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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 1308 20th February 2007

More troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, despite ever worsening mess created by imperialism and its increasing humiliation, underlines its unstoppable war drive, now being stepped up with Nazi threats, intimidation and provocation against Iran. Peace marches alone cannot stop this turn to war which is inevitable within capitalism – and without revolutionary perspectives they are a major diversion from the urgent need to overturn capitalism, the only way to halt war

Bruce Kent can sneer all he likes that “if we have to wait for revolution then we shall never see peace” but reality is exactly the opposite – until the world’s masses turn round and end the capitalist system for good, there is exactly zero prospect for peace in the world.

Just the opposite - this is a system of war and destruction. It is inbuilt.

The continued existence of capitalism is a complete guarantee of an accelerating slide into degeneracy, inflated dollar-debt economic collapse, slump, trade-war and explosive shooting war destruction.

It is plunging headlong towards the greatest slump catastrophe and war in all its 800 years – greater than the First and Second World Wars.

Only revolution can end it, and thereby end war.

No matter how humiliated, exposed, discredited and bogged down, the Bush core of the US ruling class continues its relentless path towards escalated war on the planet (reinforced by the sidekick New Labourites, with Tony Blair declaring that the war will go on recently for example).

More troops are being pushed into the chaotic disaster and inhuman mess of Baghdad; more troops and money are plunged into the ever worsening disaster of Afghanistan; and the chorus of Goebbels Lies and accusations, provocatory “arrest” of Iranian diplomats and sinister troop and force build-ups of aircraft carriers in the Gulf makes it clear that Iran is a major target next.

Heading for war gets more difficult undoubtedly; but it is the enormous fighting and struggle against its war plans, from the Iraqi insurgency and the Afghanistani resistance to the heroic battling of the Palestinians, the rising struggle in Africa and growing mass movement in South America which has primarily rocked imperialism back on its toes.

The tangle of the ruling class in the “democracy” illusions it has created over centuries (to cover up the actual class dictatorship, where money rules) is playing a role in weakening the demented war drive that the neocons see as the best solution for imperialism to hang on and get through the catastrophic crisis its system is facing worldwide.

But while votes in the US Congress against the escalation, and for powers to stop presidential war decisions, reflect how disastrously the quagmires in Iraq and Afghanistan have setback plans for getting war hysteria and frenzy going, the Democrats and “anti-war” dissidents can and will do nothing to actually stop the war drive.

The big Vote was declared “non-binding” and when it came to voting money for “our boys” in the army it went through on the “patriotic” nod.

Opportunist ducking and weaving of “parliament” and “congress” goes only as far as it thinks it needs to ride the wave of rising mass disgust with the whole festering capitalist order, while containing the opposition rising beneath within “acceptable boundaries”. The fake-”left” - still in some sections unbelievably suggesting yet another “left” Labour experiment and all supporting “democracy” illusions in one form or another, simply give all this left cover.

Often confused and ideologically weird anarchic struggles against imperialism have major limitations - and it remains to be seen how far they go before the need to understand the world better – meaning in a materialist dialectical Marxist way - becomes urgent.

But the huge upswelling of hostility to imperialist domination and occupation is a major factor in the hampering of imperialism’s immediate war plans – and of the “peaceful” protest in the Western countries.

It was the titanic struggle of the Vietnamese communist armies which stopped the Vietnam war not the peace movement which was triggered by the Tet Offensive etc in 1968, even if the internal opposition then became a factor too.

Continuing peace marches which only suggest “democratic change”, “rational argument” and “firm pressure” (even if “extra-parliamentary”) are all that is needed to change things for the better, are equally illusory especially under slogans such as “Stop the War”.

Peace marches may represent a huge upswelling of ordinary feeling against the plunge into destruction of the capitalist system and indicate mass opposition, but without a revolutionary perspective they are ultimately powerless and at worst a giant misleadership of the threatened peoples of the world.

As a recent letter to the capitalist press inadvertently pointed out in celebrating a “marvellous” 90 year old peace campaigner, protest never changed anything. She has been an active pacifist for 70 years, it gushed.

And where have we got to? A greater and more threatening catastrophe than at any time, with weaponry and methods more horrifying and powerful than ever - and with regimes ready to use them from Washington to Tel Aviv.

The apotheosis of “anti-war” marches was reached in the UK 2003 when two million people marched in London against attacking Iraq and many, many millions more supported them.

It stopped nothing. Even subsequent tearing open of the Goebbels lies and plotting of Blair and Bush, and the revelations of torture and Nazi-killing have changed nothing.

But that has not stopped the 57 varieties of Trotskyists, museum-Stalinists and “nice” liberal petty bourgeois from forcing the endless repetition of an experience which most people have already worked through.

They do not want to confront the actual revolutionary implications of the relentless warmongering ever since - now on the upsurge again after the setbacks of Iraq and Afghanistan for US militarism.

Or more accurately they do not want to confront the decades of misleadership, confusion and deliberate anti-communism they have pumped into the working class as they preened and postured around as “revolutionaries” or their own capitulation to imperialist “condemnation” of the worldwide upsurge now underway.

The future is already clear in the blitzing slaughter, wilful destruction, torture, concentration camp “renditions” confusion, massacres, civil war mayhem and lies of Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon.

It was already clear in the decade of inter-imperialist intriguing in the Balkans over the residue of the Yugoslavian workers state and the disgusting NATO blitzing of tiny Serbia (despite most of the fake-”left” supporting that) which predated the 9/11 events and the insane nonsense of a “War on Terror”.

It is now shaping up further in the extension of the warmongering organised by Washington into Somalia and the demonisation of “axis of evil” countries from Iran to Myanmar, from Sudan to Zimbabwe, from Cuba to North Korea and plenty of others.

It won’t stop there.

It is not a question of rabid presidents, maniac Zionists, fanatical neocons and all the rest of the demented and increasingly fearful and reactionary ruling class created by capitalism and becoming ever more detached from reality and humanity in order to preserve their monstrous and obscene privilege and power.

It is a question of the very “logic” of production for profit.

Everything dynamic and forceful about the piratical but inventive capitalist order long ago ran out of historical momentum. Competitive monopoly rivalry is now utterly decadent, only able to stifle human progress and turn it into destruction.

The inbuilt contradictions of the system will force even the “nicest” capitalists into deadly antagonism to literally wipe out rivals by fair means or (more usually) foul, as Marx understood and untangled in his gigantic analysis of the profit system (see page 6 also). Those rivals at the end are the big monopoly blocs of Europe, the Far East and kingpin USA.

Capitalism is a system more out of time and ripe for transformation than ever its centuries of existence.

But it is unalterable until mankind restructures society to allow planned coordinated worldwide production for need i.e. socialism (which would also allow for insane rampant consumerism, environmental devastation and social alienation to be dealt with too).

That will not happen gradually as the failure of all reformism makes extremely clear and the “gains” of the working class are ruthlessly stripped back by privatisation, dismantling of pensions, health services, education etc, endless speed-up, the growth of massive public and private debt and so on in even the richest countries, with the prospect of dollar and general currency collapse and slump, even as the rampant greed of City bonuses and ruling class payouts spirals into ever great obscenity.

It can only happen by revolutionary overturn.

No ruling class from the early slave societies through to the feudal regimes of Europe, Russia and China, have ever willingly left the historical stage.

No more will dominant US monopoly capitalism, the most fearsomely powerful and disproportionately rich and exploitative tyranny ever seen.

Imperialism is having its way at first, stepping up the bullying already seen in Iraq and Afghanistan and attempted blasts on Lebanon, the attack on Somalia and much more in preparation.

But the defeats it has run into, bogging down its “shock and awe” plans for disciplining the rapidly emerging world revolutionary hatred for its order, (and simultaneously firing a shot across the bows of the major imperialist rivals as a warning of what they will get if they presume to challenge the established imperialists rankings as they inevitably must when markets collapse and the lead power is no longer cutting it in suppressing rebellion internally and externally) is a powerful signal that DEFEAT for its warmongering is the critical issue.

Marxism neither advocates nor glorifies insurgency or “terrorism” but no more does it “condemn” the massive waves of bitter and sometimes exceptionally brave sacrifice and struggle which have arisen as imperialism has attempted to impose its warmongering crisis solution on the world.

It welcomes each and every setback for imperialism’s plans because only an end to capitalism will end the contradictions and collapse which drive such conflict and disaster.

Grasping this perspective – within the complete long-distance historical and world covering grasp that is the basis of Marxist science - grows more important every day, as the slide into degeneracy and chaos continues and worsens.

But the multiple fake-”left”, universally caught-out siding with imperialism after 9/11 by roundly “condemning” as “terrorism” and “crime” the upheavals that capitalism alone is responsible for, wants to avoid all such revolutionary discussion, which would expose its posturing falseness and class treachery.

It was noticeable at a recent London pre-peace-march meeting, for example, how the local Socialist Workers Party member deliberately avoided even stating her party background let alone attempting to the give the meeting any hint of the supposedly “revolutionary” understanding that the SWP Trotskyism boasts to be its basis.

So much for leadership – complete capitulation to the petty bourgeois niceties of the pacifist movement and not a hint of explanation or understanding of capitalism and warmongering. Even Trotsky at his most grotesque anti-Soviet peak (most of his petty bourgeois life in fact) had more content and analysis to offer.

Few issues make this clearer at present than the growing “Bolivarian revolution” in Venezuela, around Hugo Chávez and its follow on in Bolivia, perhaps Ecuador and eventually Peru and influence on mass anti-imperialist movement in Argentina, Mexico, Brazil and to some extent Chile.

Despite Chávez’s post-December election statement that he is a communist and taking the country to “twenty-first century socialism”, it is by no means clear yet that the movement he is leading is anything beyond left nationalist anti-imperialism; such transformations as it has made so far are paid for with the huge oil revenues of the country, and the class structure of the country remains intact for the time being with a landowning and bourgeois industrial class still in possession of its wealth largely.

Washington is undoubtedly fuming at even the momentum so far picked up by the entire movement and would dearly love to suppress it as violently and viciously as it has dozens of other movements in South America via local stooges, fascists regimes and School of the America’s trained torturers and killers, before it develops into an unstoppable tide.

In the world crisis now facing the entire imperialist system it is not only not ruled out but highly possible for a movement like Chávistism to make a rolling transition which may well develop towards more clear-cut revolutionary transformation.

The world is in an era of transformation and upheaval – potentially the end of the capitalist order and therefore the end of the entire epoch of class rule which has coloured mankind’s development through the great periods of civilisation.

The urgent need, just as throughout the rest of the world is for an understanding of all the world events and the strength of the imperialist and proletarian class forces on the planet.

But the “lefts” of all shades now clustering round this supposedly peaceful “democratic” revolution are doing so precisely in order to further avoid any discussion of the need to overthrow the imperialist order, and to distract attention from their dire capitulation to the imperialist propaganda nonsense of the “war on terror”.

Assorted Trotskyites, revisionists and “left”-Labourites (supporting John McDonnel’s fake-”left” attempt to revive justifiably historically mortally discredited Labourite reformism), at a “Hands off Venezuela” meeting in London recently (see page 5) heard none of this; an entire three hours was packed only with gushing sentimentality about the “spirit” of the workers on the streets in the election and the “workers” control in a few taken-over factories. Not a world was spoken about the world context of the movement or of anything outside Venezuela, as if it was happening in a vacuum.

And even more dishonestly it was suggested that this is a “new kind of revolution” which is proceeding by peaceful means.

What monstrous disarming garbage!!

It is not ruled out that in specific circumstances for very specific periods of time there is space for revolutionary movement by peaceful means. It is not even ruled out that power can be handed over entirely to the working class and the necessary dictatorship of the proletariat in very specific concrete circumstances.

But that is all the more reason for battling for the highest level of Marxist revolutionary theory, so that the working class can be sure of where it is and the dangers it faces otherwise.

It is the only the weakening of imperialism by its rapidly deepening and unsolvable crisis of the capitalist economic order, sustained only by an increasingly hollow debt mountain of paper dollars, and the rising tide of anti-imperialist insurgency around the planet - and most of all in the “front-line” of the Middle East – which has preoccupied US imperialism and made sufficient space, temporarily, for the Venezuelan movement to push forwards.

Overall in the world there is a massive struggle in progress, of which the South American movement is a part.

But as the hundreds of thousands of tortured, disappeared, death-squad-murdered, assassinated, blitzed, kidnapped and tyrannised throughout South America in the last 100 years testify, imperialism will not leave such movement alone for long.

It is an open question how far this movement will go however. For all his speeches Chavez has not yet shown himself a Marxist and pronouncements such as being for “permanent revolution just like Trotsky”, as he is being claimed to have said, indicate either shallow lightmindedness or dire confusion.

The record of Trotskyism has been one of endless hostility to the workers states and petty bourgeois confusion, supporting every counter-revolutionary stunt going from the Solidarnosc counter-revolutionary “union” backed by the CIA and the Vatican, to hostility to workers states like Cuba.

But moves to consolidate the socialist party, to take powers of decree for moving land and social reforms forwards faster and forming militias in the workers barrios to defend gains made so far; along with warnings about American imperialist plotting, are good signs.

Treading cautiously under the eye of nearby powerful US imperialism may equally be tactically sensible, moving one step at a time as the working class gains strength and understanding.

This is not a formalised “stages” approach of “completing the bourgeois revolution” as suggested by dire museum-Stalinist Lalkarites, now slyly “reborn” as the Proletarian CPGB(M-L) to avoid too many questions about their eight years in the SLP giving “left” cover to reactionary bureaucratic Scargillite anti-communism (which also “condemned” the rising world struggle).

“When the time comes” the workers can move on to overturn capitalism they suggest but without suggesting remotely how that might be judged.

Surely only by a continuous living development of Marxist revolutionary perspective so that tactics and the movement can be assessed and prepared constantly.

But living polemic and exchange to develop theory is still the issue that the museum Stalinists evade.

They may manage at least to pin down the importance of the world context for the Bolivarian movement of Iraqi and Afghanistan struggles, and the need for greater mass mobilisation for land and industrial takeover. And they even correctly suggest that “knowledge and understanding” in the masses is crucial to resist counter revolution and to prepare for overturning capitalism.

But what knowledge? The dire legacy of Stalinist muddleheadedness and retreat from revolutionary perspectives into the fatally disarming “peaceful road to socialism” nonsenses of the post-war period that has helped underpin the disastrous failure of official communism to win the world masses, (leaving the huge vacuum currently filled by religion, anarchism etc) and eventually saw the incredible self-liquidation of the perfectly viable Soviet Union?

Even now the Cuban workers state still puts forwards the revisionist notion that Salvador Allende’s “peaceful road” “democratic socialism” in Chile is a leading heroic example for the Bolivarian workers, instead of a powerful example of how deadly illusions in “the parliamentary way” can be in letting in counter-revolutionary massacre.

Cuban practical help and determination is a major factor inspiring Venezuela and the entire region against imperialism but to tell its workers that necessary ideological preparation for taking power will be helped “by the advice and guidance of the Cuban Communist Party”, as Lalkar concludes, is a tragic evasion.

Neither Venezuela nor the Cuban workers state (to be unconditionally supported) are helped by refusing to tackle such glaring mistakes.

Even worse is the continuing elevation of Saddam Hussein into a “martyr”, the Proletarian’s ludicrous and damaging confusion of the perfectly sound notion that imperialism needs to be defeated by whatever resistance might emerge, with calls for “victory” to the resistance. As EPSR 1193 said:

By all means let imperialist adventures LOSE to ANYONE. But for the working class to start WINNING anything, then their firepower needs turning AGAINST such fake and useless “anti-imperialists” as Milosevic and Saddam as soon as the imperialist no-good intervention has been sent packing.”

And they equally need to build their objective scientific leadership now, standing with the struggles against imperialism but not confused by the unscientific leaderships of the various insurgencies, which can only get so far, and remain prey to confusion split and manipulation.

Without constant theoretical struggle the masses of the planet remain prey to the endless disinformation, psyops, and sheer reactionary lies of imperialism, as it constantly pushes its warmongering agenda forwards with demonising Goebbels lies against a stream of victims.

Some of the crudest are being pumped out constantly against the Chinese workers state whose enormous political and economic growth makes it an increasing threat to capitalist monopoly dominance of world markets – not least because of the trading relations it has established with many of imperialism’s key enemies including countries like Venezuela, Cuba and Zimbabwe, as well as many others in Africa and South America.

The clever development of the backward and poverty stricken Chinese economy by using capitalist economic methods but under workers state control, has been one of the most stunning phenomena in all of history, a testament to planning and direction against the destructive and rampaging anarchy of capitalism.

The growing might of this economy now means there is virtually an alternative trading network across the planet capable of challenging the economic grip and stranglehold of imperialism and bringing with it massive influence.

Tragically the dire revisionist perspectives of the post-war period have been as strong in Beijing as they were in Moscow, with a Chinese nationalist voluntarist flavour but equally devoid of open internationalist revolutionary perspective, and it is a continuing issue whether the capitalist class forces unleashed by the economic development will be containable forever without decent Leninist perspectives.

Bureaucratic revisionist woodenness is capable of as much insensitivity as anything seen in the Soviet Union, within China and externally. But allegations against China that it is little better than capitalism in its dealings in Africa, are foul planted lies and innuendo aiming to whip up a war atmosphere against China’s increasing influence and its economic competition. A full world perspective of class forces, and the actual development of Chinese aid and trade tells another story (to be explored next issue).

Leninist struggle and polemic becomes more urgent every day. Don Hoskins

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Leaflet issued by epsr London comrades for “hands off Venezuela” meeting

“Hands on” building revolutionary Leninism is what the world needs not ineffectual “hands off” slogans for Venezuela or “stop the war”. Stop capitalism!

Fake-“lefts” from the Museum-Stalinists to an assortment of Trotskyists have been swarming around the popularity of the “Bolivarian Revolution” of Venezuela, and follow-on countries like Bolivia and Ecuador, variously proffering “advice” to “move it forwards”.

But all of their formulas and academic programmes for “widening the revolution” by creating “more workers councils” and greater “democratic participation”, miss out any kind of living analysis of the huge anti-imperialist movement now moving there and across the planet, and its significance as the world crisis of the entire imperialist order rapidly deepens.

By all means draw more workers into struggle – but with the perspective of building the firmest of workers states to fight the bourgeois counter-revolution.

“Advice” to the masses in Venezuela and lofty pronouncements from the comfort of Islington to San Francisco on the “correctness” of Hugo Chávez’ latest moves, of which there are plenty from the “Hands off Venezuela” campaign as there are throughout the “left” press, beg a million questions.

Highest on the list is why are the 57 varieties in the left swamp criticising the (possible) mote in the eye of another when there is a plank in their own?

The greatest problem for the entire erupting imperialist world at present is the total lack of a perspective about the depths of the enormous monopoly capitalist crisis unfolding and its inevitable drive into Third World War as a desperate ruling class thrashes around for a “solution” to cover over the catastrophic disaster its profit dependent system has brought the world to.

With it goes a total failure to give any kind of world level revolutionary understanding and grasp to the tens of millions erupting throughout the planet.

With that goes a total evasion of any attempt to understand the disastrous misunderstandings and failures of past communist leadership from Stalin onwards – except through the sour sniping hatreds of the Trotskyists which is even worse, wrongly and deliberately writing off all such leaderships as “fatally flawed” from the beginning, a view driven by the Trots’ own petty bourgeois gut-hatred of all working class discipline and workers state authority, despite their revolutionary posing.

In fact the entire fake-“left” has already betrayed and abandoned the great majority, by joining imperialism to condemn the world’s various as-yet-crude struggles and fights as nothing but “terrorism and crimes”, as they did with one voice in the wake of the 9/11 events.

But the early “terrorist and insurgency” signs of titanic upheavals against capitalist domination will not be stopped by treacherous condemnation. Only superseding anarchic and sometimes counter-productive tactics with more conscious revolutionary class war to overturn imperialism (which causes all such mayhem, including resistance against it) can “stop terrorism”.

Some of these struggles have already matured beyond the early desperate and suicidal individual tactics and inflicted increasingly significant and shattering defeat and set back onto imperialism’s war plans, most notably in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It remains to be seen how far their anti-imperialist content will move them.

But the world is moving towards total civil war.

The masses of the planet urgently need to grasp Leninist perspectives. For that, both the enormous achievements of the titanic communist revolutionary upheavals of the twentieth century, from the 73 brilliant years of the Soviet Union to the continuing progress of China, Vietnam, North Korea and inspirational Cuba, led by Stalin etc, and the utter disasters of the same leaderships’ retreats from Leninist revolutionary understanding, which led Moscow from pre-ww2 defensive caution into the tragic and inane “peaceful road” perspectives of the post-war and ultimate self-induced Gorbachevite liquidationism, need to be thoroughly re-examined and come to terms with.

It is the Stalinist insistence on parliamentary roads and the avoidance of talk about the central revolutionary understanding of the need for the dictatorship of the proletariat, and the complete class war overthrow of the ruling class, which over decades has turned away tens of millions in dismay from revisionism’s version of communism (supposed-communism).

As the tyrannical exploitation of capitalism has taught the Third World more and more about the insufferabality of their oppression and built up ever greater hatreds for the system, they have gone down a thousand and one other avenues to express their militancy, most notably through cultural forms like militant Islamic variants and anti-imperialist nationalism, including Chávistism.

However far they get in pushing back imperialism locally, and it could be substantial, various shadings of irrationality, mystical religion and even left nationalism will be challenged by material needs to develop deeper and better understanding of the world.

The crisis of the 800 year old capitalist system is rapidly accelerating and with it the urgent need for much more rational scientific leadership and understanding, meaning Leninist revolutionary struggle.

The entire world – including the comfortable complacent armchairs in the richest nations on the planet – is now threatened by the most devastating combination of slump collapse and warfare which the planet has ever seen, on a scale ten times the huge crisis sort-outs imperialism has gave the planet in World War One and Two.

Bush’s latest “guns not butter” war budget, combined with sinister threats against Iran (and other potential demonised regimes including Venezuela itself) and the Nazi provocations of diplomatic arrests, nuclear aircraft carrier movements in the Gulf, Zionists nuke-raid exercises, underline how intractable capitalist crisis is relentlessly forcing the entire system into war destruction.

No “stop the war” slogans will prevent it and without revolutionary perspectives no anti-war marches will be anything but a diversionary fraud.

It is war between the giants of the capitalist system which is at the end of the path, as once again they try to sort out the deep antagonisms of the fight for over-saturated markets by destroying each other, and the capitals they control.

The increasingly sharp sense of impending disaster on the planet variously expressed and headed off into fears about global warming, bird flu, “maniac terrorists” etc will need to focus more sharply on the real cause of impending disaster, capitalist collapse.

It is in that context that the Venezuela Bolivarian revolution should analysed, as part of a wave of rebellion now sweeping the planet.

The disasters and setbacks in the Middle East which have hit imperialist world control, the dogged armed struggle for communism in next door Colombia, and most of all the terrifying economic crisis which lurks ever darker at the heart of the capitalist system, are the critical factors which have given South America’s “Bolivarian revolution” the space to move forwards.

So too has the heroic practical example of the Cuban revolution and its titanic social, cultural, health educational achievements staggeringly made over 50 years of dogged and determined struggle despite conditions of strangling siege imposed by US blockade.

It is to be hoped that Chávistism learns more from the practical example of Cuba’s determined workers state (dictatorship of the proletariat) maintaining a powerful grip against subversion, attempted intervention and endless terrorist and assassination attempts, while drawing the masses into its struggle through cooperatives, committees for the defence of the revolution, and other mass organisations – than it does from the continuing revisionist perspectives that tragically lead Havana still to elevate Salvador Allende as a “South American hero” rather than point out that insistence on the peaceful parliamentary “democratic path” was a disastrous mistake opening the door to the barbarities of General Pinochet.

The ringing post-election declaration that Chávistism is communist and the fight is for “socialism or death” is an encouraging sign especially given that Chávez at least has not made the mistake of failing to arm the masses (if militia building reported last year continues to develop),

New decree powers for the president are good sign that Chávez has some understanding of keeping power in working class hands (rather than give way to manipulated future electoral coups by the bourgeoisie). The crude buying and fixing of elections which the US has continued in Mexico for example (and tried in Nicaragua and the rest), assorted but so far unsuccessful anti-Chávez coup attempts in Venezuela, and the various attempts to Balkanise the new regimes by ludicrous artificial “self-determination” movements in the richest regions of Venezuela and Bolivia, are all signs that US intelligence agencies are as busy as they can be attempting to head off the mass momentum which Chávez, Evo Morales and other leaders are picking up.

Just where they would push the counter-revolution is something Latin America has learned bitterly in nearly a century of the most barbaric fascist coup regimes, sponsored and trained by USA imperialism to impose genocidal death squad terror as horrifying as anything the Nazis ever developed, on each and every past revolutionary upheaval. Decades of mass slaughter of hundreds of thousands in Guatemala and El Salvador, the torture and terror of the Pinochet regime in Chile, the 10,000s of “disappeareds” in Argentina, the CIA organised destructive horrors of the Nicaraguan “contras” and the brutal paramilitary terrorisation of the peasantry and resistance in Colombia, (still continuing with US “military advisors”), have been used to impose and maintain US power and influence throughout its “back yard”.

Washington is fuming that it has not been able to stop the latest mass movement dead (literally) in its tracks.

But it will not stop trying, and more viciously and desperately as the overall world crisis deepens.

Venezuela’s best moves are to see itself as part of the world fight against the whole system, helping build a world Leninist perspective. DH


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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Irish republican movement removes another unionist intransigence prop

Extraordinary Ard Fheis -- Political pressure falls on Paisley

Adams hails ‘truly historic decision’

The Extra ordinary Sinn Féin Ard Fheis on Sunday, 28 January overwhelmingly endorsed a motion by the Ard Chomhairle to change long standing party policy on policing.

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams said that the decision was “truly historic”.

“Let’s not be upset by how others respond to today’s decision. The higher they build their barriers the stronger we become,” he said in reference to the likely reaction of dup rejectionists.

“This Ard Fheis acted in the national interest. We look to others to do the same in the time ahead,” he added.

Political pressure now falls clearly onto the shoulders of dup leader, Ian Paisley, to state publicly if he is prepared to enter a Northern Executive with himself as First Minister and Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness as Deputy First Minister on 26 March.

Paisley’s initial response was predictable. “Only with real delivery can the way be cleared for a full return to democracy, and the facing up to the every day needs and requirements of the people of Northern Ireland”, he said.

The vast majority of those who spoke at Sunday’s Extraordinary Ard Fheis at the rds in Dublin were in favour of the Ard Chomhairle motion. Nearly 1,000 delegates were entitled to vote, with over another 2,000 visitors.

Urging delegates to vote in favour, Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness said: “You have a decision to make and it is a big decision. Today is decision day when Sinn Féin moves decisively forward.”

The Ard Fheis decision means that Sinn Féin will encourage people in the Six Counties community to cooperate with the police to solve crime in the community. However further progress will take longer and can only happen either with the return of the power-sharing institutions on 26 March or in the context of new all-Ireland partnership arrangements.

Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and the British prime minister, Tony Blair, both welcomed the decision. Ahern said it was a landmark move that “opened the way for inclusive support for policing throughout Northern Ireland. That is profoundly in the interests of everybody”. He said the timetable set out at St Andrews must be kept.

The transitional Six County Assembly was dissolved at midnight on Monday, triggering the Assembly elections for 7 March.

Speaking in Stormont on Monday Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said: “The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle motion was very clear and unambiguous. And it was overwhelmingly endorsed by the party membership at the Ard Fheis yesterday. The Ard Chomhairle will meet tomorrow to discuss the outcome of the Ard Fheis and its ramifications. ..let me be clear. Sinn Féin is moving forward.

“The dup has no veto over this motion or Sinn Féin’s approach to policing. No party can lecture any other party about law and order or set tests. The people we represent are as law abiding as anyone else.

“The motion sets out two contexts for progress. The first, the preferred one, is with the dup in a power sharing Executive as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

However, if the dup is unwilling to embrace power sharing then there is a second context. The two governments need to move forward with new all-Ireland partnership arrangements.

“Sinn Féin will work with them to assure that these arrangements are acceptable to republicans. However, whatever happens the dup will have no veto, no block on progress. And Sinn Féin is determined to move forward on the policing issue and all other matters.”

Asked about Sinn Féin’s attitude to crime and the police Mr. Adams said: “Let me be very clear. If any citizen is the target of crime, whether it be death riders, drug pushers or rape, or attacks on our elderly, if there are crimes against the people, against citizens, Sinn Féin will be urging and encouraging victims and citizens to co-operate with the police. There is no equivocation or qualification on this.

“There are justifiable concerns about political dimensions of policing. Collusion for example needs to be tackled but at all of the meetings I did no one raised any question about the need for civic policing. The psni need to win the confidence of citizens. They do that by being professional, non partisan and genuinely civic. That is a public service for citizens.”

Speaking after a meeting of the party’s Ard Chomhairle in Dublin on Tuesday which discussed the outcome of the Extraordinary Ard Fheis Gerry Adams said: “Sunday was a huge day for Irish republicans. Despite the enormity of the issue and the personal experience of many of the delegates and their families at the hands of political police, party activists showed huge courage and leadership.

“The Ard Chomhairle met today to discuss how we now implement the position adopted at the Ard Fheis. We are calling on people in the community to co-operate with the police to solve crime and take criminals off the streets. The issue of political policing will take longer to resolve. Further progress will happen either with the return of the power-sharing institutions on March 26th or in the context of new all-Ireland partnership arrangements.

“I know that all of this is very difficult for many people and I know that it will take time for all of us to come to terms with what has happened in recent days.

“And there is a huge onus on the psni to earn the trust and confidence, which at this point does not exist.

“At the weekend when closing the Ard Fheis, I called on republicans to enter the next phase calmly and not to be put off by how others respond to our decision.

“The dup’s reaction has been sadly predictable. Assertions by the dup that they are going to test republicans don’t wash. They have no veto over how we deal with this issue. What republicans did at the weekend was done in the national interest and in the common good. It wasn’t done for the dup. And they are in no position to lecture anyone on law and order.

“So, rather than unionist politicians competing with each other on a negative agenda surely now is the time to grasp the opportunity and adopt a more positive approach. This, I am sure would be welcomed by many unionist people.”

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

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

Fit for purpose? Chief constable role up for question over collusion

Serious questions about the conduct of Ronnie Flanagan, in his role as former RUC Chief Constable and head of Special Branch, continue to undermine his current position as head of Britain’s Inspector of Constabulary.

Flanagan’s lame denials of suspecting nothing and knowing less seemed incongruous as further evidence emerged to suggest the head of Britain’s Inspectorate is far from fit for purpose.

Revelations following the publication of Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan’s investigation into Special Branch collusion in relation to the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr have placed the former RUC Chief at the centre of the current collusion controversy.

Pressure mounted on Flanagan to explain when he first was made aware of serious allegations about Mark Haddock and what action he took in response. According to Raymond McCord Snr Flanagan had been alerted to serious concerns concerning Mark Haddock as early as 1998 or 1999.

“There is no question that I raised Haddock at the meeting I held with Sir Ronnie, when I was accompanied by DUP politician Nigel Dodds. The meeting must have been in 1998 or 1999,” said (McCord).

“I then wrote in September 2000 to the Stevens team which was investigating collusion and detailed a number of allegations. They passed them onto Ronnie Flanagan and I was told an Assistant Chief Constable would be looking into them,” said (McCord).

PSNI Chief Hugh Orde, who was part of the Stevens’ inquiry at the time, has confirmed McCord’s claim that Flanagan was alerted to serious concerns surrounding Mark Haddock in September 2000. McCord Snr has called on the PSNI to detail what was done at this point and explain why Haddock wasn’t struck off as a Special Branch agent

“How many more terrorist and criminal offences did he commit after 2000 while still being paid by Special Branch,” said McCord Snr.

The O’Loan report linked Haddock to the murder of Tommy English in October 2000, a month after the Stevens team alerted the RUC about the McCord allegations.

But despite the warnings, according to Flanagan, “at no time did I have any knowledge or evidence of officers at any level behaving in the ways that have been described [by O’Loan],”said Flanagan.

This is not the first time Flanagan has been forced to cite a lack of memory when faced with serious allegations about his conduct. Flanagan couldn’t recall making a call to UN Special Rapporteur Param Cumaraswamy until he was confronted with an official log of the Geneva call.

During the telephone conversation, Flanagan attempted to coerce the UN investigator into removing detrimental comments the then Chief Constable and his Assistant Chief Constable and head of Special Branch, Raymond White had made during a meeting with Cumaraswamy.

Reminiscent of comments made by British Minister Douglas Hogg prior to the killing of human rights lawyer Pat Finucane, Flanagan and White told the UN official “some lawyers are working to the agenda of the paramilitaries”.

When Cumaraswamy refused to omit this remark from the final draft of his report, Flanagan told the Special Rapporteur that if the comments attributed to him weren’t removed then he could not guarantee the safety of those lawyers named in the report.

“Rosemary Nelson was one of the lawyers to instigate the UN investigation and to whom Flanagan referred. On 15 March 1999 Rosemary Nelson was killed when a bomb was attached to her car,” said Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice.

“Rosemary had received threats directly from ruc officers and threats were made to Rosemary via her clients whilst in RUC custody. Collusion has been evidenced in her killing by Judge Cory and her killing is the subject of an on-going if limited inquiry,” said Thompson.

Speaking after Rosemary Nelson’s death, the UN Special Rapporteur made public his contact with the British government who he had urged to take steps to protect Rosemary.

Instead the British government, on the advice of the RUC, had denied the lawyer access to the Key Persons Protection Scheme while Flanagan, the then Chief constable refused to take any disciplinary action against the ruc officers involved in threatening her life.

Cumaraswamy said he had been saddened but not surprised by Rosemary Nelson’s murder. “The question I ask is, why wasn’t she given adequate protection?”

“These are just some of the questions that Ronnie Flanagan must account for in relation to one of the hundreds of cases in which lives were taken and concerning which families affected by collusion and shoot to kill seek truth, justice and accountability,” said Mark Thompson.

Meanwhile the campaigning group Lawyers Alliance for Justice has called on the British Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to bring charges against all officers in the RUC involved in collusion.

“The time for obfuscation has passed,” said National Co-ordinator Edmund Lynch.

“Justice and the families of the victims, deserve nothing less than a transparent prosecution of those retired and serving members of the police service who organised, condoned or looked the other way while a campaign of mayhem was carried out in the name of the state,” said Lynch.

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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).
More to come yet on Britain’s death squad conspiracy against nationalist struggle in Ireland’s Occupied Zone

O’Loan’s investigation, although compelling, isn’t the first to expose official collusion with unionist death squads. There’s a long list of forerunners, from Stevens to Cory to Barron.

Republicans have been writing about collusion for over two decades drawing from ample evidence that has been in the public domain for many years. But something noticeably different happened this week. The ground under the dominant discourse began to tremble. As if compelled by a distant eruption, established paradigms were beginning to shift, and not just within prevailing notions around collusion, but also about the nature of British rule itself and its relationship with unionism.

In an article written in 2003 An Phoblacht pointed out that the British justified collusion by promoting the notion that they were ‘taking the war to the ira’ but in fact “once the machinery of murder was up and running no one was safe”.

“They killed politicians, civil rights activists, election workers, defence lawyers and Catholic civilians. They killed to cover their agents’ tracks. They killed agents who had outlived their usefulness and loyalists who knew too much. And they sacrificed their own soldiers and members of the ruc to retain their agents’ cover.”

What was exposed this week showed the truth of those words. No one was safe -republican, nationalist, unionist, civilian or combatant, Catholic or Protestant.

The Belfast Newsletter, traditionally an ardent supporter of the ruc, sensed the shift. Tuesday’s edition ran a full front-page photograph of state sponsored killer Mark Haddock with the banner headline “Who Knew?” The message was clear if Special Branch are going down, their political masters would go down as well.

“Who at the top knew?” asked the Newsletter. “The scale of collusion unearthed by Mrs O’Loan’s team has also prompted questions as to whether or not the practice was sanctioned at the highest levels of power, here and in Westminster.”

In the wake of the report the traditional British line espoused this week by the unionist peer and former officer in the udr Ken Maginis that collusion is about “saving lives” was exposed as utter nonsense.

“It’s time for a paradigm shift,” wrote British journalist Beatrix Campbell in the Manchester Guardian. “It is time for Britain to be brave and tell the truth about itself. It must narrate a new story about that 30-year conflict.”

“By enlisting the Protestant militias as auxiliaries while presenting itself as a neutral arbitrator, Britain left itself vulnerable to exposure. It has been exposed not as a peacemaker but as a perpetrator, spreading terror and spilling blood, as the most powerful presence amongst the warlords.”

“That is the narrative we need to contemplate before we can consign collusion to the past,” wrote Campbell.

Reacting to the report Raymond McCord Senior said: “We used to think allegations of collusion were republican propaganda but it was the truth. It did not matter to Special Branch whether the murder victim was a Protestant or Catholic. It made no difference to them. They had their own agenda.

“I want to see a full independent public inquiry with judges brought in from abroad. Police officers were covering up murders. I want Tony Blair and the Attorney General to sit in front of my family and tell me why these police officers are not being charged.

“This document shows that collusion is taking place at a very high level. I know unionist politicians are frightened of the word collusion. But unionist politicians knew this was going on and are living in denial. They have accused O’Loan of being involved in a ‘witch hunt of good men’ but these so called good men were covering up and paying people to murder.”

Sharon McKenna’s brother, Paul said: “After Sharon’s murder I was hoping someone would be arrested, charged and jailed. That never happened. It never came about. Now I know why. The families have been let down big time. The police who were involved are as guilty as the people who carried out the murder.”

Mark Thompson of Relatives for Justice said: “The Ombudsman confirmed that Special Branch were given immunity from procedures put in place to govern the handling of informants. That order could only have come from the highest office. Ronnie Flanagan should be stripped of his knighthood and his post as hmic.”

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said: “Successive Irish governments raised serious concerns about collusion. This report demonstrates that these concerns were well founded. It is essential that justice be done and be seen to be done in these cases. In the face of such a damning report follow up action and reassurance is essential.”

Reacting for the British Government, its Secretary of State in the North Peter Hain in the North said: “The serious failings that have been exposed within parts of the ruc Special Branch at the time of the murder of Raymond McCord Jnr and for a period thereafter cannot be justified and no one should attempt to justify them. They should never have happened. Those involved – a small number of officers – failed in their fundamental duty to protect the community. New robust systems are in place to ensure that the failures of the past will not and cannot be repeated.”

Unionist political reaction varied from a state of denial to justification of sectarian murder. dup mla for North Belfast Nigel Dodds said: “It is absolutely nauseating to listen to Sinn Féin/ira representatives such as Martin McGuinness on a day such as this”, while his colleague Ian Paisley Jnr dismissed the report as “short on facts but long on supposition”.

UUP Peer Ken Maginnis claimed: “Collusion had to do with saving lives. It had to do with keeping Northern Ireland from falling over the brink of a civil war. How on earth can I give a degree of credibility to such nonsense based on hindsight, based on prejudice and based on an alternative agenda?”

dup member Gavin Robinson attempted to justify the collusion policy. “An onslaught of republican violence took its toll and, at times, proved successful. Assassinations became a regrettable solution. The only problem was that loyalists weren’t very good at them. So, in some smoke filled rooms, a strategic decision was taken to aid their efforts in the wider public interest.”

Collusion --- O’Loan report exposes Branch collusion in UVF murder campaign

Special Branch colluded with “serial killer”

Special Branch knowingly colluded with a “serial killer” providing cover, protecting him from prosecution and paying him at least £80,000 for his services as an agent. Special Branch agents operated outside the law and Special Branch officers covered up their crimes.

This is the damning conclusion of a three-year investigation by the Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan into the murder of 22-year-old Raymond McCord Jnr, the agent who ordered the killing, the uvf gang who carried out the murder and members of Special Branch who covered it up.

Raymond McCord Jnr was beaten to death by the uvf in November 1997 following an illegal drugs smuggling dispute. The killing was ordered by a Special Branch agent, identified in the report as “Informant 1” ... and carried out by members of his North Belfast gang.

According to O’Loan, the Mount Vernon uvf gang was not only headed by a Special Branch agent, but other members of the gang were also working as agents.

And it doesn’t end there.

The investigation directly links [] with the murders of ten people and cites credible evidence to link him with further murders, shootings, beatings and bomb attacks as well as a catalogue of other crimes including drug dealing, extortion, intimidation and criminal damage.

And throughout it all, [he] enjoyed the full support of his Special Branch handlers who not only continued to pay him but also increased his wages. When Catholic good Samaritan Sharon McKenna was shot dead in 1993, ...was being paid £100 a month, after the killing his payment increased to £160.

The report found a “pattern of work by certain officers within Special Branch designed to ensure that Informant 1 and his associates were protected from the law”.

Agents were regularly “babysat” while being questioned about serious crimes by their Special Branch handlers who ensured they did not incriminate themselves. Interview notes were falsified and legitimate investigations were blocked by Special Branch to protect Haddock and other agents.

In relation to the McCord murder, such actions and the refusal to gather evidence “significantly reduced the possibility of anyone ever being prosecuted for the crime”. Officers did not seize the suspect’s clothing for forensic examination and destroyed exhibits including a car used in the attack.

Special Branch and an ruc deputy assistant chief constable deliberately withheld Haddock’s involvement in the McCord killing from files forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

In 1993, despite having previously admitted murdering Sharon McKenna, Haddock was released after questioning without charge and given £500 by Special Branch to go on holiday.

... also admitted his role in the murder of Catholic Sean McParland in 1994 and identified another Special Branch agent as the gunman but neither agent was charged with the murder.

A few months later Special Branch allowed ... to shave while in custody after eyewitnesses described the killer of Catholic workmen Gary Convie and Eamon Fox as having a “goatee” beard. [He] fitted the description but was allowed to shave. An id parade was never held and...walked free.

A month later [] and another Special Branch agent shot dead Catholic taxi driver Gerard Brady. Neither were ever charged.

[He] has also been linked to the killing of Catholic Peter McTasney in 1991, the shooting of uvf man Thomas Sheppard in 1996, the beating to death of Protestant John Harbinson in 1997 and the shooting of loyalist Thomas English in 2000.

The investigation, prompted by Raymond McCord’s father also named Raymond, focused on the activities of one gang-the Mount Vernon uvf, operating in a specific area, North Belfast, at a specific period, between 1991 to 2003 and their Special Branch handlers.

The investigation was also restricted in a number of different ways. Most significantly, the Ombudsman can only investigate the actions of police officers, the role of their political masters in mi5 and British ministers cannot be considered under her remit.

In sharp contrast to the tens of thousands of pounds paid out to McCord’s killer, British ministers refused to allocate sufficient funds deemed necessary by O’Loan’s team to investigate the killing. The investigation was further hampered by wide-scale refusal of forrner and serving officers to co-operate.

According to the Ombudsman, officers questioned during the investigation provided evasive, contradictory, farcical and untrue answers and delayed requests for information for up to two and a half years. Others simple refused to be interviewed.

Two retired assistant chief constables, seven detective chief superintendents and two detective superintendents were among 40 officers who refused to be interviewed by O’Loan’s team.

“It would be easy to blame junior officers, and indeed they are not blameless, however they could not have operated without the knowledge and support at the highest levels of the ruc and psni,” said O’Loan.

“The most serious failings are at chief officer level particularly those chief officers who were responsible for Special Branch,” said O’Loan.

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