our laws and the winning of justice for those damaged by their infringement.”

Sir Ken, head of the Crown Prosecution Service, told members of the Criminal Bar Association it should be an article of faith that crimes of terrorism are dealt with by criminal justice and that a “culture of legislative restraint in the area of terrorist crime is central to the existence of an efficient and human rights compatible process”.

He said: “We wouldn’t get far in promoting a civilising culture of respect for rights amongst and between citizens if we set about undermining fair trials in the simple pursuit of greater numbers of inevitably less safe convictions. On the contrary, it is obvious that the process of winning convictions ought to be in keeping with a consensual rule of law and not detached from it. Otherwise we sacrifice fundamental values critical to the maintenance of the rule of law - upon which everything else depends.”

His comments will be seen as a swipe against government legislation allowing the indefinite detention of suspected terrorists without trial, later held incompatible with human rights by the courts, and the replacement law that permits suspects to be placed under control orders instead of being brought to trial.

Sir Ken referred to the government’s opt-out from the European convention on human rights to pass the detention law - possible under the convention only if the “life of the nation” is threatened. “Everyone here will come to their own conclusion about whether, in the striking Strasbourg phrase, the very ‘life of the nation’ is presently endangered,” he said. “And everyone here will equally understand the risk to our constitution if we decide that it is, when it is not.”

Of course this solidly reactionary bourgeois view, blaming “delusion” for terrorist incident, does not begin to understand the huge material crisis on the planet which is throwing a mass of extraordinary new development to the surface.

But it senses where real criminality is centred – imperialism itself and the false excuses being used to get into war.

There is no comparison between the enormous and coordinated “endless war” Goebbels propaganda lies of imperialism, which have already “justified” 100,000s of civilians tortured, killed and blitzed in Iraq and Afghanistan, (on top of the routine tyranny of imperialism) and will see much more devastation deliberately imposed, and the maverick response of a few UK individuals crudely echoing the anger of the Third World, however painful and ill-directed the immediate impact.

The fake-”left” capitulation to this neocon exaggeration of what is no more than a policing threat to imperialism (as the DPP man says) is a craven betrayal. Seeing these charlatan politics increasingly exposed will be of enormous value to the working class, proletarian and anti-imperialist masses as the early crudity of the anti-imperialism is forced to try and understand much more deeply what it is up against and move beyond the sectarian and limiting ideologies it has turned to so far, in lieu of revolutionary Marxism.

Material conditions are insistently demanding that greater consciousness emerges.

The enormous complexity of the events unfolding and the limited or distorted picture that comes through the western media makes it extremely difficult to spot where such development might take place.

But as the letter above underlined, the Somalian masses have been given another “kick in the teeth” lesson by imperialism which will broaden the hostility and anger.

And already there are hugely interesting signs of various sections of the anti-imperialist movement being driven beyond the limitations of the cultural forms they have turned to in different countries for militant leadership.

In Lebanon the recognition of a common imperialist enemy during the monstrous Zionist fascist blitzing of the summer, which saw Christians and even local communists fighting alongside Hizbullah and defeating the onslaught has now become a Christian/Shia alliance against the US stooge government, and on the edge of toppling it with mass street demonstrations.

The Hamas movement in Palestine, which has demonstrated increasing political maturity, is also increasingly being forced to rise above historical differences between Sunni and Shia wings of Islam as some bourgeois commentators have noted, since a major anti-Zionist force in the region and political ally, Iran is both Shia in ideology and non-Arabic.

And similar pressures exist in Iraq. Despite real enough sectarian conflict almost certainly deliberately fed and urged on by provocations and outside stimulation, the overriding hostility is to American imperialism and occupation and to forces seen in the past as stooges of imperialism, notably parts of Saddam Hussein’s Sunni regime.

Deliberate meddling by imperialism to bolster a reactionary Sunni alliance is now underway to try and hold the line from ultra-reactionary monarchical Saudi Arabia to Jordan, Iraq and Egypt, and with funds and political support for the western stooge Abbas wing of the Palestinians, busy trying to knife the Hamas government and now pushing internecine splitting civil war, the tragic end point of the class collaborating “two-state” solution (supported across the board by the fake-”lefts”). But it is being done at enormous cost in further exposing the fraud and lies of western posturing about “elections” “freedom” and “democracy”.

The class forces are building up. The radicalism of the Iranian president Ahmadinejad is increasingly tipping towards the more and more overtly socialist movement of the “Bolivarian” revolution sweeping through South and Central America for example, itself being pushed into more overt declarations of a drive for socialism. Major visits in the last six months have seen significant trade interchange agreements signed and political solidarity agreed.

It remains a very open question how far Ahmadinejad’s fundamentalism, which remains Muslim, will be driven by the anti-imperialism of the Iranian masses which is pushing on such leaderships.

But it is already being taken ever more seriously by the West which has begun a major disinformation campaign to suggest that he is “finished” and “about to be toppled” by more compliant petty bourgeois stoogery around so-called “conservative mullahs”:

...Gripes over surging prices are just part of a broader critique against Ahmadinejad being framed by the media, former allies in parliament and powerful regime insiders close to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say in all state matters.

They accuse him of failing to keep his economic promises to create jobs and reduce poverty while presiding over wasteful policies that have triggered inflation and threaten chaos.

But the charge sheet goes beyond economics. Having argued for Iran’s nuclear programme with shrill anti-Western rhetoric, Ahmadinejad now stands accused of provoking Western enemies and of leaving Iran vulnerable to sanctions or military attack.

Last month, the UN security council passed a resolution imposing limited sanctions over Iran’s refusal to suspend uranium enrichment. It gave Tehran 60 days to comply or face the possibility of further embargoes. The Bush administration has begun pressing European banks to cut off transactions with state-owned Iranian banks said to be linked to the nuclear programme. Meanwhile, leading Israeli figures threaten military strikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Ahmadinejad’s opponents say he has inadvertently increased the threat through his uncompromising bluster and further accuse him of refusing to take it seriously. The country’s Islamic system, they believe, could collapse under the burden of sanctions or from the repercussions of a military attack.

The President has taken a brazen approach to the criticism. Presenting the coming year’s budget to parliament last Sunday, he insisted Iran would stick to its nuclear strategy. He dismissed the capacity of sanctions to damage the economy and claimed to have reduced the country’s dependence on oil revenues. On state television he brushed aside inflation as ‘rumours’ and insisted the US was powerless to attack Iran. ‘The important thing for us is to become a nuclear power and we have done so without any costs,’ he said.

But the ability of such defiant talk to rally the nation has worn thin. Last week, Mohsen Rezai - a former revolutionary guard commander linked to Iran’s inner circle - said he believed an enemy attack was highly likely.

More threatening to Ahmadinejad’s authority is the increasing assertiveness of Hashemi Rafsanjani, a former President and head of the powerful expediency council. Rafsanjani - whom Ahmadinejad defeated in the last presidential election - believes Iran faces a crisis and must negotiate on the nuclear case, even if it means backing down.

Rafsanjani last week voiced his concerns about the economy and the nuclear strategy to 100 MPs. He said the expediency council would scrutinise Ahmadinejad’s budget and criticised ‘high-ranking officials’ for under-estimating the international threat. In remarks interpreted as designed to show the President’s waning influence, Rafsanjani described how a top-level official had been slapped down by Khamenei. ‘We had a session with the supreme leader and a group of officials,’ he said. ‘Somebody said, “the threats are not serious and there is no need for concern”, to which Ayatollah Khamenei replied, “the threats are serious”.’ The unnamed official is broadly assumed to have been Ahmadinejad.

Rafsanjani reminded MPs that the ‘highest religious duty’ of officials was preserving Iran’s Islamic system - implying this might mean making painful compromises with the West.

Rafsanjani was pushing at an open door. Parliament is in open revolt, believing the President guilty of incompetence, arrogance and self-indulgence.

Moves were afoot to rein him in even before Rafsanjani’s pep talk. A petition is being circulated to summon Ahmadinejad for questioning over his economic and nuclear policies, while impeachment proceedings are under way against four ministers.

Emad Afrough, a fundamentalist MP, said parliament would start dictating to Ahmadinejad unless he learnt the art of consultation. ‘The political situation is going to force the government to consult more. If not, some issues be dictated to them,’ he said. ‘The government cannot count on the fundamentalists like before.’

A reformist MP, Akbar Aalami, said disenchantment had reached unprecedented levels. ‘This government lacks the maturity to fulfil its legal duties and exercise authority,’ he said.

Prospects of Ahmadinejad’s impeachment and removal from office are widely dismissed. But it is clear that he is running short of friends.

One of the few that could be found last week was shopping in the same fruit and veg store the President had cited in his defence.

Abdolreza Bazian, 38, had known Ahmadinejad as a neighbour and fellow member of the volunteer Basij militia. ‘He is a good man,’ he said. ‘We have faced price rises but he is not the guilty one. The blame lies with the foreign pressure being put on Iran.’

Precisely so.

The campaign synchronises with the Goebbels lies by endless western intelligence-planted campaigns which ludicrously paint Iran as a “major threat” to the world on a par with “Nazi Germany”.

But Germany was the world’s second largest industrial power and an aggressive expansionist imperialist power – powerfully egged on by all imperialism to be a “bulwark against communism.”

Iran is a relatively small economy, still largely agricultural and with nothing like the same capacities.

The only Nazi threat is imperialism itself, now threatening ever more openly to escalate the warmongering which has already torn Iraq and Afghanistan into an inhuman mess, stepping up a drumbeat of sinister threats of tactical nuclear strikes by Zionism, and doubling of US nuclear armed naval forces in the Gulf along with classic Nazi- style provocatory raids on Iranian diplomats in Iraq.

It is designed to try and unnerve and split the country’s growing anti-imperialism, which Washington hates beyond measure, and would like to swat down, leaving as before only its Rottweiler Zionist regional bully to smack down challenges to its rule.

And it aims to further soften up a prime target (along with Sudan, Zimbabwe, Myanmar, North Korea etc) for the next stage of warmongering.

Iran is a victim primarily because imperialist crisis needs demons, not because it threatens anyone – except imperialist domination itself.

The Western play-acting scaremongering about “nuclear threats to the world” and non-proliferation posturing are complete hypocrisy anyway, as further recent revelations have made clear (though well buried in the little read foreign news pages just before Christmas):

A..decision by the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council to launch an innocent-sounding joint nuclear energy development project ...could hasten the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction across the Middle East.

...Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and the UAE - made clear that, like Iran, they want nuclear know-how for solely “peace purposes”. And it is not the first time the idea of an Arab bomb has come up. Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Saudi Arabia have already declared an intention to develop civilian nuclear energy.

The council’s statement comes amid rising tension between Shia Iran and the Sunni-led Gulf states over political turmoil in Lebanon and anarchy in Iraq. But its timing will be seen as an unsubtle warning to the Bush administration to ignore the Iraq Study Group’s advice on softening US policy towards Iran.

The Gulf’s message may also be directed at Russia, which is still wrangling with Britain and France over the terms of a UN sanctions resolution on Iran. Diplomats say the resolution may finally pass this week, after first being mooted in July. But Moscow has weakened it. Even as a first step, it hardly amounts to the ringing, united anti-proliferation stand that the US and EU sought.

The resolution’s main thrust will be to ban the sale or transfer to Tehran of nuclear and missile-related technology. Straight-faced Iranian diplomats say that is no problem since Iran is not building nuclear weapons and already has plenty of missiles. All the same, it is poised to retaliate. “If there are UN sanctions, there will be trade sanctions on Britain, France and Germany. Our response will be swift and proportionate,” an Iranian official said.

Russia’s own NPT adherence is also in serious question. Defence minister Sergei Ivanov, a possible successor to Vladimir Putin, last week proudly announced the commissioning of a new, mobile version of the Topol-M nuclear-tipped missile. Capable of vaporising targets 10,000km away, the Topol-M had previously been confined to fixed ground silos. It was specifically designed to penetrate new US “Star Wars” missile defences, Mr Ivanov said. It complements another new Russian “deterrent” - the sea-based Bulava missile.

But the US and Britain are hardly in a position to wax sanctimonious over Moscow’s behaviour. President Bush’s plan to provide India with nuclear fuel, reactors and technology was approved by Congress at the weekend. Under the new law, India’s secret, destabilising 1990s development of nuclear weapons and its ongoing refusal to sign the NPT will be officially forgiven in return for a strategic (meaning anti-Chinese) partnership with Washington - and preferential trade opportunities for US businesses.

Far from gradually disarming as required by the NPT, the US is also developing new “low yield” nuclear weaponry that could, in theory, be more readily used on battlefields. Thanks to these and other factors, like Britain’s Trident replacement plan and bomb-happy North Korea’s so far unchecked defiance of international law and opinion, fears grow that countries such as Brazil and South Africa that voluntarily eschewed nuclear arms may feel obliged to reconsider.


Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, recently “let slip” the world’s worst-kept secret that Israel is a nuclear power; Israeli defence experts are now openly debating the use of nukes against Iran. Shlomo Mofaz, a reservist colonel in Israeli military intelligence, believes that tactical nuclear weapons will be required to penetrate the defences that Iran has built around its nuclear facilities...

[Nuclear knowledge and materials supplied by the US, Britain and other sources despite endless UN resolutions on the table against “Israel” and its occupations of Arab lands.]

...Two fast assault squadrons based in the Negev desert and in Tel Nof, south of Tel Aviv, are already training for the attack.

On a plasma screen, Shkedi will be able to see dozens of planes advance towards Iran, as well as the electronic warfare aircraft jamming the Iranian and Syrian air defences and the rescue choppers hovering near the border, ready to move in and pluck out the pilots should the mission go wrong.

Another screen will show live satellite images of the Iranian nuclear sites. The prime target will be Natanz, the deep and ferociously protected bunker south of Tehran where the Iranians are churning out enriched uranium in defiance of the United Nations security council.

If things go according to plan, a pilot will first launch a conventional laser-guided bomb to blow a shaft down through the layers of hardened concrete. Other pilots will then be ready to drop low-yield one kiloton nuclear weapons into the hole. The theory is that they will explode deep underground, both destroying the bunker and limiting the radioactive fallout.

The other potential targets are Iran’s uranium conversion facility at Isfahan — uncomfortably near a metropolis of 4.5m people — and the heavy water power reactor at Arak, which might one day be able to produce enough plutonium to make a bomb. These will be hit with conventional bombs.

In recent weeks Israeli pilots have been flying long-haul as far as Gibraltar to simulate the 2,000-mile round trip to Natanz.

...NO nuclear weapon has been fired in anger since the American bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Should Israel take such a drastic step, it would inflame world opinion — particularly in Muslim states — and unleash retaliation from Iran and its allies.

...Western Europe and the United States have been trying to persuade Tehran to drop its nuclear ambitions, using the carrot of co-operation with a legitimate nuclear energy programme and the stick of UN sanctions. But they have had no effect.

As a result, Israel sees itself standing on its own and fighting for its very existence. It got a taste of what Iran was capable of during last summer’s war in southern Lebanon. Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy troops fighting from bunkers secretly built by Iranian military engineers, humiliated the Israeli army and rained missiles into northern Israel.

Every Israeli government has vowed never to let Iran acquire nuclear weapons. Ariel Sharon, when he was prime minister, ordered the military to be ready for a conventional strike on Iran’s nuclear programme. Since then, however, the Iranians have strengthened their nuclear facilities and air defences, making a conventional strike less likely to succeed.

“There are 24 strong batteries around Natanz, making it one of the most protected sites on earth,” said an Israeli military source. Its centrifuge halls, where the uranium is enriched, are heavily protected at least 70ft underground.

Israel developed tactical nuclear weapons in the early 1970s for use on the battlefield. In an attack on Iran, its air force would be expected to use a low-yield nuclear device of 1 kiloton (equivalent to 1,000 tons of TNT), loaded on a bunker-buster missile.

...The actions and rhetoric of Ahmadinejad have been deliberately provocative. Last week he boasted that the Iranians would not only continue their atomic programme but also give a “historic slap in the face” to nations that opposed it. He has vowed that America, Israel and Britain will disappear “like the pharaohs” of Egypt and he believes that oil-rich Iran is well on its way to becoming the regional superpower.

Next month, on the anniversary of the Islamic revolution, he intends to celebrate what he calls his country’s mastery of nuclear technology. He promised that 3,000 centrifuges would be ready by the end of last year and that 60,000 would ultimately be in place. In the event, technical problems have slowed the programme. The Iranians are believed to have installed only 500 centrifuges at Natanz and they will reach 2,000 by spring at the earliest.

This is enough, however, to convince some Israelis that Iran is reaching the “point of no return” at which it has the technical know-how to build a nuclear bomb.

Ahmadinejad insists that Iran is developing only peaceful nuclear energy, but the development of long-range ballistic missiles such as the Shehab-3 suggests a different story. Israeli intelligence sources say Iran recently tested this missile with dummy nuclear weapons for its warheads.

Michael Rubin, an expert on Iran at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, believes it could be a dangerous ruse. “You never want to threaten something you don’t follow through on,” he said.

Rubin believes the Israeli debate about using tactical nuclear weapons is “much more likely to be about pressing the United States to do the job”.

President George W Bush included Iran in his original “axis of evil”. Bogged down now in Iraq, he has cooled on the idea of attacking Iran. At a private meeting in the Oval Office last autumn, he was openly sceptical that America possessed enough intelligence data to carry out the job thoroughly.

However, the Bush administration is still tempted to deliver a punishing blow to Iran for its regional meddling in Iraq and Lebanon. At the very least, it would like the swaggering regime in Tehran to believe that the United States might yet decide to cut it down to size. The nomination of Admiral William Fallon, a former navy fighter pilot, to command US military operations in the area is regarded as a sign of forward planning. Fallon does not have a reputation as a hawk, but in the words of a Pentagon source: “If you go after Iran, you have a naval war on your hands.”

Retired Colonel Sam Gardiner, a former National War College professor who has wargamed airstrikes on Iran, believes an American attack remains a possibility. The current deployment of a second US aircraft carrier strike force to the Gulf region, as well as British minesweepers, is a “huge deal”, he said. “It is only necessary to do that if you are planning to strike Iran and deal with the consequences” — including an attempt to shut the Strait of Hormuz, the sea route for much of the world’s oil from the Gulf states.

Should Israel launch a tactical nuclear strike, the consequences could be catastrophic. Gardiner believes that there would not only be “low DNA operations” — difficult to trace directly back to the Iranians — such as terrorist attacks, but the Muslim world would also be so inflamed that the stability of pro-western regimes would be threatened.

“It doesn’t take much imagination to see Pakistan (a nuclear power) falling to Islamic fundamentalists,” Gardiner said.

Of even more concern to imperialism, is that the complex material developments of the struggle on the planet will see fundamentalism itself develop and move on.

This only reinforces the EPSR’s Marxist understanding that if the opposition to Ahmadinejad were to temporarily prevail and try a compromise with imperialism, backing down and trying to placate it, it would be more, not less, likely to be attacked. To quote an EPSR from two years ago (No 1246)

But if not Iran...then certainly some new Third World nations at some point WILL press ahead in seeking to defend themselves with nuclear weapons because not to do so is going to invite GUARANTEED military onslaught from the American Empire alliance or its Zionist hitmen at some stage in the future...(of) the global economic crisis.

The wooden Trotskyist idea that Muslimism is some kind of fixed ideology to be decried as reactionary utterly fails to understand that the material world is in enormous flux – and that movements carried at present by various ideologies will be changed and developed. Being determines consciousness; the world is not formed by ideas developing in a vacuum.

There is no room in the modern world to restore seventh century religion and it is the militancy, discipline, hostility to western imperialist decadence and empty consumerism, and comradeship which currently attracts a following in the absence of better leadership.

But such leaderships will either evolve or the struggles will be forced to throw up better as the demands of the crisis grow.

Just how many false starts, sectarian conflicts and turmoil (as in Palestine at present, as the old class compromising Arafatism degenerates into Abbasite open stoogery for the most reactionary Arab regimes and imperialism behind them) is impossible to predict.

It can best be grasped by the overall perspective of Marxism/Leninism which alone is continuously seeking to grasp the widest picture. To achieve that means grasping both the significance of the all the movements against imperialism and struggling with them for the higher rational understanding of Marxism.

The movement in South America, making further election gains in Ecuador, Nicaragua, and on the edge in Mexico is clearly responding to the defeats and turmoil of imperialism, overtly declaring itself to be socialist and communist, as proclaimed by Hugo Chávez following his own immensely popular re-election in Venezuela in December.

Once again this is not yet clearly Marxist and there are no guarantees that it will become so, despite Chavez’s proclamation.

Above all there is no clear sign that the movement in Venezuela being given an understanding of the need to develop the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Of course it has to tread carefully under the eye of imperialism – and warning of the vicious counter-revolutionary treachery and subversion of imperialism is crucial – while giving it as few excuses as possible for intervention.

But an entire perspective of how the world movement, and the defeats inflicted on imperialism everywhere have opened up the opportunities for this movement at the moment of rapidly deepening imperialist crisis, is urgent.

Tragically no such understanding is being put forwards by the enormous heroism of the Cuban revolution, which in practice is a central inspiration for the entire South America movement showing a gritty determination that has been a stunning economy and fair society despite 50 years of hostility and strangulation by economic blockade from America and endless terrorist and reactionary intervention and subversion.

While correctly pointing out that in many respects South America is leading the way for the world in pushing forwards socialism, it still remains bogged down in dire revisionist woodenness about the potential of peaceful struggle by the “democratically” achieved popular will.

There are warnings of potential attempts by imperialism to subvert the new gains but not the slightest sense of urgency to build Leninist understanding.

Contrast this:

All of this is shaping up a new Latin American and Caribbean context, where we can find, in every corner of the continent, an expression of these ideas of justice and freedom, accompanied by the determination of many leaders and the decision of their people to concretely fulfil what up until now have been only dreams and hopes.

Decadent imperialism, which is receiving blows from all sides for its irrational aggressiveness and arrogance, while it wears away internally, is now being led by its most aggressive and perverse group, represented by Bush and his followers.

That indicates that Latin America and the Caribbean must remain very alert, to the extent that the processes of change advance and are extended to other nations, and in order to do so, popular mobilizations are essential on all fronts of struggle, work and defense, together with the broadest international solidarity.

Mobilization, solidarity, unity, social justice and a sure path toward Latin American integration should be the effective pillars not just to just to continue developing these changes but also to defend them against imperialism and its dependent oligarchies’ possible attempts at re-conquest.

With this:

The real possibility still needs considering that first, US imperialism’s anti-crisis warmongering re-colonisation “disciplining” of the world might sink towards complete paralysis and confusion before the next blitzkrieging lurch drags the planet back towards destructive disaster again.

Warmongering imperialist crisis will remain history’s dominating driving force.

The revolutionary overthrow of the imperialist system will remain the only possible solution to this systemic degeneracy from where the sole advance for history and civilisation will be the creation of evermore successful workers states, building on the sensational achievements since 1917 of the Soviet and other workers states like Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam, and China.

But how might it go next, in the immediate future?

And what preparations should workers everywhere be making?

It is impossible to see beyond the desperate need for a world party of revolutionary theory which must dwarf even the achievements of Lenin’s world party, such is the complexity of the modern class-war and national-war scene, and such is the debilitating uncleared-up confusion left behind by Stalinism (and its equally shallow and opportunist reflection, Trotskyism). [EPSR 1237].

Worse still the Granma piece above presents Chile’s Salvador Allende alongside Che Guevara as one of the two leading figures of South American progress and revolution.

But Allende-ism was a total disaster, its insistence on using parliamentary and democratic forms and failing to warn the working class of the need for proletarian dictatorship, allowing the sleepwalk into the monstrous Pinochet counter-revolution. Pinochet was invited into Allende’s cabinet, while the working class was refused arms as CIA counter-revolutionary butchery was prepared.

Small wonder that the Granma piece sees only positive development in South America and does nothing to warn the working class of the need to build its own independent grasp.

It should be treating figures like Brazil’s president Lula – and even Chávez –with the utmost circumspection and suspicion – supporting them only to see how far they will go, and constantly warning the working class that it needs to develop its own independent strength. The issues will only be settled by the working class taking and holding power.

And the even more so with the left reformist Chilean government. Not this:

When speaking of the political progress over the year, one should not overlook the government of Chilean President Michelle Bachelet which, although within the limits imposed by the ruling coalition, has been able to break its chains on crucial issues such as human rights and the defense of self-determination in response to a significant amount of pressure brought to bear by Washington.

In the history of the imperialist period the living science of Marxism has repeatedly been frozen and deadened, from the class collaborating reformism of the Second International onwards and most notably of all in the deadening straitjacket of Moscow Stalinism and its refusal to fight for the highest level of understanding, blocking out argument and polemic.

Failure to engage in constant living interchange and struggle for understanding was an early symptom of the retreat from revolutionary perspectives which led eventually to the astonishing and devastating spectacle of the huge, powerful and essentially sound Soviet Union simply giving up the ghost.

One of the greatest “mass” parties on the planet – backed by the mass movement of the 250 million strong Soviet Union and tens of millions more in the east European, turned over on its back and gave way to illusions in the superiority of “market forces” and the supposed economic successes of the “west”.

Constant battling to understand how better to engage with workers and develop Marxist political science in practice is a crucial part of the overall philosophical understanding without which revolutionary leadership cannot be achieved.

There is not only plenty to explain but equally plenty to listen to and learn from the working class and the all elements of the world’s masses being thrown against imperialism as it attempts to impose an endless state of fear and panic, to get the warmongering that it needs.

The EPSR, despite a consistent record of struggling for this crucial core of Marxist understanding alone against the dozens of didactic, pompous and academic varieties of fake-“leftists” and the opportunist compromisers and collaborators, and tellingly never getting the open debate and struggle it believes to be vital, would still make no claims to be master of the enormous depth of understanding required.

But within the limits of its resources it is willing to make the constant interchange with the working class needed to not only fight for the understanding achieved but at the same time develop it.

“Patiently explain” as Lenin said, and also patiently listen to (serious) argument from workers. The battle to win the grasp of revolutionary understanding means also constant sensitivity to the levels of consciousness and opinions in the working class.

That does not mean accepting them, or even some homogenised understanding where the differences are “averaged out” to get the “best that can be done” as the various fake-”left” “Socialist Alliances” have tried, deliberately obscuring difference and deciding to build only on the supposed 90% of agreement.

It is the 10% of disagreement which matters and which rarely proves such a small proportion when tackled and fought over for deeper understanding. Explored in polemic it proves to be either wrong thinking or more sinister anti-communism.

The revolutionary party grows in simultaneous unity and conflict with the working class.

Polemic at all levels, is the base on which the EPSR’s entire history is built; open debate but not an eclectic mishmash. Issues need to be worked through to a conclusion.

That might be an extended process, where issues have not clearly emerged, and grasping them requires further information and testing in practice. But a body of agreed understanding is built up.

At an individual level it is counter-productive to insist on full agreement straight off with workers and intellectuals drawn towards the discussion. Constant judgement to be made about the seriousness of those approaching the party despite differences, lack of understanding or rough edges.

There will be plenty of extremely rough edges in various individuals in the working class including bad manners, thoughtless racism, illusions in popular culture and consumerism, alcohol, drugs, gaps in education, petty conflict with authorities and the police, etc etc as well as the lack of confidence this often covers over (see Big Brother article next issue).

And though some will be completely bombed in by capitalism’s corruptions or simply incorrigibly tainted by petty bourgeois anti-communist hostility, the majority are the human material of which revolutionary transformation will be made, despite and because of, the inadequacies and flaws that capitalism has produced in them.

Imperialism will increasingly drive them into struggle. But a conscious fight is crucial to build the Leninist theory without which successful revolution is impossible.

Don Hoskins


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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Sinn Féin secures major victory on issue of policing

British Prime Minister Tony Blair announced on Wednesday (early January) that the MI5 spy agency will have no role in civic policing structures in the Six Counties.

The pledge comes after major concern within the nationalist community at proposals contained in documents released after political negotiations at St Andrews in Scotland last year which sought to embed MI5 in policing structures in the North.

In a statement to the British House of Commons, Blair said the psni would be completely separated from the undercover intelligence agency and that no psni officers would be seconded to or under the control of MI5.

He also said arrangements would be made to ensure the Police Ombudsman in the Six Counties had access to any MI5 intelligence information it needs and reviews of the agency’s work would be carried out every year.

The dramatic development is the result of intense negotiations over the Christmas period between the British Government and Sinn Fein.

Speaking to An Phoblacht on Wednesday following Blair’s statement to the House of Commons, Sinn Fein Spokesperson on Policing and Justice Gerry Kelly mla said that intense and detailed negotiations between Sinn Fein and the British Government in recent weeks had secured the reversal of the British Government’s proposal to integrate the psni and MI5.

“Our position is that there is nowhere that MI5 or any other British security service should be in Ireland. They simply should go and we will continue to the point of getting them out of Ireland. What this is, is a substantial move forward in removing them entirely from civic policing which we have negotiated over long and hard to try and get a new beginning to policing in the North and through that and through the interdependent institutions an all-Ireland approach to all of this.”

St Andrews ‘Annex E’

“People might remember that in the St Andrews documents there was an Annex E published on British security services. We immediately rejected it. The sdlp claimed it as a victory. That document was actually talking about integrating MI5 into the PSNI. Clearly that was a huge step backwards. What this document does is to reverse that. It takes MI5 out of civic policing. It makes them entirely separate bodies.

“It is a significant step forward in terms of trying to achieve civic policing and do away with, not just the interference of MI5 - remember MI5 were involved in a ‘force within a force’, they run loyalist death squads, they have been involved directly and indirectly in deaths throughout Ireland which include incidents in Armagh, Tyrone, Dublin and Monaghan. So it was very necessary to make sure that, in our struggle to have a policing service which is representative of the people and accountable to the people, that that is exactly what we can end up getting. That meant MI5 had to be out of policing -for the police to work for the people and not for the British MI5.”

On the negotiations which led to the breakthrough Kelly said: “They were intense. We wanted to make it perfectly clear that there could be no ambiguity on this issue.”

Asked what, in straightforward terms the practical effect of Blair’s announcement meant for the relationship between the PSNI and MI5, Kelly said: “The new statement by the British government today abandons their proposals to integrate MI5 into policing structures. This means that there will now be:

• No secondment of PSNI members to MI5

• No PSNI members will be under the control of MI5

• MI5 will have no role in civic policing

• All PSNI members accountable to the Policing Board and other Patten mechanisms and upon transfer to the Justice Ministers.

• All party representation on the Policing Board special purposes committee

• The Police Ombudsman will have statutory access to all information held by PSNI and statutory powers to hold PSNI members to account. Arrangements will be made that she will have access to information held by MI5 where this is necessary to the discharge of her duties.

• Annual Review role in the north for Lord Carlisle in consultation with the First and deputy First Ministers and future Justice Ministers.

“Sinn Fein is determined to achieve a new beginning to policing. One of our key demands in these negotiations was to stop MI5 having any role in civic policing here. Today’s proposals will go a long way towards achieving that objective and go far beyond the proposals agreed by the sdlp at St. Andrews.”

Plastic bullets

Another feature of policing in the North which has caused much misery and death over the years is plastic bullets. Their use against unarmed civilians has been deeply resented by the nationalist community. Asked about plastic bullets Kelly said: “We have dealt with the issue of plastic bullets in a lot of our meetings and we are expecting some developments on plastic bullets very shortly.”

Asked whether Tony Blair’s statement made it easier for Sinn Fein to deal with the issue of party support for policing structures in the North Kelly said: “This issue of MI5 had to be dealt with no matter what. We could not have a situation where it was not sorted out after the bombshell of Annex E after St Andrews. So that’s what we were about. The Ard Chomhairle has met and it is to meet again on Saturday and they will be reviewing all of these things as they go.”


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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Majority of UVF leaders were Special Branch

The majority of the UVF’s senior leadership were Special Branch agents. That’s the conclusion of a report by Ombudsman Nuala O Loan emerging out of an investigation into RUC collusion with loyalist killers of Raymond McCord Jr. due to be released next week.

The British Attorney General has been sent files on serving and retired RUC/psni officers by the Ombudsman and is considering prosecutions against seven officers for alleged collusion with unionist paramilitaries. The decision follows an extensive inquiry into involvement of handlers and their agents in several 1990’s murders.

The investigation, known as Operation Ballast, was undertaken by the Ombudsman’s office at the request of one victim’s father who suspected the UVF members known to be involved in his son’s murder were being protected because they were agents working for the RUC.

The body of the 22-year-old Protestant from North Belfast was found dumped in Ballyduff quarry in November 1997. He sustained severe head injuries while being beaten to death by a uvf gang in a dispute over drugs. Since the death of his son Raymond McCord Sr. has tirelessly campaigned for truth and justice. Last year he successfully petitioned the Ombudsman to take up the case.

The report is still set to be published next Monday despite attempts by lawyers acting for more than 20 RUC/psni officers to have it stopped. So far the ombudsman’s senior investigating officer, Chris Mehaffey has refused to allow, for those referred to in the report, advanced notification of its contents.

The officers investigated will not be identified by name but referred to by letters.

However they have been identified in fuller copies forwarded to the British Secretary of State Peter Hain and psni Chief Constable Hugh Orde.

Normally prosecution files are referred directly to the Public Prosecution Service. The fact that they have been referred to the British Attorney General underscores the serious nature of the allegations and its implications for British “national and security” issues.

Clearly the British fear that prosecuted officers could name and shame senior government officials and ministers implicated in the collusion conspiracy. The Retired Police Officers Association has already indicated that those prosecuted would break the Official Secrets Act in order to defend themselves.

Several of those involved in the murder of Raymond McCord Jr. have already been identified as Special Branch

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