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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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Back issue

No 1361 15th December 2009

Climate change protest is a huge diversion from the really immediate disaster facing the planet – capitalism’s Slump and its Third World War drive which will bring far greater destruction and far sooner than melting glaciers. Like anti-communist pacifism, environmentalism could become part of the problem. Only revolutionary overturn of capitalist vested interest can cure the environment anyway with a planned rational world economy instead of rapacious profiteering anarchy. Leninist science is crucial

The mass concern and protest about the damage and destruction done to the planet by unrestrained capitalist exploitation has its heart in the right place but is aiming at the wrong target.

It is not global warming that is the immediate threat to humanity, however valid the science and genuine the effects of CO2 increase etc.

It is capitalism itself and the devastating Slump failure of its system, which is already wiping out lives across the planet and destined to get much worse once the gathering international trade, banking and currency wars turn into vicious inter-imperialist conflict and war.

That catastrophic failure and collapse is now unravelling fast.

The human and environmental damage that could follow from all out-conflict, like that of capitalism’s last two great crises in 1914 and 1939, will put even the still speculative impact of melting glaciers into context.

It is coming much sooner than the possible sea-level rise disasters luridly painted by capitalism’s media (including numerous blockbuster Hollywood scare movies).

Around 40 million lives were lost in the Great War and perhaps 100 million in the 1939-45 World War Two.

Whole regions were reduced to vegetation free near-desert, dozens of cities were burnt to a cinder (Dresden and Hamburg notably and over 70 in Japan), and major countries wasted.

Since then, the extent and penetration of capitalism worldwide has increased tenfold, drawing in far more regions, and the destructive capacity of its weaponry and technology is a hundred times greater or more.

Complacent illusions that “they would never use the most horrible weapons” are misplaced.

The US has already used nuclear weapons, unprovoked and unnecessarily, against Japan at the end of the Second World War, to “demonstrate” their terrifying impact, the first shot in the Cold War intimidation of the communist USSR.

It has continued the threats by permanent encirclement of the Soviet Union (and now Russia) by American nuclear bases (the dominant monopoly capitalist power “policing the world” on behalf of all imperialism to suppress resistance to its endless exploitation).

Other workers states are targeted, like China and North Korea, and the threats constantly refreshed, the latest being new missile bases to bully Iran; the pretence of the “liberal” Obama presidency to withdraw them has seen the threat continued via ship based systems instead.

Atomic bomb drops were seriously contemplated by the Pentagon against Korea and Vietnam, and remained unused only because of fears of the counter-weapons which the communist USSR was able to rush through development in the post-War period, culminating in the Cuba deployment of the 1963 “missile crisis” which forced imperialism to back down from its Turkish bases.

Even so imperialism has deliberately fed nuclear technology to the demented Zionist fascists to make sure of the continuing suppression of the entire Middle East and its lucrative resources and strategic usefulness, and it continues relentlessly to increase the vast armoury of land, air, and sea-based capacity of its own military.

Meanwhile the most horrific conventional blitzing from high-altitude B52 “carpet bombing” was used on Vietnam and illegally on hapless Cambodia (a scorched earth barbarity which led directly to the tragic Pol Pot Year Zero rebellion in the shell-shocked wreckage and its awful and unfortunate consequences).

Chemical warfare has been non-stop since first use of napalm flesh-burning warfare began already in the anti-communist Greek “civil war” and in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Industrial scale chemical warfare with the deadly poison dioxin, euphemistically called “Agent Orange” wiped out much of the rain forest cover in Vietnam in just months and poisoned the lives of tens of thousands of innocent villagers and dogged peasant fighters alike.

The impact of genetic disorder, crippling disease and environmental blight continues to this day, destroying lives and families in the country.

Biological warfare has been in constant use against crops and humans for the entire 50 years of communist Cuba’s history, including vicious Denge fever and much else.

The major capitalist powers all run huge medical and biological war laboratories. The Americans built their modern experience on data from the foulest human disease and medical experiments on prisoners during the Second World War period; Nazi and Japanese war criminal doctors were hunted down not to punish them – many had successful and wealthy lives afterwards – but to get from them their results.

A history of experiments on germ dispersal by air flights over cities and on the New York subway has been documented and the use of drugs like LSD began with military experiments. Diseases also, like AIDS, have a highly suspect history of possible gene manipulation which was hinted at in various reports early on, including one by East German workers state scientists, until a halfway credible story of jungle mutations (entirely suppositional even if true since noone was there) was carefully fed out by the intelligence agencies.

In other words, even in “normal” times the overwhelming evidence from sixty years of CIA and military action is that capitalism will put to use any depravity to maintain its sweet luxury and fabulous power.

Massacres, coups, assassination and death squad brutality have continued non-stop in even the “peacetime” boom period of the Cold War (most of all repeatedly by the Zionist fascist occupation of Palestine against the hapless refugees, Lebanon and other Arab countries – with bone-burning white phosphorus etc) and with the ever looming threat of tens of thousands of multi-megaton fission and fusion warheads permanently on quick-launch standby as the nerve-wracking background assumption to modern life.

Since the turn of the century even that endless tyranny has been stepped up with the bogus hysteria of the “war on terror” and “Al Qaeda threatens world existence”, the outright Goebbels fascist lies like the WMD allegations against Saddam Hussein (now openly admitted by Blair to be a complete scam), and the deliberately misrepresented Recak “massacre” (no such thing), to get wars going against Serbia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Blitzing, drone “hellfire” attacks and ground warfare have killed tens of thousands.

The environmental damage from depleted uranium (one example) has been devastating – a recent report says birth defects in bombed out Fallujah are now endemic.

It is all part of a deliberate pattern of accelerated Nazi warmongering to get the whole world ready for much worse escalated conflict, to cover over capitalism’s total failure and collapse, and prepare for the all out dog-eat-dog battling for survival between the great powers, with the dominant US hoping to get in first and have the best chance thereby to ride out the conflict and force the (necessary) destruction of “surplus” capital onto its rivals.

As history has already shown in two world wars, once the pretence of “peaceful development and prosperity” is dropped and the gloves are off, anything goes, by all the imperialists, not just the formally “Nazi” aggressors.

The insanity of capitalist crisis “logic” rules out nothing in forcing the burdens of Depression and destruction onto others.

That includes nuclear, germ and chemical war.

Small wonder that there is an almost universal sense among people of armageddon and the potential destruction of the planet.

But like classic psychological “repression”, the real cause has been deeply buried in the collective political unconscious, swamped by the philistinism and brainwashing anti-communism that has been pumped out of every possible capitalist press and TV medium, entertainment and Hollywood, schools, universities and political forums, aided and abetted by the evasions and opportunism of the fake-“lefts” who buy every capitalist diversionary trick in the book.

Anything to avoid focusing on the revolutionary nature of society and the implications of its crisis which now pose the question of ending capitalism more sharply and urgently than at any time in history.

Society’s sense of doom will not go away until the world can be re-organised rationally and coherently on a basis of cooperation and world production, planned sensibly and carefully for real human need, not demented and pointless consumption by the minority and the wilful waste and destruction of lives and resources by the anarchic, greed-driven profit system.

The world re-organised as socialism in other words, which can only be done once the torturing, tyrannical, oppression of the minority is overturned and the inevitable chaotic, barbaric turmoil of war and destruction can be ended for good by the working class taking matters into its own hands to smash the class rule of the profiteers and plunderers and build the dictatorship of the proletariat.

Capitalism’s trick is to head the deep “end of the world” disquiet into side issues and along false trails.

Layers upon layers of layers of diversions, scare stories and evasions are pumped out by the ruling class to turn the attention away from the its economic and political humiliation and failure, and its drive to Third World War, the only “solution” it has ever had for its own failure (and the biggest diversion of all).

The great £multi-million “global warming” jamboree in Copenhagen (and tens of millions of ruling class money poured into the propaganda by such mainstream figures as Al Gore); the third “official inquiry” Chilcot attempt yet to explain away the Iraq (and Afghanistan) war; the endless squabbling about Budgets and whether bigger or smaller cuts will “delay the recovery” are all total nonsense, the historical equivalent of a “what’s that in the sky over there” street trick to make people look the other way, while something is snaffled from under their nose.

What “recovery”?????

There is none, and there can be none, because the contradictions inherent in the system of production for profit will always bring it to “over-production” disaster and the choking of the system with “surplus” capital, both in financial and physical production form.

This fundamental understanding of the real cause of the disaster facing the world, capitalism itself, as Marx understood and which the real world is confirming yet again, is what is being hidden.

And more importantly for the terrified ruling class, facing the worst disintegration of its rule and order in history, the real solution is therefore also hidden – the revolutionary overturn of the whole capitalist system which has reached the end of its historical path.

Imminent disaster comes not from dramatic warming of the planet and the “possible extinction of life as we know it” as the more lurid bourgeois fantasies present it or even the “rational” view of “geothermal disaster by 2050” which the most cynical mainstream bourgeois politicians now pretend to embrace, along with the hysterical middle class activists (and the fake-“left” pretend revolutionaries, always ready to go along with a “radical” protest as long as it does not involve spelling out the need for revolution to anyone).

Nor is disaster due to the “threat to our way of life from maniac ‘evil’ terrorists”.

Nor is it from a “pandemic wiping out of tens of millions of people” through apocalyptic mutations of animal viruses (pig, bird or anything else).

Nor is it the regularly revived fantasy of a giant meteorite hitting the earth, yet another of the constantly hyped up disaster formats given lurid shape by endless lavish Hollywood science fiction productions.

All these may have some distant basis in true science, though until the distortions of capitalist culture, economy and vested interests are removed from the data collection and the analysis of it, and deliberate twisting of the truth is allowed for, it is impossible to make a rational decision.

But it is possible to say this: it is not any of these things which are definitely and certainly going to turn lives upside down and threaten the death and destruction of tens of millions in the immediate future.

It is the catastrophic failure of capitalism and its entire worldwide trading and production.

It has already begun.

It is happening now.

The world is in financial meltdown and already a decade into ghastly and horrific torture, blitzing, massacring warmongering which is stepping up the constant “low intensity” imperialist warmongering background of the “peacetime” (which tyrannises the entire world to impose Western exploitation interests) into a frenzy of hysteria and nationalist scapegoating chauvinism about supposed “terrorist threats” and “evil people” and “alien cultures who want to destroy us all”.

There is no “recovery” coming, whatever short-term illusion of “business as usual” has been engineered by the insane and demented printing (or electronic creation) of thousands of billions of new dollars.

That only adds to the already historically unprecedented accumulation of inflationary paper credit which alone has kept the monopoly capitalist world order growing and expanding for almost the entire post-WW2 period, despite the endlessly multiplying problems and contradictions of private profit accumulation (as Marx showed to be inevitable).

American dominated world capitalism has wobbled and weaved through crisis point after crisis point, especially from the moment when the dollar was taken off the gold standard in 1973 by Richard Nixon because of the untenable costs of the Vietnam war in the first place and the growing saturation of the world with capital investment in general.

Stock Market meltdowns, currency failures (South East Asia e.g.), credit collapses (Latin America), national bankruptcies (Argentina and almost the post-Soviet Russian capitalist economy), property collapse, stagnation and depression in Japan and commodity disasters have repeatedly brought parts of the world to the edge of disaster, and threatened domino runs of credit implosion like that which tipped the world into total Depression in the 1930s after the Great 1929 Crash and the subsequent failure of the Austrian Credit Anstalt bank in 1931.

Shovelling yet more paper dollars into the ever-growing world trade and exploitation flows, kept the wolf from the door with the hope that the enormous size of the post-1945 world economy and its domination by war victor the USA, would just soak up the excess and put off the evil day when collapse would come (and perhaps for ever in limited bourgeois minds).

But the “evil day” has arrived.

Capitalism hit a brick wall last October when the huge contradictions in the system inevitably broke open in devastating collapse and disintegration of the banks, proving the soundness all along of Marxist theory (which alone the EPSR has constantly battled to argue in publications and meetings for the last 30 years against the hostility and opportunist mockery of the swamp of “left” groups).

The collapse unravelling ever since has been the greatest ever – “worst since 1932”, since the Great Depression, “in the last 200 years” etc etc as the bourgeois commentators have all said in their desperate panic analyses.

Worse than that, it shows a faster rate of bankruptcies, trade collapse and so forth on most of the graph lines and indexes, than even the Great Depression, as others report.

They show that the slide into disastrous chaos and disruption will be more precipitous than seen before, because all the problems have been deferred over and over again and are ready to implode with far greater ferocity than ever seen in history.

It cannot stop.

It is possible, maybe, that for the shortest while, the pretence of “stability” can be spun out again for weeks, months, maybe even a year or two – but it is a complete confidence trick designed only to buy time for the ruling class to further prepare for the upheavals and turmoil and its spontaneous revolutionary undertone, which they know is coming, just as it did in the great crash periods before the First World War and the Second World War, with rising strike waves and bitter anger.

The inter-imperialist skirmishing and war preparations built up rapidly with the economic turmoil, until the great outbreaks erupted which eventually tore the world into shreds.

Rebellion is already much deeper and more widespread now, as the bubbling anti-Western hostility and hatred around the world – falsely labelled as “terrorism” or “insurgency” by “evil people” – already demonstrates (and even the latest explosions of personal anger against the buffoon post-modern Mussolini, Silvio Berlusconi in Italy, or the shoe throwing against Bush).

Individuals pushed to the limit or the inchoate, crude, sometimes self-defeating and even reactionary and backward cultural forms of struggle (though by no means all of them) erupting on an ever more widespread basis will not achieve the overturn of imperialism as such.

But they are the expression of a tide of potential revolutionary upheaval that wants only a scientific revolutionary Marxist leadership to start transforming into an unstoppable class onslaught that will finally see off the centuries of oppression and exploitation.

Capitalism has long ago exhausted its progressive historical role of dragging mankind from the stultifying backwardness of peasant rural production into industrialism, and has now itself become the “fetter” on production and forward movement.

So capitalism’s war preparations have already been active for a decade or more.

New potential victims being made ready like Iran, constantly demonised by the Western intelligence agencies and media, for war on a bigger scale than Serbia, Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia and Afghanistan.

And the full spectrum of war conflict, between the great imperialist rivals for the now rapidly disintegrating markets in the world for their industrial output, is already taking shape in bitter wrangling and trade war dispute, currency and bank manipulation and subsidy battles etc, and the in-your-face hostility of national corporations, like the General Motors’ reversal of its bankrupt European factory sales.

The protesters and demonstrators on climate issues may be expressing some of this world discontent too but their disquiet is largely taking things no further than the ineffectual pacifism of the “No to War” movement or the anarchist “anti-capitalists” at best, and like those movements, is mostly a distraction from the need urgently to build a revolutionary movement, a distraction fed and capitalised on by the fake-“lefts” and their deep seated anti-communism.

Much of the agitational lead reeks of the same opportunist petty bourgeois single-issue posturing which has used feminism and black nationalist anti-racism for decades to substitute pious moralising reformism for the revolutionary politics which are the only way anything is actually ever going to be changed about the foul degeneracy of capitalism, including its constant revival of splits and antagonisms throughout society, and the inequalities and unfairness around race or sex (and much more) as well as its environmental and climate damage.

Typical is the branding of doubters as “climate change deniers”, a term loaded with self-righteousness and a sectarian lynch atmosphere.

But the doubts and difficulties of the issue run far deeper than the stupidities of the more loopy reactionaries from American talk radio and the clearly exposed, bribed lobby interests of the oil industry, car manufacturers, Saudi Arabia and the like.

Just like the proselytising atheism of Darwinist Richard Dawkins, bourgeois science falls short of dealing with the full reality of the world, and in its one sidedness turns into its opposite, sustaining capitalism and the irrationality of capitalist rule.

Neither atheism not climate change can be fully comprehended in themselves. They are part of the unfolding world crisis.

Far from spreading enlightenment, Dawkins’ undoubtedly correct arguments in themselves condemning all religion as “backward and primitive”, end up helping feed the vicious “clash of civilisations” propaganda which is a mainstay of the current capitalist demonisation and scapegoating Goebbels propaganda against the Third World, setting it up for the blitzing onslaughts and destruction which capitalism is desperate to set in train.

The actual impact of his narrow argument is made even clearer by the presence alongside of the atheist “preaching” book from author Christopher Hitchens, a notorious Trotskyist fake-“left” turned renegade reactionary in support of the US war on Iraq.

The world needs Marxist dialectical science and philosophy to understand that there is much more to the phenomenon of militant Muslim insurgency for example, than just irrational belief in a feudal mystical ideology from 800 years ago which can be hammered down with the sweep of established modern scientific facts.

It can. But that not only does not explain why its is growing, but fails to look at the equally important scientific aspects of social development, class struggle, economic crisis, historical mass movement and much more which are equally crucial for understanding the full picture.

Loopy Zionist “chosen people” ideology is not just bizarre religious anti-science but an ideology which supports the fanaticism required to sustain the out-of-time vicious colonialism of the stolen Palestine land and its use as a battering ram for imperialist domination of the Middle East; assorted “born again” boggle eyed Christianities sustain the smug superiority of the backward petty bourgeois heartland of mainstream imperialism from British High Tory, and US fundamentalism to the sophisticated semi-feudal anti-communism reaction of the Catholic Church.

The world’s masses, equally have found an ideology to fill their search for a perspective and leadership for their increasing impatience with the degeneracy of capitalism and its oppression and tyranny which have ground them into near poverty and degradation for centuries.

The ideals of brotherhood and sacrifice in their own cultural histories have been extracted to serve as a form of anti-imperialist leadership .

That the militant ideologies of Islamism are frequently denounced even by mainstream Muslim petty bourgeois communities only underlines that they are an ideology of struggle.

For the moment it fills the vacuum left by Moscow “communism” to some extent.

The disaster of revisionism and its long retreat from Leninist perspectives into the idiocies of permanent “peaceful” coexistence, and the “parliamentary road”, or the even the militant “struggle for peace” to “contain imperialist aggression” (as still punted out even by such “hard-nut” museum Stalinists as Lalkar/Proletarian for example) has failed to give the world’s masses the revolutionary lead they need to guide their rising militancy and hatred of ever-continuing Western dominance.

It culmination in total capitulation to the “western market” and liquidation of the great 70 year achievement of the Soviet Union have shattered worldwide proletarian confidence, which has had to find substitute leadership.

The confusion, sometimes reactionary aspects and limits of the insurgent ideologies will not be enough to carry the revolutionary struggle right through to the crucial giant battles to overturn and end capitalist rule on a world scale, which is the only guarantee of future prosperity and peaceful human development for everyone.

The problems facing the Middle East or anywhere else will have to be tackled by the masses eventually building a better leadership of genuine Marxist science, to reestablish the revolutionary core of Leninism, which can only be done by including working through the analysis of where Stalinist revisionism went wrong, and how its confusion and retreat left the world with a legacy of disastrous errors and criminal mistakes by the workers states (which museum Stalinist revisionism refuses even to acknowledge, let alone face up to).

Seeing the “religious” character of anti-imperialist insurgency for what it is, and understanding its class basis, is the best way to be able to win over the great seething struggle worldwide, not hitting it head on with narrow Western “rationalism”.

That does not mean uncritical support for every barmy idea, a swing to the opposite extreme which the Stalinists make because of their blinkered refusal to take a many sided view of the world.

Climate change science is just as one-sided, failing to explain the entire context of the arguments.

One puzzlement for straightforward petty bourgeois thinking for example was put in the Guardian “Bad Science” column by Ben Goldacre which does a good enough job exposing the “snake oil” fraudulence of big corporations, but remains hampered by this. He asks:

why do roughly half the people in this country not believe in man-made climate change, when the overwhelming majority of scientists do?

Firstly we have the psychological issues. We’re predisposed to undervalue adverse outcomes which are a long way off, especially if we might be old or dead soon.

Suggesting that personal behaviour change will have a big role to play, when we know that telling people to do the right thing is a weak way to change behaviour, is an incomplete story: you need policy changes to make better behaviour easier, and we all understand that fresh fruit on sale at schools is more effective than telling children not to eat sweets.

...On top of that, we don’t trust governments on science, because we know they distort it. We see that a minister will sack Professor David Nutt, if the evidence on the relative harms of drugs is not to the government’s taste. We see the government brandish laughable reports to justify DNA retention by the police with flawed figures, suspicious missing data, and bogus arguments.

We know that evidence-based policy is window dressing, so now, when they want us to believe them on climate science, we doubt.

The complexities of the drug question aside, and the general reformist limitations, the big question he does not ask is why “they” want us to believe them, and why should they suddenly be any more honest on this than the other of their lying frauds (which from the illusion of “parliamentary democracy” itself downwards, are all complete rackets hiding the reality of bourgeois class dictatorship interests).

Why are they spending tens of millions on propaganda to pretend they “care about the environment” when capitalism never does anything that is not in its own interests?? Why are major establishment figureheads like Al Gore making the arguments?

Because they are just pretending to deal with the issue answer the fake-“lefts”.

Capitalism is a profit hungry system that is driven by its own logic to plunder the natural resources of the world without let or hindrance and which could not care less about the damage it does, says the Weekly Worker of the CPGB former revisionists turned crypto-Trotskyists.

It cannot do anything to change that indifference and still remain capitalism. So socialism is needed.

Because the whole global warming campaign by the big imperialists is really about forcing the problem onto the Third World say the SWP, to “cement their power”.

Only partly. It is basic understanding that the anarchic antagonistic competitiveness of monopoly capitalism is both the cause of the environmental damage and the obstacle to ever clearing it up – something that only a cooperative effort on a world scale can achieve.

And capitalism is certainly using the issue to further its trade war aims and exploitation of the poorer nations.

But this does not answer Goldacre’s questions on public scepticism and unwillingness on climate change.

Ordinary people know there is more to it, from decades of experience and rightly suspect the wool being pulled yet again.

It is precisely the things that the fake-“lefts” don’t say about the catastrophic crisis context of Copenhagen which they sense are amiss.

The “lefts” only make a routine critique of capitalism on this issue, more “business as usual” leftism without the remotest sense of urgency.

And that plays right into the hands of the ruling class’s diversionary trickery.

More. The Trotskyist SWP poseurs sneakily bring the whole issue back to working within capitalism:

But even with carbon trading, many countries – including Denmark – are set to miss the target while other countries have abandoned the goal altogether.

World leaders may try to sell the talks as a success. But organising action to keep the pressure on them is the only chance we have to save the planet.

These charlatans posture and prance around claims to be revolutionaries but on every specific issue never get any further than the liberal bourgeois press will do, not only failing to give the working class the full context in which issues are developing but leading them right round in circles back to reformism and “pressure”, and the implication that parliamentary “government”, which can only be the bourgeoisie in direct or Labour stooge form, is both legitimate, and the only possible instrument by which things should be solved, kept in line with a little “pressure”.

Small wonder these “revolutionaries” always revert to calling for a “Vote for Labour” to “keep the Tories” out or “stop the fascists”.

What a giant sinister fraud!!!

Even in boom times, there is no solution to be gained by pressure, and even less now in the greatest disintegration of the world capitalist economy ever.

Only ending capitalism will provide the means to sort out global warming and every other difficulty facing mankind.

The SWP says elsewhere:

Some have predicted that of the approximately seven billion people on our planet, only a billion might survive such catastrophic changes.

The question now is how humanity responds. While world leaders stall, we need to be more radical than ever.

This is all a lying, posturing pretence. This kind of “radicalism” simply keeps the working class tied down to the century and a half of reformist illusions which have stymied its natural revolutionary instincts for so long.

Not only that, note how it panders to the deliberate hysterical exaggerations of the capitalist propaganda, just as they pander to every piece of anti-communist propaganda from their support for the Solidarnosc CIA anti-communist “trade union” reactionaries to the “condemning” of terrorism (and therewith the world revolutionary ferment) in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

The CPGB position is no better, surrounded in its rag by the reams of bilious hatred for the workers states and the history of their achievements, and its constant refrain that the path to socialism is through some kind of “super-democracy”.

The token phrases at the end of their Copenhagen analysis calling for

“the revolutionary agency of the working class, [to] make a world fit to live save the planet we need a communist world - a red world. Representing the global victory of democracy, communism alone allows humanity the chance to heal the metabolic rift with nature caused by the existence of class society

are as devious and twisted as the SWP.

There is nothing in Lenin about communism being the “global victory of democracy”. Just the opposite, This petty bourgeois anti-revolutionary nonsense chimes exactly with the constant US imperialist CIA justification to be fighting for “freedom and democracy”.

And with good reason.

It is the exact opposite of Lenin’s insistence, in his most incisive and profound work among many profound works, The State and Revolution, that the core of revolutionary understanding is the need for the dictatorship of the working class, achieved by overturning bourgeois democracy which is nothing but a cover for the rule of capital and its profit hunger.

Genuine extension of decision making throughout the working class can only be achieved by the firmest suppression of the counter-revolution, which will constantly arise both inside post-revolutionary society and by subversion from outside, as the decades of existence of the workers states from the USSR to still continuing Cuba, China, Vietnam and North Korea have repeatedly found out.

Even then such workers’ democracy, made possible in the genuine development of socialism, is itself only a transient historical tool of class domination (to suppress the now minority, dispossessed bourgeoisie) which will disappear once the remnants of reactionary self-seeking bourgeois society have died out (on a world scale, not simply within a particular country) and the level of society has developed far enough for rational, self-disciplined, cooperative behaviour to be the norm, when there will no longer be any need for any kind of coercion, even by the genuine “majority”.

But even deeper behind these positions is the implication that capitalism has a long way to go yet and itself must deal with “climate change”, again shackling the working class to the ruling class “parliamentary” racket, just when its is more discredited and distrusted (rightly) than at any time in history because of the experiences workers have made over one and half centuries of reformism.

The clearest expression of this is in the SWP’s accounts:

As Socialist Worker went to press, a leaked draft agreement revealed plans to rip up Kyoto altogether, put more power in the hands of richer countries and force poorer countries to negotiate with the World Bank to receive any funding for climate initiatives.

The draft has been drawn up by representatives of richer countries without the knowledge of poorer countries.

The leak exposes the way that the leaders of richer countries use climate change to cement their own power while blocking any measures that could actually cut carbon emissions.

The major Western imperialists are indeed caught out crudely and secretly manipulating the conference.

But they always do that. The notable feature is that they have been caught out, because far from being cleverly in charge “cementing” their power, the entire period of the crisis and the ten years of degeneration into war is one of fearful panic by imperialism, struggling to hold a sliding grip on a world which is in ferment.

The petty bourgeois defeatism of the SWP simply demonstrates how these fake-“lefts” are always in thrall to the ruling class, unable to see its failure and the splits which are tearing it open because of the crisis.

The in-your-face contempt of the extreme “climate deniers” is almost certainly another expression of this; one section of the ruling class believing it best to try and keep alive the long historical racket of democracy with a last pretence of reforms (and sometimes for verisimilitude, a few token concessions when they can be afforded) exactly as the Obama presidency is doing currently; the other believing the time has already come to tear up all the pretence and go all out for ruthless class oppression and open exploitation, to survive the oncoming disastrous slump.

That has been the line the neocon “New American Century” wing of American imperialism has tried for the last decade, asserting the “might is right” doctrine that justifies any amount of piratical resource and wealth grabbing from the rest of the world, notionally given credit for the their products but with the certainty that they will never be able to recover the full value of the rapidly declining dollar piles they are forced to accept.

The world owes dominant US imperialism a living and can go hang if it does not like it, is the message.

Or be blasted to pieces, with Serbia, Iraq, Afghanistan and the like to serve as examples.

The neocons are currently on the back foot, because the Third World in one way or another has doggedly refused to be pushed back down into the old colonialist forelock tugging subservience.

Defeat has brought down Blair and Bush in ignominy, and the ruling class has had to tap black nationalist illusions and feminism in a last ditch attempt to keep the valuable “democratic” fraud alive.

It has worked for the moment sustained by the “left” single issue reformist notion that “fighting racism” and “oppression of women” are primary issues, and failing to see them as solvable only by the ending of the system that causes them (an argument battled out 20 years ago by the EPSR).

But putting anti-racism first leaves the illusion that “achieving” a black presidency is a step forwards, as half the world was told by the capitalist media.

But as the world is rapidly finding out, it is simply business as usual for the fascist nastiness of imperialist crisis.

Once that single issue reformist trickery has been thoroughly exposed, as the escalation of Afghanistan’s blitzing is proving among much else, the need for the cruder reality of reactionary dictatorship to show its face will re-emerge, already being prepared with hostility of the now near demented talk-radio US reactionaries, the Sarah Palinites and the like (which nevertheless hope to tap feminist illusions).

But this is a expression of fear and weakness, exactly as Nazism and the fascist face of capitalism has always been.

The best trick of the ruling class has always been to “fool most of the people most of the time” with the illusions of “voting” and change, a much more certain way to stay in power.

The fake-“left” have always been a key bulwark for these illusions.

And they are still playing this game over the climate issue.

Even without the overtly defeatist SWP “cementing power” phrasing, the acceptance by the entire spectrum of the fake-“lefts” that the time span of a decades-long sorting out of “global warming” is perfectly valid in itself, as an issue to be taken as a stand-alone question (albeit with some routine “anti-capitalist” phrases thrown in for flavour), is a complete giveaway of their utter incomprehension of the actual nature of the world and its sudden dramatic revolutionary transformations.

It can only really be understood with a full Leninist perspective of crisis.

None of the fake-“lefts” tie together the climate change arguments with the credit crunch; with the continuing and escalating drive to war and the ever worsening fascist blitzing of Third World victims; with the rapid intensification of domestic oppression, surveillance and arbitrary police violence and intimidation and the rising wave of strikes and struggle which is beginning to push at the slump impositions of the “credit crunch”.

Not one of the articles gives any living dialectical feel and context to help both understand and guide the climate warming issue, and in turn see the climate change discussion as part of the crisis of the whole 800 year long class system, limiting themselves to wooden rote-learned “critiques” of “greed and vested interests”.

The revisionist wing of the swamp “lefts” does not fall for such overt anti-communist poison but it is just as wooden, its unthinking worship of Stalin and refusal to examine the difficulties and mistakes of Moscow’s leadership (even as it built the huge achievements of the USSR), casting a deadening pall over all its analysis.

Proletarian/Lalkar makes the point:

Progress for the human race can only come when we take the huge means of production that capitalism has created and abolish private ownership of them, allowing society as whole to set priorities in deciding how they are used and to distribute the products created by them.

This is a hard lesson for those in the Green movement to learn, but learn it they must if they are serious about wanting to save humanity from the impending climate-change crisis. If they will not stand against imperialism and for socialism they will, whether they mean to or not, end up exacerbating the environmental problems we are faced with rather than helping to build the solution.

Thus, it is encouraging to see signs that some within the Green movement are starting to study communist literature. The climate camp at Blackheath was not a hotbed of revolution, but it might just be that the green shoots of political understanding of the need for a socialist future were sprouting in some corners


All well and good but how is the working class and the planet to get there??

What “communist literature” and what does it say? Where is the leadership on the need for revolutionary understanding?? Where is the immediate context of the living crisis as opposed to a general statement of principle??

The “lefts” completely miss the real point of Copenhagen which first and foremost is to head everyone away from any perspective of immediate crisis and disaster.

They are just as eager to avoid the real questions of revolutionary theory and leadership as the capitalists, despite their red-ink banner posturing and fancy hammer-and-sickle designer posing.

Though all these supposed REVolutionaries will run editorials and special articles on formal Marxism and the economic crisis, and in some cases, like Lalkar/Proletarian will correctly declare that only seizing the means of production can begin to solve the problems of Slump disaster, none of them tie the desperate and disastrous failure of the entire profit-based production system to the unfolding of real events.

But none of this finds it way into strike stories for example or Copenhagen, so the dialectical links and perspective of Marxist science are not made.

So the bankers continue to get away with the outrageous blackmail declaring “if you don’t pay the trillions of debts our own system and its greed have caused, and with even bigger bonuses whatever the cost to ordinary people, the whole system could collapse.”

“Let it go” should be the response of the working class, because it is going into complete Slump warmongering disaster anyway.

“We have not only a better answer but the only one, taking over everything and running it in the interests of the working class, not international finance and profiteering.”

It is the only way to sort out the chaos and anarchic collapse which the capitalist ruling class has created.

The steelworks at Redcar are still there, in front of the sacked workers. Profit taking finance, not need, dictates that it be wasted and shutdown.

Taken in hand by the working class it could be put to immediate use.

But that is not possible as an isolated struggle, and even the “boldest” demands for occupation etc. which do not paint a full picture, will leave the working class hung out to dry.

All these battles need a coherent revolutionary perspective for the entire working class to challenge the capitalist state as a class.

Conditions have never been riper for building such understanding. Wave after wave of workers are being forced into confrontation, the Post Office workers, the airlines, railwaymen.

Much more is inevitable.

For the Redcar steel workers, sacked cabin crew, Post workers “modernised” out of a job, bankrupted Woolworth counter and delivery workers and tens of thousands of others made redundant this year, and many more hundreds of thousands facing the same, or slashed wages, and part-time working, the bankers bailout already makes no difference.

For millions more the promise is only of cutbacks, squeeze, rising taxes, and speed up, and all with the looming threat of unemployment and bankruptcy and personal disaster constantly in the background.

And that is the optimistic view sustained only in a completely artificial la-la world which has been temporarily established by the printing of mountains of new ultra-inflationary dollars and pounds, which have no connection to real value at all.

The actual future is one of massive Slump to be imposed one way or another, by vastly greater cuts from the Tory ruling class if the British ruling class can manipulate its finance system sufficiently to push the crisis burdens onto other countries, or the complete meltdown chaos which was briefly glimpsed last October when the world banking system was on the edge of complete implosion.

The bourgeois press economists tease at the problems but hang back from the terrifying implications, hedging their view with “might be”s”:

GOVERNMENTS AND COMPANIES across the globe are straining under the weight of debts that, some fear, might never be fully paid back.

As Dubai, that one-time wonderland in the desert, struggles to pay its bills, a troubling question hangs over the financial world: Is this latest financial crisis an isolated event, or a harbinger of still more debt shocks?

.. From the Baltics to the Mediterranean, the bills for an unprecedented borrowing binge are starting to fall due. In Russia and the former Soviet bloc, where high oil prices helped feed rapid growth, a mountain of debt must be refinanced as short-term i.o.u.’s come due.

Even in rich nations like the United States and Japan, which are increasing government spending to shore up slack economies, mounting budget deficits are raising concern about governments’ ability to shoulder their debts, especially once interest rates start to rise again.

The numbers are startling. In Germany, long the bastion of fiscal rectitude in Europe, outstanding government debt is expected to increase to the equivalent of 77 percent of the nation’s economic output next year, up from 60 percent in 2002. In Britain, that figure is expected to more than double over the same period, to more than 80 percent.

The burdens are even greater in Ireland and Latvia, where economic booms driven by easy credit and soaring property values have given way to precipitous busts. Public debt in Ireland is expected to soar to 83 percent of gross domestic product next year, from just 25 percent in 2007. Latvia is sinking into debt even faster. Its borrowings will reach the equivalent of nearly half the economy next year, up from 9 percent a mere two years ago.

Like Latvia, the Baltic states of Lithuania and Estonia remain exposed, as do Bulgaria and Hungary. All of these nations carry foreign debt that exceeds 100 percent of their GDP’s...External debt is often held in a foreign currency, which means governments cannot use devaluation of their own currencies as a tool to reduce their debt.

Few analysts predict a major nation will default on its government debts in the immediate future. Indeed, many maintain that rich nations and the International Monetary Fund would intervene if a government needed a bailout. But there are no assurances that companies in these nations, which, like governments, gorged on debt in good times, will be rescued. Dubai’s refusal to guarantee the debts of its investment arm, Dubai World, may set a precedent for other indebted governments to abandon companies that investors had in the past assumed enjoyed full state backing.

...Kenneth Rogoff, a Harvard economist, said: “ I think right now every vulnerable country has one or two deep-pocketed backers that pretty much rule out a sudden run.” But he said he expected a wave of defaults about two years from now.

In the crisis, some governments have taken on increasingly short-term debt.

“In another couple years as industrialized countries’ own debts — in places like Germany, Japan and the United States — get worse, they will become more reluctant to open up their wallets to spendthrift emerging markets, or at least countries they view that way,” Mr. Rogoff said.

Facing a need to roll over their maturing debts, emerging markets may have to borrow around $65 billion in 2010 alone.

But while government debt may be a problem, corporate debt may set off a crisis that, in some ways, is already unfolding. Corporate borrowing surged over the last five years....$200 billion of corporate debt is due this year or next year. Companies in Russia and the United Arab Emirates account for about half of that borrowing.

Companies in several countries face immediate tests. Companies in China will have to borrow $8.8 billion in 2010; companies in Mexico $11 billion.

According to an analysis by JP Morgan Chase, Russian companies borrowed $220 billion from banks or by selling bonds from 2006 to 2008. That is the equivalent of 13 percent of Russia’s gross domestic product. In the Emirates, that figure was $135.6 billion, or 53 percent of GDP in Turkey, it was $72 billion, or 10 percent of GDP and in Kazakhstan, it was $44 billion, or 44 percent of GDP.

Ireland today introduced a “slash and burn” budget aimed at cutting €4bn (£3.6bn) in public spending, including pay cuts for public servants and lower unemployment benefits. The government has to plug a €12bn hole in public finances over the next three years. Brian Lenihan, the finance minister, said his budget would “send a signal to the rest of the world that we are able to put our house in order”.... In the past 12 months, Ireland’s GDP fell by 7.5% to around €191 billion .

The €1bn reduction in public sector pay includes a 5% salary cut for those on €30,000, and 15% for higher-paid civil servants.

Unemployment benefit for those aged 20 and 21 will be reduced from €204 to €100 per week. Those aged 22 to 24 will now receive €150 per week. The reminder of the unemployed would only have a €17 per week reduction. The Irish government will also cut €16 from child benefit, although families on social welfare will be excluded from the cuts.

Irish ministers will also take a 15% pay cut.

One group exempt from one of the most draconian budgets in the republic’s history were pensioners. Lenihan announced that the pension would not be changed.

Lenihan also revealed that €1bn would be cut from government capital spending projects.

In order to stem the flow of southern consumers shopping in the cheaper sterling zone in Northern Ireland, Lenihan said there would be a reduction in excise duty on alcohol. The price of beer and cider would be reduced by 12%, and 16% was cut from the price of a bottle of wine.

Here is a brief history of the near future; one that politicians in all three parties would rather you did not read. From 2011 there were deeper cuts in public spending than any Britain had experienced since the IMF gave Denis Healey a kneecapping in 1976. Hospitals and schools were spared the axe, as was Sure Start and foreign aid. But that simply meant other areas had to make even deeper cuts. Spending on public infrastructure was cut by nearly 20% every year for three years between 2011-12 and 2013-14. There were silver linings – the chaps at the Ministry of Defence no longer got to play with new aircraft carriers, those daffy NHS IT projects were switched off with no prospect of a reboot – but they were outnumbered by the clouds. All those attempts to improve Britain’s creaky public infrastructure – the roads and electric-rail projects and new social housing – were mothballed. Higher education was squeezed hard, and so was environment. Indeed, all other areas of government spending faced cuts of nearly 6% a year for three years – a total of £36bn. There were mass reductions in public-service staff, and strikes galore. And by the end of the parliament in 2014, all of Labour’s increased spending on public services from 2001 to 2010 was completely reversed.

That was the vision of the future given by the Institute for Fiscal Studies yesterday, based on an analysis of Alistair Darling’s pre-budget report. No wonder that the chancellor on Radio 4 yesterday morning tried to duck the issue of the cuts to come. Not that George Osborne is any better. At the Conservative conference this autumn, in his war cry to go further and faster on slashing spending, the shadow chancellor airily talked of the £7bn-worth of cuts he had identified. As he well knows, that is the merest fraction of his self-imposed total.

When politicians and newspapers bay for deep cuts in public spending, they rarely identify what it is they actually want to get rid of. The usual joke titles in local government come up, and the accusations of feather-bedded bureaucrats is a lazy columnist’s favourite. But the reality of low-paid binmen or vocational training for over-16s rarely intrudes. And yet the IFS analysis suggests just how grim the shakedown is going to be. Indeed, since both Labour and the Tories are unlikely to meet their fantasy estimates of harmless efficiency savings, it will almost certainly be a lot worse.

Our debt problems pale into insignificance compared with those of Greece, which was downgraded yesterday by Fitch to BBB-plus, a rating that flirts above the level of “junk”. A fall below investment grade would have serious consequences because some funds are barred from buying junk bonds and Greece would find its cost of borrowing spiralling upwards. Greece’s ballooning government debt is expected to reach 125 per cent of the nation’s total economy next year. The soaring borrowing cost for Greece can be measured in the premium over the Bund, Germany’s bonds, which are the eurozone benchmark. Greece pays two percentage points more.

Athens — crippled by a public sector strike that has led to uncollected rubbish piling up in the streets — is not expected formally to default; the other eurozone countries would be unlikely to allow such a humiliation to a single currency member state. However, it is under huge peer pressure to cut spending and put its house in order. But there are other risks. Further rating downgrades could make Greek bonds ineligible as collateral at the European Central Bank. Government bonds are held as core assets by banks and if Greek banks cannot use Greek bonds to raise short-term cash, the country could find itself in a bad place very quickly.

There are no “might be”s left. The relentless iron laws of capitalism have piled up the contradictions in its system to far beyond breaking point and in one way or another the deadly crisis is unstoppably unfolding.

But you will not hear much of this from the fake-“left”. Just the opposite, the crisis has exposed their total dilettantism and opportunism. They are even less certain than the bourgeois critical realist impressionist hacks, or simply deny, like the Workers Power sect, that capitalism is undergoing any kind of catastrophe at all,

Far from seizing the moment to explain the now uncovered reality of capitalist “success and prosperity”, they neither can nor want even to grasp for themselves the full historic implications of the now unstoppable disintegration, despite the 150 year long legacy of Marx and Lenin which spells out how and why it is happening

For even the most shallow 2d bourgeois view of science, with its rigid and limiting anti-communist Popperian demands for “disprovability”, the Marxist predictions are the only ones that makes sense – every other theory of “endless market prosperity” has been knocked down.

But the shallow brains at the CPGB cannot even see this much, humming and hawing in a recent discussion about whether there is a crisis at all and “if” there is, whether it might not really be bad for the working class and give the right wing a chance!! Only because the fake-“left” has left such an anti-communist philistine vacuum is the answer to that:

Before this was discussed, Mike Macnair introduced a debate on the economic crisis. The near collapse in Dubai, he said, had sparked an acute bout of nerves - and once more given the lie to those like Permanent Revolution, who ask, ‘Whatever happened to the great depression?’

While it was impossible to predict the exact nature of the recession, the nervousness of the stock markets and the capitalist class as a whole adds to the impression that the current phase is similar to 1929-31. Will the “second shoe drop”?

The problem is that there is too much overcapacity, said comrade Macnair - unemployment in the backward capitalist countries is enormous and in the advanced countries this to some extent has been masked (such as in the UK by the transfer of jobless people to sick benefit and the expansion of education and ‘training’ for youth). The fact of the matter is that the capitalists are just not behaving as though they believe investment in material industry will deliver a profit. They do not seem to place much trust in the reported recovery of the rate of profit or the relatively stable GDP - they know that such statistics represent more the redistribution of existing surplus than the creation of real wealth.

The huge cuts that all the establishment parties in Britain are promising would certainly mean a new, deep recession if they were carried out. What we are witnessing is not just a “recession of no consequence” following the long post-war boom.

However, the strategic conceptions of the far left, said comrade Macnair, stake everything on a massive crisis, which will force workers to turn to the already existing ‘revolutionary leadership’.

This has led to the tendency to constantly predict a devastating crisis. Crisis can, of course, be predicted theoretically - the system of capital is transparently irrational, after all. But it is also irrational to wish for a massive crisis, since, as well as causing untold misery and hardship for millions, it could just as easily lead to the rise of the far right than revolutionary socialism.

There is no alternative but the long, patient work of constructing a Marxist party, he concluded.

In the discussion Andy Hannah said that only a very small percentage of the workforce in countries like the UK is engaged in the genuinely productive economy, but he did not think that a country such as China could rescue capitalism. Bob Davies also raised the question of China, wondering what comrades thought about the possibility of an eventual replacement of the US as global hegemon. Jim Moody described China as a “US manufacturing outpost” and also outlined the false hopes invested in India as an upcoming power.

John Bridge was scathing about the idea of a China or India replacing the US. China, he said, is “Detroit exported”: its government polices its working class for the benefit of US capital.

Because of the huge discrepancy in labour productivity, economic size, diplomatic influence, financial pull and military power, the US debt to China made the latter dependent on the former, not the other way round. Comrade Bridge pointed out that it was not just a question of capitalism’s cyclical crises that ought to concern us, but the fact that it is a system in long-term decline. That is why Keynesian boosts can only but be short-term remedies. He agreed with comrade Macnair that the cuts consensus would lead to a new recession and, crucially, to the likelihood of working class resistance, as in Ireland.

This would produce huge possibilities, but also a huge task for communists - the task of mapping out a viable strategy. One thing was certain: calling demonstration after demonstration, Stop the War style, would lead nowhere in itself. And hoping for a return to “boom-time capitalism” was a similar dead end. We must aim for mass consciousness of the possibility of human freedom.

Yassamine Mather pointed out that the full extent of the banking crisis was still unknown. She too thought that the current situation was more like pre-1931 than the wobbles of the 1980s or 2001. Tina Becker and Ben Lewis talked about the example of Germany, which has continued a policy of state subsidies, financed by massive borrowing.

Comrade Lewis stressed that this cannot carry on forever, however, and he also noted that a crisis may indeed pose the question of power. But for this to be realised depends on there being in place a mass party of the working class.

Stan Keable argued that it was impossible to consider capitalist crisis in isolation from the class struggle. In that sense the depth and extent of the coming government cuts would depend on the degree of workers’ resistance and interplay between the rival parties, both of which reflected aspects of class struggle.

In his reply to the debate, comrade Macnair also emphasised the necessity of winning the battle of ideas. He warned that crisis actually reduces the effectiveness of the working class, but it is when the economy begins to recover that workers, with the crisis fresh in their memory, feel more empowered.

It was perfectly possible for capitalism, despite its long-term decline, to stage a recovery.

“Impressions” of crisis? “Recession”? “If” the huge cuts are carried out”???

What a lying fraud it is for these petty bourgeois academics, who spend their time boosting the West’s war blitzing plans by “condemning terror”, whipping up maximum hatred against Iran, and rubbishing the historic achievements of the Soviet Union and the current workers states (China, Cuba, Vietnam etc), to pretend that they and the rest of the fake-“left” ever predicted a “devastating crisis”.

Just the opposite - the “tendency” has been to belittle and mock “catastrophism” for decades, ruling the issue “irrelevant” in meetings and polemics.

Even now when monopoly capitalism’s collapse is unignorable, it is never made the central element of analysis and explanation, just the subject of an eclectic “special discussion” to find a way to salvage credibility enough to continue fooling the working class and spreading more disgusting anti-communist poison.

Still the working class is left to believe that capitalism is all powerful and just as likely to “recover” as go under, and criminally suggesting it should “wait” for an upturn to “be more confident”.

Even the bourgeois press knocks that one down:

The hungry and needy come from miles around to get a free healthy meal. Though the East Detroit neighbourhood the soup kitchen serves has had it tough for decades, the recession has seen almost any hope for anyone getting a job evaporate. Neither is there any sign that jobs might come back soon.

“Some in the past have had jobs here, but now there is nothing available to people. Nothing at all,” Brother Jerry said as he sat behind a desk with a computer but dressed in the simple brown friar’s robes of his order.

Outside his office the hungry, the homeless and the poor crowded around tables. Many were by themselves, but some were families with young children. None had jobs. Indeed, the soup kitchen itself is now starting to dip into its savings to cope with a drying up of desperately needed donations. This is an area where times are so tough that the soup kitchen is a major employer for the neighbourhood, keeping its own staff out of poverty. But now Brother Jerry fears he may also have to start laying people off.

Officially, America is on the up. The economy grew by 3.5% in the past quarter. On Wall Street, stocks are rising again. The banks – rescued wholesale by taxpayers’ money last year – are posting billions of dollars of profits. Thousands of bankers and financiers are wetting their lips at the prospect of enormous bonuses, often matching or exceeding those of pre-crash times. The financial sector is lobbying successfully to fight government attempts to regulate it. The wealthy are beginning to snap up property again, pushing prices up. In New York’s fashionable West Village a senior banker recently splurged $10m on a single apartment, sending shivers of delight through the city’s property brokers.

But for tens of millions of Americans such things seem irrelevant. Across the country lay-offs are continuing. Indeed, jobless rates are expected to rise for the rest of 2009 and perhaps beyond. Unemployment in America stands at 9.8%. But that headline figure, massaged by bureaucrats, does not include many categories of the jobless. Another, broader official measure, which includes those such as the long-term jobless who have given up job-seeking and workers who can only find piecemeal part-time work, tells another story. That figure stands at 17%.

Added to that shocking statistic are the millions of Americans who remain at risk of foreclosure. In many parts of the country repossessions are still rising or spreading to areas that have escaped so far. In the months to come, no matter what happens on the booming stock market, hundreds of thousands of Americans are likely to lose their homes.

For them the recession is far from over. It rages on like a forest fire, burning through jobs, savings and homes. It will serve to exacerbate a long-term trend towards deepening inequality in America. Real wages in the US stagnated in the 1970s and have barely risen since, despite rising living costs. The gap between the average American worker and high-paid chief executives has widened and widened. The richest 1% of Americans have more financial wealth than the bottom 95%. It seems the American hope of a steady job, producing rising income and a home in the suburbs, has evaporated for many. A generation of aspiring middle-class homeowners have been wiped out by the recession. “Poor people just don’t have the political clout to lobby and get what they need in the way Wall Street does,” said Brother Jerry.

There is little doubt that Detroit is ground zero for the parts of America that are still suffering. The city that was once one of the wealthiest in America is a decrepit, often surreal landscape of urban decline. It was once one of the greatest cities in the world. The birthplace of the American car industry, it boasted factories that at one time produced cars shipped over the globe. Its downtown was studded with architectural gems, and by the 1950s it boasted the highest median income and highest rate of home ownership of any major American city. Culturally it gave birth to Motown Records, named in homage to Detroit’s status as “Motor City”.

Decades of white flight, coupled with the collapse of its manufacturing base, especially in its world-famous auto industry, have brought the city to its knees. Half a century ago it was still dubbed the “arsenal of democracy” and boasted almost two million citizens, making it the fourth-largest in America. Now that number has shrunk to 900,000.

Its once proud suburbs now contain row after row of burnt-out houses. Empty factories and apartment buildings haunt the landscape, stripped bare by scavengers. Now almost a third of Detroit – covering a swath of land the size of San Francisco – has been abandoned. Tall grasses, shrubs and urban farms have sprung up in what were once stalwart working-class suburbs. Even downtown, one ruined skyscraper sprouts a pair of trees growing from the rubble.

The city has a shocking jobless rate of 29%. The average house price in Detroit is only $7,500, with many homes available for only a few hundred dollars. Not that anyone is buying. At a recent auction of 9,000 confiscated city houses, only a fifth found buyers.

The city has become such a byword for decline that Time magazine recently bought a house and set up a reporting team there to cover the city’s struggles for a year. There has been no shortage of grim news for Time’s new “Assignment Detroit” bureau to get their teeth into. Recently a semi-riot broke out when the city government offered help in paying utility bills. Need was so great that thousands of people turned up for a few application forms. In the end police had to control the crowd, which included the sick and the elderly, some in wheelchairs. At the same time national headlines were created after bodies began piling up at the city’s mortuary. Family members, suffering under the recession, could no longer afford to pay for funerals.

Incredibly, despite such need, things are getting worse as the impact of the recession has bitten deeply into the city’s already catastrophic finances. Detroit is now $300m in debt and is cutting many of its beleaguered services, such as transport and street lighting.

As the number of bus routes shrivels and street lights are cut off, it is the poorest who suffer. People like TJ Taylor. He is disabled and cannot work. He relies on public transport. It has been cut, so now he must walk. But the lights are literally going out in some places, making already dangerous streets even more threatening.

The brutal truth, some experts say, is that Detroit is being left behind – and it is not alone. In cities across America a collapsed manufacturing base has been further damaged by the recession and has led to conditions of dire unemployment and the creation of an underclass. Richard Feldman, a former Detroit car-worker and union official turned social activist, sees disaster across the country. Sitting in a downtown Detroit bar, he lists a grim roll call of cities across America where decline is hitting hard and where the official end of the recession will make little difference.

Names such as Flint, Youngstown, Buffalo, Binghamton, Newton. Feldman sees a relentless decline for working-class Americans all the way from Iowa to New York. He sees the impact in his own family, as his retired parents-in-law have difficulties with their gutted pension fund and his disabled son stares at cuts to his benefits. The economic changes going on, he believes, are a profound de-industrialisation with which America is failing to come to terms.

The busy highway of Eight Mile Road marks the border between the city of Detroit and its suburbs. On one side stretches the city proper with its mainly black population; on the other stretches the progressively more wealthy and more white suburbs of Oakland County. But this recession has reached out to those suburbs, too. Repossessions have spread like a rash down the streets of Oakland’s communities. Joblessness has climbed, spurred by yet another round of mass lay-offs in the auto industry. Feldman recently took a tour down Eight Mile Road and was shocked by what he saw: “I went door-to-door north and south of Eight Mile and I could not tell the difference any more. I did not believe it until I saw it.”

Professor Robin Boyle, an urban planning expert at Detroit’s Wayne State University, believes the real impact of the recession will continue to be felt in those suburbs for years to come. For decades they stood as a bulwark against the poverty of the city, ringing it like a doughnut of prosperity, with decrepit inner Detroit as the hole at its centre.

Now home losses and job cuts are hitting the middle classes hard. “Recovery is going to take a generation,” he said. “The doughnut itself is sick now. But what do you think that means for the poor people who live in the hole?”

That picture is borne out by the recent actions of Gleaners Community Food Bank. The venerable Detroit institution has long sent out parcels of food, clothing and furniture all over the city. But now it is doing so to the suburbs as well, sometimes to people who only a year or so ago had been donors to the charity but now face food shortage themselves.

Gleaners has delivered a staggering 14,000 tonnes of food in the past 12 months alone. Standing in a huge warehouse full of pallets of potatoes, cereals, tinned fruit and other vitals, Gleaners’ president, DeWayne Wells, summed up the situation bluntly: “People who used to support this programme now need it themselves. The recession hit them so quickly they just became overwhelmed.”

In Detroit many people see the only signs of recovery as coming from themselves. As city government retreats and as cuts bite deep, some of those left in the city have not waited for help. Take the case of Mark Covington. He was born and raised in Detroit and still lives only a few yards from the house where he grew up in one of the city’s toughest neighbourhoods. Laid off from his job as an environmental engineer, Covington found himself with nothing to do. So he set about cleaning up his long-suffering Georgia Street neighbourhood.

He cleared the rubble where a bakery had once stood and planted a garden. He grew broccoli, strawberries, garlic and other vegetables. Soon he had planted two other gardens on other ruined lots. He invited his neighbours to pick the crops for free, to help put food on their plates. Friends then built an outdoor screen of white-painted boards to show local children a movie each Saturday night and keep them off the streets. He helped organise local patrols so that abandoned homes would not be burnt down. He did all this for free. All the while he still looked desperately for a job and found nothing.

Yet Georgia Street improved. Local youths, practised in vandalism and the destruction of abandoned buildings, have not touched his gardens. People flock to the movie nights, harvest dinners and street parties Covington holds. Inspired, he scraped together enough cash to buy a derelict shop and an abandoned house opposite his first garden. He wants to reopen the shop and turn the house into a community centre for children. To do it, he needs a grant. Or a cheap bank loan. Or a job. But for people like Covington the grants have dried up, the banks are not lending, and no one is hiring. There is no help for him.

It is hard not to compare Covington’s struggle for cash to the vast bailout of America’s financial industry. “We just can’t get a loan to help us out. The banks are not lending,” he said.

Do-it-yourself ethos is a sound instinct. But not hamstrung by lack of resource struggling with just a local garden - the working class needs to run everything. That means taking control of all the resources “belonging” to the ruling class, including the finance, for the benefit of all. That means revolution.

Build Leninism.

Don Hoskins

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