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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 1318 26th July 2007

Pakistan and Turkey turmoil reinforce the Middle East defeats stalling imperialist war plans. But Stock Exchange lurches and subprime jitters point to the deep crisis driving world events which can only force imperialism further into the depraved blitzing world war chaos it needs to “solve” its overproduction problems. Leninist science for revolution to finish this historically outmoded order the urgent need

The sweeping Turkish election blow against the western approved “secularist” government (and the coup-imposing generals who have effectively ruled for decades), and near revolutionary upheavals in Pakistan now threatening to topple military dictator General Pervez Musharraf, are further signs of the accelerating anti-imperialist momentum building up all round the world.

They demonstrate growing mass hostility against the existing order driven and encouraged by imperialism’s intensifying crisis weakness, the warmongering barbarity it is leading to, and grinding defeats already inflicted on Western forces in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In neither case is the Islamist ideology of these mass movements their key feature, any more than it is elsewhere in the Middle East.

As even the bourgeois news commentators were immediately making clear, these are movements of the poorer, dispossessed and oppressed parts of the populations.

They reflect growing impatience, disgust and discontent with not just the endless exploitation and plundering of the Western capitalist system tyrannically imposed upon ever greater sections of the world for centuries, but also the inevitable catastrophic breakdown and collapse which the system is facing, the warmongering “solution” which is all capitalism can find as an answer, and the fascist military “shock and awe” which dominant US imperialism is imposing to try and keep it as top dog through the destruction and slaughter.

These new upheavals are not full scale transformations (reformist in Turkey) and the capitalist order remains in both but they will add to the shattering blows against Western confidence that now endless resistance struggles are causing throughout the Middle East.

Their proximity to the unsolved mess in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the potential for future merging into region wide upheaval will deepen western ruling class unease and fears over the impossibility of keeping its system going.

The closeness of tiny Nepal and its long-running and increasingly successful Maoist communist struggle adds to the fears.

Taken with widening struggle into Africa, through Somalia, Nigeria and the only-just-contained Egyptian masses, with the heroic and ever deepening Palestinian resistance, and struggle from the Philippines to South America they show the potential for the imperialist order to completely lose its grip worldwide.

But such eruptions will only be able to go so far.

Imperialism remains the dominant and overwhelmingly powerful force on the planet and desperate to stay that way with its Pentagon declared “long war” against “terror” and the “clash of civilisations” lying justifications for suppressing all growing resistance to the rapidly approaching conflicts and war chaos that its crisis is creating – all the way to massive inter-imperialist warmongering, to “sort out” the pecking order and simultaneous destroy the vast surpluses of capital jamming the system (just as in three major international and world wars already since 1870).

For the moment most of these confused and partially spontaneous upheavals are borrowing the local cultural and traditional clothes of religion and puritanism to express their struggle against capitalist degeneration.

To make any lasting headway this must be supplanted by a much clearer scientific world view, building a Marxist leadership that alone can explain the need for revolutionary overturn of the capitalist monopoly profit-making order because of the eternally recurring slump and war crises it cannot stop itself from inflicting on society.

Class dominated monopoly capitalism, whose intractable contradictions underlie all the conflict and suffering on the planet, urgently needs replacing with a planned world socialist economic, political and cultural order.

There is no other way to achieve permanent transformation of the endless suffering imposed on the Third World and increasingly the masses in even the richest countries, to a world of creativity and unshackled human potential.

The most “rigorously” religious governments, or “left” nationalist governments (even calling themselves “communist”) will achieve nothing lasting and be endlessly vulnerable to violent counter-revolution if they do not overturn the capitalist economic system and the dictatorship of the ruling class within most of these countries.

Beyond that the entire world remains unsafe for as long as the monopoly power of the giant corporations and Western banks continues to control world trade and production, especially those of overwhelmingly dominant US imperialism.

Changing capitalism, through reformism, the “democratic will” and “reasonable negotiation” for better conditions is illusory, at best winning transient gains but neither producing lasting change nor - crucially - stopping the headlong rush towards disaster that the entire profit system is making.

Reforms have been tried 10,000 times for the last two centuries and always lead round in circles back to slump and war, with whatever gains have been achieved being ripped back from the workers when inevitable “overproduction” disaster once more strikes anarchic capitalist production (economic quotes).

It is usually the reformists themselves and class collaborators that rip back the gains – as Labour has shown a dozen times in Britain, especially under Blair and the clone replacement Gordon Brown, already stepping up Gestapo like police powers to more firmly entrench capitalist dictatorship.

Counting on the “containment” of capitalism by class pressure to make it more amenable and fair, and eventually see the “peaceful” transition to socialism, has been equally disastrous, if not more so.

Such gains as there have (apparently) been were the result anyway of revolutionary movement forwards; every “reform” of the nineteenth century (and before) is tied to a ferment of upheaval and especially in the wake of the revolutionary waves of 1848 and the heroic 1870 Paris Commune in France (which established workers rule without capitalists for the first time ever before its thousands were brutally massacred by counter-revolution).

The twentieth century saw the ruling class in the western imperialist world retreating even more, in the teeth of the giant historic gains for the working class of the 1917 Russian revolution firstly, and then the wave of revolutions and anti-imperialist struggle it inspired, especially after capitalism could not stop itself reverting almost immediately to even worse slump and catastrophe in 1939 and the devastation of the Second World War.

Under threat of revolutionary upheaval, all through capitalist war-ravaged Europe especially, the great pretence was made that the bourgeoisie would provide welfare and “more fairness” to equal and rival the staggering achievements in universal education, health, culture, science, housing, industrial development, technology and general wellbeing which the working class was able to start building in the Soviet Union once it had firmly established its rule under the dictatorship of the proletariat (and despite the waves of unprecedentedly barbaric destruction launched against it by the German Nazi face of imperialism, and constantly and even more terrifying nuclear encirclement threats ever since by the entire West led by US imperialism).

The closer to the workers states, the bigger the “welfare” trickery as in Sweden notably and Finland on the Soviet border, both as fraudulent and corrupt as any of the other “parliamentary democracies”.

It was a giant feint, with an endless series of wars, coups, bribed client governments, interventions, invasions and installation of fascist stooges continuing in the “background” of the rest of the world, to suppress, dominate and exploit the Third World masses and rip their wealth and labour from them, the only way the West has sustained any of its “reforms” domestically at all.

Relentless anti-communist campaigns, through use of unheard of brutality, torture, assassinations and death-squad tyranny throughout the Third World, to suppress every sign of uprising and eliminate all coherent leaderships, were combined with a disinformation anti-communist lie campaign on an industrial scale to rubbish and distort every achievement and gain of the working class in the socialist workers states, and exaggerate and condemn every mistake (many), all aided by the poisonous petty bourgeois Trotskyist fake-“left” pseudo-revolutionaries driven by pure hatred of working class discipline and culture.

Deliberate fragmentation of education and “bread and circuses” consumerism was the other side of the coin, ramped up continuously in the richer countries to swamp minds with shallow fashionista and entertainment distractions (and sell them pointless stuff of all descriptions), to dull discontent, and head off any serious mindedness or philosophical development in the working class – vital for revolutionary leadership.

But it fed the illusions temporarily, in the metropolitan countries that could afford it, that “progress” was being made “on the peaceful road” and that it would accelerate because of the “growing containment” of imperialism by the socialist camp.

Deluded complacency in petty bourgeois influenced layers of the working class was reinforced by the leaden class collaboration of official trade unionism. It was reinforced by the increasingly erratic mis-analysis by revisionist Stalinism of the balance of world class forces because of its slow retreat from Leninist revolutionary understanding of the world, which has had a disastrous philosophical impact on mass understanding, ultimately poisoning (temporarily and partially) the image of “communism” across the world because of its soft-headed rejection of militancy and fighting struggle, and deeper down its failure to grasp the dialectical revolutionary crisis nature of all development.

The material reality of huge upheavals against the destructiveness of capitalism in the wake of the Second World War horrors slowed the rot for decades, as anti-imperialist and some outright communist struggles occasionally refreshed the revolutionary edge (a little) of even Stalinist communist philosophy – notably in the North Korean and giant Chinese revolutions and then the hugely inspiring Cuban revolution and the bitter but staggeringly heroic Vietnam war and its historic and epochly important victory of a tiny communist nationalist movement over the toweringly huge post-WW2 military and economic might of the USA.

Material defeats imposed on the imperialist class have proved critical throughout history in opening up the understanding and philosophical inspiration of the masses.

But these huge victories were not enough to stop the slow decay of Stalinist ideology into the “safety” of non-confrontation and, ultimately, the deranged capitulation to “market forces” by Gorbachevism, when the fair but “plodding” growth of the carefully planned soviet economy failed to produce the consumerist fireworks that capitalism could supply, based on its world wide slave labour exploitation.

Ruthless sweatshop conditions could always keep monopoly capitalist production expanding faster than steady socialist growth, and inequality always could give the illusion of the glitzy high life (for the few) leading shallower minds to forget the titanic social achievements of the workers states (and the aid they provide for Third World struggles and development).

The sit-tight-and-defend-our-gains philosophy tragically still affects the remaining workers states which repeatedly fail to take Leninist and Marxist understanding forwards by engaging in the vital worldwide polemical open struggle for understanding.

But material reality must force the pace. The ruthless sweatshop conditions are changing millions of minds as the condition of the capitalist dominated Third World billions grows less and less tolerable, even as the Internet, TV, workplace training and a million other technological strides make clear to them exactly what they do not have and could be possible for all.

The reality appears in a few of the infrequent capitalist press critical realist revelations:

...dozens of road-weary migrant workers are crammed into minuscule cubicles, filled with rickety bunk-beds and unpacked bags, preparing for their first day at work in the sugar plantations of Sao Paulo.

Inside the prison-like construction are the cortadores de cana - sugar cane cutters - part of a destitute migrant workforce of about 200,000 men who help prop up Brazil’s ethanol industry.

Biofuels are mega-business in Brazil. Such has been the success of the country’s ethanol programme - launched during the 1970s military dictatorship - that it is now attracting attention from around the world. Yesterday President George Bush arrived in Sao Paulo to announce an “ethanol alliance” with his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio “Lula” da Silva. The bilateral agreement has been touted by the Brazilian media as the first step towards the creation of an “ethanol Opec”.

Last year sugar and alcohol were Brazil’s second biggest agricultural export products, worth an estimated $8bn (£4bn). Producers, meanwhile, expect the country’s sugar cane production to jump by 55% in the coming six years, largely because of growing demand from the US and Europe. They hope that closer trade ties with the US in particular will help accelerate the ethanol industry’s growth, providing jobs and funding the construction of dozens of new processing plants in the region.

But drive to the outskirts of Palmares Paulista and a much bleaker picture emerges of what President Lula has dubbed Brazil’s “energy revolution”. On one side, thick green plantations of sugar cane stretch out as far as the eye can see; on the other lopsided red-brick shacks crowd together, home to hundreds of impoverished workers who risk life and limb to provide the local factories with sugar cane.

Economic refugees fleeing the country’s arid and impoverished north-east, these men earn as little as 400 reais (£100) a month to provide the raw material that is fuelling this energy revolution.

Palmares Paulista is both a burgeoning agricultural town and a social catastrophe. “They arrive here with nothing,” said Valeria Gardiano, who heads the social service department in Palmares, a town of 9,000 whose population swells each year with the influx of between 4,000 and 5,000 migrant workers.

“They have the clothes on their bodies and nothing else. They bring their children with malnutrition, their ill mothers-in-law. We try to reduce the problem. But there is no way we can fix it 100%. It is total exploitation,” she said.

Activists go even further. They say the “cortadores” are effectively slaves and complain that Brazil’s ethanol industry is, in fact, a shadowy world of middle men and human rights abuses.

“They come here because they are forced from their homes by the lack of work,” said Francisco Alves, a professor from nearby Sao Carlos University who has spent more than 20 years studying Sao Paulo’s migrant workforce. “They will do anything to get by.”

That includes working 12-hour shifts in scorching heat and earning just over 50p per tonne of sugar cane cut, before returning to squalid, overcrowded “guest houses” rented to them at extortionate prices by unscrupulous landlords, often ex-sugar cutters themselves.

Faced with exhausting work in temperatures of over 30C (86F), some will die. According to Sister Ines Facioli, from the Pastoral do Migrante, a Catholic support network based in nearby Guariba, 17 workers died between 2004 and 2006 as a result of overwork or exhaustion.

But the annual exodus from the northeast continues, and as foreign investment in the ethanol industry increases the numbers are expected to grow further.

“It breaks your heart,” said Cristina Vieira, a member of the local Catholic mission that offers support to the workers. “They think it rains money in Sao Paulo but they are chasing an illusion. When you talk to them a lot of them say: ‘If I’d have known it would be like this I would never have come.’ They have no rights and they can’t complain to anyone - in a certain way they don’t exist.”

Two toddlers sit on a rusting grille platform built on bamboo stilts at the entrance to one of Bangladesh’s fastest-growing housing developments.

Three feet below them lies a festering mound of rubbish, into which a gushing waste pipe from a nearby factory discharges. Beyond them are rows and rows of windowless, airless, corrugated iron rooms, stacked on top of each other like chicken coops.

This is Begunbari in Dhaka, the heart of the city’s industrial district and home to many of its garment workers, including those who make clothes for some of Britain’s best-known high street brands, including Asda, Tesco and Primark.

By day, the rooms are like ovens. At night, the noise from the slum’s estimated 50,000 inhabitants, their screaming babies, radios and televisions is deafening. But the rent is cheap, at 900 takas or three pounds a month, which is why they are filled with factory workers, whose monthly earning are, they say, as little as seven pounds, or just two pence an hour.

Over the last 10 years, Bangladesh’s clothing industry has boomed, fed by the huge demand for cut-price clothes supplied by supermarkets and discount chains.

An estimated 2.5 million people work in thousands of factories here, but their wages have halved in real terms in recent years, making them one of the cheapest workforces in the world.

When faced with previous allegations that their suppliers are exploiting factory workers, Asda, Tesco and Primark have spoken of their commitment to labour rights. All three have signed up to a code of conduct which sets out basic rights for employees, including that they shall not regularly work more than 48 hours a week, that overtime shall be voluntary and not exceed 12 hours a week, and that a “living wage” should be paid. But last month, employees of factories supplying clothes to all three retailers told the Guardian that their wages were so low that, despite working up to 84-hour weeks, they struggled to provide for their families.

Many claimed they were regularly forced to work 12-hour days, and that working through the night to finish an order was not uncommon. Workers from factories supplying all three companies also said they were refused access to trade unions and claimed that, in the last month, four colleagues had been dismissed for attempting to organise a union.

All of the eight workers interviewed by the Guardian said they were paid well below the £22 a month considered by experts to be the minimum living wage.

One worker claimed she had witnessed the physical and verbal abuse of a colleague and said she felt “threatened and frightened” at work, while another said he had been sacked and had his wages withheld for taking two days off to take his baby daughter to hospital. A third, who folds clothes for all three companies, claimed two colleagues lost their jobs last month for taking three consecutive sick days off. He said he was forced to stand nine hours a day, with only one, hour-long break for lunch.

Parvin, 25, a sewing machine operator who makes jeans and trousers for Primark, told the Guardian that she had seen a supervisor physically attack a colleague for not meeting her target of making 100 pieces an hour.

She earns £18 a month for working from 8am to 8.30pm, a 75-hour week. At least three times a month, she is forced to work through the night, until 4am, and often until 10 or 11pm, she said.

The long hours leave her “very tired and sometimes exhausted” but she fears she might lose her job if she did not work overtime. Besides, her basic wage is not enough to live on, let alone send money home to her three children in her village, so she needs the money.

Mahbubur, 20, a machine operator, who provides clothes for Tesco and Primark, earns £16 a month, but he said apprentices or helpers in his factory earn only £9. His basic hours are 8am to 8pm, six days a week, but overtime, sometimes through the night, is compulsory, as is a meticulous attendance record. “If someone refuses, they can lose their job,” he said.

“This month, two of my colleagues lost their jobs. One, his father was sick and he had to go to the country to take care of him. The other had a fever.”

There is a nurse but no doctor in his factory. If someone is sick, they will often have to work until 5pm before they are allowed to go home, he said. Azizul, 28, a sewing machine operator who makes clothes for Primark, said he was sacked on June 20 and had his month’s wages withheld, after he took two days off work to take his baby daughter to hospital.

Nazma Akter, president of the United Garment Workers Federation and general secretary of the Awaj Foundation, a local organisation which fights for workers’ rights, said that long hours, bad working conditions, poverty and the overcrowded and insanitary conditions in which garment workers are forced to live made them susceptible to a number of illnesses and diseases.

They get tuberculosis, kidney problems, diarrhoea, problems with their hearing and there are a huge amount of skin diseases caused by the dust and fibres. People here boil water before they drink it but the garment workers do not have the time to do that. There are also mental health problems brought on by constant stress.”

Last year, after garment workers set fire to 16 factories and ransacked 300 more to demand better pay and conditions, and amid pressure from organisations such as Awaj, the Bangladeshi government agreed to introduce a minimum wage of 1,660 taka or £12 a month. The deadline for the new wage, which is supposed to be based on an eight-hour day, passed a month ago, but according to the National Garment Workers’ Federation, even this meagre target is not being met, with 60% of factories still flouting the rules.

Tesco said it could not take any action because it had not been not provided with the names of the factories concerned. The spokesman said: “These allegations are serious but without being provided with any detail we cannot investigate them.”

He added: “We have stuck by Bangladesh, continued to invest in modern factories and done all we can to ensure that high standards and good conditions are maintained by the most thorough independent audits carried out anywhere in the world. The alternative - and it would be easier in many ways - would be for us to stop sourcing in countries that have economic and social problems which are beyond the capabilities of any organisation working alone to fix. But we don’t think that is right for the people of Bangladesh or what our customers would expect us to do.”

Or in Africa where the exploitation imperialism has stepped up for the last three decades is leading to near revolutionary turmoil as this piece hints, despite its futile tailing off into “pressure” politics at the end:

Not a single country in sub-Saharan Africa has met the criteria set by the UN’s millennium development goals on poverty alleviation, the centrepiece of the project. Some observers believe the number of poor, and the intensity of the poverty, has actually risen in almost all countries.

In truth there was never any real prospect that western governments, which have gleefully presided over the creation of new classes of the super-super-rich, would use their considerable influence to push African leaders to pursue policies which would shift resources away from the rapacious national elites towards the poor.

Nor was it likely the west would permit Africa to stray from the neoliberal orthodoxies prescribed for the continent by the World Bank and the IMF. These policies have generated wealth for elites and created economic growth in a few countries, but have proved over two decades singularly unable to reduce the human misery afflicting hundreds of millions.

After many false starts, the millennium project, launched with huge fanfare in 2000, was meant to be the definitive development compact, a blueprint to substantially reduce the extreme ravages of poverty by 2015. But now it is sputtering. People are being lifted out of extreme poverty at less than 1% a year, which makes even Bono’s 2003 warning that Africa would take 100 years to meet these goals seem optimistic.

Abutting virtually every African slum are the castles of the unimaginably rich. There is little incentive for those who hold the reins of power to redirect investments away from themselves to the very poor, given the abiding conviction on the continent that they have an unlimited capacity to weather their punishing adversities - with the help of repressive security systems, of course.

But the poor do not always tolerate such inhumanity. There are mini-revolts brewing in many places. In Kenya, for instance, the Mungiki sect, which has tens of thousands of members and is loosely fashioned on the Mau Mau freedom movement, is pushing for land redistribution and a return to traditional values. In the last two months this sect, which raises funds from protection rackets, has killed more than a dozen policemen and beheaded 20 civilians, hoisting some of their heads in front of government offices.

G8-approved plans are not going to end poverty. Africa needs strong, revolutionary leaders popular enough to put pressure on both their elites and international partners to modify their policies, not only in the interest of humanity but also of security and stability. But it is well-nigh impossible for such leaders to get elected.

In the shadow of 9/11, aid is increasingly becoming an instrument of anti-terrorism strategy. This means that the US and Britain in particular are ready to countenance wars of aggression and other human rights abuses by governments which are partners in the war on terror - as recently witnessed when Ethiopia invaded Somalia and installed a client regime with US and British support, bringing massive bombing to the capital. Uganda has also committed appalling rights abuses against its northerners. None of these crimes elicited a peep from western leaders, who portray themselves as embarked on a mission to civilise, informed by deeply held humanistic values.

In the end, only Africa’s own leaders and people can address its rawest suffering. Donors have a minor but vital role to play, but they must get this role right, and that includes recognising that what Africa needs most of all is space to formulate its own policies. To determine what these might be, the donors need to radically alter their approach and engage first and foremost with the grassroots....

· Salim Lone is a columnist for the Daily Nation in Kenya. He is speaking this week at the 50th anniversary of the Society for International Development at The Hague

Of course such leaders will not “get elected” unless they are already well oiled stooges approved by the West – the only time the masses ever get to “elect” anyone.

As Hamas in Gaza can bitterly testify, if you can be clever enough to beat the multiple manipulations of bourgeois advertising glitz and cultural and media saturation brainwashing to win the West’s election game once in a blue moon with a militant anti-imperialist agenda – it will bring only monstrous genocidal siege torture and strangulation.

The lying fraud of bourgeois “democracy” is well experienced too in countries like Nigeria, Turkey and Pakistan (among many others) which never draw the West’s sneering remarks about supposed dictators, routinely thrown at leaders like Putin in Russia when the working class pressure on his Bonapartist shallowness forces him to produce some anti-western posing, or against Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe (because he is an anti-imperialist thorn in their side for land reform and now even beginning (finally) to nationalise key industries).

Pakistan, Nigeria and Turkey have suffered repeated brutal military coups, with tacit, sometimes overt, Western approval, when chosen stooge parliamentarians have proved unable to keep the lid on discontent.

Bush, Blair, and the rest so keen to posture and strut about “the rule of law” and “fr’d’m ‘n dem’cracy”, have not a word to say about the routine disappearances and torture in Pakistan for example, or the fabulous wealth accruing to their useful stooges in the military dictatorship:

The Pakistani military’s private business empire could be worth as much as £10bn, according to a ground-breaking study. Retired and serving officers run secretive industrial conglomerates, manufacture everything from cement to cornflakes, and own 12m acres [4.8m hectares] of public land, says Dr Ayesha Siddiqa, author of Military Inc: Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy.

The book tackles a previously taboo subject - the range and depth of the military’s business interests - considered a major factor in the ambitions of the generals who have ruled Pakistan for more than half of its 60-year history. “It feeds directly into the military’s political power; it’s an expression of their personal and organisation strength,” said Ms Siddiqa, a former director of research at the Pakistan navy.

Five giant conglomerates, known as “welfare foundations”, run thousands of businesses, ranging from street corner petrol pumps to sprawling industrial plants. The main street of any Pakistani town bears testament to their economic power, with military-owned bakeries, banks, insurance companies and universities, usually fronted by civilian employees. Ms Siddiqa estimates that the military controls one-third of all heavy manufacturing and up to 7% of private assets.

Profits are supposed to be pumped back into schools, hospitals and other welfare facilities - the military claims it has 9 million beneficiaries - but there is little transparency. “There is little evidence that pensioners are benefiting from these welfare facilities,” she said.

Of the 96 businesses run by the four largest foundations, only nine file public accounts. The generals spurn demands by parliament to account for public monies they spend.

The military’s penetration into society has accelerated under President Pervez Musharraf, who has also parachuted 1,200 officers into key positions in public organisations such as universities and training colleges. The military boasts that it can run such organisations better than incompetent and corrupt civilians.

In a 2004 speech to open a new industry owned by the Fauji (“Soldier”) Foundation, General Musharraf boasted of “exceptional” military-owned banks, cement and fertiliser plants. “Why is anyone jealous if the retired military officers or the civilians with them are doing a good job contributing to the economy?” he said.

But Ms Siddiqa says the military businesses thrive, thanks to invisible state subsidies in the form of free land, the use of military assets, and loans to bail them out when they run into trouble. “There are gross inefficiencies and the military is mired in crony capitalism. The primary purpose of a trained military is war fighting. They are not designed for the corporate sector.”

Her £10bn estimate of military wealth is a “rough figure”, she says, split between £6bn in land and private military assets.

...dismissal of the chief justice, Muhammad Iftikhar Chaudhry, in March sparked nationwide demonstrations that have snowballed into a powerful protest movement. The furore has offered an insight into the raw power wielded by the generals. This week, Justice Chaudhry told the supreme court how military intelligence chiefs spent hours trying to pressure him to quit on March 9, before placing him under effective house arrest.

Imagine the endless headlines and tirades about “dictators” there would have been if a fraction of the subsequent barbaric suppression and slaughter of the symbolic Red Mosque rebellion had occurred in Cuba, or the Chinese revisionist workers state or even in Putin’s oddly balanced capitalist bonapartist indecisiveness.

But no front page screaming headlines have dominated the press and TV for weeks on end over this capitalist fascist outrage.

It may come, for more cynical reasons. The speculation of the reactionary press commentators is that Musharraf may have “outlived his usefulness” now that he seems unable to keep the lid on spreading influence of revolt from the ever worsening disaster of Iraq and neighbouring Afghanistan.

Another of the useful western “democracy” stooges, Benazir Bhutto (trained carefully at Oxbridge like the petty bourgeois permanent “democracy” provocateur Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon) is being warmed up again by the West to be parachuted in, doubtless with lots of flannel about the “need for democracy”.

The lies will be sore needed by desperate imperialism given the corrupt and degenerate record of her party’s past imposing western exploitation interests via the parliamentary racket (the reason the military had to step in to head off more revolutionary developments the last time).

The brewing revolt in Pakistan is reinforcing jitters running through the ruling class over its worsening disasters in Iran and Iraq:

Britain’s most senior generals have issued a blunt warning to Downing Street that the military campaign in Afghanistan is facing a catastrophic failure, a development that could lead to an Islamist government seizing power in neighbouring Pakistan.

Amid fears that London and Washington are taking their eye off Afghanistan as they grapple with Iraq, the generals have told Number 10 that the collapse of the government in Afghanistan, headed by Hamid Karzai, would present a grave threat to the security of Britain.

Lord Inge, the former chief of the defence staff, highlighted their fears in public last week when he warned of a ‘strategic failure’ in Afghanistan. The Observer understands that Inge was speaking with the direct authority of the general staff when he made an intervention in a House of Lords debate.

‘The situation in Afghanistan is much worse than many people recognise,’ Inge told peers. ‘We need to face up to that issue, the consequence of strategic failure in Afghanistan and what that would mean for Nato... We need to recognise that the situation - in my view, and I have recently been in Afghanistan - is much, much more serious than people want to recognise.’

Inge’s remarks reflect the fears of serving generals that the government is so overwhelmed by Iraq that it is in danger of losing sight of the threat of failure in Afghanistan. One source, who is familiar with the fears of the senior officers, told The Observer: ‘If you talk privately to the generals they are very very worried. You heard it in Inge’s speech. Inge said we are failing and remember Inge speaks for the generals.’

Inge made a point in the Lords of endorsing a speech by Lord Ashdown, the former Liberal Democrat leader, who painted a bleak picture during the debate. Ashdown told The Observer that Afghanistan presented a graver threat than Iraq.

‘The consequences of failure in Afghanistan are far greater than in Iraq,’ he said. ‘If we fail in Afghanistan then Pakistan goes down. The security problems for Britain would be massively multiplied. I think you could not then stop a widening regional war that would start off in warlordism but it would become essentially a war in the end between Sunni and Shia right across the Middle East.’

‘Mao Zedong used to refer to the First and Second World Wars as the European civil wars. You can have a regional civil war. That is what you might begin to see. It will be catastrophic for Nato. The damage done to Nato in Afghanistan would be as great as the damage done to the UN in Bosnia. That could have a severe impact on the Atlantic relationship and maybe even damage the American security guarantee for Europe.’

Ashdown said two mistakes were being made: a lack of a co-ordinated military command because of the multinational ‘hearts and minds’ Nato campaign and the US-led Operation Enduring Freedom offensive campaign against the Taliban. There was also insufficient civic support on, for example, providing clean water.

Ashdown warned: ‘Unless we put this right, unless we have a unitary system of command, we are going to lose. The battle for this is the battle of public opinion. The polls are slipping. Once they go on the slide it is almost impossible to win it back. You can only do it with the support of the local population.

The warnings from Ashdown and the generals on Afghanistan will be echoed in a report this week by the all-party Commons defence select committee. MPs will say that the combination of civilian casualties, war damage and US-led efforts to eradicate lucrative poppy crops risk turning ordinary people towards the Taliban.

British soldiers are going on “nightly suicide missions” in southern Iraq and they are there only at the behest of the US, Labour MPs on the Commons defence committee told the government yesterday.

In evidence that reflects deepening concern among army commanders, the MPs said they were told during a recent visit to British troops in Basra that the UK’s military role in Iraq was over.

They painted a dark picture of the security situation in the city, with Iraqi forces inadequately trained, and infiltrated by Shia militia and criminal gangs. The view appeared to be shared yesterday by Bob Ainsworth, the new armed forces minister also just back from a visit to southern Iraq, and by Brigadier Chris Hughes, the Ministry of Defence’s senior officer responsible for military commitments.

Kevan Jones, a Labour member of the committee, said British troops were going on “nightly suicide missions”, attacked every night as they delivered supplies to the British garrison at the Basra Palace in the centre of the city. “We have a force surrounded like cowboys and Indians in the Basra Palace,” he said.

He and other Labour MPs said British troops in Basra told them that the only reason they were staying in southern Iraq was “because of our relations with the US”. Mr Jones questioned whether that was “a price worth paying”.

Willie Rennie, another Labour member of the committee, suggested British troops were there just because of “American domestic sensibilities”. Mr Ainsworth replied that Britain was a “sovereign nation” but it was also part of a US-led coalition in Iraq.

Washington wants Britain to maintain a substantial military presence in southern Iraq to try and limit domestic pressure for cuts in the number of American troops in Iraq, as well as to protect convoys taking supplies to US troops and help police the border with Iran.

Mr Ainsworth said that neither the Iraqi police nor the Iraqi army were able to guarantee security in the region. Brig Hughes told the MPs that an Iraqi general had told him some police officers were “totally incompetent”. Mr Ainsworth added: “We cannot hand over to a vacuum.”

Ninety per cent of attacks in Basra were against British troops, the committee heard.

There is an entire pattern in all these developments, - a million miles from the lying fantasy that “demented ideologues are trying to destroy our way of life” but simply the refusal of the billions of suffering and exploited on the planet to tolerate any more the torture, blitzing, and slavery of imperialist domination, and expressing their hatred and hostility in whatever ways they can.

But the ruling class cannot control itself, simply pouring oil on the fire. With the demise of the Soviet Union, the brakes are off the reformist pretence of “equality” and “better life for all”.

Shallow spin Blairite black-is-white lies replace any real efforts at reforms and improvements (which were necessary in the hothouse left atmosphere post-WW2, even though ultimately a fraud).

Meanwhile ruling class greed and demented luxury accumulation rages unchecked in an orgy of inequality and outrageous flaunting pointlessness which even the petty bourgeois commentators now find hard to swallow.

A taste from a much longer account:

Solstice clients are not ordinary people. They are America’s super-rich and a brief glance at its operations reveal the vast and still widening gulf between them and the rest of America.

Solstice has only about 80 members. Platinum membership costs them $875,000 to join and then a $42,000 annual fee. In return they get access to 10 homes from London to California and a private yacht in the Caribbean, all fully staffed with cooks, cleaners and ‘lifestyle managers’ ready to satisfy any whim from helicopter-skiing to audiences with local celebrities. As the firm’s marketing manager, Cain knows what Solstice’s clientele want. ‘We are trying to feed and manage this insatiable appetite for luxury,’ Cain said with pride.

America’s super-rich have returned to the days of the Roaring Twenties. As the rest of the country struggles to get by, a huge bubble of multi-millionaires lives almost in a parallel world. The rich now live in their own world of private education, private health care and gated mansions. They have their own schools and their own banks. They even travel apart - creating a booming industry of private jets and yachts. Their world now has a name, thanks to a new book by Wall Street Journal reporter Robert Frank which has dubbed it ‘Richistan’. There every dream can come true. But for the American Dream itself - which promises everyone can join the elite - the emergence of Richistan is a mixed blessing. ‘We in America are heading towards ‘developing nation’ levels of inequality. We would become like Brazil. What does that say about us? What does that say about America?’ Frank said.

In 1985 there were just 13 US billionaires. Now there are more than 1,000. In 2005 the US saw 227,000 new millionaires being created. One survey showed that the wealth of all US millionaires was $30 trillion, more than the GDPs of China, Japan, Brazil, Russia and the EU combined.

The rich have now created their own economy for their needs, at a time when the average worker’s wage rises will merely match inflation and where 36 million people live below the poverty line. In Richistan sums of money are rendered almost meaningless because of their size. It also has other names. There is the ‘Platinum Triangle’ used to describe the slice of Beverly Hills where many houses go for above $10m. Then there is the Jewel Coast, used to describe the strip of Madison Avenue in Manhattan where boutique jewellery stories have sprung up to cater for the new riches’ needs. Or it exists in the MetCircle society, a Manhattan club open only to those whose net worth is at least $100m.

The reason behind the sudden wealth boom is, according to some experts, the convergence of a new technology - the internet and other computing advances - with fluid and speculative markets. It was the same in the late 19th century when the original Gilded Age of conspicuous wealth and deep poverty was spawned by railways and the industrial age. At the same time government has helped by doling out corporate tax breaks. In the Fifties the proportion of federal income from company taxes was 33 per cent, by 2003 it was just 7.4 percent. Some 82 of America’s largest companies paid no tax at all in at least one of the first three years of the administration of President George W Bush.

...In places such as Manhattan and Los Angeles, restaurants and bars outdo themselves in excess. New York’s Algonquin Hotel has a $10,000 ‘martini on a rock’ (it comes with a diamond at the bottom of the glass). City eateries sell burgers for more than $50. One offers a $1,000 omelette. In Los Angeles there is a craze for Bling mineral water - at $90 a bottle.

Then there are the boats. The private yacht industry in America has been caught in an arms race of size and luxuriousness. So far, there has been a clear winner: Oracle-founder Larry Ellison’s 450ft water palace, the Rising Sun. More than 80 rooms on five storeys and a landing craft that carries a Jeep, a basketball court doubling as a helipad and a fully-equipped cinema.

...But this is not just a world of riches gone mad that the rest of America can ignore. The growth of such a large super-rich class, coupled with a deepening poverty in many communities, is starting to tear at the fabric of society. Even some of the most wealthy - like Gates and Buffett - have spoken openly of the needs to address the massive ‘inequality gap’ ... while the super-rich have boomed, the earning power of the average and poor citizen has not nearly matched the performance of the elite. In 2005 the top one per cent of earners in the US gained 14 per cent in income in real terms, while the rest of the country gained less than one per cent. The situation is especially bad for the severely poor - those living at half the poverty level - whose numbers are at a 32-year high.

...many think it must change. To a large degree, the debate over the booming lives of the super-rich is an argument about the American soul. It is a country that has always worshipped wealth, where the creation of a fortune was seen as virtuous and a source of pride.

But now that huge wealth has started to squeeze the ‘middle class’ out of existence, leaving the haves and have-nots in very separate worlds.

Just as Marx predicted, despite a century of middle class complacency declaring that these ideas, of the majority driven down into the gutter, were “old hat”.

Marx’s greatest contribution, untangling the process of wealth creation and its appropriation by capital, and the inevitable disastrous overproduction, slump collapse and trade war (followed by shooting war) which it repeatedly must come back too, on a worsening scale (see economics page) is even more apposite.

All the signs are that the massively inflationary decades long printing of dollars to sustain US imperialist dominance is an increasingly hollow economic joke which must implode with devastating effect.

The sudden panicky lurch on the Stock Exchanges this week and the now steady fall of the dollar are both symptoms of the huge underlying catastrophe facing the contradiction ridden profit system:

Jitters in the world’s financial markets over the US housing market sent the pound briefly through $2.06 against the dollar yesterday.

After five weeks of falls, the US currency showed little sign of reversing its downward trend as dealers awaited fresh data this week on the state of demand for property.

Analysts in the City believe the pound could head closer to $2.10 over the coming days in the event of weak figures for existing and new home sales tomorrow and Thursday, giving a fresh boost to British tourists to the US this summer but making life even tougher for UK exporters to the world’s biggest markets.

Sterling hit a high of $2.0603 in early London trading before profit-taking saw it close at about $2.0580 - up a third of a cent on the day.

According to Bank of England data, sterling has not been at these levels since the summer of 1981, when it was falling rapidly from the peak of $2.45 the year before. Never since has the pound stayed above the $2 level for a sustained period.

Analysts said the absence of any US economic data had given the dollar a respite yesterday from serious selling pressure but that the figures for the housing market and the first estimate of growth in the second quarter would be crucial for the short-term performance of the greenback.

It is close to a 12-year low against a basket of currencies. The New Zealand dollar rose above $0.80 for the first time since it was floated in 1985. The Reserve Bank of New Zealand is expected to raise interest rates again, which are already among the highest in industrialised countries.

The dollar touched an all-time low against the euro, trading at $1.3846 at one stage yesterday before rallying slightly to $1.3820. It was relatively steady against the Japanese yen at just over ¥121.

While the crisis in the loans market has had devastating effects in many US households, it now risks reverberating throughout the financial system.

Many of the low-grade loans are believed to be held by US lenders caught up in the collapse of the sub-prime mortgage market. Some of the world’s biggest banks supported the loans sold by Mr Sadek and other brokers. Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Lehman Brothers and JP Morgan Chase in the US and HSBC and Barclays are just some of the lenders sitting on huge losses. A report by analysts at Lombard Street Research has estimated that the crisis could knock a hole in the banks’ assets of up to £250bn. Few banks have so far assessed the extent of their losses, but they could soon be forced to address this issue.

Many repackaged the mortgage debt and sold it to other institutions as part of complex financial instruments. Banks pool the debts they buy, grade them according to their risk profile, and package them as so-called collateralised debt obligations (CDOs) to sell on to other banks and institutions. The problem is that these instruments are traded between banks which gives them a value, but no official market. Their value is based on a model contrived by the investment banks who sell them. Until one of the banks begins selling these CDOs in the open market no one really knows what they are worth. If banks are forced to sell their CDO holdings or mark down their value, it could result in a wholesale re-pricing across the sector, leaving some institutions with a large hole in their finances.

“It’s back to game theory. It is in everyone’s interests to sell, but the danger is that you spark a collapse that means you lose more on the debt you retain than the debt you sell. The alternative is to sit on it and hope for better times. It’s almost a conspiracy of silence. But no one can think of a better idea,” said one analyst.

Last week the US investment bank Goldman Sachs gave some indication of how the value of these instruments can change when it began a revaluation of its portfolio of mortgage-backed debt securities. Goldman cut the value by almost 30%, wiping $1.5bn (£750m) off the value of its assets.

Regulators in the US are ignoring the problem, say critics, because they also realise that adopting a hard line and forcing a market price on these packages of debt, will flush out catastrophic losses. The increased use of CDOs, often referred to as debt derivatives, created a web of holdings by banks which bought and sold from each other. To the US central bank the web was so wide it spread the risk and allowed banks to extend lending to poorer households.

It means that many banks now harbour debt portfolios that are difficult to value and which could turn out to be worth a lot less than expected.

Anthony Bolton at Fidelity, one of the best-known UK fund managers, recently warned that if these debt cross-holdings start to unravel, it will leave everyone with bigger losses than expected.

But the warmongering begun in Serbia, Iraq, and Afghanistan is an even more immediate signal of the desperate plunge into catastrophe which the ruling class is pushing mankind into.

It will not stop despite the semi-paralysis of the present Middle East quagmires.

There is not other choice for the ruling class if it is to survive in its sweet power and luxury, but to hurtle the world into the destruction of an inter-imperialist world war sorting out, a World War potentially on a scale ten times worse than WW2. And the US ruling class has made it clear it is hell bent on going there despite the rising resistance of the great mass in America and the world:

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned.

The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: “Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.”

The White House claims that Iran, whose influence in the Middle East has increased significantly over the last six years, is intent on building a nuclear weapon and is arming insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The vice-president, Dick Cheney, has long favoured upping the threat of military action against Iran. He is being resisted by the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, and the defence secretary, Robert Gates.

Last year Mr Bush came down in favour of Ms Rice, who along with Britain, France and Germany has been putting a diplomatic squeeze on Iran. But at a meeting of the White House, Pentagon and state department last month, Mr Cheney expressed frustration at the lack of progress and Mr Bush sided with him. “The balance has tilted. There is cause for concern,” the source said this week.

...The Washington source said Mr Bush and Mr Cheney did not trust any potential successors in the White House, Republican or Democratic, to deal with Iran decisively. They are also reluctant for Israel to carry out any strikes because the US would get the blame in the region anyway.

...Almost half of the US’s 277 warships are stationed close to Iran, including two aircraft carrier groups. The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise left Virginia last week for the Gulf. A Pentagon spokesman said it was to replace the USS Nimitz and there would be no overlap that would mean three carriers in Gulf at the same time.

Only revolution will stop capitalist created chaos from tearing the planet apart. It needs scientific leadership, struggled for against poisonous anti-communism and fake-“leftism” (Trot, revisionist and the rest). Build Leninism.

Don Hoskins


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World Revolutionary Socialist Review

(edited extracts from a variety of anti-imperialist struggles).
Irish republican movement clear on its own historical strength – the revolutionary basis of the withdrawal by British imperialism from the artificial occupied zone of “Northern Ireland”

British army did not and could not defeat IRA

The Irish Republican Army is professional, dedicated, highly skilled and resilient, according to one of the British Army’s highest-ranking officers, General Mike Jackson. The assessment emerged after the British army was forced to publish an internal educational document under the Freedom of Information Act.

Last year three senior British army officers, including General Jackson, were seconded from normal duties for six months to analyse what became the longest operation undertaken by the British army - its campaign in the Six Counties over almost four decades - and draw conclusions for future engagements.

The 100-page document is intended as a “reflection on the hard experience, both on the streets and in the fields of Northern Ireland”. The document goes on to describe the British army’s military engagement against the ira as one of the most important campaigns ever fought by the British army and its fellow services.

The British officers also acknowledged the scope, as well as the duration of the military campaign fought by the ira, who they point out conducted a sustained and lethal campaign in the Six Counties, Britain and continental Europe. The British army concludes that the ira developed one of the most effective “terrorist” organisations in history.

The British officers also bemoan effective republican information campaigns repeatedly pointing to the ability of the organisation and republican press to thwart British censorship and propaganda.

The document’s understanding of anti-colonial struggle is breathtakingly ignorant. The British army’s understanding of the motivation of their military opponents is amazingly apolitical:

“Much of the motivation of the terrorists came through a wish to glamourise a somewhat third-rate way of life, through esteem amongst the republican community or, more simply, in bars or with women” is one ludicrous conclusion the authors come to. Clearly educational standards required for Sandhurst leave a lot to be desired.

Codenamed by the British army, Operation Banner the campaign began with the deployment of three British army infantry battalions to the North of Ireland in 1969. But within two years, the inability of the British military to subdue the popular uprising emerging out of the Civil Rights Movement and spearheaded by the ira, eventually lead to the deployment of around 30,000 British soldiers at over a 100 different locations.

According to the report in the early 1970s in Derry and Belfast when military engagements went on for days at a time it was fairly common for over 10,000 British troops to be deployed on the streets. In the course of the campaign more than 250,000 British soldiers were deployed in the North of Ireland as well as tens of thousands of members of the udr.

Predictably British officers are not concerned with the suffering inflicted by the British army but the throw away comment: “Thousands of houses were destroyed and over 10,000 terrorist suspects were arrested” is a modest acknowledgement of the way in which the British army dealt with an insurgent civilian population.” Small wonder that within the Northern nationalist community and further afield British soldiers were viewed as the real terrorists.

The document has little to say about the imposition of the Falls Curfew and Bloody Sunday in Derry. Both are identified as British army failures, described as examples of poor decision making. But the authors have nothing to say about the death and destruction these “poor decisions” inflicted on the people of Belfast and Derry.

In July 1970 martial law was imposed on the lower Falls area of West Belfast. When British troops from the Black Watch and Life Guards began raiding homes in the Balkan Street area a gun battle ensued leading to the deployment of 3,000 British soldiers supported by armoured vehicles and air cover.

Around 50 streets were cordoned off while the British army rampaged through the area raiding homes and terrorising local families. The curfew was broken after thousands of women from throughout West Belfast marched on the area bringing milk and bread to beleaguered families in the lower Falls. Four civilians were shot dead and a further 60 were injured but loss of life and serious injury, other than their own, is not of undue interest to the British army.

The authors conclude that the imposition of the Falls Curfew was unsophisticated and unconvincing. The search also convinced most moderate Catholics that the army was pro-loyalist. The majority of the Catholic population became effectively nationalist if they were not already”, says the document.

Bloody Sunday is also given no more than a cursory glance and the only lesson drawn by the authors is restricted to a minor operation consideration. The British army “should not have used vehicles” in what the document characterises as an “arrest operation”, says the document.

The British army has nothing to say about the 14 people killed and more injured by Paratroopers who opened fire on unarmed civilians attending a protest march in Derry.

In an even more remarkable omission, the British army has nothing to say about the fru and the British army’s collusion with unionist paramilitary death squads. In fact the document has little to say about unionist paramilitaries and unionist violence per se.

Around 1,000 people were killed any many more injured by unionist paramilitaries during the British army’s 37-year long operation and yet there is barely a reference to the uvf and uda. The uvf is mentioned four times and the uda three.

Worse still the uda is referred to as perhaps the most “respectable” of the unionist paramilitaries. Founded in 1971, the uda carried out a brutal sectarian campaign of terror, mostly opting for soft Catholic civilian targets. Amongst its ranks have been some of the most notorious sectarian serial killers including Johnny Adair.

The uda carried out a series of massacres including the Greysteele Halloween massacre and Castlerock murders in 1993. The uda was also behind the siege of Holy Cross Catholic Girls’ primary school in North Belfast. The uda is not only notorious for sectarian violence it has also engaged in large-scale criminality including drug dealing, prostitution and extortion.

It emerged this week that a uvf gang heavily infiltrated by British Crown forces, both ruc and udr, planned to murder 30 Catholic school children in south Armagh. The plan was only thwarted after the Belfast based UVF intervened because it feared the British army led Glenanne gang had a double agenda designed to undermine the uvf.

The hundreds of references to the ira as compared to the documents almost total disregard of loyalist violence exposes not only the colonial mindset of the British army who identified only one enemy, the ira but also the ambiguity with which pro British violence is regarded.

Collusion is not discussed in the document and yet British state violence by proxy was a key strategy deployed by the British army through covert units like the mrf and fru. Through agents like Brian Nelson, the British army retrained, reorganised and rearmed loyalist paramilitaries resulting in hundreds of deaths and injuries.

Collusion ultimately failed, collapsing into a sectarian campaign, forging solidarity within the nationalist community rather than leading to its disintegration. The northern nationalist community did not fragment but emerged stronger and more determined.

The document offers a hollowed out notion of success that is little more than window dressing for their political masters. It is redefined purely in terms of military disengagement without reference to any political objectives underpinning Britain’s campaign. For example the British sought to criminalise and marginalise republicans and to defeat the nationalist demand for equality, justice and national reunification.

What the British face, after 37 years of armed conflict, is a vibrant and optimistic nationalist community intent on securing progressive change. Republicans remain just as professional, resilient and highly skilled, with the largest nationalist party and second largest political party in the North and the republican leadership at the heart of the decision making process.

The British government was forced to abandon its unilateral claim of sovereignty, redefine it in terms of consent and introduce a mechanism within which reunification can occur.

The British army did not and could not defeat the ira. The shooting war stopped because of political progress gained through negotiation with republicans. The British officers acknowledge as much by stressing the need for political and social solutions from the outset of the outbreak of hostilities.

“The critical issue is the necessity of engaging all relevant agencies in early substantive visible action for reform in order to prevent insurgency or civil war breaking out”, conclude the British officers.

Simplistically the long term solution was not to deploy three battalions into the Divis flats but rather to bulldoze them and build respectable homes with proper amenities.

It’s a limited understanding of republican demands for social, economic and political justice but it’s an acknowledgement just the same. The British army’s advocacy of political progress at all is testimony to the fact that they could not defeat republican demands militarily. In other words repression failed and Britain was forced to the negotiation table.

The only lesson of history that the British can glean from this document is to negotiate sooner.

UVF planned school massacre

A planned massacre of Catholic primary school children in South Armagh by the notorious Glenanne gang of unionist paramilitaries, centrally involved in the bombings of Dublin and Monaghan in 1974, was only aborted after the Belfast uvf leadership intervened.

Aware the gang was controlled by the British army and ruc, the uvf leadership in Belfast feared the plan was double edged and such an atrocity could undermine support for the uvf.

The Glenanne gang had planned to attack St Laurence O’Toole Primary School in the village of Belleeks in South Armagh in 1976. The gang included serving members of the udr and ruc and was responsible for dozens of murders in the border area in the 1970s, including killings in Dundalk, Silverbridge, Whitecross and Gilford.

The details of the planned school massacre emerged after families of other victims of the Glenanne gang challenged the British army characterisation of the killings as a part of a feud between the uvf and IRA. The families, who have demanded the British army statement to be withdrawn, pointed out that the Glenanne gang was made up of members of the ruc and udr as well as unionist paramilitaries and controlled by British Military Intelligence and ruc Special Branch.

In 2004 a former Glenanne gang member and ruc officer William McCaughey, now deceased, told a television documentary of the gang’s plan to target a Catholic primary school or a convent in Newry. McCaughey said the plan emerged as a revenge attack following Kingsmill.

A spokesman for the victims relatives’ group Alan Brecknall said the families’ own investigation along with forensic evidence and the findings of the Barron report into the Dublin/Monaghan bombings, had convinced them that the killings were officially tolerated.

Brecknall, whose father was murdered by the gang, pointed out that the killings were used as an excuse for the introduction of repressive legislation and measures. He said that those who planned the killings did so to create the circumstances in which further repression could be introduced.

Our suspicions that there was a hidden hand behind these terrible events, that they were orchestrated and that the loss of innocent life in both communities was intended, have been reinforced by allegations made since by members of the Glenanne gang, said Brecknall.


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