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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 1364 27th January 2010

Liberals and fake- “left” correctly blame monopoly capitalist exploitation for Haiti’s horrors but fail to draw obvious revolutionary conclusions. Nor do they warn that capitalism is bringing this kind of destruction everywhere anyway through slump Depression and follow-on World War beginning with Somalia, Iraq etc. Leninism needed urgently

The most cynical aspect of the Haitian earthquake “rescue” is not the pretence that the West really cares about the 100,000s of desperate victims, as it flies in its usual minimal emergency charity, and takes all the “celebrity” credit for the worldwide wave of human sympathy and massive help that ordinary people are donating.

Nor is it the lack of organisation and competence that saturates anarchic, pointlessly competitive capitalist rescue operations (including charities), along with an underlying agenda putting a priority on military and police control of the masses, at whatever price in delay and disruption to basic rescue, costing thousands of unnecessary deaths.

Nor is it the pretence that lives are going to be “rebuilt” long term, when all that faces the tyrannised and exploited masses is yet more brutal sweat-shop exploitation, even once things are “back to normal” (an unlikely prospect anyway).

Nor even is it the reality that decades of ruthless monopoly capitalist squeezing of the country’s resources and labour (on top of three centuries of slavery and colonial sweating and plunder beforehand) has created the disastrous poverty and want which left the hundreds of thousands so vulnerable, magnifying a fairly large but normal and containable earthquake into a horrifying and shattering disaster of almost unprecedented scale for modern times.

All these factors and more are clear to the more thoughtful petty bourgeois, liberal intelligentsia which has voiced most of these concerns in the past fortnight (see below).

But what they don’t voice, and what the fake-“left” do not fill in either, is this; that lives everywhere else on the planet face the same deprivation, destruction and despair, because of the catastrophic failure of the capitalist system unravelling into the greatest Slump crisis in all history.

Depression poverty, hunger, unemployment and homelessness, steadily but rapidly worsening, (as in the 1930s, from massive social, welfare and industrial output cuts, and as devastating trade war bites), or even virtually overnight if the banking collapse briefly tasted in October 2008 should recur, face all but the tiny ruling class across the planet.

That applies as much in the “richest” countries in Europe, America and Japan, as in the permanently put upon and super-exploited Third World.

What destruction the chaos and breakdown of economic systems does not bring, will be imposed by the escalation of deliberate warmongering into full blown inter-imperialist Third World War, as crisis levels of cutthroat international competition for rapidly imploding markets turn to outright hostilities.

Even the dozens of cities blasted into wreckage in 1939-45 or the wasted, treeless body-littered deserts of northern France and eastern Europe in the “Great War”, are on a tiny scale relative to what the extent and penetration of capitalism now threatens, and with a technology a hundred times more powerful and destructive.

Too fanciful a comparison?? Unfair? A bit exaggerated?

Try discussing the point with the blasted and blitzed residents of Somalia’s Mogadishu, living for the last 30 years in a shell and bullet pocked hellhole landscape of hopelessness and wasted ruins every bit as awful and terrible as Port-au-Prince and without even the human sympathy and charity which temporarily has been set in train for Haiti.

Instead they are subject to repeated invasions and massacres every time they try to pull things together, with US prompted and sponsored Ethiopian forces repeatedly returning to impose a western stooge government.

Ask the Iraqis, blitzed and blasted in two brutal wars, with a decade of vicious “sanctions” siege in between which alone killed 500,000 children before tens and tens of thousands more were killed in the second imperialist invasion and virtually the entire country was devastated, its social structure, education, culture and coherence all but wiped out, and still remaining so, with a legacy of human suffering, bereavement and trauma compounded by uranium and dioxin poisoning, as reported in the bourgeois press:

More than 40 sites across Iraq are contaminated with high levels or radiation and dioxins, with three decades of war and neglect having left environmental ruin in large parts of the country, an official Iraqi study has found.

Areas in and near Iraq’s largest towns and cities, including Najaf, Basra and Falluja, account for around 25% of the contaminated sites, which appear to coincide with communities that have seen increased rates of cancer and birth defects over the past five years. The joint study by the environment, health and science ministries found that scrap metal yards in and around Baghdad and Basra contain high levels of ionising radiation, which is thought to be a legacy of depleted uranium used in munitions during the first Gulf war and since the 2003 invasion.

The environment minister, Narmin Othman, said high levels of dioxins on agricultural lands in southern Iraq, in particular, were increasingly thought to be a key factor in a general decline in the health of people living in the poorest parts of the country.

“If we look at Basra, there are some heavily polluted areas there and there are many factors contributing to it,” she told the Guardian. “First, it has been a battlefield for two wars, the Gulf war and the Iran-Iraq war, where many kinds of bombs were used. Also, oil pipelines were bombed and most of the contamination settled in and around Basra.

“The soil has ended up in people’s lungs and has been on food that people have eaten. Dioxins have been very high in those areas. All of this has caused systemic problems on a very large scale for both ecology and overall health.”

Government study groups have recently focused on the war-ravaged city of Falluja, west of Baghdad, where the unstable security situation had kept scientists away ever since fierce fighting between militants and US forces in 2004.

“We have only found one area so far in Falluja,” Othman said. “But there are other areas that we will try to explore soon with international help.”

The Guardian reported in November claims by local doctors of a massive rise in birth defects in the city, particularly neural tube defects, which afflict the spinal cords and brains of newborns. “We are aware of the reports, but we must be cautious in reaching conclusions about causes,” Othman said. “The general health of the city is not good. There is no sewerage system there and there is a lot of stagnant household waste, creating sickness that is directly affecting genetics. We do know, however, that a lot of depleted uranium was used there.

“We have studied 500 sites for chemicals and depleted uranium. Until now we have found 42 places that have been declared as [high risk] both from uranium and toxins.”

Ten of those areas have been classified by Iraq’s nuclear decommissioning body as having high levels of radiation. They include the sites of three former nuclear reactors at the Tuwaitha facility – once the pride of Saddam Hussein’s regime on the south-eastern outskirts of Baghdad – as well as former research centres around the capital that were either bombed or dismantled between the two Gulf wars.

The head of the decommissioning body, Adnan Jarjies, said that when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived to “visit these sites, I tell them that even if we have all the best science in the world to help us, none of them could be considered to be clean before 2020.”

Bushra Ali Ahmed, director of the Radiation Protection Centre in Baghdad, said only 80% of Iraq had so far been surveyed. “We have focused so far on the sites that have been contaminated by the wars,” he said. “We have further plans to swab sites that have been destroyed by war.

“A big problem for us is when say a tank has been destroyed and then moved, we are finding a clear radiation trail. It takes a while to decontaminate these sites.”

Othman said Iraq’s environmental degradation is being intensified by an acute drought and water shortage across the country that has seen a 70% decrease in the volume of water flowing through the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

“We can no longer in good conscience call ourselves the land between the rivers,” she said. “A lot of the water we are getting has first been used by Turkey and Syria for power generation. When it reaches us it is poor quality. That water which is used for agriculture is often contaminated. We are in the midst of an unmatched environmental disaster.”

And all done cynically, deliberately and, for what it is worth, totally illegally, even by the most bourgeois moralising, juridical international “principles” which usually cover-up the most barbaric war impositions, coups, punishments, fascist takeovers, colonialism and neo-colonialism, all in the name of “democracy and freedom” under various fatuous “Conventions” and “International Charters” or through the toothless US stooge United Nations (busy overseeing “security” in Port-au-Prince).

Ask the Afghanistan people who continue to see their lives shredded, suffer constant “collateral damage” death and mayhem and endure appalling poverty and backwardness as a result of nearly a decade of war and occupation, and with the only end-point promised, being just about the most corrupt, venal, warlord-plundering “democratic government” on the planet.

Ask the Pakistanis, driven into homelessness by the tens of thousands as their villages and towns are pulverised by a Western sponsored invasion of half the country, its $5bn cost paid for by the Obama presidency to blitz and tear apart Waziristan as the resistance caused by the torturing and brutal Afghan occupations spreads uncontrollably (but predictably) across the Middle East.

Ask those who see the anonymous, futuristic, faceless Pentagon “drones” buzzing over the horizon to unleash their fascistically named “hellfire” missiles at villages and houses, guided from faraway, antiseptic, video-game comfort in some satellite linked US base as they “take-out” suspected “possible” insurgents at whatever cost in dozens of women, children and surrounding passers-by.

Try telling the Chechens facing the same kind of treatment from the shameful anti-terrorist apeing of Western imperialism and its ludicrous “war on terror” by the wanabee capitalist and oligarch gangster anti-communism of Putin’s Bonapartist balancing trick in Moscow, trying to be another imperialist player to regain humiliated national pride, instead of rebuilding the dictatorship of the working class which was the real source of modern Russian progress and culture.

Or ask the surviving women and children of southern Lebanon, pounded and killed hundreds at a time by the tanks and sunglass arrogance of the Zionist “soldiers”.

Or most of all ask the benighted, endlessly raided, blitzed, shelled, tortured, sleepless, terrorised, white-phosphorus burnt, starved, medically untreated, imprisoned, betrayed, bereaved, hurt and repeatedly, genocidally, bludgeoned one and a half million Gazan Palestinians, trapped in their hellhole strip of concrete and rock by the Zionist Nazi-colonialist occupiers of their land and property.

Is this kind of hell any different to Haiti???:

A year on from Operation Cast Lead, the Gaza blockade is preventing people from leading a minimally respectable civil life -- On my way to visit a friend in the Abed Rabbo district, north of the Gaza Strip, the taxi driver handed me a small pack of biscuits for change. There are nearly no copper coins left here so cab drivers barter a half Israeli shekel for biscuits brought in from the tunnels between the southern city of Rafah and Egypt’s northern Sinai. Some Gazans, who once earned a respectable living, resorted to melting coins and sold the copper for food supplies.

This was not the first time I was forced into arcane methods of barter. A few weeks ago I was told that oil filters for our British-made electricity generator could only be brought in through the tunnels. One alternative was to fit a refurbished car-engine filter to the generator.

We had wood-fired coffee next to the rubble of my friend’s family’s former homes – all levelled during Israel’s three-week war on Gaza that started one year ago. His only source of income, a taxi, was crushed by Israeli tanks during the assault. He agonises about how his children no longer respect him as their father. He is unable to provide them with the security of a house and an independent family life; they lost everything.

The family is spread around relatives’ homes. But the family’s old man just moved into a 60sq m house built from mud and brick, standing next to the rubble of his 400sq m three-story house for which he saved for a lifetime. It was one of the first the UN Relief and Works Agency built after having seemingly lost hope in any Israeli intention to allow construction materials into Gaza. My friend’s daughter earns the highest grades in her class and is eyeing a scholarship for one of the universities in Gaza when she leaves high school. But this young woman’s resilience and motivation will go nowhere as long as Gaza is blockaded.

Almost nothing has been more deceitful than casting Gaza as a humanitarian case. This is becoming exponentially more problematic a year after the war. Gaza urgently needs far more than merely those items judged by the Israeli military as adequate to satisfy Gaza’s humanitarian needs. This list of allowable items is tiny compared to people’s needs for a minimally respectable civil life.

Gaza is not treated humanely; the immediate concerns about the situation have clearly given way to long-term complacency, while failed politics has now become stagnant. The humanitarian classification conceals the urgent need to address this. Moreover, many in the international community have conveniently resorted to blaming Palestinians for their political divisions, as though they were unrelated to Israel’s policies – most notably Gaza’s closure after Israeli disengagement in 2005.

It seems evident that most officials in the US, UK and other powerful nations in Europe and the Middle East do not – or perhaps cannot – pressure Israel to reverse its policy of forcing Palestinians into eternal statelessness. How Palestinians are forced into degrading living standards in Gaza, and how they have no means to repel the ongoing demolition and confiscation of property and land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, is abhorrent. How Palestinians are still divided despite the increased suffering of their people is no less abhorrent. However, no one should fool themselves into believing that their reconciliation would alter Israel’s policy.

... Palestinians are a dignified people, as competitive and civilised as any other people in the world. It is far too humiliating for Palestinians to endure not only being occupied but to be made beggars

For years it has been impossible not to suspect that Israel does not want peace. Of late, the US-backed state has consistently created impossible conditions for fair and equal negotiations with the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and it continues to undermine moderate voices and drive people towards extremism in Gaza.

Only the dangerous tunnel smuggling into Egypt has prevented almost total deprivation:

After an influx of bikes through the deep underground passages between Gaza and Egypt resulted in carnage on the roads by young, untrained riders, the Hamas government ordered the imports to stop. Mahmoud, 18, is one reason why. He has no licence and no helmet, but his Chinese-made bike makes him feel good. “It is what all the young men want,” he says. “It is much better than driving a car.”

The bikes are dismantled in Egypt and transported through the tunnels in pieces, in view of Egyptian border guards and Israeli drones, to be reassembled in workshops in the besieged Palestinian territory.

But the trade has come at a price.

According to Khalil Shahin, economic director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), a 25% increase in the number of motorcycles on Gaza’s streets over the past seven months has caused at least 160 deaths and about 1,000 injuries.

Under pressure from the PCHR, the Hamas government has taken action. Motorbikes were banned along the busy coast road at weekends during the summer. Three driving schools for motorcyclists were opened, and licences and tax – costing 1,300 shekels (£210) a year – are now mandatory.

...The motorbikes may have dried up, but the tunnels are still busy as the lifeline that keeps Gaza’s beleaguered economy afloat. Much of what Israel doesn’t allow in through the land borders comes underground, including live animals. Almost anything can be ordered at a price.

“The tunnels are supplying the Gazan economy of anything it needs,” says Nicolas Pelham of the International Crisis Group. “It is a smugglers’ economy.”

At the other end of the Gaza Strip, in the market at Jabalia refugee camp, an electrical shop is packed full of smuggled goods: washing machines, vast silver fridge freezers, vacuum cleaners, toasted sandwich makers, kettles, mixers, microwaves, steam irons, blenders, hair dryers, TVs, halogen heaters – all are readily available and almost all came through the tunnels.

There is, however, little electricity to power the goods on display; the shopkeeper says the power is out for eight to 12 hours a day – and the thrum of generators is audible all over Gaza. Why sell items that people can barely use? “What can we do?” he shrugs. “This is our life.”

Still, deliveries are vulnerable to the vagaries of supply in Egypt. One week Gaza is awash with a certain brand of detergent; the next it might be green T-shirts.

Back at the border in Rafah, a cross between a war zone and a massive – and unique – industrial park, Abu Rawhai, a tunnel owner who declines to give his real name or be photographed, is one of those exploiting the parallel world of Gaza’s economy.

His new $220,000 (£137,000) tunnel is almost completed. It has been under construction for seven months, but almost at the point of opening there was a hitch. “There was a crash,” he says, explaining that two tunnels collided while being built underground. “Now we have to fix the route.”

A handsome man with a short beard and a broad smile, he is one of 17 partners who have invested in the new tunnel. “We are just mediators,” he explains. “We have dealers in Egypt making requests to transport goods, and people in Gaza also making orders. You can order anything you need.”

Are the tunnels good for Gaza? “Yes and no,” he says. “They are breaking the siege, but it’s dangerous work. The men are afraid whether they will come back up.”

But Ismail, 19, barefoot with a red and white keffiyeh round his head, who emerges amid the steamy air that rises through the tunnel well after fixing a collapse, disagrees. “Of course I’m not scared,” he says. “We are lions. And there is no work elsewhere.”

Khalil Shahin of the PCHR estimates that 40-50,000 Gazans are working in or around the tunnel economy, including transportation and warehousing. He adds that a small proportion – “not more than 5,000” – are children. “Tunnel workers need to be slim and agile. Children make good workers underground.”

Since the Israeli blockade on nearly all goods in and out of Gaza, the tunnels have become “a lifeline, crucial to breaking the siege and ensuring basic life can continue”, says Pelham.

But they are also having a political consequence in tying Gaza’s economy more firmly to Egypt and further distancing it from the West Bank – a result that some Palestinian leaders say is a deliberate Israeli tactic to divide and weaken the Palestinians.

..what little remains of the above-board Palestinian economy is struggling to compete, making it harder for legitimate businesses to recover if the siege is ever lifted.

The tunnels have also created a wealthy elite among the 5,000 tunnel owners. “You see it in the new restaurants in Gaza City,” said Pelham. “People are making money through the tunnel economy, there is a new moneyed class in Gaza who can afford to go out to eat.”

Hamas has also benefited from the tunnels. It licenses them through the Rafah municipality at 10,000 shekels (£1,630) a time, and charges for electricity to light the shafts.

Tunnel collisions are not the only hazard. The well leading underground was bombed by the Israelis three months ago; two of Abu Rawhai’s workers in the tunnel suffocated to death. Abu Rawhai paid each family 40,000 shekels (£6,500) compensation, and then set about building a new well a few metres away.

He gestures to a crane a short distance away on the other side of the border, and complains that the Egyptians are building a barrier deep underground to stop smuggling. His tunnel is 13 metres deep; the Egyptian barrier is reported to extend 30 metres underground. “Everything will be over if this wall is built,” he says.

The gangster Mubarak capitalist regime in Egypt is pushing ahead with this inhuman steel wall blockade, knowing full well that the huge annual subsidies it gets from US imperialism impose stooge duties.

Never a word a word is mentioned about Cairo’s torturing dictatorship and lack of even much pretence at the fraudulent “freedom and democracy” which is constantly and hypocritically used by the West to berate demonised countries like China, Burma, Zimbabwe, Iran etc etc).

But US imperialism is not interested in democracy in reality except to fool the masses in those countries where it can be afforded and to “justify” its constant interference and coup plotting against the entire world, demonising any who dare resist or challenge the endless tyranny of imperialist dominance over the Middle East and just about all the rest of the Third World, to continue its endless juicy exploitation and ripping out of resources.

Far from flying in “aid” to help these victims and plenty more being lined up from Iran to Burma, the Pentagon or its Zionist, or Pakistan or Ethiopian proxies are flying in missiles, drones, tanks and B52 bombers to further pound miserable lives into the dust, while suppressing and blocking any aid at all, particularly for the near genocidally starved Gaza strip.

The same treatment, or worse, is repeatedly threatened against any country deemed beyond the pale by capitalism, and labelled a “rogue state”, for showing just a bit too much independence or fight against the Western interests, and with a suitable accumulation of incident or CIA/MI6 etc made-up, exaggerated or fabricated “totalitarian” incident, to demonise as “a threat to the world and ‘our way of life’” because they are “genocidal monsters” who do not respect the norms of “democracy and freedom”.

Freedom means only the right of once colonialist landgrab farmers to “own” (and exploit the labour on) what was stolen in Zimbabwe, or the oil companies to keep the Middle Eastern reserves for their own purpose, or the corporations to steal indigenous people’s land in Peru or Colombia for oil and mineral extraction, and for the complete writ of Washington to run wherever it pleases.

The rest of the imperialist powers go along with this too, happy to get their share of the plunder, though also constantly chaffing at the giant slice scooped up by post-WW2 dominant Washington, an imbalance which grows ever more fraught and explosive as the economic trade and finance disaster unravels.

The only actually recorded genocidal blitzing (as opposed to endless bogus “massacre” and “totalitarianism” allegations from Western Governments and mysterious international lobby organisations that simply seem to exist fully staffed and funded with no visible support) incontrovertibly going on the planet is done by – monopoly capitalism.

And this can only get worse as the deepening crisis of the profit making order comes to the end of its historical epoch, tangled in the insane alienating, antagonistic contradictions that are built into a world where production is carried out for a profit, made only from the extraction of surplus value from those who produce all value by their labour (the only source of value effectively, save nature’s raw materials) and its expropriation by those few who claim “ownership” of the means of production (and ever more of it as they take more and more) [see economic quotes page 6].

Twice it has led to gigantic wars, as the vast monopoly corporations and the national bourgeois powers they are intertwined with, battle it out for dominance, destroying the supposed “surplus” clogging the system in the process, the only means within decaying capitalism to free up the markets again and allow production to expand again.

It does not take a genius to see that the process is unfolding all over again.

It does however take a revolutionary perspective, uncontaminated by the opportunism and confusion left to the world working class by endless decades of revisionist retreat and soft-brained delusions of “peaceful roads”, ”the parliamentary way” or “containing imperialist warmongering” and, equally, a perspective of the poison of hidden petty bourgeois anti-communism which lies behind the “perfect revolutionism” (notionally, though rarely mentioned in practice) of the Trotskyists, who pretend to make a critique of such Stalinist failings only as a means of rubbishing all workers states and their giant historic achievements.

It is glaring that the last decade has been nothing but escalating war blitzkrieg against stream of victims from tiny revisionist Serbia, pounded by NATO bombs from more than a dozen major powers, to Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Lebanon and Palestine, and with half a dozen more lined up for destruction with a constant steady stream of demonising propaganda and provocation fed into a compliant bourgeois TV and press machine by the CIA and other intelligence agencies of the West.

It is about to get much worse still.

The warmongering of the past decade is only a prelude and a warm-up to an even greater destruction threatened for the entire planet as the catastrophic and inevitable failure of the complete monopoly capitalist world exploitation order implodes fully (once the “quantitative easing” money printing stimulation has run its course) in perhaps rank inflation, further and much worse bank failure or simply as rapid escalation of bitter cutthroat trade war rivalry.

Signs of the latter are heating up already with the wipe-out of companies like Cadbury or Saab and escalating tariff war.

None of the great swamp of the fake-“lefts” ever mention this context in the episodic, detached, unconnected analyses they put forwards on any subject.

But without a world-embracing long-time-span historic revolutionary perspective nothing can be understood clearly.

None of the fake-“left” goes any further in their Haiti comments than some of the detailed academic or bourgeois press analysis, reproduced for the record:

There are [better] places than straddling a major fault line. It’s more than unfortunate to be on the region’s principal hurricane track, in the 2008 season alone, by storms as deadly and destructive as Fay, Gustav, Hannah and Ike (between them, they killed 800 people, and devastated more than 70% of Haiti’s agricultural land). ..victim to calamitous flooding in 2002, 2003 (twice), 2006 and 2007.

[but]...what has really left Haiti in such a state today, is its history. In Haiti, the last five centuries have combined to produce a people so poor, an infrastructure so nonexistent and a state so hopelessly ineffectual that whatever natural disaster chooses to strike next, its impact on the population will be magnified many, many times over.

“Haiti has had slavery, revolution, debt, deforestation, corruption, exploitation and violence,” says Alex von Tunzelmann, a historian and writer currently working on a book about the country and its near neighbours, the Dominican Republic and Cuba. “Now it has poverty, illiteracy, overcrowding, no infrastructure, environmental disaster and large areas without the rule of law. And that was before the earthquake.”

Under French rule, Haiti – then called Saint-Domingue – was one of the richest islands in France’s empire (though 800,000-odd African slaves who produced that wealth saw precious little of it). In the 1780s, Haiti exported 60% of all the coffee and 40% of all the sugar consumed in Europe. It subsequently became the first independent nation in Latin America, and remains the world’s oldest black republic and the second-oldest republic in the western hemisphere.

the large island in the western Atlantic which the present-day Republic of Haiti is the western part, was discovered by Christopher Columbus in December 1492...claimed for the Spanish crown and named La Isla Española. As Spanish interest in the island faltered with the discovery of gold and silver elsewhere... The French West India Company gradually assumed control of the colony, and by 1665 France had formally claimed it as Saint-Domingue. A treaty with Spain 30 years later saw Madrid cede the western third of the island to Paris.

...Haiti’s riches could only be exploited by importing up to 40,000 slaves a year. For nearly a decade in the late 18th century, Haiti accounted for more than one-third of the entire Atlantic slave trade. Conditions for these men and women were atrocious; the average life expectancy for a slave on Haiti was 21 years. Abuse was dreadful, and routine: “Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars?” wrote one former slave some time later. “Have they not forced them to eat excrement? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss?”

Not surprisingly, the French Revolution in 1789 raised the tricky questions...over... Haiti’s sizeable population of free gens de couleur (generally the offspring of a white plantation owner and a black concubine) – and ultimately to the slaves. The rebellion of Saint-Domingue’s slaves began on the northern plains in August 1791, but the uprising, ensuing bloody civil war and finally bitter and spectacularly brutal battle against Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces was not over for another 12 years...the French commander, the Vicomte de Rochambeau, was finally defeated in November 1803 (though not before he had hanged, drowned or burned and buried alive thousands of rebels). Haiti declared independence on 1 January 1804.

Haiti’s revolution brought it independence but also “ended up destroying the country’s infrastructure and most of its plantations.” Moreover, in exchange for diplomatic recognition from France, the new republic was forced to pay enormous reparations: some 150m francs, in gold. It was an immense sum, and even reduced by more than half in 1830, far more than Haiti could afford.

“Haiti was paying reparations to France from 1825 until 1947,” says Von Tunzelmann. “To come up with the money, it took out huge loans from American, German and French banks, at exorbitant rates of interest. By 1900, Haiti was spending about 80% of its national budget on loan repayments. It completely wrecked their economy. By the time the original reparations and interest were paid off, the place was basically destitute and trapped in a spiral of debt. Plus, a succession of leaders had more or less given up on trying to resolve Haiti’s problems, and started looting it instead.”

The closing decades, though, of the 19th century did at least mark a period of relative stability. Haitian culture flourished, an intelligentsia emerged, and the sugar and rum industries started to grow once more. But then in 1911 came another revolution, followed almost immediately by nearly 20 years of occupation by a US terrified that Haiti was about to default on its massive debts. The Great Depression devastated the country’s exports. There were revolts and coups and dictatorships, and then, in 1957, came François “Papa Doc” Duvalier. Papa Doc’s regime is widely seen as one of the most corrupt and repressive in modern history. He exploited Haiti’s traditional belief in voodoo to establish a personal militia, the feared and hated Tonton Macoutes, said to be zombies that he had raised from the dead.

During the 28 years in power of Papa Doc and his playboy son and heir, Jean-Claude Duvalier, or Baby Doc, the Tonton Macoutes and their henchmen killed between 30,00 and 60,000 Haitians, and raped, beat and tortured countless more. Until Baby Doc’s eventual flight into exile in 1986, Duvalier père and fils also made themselves very rich indeed. Aid agencies and international creditors donated and lent millions for projects that were often abandoned before completion, or never even started. Generous multinational corporations earned lucrative contracts. According to Von Tunzelmann, the Duvaliers were at times embezzling up to 80% of Haiti’s international aid, while the debts they signed up to account for 45% of what the country owes today. And when Baby Doc finally fled, estimates of what he took with him run as high as $900m.

[Now]...the country is short on investment, and desperately short on most of the infrastructure and apparatus of a functioning modern state.

..[in addition] Haiti suffers more than its neighbours from natural disasters like hurricanes and flooding because of massive deforestation... “The French didn’t manage the land at all well,” she says. “The process of soil erosion really began then. And then in the chaos after the revolution, the land was simply parcelled out into little plots, occupied mainly by individual families. And since the 1950s, people have been cutting it down and cooking on charcoal. As the population has soared, the forests have come down. Haiti is now about 98% deforested. So with every new storm, more topsoil and clay disappears.” Arable land is reduced, simply, to rubble. Even before the devastating storms of 2008, Haiti’s population was starving. There were shocking reports of desperate people mixing vegetable oil with mud to make something that at least looked approximately like a biscuit.

... Haiti today is “down there with Somalia, as just about the worst society on earth. Even in Afghanistan, there’s a middle class. People aren’t living in the sewers.” As far back as the 1950s, she says, Haiti was considered unsustainably overcrowded with a population of 3 million; that figure now stands at 9 million. Some 80% of that population live below the poverty line. The country is in an advanced state of industrial collapse, with a GDP per capita in 2009 of just $2 a day. Some 66% of Haitians work in agriculture, but this is mainly small-scale subsistence farming and accounts for less than a third of GDP. The unemployment rate is 75%. Foreign aid accounts for 30%-40% of the government’s budget. There are 80 deaths for every 1,000 live births, and the survival rate of newborns is the lowest in the western hemisphere. For many adults, the most promising sources of income are likely to be drug dealing, weapons trading, gang membership, kidnapping and extortion.

Compare Haiti with its neighbours, equally prone to natural disasters but far better equipped to cope because they are far better functioning societies, and the only conclusion possible, says Von Tunzelmann, is that it is Haiti’s turbulent history that has brought it to this point. For the better part of 200 years, she argues, rich countries and their banks have been sucking the wealth out of the country, and its own despotic and corrupt leaders have been doing their best to facilitate the process...

In nearby Cuba, hardly a country rolling in money, emergency management is infinitely more effective simply because of a carefully coordinated, block-by-block organisation. Haiti has two fire stations in the entire country – and people on $2 a day cannot afford quake-proof housing.


Hispaniola’s rains come mainly from the east. Hence the Dominican (eastern) part of the island receives more rain and thus supports higher rates of plant growth. Hispaniola’s highest mountains (more than 10,000ft) are on the Dominican side and the rivers from those mountains mainly flow eastwards into the Dominican side. This has broad valleys, plains and plateaus and much thicker soils. In particular, the Cibao valley in the north is one of the richest agricultural areas in the world.

...The Haitian side of the island was less well-endowed environmentally but developed a rich agricultural economy before the Dominican side. Haiti’s wealth came at the expense of its environmental capital of forests and soils. Haiti’s elite identified strongly with France rather than with their own landscape and sought to extract wealth from the peasants.

but...a larger part of the explanation involves social and political differences. One of these involves the accident that Haiti was a colony of rich France and became the most valuable colony in its overseas empire. The Dominican Republic was a colony of Spain, which by the late 1500s was neglecting Hispaniola.

France imported far more slaves...and...Haiti had a population seven times higher than its neighbour during colonial times – and still somwhat larger population today. But Haiti’s area is only slightly more than half of that of the Dominican Republic.

The combination of that higher population density and lower rainfall was the main factor behind the more rapid deforestation and loss of soil fertility on the Haitian side. In addition, all of those French ships that brought slaves to Haiti returned to Europe with cargos of Haitian timber...

...European immigration and investment were negligible and restricted by the constitution in Haiti after 1804 but eventually became important in the Dominican Republic. Those Dominican immigrants included many middle-class businesspeople and skilled professionals. a legacy of their country’s slave history most Haitians owned their own land, used it to feed themselves and received no help from their government in developing cash crops for trade.

Haiti’s problems of deforestation and poverty have become compounded within the last 40 years. The Dominican Republic retained much forest cover and began to industrialise. It launched a crash programme to spare forest use for fuel by instead importing propane and liquefied natural gas. But Haiti’s poverty forced its people to remain dependent on forest-derived charcoal.

Extracted from Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared Diamond.


Western countries vied with each other for humanitarian supremacy. If Britain sent firefighters and search-and-rescue teams, the government of France promised to call a transnational conference, while Barack Obama, flanked by former presidents, announced the biggest ever US emergency deployment, including 10,000 soldiers. Gordon Brown fatuously congratulated the British people for their generosity in pledging £2m within 48 hours of the catastrophe, the story of our compassion foregrounded against their misery. Robert Gates announced the impossibility of airdrops of food or supplies, because he feared any such effort might spark “riots”.

A major part of the US effort required significant military mobilisation. The people of Haiti, known to be as “volatile” as the forces of nature in the unhappy island, part of which they occupy, must be protected from themselves. The floods which destroyed Gonaives only five years ago were accompanied by “looting” and the presence of “armed gangs”. Constant repetition of the words “poorest country in the western hemisphere” take on an incantatory menace. By whose agency does it remain so wretched? What has been the role of the US in the game of presidential ping-pong, which ousted the former president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, only to reinstate him, later spiriting him away once more? Why is Haiti still pursuing policies associated with the discredited Washington consensus, when that unhappy ideological confection is supposed – erroneously – to have fallen apart? Was this why Hillary Clinton flew in, besieging an airport clogged with traffic, to offer her resonant metallic kinship with the suffering of Haiti?

It is clear that the “population” (as opposed to the people) are seen as posing a law-and-order problem. The ground must be “secured” before supplies can be distributed. As a US aircraft carrier, a looming mountain of steel, overshadows the broken port, the imagery arouses eerie echoes of shock and awe. American soldiers are required to make the city safe for the spectacle of deliverance which will, in any case, have come too late to assist those who died in the interminable interval between the earthquake and the arrival of the necessities for survival.

The media script had also been written in advance. Those who speak it have had countless dress rehearsals from other disasters – from Gujarat to Bam to Indonesia, to the tsunami and hurricane Katrina. The media chorus that accompanies each apocalypse speaks of “these people”, master impresarios of grief, who tell how shock turns to anger when relief fails to reach them; while at the same time, they detect dignity among those whose lives are rarely portrayed, let alone celebrated, in their ritual presentation of the world. They give prominence to one rescued individual, as a story of hope, as though this could cancel the anonymous torment of thousands. The dead lying in the streets pose “a threat of epidemics”.

This says much about elites and their fear of the dead, since it is known that the dead are less of a health hazard than the lack of clean water and basic nutrition for the living. Sweeping the dead into mass graves robs their loved ones of a vital need of survivors – the ability to grieve properly. How revealing it is that western TV must warn its viewers that they may be about to witness scenes of a distressing nature: nothing demonstrates more clearly the differential value of human life in the transmission of these scenes of dereliction. White people never die on screen, but the bodies of others are violated with impunity by the ubiquitous probing cameras. If warnings must be issued of impending images of death, this suggests that mere viewers in the rich world have a more delicate sensibility than those whose lives have been abridged in the most violent way imaginable.

Other questions remain. Immediately after the earthquake, there was no dearth of representatives of NGOs, charities and other doers of good, to describe the situation or estimate the extent of casualties. If so many organisations are working in Haiti, how can it remain in the state of extreme desolation which has been revealed? Are their efforts unavailing against far stronger structures of global injustice?

It is not, of course, as some rightwing Republicans in the US have suggested, that relief work is unnecessary or futile. The puzzle is, rather, why the people of Haiti do not have access to the basic services, nutrition, clean water and health care to which, it seems, only disaster entitles them.

[Elsewhere]In the absence of catastrophe, [in the Third World] deaths daily, possibly equivalent to the perished of Haiti, go unrecorded. This scarcely perturbs that same international community, whose billion-dollar promises, caught on camera, fail to reach the sites of misery, where malnutrition, contaminated water and avoidable sickness take thousands to unmarked graves; sites which apparently now include some within walking distance of the centre of humanitarian action, the airport congested with the “good things” that Hillary Clinton promised.


More than a week after the earthquake that may have killed 200,000 people, most Haitians have seen nothing of the armada of aid they have been promised by the outside world. Instead, while the US military has commandeered Port-au-Prince’s airport to pour thousands of soldiers into the stricken Caribbean state, wounded and hungry survivors of the catastrophe have carried on dying.

Most scandalously, US commanders have repeatedly turned away flights bringing medical equipment and emergency supplies from organisations such as the World Food Programme and Médecins Sans Frontières, in order to give priority to landing troops. Despite the remarkable patience and solidarity on the streets and the relatively small scale of looting, the aim is said to be to ensure security and avoid “another Somalia” – a reference to the US military’s “Black Hawk Down” humiliation in 1993. It’s an approach that certainly chimes with well-established traditions of keeping Haiti under control.

In the last couple of days, another motivation has become clearer as the US has launched a full-scale naval blockade of Haiti to prevent a seaborne exodus by refugees seeking sanctuary in the United States from the desperate aftermath of disaster. So while Welsh firefighters and Cuban doctors have been getting on with the job of saving lives this week, the 82nd Airborne Division was busy parachuting into the ruins of Haiti’s presidential palace.

There’s no doubt that more Haitians have died as a result of these shockingly perverse priorities. As Patrick Elie, former defence minister in the government of Jean-Bertrand Aristide – twice overthrown with US support – put it: “We don’t need soldiers, there’s no war here.”

When the liberation theologist Aristide was elected on a platform of development and social justice, his challenge to Haiti’s oligarchy and its international sponsors led to two foreign-backed coups and US invasions, a suspension of aid and loans, and eventual exile in 2004. Since then, thousands of UN troops have provided security for a discredited political system, while global financial institutions have imposed a relentlessly neoliberal diet, pauperising Haitians still further.

Thirty years ago, for example, Haiti was self-sufficient in its staple of rice. In the mid-90s the IMF forced it to slash tariffs, the US dumped its subsidised surplus on the country, and Haiti now imports the bulk of its rice. Tens of thousands of rice farmers were forced to move to the jerry-built slums of Port-au-Prince. Many died as a result last week.

The same goes for the lending and aid conditions imposed over the past two decades, which forced Haitian governments to privatise, hold down the minimum wage and cut back the already minimal health, education and public infrastructure. The impact can be seen in the helplessness of the Haitian state to provide the most basic relief to its own people. Even now, new IMF loans require Haiti to raise electricity prices and freeze public sector pay in a country where most people live on less than two dollars a day.

What this saga translates into in real life can be seen in the stark contrast between Haiti, which has taken its market medicine, with nearby Cuba, which hasn’t, but suffers from a 50-year US economic blockade. While Haiti’s infant mortality rate is around 80 per 1,000, Cuba’s is 5.8; while nearly half Haitian adults are illiterate, the figure in Cuba is around 3%. And while 800 Haitians died in the hurricanes that devastated both islands last year, Cuba lost four people.

In her book The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein shows how natural disasters and wars, from Iraq to the 2004 Asian tsunami, have been used by corporate interests and their state sponsors to drive through predatory neoliberal policies, from radical deregulation to privatisation, that would have been impossible at other times. There’s no doubt that some would now like to impose a form of disaster capitalism on Haiti. The influential US conservative Heritage Foundation initially argued last week that the earthquake offered “opportunities to reshape Haiti’s long-dysfunctional government and economy as well as to improve the public image of the United States”.

The former president Bill Clinton, who wants to build up Haiti’s export-processing zones, appeared to contemplate something similar, though a good deal more sensitively, in an interview with the BBC. But more sweatshop assembly of products neither made nor sold in Haiti won’t develop its economy nor provide a regular income for the majority. That requires the cancellation of Haiti’s existing billion-dollar debt, a replacement of new loans with grants, and a Haitian-led democratic reconstruction of their own country, based on public investment, redevelopment of agriculture and a crash literacy programme. That really would offer a route out of Haiti’s horror.

The last, petty-bourgeois, wishful thinking of course offers no route out of anything.

A laudable enough but fanciful letter to the press underlines a solution that isn’t going to happen:

Dreadful outcomes for one of the world’s poorest societies: a perfect opportunity for the bankers to demonstrate that they are indeed members of the human race – by donating their bonuses to Haitian earthquake relief. Indeed, by current assessments of what they expect to pay out, they could probably rebuild the whole Haitian economy.

Peter Arthurs

Boldon, Tyne and Wear

The bankers are not members of the great mass of exploited – exactly the point.

Not even the panic move by the already discredited Obama presidency, suddenly pretending it is going to “control the banks” will make any difference.

Limiting bank sizes and investment did not work in the 1930s when America was still a rising power – the Depression was savage and only growing armament production and war developments rescued capitalist production at all, ending in the Second World War destruction.

The US is now 80 years on and, along with the rest of capitalism, bogged down in contradictions that are a thousand times worse.

Capitalism is the problem, not one single aspect of it.

You might as well try to heal smallpox by dabbing at the spots.

Only revolution would achieve the “rebalancing” of the world’s resources the letter writer would like.

But exactly that is what none of the bourgeois press nor the fake-“left” is going to spell out, for all their points about the inequalities exposed by the earthquake.

Token paragraphs tacked on at the end of articles mentioning the need to “end capitalism” if it is mentioned at all are a million miles from the overall perspective of the turmoil being imposed on the planet.

It is fear of revolution alone, not human decency which is driving all this rescue work at least from the ruling class point of view (even if there is plenty of human decency around in ordinary people).

The real aim for the ruling class is only to smooth over the worst of the horrors, bury the dead and prevent the raw revolutionary anger that might erupt otherwise (both in Haiti and worldwide), while flying in thousands of marines (on top of existing UN troops) to be sure the “lid is kept on any trouble”.

Charity has always been a middle-class sop anyway, a patronising palliative for “the poor” which sustains the grotesque unfairness of a system that eventually drives the great majority (domestically and internationally) into penury to feed the insatiable greed of its ruling class.

And it reflects the anarchy and chaos of imperialism as much as anything else:

The Italian government official who led the country’s response to the L’Aquila earthquake has condemned relief efforts in Haiti as a disorganised “vanity parade”, ahead of an international conference on rebuilding the devastated country.

Guido Bertolaso, the head of Italy’s civil protection service, said there had been a fundamental lack of leadership thus far in foreign aid missions to Haiti, warning also that the large US military mission in the country was not entirely helpful.

“The Americans are extraordinary, but when you are facing a situation in chaos they tend to confuse military intervention with emergency aid, which cannot be entrusted to the armed forces,” Reuters reported him as telling Italy’s RAI television.

Having arrived in Haiti on Friday, Bertolaso said he had seen “a terrible situation that could have been managed much better”.

“When there is an emergency it triggers a vanity parade. Lots of people go there anxious to show that their country is big and important, showing solidarity,” he said.

He expressed doubt over the efficacy of having so many US military personnel involved. “It’s a truly powerful show of force but it’s completely out of touch with reality. They don’t have close rapport with the territory, they certainly don’t have a rapport with the international organisations and aid groups.”

Dozens of nations have sent rescue teams and relief supplies to Haiti. The effort involves government staff, troops and representatives from hundreds of separate charities and NGOs. The process has already been criticised as taking too long to bring desperately needed food, water and shelter.

But even if the anarchic confusion of “free market” organisation, squabbling over the rescue (and along significant inter-imperialist lines), was capable of doing better, the drive for maximum profit exploitation would soon scupper any coherent plan which truly benefited the ordinary people.

If that did not do the trick, the tidal wave of catastrophic economic failure sweeping through the now historically globalised capitalist system, would finish off any hopes anyway.

Even the academics dismiss the play-acting pretences; as one Oxford professor commented on TV’s Newsnight programme: “how can you put people back on their feet when they were not on them in the first place?”

Not “rebuilding” but a complete transformation of the society and economy is required, he said, though with the usual liberal hope that “opportunities not be wasted”.

But that is not going to happen. Capitalism wants the country in this state, or at least could not care what condition it is in, as long as it remains maximally open for ruthless exploitation and corporate plundering, just like the rest of the Third World.

It has spent decades ensuring it blocks any moves that might better the lot of the great poverty stricken slave-driven masses there, first drowning all opposition in terror and blood.

It was clear any hint of people’s organisation would be stamped on as fast as possible, not least because they might start emulating next door Cuba just tens of miles away, a towering example of how people can not only survive but prosper hugely through revolutionary communist self-organisation in the teeth of the hugest adversity, including the 50-year long economic throttling of the American imperialist blockade, and exactly the same hurricanes that sweep Haiti (and earthquake risk too).

They even send a constant stream of medical aid and highly qualified doctors in normal times, and more for the emergency despite their own limited resources.

It does not take a giant leap of understanding to compare the two Caribbean islands, which are otherwise virtually identical in geography, climate, resources and colonialist history,

And the Haitians have a longer record of revolutionary struggle even than the Cubans.

That is not to say that there have not been interesting signs of self-organisation reported:

On Friday, I visited a refugee camp near the airport. Nobody had had any contact with international organisations except the Red Cross, which had distributed high-energy biscuits and 350 tarpaulins, enough for 10% of the families. The government and elite, the US, France and Canada, the UN and NGOs, are already planning to move these refugees into larger camps where tents could be replaced by houses. But the people here knew nothing of this. As always here, the poor have little or no representation in these meetings.

Instead they are on the ground. In the camp, a tall, young Haitian stood over a water-dispensing hose, gently berating a group of women squabbling over their order in the line. He had spent hours making sure people kept calm. In the alleys between the tents, one of which already had a street name written on a piece of wood nailed to a stick, a man was giving chocolates to children. He was in a committee set up to distribute aid when it came. Another group was discussing strategies for security.

When the journalists are gone, when the international aid business returns to normal, when the marines leave, when the peacekeeping mission packs up or changes its name, life will go on in Haiti and Haitians will continue the struggle their ancestors began 220 years ago against colonialism.

And the major players in Haiti – the US, France and Canada, the UN, the major financial institutions and international NGOs, the Haitian government and elite – are likely to continue to “help Haiti” oblivious to this struggle.

The exclusion of the poor from the decisions that affect them explains why the most recent pre-earthquake international efforts to help Haiti were focused on increasing the number of maquiladoras – or factories – where businesses pay negligible taxes and Haitians make subsistence wages, if they are lucky. It explains why most international aid is spent on NGO bureaucracies and what relatively little money gets to the Haitian people creates dependencies instead of self-sufficiency. It explains why a UN peacekeeping mission considered a success in New York and Washington is reviled in Haiti. It explains, in part, why the future for hundreds of thousands of Haitians is so uncertain

Reed Lindsay was a journalist in Haiti before starting the Honor and Respect Foundation, a project aimed at getting Haitian children into school.

But what all the commentaries and analyses lack is any world perspective that would allow Haitian workers to understand the weakness of imperialism and how their struggle fits in with an overall rising tide of Third World hatred and intolerance for the grinding despair they have been kept in for so long.

That is the crucial weapon they need to change their lives, just as it is the crucial weapon needed by the masses everywhere – Leninist revolutionary theory.

The fight of the Haitians and the rest of the world merge together into a giant struggle to overturn and finish for good the capitalist system.

That is a million miles from the “your fight is our fight” patronising, token “solidarity” with Third World struggles which usually emerges from the fake-“left” groups; nothing but a form of “charity work” itself in the ideological sphere, mixed with the usual opportunism and confusion and most all of the “condemnation” of the masses when they finally do break into real revolutionary struggle in the crude and incoherent ways that are emerging all over the world, labelled “terrorism” by the panicking ruling class.

The condition of the Haitians would justify any amount of anger and hatred at the ruling class and no international charity will head it off.

Their future lies with the great wave of surging discontent which is spreading rapidly across the planet – particularly in the Middle East but also in Latin America, Africa and all places in between.

What this does not have yet is any scientific Marxist Leninist leadership, struggling for vital revolutionary socialist understanding – but it has pushed imperialism back on its heels.

As such determined sections as the Palestinians have shown most of all, it will not lie down whatever is thrown at it.

The great strategy of US imperialism to “shock and awe” the world has been shattered, mired in failure and a sticky resistance, which for all its appearance of culturally looking backwards (religious ideology, puritan attitudes etc) has been sufficient to impose defeat and retreat onto capitalist world dominance.

America’s plans have been to show the world the most ruthless face it can, blitzing and bullying everyone into submission, to suppress the growing revolt and equally warn off any major imperialist rivals who might be getting impatient with American incompetence and greed, preparing in this way to ride out the enormous disaster that the profit system has once again brought mankind to (or so they think).

But they are in deep trouble.

The “hard-nut” face of Bushite neocon strategy has been so shamed and humiliated by disasters that it is more hated that any presidency ever. Now the Obama “nice-principled-guy” trickery is failing too, its hollow Madison Avenue image building already in trouble.

One year has been enough for the temporary surge to “give democracy one more chance” – bolstered by black nationalist and feminist illusion (see below), to hit the wall.

As everyone understood, the election of a Republican in the once Democratic Massachusetts, Kennedy stronghold was no ordinary “swing” in the tweedledee-tweedledum election game but an expression of contempt for the Obama-ism sold to the crisis-hit and war-weary masses in America as “something new which will rescue us from the Slump”.

This could well be the beginning of a phase of rapid government changes, expressing the weakness and incompetence of capitalist government ravaged by crisis, just as in the 1930s.

The “emergency rule” of “war coalitions” or fascism (both tearing-up, or “suspending”, even the pretence of democracy) followed as imperialism plunged into world war.

“Grand coalitions” (as Germany has already tried) and a “cross-party war cabinet” have both been floated by petty-bourgeois commentators, and Tory David Cameron already.

But nothing can rescue the world from the slump – least of all some hastily patched together “control of the banks”.

Capitalism is historically out of time and entangled in contradictions that can only get worse the more the ruling class writhes around.

What is needed to solve this intractable mess is to finally climb out of capitalism altogether by taking over the private ownership of production for good in working class hands.

What would help the Haitians most of all would be to hear revolutionary communist understanding, best of all as part of a struggle to build revolutionary leadership itself.

It is exactly what the whole world needs.

The best help for the Haitians is for the working class to get on and build the revolutionary struggle as well – in whichever country they find themselves.

It is going to be increasingly obvious to all that nowhere is going to escape the slump/war disasters anyway.

That means tackling and dealing with the long legacy of confusions and retreats by Soviet revisionism which finally caused the unnecessary capitulation of Moscow to “market forces” and the tragic – though temporary – disillusionment of the world proletariat with what they were told was communism, and with the foul, disguised anti-communism of the Trotskyists which goes along with all the foul intelligence agency lies and hatred of workers states and anti-imperialist upsurges.

There are still precious few signs of the opportunist 57 variety swamp of pretend-“left revolutionaries”, “left” Labour reformists, “firebrand” trade union leaders and Museum Stalinists being willing to take up any of these serious questions.

Far from it. Just about all the groups in one way or another are now calling yet again for a “vote for Labour to keep out the Tories”, despite a decade of total New Labour support for the Nazi illegal warmongering of US imperialism and its monstrous “war on terror”, the intensification of the fascistic “surveillance society” and police repression in Britain and the huge bailout of bankrupted finance capitalism.

The latest hasty efforts to put together an alternative “vehicle” (though still calling for Labour support where it cannot stand) for the working class looks like the same old “left pressure” hodge-podge groupings which continuously pop-up, to effectively resuscitate left reformism such as the Socialist Alliance (see EPSR 1211 on this for example).

It has nothing like the momentum of the huge fighting spirit of the 1984 miners strike that initially gave the Socialist Labour Party a potential for genuinely building a socialist movement until bureaucratic Trade Unionism personified by Scargill’s conceit stamped out revolutionary political debate.

None of the squabbling by the various groups around the Trade Union & Socialist Coalition (CPB, SPEW, assorted trade unionists like Bob Crow) trying to extend the life of the petty Englander “No2EU, yes2democracy” campaign, is even mentioning the revolutionary issues.

Neither are the “excluded” groups like the CPGB, and the SWP, desperate to get in to yet another opportunist racket which will only prop up the bourgeois warmongering slump system.

Various “qualifications” on the vote Labour call, (from Respect too) supposedly to exclude “right wing” candidates cannot stop this being the crassest class collaborating rescue job for bourgeois democracy ever seen. Turkeys-and-Christmas clichés cannot even hint at the idiocy of trying to breathe new life into “reforming capitalism” just at the point where it has shown its true catastrophic nature.

By all means “fight the cuts” but only with a perspective of revolution – taking advantage of the greatest ever weak point in capitalist rule (not as these left groups defeatistly pretend, a “less favourable” time !!).

The struggle for Leninist understanding is more crucial than ever. Don Hoskins

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Discussion: Defending US fascist leader Obama with soft-headed ‘left’ PC-reformism, black nationalism or inverted racism opens the door to imperialist warmongering

After many issues of the EPSR clearly explaining how bourgeois ideology has fanned illusions in US president Obama to assist American imperialist fascist warmongering, it is remarkable that critics of the EPSR Leninist line are still missing the point.

And make no mistake, the “first black US president” cachet for Obama is deployed on the nastiest political-correctness-gone-mad basis: because handsome black African-American Obama is president, it allegedly shows that world-dominating US imperialism is “superior” to all Third World countries, and all imperialist rivals, by virtue of having shown its “progressive modernity” and “cultural awareness” and “overcoming of all past backwardness” of this single issue of anti-racism (even while Washington strafes villages in Afghanistan and Pakistan, assists the murderous NAZI Zionists and trains up South America’s CIA-directed death squads for new right-wing coups).

In this sense, the Obama phenomenon is the high point of all such PC-black nationalist, posturing, inverted racism – and his exposure as a fascist warmonger, mainstay of the rule of the American super-rich bankers etc, and enemy of working-class progress in the US and around the world, will be a great development for the socialist revolution.

So for a prime example of all that’s wrong with the PC-soft left approach to Obama, witness both bourgeois TV historian Simon Schama’s excuse-mongering for his own illusions in US (bogus) righteousness (while it zaps the planet with fascist blitzkrieging from Iraq to Pakistan plus CIA-coup drives in Latin America) and how the SWP Trot Socialist Worker greeted the Obama election victory with this credulous counter-revolutionary nonsense:

But shortly after Obama pulled ahead in the primaries, the bulk of big business funding started flowing in his direction.

By mid-October he had raised a massive war chest of $640 million and spent $250 million on TV advertising. McCain’s October budget, in contrast, was a measly $47 million.

So Obama’s victory is the product of two forces converging behind him – one from below and one from above.

The US working class stood up to demand “change” over the parlous state of the economy and the “endless” war in Iraq.

But the same factors have also pushed a section of the ruling class into ditching their previous support for George Bush and the neoconservatives.

The big question facing the US is which of these two forces will dominate over the next few years. They may have called a truce to get Obama into the White House – but this truce will not last.


The important thing to get from this fake-“left” nonsense is that large sections of the US super-rich realised they had to ditch the despised Bush regime of overt barroom US imperialist fascist aggression and put in place a charm-school version of US imperialist fascist aggression. In other words, a purely cosmetic change, a skin-deep change.

The fact that so many millions of US voters (black, Hispanic, white, working-class, whatever) were taken-in, to the extent of putting an X in the box for Obama, or turning up in their millions for his inauguration, is a measure of the extent of ghastly illusions in US bourgeois democracy, and also nasty illusions in the “virtues” of flag-waving for America.

The notion that the masses are going to exert pressure on Obama in a leftwards direction, and restrain US warmongering, by “helping Obama to do the right thing” are so naïvely without the slightest trace of any schooling in Marxism from the anti-communist Socialist Worker Trot rag as to be sinister.

It is, in fact, endlessly subversive of the interests of the workers revolution that the SWP never ceases to encourage illusions in the bourgeois democratic process in general, left-Labour MPs or trade unionists in the UK or Democrats in the US, and now simply refuses to attack Barack Obama for the fascist scumbag he is, but wants to skirt the issue of his fascist-warmongering politics so that the SWP can never be considered “out of line” in global petty-bourgeois opinion – opinion which is dominated by the capitalist mass-media lying machine, the Church, Western CIA anti-communist propaganda, etc, which deems that this handsome, charming, black man, a US Democrat, who only got into the White House because of the struggles of the 1960s civil rights movement and Martin Luther King cannot be fascist.

Just the opposite. As the EPSR has explained, it is only the vast, long-built-up tyranny of PC-brainwashing, single-issue reformism and the confusions of black nationalism that could sustain this fiction.

Strip away the illusion-mongering and look at Obama’s deeds: he has backed Zionism to the hilt over its NAZI occupation of Palestine; has doubled US stormtrooper numbers in Afghanistan; has stepped up drone-strike killings across the Pakistan tribal areas; has ramped up the sabre-rattling against Iran; has lied through his teeth (see last EPSR) about “closing” the Guantánamo Bay torture prison for Third World POWs; has lied about stopping torture or the collateral killing of civilians in US airstrikes.

So what of the critics of the EPSR centre’s correct political lambasting of Obama-ism? What of their soft-headed liberal-left illusion-mongering and their pretence that there is no connection between Obama’s role as US president or feigning that “PC-ism, feminism, black nationalism etc are irrelevant” in this respect because they are “spent forces” anyway?

They should ask themselves why the SWP, the Weekly Worker-CPGB, and other Trots go out of their way to avoid nailing all the lies, confusion and anti-communist, anti-scientific brainwashing tyranny against working class revolutionary interests that this debate about “having a black US president for the first time” opens up.

The Leninist EPSR is deliberately, correctly, going out of its way to hunt down all the monstrous, trite platitudes and specious nonsense unleashed by the spectacle of the “US’s first black president” “heir to Martin Luther King” shit for what it is: sheer, deranged counter-revolutionary filth, posturing as sympathy for the American black proletariat.

Are you in sympathy and full solidarity with the suffering masses of Detroit and Los Angeles who are being thrown onto the hard streets of these urban hellholes with no jobs, no homes and no healthcare?? Then have the revolutionary guts and integrity to be ready to argue with the proletariat against all illusions in Obama – if they have any illusions left in this slick, sick excuse for a corporate machine-politician. And argue against all illusions that “being black” gives Obama something special to commend him, when the revolutionary overturn of capitalism is the order of the day, and the only way the black or white working class will get homes, schools and jobs in a secure future is by revolution. The future under any US imperialist president – Obama included – involves US war-tyranny over the rest of the planet, and the world being left in smoking ruins by capitalist-slump-necessitated WW3.

Far from running away from such polemics, the best Bolshevik traditions of the EPSR have seen the huge advantage of precisely laying into all the PC nonsense over this issue; seeing how a well-cultivated, PC-black nationalist-soft left halo has been placed on Obama in order to sanctify US imperialist fascist warmongering.

And these illusions tally with all soft-left revisionist illusions that want to prevent anyone coming to strong, revolutionary Leninist conclusions.

Plenty of illusion-addled world figures (Ghaddafi etc) wanted to believe that the downfall of disgustingly crass fascist Bush-ism and the arrival of Obama would see US imperialist warmongering curtailed or even ended. All the soft-left hostile to genuine Marxism wanted to believe that revolution would never be required. They are naïve patsies for all bourgeois democratic “change” politics: always in a Guardian-columnist-Polly-Toynbee way “wondering” if this or that “reforming” politician waiting in the wings won’t be able to make everything better, bright, shiny and new. This form of political eunuch-ism is for complete idiots, not Marxist-Leninists, but has been the absolute hallmark of the left’s illusion-mongering in Obama, and sadly has underpinned the approach of the EPSR’s critics.

The Marxist science of the EPSR has constantly warned that the warmongering under Obama would have to get worse, because of the needs of US imperialism to flatten more countries (Iraq, Afghanistan) in order to pave the way for flattening even bigger countries (Iran, and eventually if unstopped France, Japan, Germany, the UK) in order for the world to be made “safe” again for US monopoly-capitalist exploitation, the route towards a Third World War, which will provoke the world’s masses to overthrow all capitalism.

The critics, when being at all intelligible, have balked at this, saying that what Obama would do was “yet to be seen” (at the time, over half a year on in his presidency!); invoked the mass support he received to pretend he was “something new”, “constrained to be different”, partly because of the defeat of Bush-ism etc, and got on a PC-high horse when the EPSR called the Obama White House commander-in-chief of the US armed forces the “Nazi high command”, even though the context of the article was the escalation of Bush’s war on Afghanistan with murderous death-dealing airstrikes on tribal villages (a classic of Nazi-ism if ever there was, Guernica etc).

It turns out all the time that ranged against the Bolshevik and Leninist-minded scientific determination to get things right, the fake- “lefts” present nothing but anti-communist poison and when bowing to bourgeois public opinion will just flippantly say: “well, how could we have seen that coming?”

This crassness (anti-Leninism) is as precious to the fake-“lefts” as defending the crooked parliamentary system itself.

The political strength of the EPSR can only grow by hounding the fake-“left” over their weaknesses over Obama, and the EPSR has already done outstanding work in not falling for this imperialist propaganda drive (Nobel Peace Prize for the world’s biggest warmonger! etc, lying comparisons with the genuinely heroic Martin Luther King civil rights leader, who was becoming an anti-Vietnam war leader). And the working class is set to make a huge experience of the vileness of PC-ism, black nationalism (of a non-anti-imperialist variety), and inverted racism over this Obama issue. It will clear the decks enormously.

Build Leninism. Build the EPSR.

Chris Barratt

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